In ‘A Brief History of Time’ Professor Stephen Hawking was equivocal about the possibility of a creator, stating that finding a complete theory of the universe would allow mankind to know the mind of God".
But in his final book, Brief Answers To The Big Questions, which is published on Tuesday, the astrophysicist is clear. There is no God. Or an afterlife. And certainly no heaven.
Shortly before his death, Prof Hawking began compiling the answers to 10 fundamental questions which he had been asked frequently by readers since the publication of A Brief History of Time in 1988.
They include ‘Is time travel possible?’, ‘Should we colonise space?’ and ‘Is there a God?’
Answering the final question just months before his death, he said he had come to the "profound realisation" that there was no afterlife or supreme being.
“We are each free to believe what we want, and it’s my view that the simplest explanation is that there is no God,” he said.
“No one created the universe and no one directs our fate. This leads me to a profound realisation: there is probably no heaven and afterlife either. I think belief in the afterlife is just wishful thinking.
“There is no reliable evidence for it, and it flies in the face of everything we know in science. I think that when we die we return to dust. But there is a sense we live on, in our influence, and in the genes we pass to our children.”
“We think he would have been very honoured to take his place in history. He never liked to be alone, he always wanted to be in the centre of everything, and I like to think that he would find his final resting place between Isaac Newton and Charles Darwin and he would never be alone again.”
The eminent cosmologist, who had motor neurone disease and died in March, also had his final public thoughts broadcast at the event ending with an emotional address to younger generations
“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet,” the familiar voice generation computer said.
“Try to make sense of what you see, and wonder about what makes the universe exist.
"Be curious, and however difficult life may seem there is always something you can do and succeed at. It matters that you don't give up. Unleash your imagination. Shape the future."
Miss Hawking was asked how if felt to hear her father once again
"It was very emotional. I turned away because I had tears forming in my eyes.
"I feel sometimes like he's still here because we talk about him and we hear his voice and we see images of him, and then we have the reminder that he's left us."
Her brother Timothy, who also attended the launch, said that while reading the new book he could hear his father's voice "leaping off the page".
He added: "It's been very nice to connect with him again in that way."
Brief Answers To The Big Questions is published by John Murray, priced £14.99.