Currently, it is believed that the Big Bang created the entire universe. You might therefore assume that the Big Bang must have been a truly massive explosion. However, the Big Bang wasn’t an explosion at all, strictly speaking. It was not possible. A fast growth outward from a center characterizes an explosion. This is similar to how matter and energy are flung outward in all directions when a bomb or grenade goes off. Contrary to popular belief, however, nothing like that occurred in the Big Bang. That could not possibly have happened. not actually. The terms “outward” and “central” only apply to events that take place in a specific location. The Big Bang didn’t occur somewhere specific. What place did the Big Bang occur?
Now, common sense dictates that no space is actually generated. Space just sort of exists forever. And common sense isn’t the only thing that sees space in that way. Likewise, Newton. He perceived space as an infinite, absolute container that contains all matter. Although contemporary physics no longer view space in this manner, it is difficult to go past that way of thinking. For instance, the thought of where space might terminate is so absurd that we must temporarily set aside our understanding of modern physics. What would be on the other side of the edge of space, specifically?
The issue is that cosmology doesn’t actually subscribe to that specific understanding of “expanding.” In fact, cosmologists have stated that “stretching” rather than “growing” is a better metaphor for what the cosmos is doing. It is extending because, 14 billion years after the Big Bang, space is essentially still being generated. And it’s being made everywhere, including inside atoms, solar systems, and even the space between galaxies. It is because of this that everything in the cosmos is gradually being “pushed” apart from everything else. It turns out that this is happening at an ever-increasing rate, courtesy of dark energy.
Let’s change gears and reflect briefly on time. According to cosmologists, there was no period prior to the Big Bang. You might conclude that this means there was no time when the Big Bang occurred, just as there was no space where it occurred. But that’s not at all what it means. In the past 13.7 billion years, the great bang occurred. At the same time, they assert that time was “made” by the big bang. So how is it possible that there was a time when the Big Bang occurred? The Big Bang can be thought of as a kind of absolute zero of time, is answer. It is the point at which the universe’s numerous relativistic histories converge, the time before which they all concur.
One would be tempted to answer, “Well, maybe our old familiar ideas of space, time, matter, and even cause and effect break down at the Big Bang,” but science is incredibly adept at coming up with bizarre new concepts to help us grasp phenomena that initially appear unfathomable. This potential response is flawed since ideas like space, time, cause and effect, substance, etc. aren’t simply any old ideas. They are the same ideas that we use to do science in the first place. They are the concepts that form the basis of all subsequent notions, or what Kant could have referred to as the transcendental concepts.
Maybe we just have to accept that there are some mysteries in the cosmos that we will never be able to fully understand. However, I don’t mean to imply that when science fails, we should automatically turn to religion. But some people do believe that. However, I’m not yet ready to put all of my faith in science. I’m not willing to wager against science, but, at the same time. I’ll be in the “let’s wait and see where this goes” category.
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