The Origin of the Universe
"The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork"
"The Cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be"
Carl Sagan, Evolutionist
For thousands of years philosophers, theologians and scientists have debated the question of the origin of the universe. From the time of the early Greek philosophers this debate has revolved around two basic questions. First, is the universe eternal and therefore "uncaused," or did the universe have a beginning in time and space? Second, if the universe did begin at a finite point in time and space, was it created by an outside cause, or did it create itself? If the universe was "caused to exist" by an outside intelligence then there are enormous philosophical and religious implications for us as inhabitants of the cosmos.
Throughout history there have been strong proponents on each side of these questions. In the fourth century B.C. Plato and Aristotle popularized the belief that the universe is eternal. The universe was viewed as being infinite in both time and space. For the next 2,300 years this was the predominating model for the universe among scientists and philosophers.
During the same time period most theologians argued that the universe was caused to exist at a finite point in time. This argument reached its fruition in what is commonly called The Cosmological Argument for God. Al- Ghazali, a Muslim (A.D. 1058-1111), and Thomas Aquinas, a Christian (A.D. 1225-74), are credited for fully developing this argument for the existence of God.
Al-Ghazali’s cosmological argument is summarized by the statement:
"Every being which begins has a cause for its beginning; now the world is a being which begins; therefore, it possesses a cause for its beginning."
In support of his premise that the universe began at a finite point in time, Al-Ghazali argues that an infinite regression of events backward in time is impossible. If the series of past events is infinite then they could not come to an end in the present because the infinite cannot come to an end.
Regarding Al-Ghazali’s cosmological argument, Craig points out:
"Ghazali’s point may be that if the series [of events] is infinite going back into the past, then how could the present moment arrive? For it is impossible to cross the infinite to get to today. So today could never arrive, which is absurd, for here we are!"
Consequently, Al-Ghazali argued, since an infinite regress of time was impossible, time had a beginning and therefore, the universe is finite!
Thomas Aquinas’ cosmological argument attempts to prove the existence of an "Unmoved Mover" and an "Uncaused Cause" for the universe.
Aquinas’ proof for an Unmoved Mover is based on motion. All things in motion were caused to move by something else. All objects have the potential to move, but they cannot initiate their own movement. Therefore, since the universe is in motion it must have been moved by something outside the universe–the Unmoved Mover.
In a similar manner, Aquinas argued that since all effects in the universe require a cause, there must be a "First Cause" that accomplished the first effect–the creation of the universe.
As logical as the cosmological argument may seem, it is based on the belief that the universe is finite. Through the ages non-theists have attempted to get around this argument by simply stating that the universe is eternal and uncaused.
The one factor missing in the debate over the eternal or finite universe was objective, scientific evidence. Without such evidence both sides were, in effect, required to take a position of faith.
The New Paradigm: A Finite Universe!
In the twentieth century staggering scientific discoveries have led astronomers to conclude that the universe began at a finite point in time and space and that it is not eternal. To the dismay of many scientific materialists, these discoveries strongly support the notion that the universe was caused to exist by an extra-dimensional, transcendent Creator. In 1978, NASA astronomer Robert Jastrow, a self-described agnostic, stated in his book God and the Astronomers:
"I am fascinated by some strange developments going on in astronomy–partly because of their religious implications and partly because of the peculiar reactions of my colleagues. The essence of the strange developments is that the universe had, in some sense, a beginning–that it began at a certain moment in time!"
In 1989, in his book Journey to the Stars, Jastrow notes that the twentieth-century evidence for finite universe was anticipated by the Bible thousands of years before modern cosmologists discovered this fact:
"Most remarkable of all, astronomers have found proof that the universe sprang into existence abruptly, in a sudden moment of creation, as the Bible said it did." (emphasis added)
Prior to the twentieth century, the belief that the universe was eternal was almost unquestioned by astronomers. However, as Jastrow points out, this view of an eternal universe has been severely disrupted by "strange developments going on in astronomy"– discoveries which Jastrow states carry "religious implications." Belief in God has always required a measure of faith, but this belief is now founded on solid scientific evidence!
The New Physics
In 1887, two American physicists, Albert Michelson and Edward Morley, made an observation about the speed of light that was the seed of a revolutionary change in the way scientists viewed the universe. After making measurements of the speed of light, they determined that it was constant in all circumstances. The speed of light did not vary even if the observer was rapidly moving away from or moving toward the source of the light.,
In 1905 Albert Einstein drew on this information when he shocked the scientific world with his Special Theory of Relativity. Einstein’s theory expanded upon the observations made by Michelson and Morley and showed that measurements of length, mass, velocity, and time are relative to the velocity of two or more observers.
An example will help us to understand the implications of Einstein’s theory on the flow of time. Twin brothers agree to test the Theory of Relativity. One brother stays on earth and the other agrees to fly in a space ship at close to the speed of light to a nearby star. The space traveling twin doesn’t notice anything different as he travels at 99% of the speed of light. When he returns, he checks his calendar and notes that he has experienced a few years of time passage. When he tries to find his twin, to his dismay, he finds his twin is long since dead, having experienced centuries of time passage! The space traveler’s time has been "dilated" by his incredible velocity. What was perceived as a time period of a few years in space, was on earth several centuries of time passage.
This notion that measurements of time, space, and mass are relative to the observer shocked the scientific community. The view of a predictable, mechanistic universe as described by Isaac Newton centuries earlier had been destroyed with a single theory.
