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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When a good friend of mine passed away I was in so much pain I cried for days. I prayed to God for him to send me a sign that he is ok. When I awoke I walked down the stairs in my home and laid on the couch. Jesus came to me and showed me a vision of him sitting on a rock holding my friends head and stroking his hair. I have seen Jesus and I know he and God are real.
I had a vision after a death and I just think it was from the stress I was going through.
May God bless you.
I'll see you in heaven.
Maybe he believes that even in the afterlife he will still be afflicted with his condition. I once asked a very wise person what happens to the retarded people when they die. Will they still be retarded. The answer was if you lived a good life you will go to heaven where everything is perfect with no sickness, no sin.
Not that we need an astrophysicist to tell us that. It's kind of obvious if you take the time to work it out yourself. Next week, expect Hawkings to announce that there is no Mount Olympus, no Juju God Haven, and no Wonderland. Great! Now get back to work on zero point energy.
An American Physical Society meeting of March 22 in Dallas presented a mathematical model on the growth on religious non-affiliation. Long term studies find that fewer people are attending church and that religion will all but die out in Australia , Austria, Canada. Czech Republic,Finland, Ireland, The Netherlands, New Zealnd and Switzerland. As well, many other European countries are begining to show similar trends.
Not so with the USA whose devotion to religion matches that of Turkey, Iraq and Iran.
The real point is that if all the Muslims of the Arab world could be convinced the fable of heaven is nothing more than a fairy tale, and that there are no 72 virgins or old freinds and family to greet them, then the world would immediately become a safer place
I WOULD BEG TO DIFFER.,
WHEN PEOPLE HAVE NO MORAL CODES OR RELIGION BASED ON THE AFTERLIFE AND AN ALL KNOWING GOD OR THIS INNATE FEAR OF AN AFTERLIFE JUDGEMENT FOR A LIFE POORLY LIVED OR FOR ONE THAT BROUGHT TERROR AND PAIN TO ONES FELLOW HUMAN BEINGS WE WOULD HAVE IT A LOT WORSE ON THIS EARTH.,
BECAUSE THERE WOULD BE NO CAUSE TO STOP ANY NATION OR MAN FROM TAKING AND KILLING FOR THE SAKE OF MIGHT MAKES RIGHT AND THEREFORE I'M GOING TO KILL YOU AND YOURS AND TAKE IT ALL FOR MYSELF AND MINE.,
BE DAMNED ANY CONSEQUENCE.
DO YOU SEE THE GANG BANGING YOUTHS SHOOTING UP THE HOOD???
ALL OVER DRUG MONEY AND FOR TURF AND STREET CRED?
THESE ARE THE PEOPLE THAT HAVE NO EDUCATION ABOUT THEIR FUTURE AND THE FEAR OF DEATH IS ABSENT BECAUSE OF YOUTH AND LACK OF EDUCATION ABOUT DEATH.
BEING A MORTAL WE ARE ALL EQUAL IN THE END.
LIFE WE ENJOY BUT FOR A SHORT TIME.,
THE FEAR OF A FINAL JUDGEMENT AND CONSEQUENCE OR THE TRUE FEAR OF GOD IS WHAT KEEPS THE MASSES FROM BECOMING UNGLUED AND FULL OF FEAR AND HATE FOR THE VERY MORTALITY AND ITS LIMITATIONS THEY HAVE TO LIVE WITH.
The topic of 'is there an afterlife and/or heaven' is something that everyone can try and answer to their own satisfaction. I think to do this you have to believe one of two things:
1. all we are is an amalgamation of recycled chemicals or
2. we are more than just an amalgamation of recycled chemicals
There are lots of ramifications associated with each line of thought, but I think these are to two base lines of thought that have to be used to answer the question. You pick.
And as for gravity. Who/what created/decided there should be gravity. Another idea central to the article above. Maybe the requirement for gravity can be proved with mathematics, I don't know, but it seems more like an idea than a tangible, but I'm not an atomic/astro phycicist.
HEY KID THE BEST SCIENTISTS ON EARTH CANNOT FIGURE OUT GRAVITY!!!!!!
EVEN WITH THE BEST THEORY OF MATHMATICS STRING THEORY AND RANDOM MATH LIKE QUANTUM THEORY DOES NOT WORK THING OUT ON PAPER OR IN THE COMPUTER PROGRAMS TO MAKE GRAVITY HAPPEN.
