Guest Editorial: Big Bang lemons
by Chris Gore
Have you ever owned a “lemon?” Something that seems to constantly break no matter how many times you fix it or how much care you give it? There are few things more frustrating or embarrassing than realizing something you own and possibly cherish is nothing but a constant problem. And yet though you know its many problems, it is often difficult to finally admit the problem and get rid of it. Well many scientists are experiencing the same situation, but what is broken for them is not their cars or their blenders, but their theory of how the universe came into existence—the very foundation of their whole worldview. That is one big lemon.
The problem is expressed in the April issue of Scientific American with a cover story described as “Quantum Gaps in the Big Bang Theory: Why our best explanation of how the universe evolved must be fixed—or replaced.” Paul Steinhardt, director of the Princeton Center for Theoretical Science, and an influential voice in the scientific world of the Big Bang, looks at the inflationary theory, a theory that has served as an integral support beam for big bang science for the last 30 years and admits, “We have a problem.” The problem is that their theory, which he admits many of them taught as fact, is beginning to look more and more like a problem rather than a solution. It is full of holes, or gaps, that need to be filled. And Steinhardt is questioning whether those gaps can be filled or if the whole theory needs to be replaced.
What is interesting and of importance is that this is not the first problem for the Big Bang theory or those theories meant to support it. It is just one of many problems that keep arising within the Big Bang theory. Steinhardt himself freely acknowledges this. As he says, “(The inflationary theory’s) raison d’être is to fill a gap in the original Big Bang theory.” The problem is now the supposed solution is the one with the gaps. It has become the problem—another gap that needs something, anything to fill it. Steinhardt doesn’t deny this nor does he seem overly disquieted by the need to constantly fix the problems inherent in the big bang.
So what is science to do? Steinhardt notes a couple of possible avenues. Many are working to fix the gaps. Others are working for a new solution. But a possible solution Steinhardt doesn’t entertain is that maybe the problem isn’t with the inflationary theory or any of the other gap-fillers they might come up with. Maybe the problem goes all the way back to the Big Bang theory itself. To borrow from the lemon metaphor again. The problem isn’t the radiator hose or the transmission or the fuses or the electrical. You can keep fixing those, and new problems will arise. The ultimate problem is that the whole car is broken.
What modern science has is a lemon. A system that is fundamentally flawed because it is built on an unstable, or perhaps better a “nonexistent,” foundation. Yet there is no sounding of defeat from Steinhardt. Rather he notes that scientists will keep working on solutions by trial and error until they come up with “the desired answer: that our universe is highly probable.” The notion that a God-less Big Bang itself might be defective is never part of the discussion. Modern science it seems is happy with its lemon.
Two thoughts entered my head as I read this article. The first was anger. These scientists aren’t unbiased observers of fact as they purport themselves to be. They are attempting to patch holes in their own worldview. They are doing anything they can to make sure they don’t have to recognize there might be someone who stands over and above the natural order, namely God. I am angered that they refuse to give God the glory He deserves for his gracious and wonderful creation.
But that same God reminds me their goals are not new. Romans 1 tells us that people have been trying to exchange the truth for a lie since the beginning (Rom. 1.18). The words of Rom. 1: 21-23 sound eerily appropriate, “They did not honor Him as God or give thanks to Him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.”
My second reaction was pity. There is a sadness in Steinhardt’s words and in what he and his colleagues are trying to do, a sense of urgency that their answers surely can’t be wrong. His last words on the issue have a haunting quality to them. In discussing the future he says, “The outcome will be a critical moment in our quest to determine how the universe came to be the way it is and what will happen in the future.”
My heart cried out because the answer to his most critical of questions is not a mystery. The same God who made the universe answers those questions, telling us how the universe came to be and where it is going. In the Bible we see the world came to be the way it is by God’s Word (Genesis 1). That same Word then sovereignly guides our history. That Word becomes flesh in the person of Jesus Christ (John 1) and with His arrival, our future is made clear, and the same Word that brought the universe into being promises a new creation and a hope, salvation and eternal life. The answer is right there for him to see. I pray for Steinhardt and his many associates, because the truth is the real gaps aren’t in the author’s theories. The gap is in his heart. And until that is filled with the ever-powerful Word of Christ, he and those with him can keep looking, keep searching, coming up with new answers, trying to fill the gaps, but they will be trusting in a lemon and missing out on life.
Chris Gore is pastor of Beggs, First.