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.
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how sad....I pity this man so much...spontaneous creation???????...how about this: God in all his glorious, majestic power created EVERYTHING!!! He is the Creator and Maker of heaven and earth!!
GOD is the beginning and the end!! Only in time, everyone will see...this is the truth!!! even Stephen Gawking..
How about this: god is a pretend creation you've made up to explain things you don't understand. It seems much more likely than a fairy tale that you really, really, really want to be true and use any means to and end to make it true.
If everything came from the mere existence of GRAVITY as Hawking says, then WHO Created GRAVITY.
Is GRAVITY something or nothing?
No one knows. And that my dear people, is a fact.
this clown can't even get out of his chair...I'm supposed to take HIS word on this matter?
Not surprising to see such cruel and petty words on this topic. Immediate, knee-jerk reaction is to find one's most vulnerable aspects and use it as a weapon, as "proof" for an argument. It's disgusting.
When does a set of legs have to do with knowledge? I can say this much...at least his feet don't fit inside his mouth!
While I admire Professor Hawkings intellect and what he has contributed (greatly!) to our scientific community, I have to humbly disagree with his inability to accept a higher being in Christ and Heaven. Being a Christian, who is far from perfect I might add, I have the urge to pray for Professor Hawking, the battle he's conquered the past 49 years of his life, and his absence of faith.
I'm sure his prayers will mean a lot. I mean, given that you're essentially doing nothing, just begging silence for invisible help. But no, I'm sure he's comforted, as we all are, when friends and family offer to pray for us. How about people actually DO something to help, and not just "think good thoughts"? Wouldn't that be something – if instead of sitting on our hands every Sunday, begging for forgiveness for that thing we did with the thing, hundreds of thousands of people ... millions of people ... went out and TOOK ACTION to do something – plant a garden, deliver food, drive people around, build a house, learn a language, change the world? No, giving 10% of our salary in exchange for a place in imaginary fairy tale land is easier to do, and doesn't interfere with football ...
Nice post, Brad. Jay, if prayer worked, then the prayerful would have less disease, live longer, have fewer divorces, miscarriages, children with birth defects, car accidents, kids on drugs, etc, etc, etc. The fact that the rates of the badness that befall people are pretty much the same for everyone, whether they pray constantly or are atheists who never pray says a lot.
Great reply Brad! It is comforting to know that people like Jay do care enough that they are compelled to pray for someone of no faith. Unfortunately...they also have demonstrated by this act that their religion judges people. After judgement is rendered, they pray for Mr. Hawking to displace truth for faith. I am sure that Mr. Hawking gave much thought before stepping out on stage and stating his position, and I personally agree with his position.
If you want to believe that there is something more than this life, that's fine. Stephen Hawking can not prove that heaven exists, nor can he prove that it doesn't exist. People are paying far too much attention to this claim, just because a noted scientific mind says something, doesn't mean its 100% true, he is no different than the scientists of previous centuries who forcefully believed that the Sun revolved around the Earth.
Erm, not really. At least there was empirical evidence, albeit flawed, that the Sun revolved around the Earth. That's what it looks like from our perspective. With better measurements, we realized this was wrong.
Tell me, what independently verifiable and repeatable objective test do you propose, to determine the existence of Heaven?
There is no substance or proof the sun doesn;t revolve around the earth, it's just a exercise in translational mathematics... a perspective... or call it relativity. IF you are the center of the universe.. all things revolve around you. even if in conventional mathematics, it is more complicated to describe, there is not mathematical difference.
no difference whether you, the earth the sun,, the center of our galaxy etc.. is the center of the "universe".. or the center of any subordinate part.. it's just an adjustment in the mathematics.
The existence of Heaven and Hell is nothing more than a Metaphor. Fairy Tale stories to teach us right from wrong.
I don't need myths, hope of reward or fear of punishment to make me a decent human being.
@Really? That's the only thing that makes you a decent human? Fear of reprisal or anticipation of reward? In truth you'd go on being the person that you've always been if those things were removed from your life.
This is why this guy is in a wheelchair, he cursed God and God cursed him in return. He speaks pure nonsense.
"the universe can and will create itself from nothing" – how far do you with such nonsense!
So pjey does that mean that everyone with Cancer, Diabetes, etc cursed "God"?
What an awful, petty, cruel thing to say.
