Although there are some physicists who purport to believe in either organized religion or some form of Intelligent Design, Stephen Hawking is not among them. In a recent interview with The Guardian, he said that he believes, “There is no afterlife for broken down computers. Heaven is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”
Stephen Hawking’s statements about the afterlife seem to conflict somewhat with what he wrote in “A Brief History of Time” in which he wrote, ”If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason — for then we should know the mind of God.” (Granted, this statement only allows for the remote possibility of God in his mind.)
Stephen Hawking’s comments to the Guardian are not the first time he has rejected the idea of God; he recently wrote that God wasn’t necessary for the Big Bang and the origin or life. He has also stated fairly unequivocally that he personally doesn’t believe in God, unless God means a law of Science.
When asked by the Guardian what he thought the purpose of life was, Stephen Hawking said that he believed that the meaning of life was, “to seek the greatest value of our action.” He also said that we are here by chance.
As you might expect, the response from Christians as well as the Catholic Church to Stephen Hawking’s remarks has not been positive. One Christian leader said that he was unable to understand how Stephen Hawking was able to comprehend the possibility of eleven dimensions as part of M-Theory—which is the next progression from String Theory—but was not able to conceive of the notion of a twelfth dimension which would possibly encompass a spiritual arena. The Christian leader didn’t agree with Stephen Hawking’s notion that the brain was a computer that would stop working on death; specifically, he found the statement “materialistic.”
Stephen Hawking’s take on death is more positive than most people with severe health-related concerns; he says that he is not afraid of death, but that he is not yet ready to die because there are more things that he wants to do during his lifetime.
Stephen Hawking’s interview with The Guardian preceded a talk entitled, “Why are we here?” The physicist argued in the talk that we are here because of quantum fluctuations in the universe, which then seeded everything necessary for life as we know it.