WE KNOW GRAVITY EXISTS BECAUSE OF ITS ACTION ON OTHER THINGS LIKE THE PLANETS AND STARS BUT WITHOUT OBSERVING THEM THERE IS NO PERCEPTION OR ANY EVIDENCE FOR THIS GRAVITATIONAL FORCE AT ALL.
Quantum physics was originally conceived to keep physicists, or alchemists, looking down and in rather than up and about. They're much less dangerous that way. But it is interesting to see that Stephen believes himself to be no more than the sum of his still juicy parts. Looks like the trap is working pretty darn well.
it is amzing hoiw scared people are.
and history has proved, that for millions of years poeople have been so afraid we created "religion" to explain away everything we did not undestand or were afrid of.
and since the beggining of mankind, however that happened...."religion" has accompished one and only one thing
it has celebrated our differences, divided mankind, and caused wars over and over again instead of doing what this world needs us all to do...celebrate our similarities.
so then on your deathbed, you will think to yourself.... it is all going to be over in a couple of minutes.
spontaneus creation? Really?
Is that a scientific explanation about how the universe came to be?
Is not more honest to say that he does not know?
Watch ancient Aliens. The concept of God is misguided interactions with space/time travelers.
Actually, there are 49 gods and they are all named Elmer.
I have faith that God exists. I don't know for sure, but I choose to believe. In the end, whether there is or is not a God, I hope my faith has allowed me to lead a better life and be a better human being.
God bless you.
I don't understand; has "gravity" always been or did it have a beginning? Was "gravity" in existence before creation? If "gravity" has always been it was not created, if not; it was created. If there was a period of time that gravity existed alone; what delayed creation? If it had a beginning; who or what could have created it?
Unlike this thingy "God" that nobody in existence can logically explain what it is, we know GRAVITY exists and we can logically and scientifically account for it. Crazy theists claim this thingy "God" has always existed. Physicist say that all that is required for existence is GRAVITY. Hence, GRAVITY is what has always existed and will always exist. In other words, without gravity nothing could ever existence.
The physicists define gravity as the attraction between matter. HowKing says everything exist because of gravity. How could it be there before matter? They say he is brilliant, but he does not know everything. His word is not final. I think he is just bitter that he is like he is.
GRAVITY WAS PART OF A GREATER FORCE THAT INTERTWINED WITH all the other forces we know of. gravity, magnetism, the nuclear weak force and the nuclear strong force. they broke apart when the big bang took place . they where all combined to create a super force.
What a kind and merciful god we have... he comes up with the coolest diseases and all kinds of fascinating ways to make the children he loves so much suffer countless horrors on this planet he created. If there is a god I expect he'll be sitting right next to me in hell.
we are part of the physical world. To blame him/her whatever is like thanking him when you win the lottery. No connection in either case.
I wonder why you even wake up in the morning, believing that there is no god, or afterlife. to me, whats the the sense of living if there wont be an life after death.
Stephen Hawking is brilliant. The world owes him a lot for the understanding of difficult things that he has brought to light. But I think he is wrong in this particular case. To say that God and heaven don't exist is getting into areas that he is not an expert in. God uses natural laws. To dismiss God in the creation of the universe is to dismiss nature. Also, the knowledge, discoveries, inventions that we enjoy are all from God (actually the light of Christ). So the very source of Hawking's great intellect is from the God that he disavows. And to say that a person's existence ends when the brain's components fail is to ignore the spirit/soul. Everyone is free to believe what they want to believe, but the possibility of an afterlife has not been dis-proven. Believing that there is more to my existence than this mortal life gives me a much greater feeling of purpose than if I didn't believe it. It would be sad to think that this life is all there is. I think there is more to mankind's reason for existing than that.
He prayed to God to make his ALS go away, but when nothing happened he got frustrated and decided God does not exist because God did not answer his prayers. Poor Man! Pray for his soul.
THERE IS NO HELL EITHER. So dont be afraid and be free of your bonds and beliefs.
What an incredibly sad situation to be given this horrible condition and to have no belief in anything....I feel sorry for this sad man as he has nothing to look forward to but a certain finality of death in his world.
