Thursday, February 19, 2009

Why is it called the “Big Bang”?

The phrase “Big Bang” has a nice ring to it. It’s easy to remember. But it sounds like sort of an unsophisticated name to give to the event that caused the creation of the entire universe!

In fact, it is my understanding that the phrase “Big Bang” is a slang expression used primarily in Britain for a particularly shall I say this? ...enthusiastic sexual encounter.

So it is not really obvious as to how this phrase so widely used and accepted.

The event that initiated the universe was named by Dr. Fred Hoyle. Dr. Hoyle died in 2001 at the age of 86. He was an eminent astronomer and made significant contributions to his field.

But, to his dying day he was a skeptic of the “Big Bang” (for reasons unrelated to this discussion). It was his view that the universe had always existed but that new mass was introduced on occasion in order to support the eternal nature of the universe.

On March 28, 1949, on a BBC radio program called The Nature of Things Dr. Hoyle used the expression “The Big Bang” to sarcastically describe this idea that he didn’t agree with.

Needless to say, the expression caught on.

One problem is that creationists often focus on the name, despite the nearly random nature by which it came into comon usage. The word “bang”, of course, is used most often for an explosion. Explosions don’t generally produce order.

But the Big Bang is really just a sudden expansion of space and time. The concept of a balloon suddenly inflating is closer to what the Big Bang really was than is an explosion.

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