There is no doubting the utter brilliance of Stephen Hawking. The man is as close to a real life living brain as possible. He has done miraculous work in the field of cosmology and theoretical physics. I consider him the smartest man since Einstein.
(For the Star Wars geeks, Hawking is also basically a human version of the BT-16, the spider thing in Jabba’s palace. According to Wookiepedia (again!), a BT-16 is a robot spider that carries the brain of an enlightened monk. Or in Hawkings case, a super smart astro-physicist.)
Now all that said, Hawking has been ruffling the feathers of the faithful over the last few years with comments that God wasn’t needed to create the universe and his most recent statement that there is no afterlife.
While I am not going to dispute his statements there, I am going to call BS on his reasoning for the latter.
“I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail,” Hawking said. “There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”
(Quote from Space.com.)
If the brain is truly like a computer, then it must be completely understood as a computer. A computer only runs when hooked up to electricity or a battery. It doesn’t work without a spark. When the computer becomes outdated or the motherboard or chips fail to work, the power in the battery and the electricity in the wall doesn’t vanish. It becomes potential energy back in the battery or on the grid. The energy is still there. “Life” for the computer is still there. There is just no consciousness.
Likewise, when our parts stop working an energy that ran us needs to go somewhere. While our consciousness is gone, the energy should still exist. That’s Newton’s Second Law, or the Law of the Conservation of Energy. The energy that drives Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity should be default also exist in humans. We don’t have a special “non-energy” that propels our existence. The same energy that energy that exists in all atoms and galaxies is the same energy in us.
Using the notion of an all inclusive energy and if you believe that “all is one and one is all”, then the energy that was “us” is no longer contained in us when we die but is now potential again. Hawking should know that all the energy in the universe is spawned from the Big Bang or may possibly slip through to other dimensions and alternate universes, depending on what theories of astro-physics you believe.
With the understanding that energy can not be created nor deleted, Hawkings statements can be seen as somewhat off. Although I agree that we have no consciousness of an “afterlife” with Pearly Gates and saints and a life among the clouds, the energy that was in us will still be there after our life. Whether potential or kinetic, the energy that drives human life will continue to exist, always and forever.
(Yes, that means unless energy is deported to another dimension or universe, the next Big Bang should be just as epic as the one that created our universe.)
You can call that energy God or the Tao or the Great Spirit or whatever you want.
But you can’t deny its existence.