BEFORE BIG BANG THEORY
There are four basic physical forces in the universe as has been discovered by science even before the theory of Big Bang. These four basic physical forces include: first, the electromagnetic force responsible for light and the behavior of charged particle. Secondly, the weak nuclear force responsible for radioactive decay; third, the strong nuclear force that binds protons and neutrons into nuclei; then lastly, the gravitational force evident in the long distance attraction between masses.
Through the course of years, there have been honest scientific attempts to develop a theory that can unify these forces and produce an evident effect in the world of science. Among these scientific attempts, of greater interest to us as regards our theme of consideration is the one called Grand Unified Theory (GUT) . This theory “attempts to unite the electro-weak and strong forces”.
The importance of this theory in the scientific world is that “it would help us understand the structure of matter today, and it would also contribute to our understanding of the very early moments of the Big Bang”. This is because this theory “implies that protons decay spontaneously, very slowly, rather than being stable as previously supposed.”
In his Catechesis on General audience of January 8, 1986, Pope John Paul II states that in the inevitable and necessary reflection which people of every age have made about their lives, two questions forcefully emerge, almost as an echo of the voice of God: ‘Where do we come from? Where are we going?” These questions regarding the terminus a quo and terminus ad quem of creation are found either in their singularity or unity, in all the human disciplines that aim at providing man with clarity or some levels of clarity concerning both his being and the being of other things in the world. Stephen Hawking, formulated the question as thus: “What do we know about the universe, and how do we know it? Where did the universe come from, and where is it going? Did the universe have a beginning, and if so, what happened before then? What is the nature of time? Will it ever come to an end…?” .
The most interest thing about this man’s endless search for the origin of his existence and that of the whole universe remains in that the more man tries to get to these questions, the more mysterious his own being becomes. The Scriptural truth that tells us that there is a being called “God” and that this “God created everything without himself being created”, and that all things are created with Him as their end, has been rejected by many scholars especially in the scientific world.
This creates the problem between the knowledge of man and his world as presented by faith in the scripture and some scientific positions that dwell on scientific data. These scientific positions that negate the truth of the faith, not only try to create a very great chasm between faith and science, between faith and reason, but, most unfortunately, have tried to insinuate and establish the non-existence of any superior being than man. Hence, by denying God’s existence, they have denied the fact that the world was created by any being.
In this work, we are going to discuss one of the strongest scientific positions on the origin of the universe. This position is called “The Big Bang theory of origin” according to Stephen Hawking and other scientific proponents of this position. Our aim is both to appraise the effort made by science in studying the world, but most importantly, to assert what is definitely lacking in the “Big Bang theory”- the fact that there must be a responsible cause for the first movement into the existence, that is to say, the fact that there was a creator, an uncaused cause of things that exist.
The Big Bang Theory And The Origin of Things
The philosopher Aristotle, in establishing the philosophical arguments towards proving how things come to be at different times, established the theory of causation . According to him, everything that exists is caused by some other thing. Hence, for something to come to be, there must be a cause, already in being responsible for bringing this to being. This is because, before something is, it was nothing, and something that was “nothing” cannot be the cause of its own being.
Hence, for “A” to be, it must need to be caused by “B” which is already existing. But if we continue in this logic, we end in an endless causation, in an infinite regress. But there is no infinite regress in the causation of things. Hence, there must be this first cause, which, causing every other thing, remained itself uncaused. This cause must possess being in itself in order to be able to bring other things from nothing to being. This Uncaused cause and unmoved mover, is what the scholastic philosophers, especially, the angelic doctor, Thomas Aquinas, identifies as “God”. Hence, God is the origin of all things that exist without himself being originated by anything. He has his own being and gives being to other things.
This position was rejected by the proponents of the big bang theory. Big bang theory is a theory that essentially based on the emergence of the universe from the reactions between chemicals, the combining and dividing of the chemicals under both great heat and low heating temperature. “The Big Bang theory says that everything in the observable universe is the remnant of a huge explosion called the big bang that took place about 13.7 billion years ago”.
Before things started emerging, there was a state called ‘Big Bang’. “At the big bang itself, the universe is thought to have had zero size, and so to have been infinitely hot”. At this time there was nothing in existence except different chemicals in circulation. Such chemical elements include: photons, electrons and neutrons and their antiparticles, together with some protons and neutrons. The formation of things started when these chemicals begin to collide with each other under great temperature.
The way it functions is that “at very high temperatures, particles would be moving around so fast that they could escape any attraction toward each other due to nuclear or electromagnetic forces, but as they cooled off one would expect particles that attract each other to start to clump together” With the expansion of the universe, there occurred a decrease in the temperature to the extent that “one second after the big bang, it would have fallen to about ten thousand million degrees”.
The continuous expansion of the universe and the dropping of the temperature made it possible for the rate of the collision of the electron and anti-electron pairs that were being produced to fall below the rate at which they were being destroyed by annihilation. The theory explains other processes that occur at this stage saying: About one hundred seconds after the big bang, the temperature would have fallen to one thousand million degrees, the temperature inside the hottest stars. At this temperature protons and neutrons would no longer have sufficient energy to escape the attraction of the strong nuclear force, and would have started to combine together to produce the nuclei of atoms of deuterium (heavy hydrogen), which contain one proton and one neutron. The deuterium nuclei would then have combined with more protons and neutrons to make helium nuclei, which contain two protons and two neutrons, and also small amounts of a couple of heavier elements, lithium and beryllium.
The moon and other stars were thus formed by this process. Before now, because there was no atmosphere, the earth was too hot. However, “in the course of time it cooled and acquired an atmosphere from the emission of gases from the rocks.” Though the atmosphere has been formed, it remained inhabitable for any being because “it contained no oxygen, but a lot of other gases that are poisonous to us, such as hydrogen sulfide”. But there were some other primitive forms of life that could flourish in that situation. “It is thought that they developed in the oceans, possibly as a result of chance combinations of atoms into large structures, called macromolecules, which were capable of assembling other atoms in the ocean into similar structures”.
Furthermore, these primitive forms of life would thus have reproduced themselves and multiplied. In some cases there would be errors in the reproduction. Mostly these errors would have been such that the new macromolecule could not reproduce itself and eventually would have been destroyed. However, a few of the errors would have produced new macromolecules that were even better at reproducing themselves. They would have therefore had an advantage and would have tended to replace the original macromolecules. In this way a process of evolution was started that led to the development of more and more complicated, self-reproducing organisms.
The first primitive forms of life consumed various materials, including hydrogen sulfide, and released oxygen. This gradually changed the atmosphere to the composition that it has today, and allowed the development of higher forms of life such as fish, reptiles, mammals, and ultimately the human race.
This is how the theory of Big Bang explains the origin of the universe up to the origin of man. With the theory of collision of elements given by Grand Unified Theory it arrived at the production of first elements. And then with the theory of evolution, it arrives at the existence of man.
The Essential Question to the fundamental of Big Bang Theory
Analysis of this theory has shown us that there was an initial stage of Big Bang when things were at zero time. Then the fundamental question to the proponents of this theory is “What happened before that?” That is, “at the time t=0, was there a dimensionless point of pure radiation of infinite density? And how is that point to be accounted for?” This question remains irresolvable to the scientists because for them, t=0 is inaccessible. That is to say, “it represents a kind of ultimate limit to scientific inquiry, something that can only be treated as a given, though one can speculate about it”.
THE PROBLEMS WITH THE BIG BANG THEORY
Adopting the method which St. Paul used to address the Athenians in his missionary activity, when St. Paul, having seen all the temples dedicated to different gods of the Athens, then saw a temple dedicated to an unknown god, then started speaking to the pagan Athenians about this God that is unknown to them as the God of Jesus Christ, the Creator of Heaven and Earth; in the same manner, having arrived at the point where science cannot go further but in their ignorance identified it as a “given”, we now have to explain to them that this “given” that cannot be explained by the existence of any other thing because, being the origin of all other things, he himself originated from nothing, is the one true God, the creator of Heaven and Earth.
From the word go, we have to mention that it is an injury and a wrong analysis of the account of creation in the Bible, should one identify that too closely with the scientific ideas of cosmology.
Furthermore, against the Big Bang theory which is a scientific theory, R.J Spitzer asks, “can science indicate creation?” He goes on to respond by saying:
Unlike philosophy and metaphysics, science cannot deductively prove a creation or God.
This is because natural science deals with the physical universe and with the regularities which we call “laws of nature” that are obeyed by the phenomena within the universe. But God is not an object or phenomenon or regularity within the physical universe; so science cannot say anything about God.
Another concrete point emphasized by R.J Spitzer is that “science cannot be certain that it has considered all possible data that would be relevant to a complete explanation of particular physical phenomena or the universe itself”. Therefore, science has to admit the fact that it cannot go beyond observable materials to discover realities which are beyond scientific proofs.
