University | 2:30 pm | October 11, 2011 | By Clinton Wang

Philosophy conference questions everything

Why is this all here? Physicists, theologians and philosophers converged on Yale's campus this weekend to ask that question.
Why is this all here? Physicists, theologians and philosophers converged on Yale's campus this weekend to ask that question. Photo by Wikimedia Commons.

“Why is there something, rather than nothing at all?”

This question commanded the attention of physicists, theologians and philosophers as the “why is there anything?” conference visited campus this weekend. From Thursday to Sunday, the invitation-only conference brought a litany of famed professors to the Maurice Greenberg Center and 53 Wall Street for heated debate over topics from “Big Bangs to biospheres, and beyond,” the conference website reads.

Philosophy professor Michael Della Rocca, who helped organize the conference, said the idea behind it emerged over coffee between physics professor Priyamvada Natarajan and theology professor Denys Turner “after we had walked out of yet another disappointing interdisciplinary talk.” They decided to create a new dialogue that would connect experts from their fields as well as philosophy, based on ultimate questions of existence and causality that shape all three fields, Della Rocca said.

“The hope is to initiate a significant and vital encounter among the three great magisteria dedicated to the pursuit of fundamental truth,” read the official statement.

The guests discussed the origin and nature of the Universe, time and creation, and whether their efforts to address these topics were futile.

By the end of the conference on Sunday, no verdict had been reached.

“But the absence of a consensus is a sign of a successful conference as are the connections between fields and people that were forged,” said Della Rocca.

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