“God created the heaven and the earth.” (Come Follow Me lesson: January 3-9)
“And then the Lord said: Let us go down. And they went down at the beginning, and they, that is the Gods, organized and formed the heavens and the earth… And they (the Gods) said: Let there be light; and there was light. And they (the Gods) comprehended the light, for it was bright...” (Abraham 4:1, 3-4)
In my book, The Infinite Creation, I describe our current scientific understanding of the creation of light:
During the first milliseconds of the universe, according to our current understanding of cosmology, there was apparently such an enormous explosion of energy that mortal beings struggle to comprehend the event. We, as premortal, infinite beings witnessing that explosion – the greatest fireworks exhibit ever – must have burst into exuberant, enthusiastic cheering, with high fives all around. Maybe it went something like this: And the Gods said, “10, 9, 8, 7, …4, 3, 2, 1, Let there be Light!” And, holy cow, was there ever light! – well eventually.
Technically, there was actually about a one second delay before any light burst forth – because photons (light) were not formed until the universe was about one second old. Another technicality, it may have been another 380,000 years before the initial flash of light could be seen because the early photons were trapped in the early opaque plasma soup which filled the universe and dissipated the light like fog. It may have been only the future science geeks in that premortal, heavenly world who were thrilled by the first release of photons. Maybe everyone else went home or just hung out, waiting for the really big burst of light later in the day – 380,000 years later by today’s calculations. Of course, for the infinite beings we are, the concepts we understand today of “waiting” and “day” probably had no meaning for us then. It is hard to imagine that anyone was disappointed in that final burst of light – after all, we are still picking up background radiation from that flash 13.8 billion years later. That radiation was first discovered in 1964 by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, earning them the 1978 Nobel Prize in Physics. That cosmic microwave background is the oldest observed phenomenon we have ever discovered in the universe (Choi, Charles Q., space.com/52-the-expanding-universe-from-the-big-bang-to-today.html, June 16, 2017).
Science has a name for that gigantic explosion of energy at the beginning of the universe: “The Big Bang.” The Big Bang theory is the current best model of the origin of the universe, and explains a number of observed phenomena: the cosmic microwave background, the distribution of galaxies, the abundance of hydrogen and helium in the universe, and the observation that distant galaxies are moving away from us at an ever-increasing rate (Singh, Simon, Big Bang: The Origin of the Universe, Harper Perennial, New York, 2005). Some religious people claim that the Big Bang theory is anti-religious. It is not. Only an unnecessary interpretation of that theory, like any other scientific theory, causes some scientists and others, to think that the theory provides evidence against religion. Such “evidence” is not part of the science.
Probably the most famous statements concerning God’s role in the Big Bang, and Creation in general, were made by the British cosmologist and theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking. In his book, A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes(1988), Hawking stated:
“Hubble’s observations suggested that there was a time, called the big bang, when the universe was infinitesimally small and infinitely dense. Under such conditions all the laws of science, and therefore all ability to predict the future, would break down. If there were events earlier than this time, then they could not affect what happens at the present time. Their existence can be ignored because it would have no observable consequences. One may say that time had a beginning at the big bang, in the sense that earlier times simply would not be defined…One can imagine that God created the universe at literally any time in the past. On the other hand, if the universe is expanding, there may be physical reasons why there had to be a beginning. One could still imagine that God created the universe at the instant of the big bang, or even afterwards in just such a way as to make it look as though there had been a big bang, but it would be meaningless to suppose that it was created before the big bang. An expanding universe does not preclude a creator, but it does place limits on when he might have carried out his job!”
I have great respect for Stephen Hawking’s work and career. He has made major contributions to our understanding of the universe. However, the fact that he was a genius and a brilliant scientist does not make him immune to error.
