From chapter 3 of the third edition of The Virtue of Heresy:

The tidal wave caused jointly by Max Planck’s 1900 quantum hypothesis and Einstein’s relativity swept the scientific world, and by 1930, physics was standing on its head. As professor of mathematics at the University of Leningrad, Alexander Friedmann enthusiastically promoted these ideas, and his students took them and ran.

One young man in particular would go on to become world-renowned on the stages of mathematics, nuclear physics, genetics, and cosmology, and without him this story could not be told.

Georgy Antonovich Gamov was born in Odessa, Ukraine, in 1904. He showed an exceptional gift for mathematics and science, and in due course found himself in the mathematics classes of Alexander Friedmann, who was then at the height of his fame. Before the adventurous Friedmann’s premature death of typhus fever in 1925, he spent long hours discussing his ideas of the cosmos with Gamov, and these naturally included the notion of an expanding Universe. Gamov, strangely enough, was not convinced. Not yet!

After a spell in Copenhagen, where he was no doubt drenched in the controversial Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum theory, Gamov emigrated to the United States, and his name was rounded by the lilt of the American tongue to George Gamow. After a few years, he became a professor of physics at George Washington University, an august institution suffused with the aura of Hubble and Lemaître, and there he converted completely to the Friedmann-Lemaître philosophy of a scattering cosmos. Gamow was an energetic, exciting character blessed with a wonderful humour and appealing turn of phrase.

His public lectures were sell-outs. People came from far and wide to hear him speak, and Gamow spoke. He took the so-called FLWR cosmology—a metric named after Friedmann, Lemaître, and mathematicians Howard Walker and Arthur Robertson—and made it his own. Professor Gamow was a highly charismatic academic leader, and there is little doubt that his charisma played a significant part in the wide popularity of Big Bang cosmology. But there was more to it than that.

Lemaître’s principal argument was based on the second law of thermodynamics, which tells us that with time, as the Universe slides irretrievably towards entropy, it becomes more and more particulate. If this is true, then logically in times past there were fewer particles, and at some very ancient epoch, only one particle in the entire Universe. Even Lemaître’s contemporaries argued strongly that his views were an over-simplification of a far more chaotic process.

Nowadays it is clearly seen that the Universe is not on a global linear decay into entropy; the progress of cosmic cycles goes both ways. In the 1930’s, the world of science lost interest in Lemaître’s model, and according to Eric Lerner[1], it took the advent of the atomic bomb to rekindle belief in a Big Bang. I think he’s right on the button there, and it was one of the Manhattan Project bomb scientists who did it.
From his graduate students, Gamow gathered an enthusiastic band of disciples led by his lieutenants Herman and Alpher, and they set out from the premise that an expanding Universe must have expanded from something, and that something must have provided the kinetic energy to drive the galaxies apart. A gigantic explosion would fit the bill, and they proceeded to make the calculations needed to support such an hypothesis.

In 1951 Gamow put his ideas down in a book, and tellingly entitled it The Creation of the Universe. Over in England, a cynical Dr Fred Hoyle (originator of the opposing Steady State cosmology) referred to the Lemaître/Gamow explosively expanding Universe disparagingly as a “big bang”, and the name stuck. In the same year (1951), the theory received the Canonical stamp of approval in an address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences by Pope Pius XII: “In fact, it seems that present-day science, with one sweeping step back across millions of centuries, has succeeded in bearing witness to that primordial ‘Fiat lux’ uttered at the moment when, along with matter, there burst forth from nothing a sea of light and radiation…” Guess who was Director of that academy? That’s right, none other than Fr Georges Lemaître!

Creationism had come back to roost, although, it must be said, Papal enthusiasm was somewhat optimistic. Including God in the Big Bang story amounts to wishful thinking at best.

A small digression here would be appropriate to briefly discuss Big Bang as an evolutionary theory, which of course is what it is: An entire Universe of complex, distinct species evolving from the primeval atom. In such a process, the very first design would have been driven by the very first function, and upon this dichotomy a complete A-to-Z theory of evolution like Big Bang fails. Random events remain random unless the procedure is formalised.

It is possible, only just, that complex structure could emerge from the random collision of smaller parts, but that’s as far as it would get—just one complex structure. For the system to establish continuity, and to produce the same effects continuously from the same inputs (like chemical reactions do), there has to be template, a plan that is followed by succeeding generations.

I need to clarify something: My thesis does not oppose evolution. What I’m saying is that evolution cannot commence from zero. That is quite impossible. Any process whatsoever must commence from a threshold containing the properties of the process. In biological evolution, the process depends critically upon genetic code. Therefore the gene preceded the process. It was not the product of the process, because the process is impossible without it. The evolution of the Universe described in Big Bang Theory would have had to proceed from a design paradigm existing at some non-zero and non-trivial threshold.

That is why Big Bang evolution fails: Where did the plan come from, and how is it carried? Think about this carefully. Collisions can arguably produce complexity, but they cannot produce a plan. Random events, no matter what the effect produced, cannot be the author of design. Without design, the output would be as random as the input. But, as we can see so clearly in the world around us, that is simply not so.

Either the function or the design was there at the beginning; it doesn’t matter which. Evolution simply cannot work unless it is pre-empted by an event threshold beneath which is design. What is crucial here is the clear implication that function-driven evolution cannot exist without design, and since Big Bang relates a purely evolutionary theory of existence, it necessarily depends upon pre-existing intelligence. The development of structure, however simple, is a product of organisation that is a triumph of order over chaos. In my view, an organisational plan underpins all of existence anyway, and it is quite independent of the philosophical spin we put on it.

[1] Eric J. Lerner The Big Bang Never Happened (Vintage Books, New York, 1992).

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