God and the Big Bang

The Big Bang, evolutionists say, initiated all life. While it is a non-repeatable event, one of a kind, scientists say we can still learn all about it, though it occurred billions of years ago and light years upon light years away. How? Because scientists can study its aftereffects.

How odd that God, who is one of a kind and beyond our time and space, yet made Himself known through what He made, through the voice of prophets, and ultimately through the coming of His Son, the gift of His Word, and the presence of His Spirit, is looked upon by many of these same scientists as a myth, a fabrication, a superstition.

Ponder the similarities between God and the Big Bang.

The latter is credited by science with initiating life. God, however, declares Himself to be the Creator of the universe and the giver of life.

The Big Bang is one of a kind, impossible to replicate or to study via the scientific method. God is also one of a kind; no other god is like Him in goodness and mercy, power and glory. We also cannot study Him by the ways of science.

This next one isn’t as clear cut. The theory of a Big Bang came about as a result of studying its aftereffects—the release of light and energy traveling through space and time and reaching us millions of years after the fact, yet with the appearance of currency. Faith in God comes about as a result of the Holy Spirit opening the eyes of our heart that we might see Jesus who left His throne in glory to penetrate human history that we, by seeing His light, might see the Father.

Here’s my conclusion. The Big Bang is postulated as an event before our existence. On the other hand, God Himself declares His existence before all creation. The Big Bang, by necessity, would preceed time, as does God. The Big Bang is unknowable apart from the study of its effects. So too, God is unknowable apart from the effects of his being—His revelation, both general (creation) and special (prophecy, the Incarnation, Scripture, the Holy Spirit).

So why, I wonder, do some scientists find belief in God to be a leap of faith but belief in the Big Bang theory, sure science? Schools, they say, cannot suggest that God rather than a Big Bang initiated life because such a concept belongs to the purview of religion, not science.

Yet knowledge of God comes from written documentation, physical evidence, historical corroboration, and personal testimony. Not scientific enough, atheists say, preferring to teach as truth the ideas of men.

Published in: on February 10, 2010 at 6:11 pm  Comments (14)  
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14 Comments

  1. Becky: You normally show great insight in your blog posts but this one …

    It’s very difficult to follow what you are trying to say. I gather that you are attempting to compare belief in the Big Bang with belief in God. That comparison in itself is strange for you are comparing a being with an event. It’s definitely not apples to apples.

    Additionally, most astronomers and astrophysicists already believe in God or at least some kind of causal agent that initiated the universe. I hear that 90% of Japanese astronomers are Christians, for example. By comparison, the number of scientists working in other fields who are also Christians is far lower.

    And perhaps I’ve just explained my own source of confusion: that this argument only works for astronomers and astrophysicists but they by and large already believe in God or concede to the necessity of a causal agent. This argument simply doesn’t work for scientists in other fields or on all scientists in general.

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  2. Hi, Daniel, thanks for your comment. It’s apparent I wasn’t as clear in print as I was in my head. 😮

    Here in the US, God as creator cannot be taught as an option to the Big Bang when it comes to ideas about the origin of the universe because God or even Design is considered the purview of religion. Instead, the Big Bang is taught and it’s conveyed as fact, as if it, like other scientific facts, has gone through the rigors of the scientific method. It hasn’t.

    Some of the same things that are true about God—and make Him suspect to those who make these rulings (I won’t say “many scientists” because that apparently confused the issue—are also true of the Big Bang. But the latter is accepted as science.

    This should at least cause us to question what we’re teaching if not what we believe, I think.

    Hope that answers your questions.

    Becky

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  3. Becky,

    Recently a discussion of Creation came up among members of my church. I was suprised to find that a couple of men, both professors at local university, believed that God used the “big bang” to initiate creation into an evolutionary process. These men espouse orthodox/reformed Chritian beliefs in every other area. They used the arguments you mentioned – tracking the effects backward and forward.

