Who is copying whom when it comes to explaining how the universe came to be? Is science copying the Torah or vice versa? Religion is often accused of explaining a scientific discovery after the fact. But the record on the most important question, how the universe came to be, presents a different sequence of events.

For most of our history, scientists have primarily believed that the universe is eternal and unchanging. Aristotle in the fourth century BCE asserted that the world is without beginning or end. But this view was not without direct opponents who believed the universe had a beginning. Aristotle’s works were largely lost for about seven centuries, beginning to resurface in the 13th century. The eternity view then largely dominated science until the early 19th century.

So predominant was this view that it led Albert Einstein to make what he regarded as the biggest blunder in his career. Soon after he had developed his general theory of relativity (circa 1915), Alexander Friedmann, a Russian mathematician, solved his equations for the whole universe, showing that those equations meant the universe was expanding; if this was the case, it must have been expanding from somewhere, some beginning—therefore, it couldn’t be eternal. Einstein then modified his equations to make them show that the universe is static and eternal. In 1929, Edwin Hubble, an astronomer at the California Institute of Technology, discovered the universe is expanding. Einstein then dropped the modifications and went back to the original equations. But by adhering to the eternal view, he had missed predicting one of the biggest discoveries in cosmology: that the universe is expanding. From that point on, science has held that the universe had a beginning, and scientists have focused on the Big Bang theory.

The Torah at its outset says, “In the beginning, God created.” It has always said the universe had a beginning. In fact, if Einstein had studied the Talmud, he would have read: “When the Holy One, Blessed be He, created the world, it continued to expand.”1

Today, we’re so used to the Big Bang theory that most people think science has always viewed the universe as having a beginning, but what we see here is that within science, this predominant theory of the universe is very new. On the other hand, the Torah has always said the universe had a beginning.