My new favorite show is “through the wormhole with morgan freeman” on the Science Channel. Every episode teaches me something new about the latest scientific thought on different aspects of our existence, while also confusing me just enough to keep me intrigued! My absolute favorite episode thus far was called “was there a time before time?” because . . . well, check this out . . .
According to the physicists who subscribe to the Big Bang Theory, our expanding universe was created by a enormous explosion that emanated from an infinitely dense and infinitely small point of light that contained all the energy that would ever exist in our universe. That infinitely dense point of light is called “Singularity,” and it “popped into existence” from “Nothing.” Before Singularity popped into existence and exploded, there was no “where,” there was no “time,” and there was no“thing.”
According to Rabbi Isaac Luria, creation began when the Infinite G-d, Ein Sof (“Without End”), attempted to pour the light of divine wisdom into a space created by G-d’s retraction. Thus, a dot of light appeared in a void of Nothingness. But the light, which contained the infinite power of G-d, was too strong and “shattered” the space. Before the shattering, there was no “thing,” no “space,” and no “time.” Rather, everything that ever would be was superimposed on one “thought.”
As if it isn’t enough that those two “stories” are astonishing similar, consider the fact that Luria lived in the 1500’s, while the Big Bang Theory was proposed and gained support in the 1900’s, after a series of pictures from the Hubble telescope in the late 1920’s demonstrated the universe is expanding and after two scientists working for Bell Labs in the 1960’s measured the “background noise” of the universe, which is believed to be the remnants of the Big Bang explosion. So, Luria’s explanation arrived WAY ahead of the scientific knowledge.
After Hubble’s pictures and theory were published, Albert Einstein created his General Theory of Relativity to explain the expansion of the universe over time. But if, instead of using Relativity to understand what is currently happening to the universe or what will happen in the future, one uses Relativity to extrapolate backward in time, the logical conclusion of Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity is . . . the universe began as an infinitely small and infinitely dense point of light . . . Singularity.
Einstein is quoted in numerous places as asserting he was an agnostic, because he had rejected the idea of a “puppet-master G-d,” but he nevertheless looked at the universe with awe, and he stated that his version of G-d was in “the mystery.” And, although I’m sure a rationalist like Einstein had little patience for what he and the other rationalists in the Haskalah (group of Jewish rationalists/intellectuals that were a precursor to Reform Judaism) saw as the “irrationality” of the Hasidim, I wonder if Einstein knew that he and the Hasidim had a shared understanding of the nature of G-d and that his theory meshed with the Kabbalistic version of creation . . . .
Finally, the hypothesis that became known as the “Big Bang Theory” was first stated scientifically by Georges Lemaitre, an astronomer, professor of physics, and . . . Catholic priest!! Lemaitre predicted the universe was expanding before Hubble’s pictures provided the proof. Lemaitre called his creation theory “hypothesis of the primeval atom.” “Primeval atom” was Lemaitre’s word for Singularity, the infinitely small, undivided point of light that began all time and space.
But . . . get this . . . you know what Kabbalists call the thing that shattered, the light from G-d in which all time and space was superimposed into one??
Primordial Adam …
Primeval Atom … Primordial Adam …
Somehow, my friends, despite all the time and space through which our finite world may have “travelled,” if we stop long enough to look (like Moses at the burning bush), even science and religion come together, bringing us back to Singularity, One, the Infinite Nothingness, Ein Sof . . .
Shabbat shalom, jen