God did not create the universe and the "Big Bang" was an inevitable consequence of the laws of physics, Britain's award-winning physicist has said.
In his new book, The Grand Design, to be released this month, Stephen Hawking argues that "because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing".
The book, written with Leonard Mlodinow, a US physicist, is to be published on September 9.
In an extract published in the British newspaper The Times on Thursday, Hawking says that spontaneous creation is the reason there is something - as opposed to nothing, and that unravelling a complex series of theories will explain the universe.
Hawking reportedly argues "it is not necessary to invoke God to ... get the Universe going".
In his previous book, A Brief History of Time, Hawking had appeared to accept the possibility of a creator, saying the discovery of a complete theory would allow humans to "know the mind of God"