The late Apple co-founder and self-proclaimed Buddhist Steve Jobs reportedly began questioning God and the meaning of life in the months before his death.
So says Walter Isaacson, author of the biography titled Steve Jobs, in a Sunday interview on CBS' 60 Minutes. The biography on Jobs, who died earlier this month after battling pancreatic cancer, released Monday.
“I remember sitting in his backyard in his garden one day and he started talking about God,” Isaacson recalled. “He said, 'Sometimes I believe in God, sometimes I don't. I think it's 50-50 maybe. But ever since I've had cancer, I've been thinking about it more. And I find myself believing a bit more. I kind of—maybe it's cause I want to believe in an afterlife. That when you die, it doesn't just all disappear. The wisdom you've accumulated. Somehow it lives on.'
“Then he paused for a second and he said, 'Yeah, but sometimes I think it's just like an on-off switch. Click and you're gone,'” Isaacson continued. “He paused again and he said, 'And that's why I don't like putting on-off switches on Apple devices.'”
Jobs, 56, passed away on Oct. 5. He leaves behind a legacy in this generation. He changed the digital world forever with products such as the iPod, iPhone, iPad and the online iTunes store. He also successfully marketed the first personalized computer and helped turn Pixar into a billion-dollar conglomerate. Pixar produced box-office smashes such as Toy Story, Monsters Inc. and Finding Nemo.
Isaacson, who has been the chairman and CEO of CNN and the managing editor of Time magazine, said Jobs also brought up death and questioned the meaning of his own existence.
“I saw my life as an arc,” Jobs said in a recording aired on the show. “And that it would end and compared to that nothing mattered. You're born alone, you're gonna die alone. And does anything else really matter? I mean what is it exactly, is it that you have to lose Steve? You know? There's nothing.”
According to The Washington Post, Isaacson conducted more than 40 interviews with Jobs, who requested the book be written—despite his reputation for leading a very private life.
Jobs called Isaacson, who has also written Ben Franklin and Albert Einstein biographies, months after he was first diagnosed with cancer in 2003.
The biographer writes that Jobs told him, “I wanted my kids to know me. I wasn’t always there for them, and I wanted them to know why and to understand what I did.”
Jobs reportedly applied no control over Isaacson, and even told his biographer he probably would not like the book. He did not seem afraid of the character that would be revealed, nor did his wife, Laurene Powell.
“There are parts of his life and personality that are extremely messy, and that’s the truth,” Powell told Isaacson. “You shouldn’t whitewash it. He’s good at spin, but he also has a remarkable story, and I’d like to see that it’s all told truthfully.”
Jobs spent years studying Zen Buddhism, but was baptized a Christian and confirmed in the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod long before he discovered the Eastern religion. According to the book, Jobs gave up Christianity at age 13 after he saw starving children on the cover of Life magazine and asked his Sunday school pastor whether God knew what would happen to them.
He never went back to church and once said, “different religions are different doors to the same house. Sometimes I think the house exists, and sometimes I don’t. It’s the great mystery.”
But Jobs' discussion about God with Isaacson later in his life leaves us wondering: Did Steve Jobs accept Christ before he died?
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