The Universe's Beginnings

Updated on March 22, 2018

There can be so much confusion with regard to our understanding of the creation of the universe, and rightly so. The more you study the question, the more different viewpoints or theories you find there are. An individual that is sincerely trying to get a grasp of the options faces more choices than they probably initially thought possible. It is because of this that I put together this short article that briefly explains the more popular Scientific and Biblical options, and also explains the differences between them. It is up to the individual to determine what they believe to be the most plausible explanation for the beginning of the universe, while also being able to defend their position to others who hold differing viewpoints.

Historically, as today, there have been multiple theories as to the beginning of the universe. To begin, many religions hold their own creation mythologies. Native American tribes hold many varied traditional stories of how the earth came into being, and how their tribes began. Far Eastern religions believe the universe has had no beginning or creator, and some tribal African people groups believe that their god brought people and livestock from reedy areas of the rivers. While these stories are religious in nature, it is important to begin by stating that prior to modern scientific research, humans have been interested in knowing how the universe came into being.

Historical cultures such as the Greeks and Indians began to research the universe from a scientific perspective, and postulated a geocentric model of the universe, with Earth at its center. Later, in the early 1500’s, Nicolaus Copernicus would propose a drastically different model of our solar system, with the sun at the center, rather than the earth. Johannes Kepler would determine the math surrounding the movement of the planets, and Isaac Newton would add to their work the understanding of gravity. As more and more scientists began to contemplate not only the motion of the universe but also its origins, new theories were created to explain the origin of the universe. One theory that was developed in the 1920s was called the “Steady-State Theory”. Developed by Sir James Jeans, he postulated that the universe has no beginning or end, and while it does expand, its density never increases, creating new galaxies when old ones die.[1]

With one theory overtaking another in light of scientific advancement or different understanding of physics, a new theory was proposed called the Big Bang Theory to explain the creation of the universe. Georges Lemaitre began this theory by hypothesizing that an expanding universe could be traced back to its original starting point.[2] Over the twentieth century, this idea would be developed into what we know now as the Big Bang theory. Scientists argue that at one point, approximately 13.7 billion years ago, a singularity occurred from a point of matter no bigger than one proton at the center of one atom, but it’s location was “nowhere and nowhen”.[3] (According to this theory, prior to the Big Bang, there was no space nor time.) The result of that singularity was a rapid expansion of the universe, expanding from and into nothing, and creating space and time along the way. This singularity had transformed all known matter from a hot and dense primordial state to an expanding and cooling space with stars and galaxies forming over millions of years.

Because some scientists don’t think all matter in the universe being compacted into something the size of a proton of an atom is plausible, nor do they subscribe to the idea there was a true state of nothingness prior to the creation of the seeable universe, a competing theory was postulated called the Oscillating Universe theory. This is sometimes referred to as the “Big Bang and Big Crunch”, and other times, as I learned it in the 80’s in High School Physics, the “Handclap Theory”. This theory takes the eternal nature of matter in the universe from the Steady-State theory, and mixes it with the formation of our universe found in the Big Bang theory, and almost rolls them together into one theory. It agrees with most of the details of the Big Bang theory as stated earlier, but it theorizes that this universe is just one of many before it. As the universe was exploded into existence, the explosion (think of it as the shock wave of the explosion) traveled out in all directions, making the universe bigger and bigger. As this explosion travels further and further out and the universe gets bigger and bigger, it creates a bigger and bigger vacuum behind it. (Remember that as the explosion travels out, like the inflation of a balloon, the matter in the universe is created in the wake of the expanding explosion.) The Oscillating Universe theory postulates that as the energy from the initial explosion weakens, the vacuum created by its expansion grows. At some point, the universe will stop expanding, and the vacuum created behind it will suck the whole universe back in on itself, and create another Big Bang for a whole new universe. The Oscillating Universe theory states that this has happened and will happen to and from infinity. Think of someone clapping with cupped hands, and that is the visible example of this theory. Their cupped hands are the extent of the universe, and as they expand, they slow, then they reverse direction and contract, resulting in the clap (i.e. the Big Crunch and the Big Bang) and this process repeats over and over.

