I’m a big bang addict. The one that created the universe, I mean. That’s the Really Big big bang. Other big bangs necessarily pale in comparison, for the original is what created everything in existence.
I’ve read countless books and articles about the big bang. I never get tired of trying to envision what can’t be envisioned with the limited human mind.
How is it possible that the entire universe was once much smaller than a sub-atomic particle? What force could end up creating one hundred billion galaxies (or more), each with an average of about one hundred billion stars, along with the precisely configured laws of nature that evolved people like you and me who now ponder the question?
I was excited when the March 2005 issue of Scientific American arrived. On the cover was a teaser: “Big Bang Bungled: 6 Common Errors about the Expanding Universe.” Inside was a fascinating piece by Charles H. Lineweaver and Tamara M. Davis, “Misconceptions About the Big Bang.”
They start off by saying, “The expansion of the universe may be the most important fact we have ever discovered about our origins. You would not be reading this article if the universe had not expanded. Human beings would not exist…Since this discovery [of the big bang], the expansion and cooling of the universe has been the unifying theme of cosmology, much as Darwinian evolution is the unifying theme of biology.”
The big bang was the moment of creation. Whether you believe in God or not, it is undeniably the moment that separates the profound Mystery of our ultimate origin from the lesser mystery of how we and the universe as a whole have evolved from that explosive beginning some fourteen billion years ago.
Understanding how creation has unfolded from the big bang doesn’t reveal the Creator. The power that lies behind the big bang is as much an enigma now as it was forty years ago. This is when evidence for the expansion of the universe was first discovered: background microwave radiation that fills the entire sky. But it makes sense to me that some clues, however subtle, about the nature of the Creator must be present in the big bang.
So far the clues I’ve discerned lead me to this succinct conclusion: Wow! And that one word, in my opinion, better conveys the nature of our source than thousands of pages of theological or metaphysical suppositions. You don’t need anything other than modern science to feel a sense of awe, even reverence, toward a creative power that is utterly beyond the capacity of the human mind to comprehend.
As I’ve written before, reality is the best religion. Scientific literature often is much more inspiring to me than religious texts because an ounce of reality is better than a pound of guesses.
That said, the Scientific American article observes that even “renowned physicists, authors of astronomy textbooks, and prominent popularizers of science have made incorrect, misleading or easily misinterpreted statements about the expansion of the universe.” In large part this is because the big bang blows the mind. Even a highly trained and intelligent mind.
Yet so many people are confident that they know a lot about the nature of God, the Creator, even though the fundamental nature of the creation—which seemingly should be much easier to discern—is still a mystery even to advanced scientists. If the big bang is so difficult to understand, it stands to reason that the power lying behind the big bang is vastly more impenetrable.
Try to imagine the big bang as an explosion of space and time itself, not an exploding of matter/energy from a particular location into preexisting space and time. For it is.
Try to imagine space expanding at more than the speed of light. For it is.
Try to imagine how much of the universe is forever beyond our knowledge, light emitted from distant galaxies never being able to reach us due to the expansion of space at greater than light speed. For it is.
And after trying to imagine these and other almost unimaginable attributes of creation, try to imagine how it is possible to imagine anything about the Creator that lies unseen behind it all.
If I’m sure of anything about God, it is that imagination doesn’t lead to ultimate truth. Reality lies elsewhere: beyond the mind that imagines God and the big bang.