By Jeff Kenney
As stated repeatedly, we don’t mean the title,”Christian Origins of Nearly Everything” LITERALLY, though it has ironic connotations given the subject of this edition, which is…the Big Bang Theory. The theory that the universe began with…well, a big BANG. Though obviously that’s an oversimplified version of the theory itself.
At any rate, the Big Bang Theory was actually the work of a Catholic priest, mathematician, physician, astronomer, and World War I veteran, Monseigneur George Lemaître.
Monseigneur George Lemaître, originally of Belgium, studied at Cambridge, Harvard, and MIT. When he first posited his “hypothesis of the primeval atom” theory in the 1920s, the ruling thought of the day was Albert Einstein’s emphasis on a static universe of finite size, though Einstein’s own Theory of General Relativity was already leading to pioneering new thoughts on astronomy and physics. Further, the numbers just weren’t working out if Einstein was correct about a static universe; instead, they seemed to point to one that was – is – growing.
Monseigneur Lemaître theorized that if the universe is growing, it had to be doing so from some point in time and space, and that its growth, if it could be tracked to the beginning, would have started at what he called a superatom, whose explosion set the physical universe in motion.
As a side note, there are some obvious parallels there to St. Thomas Aquinas’ explanation of the existence of God as “First Mover,” but that’s another discussion for another day.
Albert Einstien himself is said to have called Monseigneur Lemaître’s theory, “ the most beautiful and satisfactory explanation of creation to which I have ever listened.”
For what it’s worth, Pope Pius XII stated that the big bang theory was not incompatible with Catholic teaching, much as has been the case with many scientific theories and discoveries in recent decades and centuries.
In fact – and this is again a point for another video – a long litany of Catholic clergy and laypeople have been pioneers in scientific discovery and theory. So many, in fact, that one might begin to suspect that the much-ballyhooed Galileo affair, so frequently trotted out as a clear example of the Catholic Church’s continued opposition to science, was either an exception to the norm or a misunderstood facet of history, used as part of a broader, highly fictional narrative intended to validate heavily secular ideas and movements.
Which, by the way, is exactly the case. The Church’s support of, and work in the area of science for hundreds upon hundreds of years is a subject for another of our videos, if you’re interested. It’s a fascinating story…so check it and other videos here out and join me, your Quick Christian History Guy, Jeff Kenney, for the Christian Origins of Nearly Everything.