(Photo: Reuters / Valentin Flauraud)
Stephen Hawking is squaring off with God, saying that God did not have a hand in creating the universe and that the "laws of science" can explain how the universe created itself from nothing.
In the premiere episode of The Discovery Channel’s latest series "Curiosity," set for Sunday at 8 p.m. ET, Hawking takes on the question: "Is There a Creator?"
Hawking, who has done extensive research on several contentious topics such as time travel, parallel universes and black holes, says that God was not necessary for the creation of the universe. He proposes that it is possible that the universe created itself out of nothing.
“Because these 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 writes in his recently published book, The Grand Design.
During the episode, Hawking talks about experiments in which sub-atomic particles have been observed to appear from nowhere. He feels this is proof that the universe is self-creating, as the Big Bang started out as a particle smaller than an atom.
Hawking says it is likely the universe “popped into existence without violating the known laws of Nature.”
He uses his book to detail how discoveries by people have fleshed out the origin and structure of the universe, from Vikings observing eclipses to cosmology, the field dedicated to the study of the universe.
“I believe the discovery of these laws is mankind’s greatest achievement,” he said.
Once upon a time, Hawking didn’t rule out God’s involvement in the creation of the universe, stating in his 1988 book, A Brief History of Time, that if a complete theory was ever discovered, "we would know the mind of God."
Now, through his new book and corresponding "Is There a Creator?" episode, he attempts to dispel the theory posed by Sir Isaac Newton that the creation of the universe was set in motion by God.
“The question is: is the way the universe began chosen by God for reasons we can’t understand, or was it determined by a law of science. I believe the second,” Hawking writes in The Grand Design.
“If you like, you can call the laws of science ‘God,’ but it would be a personal God that you could meet, and ask questions.”
Among other topics to be addressed on the "Curiosity" series are “I, Caveman,” by "Supersize Me" director Morgan Spurlock and "Why Sex is Fun," by Maggie Gyllenhaal.