This paper looked at the standard theory on the origin of the universe and some alternative theories to the origin of the universe and concluded that all these are interesting speculations and that we still do not know how the universe came into being; it says that it is about time we stopped fooling ourselves into believing that only what Western cosmologists tell us is the origin of the universe is the actual origin of the universe, that we ought to examine what other cultures, such as Africans, have to say on the subject and, better still, what each individual truly believes in his soul on the subject.
The End Of Western Cosmology And Return To Thinking
Ozodi Thomas Osuji
The West has dominated our thinking for such a long time that it is now difficult to believe that there are other patterns of thinking that are not rooted in Western epistemology. First, was Western Christianity to which most of us were socialized to, and then there is western science whose methodology we are practically enslaved to?
In the twentieth century it became apparent that the Christian idea of how the universe came into being is unscientific. Folks sought alternatives to it; at least they thought that they did. Actually, all they did was built on it. In Genesis (chapter of the Bible) the story of creation is that God conjured out the universe from nothing (as Saint Augustine put it). Nothing existed and God created something out of nothing. Those Western scientists bent on replacing the Judeo-Christen notion of God creating the world out of nothing knowingly or unknowingly posited another story of creation where the universe came out of nothing and at a point in time, that is, the universe is created albeit now we do not know who the creator is.
Their hypothesis is called the Big Bang theory (I have written at length on that and will take it for granted that the reader understands it and merely summarize it as is necessary for the purpose of this paper). According to this story of creation there was nothing in existence. Out of this nothingness, 13.7 billion years ago something the size of a particle (of an atom) emerged. That something (from nothing) became extremely hot and exploded. In exploding it gave rise to the universe of space, time, energy and matter.
During the first all-important second of being the universe expanded at what Alan Gutt called Inflation rate, that is, a speed more than the speed of light (that nothing in the phenomenal universe is supposed to be faster). Space came into being. Time came into being. Into that space was poured the particles (photons) of light that came from the heat (of the state of singularity). Those photons sped off into the emergent space. (If there is space there is time hence Einstein’s space-time continuum rather than discrete things). During that same second some of the photons of light congealed (transformed themselves to) to electrons and quarks.
By the end of the first minute of existence of the nascent universe the quarks had relegated themselves into tombs called protons and neutrons (quarks do not exist apart from protons and neutrons). Thus, now we have the existence of protons, neutrons and electrons and those photons that had not transformed themselves to electrons, protons and neutrons.
By the end of the third minute of the universe’s existence nuclei of the lightest atoms (hydrogen, helium and lithium) had formed. That is, nuclei of atoms (the atom is composed of a nucleus with protons and neutrons in it and an electron circling the nucleus) had formed. Thus, we now have a universe composed of nuclei, elections and photons, a plasma universe. The universe existed in this form for 400, 000 years.
At the 400, 000 year mark nuclei captured electrons and the atoms of hydrogen and helium were formed. This freed light (photons) to escape from the dense plasma. Thus, now we have a universe of hydrogen and helium gas and photons. The universe continued to expand and cool down.
200 million years later the cloud of gas experienced space in it. Clumps of gas separated from each other. Each clump was acted on by gravity, pulled inwards until its core ignited into a star (in the cores of stars hydrogen atoms fuse into helium….hydrogen has one proton in its nucleus circled by one electron, the neucleosynthesis that results in helium is complex to be delineated in this paper, suffice it to say that helium is produced; helium has two protons and two neutrons in its nucleus and two electrons circling the nucleus). The fusion of helium produces heat and light. That heat and light work their way from the core of stars and reach the surface (it takes millions of years to accomplish this task). That heat and light escape from stars and we see them in the sky. Heat and light from our sun, which is 93 million miles away from planet earth, reach us in a little over 8 minutes. Light from further away stars take longer to reach us; light from Alpha Centuari, the nearest star in the Milky way galaxy to us, takes over 2.5 years to reach us; light from Andromeda, the nearest galaxy to the Milky way, take over 2.5 million years to reach us. Some stars are so far from us that by the time light emanating from them reach us (billions of years) the stars are long ago dead!