The problem with Hawking’s conclusion that, “If there were events earlier than this time, then they could not affect what happens at the present time,” is that his paradigm presumes that everything both inside and outside the entire universe began at the time of the Big Bang. All of the known laws of physics, including quantum physics, deal only with events occurring inside the visible universe. Hawking used the term “no observable consequences.” Observation requires light. For example, the universe itself is expanding at a rate faster than the speed of light. That can only be true because that expansion is not confined within the universe. Furthermore, neither Hawking nor anyone else knows anything about dark matter other than it apparently has gravity. It is certainly, at least at present, not part of the visible universe (thus the term “dark”) and, therefore, cannot be assumed to either have begun at the time of the Big Bang or to be controlled by the laws that originated at the Big Bang and govern the visible universe.
The Big Bang theory does not actually describe the origin of the universe; it describes only the origin of the visible universe. We take the existence of energy, time, and space as axiomatic, but the Big Bang theorydoes not discuss from whence they came.
The visible universe is only a fraction of the total universe. It has been calculated many times over that dark energy accounts for about 68% of all the matter/energy in the universe. Dark matter comprises approximately 27% of the universe, and the so-called visible matter makes up roughly the remaining 5%. (science.nasa.gov/astrophysics/focus-areas/what-is-dark-energy) Of that 5%, however, around 80%, i.e., around 4% of the total universal matter/energy, is free hydrogen and helium – out in space. The entire universe with which we deal on a regular basis, therefore, comprises only around 1% of the total universe. Of that tiny slice of the pie, 30% is made up of neutrinos and 50% is tied up in stars. That leaves only 20% of the 1%, or somewhere around 0.2% of the entire universe with which we interact – aside from looking up at the stars at night. (Finney, Ben, commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Cosmological_Composition_–_Pie_Chart.svg)
The reason I bring up dark matter, and I prefer the early term “obscure matter,” is that obscure matter, which accounts for at least three times as much matter as regular or visible matter, may not be a single entity. There may be a whole other periodic table of obscure matter from which all of the heavenly, infinite world, including God, is made. We can’t see obscure matter, because it does not exist in our current “visible” universe, by definition.
In Doctrine and Covenants 131:7-8, the Prophet Joseph Smith stated, “There is no such thing as immaterial matter. All spirit is matter, but it is more fine or pure, and can only be discerned by purer eyes; We cannot see it; but when our bodies are purified we shall see that it is all matter.” This definition is very similar to the scientific definition of dark, or obscure, matter. This definition gives a whole new meaning to some classic scriptures: John 4:24 “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” Notice that the words “is” and “him” are both italicized. Robert Matthews, (Ensign, February 1978) has pointed out that, “The use of italics [in the King James Version of the Bible] is a device to call attention to those words that were added by the translators in order to convey and/or clarify the meaning.” The translators at least were clarifying the meaning according to what they thought was the meaning in 1611. Without the italics, John 4:24 reads, “God a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship in spirit and in truth.” According to the Pulpit Commentary (biblehub.com), the King James translators italicized the wrong word. Apparently the phrase is “God is spirit” (Πνεῦμα ὁ Θεός); “- the article indicates the subject, and the predicate is here generic, and not an indefinite; therefore we do not render it, ‘God is a Spirit’.”
If we understand the concept that spirit is obscure matter, “as tangible as man’s” (Doctrine and Covenants 130:22), but simply does not, as yet, interact with “normal” matter, then the phrase “God is Spirit,” makes sense. Likewise, the term “invisible God” (Colossians 1:15) also makes sense if we consider that we cannot at present see or detect in any other manner, obscure matter. God, if made of obscure matter, may be every bit as tangible as normal humans but invisible and, indeed, untouchable by the techniques we currently understand, until or unless “our bodies [or eyes] are purified.” Therefore, God, and all manner of Spirit matter, being formed from obscure matter, are not confined to the universe created in the Big Bang and, therefore, may easily have existed before the Big Bang.
A more extensive discussion of the Big Bang and other aspects of earth’s creation is available in my book: The Infinite Creation (Cedar Fort, 2020).
Trent Dee Stephens, PhD