The Big Bang Contradicts Physics, not Religion
Pope Francis is in the news today, for having “sided with science” and against creationists — by endorsing the Big Bang Theory. According to these articles, his statement was “revolutionary” and “embraces modern science.”
As far as saying that the universe is billions of years old, or that creatures evolved, this could be true — though even there, he said that it could not have happened without Divine Intervention. When it comes to the Big Bang, however, these articles neatly turn the truth on its head.
Put simply, the Big Bang Theory violates the known laws of physics. This “Big Bang,” a point of energy that formed the universe — from where did it come? How was it formed? How did this energy and matter form, to then explode outwards? There are various conjectures and speculations to explain what might have happened, but what we know about astrophysics and thermodynamics doesn’t involve nothingness exploding into energy and matter.
In fact, the term “Big Bang” was placed upon the theory by a prominent astronomer who, like most of his colleagues, believed in a “steady state” universe with no known beginning. The majority belief in steady state persisted until detection of the cosmic microwave background radiation, a remnant of the Big Bang, proved in 1964 that the universe was expanding from a beginning point.
If anything, Pope Francis merely recognized that physicists have come to agree with the Biblical account. The Big Bang theory was proposed by Monseigneur Georges LeMaitre, a Catholic priest, and in 1951 Pope Pius XII declared it entirely consistent with Catholic belief.
But in actuality, the theory doesn’t belong to Monseigneur LeMaitre, either. The Ramba”n [Nachmanides] on Genesis 1:1 states that the universe began as a single point of pure energy, having the power to form all matter. If one reads it without knowing it’s the Ramba”n, it sounds like a clear lay description of the Big Bang.
I don’t think that the big bang contradicts physics. It just hasn’t been fully explained by physics. You are using a God of Gaps argument here.
The Big Bang hasn’t been “fully explained” by physics?! It hasn’t been explained AT ALL!
It is clearly a theory of yesh me’ayin — creation ex nihilo — and more compatible with a belief in a Creator than with a belief in scientism (the religion of secularism).
Either belief system is just that — a belief system. There is no way of proving one way or another how the universe began. However, the idea that it did have a beginning was initially a shock to secular scientists, who had believed for centuries that the universe just always was, and did not have a beginning. When they found out that the universe did have a beginning, they went into a tailspin from which they have not yet recovered. (Hence such fanciful “explanations” as the multiverse theory — in which our universe is just one of many, and was birthed by a previous universe, etc etc — which pushes the beginning so far back as to no longer be a problem — so they imagine.)
The so-called “god of the gaps” argument is a kind of intellectual posturing, a waving of the hands, and means nothing. It’s a way of discrediting and condescending to religious thinkers without actually making any argument. Like all other religious believers, I believe that G-d created everything, not just the things science cannot explain. He’s not a “god of the gaps” — he is the G-d of everything. Even those things that science can explain cannot REALLY be explained, in the most profound sense of the term, without recourse to one of these two statements:
1. There is a Designer/Creator
2. There is no Designer/Creator — everything that exists ultimately just happened by chance.
Both of those are FAITH SYSTEMS. Neither can be PROVEN. There is EVIDENCE for both faith systems but the evidence for number 1 is stronger.
The creation or creation process has to be considered separately from the completed created universe. The latter is made to run in large part according to physical laws. The former is a miracle, so what can be said about laws that would apply to it?