I recently received an e-mail claiming that most scientists do not believe that the Big Bang represents the beginning of the universe. Other visitors to the site have made similar claims in the past, so I thought it would be a good idea to set the record straight about the origin of the universe. Although there are atheistic scientists who believe that the universe existed before the Big Bang, I must make it clear that they present no evidence for this belief, since none exists! This kind of belief is metaphysical in nature as indicated in an article from the The Origin-of-Life Foundation, Inc.Ž:
"Appeals to multiple or 'parallel' cosmoses or to an infinite number of cosmic 'Big Bang/Crunch' oscillations as essential elements of proposed mechanisms are not acceptable in submissions due to a lack of empirical correlation and testability. Such beliefs are without hard physical evidence and must therefore be considered unfalsifiable, currently outside the methodology of scientific investigation to confirm or disprove, and therefore more mathematically theoretical and metaphysical than scientific in nature. Recent cosmological evidence also suggests insufficient mass for gravity to reverse continuing cosmic expansion. The best cosmological evidence thus far suggests the cosmos is finite rather than infinite in age."1
The universe's beginning
Such metaphysical beliefs are often incorporated in popular books about cosmology, although it is seldom stated that those beliefs are without any evidence. As much as atheists would love to get rid of a beginning to the universe, it is apparent that it did begin to exist some time in the past. The Borde-Guth-Vilenkin Theorem2 shows that there is no way to get rid of a beginning to any universe that is characterized by cosmic expansion (Hav > 0). Since our universe is characterized by cosmic expansion, it must have had a beginning. So, the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin Theorem eliminates the eternal inflation model, which is based upon an ever expanding multiverse. Cyclic universe models fail because the entropy of a collapsing and expanding universe would render all parts of the universe as thermally dead within a few cycles (obviously, an eternal number of cycles is more than a few!). The cosmic egg model fails because the egg could not have existed forever, since quantum instabilities would force it to collapse after a finite amount of time.3 Here are some quotes from university websites by scientists who know that the universe had a beginning:
- "The conclusion of this lecture is that the universe has not existed forever. Rather, the universe, and time itself, had a beginning in the Big Bang, about 15 billion years ago." Stephen Hawking The Beginning of Time
- "Scientists generally agree that "the Big Bang" birthed the universe about 15 billion years ago." Tom Parisi, Northern Illinois University
- "As a result of the Big Bang (the tremendous explosion which marked the beginning of our Universe), the universe is expanding and most of the galaxies within it are moving away from each other." CalTech
- "The Big Bang model of the universe's birth is the most widely accepted model that has ever been conceived for the scientific origin of everything." Stuart Robbins, Case Western Reserve University
- "Many once believed that the universe had no beginning or end and was truly infinite. Through the inception of the Big Bang theory, however, no longer could the universe be considered infinite. The universe was forced to take on the properties of a finite phenomenon, possessing a history and a beginning." Chris LaRocco and Blair Rothstein, University of Michigan
- "The scientific evidence is now overwhelming that the Universe began with a "Big Bang" ~15 billion (15,000,000,000 or 15E9) years ago." "The Big Bang theory is the most widely accepted theory of the creation of the Universe." Dr. van der Pluijm, University of Michigan
- "The present location and velocities of galaxies are a result of a primordial blast known as the BIG BANG. It marked: THE BEGINNING OF THE UNIVERSE! THE BEGINNING OF TIME!" Terry Herter, Cornell University
- "That radiation is residual heat from the Big Bang, the event that sparked the beginning of the universe some 13 billion years ago." Craig Hogan, University of Washington
- "Most scientists agree that the universe began some 12 to 20 billion years ago in what has come to be known as the Big Bang (a term coined by the English astrophysicist Fred Hoyle in 1950." University of Illinois
- "The universe cannot be infinitely large or infinitely old (it evolves in time)." Nilakshi Veerabathina, Georgia State University ()
- "The universe had a beginning. There was once nothing and now there is something." Janna Levin, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University
- "Today scientists generally believe the universe was created in a violent explosion called the Big Bang." Susan Terebey, Department of Physics and Astronomy, California State University Los Angeles
- "Evidence suggests that our universe began as an incredibly hot and dense region referred to as a singularity." Stephen T. Abedon, Ohio State University
- "A large body of astrophysical observations now clearly points to a beginning for our universe about 15 billion years ago in a cataclysmic outpouring of elementary particles. There is, in fact, no evidence that any of the particles of matter with which we are now familiar existed before this great event." Louis J. Clavelli, Ph.D., Professor of Physics, University of Alabama
- "Now, after decades of observing and thinking, we have come to answer confidently the question of the origin of our universe... with what is known as the "big bang"." Yuki D. Takahashi, Caltech
- "The theory is the conceptual and the calculational tool used by particle physicists to describe the structure of the hadrons and the beginning of the universe." Keh-Fei Liu, University of Kentucky.