That has to be one of the most ridiculous things I've ever heard, you are implying that the has suffered from a debilitating disease because of his doubts about god? What about children who are born crippled and diseased, did they do something to offend god that warranted their condition? You are foolish
So there are no Christians in wheelchairs?
And babies born with horrific birth defects offended God in some way, too. Yeah, right.
By your comments... If you are a Christian, you lack the love of Jesus in your heart.
If you aren't then you simply have no heart.
Either way, I wonder if you'd feel the same way if your or someone in your family had a terminal disease.
And by the way, if your logic applies, then God is the causer of disease and slow suffering death.
Think about it...
After all, if you believe, then you MUST think that God didn't endow you with logic and reasoning so you'd forgo their use. Please honor your God and use them.
"He speaks pure nonsense"
Says the person who believes that a bearded zombie on a stick is going to be reborn one day to take an essence that will survive his death into an alternate dimension for eternity.
Wow! You sound like you have also been cursed with "ignorance and arrogance." The next time you get a cold, a headache, or one of your children get the measles, mumps, or some other childhood disease...make sure you pray for forgiveness for your cursing God! You take the cake. It is apparent that you have been cursed with a warped mind. I gather that you are not a religious follower, otherwise you would be following, even us non-believers know that! And certainly you exhibit no intellect based on your tongue and your twisted thought processes...no...I believe you definately belong to the "Church of the Lame (Square)."
Sad that Steven who has contributed a lot to mankind won't be with with me and my lord someday.
First Hawking and now you are making pronouncements about things that you know nothing about, kent! Hawking denies God, kent plays God?
You cant possibly know that since he can still repent at any moment from now til his death.
I'm sure that he's just devastated to not be guaranteed an eternity with Christianists, Mormons, JWs, islamists, and what I can only describe as religion's delightfully ignorant kin ...
How about the arrogance of this mortal creature Stephen Hawking! To have the absurdity to think that there is NO Heaven or GOD just b/c his little science projects cant prove it otherwise. Word of advise for all you atheists; don't waist your time trying to prove the existence of GOD, for He will not REVEAL Himself to you, for you have already repudiated Him in your hearts. Atheist lack faith, not b/c GOD rejected them, but b/c they reject the notion of an All Powerful, All Knowing, All Loving creator, just b/c their reasoning and limited understanding gets in their way to Believe and Accept the Truth. JESUS is TRUTH. DON'T live your lives like miserable creatures like Stephen Hawking! Without HOPE and Without GOD. Life is not a BIT&% and then you die....There will be Justice and Everlasting Love. In the POWERFUL name of JESUS.... AMEN!
Brainwashed much? Crowd control is all it is.. wake up and smell the reality!!
It's kind of cute Mr. Hawking believes himself to be the authority on whether or not God exists. Scientific discoveries in physics or biology do not disprove the existence of God, but in my view do just the opposite by uncovering some of awe inspiring complexities of this universe that could only have come about through a creator.
No, but they chip away at god every day, now don't they?
Hawking's the greatest! ~Ole!
There is more proof that Hawkings has done more for humanity than any God.
Thank you Dr. Hawking. This is why I don't trust my pastor's opinion on physics either.
Well, according to the new Judgement Day theory, we'll know by May 21 whether Mr. Hawking is right or wrong on this one.
then we will know again on dec 21 2012, lol xD
I am sorry to disagree with you (Mr. Hawking). There is absolutely no reason for us to exist at all, is there? No reason for the universe to be. In fact, logically, scientifically and physically.. it is almost absurd that we all exist. But we do. We love, we think, we are hurt, we experience joy, We live. Why? or rhetorically, Why not?
We are not omniscient and I am sorry, you are not either. Don't think that you are. It may be comforting to think there is a reason for our existence, but it is as likely there just might be but we do not see it. But I do think I, regardless, give thanks That I was gieven life, despite the hardships, obstacles and pain I have experienced, for I have also experienced love, joy and fleetingly, happiness. I thank whatever that gave me those gifts that we call life.
