Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Skeptic Stephen Hawking on the soul, heaven, and how we should live

In an interview with the Guardian, Stephen Hawking dismissed the notion that humans have a soul, stating that "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."

Hawking's materialistic view that the mind is a naturally evolved computer is rooted in modern science. Since the cognitive revolution of the 1950s, many neuroscientists, psychologists, and computer scientists have used the "mind as a computer" metaphor to guide their investigations of how the brain engages in complex information processing, such as the symbol manipulation that is an integral part of  language. 

In previous interviews, Hawking has also expressed skepticism about the existence of God. When asked by the Guardian how we are supposed to live if there is no God to provide us with guidance, Hawking gave a simple but I think brilliant answer. "We should" he said, "seek the greatest value of our action."


  1. Stephen Hawking is fascinating, and his intelligence is a gift. While I do not agree with his view on the non-existence of a creator, as I am a Christian, I do appreciate his view on the greatest potential (and expectation) of humanity. He seems to have lived his life seeking answers and overcoming obstacles to offer his best.

  2. I don't see how he dismissed the notion that human beings have a soul.