This question has plagued humankind for a long time in one form or another. In the search for our origins, to discover why and how we are here, we have gone from the embryo, the fossil records, extraterrestrial objects, and even to extraterrestrial intelligence. There are many ideas on the origins of life, some make sense, others lack substance, and still others are so far out that they make creationism look credible.
What questions remain once we figure out where everything came from? Where did the universe come from?
Now that we know where Homo sapiens came from, we have to expand the question beyond our personal world. We have only just begun to question and barely scratched the surface of answers.
The “Big Bang,” as it has become known, is right now the most likely cause of the Universe as we see it today. A Christian monk proposed the “Big Bang” in order to prove to scientists at the time that the universe was not infinite, but finite (NOTE: “Big Bang” was a title given by opponents of the theory in order to make is sound like a fairy tale. It backfired on them and now it is one of the most recognized theories in science.).
The monk supposed that an infinite universe could not have a god, where a finite one could have a creator (whether that creator was his god was a completely different issue). Science at the time dismissed the hypothesis because the monk could not back it up with mathematics.
Later, a mathematician worked out the numbers and agreed with the “Big Bang.” The problem is that at 1×10-43 seconds after the Big Bang, he had no means of doing any more mathematics. He had reached a singularity (note the often misuse of this word and huge misunderstanding of what a singularity is and is not).
Science eventually agreed with the monk and the few Christians that had adopted it when mathematics proved the monk correct. The odd thing is that as soon as science accepted the idea, Christianity dropped it like a hot potato.
The singularity is the key. A singularity means that we do not have the knowledge to go any further. For example, Boyle wrote a law for gases under pressure. However, under a certain amount of pressure, gases turn to a liquid. When the gases reach a liquid state, they have reached the singularity of Boyle’s law. Boyle’s Law can no longer explain the behavior of the gas. Liquid-state gas was a singularity until new knowledge arose which allowed us to measure it and understand its physics.
Prior to that singularity, we can make educated guesses, provide multiple hypotheses, and even have enough to warrant a theory. Nevertheless, the bottom line is that we do not know 100%.
Of course, science is never about 100%. Science is always questioning itself more then it questions the world in which it is involved. We can hope that in the future the knowledge will become available that will allow us to peer before that 1×10-43 seconds after the Big Bang. The Hubble Space Telescope is the beginning of that new knowledge – we look forward to great things as it peers into the beginnings of the universe with its large eye that is unhampered by atmospheric distortion.
I try to keep things simple at Atheism Awareness because I do not want readers to need a degree in science or theology to understand what I am talking about. However, some subjects require a deeper understanding of the science to grasp the concepts that I am trying to relate.
This is one of those subjects.
The fact that we do not know what happened prior to that 1×10-43 seconds does not mean the creationists are right. Most Creationism pages insist that because we do not know that this proves god exists. We can say that many things exist just because we do not know. How does our lack of knowledge in this area prove the existence of god?
Religionists and creationists have fallen for this repeatedly. They used to say that lightning proved god existed. They used to say that the geocentric universe proved that god existed. Over the centuries, the creationists have insisted that scientific lack of knowledge was proof of their god. As science expands its knowledge of the universe, it forces creationists to withdraw from that stance each time. The creationists have clung on to this one because it the only thing they have to justify their belief in a literal creation.
The bottom line is that we do not know for sure. It remains one of the great mysteries of science. We know what happened 1×10-43 seconds after the “Big Bang,” but before that remains a singularity.
Laypersons are often confused as to what a singularity means. A singularity (referring to the “Big Bang”) is not the astrophysics singularity (point in space-time where gravitational forces cause matter to have infinite density and infinitesimal volume, and space and time become infinitely distorted). It is the mathematical singularity (point where the derivative does not exist for a given function of a random variable, but every neighborhood of which contains points for which the derivative exists). In other words, before 1×10-43 seconds after the Big Bang, we do not know what was before it; we have reached a mathematical singularity.
There are of course theories based on the available evidence (we have to go on what we do know: not on what we do not know). For those that are interested in learning a few of the theories that scientists are working on today, visit the following links:
- Big Bang Cosmology Primer
- Big Bang Science
- Creation of a Cosmology: Big Bang Theory
- Discover the Universe
- Foundations of Big Bang Cosmology
- Frequently Asked Question In Cosmology
- Mysteries of Deep Space by PBS
- Super String Theory
- Tests of the Big Bang: Expansion
- Tests of the Big Bang: The CMB
- Tests of the Big Bang: The Light Elements
- The Big Bang: It Sure Was Big!
- The Hot Big Bang Model