As sentient beings, we assign meaning to any idea. No God does it, WE do. If you choose to give a book full of old stories weight and meaning in your life, more power to you! Hawking is simply saying that the idea of heaven was created for the same reason Cinderella was written. It is a child's story to reduce fear and create a more content population. Any God you think you have talked to, is really you just talking to yourself. Bravo to whomever created this Disney story. We live, we sin, we get forgiven, we die, we live on forever. I think that last part was put in there to reduce our fear of death so we can have a more content life. When God talks to me, I'll believe. Until then, it won't matter because when my computer breaks down, I sure won't see you in hell... There isn't one! 😉 Now, if you read this and you're saying I'm a wacko who is trying to take your religion away from you, this is what astounds me. I genuinely feel I have found the truth, that there is no god/afterlife etc... Just as many of yall believe completely that I'm wrong. I respect your opinion and hope it brings you joy. 🙂 I want to meet a Neuro-Biologist with an IQ over 200 who believes in God. And just because I know this is going to trigger an onslaught of bible-thumpers to smite my soul (phfffttt!), could someone tell me how to scientifically prove there is a soul?
TIme is a remarkable observation, but in as universal construct.. is it necessary? To say one lived is to say one existed.. and that is forever.
The idea of a God as in scripture may be meaningless. Who really believes that a God or "angels" spoke to man, that may well be "fairy" tales.
Why we exist though is unexplainable.. it really makes no sense unless there is a purpose we do not realize. Even Mr. Hawking should be thankful that he lives today, for had he lived centures ago, how long would his life be? Or otherwise, could he accomplish the things that he has? He should know that he has been a light, a hope, and a celebrity to many because of his life. That should comfort him. The world just might be a better place for his being here.
It might be easy to believe that Stephen believes that there is no God. But, in simple terms, his theory of spontaneous creation implies an overall more grand design – in that the life instructions could not have been created by life itself, but came from somewhere. Or, from God himself. In effect, a beaver can build a dam that works, but who made the beaver?
Also, when approaching physics, it is difficult for those people with experience to "mandate" (or synthesize) a hypothesis without a theory and some sort of proof. And If spontaneous creation needs anything, it is evidence to support the theory,
Maybe Stephen could be informed that despite prayer, God's answer is not always yes. I cannot agree with his speculations about life, and heaven and the universe. Maybe he prays to a different God than I do.
A dam can also be made by a dead tree falling in a river, followed by backfilling of smaller branches and stones, tumbled into place by the water. It happens all the time.
Besides, the beaver was created by its parents. I think the question you really want answered is who created the first beaver?
Um, John... I'd be willing to bet he doesn't pray at all.
He is just angry. There is something.
I find that it is those who insist that "there is something", despite a total absence of objective evidence, who tend to be the angry ones when their views are challenged.
While I respect Steven Hawking as a scientist, his beliefs on religion and heaven carry no weight. Belief in God and the possibility of eternal life is not determined strictly by intellectual facts, but also the discernment of ones spirit and an experienced faith. There have been others and will continue to be others who disagree with the belief in God and an afterlife, but that does not concern me or anyone else who truly believes in God. The existence of God cannot be proven or disproven by scientists, though many have tried, and their desparate need to convince those of us who do believe that God does not exist is more than amusing. They think that because they have such outstanding intellectual capabilities, they must be able to determine whether or not God exists. They are free to believe however they choose....and so am I. The difference is that most believers are not compelled to force others to believe as they do, however non-believers feel strongly compelled to ridicule and try to convince believers that their beliefs are unfounded. Very interesting....
Once again, the silly argument that the existence of god has not be disproved.
One does not prove a negative.
The burden of proof is solely on the theist, and the existence of god has not been proven.
Time to stop believing in santa claus!
oops, "not be" should be "not been"
CC, I studied Science and I considered Hawking as an idiot. He proclaimed that matter came from nothing since matter cannot be destroyed or can be created from nothing. So the same with God, for He live in eternity. Mr Hawking need a personal Testimony from God to believe. He still an idiot.
Interesting. Such deluded logic you use CC.
"The difference is that most believers are not compelled to force others to believe as they do, however non-believers feel strongly compelled to ridicule and try to convince believers that their beliefs are unfounded. Very interesting...."
And here I thought missionaries and the like had been trying to convince others that they are wrong and you're god is the right one, killing all naysayers for centuries. Silly me.....how dare us make fun of someones invisible friend some old book told them they should have.
