Ukrainian-born cosmologist Alexander Vilenkin has continued to refine mathematical formulas that basically imply the universe had a beginning. As I've searched the Internet, I haven't found one mainstream news source covering the deeper implications of this news. The mainstream media somehow does not consider this interesting. But, at least New Scientist is willing to address some possible implications, referring to it as the "The Genesis Problem". It may be that mainstream news is so committed to the secular humanist worldview that any discoveries that imply the creation model may be true are simply unacceptable.
The occasion for Vilenkin's most recent presentation was Stephen Hawking's 70th birthday celebration which was entitled "State of the Universe" and featured a prerecorded message from Stephen Hawking who was too ill to attend a scientific forum in person. If you remember, there was quite a bit of hoopla in the media in 2010 when Hawking declared in his book, The Grand Design, that there was no need for God, 'because we have the laws of physics.' But compare a quote from his book in 2010 with his somewhat less confident and more defensive quote from January 11, 2012:
"Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing," - Stephen Hawking, 2010.
"A point of creation would be a place where science broke down. One would have to appeal to religion and the hand of God," - Stephen Hawking, 2012.
Hawking's statement on January 11, 2012 is obviously understood as one viewing the world through the lens of a materialist. According to Hawking's logic, if the math shows there must have been a creation event, it must mean that 'science broke down' and is neither reliable nor practical. The award-winning cosmologist Allan Sandage addressed this issue: "Must there necessarily be a conflict between science and religion? - In my opinion, no, if it is understood that each treats a different aspect of reality." A truly objective scientist follows the math wherever it may lead, without respect to ideological philosophical commitments. Hawking had stated there is no need for God, but continues to refer to God. It may be as Sandage observed, "If God did not exist, science would have to (and indeed has) invent the concept to explain what it is discovering at its core."
Vilenkin stated that simply admitting the universe had a beginning does not necessarily mean there was a Creator. He wrote, "We do have cosmological models describing how the universe could be spontaneously created from literally nothing (no space, no time, no matter) as a result of a quantum fluctuation. An intriguing problem with such models is that the creation of the universe is described using the mathematical laws of physics, but it is not clear where these laws came from."
John Lennox of Oxford University outlined, “… physical laws can never provide a complete explanation of the universe. Laws themselves do not create anything, they are merely a description of what happens under certain conditions." Allan Sandage noted, "I find it quite improbable that such order came out of chaos. There has to be some organizing principle. God to me is a mystery but is the explanation for the miracle of existence, why there is something instead of nothing." Sandage was ostracized to some extent when he openly expressed his Christian conversion at the ripe age of 50. The willingness to admit a personal belief in God can be risky business in academia today. Nevertheless, contemporary academic professors such as John Lennox remain well-respected and hold their own in philosophical debates. In my opinion, John Lennox outperformed Richard Dawkins in a live debate, both in terms of ideas and technique. It seems that cosmologists such as Allan Sandage end up becoming confessing believers in God simply by being exposed to the details of the fine-tuned universe and the apparent need for an "organizing principle". But it's not just the scientific data that is compelling, it is the underlying philosophical implications that must be reconciled in a cohesive philosophical logic, as Sandage noted:
"If there is no God, nothing makes sense. The atheist's case is based on a deception they wish to play upon themselves that follows already from their initial premise. And if there is a God, he must be true both to science and religion. If it seems not so, then one's hermeneutics (either the pastor's or the scientist's) must wrong."
At Dr. Vilenkin's profile at Tufts university, hard work and open-mindedness are highlighted as two of his main characteristics:
"I think it's like any job. Most of it is not very glamorous. Much of it is just doing hard calculations. Like any scientist, to be successful you really have to be obsessed with what you're doing; otherwise you wouldn't spend all these hours banging your head against the wall and doing the calculations. But when you really understand something, and you finally see the thing in a different light and you learn something about the universe, it's extremely exciting."
For theists who accept the logic of a Creator, the mathematical evidence of a beginning is not a surprise. The typical atheist explanation of the past, a cyclical big bang, has been eliminated and the creation model is looking better as time goes by. As the standard, past atheist models have been eliminated, it seems to be a bit uncomfortable for materialists. As the beginning of time and space may be represented graphically with a cone, the cone may also be a symbolic representation of how, little by little, the possibilities of how the universe was formed are being narrowed down. The creation model of the universe which was once mocked by scientists is now shown to be more in keeping with the scientific facts. The website Creation Evolution Headlines has outlined how Vilenkin's reports have eliminated popular models of the universe:
- Eternal inflation: Built on Alan Guth’s 1981 inflation proposal, this model imagines bubble universes forming and inflating spontaneously forever. Vilenkin and Guth had debunked this idea as recently as 2003. The equations still require a boundary in the past.
- Eternal cycles: A universe that bounces endlessly from expansion to contraction has a certain appeal to some, but it won’t work either. “Disorder increases with time,” Grossman explained. “So following each cycle, the universe must get more and more disordered.” Logically, then, if there had already been an infinite number of cycles, the universe would already been in a state of maximum disorder, even if the universe gets bigger with each bounce. Scratch that model.
- Eternal egg: One last holdout was the “cosmic egg” model that has the universe hatching out of some eternally-existing static state. “Late last year Vilenkin and graduate student Audrey Mithani showed that the egg could not have existed forever after all, as quantum instabilities would force it to collapse after a finite amount of time (arxiv.org/abs/1110.4096).” No way could the egg be eternal.
Vilenkin’s verdict: “All the evidence we have says that the universe had a beginning.”
Why physicists can't avoid a creation event
Inflationary Spacetimes Are Incomplete in Past Directions
 New Scientist, The Genesis problem, http://www.newscientist.com/article/mg21328473.500-the-genesis-problem.html
 The Guardian, Stephen Hawking says universe not created by God, http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/sep/02/stephen-hawking-big-bang-creator
 Uncommon Descent, A real beginning to the universe? Cosmologist Vilenkin didn’t always give “the worst birthday gifts ever” …, http://www.uncommondescent.com/cosmology/a-real-beginning-to-the-universe-cosmologist-vilenkin-didnt-always-give-the-worst-birthday-gifts-ever/
 Leadership U, A Scientist Reflects on Religious Belief, Dr. Allan Sandage, http://www.leaderu.com/truth/1truth15.html
 Daily Mail, As a scientist I'm certain Stephen Hawking is wrong. You can't explain the universe without God, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-1308599/Stephen-Hawking-wrong-You-explain-universe-God.html
 God and Science, Evidence for God from Science: Christian Apologetics, Quotes from Scientists Regarding Design of the Universe. http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/quotes.html#n05, Original source: Willford, J.N. March 12, 1991. Sizing up the Cosmos: An Astronomers Quest. New York Times, p. B9.
 Templestream, Why the God Debate is Valid and Necessary, http://templestream.blogspot.com/2011/08/why-god-debate-is-valid-and-necessary.html
 The Telegraph, Alan Sandage, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/science-obituaries/8150004/Allan-Sandage.html
 Tufts University, Alexander Vilenkin's profile, http://www.tufts.edu/home/feature/?p=vilenkin
 Creation Evolution Headlines , Cosmologists Forced to “In the Beginning”, http://crev.info/2012/01/cosmologists-forced-to-in-the-beginning/
 God and Science, Biblical Creation Model for the Universe and Life on Earth,
(Revised February 7, 2012)
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