I always was told never to talk about politics or religion in an open forum such as this column, but I felt called to respond to a headline I saw.
While watching the evening news, a quote came out from Steven Hawking. He is a premier physicist of our time; think of Sheldon on “The Big Bang Theory.”
It went like this: “Heaven is a fairy story for people who are afraid of the dark. 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.”
Wait! What? Oh no, you didn’t!
When Einstein — another pretty good physicist — was asked if there was a heaven, he had the good sense to respond, “I cannot prove or disprove the existence of heaven or God.”
This is the correct answer in a public forum.
So what was Hawking thinking? A genius, or other Mensa members, has the tendency to think everybody else is stupid. You can hardly blame them because 98 percent of the people they meet are stupid compared to them. With great intelligence should come great common sense, but this is almost never the case. This makes them feel superior to the rest of us.
What I think happens is they get what I like to call a Deity Complex, or Superior Being Syndrome. Since there is only one God, smarties are always trying to knock out what they think is the competition.
Even if you have an opinion like this, what good does it do for humankind? The whole idea of the study of physics is to find out ways to better mankind. Look at Velcro, satellite TV and the microwave — things I could not live without.
None of this could happen without the space program or a really good understanding of physics. So why go so far off the mark and say something boneheaded like that? I mean, what good does it do?
With all the religions in the world and all of us getting piece of mind from our beliefs, why try to take that away? For every fact you have that there is no heaven for our computers, there is a thing called faith that says there is. I would rather have hope than no hope, or faith than no faith.
There is no going forward with your point of view. That is not a fairy story. Isn’t that what makes us special — always looking over the next horizon? We have no fear of what’s next.
All scientists need facts to come to conclusions, so here are mine for you to ponder. The thing, other than opposable thumbs, that separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom is being self-aware. Now, let’s think about this for a second. Computers are not self-aware, are they? So there goes that thought.
Now, why would we be self-aware if there was not a reason? I think it is a life trial of conciseness for the afterlife. All the experiences, the way we handle them, the choices we make, all shape our afterlife. Be good, act good, treat others good and the afterlife will be wonderful.
This life is like a rehearsal — you either pass on to the next level through your actions or you fail. If all this is possible, then we, or our conscience, or what I like to call our soul — ever heard of that one? — needs to go somewhere. Let’s see; I’ll call that heaven.
I hope this helps you and all the others of you with Superior Being Syndrome understand the rest of us low gigabyte computers.
Thomas Huber lives in Stanford.