May 17th, 2011
01:44 PM ET
Heaven is 'a fairy story,' scientist Stephen Hawking says
By Dan Gilgoff, CNN.com Religion Editor
The concept of heaven or any kind of afterlife is a "fairy story," famed British scientist Stephen Hawking said in a newspaper interview this week.
"I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail," the physicist said in an interview published Sunday in Britain's Guardian newspaper. "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 amyotrophic lateral sclerosis - a terminal and debilitating illness that causes loss of mobility and impairs speech - at age 21 and was not expected to live long after, also talked with The Guardian about his own mortality.
"I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years," said Hawking, 69. "I'm not afraid of death, but I'm in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first."
In a book published last year, Hawking wrote that God did not create the universe, in what he said was an attempt to banish a divine creator from physics.
Hawking says in the book "The Grand Design" that given the existence of gravity, "the universe can and will create itself from nothing."
"Spontaneous creation is the reason why there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist," he wrote in the introduction of the book, which was published in September.
"It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper (fuse) and set the universe going," Hawking wrote.
CNN's Richard Greene contributed to this report.
About this blog
The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.
A roach cannot contemplate anything bigger than it's own intelligence, such as a Beethoven symphony or a Monet. Apparently this emminent physicist cannot contemplate anything bigger than his own brain. But, his atheist marionettes will dance to any tune he sings.
That's not quite right and in fact you miss one of the biggest differences in the human brain compared to other animals. The presence of mirror neuronal systems allows empathy and thoughts beyond our immediate selves.
"The presence of mirror neuronal systems allows empathy and thoughts beyond our immediate selves".
Yes. Beyond our immediate selves. And directed toward things equal or less than ourselves, not greater.
Romans 1:18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
Fairy stories help people sleep at night, and drag themselves out of bed to face the day.
Theoretical physics rarely offers such comfort.
What foolishness! Doesn't a bright man like Steven know that there is no way that God can be explained by science or physics. I will pray for him that God will bring him to his senses before he comes face to face with the Maker of Everything including gravity! May God Bless you and have mercy on you sir.
God cannot be explained by physics. God cannot be explained by religious people. Explanataions are reserved for the weak-minded, who cannot think for themselves.
The same way he is using computers to ilustrate his theory of no heaven... I will like to hear from him how computers were created themselves from nothing...
First of all Mr. Hawking was obviously misdiagnosed.
Second, why would anybody believe him? I remember when he "shocked" the scientific world in the 80-ies with his black holes theory. I recently heard he no longer believes that black holes exist.
Now the afterlife doesn't exist..he might be right or he might be wrong. Nobody will ever know. This is one scientist with a lot of ideas that are cannot be proven or disproven. Maybe he has a new book coming out, so he needs the publicity. Thank you
Marti -you are misinformed. Or just lying to get a rise out of people. Black holes are obviously out there...but you'd have to learn a little cosmology to know that, now wouldn't you?
Almost everything that Stephen Hawking does is theoretical – based on assumption. He is full of himself. But beleive what you want, just like religion, athiesm is just a beleif, that's it, based on an assumption. Good luck with those theories Stephen, hope they work for you. By the way, just for the record, many of Stephen's theories have been one-upped by other scientists, that's the way that goes. Even Einstein has been one-upped.
for those of us that have had a near death experience..NDE...we know different. I was physically out of my body floating above the scene when on my bicycle, I was hit by a car at age 14. Im 53 today, and still remember ever detail. The smashed windshield, the color of shirt worn by the first responder. They say I didnt wake up for a few hours and that was in teh hospiotal. Yet my observations were confirmed. I remember wondering how i could be "up here" and "down there" at the same time. Then I realized i didnt see two bodies, only one. I didn;t see any god or anything...i just think our existance is more that man's pea sized barin can imagine or comprehend. Think what you want Hawking, but I have more data than you.
Yeah right, 39 years later and you're still sticking to that nonsense?
He better hope there is no HELL.
Why? If Dog gave us free will, then we have the free will not to believe in him. If he has such an ego that he needs everyone to believe in him, then he is no better than you or I.