The Expanding Universe
In 1913 astronomer Vesto Slipher published evidence that indicated that about a dozen galaxies in our vicinity were racing away from us at enormous speeds of up to two million miles per hour. This discovery was a surprise to the scientific community since, prior to that time, astronomers believed that galaxies were fixed and merely rotating in place. He reported his findings at the Proceedings of the American Astronomical Society in 1914.
In 1915 Albert Einstein published his second theory called The General Theory of Relativity. In this theory Einstein extended his Theory of Relativity to include measurements of time, space, matter, and length for accelerating bodies.
Among the many outcomes of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity was the prediction that space is expanding and that all the matter in the universe is moving away from an apparent point of origin. Einstein, however, did not initially recognize this prediction. Astronomer Willem de Sitter found that Einstein had made a mathematical error. When corrected, de Sitter found the mathematical prediction that the universe was apparently expanding away from its point of origin. This mathematical observation explained what Slipher had observed with his telescope in 1914. Einstein’s theory and the discoveries that followed, forever changed the way astronomers viewed the universe. Einstein’s theories provided the seed for numerous discoveries that point to a finite universe.
With this new evidence at hand, the astronomical community concluded that the universe must have begun at a single point in space, at a definite moment in time, in a sudden burst of light, heat, and energy! This was a radical new model in cosmology (the study of the universe as a whole). This sudden, finite birth of the universe was eventually dubbed the "Big Bang."
Before the Beginning of Time…
There was No Time!!
One of the most remarkable outcomes of Einstein's theories was the discovery that time itself is a physical property of the universe. In fact, it turns out that space and time are so tightly coupled to each other that one cannot exist without the other. Because of this coupling physicists now speak of "space-time."
Nearly seven decades after Einstein published his equations on General Relativity, three British astrophysicists, Steven Hawking, George Ellis, and Roger Penrose turned their attention to the Theory of Relativity and its implications regarding our notions of time. In 1968 and 1970 they published papers in which they extended Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity to include measurements of time and space. According to their calculations, time and space had a finite beginning that corresponded to the origin of matter and energy., Remarkably, they concluded that prior to that moment, space and time did not exist!
Scientists React to the Evidence
The evidence for a finite, expanding universe was not greeted with universal acceptance by the world’s astronomers and cosmologists Einstein reacted angrily at first, but finally conceded to his mathematical error and the evidence for a finite, expanding universe. NASA scientist Robert Jastrow records Einstein’s reaction:
"This circumstance of an expanding universe irritates me…To admit such possibilities seems senseless"
Einstein realized that if the universe is expanding away from a point, then it had a beginning at that point. If the universe had a beginning, then it must have had a "Beginner," he surmised. This discovery disturbed Einstein so much that for a time he included an imaginary mathematical "cosmological constant" to his formulas. He did this to make the effect of the expanding universe go away. He later admitted that this was the biggest error of his career.
Einstein was not the only scientist to react angrily to the evidence of a finite, expanding universe. Jastrow records that many astronomers and cosmologists were dismayed by the evidence:
"Theologians generally are delighted with the proof that the universe had a beginning, but astronomers are curiously upset. It turns out that the scientist behaves the way the rest of us do when our beliefs are in conflict with the evidence."
The implications of this new evidence were obvious, and they posed a threat to a purely materialistic world view.
Cosmic Egg or Cosmic Chicken:
Which Came First?
After these disquieting discoveries were made, astronomers began to speculate about where the matter came from that exploded in the Big Bang. The book of Genesis states that the matter in our universe arose from an act of a transcendent Creator at a finite point in time. However, the materialistic world view has no room for a Creator. So an alternate explanation needed to be found.
The fact that matter now exists must somehow be explained. The majority of cosmologists believe that all the matter in the universe came from an infinitely dense, infinitely hot, ball of matter some twelve to twenty billion years ago. This ball of matter has been dubbed "the cosmic egg." The origin of the cosmic egg is a point of enormous dispute.
Whether the universe arose from a cosmic egg or not makes little difference. When all the arguments are distilled down we find that there are really only two options.
1) The matter in our universe is either infinitely old; or
2) The matter in our universe appeared out of nothing at a finite point in the past.
There is no third option.
In the pages that follow, we will examine evidence from physics and thermodynamics that specifically rejects the notion that matter is eternal. Secondly, we will show that if the universe began as a "cosmic egg," there must be a "Cosmic Chicken" as well.
As we have seen, the belief that matter is eternal has been a common explanation put forth by materialistic philosophers to get around an ex nihilo (out of nothing) creation. Until the twentieth century, however, there has been no scientific evidence to verify or nullify this claim. In the last 100 years a growing body of scientific evidence has accumulated that has convinced the physics community that matter is not eternal. The first part of this evidence is proton decay.
Protons are positively charged particles which reside in the nucleus of every atom. Each proton consists of at least three quarks. For decades it was assumed that protons were eternally stable. However, physicists now believe that quarks decay irreversibly into antiquarks, pions and positive electrons, and electromagnetic radiation. This decay process occurs at a rate of only once per proton per 1032 years. Consequently, since this process is irreversible, all the atoms in the universe will eventually decay into irretrievable matter and energy. Even though this process of decay will take an enormously long period of time, it is not infinite.
