Stephen Hawking: Heaven Is “A Fairy Story”

Well this one liable to ignite some controversy:

A belief that heaven or an afterlife awaits us is a “fairy story” for people afraid of death, Stephen Hawking has said.

In a dismissal that underlines his firm rejection of religious comforts, Britain’s most eminent scientist said there was nothing beyond the moment when the brain flickers for the final time.

Hawking, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease at the age of 21, shares his thoughts on death, human purpose and our chance existence in an exclusive interview with the Guardian today.

The incurable illness was expected to kill Hawking within a few years of its symptoms arising, an outlook that turned the young scientist to Wagner, but ultimately led him to enjoy life more, he has said, despite the cloud hanging over his future.

“I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first,” he said.

“I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark,” he added.

(…)

In the interview, Hawking rejected the notion of life beyond death and emphasised the need to fulfil our potential on Earth by making good use of our lives. In answer to a question on how we should live, he said, simply: “We should seek the greatest value of our action.”

In answering another, he wrote of the beauty of science, such as the exquisite double helix of DNA in biology, or the fundamental equations of physics.

Hawking responded to questions posed by the Guardian and a reader in advance of a lecture tomorrow at the Google Zeitgeist meeting in London, in which he will address the question: “Why are we here?”

In the talk, he will argue that tiny quantum fluctuations in the very early universe became the seeds from which galaxies, stars, and ultimately human life emerged. “Science predicts that many different kinds of universe will be spontaneously created out of nothing. It is a matter of chance which we are in,” he sa

Well I supposed Hawking is probably glad that he isn’t living during the times of Galileo Galilei.

FILED UNDER: Quick Takes, Science & Technology
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. ken says:

    He is brave man. His personal story is very inspiring.

    Still, I am glad we have the residue of religious domination in various cultures. Otherwise what would have been the motive to produce the wonderful art we enjoy as our human heritage?

  2. Wiley Stoner says:

    I wonder if Hawking is just a little bitter because of the lemons life has handed him and blames God. I prefer not to take this twisted little man very seriously.

  3. Wiley/Zels,

    One little corner of Hawking’s brain is more intelligent than either you or I, I don’t dismiss him so lightly.

  4. Tlaloc says:

    Still, I am glad we have the residue of religious domination in various cultures. Otherwise what would have been the motive to produce the wonderful art we enjoy as our human heritage?

    Hopefully that was sarcasm.

  5. Have a nice G.A. says:

    One little corner of Hawking’s brain is more intelligent than either you or I, I don’t dismiss him so lightly.

    Intelligent but filled with what?

    I dismiss him completely on the subject of the existence of GOD. Truly, what does he know about it?

    In the talk, he will argue that tiny quantum fluctuations in the very early universe became the seeds from which galaxies, stars, and ultimately human life emerged. “Science predicts that many different kinds of universe will be spontaneously created out of nothing. It is a matter of chance which we are in,” he sa

    lol…..

  6. Franklin says:

    I’m actually with G.A. on this. Lots of people more intelligent than me have opinions that I still think are wrong, and some of them must be, since they disagree with other intelligent people.

    On the other hand, he’s not ‘twisted,’ he’s just stating his opinion. Perhaps he is over-confident about his opinion, but he’s hardly the only person on Earth with that particular fault.

  7. ken says:

    No I am serious. In spite of all the social ills that religion is responsible for down through the centuries we, in the USA, have been relatively free from the tyranny of religion. Nevertheless we still get to enjoy the abundance of religious inspired art that has remained largely intact throughout the world. It is far better than the nonsense that passes for ‘art’ today.

  8. Ernieyeball says:

    “I wonder if Hawking is just a little bitter because of the lemons life has handed him and blames God.” Sez W. S.

    I have never read anything by or about Hawking that would suggest this. I suspect since Mr. Hawking does not see any evidence for a god (whatever that is) he would not blame something that does not exist for his situation.

    For years I assumed a close friend of mine and a polio victim of (he never walked a day in his life) found his daily routine to be a challenge. I mentioned this to him when he was in his 50’s.
    “I do not think of it as challenge. I just do what I have to so I can survive.” He replied.
    If W. S. had met my friend I suspect all he would have seen was another “…twisted little man…”.

  9. Ernieyeball says:

    “Well I supposed Hawking is probably glad that he isn’t living during the times of Galileo Galilei.”

