By Hamish Johnston
“Can we see the reflection of God in the laws of physics?”
That was one of the questions put to three physicists and a comedian by Ernie Rea in his radio programme Beyond Belief, which aired earlier this week on BBC Radio 4.
Rea gathered Middlesex University physicist and imam Usama Hasan Durham University theologian, Methodist minister and former astrophysicist David Wilkinson and University of Manchester Higgs hunter Jeff Forshaw.
Representing atheists is the comedian Robin Ince, who has presented several programmes about science.
Rea himself is a Presbyterian minister from Belfast – but definitely not of the fire-and-brimstone variety. Indeed, his soothing brogue and gentle interviewing style are perfect for getting to the bottom of the subtle religious topics he covers every week.
“Does the Big Bang origin of the universe leave room for a religious view of creation?” asks Rea, who also wonders if physics has replaced God in some people’s lives?
Rea’s final question is “What is the one discovery that [the Large Hadron Collider] might make that would alter your perception of the universe?”.
You can listen to the programme here – the editing isn’t the greatest so you have to wait about a minute or so for the previous show to end.
In other religious news, Stephen Hawking has declared in his new book “It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going”.
The book is called The Grand Design and is co-written by Caltech physicist Leonard Mlodinow.
The book will be published next week and you can read an excerpt in The Times – but you will have to pay.