It would be hard to believe in God if you spent your entire life in a wheelchair. I doubt I would either. My heart goes out to Mr. Hawking and all of the people he hurt with his belief. Yes it is a belief – he can't prove it!
HE'S AN ANGRY SICK PERSON WITH NO BELIEFS IN A HIGHER POWER OR A HIGHER CAUSE THAN HIMSELF OR THE PHYSICAL WORLD TRULY SAD AND PATHETIC.
He has exactly the same thing to look forward to after death that you do - nothing.
"he has nothing to look forward to but a certain finality of death in his world."
And that differs from the remainder of us in what way??
Poor old handi the moment you close your eyes or have a last breath your spirit will see the reality where you go.
Wow this has got people stirred up. Every Christian that has insulted Mr Hocking has obviously forgotten the teachings of the prophet Jesus. The concept of heaven was created for fearful and ignorant peasants as part of the power of the priests. The concept of heaven is a state of mind and once the mind/brain dies so does the concept. If heaven is a physical place why aren't Christians building a space ship in an effort to find it?
Oh I see, it's way out there, someplace beyond. Right. Certainly if Christian people don't believe in ghosts, the boogyman or other's spirits, how can they claim the spiritual thought of heaven for themselves?
If you consider yourself religious and faithful, good for you. How's about you start conducting yourselves in a manner that upholds the ten commandments and stop being so down right righteous and hypocritical.
uuuuhhhhhhh it's like on a different plane or something.. ehuhuhuhuhuhuhuhuhuhuh
how rude of you, claiming somebody's religion to be false.
I am a religious person and have all of my own opinions. But I absolutely believe everyone has equal right to beliefs and stating them, including Stephen Hawking. I fully agree with your statement. These religious right extremeists who get all up in arms about scientists are hypocrits and don't follow their own teaching. They need to learn to respect everyone whether they agree with them or not.
YankinOZ. You accuse Christians of being brainless and nasty, but most of the posts I've seen are from people who can't say enough to degrade and discredit others who take a moral stand on life, politics or whatever. Yes, there are a few bad apples in every cart, but most of the Christians I know would sacrifice considerably for your well being. There are Christian Astronauts, Navy Admirals and even Physicists, so where does the brainless part come in. There's a saying "A foul mouth is a feeble mind expressing itself forcefully." It's not my intent to return barbs, but maybe you should think about it.
This stuff makes the religious right go whacko. This will really gin up the right now.
How many times does Professor Hawking get to change his mind? He goes back and forth on this one, and he's admitted mistakes in the past. Here's my take (and what was his in the past... as for the future, we'll all find out together) Everything from the beginning of the universe is nature, so what came before the universe? Something beyond nature, something "super natural" ie: God.
How do you know that the universe didn't always exist? Are you going to cite scientific evidence?
I didn't conceive of the "Big Bang" and in this article Professor Hawking states, "the universe can and will create itself from nothing." clamming a "start" to the universe so I guess the answer to your comment is Professor Hawking sez so... "Read two times and call me in the morning..."
Exactly, he obviously doesnt believe in God and with all the studying and research didnt take time to read the bible. If he would believe in God for 5 seconds in prayer, God answers, he'll change his mind.
I thought we established that Hawking can be wrong. The big bang hardly fits in with the book of Genesis so this must be another case where he's wrong.
My point is he's made mistakes and he changed his view before both back and forth. From his work "A Brief History of Time", he was accommodating of religious beliefs, suggesting that God as creator was not incompatible with a scientific understanding of the universe. "If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason; for then we should know the mind of God," he said, HIS words not mine.
Bottom line, we'll all find out together.
The universe is not eternal. It had a beginning. Science proved that with the "big bang"
NungaBiz has a point.
Well, if I'm reading the article correctly, he seems to be suggesting that there exists a mathematical model that demonstrates a 100% probability of spontaneous creation assuming the existence of gravity. If so, that's a pretty convincing answer to one of the great unanswerable questions concerning creation!
It strikes me that a little more belief in knowledge and a little less knowledge of belief might not be such a bad thing. An argument for the "Religion" of Science?
He is ASSUMING the PRE-existence of GRAVITY to support his model. Hence he is not explaining how the universe gets created; he is leaving gravity out!
