Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Big Bang and Mormon Creation

Much of the discussion of creation has been focused on Evolution, but there is another scientific theory that is important to examine. Within the last twenty years scientists have theorized that everything came from a "Big Bang" when a fist sized blob of mass and energy exploded. From that explosion came the Universe filled with uncountable particles and energy.

For Mormonism, the theory causes as many theological problems as it does supports them. The biggest of the problems is that some Traditional Christians have used it to support their own ideas of the creation at odds with the LDS view:

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").[2]

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.[citation needed] Pope Pius XII was an enthusiastic proponent of the Big Bang even before the theory was scientifically well-established,[3][4] 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.

Mormonism's creation theology is opposed to both "first cause" and especially "ex nihilo" because there is nothing that has been made that didn't already exist. Matter and energy are eternal, although the materials have changed. Even if the Big Bang resembles more traditional theology, it doesn't completely support either first cause or ex nihilo. The definitions of both are not the same as what the theory explains. First Cause has not been about the creation where the theory postulates a singular event, but about the Creator. Just as problematic is that ex nihilo is "out of nothing" where the theory can only work if there exists something. In fact, a lot of something has to exist that is packed into an extremely heavy glob of energy.

The problem for Mormonism is that the Big Bang doesn't seem to fit the cosmological theology, vague as the descriptions. The theology is broken down into two main parts. First is the nature of any existant substances as eternal and always existant. Joseph Smith as qouted in "Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith" pg 205, states:

"The elements are eternal. That which had a beggining will surely have an end; take a ring, it is without beggining or end - cut it for a beggining place and at the same time you have an ending place."

He rejected that there was a beggining and end to both matter and, in the next sentence, principals. Nothing that is was never. With the Big Bang, everything had a start with that one singular event. No scientist has given a theory why the glob existed in the first place. That is perhaps where theologins have filled in "the gap" by using it to prove their own teachings.

The second part of Mormon creation theology is the cyclic nature of creation. Whatever was used and discarded would become part of another creation for the use of man and God to His Glory. Nothing goes to waste or simply disappears. The Scriptures explain:

37 And the Lord God spake unto Moses, saying: The heavens, they are many, and they cannot be numbered unto man; but they are numbered unto me, for they are mine.
38 And as one earth shall pass away, and the heavens thereof even so shall another come; and there is no end to my works, neither to my words.
Moses 1:37-38

Although the relative nature of time must be considered, the Big Bang does not represent in its present theory a typical cyclical creation. It starts with a point in time when there was an explosion that started the formation of the Universe. That isn't to say that a cyclical creation hasn't been postulated with the theory. Some scientists believe the Universe has expanded and is going to contract back into what it was before the Big Bang. The cyclical "germ" is possible. Joseph Smith seems to have rejected any single event and put the two ideas of the eternal existance and cyclical nature of matter together. The creation was a combination of both:

Now, the word create came from the word baurau which does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship. Hence, we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos - chaotic matter, which is element, and in which dwells all the glory. Element had an existance from the time he had. The pure principles of element are principles which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and re-organized, but not destroyed. They had no beggining, and can have no end.
(STPJS, pg. 395)

There isn't time to explore all Mormon cosmological theology that might be relevant to the discussion. One of those is the infamous star Kolob that has been erronously interpreted to mean the Throne of God, a planet, or the center of the Universe. Each reading seems to indicate a far more symbolic rather than literal place. It is a time-keeper rather than a map location. This is brought up to demostrate how much conjecture comes into interpreting the creation. Definitions are sometimes forced without consideration of other possible meanings or recognition of vagaries.

It is hard to reconcile, although not impossible, what modern revelation has taught about the Universal creation and the Big Bang theory. When a Mormon tries, they end up doing the same thing traditionalist Christians do; redefine definitions to fit the paradigm. It is a theory that has been largely ignored in Mormon creation discussion, but has very distinct implications. Perhaps its relative distance from the creation of the Earth and the Garden of Eden has made it less interesting. Right now it seems immune to a vigorous argument for its rejection or acceptance; while at the same time remains an elephant in the theological room.


Clark Goble said...

Why not simply point out that among the two main theories of quantum gravity within physics the big bang isn't the absolute beginning? Lee Smolin's Loop Quantum Gravity postulates an infinite number of universes each affecting one an other's creation in a fashion analogous to evolution. (In this way avoiding the problem of anthropic reasoning) And of course in M-Theory (kind of the new version of string theory) our universe is but one brane in a much larger universe and thus our big bang is but the beginning of our brane but not the beginning of everything.

So why should Mormons have trouble here?

Jettboy said...

clark goble,

Those are nice theories as such, but they are not taken as seriously as the Big Bang itself that is close to taking on the same scientific authority as Evolution. Right now the Loop Quantum Gravity and M-theory (and string theory itself) has been taking some hits among the scientific community. They are nowhere near authentication outside of mathematical theoretical computations. In other words, the problem is that Mormons who argue those would be on currently shaky ground. They might ultimately find validitiy, but then again maybe not.

bwebster said...

It is hard to reconcile, although not impossible, what modern revelation has taught about the Universal creation and the Big Bang theory.

I disagree. First of all, I think the scriptures (both LDS and non-LDS) make a convincing case that God exists outside of the 3D+time framework of this particular universe. Indeed, I have a hard time reconciling the scriptures and modern revelation with any other interpretation.

Our current universe is only about 13 billion years old, yet we have existed for all eternity. That existence, ipso facto, must be outside of this universe -- or, as LDS scriptures (PofGP, BofM, D&C) to put it, "from all eternity to all eternity".

It is my firm belief that God created this universe, that He exists outside of it (though He is capable of visiting it -- truly the 'condescension of God'), and that He comprehends it completely. "And [His] curtains are stretched out still." (Moses 7:30) ..bruce..

symphonyofdissent said...

