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.