How do you create a universe? This is a very complex question, and one many scientists have devoted their lives to finding the answer to. Their current theory is one that is widely accepted to be the right one. This is known as the Big Bang Theory'.
Many people, especially Christian groups, have argued against the Big Bang Theory because it does not conform to the Bible's view of creation. What these somewhat narrowminded people tend to forget is that the Bible was not written by God. It was written by humans, and humans make mistakes. According to all scientific evidence, God did not create the universe in seven days. In fact, the universe was created in about three minutes, but life did not evolve for billions of years.
So, without any further ado, let's get to it. Imagine, if you can (and, of course, you can't) an infinitely small point. It is so small that it has no dimensions at all. Mathematically, it doesn't exist. This point is known as a singularity. Perhaps the singularity needs some extra explanation.
Singularities are things that defy out current understanding of physics. They are thought to exist at the centres of black holes (black holes are points of such intense gravitational pull that nothing, not even light, can escape their pull). Singularities are zones of infinite density.
So, to create a universe, you take one singularity. Now you need some matter. In fact, you will need all the matter. Every single particle and atom between here and the edge of creation. You will then need to cram all of this matter into the singularity. Now you are ready.
I ask you to try not to think of this initial point as a place hanging in infinite blackness, waiting for the opportune moment to start creating. There is no space, no infinite blackness. There is no around around the singularity. In 1968 and 1970, British astrophysicists Steven Hawking, George Ellis, and Roger Penrose published two papers which elaborated on Einstein's Theory of General Relativity. This paper said basically that the singularity did not appear in space. Space began inside the singularity.
We don't know where the singularity came from, or why it appeared, or even where it was. All we know is (as I said previously) everything that would create everything, including us, was inside of it, and at one time it wasn't there.
Then, about 13.7 billion years ago, there was a single blinding pulse and a lot of things started happening. In fact, everything started happening.
Here is probably a good place to mention that there are a lot of very common misconceptions about the Big Bang. First of all, we tend to imagine it as a kind of massive explosion that blasted the world into existence. Scientists are quite specific in that the Big Bang was not a bang at all, but rather an expansion. Instead of imagining a balloon popping and releasing its contents, imagine a balloon growing; beginning at an infinitely small point and expanding to the size of the universe (which is quite large). Of course, to make the analogy anywhere near apt, you will have to imagine that this balloon is the only thing in existence.
Anyway, at some point a very, very long time ago, that balloon, or that singularity, started expanding. As it went it created space, time and all of the forces that govern physics.
These forces (gravity, etc.) were created in about the first second. Inside of a minute, the universe was a million billion miles across and still growing.
At this point there is a lot of heat, billions of degrees of it. This is enough heat to begin the nuclear reactions that created the lighter elements; mainly hydrogen and helium, with a little lithium thrown in for good measure.
In approximately three minutes, ninety-eight percent of all matter that would ever exist was created. We had a universe. I say we', but it wasn't really we, because we did not exist yet. But we will.
So there we have it. The Big Bang is done. The universe is created. A place of infinite wonder and beauty, a place that will begin and support life for millions of years. And it all happened in about the time it takes to make a sandwich.
So what evidence is there to support this? Well, the short answer is lots. Lets start with the echoes.
In the 1940s a Russian-American astronomer by the name of George Gamow suggested that if you looked deep enough into space, you could find some cosmic background radiation left over from the Big Bang. He also calculated that by the time this radiation reached Earth, it would get here in the form of microwaves.
Then, in 1965, two American astronomers named Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson were trying to make use of a very large communications antenna in New Jersey known as the Bell Antenna. Think of a giant ear listening to space. They were troubled by a persistent background noise; a steady hiss that seemed to come from everywhere at once. What they were hearing was the cosmic background radiation that Gamow had postulated. The echoes of the Big Bang. At this point, Penzias and Roberts had no idea what they were hearing. They thought it was a problem with the antenna. But, fortunately, they figured it out eventually, and were awarded the 1978 Nobel Prize in Physics.
Second, all of the galaxies that we can see are moving away from us. This was discovered in 1929 by Edwin Hubble. How did he know this? Well, its all about the Doppler Shift. When objects are moving away from you at a great enough speed, the light from them shifts towards the red end of the visible spectrum, and when they're moving towards you, they shift towards the blue. Hubble noticed that the light from other galaxies was redder than it should have been.
Finally, the abundance of light elements (the ones I mentioned earlier, namely hydrogen and helium) is thought to support the Big Bang Theory.
Unfortunately, we can never really know. Unless we manage to travel back to the moment of creation (which is extremely unlikely, not only because of the difficulty of time travel, but because before creation, there was nowhere to travel back to), we may never know. All we can say is if a theory fits what we believe happened. And the Big Bang Theory certainly does.
LaRocco & Rothstein. The Big Bang: It Sure Was Big! www.umich.edu
Bryson, B. 2003. A Short History Of Nearly Everything. Random House Australia, Pty. Ltd., Sydney, Australia.