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Echoes of the Big Bang

Echoes of the Big Bang

The recent discovery of primordial gravitational waves supports the Torah’s account of creation, and may shed light on the age of the universe enigma.


"Space Ripples Reveal Big Bang’s Smoking Gun," Dennis Overbye recently informed us in the New York Times. A few years ago, scientists predicted that the Big-Bang must have passed a series of phases throughout its development into its present size. The most dramatic phase, the cosmological theory asserts, was the "inflation" period which immediately after the Big Bang, caused the universe "to swell faster than the speed of light for a prodigiously violent instant." This inflationary phase, scientists predicted, must have generated gravitational waves, which should be detectable in the universe, same as the cosmic background radiation detected by Penzias and Wilson in 1964. Last week, scientists were able to identify those gravitational waves. The Big Bang was confirmed, again.

The Big Bang theory was the first time that the scientific community entertained the notion that the universe had a beginning.

In my book, Awesome Creation, I present a Jewish perspective on the Big Bang (combined with a skeptical view on our cognitive abilities to search cosmogony) based primarily on Maimonides’ world of ideas. In the first chapter, I explain that for decades the Big Bang theory was considered by the scientific community– and criticized for being – a religious theory. The Big Bang theory was the first time that the scientific community entertained the notion that the universe had a beginning. For centuries the notion of "beginning" was taboo for science; it was more comfortable maintaining the Aristotelian model of an eternal universe which kept God out of the picture. In the words of Simon Singh: “An eternal universe seemed to strike a chord with the scientific community... If the universe has existed for eternity, then there was no need to explain how it was created, when it was created, why it was created and Who created it. Scientists were particularly proud that they have developed a theory of the universe that no longer relied on invoking God.” (Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe, Simon Singh, Harper Perennial (November 1, 2005), p.79-80)

Since 1930, when the expansion of the universe was discovered by Edwin Hubble and the beginning of the universe seemed more and more evident, secular scientists like Fred Hoyle, Arthur Eddington, and Albert Einstein were frustrated. Reflecting on this sentiment Robert Jastrow wrote: “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 sitting there for centuries.” (God and the astronomers. Robert Jastrow, W.W. Norton and company, New York/ London, 1992. 104-107)

In his book A Brief History of Time, Stephen Hawking summarized in one sentence the reason naturalistic scientists resisted a scientific theory which posited a beginning for the universe: “[s]o long as the Universe had a beginning we could suppose it had a creator.” (Stephen Hawking: Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays (1993) pages. 133-135.)

These scientists rejected the Big Bang theory and tried finding an alternative cosmological model which would circumvent the idea of beginning and still be compatible with the proven expansion of the universe. Contemporary theories include the multiverses theory ("our universe is just one universes among a multitude universes, which spontaneously begin from time to time, therefore, a beginning is not a singularity but a natural, not supernatural, generative force in the universe"); the Big-Crunch or the Oscillating universe ("our universe had a beginning in time, but it will eventually shrink, crush and start again, so there was never really an absolute beginning") or Hawking's no-boundary universe ("the universe is like the North Pole, which does not have an end or a beginning"). These theories, with no factual evidence to support them, were formulated with one main goal in mind: avoiding the uncomfortable question posed by the problematic idea of beginning, i.e., Creation.

These 13.5 billions of years might not be the time that elapsed since creation but the time that was produced at the phase called “inflation.”

In light of the increasing soundness of the Big Bang theory, scientists like Stephen Hawking appealed to the "time-factor," to conveying the perception that the Big Bang model is a God-excluding theory because it postulates that the world is 13.5 billion years old, and not 5774, like Biblical religions believe. His argument was very effective. Many religious people believe today that the Big Bang opposes religion because of the pivotal differences regarding time since Creation, overlooking the unlikely correspondence between the first word of the Hebrew Bible, bereshit, (in the beginning) and the main novelty of the Big Bang theory – namely that there was indeed a beginning.

In my book I explore some alternatives to solve the time-difference enigma: the age of the universe postulated by science vs. the age that Jewish sources attribute to the world.

One of them is that according to modern physics space and time are interrelated. The expansion of space necessarily creates an expansion of time. The expansion of the universe creates at least the "illusion of the expansion of time;" in other words, if galaxies A and B were separated from each other by billions of light-years, then when we observe the distance between these galaxies we can assert that it took them billions of years to be where they are now.

The 13.5 billions of years might not be the time that elapsed since creation but the time that was produced at the time the Universe was created by God. Obviously, the Creator did not need a Big Bang to generate the expansion of the universe. And gravitational waves might be nothing but the echoes of God’s initial act of creation. Thanks to modern scientific progress we are getting closer to a better understanding of Bereshit. And perhaps, to solving the science vs. religion time-difference enigma.


Published: March 29, 2014

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Visitor Comments: 13

(8) Brenda Roberts, July 3, 2014 3:38 PM

Lean not

We lean not to our own understanding! Why can't man just take it by faith that God Created the Heavens and the Earth in 6 days....He's

(7) Anonymous, April 4, 2014 4:33 PM

No need for G-d!

The quote above from the book on the Big Bang reads: "Scientists were particularly proud that they have developed a theory of the universe that no longer relied on invoking God.” Interestingly, I have always said the same about "evolution".

(6) S, March 30, 2014 9:24 PM

We see that the beginning, the Torah starts with the second letter Bet when it mentions creation. So the first letter Alef would represent when there was only G-d. G-d could have started the inflation of the universe then, before creating the world. So the second letter is the second stage where our world comes in.

(5) Isaac, March 30, 2014 9:02 PM

There are 2 very important facts that are being grossly overlooked by both Bitton and Schroeder.

1) It is wrongly assumed that because the Torah states that the Universe was created in 6 days, that the Torah by all means is stating that the Universe was creating-
"within 6 24hr consecutive days."
There are no statements in the Torah that indicates that the Torah is declaring such. At best all that can be proven is that many respectable Torah scholars had so declared. Deeming it only an opinion. In light of all the evidence available it is completely an erroneous misinterpretation/assumption of Genesis. I welcome anyone to prove otherwise. I will be the first to admit if this is proven wrong. As a Rabbi and as a scientist should know better. Unless you are declaring yourselves theorists.

What we all can agree on in certainty is that the Torah declares God Himself not the Rabbis, had created the Universe,. With no fault of their own the Rabbis were not privy to the discoveries of our day. If they were they would have certainly conceded to its true age, given their strong love for the truth.

Allegiance for the Rabbis though admirable has obscured many from seeing the reality of God's truth.
Acknowledge the world as God (NOTtheRabbis) had created it, for allegiance to God is truly more admirable.

2) How can anyone explain away all the evidence found on earth proving that the world is many billions if not certainly millions of years old? I welcome your responses.

Yosef Bitton, April 1, 2014 3:01 PM

kol ma'asei bereshit beqomatan nibra-u

In Masekhet Rosh haShana the rabbis explained that all creations were fashioned in their perfect stature, in other words, in their maturity. That maturity gives the impression of an old age. Some non Jewish creationists called it Omphalos Hypothesis. Although this argument by itself might not answer all questions, i believe it is a possibility worth exploring.

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