Who's afraid of the Big Bad Bang...?
The Big Bang may well be the most amazing discovery in the
history of science. Imagine if you can, every single particle that makes up
every single person, planet, star and galaxy of the entire Universe bound into a
'singularity', a point of infinite density occupying zero volume, and unleashed
in a mammoth explosion of energy that marks the dramatic beginning of time,
space and everything. Imagine these cosmic fireworks unfolding like flowers,
clustering into galaxies and bursting into stars, stretched apart with the
fabric of space over billions and billions of light years, and throughout it all
swirling clouds of gas condensing and forming the planets, nebulae and stars we
Try to grasp the power behind such a creation, and the genius
of the mind who engineered it! Absolutely incomprehensible!
Truly this was the Lord's doing, and surely it is marvelous in
Yet at the beginning of this century, the Universe was
commonly thought to be infinite and static, with the assumption that it had
always existed. It was just... there! Even though most religious people accepted
that God made all things, few considered the possibility that the actual
creation of the Universe would ever be discovered or described by
But this is exactly what the "Big Bang" is all
It was Einstein's amazing calculations early this century that
first suggested that the Universe was expanding, but, as he did not believe it,
he added a "fiddle factor" into his maths to stabilise his Universe, hoping to
discover the reason later. By 1929 Edwin Hubble's deep space observations had
shown the Universe to be vastly more immense than previously imagined, and his
discovery of galaxy redshifts demonstrated that the Universe was indeed
expanding. There was no avoiding it this time, and Einstein realized that his
cosmological constant "was the greatest mistake of my life."
The first amazing implication of an expanding universe was
that if the Universe was indeed smaller and smaller the further we explore back
into time, then we can extrapolate a moment of beginning (10 to 15 billion years
ago) where the Universe was incomprehensibly small in a way where all known laws
of physics break down. Which for many people sounded like a very unsatisfactory
arrangement, and was the source of much scientific debate. But when Penzias and
Wilson accidentally discovered the predicted background radiation in space in
the 1960s, the case for the Big Bang was considered sealed.
Well, it had been realised for some time that if the Universe
was in fact expanding, space would be expanding with it and any radiation in
that space would be proportionally "stretched". The Big Bang fireball would have
generated intense very short wavelength high-energy radiation but, as the
Universe expanded, this would be progressively expanded into radiation of
microwave wavelength and diminished in intensity to something of a whisper.
In 1964, Penzias and Wilson were testing an experimental
microwave antenna and were plagued by a background hiss that would not go away,
no matter where the antenna was pointed. Speculation blamed some pigeons
roosting inside, who were soon forcibly evicted, but the hiss continued. A
discussion with radio-astronomers led to the realization that they had tuned
into the relic of the Big Bang, and the mysterious hiss became one of the most
persuasive evidences for the Big Bang.
Since then, several other discoveries have also confirmed the
theory, and most astronomers now regard the evidence for it as
Yet Gen 1:1 had always said, "In the beginning, God created
the Heaven and the Earth." The Bible had always described an ultimate beginning.
Today, few Bible students familiar with the Big Bang theory would doubt that Gen
1:1 is a reference to this grand beginning of our magnificent and expanding
One thing that impresses me in all this is the way the
scientific community came around to accept the Big Bang. Nobody wanted it, and
it hardly sounded like an original idea either. It was resisted strongly for
years, partly because it had such a disconcerting Biblical flavour, sounding too
much like Christianity's Creation "ex-nihilo" ('out of nothing') and partly
because it could have no scientific explanation. Science is in the business of
giving cause to effects, but here was the greatest effect of all with no cause.
In fact the very term "Big Bang" was coined by Fred Hoyle in derision of the
concept! Yet the observational evidence became overwhelming, and science was
forced to follow. In fact, Fred Hoyle himself ended up doing much of the science
that helped explain it, and the name has stuck.
(Actually, this is science at its best and most reliable.
Unwilling scientists were forced to follow the evidence because the evidence
demanded it rather than because it supported their pet theories.)
