Lost Interview with Father of Big Bang Reveals Captivating Conversation

In a provocative paper in 1931, Belgian cosmologist and Catholic priest George Lemaître proposed that the universe might have begun from a single point 14 billion years ago.

We now know this as the Big Bang Theory.

The national public-service broadcaster for the Flemish Community of Belgium (the VRT) recently recovered the only known video recording of Lemaître, in an interview discussing his ‘hypothesis of the primeval atom’ and whether this theory had any religious significance.

The interview, conducted in French, is currently only available with Flemish subtitles. However, the Journal for the History of Astronomy has published a paper this month, providing an English translation of the nearly 20-minute clip.

Read some interview highlights from the recent article by CNET.

Though Lemaître is hesitant to offer a response to the question of whether his theory has religious implications, he makes this clear: “I am not defending the primeval atom for the sake of whatever religious ulterior motive.”

“If God supports the galaxies, he acts as God,” Lemaître said. “He does not act as a force that would contradict everything. It’s not Voltaire’s watchmaker who has to wind his clock from time to time, isn’t it… [laughs]. There!”

George Lemaître and Albert Einstein in California, 1933

George Lemaître and Albert Einstein in California (1933).