Stephen Hawking, the famed British theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and acknowledged athiest, has claimed that "the big bang did not need God's help."
Hawking was speaking before a 1,000-plus audience at the California Institute of Technology on Tuesday night when he asked: "What was God doing before He made the world? Was He preparing Hell for people who asked such questions?"
In his address, entitled "The Origin of the Universe," the 71-year-old Hawking discussed current universe creation theories telling his audience that humans should not attempt to fill historical voids with current ignorance with fantastical stories reports the Huffington Post.
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Hawking, the author of "A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes," recited an African creation myth that involved the god Bumba vomited up the sun, the moon, the stars, and then some animals before eventually throwing up humans.
Following a brief description of relativistic physics and cosmology, Hawking discussed the idea of a repeating Big Bang, which he dismissed, hypothesizing that the big bang occurred only once approximately 13.8 billion years ago, reported NBC News
Hawking recounted a conference on cosmology in the Vatican in the 1980s, when then Pope John Paul II said "it was OK to study the universe after it began, but they should not inquire into the beginning itself, because that was the moment of creation, and the work of God."
The physicist jokingly added, "I was glad he didn't realize I had presented a paper at the conference suggesting how the universe began. I didn't fancy the thought of being handed over to the Inquisition, like Galileo."
Hawking repeated a plea for continued space exploration, reiterating a previous statement that that humanity would not survive another 1,000 years if it did not.
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This wasn't the first time Hawking has expressed his disbelief in God.
In May 2011, Hawking described heaven as a "fairy story for people afraid of the dark," adding that when we die, our brains switch off like "broken down computers," reported Britain's Daily Mail.
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