10 / CHRONICLESnOPINIONSnBefore the Big Bang by Bryce Christensenn’Oh hide the God still more!’nPaul Davies: Superforce: The Searchnfor a Grand Unified Theory ofnNature; Simon and Schuster; NewnYork; $16.95.nChristine Sutton: The ParticlenConnection: The Most ExcitingnScientific Chase Since DNA and thenDouble Hehx; Simon and Schuster;nNew York; $16.95.nHenry H. Bauer: Beyond Vehkovsky:nThe History of a Public Controversy;nUniversity of Illinois Press; Urbana;n$21.95.nThese days orthodox Christians andnskeptical physicists disagree overnnothing—yet their disagreement is literallynof the first importance. For then”nothing” that is at issue is the voidnthat immediately preceded the BignBang, the cosmic explosion 15 billionnyears ago in which the universe began.nWhen first formulated almost 40 yearsnago by George Gamow, the Big BangnTheory tipped the philosophical scalesndecidedly in the direction of traditionalnChristians. After all, before then nonone except Christians had believednthat the physical universe appearednsuddenly from nothing. Previously scientistsngenerally had believed, as didnthe ancient Greeks, that the universenhad always existed in some essentiallynstable form.nOf course, a few Christians have notnsubscribed to creation ex nihilo (JohnnMilton, for instance, rejected it), andneven those who have accepted it havenconfronted perplexities not resolved bynProfessor Gamow (Augustine admittednBryce Christensen is associate editornof Chronicles.n—Alexander Popenthe difficulty of answering the hereticnwho wished to know what God didnbefore He made heaven and earth).nStill, the new theory vexed modernnpagans. Precisely because of metaphysicalnconsiderations, many scientistsnclung fideistically to a steady-statenmodel of the expanding universe longnafter A. A. Penzias and R.W. Wilsonndiscovered strong evidence—a ther-nmal “echo”—of the Big Bang. Somenmaterialists were especially distressednby the further discovery that a universenwith galaxies, heavy elements, andnlife possibilities evidently required anprecisely engineered Big Bang. Accountingnfor the oddly precise variablesnof these Initial Conditions wasnembarrassing for almost everyone butnbelievers.nBut new scientific breakthroughs arennnshifting the terms of the sciencereligionndebate once again. Indeed, innSuperforce British physicist Paul Daviesnoutiines a Grand Unified Theoryn(GUT) now being formulated by leadingntheorists that can explain the entirenuniverse by applying quantum mechanicsnto an initial “false vacuum.”nAs this strangely energized and unstablenvoid decayed, the infant cosmosnfelt a fleeting pulse of “supergravity,” anpotent repellant force not operativensince the first microseconds of timenand space. Davies and his colleaguesnare now confident that all extant matternand physical forces can now bendefined as “fossils” of this “superforce.”nAnd Davies is overjoyed that itnis finally possible to dispense with “thentheological concept of creation ex nihilo”nand regard the world simply as “anconsequence of the laws of physics,nwithout the need to assume that thenuniverse was set up in a very specialnstate initially.” In a feat of oneupmanship,nDavies argues for a creationnnot only ex nihilo but ah nihilo,n