Stephen Hawking: Heaven is a fairy story

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Stephen Hawking: Heaven is a fairy story

Postby Zep Tepi » Tue May 17, 2011 12:00 am

I've updated the blog with an article about comments recently made by Stephen Hawking in an interview with the Guardian newspaper.

He said:
“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. 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.”


Stephen Hawking: Heaven is a fairy story.

As I wrote in the post, put in the simplest terms, there is a very high probability that he is right. If he isn’t, then we all win. If he is correct, what does it matter anyway? If, after death, there is simply nothing, we won’t be aware of it so there’s no real reason to fear it. We weren’t aware of the 13 billion years that had already passed before we were born, so the chances are pretty high that the next 13 billion will be exactly the same.

Pretty sure I've said it around these parts before, too :D

Discuss!
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Re: Stephen Hawking: Heaven is a fairy story

Postby m0r1arty » Tue May 17, 2011 3:10 am

That Oscar Wilde character can sure go on can't he?

Nice piece - of course Hawkings also thinks that if there are interstellar aliens species abound then chances are high they'd be aggressive.

I can understand his thinking, and I'm sure if there are he'd be right in some cases, but without knowledge of them, their technologies or society we only have the reflective surface of fiction to look upon (In a similar sense to his outlook on 'Heaven' as a fairy tale).

I think we all have some wool over our eyes at times.

Anywho's nice find and thanks for posting Zep!

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Re: Stephen Hawking: Heaven is a fairy story

Postby ryguy » Wed May 18, 2011 5:30 pm

Hawkings strikes me as a very brilliant guy - but any guy that thinks he's the last word on eternal life has a wee little bit of an ego issue. :-)

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Re: Stephen Hawking: Heaven is a fairy story

Postby James Carlson » Sat May 21, 2011 6:14 am

Just because something like resurrection of the dead isn't possible now, doesn't mean that someday, maybe a billion years from now, it won't be possible then. Hope is a far more comforting response to the impossible than conviction, neither of which requires faith or belief. I believe that things improve, intelligence grows, and mercy preserves. Although it may be a bit trite to say so, love and honesty makes life among social animals like us easier and more worthy than hate and dishonesty. With a little luck, some self-flagellation, and the conscious decision not to imagine an existence with inherently disturbing overtones like my own extinction, I probably won't need anything more than that. But I also see no point in consciously baiting those who require more, unless they happen to interfere with whatever comforts me first. That probably makes me a bit more of a coward than Dr. Hawking, but I think I can live with that, having no delusions regarding my own courage -- only my very many weaknesses.
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Re: Stephen Hawking: Heaven is a fairy story

Postby Illudium Q-36 » Wed May 25, 2011 11:57 pm

Zep Tepi wrote: Discuss!


Well, I agree with you mostly in the fact that it doesn't matter all that much and that he is probably right, but I don't really think that if he is wrong then we all win although that's dependant on whatever factors may be in play. And who's to say that there isn't something, it doesn't have to be a religious based afterlife. Although that's not really an angle I would take and when all is said and done it doesn't matter all that much either.
The other issue I would take is with the media blowing it out of proportion, but I suppose there is some interest in the subject matter I guess.

ryguy wrote: but any guy that thinks he's the last word on eternal life has a wee little bit of an ego issue. :-)


I would hardly think Hawking has an ego issue or thinks he's the last word on the afterlife, like I said the media love a headline and well they got one. I don't think it was his intention however. I mean the guy was asked a question on his own personal mortality and answered it with an honest answer, one that lots of people I know would answer probably in the same fashion. The guy has had quite a while to come to terms with his mortality (although I suppose we all have a lifetime of coming to terms with it too).

Which is why I don't think he is conciously baiting people either. When you look at it Hawking has seemingly gone to an effort to not declare his hand so to speak, although he is often referred to as an athiest I haven't been able to find any type of declaration that he is, it leans more to him being an agnostic or some other theist type yet I don't think he has showed his hand on that either.
Does anyone actually know?
If not maybe that's a question people should ask him, that certainly intrigues me more.

