Stephen Hawking has, apparently, come to the conclusion that the universe had no creator, though that notion, is, of course, based on physics; “Stephen Hawking says universe not created by God”, The Guardian, 2nd September 2010 (http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/sep/02/stephen-hawking-big-bang-creator)
In his 1988 book “A Brief history of Time”, there was at least an indication that Hawking’s understanding might not be limited to just the physical, particularly when he wrote, “If we discover a complete theory, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason - for then we should know the mind of God”
That Hawking’s understanding does not go beyond the physical is apparent from the article, as well as elsewhere. The Guardian article quotes Hawking as saying, "The fact that we human beings – who are ourselves mere collections of fundamental particles of nature – have been able to come this close to an understanding of the laws governing us and our universe is a great triumph."
Many of us are well aware that we are far more than “mere collections of fundamental particles of nature”, as is the rest of the physical universe for that matter; we are not limited to just our physical senses, which gives us a distinct advantage over almost all mainstream scientists, including Stephen Hawking.
As Hawking’s knowledge and understanding is limited to the physical, so must be his conclusions. Eminent though his work is, it is based on partial knowledge.
However, even with physical world limitations in understanding, there is still the matter of logic in that the so-called “laws” of physics are based on physical observation and have no particular bearing on what there was before the physical, putting aside the slight matter of time being as illusory as the physical world itself. Although the idea that the “Origin” of everything we know is all there is, time dose not exist and physical reality is complete illusion is difficult to grasp, it seems less so than the notion that the whole of the “real” physical universe suddenly appeared, totally spontaneously out of absolutely nothing. Once the knowledge and some experience of the vastness of creation, of which only the physical is a very small part, such understandings become easier to accept.
The other aspect is the matter of design. The title of Stephen Hawking's new book, co-written with Caltech Physicist Leonard Mlodinow, is “The Grand Design”.
Design is part of engineering, as is science, when the engineer deems science to be useful. Design is not science and is not a rational subject, it is art and irrational. Scientists may endeavour to investigate design, with their limited tools and limited understanding; they may have their own opinions on it. However, they do not, in general, have either the expertise, or qualifications, to pass any meaningful comment on design, other than from the very limited scientific perspective. Therefore, from the design point of view, the opinions of Stephen Hawking and his co-author are irrelevant, at a minimum mostly so.
These days it is not easy to find somewhere away from the light pollution of towns and cities to see a clear night sky. I remember a night, back in the 1960s, at a firework party on the beach at Holland-on-sea in Essex, adjacent to Clacton-on Sea where we lived. At one stage during the evening, I lay on the beach, below the cliff, looking out to sea, up at a clear, cloudless sky. Even what could be seen with just the naked eye more or less, screamed “Design?” In latter years I learned far more about design and began to see far more than the physical. Scientists in general, let alone physicists, often have no idea just how little they know, or, pursuing their current paths, will ever know.