The initial stars were massive in size and lived only a few million years before they burned up their hydrogen fuel and exploded in supernovae and died. In the accompanying heat to their death heavier than iron elements were formed (star dying process requires the gradual exhaustion of hydrogen, the fusion of helium into carbon, then the fusion of carbon to oxygen until the process reaches iron and the heat inside the star is no longer sufficient to fuse iron to heavier atoms and the star explodes in tremendous heat and that heat leads to the fusion of the other 92 elements on Chemistry’s periodic table).
Most of the elements we have on chemistry’s periodic table were formed either inside stars or during star death (except the hydrogen and helium formed during the first 400, 000 years of the universe’s existence). The ensuing gas and star dust and elements from dead stars are showered into space.
In time gas and star dust accrete into other stars (they aggregate and gravity pulls them in and their cores ignite into stars), and planets. Our star, Solar, sun, and its nine planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto (and asteroids and comets) were formed 4.5 billion years ago from dead stars.
Simply stated, the Big Bang hypothesis of the universe tells us that everything came from an explosion that occurred nearly fourteen billion years ago. We are told that the universe is expanding and in time that the galaxies would be so separated from each other (due to the acceleration induced by dark energy) that the universe would lose heat.
We are told that in a few trillion years to come the stars would die, that the planets would die. Everything in the universe would break up. Stars and planets would break up into the atoms that constitute them. The atoms in turn would decay into the particles (electrons, protons and neutrons) that compose them. The particles would decay to photons. Photons would decay to the nothingness from whence they come. Thus, the universe would die a cold death.
We began in nothing and return to nothing as the magical universe ends; at least, that is the story of the Big Bang theory, a story more magical than the biblical story of creation yet adults that call themselves astrophysicists believe it; apparently, these folks are so impressed by their mathematics, not observations, mind you, as to believe in what seems a mere mystical story of creation; the Big bang story of creation seem like the Christian story of creation cast in scientific language!
The Big Bang story of creation is so full of holes that its propagators have been busy coming up with fudges to make it work and now seem to believe that they have succeeded and call it the standard story of how the universe came into being. Let us look at some of the fudges.
First, how was the story reached? In the early 1920s, the Russian mathematical physicist, Alexander Friedmann, playing with Albert Einstein’s 1916 General Relativity theory, a thought derived mathematical new theory of gravity, not based on observation, concluded that the universe must be expanding. If Einstein’s mathematics is correct, Friedman said that the universe must be expanding.
If the universe is expanding then it must have begun in one spot, right? Georges Lemaitre in 1927 posited that the universe began in one cosmic egg that exploded and expanded. In 1929 Edwin Hubble used his telescopes to observe what is called Redshift and Doppler Effect…that showed that the galaxies are receding from each other. It is assumed that Hubble has proved that the universe is expanding.
George Gamow picked up the ball and throughout the 1940s-1960s harped on the stanza that the universe is expanding. He came up with elaborate mathematics on how the universe began in what Fred Hoyle called Big Bang and is expanding. Gamow predicted that we ought to be able to pick up the light that escaped at the 400, 000 year mark when atoms were formed and plasma transformed to gas universe.
In 1965 Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson picked up what is now called cosmic microwave background radiation thus seeming to confirm that the universe was at one time plasma and began in a big bang. Other attempts have been made and they seem to prove the existence of cosmic microwave background radiation (light from the big bang).
The British astronomer who contributed immensely to our understanding of how hydrogen is fused into helium in stars, Fred Hoyle, did not buy the Big Bang hypothesis. He insisted that the universe has always existed. He called his view steady state hypothesis. As he sees it, out of empty space particles came out and in time formed atoms and those atoms in time those atoms aggregated to form galaxies, stars and planets and us. In time some of the galaxies, stars and planets die and return to atoms and particles and the process is repeated ad infinitum. In other words there is no creation of the universe and the universe does not end; the universe is always there.
So where is the proof that steady state is true? Quantum physics has proof that particles do emerge from empty space (perhaps from dark energy and or dark matter). Nevertheless, no one has shown how the universe has existed forever. Thus Fred Hoyle’s ideas were rejected (he was not given the Noble Prize even though his work elucidated our understanding of nucleosynthesis more than Einstein’s mystical equations that accommodate everything you want to project to them, including the expansion of the universe, travels to the future, travels to the past and even multiverses).
The steady state universe was shot down. But many folks still do not accept the Big Bang hypothesis. There are those who hold unto what they call plasma universe (that the universe is composed of 99.9% plasma…that is unattached nuclear and electrons).
