In last week’s blog, I attempted to refute Stephen Hawking’s claim that God didn’t exist because there was no time in which God could have lived.

There was a time when I would have agreed with Stephen Hawking. I was an atheist in my younger years, but after several rather dramatic incidents, I became a believer in God and a follower of Jesus.  You can watch my story.

I now believe that God created the Universe, and all it contains – time, space and matter. While God is eternal, and as such lives outside of time, God had a particular purpose in creating a finite world, but I’ll get to that a bit later.

A Finite World

“We don’t have the whole Universe to supply our needs. We live on this little round ball called the Earth, and it is finite,” writes Craig A. Severance at He goes on to say, “This little globe has been a really great kitchen cupboard to explore, but it seems we’ve just about opened all the drawers to all the pantries. Yet, more company keeps arriving and sitting down at the dinner table.” There will come a time when limited resources will run out in God’s finite world.

Stephen Hawking wrote, “But the present rate of growth cannot continue for the next millennium. By the year 2600 the world’s population would be standing shoulder to shoulder and the electricity consumption would make the Earth glow red hot. If you stacked the new books being published next to each other, at the present rate of production you would have to move at ninety miles an hour just to keep up with the end of the line.”

And beyond Earth, the Sun only has about 5 billion years of fuel left. While that might be comforting for us, it’ll be cold comfort (pun intended) to anyone still alive on planet Earth at that time. “When the sun expands into a red giant during the throes of death, it will vaporize the Earth.” (Ref: Livescience).

Finite Humans

God also made human beings finite. When the first humans disobeyed God, they were barred from the tree of life so they would not live forever (Genesis 3:22). From that time, people have died and been “gathered to their ancestors,” a Hebrew way of saying, “gone to the grave.” People are not eternal because God is “the only One who has immortality” (1 Tim 6:16). That’s why eternal life is a gift that God offers people through Jesus.

Lincoln Steffens once said, ‘I have seen the future and it works.’ He was actually talking about the Soviet Union, which we now know didn’t work very well. It’s the same with God’s creation. It was never intended to last forever. But why?

Purpose of it All

While God is eternal, and as such lives outside of time, God had a particular purpose in creating a finite world. The Bible teaches that God is a community, one God comprised of three distinct persons. Christians call this the Trinity. God is a community and made people in that same likeness to live and work together. God’s plan from the beginning was to create free will persons who would, out of their free will, love and adore him and whom he would love and adore forever. In other words, once time, space, and matter come to an end, eternity will begin again just as it was before God created this present order of things. God’s creation then is simply a divine interruption to eternity.

The apostle Paul stated it this way, “in order that in the coming ages [God] might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:7). How wonderful to be the object of God’s attention and kindness in a world without end. Who can be the beneficiaries of this kindness? You, when you come and surrender your finite life to Jesus and receive the gift of eternal life.

I have enormous respect for Stephen Hawking. He was one of the greatest minds of the last century, a genius with an IQ of 160. His contribution to science and our understanding of the Universe and our place in it has been immense.

In 1962 Hawking was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease and given two years to live. He passed away two years ago at the age of 76! His quirky humour and cheeky attitude were beautifully captured by Eddie Redmayne in the movie, The Theory of Everything. His humour is displayed in his comments about computer viruses, “I think computer viruses should count as life. Maybe it says something about human nature that the only form of life we have created so far is purely destructive. Talk about creating life in our own image.”

Although Hawking’s body may have weakened, his intellect stayed sharp. He said, “I don’t have much positive to say about motor neuron disease. But it taught me not to pity myself, because others were worse off and to get on with what I still could do. I’m happier now than before I developed the condition. I am lucky to be working in theoretical physics, one of the few areas in which disability is not a serious handicap.” He advised that other people suffering from serious illnesses to not “be disabled in spirit.”

