[PAST EVENT] Panel discussion - In the Beginning . . .
Professor Marc Sher, physics department, moderator
Father Tyler Montgomery, Bruton Parish, W&M
Father James Glass, St. Bede?s Catholic Church
Imam Ammar Amonette, Islamic Center of Virginia
Rabbi David Katz, Temple Beth-El
Brief primer on scientific view of the early universe (Sher)
Each panelist speaks for 5 minutes
20 minute round-table discussion among panelists
Questions from audience (moderated)
Open to the public
One of the most remarkable advances in science in the past decade or two has been the development of ?precision cosmology?. If you look at a star a billion light years away, the light from that star left it a billion years ago, so we are seeing into the past. If you look 13.8 billion light years away, you actually see the Big Bang (the light was red when emitted, but the expansion of the universe since has increased the wavelength so it is now microwave). This radiation has been studied to exquisite accuracy over the past decade (to parts in 10 million). Our current picture of the universe just 10-43 seconds after the ?beginning? leaves very specific imprints on this radiation, and it has now been tested to very high accuracy. So we seem to understand the universe at a very, very early stage, and given that simple initial condition, every physically observable feature of our universe can be understood. It is a remarkable achievement.
The panelists will discuss the following issues, among others: What are the views of the major religions about this achievement? Does God play a role in the development of the universe? What about before that time? If there are no testable predictions about earlier times, is it science? Where are the boundaries between faith and science?