Hawk­ing: There is no God or af­ter­life

Nelson Mail - - News -

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, Brief An­swers to the Big Ques­tions, which is pub­lished today, the as­tro­physi­cist is clear. There is no God. Or an af­ter­life. And cer­tainly no heaven. Shortly be­fore his death, 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 direc­tors out 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.

‘‘There is no re­li­able ev­i­dence for it, and 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.’’

Speak­ing at the launch of the book at the Sci­ence Mu­seum in Lon­don, his daugh­ter Lucy Hawk­ing said that de­spite his lack of faith, her fa­ther would not mind be­ing buried in West­min­ster Abbey.

‘‘We think he would have been very hon­oured to take his place in history. He never liked to be alone, he al­ways wanted to be in the cen­tre of every­thing, and I like to think that he would find his fi­nal rest­ing place be­tween Isaac New­ton and Charles Dar­win and he would never be alone again.’’

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.’’

Miss Hawk­ing was asked how if felt to hear her fa­ther one again. ‘‘It was very emo­tional. I turned away be­cause I had tears form­ing in my eyes.’’

I feel some­times like he’s still here be­cause we talk about him and we hear his voice and we see images of him, and then we have the re­minder that he’s left us.’’ Her brother Ti­mothy said that while read­ing the new book he could hear his fa­ther’s voice ‘‘leap­ing off the page’’. – Tele­graph Group

‘‘No one cre­ated the uni­verse and no one direc­tors out fate.’’ Stephen Hawk­ing

AP

Stephen Hawk­ing an­swered the 10 big ques­tions in a book pub­lished af­ter his death.

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