There are people who magnify the role of electricity in the formation, operation and maintenance of the universe. To them everything in the universe is underpinned by electricity. They seem to accept the idea that the universe has always been there, at least, that is the impression one got from reading Wallace Thornhill and David Talbott’s exegesis for the electrical universe.
There are those (such as Steinhardt and Turok) who believe in what they call cyclic universe. Here, they accept the Big bang but see it as a repeating phenomenon. Something explodes and yields particles and they form atoms etc. They expand and form space, time and energy and matter. In time stars and planets are formed. The galaxies expand and at a point lose heat and die and the universe becomes an empty cold place with seeming nothing in it. Actually, what happened is that everything has returned to whence they came from, an energy field that we still do not understand? That energy field then explodes in a new big bang and produces another universe and the story is repeated ad infinite. If you ask what that energy field is they ask you what dark matter and dark energy that constitute 96% of our known universe is. If you could accept the existence of what you do not see just so that you accept contemporary standard cosmology why cannot you accept the existence of another unknown called energy field?
Another form of the cyclic universe hypothesis is Rebounding Universe, except that in the rebound idea the universe expands so much and then re-collapses unto itself to form a new universe, sort of like what the idea of Big Crunch that is now rejected used to visualize.
There are those who see problems with the theory that the weakest of physics four forces (physics has four forces: strong and weak nuclear force, electromagnetism and gravity), gravity is responsible for the existence of everything in space and time. Gravity supposedly holds everything where they are in space.
If gravity pulls things inwards how come all matter and energy do not collapse into each other to form one incredible dense ball? To make gravity based universe seem to work Einstein gave us the first fudge called general relativity theory; that mystical theory mathematically shows that space is curved and after much mumbo jumbo seemed to prove how gravity hold things to where they are in space. Some folks are not satisfied that gravity is holding things where they are in space. To make this problem go away some clever mathematical physicists came up with the idea of dark matter. Now we are told that dark matter is actually what holds the galaxies where they are, not Einstein’s mumbo jumbo mathematics (or preceding Newtonian rambling on gravity). But where is dark matter? Is it another story of ghost in the bottle?
All told the standard idea of how the universe came into being has too many problems and too many types of fudge that seem necessary to make it work. Some of these fudges include inflation theory, dark matter, dark energy, black holes (no one has actually seen black holes or neutron stars; they are mere theoretical constructs); quasars (are conjectures from observation of distant objects that look like they are stars but we do not know for sure that they are stars, hence quasi stars) and other theoretical constructs that observation has not verified.
All these problems gave rise to alternative theories on how the universe came about and would end (I mentioned some of those above).
Above all is the question that would not go away: what existed before the Big Bang. This is not a minor insignificant question (on it rides the continued acceptance of the big bang hypothesis). Behaving like the Catholic Church and asking skeptics not to ask that question, as the mother Church asked folks not to ask questions about God’s existence, is not only dictatorial but foolish. Science progresses by allowing questions to be asked about theories for no theory is deemed a complete one, there are no sacred cows in real science; we should not prevent questioning of theories but in fact should encourage questioning them (those who have made their careers hatching extant theories protect their theories, their idols, knowing that if their theories fall they become irrelevant to science).
So, how did the universe come into being and what existed before the big bang? How can something come out of nothing? The idea of something coming out of nothing seems mystical. Our common sense tells us that something is always caused by something. To remove causation in the analysis of the origin of the universe is childish; even the idea of probability means that there are many causes many of which we have not understood yet.
Astrophysicists tell us that right from the Big Bang the universe has been expanding. If the term universe is everything that already exists so where exactly is the universe expanding to? Is it expanding into an already existing vacuum with nothing in it? If there is no vacuum what is it expanding to, is it creating what it is expanding into, creating it from where and what? Is there a wall that it is pushing backwards?
And in trillions of years when all matter and energy have returned to the nothing they supposedly came from would the universe be still expanding and if so what force, if matter and energy does not exist, would be pushing it to expand?
Moreover, there is the little matter of how the future universe could be said to be cold if there is no heat in it. You cannot conceptualize cold unless its contrast, heat is present and could be conceptualized. That is to say that a universe that has lost heat has also lost cold! What is a universe without heat and cold like?
All these may seem trivial questions but they really matter and must be answered instead of dismissed by smug physicists that are increasingly making themselves seem like clowns by talking nonsense.
