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This post needs a disclaimer, so here it is. The central theme of Contact was the challenge astronomy poses to religion. He was forced to leave after a year, however, to serve in the Belgian artillery during World War I. Where Einstein had used it in an attempt to keep the universe at a steady size, Lemaitre used it to speed up the expansion of the universe over time. If the universe was expanding at a steady rate, the time it had taken to cover its radius was too short to allow for the formation of the stars and planets.

In the vacuumIt took a mathematician who

Even if we hear from them some day, it will be a one-sided conversation. Some theorized that gravity would slow down the expansion of the universe and make it fall back toward its center, where there would be a Big Crunch and another Big Bang. Maxwell suggested an eternal universe.

When word of the Berkeley discovery that the universe is expanding at an increasing rate first reached Stephen Hawking, he said it was too preliminary to be taken seriously. After his death, a consensus built in favor of Lemaitre's burst of fireworks. About fifteen billion years ago, they would have been on top of each other, and the density would have been very large. This accidental discovery required the passage of several months for its importance to sink in.

The work of Isaac Newton and James C. The late Carl Sagan was a professor of astronomy at Cornell University when he wrote his book, Cosmos. Lemaitre did not think so.

It was that model, widely accepted in science, that developed a wide chasm between science and the Judeo-Christian understanding of Creation. For one, Lemaitre's calculated rate of expansion did not work out. This microwave interference came to be recognized as cosmic background radiation, a remnant of the Big Bang. Though Einstein disagreed with Father Lemaitre at first, he respected his brilliant mathematical mind.

It took a mathematician who also happened to be a Catholic priest to look at the evidence with an open mind and create a model that worked. In the vacuum of space, radio waves also travel at the speed of light. Here comes the geeky part. Eventually, it won Arno Penzias the Nobel Prize in physics.

The Big Bang, therefore, was not a unique event which marked the beginning of time but only part of an infinite sequence of Big Bangs and Big Crunches. As with Einstein's calculations ten years earlier, Lemaitre's calculations showed that the universe had to be either shrinking or expanding. He regarded the constant as the worst mistake of his career, and he was upset by Lemaitre's use of his super-galactic fudge factor. He was ordained in after earning doctorates in mathematics and science.