With the Big Bang theory, we cannot accept that there was a physical expansion of the universe in a time, therefore, just as Pope Pius XII welcomed it, it can serve as a theory supporting the idea of creation in time. But it cannot pretend to assume the position of metaphysics or deny the existence of metaphysical reality.
IN THE BEGINNING, GOD CREATED THINGS OUT OF NOTHING
In the Biblical account of creation as we can see in the first two chapters of Genesis, the central message the inspired scriptural author wants that God is the Creator of all things that exist, including man, whom he created in his image and then made him head of all his creatures. An important remark to make here is that the account of creation given in the bible is not an attempt to give a sequential account of the beginning of things.
The literary genre used in indicating from first to the seventh day of creation should not be understood with the modern scientific method. The point here is that the aim of the sacred author was not to present the things in their sequential order according to how they were created, but to show that none of the existing realities emerged out of chance or any other scientific hypothesis but all are creatures of one Creator God and that all were created from nothing.
Therefore, “the attempt to find scientific information in Genesis is dubious theology as well as dubious science. By treating it as if it were a book of science ahead of its times, we tend to neglect both the human experience that lie behind it and the theological affirmations it makes”. If we say that there was something before creation, and that this thing is not God, then it means that there were many uncreated realities before time itself. But this cannot be because several materials existing at the same time must be traceable to one primary origin. All existing things existed from something.
That is, all existing things are conditioned realities. For these to be conditioned, there is necessity for just one unconditioned reality otherwise, there is no existence for the conditioned realities which cannot cause their own existence. This unconditioned reality, or in the words of Aristotle and later by Thomas Aquinas, the Uncaused Cause, is the only one true God, the Creator of all.
We cannot hold that God created things from something, otherwise it will amount to saying that there was something before the “beginning” which does not hold. Both science and theology holds that there was a time when there was nothing. Hence, there was a time when there was no time for time itself is a product of a “beginning”. On the part of science, this time is zero time, that is “no time”. The Big Bang theory, for instance, holds that before the big bang, there was nothing including time. For this theory, the big bang was the beginning of time itself.
Thus, in a standard big bang theory, it is meaningless to ask “what went on before the big bang?” This is because there cannot be a “before” the big bang. Physicists believe that time is something physical and since it is part of a physical universe, it follows that if the physical universe had a beginning, then time and space themselves had then too. On the part of theology, St. Augustine, defending that God created out of time, thereby making time also a product of God’s creation, says that it is meaningless asking “what was God doing before creation?”.
For Augustine, there was no time “before” the Beginning. Time for him is a creation of God, and just like created world that had a beginning, time also had a beginning. However, we can see that the two positions accepted the fact that there was a moment when there was no time, that is to say, there was a moment of “beginning” of all things including time itself.
The problem lies in that while science stops at the big bang moment, theology, basing on philosophical metaphysics, goes beyond big bang which is a material reality, and thus a conditioned reality, to look at the unconditioned cause of the big bang itself.
Therefore, in order to solve the problem regarding the “beginning” of things, physical theories must admit the metaphysics. Thus, the “scientific evidence for a beginning can be combined with a metaphysical premise (such as ‘from nothing, only nothing comes’) to render a metaphysical conclusion that there must be something beyond physical reality which caused physical reality to exist”.
From this premise, R.J Spitzer makes a very wonderful conclusion that embraces both physical and metaphysical proofs saying:
If there is a reasonable likelihood of a beginning of the universe (prior to which there was no physical reality whatsoever) and (2) if it is a priori true that “from nothing, only nothing comes”, then it is reasonably likely that the universe came from something which is not physical reality. This is commonly referred to as a “transcendent cause of the universe (physical reality) or a “creator of the universe”.
Having shown the error of Big Bang theory in not identifying the Uncaused Cause of the universe but holding the origin of things to the material; in a sense, to an accident or chance, we cannot say that the theory is totally against the Christian doctrine of the fact of God’s existence and having Him as the Uncreated Creator of the universe. Science and faith are never in war with each other. What science needs is a simple humility of accepting its limits. Science, basing on its principles and methods, cannot go beyond the materials, hence, it has no capacity of penetrating into the metaphysical realities.
Reality does not end with things that can be touched and explained. As a matter of fact, Big Bang theory accepts the fact that there was a moment when there was nothing including time. But this was only to demonstrate that Big Bang really occurred. But Big Bang cannot occur if there was no being who put it into motion for things cannot be their own cause or simply happen by chance. Thus, Pope John Paul II holds the truth about creation is only vaguely found in the mythological cosmogonies outside the Bible but pertains originally to divine revelation thereby making it to be a truth of faith.