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Beliefnet News

Hawking Says Heaven Is for ‘People Afraid of the Dark’

c. 2011 Religion News Service

LONDON (RNS) Professor Stephen Hawking, one of the world’s most eminent scientists, says the concept of heaven is “a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”

In an interview with London’s Guardian newspaper, the 69-year-old Cambridge University cosmologist said that as a victim of motor neuron disease he has lived under the shadow of death for the last 49 years, and it holds no fear for him.

“I regard the brain as a computer that will stop working when its components fail,” he said, and he insisted that “there is no heaven or afterlife for broken-down computers — that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”


Hawking, author of the international best-seller A Brief History of Time, said through a voice synthesizer from his wheelchair that he is unafraid of death, although “I’m in no hurry to die.”

“I have so much to do first,” he said.

In A Brief History of Time, written 23 years ago, the scientist said that if mankind eventually discovers a “complete theory” to explain the universe, “it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason, for then we should know the mind of God.”

But now, he said, in the ongoing debate over whether God or the laws of science determined the universe, “I believe the second.”

Hawking added that “if you like, you can call the laws of science ‘God,’ but it wouldn’t be a personal God that you could meet and ask questions.”

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    My kind of man! This man is incredible, and even with his considerable disability, he has contributed to this world in a way no other man has.

  • http://Hawkings'comments Paul Canady

    Smartest fool I ever knew!

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Dan

    From one scientist to another:

    “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.” (Jastrow)

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Henrietta22

    I admire Professor Hawkings mind and what he is achieving for science, but nobody will ever know the mind of God, at least on this earth. He may compare his body to a computer and when it breaks that he’ll die and be no more, he is so much more than a computer, and someday he’ll know that.

  • Stewart

    I think it’s obvious that our consciousness is larger, more elegantly designed and more finely attuned than just the physical brain, as wonderful and useful as the brain is. And that consciousness relates to not only the brain but to the spiritual capacity that everyone has and the divine being that dwells within the human body, with its brain etc.

    I don’t know if there’s a heaven after death, and I subscribe to as few beliefs as possible, even beliefs about heaven. But I suspect there is. It just isn’t logical to me that God would create us with our unique and wonderful consciousness, human will, and ability to create, co-create and commune with others, only to have one “go-around” and that’s it. That would be an extreme waste of divine material, and I suspect God is too smart to be wasteful.

    The point for me is not to wait around for a possible heaven, but to bring heaven here and now in my living and with others around me. This is where we really need heaven, this beautiful world of ours, and people in it need some heaven too. We’re the ones to bring it. I wrote about this article on my blog, and I invite you to check it out; the link should be on my name.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Georgia Dude

    Unfortunately. Pepole like Hawking are fools that tries to lead the flock down to the road of desolance, disbelieve and so many other negative and awful a=ways. All I can say about Hawking. The devil got a reservation for him in the land of eternal damnation.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment nnmns

    He is a smart man and apparently a wise one.

    I fail to see why so many people are afraid of their light going out. I can understand wanting to stay and interact with family and friends and learn and accomplish more, and I can understand being afraid of the pain that so often goes along with dying, especially in the absence of an understanding doctor.

    But I cannot understand being afraid of just not being. There’s nothing, so nothing to be afraid of. No Hell to worry about. No question of “where will I go?” Just nothing. I don’t look forward to it, but when I’m old and very sick and in a lot of pain I can foresee viewing that as preferable. And I won’t have to worry that in wanting to die I’ve condemned myself to Hell.

    But of course without an afterlife the allure of many religions and all those bucks of income to all those functionaries goes away. So I’m not surprised that people attack him for saying that. He’s smart and brave.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    The universe is too big for science and Hawkins too small to support his claims. If the brain is as cold as an computer then this world would have given itself over to the Hitlers of the world.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment nnmns

    No, it didn’t. And remember Hitler had a lot of help from the Jew-hating Christians of those days.

    And the brain isn’t “as cold as a computer” because there have been millions of years to evolve brains that work better for their bearers than that.

    Oh, and you are too small to support your claims.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    nnmns read more it was Hawking who said he regarded the brain as a computer, I thought you atheist were suppose to be smart. You don’t know the how or the why or even if the brain evolved at all it takes a lot of faith to believe that, considering your brain.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment nnmns

    cknuck you’ve become rabid.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    My unscientific observation is that brains have most certainly evolved since we crawled out of the ooz. However there are some whose brains have not evolved at all. :o)

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    H, I know you are old but claiming memory of climbing out of “ooz” is a stretch even for you. So did you use arms or just sorta slivered out?

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment pagansister

    It was me, cknuck, not Hentrietta. Yes, I just slithered out! Was too cold and damp for me. :o)

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    sorry H, my mistake.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Henrietta22

    Stop using my age as a jumping off place for your comments ck.

  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment cknuck

    sorry H I may not be able to do that, I just can’t get over your claim to be 102 yrs old.

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