Big Bang Ripples No Message from God

Vic Stenger

In 1951, Pope Pius XII declared that "Science has provided proof of the beginning of time. . . . Hence, creation took place in time. Therefore there is a Creator; therefore, God exists." The pope was referring to the so-called big-bang theory, which postulates that the current universe is the expanding remnant of an explosion that happened about 15 billion years ago.

Recent highly publicized results from the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) satellite have provided further confirmation of the big-bang theory. Somehow the media has taken this as an unprecedented verification of the biblical view of creation and, by inference, the existence of a Creator.

As a scientist, I find it unfortunate that this exciting, new scientific result has been so grossly misinterpreted as to turn its actual meaning on its head. The COBE data provide important further confirmation for the big bang theory, adding to an impressive collection of prior results that had already convinced most cosmologists that the theory was basically correct. Far from demonstrating the need for a Creator, the new results from COBE provide support for the theory called inflation which shows how the structure of the universe, including the laws of physics themselves, could have come about by natural means as the universe exploded out of the void.

The new observations are crucial, but not in the sense of being revolutionary. On the contrary, had ripples in the microwave background not been found, then we would have had a real scientific revolution on our hands. The sound you heard emanating from the cosmology community was a collective sigh of relief. Their only viable theory to explain the wealth of observations had passed yet another test with flying colors. It wasn't the first test, and won't be the last.

Still, some articles announced that scientists have viewed creation and seen "the handwriting of God." I've looked at the picture of the COBE results that has been widely published and am afraid I can't make out the words "I am, who am" spelled out in the sky.

In reality, science provides no evidence for the existence of God and probably never will. Nothing in current cosmology demands that the universe was purposefully created. The most economical hypothesis, consistent with all astronomical observations and the established theoretical structure of modern physics and cosmology is that the universe is absent of any pre existing design or plan.

The big bang theory says that fifteen billion years ago the universe was a tiny point. Using well-established principles of physics, that point could not have had zero dimensions, but must have been at least 10-33 of a centimeter. Inside a sphere of that size, only complete quantum chaos can exist. Thus, at that time, the universe had no structure or design. The current existing structure, including the laws of physics, were spontaneously generated afterward, by the natural processes of self-organization. Those who look to science to provide evidence to bolster their faith in the fantasy of God won't find it in the ripples of the big bang.