In this series of articles, the most popular scientific topics have been selected. Each article deals with a particular topic that is followed by one or two relevant Qur’anic verses. The idea of this exercise is to show that the scientific information in the Quran is not the result of human imagination, but comes from a transcendent intelligence.
The origin of the universe according to science
Since the dawn of time, man has wondered about the mystery of existence. Where do the stars come from? Who created the sun? How did life originate? Ancient cultures lacked scientific information. They could not explain the natural phenomena that spawned very imaginative ideas. The oldest documented myth about creation appeared in 2000 BC. C. in Egypt. The deities emerged from a primeval ocean; they mated with each other and produced descendant deities such as the earth, the sky, and the ocean. A Chinese myth dated 600 BC. C. affirmed that the deity Phan Ku was born from an egg and created the world. When he died, his body played an important role in the creation of earth and heaven. His bones formed rock, his skull the dome-shaped sky, his blood the oceans, and his flesh the ground. We must respect people’s beliefs, but any reasonable person will agree that these are not satisfactory accounts of creation.
Big Bang Theory
Currently, the most accepted scientific account of the origin of the universe is based on what is known as the Big Bang model. He proposes that about 13.7 billion years ago the singularity – a dimensionless point of compression and unimaginable temperature – erupted. This eruption created energy, matter, space and time. This was not an ordinary explosion that occurred in a particular place in space and at a particular time. There was nothing before or beyond the singularity. The explosion of the singularity created space and time; marked the beginning of space and time. As the singularity expanded, it cooled (expansion causes cooling while compression causes heat). As the temperature dropped, energy was transformed into matter, and matter itself underwent a series of transformations creating protons, neutrons, electrons, and other particles. These, in turn, interacted to form the simplest elements, hydrogen and helium, which make up more than 99 percent of cosmic material. At this stage (a few minutes after the Big Bang), the universe is featureless and comprises a shapeless cloud of hydrogen and helium. There is a close interaction between protons, neutrons, electrons, and photons (particles of light). This close interaction traps photons preventing them from flooding the cosmos with light. This makes the early universe opaque. An observer at that time would have perceived the universe as a sea of fog. Over the next hundreds of thousands of years, the universe continues to expand and cool until half a million years after the Big Bang, when something dramatic happens. The universe is now cold enough (about 6000 K, which is roughly equal to 6000 degrees Celsius), which allows for the decoupling of matter and light particles (photons). This releases photons that flow in all directions illuminating the universe.
Local hydrogen and helium clouds begin to collapse under the weight of their own gravity. As a cloud condenses and contracts, it heats up until when a critical temperature is reached, thermonuclear reactions ignite and the star ignites. Stars take millions of years to form; the first batch only emerged 400 million years after the Big Bang and infant galaxies (star clusters) 400 million years later. Modern galaxies began to take shape 2 billion years after the Big Bang. Our own galaxy, the Milky Way, assumed its final shape 10 billion years ago. About 5 billion years ago our solar system became recognizable in one of the spiral arms of the Milky Way galaxy, and Earth formed about half a million years later. Little by little, the modern universe began to take shape. This, in a nutshell, is the essence of the Big Bang theory.
To be continued (The next article is about the Big Bang test)