The Laws of Thermodynamics
The Laws of Thermodynamics have been described comprehensively in the last 125 years and provide some of the strongest evidence for a finite universe. For our purposes we will discuss only the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics.
The First Law of Thermodynamics
The First Law of Thermodynamics asserts that matter or its energy equivalent can neither be created nor destroyed under natural circumstances. One of the logical outcomes of this law is that there is no new matter or energy appearing anywhere in the universe, nor is there any matter being annihilated. All matter and energy in the universe is conserved. Consequently, this law is often referred to as the Law of Conservation of Mass and Energy. Although matter can neither be created nor destroyed, it can be converted from one state to another, i.e. from a liquid to gas, liquid to solid, solid to gas. The overwhelming experience of experimental physics confirms this First Law to be a fact. As we shall see, this law has enormous implications regarding the origin of the matter in our universe.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics
The Second Law of Thermodynamics deals with the overall order and energy in the universe. In effect, this law asserts that as time advances the universe progresses from a state of order to a state of greater disorder. This law also declares that the energy available to perform work in the universe decreases with the advance of time. This increase in disorder and decrease in usable energy is called the development of "entropy." Therefore, when applied to the universe, the Second Law predicts that the orderliness of the universe is steadily decreasing and it is cooling off. A couple of illustrations will help you to fully understand this law.
If you take a new deck of cards in bridge order and begin to shuffle them, you will notice that the orderly arrangement of the cards will quickly become random and disordered. Common sense tells us that it would never go the other way. In fact, the Second Law is so certain, that if you did observe a random deck of cards go into bridge order with shuffling, you could be certain that you were experiencing a time reversal!
Consider the example of a clock spring. In order to wind up a clock spring, we must apply outside energy with our hands to tighten it. The moment we let go the energy stored in the wound up spring is gradually converted to heat and work is performed as it moves the various parts of the clock. This winding down of the clock spring can and will run in only one direction–"downhill." Everyone knows that a clock spring can never wind itself, no matter how long we wait. Such an occurrence is forbidden by the Second Law.
In recent times astronomers have compared the universe to a giant clock spring that was wound up at the beginning of creation. At the very point of creation, the total available energy and orderliness in the universe was at its highest point. As galaxies and stars burn out, the available energy for work in the universe is gradually decreasing. Likewise, the degree of order in the universe is constantly decreasing. As stars and galaxies burn out, their mass is converted into energy. With the advance of time, this radiant energy cools to the point of maximum entropy (a measure of disorder). In like manner to the clock spring, as time advances the total available energy in the universe is converted to heat and work. Eventually, the universe will be fully "unwound." When the universe reaches the point of maximum disorder (entropy) and no energy is left to accomplish any work, the universe will have died a "heat death."
Again, Robert Jastrow:
"The Second Law of Thermodynamics, applied to the cosmos, indicates the universe is running down like a clock. If it is running down, there must have been a time when it was fully wound up…if our views are right, somewhere between the beginning of time and the present day we must place the winding up of the universe."
Here Jastrow agrees that a universe which is currently "running down" must have, at one time, been fully "wound up." The Second Law dictates that matter cannot energize or "wind up" itself. Consequently, a source for the "winding up" must be found. It is simply not possible for matter to energize and order itself of its own accord.
Cosmic Evolution and the First Law
Skeptics often scoff at the biblical creation account because it invokes a supernatural event for the origin of time, space, and matter. Yet, if we search the field of cosmology in the last one hundred years we find that theories on the "natural" (as opposed to supernatural) origin of matter are few and far between. As mentioned before, there are only two options for the origin of matter: it is either eternal or it appeared at a finite point in the past. With the elucidation of the First Law of Thermodynamics the implications of this debate, as we will see, have been clearly defined.
Faced with the evidence of a finite, expanding universe, cosmologists began to look for a way to salvage the existence of an eternal universe. In the 1940’s Hermann Bondi, Thomas Gold and Fred Hoyle proposed a mechanism that would allow the expanding universe to still be infinitely old., This model for the universe, called the "Steady State Model" asserts that as the universe expands, hydrogen atoms arise spontaneously from nothing in the deep recesses of space. The result is that the universe appears about the same (in a "steady state") in all ages.
In the last forty years this model for the universe has been discredited by a number of scientific discoveries. The first of these has to do with the age of galaxies. If the universe is infinitely old then we should expect to find galaxies of all ages. However, decades of observations reveal that all the visible galaxies in our universe are "middle aged." Secondly, there is no physical (natural) mechanism for the spontaneous origin of hydrogen atoms. In fact, hydrogen atoms have never been observed to appear spontaneously anywhere in the universe. Thirdly, Isaac Newton’s Law of Inertia declares that a body at rest will remain at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. In the Steady State Model there is no mechanism to explain the motion of the galaxies.
The First Law of Thermodynamics is called a "law" because within the bounds of scientific observation it has been proven true beyond all reasonable doubt. In effect, the First Law states that you and I can neither create nor destroy matter. Therefore, it follows that if something which exists (you and I) cannot create matter, then something which doesn’t exist cannot create it either!
Matter cannot create itself and, in the real world, cannot arise from nothing. Within the bounds of natural law all effects must have a cause. Because of this fact, the spontaneous appearance of hydrogen atoms out of nothing (ex nihilo creation) is a definite breach of the First Law of Thermodynamics which asserts that matter, under natural circumstances, can neither be created nor destroyed. Therefore, since it is not a natural event, it is by definition a supernatural event–a miracle! This is, we believe, a rather weak starting point for a materialistic scenario to begin.
