BIG BANG, NEW THEORIES and the CREATION of the UNIVERSE

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[written in September 2013 for Science meets Faith]

Do new cosmological theories challenge our worldview or our faith?

Big Bang

Artist’s conception of the event horizon of a black hole. [1]

Recently a  group of theoretical physicists suppose the birth of the universe could have happened after a four-dimensional (4-D) star collapsed into a black hole and ejected debris. This is highly theoretical, of cause, mainly this assume a 4-D “bulk universe” with 4-D stars that can form 4-D black holes similarly to 3-D stars forming 3-D black holes… [1]

The Big Bang theory proposes a beginning of our Universe: an idea that suits theists well, and Christians are inclined to say: “OK, this IS the moment of creation!” But is this correct? There is probably none better than Georges Lemaître to tell us: he was not only a famous Astronomer, but also a Catholic Priest.

In fact, he got rather alarmed when he heard that Pope Pius XII thought about suggesting that the supernatural act of divine creation began with the early stages described by the Big Bang theory and mentioned delicately:

“As far as I can see, such a theory remains entirely outside any metaphysical or religious question. It leaves the materialist free to deny any transcendental Being… For the believer, it removes any attempt at familiarity with God… It is consonant with Isaiah speaking of the hidden God, hidden even in the beginning of the universe.” [2]

He always differentiated between religious and scientific “levels of cognition” or “orders of reasoning.” This can clearly be seen in his opposition to mixing physical and theological “levels” in the Big Bang hypothesis:

“We may speak of this event as of a beginning. I do not say a creation. Physically it is a beginning in the sense that if something happened before, it has no observable influence on the behavior of our universe, as any feature of matter before this beginning has been completely lost by the extreme contraction at the theoretical zero. Any preexistence of the universe has a metaphysical character. Physically, everything happens as if the theoretical zero was really a beginning. The question if it was really a beginning or rather a creation, something started from nothing, is a philosophical question which cannot be settled by physical or astronomical considerations. ” [3]

New scientific theories on the origin of our Universe do not change or challenge the Christian focus on creation. God created Heaven and Earth, He just did not tell us how: via the Big Bang, or prior to that. The bible was never meant to be a science textbook… one thing remains clear, though: creation was long time ago, at least 13 billion years, according to current scientific knowledge.

Notes:

[1] Goodbye Big Bang, Hello Black Hole? A New Theory Of The Universe’s Creation by Elizabeth Howell on 18 Sep 2013

[2] see: excerpt from COSMIC HORIZONS: ASTRONOMY AT THE CUTTING EDGE, edited by Steven Soter and Neil deGrasse Tyson, a publication of the New Press. © 2000 American Museum of Natural History.

[3] Godart and Heller, Cosmology of Lemaître, p. 172, reference in:  The Faith and Reason of Father George Lemaître by Joseph R. Laracy

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