In a general disquisition on death as the final end, he responds to Ian Sample for Britain's Guardian (15 May 2011),
What is the value in knowing "Why are we here?" The universe is governed by science. But science tells us that we can't solve the equations, directly in the abstract. We need to use the effective theory of Darwinian natural selection of those societies most likely to survive. We assign them higher value.
Who assigns them higher value? Is there a way of determining what societies are most likely to survive, absent details?
History has frequently produced societies "most likely to survive" that experience little freedom and low quality of life. Why should "we" (?) assign them higher value? Thoughts?
Note: The interview is very short, and dwarfed by Sample's informative introduction. The piece as a whole suggests that Hawking is struggling in some way. More later.
Denyse O'Leary is co-author of The Spiritual Brain.