Mr. Hawking need a personal Testimony from God in order for him to believe in him. He thought he knows everything since He is a scientist. This kind of proclamation is very dangerous to our society that will eventually for the people who will listen to his message will become immoral and no regard or respect to God. Mr. Hawking may possibly angry with God for his misfortune and blame God for it. Mr. Hawking need repentance or be in danger of placing himself to eternal damnation.
He no more "needs repentance" than anyone else, including you. We are all destined for the same fate. IDENTICAL.
I can assures Hawking is not mad at God for his ALS. Whether you feel he's headed eternal damnation is not something that he finds worthy of consideration. It's absolutely wonderful that he's gotten under your skin and presumably will make you question your faith.
Here’s the absolute truth: science neither proves nor disproves the existence of an afterlife. Saying the "lights go out" permanently after death is just as much philosophical speculation as the idea’s exact opposite – life after death. The truth is is that we don't know for sure what happens after death. Philosophically and realistically, there's a 50/50 shot of being right or wrong regarding life after death. If there is no life after death, no further thinking is required. If there is, it opens up a plethora of questions and forces the intellect to actively analyze this next existence.
Re-think your statement don't live with that kind of chance. You need to Know, and you can.
Justin, I can prove to you that there is God in heaven. Just reply to this message and I'll show you how.
Religion is the opiate for the masses, all of whom are afraid of the dark. One of the smartest men in history has spoken, perhaps there really isn't a dude with a beard because the same people that conjured him up also believed in fire breathing dragons and a flat earth.
Thanks Mr. Hawking for at least saying what more and more people are thinking. I mean why would "God" inflict so much death to his followers and have his priests fondle?
lol another idiot that asks why God does this and that. its basic stuff. but most of you morons haven't even read a religious text.
David simply mocks because he has no answers. No proof. Just his own determination to believe in fairy tales.
Critical reason cannot be applied to what is ultimately unknowable. That's the mistake that Hawking is making. I found his comments on Heaven to be egocentric and self-contradictory. The more we peel back the layers of the onion that is "existence", the more we realize that the ultimate answers lie outside the capabilities of the intellect. The mystique looks at the Universe and sees a perfect circle. Science looks closer at that circle through an electron microscope and discovers that it is made of measurable straight line segments. It isn't a circle at all, but a polygon. The problem with Hawking is that he sees the Universe as that polygon and concludes there's no such thing as a perfect circle.
It is hard to accept that we will die one day and more worst is what will become of us when we die. And so we create what we call the soul to which we assign a heavenly resting place there is nothing really wrong with that as it makes us live in comfort while we ponder our real fate. The fact i the the component that makes us up carbon, hydrogen etc was and will alwas be around and therefore we will also be here maybe in different structures
I am proud to say that ,"I do not need the threat of hell or the promise of heaven, to live a honest and fruitful life.
Mr. Hawking I can give you the greatest evidence of God's existence and that there is a heaven and a hell. "The Jewish People"
Not only the Jewish people but the Member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. God the Father and his son Jesus Christ appeared to Joseph Smith in 1820, and after that He appeared and spoke to millions of his member through the Holy Ghost.
Without hope, all men die. Hope is the substance of things not seen. I cannot see air, but I breathe it. I cannot see gravity, but it pulls me to the earth. The evidence lies not in what you can see and explain. But what you can feel. I feel that God exists, in whatever higher form. I yearn for my creator. When I quiet my brain, my mind, my heart I can feel God. I can hear God. I can have faith in God. Can you see love? No, but you can feel love. He loved us so that he sent us his Son. It is not a fairy tale, for no man has written a book as captivating and compelling as the bible. I don't have to see my creator to know He exists. I don't have to see air to know my next breath is coming. It is so very sad that for all of your intelligence, your heart doesn't tell your mind that the greatest of these is love and you cannot see love. Do we have to know it all in this life? No, I don't need to have it all explained. I just need to know I am loved.
God Bless you and I hope you are loved in your lifetime. And I hope that love overrules your mind before you pass from this life to the next. Love gives us faith and hope and the desire to not explain it all away but to trust in a higher power. I would sincerely hate to think that your explanations are the best the universe has to offer.
