Beyond the Big Bang
By Tanisha Jhaveri
The Big Bang is perhaps one of the most famous and widely-accepted theories about our Universe, but how strong is the evidence for it, really?
A bit of background: in 1922, Alexander Friedmann realized that any Universe that is largely uniform in its distribution of matter and energy would be unstable, and therefore likely to undergo expansion. In 1926, Edwin Hubble discovered that most galaxies are moving away from us, with those further away receding at higher speeds. Eventually, in 1927, Georges Lemaitre unified Hubble's observation with Friedmann's equations and formulated the cosmological theory we know and love today. He concluded that since the Universe is expanding, we can extrapolate this back billions of years to conclude that the Universe was much smaller and denser than it is now.
Granted, the Big Bang theory has been a huge success, with a lot of evidence to back up its claims. However, this model has failed to solve several pressing issues including but not limited to the monopole problem, the horizon problem, and the singularity problem.
The monopole problem stems from the fact that the Big Bang theory predicts the existence of magnetic monopoles, which have never been observed and are difficult to conceive of. A magnetic monopole is a particle that acts as a magnet, but with only one magnetic pole — for example, only a north pole without the south pole, or vice versa. At the high temperatures of the Big Bang's early Universe, monopoles would be produced in large amounts, to the extent that there should be many remaining today that we can detect. However, interestingly, we haven't yet been able to do so.
The horizon problem arises because the opposite “ends” of space are much further apart than the Big Bang theory anticipates. That is, assuming that the Universe’s expansion occurred due to the Big Bang, for its two “ends” to have ever been in “casual contact” (i.e. had any kind of physical interaction or information exchange), information would have had to travel across this large distance at a rate faster than the speed of light, which is impossible. We reach the peculiar conclusion that the two ends of the Universe could not have been in causal contact. However, the uniform temperature of the cosmic microwave background (remaining radiation from the early Universe) suggests that the ends should have been in contact with each other.
Finally, the singularity problem: while Lemaitre shows us the power of extrapolation, there seems to be a limit to how far back in time we can actually extrapolate. This is because, at the very last (or first) moment, we reach a “singularity”—a single point of infinite density and energy. And under these conditions, our known laws of physics break down.
This leads us to arguably the biggest setback of the Big Bang theory: it is not, as often marketed, a theory of the origin of the Universe, because it actually doesn’t describe how and why the Universe came to be in the first place. Rather, it is only a theory of how the Universe grew and developed instantly after its origin, which itself remains unaddressed. Consequently, many alternative theories have been proposed to attempt to explain the beginning of the Universe and to resolve the problems that arise with the Big Bang.
The central question remains: how could the Universe have originated from nothing? In 1973, Edward Tyron attempted to provide an answer. First, let us consider one of the most powerful consequences of quantum mechanics — due to the spontaneous, random emergence of pairs of virtual particles (as permitted by Heisenberg’s Uncertainty principle), no vacuum is completely empty. Virtual particles are short-lived particles that share similar properties with ordinary particles, and are created by quantum fluctuations. In other words, even “empty” space contains energy.
Accordingly, Tyron’s theory of genesis begins with pairs of virtual particles spontaneously appearing in a vacuum. Although, in general, particle pairs like these annihilate immediately to produce radiation, if the virtual particles are separated by virtual forces, they can create what is called a true vacuum bubble which would expand exponentially to form our Universe. In short, spacetime, matter, and energy could have emerged in a vacuum through quantum fluctuations.
On the other hand, the problem in conceiving of an origin to the Universe is avoided entirely by models proposing that the Universe is eternal. One such theory, proposed by Roger Penrose, is Conformal Cyclic Cosmology, which suggests that the Universe is cyclic in nature. Penrose proposes that the Universe goes through aeons, and the end of one aeon marks the beginning of another, which is equivalent to the birth of our Universe.
All in all, while there are a multitude of theories about the origin of the Universe, we don’t really have an answer and perhaps are not particularly close to a specific one. Philosophers and physicists continue to ponder this ambitious question—but for all we know, we could just be living in the Matrix.
