The Theory of Everything is a recent film that chronicles the relationship of the famous theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking, and his wife, Jane. It is worth watching, if not for the story itself, then for British actor Eddie Redmayne's Oscar-worthy portrayal of Hawking's physical deterioration.
Hawking was diagnosed with motor neuron disease early in his academic career. Despite being told he had two years to live, Hawking is now almost 73 years old. Sadly, the disease left him incapable of all voluntary movement. He is confined to a wheelchair, and can only speak with the use of a computer. Despite his physical limitations, Hawking has a prolific academic career spanning five decades. He has written numerous best-sellers, including his most famous work, A Brief History of Time, which sold an incredible 10 million copies. He is the father of three children. He is also a professed atheist.
The film's title, The Theory of Everything, comes from Hawking's life-long pursuit of a single theory that links quantum physics with Einstein's theory of relativity. Such a theory would explain all the workings of the cosmos and how they are connected, from the collision of electrons in an atom to the movement of the planets and galaxies in the universe. It would be a theory of everything in the material universe.
Pursuit is certainly a central theme of the film. As a university student, Hawking pursues Jane through a crowded bar. Hawking’s pursuit of simple tasks, like lifting a spoon to his lips, are among the most physically powerful scenes of the film, all knit together by his search for the theory of everything.
Hawking's desire for a theory of everything is analogous to the desire for God. Regardless if one believes in God, we all know the indescribable pull of the human heart toward the ineffable and unknowable. Hawking experiences this yearning in particular through his encounter with the beauty of theoretical physics. He does not see this as a search for God, and in fact, has recently declared: "No one created our universe, and no on directs our fate ... We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe, and for that I am extremely grateful."
Hawking wants to understand this "grand design" without a Creator. He wants a theory that explains everything. I have no idea if it is possible to find a theory that combines quantum physics and relativity. I do not have the slightest understanding of what those words even mean. But Hawking, in spite of his genius, is little different than you and I. Yes, he may be a world-renowned scientist, but he is still searching for the answers to life's most fundamental questions. He wants to know why.
The Christian finds that which he seeks in finding God. By gaining knowledge about the world, he encounters that eminently knowable and lovable Person at the foundation of everything: God Himself. Though Hawking has denied God’s existence, the end credits of the film reveal that, despite five decades of theoretical physics, Hawking is still searching for the theory of everything. I pray that Hawking finds his answer someday, or rather, that the Answer finds him.