Famed physicist Stephen Hawking has declared the idea of heaven and afterlife as a "fairy story" for people afraid of death.
In a dismissal that underlines his firm rejection of religious comforts, Britain's most eminent scientist said there was nothing beyond the moment when the brain flickers for the final time.
AdvertisementHis comments came in reference to his own illness, motor neurone disease, which struck him down aged 21, leaving him almost paralysed.
The incurable illness was expected to kill Hawking within a few years of its symptoms arising, an outlook that turned the young scientist to Wagner, but ultimately led him to enjoy life more, he has said, despite the cloud hanging over his future.
"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," he said in an exclusive interview with the Guardian.
"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," he added.
Rejecting the notion of life beyond death, Hawking emphasised the need to fulfil our potential on Earth by making good use of our lives.
In answer to a question on how we should live, he said, simply: "We should seek the greatest value of our action."