Cosmologist and Jesuit priest Dr. William Stoeger spoke at U of T last week about the possibility of reconciling modern cosmology and religious faith. The talk, entitled “Cosmology and Creation,” took place at Emmanuel College on Jan. 23. It was organized by the U of T theology department.

Over one hundred people gathered to hear Stoeger, who works at the Vatican Observatory, argue that there is indeed room for religion in science.

Stoeger began his lecture with a series of slides showing the physical wonders of the observable universe, starting with the Earth and expanding through the solar system, the galaxy and into deep space.

At that distance, he said, we can see light from the early universe, perhaps even from the time when our solar system formed. Composed entirely of hydrogen, helium, and lithium at first, eventually burning stars created the heavier elements necessary for life.

The transitions from hot to cool, simple to complex, and finally undifferentiated to differentiated has reached a stage where the “universe is fine-tuned for life,” said Stoeger.

“The natural sciences presuppose existence and they also presuppose order…If you think about the presupposition of existence and order, then you begin to realize that science is really not equipped to tell how you got from absolutely nothing—no order, no space, no time, no energy, absolutely nothing—to something. And that is the ultimate question.”

Because of the limitations of natural science, we cannot cope scientifically with situations that are not subsumed under general laws, claimed Stoeger.

And while natural science can sometimes provide explanation, it cannot provide meaning. Meaning, for Stoeger, is to be found in God.