The stories we often hear of people facing their mortality at the end of life is that they find God and religion, but the late great Stephen Hawking has apparently bucked that cliché. In his final book, posthumously published by his family, Hawking tackles some of the more esoteric questions he has been asked over the years, and he makes some startling predictions about the future of science to boot.
The headliner, it would seem, is Hawking's late-life denial of the existence of God, reports CNN.
"There is no God. No one directs the universe," he writes in the book, titled "Brief Answers to the Big Questions." "For centuries, it was believed that disabled people like me were living under a curse that was inflicted by God. I prefer to think that everything can be explained another way, by the laws of nature."
Hawking, who died earlier this year at the age of 76, is referring to his lifelong battle with Lou Gehrig's disease. The physicist surpassed all expectations for life expectancy while suffering from the neurodegenerative disorder. He was working on this very book at the time of his death.
While this isn't the first time Hawking has expressed his doubts about the existence of God, it's perhaps his most definitive expression, especially given the fact that they were among some of his last written words.
Religion isn't the only topic of discussion in the book. Among his other bombshells, Hawking also claims that he believes time travel is possible, and that intelligent alien life exists elsewhere in the universe.
"There are forms of intelligent life out there," he writes. "We need to be wary of answering back until we have developed a bit further."
Hawking has long been optimistic about the prospect of finding alien life, but concerned about the dangers that an encounter with a more advanced alien civilization might bring. In his waning years, however, his focus turned more toward some of the political dangers we face here at home. A critic of Brexit and of Donald Trump, Hawking increasingly expressed dismay at how divided the world is seemingly becoming. He was worried that people might be losing their ability to look outward, instead choosing to look inward at themselves.
This seemed to be the sentiment woven into Hawking's final message. To the question of "How do we shape the future?" in the book's final chapter, he writes: "Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet."