The Big Bang Origin: The Unanswerable Answer
Since the beginnings of recorded history humans have debated the existence of a God. Scientists and philosophers have gone back and forth with evidence pointing toward a God and evidence that there could not possibly be a God. Consistently, one side makes a scientific discovery that supports their side, and then six months later the opposing side makes a huge discovery in science that supports their argument! How can all of these scientists and philosophers look at the exact same information, yet come up with two totally different answers? Why does it matter so much to people to continue debating this topic for centuries on end? Well for one it seems that humans have an innate desire to search for purpose, in all we do, we seek purpose and reason for doing things. That would make life an incredibly important thing to find purpose in. Knowing why we exist and how science shows us our place in the universe. There are endless questions that come to mind when thinking of our purpose in this universe, and why we are even living and have the ability to do life. All of these questions change and differ based on our beliefs.
You normally have two opposing sides in this ongoing debate, theists and atheists. Theists are those that believe that there is a God or higher-power being, and atheists are those that do not believe a God or any higher-power being exists. They debate on many topics within the realm of science, but the majority of my discussion will focus on cosmology. Cosmology is the study of the origin of the universe. It leads scientists to learn more about the universe we live in, and make discoveries on how we might have come to live in it. How do we use science to discover what our place is in the universe? Were we created or were we a creation of chance? Is the universe we live in self-existent, or did an outside source create it. Most of these things have not been proven, and may never be proven. Our scientists have made huge discoveries that point to one side or the other, but they can never seem to prove either side.
When debating on cosmology in particular, Theists state that everything about the Big Bang points towards a creator, yet Atheists will use the same science to show how everything about the Big Bang points towards something other than a creator. How is this even possible? How can many of the smartest people on the face of the planet see the exact same scientific information and declare 2 different truths? Both sides have a reason to be in the fight, because they both believe that it is a debate worth fighting for. It’s a debate for humanity’s nature of existence, why we are here, and what we should do why we are here. We can use science to find our place in the universe. Some believe that faith is the only thing that gives a purpose to our existence, but that isn’t so valid of a statement. If there is a God, He created science, and I’m sure He would like us to understand and be interested in what He created. If there isn’t a God, then science is most definitely a field that we can study to find our meaning. The Big Bang is a foundation for where to start when studying cosmology. It is the building block of how science can lead us to find our place in the universe.
Theists, Christians in particular, start with The Law of Cause and Effect (Law of Causation or Causality), which states that everything that has a beginning must have a cause. Immanuel Kant, an 18th century philosopher states in one of his most famous debates with David Hume that the Law of Causality is what allows us to attain any knowledge whatsoever. If causality were non-existent, then we as humans would essentially be blank slates that could not attain any greater knowledge. Though this debate was philosophical, the Law of Causation is used every day in science, and it is the only way that scientists are actually ale to make definitive statements about their discoveries. This is a law that cannot be disproved, it is as concrete as the Law of Gravity. With this being accepted as truth we then must move forward with the statement that the universe had a beginning, therefore the universe had a cause (Geisler and Turek p75). There is a great deal of evidence that the universe had a beginning and it is accepted by most modern scientists as a factual statement. The typical name given to the start of the universe is the Theory of the Big Bang. Some of the evidence for this includes: The Second Law of Thermodynamics, the expansion of the universe, and the Theory of General Relativity.
The First Law of Thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created nor can it be destroyed. This leads in to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, which states in the process of transferring energy, energy is wasted or depleted. The universe is slowly running out of usable energy. Take a car for instance. You put gas in the car, which is a form of energy. You then take that energy (gas) and transfer it into the kinetic energy needed to make your car move. In the process of using that energy, the only energy that you are putting back in to the universe is the heat produced by your car along with some other very minute amounts of energy. The rest is expended on getting your car to move you to where you need to go (Lucas). What does this have to do with cosmology and how the universe came in to existence? Well with this we can now state that the universe had a beginning. If the universe had existed since eternity, the energy within it would have been used up long ago, yet we are still here.
In 1927 Edwin Hubble discovered a shift in red light from all the galaxies that he could see through his one hundred inch telescope. The “red shift” on the edge of galaxies was a shift in the light spectrum outward that showed the universe was expanding and these galaxies were growing further and further in distance from us as time continued. This shift of red light confirmed that our universe did indeed come from a central point, and that central point is believed to collapse down to a point that is nothing, an essentially non-existent point (American Institute of Physics). Our universe is not just expanding into more space, but space itself is expanding indefinitely. This points to the Theory of General Relativity which was discovered by Albert Einstein.
In 1916 Albert Einstein went on a quest to try and find that the world was eternal, but his findings did just the opposite. As he pursued his quest he found that the universe, contrary to his predictions, did indeed have a beginning. Through his calculation he and his colleagues discovered that time, space and matter were co-relative. He continued to pursue with a relentless effort to try and disprove what he had found and show that the universe was self-existent, even to the point of accidentally dividing by zero (Geisler and Turek p74, and American Institute of Physics). As any child in basic elementary math knows, dividing by zero is impossible. His calculations eventually lead him to accept what he coined as the Theory of General Relativity, one of Einstein’s greatest discoveries that revolutionized the scientific understanding of space, time, mass, energy, and gravity (Redd). The Theory of General Relativity states that time, space and matter are interdependent (Einstein). You cannot have any of them without having all of them, which then shows that there had to be a beginning to the universe, because they all came in to existence at the same instant. There was no time before matter and space. Notice that I previously said “at the same instant”. This is what leads scientists to believe that the Big Bang actually did occur.
