There are only two possibilities for the origin of the universe. Either it has been in existence ‘for ever’, or it had a beginning in time. The prevailing view in science is that there was a beginning point to the universe. There is believed to have been a ‘big bang’. This big bang is the common expression to describe what the scientific world believes about the beginning of the universe. I use the word ‘believes’, because the theory that leads to the big bang cannot be verified by experiment and it was not observed and recorded by any human being.
Although the big bang is the overwhelming theory about the beginning of everything, there are logical problems with it. Terry Pratchett said, tongue in cheek, ‘First there was nothing ,then it exploded’. It sounds silly, but he is right. That is what the big bang theory says. The logical problem is that nothing is actually . . . nothing. How can anything come out of it?
Some cosmologists (people who study the universe and its history) have speculated about the type of nothing that existed before the big bang. But even to say that nothing existed is a contradiction in terms. If there was nothing, it didn’t exist. You might hear that there could have been quantum fluctuations that set off the big bang. A quantum fluctuation is simply the tiniest imaginable event that could have disturbed the nothing that did not exist as such. Here is an attempt to fill a void that cannot be filled because it is not there.
So the first problem is one that science can not tell us anything about – how something came out of nothing. And not merely something but the whole of the known and unknown universe in all its complexity and enormous size. Nothing that we observe today can shed light on what happened at the beginning, on the nothing that didn’t exist before the universe sprang into being and how the nothing became a something.
This is because the whole question of how the universe began is not one of scientific investigation but of metaphysics or philosophy or belief.