There is no place for God in theories on the creation of the Universe, Professor Stephen Hawking has said.
He had previously argued belief in a creator was not incompatible with science but in a new book, he concludes the Big Bang was an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics.
The Grand Design, part serialised in the Times, says there is no need to invoke God to set the Universe going.
"Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something," he concluded.
In his new book, an extract of which appears in the Times, Britain's most famous physicist sets out to contest Sir Isaac Newton's belief that the universe must have been designed by God as it could not have sprung out of chaos.
Citing the 1992 discovery of a planet orbiting a star other than our Sun, he said: "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 adds: "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."
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Oh, MAN! Get ready for a FIRESTORM, boys and girls, of discussion, attempted refutation and flame wars which will make the California brush fires look like guttering candles! Any foolish theist who wants to take on Stephen Hawking on a topic like THIS one is invited to try!