Theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, arguably our age’s most famous scientist, died this week at age 76. Hawking’s scientific achievements were massive – especially his work on quantum mechanics, gravity, and black holes – and his influence reached well beyond that realm into popular culture. His life, in many ways, was a model of endurance.

Hawking long remained outside of the fray of religious debates, but with 2010’s The Grand Design, he embraced atheism and ventured into religious and philosophical territory that earned him criticism both within and beyond the scientific community by claiming that there was no need for a creator to explain the existence of the universe. Oxford Professor John Lennox, another remarkable scientist, challenged Hawking’s logic in his book God and Stephen Hawking: Whose Design is it Anyway?

When I heard the news of his death, I immediately thought of Professor Lennox, and we spoke this morning via Skype. From his home near Oxford, Lennox reflected on Hawking’s life, work, and beliefs, and we discussed science, God, the universe, and more. Here’s that conversation. I hope you find it as fascinating as I did: