Hawking: God Not Needed for Universe to be Created

by Nancy Atkinson on September 2, 2010

Physicist Stephen Hawking has written a new book called “The Grand Design.” While the title might seem like Hawking could be delving more into the “mind of God” that he alluded to in his earlier book, “A Brief History of Time,” Hawking actually says that the universe’s beginnings – or the “Big Bang” was an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics and that God wasn’t needed to “light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.”

Co-authored with US physicist Leonard Mlodinow, in “The Grand Design” Hawking says a new series of theories made a creator of the universe redundant. The Times of London newspaper published excerpts from the book today. The book goes on sale on Sept. 9.

The laws of gravity rather than the intervention of a divine being set the Universe in motion, Hawking wrote, and he contests Sir Isaac Newton’s belief that the universe must have been designed by God as it could not have created out of chaos.

“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,” Hawking wrote.

He said the first blow to Newton’s contention was the observation in 1992 of a planet orbiting a star other than our Sun. “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 as evidence that the earth was carefully designed just to please us human beings,” he wrote.

For decades, Hawking has been at the forefront of looking for a ‘theory of everything,’ and in “A Brief History of Time” he 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.”

Hawking, has a neuro-muscular dystrophy that is related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, a condition that has left him almost completely paralyzed. He is only able to speak through a computer-generated voice synthesizer, and in the video above he discusses related issues with British biologist and atheist Richard Dawkins.

Read more reviews and commentary on the book at Cosmic Log, The Guardian, The Times of London (subscription required) and Reuters.


Nancy Atkinson is Universe Today's Senior Editor. She also works with Astronomy Cast, and is a NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador.

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