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Love and Physics on The Theory of Everything

There are only two ways to see the universe finally: it is either the result of an accident, caused by an impersonal chance, or it is born of a love relationship, which reveals us to a personal God. The search for the explanation of the reality behind everything has filled Stephen Hawking′s life. ′What does a cosmologist love?′ Asks his wife′s character (Felicity Jones) in ′The theory of everything,′ to her future husband. ′In a single and unifying equation, which explains the entire universe,′ Eddie Redmayne replies, when the scientist did not yet have the digital voice, which we know now.

Article by José de Segovia from Madrid on Monday, January 13th 2020 ·.·★ Reading takes 11 minutes or 2108 words.

The beautiful film directed by James Marsh -author of two wonderful documentaries, ′′ Man On Wire ′′ and ′′ Project Nim ′′ -, has extraordinary sensitivity the role of faith and disease, in marriage Hawking It does not shy away from dark aspects, but suggests them delicately. Redmayne′s interpretation is spectacular. And Jones is even more charming than making Dickens′s secret love in ′The Invisible Woman.′

′The theory of everything′ is not a film about science, but about the fragility of life. When dealing with a scientist, which atheists have used a lot, it is surprising that they speak so much of God. The explanation is that this is not the story of Hawking, but of his marriage. Since Marsh′s film is based on the memories of his first wife, Jane. It is the second book he writes. It is called ′Towards the Infinite′ and has published it now, the Lumen publishing house in Barcelona.


The history of Hawking marriage was not unknown to me. Being related to Cambridge, I have heard from Jane since my adolescence, since she is a well-known believer in the churches that I visit since the 1980s, when the astrophysicist became a world star with her book ′′ Brief History of Time ′ ′. She speaks Spanish, perfectly, having been a PhD in Hispanic. In fact, she says she realized that she was in love with him, in Granada, when she spent a summer traveling in Spain, at the end of the race.

Jane met Stephen in 1963, at a New Year′s party they spent at a friends′ house, in another city that is also familiar to me, the old Roman town of Saint Albans - where they lived with their families, before going to the University-. Hawking seems shy, but has a special charm, for his peculiar sense of humor. ′I could see the funny side of everything,′ says Jane. He is known for making jokes about himself, which is something that always arouses everyone′s sympathy.

Just one month after meeting, Stephen discovers the reason for the awkwardness, why not only stumbles constantly, but does not even get the shoelaces. Doctors diagnose a terrible neurodegenerative disease, which is known as ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis). Obviously, it doesn′t affect his intelligence, but it gave him a life expectancy of two or three years, at most. At first, he didn′t say anything, but then, he joined them even more. They were so in love, that when they married in 1965, they faced the challenge of an announced death.


Before becoming a media star, Hawking was already a figure in the scientific world, but he was not surrounded by the army of nurses, which he currently has. At 28, he was already famous for his work on black holes, but he had no multi-million dollar contracts, nor was he persecuted by the press. Jane was the only person who took care of him, until he hired the seductive nurse Elaine, who won Stephen′s heart, until he left his wife.

In this second book, there is less bitterness about abandonment, since Stephen has divorced his second wife, the nurse who has been accused of ill-treatment. What has made him reconcile with Jane, who is still married to a widower, who met in the church, Jonathan Heller Jones. This organist and choir director, settles in the house, to help her husband, but Stephen himself does not escape that his faith and understanding, makes his wife feel increasingly attracted to him.

Neither the film, nor the book, suggests that the differences of marriage over faith were the causes of her husband′s abandonment - as some have said. Jane is honest, in this regard. And the heroine role of faith, which some attribute to him, is not believed. Interestingly, the statements of Stephen himself, who acknowledges having approved his wife′s relationship with Jonathan, knowing that someone had to take care of her, since he had the days numbered.

The truth is that it is he, who leaves her in 1990, because of Elaine, her nurse. Described in the book, as ′controlling, manipulative and bossy,′ everyone agrees that she was prone to burst into outbursts of anger. When her husband suffers a sunstroke, for having left hours in the sun, her daughter Lucy denounces her to the police, but he refused to collaborate in the investigations. So the case was filed in 2004, although the marriage divorces in 2007.


Due to his experience as a documentary filmmaker, Marsh does not make this story the ′soap opera′ he could have become. The film lacks the clichés of cinematographic biography - known in English as ′biopics′ -. The tragic aspect is not exploited with a manipulative emotion. It is even cold and calculated, but the director prints a magnificent rhythm to the narrative, with a perfect staging, formally faultless. Being a British production, the film has that academic tone, so elegant and well built, which is the weakness and strength of English cinema.

Those who know Hawking′s work, may be disappointed to think that it is about the scientist. It′s Jane′s story. That is why Stephen′s figure is quite disfigured. For Marsh, ′it is impossible to translate such a complex mathematical language into an understandable cinematic discourse.′ He was sent the script before filming, as a courtesy, but it is based on Jane′s book, ′Towards the Infinite.′ He implied that he was not going to put any problem and when they made him a private pass, he seemed really moved. He said that what he had seen is ′basically the truth.′


The proof of his identification with the film is that he has given the right to use his electronic voice, which is for him, his hallmark. It does not allow to alter it. The scenes made in Super 8 and 16 millimeters, were recorded for the film, but are based on those they have in their family archive in California. It seems that there are some scientific errors - such as using the name ′black hole′, before 1967 - but at least it shows it surrounded by companions like Thorne - on whose theories ′Interstellar′ is based -, that you bet on a subscription from the porn magazine Penthouse, for him, but for Hawking, it was one for the satirical magazine ′Private Eye′.