Anyway on a slightly off topic line, I actually got the audio book of "The Grand Design" and I was genuinely disappionted that the book was not read out using Hawkings voice.They missed a trick with that.
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Re: Stephen Hawking: Heaven is a fairy story

Postby Zep Tepi » Thu May 26, 2011 11:01 pm

Good post Illudium, I have to say I agree with everything you've written.
Stephen Hawking was only responding to a specific question and answered in a way that was being true to himself. He is a physicist and as such everything needs to have an explanation and follow basic principles of science. I would have been surprised had he answered differently.

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Re: Stephen Hawking: Heaven is a fairy story

Postby Illudium Q-36 » Fri May 27, 2011 6:54 pm

Exactly, although to be fair he is a high profile person and given his line of work undoubtably his comments are of interest to the press and public, especially as there is a significant proportion of the population who will automatically dismiss anything he says to begin with. So the press know the more scandalous the headline the larger the potential audience, can't really blame them entirely the public do play their part too.

A good example is the recent comments that potential alien visitors may be hostile, now that was seemingly a fairly innocuous statement (declaring no heaven, is not so innocuous) that appeared in the media. However that put a whole heap of peoples noses severely out of joint, as hinted at here even by m0r1aty. Hawking was and continues to be attacked and ridiculed by people for this with more vigor and resentment then when he said there is no heaven(mainly on web based conspiracy forums I might add). I find it rather amusing personally as it is a common sense statement with a good % chance of being accurate, or at the least 50/50 if infact there is life out there.
So whether it's a case of that statement shattering peoples illusions of Vulcans appearing to gently prod us along or some other fairytale they have designed in their or it goes further and based in the religious divide people have a tendancy to blow things way out of proportion if they don't like what they hear/read.

It's hardly like he is pulling these statements out of his arse, like you said it's his job to try and explain these questions using the fundamental laws that govern everything.
It doesn't neccessarily mean he is right, but at least he can show his working out of how he get's to that conclusion.

Going back to my first post and the OP as well, on reflection when I said it doesn't matter well that's only true for me and the way I see things, no matter what happens it's out of my hands. But it probably matters more to some, it certainly shapes the way they live their lives.
After all it's questions like these that keep philsophers in business.
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Re: Stephen Hawking: Heaven is a fairy story

Postby harborsc » Tue Oct 18, 2011 2:19 pm

Hawking has always been this way and his statement, if he is a true physicist, has created his future including his guess about the so called afterlife. Now if that is what he believes, so be it. To me Hawking is a fairy story. You notice I did not bring up any particular religion to debate the issue. If ya don't want an afterlife then don't have one. Can I prove my thoughts, no. Can Hawking prove his assertion absolutely, NO. We are even.
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Re: Stephen Hawking: Heaven is a fairy story

Postby Illudium Q-36 » Sun Oct 30, 2011 1:35 am

harborsc wrote:Hawking has always been this way and his statement, if he is a true physicist, has created his future including his guess about the so called afterlife. Now if that is what he believes, so be it.


I'm sorry but what way exactly has Hawking been and how does that relate to his statement? Sure Hawking is a man of science but I don't quite get you.

If he is a true physicist he has created nothing and certainly not his future at all. He is in the business of understanding the physical world around him not creating stories with no varifyable evidence to back said story. He can make an 'educated' guess as to what the afterlife might hold which is more that can be said for some.
And true, so be it if he believes whatever he believes, I agree with you there.

harborsc wrote: To me Hawking is a fairy story.


That's a bit silly, he is as real as you or I.
Silly statement.

harborsc wrote:You notice I did not bring up any particular religion to debate the issue.


Impressive, however I don't believe anybody else has brought a particular religion to the table either nor has Hawking. Reading back on it though I did mention Vulcans, Athiests and Agnostics so make of it what you will.

harborsc wrote:If ya don't want an afterlife then don't have one.


Unfortunately it wont be that simple, you either will or will not, there is no don't....
What?
But seriously, it's not something you will have a choice in regardless on what you want or believe

harborsc wrote:Can I prove my thoughts, no. Can Hawking prove his assertion absolutely, NO. We are even.


I'm not certain again on just what your thoughts are as you didn't make them clear, it seemed more like a mini rant. However I will assume(please correct me if i'm wrong) you are a person of religious persuasion who believes in the afterlife.
Hawking has in theory, with the current knowlegde of man today, pertaining purely to our universe(this is a much overlooked piece of info by both sides of the argument) proved that a god is not neccessary.
Is he right? I guess we wont know for a while but at least he has an measurable argument. I wouldn't call it even.
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