The thing is that as human beings we cannot contemplate the insignificance of our existence in relation to the vast reaches of what we call The Universe. The enormity of the numbers in our terms, such as 13.7 billion years, or even a few millions when our planet was developing, or the struggle to understand what happened before we were born. To add to our confusion we have to wrestle with distances that cannot be named because there are not enough words to describe a number with so many zeros tagged on. We have to resort to giving the numbers indices that run out of sensible sizes even before we reach Alpha Centaurii.
Our forbears, in various areas of our world came up with tales to explain the inexplicable reason for our existence, often also incorporating a beginning story, and they often came up with Gods or a Supreme being to solve the dilemma. There are evidently many creation stories much like the biblical Adam and Eve tale often giving a time in the past that most people could comprehend. Putting aside crank timelines for the creation of the Earth many of them successfully gave an explanation most people could cope with.
My problem with the creation stories and the idea of God as a supreme being is the need to have faith in the idea and accept it as the truth.
Likewise, my problem with the Big Bang Theory is the same.
I cannot comprehend the vastness of space and like our forbears struggle with the thought that in comparison to the Universe my existence is a mere blink in the time line, and the longest journey I can make on this Earth is so short in comparison to the vast distances of space as to seem as if I have not moved.
When I was a young man I sometimes staggered back from the Robin Hood and Little John pub on Bluebell Hill with my mate and we would gaze at the stars (you could see the buggers then) and imagine travelling to the furthest star to stand on a planet similar to Earth and imagine doing the same there. The exercise bemused our already befuddled minds, yet if taken to a logical end was terrifying because you could not imagine reaching an end.
And then we are told we have the beginning. Not God’s six days and rest on the seventh, nor the sudden creation of fully formed creatures but an explosion, a chemical and gaseous fart that spewed galaxies of stars into space. We are told that this might possibly be (a theory) the start of something big which is beyond our full understanding, and an event we hope we can actually detect.
When an Astronomer suggested that there was a glow behind the Big Bang a Christian Leader (bless him) made the comment that what the Astronomer saw was the Holy Light of God.
My thought at the time was quite simply that this man of God had yet to evolve, and that perhaps the Astronomer’s equipment had reached its limit of perception. It was this that prompted me to consider that perhaps we have yet to discover the real reason for the Big Bang. What if the Universe we live in is much bigger than we thought it was.
In most religions the idea that we have a beginning and an end in all things bears out the reality of our mortality and the “mortality” of planets, stars and galaxies, replacing cold, natural indifference with something we can understand, or at least deal with.
The Big Bang theory gives us an conceivable beginning and allows us to cope with the vastness of our Universe.
Naturally most of us are just managing to cope with paying the rent, finding out what’s on the telly, trying to cope with illnesses and relationships and all the normalities of human life. We fight our wars, complain about governments, raise our children and mourn our dead.
Most of us say “Sod the Big Bang” and get on with our own organic and chemical explosions. But to me the thought of what went before the Big Bang occupies my thoughts, and I hope that on reading this short piece you also start speculation.
I may be wrong but after all it is only a theory.