    This did not set well in my heart. I grew up believing in a literal seven days creation, thinking there was no other Christian interpretation. Since then, by sound argument of godly men, I’ve come to accept the possibility the “days” could represent a long period time(The Hebrew is poetic in Gen. 1.) On a human level, I like the idea of God creating with “thought”, enjoying the design process. After all, He looked at His work and said it was good. However, this reasoning rubs against “omniscience.” As humans, we enjoy the process. A writer would not feel satisfied with his work if he knew the whole story and only had to write it down. Perhaps God wrote the whole story, say in 6000 years, and then spoke it into existance in six days.

    Heb 11:3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.

    The “big bang” just doesn’t seem to fit.

    Bob

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  4. Bob, I’m open to the idea that God used a long period of time to create the world. After all, the first day of creation took place before God created the sun, so there wasn’t, as we know it, a way of measuring 24 hours.

    But I’m more inclined to believe God spoke the world into existence. It seems more consistent with omnipotence, to me. Plus, I believe sin entered death into the world. The evolutionary process seems to require death prior to sin.

    I think people too quickly dismiss the idea that God made the earth with the appearance of age, not to “fool” us as some have said, but because He made fully formed land, animals, humans. Adam, I suspect, was an adult on his first day of life. Mountains, too, would have the appearance of billions of years of development, though they were newly spoken into being.

    As I see it, this miraculous creation is consistent with what an all powerful God can do. Plus, it’s what He said He did. Was He speaking poetically because the process He used is beyond our ability to comprehend? Maybe. I’m good with either one. Just not the “Watchmaker” idea that God set it all in motion, then backed off to watch it happen.

    Becky

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  5. Re: Becky #2

    The Big Bang is taught as scientific fact because it is – and it has been scientifically tested as much as we are able to prove that it happened. While scientists cannot measure it directly (the laws of science do break down at the creation moment), scientists can get very, very close (within millionths of a second after the event) and all of the data that has been gathered is consistent. It tells of a cosmic singularity event known as the Big Bang in scientific circles and the Creation in Christian circles.

    The Big Bang is actually one of the greatest pieces of evidence in favor of the existence of God. It remains a mystery to me why Christians would ever want to argue against it. They are absolutely undermining their own faith since Big Bang = Creation and Creation means God must exist.

    But I do understand where you’re coming from in this post now. The difference between the two and the reason why the Big Bang is taught and God is not is that there is empirical, (derived from experiment and observation rather than theory) scientific evidence for the Big Bang. Not so with God (based on experiment and observation). God remains elusive.

    I actually think this is on purpose so that God can get to know us through faith. Proof of God’s existence would drastically alter our world and I can’t help but think that a lot of people would go crazy. They still wouldn’t believe like the Rich Man’s brothers. So God stays hidden, in a position above His creation.

    I have no doubt that God exists, but I cannot prove that empirically to you or anyone else. It is part of the personal journey. The realm of science, however, involves what can be measured and known empirically, what can be tested and repeatedly yields the same results. That’s why God will not be taught in a science class. Simply put, God isn’t science. Rather, He created the universe and science as we know it is just our human way of figuring out the details of how He did it.

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  6. Re: Bob #3
    Re: Becky #4

    I love this topic.

    Let me share some insights gleaned from years of following the Reasons to Believe team at reasons.org. I really think they’re on the right track.

    First, some groundwork:
    1) There are more creation accounts than just Genesis 1. There are lots in the Psalms and Job in particular. A proper view of creation therefore should be consistent among all of these accounts. You can find a complete list at reasons.org
    2) If the bible is true and God is who He is described to be – holy, perfect, all-powerful – then as Creator His creation must express those same qualities. i.e. what scientists discover about the universe must fit the words of scripture. There cannot be any incompatibility. Thus, any area where the two do not appear to match means that either the interpretation of the evidence/scripture is incorrect (and we humans as the interpreters are fallible and often make mistakes) or some evidence is missing whether scientific or scriptural.

