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World-famous theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking says flat-out that he doesn't believe in God, but he does believe that space travel offers the best hope for our species' immortality.

Those pronouncements came during the buildup to this week's Starmus Festival at Tenerife in the Canary Islands, where Hawking and other scientific luminaries have gathered for rounds of talks, tours and elbow-rubbing.

The Spanish newspaper El Mundo engineered an exclusive interview with Hawking, and headlined its report with his views on the origins of the universe.

n the past, there's been a tiny bit of ambiguity: In "A Brief History of Time," Hawking writes that the discovery of a unifying set of scientific principles known as the theory of everything would enable scientists to "know the mind of God." But in a follow-up book about the quest for the theory of everything, titled "The Grand Design," Hawking said the mechanism behind the origin of the universe was becoming so well known that God was no longer necessary.

El Mundo's Pablo Jauregui asked about those two references to God in one of the questions he prepared for Hawking to answer, and here's the scientist's response:

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