Change

Change
Turning Over New Leaf

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Big Bang Theory - Misunderstood

bang

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.

. . .

 

24 comments:

  1. I too have concluded that understanding the universe is simply beyond us. I'm always surprised that so many people refuse to acknowledge this as a possibility.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jenny: I know I don't know everything.

      Delete
  2. I do not believe in any one 'God', although I sometimes wish I did. I read and understand to a point ... and then I switch off ... it all just becomes 'too big' for me to comprehend and I am happy to live in my little bubble!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Vintage Jane: Well, I think you make a good point. I hear so many people claim to "know" everything, yet the more I research, the more I begin to realize we know so little. I simply do not see the conflict between science and the concept of God. I do see a huge conflict between science and the tenets of religions created by humans who claim to know everything.

      Delete
  3. I think I might be a total nut (we can safely remove the "might"), but the more interesting thing in this equation - to me - is what makes some people closed off to anything or anyone that disagrees with them and others not. I think that most people decide on some Absolutes and when anything is proposed that they see conflicting with one of them, it is summarily rejected. The people with fewer Absolutes are more tolerant and open to differing ideas. In other words, more intriguing than The Big Bang Theory are the people who can embrace a scientific theory AND a religious one. How and why are they wired differently than the majority with their Absolutes? I can believe both. Isn't it possible for God to work within science? For me, yes. Would explaining something scientific be so difficult that the average person would never get it? Absolutely, yes. Would it be easier to give context to a creation story as it is written in The Bible? Again, yes. So, for me, in order to believe the messages in The Bible doesn't mean that science is wrong. Just that the universe is bigger than most of us will ever get.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Robin: As usual, you are very astute. I know I am also wired differently. You hit the nail on the head. It is shocking to me that people can speak with authority about the all-powerful spiritual God and then doubt the possibilities of what that God could create and how it could be accomplished. As a Christian, I cannot believe that with 7 million people on the planet, only a handful would be Absolutely correct about everything. I have studied philosophy for many years and feel very comfortable with Christian philosophy.

      Delete
  4. It's one of those subjects that can get very heated. But most fellow Christians I know, also support scientific study in every way. The big bang theory is interesting--and who's to say that when God began His creation, it didn't start out with a "big bang?" We don't know. But I don't feel it's necessary to choose a side, so to speak. The design of the universe suggests a great intelligence, as well as that of the human body. There's a signature in our very cells that suggests our creation came from intelligence. Still, I can understand how people only choose to believe in science. But it does seem a tad bit contradictory. To each his own.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Pk: Exactly. I think your approach is quite healthy. People who claim to know everything and people who reject anything with which they don't agree puzzle me.

      Delete
  5. How brave of you to get pulled into such a discussion! There must have been a couple of glasses of wine under your belt. :-)). Close minded people are a sad lot. They have stunted their growth, shut their minds off from evolution. Oops, there's another topic to avoid. Sometimes it's best to curb one's curiosity and talk about the weather.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. My Mahi-mahi tasted a bit like a boot, and I could have used a couple of boots.

      Delete
  6. You are expert at sending out posts that make one think. You got me thinking.
    I don't know if you read Arkansas Patti's posts "The New Sixty," but in her last post she talked about her triip to Key West and revisited her Grandmothers house where she spent time as a child. She said it was close to Hemingway's house and when his house was being remodeled, he rented a room from her Grandmother. I asked Patti if you had read her post because you are a fan of his. She answered in a comment that Hemingway was a good tenant but left a lot of bottles behind. Ha

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I will definitely read her post. I do head to Key West often, and I always stop at Hemingway's home. When I published a book on Papa years ago, I was permitted to go into the room where he wrote. I took some photos and used the images as backgrounds on my computer. I'm glad I get you thinking.

      Delete
  7. Hi, JJ..

    Happy New Year..

    A very interesting post. I am Christian, but I also believe in science. But this is a very heated topic. I appreciate your quest for knowledge and understanding. If only more humans cared to learn and appreciate both rolls for our existence.

    Perhaps then, we wouldn't have such global unrest.

    Thanks for sharing your views....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly. In my opinion, this is only a hot topic because so many are afraid to discuss it respectfully and intelligently. Happy New Year.

      Delete
  8. hmm... the last time I was troubled trying to reconcile scientific theories with my Christian upbringing I think I was in 5th grade. I had been reading the Bible and of course the Christian Bible begins with Genesis and creation and so I went to my dad and said "it doesn't say anything about dinosaurs." Luckily for me my dad smiled and said, "it doesn't really define time either. What if a "day" was the author's way of saying "a million years'?" And that settled it. The Catholic church does a remarkable job of covering some of this by saying "that is why it is a mystery." And I love that. Because sometimes you just need to let it be a mystery unless of course you plan to study the matter in which case, have at it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is exactly the issue and my point. It remains a mystery, which does not mean that anyone's beliefs are incorrect. I love your dad's explanation!

      Delete
  9. It sounds like you had quite an interesting discussion. The best part is your appreciation of all interpretations. I know too many people who feel that their road is the only one worth traveling.

    Julie

    ReplyDelete
  10. I have always believed God is the ultimate scientist. He know and understand all the laws of the universe, enough to manipulate them to his will. Call me crazy if you like, but really, that's the only thing that makes sense. Looking at things from our limited perspective and understanding, it's difficult to comprehend how that's even possible, but when you have unlimited time and full use of your entire brain, well, I think the universe, and existence, would look completely different.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What a great concept. You proved my point. The Big Bang theory is misunderstood. It is not a scientific attack on religious beliefs.

      Delete
  11. I was watching an astronomy programme yesterday and it occurred to me that the more we learn, the more we realise there is to learn.

    I'm not a religious person, but I can see any theory about the formation of the universe still leaves at least one question. Where did whatever caused it, come from?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Exactly. There is no conflict. A spiritual God could have created the Big Bang, but relying on the word "faith" and rejecting science leaves many people unsatisfied. There will always be a question because we are human beings. There is no reason to view faith and science as mutually exclusive.

      Delete
  12. Once again you have posed an interesting and probably impossible to completely understand subject.
    Most scientists I know have told me there's no way that there isn't a God. And most religious people I know are very comfortable with scientific ideas.
    While I do believe there are some absolute truths in life, I don't think it's important for those truths to have anything to do with being certain of where and how we all came to be. It seems more likely that we are meant to value certain ideals and never know for sure about the details!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Jasmine, you seem to have a pretty good grip on things. Many people freak out over a discussion like this, but the people I blog with seem to be very astute. Thank you.

      Delete

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.