A big difficulty for a scientist in accepting such an
unexplainable for a First Cause is that a great big "stop" sign is put in place
saying, "No questions please!" Don't enquire about the cause, because any ideas
cannot be tested! This is anathema to the scientific mind, partly because it
opens up the field to total speculation which can never be tested. The rapid
progress of science in the last two centuries has been largely due to an
approach that has eschewed untestable speculation and superstition in favour of
rigid testing procedures. Yet all that science can test is that which is within
the Universe. Beyond the Universe, anything is possible.
Why bother then with trying to explain anything? If we admit
that the Universe itself is physically inexplicable, then how can we be sure
that any physical explanation for anything is truly meaningful? How can any
scientific explanation of anything be truly worthwhile if the origin and cause
of the Universe is beyond scientific enquiry? These are very disturbing
questions. It is impossible to fully explain our cosmos unless we have a source
of information from beyond the Big Bang!
So stop worrying! We 'theologians' and our Bibles are not
being tossed away yet! Quite the opposite it seems! For we have a source of
information from beyond the Big Bang.
Today, the essential Big Bang concept is so firmly entrenched
that the best way to get attention for a cosmological article is to include in
the heading "Is this the end for the Big Bang?" or something equally
controversial. While we do well to be cautious about any scientific theory, and
findings which appear to challenge the theory behind the Big Bang do get
reported quite often, every astronomer I have spoken to has no hesitation in
affirming that the Big Bang remains by far the best fit with observation. And
after all, what scientist worth his salt is not looking for problems to solve?
And there are many problems to solve, especially problems of detail. But the
debate is not so much over WHETHER the Big Bang has happened, but HOW the Big
Unfortunately, we tend to grab these headings and triumphantly
exclaim, "See, the scientists can never agree and obviously don't know what they
are talking about! Why don't they just read the Bible and get the answer?"
Personally, I'm glad some don't. There is no witness like an unwilling witness.
And we forget that science is attempting to explain how the Universe happened in
mechanical terms, rather than why it exists in absolute terms. It would seem
very foolish to turn the tables by pretending to understand the mechanics, and
perhaps lose direction and find that scientific men are coming closer than we to
understanding the "why" when we have had the revealed word of God to tell us,
but we were too busy debating the wrong thing to notice the question.
In fact, the funny thing is, the Bible always talked about a
beginning of the Universe, but when science discovered and described it, how
many of us disputed it? Amazing! Surely this must be telling us
What I find particularly interesting about this beginning, is
that God was already there. Which means that if the Big Bang marks "the
beginning" of the Universe, then God was not only "before" the Universe came
into existence, (rather logical if He created it after all!) but, being before
it and the Creator of it, he is logically above and beyond it, independent of
and unconstrained by anything that is part of it.
In other words, this implies that God is independent of and
unconstrained by physics, chemistry and biology, and indeed, any of the laws or
dimensions of the Universe that science is able to describe, including gravity,
time, and the speed of light. All these things are created by God FOR this
Universe and as part of it, rather than some sort of eternal conditions that he
has to work under. Perhaps this explains why science cannot "prove" God, simply
because God, being beyond the Universe, cannot be tested by experiments within
the Universe. The command, "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord your God" suggests
that human beings have always tried to put God to some sort of experimental
test. But proof of God will always be in the mind of the individual moved by the
evidence. And there is no shortage of evidence, as Paul says in Rom. 1:20: "For
the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen,
being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and
Godhead." Many people have observed that a man will either see the finger of God
at work in everything, or he can never see it at all.
This is especially true of the Big Bang theory. Many will see
it as obviously demanding a God as the "first cause", while others are
determined to hold fast to unbelief. When the editor of New Scientist magazine
made a little comment on the "no need for God" question, he was so swamped with
correspondence that a special newsletter was required just to publish "the God
letters"... all written by scientists! He later admitted that the very argument
he had used (Occam's razor) to do away with the necessity for God had been
skillfully turned around to REQUIRE God as a first cause.
One of the more fascinating things about the Big Bang is the
precision engineering involved to make it all work. Sir Bernard Lovell, in his
book "In the Centre of Immensites", pp 122,123, remarks about the Big Bang: "If
at that moment the rate of expansion had been reduced by only one part in a
thousand billion, then the universe would have collapsed after a few million
years... Conversely, if the rate had been marginally greater, then the expansion
would have reached such magnitudes that no gravitationally bound system (ie,
galaxies and stars, etc) could have formed."
