Sunday, 3 July 2011

Life After Death is a 'Fairy Story' say Stephen Hawking

Eminent scientist Stephen Hawking has branded life after death a 'fairy story for people who are afraid of the dark'. He has also recently proposed that the universe could create itself from nothing, with out the need of God - see here.

Hawking's understanding of the workings of the universe is, to be sure, greater than most of us could ever wish to hold, but is knowledge of the universe enough to deny out right the existence of life after death? Talk of life after death is generally regarded as belonging to the realm of metaphyics, philosophy and Theology. It's true that science hasn't provided any convincing evidence for life after, however it has long been suggested that if there is a heaven, or indeed a hell, that it would be transcendant, that is beyond time and space beyond the universe. The idea of a heaven in the sky and hell under the earth is viewed by most, in metaphorical or symbolic terms.

Hawking also likens the human brain to a computer, that shuts down at death. I can only assume that he is making use of analogy here as, while there are obvious similarities between a brain and a computer eg, the ability to store and retrieve information, that are also vast differences. It was the famous sceptical agnostic philosopher Hume who criticised Paley's watch analogy on this very point. Just because the brain resembles a computer in some ways, it does not follow that it resembles it in all ways. The Dualist view is that we are more than simply physical matter - and that it is reductionist to suggest that the people we are, our feelings, desires, memories, fears and loves are nothing more than the result of a complex biological computer.
There are good arguments against the existence of life after death as well as arguments to support it but many of them go beyond the remit of science.

There is a danger when scientists like Hawking make metaphysical/philosophical claims and that many people will accept them as scientific fact, when, in truth the issue is very much up for debate.

To read more from this article click here.

To read more on life after death click here.

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