Heaven is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark, the eminent British theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking said in an interview yesterday.
Prof Hawking (69) was expected to die within a few years of being diagnosed with degenerative motor neurone disease at the age of 21, but went on to became one of the world's most famous scientists.
"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," he told 'the Guardian' newspaper.
"I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark."
Prof Hawking gave the interview ahead of the 'Google Zeitgeist' meeting in London where he will join speakers including 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 for arguing there was no need for a divine force to explain the creation of the universe.