I wonder how many of the theists who are currently lining up to lob insults and derisory comments at Stephen Hawking actually have any idea what his soundbite quote* from The Grand Design means, or the years of study and research that preceded the statement, or have even read the book in which it is contained (which as I write has yet to be released). Do any of them, ANY of them, have even a rudimentary grasp of M-theory? Did any of them correctly predict that black holes emit thermal radiation?
It reminds me of Pierre-Simon Laplace's somewhat terse response to Napoleon, when the emperor complained that Laplace hadn't referred to the Creator in his seminal work, Celestial Mechanics: "I have had no need of that hypothesis."
Hawking's view is that philosophy is dead, and that science now researches the ultimate questions of Life, the Universe and Everything. And as he says himself, "Unlike the answer given in The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, ours won’t be simply '42'."
*"It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the Universe going." - Stephen W. Hawking