Close

BIG QUESTIONS
about the
BIG BANG
When examined closely, the cosmologists’ confident explanation of the origin and structure
of the universe falls apart
Look up at the night sky, full of stars and planets. Where did it all come from? These days
most scientists will answer that question with some version of the big bang theory. In the
beginning, you’ll hear, all matter in the universe was concentrated into a single point at an
extremely high temperature, and then it exploded with tremendous force. From an expanding
superheated cloud of subatomic particles, atoms gradually formed, then stars, galaxies,
planets, and finally life. This litany has now assumed the status of revealed truth. In accounts
that deliberately evoke the atmosphere of Genesis, the tale of primal origins is elaborately
presented in countless textbooks, paperback popularizations, slick science magazines, and
television specials complete with computer-generated effects.
As an exciting, mind grabbing story it certainly works. And because the big bang story does
seem to be based on factual observation and the scientific method, it seems to many people
more reasonable than religious accounts of creation. This big bang theory of cosmology is,
however, only the latest in a series of attempts to explain the universe in a mechanistic way,
a way that sees the world—and man—solely as the products of matter working according to
materialistic laws.

Scientists traditionally reject supernatural explanations of the origin of the universe,
especially ones involving a Supreme Person who creates it, saying that they would
contradict their scientific method. In the mechanistic world view, God, if He exists at all, is
reduced to the role of a petty servant who merely winds up the clock of the universe.
Thereafter He has no choice but to allow everything to happen according to physical laws.
This makes these laws, in effect, more powerful than God Himself. Or else God becomes
simply a formless universal energy. There is definitely not much room for a personal God, a
supreme designer and controller, in the universe described by the big bang theorists. Erwin
Schrodinger, the Nobel-prize-winning Austrian theoretical physicist who discovered the basic
equation of quantum mechanics, states in Mind and Matter, “No personal god can form part
of a world model that has only become accessible at the cost of removing everything
personal from it.”1 Thus we should not think that it is by their empirical findings that scientists
have eliminated God from the universe or restricted His role in it. Rather from the very start
their chosen method rules out God.
The scientists’ attempt to understand the origin of the universe in purely physical terms is
based on three assumptions: (1) that all phenomena can be completely explained by natural
laws expressed in the language of mathematics, (2) that these physical laws apply
everywhere and at all times, and (3) that the fundamental natural laws are simple.
Many people take these assumptions for granted, but they have not been proven to be
facts—nor is it possible to easily prove them. They are simply part of one strategy for
approaching reality. Looking at the complex phenomena that confront any observer of the
universe, scientists have decided to try a reductionistic approach. They say, “Let’s try to
reduce everything to measurements and try to explain them by simple, universal physical
laws.” But there is no logical reason for ruling out in advance alternative strategies for
comprehending the universe, strategies that might involve laws and principles of irreducible
complexity. Yet many scientists, confusing their strategy for trying to understand the
universe with the actual nature of the universe, rule out a priori any such alternative
approaches. They insist that the universe can be completely described by simple
mathematical laws. “We hope to explain the entire universe in a single, simple formula that
you can wear on your T-shirt,”2 says Leon Lederman, director of the Fermi National
Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Illinois.
There are several reasons why the scientists feel compelled to adopt their strategy of
simplification. If the underlying reality of the universe can be described by simple quantitative
laws, then there is some chance that they can understand it (and manipulate it), even
considering the limitations of the human mind. So they assume it can be so described and
invent a myriad of theories to do this. But if the universe is infinitely complex, it would be very
difficult for us to understand it with the limited powers of the human mind and senses. For
example, suppose you were given a set of one million numbers and asked to describe their
pattern with an equation. If the pattern were simple, you might be able to do it. But if the
pattern were extremely complex, you might not even be able to guess what the equation
would be. And of course the scientists’ strategy will also be unsuccessful in coping with
features of the universe that cannot be described in mathematical terms at all.
Thus it is not any wonder that the great majority of scientists cling so tenaciously to their
present strategy to the exclusion of all other approaches. They could well be like the man
who lost his car keys in his driveway and went to look for them by the streetlight, where the
light was better.
However, the scientists’ belief that the physical laws discovered in laboratory experiments on
earth apply throughout all time and space is certainly open to question. For example, just

because electrical fields are seen to behave a certain way in the laboratory does not insure
that they also operate in the same way at vast distances and at times billions of years ago.
Yet such assumptions are crucial to the scientists’ attempts to explain such things as the
origin of the universe and the nature of faraway objects such as quasars. After all, we can’t
really go back billions of years in time to the origin of the universe, and we have practically
no firsthand evidence at all of anything beyond our own solar system.
Even some prominent scientists recognize the risks involved in extrapolating conclusions
about the universe as a whole from our limited knowledge. In 1980, Kenneth E. Boulding, in
his presidential address to the American Association for the Advancement of Science, said:
“Cosmology … is likely to be very insecure, simply because it studies a very large universe
with a very small and biased sample. We have only been looking at it carefully for a very
small fraction of its total time span, and we know intimately an even smaller fraction of its
total space.”3 But not only are the cosmologists’ conclusions insecure—it also seems that
their whole attempt to make a simple mathematical model of the universe consistent with its
observable features is fraught with fundamental difficulties, which we will now describe.

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