In its standard form, the big bang theory assumes that all parts of the universe began expanding simultaneously. But how could all the different parts of the universe synchronize the beginning of their expansion? Who gave the command?
Andre Linde, Professor of Cosmology
A century ago, the creation of the universe was a concept that astronomers as a rule ignored. The reason was the general acceptance of the idea that the universe existed in infinite time. Examining the universe, scientists supposed that it was just a conglomeration of matter and imagined that it had no beginning. There was no moment of "creation"-a moment when the universe and everything in it came into being.
This idea of "eternal existence" fit in well with European notions stemming from the philosophy of materialism. This philosophy, originally advanced in the world of the ancient Greeks, held that matter was the only thing that existed in the universe and the universe existed in infinite time and will exist endlessly. This philosophy survived in different forms during Roman times but in the Late Roman Empire and Middle Ages, materialism went into decline as a result of the influence of the Catholic church and Christian philosophy. It was after Renaissance that materialism began to gain broad acceptance among European scholars and scientists, largely because of their devotion to ancient Greek philosophy.
The German philosopher Immanuel Kant was the first person to advance the assertion of "the infinite universe" in the New Age. Scientific discoveries, however, invalidated Kant's assertion.
It was Immanuel Kant who, during the European Enlightenment, reasserted and defended materialism. Kant declared that the universe exists for all time and that every probability, however unlikely, should be regarded as possible. Kant's followers continued to defend his idea of an infinite universe along with materialism. By the beginning of 19th century, the idea that the universe had no beginning-that there was never any moment at which it was created-became widely accepted. It was carried into the 20th century through the works of dialectical materialists such as Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels.
This notion of an infinite universe fit in very well with atheism. It is not hard to see why. To hold that the universe had a beginning could imply that it was created and that, of course requires a creator-that is, God. It was much more convenient and safer to circumvent the issue by putting forward the idea that "the universe exists for eternity", even though there was not the slightest scientific basis for making such a claim. Georges Politzer, who espoused and defended this idea in his books published in the early 20th century, was an ardent champion of both Marxism and materialism.
Putting his trust in the validity of the "infinite universe" model, Politzer opposed the idea of creation in his book Principes Fondamentaux de Philosophie when he wrote:
The universe was not a created object, if it were, then it would have to be created instantaneously by God and brought into existence from nothing. To admit creation, one has to admit, in the first place, the existence of a moment when the universe did not exist, and that something came out of nothingness. This is something to which science can not accede. 3
Politzer supposed that science was on his side in his defense of the idea of an infinite universe. In fact, science was to prove that the universe indeed had a beginning. And just as Politzer himself declared, if there is creation then there must also be a creator.
The Expansion of Universe and the Discovery of the Big Bang
The 1920s were important years in the development of modern astronomy. In 1922, the Russian physicist Alexandra Friedman produced computations showing that the structure of the universe was not static and that even a tiny impulse might be sufficient to cause the whole structure to expand or contract according to Einstein's Theory of Relativity. George Lemaitre was the first to recognize what Friedman's work meant. Based on these computations, the Belgian astronomer Lemaitre declared that the universe had a beginning and that it was expanding as a result of something that had triggered it. He also stated that the rate of radiation could be used as a measure of the aftermath of that "something".
The theoretical musings of these two scientists did not attract much attention and probably would have been ignored except for new observational evidence that rocked the scientific world in 1929. That year the American astronomer Edwin Hubble, working at the California Mount Wilson observatory, made one of the most important discoveries in the history of astronomy. Observing a number of stars through his huge telescope, he discovered that their light was shifted towards the red end of the spectrum and, crucially, that this shift was directly related to the distance of the stars from Earth. This discovery shook the very basis of the universe model held until then.
According to the recognized rules of physics, the spectra of light beams travelling towards the point of observation tend towards violet while the spectra of light beams moving away from the point of observation tend towards red. (Just like the fading of a train's whistle as it moves away from the observer) Hubble's observation showed that according to this law, the heavenly bodies were moving away from us. Before long, Hubble made another important discovery; The stars weren't just racing away from Earth; they were racing away from each other as well. The only conclusion that could be derived from a universe where everything moves away from everything else is that the universe constantly "expands".
|Edwin Hubble discovered that the universe was expanding. Eventually he found evidence of the "the Big Bang", a cataclysmic event whose discovery forced scientists to abandon the notion of an infinite and eternal universe.