Currently, another new theory has been postulated by many theoretical physicists and is the en vogue theory of the day. Explained on numerous shows on the Discovery Channel and National Geographic, “edutainers” such as theoretically physicists Neil deGrasse Tyson and Michio Kaku explain what is called “String Theory”, or more recently “Superstring Theory”. Because at the subatomic level, the laws of the universe do not seem to hold true, specific gravity, String Theory was created to determine the actions of subatomic particles. Through the advancement and additional work of String Theory, scientists postulate that the math surrounding String Theory also leads them to be able to define the exact details of the universe at the moment of Big Bang, and possibly even before.

This math also leads scientists to conclude that it is plausible there is a multiverse or an infinite number of universes, thus begets the Chaotic Inflationary Model. Scientists explain that on the plane of existence or what is called the “Wider Universe”, there are multiple universes, existing in infinite bubble-like realities or domains. When one bubble, gliding along on this plane, intersects with another, (like a child blowing soap bubbles in the wind) the bubbles merge, pop, or connect. This action of bubbles interacting with each other is theorized as the creation or end of that specific universe.[4]

Many people, secular and religious have problems with the scientific models that are used today to explain the creation of the universe. Creationists, or people who believe that God created the world ex nihilo or out of nothing, hold this view, but I must reiterate that this is not solely a religious response, but a response that pokes serious holes in the scientific theories of today, and I believe leaves the thinking person with doubts about the ability of scientists to give us accurate and believable answers to the creation question. Many disagreements to the Big Bang theory arise from science itself, and one law or theory is in stark contrast with another. For example, a question can be posed concerning the Big Bang and how that deals with the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. That law states that in a closed system, “the tendency of natural processes to lead towards spatial homogeneity of matter and energy”. The question arises then, if the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is true and matter should be dispersed evenly, then why is the Universe so “lumpy”. It should be even and constant, not lumpy with stars and planets. Another problem with the Big Bang and physics is its disagreement with the Law of Conservation of Angular Momentum. Given a spin at the big bang, everything in the universe should spin in the same direction, but that is not the case in the observable universe or even in our own solar system. Three planets and 8 of the 91 known moons in our Solar System, and even some entire galaxies spin opposite the direction of the others. These are certainly problems the Big Bang theory encounters.

To address some of the questions surrounding the creation of the universe, in the 1200’s, Thomas Aquinas created what is known as the Cosmological Argument, and explained what he called the “Unmoved Mover”. His defense simplified is that everything moves and nothing can move itself, therefore something must have put everything in the universe into motion. If you walk into a pool hall and see pool balls careening around on a pool table, you would intuitively know that a player had hit a ball on the table and put into motion the movement of the balls you just witnessed. This is the same way with the universe. Planets move, stars and comets and the sun move; the movement of the universe’s contents are evident. If you rewind backward to get to the first thing that moved, (and you can’t go back “infinity” because an actual infinite is impossible) there must have been an “Unmoved Mover”, or something not bound by the universe, that can move on its own, that put the universe into motion. Because of this, it makes common sense that God exists and that He created the universe because it was Him who put everything in motion.

While Thomas Aquinas’ “Cosmological Argument” and later William Lane Craig’s “Kalām Cosmological Argument” seek to defend a creator of the universe, the Big Bang theory tries to address this with String Theory and the Chaotic Inflationary Model. While scientists cannot explain what caused the singularity in the first place, they posit there was no space nor time before the Big Bang, so the question of initial motion is a moot point. It is here that I believe the Teleological Argument is the best defense of a Creationist viewpoint.

