Until a century ago, the generally accepted idea among astronomers about the origin of the Universe was that there was no origin in the first place. They believed that the Universe had no beginning and, therefore, it wouldn’t have an ending. However, the general perception for today’s astronomers is totally different: most scientists accept the Big Bang Theory as an explanation for how our Universe came into existence, although there are some shortcomings in that area as well.
When the Big Bang Theory started to be taken seriously by astronomers, the world of religious leaders was delighted, as it seemed that science had proven what the Bible had stated long ago: the Universe was created, which means that it should have a creator. But it’s somewhat ironic that the first person to propose the Big Bang Theory was also a catholic priest.
Blame it on Georges Lemaître
Georges Lemaître was born in 1894 in Charleroi (Belgium), and he rapidly proved to be a gifted student who studied engineering and later entered the seminary to become a Catholic priest. Lemaître had groundbreaking contributions to cosmology, and he manifested a strong interest in both science and theology.
Lemaître relied on his deep understanding of physics and his theological perspective to propose an idea that was considered radical for its time. Back in 1927, the Belgian physicist priest proposed the “hypothesis of the primeval atom,” which suggested that the Universe had its origin in an extremely hot and dense state. Lemaître theorized that this initial state started to expand rapidly, eventually giving rise to a more familiar form of the Universe. The theory surely sounds familiar, right? Well, Lemaître’s model was a precursor to what the world now knows as the Big Bang Theory.
Confirmation and acceptance
Over the next decades, observational evidence by astronomers and scientists continued to accumulate in support of the theory of Lemaître. For instance, the observations of American astronomer Edwin Hubble on the redshift of galaxies back in the 1920s confirmed that the Universe is indeed expanding, which is in accordance with the Big Bang model. Hubble observed that galaxies are moving away from us, which could only mean two things: the Universe is expanding, and that there are many more galaxies out there than the Milky Way, as the world believed until that point.
Two scientists known as Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson discovered the cosmic microwave background radiation in the 1960s, which was a crucial discovery that was considered important evidence that a Big Bang had indeed given birth to the Universe we know today. That radiation is evenly distributed throughout the Universe, as it’s a remnant of the intense heat that was left behind from the early stages of the Big Bang.
Therefore, it wasn’t long until the scientific community accepted the Big Bang theory as the most plausible explanation for the origin and evolution of our Universe.
Whether we like to accept it or not, there are voices out there in the scientific world who also deny the accuracy of the Big Bang Theory even today. Some of them rely their claim upon the fact that since the Big Bang is only a theory, there cannot be any absolute proof that it’s true. After all, nobody was present 13.7 billion years ago to witness the Big Bang happening, if there was one. Also, the Big Bang cannot explain how the laws of nature came into existence or what caused the ‘bang’ in the first place. Why did the singularity begin to expand? Why did it have infinite energy? Those are just a few of the questions about the Big Bang Theory that science cannot respond to. But while the world doesn’t seem to have a better theory that explains how the Universe began to exist, it’s somewhat reasonable to embrace the Big Bang model.