The Big Bang and the Pre-existent Primordial Substrate

According to Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, prior to the Big Bang, the universe existed as a singularity. Singularities are objects which defy our current understanding of physics although they are quite understandable mathematically. They are thought to exist at the core of black holes. If you don’t already know, black holes are regions of intense gravitational force – a force so immense that all matter and energy are infinitely compressed into a mathematical point known as a singularity. This was our universe billions of years ago and because it existed as a singularity it had no dimensions of length, width, height, or time[1]Steven W. Hawking, George F.R. Ellis, “The Cosmic Black-Body Radiation and the Existence of Singularities in our Universe,” Astrophysical Journal, 152, (1968) pp. 25-36. Also, Steven W. Hawking, … Continue reading.

Within a singularity, gravity[2]In Einstein’s General Theory, gravity is not a force, but rather a measure of the curvature of space. With a singularity, space is curved so severely that light simply goes round and round in a … Continue reading is so intense that even [light] energy is condensed into matter so that singularities are perfectly dark. Moreover, without dimensions of space and time, our singularity had no observable form. Without form and completely dark we can’t help be be reminded of Genesis 1:2,

…and the earth had been formless and void…

But, let’s continue with the science for a bit more; we do know that the event that transformed the singularity into our universe was the Big Bang.  We also know when the Big Bang occurred. Using the universe’s observed rate of expansion, cosmologists can calculate how long ago the singularity was transformed into our universe[3]For example, if a car has traveled 120 miles averaging 40 miles per hour, we know that the trip began approximately 3 hours ago. A similar (but more detailed) calculation is used to compute the time … Continue reading. Accordingly, the best measurements suggest the Big Bang occurred about 13.7 billion years ago. It was the event of the Big Bang that converted matter to energy (one kind of which was light) and started the clock of time. Today, the expansion continues and the birth of the universe reflects empirical objective truth.

Metaphorically, then, the Genesis account of creation represents the primordial substrate as a dark and formless singularity. Stephen Hawking had this metaphor in mind when he famously wondered who or what ignited the fuse that caused the Big Bang.

Similarly, we can speculate that the divine command that light come into existence (Genesis 1:3) was, in Hawking’s analogy, the match that lit the metaphorical fuse causing the Big Bang and the subsequent creation of light energy.

This is not to say that the divine author knew of such things. I suppose one could reasonably argue that, as a matter of faith, God inspired the author to use the metaphor of equating the primordial substrate of Genesis 1 to a singularity. My point is that the divine author knew nothing of physics. His sole motivation was to create a picture of a transcendent God, outside of creation, not unlike a painter standing outside of her painting. The point is rather that Genesis 1:1-2 and cosmology have in common the idea that the creation of the physical world, the so-called “heavens and the earth” were created in the presence of a dark and formless substrate and that the first creative event was the creation of light.

Thus, the historical evidence such as the commentaries of Philo and the Church Fathers, linguistic evidence such as the use of the past perfect tense in Genesis 1:2, when combined with what we know about the current state of cosmology more clearly support an ex materia model of creation.

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