The theological significance of inflationary cosmology is this: It shows how the universe can have formed from nothing and spontaneously in the context of the known principles of physics. That is, it provides an economical explanation of the origin of the universe without creation or design. A Creator is not required by the data.

In Einstein's General Relativity, space-time can be empty of matter or radiation and still contain energy stored in its curvature. Uncaused but mandatory, random quantum fluctuations in a flat, empty, featureless space-time can produce local regions with positive or negative curvature. This is called the "space-time foam" and the regions are called "bubbles of false vacuum." Wherever the curvature is positive a bubble of false vacuum will, according to Einstein's equations, exponentially inflate. In 10-42 seconds the bubble will expand to the size of a proton and the energy within will be sufficient to produce the entire observable universe. Inflation continues for a large number of doublings of the size of the universe. The cooling universe creates temperatures well below that of the phase transition, insuring sufficient time for that phase transition to occur. This phase transition is like steam condensing at 100 C or ice forming at 0 C. A great deal of energy is released in the phase transition causing a soup of particles at high temperatures. This energy was the vacuum energy that was not released.

Inflation stops without the high vacuum energy - the expansion of the universe is no longer accelerating. The pull of gravity by the energy and matter in the universe begin to slow (decelerate) the expansion, and we move into the more familiar big bang. The forces and particles that appear are generally random, governed only by symmetry principles (like the conservation of energy and momentum) that are also not the product of design, but exactly what one has in the absence of design. The so-called "anthropic coincidences," in which the particles and forces of physics seem to be "fine-tuned" for the production of Carbon-based life are explained by the fact that the space-time foam has an infinite number of universes popping off, each different. We just happen to be in the one where the forces and particles lent themselves to the generation of carbon and other atoms with the complexity necessary to evolve living and thinking organisms.

In my opinion this argument then removes the active design to a passive design question: Are the laws of physics the only possible laws or are they designed?