Stephen Hawking: ‘There is no heaven; it’s a fairy story!’

Stairway to the sky

Illustration of a long, winding stairway leading to the clouds. Could represent a career, success, a journey, or going to heaven.

May 2011

Written and collected by Zia H Shah MD, Chief Editor of the Muslim Times

Every agnostic or atheist has to deny accountability and hereafter by definition.

Stephen Hawking

If our universe is an accident and that is your world view then Hawking is right.  But, if you are amazed at the beauty and organization of our universe as Albert Einstein was, then Hawking is plain wrong for you.  In this article, I present, some of the verses of the Holy Quran, arguing the case for hereafter and additional are added in the comment section. In the following verse, Allah cites gravity and planetary motion as a pointer, towards His creativity and eventual hereafter:

Allah is He Who raised up the heavens without any pillars that you can see. Then He settled Himself on the Throne. And He pressed the sun and the moon into service: each pursues its course until an appointed term. He regulates it all. He clearly explains the Signs, that you may have a firm belief in the meeting with your Lord.  (Al Quran 13:3)

The Quran offers only one line of reasoning for the second creation, namely the first creation. Allah argues that one who has created this complex and awe inspiring universe and all  the life forms on our planet earth, should be able to recreate human life and of course the individual humans.

The Holy Quran discusses reincarnation in greater detail in the following verses in the chapter Yasin, adding the domain of biology to that of astronomy as the argument is built further, from the first creation:

Does not man see that We have created him from a mere sperm-drop? He disputes openly, producing arguments against Us, forgetting his own creation. He says, ‘Who can give life back to bones after they have decayed?’ Say, ‘He who created them in the first place will give them life again: He has full knowledge of every act of creation. It is He who produces fire for you out of the green tree, lo and behold, and from this you kindle fire. Has not He Who created the heavens and the earth the power to create the like of them?’ Yes, and He is indeed the Supreme Creator, the All-Knowing. Indeed, His command, when He intends a thing, is only that He says to it, ‘Be!,’ and it is. So Holy is He, in Whose hand is the kingdom of all things. And to Him will you all be brought back.’ (Al Quran 36:77-83) — Surah Yasin verses 77-83.

Several additional verses with similar emphasis are quoted in the comment section and these sum up my case for hereafter and human accountability.

Below I link a few articles to argue that our universe is not an accident and demands a Transcendent Creator.

After that I link a video debate about life after death. Enjoy!

Additional Reading and reviewing

The anesthesia of familiarity: There should be a Creator for this universe

Albert Einstein’s search for God

Photosynthesis: deserving of our awe or ridicule?

To read about the interview of Stephen Hawking:

A challenge for Dawkins: Where did carbon come from?

Two atheists debating two Rabbis about life after death

The debate is titled: Is There An Afterlife? Debate w/ Christopher Hitchens:

There are several good insights in this debate, but the most unfortunate one is that not only the atheists but also the Rabbis claim that religion is man-made.  This, God forbid, changes all the Jewish prophets into a fraud, even though in the debate they do not force this natural outcome of such claims. They try to put their claims with a positive spin that religion after all is a human pursuit like science, but, they fail to note that whereas science historically, at its best, has been a pursuit of truth, but, if religion is man-made then even at its best it becomes a pursuit in make belief and at its worst a blatant fraud!

In this day and age we not only have to defend Islam but essentially end up defending the original Judaism and Christianity as well.  The Holy Quran paints Patriarch Abraham in very bright colors in several different chapters.  Here is one example:

Abraham was indeed a paragon of virtue, obedient to Allah, ever inclined to Him, and he was not of those who set up equals to God; Grateful for His favours; He chose him and guided him to a straight path.  And We bestowed on him good in this world, and in the Hereafter he will surely be among the righteous.  And now We have revealed to thee, saying, ‘Follow the way of Abraham who was ever inclined to God and was not of those who set up equals to Him.’  (Al Quran 16:121-124)

19 replies

  1. I once talked to an astronomer who said that looking at the giant forces in the universe, all working in harmony, no astronomer could deny some notion of a Creator.

