Dovid: I’ll begin with a question. Are you familiar, Pavlov, with what is popularly called the Big Bang theory? And if you are, please describe it.
Pavlov: To be brief, the Big Bang theory is a theory held by most scientists that time, matter and even space were created. From what they were created is unknown. Scientists believe that a few minutes after the new universe came into existence, the expanding and intensely hot universe became like a fusion bomb. This fusion process created the nuclei for elements,such as, as hydrogen and helium, from the more simpler particles that existed. Afterwards, the universe cooled down enough to allow atoms to form, and still later, from this material galaxies formed.
Dovid: Do you also know what are the reasons that scientists believe in this theory, rather than the once popular solid state theory of continuous creation?
Dovid: Well, I’ll mention two of them. Firstly, in the secular year 1965, Arno Panzias and Robert Wilson at AT and T Bell Laboratories scanned outer space with a huge satellite radio antenna. They detected a faint signal that came uniformly from all parts of the sky. These signals proved that there is a basic background heat in outer space of 3 degrees Kelvin. This in turn confirmed to scientists that the universe started with a big bang explosion, which produced hot radiation, that cooled over time, for such were the results expected by Big Bang theorists. In addition, other predictions made by Big Bang theorists have worked out. Namely, data produced by experimentation shows that the universe contains certain proportions of hydrogen, helium and lithium isotopes that the theory had predicted. Given all of this, Pavlov, do you personally believe the Big Bang theory is true?
Pavlov: I assume the theory is true, as long as all the available evidence says it’s true.
Dovid: So that means you really do believe in Hashem, the Creator of the Universe.
Pavlov: Hashem is not really an adequate explanation for me to explain the Big Bang, for it just leaves me with the question: Who created Hashem?
Dovid: Your problem exists because you mistakenly view the universe as an addition to an imperfect nothingness that existed beforehand. In reality, before creation, the universe was in an absolute state of perfection. The universe came into existence when the All-Perfect voluntarily decided to restrain his perfection to allow the imperfect to exist. Therefore Pavlov, you should now see that it is wrong to apply to the Creator the same laws that apply to the physical universe.
Pavlov: While the Big Bang seems to support the view that there is a Creator, it also seems to refute Judaism. The world is not as the Bible indicates, about 6000 years old. It’s much, much older.
Dovid: The Big Bang theory only contradicts some simple interpretations of the Bible. However, the theory can coincide with a number of the legitimate interpretations of the story of creation. For example, the Talmud in tractate Chullin 60a says that all the things that Hashem created initially were not created in their young and immature form; rather, they were created in their old, mature form, ready immediately to perform their task. You, Pavlov, assumed that the Big Bang theory contradicts Judaism, because it indicates the universe was fully mature 6000 years ago. In reality, the Big Bang theory as well as other similar theories can be just one more support for the Talmud, that the world was created in a mature state. Things like galaxies appear to be billions of years old because that is their mature state.
Still a second way to solve the potential conflict between the Big Bang theory and the Jewish view of creation is to say that the six days of creation described in Genesisִ chapter 1, were not six 24-hour days. They were instead six time periods millions or billions of years long. Support for this view can be found in Midrash Tanchuma, Parashat Vayailech #2
Chief Rabbi A.Y. Kook provides still other answers. In one of them, he points to the statement in Bereshit Rabbah 3:7 and 9:2 that Hashem created worlds and destroyed worlds before He found our world fitting. Rabbi Kook uses this statement to show that there have been other worlds, before the one talked about in the Bible. Our scientific findings could be evidence of those past worlds. Iggrote Hara’aya, vol. 1, by Rabbi Avraham Yitzchak Hakohen Kook, page 105 (Mossad Harav Kook publications, Jerusalem 5722, Letter #91).
Pavlov: Will the universe, according to current thinking, keep on expanding?
Dovid: Why do you want to know?
Pavlov: Because maybe the universe has been expanding and contracting, like an accordion, for eternity. This might be a way to cut Hashem out of the picture.
Dovid: I’m skeptical if you can construct a system of never-ending Big Bangs, since that would seem to contradict our current understanding of the Laws of Thermodynamics. Just as modern science discounts the possibility of a perpetual motion machine, so too would it apparently have to discount your accordion theory of the universe. On the question of whether our universe will undergo only one big bang or several, this is still open to debate but the mainstream viewpoint is that there will not be another Big Bang.
Pavlov: I’ll be honest; I’m not well enough versed in astronomy to know if your argument is valid or not.
Dovid: A valid point. But assuming all my facts were correct, you admit it’s a support for the belief in Hashem.
Pavlov: It’s a support, but not an absolute proof because there may be some way to resurrect my never-ending big bang theory that we’re not yet aware of.
Dovid: Then allow me to present my next piece of evidence.
Dovid: The following is what I call Rabbi Akiva’s proof for the existence of Hashem.