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A Today Without a Yesterday
In Defense of the Faith
Wednesday, January 04, 2017
Wendy Wippel

The Greek philosopher Aristotle, who lived about 400 years before Christ, wrote a book entitled, Physics which popularized his theory that the universe was eternal. (Aristotle preferred to believe that the universe was eternal because that avoided the need for a God that had created it.) He also popularized the idea that the universe was static, meaning unchanging, as well.   

Aristotle popularized his concept of an eternal, static universe so effectively, in fact, that it was accepted unquestioningly as scientific fact for the next 2500 years, ending only in our lifetimes with proof, via sophisticated telescopes and other technological advances that enabled better analysis of our beginnings, that:

1) Galaxies were not fixed in place, but moved freely around the heavens.

2) “Cosmic background energy” -- remnant energy, detectable throughout the universe that represents residual energy left over from the birth of the universe we live in,  definitively defined a single initiation event.

Aristotle, finally, had met his match. 

The universe was not static. It had had a beginning.   

Truth be told, however, cracks in the eternal universe theory had started to appear in the early 1900’s. Astronomers, Vesto Slipher and Carl Wilhelm Wirtz, in the 1920s, had observed spiral galaxies moving away from earth. Einstein himself, unwilling to accept (despite growing evidence) that the universe was not eternal, added a fudge factor to his calculations in order to achieve the eternal uncracked egg that Aristotle’s universe represented. 

(Einstein later said that that move was the biggest blunder of his career.)

Einstein’s colleagues, nearly unanimously, resisted the notion of a universe with a beginning as well.

Robert Jastrow, an eminent NASA scientist and the long-time director of Mt. Wilson Observatory, explained the scientists’ animosity to the new theory:

“If there was a beginning, what came before? And if there is an end, what will come after? …the idea of a Universe that has both a beginning and an end is distasteful to the scientific mind.  In a desperate effort to avoid it, some astronomers have searched for another interpretation of the measurements that indicate the retreating motion of the galaxies, …. If the evidence for the expanding universe could be explained away, the need for a moment of creation would be eliminated, and the concept of time without end would return to science."

Einstein tried to avoid the need for a moment of creation with creative mathematics, but truth won out.

Aristotle’s eternal egg was irrevocably cracked by a scientist whose name most of us won’t recognize, Georges Lemaitre, a Belgian physicist and mathematician who proposed from the eternal past an existence of a “Cosmic Egg”, which he described further as a primeval atom that “exploded at the moment of creation”.

Lemaitre was also a priest.

Lemaitre, in 1927, while studying Einstein’s work, realized that the math suggested an expanding universe, not a static one, and he published his work, in which he also proposed the first mathematical theory related to the rate of expansion. Stating that the outward speed of distant objects is proportional to their distance to us. Which Edwin Hubble had succeeded in confirming by 1929.  But only scientists involved in this kind of research in 1929 (they would probably all fit in one minivan) were paying much attention.

In 1931, however, in a meeting in London concerning the respective roles of science and spirituality in the search for an understanding of the reality we live in, Lemaître presented his theory that the entire universe had expanded from one tiny starting point.

So far, so good.

He argued that, if matter everywhere is receding, it would seem natural to suppose that in the distant past it was closer together, and that, if we go far enough back, we reach a time at which the entire universe was in an extremely compact and compressed state.

Makes sense.

Lemaître then described that extremely compact and compressed state as a “primeval atom” or "cosmic egg” that exploded at the moment of creation.

Creation implying a Creator.

And at that, all purgatory broke loose. (Lemaître was a priest, remember.)

Arthur Eddington, Lemaître’s mentor, called the theory repugnant.

Einstein told him that, "Your math is correct, but your physics are abominable".

Fred Hoyle, an eminent British Physicist, derisively termed the theory a universe based on a big bang.

And that stuck.

Robert Jastrow, again,weighed in;

"The idea of a Universe that has both a beginning and an end is distasteful to the scientific mind.  In a desperate effort to avoid it, some astronomers have searched for another interpretation of the measurements that indicate the retreating motion of the galaxies, …. If the evidence for the expanding universe could be explained away, the need for a moment of creation would be eliminated, and the concept of time without end would return to science. But these attempts have not succeeded, and most astronomers have come to the conclusion that they live in an exploding world (1977, p. 31).

“As Einstein said, scientists live by their faith in causation, and the chain of cause and effect. Every effect has a cause that can be discovered by rational arguments. And this has been a very successful program, if you will, for unraveling the history of the universe. But it just fails at the beginning.... So time, really, going backward, comes to a halt at that point. Beyond that, that curtain can never be lifted.... And that is really a fundamental blow."

Bottom line, the problem was God. The scientists resented the mere idea that the book of Genesis, with a God that spans eternity and brought everything we see was repugnant. Unthinkable. And had to be disproved.

They are still trying.

So maybe it’s not surprising that Aristotle’s theory persisted for 2500 years despite the fact that the book of Genesis was known to the Greeks at the time (and even translated officially into Greek not too long after Aristotle’s death).

And despite the fact that the first book of Genesis clearly proclaims otherwise.

In its very first verse, Genesis states clearly that the universe had its origin in a Creator, “God created the heavens and the earth”.

Georges Lemaitre Le Maitre called his theory of a universe with a distinct beginning, "The Day without yesterday".

What’s really amazing is that the book of Genesis calls it the same thing.  

The Hebrew makes a distinction between the first day and the days that follow. What is translated “the first day” in our English Bibles, in Hebrew, conveys the momentous nature of the moment in which God created all that exists.

The first day, specifically, is Yom echad.

All other days to follow are defined by their relationship to day one. The second day, the third day and so on.

Overall, Genesis defines a sequence: nothing existed but God, then God created the universe.  A universe consisting, according to current science, of four dimensions; height, width, depth, and time.

Here’s the shocker.  LeMaitre had all of this written into his theory:

Genesis 1 tells us that God existed before the world did. As do multiple other portions of Scripture.

And if you look close, Lemaitre reached the same conclusion from science:

“If the world has begun with a single quantum, the notions of space and time would altogether fail to have any meaning at the beginning; they would only begin to have a sensible meaning when the original quantum had been divided into a sufficient number of quanta. If this suggestion is correct, the beginning of the world happened a little before the beginning of space and time.”

Quantum, just meaning, the single homogenous point created by God at the beginning. A point that, as it expanded (God says that He "stretched the heavens” multiple times) and became multiple quantum: the dimension, the heavens, the galaxies, the stars, and everything else we see in the sky.

Le Maitre is sometimes called, “the Greatest Scientist you never heard of.” 

He was also a devout believer in the God whose existence he helped to prove.

Coincidence?  I think not.

About Wendy Wippel

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