The way in which the big bang theory (the scientific theory – not the TV show) is, for the most part, represented as fact has irritated me for many years now. In it’s most basic form, the big bang theory says that the universe began as a singularity… a hot, dense point from which sprang our entire universe. Given that we can’t travel back in time to the ‘beginning’ (assuming there is one) and that our ways of observing, measuring and testing were all invented by us humans and that much of the science surrounding the big bang contains more than it’s fair share of assumption and speculation you really need to have a degree of ‘faith’ in order to accept it as fact.
It’s not unusual for science to get things wrong or draw premature conclusions. There was a time when science believed the universe was contracting rather than expanding. In fact, some scientists still believe this to be the case (ref). Science has also upgraded the size of the universe and now (rightly) calls it ‘the observable universe’. I mean let’s face it – we can only see as far as our technology will allow us to and there’s also that problem with the speed of light. If the earth is 13.8 billion years old then, presumably, right now we are only going to be able to see things that are no more than 13.8 billion light years away. It may well be that in 100 billion years we will announce that the observable universe is 113.8 billion years in size (if robots haven’t taken over by then 😉 ).
I think it’s great that there are thousands of scientists out there trying to find all the answers but I also think that it’s not hard to become so attached to a theory that the theory then takes on some sort of reality in some people’s minds. The big bang theory makes the assumption that everything must have a beginning. That’s because everything we people do has a beginning and an end – how could anything be truly ‘eternal’? There was a time when people thought the earth was flat too – because they simply couldn’t conceive it any other way.
I guess my underlying doubt comes from that fact that whilst all sorts of discoveries, measurements and observations have been made that purport to support the big bang, every law of physics, every measuring instrument and every observation has been made by us humans and thus limited by what we know. Consider what we ‘knew’ 2000 years ago and then imagine what we will ‘know’ in another 2000 years. There’s a good chance that today’s science will be considered ancient, ill informed and somewhat ‘quaint’ by then.