- "The three-part lecture series includes: "How the Universe Began," "The Dark Side of the Universe: Dark Matter and Dark Energy" and "Cosmic Inflation: The Dynamite Behind the Big Bang?" (Lectures by Michael S. Turner, Bruce V. and Diana M. Rauner at Penn State University)
- "Travel back in time to the beginning of the Universe: The Big Bang" Douglas Miller, University of Arizona
- "Beginning of the Universe 20.0 billion yr ago" Charly Mallery, University of Miami
- "At the beginning the universe was extremely hot and dense (more about this later) and as it expanded it cooled." Syracuse University
- "THE UNIVERSE AND ALL OF SPACE ARE EXPANDING FROM A BIG BANG BEGINNING" Center for Cosmological Physics, University of Chicago
- "Gamow realized that at a point a few minutes after its beginning, the universe would behave as a giant nuclear reactor." Valparaiso University, Department of Physics and Astronomy
- "I'll also include what the time is since the creation of the Universe, and an estimate of the temperature of the Universe at each point." Siobahn M. Morgan, University of Northern Iowa.
- "The Universe is thought to have formed between 6-20 billion years ago (Ga) as a result of the "Big Bang" Kevin P. Hefferan, University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
- "The dominant idea of Cosmology is that the Universe had a beginning." Adam Frank, University of Rochester Department of Physics & Astronomy
- "The hot dense phase is generally regarded as the beginning of the universe, and the time since the beginning is, by definition, the age of the universe." Harrison B. Prosper, Florida State University
- "One of the major hypotheses on which modern cosmology is based is that the Universe originated in an explosion called the Big Bang, in which all energy (and matter) that exists today was created." Eric S. Rowland, UC Santa Cruz
- "Together with Roger Penrose, I developed a new set of mathematical techniques, for dealing with this and similar problems. We showed that if General Relativity was correct, any reasonable model of the universe must start with a singularity. This would mean that science could predict that the universe must have had a beginning, but that it could not predict how the universe should begin: for that one would have to appeal to God." Stephen W. Hawking "Origin of the Universe" lecture.
The data from cosmology shows that the universe had a beginning, when space, time, matter and energy exploded out from the cosmic event known as the Big Bang. The Bible tell us that God "spreads out the heavens" (an expanding universe)4 and that the visible parts were made from the invisible (Hebrews 11:3),5 both ideas supported by modern cosmology. Is this why atheists are so anxious to try to get rid of a beginning to the universe?
- Why is There Something Instead of Nothing?
- Book Review: Why the Universe Is the Way It Is by Hugh Ross
- The Hope of Atheism and Humanism: The Ultimate Fate of Life, the Universe, and Everything
- Extreme Fine Tuning - Dark Energy or the Cosmological Constant
- Evidence for the Fine Tuning of the Universe
- The Incredible Design of the Earth and Our Solar System
- If God Created Everything, Who Created God?
- Why physicists can't avoid a creation event
- Creation out of Nothing: A Biblical, Philosophical, and Scientific Exploration
- The Origin-of-Life PrizeŽ from the The Origin-of-Life Foundation, Inc.Ž.
- Borde, A., A. H. Guth, and A. Vilenkin. 2003. Inflationary spacetimes are not past-complete. Phys. Rev. Lett. 90: 151301.
- Mithani, A. T. and A. Vilenkin. 2011. Collapse of simple harmonic universe. arxiv.org/abs/1110.4096.
- The following verses suggest that God created the
universe through an expanding universe - what science has called the Big
Bang. In many cases the Hebrew text indicates present tense - a process
- Who alone stretches out the heavens, And tramples down the waves of the sea; (Job 9:8)
- Covering Thyself with light as with a cloak, Stretching out heaven like a tent curtain. (Psalm 104:2)
- It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in. (Isaiah 40:22)
- Thus says God the Lord, Who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread out the earth and its offspring, Who gives breath to the people on it, And spirit to those who walk in it, (Isaiah 42:5)
- Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, "I, the Lord, am the maker of all things, Stretching out the heavens by Myself, And spreading out the earth all alone" (Isaiah 44:24)
- "It is I who made the earth, and created man upon it. I stretched out the heavens with My hands, And I ordained all their host." (Isaiah 45:12)
- "Surely My hand founded the earth, And My right hand spread out the heavens; When I call to them, they stand together." (Isaiah 48:13)
- That you have forgotten the Lord your Maker, Who stretched out the heavens, And laid the foundations of the earth; That you fear continually all day long because of the fury of the oppressor, As he makes ready to destroy? But where is the fury of the oppressor? (Isaiah 51:13)
- It is He who made the earth by His power, Who established the world by His wisdom; And by His understanding He has stretched out the heavens. (Jeremiah 10:12)
- It is He who made the earth by His power, Who established the world by His wisdom, And by His understanding He stretched out the heavens. (Jeremiah 51:15)
- The burden of the word of the Lord concerning Israel. Thus declares the Lord who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him, (Zechariah 12:1)
- By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible. (Hebrews 11:3)
Today's New Reason to Believe
Integrating Science and Faith
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Last Modified January 12, 2012