Victoria Gill reports on a meeting of theologians and scientists to discuss a time before the Big Bang, for BBC News:
Now that the Higgs has finally been spotted – a scientific discovery that takes us closer than ever to the first moments after the Big Bang – Cern has opened its doors to scholars that take a very different approach to the question of how the Universe came to exist.
On 15 October, a group of theologians, philosophers and physicists came together for two days in Geneva to talk about the Big Bang.
So what happened when people of such different – very different – views of the Universe came together to discuss how it all began?
“I realised there was a need to discuss this,” says Rolf Heuer, Cern’s director general.
“There’s a need for us, as naive scientists, to discuss with philosophers and theologians the time before or around the Big Bang.”
Cern’s co-organiser of this unusual meeting of minds was Wilton Park – a global forum set up by Winston Churchill.
It is an organisation usually associated with high-level discussions about global policy and even confidential exchanges on matters of international security, which perhaps emphasises how seriously Cern is taking this exchange.
But even the idea of a “time before the Big Bang” is impossible territory for physicists.
It is a zone of pure speculation – before time and space as scientists understand it came to exist, and where the laws of physics completely break down.
So does that make it a realm where science and religion can come to an understanding?…
[continues at BBC News]