The Big Bang Theory is the standard model for the formation of the universe and is widely accepted among today’s physicists. So my question for you is this, “What does this standard model and its acceptance mean for those of us who believe that God created the heavens and the earth?” In my opinion, it means something quite spectacular.
Here is the standard model in a nutshell: The universe sprang into existence as a “singularity” around 13.8 billions years ago. This “singularity” was infinitesimally small, infinitely hot, and infinitely dense. (How do you even wrap your head around infinite as a quantity? Not sure, but let’s continue on.) This “singularity” was not a tiny fireball in space. Space did not exist. Time did not exist. Matter did not exist. Energy did not exist. They were all wrapped up inside the “singularity”.
Then the “singularity” suddenly inflated. This sudden inflation was so rapid and so large that we have come to refer to it as the “Big Bang”, and its result is the universe that we now inhabit. The fascinating piece of the puzzle to me is that this inflation was not a constant and linear path through 13.8 billion years. No, when we say “suddenly inflated”, we mean “suddenly inflated.”
How sudden? We measure time associated with the major events of the big bang in 10-43 seconds. That is a decimal point followed by 42 zeroes and a 1. That is a pretty tiny part of a second. Important events at the beginning of the expansion such as the separation of the four forces (gravity, electromagnetic, the strong and weak nuclear forces), the creation of matter and antimatter, the formation of quarks, gluons, and other elementary particles, rapid cooling, and much more are all measured in very very very tiny fractions of a second.
So when we say “sudden”, we mean a sudden that is almost impossible to imagine. And when we say “inflated”, the numbers are just as incredible. The current theory has the universe increasing by a factor of 1026 in the first fraction of a second. That means going from the subatomic (smaller than the particles of an atom) to the cosmic (think huge galaxies) during these incredibly small time frames of the first second of the universe’s existence.
Again, by “sudden” we are talking about time measured in 10-43 pieces of a second, and by “inflated” we are talking about the building blocks for every star and every planet in the cosmos created within that first second. Pretty incredible. Can you see where I am headed? Even as a math and physics guy used to working with outrageous numbers, the reality of the situation is that “suddenly” might as well be “instantaneous”. Because realistically, that is what it is.
As a believer and a scientist, this gives me goose bumps. The prevailing theory for the formation of the universe suggests that all that we see, no matter how far we peer into deep space and time, was literally created instantaneously out of nothing. Does that sound like a creation account you are familiar with? It should, because it fits one of the main tenets of our faith. God created the world ex nihilo; out of nothing.
The scientific steps that brought us to this point is a fascinating story in its own right, and I do not think we arrived at this understanding by accident. Dr. Lawrence Krauss, one of the science popularizers of the Big Bang Theory, recently said, “We are fascinatingly lucky at this point in time to be able to see the evidence of the Big Bang.” Are we “fascinatingly lucky” or is God revealing the wonder of Him instantly creating the world as we know it from nothing as the Bible teaches?
It all depends upon your point of view. It all depends on your presuppositions regarding religion and the supernatural. The connection between the “Big Bang” and God’s instantaneous creation of the world is stunningly obvious to me. To Dr. Krauss, not so much. It is a comparison we will take up next time.