The subtlety of the film is seen in how it suggests things, without showing them. Thus Elaine shows him the Penthouse magazine, which he has received for the subscription of the bet. When you ask if you want to see more, we don′t hear your answer. Jane accompanies her future husband in a camping stay with her three children. When he leaves them asleep, he leaves his tent, as if to go to his, but we do not see her enter it. He appears, by the way, in this second book, with a less idealized figure than in the film, where he is seen as someone extremely generous.


′¡Por favor, Señor, que Stephen esté vivo!′, ora Jane, al escuchar que su marido está al borde de la muerte. Fue en el verano de 1985, cuando una neumonía le dejó en coma, mientras hacía un curso de verano en la escuela suiza del CERN (Organización Europea para la Investigación Nuclear) -no solamente iba a un concierto, como aparece en el film-. Le preguntan si desconectan la respiración artificial, para dejarle morir, pero ella se niega, obligándoles a hacer una traqueotomía, para salvarle la vida. Jane se aferra a Dios, ′para resistir y mantener la esperanza′, mientras que él desprecia sus ′supersticiones religiosas′. Según Jane, ′su única diosa es la física′.

Lo cierto, es que Hawking se vuelve cada vez más ateo, tras dejar a Jane. No hay duda que al principio, hablaba de Dios en sus libros, aunque no fuera creyente. Lo curioso es que para ella, la misma enfermedad que fortalece la fe de Jane, explica el ateísmo de Stephen. Jane dice: ′yo entendí las razones del ateismo de Stephen, porque sí a la edad de 21 años a una persona se le diagnostica una enfermedad tan terrible, ¿va a creer en un Dios bueno? Yo creo que no. Pero yo necesitaba mi fe, porque me dio el apoyo y el consuelo necesarios para poder continuar. Sin mi fe no habría tenido nada, pero gracias a la fe, siempre creí que iba a superar todos los problemas′.

Es la paradoja de la vida misma. Lo que a algunos, les hace perder a la fe, a otros, les afianza en ella. ¿Cómo es esto posible? Si la fe se basara en meras circunstancias, no tendría explicación. Lo que sostiene a Jane, es su confianza en Dios ′a través de la oscuridad, el dolor y el miedo′. A ella, le sorprende por eso, que Stephen diga que ′el milagro no es compatible con la ciencia′. Porque para ella, su vida, es un verdadero milagro.

Mientras Stephen se mofa de la fe, Jane ′necesita fervientemente creer que en la vida hay algo más que la realidad de las meras leyes de la física y la lucha cotidiana por la supervivencia′. Para ella, está claro que el ateismo ′no puede ofrecer consuelo, bienestar, ni esperanza, respecto a la condición humana′. Aunque su fe no acaba con sus problemas -a veces, está en situaciones tan límite, que ′sólo pensar en sus hijos, le impidió haberse suicidado′-, le sostienen en los momentos difíciles.


Este es un libro honesto. En él, leemos cosas tan sorprendentes, como Stephen Hawking llevando biblias a Rusia, con un grupo de bautistas, escondiéndolas en los zapatos, de ′contrabando′. A más de un ateo, se le caerá el alma a los píes, leyendo episodios como este. Cuenta cosas como que el científico intercedió ante el papa, para rehabilitar a Galileo, y como su colega, el galardonado físico teórico John Polkinghorne, decide estudiar teología, para ser ordenado como ministro anglicano.

Una de los momentos del libro que mejor describe la fe de Jane, es cuando Hawking tiene una estudiante cristiana americana, que se dedica todas las mañanas a evangelizarle, en el desayuno. Su esposa le advierte que sus esfuerzos están destinados al fracaso, porque su ′amplía e iluminada autopista de certezas bíblicas, tiene todavía menos probabilidades de éxito, que el tranquilo, silencioso y modesto sendero, lleno de curvas, de su simple confianza en la fe y sus obras, puesta que Stephen no tiene paciencia para otra cosa que la fuerza racional de la física′.

Como dice en la película, Stephen entiende la cosmología como ′una especie de religión para ateos inteligentes′. Mientras que Jane se aferra a una fe, sobre la que Stephen dice que ′tiene cierta dificultad con la premisa del dictador celestial′. El comentario suena brillante, pero se vuelve ridículo, cuando dice que está trabajando en una teoría para probar que Dios no existe. La Biblia nos dice que Dios ha dejado testimonio de todo lo contrario.

′Las cosas invisibles de Él, su eterno poder y deidad, se hacen claramente visibles desde la creación del mundo, siendo entendidas por medio de las cosas hechas, de modo que no tienen excusa′ (Romanos 1:19-20). No es por falta de evidencias que no podemos creer. Es que nadie quiere un ′dictador celestial′. La cuestión es si ese es el Dios de la Biblia. El milagro de la vida de Stephen, demuestra todo lo contrario.

This is an short translation of the original article published in Spanish by Entrelíneas: Revista de Arte as La Teoría del Todo: Amor y física

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