Hubble had found observational evidence for something that George Lemaitre had "prophesized" a short while ago and one of the greatest minds of our age had recognized almost fifteen years earlier. In 1915, Albert Einstein had concluded that the universe could not be static because of calculations based on his recently-discovered theory of relativity (thus anticipating the conclusions of Friedman and Lemaitre). Shocked by his findings, Einstein added a "cosmological constant" to his equations in order to "make the answer come out right" because astronomers assured him that the universe was static and there was no other way to make his equations match such a model. Years later, Einstein was to admit that his cosmological constant was the biggest mistake of his career.
Hubble's discovery that the universe was expanding led to the emergence of another model that needed no fiddling around with to make the equations work right. If the universe was getting bigger as time advanced, going back in time meant that it was getting smaller; and if one went back far enough, everything would shrink and converge at a single point. The conclusion to be derived from this model was that at some time, all the matter in the universe was compacted in a single point-mass that had "zero volume" because of its immense gravitational force. Our universe came into being as the result of the explosion of this point-mass that had zero volume. This explosion has come to be called the "the Big Bang" and its existence has repeatedly been confirmed by observational evidence.
There was another truth that the Big Bang pointed to. To say that something has zero volume is tantamount to saying that it is "nothing". The whole universe was created from this "nothing". And furthermore this universe had a beginning, contrary to the view of materialism, which holds that "the universe has existed for eternity".
The "Steady-state" Hypothesis
The Big Bang theory quickly gained wide acceptance in the scientific world due to the clear-cut evidence for it. Nevertheless astronomers who favored materialism and adhered to the idea of an infinite universe that materialism seemingly demanded held out against the Big Bang in their struggle to uphold a fundamental tenet of their ideology. The reason was made clear by the English astronomer Arthur Eddington, who said "Philosophically, the notion of an abrupt beginning to the present order of Nature is repugnant to me".4
Another astronomer who opposed the Big Bang theory was Fred Hoyle. Around the middle of the 20th century he came up with a new model, which he called "steady-state", that was an extension of the 19th century's idea of an infinite universe. Accepting the incontrovertible evidence that the universe was expanding, he proposed that the universe was infinite in both dimension and time. According to this model, as the universe expanded new matter was continuously coming into existence by itself in just the right amount to keep the universe in a "steady state". With the sole visible aim of supporting the dogma of "matter existed in infinite time", which is the basis of the materialist philosophy, this theory was totally at variance with the "Big Bang theory", which defends that the universe had a beginning. Supporters of Hoyle's steady state theory remained adamantly opposed to the Big Bang for years. Science, however, was working against them.
The Triumph of the Big Bang
|Sir Arthur Eddington's statement that "the notion of an abrupt beginning to the present order of nature was repugnant to him" was an admission of the discomfort that the Big Bang caused for materialists.
In 1948, George Gamov carried George Lemaitre's calculations several steps further and came up with a new idea concerning the Big Bang. If the universe was formed in a sudden, cataclysmic explosion, there ought to be a definite amount of radiation left over from that explosion. This radiation should be detectable and, furthermore, it should be uniform throughout the universe.
Within two decades, observational proof of Gamov's conjecture was forthcoming. In 1965, two researchers by the name of Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson chanced upon a form of radiation hitherto unnoticed. Called "cosmic background radiation", it was unlike anything coming from anywhere else in the universe for it was extraordinarily uniform. It was neither localized nor did it have a definite source; instead, it was distributed equally everywhere. It was soon realized that this radiation was the echo of the Big Bang, still reverberating since the first moments of that great explosion. Gamov had been spot-on for the frequency of the radiation was nearly the same value that scientists had predicted it would be. Penzias and Wilson were awarded a Nobel prize for their discovery.