    Or the jurisdiction of Mike Huckabee!

    http://blogs.alternet.org/speakeasy/2011/03/30/mike-huckabee-says-he-wants-americans-to-be-indoctrinated-at-gunpoint/

  10. Tlaloc says:

    Nevertheless we still get to enjoy the abundance of religious inspired art that has remained largely intact throughout the world. It is far better than the nonsense that passes for ‘art’ today.

    This is conflating two separate things. On the one hand you have the modern commercialization of art. On the other hand you have the church’s dominance over the minds of people in the middle ages. The one has nothing to do with the other. While it’s true that we do have a great deal of religious inspired art, think about just how much more widely varied and interesting art we might have had without the rigid constricting influence of the church. Creativity flourished in spite of religion, not due to it.

  11. John Peabody says:

    No controversy needed; if you believe in God, nothing Stephen Hawkings says should change your mind. If you don’t, by all means, take his word for it. It matters not one whit to me if some believe or some don’t.

  12. Hey Norm says:

    Doug…
    You must have been laughing your arse off when tossing this one out…

  13. Have a nice G.A. says:

    Well I supposed Hawking is probably glad that he isn’t living during the times of Galileo Galilei.

    http://al007italia.blogspot.com/2009/02/truth-about-galileo-catholic-church-it.html

  14. Tlaloc says:

    Ah good old fashioned apologia from… Dinesh Dsouza? Wait, seriously? Couldn’t you at least gone for someone not multi-universally known to be full of %$#@?

  15. tom p says:

    Well I supposed Hawking is probably glad that he isn’t living during the times of Galileo Galilei.

    http://al007italia.blogspot.com/2009/02/truth-about-galileo-catholic-church-it.html

    Not even gonna go there GA…. but tell me, just exactly what would the Catholic church do with Stephen Hawking?

    Thankfully he was born in these times.

  16. Have a nice G.A. says:

    http://blogs.alternet.org/speakeasy/2011/03/30/mike-huckabee-says-he-wants-americans-to-be-indoctrinated-at-gunpoint/

    lol…why dude, talk about Couldn’t you at least gone for someone not multi-universally known to be full of %$#@?

    some of the web sites you guys go to for backup lol……

    Tom it has to do with myth conceptions and is in response to Doug’s amazing zinger.

    I fully realize that every Christian and historian that is using actual original sources for the teachings they put forth is crazy and stupid to most you guys.

    Do I care? lol no….

    Thankfully he was born in these times.

    I am happy that he was given the choice to live no thanks to these times, well I guess he was grandfathered before the invent certain tests and one horrific ruling.

  17. michael reynolds says:

    Wiley and G.A. dissing Hawking. You just can’t make that up.

    In other news, I explain that I’m a far better writer than Bill Shakespeare. “To be or not to be? I would have written it as ‘should I croak myself or what?’ I mean, seriously, WTF?”

  18. Have a nice G.A. says:

    I not dissing him Harry, Just his crazy theory.

    In the talk, he will argue that tiny quantum fluctuations in the very early universe became the seeds from which galaxies, stars, and ultimately human life emerged. “Science predicts that many different kinds of universe will be spontaneously created out of nothing. It is a matter of chance which we are in,”

    lol…..fairy tails or Star Trek you make the call…

    “I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark,” he added.

    This guy is using evidence for creation by way of intelligence.

    In answering another, he wrote of the beauty of science, such as the exquisite double helix of DNA in biology, or the fundamental equations of physics.

    Again!

  19. michael reynolds says:

    GA:

    Seriously: don’t.

  20. Have a nice G.A. says:

    Harry, you can say hope and change for a gazillion years and you will NOT accidentally speak this kind of stuff into existence. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_law_of_thermodynamics

    There is no evolution.

  21. Jay B. says:

    Well, Stephen IS a scientist so it comes naturally I guess. I mean, that he tries to deny all of the theological stuff that can’t be explained by science, so I guess we can’t hold it against him. Religion is about believing, and not proving.

    Jay

  22. Have a nice G.A. says:

    Religion is about believing, and not proving.

    yes Jay some are——>

    “Science predicts that many different kinds of universe will be spontaneously created out of nothing. ”

    Actually I believe this has happened once. so I will give in to if you look at this properly I would say it is correct.

    We even have evidence that it happened once:) And a prophecy that it will happen one more time, so if looked at correctly, I will give him this also,but alas, he is not looking at it properly.

  23. mantis says:

    Way out of your depth here, G.A. Pretty embarrassing for you, if you were capable of embarrassment.