The History channel is airing a program that talks about what came before the big bang. Not surprisingly, they manage to avoid the religious implications.
There are a few common theories about what preceded the big bang, none of which are without serious flaws. We hear about the oscillating universe, vacuum fluctuation theory, the steady state model, and Hawking’s quantum gravity model. The problem is, none of those models are consistent with the observable evidence, and further, suffer infinite regression failures and/or the importation of non-existent entities like imaginary time.
Of course, pointing out the failures of other theories in what is undoubtedly a discussion with religious and theological undertones does not necessarily render your own theory the correct one.
For Christians, the answer is simple, but not easy. Before the big bang, only God exists, and He creates by the power of His Word. This is met with the normal howls of protest from the non-Christians. Who or what created God, they ask? And why believe in something else that has no observable evidence either, instead of the postulates mentioned above?
1. The question of who or what created God is as old as religion itself. And as such, is not a very interesting objection either. It is clearly an attempt to trap the Christian in an infinite regress, but it does not work. At the very worst, it leaves the Christian in exactly the same position as each of the other postulates. But then the burden of proof falls to each of the other theorists to prove that their theory for pre-big bang is necessary, and not contingent. Because the Christian argument is that God, as a personal agent of creation, is a necessary condition, while each of the other conditions can be shown to be contingent, and therefore not satisfactory as an agent of first cause.
Also, there cannot be such a thing as a beginningless series of events. Something must cause the first of the series, or the series cannot exist. This first event must be absolute, with no prior event, or else it wasn’t the first event. This is the “no free lunch” rule of science, yet we are led by the evidence to believe that the big bang was in fact a free lunch. Or else caused by an eternal and changeless agent that does not share the characteristics of any contingent.
You see, there is but one answer to the question: How can the contingent first event come to exist if the cause of that event is eternal and changeless? It can only be because that agent consciously chooses for that event to exist in that fashion, existing as space-time from a discreet starting point.
Therefore, God exists as a necessary eternal and unchanging agent that chooses to create space-time. There are no other theories or hypothesis that answers the question so elegantly and completely. God, as a necessary precondition, therefore need not be created, since God is not contingent.
2. As for why we should then believe in something else that there is no observable evidence for, instead of one of the other flawed theories, this is an even more inane objection. Not because it sounds like a bad question, but because I think that the objector fails to establish a consistent epistemology from which to ask the question in the first place. Because to ask the question in the first place, one has to accept certain a-priori principles. Those include that the “observable evidence” is the only standard for truth, that the laws of logic hold true by observation only, that observation, and by implication the human senses, are reliable for these types of observations, and of course, that by putting all of those together, we arrive at a true conclusion.
If those principles are accepted a-priori, and seen as mere brute fact, then it of course begs the question in favor of the objector. But to accept such question begging would leave us with only one possible answer, fatally wounded by its own internal inconsistencies. For example, can it be observed that the observable evidence is the only standard for truth? Not only is that not possible (since we can never observe all the evidence that is observable), but it falls on its own demand of observation. We can argue by analogy that it should be true, but then we enter an infinite regress, the very thing we are attempting to avoid.
In summary then, the non-Christians are no closer to explaining what was before the big bang (if such an event can be construed to have existed, since that was the beginning of space-time, and there could not have logically been a prior moment. As Christians, we stand secure in the knowledge that a personal eternal agent caused whatever the starting point of space-time was.