I’ve recently read Hawking’s final book, Brief Answers to the Big Questions. I like to read widely, and some of the topics in this book intrigued me. I wanted to find out what Stephen Hawking thought about time travel, black holes, artificial intelligence, and life on other planets. I was particularly interested in what he had to say about the existence of God and how the Universe began.

The Universe Coming into Being

Stephen Hawking believes “the universe was spontaneously created out of nothing, according to the laws of science.” No argument there. In times past, many scientists would ask the question, “what was before the Big Bang?” Hawking finally concluded that there was nothing. That’s where we part ways.

He writes, “You can’t get to a time before the Big Bang because there was no time before the Big Bang. We have finally found something that doesn’t have a cause, because there was no time for a cause to exist in. For me this means that there is no possibility of a creator, because there is no time for a creator to have existed in.”

While I affirm that time, space and matter began with the start of the Universe, I don’t agree that “there is no possibility of a creator because there is no time for a creator to have existed in.” If God is truly as remarkable as many people believe God to be, then dwelling outside of time would be no problem. Hawking stated elsewhere, “One can’t prove that there wasn’t a creator.” So, like Richard Dawkins and other atheists, Stephen Hawking was probably more agnostic than atheist.

Big Creator, Small Creatures

I don’t believe the human mind can fully grasp the concept of an eternal God. We are limited by time, space, and matter. It’s our frame of reference. To consider a being that has no beginning and no end, who chooses to dwell in the eternal now, but is outside of time itself, is totally beyond our comprehension. Outside of time, there is no duration, no beginning, no end, no space, and no matter. The finite human mind cannot begin to grasp this concept

When I was young, my dad and I discussed the Universe. I was fascinated by the fact that the Universe had no end. I asked him what if there was a brick wall at the edge of the Universe. He answered by asking me how wide the brick wall was and what was on the other side. Try and meditate on that for any length of time, and your head will do a double backflip!

For many years I taught Religious Education to Grade 6 primary kids. Every year one bright spark would ask me, “who made God?” I loved answering that question. I’d say, well, if God had a maker, then God’s maker is God, but who made God’s maker? And if God’s maker had a maker, then who created God’s maker’s maker? I’d keep going for a while until all the kids were laughing.

Case in point, either the Universe, galaxies, solar system, and Earth are all the product of a spontaneous explosion 13 plus billion years ago, or they are the result of an incredibly intelligent divine mind with an IQ far higher than 160.

Creating Out of Nothing

I believe God “spontaneously created out of nothing” and that the creation works according to the laws humans have discovered ever since and chronicled in the discipline known as science.

In his final book, Stephen Hawking writes, “We do not know how DNA molecules first appeared. As the chances against a DNA molecule arising by random fluctuations are very small, some people have suggested that life came to Earth from elsewhere – for instance, brought here on rocks breaking off from Mars while the planets were still unstable – and that there are seeds of life floating round in the galaxy. However, it seems unlikely that DNA could survive for long in the radiation in space.” And so, we still don’t know how the most basic structure of life came into being unless we attribute it to divine intelligence.

While I understand people being agonistic, I have come to strongly believe that we are here on this planet for a purpose. We are not some random chance mishaps floating around in the Universe on a planet called Earth. We are not the product of a monkey who got lucky.

I am grateful that, at the age of 19, this God, who I wasn’t looking for, looked for me. I have progressively come to know and love this God who is expressed so beautifully in the man, Jesus. God is not an impersonal divine force but rather a profoundly personal being who knows, loves, and cares for all, for you.



I would count well-known British atheist Richard Dawkins amongst the least likely of all people to be a promoter of real Christianity.  After all, he was the man who, earlier this year, described religion as a “cop-out.”  He went on to say, “It is a betrayal of the intellect, a betrayal of all that’s best about what makes us human.  It’s a phony substitute for an explanation, which seems to answer the question until you examine it and realise that it does no such thing … It peddles false explanations where real explanations could have been offered, false explanations that get in the way of the enterprise of discovering real explanations.”

