The Big Bang theory is wrong. That’s according to a new model run by scientists in Egypt and Canada. Building off of Einstein’s theory of general relativity and ideas put forth by theoretical physicist David Bohm, the work of Ahmed Farag Ali and Saurya Das—if accurate—solves well-recognized flaws in the Big Bang theory while painting an entirely different picture of our Universe. An article summarizing their findings is available here.

Though this piece is devoted to the philosophical implications of Ali and Das’s work, a brief overview of the science is warranted. Long before their new model, scientists recognized certain flaws in the Big Bang theory, which holds that, in the beginning, everything occupied a single, infinitely dense point called singularity. Our Universe began, the theory goes, after singularity started to expand with a “Big Bang.”

The problem with this theory is that, though we can mathematically explain what happened after singularity, we cannot do so before and at it. In other words, the Big Bang theory is an incomplete one, incapable of fully explaining itself and dependent upon accepting a breakdown in the laws of physics. That’s hardly the stuff of objectively verifiable proof.

Ali and Das’s new model requires no such leap of faith. In essence, their work concludes that our Universe has no beginning and no end. According to these guys, our Universe has always existed and will continue to exist forevermore. I urge you to read the article linked above before continuing.

Let’s assume that their work is completely accurate and turn to its philosophical implications. Operating from this premise, it becomes clear that Ali and Das may have provided the tools for solving one of life’s trickiest dilemmas.

The debate over free will

For ages, thinkers of every stripe—from theologians to philosophers to scientists and on—have debated the natures of free will and destiny. Whether they truly exist, whether they can be objectively explained, whether they are mutually exclusive: all these questions and more have been asked and explored from every angle imaginable.

Of these, one is the trickiest. If living beings possess free will, then how can we believe in fate? Or, if we believe in fate, how can we accept the notion that we have control over our lives? In other words, free will and destiny—if we assume even one of them exists—have to be mutually exclusive, don’t they?

Well, if we accept Ali and Das’s work as true, we have our answer: no. If this new model is accurate, then it becomes clear that free will and destiny are capable of living in perfect harmony. That fate accounts for our choices and indeed is dependent upon them.

How can this be so? It’s time to step back.

We begin our journey with the concept of time. If we accept that the Universe has no beginning and no end, then, logically, we must also accept what many have already posited and proved: that time is another dimension of our Universe, one that beings do not interact with in the physical realm. Though we can perceive, process, and manipulate the three dimensions that we are most familiar with—height, width, and volume—we cannot do these things to time. In other words, time is the dimension that bears upon beings but upon which beings do not (yet?) bear back.

Understand that we’re drawing an important distinction here. In order to regiment our lives, we have something we call “time,” which we process linearly. Yet “time” as it appears on our watches and clocks bears almost no relation to the universal dimension that is nonlinear time. Again and for emphasis, if we accept Ali and Das’s premise that our Universe has no end and no beginning, then logic demands that we accept nonlinear time as one of that same universe’s dimensions.

Now, a quick half-tangent. Many scientists have already studied and experimented with the notion that nonlinear time is one of our Universe’s dimensions. Run a quick Google or YouTube search. Yet, this notion on its face seems to poke holes in the Big Bang theory. That’s because the theory argues that our Universe began 13.8 billion years ago with a “Big Bang,” when singularity started to expand, and will end with a “Big Crunch,” when everything will contract back to singularity. The whole thing is dependent upon a linear conception of time. In other words, by exploring nonlinear time as a universal dimension, scientists have already been disproving the Big Bang theory and proving Ali and Das’s conclusion that our Universe has no end and no beginning.

From here, we turn to wrapping our heads around nonlinear time and its implications. More to the point: what does this all mean for free will and destiny?

Free will and destiny not mutually exclusive

It means that the two are not mutually exclusive. It means that every choice—the products of free will—we have made or will ever make were made long before we actually made them. It means that, though our lives are governed by destiny, we still have control over them. The Universe simply knows how we’re going to exercise that control long before we do and incorporates that knowledge into our overall fate. “Long before” is for lack of a better phrase, as it requires a linear measurement of time. If the Universe has no beginning and no end, then it stands to reason that every decision we ever make has already been decided by us long before the decision was actually put before us. Every single thing we’ve ever done or thought we’ve already done or thought; we just haven’t realized it before the moment of actually doing or thinking, as beings cannot process nonlinear time.

An imperfect yet nonetheless useful analogy is to think of time as an ocean. Beings are the shore, and occurrences—whether the product of free will, nature, or some combination thereof—are individual waves. Beings do not experience the occurrences until the moment they reach us. In other words, the shore does not feel the waves until the moment the latter come crashing down. That, however, is of no difference to the ocean, for the ocean, unlike the shore, has always been familiar with the wave.

So, when we think about destiny in this light, it becomes clear that the concept is really a more flexible one: a combination of many factors, most importantly our Universe’s natural occurrences, our reactions to them, our decisions more generally, and our DNA. Yes, our lives are fated to come out a certain way. That doesn’t mean that we don’t possess any control over them. It simply means that our Universe has always known and will always know how we’re going to exercise it. And, if that universe is a being that lives, eats, and breathes time in the same way that humans, animals, and plants live, eat, and breathe height, weight, and volume, then I ask you: what could possibly make more sense?