To avoid this conclusion, a number of physicists have proposed that the laws of physics are different elsewhere in the universe. However, this assertion is not supported by even a shred of scientific evidence. Such appeals reveal the lengths that some will go to avoid a finite beginning for the universe.
Since matter is not eternal, we are left with only one option– it arose out of nothing at a finite point in the past! Ironically, the scientific materialist who argues that all the matter in the universe arose out of nothing is in agreement with the biblical creationist. However, biblical creationists readily admit that the appearance of matter out of nothing was a miracle, performed by a "First Cause" that transcends the physical universe. The scientific materialist, who believes, as Carl Sagan did, that "the Cosmos is all that is, or ever was, or ever will be," is forced to conclude that the cosmic egg arose from nothingness quite apart from any causal agent.
The atheist immediately protests, "If God made the universe then who made God?" The Bible indicates that God is an eternal, transcendent Spirit independent of the space-time domain. Consequently, because time is itself a physical property of the universe which God created, then questions about God’s origin are meaningless. This is because God existed before time and He is, therefore, not subject to time-bound concepts such as birth and death. He is outside of time!
Furthermore, because God existed prior to the creation of the universe and the laws by which it is governed, He is not subject to them either–He supersedes them. This means that God was never "young" nor is He aging as dictated by the Second Law. He is outside of our space-time domain and outside of the aging effects of time altogether.
At the beginning of the atheist’s scenario, there is an equally difficult question. "Who or what made that ball of matter that exploded in the Big Bang?" Their answer is that the cosmic egg made itself! But according to natural law–The First Law of Thermodynamics–matter can neither be created nor destroyed by natural processes. Therefore, since the question of the origin of the universe (space-time and matter) cannot be explained by natural law, the mystery of it's origin supersedes natural law and is by definition supernatural!
So at the beginning of each model of origins we have unanswerable questions. Atheists may then argue that they are equal starting points. But are they?
The creationist’s model begins with an infinitely intelligent, omnipotent, transcendent Creator who used intelligent design, expertise or know-how to create everything from the sub-atomic particles to giant redwood trees. Was it a miracle? Absolutely!
The atheist’s model begins with an even more impressive miracle – the appearance of all the matter in the universe from nothing, by no one, and for no reason. A supernatural event. A miracle! However, the atheist does not believe in the outside or transcendent "First Cause" we call God. Therefore, the atheist has no "natural explanation" and no "supernatural explanation" for the origin of space-time and matter. Consequently, the atheistic scenario on the origin of the universe leaves us hanging in a totally dissatisfying position. He begins his model for the universe with a supernatural event. This supernatural event, however, is accomplished without a supernatural agent to perform it.
Cosmic Evolution and the Second Law
If all the matter in the universe could arise by itself out of nothing, the next problem is to explain how the universe developed into highly organized, non-random structures like galaxies, solar systems, and living creatures without the introduction of energy, information or know-how from outside the system.
The Second Law demands that the overall orderliness of the universe must steadily decrease as time advances. Therefore, if the universe came from a cosmic egg, then the moment it was created it was at its point of maximum order and energy. From that moment in time the matter within the cosmic egg began decaying as it also cooled off. With the passage of time the Second Law dictates that the universe will eventually die a heat death as it becomes more and more disorderly.
A major problem for any materialistic theory on the origin of the universe is to explain how the early universe became ordered and energized in the first place. Just as a clock spring cannot wind itself up, the Second Law in effect, asserts that the cosmic egg cannot order and energize itself either.
Some have proposed that the cosmic egg sat in space for an almost infinite length of time and then exploded to create the universe. However, the Second Law demands that even the cosmic egg cannot sit unchanging in space forever. The Second Law, which is universal and absolute, demands that even the cosmic egg must cool off, become disordered, and die a heat death within a finite time span. It cannot sit unchanging in space for eternity. Therefore, if it ever existed, even the cosmic egg had a beginning!
The implications of the Second Law have not gone unnoticed by the world’s cosmologists. A universe that is aging and wearing out was at one time young and fully "wound up." How it became energized or "wound up" is one of the greatest dilemmas facing the materialist.
Again, NASA scientist Robert Jastrow:
"Now three lines of evidence–the motions of the galaxies, the laws of Thermodynamics, and the life story of the stars–pointed to one conclusion; all indicated that the universe had a beginning."
Some cosmologists have asserted that the Second Law does not apply to the universe as a whole. However, there is not one shred of evidence for such a claim. In fact, the evidence from decaying stars (novae and supernovae) indicates just the opposite. The universe is wearing out and winding down!
Materialist and science fiction writer Isaac Asimov confirmed that the Second Law applies to the universe as a whole:
"Another way of stating what the Second Law is, the universe is constantly getting more disorderly… In fact, all we have to do is nothing, and everything deteriorates, collapses, breaks down, wears out, all by itself- and that’s what the Second Law is all about."
The absolute certainty of the Second Law has also been declared by Sir Arthur Eddington, professor of astronomy at Cambridge University in England:
"The law that entropy always increases (the Second Law of Thermodynamics) holds, I think, the supreme position among the laws of nature. If someone points out to you that your pet theory of the universe is in disagreement with Maxwell’s equations [on electricity], then so much the worse for Maxwell’s equations… But if your theory is found to be against the Second Law of Thermodynamics, I can give you no hope: There is nothing for it but to collapse in deepest humiliation."
