Hannah Devlin Last updated September 2 2010 Modern physics leaves no place for God in the creation of the Universe, Stephen Hawking has concluded. Just as Darwinism removed the need for a creator in the sphere of biology, Britain's most eminent scientist argues that a new series of theories have rendered redundant the role of a creator for the Universe. In his forthcoming book, an extract from which is published exclusively in Eureka, published today with The Times, Professor Hawking sets out to answer the question: "Did the Universe need a creator?" The answer he gives is a resounding "no". Far from being a once-in-a-million event that could only be accounted for by extraordinary serendipity or a divine hand, the Big Bang was an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics, Hawking says. "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," he writes. "It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going," he finds. Professor Hawking's book is a significant breakaway from previous views he has published on religion. In A Brief History of Time, he was accommodating of religious beliefs, suggesting that God as Creator was not incompatible with a scientific understanding of the Universe. "If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason - for then we should know the mind of God," he wrote in the 1988 bestseller. In his new book, The Grand Design, published on September 9, a week before the Pope's visit to Britain, he sets out a comprehensive thesis that the scientific framework leaves no room for a deity. In the book, co-authored by the American physicist Leonard Mlodinow, Hawking deconstructs Sir Isaac Newton's belief that the Universe could not have arisen out of chaos due to the mere laws of Nature, but must have been created by God. Hawking writes that the first blow was the confirmed observation in 1992 of a planet orbiting a star other than our Sun. "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 writes. Not only other planets, but whole other universes, known collectively as the multiverse, are likely to exist, according to Professor Hawking, who until he retired last year held the same post as Newton, Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. If God's intention was to create mankind, then these many untouchable worlds would surely be redundant, he suggests. Richard Dawkins, a biologist and fierce proponent of atheism, welcomed the book, describing it as Darwinism for the very fabric of Nature, not just the creatures living within it. "That's exactly what he's saying," said Professor Dawkins. "I know nothing of the details of the physics but I had always assumed the same thing." However others, such as Professor George Ellis, an emeritus professor at the University of Cape Town and President of the International Society for Science and Religion, were less impressed. "My biggest problem with this is that it's presenting the public with a choice: science or religion. A lot of people will say, ‘OK, I choose religion, then' and it is science that will lose out," he said. In the book, Professor Hawking also suggests that philosophy as a science is dead but intriguingly leaves open the prospect of life in other universes. He predicts that physics is on the brink of writing a theory of everything, a single framework that can entirely explain the properties of Nature. Such a theory has been the holy grail for physicists since the time of Einstein but until now it has been impossible to reconcile quantum theory, which explains the sub-atomic world, with gravity, which explains how objects interact on the cosmological scale. Professor Hawking suggests that M-theory, a form of string theory, will achieve this goal. He writes: "M-theory is the unified theory Einstein was hoping to find. The fact that we human beings - who are ourselves mere collections of fundamental particles of nature - have been able to come this close to an understanding of the laws governing us and our universe is a great triumph." While agreeing that advances in theoretical physics were impressive, others argue they had little to contribute to a debate about the possible existence of God. Frank Close, a theoretical physicist at the University of Oxford, said: "Given the vast numbers of stars in our known Universe, God's efficiency may already be called into question: if the sole aim was to create you, me and Stephen Hawking, would not one solar system have been enough? I don't see that M-theory adds one iota to the God debate, either pro or con," Rather than being a single master equation, Professor Hawking suggests that M-theory will be a "whole family" of theories existing within a consistent theoretical framework. Much like the way different maps - political, geographical, topological - can map a single region without contradicting each other, M-theory will map different aspects of the material world. The extract is already available to read in the September issue of Eureka magazine (free with The Times on September 2) and will be available online from September 6 .