That there was a creation event as described in Genesis is indisputably confirmed by this week’s Big Bang scientific breakthrough, an Israeli physicist who is also an Orthodox Jew claims. A secular Israeli professor, unsurprisingly, insists that the Bible and the Big Bang are “not related.”
The announcement Monday that researchers had discovered further evidence of the “Big Bang” theory “isn’t going to make anyone who wasn’t a believer in God into one, or vice versa,” Professor Nathan Aviezer of Bar-Ilan University told the Times of Israel. “But one thing the announcement does do is make it clear that the universe had a definite starting point — a creation — as described in the Book of Genesis,” said Aviezer. “To deny this now is to deny scientific fact.”
Today – even before Monday’s revelations – you’d be hard-pressed to find a scientist who disputed the Big Bang theory; it’s the only one that makes scientific sense, said Professor Tsvi Piran, Schwartzmann University Chair at Hebrew University’s Racah Institute of Physics. Whether the Big Bang verifies the Biblical story of creation is another issue. “The Bible and the Big Bang theory are not related,” he said. “They speak to different audiences and describe different things.”
The Bible is not a scientific document, and those that are using it as such are doing a disservice to science, he said.
Scientists worldwide are even more convinced of the Big Bang theory after an announcement Monday by a team of American scientists. Led by astronomer John M. Kovac, the team said that it had found conclusive evidence for the existence of gravitational waves — gigantic ripples in the fabric of space-time that are caused by the sudden movement of large masses, sort of like the ripples that are created when a stone is thrown into a body of water. The existence of the waves was predicted by Albert Einstein as part of the theory of general relativity, with the waves indicating that there was a time when what would become the universe — a concentrated ball of light — “exploded” into something bigger when it was only about a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth (10 to the minus 35) of a second old.
Those gravitational waves confirm that the Big Bang happened, said Aviezer, currently a professor of physics and former chairman of the Physics Department of Bar-Ilan University. The waves, he said, also confirm the theory of cosmic inflation, which was proposed by theoretical physicist Professor Alan Guth of MIT, and explains several anomalies in the Big Bang theory.
While scientists had expected to find the waves, there had been no physical evidence of their existence — until now. “It was very hard to observe these ripples because they were so weak, due to the fact that they were produced by gravity, which tends to get ‘swallowed up’ in the much stronger electrical waves that ‘compete’ with them.” With new, advanced equipment, said Aviezer — specifically the BICEP2 (Background Imaging of Cosmic Extragalactic Polarization) telescope at the Amundsen-Scott polar base in Antarctica — scientists were able to confirm the existence of the waves.
For believing Jews, the story of the Big Bang resonates perfectly with the story of creation told in Genesis, Aviezer said. “Without addressing who or what caused it, the mechanics of the creation process in the Big Bang match the Genesis story perfectly. If I had to make up a theory to match the first passages in Genesis, the Big Bang theory would be it,” said Aviezer.
According to Genesis, the universe was created from a ball of energy and light that appeared suddenly from nothingness — exactly the same ball of energy and light described in the Big Bang theory. Throughout the centuries, creation ex nihilo was considered impossible, but today it is taken as scientific fact, said Aviezer.
Accepting this has nothing to do with religion, he added; no less a personage than Cambridge University cosmologist Prof. Steven Hawking wrote that “the actual point of creation lies outside the scope of presently known laws of physics.” According to Prof. Joseph Silk of the University of California, author of a recent book on modern cosmology, “the big bang is the modern version of the creation of the universe.”
In his book, “In the Beginning,” Aviezer quotes a wide range of scientists (“and I make sure never to quote religious scientists,” he added), including Paul Dirac, a Nobel laureate from Cambridge University and a leading physicist of the twentieth century. “Dirac said very clearly that the Big Bang theory means that ‘it is certain that the universe began at a definite time through an act of creation,’ and Dirac is a big atheist.”
One doesn’t have to believe in God to accept the Bible’s point of view on the Big Bang, Aviezer said. “It’s an example of Divine irony that it took atheistic scientists like Dirac and all the others to point out the truth of the Torah. At this point I think we can say that creation is a scientific fact.”
Piran is not convinced. “I am by no means a Biblical scholar, but it seems to me that you can’t just take one passage and ignore the rest. What is described in the formation of the heavens and the earth, not to mention the Biblical account of where life came from, of course has nothing to do with science,” he said.
For Aviezer, however, those issues are not relevant to the Big Bang itself. “What happens in the rest of creation is another question,” he said. “It’s the Big Bang – the explosion of a highly concentrated chunk of energy that appeared out of nowhere to create the universe – that is being described when God says ‘let there be light.’ For 3,000 years no one really understood what ‘the light’ of Genesis was, with different interpretations talking about a ‘spiritual light,’ Aviezer said. “Now, thanks to the Big Bang theory, we can understand exactly what it means, on a physical level.”
While there are scientists who present alternative theories for the origins of the universe — and even some who still hold to the “steady state” theory that claims that the universe was always here — they are few and far between, said Aviezer. And after Monday’s revelations, most of the issues raised by scientists who argue with the Big Bang (many of them related to cosmic inflation) are now moot, as evidence of the cosmic waves further enhances the strength of the Big Bang theory.
Aviezer said that he does not make a logical leap from the Big Bang and creation ex nihilo to “proving” the existence of God. Belief and science are still two different things. “As a scientist I tell people that faith in God is just that. We will never empirically ‘prove’ the existence of God.”