    If you follow these two postulates, then things start to rapidly fall into place. Here is a better explanation of Genesis 1:

    Verse 1 is not an overview. The phrase “the Heaven and the Earth” is a plural noun in Hebrew that means universe since the Hebrews did not have a separate word for it. Thus, verse 1 is better translated as “In the beginning God created the universe.”

    Verse 2 establishes the point of view for the observer. Contrary to popular belief it is not outer space but the surface of the planet. This is important for understanding verse 3.

    Verse 2 also states that the early Earth was covered in water and it was dark. Job 38:9 (KJV) says “When I made the cloud the garment thereof, and thick darkness a swaddlingband for it,”. The ‘it’ refers back to Job 38:4 and refers to the early Earth. Thus, Earth once had a thick cloud layer.

    This cloud layer then explains verse 3. Contrary to popular belief, God is not creating the sun, moon, and stars. Rather, he’s transforming the atmosphere to let the light shine on the surface.

    And so on. I am not an expert on this. I am merely sharing the insight that RTB has discovered and now proclaims and I think they are absolutely on the right track. Again, look back at those two postulates. If someone is truly a bible student and seeker of truth then how can you argue with either one?

    And it all fits. The above interpretation is 1) consistent with other scripture passages and 2) consistent with the science. Scientific discoveries about the age of the Earth, the universe, and early conditions all converge into a single, verifiable narrative that is completely consistent with scripture. That is, if the interpretation of Genesis flows along the above lines which are perfectly within reason and do not violate any part of scripture.

    I encourage all readers to visit reasons.org and see for themselves how science and Christianity can be brought into harmony with one another.

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  7. One of the reasons I love good Christian fantasy so much is that there is nothing closer to a Hebrew understanding of the world. When Tolkien in The Silmarillion uses the phrase ‘the deeps of time’, this brings us close to the complex understanding of a day that the Bible offers us. A thousand years is as a day in the sight of the Lord has been quoted so often that it is almost cliched but it still expresses a notion of Einsteinian relativity that is hard to beat. The word for day in Hebrew is related to the word for sea. This is important for interpreting it.

    What does the fact that day is related to sea mean when we are considering the age of the universe?

    It means it depends on where in the universe you live and who you ask. Were I able to inquire of starlight hitting Earth right at this moment, the answers would vary. Because starlight travels at the speed of light, it means that no time passes for it in between departure and arrival. So if I could ask a photon just dropped in on Earth from the most distant edge of the visible cosmos, the answer would be “a few days”.

    The amazing thing is that when I look up at the night sky it is possible for me to join in the singing of the morning stars who shouted for joy at the beginning of creation – because as far the light from those stars is concerned, it happened only a fraction of a second ago! Once we factor relativity into any calculation of the age of the universe, it becomes a whole different ball game. One Hebrew scholar alleges that there is no incompatibility between 3 billion years and 6 days: the equations of relativity produce an eqivalence between the two.

    Now I’d dearly love to see the equations he used to get that result but it does show we need to be careful in how we approach Scripture. Each day is deep. That’s a really beautiful concept we should take to heart.

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  8. Re: Anne #7

    You said, “Because starlight travels at the speed of light, it means that no time passes for it in between departure and arrival.”

    Sorry, but that’s incorrect. The distances in space are so vast and the speeds so great that scientists had to invent a new way to calculate them. They chose to use the term ‘lightyear’ and the definition is the amount of time it takes light (traveling at the speed of light) to travel one year.

    When astronomers look out into space they are literally looking back in time. The further they look, the further back they are seeing because it takes light that long to get to Earth. It’s a strange concept to lay people, but it’s well understood but scientists.

    I don’t know anything about this Hebrew scholar you mention, but I have heard that there are different definitions for the hebrew word that is translated day in Genesis 1. One of them is: a long but distinct period of time with definite beginning and ending points. Read http://www.creationingenesis.com/TheHebrewWordYOM.pdf for a scholarly article explaining how Yom meaning a long period of time actually fits Genesis 1 best.

