A 2014 paper entitled Cosmology from Quantum Potential by Ahmed Farag Ali and Saurya Das in Physical Letters B spawned a lot of articles claiming that new research had done away with the Big Bang.
Not quite. The actual research suggested that there’s a way to do away with that pesky singularity that allegedly existed before the Big Bang. The confusion lies in the fact that folks tend to think of the singularity as the cause and the Big Bang as the effect, so they naturally assume that no singularity means no Big Bang. In this case, they’re suggesting a different initial state for the Big Bang, rather than a different cause. For example, if we have a ball at rest which is kicked and sent toward a soccer net, the effect is motion, the cause is the kick and the initial state is, well, the ball at rest.
Evolutionary cosmologists believe that some sort of non-specified quantum fluctuation caused the singularity to experience rapid inflation, expanding into the universe we see today. This new concept bypasses the singularity, suggesting that the “universe” existed as a sort of eternally existent quantum potential, whatever that means, before some sort of non-specified quantum fluctuation caused said rapid inflation and the universe-at-large.
It’s little wonder that some folks want to get rid of the singularity. The singularity itself is one of the major problems with the Big Bang model. No one knows what happens in a singularity because the laws of physics break down at that level. This basically means they may as well be invoking magic, which is a problem if you’re wedded to pure naturalism.
Add to this a complication brought up by Laura Mersini-Houghton. According to a mathematical study she was a part of, it may be that black holes, event horizons and singularities cannot not exist. When stars much bigger than the sun collapse under their own gravity, they are thought to collapse into singularities and form black holes, throwing off Hawking radiation in the process. Black holes are predicted by Einstein’s theory of gravity, but they conflict with a fundamental law of quantum theory that says that no information can ever disappear from the universe. This is referred to as the loss problem. In the study, researchers attempting to resolve this contradiction found that the stars shed mass too quickly to form an event horizon (i.e., it loses gravity as it loses mass); therefore, if the results of this study are correct, event horizons, black holes and singularities aren’t mathematically possible.
While this new research by Ali and Das may provide an answer to a Big Bang without a singularity, it doesn’t really do away with the problem of an all-natural theory invoking supernatural causes. It has inflation existing well before time, which is a direct violation of the laws of physics. You can’t have an effect like inflation existing independently of a cause… and causation itself implies the existence of time, which is why Stephen Hawking called his exploration of the Big bang model A Brief History of Time.
Don’t look for anyone to start abandoning standard Big Bang cosmology anytime soon. The idea of an eternally existent universe flies in the face of all of the data, which points to the universe having a beginning… and an ultimate Uncaused Cause. Scientists whose theories are wed to pure naturalism will likely claim, as Stephen Hawking does, that this great Uncaused Cause is the multiverse or some other “purely natural” concept that exists well outside of the realm of our natural world [and is therefore, by definition, actually supernatural!]. This makes their position internally inconsistent.
When we are confronted with claims that seem to contradict the Bible, we should remember that we have two competing Origins Claims, two competing worldviews. They are completely contradictory: one demands on pure naturalism while the other allows supernatural agency. How do we judge between them?
We should choose the worldview that is most consistent with the world we observe and with itself. In other words, we should begin with God’s revealed Word, the Bible.
Note: The chart on this page is by Ethan Siegel and is employed here under the terms of Fair Use.