For many years, Stephen Hawking has played coy regarding the possible role (or lack thereof) for a divine Creator.
His popular "A Brief History of Time" dropped heavy hints of his position. At one point, he insists that science has "uncovered a set of laws that, within the limits set by the uncertainty principle, tell us how the universe will develop with time, if we know its state at any one time. These laws may have originally been decreed by God, but it appears that he has since left the universe to evolve according to them and does not now intervene in it." (126) God is officially acknowledged as a possible initial Creator, but his role is vastly diminished from the common Christian role.
Later, however, in proposing his 'imaginary-time' model of the universe's boundary conditions, Hawking says: "But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end: it would simply be. What place, then, for a creator?" (146) To theists (like myself) it seemed clear that Hawking was bent on defining or explaining the divine Creator out of existence.
Nonetheless, Hawking played coy. He appeared at institutes convened by the Church in Rome, and in the preface and afterword to his 2009 children's book (George's Cosmic Treasure Hunt, co-authored with his daughter Lucy), Hawking explicitly said that his scientific analysis of the universe, including its early conditions, did not speak directly to the existence or non-existence of a divine Creator. Instead, Hawking insisted that science was compatible with both theism and atheism.
When we received 'George's Cosmic Treasure Hunt' as a gift for our children (given by friends committed to a non-Christian interpretation of life, the universe, and everything), I read it with interest. When I saw Hawking's preface and afterword, my immediate thought was: "B.S." There was no way, in my opinion, that Hawking's vision of the universe was in any way compatible with robust theism. But Hawking insisted that it could be.
Now, it seems, the cat is finally and fully coming out of the bag. Hawking's upcoming book, called 'The Grand Design', takes the gloves off, and insists that there is no divine Creator, and the universe was NOT created by God.
(interesting story on the book here - http://www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/europe/09/02/hawking.god.universe/index.html?eref=mrss_igoogle_cnn ...
the amazon notes on the book are here - http://www.amazon.com/Grand-Design-Stephen-Hawking/dp/0553805371/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1283462302&sr=8-1 )
Simply put, Hawking has now admitted what I strongly suspected all along - his astrophysical studies over the years have been committed to proving one key thesis, namely, that the God proclaimed by Christianity does not exist. I am happy that he has finally come out of the closet and admitted it. His conclusions, naturally, I think are absolutely and fatally mistaken - but I am thankful for the long-awaited (and much overdue) honesty. I wish more scholars and scientists would be as honest with their true stance on the question of God, rather than trying to fool the public with angelic professions that their views are "compatible" with some form of theism when that's patently not the case.