"There is no God. No one directs the universe".
While that answer is undoubtedly unsettling for people of faith, they may take some comfort knowing that Hawking doesn't think we're entirely alone in the universe. "There are forms of intelligent life out there", writes Hawking.
Stephen Hawking, the eminent theoretical physicist, died earlier this year on Einstein's birthday (March 14) at 76, not without leaving a farewell message to humanity. "For 30 years my father's been regularly asked questions on a number of existential or scientific or ... social questions, and given these very clear responses". Well, I suppose it's possible that I've upset someone up there, but I prefer to think that everything can be explained another way, by the laws of nature, he wrote in the chapter titled Is There a God?
In "Short answers to big questions" the physicist suggested that wealthy people will soon be able to use gene editing to become a superhuman memory, invulnerability to disease, extraordinary intelligence and durability.
"I think that reading through the book again, it's nearly like his voice has been leaping off the page as I've been reading through the chapters, and it's been very nice to connect with him again in that way", Timothy Hawking added.
As for the most challenging problems the world will be facing "I count global warming, finding space and resources for the massive increase in the Earth's human population, rapid extinction of other species, the need to develop renewable energy sources, the degradation of the oceans, deforestation and epidemic diseases - just to name a few". I have been to the furthest reaches of our galaxy, traveled into a black hole and gone back to the beginning of time. He also enthusiastically assumes that "within the next hundred years we will be able to travel to anywhere in the Solar System". I can say with confidence that their future will depend more on science and technology than any previous generation's has done, ' Hawking said.
According to his daughter, Hawking believed that "We seem to have lost the ability to look outward, and we are increasingly looking inward to ourselves", a harsh indictment from a man who spent decades in a wheelchair unable to speak, and a warning worth heeding.
"We have finally found something that doesn't have a cause, because there was no time for a cause to exist in", Hawking wrote. "Stephen understood how to put the theory of black holes together with the theory of quantum mechanics, and from that derived the formula which is now on his headstone in Westminster Abbey, which essentially says how many gigabytes [of information are stored] in every black hole that we see up in the sky".
If you'd like a copy of Hawking's final book, it's now available on Amazon. "Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet".