What does your faith say about the origin and fate of the universe?
Posted on Fri, Apr. 03, 2009
Science and Qur’an not in disagreement
Syed E. Hasan, Ph.D., Islamic Research Foundation International:
Centuries before the big-bang theory was developed to explain the origin of the universe, the Qur’an had enlightened us about its origin and fate in an amazing way.
The big-bang theory proposes that the universe initially comprised a hot, dense cloud of gaseous material, similar to smoke. About 14 billion years ago a huge cosmic explosion broke apart the cloud of gases into scattered pieces that eventually formed our expanding universe.
According to the big-bang theory, at some future time its expansion will slow down and ultimately stop, causing it to collapse into a singular entity where the known laws of physics, chemistry and mathematics will not be valid.
Several verses in the Qur’an refer to the origin of the universe using words and phrases like smoke or once joined together. For example: “Do not the unbelievers see that the heavens and the earth were joined together (as one unit of creation) before We clove them asunder?...” (21: 30); and also, “…the sky, and it had been (as) smoke….” (41:11)
About the fate of the universe the Qur’an comments: “The day that I roll up the heavens like a scroll rolled up for writings — even as produced the first Creation, so shall I produce a new one…” (21:104); and “One day the earth will be changed to a different earth and so will be the heavens …” (14:48).
The cycle of evolution and devolution continues
A.M. Bhattacharyya, an active member of the Hindu community: On the creation theme philosophy and mythology — both have important contributions in Hindu faith. I am presenting the philosophical perspective about the origin and the fate of the universe, as expounded in Scriptures, Vedas and their Knowledge sections, Upanisads. First and foremost, there is God — the all-pervading, eternal, absolute reality, an infinite source of knowledge, truth and bliss. God is transcendental as well as immanent. He creates the universe out of himself. Isa-Upanisad says, “In the heart of all things in the universe, dwells the Lord.”
The universe goes through infinite series of universal cycles. At the end of a cycle, it becomes latent in God. It stays in a state of quiescence, until by God’s creative urge it becomes manifest again. The cosmic process of creation and dissolution continues forever. A hymn from Rig-Veda says, “The whole series of universe — past, present and future express the glory and power of the Universal Being. But, he transcends his own glory.” Mundaka-Upanisad describes the evolution-involution cycle this way, “As from a fire fully ablaze, fly off sparks in their thousands, similarly, from the Imperishable, originate different kinds of creatures, and unto him again they merge.”
In modern terms this may look somewhat remotely like the big-bang theory. However, Hindu scriptures made it abundantly clear that, just as creator God is eternal, the creation-dissolution cycle will go through eternity.
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E-mail Syed E. Hasan at firstname.lastname@example.org. E-mail A.M. Bhattacharyya at ambhatt@ everestkc.net.
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