The question of how this universe originated has been baffling man since time immemorial. Religious texts, of course, have been attributing the origin of the universe to an omnipotent God. Everything that happens within this universe can be explained by cause and effect. Every event that we observe is caused by a previous event and this works very well for all the events we see inside the universe. But in order to explain the origin of the universe we need a “First Cause” or an event that occurred at the beginning and set into motion a chain of events that created the universe and all the other events within it.
Most religious texts attribute this “First Cause” or event to God. Then arises the question that if God did create the universe, at what point in time did he do so? What happened earlier than that? This is a more difficult question to answer. The Greek philosophers did not like the idea of divine intervention. So men like Aristotle tried to handle this problem by postulating that the universe always existed and will exist from eternity to eternity. So we are left with two theories now, one that the universe had a beginning and there was a “First Cause” responsible for it and the other that the universe existed from eternity and will always exist.
In order to counter the theory that the universe existed from eternity and will always exist, theologians proposed that time was also a creation of God or in other words a result of the “First Cause” and that time came into existence only when the universe came into existence. In the year 1929, the astronomer Edwin Hubble made a startling observation that the universe is expanding no matter which direction we look at. This led to the idea that if the universe is expanding in all directions then there must have been a beginning point from where the expansion started. This gave birth to the theory of the “Big Bang”.
The big bang, scientists believe, started from the explosion of an infinitesimally small pin point of mass and energy around which space-time was infinitely curved. This tiny pin point is called a singularity. The explosion of a singularity is believed to have been responsible for the creation of the universe and the universe has been expanding ever since the big bang. This theory many people believed obviated the need for a “First Cause” and a God. They also believed that it obviates the other theory of the universe existing from eternity to eternity. I will argue in this article that both theories are still very much alive and valid and neither can be abandoned in totality.
First let me deal with the eternity to eternity idea and why it cannot be discarded. Scientists believe that the universe cannot go on expanding forever. There will come a time when the universe will again start contracting. At the moment there is no deceleration observed in the universe’s expansion rate but nevertheless it is believed that there will come a time when the universe will come to the limit of its expansion after which it will start contracting. When this happens it will lead to what is know as the “Big Crunch”.
In other words the universe will keep contracting and again end up becoming a singularity with a big crunch. Then the laws of physics as we know them will not be valid and there will again be another big bang from the new singularity and another universe with a new set of physical laws will come into being. This is the theory of multiverses. The idea is that this process of sequential big bangs and big crunches could have been happening from eternity and will keep happening forever leading to an infinite number of universes that will exist from ever before to ever after. This leaves our eternity to eternity theory intact.
Next let us deal with the “First Cause” theory and why it is still valid. Let us assume for a minute that there is no sequential series of big bangs and big crunches and our universe is the only one that ever existed. Let us assume it all started with a single big bang from one singularity. A singularity is supposed to be an infinitesimally small pin point of mass and energy. But this surely does not obviate the need for a “First Cause” or a beginning event as is commonly believed.
We need an event or a “First Cause” which created this singularity that exploded into this wonderful universe. A singularity, no matter how tiny it might be, cannot come out of nothing. There has to be a beginning event that created it. So we still need a “First Cause” or event or God to explain the origin of the universe. As can be seen the mystery only deepens. Thus both the theories of an omnipotent God responsible for a “First Cause” and the alternative theory of the universe existing from eternity to eternity still remain valid. Till the time we have concrete proof of how the universe originated we cannot take a definite stance of any kind.