More on the Big Bang


#1

Last night, I watched a special on the History Channel (I think) called “Beyond the Big Bang” that I found not only fascinating, but vindicating.

I have long believed the BB theory to be true – I’m no cosmologist, but it seems to make perfect sense based on what we can observe about the universe. I have also long believed that the theory is not contrary to Catholic theology or interpretation of Scripture, since the Church has taught that such theories do not contradict revealed truth.

In fact, I learned that the theory originated with a Catholic priest/physicist, Fr. George Le Maitre, who first hypothesized the existence of a “primordial atom” based on observations that the universe is expanding and the fact that Einstein’s theories couldn’t account for the expansion. The show even said that Einstein and other physicists were reluctant to take the leap that Fr. Le Maitre made because it argued for a “moment of creation”.

The result was that Fred Hoyle’s “Steady State” theory became the vogue until cosmic background radiation – which Le Maitre had predicted but was unable to detect – was discovered in the 1960s.

The show continually characterized Le Maitre as a visionary. It even addressed the fact that his being a priest may have contributed to the reluctance of the scientific community to accept his theory at first, and as it did so, it cast Le Maitre’s contemporaries in a less-than-positive light. Pope Pius VII gave the theory his stamp of approval, which probably didn’t help on this front, either.

After taking the viewer through the entire history of the Big Bang theory, right up through current theories of what happened in the first few nanoseconds, minutes, and millenia of creation, the show finished with the words, “This is what we think we know.” I found that remarkably humble.

My point in starting this thread is to share my belief that a) modern science is not inherently godless, and b) that the Big Bang theory actually strengthens the argument that there is a God – and, in fact, allows us a glimpse of just how magnificent is His creation.

Discuss.

Peace,
Dante


#2

I can agree with that.

b) that the Big Bang theory actually strengthens the argument that there is a God

I don’t see how. We believe that God created ex nihilo but the BB says that energy always existed, right?


#3

Oh, I DVR’d it last night definitely have to watch it now.

I once attended a talk by a Dr. Henry Schaeffer(?) Chemistry Professor at U of Georgia, who wrote “Science & Christianity”.(?) He gives an excellent defense of the position(agreeing with you, Dante) while going over the early history of the universe.

It was an awesome talk. It doublecheck the author/book.


#4

To my knowledge, the BB theory does not address the origin of the “primordial atom”, as Le Maitre called it; only that the universe can be traced back to such a state. Certainly there are scientists who deduce that, since there is no theory of the origin of this primordial atom, it must have always exisited.

I know I have heard the hypothesis that the universe is in a state of flux – exploding, expanding, cooling, slowing down, and collapsing in on itself. If this is the case, even if our current universe is the tenth, fiftieth, or millionth iteration of this process, it had to start somewhere, right? :slight_smile:

As to the BBT itself, it does not contradict the dogma that God created the universe ex nihilo, if one assumes that, in so doing, God created the primordial atom (which, I believe, is currently referred to as a “singularity”).

Peace,
Dante


#5

I don’t see how. We believe that God created ex nihilo but the BB says that energy always existed, right?

Another thing to remember is that time would have had to begin to exist with the beginning of the Big Bang, since prior to that there was a steady-state. This is one more point in favor of God creating it, since the motion of the Big Bang would have had to come from without rather than from within.

IIRC, the Pope at the time of Le Maitre (Pius XI I think) was so excited about the theory because of its theological implications that Le Maitre had to remind him that it was just a working hypothesis for scientific purposes, and not a theological lynchpin to be used for doctrinal proclamations. The theological implications were and always have been obvious, however, which is why I think scientists have been trying to undermine the fundamentals of the Big Bang ever since (yet the Big Bang continues to produce more and stronger evidence in its favor as the years go by).

It’s not a “proof” of God, but it’s about as strong of one as we’re likely to get from pure science. If Aquinas were here today he’d be ALL over the Big Bang theory for use as a proof, I’m sure. :thumbsup:

Peace and God bless!


#6

This strikes me as an overstatement. The existence of God does not really pivot on whether or not the big bang, or any other cosmological or scientific theory, proves out. But you are onto something important.

One of the things that the predatory and vicious atheists out there who are trying to use science to undermine Christian (and any other religious) belief keep pushing is that science, somehow, makes nonsense out of belief in God. They claim that to look at science is to realize how foolish believers are. Well, they’re blowing smoke. Nothing science has found is inconsistent with a belief in God, and nothing a Catholic Christian believes offends the sensibilities that go along with the effective deployment of the scientific method. The robustness of the big bang theory certainly strengthens this case that religious belief is not antagonistic to the human intellect.

One thing to point out about all the chatter about what happened before the big bang. Even if scientists engage in the chatter, by definition, it is not chatter on a scientific consideration. By definition, it cannot be, because science deals with the unuverse, and cannot address anything apart from the universe. Nothing wrong with scientists discussing philosophy, as long as they don not pretend it’s science, or try to use science to give it cachet.

Blessings,

Gerry


#7

If time began with the Big Bang, then any statement about anything prior to the Big Bang doesn’t make any sense. So there wasn’t a steady-state prior to the Big Bang–everything began with the Big Bang.


#8

The Big Bang theory certainly seems to start with a “bang”, implying a distinct beginning. But one could argue that a Steady-State theory is just as compatible with belief in God: God created the universe as a steady-state universe. In fact, I think Genesis is much more descriptive of a steady-state universe than a big-bang universe. There’s no ‘bang’ in Genesis. Instead, what you see is the heavens and the earth existing before the sun and the moon and the stars. That’s exactly opposite from the expectations coming out of a big-bang process, but it doesn’t contradict a steady-state creation.

