"God did not create the universe", Stephen Hawking revealed yesterday. In the flurry of publicity preceding his new book, The Grand Design, to be published next week, he does some serious dissing of the Almighty, declaring him/her/it irrelevant. The point is, he says, that our universe followed inevitably from the laws of nature. But, we might ask, where did they come from?
It is perhaps a bit rich for Hawking to make God redundant after granting him/her/it a celebrity cameo at the end of his multi-million selling A Brief History of Time. In his famous conclusion to the book, Hawking wrote that if scientists could find the most fundamental laws of nature "then we should know the mind of God". To be fair, he was writing metaphorically – we all know what he meant.
He now suggests that the search for this particular Holy Grail is over, now that scientists have come up with a type of theory, known as M-theory, that may describe the behaviour of all the fundamental particles and force, and even account for the very birth of the universe. If this theory is backed up by experiment, it might perhaps replace all religious accounts of creation – in Hawking's capacious mind, it already has"