A few weeks ago, it was widely reported that a group of scientists using the BICEP2 telescope had discovered the first direct evidence confirming the big bang theory in the gravitational wave patterns in the cosmic microwave background radiation detected.
I found it interesting that almost immediately the internet was abuzz with blog posts and news articles declaring that this proved conclusively that Darwinian evolution was the only rational cosmology now possible, and that the last nail had finally been driven in the coffin of the concept of intelligent design.
Well, not only does this latest confirmation of the Big Bang cosmology NOT disprove intelligent design, it reinforces that view of the origin of the cosmos!
Before I discuss how that is the case, let’s take a very brief look at the history of the scientific speculation about the origin of the universe over the last century. I expect that many readers will be surprised.
Before the development of the basics of the BBT, the prevailing cosmology of the origin of ‘life, the universe and everything” was the Steady-State theory. Essentially, this view proposed that the universe is timeless, eternal, and has always existed in a state pretty much the same as it has ever been or ever will be.
Since at least the time of Aristotle, there has been vigorous debate about whether the cosmos is eternal or finite. If finite, it would have a beginning as well as and ending, and Einstein’s general theory of relativity provided the scientific foundation for the BBT.
I find it rather amusing that the BBT was first proposed by Catholic priest and scientist Georges Lemaître, at least in part to show that there need be no disconnect between science and religion!
So, if the BBT was developed by a Christian theologian/scientist to reconcile the available scientific data with a Biblical cosmology, how is it now touted as a definitive refutation of the existence of God?
The atheist view goes something like this: “Before the universe began, there was an infinitely dense, infinitely small particle of matter, and in less than a trillionth of a second, this singularity exploded, creating our ever expanding universe. Since the universe came about from this event, there is no rational reason to believe in a creator.”
Yes, I know that it is greatly simplified, but that’s basically it. To paraphrase, ‘In the beginning there was nothing, and then it exploded.” The atheist will quickly point out that a singularity isn’t nothing – it is very dense, very small something and therefore my summary is inaccurate. I say this to that: If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, acts like a duck, and has the DNA of a duck, it IS a duck. If a singularity is so small that it cannot be measured (as they postulate) and so dense that nothing can escape from it – even light and electromagnetic waves or gravity (and is therefore undetectable) I say that if it looks like nothing, acts like nothing and cannot be detected like nothing – then it IS nothing.
So, “in the beginning, there was nothing and then it exploded” looks a lot like “in the beginning, God said”. The two statements look even more similar when we examine the following logical argument:
1) Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
2) The universe began to exist.
3) Therefore, the universe has a cause.
Briefly, the rationale for the truth of the three premises are as follows:
For premise one, the rationale is from philosophy and common sense. Everything that has not existed at some time has a cause for coming into existance. To assert the contrary is to deny all physical laws.
For premise two, the BBT shows clearly that the universe had a beginning.
Premise three is simply the inevitable logical conclusion given that the first two premises are valid.
Even if I grant the atheistic assertion that a singularity is NOT nothing, but in fact a physical object, the view that the BBT disproves the existence of God is still invalid; the singularity itself must have a cause because it could not have sprung into being uncaused from nothing any more than our universe could have.
Once the BBT is understood, it provides more evidence FOR a Creator than it provides for an atheistic cosmology!
Wikipedia has a concise, accurate summary of the history of the BBT.
Roger J. Anderton has an interesting article dealing with cosmology and theology, particularly as related to the BBT. This is a pdf file.
James A. Wiseman, in an article entitiled Theology and the Big Bang gives a fascinating and brief history of Christian cosmology and how it relates to scientific theories. Another pdf.
William Lane Craig of Reasonable Faith has a concise article explaining the argument from contingency I summarized above, and is much better written than anything I could do. I consider it a must read for anyone interested in the BBT as it relates to Christian cosmology.