“I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark,” Hawking told the Guardian.
“Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God...”
Blogger Jason Boyett wrote for On Faith at the time about the uncharitable and defensive reaction of some religious people to Hawking’s declaration that God is not ‘necessary.’
Needless to say, the mystery of the universe’s origins has long (always?) been subject to the contemplation and investigation of priests, prophets, physicists, philosophers --and existential college students. Many religious thinkers point to the ‘something out of nothing,’ ‘ ex nihilo,’ creation of the universe as evidence of a higher power. Hawking’s rejection of this notion represents, to many, a deepening divide between scientific and religious thought. (Others say that religion and science answer different questions, more here.)
In Hawking’s interview with the Guardian, he “emphasized the need to fulfill our potential on Earth by making good use of our lives.”
Here’s a bit more insight from the Q and A with the famed physicist:
You’ve said there is no reason to invoke God to light the blue touchpaper. Is our existence all down to luck?
Science predicts that many different kinds of universe will be spontaneously created out of nothing. It is a matter of chance which we are in.
So here we are. What should we do?
We should seek the greatest value of our action.
You had a health scare and spent time in hospital in 2009. What, if anything, do you fear about death?
I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years. I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first. I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.
How, if at all, does Hawking’s declaration that there is no heaven, and that God is not ‘necessary’ impact what you believe about God? What mysteries of the universe keep you up at night?
More On Faith and Hawking
NT Wright: What Hawking doesn’t understand about heaven
More On Faith and science:
Richard Dawkins: Science explains when the world will end