In the light of this I find it interesting that, while speaking at a literature festival in Wales this week, professor Dawkins admitted that while he surely doesn’t believe in the supernatural elements of Christianity, he wouldn’t mind being called “a secular Christian.”

Dawkins was responding to an American Christian minister, who was part of the audience and told the 73-year-old evolutionary biologist that he doesn’t believe in miracles any longer but still sees himself as a Christian.  I am fascinated by Richard Dawkin’s response: “But if you don’t have the supernatural, it’s not clear to me why you would call yourself a minister.”

I find it fascinating because, of all the voices God could have used to bring correction to this “Christian Minister,” He used one of the world’s most well known atheists.  Richard Dawkins, who doesn’t believe in God or the supernatural world, recognises enough about real Christianity to know that, by its very nature, if it were true, it would have to be supernatural.  Let’s face it, the entire Christian faith hangs on the belief that God raised Jesus from the dead after he had been dead for three days.

And further to that the Bible is absolutely jam-packed with miracles from start to finish – from the creation of the world through to the parting of the Red Sea through to all the miracles of the prophets and Jesus and the first century church.  In fact the apostle Paul didn’t consider that he had fully preached the gospel unless miracles were present: “… in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Spirit; so that from Jerusalem and round about as far as Illyricum I have fully preached the gospel of Christ” (Romans 15:19).

And miracles are still active in churches and in the lives of Christians today.  Even last Sunday morning, as we were praying for people at Bayside Church, I went and laid hands on one of the guys who had come forward for prayer.  I felt God’s power flow through me into him.  The next day he sent me this note of Facebook:

Hi Ps Rob, thank you for standing with me yesterday, I was standing for my mother who is in hospital with congestive heart failure and some internal bleeding.   I was waiting word from the doctor regarding my return home to see her and felt the need to stand and pray for her.  
I received word today that her heart is strong, the bleeding has all but stopped and the swelling in her legs is gone (it has been years since we have seen her ankles).  She should be released from the hospital later this week. 
  Praise God!  Thank you for standing in agreement with me yesterday, I told my mum about it when we spoke yesterday and she asked me this morning to send her thanks to you for your prayers.  She is a big believer in the power of prayer.

And this is just one example of the many miracles that we see and hear about in our church community on a regular basis.

I thank God for His miracle-working power that is still at work in people’s lives today, and one of the miracles I’ve experienced this week is that, for once, I actually find myself agreeing with Richard Dawkins: “But if you don’t have the supernatural, it’s not clear to me why you would call yourself a minister.”  Spot on professor!

Ah, the eternal question – Is there a God or isn’t there? And, if there is, how do we know that he (or she or it or they) exists? Of course there are those who categorically say there is no God. We call them atheists (a = without; theos = god). In my teen years I called myself an atheist until I realised that to do so was to say that I knew everything. How did I know that God didn’t exist outside of my knowledge? Atheists, if they are honest with themselves, will realise this flaw in their logic and upgrade themselves to agnostics – those who are not sure if there is a God or not (a = without; gnosis = knowledge).

At the age of 19, through a number of dramatic incidences, I realised that I had been wrong. God did in fact exist – and that he was not just real but loving, caring and personal. Now, 32 years later – and a whole lot wiser – I am living my life to help others know this loving, caring, personal God. It is my hope that this blog will help you in this discovery. I believe there are four basic ways we can know that God exists:

“Since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities … have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made” (Romans 1:20).

The internet features a number of sites that instruct you on how to make a model of the Solar System. Imagine that you made such a model and then invited a friend around to watch it in action. Of course your friend would be amazed at this phenomenal working model of the real thing – planets rotating on an axis and all revolving around the sun. He may ask, “Who made this?”  You answer: “No one made it!”  Would he believe you? Of course not! Someone had to make it. How is it that we can look at the real thing and believe that it’s a random-chance accident with no designer or creator

“Since they show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness.” (Romans 2:15)

Human beings are set apart from the animal and plant kingdoms in many ways – not least by the existence of the human conscience. We are not just aware of our existence but we are also very aware of what is right and what is wrong.  On the basis of this we have established an entire system of justice, reward and punishment.

