May 16, 2011

Hawking Claims Heaven Is A ‘Fairy Story’

British scientist Stephen Hawking reaffirmed his atheist views during an interview with The Guardian published on Monday.

Hawking said he believes heaven is a "fairy story" for people who are afraid of the dark.

He told The Guardian that his views were partly influenced by his battle with motor neuron disease.

"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 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."

His stance on religion has hardened significantly in the last century since the publication of its 1988 international best-seller "A Brief History of Time."

In this book he suggested the idea of a divine being was not necessarily incompatible with a scientific understanding of the Universe.

However, as he has gotten older Hawking decided when writing "The Grand Design" that a deity no longer had any place in theories on the creation of the universe.

Hawking has been suffering from motor neuron disease since the age of 21, which has left him disabled and dependent on a voice synthesizer.

The 69-year-old fell seriously ill after a lecture tour in the U.S. in 2009 and was taken to Addenbrookes hospital in an episode that sparked grave concerns for his health. 

"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," he said.

Hawking is due to speak at the Google Zeitgeist meeting in London, in which he will address the question:  "Why are we here?"