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Creation - the Bible's Big Bang Theory

Creation: Big Bang theory, or what?

Creation according to God? Or according to science?

Scientists talk about the 'Big Bang theory' of the appearance of the universe. How does the Big Bang theory compare with the Bible's description of creation?

'Big Bang', says Science...

Singularity and the Big Bang TheoryThe scientific approach says that in the beginning, before the universe appeared, there was nothing. And at some stage, there came the biggest 'Big Bang' ever: a tremendous explosion of energy, matter and, of course, light. There never was such an enormous explosion of light, either before or after this event.

Same story

In scientific terms, in the cosmology of Physics, the Big Bang theory states that that the universe appeared from nowhere as an extremely dense and hot state, about 13.7 billion years ago. This is based on observations indicating the expansion of space, as indicated by the Hubble red shift of distant galaxies, taken together with principles of cosmology.

If we extrapolate these observations into the past, they show that the universe exploded from a 'gravitational singularity' - the tiniest pinpoint of the most extreme density and temperature (as predicted by general relativity) which contained all the matter and energy of the entire universe.

What scientists cannot explain is "Why?"

'Let there be Light', says the Bible

We can read this in the very beginning of the Jewish scriptures and the Christian Bible, in a book called Genesis. Here are the words from the New International Version,
Genesis chapter 1, verses 1 to 5:

Let there be light - and how!'In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.'

How should we interpret this?

The word Genesis in Hebrew: בראשית, and in Greek: Γένεσις, have the meanings of "birth", "creation", "cause", "beginning", "source" and "origin". Genesis is the first book of the Torah, the first book of the Tanakh and also the first book of the Christian Old Testament. Jewish tradition considers it to have been written by Moses, so it is sometimes also called The First Book of Moses.

Bible scholars generally agree that Moses wrote Genesis under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, during the forty years that the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness (1450 - 1410 BC). This society of semi-nomadic herdsmen lived in that region, in a period that we would call the late bronze age, just entering the iron age. This ties in with descriptions in the Old Testament that refer to bronze, copper, iron, etc.

So, how would God describe the stages of His creation to semi-nomadic herdsmen?

How would you?

The concept of counting in 'hundreds' appears in Genesis 6; the concept of 'thousands' does not appear until Genesis 20. So, how would you explain to bronze-age man the concept of 13.7 billion years? (Can you even imagine it yourself?) Around 3,400 years ago, we would explain creation in "stages" or "phases", so that the listeners could understand; we would probably call them 'days'.

And what is time, to God?

In the New Testament, 2 Peter 3:8 says this, "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.' "

Try this: If each day of that thousand years is another thousand years, that works out to one of God's days being 365 million years. Repeat the process and you have ten times the scientific age of the universe. 

The message for us here is, don't get hung up on God's timescales being the same as ours. Think of it like this: God's days are as long as He decides they will be. He might be looking at our 24-hour day, or his own heavenly timescale of what a "day" is: an aeon, a large period of time. So we don't have to think of creation as being seven, earthly 24-hour days. Think of it as seven of God's really big days, explained to bronze-age man, and you'll get the picture.

Some people get hung up on "And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day" - therefore it was a twenty-four hour day. But the problem with that is, how do we know when it is morning or evening? Why, that's when the sun rises and sets. But the sun wasn't created until day 4, so that just doesn't explain it. Therefore it is symbolic or poetic use of language, not literal.

Remember, the Bible is about God's relationship with man, not a scientific text book. God gave us brains, minds, intellect, intelligence to discover and work out how His creation hangs together. We don't have to create intellectual suicide to be good Christians.

The Bible's Big Bang theory: The First Day of Creation

So the first 'day', the first stage of creation was "Let there be light". And there was the biggest blaze of light the universe has ever seen, in the massive explosion of the Big Bang. What a wonderful description; what a wonderful picture the Big Bang event creates in the mind's eye!

Big Bang and Scientists

I am a scientist; I studied Physics, Electronics and Control Engineering at four universities. And I have no problem with reconciling the story of creation as read in the Bible, with the scientific Big Bang theory. To me, they are the same thing.
One problem science has is explaining exactly what it was that went bang. Who pressed the Start button?

More and more scientists are coming to the conclusion that there must be a creator God.

Scenario: Suppose you are a scientist, like me. How would you explain the scientific story to semi-nomadic, uneducated, mostly illiterate tribesmen in the semi-desert regions of Maasailand in Kenya today? Until recent times, they couldn't count beyond their fingers and toes. (I have been there on an evangelistic mission and met these wonderful people.) Wouldn't you explain the scientific creation story in pretty much the same way that God does in the Bible? 

The simple life: the wonderful Maasai people

Big Bang: something to think about


1: Science explains what happened - they call it the Big Bang theory; but science cannot explain why creation came about, nor where it all came from.

2: The Bible tells us that God decided to create, and He did. It's the same story as science, but it explains the "why?" and the "where from?"  And so, here we are today.

In the Beginning: Life on Earth...

Life on Earth

Science can only discover what God has brought about

Some fundamentalist Christians think that the earth was created about six or seven thousand years ago.

But read this, from Professor Bob White, Physicist:

"Bob, how old is Planet Earth?"

"The Earth is 4,566 million years old, give or take ten million years. The simplest way of dating the recent past is to count tree rings. We can go back more than 8,000 years by counting them.  Counting annual ice layers in the Antarctic takes us back more than 700,000 years. For older rocks we use more than forty different radiometric decay systems. These give us coherent calculations of the age of ancient rocks and of the planet itself. The oldest life on Earth that we know of is about 3.5 billion years old."

"Counting tree rings is one thing. But how do scientists date the universe?"

"The technique depends on a mixture of observations and models. One way is to use the microwave background that was created at the Big Bang and observe how it is distributed. From that, you can tell how long the universe has been expanding, and hence its age. Current calculations suggest that, give or take a few percent, the universe is about 13.7 billion years old.

"Science and faith don't collide. They are just different ways of looking at God's world. Some people talk about science as explaining how things work, and faith explaining why things work. Science can never tell you why God made the universe. Science and faith are complementary; they are different ways of looking at the same truths. It is, to a large extent, the media that like to show them as being in conflict, mainly I suspect because they think it makes a more sellable story."

Professor Robert (Bob) White
   BA (Natural Sciences) Cambridge 1974.
   PhD (Geophysics) Cambridge 1977.
   Fellow of the Royal Society.
   Fellow of the Geological Society.
   Professor of Geophysics in the Department of Physical Sciences, Cambridge 1989-present.
   Associate Director of the Faraday Institute for Science and Religion, St Edmund's College, Cambridge.
   Director of the John Ray Initiative, an educational charity with a vision to bring together scientific and Christian understandings of the environment.
   Leader of research group investigating the Earth's dynamic crust.
   Currently investigating the internal structure of volcanoes in Iceland, New Zealand and the Faroe Islands.
   Author of more than 300 scientific papers and articles.

Read "God, the Big Bang and Bunsen-Burning Issues" by Nigel Bovey, available from Amazon - buy one and read it! Nigel has been the editor of Salvation Army UK's "War Cry" magazine for about 10 years. 



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