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Finite Age of the Universe

Big Bang ExpansionThe Planck mission team and other sources have determined that the universe began 13.8 billion years ago at a moment known as the big bang. This was not an explosion of matter filling empty space, but it was space and time that were expanding. Time is a property of our universe, and it began at the big bang. There is no sense in asking about what was before, because there was no before. The cause of this event would be completely outside of time and space. This represents the boundary of science and introduces the logical reason that the universe had a Creator.

The graphic to the right, from the WMAP Science Team at NASA, portrays a detailed picture of space-time. The lateral direction is time. The universe began in a hot dense state and over time has expanded and cooled. The initial high energy state (and low entropy) of the universe provided the energy needed for formation of matter.  

Fundamental to all sciences is the law of conservation of energy (1st law of thermodynamics). Energy cannot be created nor destroyed, it can only change forms. However, when energy changes form it always flows into a less useful state, causing an increase in entropy (2nd law of thermodynamics). No closed system can ever experience a decrease in entropy. This same law forbids the construction of perpetual motion devices. The universe is the ultimate closed system, no matter how big it is, there is still a fixed amount of energy available on a volumetric basis.  

A small portion of the initial energy was stored up in the formation of matter, primarily hydrogen (75%) and helium (25%). Stars consume hydrogen through fusion, converting it into helium and releasing a lot of energy. This energy is dissipated as light and heat, thus providing warmth to nearby planets. Larger stars can also burn helium to produce even heavier elements up to iron. When a massive star goes supernova, the energy of the explosion produces elements heavier than iron and spreads the new elements into space. From the beginning until now stars have already consumed 2% of the universes initial store of hydrogen. Eventually, after a very long time, all the hydrogen will be consumed or be dispersed beyond recovery, and the universe will grow dim. With no useful energy, the universe will experience a cold, dark end.

One has to ask, if energy always becomes more dispersed, always becoming less useful, then where did our initial store of useful energy come from? An easy out might be to propose that the universe is not bound to the second law. But this would be contrary to all scientific evidence we have. It seems that the universe needs some supernatural force to provide the initial high energy density that still powers the universe today.

The universe needs a cause to exist, it also needs a source for its initial supply of energy. These two facts alone provide compelling evidence for a created universe. But this is only a small part of the whole story. It turns out the universe needs a lot of things from its Creator, to allow it to exist, to have complexity, and to have life. (See the Fine Tuned Universe).  

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updated Jun 17, 2013
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