Theoretical physicist and author Stephen Hawking has confirmed his atheistic beliefs, telling a Spanish newspaper that "science offers a more convincing explanation" for creation than religious faith.
Hawking, who suffers from the dehabilitating motor neurone disease and is the subject of a new biopic starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones, was speaking ahead of the Starmus Festival in Tenerife.
Scientists are gathering to discuss astronomy and space exploration for a week of events aimed at anyone with "a desire to know more about where we came from and what's out there."
Though Hawking has in the past branded the existence of an afterlife as "a fairy story for people afraid of the dark", and claimed: "There is no God. No one created our universe, and no one directs our faith," there has been a level of ambiguity surrounding his personal beliefs.
In his bestselling 'A brief history of time', he suggested that a greater understanding of scientific principles would enable mankind to "know the mind of God".
Adding to the speculation, Hawkins also told Reuters in 2007 that he is "not religious in the normal sense."
"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," he said in an interview.
However, he told El Mundo's Pablo Jaurequi this week: "Before we understand science, it is natural to believe that God created the universe. But now science offers a more convincing explanation.
"What I meant by 'we would know the mind of God' is, we would know everything that God would know, if there were a God, which there isn't. I'm an atheist."
"In my opinion, there is no aspect of reality beyond the reach of the human mind," Hawking concluded.
The scientist recently claimed that the "God particle" – a nickname for the Higgs boson, a fundamental particle that gives other particles mass – may one day destroy the universe.
"This could happen at any time and we wouldn't see it coming," he wrote in the foreword of upcoming book, 'Starmus: 50 Years of Man in Space'.