In 1989, George Smoot and his NASA team sent a satellite into space. Called the "Cosmic Background Emission Explorer" (COBE), it took only eight minutes for the sensitive instruments on board the satellite to detect and confirm the levels of radiation reported by Penzias and Wilson. These results conclusively demonstrated the existence of the hot, dense form remaining from the explosion out of which the universe came into being. Most scientists acknowledged that COBE had successfully captured the remnants of the Big Bang.
|The cosmic background radiation discovered by Penzias and Wilson is regarded as incontrovertible evidence of the Big Bang by the scientific world.
More evidence for the Big Bang was forthcoming. One piece had to do with the relative amounts of hydrogen and helium in the universe. Observations indicated that the mix of these two elements in the universe was in accord with theoretical calculations of what should have been remained after the Big Bang. That drove another stake into the heart of the steady state theory because if the universe had existed for eternity and never had a beginning, all of its hydrogen should have been burned into helium.
Confronted by such evidence, the Big Bang gained the near-complete approval of the scientific world. In an article in its October 1994 issue, Scientific American noted that the Big Bang model was the only one that could account for the constant expansion of the universe and for other observational results.
Defending the steady-state theory alongside Fred Hoyle for years, Dennis Sciama described the final position they had reached after all the evidence for the Big Bang theory was revealed:
There was at that time a somewhat acrimonious debate between some of the proponents of the steady state theory and observers who were testing it and, I think, hoping to disprove it. I played a very minor part at that time because I was a supporter of the steady state theory, not in the sense that I believed that it had to be true, but in that I found it so attractive I wanted it to be true. When hostile observational evidence became to come in, Fred Hoyle took a leading part in trying to counter this evidence, and I played a small part at the side, also making suggestions as to how the hostile evidence could be answered. But as that evidence piled up, it became more and more evident that the game was up, and that one had to abandon the steady state theory.
Who Created the Universe From Nothing?
With this triumph of the Big Bang, the thesis of an "infinite universe", which forms the basis of materialist dogma, was tossed onto the scrap-heap of history. But for materialists it also raised a couple of inconvenient questions: What existed before the Big Bang? And what force could have caused the great explosion that resulted in a universe that did not exist before?
Materialists like Arthur Eddington recognized that the answers to these questions could point to the existence of a supreme creator and that they did not like. The atheist philosopher Anthony Flew commented on this point:
Notoriously, confession is good for the soul. I will therefore begin by confessing that the Stratonician atheist has to be embarrassed by the contemporary cosmological consensus. For it seems that the cosmologists are providing a scientific proof of what St. Thomas contended could not be proved philosophically; namely, that the universe had a beginning. So long as the universe can be comfortably thought of as being not only without end but also beginning, it remains easy to urge that its brute existence, and whatever are found to be its most fundamental features, should be accepted as the explanatory ultimates. Although I believe that it remains still correct, it certainly is neither easy nor comfortable to maintain this position in the face of the Big Bang story. 6
Many scientists who do not force themselves to be atheists accept and favor the existence of a creator having an infinite power. For instance, the American astrophysicist Hugh Ross proposes a Creator of universe, Who is above all physical dimensions as:
By definition, time is that dimension in which cause-and-effect phenomena take place. No time, no cause and effect. If time's beginning is concurrent with the beginning of the universe, as the space-time theorem says, then the cause of the universe must be some entity operating in a time dimension completely independent of and pre-existent to the time dimension of the cosmos. …It tells us that the Creator is transcendent, operating beyond the dimensional limits of the universe. It tells us that God is not the universe itself, nor is God contained within the universe.7
Objections to Creation and Why They are Flawed
It is patently obvious that the Big Bang means the creation of the universe out of nothing and this is surely evidence of willful creation. Regarding this fact, some materialist astronomers and physicists have tried to advance alternative explanations to oppose this reality. Mention has already been made of the steady state theory and it was pointed out it was clung to, by those who were uncomfortable with the notion of "creation from nothingness", despite all the evidence to the contrary in an attempt to shore up their philosophy.
There are also a number of models that have been advanced by materialists who accept the Big Bang theory but try to exorcise it of the notion of creation. One of these is the "oscillating" universe model; another is the "quantum model of universe". Let us examine these theories and see why they are invalid.