“In these last days he (God) has spoken to us by his Son…”(Hebrews 1:2)
“Jesus answered: “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”(John 14:9)

How easy it would have been for God to remain aloof and distant from His creation.  But God came to earth as a human being … Jesus! Jesus’ existence is a historical fact reported not just by the Bible but also by secular historians like Josephus. Jesus not only claimed that God existed but that He was in fact God in human form!

“We…are being transformed into his likeness.” (2 Corinthians 3:18) When I became a Christian at the age of 19 a radical transformation took place in my life – and that transformation process is still happening. Right now on planet earth there are billions of people who call themselves Christian.  Many of these people have experienced this same transformation.  No, we’re not perfect, but our lives have been changed for the better and, through us, this world is a better place.

God really exists.  He really loves you. Why not love Him back!

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The religion of atheism will once again be preached at the 2012 Atheist Convention coming up in April in Melbourne with an impressive lineup of preachers including Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris and Daniel Dennett.  Christopher Hitchens was also supposed to be there but he sadly passed away last year.  In the past Antony Flew may have been invited to speak as well but he’s also passed away – after converting to Christianity!

Flew was a strong advocate of atheism for most of his life arguing that one should presuppose atheism until empirical evidence of a God surfaces. He also criticised the idea of life after death and the meaningfulness of the concept of God. However, in 2004 he changed his mind stating that in keeping with his lifelong commitment to go where the evidence leads, he now believes in the existence of God.  He later wrote the book “There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind.”

Flew’s conversion no doubt infuriated the likes of Richard Dawkins who regarded Flew as a mentor. Some ugly accusations ensued with some suggesting that Antony Flew was old and demented and didn’t really write the book.  How childish it is when people get personal to either win an argument or try and belittle someone else’s opinion.  Antony Flew wrote the following in response:

“My name is on the book and it represents exactly my opinions. I would not have a book issued in my name that I do not 100 per cent agree with. I needed someone to do the actual writing because I’m 84 and that was Roy Varghese’s role. The idea that someone manipulated me because I’m old is exactly wrong. I may be old but it is hard to manipulate me. That is my book and it represents my thinking.”

I admire Antony Flew for examining the facts and having the courage to change his mind in his old age.  As Leo Tolstoy wrote, “I know that most men … can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.”  Antony Flew truly was a rare individual.

I’m glad I changed my mind in my youth.  I was an atheist until I was 19 but then had an unmistakably powerful encounter with God.  That encounter is just as real almost 35 years later.

The religion of atheism may have some good arguments but it can’t answer life’s most fundamental questions: Who are we?  Where did we come from?  What are we doing here? And where are we going when this life is over?

The religion of atheism can’t tell you where Christopher Hitchens is right now but the Christian faith can tell you with assurance where Antony Flew is.  I’m glad he changed his mind and I bet he is too.

I don’t have room in this blog to go into the theology of children and their eternal salvation.  In this message I answer the question, “What happens to babies and young children who die? – Do they all go to heaven?”

Now, back to my original statement – children are born believers!  According to Dr Olivera Petrovich, an expert in psychology of religion, “Infants are hardwired to believe in God, and atheism has to be learned.”  In other words, belief in God is not taught but develops naturally.  Her findings were based on several studies particularly one of Japanese children aged four to six, and another of 400 British children aged five to seven from seven different faiths.  The conclusion: “Atheism is definitely an acquired position.”

This has certainly been born out in my own experience over many years of teaching Religious Education to children in primary schools.  There were always one or two kids who would be atheists, but it was always as a result of what they had heard their parents articulate about there being “no God”.  All the other kids – including those from homes where no particular faith was adhered to – believed in the existence of God and were particularly fascinated by discussions on the spirit world and life after death.