Then again, I could be wrong.:smiley:


#9

There are some interesting consequences of accepting that there is a creator of the universe.

Could he have created a steady state universe? Yes, and a “big bang” open or closed universe, too. The point is that no matter what kind it was, it says nothing about whether or not there is a creator of it.

There’s another interesting possibility for creation. It all happened two seconds ago. It happened in a manner that everything in it – things, animals, people, their memories and knowledge, etc. – was created in a manner consistent with it having been made much, much earlier. Science can’t prove that hypothesis either true or false.

Blessings,

Gerry


#10

Time indeed began with the Big Bang. Remember though, God, as Supreme Creator, created Time, the Big Bang, and all else. He is outside of time.

The Big Bang really only applies to physical things. It essentially states that there was a beginning for our physical universe. As with all Science, it can say nothing about the Supernatural.


#11

no, there was no energy, it all began with the primoridal atom. There was nothing appart from that, not even energy nor atoms.


#12

Yeah, but the primordial atom was something.


#13

I think this is what I was trying to say – but you said it better. :slight_smile:

Peace,
Dante


#14

But the primordial atom wasent eternal, so it must have simply came out of the nothing, ex nihilo.


#15

No it wasn’t eternal, since the big bang was the beginning of time.


#16

Perhaps. A creator-God is really orthogonal to the whole discussion.

The Big Bang really only applies to physical things. It essentially states that there was a beginning for our physical universe. As with all Science, it can say nothing about the Supernatural.

Indeed. And religion ought to say nothing about science. Experience has shown that when one tries to say something about the other, it fails miserably.


#17

I dont think so they could both support each ohter, in the past they were used in a bad way but they can work. I believe that religious people should also get involved in science. in order to show that religion dosent go agianst science.


#18

The Questions raised about the theory of the Big Bang is that point towards a God are:

  1. Where did the singularity come from?

  2. What set the explosion? If the singularity always existed and just exploded then what changed to create the chain of causes and effects that caused the explosion?

  3. The problem that science has with the Big Bang was that the laws of physics did not come into play until some microseconds after the explosion. Thus there is only so far that Physics can do to get back to the origin. Thus these questions cannot be answered by science and do not quite honestly fit into the realm of questions that science is made to answer.

Remember that science is the study of the physical universe. So it cannot study that which is not a physical universe which the singularity cannot be defined as.

Got all of this from a philosophy of science class in college. Suprised I still remember all of this stuff.:slight_smile:

Anyway my point is that the Big Bang raises questions that cannot be answered by science and points towards a
First Cause that science cannot evaluate.


#19

ERose (and others):

I think there are some more basic questions to be asked about the big bang- such as is it real?

It is clear that if one accepts a string of assumptions about the universe, then the observations we have would support the possibilty of a big bang (especially if we throw in a bunch of unobservable stuff like dark matter and dark energy).

The question is why accept those assumptions and not consider others? Other assumptions would lead to totally different conclusions about what our observations mean. This thread is very interesting in that respect.

The assumptions chosen exclude the possibility that we are in the center of the universe. They do so nearly explicitly. The thread I linked contains the following quote from Stephen Hawkings:

“…all this evidence that the universe looks the
same whichever direction we look in **might
seem to suggest **there is something special
about our place in the universe. In particular,
it might seem that if we observe all other
galaxies to be moving away from us, then
we must be at the center of the universe
.”

He does provide and alternative view, though:

“There is, however, an alternate
explanation: the universe might look the
same in every direction as seen from any
other galaxy, too. This, as we have seen,
was Friedmann’s second assumption. **We
have no scientific evidence for, or against,
this assumption. **We believe it only on
grounds of modesty: it would be most
remarkable if the universe looked the same
in every direction around us, but not
around other points in the universe.”

Interesting that secular modesty sounds a bit like disobedience to the Church. The other important assumption is what redshift means. It is interpreted as expansion, but it could also be interepreted as a gravitaitonal field. If the second assumption were accepted, then we would interepret the presence of redshifts all around us as us being in the center.

And, it is clear that if there was proof of us in the center, science would reject it, not even consider it. For instance Hubble (same thread- I am trying to reproduce some of the emphasis from the original thread):

*What did Edwin Hubble write when he first discovered redshifts moving away from the earth everywhere he looked? Wow, look, we may be in the center? No. Hey we appear to have a central position, but maybe there are alternate explanations? No.

He Said (The Observational Approach to Cosmology):

"…Such a condition would imply that
we occupy a unique position in the
universe, analogous, in a sense, to the
ancient conception of a central
Earth
This hypothesis cannot be
disproved
, but it is unwelcome and
would only be accepted as a **last
resort *in order to save the phenomena.
Therefore we disregard this
possibility
the unwelcome position
of a favored location must be avoided
at all costs
… such a favored position
is intolerable…Therefore, in order to
restore homogeneity, and to escape
the horror of a unique position…must
be compensated by spatial curvature.
There seems to be no other escape."

In any case, suggest you read the thread I linked- especially the exchange between psteichen and thrth_skr. The big bang is the result of a choice of one set of many possible unprovable assumptions.


#20

Things can exist without time, they simply have no motion. By steady-state I’m not referring to the idea that the universe was moving in a steady constant pattern, but that the material of the Big Bang was just “there” without any motion at all. We can’t actually measure such an existence so it’s pure hypothesis, but it wouldn’t interfere with the idea of God. :slight_smile:

Peace and God bless!


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