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Stephen Hawkings death view

  1. Feb 25, 2015 #1
    I came across this article: http://www.theguardian.com/science/2011/may/15/stephen-hawking-interview-there-is-no-heaven

    In this article he states that heaven "is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark", but I dont get the point, when Hawking says there is no being after death, then there is also no darkness. There is just nothing, no darkness, no feelings, so nothing you have to fear?

    Was it a bad used metaphora or did I miss something and Hawking believes in "feeling a darkness" after death?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 25, 2015 #2


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    I'm not worried about heaven, hell would be a big problem.
  4. Feb 25, 2015 #3
    I think he just means people who are superstitious
  5. Feb 25, 2015 #4


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    I can certainly fear the end of my life without heaven or hell having anything to do with it.
  6. Feb 25, 2015 #5
    yeah, i think that too, but any articles that proove it? I mean its also an option that he thinks a human can feel darkness after death?

    Yeah for sure you fear the end of your life, but not death in itself, as you dont feel anything and wont exist, so you wont feel the dark. Am I Correct? ;)
  7. Feb 25, 2015 #6


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    No. "afraid of the dark" is a turn of a phrase. It means fear of the unknown.

    You are taking it literally. It's a metaphor.
  8. Feb 25, 2015 #7
    Exactly, I don't want to lead a life like a zombie. I understand about emptiness as a bad feeling I have. I have experienced this so often like a pattern and no one has just ever had a real feel for me. I suppose nothingness in life is a bad model but to make it as a delegate to treat innocent people like me is seriously bad. I am yet to be straight that I am not a scientist and my limited understanding about the universe or science is undeniable. Will you guide me or insult me then ?
  9. Feb 26, 2015 #8


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    In the sentence before the afraid of the dark comment, Hawking says: "I regard the brain as a computer
    which will stop working when its
    components fail." I would say that there is your evidence that he is using dark as a metaphor. If we're just computers, then either he believes there is nothing after death, or that computers are somehow partly functional even when the CPU burns out.
  10. Feb 26, 2015 #9
    Blue screen of death has always scared me more than Black screen of death :biggrin:
  11. Feb 26, 2015 #10
    Here's the whole quote:

    "You had a health scare and spent time in hospital in 2009. What, if anything, do you fear about death?

    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."

    It should be clear he regards consciousness as dependent on brain function, and believes death brings about the cessation of brain function, hence the cessation of consciousness. There is no implication of an experience of darkness after death, and a clear implication there's no possibility of any kind of experience.

    "...people afraid of the dark," simply refers to people afraid of the unknown.

  12. Feb 26, 2015 #11
    But what do you mean with party functional even when the CPU burns out? Maybe we still feel somehow darkness after death (but how?)? Does that maybe Hawking mean?
  13. Feb 26, 2015 #12


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    Not at all likely. Scientists tend to be an unsentimental and pragmatic bunch.
  14. Feb 26, 2015 #13
    Well, at least it would be unsentimental that we only feel darkness after death, then better nothing at all ;) only darkness would be like a minimalistic form oft hell, wouldnt it? ;)

    But you also think Hawking means we really feel nothing (neither darkness nor good things) at all, right? Though then the darkness metaphor would be a bit in the wrong place as it isnt dark. ;)
  15. Feb 26, 2015 #14


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    Funny how people who "tend to be an unsentimental and pragmatic bunch" and eschew such 'otherworldly' concepts such as 'heaven' are ready to believe in the infinity of other worlds of the multiverse!

  16. Feb 26, 2015 #15
    No it's not unsentimental.
    I guess (you have to take my stand) they think they are tall tree climbers and are more powerful; they may have bad communication skills; they are sure about the lies the one in front of them is telling....(at least in my own case.)
  17. Feb 26, 2015 #16


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    I have no idea. It's gobbldegook to me. You're the one suggesting it might have a coherent meaning.

    The only thing I can read in to Hawking's computer comment is that he believes death is final. Any other intepretation (including taking the darkness comment literally) seems to me to require that you believe that Hawking believes that your laptop also has an immortal soul.

    Also relevant is that Hawking would be far from the first to use darkness as a metaphor for death. Dylan Thomas springs to mind: Do not go gentle in to that good night / But rage, rage against the dying of the light.

    I also think it likely that Hawking is obliquely calling religious belief in some way childish, like fear of the dark. Again, he would be far from the first to do so - see Richard Dawkins' The God Delusion for example.

    Anyway - asked and answered, I think.
  18. Feb 26, 2015 #17
    what if I told you each man (or woman) was his own universe and depending on the life he lived would determine if he was reborn, transformed or lived forever.
  19. Feb 26, 2015 #18
    But this darkness metaphor is wrong, as there is neither darkness nor light, so I cant imagine why Hawking is using this metaphor as he must know its wrong?
    So I thought you may know Hawking is believing in we feel darkness after death? But as I see you think he believes in nothing after death (and also no darkness) and just chosed a bad metaphor, right?
  20. Feb 26, 2015 #19
    Feeling something after death is dependent upon a specific religious concept, I am no a physics expert but thinking there might be some automatic process that decays the corpse right after the body stops functioning. While in some other religions, they cast their fears'reasons in accordance with their observed natural phenomena, and their references to their super natural powers are automatically replaced with their long prayers or solemn sacrifices of cattle or worst even human bodies.
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2015
  21. Feb 26, 2015 #20
    As I said in my post, "dark" in Hawking's use of the phrase, "afraid of the dark" stands for "the unknown," not "death".
  22. Feb 26, 2015 #21
    Sorry but I dont want to hear religious concepts, just asked myself if it is a physical theory to somehow feel darkness after death (instead of nothing) or just a bad used metaphor by Hawking (as when there is nothing there is also no darkness).
  23. Feb 26, 2015 #22
    But it isnt unknown, when there is no soul except the brain, then there is nothing which is also no darkness?
  24. Feb 26, 2015 #23
    Strictly speaking what happens to us after we die is unknown. It's untestable. When someone is completely dead, they can't come back. The notion our minds completely cease to exist is the sensible and logical scientific conclusion for the reason we have no evidence otherwise at all.
  25. Feb 26, 2015 #24
    there is no way he can "feel" anything after he is dead.
  26. Feb 26, 2015 #25
    That makes sense, but you cant fear the unknown as this would implicate there is something you can experience and fear?
    But let me explain my problem, in fact I have 2 theories:
    1. theory: Hawking believes there is nothing after death, we dont feel anything, neither darkness nor light. There is absolutely nothing. But a metaphor (here darkness) stands for something, but when we feel nothing, we can fear nothing, neither darkness nor anything else, so there is also no unknown in this theory (as when you fear the unknown this implicates there is something you can experience), just absolutely nothing. To say they fear the "not existing" would be better, when he thinks we cant feel or experience something like darkness after death.

    2. theory: Hawking is a genius and wouldnt use a metaphor wrong (though he is no language expert maybe), and believes we also feel darkness (or whatever this metaphor stands for) even after death. So i wanted to know if there is a physical theory about it that Hawking may means.

    But i guess my 1. theory is right and he means we just dont exist and feel nothing, neither dark nor pain or anything?
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 26, 2015
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