Some use religion to make the vastness bearable. Not Cox, who says he is neither atheist nor agnostic and 'only thinks about religion when people ask him about it'. He rejects Richard Dawkins's view that science and religion are fundamentally incompatible - except for fundamentalists. 'Obviously you can't be a young Earth creationist and a scientist. It's not possible because the Earth isn't 6,000 years old.
'But Biblical literalism isn't what I take to be religion. Religion's a more complex response than that. In the spirit of Gottfried Leibniz [a 17th-century German mathematiciian who philosophised about the existence of God], you can say, "Well, I don't accept that something can come into existence without a cause". You're allowed to say that; it's not illogical. So if you want to think there's an eternal presence that causes things to happen; that's not illogical. I don't happen to think that - I almost don't have an opinion on it.'
- Interview-based article on Professor Brian Cox in Radio Times, 4 October 2014