The Carriage Driver 4 – Stephen Hawking
Captain Griffin Chaffey rose early. In the stable he readied the carriage. He polished the wood and waxed the leather. The brass shined; on the whole the carriage would pass any inspection.
He began talking to Nuelle as he brushed her coat. He drew a wide tooth comb through her mane. He inspected her hooves, and checked her shoes. When satisfied that everything was in order he moved Nuelle to the carriage and harnessed her for their ride.
A moment later they found themselves in front of Great St. Mary’s Church in Cambridge. A strong, healthy looking young man stood out near the street. Many people passed him by without seeing him.
The young man turned his head as he heard Nuelle approach. His hands that, were in his pockets, now hung by his sides. His eyes wide as he viewed the carriage the man on the seat and the beauty of Nuelle.
Griffin climbed down, he said hello. He reached in his pocket and removed an apple. Cutting it in half he fed two pieces to Nuelle and offered a piece to the young man.
“I’m Stephen Hawking. Who are you?”
“My name is Griffin, my companion here,” pointing at Nuelle, “is Nuelle. We have been sent for you.”
“Sent for me. That seems so unlikely. I have made my beliefs very clear over the years.”
“If you will step into the carriage, we will take you anywhere you want to go.”
The young man looked at the man in front of him. The man who just offered a slice of apple to him. Like Eve, he thought.
Griffin held out his hand to assist him into the carriage.
“If you don’t mind, I think I would prefer to walk for awhile. It’s a long story.”
Griffin went and adjusted the reins and began to lead Nuelle and the carriage. Young, Stephen fell in step alongside Griffin.
“All those people came to say goodbye. Is that a sign of a good life? Or a sign of respect for a body of work built over a lifetime of examination? I became famous. Just a kid from Oxford with only a slight interest in academics. It seemed to just happen.”
“We have carried people from all walks of life, with all levels of education. Your money, or fame, or educational accomplishments are not the measure used. No quantum theory is needed, no advanced mathematics. Nothing needs to be carried out to the fourteenth decimal place. At least as far as I can testify. Are we walking in the right direction?”
“Are you saying that my life and life’s work were a waste of time?”
“No, not at all. You expanded the knowledge of mankind. You asked the questions and then sought the answers. Every iota of the universe was yours. You have viewed the universe as a large mechanism and you wanted to be familiar with every rivet. Take our carriage here. I know every inch of it. Every spoke in the wheels has been inspected many replaced. The under carriage is maintained. It is worth knowing how it works, because the work it does is important. It is the same way you pursued the knowledge that you gleaned and shared.”
“There is no heaven; it’s a fairy story.”
“Excuse me a moment.” He handed Stephen the reins. “I’ll be right back.”
He walked to the carriage and reached under the seat. He opened the book, looked at Stephen and asked, “Stephen William Hawking?”
“Yes, that is me.”
Griffin walked back and took the reins.
“You spent the bulk of your seventy-six years asking questions regarding the workings of the universe. That, as you know, is every man’s pursuit. The questions of the universe plague all mankind. It is a question that can be disguised under many different activities, but it boils down to – ‘Is there a God?’ Then further, ‘What is my role in the universe?’”
“You can study the laws of the universe. There is a beauty to it. The puzzles can be worked out one after another. Men will know the ‘how, what and why’ of the universe. They will all be explainable by science.”
“I’m just a carriage driver, but I hear you saying that you are studying the laws of the universe. The mechanics of it. Yet you disregard the idea that someone created those laws or designed those mechanics.”
"The laws may have been decreed by God,” he paused. “This is a circular argument. There can be no end to it.”
Griffin scratched his chin. “Do you ever wonder how it is that you were born in Oxford? Near the oldest University in England. Oxford a center of religious thought and political debate reaching back to 1096. Any coincidence to that, do you think? And Cambridge, Church of St Giles, was established there before the University and the Convent of St Radegund became Jesus College. The very ground where the two universities sit are hallowed ground. Education has its roots deep in the church. Come to think of it the first block printed book was a bible.”
Stephen looked at Griffin. He was enjoying the conversation. He was enjoying his own voice, without a speech-generating devices. He was enjoying his legs and holding his head up tall. There was a new beauty to the day. The English countryside presented itself as a work of art, as clear as any creation. The cumulus clouds hung low, so low you felt you could reach up and touch them. “You realize that you are mixing your defenses. Though there is truth behind what you say, you bring into the argument things that it can be said don’t belong in the theoretical context of the discussion. The laws of science can be proven.”
Griffin smiled, “And also over the years disproven or perhaps modified. I admit, I am not a scholar and quantum mechanics holds no interest. My interests lay in ensuring that the wheels go around.” He touched his pocket and produced another apple. Nuelle, Griffin and Stephen shared the apple along their country walk. “I just had a thought. I would like to meet up with you again someday. Once you have seen the Great Hall, where many Bohemian artists chose to go. They are creating a great mosaic depicting the battle between good and evil. Science can map out the mathematics of the world. But can the calculus of science break down and measure good and evil or define happiness? Can science provide a map to the maze that becomes a man’s life?”
The three walked along in silence for several minutes. The two men lost in thought, still enjoying the debate. When they reached the top of a gentle incline a village came into sight.
“I am getting a little thirsty,” Hawkings said. “Let’s find a Pub and have a pint.”
Entering the village, they stopped in front of an old stone building with ancient vines clinging to the stone. Near the door a carved wooden sign displaying the words, ‘Euclidean’s Pub’ swung ever so lightly in the breeze.
Griffin walked over to see after Nuelle while Stephen walked inside. There at the bar was Lewis Carroll with just a partial pint in front of him. He started straight towards him and called to the barkeeper for two pints. He turned and in a booth in a dark corner sat Alan Turing. Stephen ordered two more pints. When they arrived, he brought one of them over to Turing. Turing stood up and joined them at the bar.
Griffin walked in and went over to Stephen. Stephen introduced him to Turing and Carroll. The men drank and began to talk.
When Griffin finished his beer he told Stephen if or when he wanted to continue his journey, all he had to do was let that be known.
“You have not convinced me that there is a heaven,” Stephen called as Griffin reached the door.
Griffin smiled, calling over his shoulder, “How do you explain me?”