In this remarkable statement, Eddington asserts that any theory of the universe that denies the Second Law is doomed.
The dilemma of an orderly, aging universe was also recognized in 1983 by Pennsylvania State University physicist Don Page. Writing in the British journal, Nature, Page stated:
"The time asymmetry of the universe is expressed by the Second Law of Thermodynamics, that entropy (randomness) increases with time as order is transformed into disorder. The mystery is not that an ordered state should become disordered but that the early universe was in a highly ordered state…"
In his book, The Mysterious Universe, Cambridge University astronomer, Sir James Jeans, declares that the orderly state of the universe requires a "creation" event at a finite time in the past:
"A scientific study of the universe has suggested a conclusion that may be summed up… in the statement that the universe appears to have been designed by a pure mathematician…The more orthodox scientific view is that the entropy (randomness or disorder) of the universe must forever increase to its final value. It has not yet reached this: we should not be thinking about it if it had. It [ entropy or randomness] is still increasing rapidly…there must have been what we may describe as ‘creation’ at a time not infinitely remote."
The implications of the great "mystery" of an orderly, decaying universe were squarely addressed by materialist and physicist H.J. Lipson when he wrote:
"I think, however, that we must go further than this and admit that the only accepted explanation is Creation. I know that this is anathema to physicists, as indeed it is to me, but we must not reject a theory that we do not like if the experimental evidence supports it."
Finally, consider this provocative quote by Gordon Van Wylen in his book, Thermodynamics:
"A final point to be made is that the Second Law of Thermodynamics and the principle of increase in entropy have great philosophical implications. The question that arises is how did the universe get into a state of reduced entropy [highly organized, non-random] in the first place, since all natural processes known to us tend to increase entropy [disorder]? …The author has found that the Second Law tends to increase his conviction that there is a Creator who has the answer for the future destiny of man and the universe."
The dilemma imposed by a decaying universe, as we can see, has not gone unnoticed by scientists in the twentieth century. Since the universe began in a state of maximum energy and order, the materialist finds himself in the predicament of explaining how such order developed without an outside cause. Robert Jastrow recognized that the universe, like the spring of a clock, needed to be "wound up" at creation. How then did the universe become "wound up" in the first place? Again, when all the theories are broken down, we see that there are only two options:
1) The universe was either energized ("wound up") and ordered by an outside agent; or
2) It energized ("wound up") and ordered itself.
There is no third option.
If we propose that the universe ordered and energized itself, are we not, in effect, proposing that giant clocks can wind their own springs? According to natural law, all closed systems (which the universe certainly is according to natural law) tend toward disorder as time advances. Therefore, the proposal that the universe wound up itself is an appeal to something outside the bounds of natural law. That is, a supernatural event–a miracle! Consequently, as in the case of the First Law of Thermodynamics the materialist is forced to invoke another supernatural event (the "winding up" of the universe) without a supernatural agent to perform the task!
Likewise, the proposal that a transcendent Creator ordered and energized the universe is admittedly an appeal to a supernatural event as well. However, as in the case of the First Law, this model for the origin of the universe does possess a causal agent.
Scientists Scramble for an Alternative
The scientific evidence examined so far demonstrates that the universe’s three components: time, space, and matter appeared at a finite point in time. However, since the scientific evidence does not provide a naturalistic explanation for the origin of matter and the "winding up" of the universe, the materialist is forced to appeal to what is, in effect, a supernatural event. Obviously for the materialist, this simply will not do. In order to get around a beginning, an enormous amount of energy has been expended in the search for a loophole. With the Steady State (continuous creation) model refuted, a more acceptable alternative has been sought.
The Oscillating Universe Model
There have been several variations of the Big Bang theory proposed during the past several decades. Each variation of the Big Bang has been proposed, in part, to explain away the fact that the universe had a beginning. The most popular and enduring attempt to get around a beginning is the "Oscillating Universe Model."
The Oscillation Model proposes that the universe is in a state of endless expansion and contraction events (Big Bangs). Each cycle of explosion, expansion and contraction is believed to take between fifty and one-hundred billion years. This model takes the old assumption that matter is eternal and combines it with the evidence that the universe is expanding. There are, however, fatal flaws to this theory.
The first problem for the Oscillation Model is that there is not enough mass in the universe to cause it to re-collapse. As the mass of the universe moves rapidly away from its point of origin, the force of gravity acts upon it to pull it back together. The Oscillation Model proposes that all the mass in the universe will eventually be forced to re-collapse into another cosmic egg which explodes again. However, even the most optimistic calculations show there is not enough mass in the universe to both reverse the expansion and accomplish a re-collapse.
Robert Jastrow notes that, under the force of gravity, in order for the universe to collapse back on itself, it would need to have an average density of at least one hydrogen atom in a volume of ten cubic feet. According to Jastrow, the known amount of matter in the universe is 1000 times too small to reverse the expansion. Consequently, for decades cosmologists have speculated that there is an enormous amount of invisible "dark matter" that is acted on by gravity which would help to accomplish a re-collapse of the universe. Recently, indirect evidence for such matter has been found. However, even if we assume that 99% of the matter in the universe is non-visible, cold-dark matter, there is still not enough by a factor of ten.
