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Recently, radio astronomers reported that they had detected the beginning of the universe.
Never before has humanity been able to look back that far in time – 13.8 billion years ago – and only a huge array of radio telescopes at the South Pole accomplished it. With that array, scientists found evidence of the first tiny segment of cosmic time.
As we look out into our universe, of course, we see light that left the most distant stars and galaxies billions of years ago. The vast distances — so great that it takes light billions of years just to reach us – mean we can actually see into the past. And radio telescopes can see much more than just the visual spectrum, with their ability to detect swirls of polarized light at some of the farthest reaches of cosmic time.
This astonishing discovery confirms Einstein’s general theory of relativity and physicist Alan Guth’s 1979 supposition that the Big Bang generated a force called inflation – which made the newly-created universe expand more rapidly than the speed of light. Inflation also helps buttress the scientific reality of the idea of the multiverse, the almost unimaginable concept that our universe is not alone.
As the New York Times reported:
Most of the hundred or so models resulting from Dr. Guth’s original vision suggest that inflation, once started, is eternal. Even as our own universe settled down to a comfortable homey expansion, the rest of the cosmos will continue blowing up, spinning off other bubbles endlessly, a concept known as the multiverse. – Dennis Overbye, March 17, 2014.
No bigger scientific discovery has occurred in recent times. The confirmation of inflation makes for increasing certainty, not only about our origins; but of the fact of multiple, continuing origins. This awe-inspiring idea, which we finite human beings find difficult to comprehend, simply shows that existence has always existed, and will continue to exist forever. We have now penetrated to the very beginnings of known time, 13.8 billion light-years ago — only to find that our own cosmos-creating Big Bang was likely just one of many.
These landmark scientific discoveries also validate and verify the Baha’i view that existence is timeless, with no start or end date. Just as the Creator is inconceivably infinite and eternal, the Baha’i writings say, the creation also has no beginning and no end. Scientists, astronomers and physicists struggle to understand and then express the eternal nature of existence – but somehow the poets and prophets say it best.
In the elegiac, epic language of revelation, Baha’u’llah explains:
Praise be to God, the All-Possessing, the King of incomparable glory, a praise which is immeasurably above the understanding of all created things, and is exalted beyond the grasp of the minds of men. None else besides Him hath ever been able to sing adequately His praise, nor will any man succeed at any time in describing the full measure of His glory. Who is it that can claim to have attained the heights of His exalted Essence, and what mind can measure the depths of His unfathomable mystery? From each and every revelation emanating from the Source of His glory, holy and never-ending evidences of unimaginable splendor have appeared, and out of every manifestation of His invincible power oceans of eternal light have outpoured. How immensely exalted are the wondrous testimonies of His almighty sovereignty, a glimmer of which, if it but touched them, would utterly consume all that are in the heavens and in the earth! How indescribably lofty are the tokens of His consummate power, a single sign of which, however inconsiderable, must transcend the comprehension of whatsoever hath, from the beginning that hath no beginning, been brought into being, or will be created in the future till the end that hath no end.
A drop of the billowing ocean of His endless mercy hath adorned all creation with the ornament of existence, and a breath wafted from His peerless Paradise hath invested all beings with the robe of His sanctity and glory. A sprinkling from the unfathomed deep of His sovereign and all-pervasive Will hath, out of utter nothingness, called into being a creation which is infinite in its range and deathless in its duration. The wonders of His bounty can never cease, and the stream of His merciful grace can never be arrested. The process of His creation hath had no beginning, and can have no end. – Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, pp. 60-61.