Stephen Hawking says he's an atheist, arguing that science offers a "more convincing explanation" for the origins of the universe and that the miracles of religion "aren't compatible" with scientific fact.
"Before we understood science, it was natural to believe that God created the universe, but now science offers a more convincing explanation," the celebrated physicist said in a video posted by Spanish newspaper El Mundo. "What I meant by 'we would know the mind of God' is we would know everything that God would know if there was a God, but there isn't. I'm an atheist."
Hawking's remarks came in response to a question from El Mundo journalist Pablo Jauregui, who quizzed Hawking about his religious leanings in the lead-up to this week's Starmus Festival in the Canary Islands. The "mind of God" reference was Hawking's effort to clarify a passage in his 1988 book "A Brief History of Time," in which he wrote that scientists would "know the mind of God" if a unifying set of scientific principles known colloquially as the theory of everything were discovered.
As NBC News reported, this isn't the first time Hawking has spoken about his religious beliefs.
In 2011, he told The Guardian that he didn't believe in a heaven or an afterlife, calling it "a fairy story for people afraid of the dark." In 2007, he told the BBC that he was "not religious in the normal sense," adding, "I believe the universe is governed by the laws of science. The laws may have been decreed by God, but God does not intervene to break the laws."