Well there is a lot of truth to what you say except at the end. I as a non-believer I never force or even try to change the mind of a believer, nor do I judge someone who does believe. But as someone that has lived all over the world and experienced many religions and people of faith, I have found that the believers are the ones that force their beliefs on the non-believer, not the other way around as you try to point out. Sorry....
"most believers are not compelled to force others to believe as they do"
Really? In which planet? Because in this one, just this Sunday I had people knocking on my door that would dearly beg to differ.
"The existence of God cannot be proven or disproven by scientists, though many have tried, and their desparate need to convince those of us "
Do you HONESTLY believe that scientists are trying to prove or disprove the existence of God just so that people would stop believing? Are you equating it with, say, the search for the cure for cancer or AIDS?
Sorry CC, but again, not on this planet.
"They are free to believe however they choose....and so am I."
This is the only line of your paragraph where I wholeheartedly agree with you.
With no sarcasm or meanness, thank you. Whether you meant your comment to be funny or not is irrelevant... You had me laughing out loud here. And for that, I am honestly grateful.
Sorry, but scientists don't come knocking on my door every Saturday morning with Alive magazines filled with mis-truths. Have you actually read how Christians and Muslims distort the facts, theories, and terms of science to serve their agenda? Science does not doing this – willfully or philosophically. People of faith must distort the science of our day because they have no other ground to stand on. It isn't true that scientists are trying to change the beliefs of others, but rather they are observing and testing natural phenomena with tomes of evidence telling the rational person that the notion of a deity as a NATURAL being rather than SUPERNATURAL one is absurd and silly. Silliness gets us into trouble. It is time for the adults to grow up now and stop playing pretend about the big guy in the sky. God is as true as Santa Claus in the North Pole with all his little Elves. It is time we start believing in each other and in the physical time we have on this planet and stop blowing ourselves up, shooting at others, and preaching ridiculous social maladies (i.e., pro-life (really anti-life), anti-stem cell, anti-gay, anti-evolution, anti-big bang, anti-truth) that is imposing a theocratic political and social environment on the rest of us who hold reality near and ear to our hearts.
"The difference is that most believers are not compelled to force others to believe as they do, however non-believers feel strongly compelled to ridicule and try to convince believers that their beliefs are unfounded....."
Oh, of course. Evangelicals NEVER push their beliefs on anyone else, nor do the ever pass judgement on others simply because those others may not think the same and believe in the same things. Are you for real? CC, reality is calling, and saying that you need a check.
If what you say is true, then why is it that I see billboards, roadside signs, TV, print and onlineadvertisements EVERY day in which religious groups try to force their particular brand of religion on everyone, yet on the rare occasion that an atheist does the same, it makes national news.
Not only that, but the theistic ads are far more aggressive and threatening than atheist ads.
'The difference is that most believers are not compelled to force others to believe as they do, '
Are you serious?
CC, you said "his beliefs on religion and heaven carry no weight." Gee, I think the Pope might be shocked to hear you say that, since Hawking has been a member of the Pontifical Academy of Science since 1986. This august body of scientists, a descendent of the Accademia dei Lincei, was established in 1603 to advise the Pope on matters of science, and who's first president was Galileo. Many Nobel prize-winners have served in the Academy. It contains many prominent scientists, such as Martin Rees (Astronomer Royal, president of the Royal Society), Hawking, and 78 more.
"The difference is that most believers are not compelled to force others to believe as they do however non-believers feel strongly compelled to ridicule and try to convince believers that their beliefs are unfounded..."
Really? That's funny, because I've never had an atheist knock on my door, shove pamphlets in my face and try to convert me. You must live in backwards land.
The atheists I've met don't really care what Christians believe as long as they leave them alone. They just don't want to have religion forced on them.
Thank you, Mark from Canada!! I think I love you.
Nobody is trying to prove anything to you...if you believe that man is the center of the Universe...good for you, perhaps he is. If a scientist tries to prove to you that the Earth revolves around the sun and you do not want to believe him or her, then good for you. If someone tries to warn you of some radioactive leak determined by some scientific piece of equipment and you choose not to listen...but remain ignorant...good for you! After all...it is about survival of the fittest!
It is said that within moments of our death, we will know exactly the sort of life we should have been living on earth.
Exactly. And that life should be worrying every second about the sins we are committing.
Then the system is either backwards or stacked against us...
Wouldn't this information be more valuable to us when we are born?
Who said that? Obviously, someone who's never done it.