The universe is expanding. As far as I’m aware, everyone agrees with that. I’ve heard no competing theories or offers of evidence to the contrary. So, if the universe is indeed expanding, then we must trace it all back in time—some 14 billion years—to when the expanding began. Just as the universe is infinitely huge today, it was infinitesimally tiny back then—sub-atomic, in fact. We continue to contract, back and back in time, tinier and tinier. Now, keep in mind Einstein calculated that time and space are of one fabric; they are not separate and independent of each other. When the totality of energy and matter was sub-atomic, so was that of time and space. We are told science has proved that the laws of physics do not apply at the sub-atomic level. We are told that energy and matter actually do appear out of nothingness when we explore the nano-world. Before the Big Bang, when all hell broke loose and the universe blew into existence from nothingness, time and space did not exist. Therefore, God (perhaps we can use the little g now) had no time to create anything. WHAM! At the end of the programming hour, the narrator hits us upside the head with this apparent fact. Stephen Hawking adds that he certainly doesn’t wish to offend religious sensibilities, but that we each have one shot at life and that’s it. It’s over when it’s over. It has taken mankind until the 21st century after the birth of Christ to figure it out, but the uncaused first cause has been uncovered.
If this is true, then I have to wonder if I will lose my incentive. What’s the point? When a loved one dies, most of us are buoyed by the belief, or at least the hope, that we will meet again. If we remove a creator from the picture, it seems that we remove heaven, and we take away any possibility that things will be made right. If we have proved that this life is all there is—that there were no past lives to call our own and that there will be no more shots at doing it better someday, and that there will be no eternity spent in a state of rapture with the spirits of people we know and love—then what difference would it ultimately make if we were Hitler or Stalin or Mother Theresa? Also, when we ponder our own insignificance in the universe, the idea of God being aware of us as individuals is comforting.
Then again, most religions tell us that a preponderance of souls will spend the afterlife burning alive. If we don’t behave in a perfect manner—essentially in ways that are anything but natural to us—we are doomed to unfathomable, and often endless, torment. If there is no creator, then we can breathe a sigh of relief that there will be no more pain. No more sleepless nights of internal grappling over angry or sexual thoughts that are consequential to our humanly existence.
These are all things we think about when contemplating the absence of a supreme, omnipotent being. Atheists have already accepted that what we see is what we get, and they seem to get along all right. If humanity has proved there is no God, then the other 90% of us can learn from the Atheists. We can learn how to remain motivated to live our lives as fully as possible. We can learn why we should be good people and listen to our consciences rather than trouncing on our fellow humans to get our way. Maybe consciences themselves are programmed into us with the recently-discovered God gene as a tool for perpetuating our existence as a species.
But it seems to me that Stephen Hawking is missing something—or dismissing something. Has he proved that there can be no alternate planes of existence?—dimensions, such as at the sub-atomic level, where our known laws of physics do not apply? Is it not a leap of faith to believe that energy and matter can and do appear out of nothing? Is it not possible that this so-called nothingness is really another dimension that remains undetectable by scientific instrumentation and calculation? At the level where neutrinos gambol about, why is it more likely that matter forms out of nothing than it is that portals exist between our material plane and another, unseen realm? Why is it more likely that matter and energy form from nothing than it is that they enter our world through one of these thresholds?
Friends and family have confided in me stories that point to just such a possibility—stories of being clinically dead and traveling to alternate realms, of leaving the body or being visited, even harassed, by other-worldly entities, ghosts, I mean. Spirits of deceased family members have come to convey that things would be all right. I’ve lost count of such confidences. The inexplicable bombards our earthly existence now as it has for ages. I could shrug these things off and assign them to over-active imaginations had I not had such experiences myself. As far as God and Heaven and the Devil and Hell, I don’t know, but I’m ever convinced something else is out there.
And now scientists themselves have admitted to a belief in the invisible—or what some might call faith. It is pure faith on the part of science to conclude that infinity is formed from zero. The Science Channel motto is “Question everything.” And so we should. I’ve seen more evidence of a spiritual plane than I have that nothingness creates. It has been said that every atom passes through all possible histories, or, in other words: Alexander the Great died at birth and the Moors defeated Charles Martel while your uncle watched from an oak tree. Every alternate history has transpired and will continue to do so. This could be true, as could reincarnation, as could one parallel universe, as could a multi-verse, as could string theory and the theory that the Big Bang was really a Big Collision that happens over and over. It seems to me there is a greater chance that any of these are true than that nothingness produces something.
Something comes from nothing. Another way of saying that would be, “We have no idea where matter and energy and time and space originate, but we’re too tired to go any farther.”