What a huge responsibility there is in parenting a child – to protect this inherent belief in God and to nurture it into a vibrant faith that remains a strong foundation throughout the child’s life.  Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.”  And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them” (Mark 10:14-16).

Atheists are created, not born.  Let’s create fewer of them!

Well, they’ve come and gone from what was described as the world’s biggest atheist conference. Author Melanie Phillips described it as 2,500 hardcore believers in the absence of religion [giving] a hero’s welcome to the high priest of belief in unbelief, Richard Dawkins. 

It’s interesting to me that Richard Dawkins, who has made a career out of telling everyone how much more tolerant the world would be if only religion were obliterated, demonstrated huge intolerance in some of his remarks.  He referred to the Pope as a Nazi, and described Family First senator Steve Fielding as “more stupid than an earthworm.” Oh, I see, we are to be tolerant but only towards those who agree with us!

The Age Religion Editor Barney Zwartz pointed out that “it was superfluous for speaker after speaker to point out that believers are deluded fantasists who believe in a magic friend who does magic tricks, because for almost everyone at the conference that was an article of faith already.”

But just because the conference demonstrated such arrogance and intolerance, don’t be lulled into the thought that the atheist movement has no agenda.  It does, and it doesn’t include you if you believe in a higher power!  Their number one goal is to reduce the footprint of religion in society. This they want to achieve via clear and focused targets that were identified at the conference: removing funding for religious schools, removing tax exemptions for religious agencies and working to make separation of church and state more explicit.

I agree with the separation of church and state.  Jesus made it clear that his kingdom was not of this world.  But that doesn’t mean that church and state need to be enemies. There needs to be mutual support, recognition and appreciation for the benefits that both provide. But what about the other two targets?

Removing funding for religious schools would actually cost the taxpayer more money. For example, one local independent school receives almost $3,000 of funding annually per primary student and about $3,800 per secondary student.  The average cost of educating a student in a government school in Australia is over $7,000 (primary) and over $9,000 (secondary).

In other words, every primary student at this local school saves the taxpayer over $4,000 a year and every secondary student saves the taxpayer over $5,000.  The combined saving to taxpayers from families attending this school is over $13 million annually.

What needs to be made clear is that scrapping – or reducing – government funding to independent schools will increase fees, force some families to send their children to government schools and put extra stress on the public school system.  This in turn will cost the taxpayer more.

The same is true if tax exemptions for religious agencies are removed.  These exemptions are given because the government recognizes the tremendous work accomplished by churches, and other religious institutions, in providing social welfare to poorer Australians.  If these exemptions are removed churches will have less money to continue their social welfare work.  The government will need to pay for what the churches will no longer be able to provide – and it will cost the government more because they do not have the ability that the churches have in mobilizing large numbers of volunteers.

Atheists need to wake up to these truths and, instead of making their agenda the tearing down of that which contributes much good to society, why not apply that same energy to making a positive difference in the World?  I am aware that Richard Dawkins recently spearheaded the raising of hundreds of thousands of dollars to help victims in Haiti.  That is wonderful.  But the atheists are still a long way behind those of us who are inspired to make a difference because of “our magic friend!”

The Global Atheist Convention is coming to Melbourne in March.  The theme is “The Rise of Atheism” and amongst the long list of speakers is world-renowned author Richard Dawkins whose book The God Delusion has been an international best seller.

I read The God Delusion a year or two ago and Dawkins makes some very good points.  However, his stated purpose in writing the book did not work on me – “If this book works as I intend, religious readers who open it will be atheists when they put it down” (Page 5).  It didn’t work because I used to be an atheist and, for the past 32 years, I have been a Christian.  I feel that I have a certain qualification to compare the two and Christianity comes up trumps every time!

The fact is that even the staunchest atheist cannot say unequivocally that there is no God – because no one knows everything.  Maybe God exists outside their knowledge.  The truth of this was recognized in the British atheist advertising campaign of early 2009 that stated, “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” Note the word “probably.”  I appreciate their honesty!

