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Stephen Hawking’s ashes to be interred in Westminster Abbey

Stephen Hawking’s ashes to be interred in Westminster Abbey

At a date to be announced, the life of Stephen Hawking will be celebrated at Westminster Abbey, and his ashes interred near the graves of Sir Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin.

From Westminster Abbey:

The Dean of Westminster, the Very Reverend Dr John Hall, said today:

It is entirely fitting that the remains of Professor Stephen Hawking are to be buried in the Abbey, near those of distinguished fellow scientists. Sir Isaac Newton was buried in the Abbey in 1727. Charles Darwin was buried beside Isaac Newton in 1882. Other famous scientists are buried or memorialised nearby, the most recent burials being those of atomic physicists Ernest Rutherford in 1937 and Joseph John Thomson in 1940. We believe it to be vital that science and religion work together to seek to answer the great questions of the mystery of life and of the universe.

Photo via Westminster Abbey.

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Mary Reyes

Not our place to judge. Honoring the life of someone whose intelligence contributed vastly to our society is the right thing to do. He knows more truth now, you can be sure????????

Marshall S Scott

I understand the question that is being raised. I would note that Westminster Abbey has long been used by English governments to inter persons of great cultural significance to England, regardless of religious position (note, for example, how many poets have been interred there). I think this is a cultural and political decision of the Crown, and not particularly a religious decision at all.

I would also say, though, that while Hawking was clear that he was an atheist, he was not among the public (and sometimes even virulent) anti-theist. I know he did not believe, but I don’t recall that he actively belittled believers.

Fr. Will McQueen

I would completely agree that Prof. Hawkins was nowhere on the spectrum with the likes of Christopher Hitchens, Richard Dawkins, or Sam Harris when it comes to vitriolic atheism.

Fr. Will McQueen

Honoring a person who has contributed mightily to the field of science is one thing, but doing so in a church, seeing that he stood in opposition to what it stands for, is another matter entirely.

Rick Smith

Hawking was an atheist. It would be improper for his ashes to be placed in a Christian church.

Kurt Hill

“Was” is the operative word here. Is he now one..?

John Chilton

Specifically, a “Service of Thanksgiving.” Though “from dust to dust” would be so appropriate for this great physicist, I wonder whether those words will be used from the Burial Service (” in sure and certain hope of the Resurrection to eternal life, through our Lord Jesus Christ”).

Kurt Hill

Obviously a lot would depend upon the theology of the priest or other minister saying the Burial Service. I certainly believe that God Is Love, and that God will not forget Stephen Hawking. Others would interpret the words of the Service differently, just as obviously.

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