HOWSTUFFWORKS: What existed before the Big Bang?
Whenever leading scientists get embroiled in the debate about the existence of God or a god's involvement in the Big Bang, I cringe. There's little doubt that there's a debate to be had, but until physicists stumble across a bona fide theory of everything, or theologists find physical proof of a god, discussions such as this get stuck in an infinite feedback loop.
Last year, Hawking went "all in" and sparked a wave of controversy when he said that there is no God and there is no heaven.
In an interview with the Guardian newspaper, Hawking didn't hold back: "I regard the brain as a computer which will stop working when its components fail. There is no heaven or afterlife for broken down computers; that is a fairy story for people afraid of the dark."
Filippenko is deliberately vague on whether or not god (or, indeed, heaven) exists. "I don't think you can use science to either prove or disprove the existence of God," he said.
Hawking would likely disagree.
As humans, we naturally hold onto our instincts and beliefs to make sense of the universe we live in. Our capacity to do this no doubt helped us evolve, but in a modern age of incredible scientific discovery, science and faith are increasingly at odds.