Prof Stephen Hawking, the eminent Cambridge scientist and cosmologist, has dismissed heaven as a “fairy story for people afraid of the dark”.
The 69 year-old physicist, who was diagnosed with motor neurone disease at the age of 21, insisted that he is “not afraid of death”.
Shortly after being diagnosed with the incurable illnes many expected the author of A Brief History of Time to die.
But he said it has instead led him to enjoy life more.
In an interview with The Guardian, ahead of key note speech on Tuesday, Prof Hawking discusses his thoughts on death.
He rejected the idea of life beyond death and emphasised, what he described as the need to fulfil our potential on Earth by making good use of our lives.“I'm not afraid of death, but I'm in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.
"I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail.”
He added: “There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark.”
Asked how we should live he replied: "We should seek the greatest value of our action."
He is due to speak at the Google Zeitgeist meeting in London, in which he will address the question: "Why are we here?"
He will argue that tiny “quantum fluctuations” in the very early universe became the seeds from which galaxies, stars, and ultimately, human life began.
He will join other speakers including George Osborne, the Chancellor and Joseph Stiglitz, the Nobel prize-winning economist.
In A Brief History of Time, Prof Hawking's most famous work, he did not dismiss the possibility that God had a hand in the creation of the world.
He wrote in the 1988 book: "If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason — for then we should know the mind of God.”
In his new book he rejects Sir Isaac Newton's theory that the Universe did not spontaneously begin to form but was set in motion by God.
In June last year Prof Hawking told a Channel 4 series that he didn't believe that a "personal" God existed.
He told Genius of Britain: "The question is: is the way the universe began chosen by God for reasons we can't understand, or was it determined by a law of science? I believe the second.
“If you like, you can call the laws of science 'God', but it wouldn't be a personal God that you could meet, and ask questions."
In his latest book, The Grand Design, Prof Hawking claimed that no divine force was needed to explain why the Universe was formed.
It led to a backlash from Religious leaders.
Prof Hawking was previously Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge, a post previously held by Newton.
He fell seriously ill after a lecture tour in the US in 2009, sparking grave fears about his health.
He has since returned to his Cambridge department as director of research.