We almost lost Stephen Hawking. Of course, Hawking almost lost us with his brilliant thinking. What I mean is Hawking almost died of pneumonia last week, but now seems to be recovering.
I like reading Hawking. Indeed, I've been able to acquaint myself with the philosophical or scientific arguments against the existence of God or against the social usefulness of organized religion, arguments proposed by the leading English-language writers of the past thirty years. Unfortunately, Christian leaders in general are poorly educated in the science vs. religion issues. Courses in religion and science can scarcely be found in Catholic, Protestant, or Eastern Orthodox seminaries, so Christian pastors scarcely address these issues in a meaningful way from their pulpits. And among professional Christian, Jewish, and Muslim theologians (clerical and lay), only a small minority has shown a strong academic interest in the issues (thank goodness, the late Pope John Paul II established the Pontifical Academy for the Sciences, at the Vatican, in addition to the older, prestigious Vatican Observatory).
But an interesting and very important development in the science-religion controversy has become apparent in the past only ten or so years, as recognized by some of the leading atheistic or agnostic scientists themselves (Hawking, Davies, Kuhn, Smith, Collins, Flew, etc. [even, one might add, the older Darwin and Einstein, whose religious views haven't been entirely correctly represented by many of their followers] ). It is the recognition that it is an unwise, intellectual dead end to keep thinking---as many non-theistic scientists did through most of the 20th century---that reason (science) and faith (religion) are mutually contradictory, that they having nothing to do with each other. As an honorary, newcomer "Bright" and member of such groups as the Society for Free Inquiry (whose members are surprised at my membership), I find, unfortunately, some young "free thinkers" who still cling to the older view that belief in God is useless, and that science and religion are essentially contradictory.
I think I have a headache now.