Summary of the Big Bang – Review
Written By: Robert Brinsmead
This is an exciting read, beginning with amazing information on the astronomy and science of the ancient Greeks, some of whom were the first to put forth the theory that the earth travels around the sun. It explains why the Ptolemy view won the day and prevailed for nearly two millenniums. The writer gives a fascinating glimpse of the personalities and the battles of Copernicus, Kepler and Galileo and right on down to Newton, his law of gravity and then on to Einstein and the others. Most of the great scientists did their greatest work before they were 40, and that includes Einstein. After that they tended to go conservative and even used their influence to stop progress (reminds me of the young Luther and the older reactionary). But I take courage that there have been exceptions to this story. One thing is clear from this very exciting history of science – progress was not possible without funerals. Often a whole generation who had a stranglehold on progress had to die before there could be progress. Evolution should teach us that no progress is possible without death. So yes, death has a very positive side to it. The life’s work of many great thinkers, artists etc, is generally not grasped until after their death. So even Jesus is represented as saying, ‘It is needful that I depart’. But back to the Big Bang book.
After Einstein and the age of the modern Observatories, there were two theories about the universe; one was called the Steady State Theory (the universe has always been there) and the other first proposed by a Russian and then backed up by a RC priest/cosmologist put forth evidence of an expanding universe, and out of that they worked backwards to a beginning event. It was a famous opponent of this theory (Fred Hoyle) who, in a put down, called this the ‘Big Bang’ and thereafter this derisive term stuck mainly because no one could think of another term for it.
What is interesting is that the Stalinist regime bitterly opposed the Big Bang on the grounds that it implied a creative beginning of the universe. Scientists who favored the Big Bang and an expanding universe were executed or sent to the Gulags and some of them managed to flee to the West. Hoyle complained that the Big Bang theory was a cover for Christian fundamentalism and creationism. Anyhow, most atheists lined up against the Big Bang and supported the steady State theory of the universe. Stephen Hawking at first said that the universe did not need God. Einstein believed in the reality of a God but supported the Steady State and resisted the Big Bang even though its supporters showed his theory of relativity supported it. Simon Singh shows how more and more research and evidence supported the Big Bang. Some of the leading supporters of the Steady State were forced to change sides by the weight of evidence, and some of them cried when they had to give up the Steady State. Hoyle remained unrepentant until his recent death, and kept fuming about this Trojan horse of Christian fundamentalism.
Surprisingly early in this development, the Pope (Pius xii) supported the Big Bang as consistent with Christian theology.
Einstein was forced by evidence to admit he was wrong, and so supported Big Bang. So did Hawking, and then said that there had to be a Creator of the Universe. In all, Singh gives a riveting account of things.
In the development, the book shows the vital part played by the new atomic science, Einstein’s relativity and the vindication of the theory E=M x C2 in the creation of the nuclear bombs, etc.
It is amazing that Einstein did not do the experiments . Others did that to confirm Einstein’s theories, but he did it in his head and with scratchings on the back of envelopes and on café paper tablecloths. He did his first theory of relativity in his head as a kid of 15 years. Asked how he came to his theories that proved to be true, he said that he would put himself in God’s shoes or try to look at the situation as if he were God, and then he would come to the view of the most logical way to do it.
Perhaps one of the most amazing things in the story that happens again and again with others besides Einstein, is that scientists would work out a theory of things, including things about the atom (protons, electrons, neutrons, etc) and then others would confirm the theory by observations and experiments. It worked out just as the astronomers discovered Uranus and Pluto – first they plotted where the planet would be before it was ever seen, and then at the very moment they trained their telescopes to the heavens and saw it exactly as predicted in theory. So E=MxC2 was nothing more than a theory until the bomb proved it. What do I think of this happening again and again, and with such astonishing accuracy? Well, I think it points to the human mind being an image of the divine mind! Psalm 8 says, ‘a little less than God’ in the original Hebrew.
Einstein was utterly certain that the dating of the earth according to radioactivity was both accurate and as certain as his E=MxC2. I’m not a scientist, but I think the evidence marshaled by the Einsteins of this world is pretty convincing stuff for this dating thing.
Just to digress into a related field of human DNA and the evolution of life on this planet which is just as certain as atomic theory and cosmology, it is scientifically clear that all living cells work the same way and share a common origin. This however, does not solve the mystery of life but adds to it, just as the expanding universe and the Big Bang does not solve the mystery of beginnings but adds to it. What I mean is that if you push either cosmology or biology and botany back to the some small dense matter or to a single cell, the mystery of beginnings is not solved. In the case of life, the single cell is not a simple cell. it is a bigger mystery than a total organism. The beginning dense matter or the beginning cell had to contain the entire blue print of what would develop or come out of either right down to a self-reflective human consciousness. That, as Freedman Dyson said, was the greatest mystery of all -that mind has invaded the universe of matter.
Just as a male and a female are necessary to beget life, it seems to me that an I and a Thou is necessary for the development of human consciousness. But that alone does not solve the mystery. The Big Bang points to a moment of creation which more and more scientists are coming to admit. The same thing can be said about the science of DNA. But there is no explanation for human consciousness except the spirit of a creator. Hey, am I talking about another or a secondary Big Bang here somewhere?
I recommend the reading of Simon Singh’s, Big Bang.