In Stephen Hawking's final book "Brief Answers to Big Questions," published Tuesday by Bantam Books, the Cambridge professor begins a series of 10 intergalactic essays by addressing life's oldest and most religiously fraught question of all: Is there a God?
Hawking's answer — compiled from decades of prior interviews, essays and speeches with the help of his family, colleagues and the Steven Hawking Estate — should come as no surprise to readers who have followed his work, er, religiously, NBC News' MACH reported.
"I think the universe was spontaneously created out of nothing, according to the laws of science," Hawking, who died in March, wrote. "If you accept, as I do, that the laws of nature are fixed, then it doesn't take long to ask: What role is there for God?"
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In life, Hawking was a vocal champion of the Big Bang theory — the idea that the universe began by exploding suddenly out of an ultradense singularity smaller than an atom. From this speck emerged all the matter, energy and empty space that the universe would ever contain, and all that raw material evolved into the cosmos we perceive today by following a strict set of scientific laws. To Hawking and many like-minded scientists, the combined laws of gravity, relativity, quantum physics and a few other rules could explain everything that ever happened or ever will happen in our known universe.