God did not create the universe, the man who is arguably Britain's most famous living scientist says in a forthcoming book.
In the new work, The Grand Design, Professor Stephen Hawking argues that the Big Bang, rather than occurring following the intervention of a divine being, was inevitable due to the law of gravity.
In his 1988 book, A Brief History of Time, Hawking had seemed to accept the role of God in the creation of the universe. But in the new text, co-written with American physicist Leonard Mlodinow, he said new theories showed a creator is "not necessary".
The Grand Design, an extract of which appears in the Times today, sets out to contest Sir Isaac Newton's belief that the universe must have been designed by God as it could not have been created out of chaos.
"Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing," he writes. "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."
(Source, emph. mine)
And by "nothing", he no doubt means "something" - gravity and stuff on which gravity could act.
What else can the thinking person do but laugh at such sophistry?