    I also believe the idea of multiple dimensions in the universe would make an explanation of a spiritual realm very much possible.

  2. There are additional verses of the Holy Quran on this theme:

    Do they not see that Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth, has the power to create the like of them? (Al Quran 17:100)

    He brings forth the living from the dead, and He brings forth the dead from the living; and He gives life to the earth after its death. And in like manner shall you be brought forth. (Al Quran 30:20)

    Among His Signs is this that you see the earth lying withered, but when We send down water on it, it stirs and swells with verdure. Surely He Who quickens the earth can quicken the dead also. Indeed, He has power over all things. (Al Quran 41:40)

    They say, ‘What! when we are dead and have become mere dust and bones, shall we indeed be raised up again? This is what we have been promised before, we and our fathers. This is nothing but fables of the ancients.’ Say, ‘To whom belongs the earth and whosoever is therein, if you know?’‘To Allah’, they will say. Say, ‘Will you not then be admonished?’ Say, ‘Who is the Lord of the seven heavens, and the Lord of the Great Throne?’ They will say, ‘They are Allah’s.’ Say, ‘Will you not then take Him as your Protector?’(Al Quran 23:83-88)

    The question of suffering, which is often debated among the atheists and theists, cannot be adequately answered, without invoking the concept of life after death:


  3. Some concept of afterlife has existed not only in all well known religions but also in all primitive religions. Robert Wright writes in the evolution of God, “There is always an afterlife, in hunter-gatherer religion, but it is almost never a carrot or a stick.”

    Robert Wright. The evolution of God. Little, Brown and Company, 2009. Page 24.

  4. Sir David Attenborough on God

    Sir Attenborough certainly stands in awe of the majesty of nature but raises the question of suffering to deny God. Let me quote here the concluding paragraph, in the later editions of the legendary book of Sir Charles Darwin, on the Origin of Species that can make one quickly conceptualize the role of suffering in the grand scheme of things:

    From the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been breathed, by the Creator, into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.

    Once the question about suffering is understood as a tool for evolution, as Charles Darwin suggested, then one is ready to fully appreciate the beauty of God’s creation as suggested by many of the verses of the Holy Quran.

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  6. Additional Quranic verses on this theme

    [45:25] And they say, ‘There is nothing but this our present life; we die and we live here; and nothing but Time destroys us.’ But they have no knowledge of that; they do but conjecture.

    [45:26] And when Our clear Signs are recited unto them, their only contention is that they say, ‘Bring back our fathers, if you are truthful.’

    [45:27] Say, ‘It is Allah Who gives you life, then causes you to die; then He will gather you together unto the Day of Resurrection about which there is no doubt. But most men know not.’

    [45:28] To Allah belongs the kingdom of the heavens and the earth; and on the day when the Hour shall come, on that day those who follow falsehood will be the losers.

    [45:32] But as to those who disbelieved: “Were not My Signs recited unto you? But you were arrogant, and were a guilty people.

    [45:33] “And when it was said, ‘The promise of Allah is certainly true, and as to the Hour, there is no doubt about its coming,’ you said, ‘We know not what the Hour is; we think it to be nothing but a conjecture, and we are not convinced.’ ”

    [45:34] And the evil consequences of their deeds will become apparent to them, and that which they used to mock at shall encompass them.

    [45:35] And it will be said to them, ‘This day shall We forget you, as you forgot the meeting of this day of yours. And your resort is the Fire, and you will have no helpers.

    [45:36] ‘This is so, because you made a jest of the Signs of Allah, and the life of the world deceived you.’ Therefore, that day they will not be taken out from thence, nor will they be taken back into favour.

    [45:37] All praise, then, belongs to Allah, Lord of the heavens, and Lord of the earth, the Lord of all the worlds.

    [45:38] And His is the majesty in the heavens and the earth; and He is the Mighty, the Wise.

    All these verses make a case for accountability based on Deism and also describe the mind set and experience of those who deny accountability.

  7. [46:34] Have they not seen that Allah, Who created the heavens and the earth and was not wearied by their creation, has the power to give life to the dead? Yea, verily, He has power over all things.

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