And now the Atheist Foundation of Australia is starting its own advertising campaign proclaiming “Atheism – celebrate reason.”  It’s an interesting statement.  Is it reasonable to state there is no God?  In The God Delusion,  Dawkins quotes Douglas Adams, the staunch atheist best known as the author of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  Adams says, “Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?”  It’s a cute saying but it is flawed because a garden is only beautiful if it has someone who not only designed and made it in the first place but also has someone to maintain it.  I don’t believe in fairies, but I do believe the Universe had a designer and a maker, and I believe that Divine Being also gave the human race the responsibility to maintain it.  Sometimes we do well; other times we don’t.

After reading The God Delusion I picked up another book, this time by a former skeptic turned Christian believer.  Ron Williams, a Sydney lawyer-turned-author who came to faith in Christ via parenthood, prodigious reading and a life-changing illness, wrote God Actually.  This book is the written record of his search for truth, and some amazing truth is recorded in it.  For example:

“The first remarkable thing about [the Big Bang] is the rate at which it happens … if the expansion rate were any faster, the matter in the Universe would not have aggregated into galaxies, stars and planets; if the rate were any slower, the Universe would have collapsed back into itself within the time required for stars to have created carbon.  In either case the conditions for life would not exist.”

“Consider another phenomenon: the relative sizes of the sun and the moon, and their respective distances from the earth.  The diameter of the sun is about 400 times the diameter of the moon.  However, the sun is about 400 times further away from the earth than the moon is.  This means that…during a solar eclipse the Sun is almost exactly obscured by the moon.”

“Think of an experience from your childhood.  Something you remember clearly, something you can see, feel, maybe even smell, as if you were really there.  After all, you really were there at the time, weren’t you?  How else would you remember it?  But here is the bombshell, you weren’t there.  Not a single atom that is in your body today was there when that event took place.”

If you are searching for truth and meaning in life I encourage you to read God Actually.  It may help you to celebrate reason and to know that there probably is a God so that you can stop worrying and really enjoy your life.  After all, that’s why Jesus came to earth (John 10:10).

One of last year’s biggest selling books was The God Delusion by prominent British atheist Richard Dawkins. In the preface Professor Dawkins states his purpose – to convert religious people to atheism.

Well, he’s now promoting his atheist gospel again by endorsing an advertising campaign on London Buses declaring the slogan: “There’s probably no God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” The slogan started as an aside comment from a comedian in response to a church campaign that pointed people to a website that indicated they’d be going to hell if they didn’t believe in God. The comedian suggested a response to “assure people”, which was picked up by Richard Dawkins and has ultimately generated funding from the general public for about $50,000 in donations.

Professor Dawkins says: “Religion is accustomed to getting a free ride – automatic tax breaks, unearned ‘respect’ and the right not to be ‘offended’ … even on the buses, nobody thinks twice when they see a religious slogan plastered across the side. This campaign – to put alternative slogans on London buses – will make people think; and thinking is anathema to religion.”

I agree with some of Professor Dawkins’ statements especially about the importance of making people think. Being a Christian doesn’t mean a compulsory lobotomy. I also like the honesty of the slogan: “There’s probably no God …” – even atheists aren’t sure if there is one!

The biggest issue is the mistake certain churches have made to run religious ads that “threaten eternal damnation”. When are they going to wake up to the message Jesus came to proclaim? The message (the gospel) is GOOD news. A person being damned is not. The first message Jesus taught was that He had come to proclaim the time of God’s favor; the season when God would accept all people just the way they are (see Luke 4:19). Jesus made it clear that salvation is for the whole world. He also stated that His purpose was not to judge or condemn people (John 3:16-17; 12:47), but to save them.

Why does the church feel it has the freedom to preach another gospel, which is not a gospel at all? If they had been smart the church would now be running a campaign on London buses with the slogan: “There’s probably a God. Now stop worrying and enjoy your life.” But we’re not that smart yet are we?