This unthinkable void converts itself into the plenum of existence – a necessary consequence of physical laws. Where are these laws written into that void? What ‘tells’ the void that is pregnant with a possible universe? It would seem that even the void is subject to law, a logic that exists prior to space and time.(Emphasis added)
As with Einstein, and his theory of general relativity, and with various determinations leading up to and after the singularity theorem, the reaction of many scientists, including the vary scientists who discovered the theories, has often been to find a way around the conclusion that the universe had a beginning.
Heinz Pagels is no exception, but even in his eloquently stated question, he has trouble avoiding the implications. The primary implication of a universe with a beginning is that it had a Beginner, a First Cause.
The idea that anything can create itself wouldn’t get past the thoughtful consideration of a first grader. We see no evidence of anything creating itself in our experience. Why should we not trust that universal experience that is so elemental?
I think the answer is also simple: we don’t want to trust that experience when the conclusion is one that we don’t want to face.
As Pagel’s question proceeds he uses words that imply volitional action – “written” & “tells” – and he makes reference to “laws” and “logic” that suggest mind and awareness. This is a common theme throughout the scientific literature of even the staunchest atheists.
We have trouble describing what we see in the universe without using language that suggests some intention volitional action behind it – even with the most studied attempts to avoid it.
I was speaking at a dinner party recently to an acquaintance who has a scientific background. We were talking about evolution when I suggested some intelligence behind evolutionary events. He was describing some experimentation that demonstrated evolutionary changes in various cultures of bacteria that were studied in parallel to each other, all yielding different admixtures at the end. I remarked, “It’s as if they are programmed to stay alive and find solutions to the problems they encounter.” Without hesitation, he reacted, pulling back from me slightly, and said, “No! It was completely random!”
I don’t know where my friend stands on the issue of God. We didn’t go there in our discussion. But his reaction reminds me of the state of the scientific community today (and for many decades). Science doesn’t let God into the discussion. To be initiated into the scientific community, theistic thoughts must be checked at the door. Science has worked to exclude any suggestion of divine mover. The education process includes a wiping clean of any clinging ideas that the universe has a creator.
These thoughts swam through my head as I read a description of a three-day conference at the Royal Society in London to discuss new trends in evolutionary biology in November 2016. At the center of the discussion is the tension between an old, tired Neo-Darwinian wine skin that is increasingly being stretched to the point of bursting by the new wine of modern scientific discovery. Some would say it has already burst and can no longer contain the world of discovery that it attempts to hold in its dogmatic fist.
The recent history of science going back before Darwin is the history of man trying to escape God. Richard Dawkins claimed in his first debate with John Lennox that he felt the greatest “achievement” of mankind is Darwinian Evolution because it allowed men to throw off the notion of God. I find it curious, and telling, that Dawkins described the throwing off of God as an achievement.
Certainly, it takes some effort to avoid the obvious, common sense conclusion that a universe as finely tuned as our universe could be the result of something other than mind and intelligence. Modern science demonstrates how full of information (“code”), life is down to the most critical components of a cell. Complex, organized information like that is evidence of intelligence. That it might have arisen by chance is more mind-boggling and foreign to our experience of how information so we would we assume that random processes explain the universe?
That we are not the intelligence behind is the rub!
We may have achieved the Herculean effort of throwing God out of our science, but have we really gotten rid of Him? I know how I answer that question. I even see God’s handiwork in the fine-tuning of a universe in which men can confidently and convincingly reject God, because such a world, and only such a world, is one where love can exist, including our ability to reflect love back to our Creator.
 The singularity theorem was developed by Stephen Hawking, Roger Penrose and George Ellis in 1968. (“The Cosmic Black Body Radiation and Existence of Singularities in our Universe” in Astrophysical Journal, 152 (1968). pp. 25-36) They determined that every solution to the equations of general relativity guarantees the existence of a singular boundary for space and time in the past.
 Heinz R. Pagels (February 19, 1939 – July 23, 1988) was an American physicist, an adjunct professor of physics at Rockefeller University, the executive director and chief executive officer of the New York Academy of Sciences, and president of the International League for Human Rights. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinz_Pagels
 Pagels, Heinz R. Perfect Symmetry: Search for the Beginning of Time. (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1985), p. 347
 Nelson, Paul and Klinghoffer, David, “Scientists Confirm: Darwinism is Broken”, (CNS News, Commentary, December 13, 2016)
 See The Fine Tuning of the Universe: The Teleological Argument by Dr. William Lane Craig
 For an in depth presentation of the extent of the information/code in biological cells, see Signature in the Cell: Stephen Meyer Faces his Critics, pt. 1: The Presentation and Signature in the Cell: Stephen Meyer Faces his Critics, pt. 2: Q&A and Debate