Heaven is 'a fairy story,' scientist Stephen Hawking says
Stephen Hawking at the World Science Festival in New York in 2010.
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.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Britain • Death • Heaven

soundoff (4,469 Responses)
  1. Jim

    He's right. All the troubles of this world stem from religious dogma. Wake up to the fact that the bible etc, is a load of trash.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:07 am |
  2. woody

    I have to say, as a lowly B.S. Chemist, that science has not explained gravity. Yes, it is related to mass, but still- how is there mass? And what part of mass causes gravity? These are unanswered questions. I must say, that yes, if particles exist with neutral or opposite charges in an void, they will collide and something like a chemical reaction is bound to happen. But, still how is there mass and matter? I think it's obvious that there is a creator.

    May 18, 2011 at 1:04 am |
    • super woody

      nice one. double post. you should read my reply above. it was a great little segment about you swallowing the immense amount of se.men i just pumped into your mouth and/or face. you're a chemist like i'm a heart surgeon. you can't prove i'm not! just like i can't prove how much of a c.ock su.cking c.un.t you are.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:19 am |
  3. Galtene

    All the atheists want proof? I observed a ghost for 30 seconds plain as day while I was frozen in fear, I stayed awake after it disappeared so I know I wasn't sleeping and dreaming. It was less than 7 feet away from me in a completely dark room, it was a six foot tall man made of white light, and while I observed him, he went from standing to sitting. He looked like starring at a light bulb but did not illuminate the room. For me it is irrefutable proof of ghosts, spirits life after death.

    The shroud of Turin is irrefutable proof of the Crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ, I am not going to state all the facts about this shroud but all the evidence is out there proving it is real and that to this day we do not posses the technology to reproduce a image on cloth with the same physical characteristics.

    I have recently given my life to Jesus Christ and immediately was changed spiritually. An issue I had been dealing with mentally for twenty years immediatly resolved and I have been purified.

    All humans have the God given right to do as they will and believe what they want, without Jesus Christ we cannot be with the Father, the choice is yours. Atheists can call me an idiot if they wish, doesn't effect me in the least, I am now free of the material of this world and have no desire for any of it. A mortal flesh mind cannot perceive matters of the spirit, and until you completely give your mind, heart, soul and life to Jesus Christ, you will not be spiritually awakened and will be left to stumble in this material illusion people call the universe.

    I truly find it hard to believe that the best mankind's logic stated through Stephan Hawking can come up with is there is either "something or nothing" and that you do not need "something" to have "something" you must be kidding me! How long did it take a man with a 160 IQ to come up with that? How many years of school and observation? please tell me it isn't true!

    May 18, 2011 at 1:00 am |
    • enetlaG

      are you RET.ARDED???!!!!! lay off the f.u.cking acid bro. your irrefutable proof is the most laughable crock of sh.it i've ever heard. you make the rest of these god fearing mor.ons sound like stephen hawkings. why in the hell would any spirit, especially that of god, waste his time showing up in front of a pathetic loser like yourself? you are weak. you are nothing. you will die like you lived: a pitiful cu.m guzzling sh.ithead

      May 18, 2011 at 1:22 am |
    • paris2venice

      Galtene clearly never read Charles Dickens. 🙂

      May 18, 2011 at 1:34 am |
    • enetlaG


      i like the cut of your jib. if you were in my physical vicinity i'd buy you a tall frosty one.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:36 am |
  4. Tony

    Religion is for the weak fo mind and soul. I guess all these people who believe in the tale of Jesus and Heaven, also believe in Santa Claus, Zeus, Thor, Shangri-La, Chupacabras, Nessie and so on... There is no difference between all these fantastic stories. Grow up and stop believe non-sense

    May 18, 2011 at 12:55 am |
  5. Kabeer

    Hawkins is so so right!!! I agree with his theory that there is no heaven or hell. To all those who disagree (including the church), has anyone been there and back to confirm that heaven and hell do exist? When you enjoy life with luxuries thrown in – that is heaven. When you go through life with sufferings of different kinds – that is hell. Period.

    May 18, 2011 at 12:54 am |
  6. Reginald Stallworth Jr.

    Tell me when has there in the existence of humans from the beginning until now has there been ANYTHING created out of nothing. It is so FOOLISH to think that our 206 bones just so happened to be in the correct place for us to be. That the universe thought it a grand idea not only to create the human species, but to seperate it into male and female and to have them be able to reproduce only with each other. TELL ME what faceless, mindless "Universe" could ever create a human body with such precision, and to call it wise for giving me eyes to see, ears to hear, a nose to smell, and hands to create. And to not only create the human species but to place us on a planet that revolves perfectly around a burning sun to give us seasons in which to grow food and harvest it to feed ourselves. TELL ME why is so much faith put on something that is only a place(Universe) and not a creator. My GOD(Son – Jesus) created this world and all its complexities.