Surely this finely tuned explosion suggests our Universe was
no mere accident? No galaxies = no stars, and no stars = no planets, no planets
= no earth, no earth = no life, and all that means no you and me.
Then there are the laws controlling the fundamental forces of
the Universe. I'll let Alan Hayward explain with an extended quotation from his
excellent book "Creation and Evolution" p 61...
"There appear to be just four basic forces holding everything
in the universe together, from the smallest atomic particles to the greatest
galaxies. Physicists call them the gravitational force, the electromagnetic
force, the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force. Each of these has a
characteristic strength that physicists have measured.
"If we ask, why do those forces have those particular
strengths, there seems to be no answer...
"Something (or Somebody) has evidently tailored the values of
those four fundamental forces of nature, so as to give the universe precisely
the properties it needs if life is to exist in it.
"To give just one example of the way these forces are matched,
take the relationship between gravity and the weak nuclear force. It is the
perfect balance between these two that has caused the universe to keep expanding
at a comfortable steady rate. To achieve this, according to Paul Davies, the two
forces have to be tuned to each other with the astonishing accuracy of one part
in ten thousand billion billion billion billion!
"If they became mismatched by this minute amount in one
direction, then, says Davies, 'the expansion of the universe would be explosive,
and it is doubtful if galaxies could ever have formed against such a disruptive
force.' With the same amount of mismatch in the other direction, 'the explosion
would be replaced by a catastrophic collapse of the universe.'
"All this, says Davies, provides 'compelling evidence that
something is "going on" '.
(Alan Hayward, "Creation and Evolution", p 61, and quoting
from Paul Davies, "The Accidental Universe", p 110)
Several years later, while discussing some even more
astounding fine-tuned coincidences, Paul Davies (in his best-seller "The Mind of
God", in a chapter called "Designer Universe") is less hesitant at expressing
what he thinks is "going on", and arrives at the following conclusion:
"The apparent 'fine tuning' of the laws of nature necessary if
conscious life is to evolve in the universe then carries the clear implication
that God has designed the universe so as to permit such life and consciousness
to emerge. It would mean that our own existence in the universe formed a central
part of God's plan."
The apostle Paul reminded the Colossians that the whole
Universe was created for Christ, things in heaven and things on earth, and we
have been invited to share with him. Do you think it is possible that we have
under-estimated just what this means?
It seems to me that an awful lot of time and drama are passed
over in the simplicity of the opening words of our Bibles, presumably because
they would distract from the essence of the message. Yet the shepherd boy's
quiet consideration of the sun, moon and stars enabled him to face the giant
Goliath in a spirit of astonishment that such could dare defy the armies of the
Living God! Job had his attention directed to consider the behaviour of a
creation whose hidden secrets teach us about the power and intellect of our God,
and the prophet Isaiah urges the people several times to lift up their eyes to
consider the heavens and the implications they have for worship. There is
nothing in science that can ever take this wonder away. Whether a scientist is
digging up fossils of ancient life forms or peering into the awesome depths of
space, or whether he is studying the biological marvels of our "fearfully and
wonderfully made" human frames or teasing out the secrets of the atom, he or she
is exploring the handiwork of God in a skillful and disciplined manner, whether
they acknowledge it or not.
Truly this world is full of hard-hearted and stiff-necked
people who will always resist the truths inscribed into the very fabric of
Creation. We must resist allowing anyone's human prejudices and opinions to
obstruct the wonder and reverence due to our Creator, and we must be equally
careful lest our own prejudices and opinions interfere with our ability to
recognise and be motivated by the hand of our God seen in the discoveries of
"The LORD possessed me (wisdom) in the beginning of his way, before his works of
old I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth was.
When there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains
abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I
brought forth: While as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the
highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I was
there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: When he established the
clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of the deep: When he gave to
the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass his commandment: when he
appointed the foundations of the earth: Then I was by him, as one brought up
with him: and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him; Rejoicing in
the habitable part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men" (Pro