The oscillating universe model was advanced by the astronomers who disliked the idea the Big Bang was the beginning of the universe. In this model, it is claimed that the present expansion of the universe will eventually be reversed at some point and begin to contract. This contraction will cause everything to collapse into a single point that will then explode again, initiating a new round of expansion. This process, they say, is repeated infinitely in time. This model also holds that the universe has experienced this transformation an infinite number of times already and that it will continue to do so forever. In other words, the universe exists for eternity but it expands and collapses at different intervals with a huge explosion punctuating each cycle. The universe we live in is just one of those infinite universes going through the same cycle.
This is nothing but a feeble attempt to accommodate the fact of the Big Bang to notions about an infinite universe. The proposed scenario is unsupported by the results of scientific research over the last 15-20 years, which show that it is impossible for such an "oscillating" universe idea to come into being. Furthermore the laws of physics offer no reason why a contracting universe should explode again after collapsing into a single point: it ought to stay just as it is. Nor do they offer a reason why an expanding universe should ever begin to contract in the first place.8
Even if we allow that there is some mechanism by which this cycle of contraction-explosion-expansion does take place, the crucial point is that this cycle cannot go on for ever, as is claimed. Calculations for this model show that each universe will transfer an amount of entropy to its successor. In other words, the amount of useful energy available becomes less each time and every "opening" universe will open more slowly and have a larger diameter. This will cause a much smaller universe to form the next time around and so on, eventually petering out into nothing. Even if "open and close" universes can exist, they cannot endure for eternity. At some point it becomes necessary for "something" to be created from "nothing".9
Put briefly, the "oscillating" universe model is a hopeless fantasy whose physical reality is impossible.
The "quantum model of universe" is another attempt to purge the Big Bang of its creationist implications. Supporters of this model base it on the observations of quantum (subatomic) physics. In quantum physics, it is to be observed that subatomic particles appear and disappear spontaneously in a vacuum. Interpreting this observation as "matter can originate at quantum level, this is a property pertaining to matter", some physicists try to explain the origination of matter from non-existence during the creation of the universe as a "property pertaining to matter" and present it as a part of laws of nature. In this model, our universe is interpreted as a subatomic particle in a bigger one.
However this syllogism is definitely out of question and in any case cannot explain how the universe came into being. William Lane Craig, the author of The Big Bang: Theism and Atheism explains why:
A quantum mechanical vacuum spawning material particles is far from the ordinary idea of a "vacuum" (meaning nothing). Rather, a quantum vacuum is a sea of continually forming and dissolving particles, which borrow energy from the vacuum for their brief existence. This is not "nothing," and hence, material particles do not come into being out of nothing.10
So in quantum physics, matter "does not exist when it was not before". What happens is that ambient energy suddenly becomes matter and just as suddenly disappears becoming energy again. In short, there is no condition of "existence from nothingness" as is claimed.
In physics, no less than in other branches of the sciences, there are atheist scientists who do not hesitate to disguise the truth by overlooking critical points and details in their attempt to support the materialist view and achieve their ends. For them, it is much more important to defend materialism and atheism than to reveal scientific facts and realities.
In the face of the reality mentioned above, most scientists dismiss the quantum universe model. C. J. Isham explains that "this model is not accepted widely because of the inherent difficulties that it poses."11 Even some of the originators of this idea, such as Brout and Spindel, have abandoned it.12
|Stephen Hawking also tries to advance different explanations for the Big Bang other than Creation just as other Materialist scientists do by relying upon contradictions and false concepts.
A recent and much-publicized version of the quantum universe model was advanced by the physicist Stephen Hawking. In his book A Brief History of Time, Hawking states that the Big Bang doesn't necessarily mean existence from nothingness. Instead of "no time" before the Big Bang, Hawking proposed the concept of "imaginary time". According to Hawking, there was only a 10-43 second "imaginary" time interval before the Big Bang took place and "real" time was formed after that. Hawking's hope was just to ignore the reality of "timelessness" before the Big Bang by means of this "imaginary" time.