For nearly 500 years now (from Copernicus 1543 book on the sun being the center of the universe, Galileo’s 1610 verification of the sun as the center of the solar system and Newton’s 1687 postulation of the three laws of motion and gravitation) the West has been on mission that befuddled the rest of the world; they have literally hoodwinked all of us into accepting their postulations of unverified views as scientific laws.
As I see it, the game is up for Western mystery makers called astrophysicists, astronomers and cosmologists; their nonsense no longer persuades anyone. The days of their making things up and shrouding them in complex mathematics and persuading gullible folks to accept them is over. The rest of us are now wise to their game. They do not know what the hell they are talking about when it comes to the origin and end of the world. And since astronomy is the origin of physics and the queen of physics if it falls most of physics falls!
Yes, quantum physics has produced such wonders as the electronic revolution we are in the midst of (radio, TV, computer, Internets, wireless phones, satellites GPS are all rooted in quantum mechanics) but that does not mean that every aspect of physics is true.
Yes, Newtonian mathematical calculations enabled us to land men on the moon and send satellites to distant planets and calculate the distance to almost 100 percent accuracy. These accomplishments notwithstanding, there is something disturbing about the arrogance of Western physics that must be dealt the death blow it has been asking for and folks were too cowardly to deal it, and in so doing humble it for its own good (I am offended by know nothing physicists pretending to know it all and running around telling us about the universe and presenting their views as truth).
For too long these folks have been telling us that we are nothing, that we are not the center of the universe and that there are billions of other planets with biological life forms on them yet they cannot prove it despite SETI spending loads of money scanning the sky searching for extraterrestrial life forms since the 1960s. It is now time to call for a time out and examine other modes of looking at reality.
Science promises us the best methodology for understanding the physical universe, our bodies included. However, so far it has said nothing that is germane to consciousness. It is silly to say that consciousness is limited to our brains, is epiphenomenal when some folks have had out of body experiences and near death experiences that convinced them that life exists outside their bodies; and taught them that our bodies are like automobiles we employ in getting from place to place in a universe of separation, space, time energy and matter and when those, like old cars, are worn out they are abandoned for new cars or choice of no cars at all.
What is the true origin of the universe and how would the universe end? I do not know. I have grappled with that subject elsewhere (see my extended paper on God and Science, for example). In this paper my motivation is to show that there are too many problems with the standard cosmology accepted by Western scientists for me to accept it (just as there are too many holes in Charles Darwin’s notion of evolution for me to accept it…our bodies do evolve, change to adapt to changes in the environment but there seems something more than our bodies at work in our lives, what Henri Bergson called Élan Vital and I call the unknown non-material element organizing energy, matter, space and time into what we are. I am agnostic and do not have conclusive answers about anything; I am still searching for answers but do not accept the answers proffered by Western scientists, especially when it comes to what matters most in our lives: who we are, where we came from and where we go when we exit from the earth scene.
If this essay stimulates your mind and makes you ask questions and you try to come up with more satisfactory answers than extant Western cosmology provides, my purpose is served.
Barrow, J.D. (1994). The Origin of the Universe: To the Edge of Space and Time. New York: Phoenix.
Davies, P.C.W. (1992). The Mind of God: The scientific basis for a rational world. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Kolb, E.; Turner, M. (1988). The Early Universe. New York: Addison–Wesley.
Mather, J.C.; Boslough, J. (1996). The very first light: the true inside story of the scientific journey back to the dawn of the Universe. New York: Basic Books.
Peacock, J. (1999). Cosmological Physics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
On Electric Universe:
Bondi, H., "The Electric Universe" in Space Astrophysics, Edited by William Liller. New York, McGraw-Hill, 1961.
C.E.R. Bruce, "All-electric theory of the universe" (1971) in Students' Quarterly Journal.
P. C. W. Davies, "Electric Universe", Nature 273, 268 - 269 (1978).
László Körtvélyessy, The Electric Universe, 1998.
Wallace Thornhill and David Talbott. THE ELECTRIC UNIVERSE. Portland, Oregon: Mikamar Publishing, 2011.
David Talbott and Wallace Thornhill. THUNDERBOLTS OF THE GODS. Portland, Oregon: Mikamar Publishing, 2011.
Ozodi Thomas Osuji
April 5, 2012