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  9. Daniel, I think I understand what Anne is saying, but I don’t know if I can explain it.

    Most helpful, however, might be the definition of light-year: it is a unit of length and measures distance, not time, based on the speed of light. But does that mean we can accurately figure backwards to determine how much time light takes to “arrive” if we are using the speed of light to calculate the distance to begin with? It’s an interesting point.

    Becky

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  10. Couple of points about your #6 comment, Daniel. You said: Thus, any area where the two do not appear to match means that either the interpretation of the evidence/scripture is incorrect (and we humans as the interpreters are fallible and often make mistakes) or some evidence is missing whether scientific or scriptural. Re the part that I put in boldface font, I would suggest that the evidence isn’t “missing” as much as it has been withheld. For whatever reason, God has not “spelled out” the creation process.

    Scientific discoveries about the age of the Earth, the universe, and early conditions all converge into a single, verifiable narrative that is completely consistent with scripture. That is, if the interpretation of Genesis flows along the above lines which are perfectly within reason and do not violate any part of scripture.

    I agree and even taught in my Bible classes that science verifies the veracity of Scripture. But when scientists interpret science in a way that contradicts the Bible, then it is the scientists that have erred.

    I just recently read that something like 40% of scientists between the ages of 21-35 believe there is a God, whereas only something like 21% of those over 65 do.

    And yet, our culture still thinks it is not scientific to postulate a designer of the universe whereas it is scientific to postulate a pre-existent spontaneous combustion of energy.

    What we “see” through our telescopes cannot tell us what caused the First Event (even if we are accurately seeing it). The statement of cause is in fact a statement of belief.

    I have no doubt that God caused. I am, however, not willing to say how He did so. Apparently some think they can. But, I wonder, how can anyone say that the explosion of light scientists refer to as a Big Bang didn’t spring from God’s command to bring forth light?

    Scientists see an explosion of light and reason deductively to a cause—from what we know about an explosion (and the light it produces) here on earth to what therefore must have caused that “first explosion.”

    But God is all powerful. He is not limited by what we experience or have observed.

    There is so much we don’t know, as those who study string theory can corroborate. Note this from Wikipedia:

    One of the most inclusive of these [mathematical formulations] is the 11-dimensional M-theory, which requires spacetime to have eleven dimensions, as opposed to the usual three spatial dimensions and the fourth dimension of time…. So the notion of spacetime dimension is not fixed in string theory: it is best thought of as different in different circumstances

    I suggest we are boxing God in with our declarations of knowledge, making Him smaller, all the while declaring the triumph of science, when in fact “science” is little more than human speculation based on observation and our limited view of reality.

    Am I saying science is unimportant, off limits, taboo, evil? None of the above. But if we put it in a place of preeminence, we open ourselves to error. Scripture should be in the place of preeminence.

    That’s been our point of disagreement whenever this topic comes up, I think.

    Becky

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  11. Hi Daniel

    We’re obviously not on the same wavelength here!

    A light year is completely irrelevant to a discussion of time. It is actually a spatial distance. Because we can “look back in time” doesn’t give us an absolute measure of time.

    My point is that time is relative. This is one of the fundamental tenets of the special theory of relativity. Time is dependent on speed. The time dilation effect is greater the closer anything travels to the speed of light, until at the speed of light itself, the time elapsed is zero across any distance that you care to nominate.

    This is all about who the observer is. Let’s say light leaves the sun and takes 8 minutes to get here from our point of view. From the point of view of the sunlight itself, it took zero time. Or suppose a photon of starlight leaves Alpha Centauri and takes about 4 years to get here from our point of view. It takes zero time from the point of view of the starlight itself. Or suppose a photon of starlight leaves Rigel and takes about 800 years to get here from our point of view. It takes zero time from the point of view of the starlight itself.

    Unless the observer is specified, time is meaningless. Can we always assume that the observer is human when it comes to the Bible?

