Hawking says that given the existence of gravity, "the universe can and will create itself from nothing" according to an excerpt published in The Times of London.
The head of the Church of England, the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams, told the Times that "physics on its own will not settle the question of why there is something rather than nothing".
"Belief in God is not about plugging a gap in explaining how one thing relates to another within the Universe. It is the belief that there is an intelligent, living agent on whose activity everything ultimately depends for its existence".
Chief Rabbi Jonathan Sacks said: "Science is about explanation. Religion is about interpretation. The Bible simply isn't interested in how the Universe came into being".
"Hawking's god is a god-of-the-gaps used to plug present gaps in our scientific knowledge. "Science provides us with a wonderful narrative as to how [existence] may happen, but theology addresses the meaning of the narrative," he added.
"A creator God provides a reasonable and credible explanation of why there is a universe, and ... it is somewhat more likely that there is a God than that there is not".