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IN THE BEGINNING…..

NASA's James Webb Space Telescope has recently sent back its first pictures of the universe. The first image apparently showed a cluster of galaxies called SMACS 0723, and behind them "pinpricks of light from less than 1 billion years after the Big Bang". Thus, we are told, we are looking back in time over 13 billions years, and we are promised that, as the telescope continues its mission, we shall be able to see back even further towards the origin of the universe.


I have to say I find it difficult to get my head round the idea that we can see backwards in time like this. How is light still coming towards us from events so far behind us in time? In which direction from here did the Big Bang take place? That is to say, in which direction does the telescope have to point in order to see the centre of the universe where it all began.

Put this all down to my own inability to grapple with the wonders of modern science. But I also have other questions about the Theory of the Big Bang: questions that for all these incredible inventions, like the James Webb Space Telescope, the Theory of the Big Bang is still unable to answer. The fact is that the more scientists learn about the universe, the less anyone understands it. It is as if, every time science makes a new discovery, we discover something else that we can't explain.

Science is said to have discovered that the universe originated in a Singularity, a point where space, time and everything in it, all began with a Big Bang. But that does not explain how or why it all began. We are still faced with (as St Anselm put it) the need for a First Cause. And for all the wonders of modern science, and for all the refusal of modern science to face up to it, the First Cause can only have been God.

After the Big Bang the four fundamental forces of the universe came into play: the force of gravity, the electromagnetic force, and the strong and the weak nuclear forces. But scientists have discovered that each of these forces is so finely tuned that if even one of them were slightly stronger or weaker, the universe would not work at all. Even Roger Penrose, an agnostic, and one-time Professor of Mathematics at Oxford, marveled at the "precision of the Creator's aim." He got it right! The universe is so finely tuned that it can only be the work of an Intelligent Designer and Creator.

The scientists say that the next step was that, in a fraction of a second, the universe 'inflated' faster than the speed of light - even though, according to the Theory of Relativity, nothing can travel faster than the speed of light! But not only is there a mystery about how and why this Cosmic Inflation occurred, but also about how and why it ever stopped. The universe apparently is still expanding, but not like that.

There are other mysteries about the behaviour of the universe even today. Scientists have had to imagine things called Dark Matter and Dark Energy in order to explain, on the one hand, why galaxies stick together and, on the other, why the expansion of the universe continues to accelerate today. They calculate that between them 'Dark Matter' and 'Dark Energy' make up some 96% of the universe. But both things are purely hypothetical; no-one knows what they are. Now, if I had a theory that failed to account for 96% of the universe, I would begin to think that I needed a new one.

Of course the scientists claim that given time, and a few more scientific breakthroughs, they will be able explain everything. Given their track record, I am not so sure.

I continue to believe that "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." And this is not blind faith; it is confirmed by what seems to me to be the irrefutable scientific evidence that there is a God, who is Almighty and Eternal, who is the Designer and Maker of the universe. And if He understands how it all works, I don't need to bother.

Just bow down and worship.

_____


If you want to explore these things further, I have written a book about them, called, Is Evolution Bunk? You can find it on Amazon, just put in the title and my name.


_____

Next Friday I plan to reflect on the recent death of Deborah James, a young woman who was made a Dame for her efforts to raise awareness of bowel cancer.

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