    As far as I am concerned, the implications of this on a galaxy-wide scale suggest that the ‘deeps of time’ as Tolkien used the phrase is brilliant. I believe that yom actually contains within it a notion of relativity (which while it doesn’t quite explain eternity gives us a handle on why time and eternity are so entangled). I also believe that we do all Hebrew words a disservice by treating them as if they can be defined within narrow parameters. This is scientific rationalist thinking which comes from Greek modes of thought, not Hebrew. Hebrew words are songs, not sound-bytes.

    If you (or Becky) would like to send me your postal address privately, I’d love to send you a very short book I’ve written which touches on this obliquely called The Singing Silence.

    Blessings always
    Annie

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  12. Re: Becky #9

    You’re correct. A light-year is a measure of distance. But because the definition includes an element of time we can most certainly use it that way. I suppose my language could have been clearer. Sorry for the confusion.

    Since the Earth is a fair distance from the sun, it takes light from the sun about 7 minutes (this is from memory so it could be off a bit) to reach the planet. Thus, when we look at the sun we are not seeing it as it is, but as it was 7 minutes in the past. Thus, the furthest away objects show us the past. Scientists have used this peculiarity of the universe to see pictures of what the early universe looked like and to extrapolate an age for the universe as well.

    To clarify your point, can we “accurately figure backwards to determine how much time light takes to “arrive” if we … [can] … calculate the distance to begin with?” Yes. And vice versa. For all the extreme distances in the universe, distance = time for all practical purposes. The equations can be solved for either value if you know the other. (That’s a bit overly simplistic but you should get the idea.)

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  13. Re: Becky #10

    Agreed. Scriptural evidence can be understood as withheld, but scientific evidence is often simply lacking. It’s not that it’s withheld per se but that the science hasn’t been done yet, the samples or measurements haven’t been taken, the data hasn’t been analyzed. Let me also make the point that God wants us to figure things out. He wants us to use our curiosity and learn. After all, he gave us this trait. Consider what he said to Job.

    Agreed! Excellent points.

    One small thing: You said, “What we ‘see’ through our telescopes cannot tell us what caused the First Event (even if we are accurately seeing it).” and “But, I wonder, how can anyone say that the explosion of light scientists refer to as a Big Bang didn’t spring from God’s command to bring forth light?”

    It was an explosion, all right, but that implies a random, chaotic, and destructive event to most people. In contrast The Big Bang was an exceptionally organized event that was directed, purposeful, and creative. I don’t think even most scientists fully grasp just how fantastic this event was. But it was not visible and to call it an explosion of light is inaccurate. It was only around 30,000 years after the Big Bang that matter had cooled sufficiently to form stars and give off light.

    As for me, personally, I say that what scientists identify as the Big Bang is the same event exactly as when God spoke the universe into existence.

    You said, “Am I saying science is unimportant, off limits, taboo, evil? None of the above. But if we put it in a place of preeminence, we open ourselves to error. Scripture should be in the place of preeminence.” and “That’s been our point of disagreement whenever this topic comes up, I think.”

    Alas, it has. I believe rather that both should be treated as equals. This is mostly to prevent either side from falling into the trap of misinterpretation or worse. (And both surely have over the years.) Additionally, did not God create both? On the one hand He created the universe and on the other He wrote a book. The scriptures declare over and over that the heavens declare the righteousness and glory of God. So who are we to choose which declaration of truth should have preeminence or authority over the other? Is not God above both and does He not reveal Himself through both? Just some food for thought.

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  14. Re: Annie #11

    You said, “From the point of view of the sunlight itself, it took zero time.”

    I get what you’re saying now. Interesting point. I’ve never heard that before, but according to Einstein you should be correct. I still think there has to be an absolute time in the universe somehow since not everything in the universe is traveling at the speed of light, but I don’t see where it could fit with what you’re saying. Yet what you say makes sense.

    Maybe it will come to me after I get some much-needed sleep. (Ha!) Night all! I’ve enjoyed the conversation. Thanks for sharing and letting me share. If you hadn’t noticed, this is a topic close to my heart.

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