“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.” In an exclusive interview with the Guardian, Stephen Hawking cosmologist shares his thoughts on death, M-theory, human purpose and our chance existence.
There has been a lot of outrage around those comments and I do not really understand why. What Hawking does is that he says to not focus on the afterlife but making the best of your life right here, right now. Jesus did that all the time:
– “Let the dead bury their own dead” (Luke 9:60 and Matthew 8:22)
– “Look at the birds: they do not plant seeds, gather a harvest and put it in barns; yet your Father in heaven takes care of them! Aren’t you worth much more than birds? Can any of you live a bit longer by worrying about it? And why worry about clothes? Look how the wild flowers grow: they do not work or make clothes for themselves. But I tell you that not even King Solomon with all his wealth had clothes as beautiful as one of these flowers. It is God who clothes the wild grass—grass that is here today and gone tomorrow, burned up in the oven. Won’t he be all the more sure to clothe you? What little faith you have! So do not start worrying: “Where will my food come from? or my drink? or my clothes?” (These are the things the pagans are always concerned about.) Your Father in heaven knows that you need all these things. Instead, be concerned above everything else with the Kingdom of God and with what he requires of you, and he will provide you with all these other things. So do not worry about tomorrow; it will have enough worries of its own. There is no need to add to the troubles each day brings.” (Matthew 6:26-34)
– Or in Hawking’s words: “We should seek the greatest value of our action.”
Yes, there is comfort in the prospect of an afterlife of sorts – could be heaven or could be hell. But there is comfort in good fairy tales, too.
– Chaplain Mike calls Hawking’s views sad.
– Pastor Church seems to think I oppose Hawking’s views.
Why would I? Jesus says the same thing over and over and that is true for the tradition and religion he grew up in as well – Judaism does not have much of a concept for the afterlife:
“An early common theme is that death means rejoining one’s ancestors. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and other patriarchs are “gathered to their people” after death (see Gen. 25:8, 25:17, 35:29, 49:33; Deut. 42:50; 2 Ki. 22:20). In contrast, the wicked are “cut off (kareit) from their people” (Gen. 17:14; Ex. 31:14). Other imagery emphasizes the finality of death: the dead are like dust returning to dust (Genesis; Ecc. 3:19-20) or water poured out on the ground (2 Samuel 14:14).”
Stephen Hawking seems to find comfort in his version: Why should he be denied this comfort?