Georges Lemaître & the Big Bang

June 20, 1966

Shortly before his death on June 20, 1966, the Belgian diocesan priest and physicist Georges Lemaître learned of the discovery of cosmic background wave radiation. This discovery further confirmed the theory he had propounded in 1927, known today as the Big Bang, which asserted that the universe was not eternal and unchanging, as the leading physicists of his day believed, but temporal and expanding.

Fr. Lemaître titled his 1927 paper “The Primeval Atom,” but astronomer Fred Hoyle, with eye-rolling sarcasm, called it “the Big Bang” in an attempt to dismiss his findings. A universe that was expanding over time implied a point at which time itself began. This not only contradicted the static-universe theory favored by Hoyle (and Einstein), but was also, as Hoyle and many of his fellow scientists believed, suspiciously harmonious with the creation account found in the Book of Genesis.

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