Heaven Is a Fairy Tale: Stephen Hawking

Strive to achieve now, urges famed physicist
By Mary Papenfuss,  Newser Staff
Posted May 16, 2011 2:00 AM CDT
Updated May 16, 2011 6:04 AM CDT
Heaven Is a Fairy Tale: Stephen Hawking
Physicist Stephen Hawking attends the 2010 World Science Festival Opening Night Gala at Lincoln Center in Manhattan.   (Getty Images)

In his most dismissive views on an afterlife to date, famed physicist Stephen Hawking has declared the idea of heaven a "fairy story." There's nothing for individuals beyond the brain's last flicker of life, Hawking tells the Guardian. "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail," he said. "There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers. That is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark." Hawking, who was diagnosed with motor neuron disease at the age of 21, has faced the possibility of an early death ever since. "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.

The comments are more definitive than his views in his book written last year, The Grand Design, in which he asserted that science, not a creator, best explains the universe. His view drew a sharp rebuke from some religious leaders. In his earlier book, A Brief History of Time, Hawking talked of humankind striving for an equation-packed "theory of everything" in the universe. "It would be the ultimate triumph of human reason—for then we should know the mind of God," he wrote. The lack of an afterlife is a strong argument that we should "seek the greatest value of our action" now while we are alive, he said. (Read more Stephen Hawking stories.)

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