Big Bang: Something from Nothing?

How does something come out of nothing? How do we have a universe that comes out of nothing? Astronomers believe there are two trillion galaxies in the observable universe. Scientists are still trying to figure out how all of this arose seemingly out of nothing. It turns out if you apply quantum mechanics to gravity, then in fact space itself becomes dynamical and universes, spaces themselves and time can pop into existence where there was none before. So you can create whole universes where there was no universe before. Indeed in that way, you might imagine creating a universe from literally nothing. Our universe popped into existence from literally nothing? There is no cause for all of this? So straight up nothing, no matter, no creator, then “poof” the universe? That’s actually the story some atheist scientists are peddling right now. Sounds pretty desperate to me.

Stephen Meyer, a philosopher of science and best-selling author, explains how atheists got backed into this corner. It was generally assumed by most physicists prior to the 1920s and 30s that the universe was eternal and therefore self-existent, that it had always been here and really didn’t require an explanation. One physicist said “An infinitely old universe would relieve us of the necessity of explaining the origin of the universe at any finite time in the past.” But then the idea of an eternal universe was challenged by a pair of surprising discoveries. First, it became clear that almost all the galaxies in the universe are moving away from us. Two guys figured out that generally the farther a galaxy is from us, the faster it’s moving away. One was the Belgian physicist and Catholic priest Georges Lemaitre. The second was American astronomer Edwin Hubble drawing on Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. They then realized that space itself is expanding. Physicist Brian Miller explains why. Let me use an analogy. If you have a balloon and you imagine putting dots on that balloon to represent galaxies and then that balloon inflates, what happens is all the dots move away from each other and dots that are further apart will move away from each other even faster. That’s exactly the sort of evidence we see in our universe. This discovery suggests that if you reverse time like a movie running backwards, then all the galaxies would draw back together to a single point, which led to a conclusion that some scientists didn’t really want to face – the universe has been expanding from a finite beginning point, where not only matter and energy, but time and space itself began. Today, scientists call this first moment of the universe the Big Bang.

The Big Bang theory means the universe is not eternal after all; it has a beginning. Even more radical, the Big Bang implies that the cause of the universe must be something non-material. The Big Bang shows that all of time, matter, space and energy started at a single moment in the past. Therefore, whatever started it has to be outside of time and space. You can’t posit a materialistic explanation because there’s no matter there before the beginning to do the causing. Many scientists initially resisted the Big Bang, including Einstein, whose theory partly inspired the idea. He really didn’t want, at that point in his career, to think about the beginning of the universe because he didn’t want to think about what would be necessary to explain the origin of the universe if we’re talking about all of matter, all of energy, all of space and time. Einstein eventually accepted the Big Bang theory but others went on searching for an option that would fit the data without requiring an actual beginning. 

One that grabbed a lot of attention was the oscillating universe model. The universe would be expanding outward but then as the expansion slowed, the matter in the universe, by gravitational force, would cause the universe to recollapse. But once it re-collapsed, then by some unknown mechanism, it would expand again. So you’d get a series of big crunches followed by big bounces. That theory ran into two big problems. The first was: it was discovered that there was not enough matter in the universe to cause the universe to re-collapse. And secondly, it was determined by thermodynamic analysis that the energy available to do work would diminish with each successive cycle. It would be like a ball bouncing to the ground and finally it would damp out where there’s no more bounces. So the oscillating universe model was a big fail and actually all the attempts to evade a true cosmic beginning ran into serious problems. 

The evidence for the Big Bang kept piling on until most scientists accepted it. Some scientists however found themselves facing serious doubts, not about science, but about atheism. World-renowned astronomer Robert Jastrow didn’t believe in God but he found it hard to get around what the Big Bang seemed to be telling him. “There was a beginning, there was a point in time from which it all started and that’s a remarkable thing because it has a very strong theological flavor to it. That intrigued me because I am an agnostic and if there was a beginning, a moment of creation in the universe, then there was a creator.” A lot of scientists still resist going where the science seems to be leading. Take physicist Stephen Hawking. Before his death, he proposed a new argument against the need for a cosmic creator. “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.” When I first read that I was staggered because it’s self-contradictory to start with. “Because there is a law of gravity”, because there is something, the universe can create itself from nothing? That’s a flat contradiction and then to say the universe can create itself, that’s logical nonsense. If I say that X creates Y, roughly speaking I’m saying if you’ve got X, you may in the end get Y. But if I say X creates X, then that simply proves to me that nonsense remains nonsense even if high-powered scientists say it. 

What about physicist Lawrence Krauss and his something-from-nothing idea? “Imagine creating a universe from literally nothing”. How they get a universe from nothing is by redefining “nothing”. Krauss’ “nothing” is actually something – a set of laws and mathematical equations. That’s the first problem. Meyer explains the second problem. Krauss’ “nothing” involves the equations of quantum physics and equations are mathematical entities and mathematical entities are abstract concepts, always exist in minds. So his “nothing” seems to imply the need for a pre-existing mind. What does that sound like? 

The Big Bang provides very strong evidence pointing to God because it shows that everything started, all matter, time, space, energy at some point in the past. That means that something had to start it and that something had to be immaterial, timeless, infinitely powerful and even personal because only a personal being can choose to act with purpose. But some people will embrace almost any absurdity to avoid the possibility of God. “You say there are three different types of nothing?” “That’s right.” What are the three? I didn’t know there was such a variety.” Three kinds of nothing or three kinds of nonsense? If people can convince you that our entire existence comes from nothing, then it’s just a short step to believe as a product of nothing, you are nothing, that all the things you see, touch, taste, smell, think, and feel mean nothing. Because they came from nothing, were caused by nothing and served nothing. But if you and the universe were created by someone – a grand creative genius, the maker of matter, energy, space and time – then you were made for a reason. Your existence means something. You are here for a purpose. For those willing to open their eyes, that’s the amazing reality science is revealing.