Tuesday 13 November 2018

Hawking: 'There is no God and no afterlife'

Stephen Hawking: ‘Remember to look up at the stars, not down at your feet’
Stephen Hawking: ‘Remember to look up at the stars, not down at your feet’

Sarah Knapton

In 'A Brief History of Time', Professor Stephen Hawking was equivocal about the possibility of a creator, stating that finding a complete theory of the universe would allow mankind to "know the mind of God".

But in his final book, which is published today, the astrophysicist is clear: There is no God. Or an afterlife. And certainly no heaven.

Shortly before his death, Prof Hawking began compiling the answers to 10 fundamental questions which he had been asked frequently by readers since the publication of 'A Brief History of Time' in 1988.

They include "Is time travel possible?", "Should we colonise space?" and "Is there a God?"

Answering the final question just months before his death, he said he had come to the "profound realisation" that there was no afterlife or supreme being.

"We are each free to believe what we want, and it's my view that the simplest explanation is that there is no God," he said.

"No one created the universe and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realisation: there is probably no heaven and afterlife either. I think belief in the afterlife is just wishful thinking.

"It flies in the face of everything we know in science. I think that when we die we return to dust.

"But there is a sense we live on, in our influence, and in the genes we pass to our children."

The eminent cosmologist, who had motor neurone disease and died in March, also had his final public thoughts broadcast at the event ending with an emotional address to younger generations.

"Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet," the familiar voice-generation computer generated said. "Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist.

"Be curious, and however difficult life may seem there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don't give up. Unleash your imagination. Shape the future."

His daughter Lucy was asked how if felt to hear her father once again.

"It was very emotional. I feel sometimes like he's still here because we talk about him and we see images of him, and then we have the reminder that he's left us."

Her brother Timothy, who also attended the launch, said that while reading the new book he could hear his father's voice "leaping off the page".

Speaking at the launch of the book, 'Brief Answers to the Big Questions', at the Science Museum in London, his daughter Lucy Hawking said she liked to think her father would find his final resting place between Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin at Westminster Abbey and he would never be alone again.

Irish Independent

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