As a concept, "imaginary time" is tantamount to zero or non-existence-like the imaginary number of people in a room or the imaginary number of cars on a road. Here Hawking is just playing with words. He claims that equations are right when they are related to an imaginary time but in fact this has no meaning. The mathematician Sir Herbert Dingle refers to the possibility of faking imaginary things as real in math as:
In the language of mathematics we can tell lies as well as truths, and within the scope of mathematics itself there is no possible way of telling one from the other. We can distinguish them only by experience or by reasoning outside the mathematics, applied to the possible relation between the mathematical solution and its physical correlate.13
To put it briefly, a mathematically imaginary or theoretical solution need not have a true or a real consequence. Using a property exclusive to mathematics, Hawking produces hypotheses that are unrelated to reality. But what reason could he have for doing this? It's easy to find the answer to that question in his own words. Hawking admits that he prefers alternative universe models to the Big Bang because the latter "hints at divine creation", which such models are designed to oppose.14
What all this shows is that alternative models to the Big Bang such as steady-state, the open and close universe model, and quantum universe models in fact spring from the philosophical prejudices of materialists. Scientific discoveries have demonstrated the reality of the Big Bang and can even explain "existence from nothingness". And this is very strong evidence that the universe is created by God, a point that materialists utterly reject
An example of this opposition to the Big Bang is to be found in an essay by John Maddox, the editor of Nature (a materialist magazine), that appeared in 1989. In "Down with the Big Bang", Maddox declares the Big Bang to be philosophically unacceptable because it helps theologists by providing them with strong support for their ideas. The author also predicted that the Big Bang would be disproved and that support for it would disappear within a decade.15 Maddox can only have been even more discomforted by the subsequent discoveries during the next ten years that have provided further evidence of the existence of the Big Bang.
Some materialists do act with more common sense on this subject. The British Materialist H. P. Lipson accepts the truth of creation, albeit "unpleasantly", when he says:
If living matter is not, then caused by the interplay of atoms, natural forces, and radiation, how has it come into being?…I think, however, that we must…admit that the only acceptable explanation is creation. I know that this is anathema to physicists, as indeed it is to me, but we must not reject that we do not like if the experimental evidence supports it.16
In conclusion, the truth disclosed by science is this: Matter and time have been brought into being by an independent possessor of immense power, by a Creator. God, the Possessor of almighty power, knowledge and intelligence, has created the universe we live in.
2. Andrei Linde, "The Self-Reproducing Inflationary Universe", Scientific American, vol. 271, 1994, p. 48
3. George Politzer, Principes Fondamentaux de Philosophie, Editions Sociales, Paris 1954 ,p. 84
4. S. Jaki, Cosmos and Creator, Regnery Gateway, Chicago, 1980, p. 54
5. Stephen Hawking, Evreni Kucaklayan Karinca, Alkim Publishing, 1993, p. 62-63
6. Henry Margenau, Roy Abraham Vargesse. Cosmos, Bios, Theos. La Salle IL: Open Court Publishing, 1992, p. 241
7. Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos: How Greatest Scientific Discoveries of The Century Reveal God, Colorado: NavPress, revised edition, 1995, p. 76
8. William Lane Craig, Cosmos and Creator, Origins & Design, Spring 1996, vol. 17, p. 19
9. William Lane Craig, Cosmos and Creator, Origins & Design, Spring 1996, vol. 17, p. 19
10. William Lane Craig, Cosmos and Creator, Origins & Design, Spring 1996, vol. 17, p. 20
11. Christopher Isham, "Space, Time and Quantum Cosmology", paper presented at the conference "God, Time and Modern Physics", March 1990, Origins & Design, Spring 1996, vol. 17, p. 27
12. R. Brout, Ph. Spindel, "Black Holes Dispute", Nature, vol 337, 1989, p. 216
13. Herbert Dingle, Science at the Crossroads, London: Martin Brian & O'Keefe, 1972, p. 31-32
14. StephenHawking, A Brief History of Time, New York: Bantam Books, 1988, p. 46
15. John Maddox, "Down with the Big Bang", Nature, vol. 340, 1989, p. 378
16. H. P. Lipson, "A Physicist Looks at Evolution", Physics Bulletin, vol. 138, 1980, p. 138