Crowds lined up at the California Institute of Technology Tuesday night to hear a lecture by famed cosmologist Stephen Hawking. A second auditorium and a lawn with large video screens were necessary to handle the overflow crowd, according to SPACE.com.
Hawking began his lecture, titled The Origin of the Universe, by reciting an African creation myth before moving on to the question "Why are we here?"
“What was God doing before the divine creation? Was he preparing hell for people who asked such questions?” After touching on the historical background on the debates between religion and science, and noting that he's "glad not to be thrown into an inquisition," he talked about the Big Bang.
He went through theories that held sway in the last several decades, and explained how we discarded them with observation data from modern instruments. He also discussed current theories he thinks are worthy of continued study. And that if God were a prime mover responsible for creation, then "God really does play dice."
“It has been a glorious time to be alive and doing research in theoretical physics,” Hawking said, according to the Los Angeles Times.
“Our picture of the universe has changed a great deal in the last 50 years and I’m happy if I have made a small contribution."
He closed the event in his usual way by urging continued space exploration.
“We must continue to go into space for the future of humanity,” he said, adding, “I don’t think we will survive another thousand years without escaping our fragile planet.”