(Seriously? This is news? This story didn't seem like anything new to me. Hasn't Hawking said things like this before? But I digress...)
The Grand Design. And lest you think that Hawking is speaking of a Great Designer who stands behind the Grand Design, think again. Hawking posits that “the universe can and will create itself from nothing” because there is a law such as gravity. "Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper (fuse) and set the universe going."
My colleagues at Reasons To Believe are referenced in a good Christian response to Hawking's statements.
"Faith Scholars: Stephen Hawking 'Missing the Point'"
Scholars at the ministry Reasons To Believe have argued against the idea that God is not necessary because laws such as gravity exist and said even with the laws there is the requirement for something that transcends the universe to bring it into being.
Hawking, said RTB research scholar Dr. Jeffrey Zweerink, “is putting the laws of physics or the mathematics on that basis of … this transcendent entity … that is ultimately responsible for the cause of the beginning of the universe.”
“It’s a transcendent impersonal entity but nonetheless it’s a transcendent entity,” he added.
Furthermore, RTB President and Founder Dr. Hugh Ross said there a “fundamental flaw” in Hawking’s reasoning.
“A fundamental flaw in this Hawking idea is that God is no longer personal, and yet we human beings are personal,” he said in his ministry’s podcast Friday. “We have a mind, we have a spirit, and you’re attributing the development of the human mind, the human spirit, the minds for that matter we see in the higher animals, the personalities that we see in all of us from completely impersonal soul-less and spirit-less laws of physics. How can the lesser produce the greater?”
Like Hawking, RTB scholars agree that God is "the Grand Mathematician” but go further by saying He is more than that.
And, they say, the laws of physics in nature "are a reflection of God’s intimate sustaining care for the universe.”
“From a naturalist perspective, there need not be any laws of physics," said Zweerink. "But from a Christian perspective, we expect to see these laws of physics given God’s character and what He’s revealed to us.”Normally, I'd suggest Hugh Ross' classic book, The Creator and the Cosmos for further study. But since it's now out of print, I'm not sure what to recommend. Sorry.