Scientific views on the creation of the Universe

Perfect for OCR AS Philosophy of Religion - Challenges to Religious Belief

HideShow resource information

Big Bang Theory

  • Name of the most popular of the scientific theories put forward by cosmologists to explain how the Universe came into being
  • Theory developed from observation that other galaxies are apparently moving away from us at great speed and also moving away from each other
  • Universe seems to be expanding with the stars and planets getting further and further apart
  • Scientists realised that they could use this observation to gain insights into how the Universe began
  • By imagining the expansion of the Universe in reverse, they concluded that there must have been a time when matter was very tightly packed together in an unimaginably hot, small zone of 'inifinite density' as what scientists call a singularity
  • Einstein's theory of relativity supported the idea that matter had to have been thrown outward by a massive inflation of energy and heat about 14 billion years ago
  • According to many expert physicists, space and time were caused at the same instant as the Big Bang
  • Therefore, space and time come from within the singularity
  • However, why the singularity expanded is still debated - some conclude it just happened where as others think there must be have been some kind of reason for it
  • Supported by strong empirical evidence - Hubble observed the speeds at which galaxies are moving apart from each other and away from us which supports the idea that the Universe is expanding
  • The hypothesis that in the beginning matter was extremely hot is supported by the discovery of cosmic background radiation
1 of 5

Steady state theory

  • Proposed in the 1940s
  • Proposes that the Universe remains constant as it expands becuase of the continous creation of a minute number of atoms
  • Does not fit very well with the First Law of Thermodynamics but neither does the Big Bang Theory
  • Cosmic background radiation can be accomodated by this theory
2 of 5

Inflationary universe theories

  • Developed by Alan Guth and others in the 1980s and 1990s
  • Theories concentrate on what might have happened about 10-35 seconds after the beginning of time where the unvierse expanded for a tiny instant at a much greater speed than the Big Bang theory would allow, filling the universe with something called vacuum energy
  • To cosmologists, this suggests that our unverse is one of many situated about 'bubbles' - basically bubbles of universes
  • These bubbles might formed within each, attached to each other and could even collide with each
  • Multiple big bangs would have formed these multiple universes and multiple bubbles
3 of 5


  • 1957 by Hugh Everett
  • Every universe that can possibly exist actually does exist which would mean we live in just one of a great number of universes
  • Still only a hypothesis and no empirical evidence yet supports this
4 of 5

Impact of the discoveries of physics

  • Some scientists, such as Richard Dawkins and Peter Atkins, claim that scientific theories which account for the origins of the Universe have in some way removed the need for God
  • While difficult to understand, the theories we mean do not need to assume the existence of God or use the concept of God as part of the explanation
  • The Cosmological argument depends on the notion that the existence of the Universe and everything in it is contingent
  • Therefore, there must be something with necessary existence to bring it all into being and to provide an explanation of why anything exists at all
  • However, Dawkins and Atkins argues that what we now know with some degree of certainty how the world came into being
  • A physical cause explicable in scientific terms removes the need for God
  • The phrase 'God of the gaps' is used to signify the kind of belief which provides God as an explanation for those questions to which we have found no answer
  • Some Chrisitians argue that scientific gaps will always be that God is necessary
5 of 5


No comments have yet been made

Similar Philosophy resources:

See all Philosophy resources »