May 17, 2011

Stephen Hawking calls heaven ‘a fairy story’

by Jan Harris

In an interview with the Guardian on Monday, eminent scientist Stephen Hawking rejected the idea of life after death and spoke of the need to make the most of our time on earth.

His remarks, made ahead of speech at the Google Zeitgeist meeting in London on the subject of “Why are we here”, have been criticised by some religious groups.

He told the Guardian: “I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.

“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.”

Stephen Hawking, now 69, was diagnosed with motor neurone disease at the age of 21, and he admits that his long battle with illness has coloured his views on life and death.

His books show how his views on God seem to have altered over time.

In ‘A Brief History of Time’, written in 1988, he seemed to acknowledged the existence of God, writing: “If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason — for then we should know the mind of God”.

However in ‘The Grand Design’, published last year, he writes “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.”

“Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.

“It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.”

Commenting on the latest interview in the Guardian, Stephen Green, director of lobby group Christian Voice, said: “The comparison to a computer switching off shows a man who is only able to think of things in a materialistic way.

“It is a dim viewpoint of a man trying to understand something he is spiritually unable to do. People who believe in the afterlife don’t do so because they are afraid of death.”

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