Stephen Hawking says God isn't necessary

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Theoretical physicist and official World's Cleverest Chap Stephen Hawking says there's no reason to think that God created the universe.

In his new book, The Grand Design, he says that physics alone is enough to explain the Big Bang.

"Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist," writes Hawking. "It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going."

The book, co-authored with US phyicist Leonard Mlodinow, will be published next week, but The Times (subscription required) has published excerpts today.

Hawking also cites the discovery of exoplanets as evidence that this one, and its inhabitants, aren't necessarily anything special.

"That makes the coincidences of our planetary conditions - the single Sun, the lucky combination of Earth-Sun distance and solar mass, far less remarkable, and far less compelling evidence that the Earth was carefully designed just to please us human beings," he says.

Some are taking these statements as some sort of loss of faith on Hawking's part, citing his 1988 words in A Brief History of Time. "If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason - for then we should know the mind of God," he wrote at the time.

However, two months ago he told a British television program that he did not believe that the universe had been kick-started by a deity.

"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," he said.