Again, Robert Jastrow:
"Yet, although the estimated density of matter in the universe is greatly increased as a result of this determination (adding cold dark matter), it is still more than ten times too small to bring the expansion of the universe to a halt…Thus, the facts indicate that the universe will expand forever!"
Even if sufficient dark matter could be found, the Second Law of Thermodynamics poses another insurmountable problem for the Oscillation Model. Applied to the cosmos, the Second Law demands that the total available energy in the universe will diminish as time progresses. Without a doubt, the expansion of all the mass in the universe requires the expenditure of an enormous amount of energy. The Second Law assures that energy expended to expand the universe in one Big Bang is never recycled for the next Big Bang or expansion event. It is dissipated as unreclaimable heat. Therefore, all the energy in the universe will eventually be lost in unreclaimable form.
The example of a bouncing ball will help to illustrate this point. When a ball is dropped on the ground, we notice that it never bounces back as high as when it was first dropped. This is because when the ball hits the ground, under the influence of the force of gravity, energy is lost in the form of heat. Therefore, less energy is available to push the ball back up into the air, just as the Second Law predicts. After each successive bounce, the ball goes up less and less until all the energy used to raise the ball in the first place is dissipated as heat. The Oscillation Model, in effect, proposes that a dropped ball would continue to bounce forever.
Even if the universe could expand and contract numerous times, there would still be a net loss of energy as dictated by the Second Law. Therefore, there could be only a limited number of Big Bangs. A never-ending succession of expansions and contractions would be forbidden by the Second Law. Since there can only be a limited number expansion and contraction events, the materialist must still explain who or what wound up and ordered the universe for its first expansion event.
The fact that the universe is expanding, finite, and decaying irreversibly, is a concept that surely surprised twentieth-century cosmologists. The notion that space and time had a beginning is an idea that our three dimensional, finite minds have a difficult time grasping. Yet, according to the theories of Einstein, Hawking, Penrose, and Ellis, time and space did not exist before the moment of creation! As bizarre as these concepts may seem, the Bible has clearly taught these facts in its text for 3,500 years! Written over a period of over 1,500 years, by over forty authors, the Bible dared to claim that time, space, and matter were created at a finite moment in the history of the universe.
It has become fashionable to ridicule the Bible as scientifically inaccurate and outdated. However, as we will see, there are dozens of passages in the Bible which demonstrate tremendous scientific foreknowledge. In fact, there are verses that read like a contemporary astrophysics textbook!
"Stretch Out The Heavens"
The notion that space itself is expanding is a concept which is difficult for most of us to fathom. Nevertheless, while other cultures taught that the earth rested on the backs of elephants, turtles, or the Greek god Atlas, the writers of the Bible proclaimed the concept of a finite, expanding universe!
In the Old Testament numerous allusions are made to the concept of an expanding universe. In the book of Psalms, written seven to ten centuries B.C., we find an interesting verse:
"Bless the LORD, O my soul! O LORD my God, You are very great: You are clothed with honor and majesty, Who cover Yourself with light as with a garment, Who stretch out the heavens like a curtain." Psalm 104:1-2
In the eighth century B.C. the prophet Isaiah also alludes to the stretching forth, or expanding of the universe by God.
"Thus says God the LORD, Who created the heavens and stretched them out, Who spread forth the earth and that which comes from it, Who gives breath to the people on it, and spirit to those who walk on it." Isaiah 42:5 (NKJ)
"I have made the earth, and created man on it. It was I–My hands that stretched out the heavens, and all their host I have commanded." Isaiah 45:12 (NKJ)
According to these verses, when the universe was created, space was literally expanded or stretched out from its point of origin. The psalmist in the verse above also describes the heavens as being laid out like "a curtain." It is interesting to note that in 1991 astronomers discovered a vast "curtain" or "wall" of galaxies hundreds of millions of light years across!
Now the skeptic might argue that the biblical authors were lucky. They just happened to describe the creation of the universe in a fashion which is in complete agreement with twentieth-century cosmology! However, as we will see, there are dozens of additional Bible verses that anticipate contemporary scientific knowledge.
"In The Beginning…"
As we saw earlier, the theories of Albert Einstein provided the seed for the surprising discovery that time is also finite. This concept has been clearly delineated in the pages of the Bible for over 3,000 years.
In the book of Genesis (the book of Beginnings) we are told:
"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth" Genesis 1:1
The Hebrew word for create, bara, literally means to create matter from nothing. The word "beginning" has been understood by the rabbis to mean "at the beginning of time." So a literal rendering of Genesis 1:1 reads, "At the beginning of time, God created from nothing the heavens (space) and the earth (matter)."
The notion of time having a beginning is also found in the New Testament. In second Timothy 1:9 we read:
"Having saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began."
Talk about contemporary scientific foreknowledge! This verse not only indicates that time had a beginning, it also implies that the God of the Bible transcends time and space. That is, He is able to manifest Himself through cause and effect both outside and inside the dimensions of our space-time domain.
Thermodynamics and the Bible
The concepts contained within the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics, though relatively "recent" discoveries, have been unequivocally proclaimed in the Bible for thousands of years.
As we have seen, the First Law of Thermodynamics states that the sum total of the mass and energy in the universe is conserved. In effect, this law asserts that there is no matter being created nor destroyed anywhere in the universe. This fact has been clearly described in the Bible for over 3,500 years. In Genesis 2:2-3 we are told:
"And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made."
Other references on the completed work of God are found throughout the Bible:
"The works were finished from the foundation of the world. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, and God did rest the seventh day from all his works." Hebrews 4:3-4 (KJV)
The fact that matter and energy are nowhere being annihilated is also taught in Nehemiah 9:6 (NKJ):
"You have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all the things that are on it, the seas and all that is in them, and You preserve them all. The host of heaven worships You."
The fascinating thing about all these references is that they speak in the past tense about the creation. Nowhere in the Bible does it speak of creation still going on. A small point maybe, but still amazing when you consider the Bible was written by over forty authors, from such varied backgrounds, thousands of years before the laws of thermodynamics were conceived.
As we have seen, the contemporary belief that the universe is "wearing out" is something predicted by the Second Law of Thermodynamics. For thousands of years this was denied by scientists. Aristotle believed that the universe was static, eternal, and would never wear out. Even Isaac Newton, a Christian, believed in an eternal, static universe. And yet, if these men had carefully examined the biblical text, they would have found the concept of a decaying universe clearly described.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics, the law of decay, seems obvious to us as we see examples of decay all of our lives. However, the Bible applies the Second Law in ways that are surprising and yet totally consistent with twentieth-century cosmology. Let’s look at a few examples.
"Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but you will endure. Yes, all of them will grow old like a garment: Like a cloak you will change them, and they will be changed." Psalm 102:25-26 (NKJ)
"For the heavens shall vanish away like smoke, the earth will grow old like a garment, and those who dwell in it will die in like manner." Isaiah 51:6 (NKJ)
"Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words shall not pass away." Matthew 24:35 (NKJ)
It is fascinating to find such accurate scientific descriptions of the universe. Prior to the twentieth century, the notion that the universe is "wearing out" or "passing away" was foreign to the minds of most scientists and philosophers. Such scientific foreknowledge could not have been derived from observation or intuition. When the Bible was being penned there was no observable evidence that the universe was wearing out. In fact, the consensus of the world’s scientists and philosophers was that it was not decaying.
Nearly 2,000 years after the final biblical writer penned the radical notion of a finite, decaying universe, those very same concepts were finally "discovered" by modern cosmologists. The fact that the Bible contains such uncanny scientific foreknowledge has not gone unnoticed by the scientific establishment.
In a speech to Washington National Cathedral in 1990, Harvard University astronomer, Owen Gingerich, Ph.D., noted the remarkable correlation between biblical and scientific cosmology when he stated:
"Both the contemporary scientific account and the age old biblical account assume a beginning…And its essential framework, of everything springing up from that blinding flash, bears striking resonance with those succinct words of Genesis 1:3: ‘And God said, let there be light.’ "
Finally, in a startling admission, NASA astronomer Robert Jastrow confirmed this claim when he said:
"Now we see how the astronomical evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy!" (Emphasis added)
For centuries the biblical teaching of a finite universe was ridiculed by skeptics. Then came Einstein, Slipher, de Sitter, Hawking, Penrose and Ellis. They aren’t laughing any more!
Talk About God!
Lest the skeptic think that we are stretching our interpretation of the cosmological discoveries in this century, consider the fact that in the last quarter-century a number of astrophysicists and cosmologists have begun to talk about God. The evidence for a finite, decaying, and finely-tuned universe has led many to conclude that there must be a Mind behind it all. Remarkably, many of these men are professed atheists who have been forced by the weight of twentieth-century discoveries in astronomy and physics to concede the existence of an intelligent Designer behind the creation of the universe.
After examining the incredible evidence for design in living systems and the cosmos, Sir Fred Hoyle, a well known antagonist to Christianity, stated that:
"a super intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology."
Paul Davies, once a champion of the atheistic, materialistic world view, recently stated:
"[There] is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on-behind it all…It seems as though somebody has fine-tuned nature's numbers to make the Universe…The impression of design is overwhelming." (Emphasis added)
In 1988 astronomer George Greenstein stated in his book The Symbiotic Universe:
"As we survey all the evidence, the thought insistently arises that some supernatural agency –– or, rather, Agency –– must be involved. Is it possible that suddenly, without intending to, we have stumbled upon scientific proof of the existence of a Supreme Being? Was it God who stepped in and so providentially crafted the cosmos for our benefit?" (Emphasis added)
In 1987 theoretical physicist Tony Rothman made this remarkable statement in Discover:
"The medieval theologian who gazed at the night sky through the eyes of Aristotle and saw angels moving the spheres in harmony has become the modern cosmologist who gazes at the same sky through the eyes of Einstein and sees the hand of God not in angels but in the constants of nature…When confronted with the order and beauty of the universe and the strange coincidences of nature, it’s very tempting to take the leap of faith from science into religion. I am sure many physicists want to. I only wish they would admit it."
Physicist and Nobel Laureate Arno Penzias stated in 1992:
"Astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing, one with the very delicate balance needed to provide exactly the conditions required to permit life, and one which has an underlying (one might say ‘supernatural’) plan."
Finally, at the end of his book, NASA astronomer Robert Jastrow, a professed agnostic, eloquently expresses the implications of the cosmological discoveries of this century:
"For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries"
The fact that so many prominent scientists have gone against the tide to make such statements should force even the most devout materialists to stop and take notice. The evidence is so compelling that the materialistic world view is now seen by these men as the scientifically untenable one. Something or Someone, has set into motion and tinkered with this universe!
