"To contemplate the universe is to stand even more abashed. For some how, at sometime, all that we see and touch and hear must have emerged from nothing."

- Sir Theodore Fox

"Nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could,..."

- The Sound of Music
"I must have done something good"



Where did the universe come from?
2) according to secularism


"Ten or twenty billion years ago, something happened - the Big Bang, the event that began our universe. Why it happened is the greatest mystery we know. That it happened is reasonably clear."1

- Carl Sagan

"An outlook through this peephole at the vast mysteries of the universe should only confirm our belief in the certainty of its Creator." 2

- Werner Von Braun


8.3 The secular scenario.


Contemporary scientists believe that the universe is expanding. The old idea that the universe existed eternally more or less as it is now was called the steady state theory. This theory was officially discarded at a 1969 meeting of the Congress of Astronomers in Florence, Italy.

Soon after this expansion was confirmed, a new theory gained prominence suggesting the universe might be eternally cycling between inflation and deflation. If true, that idea would violate several foundational beliefs that most scientists hold. Consequently, and due to the lack of supporting astronomical observations, very few scientists give credence to an oscillating universe theory. Instead, only two ideas are held by the majority of astronomers to be plausible explanations of the origin of the universe: the big bang theory and the new inflationary theory.

Both of these two theories seek to explain why all galaxies appear to be rushing out from a common center, like pieces of an exploding bombshell. Given the speed and distances of these celestial fragments, and basing calculations on the speed of light remaining constant, scientists believe they can estimate when and where everything seems to have begun.

Estimates indicate that ten to thirty billion years ago all matter, energy, and space appear to have originated from a central point. Not a point in space per se, since that mere point (referred to as a singularity) constituted everything including all of space. This singularity may also have been the origin of time (at least time as we know it) due to the special relationship between space and time. That relationship is reflected in the term space-time continuum.


At what is called Plank time, 10-43 seconds, the earliest moment at which the concept of space and time is said to have meaning, all matter, energy, and space began a violent expansion. Residual radiation emanating from all directions in space, discovered in 1965, was one of the first confirmations to these theories of a catastrophic beginning. 5 Sir Arthur Eddington illustrates,

We can picture the stars and galaxies as embedded in the surface of a rubber balloon which is being steadily inflated; so that, apart from their individual motions and the effects of their ordinary gravitational attraction to one another, celestial objects are becoming farther and farther apart simply by inflation. 6

The difficult idea to grasp is that outside of this balloon of expanding space-time there exists nothing; nothing in the most absolute sense as it cannot even be considered to be in space or to exist in time; space and time exist within it.


It should now be apparent that the two origin theories, though widely accepted, raise as many questions as they answer. The most significant question being "How could something have come from nothing?"

The first idea, the big bang theory, states that the singularity containing all of space, matter, and energy began expanding fifteen billion years ago. Some believe that is when it came into existence. Others differ by saying that it existed all along. It was eternal and only fifteen billion years ago, for reasons unknown, began to expand.

The alternative to the big bang is the new inflationary theory; a kind of big bang updated with a peculiar hypothesis of quantum physics (principles of sub-nuclear particles). Quantum theory includes the possibility that an elementary building block of matter can pop into existence: something from nothing with no discernible cause. The singularity of space-time and matter, applying atheism's use of the quantum hypothesis, may have similarly popped out of the nowhere into the here, and resulted in today's cosmos.

Before presenting the biblical account for comparison, one thing should be pointed out about these alternatives. Both theories fail to account for any true origin - each assumes certain eternalities.

The big bang theory believes in the eternality of the present universe; albeit in the condensed form of a singularity. The fallacy of this belief, as pointed out by physicists like Stephen Hawking, is that the laws of thermodynamics and the nature of gravity would have kept such an infinitesimal singularity crushed into a black hole.

As for the new inflationary theory, it necessitates at least the eternality of its quantum laws. For how could quantum laws, which are but mere descriptions given to the workings of the present universe, have effected their own cause prior to their own existence? As Paul Davies writes,

But what of the laws?... Quantum physics has to exist (in some sense) so that a quantum transition can generate the cosmos in the first place. 7

Any rational solution requires the existence of causal forces prior to the universe's appearance. Otherwise it is like the old joke "Abe Lincoln was born in a log cabin he built with his own hands". Quantum laws could not have originated that which they themselves are a product or description of. In other words, the universe could not have occurred as a result of chance unless chance was already around in order to produce the universe. For if one begins with utter nothingness, measurements of possibility and probability are totally without meaning. And as outlined in a previous chapter, to say the universe happened by chance is really saying that it was the effect of an unrecognized cause.


In summary, the two most widely accepted scientific theories on the origin of the universe agree on two things:

1) the universe as we know it had a definite beginning, and

2) the cause of the universe somehow pre-existed the universe itself.

The most important ramification of the latter statement is this: if the cause of space-time existed before space-time, then that cause must be independent of the time and space it created. Put simply, the creator is necessarily independent of that which was created. This is like saying you can't expect to find a GM assembly plant inside one of the cars it produces, or a meat packing plant inside one of its own packages of hamburger.

What is the theological implication of this? Just as a thorough search of the hamburger will never produce the meat packing plant from where it came, neither will a search of the known universe and its physical properties guarantee finding from where or from whom it came. The Bible might be referring to this very reasoning in stating, "By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God's command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible" (Hebrews 11:3 NASB - emphasis mine).

Thus the only real proof of origin for any created thing is that which its originator provides. In terms of products, that means a label or instructions. In terms of the idea of a creator God, that means the information which he gave to Moses and the other biblical authors.

There is no doubt that the scheme of physics... postulates a date at which either the entities of the Universe were created in a state of high organization, or pre-existing entities were endowed with that organization which they have been squandering ever since. Moreover, this organization is admittedly the antithesis of chance. It is something which could not occur fortuitously. It has been quoted as scientific proof of the intervention of the Creator at a time not infinitely remote from today. It is one of those conclusions from which we can see no logical escape - only it suffers from the drawback that it is incredible.

- Sir Arthur Eddington 8



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NEXT: PART THREE: The biblical scenario...

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What is chance?

How long did creation take?

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In part two of considering the origin of the universe, this looks at the observations and weighs the secular theories.

Discussion covers ideas of a cyclical universe, the big bang, and quantum theory.