The Teleological Argument is sometimes called the Fine Tuning Argument or Intelligent Design, and it states that there are so many small variables that had to be “just right” for life to exist on earth and that in and of itself is evidence of a creator. Cosmologists call the distance the Earth is from the sun the “Goldilocks Zone”. Earth’s position and distance from the sun make it “just right” for life to exist. The problem is that these scientists may lead you to believe that is all there is to have life, just the right distance from the sun, but that would be incorrect. There are multitudes of factors that have to be just right for even the universe to exist, much less life on a planet. The tilt of the Earth (23.5°) on its axis is perfect for life, keeping the weather and seasons moderate over the entire planet. In addition, the presence of a gas giant planet in the Solar System, like Jupiter, is a necessity. Its gravity is large enough to pull planet-killing asteroids and comets to it, rather than them frequently impacting Earth. As for the existence of the universe, scientists will agree that the 4 laws of the universe, the strong nuclear force, the weak nuclear force, gravity and the electromagnetic force, are the four main fundamental forces in the universe. If just one of these were off by one part in 100,000,000,000,000,000, the universe could not exist because no stars could have formed.[5] It is to this argument that noted astronomer and agnostic Fred Hoyle stated “A commonsense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super-intellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature.” The overwhelming minute and multitudinous factors made “just perfect” for the universe and for life on Earth, seem to be overwhelming evidence for a creator God rather than a random accident yielding the perfectness of the universe. William Paley seemed to reduce this idea to its most common denominator when he wrote about finding a stopwatch. He explained that if you were walking through the woods and came upon a stopwatch laying on the ground, you would intuitively know that a creator had designed it, as it just did not just appear out of nowhere. You would also intuitively know that it was created for a purpose, and so too is the universe.

To conclude, I feel we can remove from consideration the Steady-State Theory along with the Chaotic Inflationary Model in its initial form because an absolute infinite is impossible. Infinity in math is certainly understandable because you can always add 1 (or any number) to a number, but infinity is a concept and not an actual thing. Because of this, it is impossible to say that the universe has always been because an absolute infinite is impossible. To understand that is to see how the Steady-State theory is untenable, and also to see why proponents of the Chaotic Inflationary Model adjusted it to say there was an actual Big Bang type beginning of the theorized multiverse. I also find the Big Bang theory to be inaccurate because of the discrepancies it has with other known laws of the universe. I think it is important to understand that science on the macro and micro level do not agree. To date, there is no TOE (Theory of Everything) and when modern-day scientists cannot even get theories to agree across disciplines, I cannot see how anyone can totally buy into one or the other because someone is going to be wrong. I totally agree that science is great, and it has certainly given us so many things that make our lives better; modern day medicine, good dental hygiene, air travel, and even the longer lasting light bulb give evidence of this. However, you should not hang your hat on one theory or another. This is what is called Scientific Instrumentalism. I choose to say “thanks” for what science gives us, but not base my entire ethos on one theory or the other. As evidenced in this paper, you won’t have to wait too long until there is another theory developed so they can sell more books, publish more papers in scientific journals, and add some more graduate classes to their offerings.

It is my view that it takes a lot more faith to believe any of the scientific models than it does the Intelligent Design understanding of the universe. Faith is defined as “complete trust or confidence in someone or something”. When there are so many observable discrepancies in scientific models, it is obvious to me that it takes far more faith to believe in a scientific theoretical model than a creationist or Intelligent Design model. With all the given evidence, I believe that the evidence shows that God created the perfect universe in which his creation could flourish and enjoy their existence, using and enjoying it to know more about Him.


[1] James Schombert, Steady State Theory,” University of Oregon, accessed April 27, 2017, http://abyss. uoregon. edu/~js/glossary/steady_state. html.

[2] Nick Greene, “Georges-Henri Lemaitre and the Birth of the Universe,” www.thoughtco.com, March 2, 2017, accessed April 27, 2017, https://www.thoughtco.com/georges-lemaitre-3071074.

[3] Duane Caldwell, “Should Christians Believe in a Multiverse? 7 Reasons Against,” www. rationalfaith. com, accessed April 27, 2017, http://rationalfaith. com/tag/alan-guth/.

[4] William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, 3rd ed. (Wheaton, Ill. : Crossway Books, ©2008), 132-39.

[5] Eric Metaxas, “Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God: The Odds of Life Existing On Another Planet Grow Ever Longer. Intelligent Design, Anyone?,” The Wall Street Journal (Dec 25th, 2014): 1, accessed April 12, 2017, https://www. wsj. com/articles/eric-metaxas-science-increasingly-makes-the-case-for-god-1419544568.

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