The late Stephen Hawking famously declared that there was no need for a creator. He was an atheist who stated that science offered a more convincing explanation of life and the universe than god or gods. He believed that the universe is governed by the laws of science. In his 2010 book, “The Grand Design” (written with Leonard Mlodinow) he wrote that the Big Bang was inevitable and spontaneous. “Because there is a law such as gravity the universe can and will create itself from nothing……..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 and set the universe going”.
Interviewed on ABC News Hawking said, “One cannot prove that God doesn’t exist. But science makes God unnecessary. The laws of physics can explain the universe without the need for a creator.”. On other occasions he expressed the conviction that there is no God. “No one created the universe and no one directs our fate. There is probably no heaven or afterlife either. We have this one life to appreciate the grand design of the universe.
Epicurus believed that there might be gods on Mount Olympus, but they spent their time making merry and chasing goddesses. They took no interest in the doings of mankind. This, I suspect, but can’t prove, was a “ politically correct” statement that avoided blowback from priests and believers. In fact, I think he was, privately, an atheist, who laughed at the stories about the gods and preferred a scientific approach to life and the universe.
We can, as Epicureans, support both Hawking and Epicurus, but we must do so respecting the beliefs of others and putting our views forward politely, with a smile, especially for those who are religious but who try to learn and understand physics and modern science, butfind religion is a reassuring comfort.