Like an AM radio song or a first-run movie, a scientific theory has to be catchy if it's going to get anywhere. To begin with, it has to have a name that people will remember. Bright high school students should be able to make science fair displays out of it. Time and Newsweekreaders should want to tell their friends about it. Members of key congressional committees should be able to get the drift of it at the first or second briefing.
Take the big bang theory, for instance; the scientists have reason to be proud of this one. It goes something like this…. Sixteen or twenty billion years ago, when the only thing in existence was a super-dense cosmic chunk, a big bang took place and set in motion a random evolution that has led to today's living world (with its plants and animals and government appropriations for scientific theories).
As we might expect, in their 1977 report to NASA the leading men at the Goddard Space Flight Center and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory had fond words for the big bang:
A concept of cosmic evolution … is receiving considerable attention today. This does not mean that it has been proven, nor that all scientists concerned with the broad range of studies involved with this theory agree with it either in its detail or its overall structure. Yet it serves as a useful framework within which to define general themes of extraterrestrial investigation and. . . to help guide the planning of specific programs in Space Sciences.(Report to the NASA Administrator by the Outlook for Space Study Group)
In other words, the big bang theory may not be true, "but," say the scientists, "we're using it anyway, to plan out the next stage of our multibillion-dollar space program." They're using the big bang to get the big buck.
Shortly after the statement we've just read, the scientists offer a modest summary, in the form of an easy-to-digest table:
Steps in Cosmic Evolution
Galaxies and Stars
Suns and Planets
Oceans and Atmosphere
A little puzzling, perhaps, but a clear sign that the scientists are attuned to the American psyche. For one thing, we don't like know-it-alls, and the scientists do everything they can to avoid seeming dogmatic. They couch their theory in question marks, and sure enough, it catches our fancy all the more. As the table reveals so unabashedly, the big bang theory is a doubt on top and a doubt on the bottom, with a few slices of guesswork sandwiched in between. But somehow it's irresistible.
Well, not quite irresistible, at least not anymore. It's starting to look more and more like what my Webster's New Collegiate calls a "myth": "an ill-founded belief held uncritically, especially by an interested group."
Mainly, though, the big bang theory just doesn't make sense. After all, how could all the complex life-forms in our world have come from an exploding chunk? As far as I can see, explosions cause death and disintegration, not life and ongoing creation. Explosions make piles of rubble, not plants and flowers and butterflies and human beings.
Happily, many scientists are starting to see things the same way. Richard L. Thompson, Ph.D. (American Mathematical Society) has shown that it's statistically impossible for complex life-forms to evolve from simpler inorganic forms explosions or other "natural" processes notwithstanding. (See his Demonstration by Information Theory That Life Cannot Arise from Matter, 1977.) Dr. Thompson finds that the laws of mathematics point to a universal controlling intelligence.
And this is just what the Vedic literature tells us: "In the beginning of the creation there was only the Supreme Personality. There was no sun, no moon, no stars. There was only Krsna, who creates and enjoys all." And when He desired. He manifested the universe, in an orderly way. As His Divine Grace A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada explains, "The whole process of creation is a gradual development from one element to another, reaching up to the variegatedness of the earth as so many plants, mountains, reptiles, birds, animals, and varieties of human beings."
NASA's own latest findings support this conclusion, if only unintentionally. Not long ago, a team of scientists sent ultrasensitive radio equipment aloft in a NASA U-2 jet and measured "the cosmic microwave background" the radiation they think the big bang left behind. Dr. Richard Muller, Dr. George Smooty, and graduate student Marc Gorenstein reported, "Our measurements give a picture of an extremely smooth process. The big bang, the most cataclysmic event we can imagine, on closer inspection appears finely orchestrated." Then might there be an orchestrator?
The U-2 data report (NASA Activities, February 1978) goes on to say that the expansion of the universe was "serene, highly controlled, and completely uniform" not explosive, but more like "the blossoming of a plant or flower."
We may be a little amazed to discover that the five-thousand-year-old Srimad-Bhagavatam offers the same description:
"The bud of a lotus flower generated from the Personality of Visnu, and by His supreme will it illuminated everything, like the sun…." Then Brahma, the first living being, was born atop the lotus flower and "saw that the lotus was spread throughout the universe."
Of course, if we go to Mt. Palomar we might not be able to see Lord Visnu or the universal lotus, just as when we watch a TV show we probably won't be able to see the producer or director. The Vedic literature informs us, "No one can grasp the universal controlling intelligence with his blunt material senses." Yet from this controlling intelligence the whole universe has sprung (as NASA says) just like a blossoming flower.