Aquinas, Al Ghazali Revisited
Our search for the cause of this universe has brought us to a remarkable conclusion. The evidence for an expanding universe, the laws of thermodynamics and the inevitable decay of matter confirm that the universe is not eternal–that it began at a certain point in time. Ironically, the twentieth-century quest for the secrets of the universe has also confirmed the cosmological arguments of Aquinas and Al Ghazali.
The cosmological argument for God, as formulated by Aquinas and Al Ghazali, asserts that everything that begins to exist must have a cause for its existence. Since the universe had a beginning to its existence (a fact verified by twentieth-century science), then the universe must have a cause for its existence.
Put another way, since time is not eternal, there cannot be an infinite regression of beings nor an infinite regression of universes. Since the First Law of Thermodynamics demands that matter cannot create itself, then there must have been a cause for time, space, and matter. Secondly, since the Second Law of Thermodynamics asserts that the universe cannot order and energize itself, there must have been an "Unmoved Mover" who wound up and ordered the universe "at a time not infinitely remote." Such an event is outside the bounds of natural law, i.e. a supernatural event.
Prior to the twentieth century, scientific materialists circumvented the cosmological argument for God by simply asserting that the universe was eternal. At the end of this century, faced with overwhelming evidence that the universe is finite, an altogether different tactic is employed to get around the simple logic of the cosmological argument.
First, to explain the origin of matter, it is simply assumed that matter arose from nothing. This of course is in defiance of the First Law of Thermodynamics. Secondly, the incredible balance and order of the universe is assumed to have arisen from non-order, on a massive scale, in defiance of the Second Law. Both of these events, if they could occur, are outside the bounds of natural law– that is, supernatural events. These are poor starting places for a materialistic universe where supernatural events are not allowed to operate.
Because each model (theistic and non-theistic) for the origin of the universe begins with what are, in effect, supernatural events, we must ask ourselves, "which of the two models is most reasonable?" The belief that a transcendent "First Cause," who devised the concept, the blueprints, and the reason for making the universe, created and ordered the physical universe; or, the scientific materialist’s model, where no "First Cause" is allowed to operate–where matter arose from nothingness then ordered and energized itself! Considering the two options, both supernatural events, inexplicable by natural law, isn’t it more logical to believe that the miraculous appearance of the universe was the result of a "First Cause," i.e., God?
So it comes down to which of the miracles you will believe– The materialist’s view of the universe, which begins with two supernatural events without a supernatural agent to perform them, or the miraculous appearance of the universe performed by an intelligent, transcendent Being. Each of these requires a step of faith. However, believing in a miraculous effect (the origin of the universe) where no miraculous cause exists requires even more faith than simply believing that, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
The Cosmic Chicken!
Since the universe cannot be self-caused, we are forced to conclude, on logical grounds, that a "First Cause" for the universe must exist. Compelled by the weight of twentieth-century physics, many prominent scientists have come to this same conclusion. Even Albert Einstein is said to have declared that "God does not play dice."
In the 1930’s, British physicist Sir James Jeans made this startling admission regarding the existence and attributes of a transcendent Creator for this universe:
"Nature seems very conversant with the rules of pure mathematics… In the same way, a scientific study of the action of the universe has suggested a conclusion which may be summed up… in the statement that the universe appears to have been designed by a pure mathematician…the universe can be best pictured, although still very imperfectly and inadequately, as consisting of pure thought… If the universe is a universe of thought, then its creation must have been an act of thought. Indeed the finiteness of time and space almost compels us, of ourselves, to picture the creation as an act of thought…Modern scientific theory compels us to think of the creator as working outside time and space, which are part of his creation, just as the artist is outside his canvas." (Emphasis added)
The existence of such an "Unmoved Mover" or "Uncaused Cause" is very difficult for us to conceive. However, we are in a position to speculate about some of the attributes He must possess. Sir James Jeans’ illustration of an artist and his canvas, although simple, is a good starting point to understand the attributes of such a Creator.
First, in order to create the universe, the Creator would need to possess enormous power and scientific know-how. Second, He would unquestionably need to exist outside the "canvas," and yet third, be able to simultaneously enter the "canvas" and act unencumbered within it. This ability to simultaneously facilitate causes and effects both inside and outside the dimensions of our universe is called "transcendence," and is absolutely vital to the creation of the universe.
Possessing a transcendent nature allows the Creator to, in effect, "fax" His scientific know-how into our space-time domain and use this knowledge and power to carefully craft and "wind up" the material universe. A transcendent nature also places the Creator outside the time dimension, allowing Him, in effect, to see the beginning from the end.
The existence of a Creator with the attributes of incredible power, intelligence and transcendence is something the Bible has proclaimed for millennia. In fact, the Bible is the only "holy book" on earth that proclaims a fully transcendent Creator who existed before creation and is now capable of acting, unencumbered, within the three dimensions of the universe He created. As we will see, the Bible not only proclaims such a Creator, it also proves His existence by demonstrating that the biblical text came from an extra-dimensional, transcendent, supernatural source beyond time and space. No other "holy book" on planet earth can demonstrate such an origin.
So the One that "wound up" the universe, the "Cosmic Chicken" and the "Uncaused Cause" are one and the same. He is the God of the Bible–the Creator who exists beyond time and space!
*1 see The Universe Will Expand Forever: No "Big Crunch" Mark Eastman