Professor Stephen Hawking said last night at the premiere of the documentary charting his life that, "The convention of an afterlife is a fairytale for people afraid of the dark."
One of the world's acknowledged experts on black holes across the universe was the guest of honour at the Cambridge Film Festival's opening evening, which debuted 'Hawking'.
Professor Hawking with the film's director Stephen Finnigan
Despite his lack of 'faith', Hawking, now 72, admitted that the book he'd most enjoyed writing was his bestseller 'A Brief History of Time', in which he'd tried to share "the laws of nature and history of the Universe, in particular whether it had a creator".
The nearest we'll get to an afterlife according to Hawking after all his research? "The brain is like a program in the mind, which is like a computer. So it's theoretically possible to copy the brain onto a computer, and so provide a form of life after death.
"However this is way beyond our present capabilities. I think the convention of afterlife is a fairytale for people afraid of the dark."
Despite meeting various Popes, Professor Hawking is adamant the afterlife is "a fairytale"
He also touched on the illness that has made him increasingly incapacitated, speaking only through a voice processor developed by Walt Woltosz, who explained how it works last night. According to Woltosz, Hawking has been many times offered a new British accent, but has always turned it down.
Asked about his illness, Professor Hawking explained that he had been given two to three years to live when he was first diagnosed with motor neurone disease when he was 21, thus, he explained, "I don't want to waste time."
The film was played to audiences in two screenings in Cambridge, as well as being streamed to other cinemas. Asked various questions afterwards by Twitter, Professor Hawking opted for one from an eight-year-old fan, who asked him which superpower he'd like to possess.
" If I had to think of a superhero to be, I would pick Superman. He is everything I am not," he explained poignantly.
"I would love to be able to leap from building to building and I had a crush on Margot Kidder who played Lois Lane."
'Hawking' follows the scientist's journey from curious child to world-famous Professor
Of this film itself, he said, "It is somewhat strange to make a film about one's own life, but I hope you found my story in some way inspiring."
'Hawking' is out in selected UK cinemas from today, and on DVD from Monday 23 September. Watch the trailer below...