For more than 50 years, death was a poignant part of Stephen Hawking’s remarkable life.
The physicist, who died Wednesday at age 76, wasn’t expected to see his 25th birthday, after being diagnosed with the incurable neurodegenerative condition ALS at age 21. Though Hawking beat the odds for more than five decades, the scientist told the Guardian in 2011 that death was never far from his mind.
“I have lived with the prospect of an early death for the last 49 years,” Hawking said. “I’m not afraid of death, but I’m in no hurry to die. I have so much I want to do first.”
Here are some of Hawking’s most interesting thoughts about death, the afterlife and God. TIME
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