Most Recent Scientific Discoveries
the next section I will outline chronologically a summary of the sequence of
the most significant scientific discoveries that provide an insight into the
origin of the universe and a little relating to what we know about how it
operates, from the ancient Greek philosophers up to the present day.
Physics/Cosmology & Quantum Physics
study the universe at these three fundamental levels.
our everyday three dimensional experience of life on earth:
study of this we call Classical Physics: We
experience the majority of this through our five senses. Many express the view that this is the only
reality that exists, if we cannot experience it through our five senses, it is
somehow not real. Before we move on to
the two other dimensions that science studies, let us observe briefly that even
for the reality here on earth, just how blinkered and therefore how narrow a
view of reality this is.
simple examples will serve to demonstrate.
can and do hear sound at much higher frequencies than humans. So there are dog whistles that emit a high frequency
sound that cannot be heard by the human ear but which dogs can readily hear.
infra-red camera can detect and photograph images around the human aura, and
all other light emitting objects which the human eye cannot see.
are many poisonous gases and liquids which cannot be detected by smell or taste
and of which even the tiniest amounts can kill instantly.
we can see that to conclude that because we cannot see, feel, touch, hear or
smell something means it does not exist makes little sense.
second dimension is Cosmology.
is the study of space, the stars, planets and galaxies. These studies have revealed astonishing facts
about the origin of the universe in the past twenty years. This has turned on its head everything science
believed it understood about the world. In
order to provide a complete picture of this story I will start at the
of the Universe:
will outline the evolution of beliefs on the origin of the universe as simply
as I can. The writings of the ancient
Greek philosophers are the earliest written accounts we have of man’s thinking
on the origin of the universe.
600 years before Christ, a generation of Greek thinkers now called the
Pre-Socratic philosophers, began to see the world as something ordered and
Greek world of their time was a mysterious world where everyday events were
explained as being the result of the actions or whims of a countless number of
unseen gods. They began to explore and
seek to explain the workings of the universe more in line with a sense of
order. They envisaged a universe,
operating more in compliance with a set of laws of nature as opposed to the
arbitrary decisions of unknown and unseen gods.
the next 2500 years, including the works of Socrates, Aristotle, Thomas
Aquinas, Galileo, Kepler and Newton, philosophers and scientists set about
discovering and understanding the natural laws of the universe. It was a generally accepted belief, across the
disciplines of philosophy and science, that a Divine Creator had brought the
universe into being and established the laws of nature.
was only in the 1600s that philosophers like Rene Descartes began to question
this long held worldwide belief. With
his famous thesis, I Think Therefore I
Am. Descartes is often referred to as the father of modern philosophy. While being a devout Christian himself, his
Method of Doubt kicked off centuries of questioning and scepticism, as
philosophers, like Hume and later Kant, began to question the existence of a
Divine Creator. This questioning stepped
up a gear with the emergence of Darwin’s theory of evolution in the 1800s. Scientists then began to theorise that the
universe always was and always would be. Therefore, the constituent energies of air,
water and fire may change form and shape over the centuries.
we fast forward to the beginning of the 20th century: Most
scientists continued with the belief that our universe never had a beginning;
they believed mass, space and energy always existed. They believed our own Milky Way galaxy was the
entire universe and that only about 100 million stars existed.
The Big Bang Theory: Along came Einstein
came Albert Einstein in the early 1900s, his equations told him that the
universe could not stay static. It had
to either expand or contract. He ignored
what his mathematics was telling him. He added a constant to his equations to
make them compatible with a static universe.
He later reputedly called it “the
biggest blunder of my life.” So Einstein and
most scientists continued to insist that the universe was “simply
there” with no beginning or end.
it took a Catholic priest from Belgium to send the scientific world into a
tailspin. His theory of the origins of
the world in the 1920s revolutionised thinking on the origins of the universe. Fr George Lemaitre, an astronomer and
professor of physics, is now feted as the father of the Big Bang theory.
believed the world started as a fireball many billions of years ago. He was the first to introduce the idea that
the universe started with a singularity
in his ‘hypothesis of the primeval atom’.
He believed that the origin of the universe
could be traced to this single point and that the universe was expanding and
cooling ever since. His work moved
science on from a point where the world could no longer be seen as a
self-sufficient, mechanical and changeless system.
the world had a beginning, and therefore an end. Suddenly the universe was as vulnerable and
precarious as that of human beings. He
presented his new ideas to many sceptical scientists, including Einstein.
thought his work was far-fetched. Years
later, his biggest detractor, Fred Hoyle, a professor at Cambridge University,
scornfully referred to Lemaitre’s work as the ‘big bang’ theory. However, Edwin Hubble and others confirmed
Lemaitre’s hypothesis with mathematics. Within a few years Lemaitre’s theories were
widely accepted by those working in the field of physics and astronomy. Albert Einstein is eventually said to have
described Lemaitre’s work as: “the most
beautiful and satisfactory explanation of creation to which I have ever
is important to state that no scientist of repute, including Einstein, has ever
claimed to have discovered anything that disproves the existence of God. In fact, acclaimed theoretical physicist
Richard Feynman, while speaking at the California Institute of Technology in
the 1950s, said he did not believe that science will ever disprove the
existence of God. “I think that is impossible,’’ he
if it is impossible, is not a belief in science and in a God - an ordinary God
of religion- a consistent possibility?”
The Hubble Telescope
Lemaitre’s theories that the universe had a beginning were initially validated
by the evidence provided by the
introduction of the Hubble Telescope after it was launched in 1990. Being beyond all the pollution by which earth
based telescopes are limited, it clearly indicated that the universe was
expanding and instead of just one galaxy, our own Milky Way had about one
hundred million stars. The universe is
comprised of trillions of stars clustered in about 100 billion galaxies. This was subsequently conclusively proven by
the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) mission in 1992. Changing our
understanding of the early cosmos, COBE finally confirmed the Big Bang theory
of the origin of the universe.
the Nobel prize-winning scientist, George Smoot, who ran the COBE experiment,
saw parallels between the big bang and the Bible. “There is
no doubt that a parallel exists between the big bang as an event and the
Christian notion of creation from nothing,” he
George Smoot; Wrinkles in Time; 1993.
to provide a sense of the enormity of the now known universe, our sun compares
to one grain of sand amongst all the sand on all the beaches on earth. 1.3 million of our earths would fit inside the
Astrophysicist Robert Jastrow says “the
Universe flashed into being and we cannot find out what caused that to happen.’
compared the event to the account in Genesis 1:1 of the origins of the world:
“Now we see how the astronomical
evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world,” he
recently Amir Aczel, a science lecturer in America, noted how the Big Bang
dove-tails with many ancient scriptures on the origins of the universe.
of Chinese, Indian, pre-Colombian, and African cultures, as well as the
biblical book of Genesis, all describe... a distinct beginning to the universe,
whether it’s the “creation in six days” of Genesis or the “Cosmic Egg “of the
ancient Indian text The Rig Veda,’’ he wrote.
added: “This is an interesting example of
scientists being dead wrong (for a time) and primitive ancient observers having
an essentially correct intuition about nature.’’
Once the penny dropped that beyond any doubt the
universe continues to expand, similar to a balloon being filled with air, scientists
had to deal with the reality that, if the universe is expanding, it had to
start somewhere at some point in time,
exactly as astromemer, professor of physics and priest Fr George Lemaitre had
postulated in the 1920s. With his
hypothesis of the singularity and primeval atom, which he understood to
be a scientific description of Creation?