7/4/2021 01:41:15 am
If the universe had a beginning, there had to be a beginner. This so upset the very scientists who proved the big bang, actually the expanding universe theory were totally against the very thing they proved. It was Alexander Friedman, Wellem de Sitting and Georges Lemaitre that found solutions to Einstein's field equations that predicted the expanding universe. Einstein chose to add a fudge factor the cosmological constant a repulsive force that would act against the gravitational attraction. In a sense he wrote God out of the equation. But Edwin Hubble invited to the Mount Wilson Observatory. There Hubble showed how the spectro plates showed the redshifts for many galaxies. After Einstein looked through the 100 inch Hooker Telescope, he finally said that now he sees the necessity for a beginning. And Arthur Eddington who measured the bending of starlight passing by the Sun during a solar eclipse measured the bending of starlight to be 1.80 + or - .2 arcseconds. Einstein predicted 1.751 arcseconds. This evidence launched Einstein to fame, but when he learned that Einstein's theory predicted that the universe had a beginning, he wrote, "The idea that the universe had a beginning is philosophically repugnant to me. I should like to find a genuine loophole." So the very scientists who made the discovery of the expanding universe were the very ones to hate it. That's all because the thought that the universe had a beginning supported the first verse of Genesis. In the beginning God.... Then Stephen Hawking, Roger Penrose and George Ellis solved Einstein's field equations that showed that if the universe is described by the general theory of relativity and if there is mass, then there must be a transcendent causal agent outside of space and time that caused it. As for Roger Penrose's theory that the universe began and then its ending is a new beginning is stupid. Some people can't tell their beginning from their end. There's a difference. Because of the second law of thermodynamics, our universe started all wound up and is running down and wearing out. Penrose's theory of the end becomes the new makes no sense from the thermodynamics of the universe. Then Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson discovered accidentally a low microwave background radiation that appeared to come from everywhere. 20 years earlier two graduate students of George Gamow calculated there should be a low residual radiation of about 5 degrees Kelvin in the universe. Penzias and Wilson measured a radiation of about 2.73 degrees Kelvin. So there has been a lot of theoretical and observational for the big bang. Allen Guthe theorized a brief time of inflation that enabled the whole universe to be in communication in the beginning that explains both how the entire universe was in communication that explains the homogeneity of the universe and the near flatness of the universe. The only problem is that a universe that had a beginning points to a transcendent causal agent that sounds very similar to the God of the Bible. In Job, Isaiah 45:12, Jeremiah, Psalm 104:2 and Zechariah there are verses where God says that is was "I who stretched out the heavens and guide the starry hosts". Another cosmological verse that describes an expanding universe. While there are issues such as monopoles, there is a lot of evidence for the big bang and if you look there is a lot of evidence for the God of the Bible.
7/7/2021 02:16:54 pm
I have a background in science and also in the Bible. I am a certified science apologist with Reasons To Believe a faith and science organization founded by Dr. Hugh Ross who is an astrophysicist. He worked at Caltech researching quasars and now is the founder of this ministry founded in 1986. My book is my attempt to bring down to earth these lofty ideas in a simpler form that can be understood by normal people. I have mailed my books to four people so far and I would be pleased to do so with you. I initially wrote it for my late father to bridge his love for physics with my faith in Jesus. Since then it is now
7/10/2021 01:12:49 pm
I am fascinated by what you have written above. I read just about everything that I can about physics and cosmology, although I have no formal training in them. I am also very devout in my beliefs and have never seen a reason to deem it necessary to insist upon a great discrepancy between the reality of cosmological and evolutionary creation and the biblical. Thank you for a very interesting article.
7/10/2021 02:04:18 pm
Dear Jenny, While I believe that the big bang and what the Bible says are in agreement, I am an old earth creationist and not an evolutionist. If anyone would like a copy of my book, Science and the Bible: Evidence for the God of the Bible, I will print out a copy and mail it to you. I have another book on how Bible Prophecy is being fulfilled in our day, and I would be pleased to mail a copy of this published book too. My email address is email@example.com. I live in Duarte, California and can be checked out if you feel the necessity. I just love the Lord and want to share Him in some way. So I have written booklets for years attempting to connect the Lord with something that would be interesting. So far I have had 4 people request my book/books from leaving a message like this. I am sorry about the fact that the scientific community has pushed evolution, because it alienates people who are Christians. While there are theistic evolutionists I personally see the main difference between atheistic evolution and theistic evolution is the letter a. In my book I have three chapters where I discuss the evolutionary paradigm. But I do see the big bang as in agreement with the first verse of the Bible, "In the beginning..." There are other verses where God says that He stretched out the heavens, and astrophysicists talk about space as if it is being stretched. But there are questions about evolution such as the Cambrian period and the Avalon period where new fossils are found without a trace of prior fossils that would support their existence from evolution. God gave two books of revelation, 1. The Bible, God's WORD and 2. The creation, God's WORLD. These two revelations should agree and if they appear to disagree, I hold that it is the interpretation of one or both that is in error and not the revelations themselves. Right now I am interacting with an old friend who is a young earth creationist. It appears that he holds to a young earth creationist position and that is ok with me. I just share. I am not pushing my thoughts on anyone. I "share with" rather than "preach at."
Leave a Reply.