"Where scientists fear to tread..." made me think of the Smolin Hypothesis as to where it all came from. So at least some scientists will tread where ever they can, usually after they are financially secure- they use science to answer philosophical questions.
In Smolin's case, he has suggested that baby universes may be created in black holes- Evolution of the Megauniverse. If so then the value of physical constants that produce the greatest number of black holes in any one universe, will eventually become the more or less values in all universes including ours.
He then backstraped by proving that indeed the values of the constants in our universe maximize the number of black holes, a calculation that I have not verified myself; and coincidently, these are just the values needed to create life.
So in a sense, Smolin has replaced God by Evolution. Every baby universe creation is like a mutation and only the fit survive.
Now his suggestion happened several years ago and it even seemed that he might be distancing himself from it. However, recently as discussed on the Big Bang subforum- I think the post is still at the top of that forum including references- Martin Bojowald has used Loop Quantum Gravity to analyze the passage of a universe through a singularity. Well what we call a singularity that results in the Big Bounce of a collapsing universe. In LQG it is not singular.
What Bojowald found as expressed best by Coule as criticisms of Bojowald's theory, is two big plusses for Smolin's Hypothesis:
1. Baby universes are created in passing through the singularity, an obvious necessity in any theory that supports Smolin's Hypothesis, and
2. Entropy is reset at or near zero is passing through the singularity. This was the main argument against Smolin's hypothesis. Since entropy can never be reduced according to thermodynamics, then baby universes would become chaotic and probably not survive long.
The fact that Bojowald's LQG theory, well really a model, predicts that entropy is reset makes the Mega-Evolution concept real. It turns out that covariance breaks down in passing thru the singularity, so ordinary physics also breaks down there. All that remains is to bend Bojowald's model into the shape of a black hole, a current program in LQG being led by Astaker.
So bottomline, instead of the universe being created by god, we are finding that nature rather automatically generates numerous universes via black holes. And so the values that result in the greatest number of black holes will predominate.
In this scheme there is no beginning except to each universe. The Megauniverse has always existed and megatime is at least semi-infinite. No need for god, but also no proof that god or gods or spirutual disembodied beings like angels do not exist. I presume they exist from my personal experiences. What I wonder is if some kind of intelligence can survive the birth of each universe. Since intelligence or information is a form of negative entropy, and entropy is reduced, is information enhanced? That does not seem likely. If so then god or gods may evolve from life in each universe.