Religious interpretations of the Big Bang theory

Since the creation of the Big Bang theory many religious interpretations of the Big Bang theory of physical cosmology have been offered. The Big Bang itself is a scientific theory, and as such stands or falls by its agreement with observations. But as a theory which addresses, or at least seems to address, creation itself, it has always been entangled with theological and philosophical implications. In the 1920s and '30s almost every major cosmologist preferred an eternal universe, and several complained that the beginning of time implied by the Big Bang imported religious concepts into physics; this objection was later repeated by supporters of the steady state theory. [cite book | author = Kragh, Helge | title = Cosmology and Controversy | publisher = Princeton University Press | year = 1996 | isbn=069100546X] This perception was enhanced by the fact that the theory's inventor, Georges Lemaître, was a Roman Catholic priest.

Christian and Jewish views

Lemaître himself always insisted that as a physical theory, the Big Bang has no religious implications; and yet the congruence between his scientific and religious beliefs is apparent in his famous description of the beginning of the universe as "a day without yesterday"—alluding to the creation account in Genesis. George Gamow had no compunction in describing the graphs of conditions in the Big Bang as "divine creation curves", and sent a copy of his book "The Creation of the Universe" to the Pope; yet even he favoured an oscillating model in which the Big Bang was not a literal beginning. To this day, many people's reactions to the Big Bang theory, both positive and negative, are influenced by how well it can be harmonised with their religious and philosophical world views.

Some interpretations of the Big Bang theory go beyond science, and some purport to explain the cause of the Big Bang itself (first cause). These views have been criticized by some naturalist philosophers as being modern creation myths. Some people believe that the Big Bang theory is inconsistent with traditional views of creation such as that in Genesis, for example, while others, like astronomer and old Earth creationist Hugh Ross, believe that the Big Bang theory lends support to the idea of creation "ex nihilo" ("out of nothing"). [cite website | author=Ross, Hugh | url=http://www.reasons.org/resources/apologetics/big_bang_evidences.shtml | title=Putting the Big Bang to the Test | accessdate=2006-09-19]

A number of Christian and traditional Jewish sources have accepted the Big Bang as a possible description of the origin of the universe, interpreting it to allow for a philosophical first cause. In particular, Pope Pius XII was an enthusiastic proponent of the Big Bang even before the theory was scientifically well-established, [cite journal| author = Pius XII | year = 1952 | title = Modern Science and the Existence of God | journal = The Catholic Mind | volume = 49 | pages = 182–192] [Lemaître protested, objecting to religious endorsement of any scientific theory, even his own. See Kragh (1996): 258.] and consequently the Roman Catholic Church has been a prominent advocate for the idea that creation "ex nihilo" can be interpreted as consistent with the Big Bang. This view is shared by many religious Jews in all branches of rabbinic Judaism. Some groups contend the Big Bang is also consistent with the teaching of creation according to Kabbalah. [cite web | author=The Kabbalah Centre | url=http://www.kabbalah.com/k/index.php/p=life/science | title=Adam and Atom | accessdate=2006-11-12]

Islamic view

The Qu'ran reads:

"Do not the Unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together, then We clove them asunder and We created every living thing out of the water. Will they not then believe?"Quran-usc|21|30

"Then turned He to the heaven when it was smoke, and said unto it and unto the earth: Come both of you, willingly or loth. They said: We come, obedient."Quran-usc|41|11

"And it is We Who have constructed the heaven with might, and it is We Who are steadily expanding it."Quran-usc|51|47

"On the day when We will roll up heaven like the rolling up of the scroll for writings, as We originated the first creation, (so) We shall reproduce it; a promise (binding on Us); surely We will bring it about."Quran-usc|21|104

This is taken by some Muslims to correlate with the Big Bang model of the origin of the Universe, especially given the central role in the theory of the expansion of the Universe, and the idea that very early in the Universe's history matter and energy separated out from space and each other giving rise to the Universe of Space, matter and energy we know today.

Some critics have alleged though that these verses fit just as well, if not better, with the traditional geocentric ideas of the the formation of the Universe prominent at the time the Qu'ran was written, where the Heavens or Sky were separated from the Earth at creation. Some critics point to the fact that the idea that these verses fitted with a theory apart from the original geocentric view of the Universe never occurred to anyone until after that view had already been discredited by other sources, and hence reading any particular theory into these verses appears to a purely post hoc affair.

Buddhist View

Buddha's view of the universe can be found in a Buddhist scripture called "Agganchcha Suttra". According to Buddhism, as everything else, the universe itself is subjected to "Anithya" (impermanence) and therefore has a beginning and an end. When the existing universe is dead, all the beings had to move into a special set of world's called "Brahma Loka", which are independent of the physical universe. Billions of years after, an empty space is created for a being to have rebirth. A being with strong Karma (past action), enters there. He is called Great Brahma. Due to the will of this being, some other beings also get rebirth in this space as Brahma's. However, the state of Brahma's are only suitable for the beings of higher mental state, i.e. who does not attached to sensual pleasure. Therefore, those beings, who are not in this state, wants the existence of a physical world. As a result of their collective will, with the help of Maha Brahma, a new physical universe with space and time is created. This is the Big Bang. Then the universe gradually evolves into a state where it can host life, where these beings with the desire to have sensual please can get rebirth. This cycle happens for ever, and this total life time of the universe is called "Kalpa".

