The mystery of how the universe began, and why there is something rather than nothing, is a puzzle that has perplexed scientists, philosophers, and theologians from the outset of thought. Even Hawking declared science 'cannot answer why there should be a universe'. But there is a danger that we have failed to recognise the significance of this outcome.  The 18th-century philosopher Immanuel Kant, widely seen as one of the most influential philosophers in the Western tradition, argued that we cannot coherently hold the view that the universe had a beginning, nor can we hold the opposite view that it had no beginning. He concluded that human thought is not capable of describing what he called 'transcendent reality'.   

Should we see our failure to provide an answer to the beginning of the universe as evidence of a fundamental limitation of thought and language? As a result, are our accounts of the world and science itself, mere models of a reality that in the end lies beyond our comprehension? Or was Kant wrong, and a solution to the mystery conceivable even if it has not yet been framed?