Heaven is a fairy tale, says physicist Hawking

LONDON Mon May 16, 2011 3:47pm IST

Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking speaks at his official welcoming ceremony at Perimeter Institute For Theoretical Physics in Kitchener June 20, 2010. REUTERS/Sheryl Nadler

Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking speaks at his official welcoming ceremony at Perimeter Institute For Theoretical Physics in Kitchener June 20, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Sheryl Nadler

Related Topics

LONDON (Reuters Life!) - Heaven is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark, the eminent British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking said in an interview published on Monday.

Hawking, 69, was expected to die within a few years of being diagnosed with degenerative motor neurone disease at the age of 21, but became one of the world's most famous scientists with the publication of his 1988 book "A Brief History of Time".

"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," he told the Guardian newspaper.

"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."

When asked how we should live he said: "We should seek the greatest value of our action."

Hawking gave the interview ahead of the Google Zeitgeist meeting in London where he will join speakers including British finance minister George Osborne and Nobel prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz.

Addressing the question "Why are we here?" he will argue tiny quantum fluctuations in the very early universe sowed the seeds of human life.

The former Cambridge University Lucasian Professor of Mathematics, a post once also held by Isaac Newton, has a history of drawing criticism for his comments on religion.

His 2010 book "The Grand Design" provoked a backlash among religious leaders, including chief rabbi Lord Sacks, for arguing there was no need for a divine force to explain the creation of the universe.

As a result of his incurable illness Hawking can only speak through a voice synthesiser and is almost completely paralysed.

He sparked serious concerns in 2009 when he was hospitalised after falling seriously ill following a lecture tour in the United States but has since returned to Cambridge University as a director of research.

(Reporting by Nia Williams, editing by Paul Casciato)

FILED UNDER:
  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Expanding Ties

REUTERS SHOWCASE

Interview with Bulgari CEO

Interview: Bulgari CEO

Bulgari CEO: we shouldn’t have left India so we’re back  Full Article 

U.S. in Afghanistan

U.S. in Afghanistan

Obama signs order expanding U.S. Afghanistan role - NY Times  Full Article 

Available For Remake

Available For Remake

Bollywood finally wants to pay the price for remakes  Full Article 

Economic Reform

Economic Reform

Long "to do" list for Modi as clock ticks on reform  Full Article | Related Story 

E-books Case

E-books Case

Apple $450 mln e-book settlement gets final court approval  Full Article 

Movie Review

Movie Review

"Happy Ending" is old wine in an older bottle  Full Article 

Athletes of Year

Athletes of Year

Frenchman Lavillenie, Kiwi Adams are Athletes of Year.  Full Article 

Japan Politics

Japan Politics

Japan PM seeks referendum on "Abenomics" in snap election.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device  Full Coverage