Friday, January 11, 2008

The origin of the universe

The origin of the universe

“Then He turned to the heaven when it was smoke...”

(Qur’an 41:11)

The theory

The Big Bang Theory is the dominant scientific theory about the origin of the universe. According to the big bang, the universe was created from a cosmic explosion that hurled matter in all directions. In 1927, Georges Lemaître was the first to propose that the universe began with the explosion of a primeval atom. Years later, Edwin Hubble found experimental evidence to help justify Lemaître's theory. He found that distant galaxies in every direction are going away from us with speeds proportional to their distance. The theory also predicts the existence of cosmic background radiation (the glow left over from the explosion itself). The Big Bang Theory received its strongest confirmation when this radiation was discovered in 1964 by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, who later won the Nobel Prize for this discovery. Until now, the cosmic microwave background, big bang nucleosynthesis, and the observed Hubble expansion of the Universe are considered proof of the big bang theory.

The nebula: The big gaseous mass

The science of modern cosmology, observational and theoretical, clearly indicates that, at one point in time, the whole universe was nothing but a cloud of ‘smoke’ i.e., an opaque highly dense and hot gaseous composition. This is one of the undisputed principles of standard modern cosmology. Scientists now can observe new stars forming out of the remnants of that ‘smoke’ (figures 1 and 2).

Figure 1: A new star forming out of a cloud of gas and dust (nebula), which is one of the remnants of the smoke that was the origin of the whole universe. (The Space Atlas, Heather and Henbest, pg. 50).

Figure 2: The Lagoon nebula is a cloud of gas and dust, about 60 light years in diameter. It is excited by the ultraviolet radiation of the hot stars that have recently formed within its bulk. (Horizons, Exploring the Universe, Seeds, plate 9, from Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy, Inc.).

Because the earth and the heavens above (the sun, the moon, stars, planets, galaxies, etc.) have been formed from this same ‘smoke,’ we conclude that the earth and the heavens were one connected entity. Then out of this homogeneous ‘smoke,’ they formed and separated from each other. God has said in the Quran:

Have not those who disbelieved known that the heavens and the earth were one connected entity, then We separated them?...

(Quran, 21:30)

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