Most modern cosmologists are convinced that conventional scientific progress will ultimately result in a self-contained understanding of the Big Bang and evolution of the universe, without the need to invoke God or any other supernatural involvement. This conviction necessarily falls short of a proof, but it is backed up by good reasons. While we don’t have the final answers, I will attempt to explain the rationale behind the belief that science will ultimately understand the universe without involving God in any way.
Explained: The Big Bang & The Universe
Before the Big Bang, scientists believe the entire vastness of the observable universe, including all of its matter and radiation, was compressed into a hot, dense mass just a few millimetres across. This nearly incomprehensible state is theorized to have existed for just a fraction of the first second of time.
The Big Bang is a theory that explains how the universe expanded from a single point. The Big Bang occurred 13.7 billion years ago. All the matter, energy, and light; were all compacted into an infinitely dense point. The universe then expanded tremendously.
This graphic shows a timeline of the universe based on the Big Bang theory and inflation models. Credit: NASA/WMAP
When we discovered the cosmic microwave background, and its properties matched exactly the prediction of the Big Bang theory, it was a watershed moment for cosmology. For the first time, we had uncovered the origins to the entire Universe, having learned where all of this came from at long last. Emerging from a hot, dense, expanding, and cooling state, the matter-and-radiation-filled early Universe gave rise to everything we see today.
As the seconds passes; this condensed energy was spread out, and the forces such as gravity can into existence. Around 300,000 years after the Big Band, the universe was abundant with floating particles. These particles then slowly came to each other. The simplest elements came into existence, most found was hydrogen (with 1 proton) and helium (with 2 protons).
The different atoms were able to form and then these particles became more and more condensed. Soon matter was formed. The early stars were made up of very simple elements and so they had a very short lifespan of only millions of years. But the nuclear fusion in the cores’ of these early stars slowly created heavier elements; which when the star died, would become a part of a new star.
These stars were created in small groups and attracted other stars. These stars were grouped in irregular shapes. Then the different shapes merged to form the first galaxies.
Today, scientist know about a force called dark energy. Dark energy acts like an anti-gravity and does the opposite of gravity. Dark energy is currently the cause of the expansion of the universe. The universe is expanding at an accelerating rate today.
With the discovery of dark energy, many scientists now believe the universe will continue to expand forever and all of the matter in the universe will eventually decay within a trillion years.
The Big Bang Didn’t Need God to Start Universe, Researchers Say
SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Our universe could have popped into existence 13.7 billion years ago without any divine help whatsoever, researchers say.
That may run counter to our instincts, which recoil at the thought of something coming from nothing. But we shouldn’t necessarily trust our instincts, for they were honed to help us survive on the African Savannah 150,000 years ago, not understand the inner workings of the universe.
Instead, scientists say, we should trust the laws of physics.
“The Big Bang could’ve occurred as a result of just the laws of physics being there,” said astrophysicist Alex Filippenko of the University of California, Berkeley. “With the laws of physics, you can get universes.”
In the very weird world of quantum mechanics, which describes the action on a subatomic scale, random fluctuations can produce matter and energy out of nothingness. And this can lead to very big things indeed, researchers say.
“Quantum mechanical fluctuations can produce the cosmos,” said panellist Seth Shostak, a senior astronomer at the non-profit Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI) Institute. “If you would just, in this room, just twist time and space the right way, you might create an entirely new universe. It’s not clear you could get into that universe, but you would create it.”
“So it could be that this universe is merely the science fair project of a kid in another universe,” Shostak added. “I don’t know how that affects your theological leanings, but it is something to consider.”
Filippenko stressed that such statements are not attacks on the existence of God. Saying the Big Bang — a massive expansion 13.7 billion years ago that blew space up like a gigantic balloon — could have occurred without God is a far cry from saying that God doesn’t exist, he said.
“I don’t think you can use science to either prove or disprove the existence of God,” Filippenko said.
The origin of the laws of physics
If we’re after the ultimate origin of everything, however, invoking the laws of physics doesn’t quite do the trick. It may get us one step closer, but it doesn’t take us all the way, Filippenko said.
“The question, then, is, ‘Why are there laws of physics?'” he said. “And you could say, ‘Well, that required a divine creator, who created these laws of physics and the spark that led from the laws of physics to these universes, maybe more than one.'”
But that answer just continues to kick the can down the road, because you still need to explain where the divine creator came from. The process leads to a never-ending chain that always leaves you short of the ultimate answer, Filippenko said.
The origin of the laws of physics remains a mystery, for now, he added, one that we may never be able to solve.
“The ‘divine spark‘ was whatever produced the laws of physics,” Filippenko said. “And I don’t know what produced that divine spark. So let’s just leave it at the laws of physics.”
We live on the earth which has a diameter of 12742 km. The distance from the earth to the moon is 384, 400 km. You can fit ~ 30 Earth’s between the distance from the Earth to the Moon. Mars can be as far as 401 million kilometres from the earth. A human on Mars would be ~ 1000 times further away than the humans that stepped on the moon. Now, look at the pictures below.
The universe bristles with the structure on all scales (Image courtesy of Cryhavoc)
The solar system is 1.87 Light years across and extends way past Pluto, until the ort cloud. The nearest star is Proxima Centauri which is 4.22 light years away from Earth. The Milky Way galaxy is ~ 100,000 light years across which is nothing compared to the biggest galaxy IC1101 which is estimated to be 6 million light-years across. Our local cluster contains ~ 50 galaxies and is 10 million light years across. Our local cluster is part of the Virgo supercluster which contains ~ 50,000 galaxies and is 110 million light years across. The Virgo supercluster is part of the Laniakea Supercluster which contains ~ 100,000 galaxies and stretches ~ 510 million light-years across. There are at least 10 million or more of these superclusters in the observable universe. The observable universe is ~93 Billion light years in diameter. We are so unbelievably small that we cannot even comprehend. Just to give us an idea, a proton is 10×-15 m. If you divide the average human height by the size of the observable universe you get a figure of 10×- 27m. We don’t live on a ball of rock. We live on a microscopic speck of dust. Humans occupy the tiniest fraction of it. The landmass of planet Earth is a drop in this ocean of space.
Humancentric universe. Wikipedia/Unmismoobjetivo, CC BY-SA
Clearly, there is a discrepancy between the kind of universe we would expect a human-oriented God to create and the universe we live in. How can we explain it? Surely the simplest explanation is that God doesn’t exist. The spatial and temporal size of the universe gives us reason to be atheists.
The problem with these rival explanations is that, as they stand, they are unsatisfying. They hint at reasons why God might create tiny humans in a gargantuan place but are a million miles away from fully explaining why. The weight of galaxies and the press of years seem to sweep us towards atheism.
Thank you for reading!