Myth of the ‘Primeval Atom’
Published: September 4, 2010

In 1927, the Belgian Roman Catholic priest, cosmologist, and astrophysicist Georges Lemaitre (1904- 68), hoping to make the Biblical creation story of Genesis compatible with physics, hypothesized that in the remote past all the matter in the universe was concentrated at one point, called the “primeval atom.” The universe began when this “primeval atom”exploded. He said that the universe was created by God, as detailed in Genesis, chapter 1: “In the beginning God created the heavens… And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.” Lemaitre believed that God began the universe from a “fireball,” and that leftover warmth from this primeval fireball filled the universe. He described his hypothesis as “the Cosmic Egg exploding at the moment of atom”. He suggested that the distances to far away galaxies were generally proportional to their red-shifts.

A “red-shift” is the change in wavelength of light toward the red, or longer, end of the spectrum. The red-shift occurs when a light source speeds away from the viewer Light coming from galaxies is red-shifted. After the American astronomer Edwin Power Hubble discovered in 1929 that Lemaitre’s suggestion about the distances of galaxies and their red-shifts is true, astronomers took this to indicate that the universe is expanding. Hubble explained that the galaxies are moving away from Earth and each other at an ever-increasing rate. The more distant the galaxy, the faster it is moving away from Earth.

Lemaitre applied Einstein’s general theory of relativity to red-shift, interpreting it as caused by the expansion of the universe. The Atomic theory shows that this interpretation of red-shift is merely a myth. As the English theoretical physicist and astronomer David Lindley explains, “A myth is an explanation that everyone agrees on because it is convenient to agree on it, not because its truth can be demonstrated.”1 The Atomic theory explains that the universe is infinite in all directions, which is evidenced by the fact that the universe is restrained from setting any limit to itself by nature, which compels body to be bounded by space and space by body. Thus nature either makes them both infinite in alternation, or else one of them, if it is not bounded by the other, must extend in a pure state without limit.

In 1931, Lemaitre published an article in Nature setting out his theory of the “primeval atom.”

He extrapolated backwards in time and found that the matter of the universe would reach an infinite density and temperature at a finite time in the past. This he said means that the universe must have incredibly small, dense point of matter− a “primeval atom.” This point was the point at which all the matter of the present universe was concentrated into the primeval atom, which exploded and created space and time, and space expanded as did the universe, from a space-time singularity.

In 1933, Lemaitre traveled with Einstein to California for a series of seminars. After hear Lemaitre explain in detail the primeval atom theory of the origin of the universe, Einstein stood up, applauded, and said: “This the most beautiful and satisfactory explanation of creation to which I have ever listened.”2

Interestingly, when the American magazine columnist, author, lecturer, and playwright Marilyn von Savant, who holds the Guinness Book of World Record for highest IQ, was asked her opinion of the Big Bang theory, said: “I think that if it had been a religion that first maintained the notion of all the matter in the entire universe had once been contained in an area smaller than the point of a pin, scientist would have laughed at the idea.”3

In 1949, the English mathematician and astronomer Fred Hoyle (1904-68) dismissed Lemaitre’s theory of the exploded primeval atom in a radio interview, sarcastically calling it “this big bang idea.” This name struck and became the popular term for the theory. Hoyle did not like the theory because he was an atheist and realized that it implied that there was a Creator of the universe. So, he invented an alternative theory called the “Steady State Theory.”

Hoyle’s Steady State Theory proposed that the universe had no beginning and will have no end. He asserted that matter is continuously created as time goes on, forming new galaxies from vacuum and energy, without need for universal beginning. This assertion, from an Atomist point of view is absurd, because vacuum is nothing and energy has no mass. This is tantamount to saying that matter can be created out of nothing. Recall that in opposition to this assertion, the Atomic theory says that nothing can be created out of nothing. Observable evidence definitely supports this view.

I can give much more evidence to prove that the Big Bang theory and the Steady State theory are false theories. But, allow me to end this essay by quoting the American cosmologist Richard Tolman, who in 1929 said: “I see at present no evidence against the assumption that the material universe has always existed.”4

  1. David Lindley, The End of Physics: The Myth of a Unified Theory (New York: Basic Books, 1993), p. 255.
  2. Quoted in Mark Midbon, ‘A Day Without Yesterday’: Georges Lemaitre & the Big Bang, Commonweal (March 24, 2000): 18-19.
  3. Quoted in William C. Mitchell, Bye Bye Big Bang Hello Reality (Carson City, Nevada: Cosmic Sense Books, 2002), p. 335.
  4. Ibid, p. 270.