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.
I’m glad Hawking has made it abundantly clear that he is an atheist. Now only the most dishonest of Christians can attempt to claim him for their own.
I just got my copy of Stephen Hawking’s “The Grand Design”. I’ve only looked at it briefly, so a full report is not possible at this time. However, I think it’s worth quoting a section he has on miracles.
It is Laplace who is usually credited with first clearly postulating scientific determinism: Given the state of the universe at one time, a complete set of laws fully determines both the future and the past. This would exclude the possibility or miracles or an active role for God. The scientific determinism that Laplace formulated is the modern scientists’s answer to question two (‘Are there any exceptions to the laws, i.e., miracles?’). It is, in fact, the basis of all modern science, and a principle that is important throughout this book. A scientific law is not a scientific law if it holds only when some supernatural being decides not to intervene. (Page 30)
This is a concise account of why the belief in miracles is so anti-science: science tells us ‘These are laws which are true at all points and all times within the observable Universe’ whereas a believer in miracles inherently says, ‘No, no. These aren’t laws at all. They can be made untrue at any point and any time, and in fact some of them have not been valid in certain places and at certain times.’ Of course, the believer doesn’t actually say that. But his belief in miracles means that.
This one includes some familiar and some new ‘singers’ (including someone without a penis for the first time in the series): Michael Shermer, Jacob Bronowski, Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Richard Dawkins, Jill Tarter, Lawrence Krauss, Richard Feynman, Brian Greene, Stephen Hawking, Carolyn Porco, and PZ Myers.
(Whoops. As a commenter pointed out, Jane Goodall was in the last one. But this one has two women, so, uh, there.)
The intelligent beings in these regions should therefore not be surprised if they observe that their locality in the universe satisfies the conditions that are necessary for their existence. It is a bit like a rich person living in a wealthy neighborhood not seeing any poverty.