When Stephen Hawking speaks, the gods listen. If they really exist, or care, that is. Now, after almost two decades of an agnostic capitulation to the idea that god might have had something to do with the creation of the universe, Mr Hawking, in a new book to be out later this week, has firmly switched sides. And it's definitely not the one where an act of divinity was responsible for the immaculate conception of the world we live in, and quite unlike the views he had earlier espoused in his 1998 tour de force A Brief History of Time.
Apparently, if Mr Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow, co-authors of the book The Grand Design are to be believed, the universe created itself in a do-it-yourself stroke of brilliance, without requiring god to hold a match to the blue torch paper. Despite using the existence of gravity as proof that this was possible, we're sure Isaac Newton must surely be turning in his grave for this latest assault on his belief in the hand of god. But this does come as sweet vindication for all those who have been shouting themselves hoarse about the Big Bang that mothered earth many billions of years ago.
As for us, we should be able to believe when he says that the universe can create itself from nothing. After all, we Indians are masters of the universe when it comes to creating a lot out of naught, even a cutting edge, First World nation out of, well, almost nothing. And if we are to take this along with Mr Hawking's statements earlier this year — on the existence of the plundering hordes in galaxies other than our own, gunning for us after having exhausted their own resources a la Avatar — then we could really be in trouble. If god didn't create the world we live in, who's to say he'll come to our rescue when it all goes downhill?