With March 14 marking the anniversary of the passing of Stephen Hawking, a number of popular figures within the scientific community — including Neil deGrasse Tyson, Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, and Bill Nye — assembled for a Facebook Live forum on Wednesday, March 13 to discuss Hawking’s impact and how they feel he is maneuvering around in Heaven considering his physical limitations on Earth.
Tyson opened the conversation by noting how beautiful he believed it was that Hawking could now move around unassisted.
“You have to feel like he can walk up there, and that’s just beautiful, you know? I always felt like the lame could walk in Heaven, don’t you?,” queried Tyson. “Or floating. Like, maybe when you die, it’s like astral projection, and you just kind of float out of your body right up to Heaven, and then you just kind of float around up there.”
Neuroscientist Sam Harris counter with a variation on Tyson’s claim. “The floating part I get, but I always felt like it was more telepathy. Like, you die but you never really lose your faculties. Your mind is this, like, psychic organism that is all its own and the movement is more based in telepathy than astral projection. But I get the astral projection angle because what we’re talking about are two very similar phenoms.”
Nye, a children’s communicator and mechanical engineer, envisioned a much different scenario. “I mean, it all starts with the Easy Climber stairlift that he certainly took to get up the stairs to the Pearly Gates, doesn’t it? I mean, Heaven simply has to be an advanced society. I think that we have all of these fantastic mechanical apparatus out here on Earth, and that those advances on Earth inspired advances in the afterlife — no, really, just hear me out — and God made these pods for people like Stephen who are other-abled, with specially made pressurized cabins for traveling around in the uppermost parts of the atmosphere, well above the highest upper-level clouds, and it’s all based on things that we created here on Earth.”
Richard Dawkins, 78, mostly steered clear, offering only that “as an evolutionary biologist, I have to be the pragmatist in this conversation and say that I don’t have any firmly developed opinions on Heaven and the afterlife, but I’m certain that as a fellow fan of music, Stephen is probably a simply delightful harp player up there. It’s a harp isn’t it? Or maybe a lyre? Regardless, I’m certain that the music he makes is mathematical and beautiful.”
This was a point on which the entire group agreed.
Issues with the Facebook platform on Wednesday kept the forum from being viewed on Facebook Live, but was recorded by producers. The video is expected to be uploaded to a popular science forum later today.