In a book entitled The Grand Design, Hawking and co-author Leonard Mlodinow suggest that new theories make the concept of a creator redundant, according to an article last week in the Times (UK).
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. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.
In other words: the Big Bang was hardly serendipitous, or one-in-a-million. It was simply inevitable.
Sixty-eight-year-old Hawking, of course, is famous for his 1988 book A Brief History of Time that helped a wide audience understand -- you guessed it -- the origin of the universe.
In that book, Hawking wrote:
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 this book, however, he argues that the 1992 discovery of a planet orbiting another star other than the Sun demonstrates that the universe may have indeed risen from chaos, rather than God's hand.
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.
Hardly definitive, but I imagine the supporting points to that statement are within the book's pages. It goes on sale next week.
(Update: In today's Times (UK), Jonathan Sacks, the Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, fired back, writing that Hawking's argument showed an "elementary fallacy" of logic. No word on whether the good rabbi got an advance copy of the book.)