"Seeing air" is a stupid criterion. Air is quite opaque if analyzed with the correct wavelengths of light. Just because you need to have faith in the magic of air to remember to breathe does not mean the rest of the world needs to.
Mr Hawking need a personal revelation from God in order for him to believe and if not He endangering himself to eternal damnation. Mr Hawking repent please, for your own sake for God cannot be mocked!!!
Actually, belief in an afterlife, higher powers, etc., provide many people with a convenient way to shift responsibility for everything that goes on in life and the world off to somewhere where they can believe they have no power. Once enormous fears or unanswered questions are handed over to 'someone else' to own, a huge burden is lifted. The longer we as human beings continue to shirk responsibility for everything we all do, the longer the world will be afflicted with pain and suffering. If everyone alive stopped pinning empty hopes on 'God' to make everything right, or at least take the blame for everything that's not, the sooner all that wasted energy could be brought to bear on cleaning up all our problems. If you insist in keeping 'God' in it, remember one thing – 'God' only helps those that help themselves. There it is.
With or without hope all men die. No one knows what's on the other side. But given that no one has been proven to have returned, it's fair to conclude that there is no heaven or hell or omnipotent beings (note that believing something doesn't make it so). In fact if there were an all powerful God, he (it) would encompass everything, including all the energy in the universe, leaving nothing for us to even exist. In other words either God exists alone, or God is everything, including us. Hmmm, I just can't seem to stop someone from putting thoughts into my head – I have to stop thinking, but I can't.
Is God willing to prevent evil but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malelvolent. Is he both able and willing? Then why is there evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?
Just because someone doesn't understand God or agree with Him does not make him not exist...
Free will. The evil in this world is caused by other people who had the free will to make it so.
Way to steal a quote from Epicuras
if you read any religious text you would know why there is evil. all you stupid idiots ask basic questions like you're on to something.
Sam I am, neither does believing in him make him exist
I am opposed to organized religion and don't believe in deities. However, your logic is flawed. You're assuming that what a human would consider evil is what a god would consider evil. The term itself is highly subjective, there really is no right and wrong, only our perception. Most of society believes killing people is wrong, but those same segments may also believe that killing a person who killed another person would be acceptable. If you believe killing is evil but not when "justified" then it's somewhat arrogant for someone to think that a god would follow the same view. In actuality, killing someone isn't evil, nor good, but how we interpret the action is what makes it so.
To your point, if a god allows evil then it's maleveolent, when in actuality it probably would be above such petty "either or" views.
Nice! You posted good questions that should make people think a bit.
Whether there is a god or not, religion is the only solace to many people living an otherwise miserable life. Why take that one beacon of light from them. Some hope is better than none. If Steven is right, then there is no meaning to life and all is pointless.
pablo ya missed the point, he values his live and gives his life meaning, rather than attributing meaning from an outside source. =D (value,meaning = subjective, dependent on you wish to weigh it- so to speak;; is currency without value? is art without meaning? yes*, if you decide it is.)
& * No, if you decide it is not. 😉
meaning to who? The error is that meaning only comes if there is some external "creator", a concept that itself fails to have defineable meaning, to whom you go to to be told what you "mean". What we mean is what each of us creates as part of a Universe that is exploring its potential. Closer to home, what I mean is what happens in your mind when we interact, and vice-versa. .....maybe......
Why take what he believes so personally? Or get so angry? Just believe what you want. He will believe what he wants. I don't care about what he believes, or anyone else for that matter. My personal belief is good enough for me. The end.
I completely agree. I mean people (both atheists and theists) spend so much time trying to prove what they believe that it is creating a rift between mankind. People spend so much time trying to prove this, that and the other, that it makes me wonder if they are simply having doubts on those very beliefs. Yes, I believe that if you believe something you should express it, but don't feel as though you have to go on national television, or go to a magazine to try and swade people either way. If you are a Christian, share your beliefs, if you aren't, share your beliefs. But the line needs to be drawn when we start arguing futiely with each other, going back and forth and getting frustrated. I already expressed on here that I believe in heaven and hell, but I don't need to argue with anyone about it. Arguing gets no where.