Monday, March 21, 2016

What Came Before

As a student I wondered if there was a beginning to time. I reasoned that every day must follow a preceding day. Therefore, time had always existed without a beginning. Likewise, I wondered about the end of space. If space had a hypothetical “end,” what was just on the other side of the “end barrier?” In my first several years of science teaching, I confess to being influenced by Fred Hoyle’s “steady state” theory. His theory was popular at the time, so I spent several dollars on a book by Hoyle for my classroom. In effect, Hoyle’s theory posited an eternal universe with no beginning. Persuasive evidence for the Big Bang Theory had not yet been proposed, although the expansion of the universe had been recognized. Msgr Georges Lemaitre conceived of a primeval atom or “cosmic egg” in 1927. Hoyle had named the “The Big Bang” theory in 1949 to distinguish it from his theory.

Hoyle’s Big Bang persisted as a neologism, notwithstanding the campaign of several respected scientists to generate a better scientific term for it during the 1990s. Evidence for the infinitesimal singularity which blossomed in a micro-moment of cosmic inflation, followed by slower expansion of the universe, has been steadily increasing since many laypersons were enamored by the Steady State theory around the mid-20th century.

Knowledge of sequential Big Bang events has not gripped the entire public. The reasons are clear. These events are esoteric—understood by a small number of scientists. While the Big Bang is sometimes derisively dubbed an “explosion,” cosmologists would prefer to express their knowledge of this event in more favorable terms. The events of the first few moments of universe existence followed by spectacular cosmic evolution continuing until our day inspire awe and wonder in the hearts of naturalistic scientists. The sentiments of theistic creationists, however, may be described as holy reverence. The Big Bang is God’s initial act of creation in our universe, they believe.

Did the Big Bang event, 13.7 billion years in the distant past, occur on a timeline where previous events occurred? Or did God’s creation of the universe occur in previously existing space? In our life experience, whatever exists has a starting point, caused by something or someone with a previous existence. Consequently, the reality of a creation event where our current dimension of time has no antecedent is unprecedented in our human experience. Likewise, the concept that our current dimensions of space—length, width, and height—has no antecedent is also unprecedented.

The Big Bang creation event was the origin of this universe’s time and space dimensions. Our universe was not implanted in a previously existing time dimension. The dimension of time was created at the Big Bang as were the dimensions of space. The universe is still expanding. The universe is not expanding into space. Rather, space itself is expanding. With ongoing one-dimensional time and expanding space, the universe is now estimated to extend to a diameter of 156 billion light years.

Many cosmologists such as Stephen Hawking and Paul Davies recognize that time was created at the Big Bang event. Prior to that, time did not exist. They would agree that the dimensions of space were also created at the Big Bang event. God exists beyond our familiar dimensions of time and space, but these dimensions were created for our universe with humanity in mind. As humans living in our current dimensions of time and space, we tend to project these into our future visions of reality, perhaps even into our future anticipation of heaven—the New Creation described in the Book of Revelation. Our view is that without our familiar dimensions of time and space our experience in the heavenly realm cannot even be imagined on this side of eternity.

To review: Time began at the Big Bang creation event, as did the dimensions of space. The created universe was not formed within the already created dimensions of time and space. Rather, the universe was THE creation of time and space.

You may enjoy our previous post entitled “Before Time Began.” It speaks about God’s plan for humanity before the existence of our dimension of time: