"God and the Universe"
(St Paul's Cathedral, October 14, 2008)
Brief Talk on the Big Bang and Panel Discussion
(Responding to a question from the audience in a characteristic manner)
He was part of a panel of two theologians and two scientists. Each first gave a short talk, then took part in a panel debate and finally answered questions from a lively audience. The other panel members were theoretical physicist Chris Isham, theologian Frances Young and philosopher David Burrell. The evening was introduced by the Dean of St Paul's, Graeme Knowles.
In his talk Eric described modern scientific theories for the origin of the universe, as well as the nature of the scientific quest and the complementary nature of scientific and religious questioning. It is important to distinguish between two types of science. Mainstream or core science is accepted by the vast majority of scientists and is most unlikely to change: it should also be accepted by the general public unless there is good reason not to. Included in this are the main features of the big bang, of evolution and of global warming. But there is also much more speculative science where the fringes of knowledge are being hotly debated and which may in future either be disproved by new observations or theories or may become part of the new mainstream. In this category one may include ideas of a multiverse of many different universes, of our three-dimensional space drifting through a higher-dimensional space, and of what happened before the big bang.
The questions from the audience included the possibility of being a scientist and a christian, the problem of suffering and the nature of space and time.
The panel discussion inside St Paul's cathedral
The view of the event from the whispering gallery