By Eddie Wrenn
You do not need God to fill in the blanks of the Big Bang, says an astrophysicist.
That isn't to say there is no God, simply that the universe is explainable without the need for a divine being to bring something out of nothing, says Alex Flippenko, of the University of California.
The astrophysicist was taking part in a debate in California on Saturday, called 'Did the Big Bang require a Divine Spark', hosted by SETI, which was set up to search for extraterrestrial life.
The conference brings together scientists, science fiction authors and the curious to discuss the future of humanity, our journeys into space, and the ethical and philosophical issues of the day.
The divine spark? The Big Bang exploded our universe into existence - but astrophysicists say there is no need for a God to be involved in the process
Speaking about the Big Bang, which brought the universe into existence 13.7 billion years ago, Flippenko said: 'The Big Bang could've occurred as a result of just the laws of physics being there.
'With the laws of physics, you can get universes.'
MSNBC reports that Filippenko was speaking at the SETICon 2 conference, during a panel discussion called 'Did the Big Bang Require a Divine Spark?'
Researchers say that random fluctuations can produce matter and energy out of nothing - and universes can be the result.
Another panelist, senior astronomer Seth Shostak, said: 'Quantum mechanical fluctuations can produce the cosmos.
'If you would just, in this room, just twist time and space the right way, you might create an entirely new universe. It's not clear you could get into that universe, but you would create it.'
Shostak said: 'So it could be that this universe is merely the science fair project of a kid in another universe.
'I don't know how that affects your theological leanings, but it is something to consider.'
He added that he was not attacking the theoretical existence of God, simply saying the universe did not require a God in order to exists.
He said: 'I don't think you can use science to either prove or disprove the existence of God.'