… death ends all – my current MercatorNet article (26 May 2011):
… most people have not assumed that we survive death because they are “afraid of the dark,” as Hawking supposes. On the contrary, the oldest beliefs usually include ancestor worship, which includes propitiating the continuing spirits of unpleasant ancestors for fear they will otherwise harm us.
Or, as Beauregard and I put it [in The The Spiritual Brain] , in such a society the problem isn’t that everyone dies, but that no one does. (p. 48) So is it wish fulfilment? Hardly, because most people who expect to survive death also fear divine punishment or cosmic consequences for unrepented sin.
Fear then? No, not, for instance, among the ancient Greek philosophers who repudiated “the gods” but assumed immortality as a fact. Similarly, the Buddhists’ law of karma (what goes around comes around) appoints the gods as divine helpers to the faithful, not creators or governors of karma. Even new atheists believe, in a sense. As d’Souza has observed,“new atheism” (modern atheistic materialism) makes immortality untenable by definition — except in its most vulgar forms (transhumanism, for example, where we are transformed through genetic engineering miracles or get uploaded into computer Sims). Given the ubiquity of belief, let’s look at some of the better traditional arguments for immortality: More here.
While we’re here, during the interview Hawking gave some evidence of confusion, unless someone can figure out what he means. So maybe it’s best not to read too much into what he says?