The Science of Existence (2) The Big Bang

The Big Bang

What was God doing before he made heaven and Earth? He was preparing hell… for those who pry too deep. ~ Latin theologian Augustine of Hippo (354–430)

The prevailing cosmological model posits the universe explosively coming out of nowhere to create everywhere. The idea has been around at least since the 13th century.


Inspired by the recently rediscovered works of Aristotle, English scholastic philosopher, theologian, and scientist Robert Grosseteste wrote De luce (“The Metaphysics of Light”) in 1225. In the book, he proposed that the universe expanded from a pinpoint of light. Grosseteste assumed that light and matter were somehow entangled.

In the 1920s, astronomers discovered that distant galaxies are moving away, indicating that space itself is expanding. This implied that, at some point in the past, the contents of the observable universe had been a hot, dense primordial fomentation.

All the matter in the universe was created in one big bang at a particular time in the remote past. ~ Fred Hoyle in 1949 on a “hypothesis in conflict with the observational requirements”

The term Big Bang was coined by English astronomer Fred Hoyle in a 1949 radio broadcast. Hoyle was no fan of the Big Bang. He instead favored the ancient Greek paradigm of a steady-state cosmos, where the universe eternally existed, but continuously accreted new matter as it expanded. That there was no evidence of this worried Hoyle not a whit.

German theoretical physicist Albert Einstein was disturbed by the prospect of the universe starting with an explosive singularity. By 1931 he had a model of a stable cosmos, but it held a fatal flaw: the universe had to be at least 10 billion years old. Einstein found that “unacceptable,” as the cosmos could not possibly be that old.

Einstein abandoned his bias as new cosmological observations indicated the universe was not as static as he had hoped. Unconvinced, Hoyle and others took up the cause of steady-state a decade later.

The Big Bang theory was the 1931 brainchild of Monsignor Georges Lemaître, a Belgian Roman Catholic priest and astrophysicist.

If the world has begun with a single quantum, the notions of space and time would altogether fail to have any meaning at the beginning; they would only begin to have a sensible meaning when the original quantum had been divided into a sufficient number of quanta. If this suggestion is correct, the beginning of the world happened a little before the beginning of space and time. ~ Georges Lemaître

According to Hoyle, the Big Bang imported religion into physics, by dint of it being proposed by a priest. The irony of that objection went unappreciated by Big Bang objectors. As it turned out, steady state adherents were the believers in a false religion.

Owing to pervasive noise, the Big Bang won out. The 1964 discovery of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation by American astronomers Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson secured Big Bang as the most acceptable explanation of the origin and evolution of the universe. Lingering radiative scattershot suggested that, literally out of nowhere, a hellacious firecracker went off to start it all. This interpretation is wrong, as is the conventional construal of how and when the universe began.