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Oscillating Universe Theory

QUESTION: What is the oscillating universe theory?


The oscillatory universe theory is a hypothesis credited to Richard Tolman who saw it as a possible outcome of the Big Bang.

One implication of the Big Bang Theory is that the universe may grow cold and dark and die an ultimate heat death. This will happen if the universe expands forever. Although this scenario will destroy all life and the ability of the universe to do work, the universe itself would survive for an infinite period of time. This would be the outcome if the expansion of the universe were what scientists call flat or open.

Alternatively, in a closed universe the expansion will eventually stop. In this scenario the universe will begin to contract once expansion ends. Although contraction would be very slow at first the contraction rate would accelerate and grow hotter and brighter until it ends in the Big Crunch, in which it implodes into a singularity and gets crushed out of existence.

However, some scientists speculate that the Big Crunch would not signal the end. They believe that perhaps another Big Bang would follow the Big Crunch, giving rise to a new universe of possibilities. This idea that Big Bangs follow Big Crunches in a never-ending cycle is known as an oscillating universe. Though no theory has been developed to explain how this could ever happen, it has a certain philosophical appeal to people who like the idea of a universe without end.

This theory was popular in the 1960’s and 70’s, but has currently fallen out of favor. One reason is that all recent data shows that the universe is not closed and consequently will expand forever. Another reason is that this theory ignores the second law of thermodynamics, which requires usable energy to continually decrease and for the universe to become more random and disorganized. A third reason is that it really doesn’t provide for an explanation of the initial creation; rather, it only pushes it back further in time.

The science that speculates on the oscillating universe theory and other cosmological theories is limited to natural explanations. Consequently, it eliminates any supernatural explanations of God creating the universe and having the ability to affect its future. While science can speculate endlessly about things that we haven’t observed or experienced, it cannot answer most questions about the universe and why we exist. While we are speculating, we should include the speculation that God may have created everything for a purpose and that perhaps the universe we see is evidence for God.

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