This question opens up the biggest mysteries that humanity has ever grappled with. The other big questions like the Origin of life, what is consciousness, dark energy and dark matter all are in ways related to this BIG question.
All scientists have come up with is the most reasonable explanation to this mystery and conducted certain experiments that have made the case of a certain theory slightly stronger than other contending opinions. The Big Bang Theory has now become the leading explanation about how the universe began.(What an ugly name for the most magnificent phenomenon ever !) Leading scientists when asked will tell you that the established theories that we have are best approximations obtained when certain conditions and parameters are taken as constants. A slight disruption in those set of constants can completely influence the results. So nothing except for God is Absolute !
At its simplest, it talks about the universe as we know it starting with a small singularity, then inflating over the next 13.8 billion years to the cosmos that we know today. Because current instruments don't allow astronomers to peer back at the universe's birth, much of what we understand about the Big Bang Theory comes from mathematical theory and models. Astronomers can, however, see the "echo" of the expansion through a phenomenon known as the cosmic microwave background.
The most important point that has to be made before the study of the Universe is that the Material Universe that we now see was created from NOTHING. In Latin it’s called “Creation ex nihilo” (Creation out of nothing)
There was a Big Explosion ! Like a rapidly expanding balloon, it swelled from a size smaller than an electron to nearly its current size within a tiny fraction of a second.
Initially, the Universe was permeated only by Energy. Some of this energy congealed into particles to give rise to the building blocks of matter – the quarks and electrons of which we are all made. A few millionths of a second later, quarks aggregated to produce protons and neutrons. This all happened at 10 billion degrees Fahrenheit (5.5 billion Celcius) according to NASA. Within minutes, these protons and neutrons combined into nuclei. As the universe continued to expand and cool, things began to happen more slowly. It took 380,000 years for electrons to be trapped in orbits around nuclei, forming the first atoms. These were mainly helium and hydrogen, which are still by far the most abundant elements in the universe.
You may have heard that the Universe started from a “Singularity”. Sounds like a theological term but like everything else surrounding the Universe, be it’s beginning, it's inflation and even its current state till its eventual end is shrouded in metaphysics. Anyways, back to what a gravitational singularity is a location in space-time where the gravitational field of a celestial body becomes infinite in a way that does not depend on the coordinate system. The quantities used to measure gravitational field strength are the scalar invariant curvatures of spacetime, which includes a measure of the density of matter. Since such quantities become infinite within the singularity, the laws of normal space-time do not exist. This occurs in collapsing stars in the form of the centre of Black Holes. According to modern General relativity, the initial state of the universe, at the beginning of the Big Bang, was a Singularity. Both general relativity and quantum mechanics break down in describing the earliest moments of the Big Bang. So there you go, even though a singularity is defined as this point in space time which experiences an infinite gravitational field, wherein laws of physics as we know them collapse, then we can incur at least two things from this.
After doing away with our spatio-temporal lingo. We can define a Singularity as a “Singular Infinite Energy Act”. Our intellect always connects an “act” with a “Doer”. But here the “Doer” or Creator has to have Infinite Attributes, according to the definition of a Singularity.
“And our Command is but One,swifter than the blinking of an eye
(fraction of a second) !” (Surah Qamar 54:50)
Now this early soup of particles would have been impossible to look at, because light could not carry inside of it. "The free electrons would have caused light (photons) to scatter the way sunlight scatters from the water droplets in clouds," NASA stated. Over time, however, the free electrons met up with nuclei and created neutral atoms. This allowed light to shine through about 380,000 years after the Big Bang.
This early light — sometimes called the "afterglow" of the Big Bang — is more properly known as the cosmic microwave background (CMB). It was first predicted by Ralph Alpher and other scientists in 1948, but was found only by accident almost 20 years later.
Age of the universe
The observations of the European Space Agency's Planck satellite released in 2013, mapped the background in unprecedented detail and revealed that the universe may have been older than previously thought: 13.82 billion years old, rather than 13.7 billion years old.
Examining the CMB also gives astronomers clues as to the composition of the universe. Researchers think most of the cosmos is made up of matter and energy that cannot be "sensed" with conventional instruments, leading to the names dark matter and dark energy. Only 5% of the universe is made up of matter such as planets, stars and galaxies. Interestingly enough, now we know an Atom is 99% empty space. So whatever Matter is made up of, it surely isn’t matter !
Much to the dismay of early 19th century materialists, this scarcity of matter in the universe and the overwhelming presence of unexplained “Dark Matter” that helped shape the universe, only makes metaphysical and religious outlooks on the creation of the Universe, more relevant than ever today !
Faster inflation and Multiverses
The universe is not only expanding, but getting faster as it inflates. This means that with time, nobody will be able to spot other galaxies from Earth, or any other vantage point within our galaxy.
"We will see distant galaxies moving away from us, but their speed is increasing with time," Harvard University astronomer Avi Loeb said in a March 2014 (Space.com).
"So, if you wait long enough, eventually, a distant galaxy will reach the speed of light. What that means is that even light won't be able to bridge the gap that's being opened between that galaxy and us.
Some physicists also suggest that the universe we experience is just one of many. This is where it gets interesting. What is proposed is a "multiverse" model, different universes would coexist with each other like bubbles lying side by side. The Quran from the start to the end describes God as “The Lord of the Samawaat and the Earth”. Could the Samawaat be the Multiverses?
“The One who created the Seven Multiverses in stages, never will you see in the Creation of the Most Merciful a discrepancy”
(Surah Mulk, The Surah of the Material Universe 67:3)
The theory suggests that in that first big push of inflation, different parts of space-time grew at different rates. So that means, different dimensions of space and time. (The Quran speaks of seven such dimensions of Spacetime, which the Prophet Muhammad is said to have traversed in his famous Night Journey, with his speed being faster than the speed of light). This could have carved off different sections — different universes — with potentially different laws of physics or what is called Metaphysics (Beyond Physics). In the Arabic language the number “seven” is also used to allude to a great number or multitude (Taj al Arus). So, the different dimensions of Space Time or multiverses could be seven or even more than seven. But one thing is for sure, that the Reality we experience is just a tiny slice of what lies out there !
However, the model of the Multiverses that was given by the Prophet Muhammad (Peace and Blessings be upon Him) was different from the proposed figure above. It was a Universe inside another and this one inside another and so on till the Seventh. In the words of the Prophet ,” The analogy of the Material Universe (Sama ad Dunya) with the Second Universe is that of a “ring inside a desert”, and then the second Universe is like a “ring inside a desert” and so on and so forth till the sixth is like a ring inside a desert”, giving a visual description to allude to the sheer vastness and magnitude of the Multiverses and the comparatively infinitesimal Universe in which we live.
"It's hard to build models of inflation that don't lead to a multiverse," Alan Guth, a theoretical physicist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said during a news conference in March 2014 concerning the gravitational waves discovery. (Guth is not affiliated with that study.)
"It's not impossible, so I think there's still certainly research that needs to be done. But most models of inflation do lead to a multiverse, and evidence for inflation will be pushing us in the direction of taking [the idea of a] multiverse seriously."
So much about “How” the Universe or Multiverses were created. But what about the “WHY”? Ladies and gentleman, please welcome Religion in !
Safiyyah Sabreen studied Mechanical Engineering and is currently pursuing her Master's in Philosophy. She is the Content Director for KNOW. Being interested in the field of Islam and Science and Islamic Eschatology, she produced a documentary on the Golden Age of Islam and directs the Second Golden Age series.