    May 18, 2011 at 12:54 am |
    • Archibald Pinkerton Sr

      my LORD you are one stupid piece of sh.it. our bones do not "happen" to be in the right place. are you seriously that deluded? there's no hope for people like yourself. you should all be put on a train and shipped of to some kind of camp. a camp where you could concentrate. some kind of "concentration camp" if you will. I'll turn your fat into soap and use your bones to bake my bread! hooray! now sit back and watch while i ej.acu.late onto jesus' eager face. let's see what he has to say about my 206 bones now! especially when every one of them is jammed up his as.s.hole! THERE IS NO GOD!! WOOOOOOOOOOHOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!

      May 18, 2011 at 12:59 am |
    • Reginald Stallworth Jr.

      If you are going to reply at least make sure you understand what I wrote BEFORE you reply. I was stating that our bones DOES NOT just so happen to be in the right place. Which means it was placed in its specific place with help not just by RANDOMNESS OF THE UNIVERSE.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:10 am |
    • Archibald Pinkerton Sr.

      oh i read what you wrote. my point was our bones are in their current formation from millions of years of evolving to this point. not because your invisible c.unt.hole in the sky decided they should be there. hows about i shove my fleshbone down your momma's throat? where's your god now, f.ag.otron? as we speak, i'm using a page of the bible to clean up the cu.mstain i left on a picture of your lord and savior jesus christ. and he is LOVING it.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:13 am |
    • Reginald Stallworth Jr.

      I realize now I am speaking to a foolish person with no hopes of having an intellectual conversation. What say you sir Archibald? What evolves from nothing?

      May 18, 2011 at 1:17 am |
    • Archibald Pinkerton Sr.

      watch now as the amazing Archibald evolves a massive load of c.um in your daughter's covetous bu.tthole! yeah i'm not into "intellectual conversations" as you can almost certainly tell. i'm afraid i'll say the wrong thing and offend this mystical flying sky monster and he won't let me into his special little club. but whatever, maybe you're right. god does everything. god lets children get molested and lets people die of cancer and lets people like me roam the earth and say silly things on a cnn forum and lets children get cancer and lets children with cancer get ra.ped and lets cancer stricken ra.pe victim children receive 3rd degree burns on 85% of their body and lets me say things like this. god is merciful like my balls aren't covered in hair. i'm about to evolve my finger up my a.s.s. see ya on the other side Mr. Stallworth!

      May 18, 2011 at 1:26 am |
    • Archibald Pinkerton Sr.

      on a side note it's been fun shooting the breeze with you reggie. can i call you reggie? sure i can. god told me i could. while i was f.u.cking him up his Holyness! pun definitely intended. When i do die and go to hell rest assured you can sit on that high horse of yours and look down your nose at me and my ilk. as they say in france, my milkshake brings all the boys to the yard, something something poker face, something something amen.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:29 am |
    • Archibald Pinkerton Sr.

      Awwww c'mon reggie baby! Reply! don't tell me i did all this trolling for nothing! i finally found somebody who would actually respond to my mindless bs and now you just leave me in the dark? i thought we had something special. i tells ya what, i'll say i believe in god and i'll even let you put a finger in me! WHY CAN'T I QUIT YOU REGGIE???!!!?!?!?!?!

      yours forever and a day,

      Archie Sr.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:34 am |
    • Reginald Stallworth Jr.

      Sorry for the wait. It's been interesting to say the least. And you can call me Reggie. I'm not on a high horse and I don't want you to go to hell no matter what INSANE things you may say. I just want you to learn and think throughout the conversation Archie.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:37 am |
    • Archibald Pinkerton Sr.

      gosh durnit reggie. when you go and talk all nice and what not it really takes the wind out of my crazy sails. i'm almost embarrassed for all the potentially illegal stuff i said. thank god for the anonymity of the internet. probably shouldn't have used my real name though. have a good night. and take pride in the knowledge that your calm response actually ended the lovely trolling session i was having.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:42 am |
    • Reginald Stallworth Jr.

      🙂 Good Night Archie

      May 18, 2011 at 1:55 am |
  7. mohammad timory

    religions without science is blind and science without religion is lame. the existence of god can be proven. but hawkings is ignorant. i as a muslim scholar(ummah) and a medical student with allah as my witness will challenge dr. steven hawking in a open forum for a debate and prove to him the the existence of the lord. the difference between hawking and sir isaac newton is that isaac newton as a monotheistic scientist by submitting his will to god and accepting that there is a god made progress by formulating the three laws of motion, the universal law for gravity, etc. mr. hawking submit your will to god and you will find answers and your ignorance will be neutralized. may peace blessing and mercy of allah be upon you.

    May 18, 2011 at 12:52 am |
  8. Jason

    I accept his point. Well done Professor!

    May 18, 2011 at 12:52 am |
  9. Steve

    The poor man has got the devil all over him. Did you see his face in the picture?

    May 18, 2011 at 12:48 am |
  10. Steve

    Hawkins is a gifted man, but thats all he is.

    Some of the smartest people in history are spiritual Zeros. Cursed be man that trust in man Jer. 17:6
    Trust in the Lord and not in man Ps. :118

    May 18, 2011 at 12:45 am |
    • Jim

      You and the god squad are so brainwashed by that load of trash they call the 'bible'. RELIGION IS A SAD JOKE.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:04 am |
  11. Joanne Davis

    Stephen Hawking knows nothing about heaven. He's never been dead has he? I hope when he does die and is forced into limbo he'll have time to reflect on his arrogance and closed mindedness.

    May 18, 2011 at 12:44 am |
    • biznatchplease

      Hey joanne, i hope when you die you're sodomized by your own father for an eternity. stu.pid c.u.n.t.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:47 am |
  12. Steve

    The fact is this guy hates God, and is being used as an instrument of Satan

    Science doesn't explain the supernatural. Theres realitys that wont be found in science books. Only the Bible.
    Which has proved itself by forcasting the world avents with 100% accuracy. Mr. Hawkins mind will be blown when he
    stands before God to give an account. God loves him dearly, Hawkins worships himself. Hes mad at God for
    his physical condition. Sin has brought woe to the world. God isn't to blame. All the inhibatints of the world are about
    to meet there doom exept a small remenent. Those that keep the commandments of God and the faith of Jesus.

    May 18, 2011 at 12:35 am |
    • paris2venice

      With 100% accuracy??? You have to be kidding. Please educate yourself.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:28 am |
    • laaaaaaaame

      dude.... did you report my post and get it deleted? weak bro. even for a god fearing fa.ggot piece of sh.it like you. uh oh, watch out y'all, i made fun of his child molest.er in the sky!

      May 18, 2011 at 1:39 am |
  13. Michael

    Stephen Hawking WE don't Die! You Will Thats the differences! And sooner then you might want!

    May 18, 2011 at 12:31 am |
    • thejiggawhat


      learn the difference between "then" and "than" you m.o.r.o.n. or does god not care about good grammar? he's probably too busy letting children get rap.ed and killing millions of people with famine, war, and pestilence. Hooray for god! f.u.ck.ing idiots, the lot of you.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:43 am |
    • paris2venice

      We don't die? Your heaven is going to have all the good dogs too? Oh, wait. They don't have a soul. I guess heaven is only for the mighty select few. Wait. What about all the prehistoric humans who lived for thousands and thousands of years prior to religions being invented? They don't have a soul either?

      May 18, 2011 at 1:25 am |
  14. daniel

    What's wrong with you all , this man is one of the smartest alive and u people that believe In heaven and god , dos the book say don't judge the , and still you all do, that's why I don't believe all of it .

    May 18, 2011 at 12:29 am |
  15. Methusalem969

    Mr. Hawkins is proving to us that he himself got all his knowledges from Lucifer, the devil. The sad part of it is, he refuses to repent, and continues suffering here on earth, and even more in hell. What a tragedy!

    May 18, 2011 at 12:22 am |
    • Realist

      Haha, Lucifer? ..... hell? The intelligent people of this world mock you. When will you realise, for quite a lot of people, hell is living on this Earth.

      Maybe instead of commenting on quotes from one of the smartest individuals on the planet, find those religious values that actually matter, and cough up a dime for the poor and underprivileged.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:36 am |
    • Enoch

      "One of the smartest man" can't even be able to walk or talk.

      May 18, 2011 at 9:02 am |
    • Enoch

      "One of the smartest men", rather.

      May 18, 2011 at 9:03 am |
  16. my name

    Hawking is an Einstein wannabe.

    Science is a hungry, blind, drunk man crawling through a large swamp, and cursing while an apple orchard is a hundred miles away. He doesn't see it and so he doesn't believe it.

    May 18, 2011 at 12:21 am |
    • your name

      science is a blind man? then i guess faith and the faithful are a couple of reta.rded deaf kids getting reamed by an invisible racist chauvinist petty vengeful spiteful self-centered piece of sh.it living in the sky. i'm about to go take a huge dump in a church. suck it biatch!

      May 18, 2011 at 12:56 am |
    • paris2venice

      The problem with your claim is that you again must invoke your imagination to create a fairy tale (the apple orchard).

