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.Those of us who are still under the impression that we are humans can be excused for being a little skeptical of the assertion from someone who thinks his brain is actually a pre-programmed machine that he doesn't believe in a programmer. This is the second time in recent months that Hawking has stepped outside his field of expertise (physics) to make proclamations about issues on which he is a mere amateur (religious and philosophy). And his second attempt at it is little better than the first.
For the creature who created the computer to announce that he actually is the very thing he created seems on the face of it to lack basic plausibility. What if a famous painter suddenly announced that men were merely portraits? How would we react if a prominent sculptor all of a sudden issued a statement saying he thought men were really just statues? And I wonder what we would say if an accountant decided that we were all just entries on a spreadsheet.
In fact, if you look at the kinds of things most people do, they very seldom seem to come to these kinds of conclusions. A farmer seldom decides, based on raising animals his whole life, that men are basically cows or sheep. And funeral directors rarely come to the decision that all people are really just nicely dressed corpses.
Why is it that some scientists, then, are so prone to making these broad reductionist claims? How can the practitioners of such a great discipline go so terribly wrong about the world outside their own field of study? It sometimes seems as if the clarity of the their thought on things outside science varied in inverse proportion to their knowledge of the things that are the subject of science.