All the universe was created from nothing in an instant. This declaration would disprove the Law of Causality if we were to affirm that it was true. Why? Something (the universe) can’t come from nothing (nothing). There absolutely has to be something that created the Big Bang. It is scientifically impossible for the Big Bang to have come from nothing. Now what are we left with on the quest to find meaning and purpose through the study of cosmology?
Many atheists would state that The Big Bang isn’t nothing, so the Big Bang could be the cause of nothing coming from something, and that nothing could be the Big Bang. But then where did the Big Bang come from? Many atheistic scientists say that Quantum Physics can explain a possible way that the universe could have been created from nothing. Brian Cox, a modern physicist, explains Quantum Physics as the calculations used to determine the probability of a particle moving from point A to point B. Some scientist claim that the Big Bang came from virtual particles that can pop up out of nowhere. Virtual particles are a part of Quantum Physics and are used to explain how one particle can become a pair of heavier particles (virtual particles), which quickly rejoin into the original particle as if they had never been there (Kane). These particles then spontaneously combusted resulting in the Big Bang, and the inception of the universe. To further explain the concept of virtual particles I will share the easiest understandable definition that I was able to find that would allow the general layperson to understand what it actually is. A “virtual particle”, generally, is a disturbance in a field that will never be found on its own, but instead is something that is caused by the presence of other particles, often of other fields (Strassler). Here is where the dilemma is found in the theory that virtual particles could have created the world from nothing. They are not self-existent. They have been studied, and found to be real to a certain degree/probability, but have also always been caused by the presence of other particles. So following that train of thought, there had to be other particles present at the time of the Big Bang to have created the virtual particles that then collided and created the universe.
Now we are left with two arguments, both of which can’t be proven. We have Theists that state that a God who exists outside of space, time, and matter created the universe in one instant; forming space, time, and matter interdependently, thus creating the Big Bang. However, they cannot prove that. There is no way to prove scientifically that there is something unobservable that created the universe. Then we have the Atheists that state a virtual particle, or two, collided, thus creating the Big Bang. They too will never be able to prove this, because we will never be able to observe a virtual particle popping up without other particles being present. So what exactly are we left with here? We have absolutely no answer, no solid truth, but rather a choice of where science will lead us to find our purpose.
The decision is not just about whether or not to have faith that something exists outside of space, time, and matter, and created the entire universe in an instant; or faith to believe that a situation we have never observed (virtual particles popping up without other particles present) in an instant collided and created the universe. Since we can’t concretely prove or disprove either of these theories, it becomes an even more complicated decision about what we want our purpose to be. What do we do with this decision then? Does it really even matter since we can’t prove either side of the argument? Why in the world have scientists and philosophers continuously debated a topic that has no answers and can’t even be proven one way or the other? Does it matter what side is right?
Well the non-theistic debaters such as Richard Dawkins say that it is a debate for millions of lives. Here is an excerpt from his famous book The God Delusion: “Imagine, with John Lennon, a world with no religion. Imagine no suicide bombers, no 9/11, no 7/7, no Crusades, no witch-hunts, no Gunpowder Plot, no Indian partition, no Israeli/Palestinian wars, no Serb/Croat/Muslim massacres, no persecution of Jews as ‘Christ-killers’, no Northern Ireland ‘troubles’, no ‘honour killings’, no shiny-suited bouffant-haired televangelists fleecing gullible people of their money (‘God wants you to give till it hurts’). Imagine no Taliban to blow up ancient statues, no public beheadings of blasphemers, no flogging of female skin for the crime of showing an inch of it.” He’s right. There is no debating what he states here. There are so many horrible things that have been done in the name of religion, from just about every single religion that has ever existed. Dawkins is clearly in this fight for a purpose, and he feels his purpose is to help end all of these terrible things that are done in the name of religion.
The theistic debaters, Christians in particular, state that it is a debate for every single person’s life that has ever existed, and that the effect is one that will play out for the rest of eternity (Turek and Geisler). This means that there are billions and billions of lives at stake. Every single person who ever existed has an eternal life at stake if they are right! How do we even begin to determine the magnitude and weight that finding the truth about this topic has when every single person is involved? It seems that this is exactly why it has been debated for so long. There’s so many lives at stake.
Humanity has always searched for purpose. People have always searched for meaning to life, and why they have life. Sometimes people even wonder what life really is. Science helps to explain these things. It gives clarity and shows us that there are things we can really know about this universe we live in. Continuing to live off shear faith seems so foolish when science has so many answers. No matter what side of the debate, or a debate, someone is on, they can look to science to discover what their place is in the universe. If they decide that there is no God that created the universe, then they can move past that and study what it is that they feel gives purpose in this life. If they choose to believe that God created all that is in the universe, then they can continue studying the universe to learn more about what they believe God created. How do we use science to find our place in the universe? It gives us a choice of what we want our purpose to be. Theist, Atheist, and other, we all have a purpose, and we get to choose what that is.
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