In The Beginning, part 1

In the beginning God created the Point. The Point was tiny. It was not quite a mathematical point. But in each of its ten or more dimensions it was wrapped up so tightly that its size1 was far more than as much smaller than an atom as an atom is smaller than the Solar System.

There was not nothing outside the Point, for there was no outside the Point for nothing to be in. There was just the Point, and the God who created it.

The Point was pulsating with energy, pregnant with possibility, filled with all the intentions of its Creator. Its tiny size could not hold the energy in. It exploded out in a Big Bang, unwrapping three of its dimensions into infinity, becoming the Universe. Energy streamed apart, not out of the Universe for there was no outside, but expanding with the Universe as it became infinite Space.

The Universe began to expand faster and faster. It doubled in size, if you can say that of something which is infinite, perhaps a few hundred times, perhaps even trillions of times, no one knows except God. All this happened in a time so short that it cannot be described in mere words2.

For some reason, only God the Creator really knows why, this runaway inflation came to a halt. The Universe continued to expand, but now at a leisurely pace. But still it was so hot, so filled with the energy of God, that no matter could form. All was formless and void. There were no atoms, not even subatomic particles, until the expansion had cooled the universe trillions of times more. Compared with the initial inflation, this gradual expansion took immeasurable ages, but in the units we understand it took perhaps just a millionth of a second to form protons and neutrons, the building blocks of matter as we know it.

The Universe continued to expand and to cool, but it was now changing much more slowly. For millennia it was filled with a plasma, hydrogen and helium nuclei in a sea of loose electrons, like the outer layers of the Sun today. “Suddenly, a hundred thousand years into its unwinding, the skies clear as though on a cloudy summer’s day”, as Peter Atkins puts it3, for, with the temperature now down to ten thousand degrees, electrons stick to nuclei and atoms form. As God said “Let there be light”, the Universe was filled with light, like the light of the Sun today.

Continued in part 2.

NOTE: The above is based on the best ideas of modern physics, as clearly described for popular audiences (in secular terms) in “Galileo’s Finger” by Peter Atkins, Oxford 2003. But some of the details are speculative.

1. I.e. the Planck length, about 10-35 metres; compare atoms, about 10-10 m, and the diameter of the Solar System, about 1012 m.

2. About 10-32 seconds.

3. p.252.

0 thoughts on “In The Beginning, part 1

  1. This so called “…best ideas of modern physics,..” is fanciful speculation without the slightest shred of real evidence. Modern physics does not have the slightest idea of what actually heppened, at best it makes a guess.
    Now God, who was there, states quite clearly that He did it all in 6 days, literal 24 hour days, as evidenced by the Hebrew used in Genesis 1.

  2. When I was at school (which seems a long time ago now, but not when compared to the age of the universe), we would sometimes carry out experiments and plot a graph of the results. We were told that we could use the graph to predict what the result would have been for intermediate values by using interpolation, but we were always warned of the dangers of extrapolation: attempting to predict values that were far outside the range of our experiment.

    As a result, I’ve never understood how what seems to be an essentially-similar procedure is apparently considered perfectly acceptable when scientists use it to talk about events that (supposedly) took place thousands, millions, or even billions of years ago. It’s not that I have a problem with physicists and mathematicians grappling with questions about origins. It’s just that (at least when talking to the general public) such figures are typically quoted as if they were known facts, rather than just as-yet-unproved (indeed, I’d suggest by their very nature, un-provable) theories.

    To be honest, I’ve no idea how old the universe is, and have to admit to not really considering the question to be of great importance. I feel sure that, if it really was important, God would have told us less ambiguously. Similarly, I don’t think it essential to buy into the idea that we must interpret the “days” of Genesis 1 as being of 24 hours duration in order to take the Bible seriously. To me, the fundamental point of Genesis 1 is not how or when God created, but that he did. Now that is important, and has potentially life-changing implications for all of us.

  3. Glenn, have you studied any modern physics? I have a degree in it, and I can assure you that there is plenty of evidence here, although there may be other possible interpretations of that evidence.

    John, there are certainly dangers in extrapolation. That is why I wrote “some of the details are speculative”. But there are also some things which we can legitimately extrapolate. For example, if you know how far something has moved and how fast it is going, and can see no possible mechanism for its movement to slow down or speed up, it is technically extrapolation to estimate when it set out, but it is fairly safe to do this with appropriate disclaimers. This simple calculation, how far distant galaxies are from us and how fast they are moving, is the primary evidence for the claim that the Big Bang took place billions of years ago, rather than thousands.

    Similarly, there is a basic law of physics that when a gas expands it cools. This is how your refrigerator works. The same law applies to the Universe, and this allows us to calculate the temperature of the Universe when it was any certain size. It is known from observation at what temperature atomic nuclei can form, electrons attach to nuclei etc. From this a fairly safe estimate can be made of the age of the Universe when these things started to happen. The basics, at least going back to a millionth of a second, are not complex physics, but something any physics undergraduate can calculate.

    That tiny period of runaway inflation is a different matter, too advanced even for the top physicists to fully understand it. But it does have a crucial consequence for the current state of the Universe, which I will look into in a future part.

  4. Peter – very nice, thank you for exploring this angle. Ironically, I spent my first two years in college studying quantum astrophysics before jumping ship to the music department. I never expected to revisit that subject while reading a Bible blog!

  5. Pingback: Speaker of Truth » In The Beginning, part 2

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