Almost any book written from Antiquity to the middle of last century will be unanimous in affirming that the universe was never created, having always existed.
Some people, however, believed that the universe was always the way it is. But even those people would affirm that the matter out of which the universe was made was eternal. This is what the Greeks thought.
Plato, in his work (specially in his book Timaeus) describes how Demiurge fashioned the material universe after the model of the Ideas. According to this tradition, both Demiurge and the mater he used to fashion the universe were eternal, that is, were uncreated. In other words, Demiurge was himself an uncreated being that could be considered as a kind of architect of the universe.
The amazing thing, however, is that the conception of an eternal universe lasted from Antiquity to less than one hundred years ago. There was only one book, written in the 14th Century b.C., that brought a different conception about the existence of the universe: I’m talking about Genesis.
The idea the book of Genesis presented was considered so bizarre, that was hardly taken seriously by science for at least 33 centuries. The idea the first book of Moses carried out was that the universe had not existed forever but, on the contrary, had been created out of nothing.
Creation out of nothing (creation ex nihilo, if you prefer) was a concept that no one was willing to accept: first, because the idea of “nothing” is not simply the absence of form, or the absence of matter. The idea of “nothing” means the absence of everything, that is, it embraces the ideas of no space, no matter, and no time. When Aristotle inclined tried to explain what “nothing” was, he said that it is what stones dream about.
Scientists were completely astonished when the 20th century science began to offer evidence that the universe was not eternal, as they thought. Thanks to these evidences, theories as the theory of Big Bang were made possible and even prospered. Among such evidence, we can highlight the following ones:
- Second law of thermodynamics: it states that things naturally tend to a state of greater disorganization over time. As we still see things tending naturally to this state of greater disorganization, we can infer that the universe is not eternal. If it were eternal, all things would have had enough time to be fully disorganized and we would not see this trend in the universe.
- Expanding Universe: Hubble observed that the universe was expanding. If it is expanding, it is because there was a point in the past when it was concentrated. If the universe were eternal, it would be static, that is, it would not be expanding as we observe it is doing.
- Background Radiation: Penzias and Wilson, who are two Nobel Prize winners, managed to identify a background radiation for which the best explanation was that it was generated at the origin of the universe.
- Theory of Relativity: one of the most successful theories at describing the behavior of the universe states that it was created. At the beginning, Einstein was so unhappy with the implication of his theory that attempted to change it by adding a constant to the theory. The mathematical calculations went wrong and he was thus forced to remove the constant. Years later, he claimed that having added this constant was the biggest mistake of his life.
Apart from these, there are still many other discoveries and evidences pointing to the idea that the universe had an origin. Moreover, these evidences state that not only the universe was created but also matter, space and time were created out of nothing. Even the very laws of physics were created with the creation of the universe. I want to make it clear that this is science that says that, not the religious tradition.
What is more important, however, is that for the first time ever scientists had to deal with a question that was not there before (at least from a scientific point of view): if the universe was created, who was the creator? When scientists used to think that the universe had always existed, it did not make sense to ask who was the creator of what they thought wasn’t created. Again, as scientists realized there was a creation, they now needed to answer who the creator was.
Having said that, note that we can come up with some of the characteristics of the creator:
- If space was created, then the creator has to be non-spatial;
- If matter was created, then the creator has to be immaterial;
- If time was created, then the creator has to be timeless;
- If the laws of nature were only created as the universe came into existence, then the creator has to be a supernatural being.
Have you already realized that non-spatiality, immateriality and timelessness are all characteristic of the Christian God, specified in the Bible?
If someone brings up a Theory such as the Theory of Big Bang, for example, he is assuming now the universe was created out of nothing. This is exactly what the book of Genesis has been saying since the 16th century b.C. If someone says they believe in the Big Bang, first of all he is saying that science after more than 33 centuries recognized that what the Scriptures always said during all these centuries was right.
Once again, we can say that knowledge, when it’s correct, leads to the same place where Scriptures have already led us.
God bless you,