I kind of like what bwebster wrote. I think that multiple universes best reconciles two ideas in our thought that seem at odds. Multiple universes would explain how our heavenly father can be supreme and the alpha and omega in the sense that there is no deity we know above him in this universe, while at the same time allowing for his infinite nature. Thus, there is a series of deity each in charge of forming and giving shape to a universe out of its chaotic state. I think this solves a lot of the questioning about whether God was once a man in this Universe. It is likely that as long as this Universe was, God was already fully divine. I think it works as an elegant solution to a lot of theological problems

Unknown said...

Very intriguing everyone. Although I have not studied what you have been talking about (Big Bang and how it ties in with theology) I know a man in my ward that is freakishly knowledgeable about this subject. I am a skeptic of the validity of The Big Bang Theory. I would love to learn more about this subject however i feel there are more important matters at hand. Such matters are about this country and the sanctity of our freedom. There is this wonderful site i urge you to visit and search, ponder and pray about the things on that site to know for yourself whether or not that is the sad state we all live in. I have a link to this site which will blow your mind away!
http://awakeandarise.org/ I plan on talking with a brother from church about what i have read on this blog this coming Sunday.

John said...

Interesting information here. I just wanted to share some thoughts I have had on the subject. Hopefully this blog entry isn't too old for some dialogue to occur, as I'm interested in what some of you may think in regards to my thoughts.

My understanding has always been that the Big Bang theory doesn't claim that the universe came from nothing, but from a singularity. Now, a singularity is defined as a point at which gravitational forces cause matter to have infinite density and infinitesimal volume, and where space and time become infinitely distorted. In other words, the Big Bang theory is not a claim that matter came from nothing, but that previous to the event, matter was in a state that would be completely foreign to how we know and understand it today.

In LDS theology, God did not create matter but organized it from it's disorganized state. In the truest sense of the word, a singularity would be the result of disorganized matter and perhaps the only state at which matter is not cool enough or even has room to organize. A rock is the result of organization, a liquid is a form of organization, a gas is a form of organization, even a molecule or atom is a form of organization, but a singularity is so hot, so dense, and so unstable that it would be impossible for protons or electrons, or anything else for that matter to join with each other and organize…it is very truly disorganization.

The process by which matter, energy, etc., rapidly expanded after the Big Bang seems to me to be a greatly organizing event, as atoms, molecules, dust, galaxies, planets, stars, etc. would be given a chance to organize in the resulting explosion according to eternal laws, or at least laws which God set forth (what we might refer to as the laws of physics). To me the Big Bang theory accounts for the fact that matter was disorganized and was then organized as I have described.

As to Loop Quantum Cosmology, this seems to answer another question of LDS theology. According to Joseph Smith and other Prophets of the Latter-days, God was once a man and obtained his exaltation just as we must. However, if God created the universe, then what universe did God go through his mortal probation in? According to Loop Quantum Cosmology, it would be possible that the disorganized singularity from which the Big Bang occurred could have been the collapsed matter of a previous universe, one that had gone through the Big Crunch (perhaps the same matter used for previous universes throughout eternity). Perhaps after that previous universe had fulfilled it's purpose, it collapsed into a disorganized singularity from which God would create our current universe.

Author said...

Except the Big Bang was a theory that came from the mind of a Catholic physicist. To say that Christians (not Mormons) attach their own views to the theory are completely false. The theory was created, not from prejudice or polemics, but from scientific observation, AND it came from the mind of a Catholic. Another problem for Mormon Cosmology is the fact that today most in the scientific community believe in an open universe. One day all matter in this universe will cease to exist. Too bad Joseph Smith didn't live in a time where General Relativity was taught. He might not have been so influenced by the Steady State model of the ancient Greeks.

Anonymous said...

It is called the Electric Universe that is based on the work of Plasma Cosmology. Plasma is the result of an electric charge which is why the basis of the cosmology changed to electricity.

Check out www.thunderbolts.info to learn more and how the Big Bang is a modern myth with no basis in reality.

The Law of Thermodynamics is real. That matter can be neither created or destroyed. Actual real experimentation and science that proves the Universe has no beginning.

Big Bang, M-theory, strings, black holes, dark matter, dark energy, gravitational lensing are all works of fiction or mathematical constructs that form the philosophies of men.

The universe is not DARK, it is LIGHT. A Dark Universe is filled with Black Holes, Dark Matter, Dark Energy, unobservable, unknowable, mysterious, unmeasurable and unattainable objects that say man is ZERO and of no worth except to observe, live, and then die to be no more.

A Light Universe is filled with 99.99% plasma (verified), which must be powered by electricity (verified), and obey the LAW of Thermodynamics, Gravity, and are ETERNAL. This is the true universe we live in that can be tested, verified and experimented upon to testify the TRUTH to all man.

Do not be deceived, here is a simple test of understanding. Imagine a small metal ball. Let it fall to the ground. It requires the entire mass of the Earth to hold that ball down on the ground. Next have a five year old come to the ball with a magnet who places it over the ball and CLICK easily picks up the metal ball and walks away.

That demonstrates the weakness of gravity. Go outside, look up at the universe and see that it is not made up of Dark Matter, black holes, and Dark Energy, but LIGHT!

God governs the Universe and wants us to understand his creation to better understand Him. This is the fulfillment of the prophecy that even the elect can be deceived.

Matthew 24:24 and Joseph Smith - Matthew 22.

Do not be deceived, God has given us Truth and Light, not a Dark Universe filled with Black Holes, Dark Matter and Dark Energy.

Pray to God to open your understanding and see his marvelous creation I sincerely plead in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.