Many Americans remain wary of the Big Bang Theory, particularly from a religious standpoint.
There is a popular misconception about what it means to believe in certain scientific theories. That one must reject or mock a belief in gods or a God in order to embrace them.
This is simply not in keeping with the behavior of some of the great minds of science, persons who were not interested in denying either their faith or fascination with the world of science.
In fact, did you know that the Big Bang Theory has been credited to a Catholic priest?
Georges Lemaître, who was a Belgian cosmologist and Catholic priest, wrote a paper in 1931 that closely resembles what we now know of as the theory of the Big Bang. He titled it, "The Beginning of the World from the Point of View of Quantum Theory".
— Mark Anderson (@markawriter) April 22, 2014
Lemaître believed that the universe is expanding and that all of it originated from a single point in space.
One of the reasons why his name remains largely unknown is that his theory was said to have been wrongly attributed to one Edwin Hubble.
It was the combination of Hubble’s observations, that the other galaxies were moving away from our own at high speeds, and Lemaître’s theories that suggested to the scientific community that a Big Bang was highly likely to have occurred.
Lemaître’s work was declared by Pope Pius XII to be “a scientific validation of the Catholic faith.”
Do you know who the Priest on the left of Einstein was? Meet Georges Lemaître, Father of the Big Bang theory. pic.twitter.com/AzXNtt7qij
— Jhanghiz Syahrivar (@JHANGHIZ) March 25, 2014
Albert Einstein was said to have been impressed with Lemaître's theories, reportedly applauding him and saying, "This is the most beautiful and satisfactory explanation of creation to which I have ever listened."
The Belgian cosmologist himself didn’t see his scientific work as directly linked to his religious faith. In fact, he had a very strong reason for separating the two:
As far as I can see, such a theory remains entirely outside any metaphysical or religious question. It leaves the materialist free to deny any transcendental Being… For the believer, it removes any attempt at familiarity with God.
— BHRS (@BHRSPolicy) September 27, 2013
Lemaître seemed to think of his faith and scientific research as parallel and equal. He did not need one to prove or disprove the other. He did not feel the need to use one to validate the other. He simply maintained his own beliefs about the universe from both a religious and scientific point of view.
Today, it seems that many cannot imagine science and religion as parallel rather than at odds with one another.
The “Father of the Big Bang Theory” and his approach to science holds a valuable lesson for many.
Namely that you believe spiritually is not necessarily the enemy of what you understand scientifically.
This is the scientist-priest Georges Lemaitre, famous for the Big Bang theory of the universe pic.twitter.com/nAN8rDgx9n
— Cliff Pickover (@pickover) March 28, 2014
Image via Wikimedia Commons