Yep, now your all thinking. It's the old story, same question I'd ask the Nuns at school "Who was Gods Mother?" What came before even gravity? What came before the "Big Bang" (still a theory by the way...)? Where did the gravity come from? What about the "singularity" come from? All these have an answer, it's beyond what we can understand, beyond nature; again to suggest the "super natural" ie: God, or at least Gods Mother... what came first the chicken or the egg? Maybe the rooster?
We have pondered these things (as a species) from the day we could think, and the answers will come, once we have lived our lives as that is the exact point of when "we get it". God fits into my thinking as "everything" including my still hero, Professor Hawking, I just don't agree with his incomplete view of existence; AGAIN we'll all find out at the same time.
One more time... with feeling. This is from another of my post in this forum, and it's from me: I hate to make a bad joke of this but... I JUST CAN'T RESIST!!! As Professor Hawking's wife would have said "The beatings will continue until moral improves..." Ouch!
Seriously, I have the utmost respect for Professor Hawking, he's always been one of my few hero's in life, but so is MY idea of God. I'm Pantheistic, I believe "God" is everything and everything is "God". Not "some guy with a white beard sitting on a cloud" but nature and super natural as well; Professor Hawking to "the universe" (and who sez anyone knows the mind of the universe anyway Professor?)
Your my hero, but your not as smart as MY "universe", MY lowly slug MY "God".
What I don't understand is why this is news. Hawking is a PHYSICIST, which means what he has to say about physics is very interesting and very well-informed. However, the man is not a literature specialist, so what reason do I have to seriously consider what he has to say about "fairy tales," much less about "philosophy" and "theology" when he hasn't even so much as an undergraduate degree in either of those areas. Physicists can tell us about the physical world, not about a spiritual one. Scientists should stick to their area of expertise if we're to take them seriously; otherwise, they merely denigrate their own area of study.
@Cathy: And who are the *experts* of the spiritual world? I know of none. HINT: if you cannot logically tell me WTH is 'God' or 'heaven' or the spiritual world ... then you have no understanding of it either. Don't worry though...NOBODY has a logical argument for any of these things.
Very well said.
to answer your question; the authority on spiritual matters is Jesus Christ. He came to earth, so you can KNOW who God is.
Cathy: and your expertise is???
Cathy looks like you are going to hell, because you have one in your mind, and beause you are eating from the knowledge tree. Me and Prof. Hawking however could be banging bad girls all day long and still be very happy!
What does literature have to do with exploring reality and discovering the universe? You are missing the point. There *IS* no "spiritual world" outside of your imagination and that of those who share your fantasies.
He IS speaking within his "area of expertise", Cathy. Science is the way in which we discover the truth about the world around us. Religion has no place in that discussion; it is based on superstions and holds the ludicrous idea that it exists outside of – or is somehow exempt from – the scientific method.
He is out of his area of expertise. He is disputing the existence of GOD and HEAVEN.
Your last sentence about scientists sticking to what they do really angered me. The reason is because there is no end to certain religious people telling scientists that they are wrong just because some theory or law goes against that person's religion. Case in point, there is a big sign coming in to my city that says evolution is wrong, and as a soon to be biology grad it's insulting to me for somebody with no degree in science to tell a scientists what is real.
You just aren't looking at this from an eccentric atheist genius's point of view. To a guy like Hawking, your perceived ignorance is a flaw, a problem to be solved. The source of this particular flaw lies in your inability to conceive of spontaneous creation, set in motion by nothing more than the same rules that govern why everything is the way it is today, to say nothing of attempting to actually put mathematical proof to that concept!
Hawking believes he's solving for your ignorance. Why do you believe in God? You have no proof of an alternative. Here is that proof. Problem solved.
Hawking probably doesn't have much use for faith. He reveres knowledge over belief. He probably doesn't understand the average human being's need to believe in anything. A fact that most Christians would probably find pitiable, were it not coming from a guy who invalidated their faith.
It's a shame atheists can't be more diplomatic, but then I imagine a guy like Hawking doesn't have time for anything not of substance. I probably wouldn't have time for pleasantries either, if I were constantly racing the clock, expecting to die young with so much untapped potential!
Incidentally, Stephen Hawking is on record as believing in little green aliens (well, okay, he didn't describe them as "green," but you get my point).