In continuation of the Marvel Comics movie franchise, Thor: The Dark World hit theatres this autumn. As Thor is my personal favorite of the Avengers heroes, I went to see the film for the sheer enjoyment of it (and enjoyable it was), but while taking in the entire spectacle, something in the film’s opening monologue piqued my curiosity.
Odin, Thor’s father, explains that before the present universe began to exist there was darkness. From that darkness arose the Dark Elves, bad guys who have returned for revenge. This little tidbit got me thinking about the beginning of the universe.
Big bang cosmology has confirmed that space, matter, time, and energy all began to exist. Over the past 100+ years, astronomers have learned more and more about the cosmic creation event and the history of the universe (though there is always more to learn)—but what about before the “big bang”? Would it be possible for darkness to exist before the beginning of space, matter, time, and energy?
I posed this question to RTB astrophysicist Jeff Zweerink, who replied, “It would have to be metaphorical darkness. Physical darkness requires something physical to exist.” So, darkness is something, rather than nothing. It is mind-bendingly impossible to image sheer nothingness. Yet the concept of nothing lies at the heart of the problem that naturalism faces in trying to account for the origin of the universe.
A universe with a beginning requires a cause or source. RTB astronomer Hugh Ross explains that “the big bang denies the notion of an uncreated or self-existent universe.” In a review of physicist and atheist Lawrence Krauss’s book A Universe from Nothing, Hugh notes the problem of nothing (see part 1 and part 2).
Krauss keeps changing his definition of “nothing.” Almost all his definitions are not really nothings but actual “some things.”...Where do all the some things come from? A fundamental principle of cause and effect is that effects always come after their causes. Moreover, effects are never greater than their causes. No human has ever seen these principles violated. They actually undergird the entire scientific enterprise.
RTB philosopher and theologian Kenneth Samples reiterates this point from a philosophical perspective. In his book Without a Doubt, Ken observes,
As a matter of reasonable practice, a person doesn’t typically accept the idea that information, knowledge, and truth can come from a random, accidental source. How can such rational enterprises as logic, mathematics, and science be reasonably justified when the human brain and mind are the result of a nonrational, mindless accident? Naturalism, in effect, purports that life, the mind, personhood, and reason came from a source that lacked each of these profound faculties and qualities. This would certainly be an effect much greater than its cause.
Thus, the big bang provides some of the most powerful evidence for the existence of God. In fact, it was this very evidence that started Hugh on his journey toward Christianity—a faith that pierces darkness of a different kind and instills light and eternal life.
Resources: You can learn about Hugh’s journey to faith in Christ through these resources from RTB.