THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE
One of the discoveries about the Universe is that all the clusters of galaxies appear to be moving away from some central point like the debris from an explosion. This has given rise to the ‘big bang’ theory of the origin of the Universe, which is accepted by many, although not all scientists. Physicists have been speculating on a sequence of events that might have led to the formation of the universe. They suggest that originally matter did not exist; there was only an atom-sized nucleus of pure energy. For some unknown reason, this pent-up energy nucleus rapidly began to expand.
The result of this expansion was to convert energy into matter. First came very small subatomic particles, then simple atoms such as hydrogen and helium. With further expansion more and more complex atoms were formed, gradually producing the array of chemical elements present today. These newly formed substances condensed into galaxies and into individual stars but their momentum was maintained and they are still all racing away from that original point of expansion.
NOT COMPLETELY RANDOM
This much-abbreviated account of the theory of the origin of the Universe (and it is still only a theory) may give the impression that its creation was the inevitable consequence of a purely random chain of events. However this is not so. If the Universe did develop in this way, then there had to be very fine control of the original ‘explosion.’ If the newly created Universe had been too dense, gravitational forces would have made it collapse back into itself. If the matter had been too diffuse it would not have condensed into galaxies and stars. The rate of expansion had to be just right. As one physicist put it: ‘To get a Universe that has expanded as long as ours has without either collapsing or having its matter coast away would have required extraordinary fine-tuning.’ 1 This same scientist calculated that the odds of achieving that kind of precise expansion would be the same as throwing a microscopic dart across the Universe and hitting a bull’s-eye one millimetre in diameter.
So the first thing that astronomy tells us is that although all the components and mechanisms for the formation of the Universe can possibly be explained by science, if this was its origin, then it was not just an accident. First an original ‘big bang’ had to be triggered. In any fantastically violent creation event that followed, there had to be precise control if the Universe was to survive.
How was it controlled? Who threw that metaphorical dart and hit the bull’s-eye against all the odds? Is the Divine claim through the prophet Isaiah that outdated after all? The prophet wrote:
‘I have made the earth, and created man upon it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded’ [Isaiah 45.12].
1 National Geographic Magazine, Volume 163 number 6, page 741.