Stephen Hawking, the famed British cosmologist and bestselling author, asserted that there is no heaven and dismissed the idea of an afterlife in a recent interview.
Hawking, who is no stranger to challenging religious beliefs, told U.K.-based The Guardian Today in an interview posted Sunday that he is not afraid of death having faced the possibility of an early death for the last 49 years. Hawking was diagnosed with an incurable motor neuron disease at the age of 21 that has progressively worsened, leaving him now nearly completely paralyzed.
“I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail,” explained the scientist about his view on death. “There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”
The comment is in line with the view expressed in his 2010 book The Grand Design, in which he contends that there is no need for a creator and the universe can be explained through science. Although he does not discuss heaven and the afterlife in the book, Hawking laid out his argument for an impersonal God, writing that it is not “necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper (fuse) and set the universe going.”
Hawking, a deist – someone that believes in the existence of an impersonal god on the evidence of reason and nature only – believes the universe and humans exist because of coincidences and “spontaneous creation.”
But religious figures, including Christians, have pointed out flaws in the famed scientist’s argument.
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Reason To Believe research scholar Dr. Jeffrey Zweerink commented about the book:
“A fundamental flaw in this Hawking idea is that God is no longer personal, and yet we human beings are personal,” he said. “We have a mind, we have a spirit, and you’re attributing the development of the human mind, the human spirit, the minds for that matter we see in the higher animals, the personalities that we see in all of us from completely impersonal soul-less and spirit-less laws of physics. How can the lesser produce the greater?”
Hawking currently serves as the director of research at the Center for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge. He became famous after penning the 1988 bestseller, A Brief History of Time, which attempts to explain the Big Bang, black hole and light cones to the general public.