(The following is an excerpt from Carl Sagan’s Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, a 1980 TV series. This excerpt is form episode 10, “The Edge of Forever.”)
If the general picture, however, of a Big Bang followed by an expanding universe is correct – what happened before that? Was the universe devoid of all matter and then the matter suddenly somehow created? How did that happen?
In many cultures, a customary answer is that a “God” or “Gods” created the universe out of nothing, but if we wish to pursue this question courageously we must, of course, ask the next question – where did God come from? If we decide that this is an unanswerable question, why not save a step and conclude that the origin of the universe is an unanswerable question? Or if we say that God always existed, why not save a step and conclude that the universe always existed?
There’s no need for a creation, it was always here. These are not easy questions. Cosmology brings us face to face with the deepest mysteries, with questions that were once treated only in religion and myth.
“Who knows for certain? Who shall here declare it? Whence was it born? Whence came creation? The Gods are later than this world’s formation. Who then can know the origins of the world? None knows whence creation arose or whether he has or has not made it – he who surveys it from the highest regions. Only he knows, or perhaps he knows not.”