Hindu view

The "Big Bang & Big Crunch" of modern physics has been explained in many Hindu Religious books, the most detailed one can be found in "Sri Bhagavada Puranam". Any one who has the basic knowledge in science can easily relate the big bang & big crunch concepts to the twinkling of the Supreme Loard Vishu's eye in "Sri Bhagavada Puranam". The Sri Bhagavada Purana uses atomic clock to calculate the time. The follwing are the main points taken out from Sri Bhagavad Puranam (one of the 18 puranas of Hindu Religious scripts)

1) 36,000 Brahma days (Kalpa days or 100 Brahma Years) is the life time of present universe which is equivalent of twinkling of Lord Maha Vishu’s (The Supreme God) eye. When he opens his eye the world gets created and it will automatically gets annihilated at the time of closing. (This is similar to the Big Bang & Big Crunch theories of Modern Physics)

2) In terms of Human Years, the life of Lord Brahma( The creator) is 311.04 trillion years. Each Brahma day (1 Kalpa Day) consist of 14 Manavantras (and equal number of nights) and each Manvantra consists of 71 Divya Yugas (4.32 Billion Years). One Divya Yuga has four segments with 4.32 million human years of length in total and the segments are Satya Yuga(1.78 Million Years), Treta Yuga (1.296 Million years), Dwapara Yuga (864,000 Years) and Kali Yuga (432,000 Years). As of now, we stands on kali Yuga and so far around 5000 years had been passed.

3) These years are calculated based on the Vedic paramanu (atomic) system (one of the many methods out of Hindu religious Scripts) and it starts from the very bottom of a particle resides in an atom. The time taken for sun rays to pass the smallest element (anu) is what called one paramanutime (1/373675th second) and from their the second, mins, nazhika, vinazhika, day, week, month and year are derived out.

4) It is also said an average human life is around 36,000 days (100 years), out of this he/she will get a chance to live alone (independently) around 31,000 days (84 years) to cultivate his/her knowledge in earth. Around 16,000 days will get omitted during the first 16 years as a child because he/she will be under the protection of parents during that period.

5) During the life he/she has to go through four Ashrams of life, and they are Brahmacharya ashram, Grihastha ashram, Vanaprastha and Sannyasa for a period of 21 years each. (http://www.hindunet.org/four_ashrams)

6) The four divisions of human societies are brahmanas (priests, teachers, and intellectuals), kshatriyas (police, army, and administration), vaishyas (farmers, merchants, and business people) and shudras (artisans and workers). As you can see the universe is naturally hierarchical and every society in the earth is consits of these four pillars without their knowing. (http://hinduism.iskcon.com/concepts/108a.htm)

This is in operfect alliance with modern science as you can see the life time of our Sun per science is 10 Billion years(Numeric Clock) and as per Hinduism it is 8.64 Billion Years (Atomic Clock) otherwise equivalent of one day of Lord Brahma. Likewise there are 36,000 days, at the end everything including Lord Brahma will get destroyed and will get created again. So far there are 202 Trillion yeras has been passed (as of 2008) since the last Big Bang and we are now close to 109 trillion yeras for the next Big Crunch.

Kindly refer these two texts for the details...

1) Sri Bhagavada Puranam (Srimad Bhagavatham)

2) Bhagavad Gita

Science writers Carl Sagan and Fritjof Capra have pointed out similarities between the latestFact|date=August 2008dubious scientific understanding of the age of the universe, and the Hindu concept of a "day and night of Brahma", which is much closer to the current known age of the universe than other creation myths (when taken literally). The days and nights of Brahma posit a view of the universe that is divinely created, and is not strictly evolutionary, but an ongoing cycle of birth, death, and rebirth of the universe. According to Sagan:

The Hindu religion is the only one of the world's great faiths dedicated to the idea that the Cosmos itself undergoes an immense, indeed an infinite, number of deaths and rebirths. It is the only religion in which time scales correspond, no doubt by accident, to those of modern scientific cosmology. Its cycles run from our ordinary day and night to a day and night of Brahma, 8.64 billion years long, longer than the age of the Earth or the Sun and about half the time since the Big Bang. And there are much longer time scale still. [cite book | last =Sagan | first =Carl | authorlink =Carl Sagan | title =Cosmos | publisher =Ballantine Books | date =1985 | isbn =978-0345331359 p. 258.]

OHM

Some Hindus believe that with the "OHM" sound, known as "pranava manthra", the Universe was started, similar to the big bang theory. "Okaranadam", the sound of Oham, is very important in Indian religions.huh

Capra, in his popular book The Tao of Physics, wrote that:

This idea of a periodically expanding and contracting universe, which involves a scale of time and space of vast proportions, has arisen not only in modern cosmology, but also in ancient Indian mythology. Experiencing the universe as an organic and rhythmically moving cosmos, the Hindus were able to develop evolutionary cosmologies which come very close to our modern scientific models. One of these cosmologies is based on the Hindu myth of "lila"—the divine play—in which Brahman transforms himself into the world. [cite book | last =Capra | first =Fritjof | authorlink =Fritjof Capra | title =Tao of Physics | publisher =Shambhala | date =1991 | isbn =978-0877735946 p. 198]

Taoist view

It has been proposed by some that a suggestion of a Big Bang can also be found in Taoism, a branch of Chinese philosophy. The first verse of the Tao Te Ching is:

"… It was from the Nameless that Heaven and Earth sprang; The named is but the mother that rears the ten thousand creatures, each after its kind." [cite web|url=http://www.britannica.com/ebc/article-59716|title=Taoism and Cosmology|accessdate=2007-07-27]

References


* Leeming, David Adams, and Margaret Adams Leeming, "A Dictionary of Creation Myths". Oxford University Press (1995), ISBN 0-19-510275-4.
* Pius XII (1952), "Modern Science and the Existence of God," "The Catholic Mind" 49:182–192.
* Ahmad, Mirza Tahir, "Revelation, Rationality, Knowledge & Truth" Islam International Publications Ltd (1987), ISBN 1-85372-640-0. [http://www.alislam.org/library/books/revelation/part_4_section_5.html The Quran and Cosmology]

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