      May 18, 2011 at 1:19 am |
  17. Taradas

    And what does this statement have to do with science? From where has this fellow received such privileged information? |There is no heaven". He BELIEVES. And so what. The theists believe otherwise. A real scientist w/o a strong anti-God predisposition will just say "I have no idea and no evidence for or against." Scientists should stick to making statements about the materially verifiable stuff and stop preaching. Pretending that their faith statements carry more weight.

    May 18, 2011 at 12:18 am |
    • Sarah

      So what gives anyone the right to preach? Why are religious people allowed to spread their faith and a scientist is not???? At least scientists don't burn people alive or torture them if someone doesnt agree with them!!!

      May 18, 2011 at 12:42 am |
    • paris2venice

      And Sarah is putting it mildly. All of the major religions were started during ancient times when knowledge was severely lacking and no explanation existed for what humans experienced on earth. Those unknowns and fears were addressed by the creation of gods because humans had nothing else to turn to. Even now when humans are desperate and cannot prevent bad things from happening, they turn to a god for resolution. When the results are positive, it's because God intervened, they claim. And when disaster strikes, it's claimed that God's ways cannot be known. How often have you heard when someone dies young, it's because he had fulfilled God's role for him or her. There's always some irrational explanation without any merit whatsoever.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:14 am |
  18. tChron

    I wish Dr Hawking would review the movie 'Source Code'. I want to know how much is Hollywood fantasy and how much is fact or scientifically possible.

    May 18, 2011 at 12:16 am |
  19. J

    I certainly hope there's a heaven or an afterlife. Stephen's right, I'm afraid of the dark. Who would want it all to just end at death? Scary thought. Sadly, the evidence points one way, not the other.

    May 18, 2011 at 12:10 am |
    • tChron

      It's only human to be afraid of something unknown.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:24 am |
    • paris2venice

      There is a heaven and you're in it right now. It's called life. The only problem is that it doesn't last forever. Why does it have to? You already knew it would end some time. Of course, for some people, there is also a hell but at least it can be escaped.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:54 am |
  20. Phil

    Just because you didnt see your brain, it doesnt mean it doesnt exist. Your madeness will take you to hell. If you dont believe in heaven, at least you will find hell when you go there, if not now! Repent NOW itself and seek GOD!

    May 18, 2011 at 12:09 am |
    • Realist

      How delusional are you and your cult? You fanatical religious people are a danger to yourself and others. How about you believe in something real, and not these fairy tales of a higher power. Faith is an excuse for the weak.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:30 am |
    • JDinFLA

      Whats so delusional about believing there's no way that all living things, the brain, the universerve, oprah, just all happened randomly with absolutely no external influence whether spiritual or by universal spontaneity.
      There are many great physicist that do not agree with Hawkins assessment of God's existence and his studies have taken him further to not only deny the existence of God but to further conclude that God's dwelling place is also non existent, after careful deliberations of course.
      The funny thing about the mind is that fine line between sanity and insanity

      May 18, 2011 at 12:45 am |
    • kool_aid_for_kidz


      what's delusional about it? um.... everything? if god is real, why is he powerless to stop me from ramming my co.ck up your granny's but.t.hole? oh right, i'll be judged after i die. super! can't wait to meet the big guy! i hear so.domy is all the rage in hell!

      May 18, 2011 at 12:50 am |
    • reason

      People like you give us rational people a bad name. You just give more ammo to the very people you disagree with to shoot us down. There are extremists on both sides, and you're one of them. I'm an atheist but even I know when and how to restrain myself. Get some help, buddy.

      May 18, 2011 at 12:52 am |
    • Reginald Stallworth Jr.


      Having Faith is weak? In what manner to do you speak of? Is it me believing in something unseen. Or is it me being strong enough to walk upright in a world that DELIGHTS in evil because of my faith. Unwise is your tongue for speaking on things you have never experienced. Have FAITH my Friend and see how easy it is.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:05 am |
    • woody

      I have to say, as a lowly B.S. Chemist, that science has not explained gravity. Yes, it is related to mass, but still- how is there mass? And what part of mass causes gravity? These are unanswered questions. I must say, that yes, if particles exist with neutral or opposite charges in an void, they will collide and something like a chemical reaction is bound to happen. But, still how is there mass and matter? I think it's obvious that there is a creator.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:13 am |
    • super woody

      you're a chemist, woody? riiiiiiiiight. and i'm the second coming. seeing as i'm the son of god, i'll explain gravity to you real quick like: you kneel before me. i bust a load. it land on your face because gravity pulled it down to your pathetic level. you swallow it because you're a c.um.wh.ore. yay for science! chemist my a.s.s.

      May 18, 2011 at 1:16 am |
    • Archibald Pinkerton Sr.

      Reggie! I found you! you never close your eyes anymore when i kiss your liiiiiiips! now git back hurr and gimme summa that luuuuuuuuuuvin

      May 18, 2011 at 1:38 am |
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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.