Toward the end of the piece Heuer is asked about his thoughts concerning the interface of what we can demonstrate empirically and what we believe on other grounds, i.e. the interface of science and philosophy or theology. Here's the exchange:
The European: Do you think it is conceivable that we will eventually learn something about before the Big Bang?It's an interesting consequence of modern science that the more the field advances the more naive the claims that science has disproven the existence of God appear.
Heuer: I doubt it.
The European: How do you make sense of that paradox? You want to expand the realm of knowledge but at some point, there is a definite boundary that you cannot cross. Do you simply have to accept the fact that nothing was prior to the Big Bang?
Heuer: I wasn’t saying there was nothing, I am saying that we don’t know anything about what was before – if there was a before. But here we are crossing the boundary between knowledge and belief. I think many famous scientists have struggled with this question and people today also struggle with it.
The European: So at the very borders of human knowledge, science and belief tend to converge?
Heuer: In the scientific community we don’t tend to discuss such things too often. But the more we investigate the early universe, the more people are trying to connect science to philosophy. That is a good thing. Since we are struggling with the limits of knowledge, maybe philosophy or theology struggle also with our research.
In the last few decades many physicists have come to believe that the materialist view of 19th century science is just wrong and that what we call matter is simply an illusion. Our minds process the world in such a way as to present it to our conscious selves as a substantial something when in fact its substantiality is only an artifact of our being the size we are. Were we very much smaller, say the size of an atom, a brick wall would appear to be almost entirely empty space and the atoms in the wall would have the appearance of mere concentrations of energy or forces.
Many physicists have also come around to the belief that not only is the fundamental "substrate" of reality not matter, it's consciousness.
All of this, of course, is pretty much what theologians have been saying for centuries - the universe is not only the product of a divine intelligence, like a painting is the product of the artist, but it's also grounded in that intelligence, much like an idea is grounded in a mind.
In any case, the physicalism of modern atheism seems with almost every revolution in physics to grow more and more unlikely, simplistic, and obsolete.