Day 2: Three little words
“In the beginning.” Stop right there. Let’s not go any further. Remember how I said John gets philosophical and theological? It starts right now.
“In the beginning.” You might be thinking, “What’s the big deal? Don’t you know about the Big Bang?” You and I do. But for centuries, people, philosophers and later scientists, believed the world, the universe, the cosmos…call it what you will…just always existed.
I am not kidding. The generally accepted belief was that what is here was always here. That’s why “In the beginning” is huge!
Where you start matters.
For years at work, I gave brilliant answers to questions that were never asked. People don’t really like that.
Thankfully, back then I had instructors who drilled into me to “answer the question asked.” Otherwise, I would often rush into telling people what I thought they needed to know. My mentors always held up their hands and asked, “David, where are you starting from?” I learned that where I started, and how I started, often set the outcome.
So when someone says “in the beginning,” a few big questions jump to the front.
Question one. If all this had a beginning, then what was there before? And if you figure that out, then what was there before that part you just figured out? You can see how this could be endless.
The Greeks, you know those dudes who gave us philosophy, thought about this a lot. They finally concluded that the cosmos must have some sort of “ordering principle(s) or ideas.” They could not quite put their finger on it, but they gave it a name: in Greek, “Logos.”
Here’s another question: who or what caused this idea? For all the musing about this question from the Greeks, we know that by the 1500’s, most people just assumed the universe was always here. That was until the 1950’s when we measured the universe expanding (which is really amazing). That is when what is now generally called “The Big Bang” theory came to be widely accepted.
Do you know that scientists initially resisted accepting it? Any idea why? Don’t read ahead! Pause and try and think why anyone would not want the universe to have a beginning.
Okay, read on.
Here’s why: if the universe had a beginning, then someone, or something, outside of the cosmos, caused it to come into being. What I just wrote is a huge philosophical thing… it is called causation. In plain language, it takes something bigger and separate to cause something else. So, if there was a time when the universe “was not,” then who caused it?
Add to this little tidbit that if someone caused this rather remarkable universe to exist... well, might we ought to sit up and take notice? I mean, should we not at least see what this someone or something is like?
“In the beginning.” With just three little English words (two Greek words), John has challenged the philosophical powers, and not just of his day, but of many days! It only took science a few millennia to catch up. Not too shabby, John.
So seriously, think about this for a bit. Don’t worry, I will go faster than three words a day, but we don’t need to rush.