On March 17th, 2014, scientists confirmed hard evidence that suggested that the universe came about from what is called a “Big Bang,” or as it is preferable called “cosmic inflation.” Cornell University cosmologist Rachel Bean states, “It’s a really profound discovery for cosmology. It’s a phenomenal announcement” (Watson 2014, USA Today). The announcement came from the BICEP2 experiments conducted at the South Pole. The BICEP2 is a large telescope in Antarctica used to peer into deep space. Christian astro-physicist Jeff Zweerink states that this is done in the South Pole because the moisture from other parts of the planet skews the data (Zweerink 2014, RTB). The farther one peers into deep space the farther back in time one is able to examine. What was discovered were effects or twists in particles which would come from strong gravitational forces at play in the early universe. Vergano writes, “The discovery team relied on microwave-detecting telescopes in Antarctica, where clear skies and dry air allowed unparalleled views of the cosmic microwave background. The South Pole measurements came over three seasons of observation from 2010 to 2012, in areas of the sky two to ten times as wide as the full moon. These wide views allowed telescopes to look for gravitational wave patterns in the cosmic microwave background. Inflation theory held that these light particles, seen as microwaves today, should be preferentially twisted in their orientation, an effect similar to the light blocking of polarized sunglasses” (Vergano 2014, National Geographic). So what are the implications of this finding?
The Universe is Finite: Big Bang Apologetic Arguments are Valid
This provides clear cut evidence that the universe came into existence at a particular point in time. This confirms the main content of arguments used by William Lane Craig such as the Kalam Cosmological Argument and others that use the Big Bang as part of their argumentation. Note that this does not necessarily prove all the tenets of arguments used pertaining to creation, but only the validity that this universe is finite. Apologetic arguments that rely on the Big Bang hold tight. Intelligent design (ID) concepts are also verified by this finding. While this finding does not prove ID, it supports many of the conclusions that ID advocates promote. Science may eventually find a point of limitation eventually when it comes to reality. As agnostic Robert Jastrow (former Director of the Goddard Institute of Astrophysics) in regards to studies on the Big Bang claims that the study of cosmology leads to a belief in a Creator. Jastrow writes: “A sound explanation may exist for the explosive birth of our Universe; but if it does, science cannot find out what the explanation is. The scientist’s pursuit of the past ends in the moment of creation. This is an exceedingly strange development, unexpected by all but the theologians. They have always accepted the word of the Bible: In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth… At this moment it seems as though science will never be able to raise the curtain on the mystery of creation. For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been there for centuries” (Jastrow 1992, 107). Therefore, there may be found great apologetic force in the BICEP2 findings as it relates to Christian cosmology. Agnostic Paul Davies writes, “On the face of it, the universe does look like it is has been designed by an intelligent creator expressly for the purpose of spawning intelligent beings. Like the porridge in the tale of Goldilocks and the three bears, the universe seems to be ‘just right’ for life, in many intriguing ways. No scientific explanation for the universe can be deemed complete unless it accounts for this appearance of judicious design” (Davies 2006, 3). Everything is just right because life was intended. Even the Higgs Boson, popularly called the “God Particle,” developed at the right time to provide mass to elements in order to support life. This is even more remarkable considering that everything we know that came into being developed from a finite point in what we know to be time.
A Multiverse is a Possibility
While scientists are not allowed to speak on what may have been before our universe at this time, some are proclaiming that the doors have been open to the possibility of a multiverse (Vergano 2014, “Big Bang Opens Door to a ‘Multiverse’, National Geographic). The multiverse is a possibility due to the inflation principles which seem to be supported by the BICEP2 findings. A multiverse is a “mother universe,” so to speak, which could produce other universes. In theory, multiple universes could potentially exist. Our universe would be one of the many. This does necessarily dodge the problems of design because the multiverse, if it exists, would have to operate by certain laws as well. Christian astro-physicists such as Jeff Zweerink feel that God may have used a multiverse to bring our universe into existence (Zweerink 2014, RTB). The BVG Theorem shows that even if a multiverse does exist, it too would need a beginning, or starting point. Regardless of one’s feelings of a multiverse, Christian apologists need to begin considering the possibility that God could have used a multiverse in the creation of this universe. Also, this could show us that we are part of a much larger system than ever imagined.
Some Creation Models are Supported While Others are Threatened
The findings of BICEP2 holds no threat to the theistic or Christian worldview. However, certain interpretations of the Bible may be in trouble. Old Earth Creation (OEC) models are verified by this finding. The same cannot be said for Young Earth interpretations. While it is possible that there are flaws in the dating of the universe, it seems unlikely given the recent findings.
Note: It may be that YEC advocates can demonstrate problems with the dating of the universe. If so, then YEC interpretations are not as endangered as once thought. There need not be divisions between advocates of the OEC and YEC interpretations as both seek to defend the authenticity of the Christian faith and the authority of the Bible. However, both sides need to be prepared to analyze and deal with data as it is presented. In this sense, advocates of OEC have had better overall success. This article does not seek to endorse either side of the debate, but rather to present and analyze information as it comes available.
The BICEP2 findings are interesting and can be appreciated by Christians and non-Christians alike. These findings are exciting because they allow us to understand how God brought the universe into existence. One must ask whether there exists a point where science is halted; this due to the fact that scientists seem to be reaching a point where things beyond our universe cannot be observed (at least not with modern technology). The findings of BICEP2 do not pose a threat to Christian belief. In fact, as it has been argued before, no scientific finding can pose a threat to belief in God. When the person understands that God is not an explanation for what is unknown but the explanation for the whole show, no finding can ever threaten one’s trust in the eternal, conscious, benevolent, and powerful Creator of all that exists. This finding only demonstrates that the universe had an ultimate beginning and may demonstrate that God’s creation may be much larger than ever imagined.
Davies, Paul. The Goldilocks Enigma: Why is the Universe Just Right for Life? New York: First Mariner, 2006. Special thanks to Chris Lee for directing this writer to this source.
Jastrow, Robert. God and the Astronomer, 2nd Edition. Toronto: Reader’s Library, 1992. Special thanks to Chris Lee for directing this writer to this source.
Vergano, Dan. “Big Bang’s ‘Smoking Gun’ Confirms Early Universe’s Exponential Growth.” National Geographic. (March 17, 2014). http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/14/140317-big-bang-gravitational-waves-inflation-science-space/#.Uym2mfldWa8. (Accessed March 19, 2014).
Vergano, Dan. “Big Bang Discover Opens Door to ‘Multiverse’.” National Geographic. (March 18, 2014). http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/03/140318-multiverse-inflation-big-bang-science-space/?rptregcta=reg_free_np&rptregcampaign=20131016_rw_membership_r1p_us_se_w#. (Accessed March 19, 2014).
Watson, Traci. “Gravitational waves offer new insight into Big Bang.” USAToday. (March 19, 2014). http://www.usatoday.com/story/tech/2014/03/17/big-bang-gravitational-waves/6520537/. (Accessed March 19, 2014).
Zweerink, Jeff. “Big Bang ‘Smoking Gun’ Discovered.” Podcast. Reasons.org. (March 19, 2014). http://www.reasons.org/podcasts/science-news-flash/big-bang-smoking-gun-discovered. (Accessed March 19, 2014).
Copyright 2014. Brian Chilton.