Monday, January 6, 2014
The Big Bang Theory - Misunderstood
As a Humanities professor, I very much enjoy opening my mind to the way human beings think and act. As a result, I continually focus on human concepts I don’t understand, so I can acquire more knowledge to help me formulate opinions about life – with credibility.
Recently, I had dinner with someone whose company I enjoy immensely. During the meal, he moved the conversation to religious beliefs, which coupled with politics we all tend to avoid on social occasions. Nevertheless, I listened attentively, primarily out of respect for my company, but also to see if I could come away with some additional knowledge about humanity.
Many fundamentalists and creationists reject science, because they visualize it as conflicting with biblical studies. They find scientific theory to be pure fiction. Yet other theists, who believe in a spiritual God, accept science, but reject as historically factual any version of God hurling lightning bolts at a mountain to form tablets containing religious tenets for human beings to follow through life. They prefer to accept allegory as an ancient human method to teach ethical principles.
I’m a very simple guy. As a human being, it is not a stretch for me to logically conclude that our universe had a First Cause. I also accept science. I know if I throw a brick into the air, it will not fall up. Thus, I set out to do some research. Much of what I discovered is difficult for me to understand in a short period of time, and I have absolutely no intention of getting involved in a discussion about religion. However, even after my research, I continue to maintain that there need not be a conflict between science and religion, if one is open-minded and willing to consider the perspectives of others. Most of all, I came away with a clear understanding that people have great misconceptions about what is known as the Big Bang theory.
The Universe is basically everything we can touch, feel, sense, or determine. It does have a beginning. Before that beginning, time, space, and matter were non-existent. Scientists believe it began in a Big Bang, some 15 billion years ago, and continues to expand at a rapid rate. Scientific evidence proves very credibly that it is billions of times larger than it was at its inception. Yet, there is no scientific theory regarding the conditions that existed prior to the Big Bang.
Scientists explain that mysterious Black Holes are regions where huge amounts of mass are concentrated in a miniscule area, where the gravitational pull is so strong that nothing, including light, can escape. They theorize that it is from something akin to a Black Hole that the Big Bang occurred. In fact, there might have been other universes before ours, and there might be other ones we have not yet discovered. The Big Bang theory is merely an effort to explain from a scientific vantage point things that happened at the very beginning of our universe. It is not an attempt to disprove the existence of a spiritual God, although atheists attempt to use the theory for such purposes.
The sciences of astronomy and physics have shown beyond any credible doubt that our universe did in fact have a beginning. What happened before that is still scientifically unknown. There are many misconceptions surrounding the Big Bang theory. While most of us tend to visualize some type of gigantic explosion, scientific experts do not. Rather, they see it as an expansion. One of the best analogies I could find was an example suggesting that the Big Bang was not like a balloon popping and releasing its contents, but instead, an infinitesimally small balloon expanding into our current universe.
Of course, I am not a scientist, just someone trying to learn more about humanity so I can be more credible when I write and teach. I came away reasonably certain that the universe had a beginning, and with the notion that the expansion of the universe suggests that it was once compacted. I also concluded the Big Bang theory is not the only believable model consistent with scientific evidence, although it is the most popular one. Many scientists agree that philosophical criteria should be applied to any theories to which we subscribe.
As a student and teacher of Humanities, I always revert to the example of the ant colony. Take the time to observe activity around an ant hill. Notice the organization and structure of the colony. Observe the roles of the creatures, from the queen to the workers and drones. Then, study Albert Einstein. Truly a genius, his scientific theories are still being studied by the brightest human minds today. I, for one, cannot understand the intricacies of his Theory of Relativity, but I know his findings introduced a new framework for all of physics and proposed new concepts of space and time, resulting in the landing of men on the moon in 1969. Now, think about the possibility of an ant comprehending Einstein’s theories. That is how I envision man’s understanding of creation.
Where science and theology meet should not be problematic. We know scientifically that this universe had a beginning. Is there anything else which exists outside of the natural realm? Is there a master Architect of the universe? The Big Bang Theory remains just a theory. Scientific evidence comes from what we can see from our vantage point in the universe, which could be incomplete. Those who adhere to strict literal biblical accountings of creation, rather than considering them as allegorical lessons to help humans exist in this life in harmony, will not accept other scientific factors.
Fortunately, as a writer and teacher, I enjoy the luxury of making no effort to prove to others either a scientific or a biblical explanation for the existence of the universe. I love simply researching and raising the diverse issues with which human beings struggle. That’s how I learn.
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