The Big Bang and the Bible

The Big Bang is consistent with scripture. In fact, a case can be made that anyone who denies its substance (not its interpretation) is denying the Bible. Until the twentieth century, the Bible was the only text anywhere in the world, religious or scientific, teaching the fundamentals of Big Bang cosmology. No other world religion provided its level of detailed cosmology. The Bible’s correct anticipation of the scientific details of Big Bang cosmology can only be explained if the Bible’s authors were supernaturally inspired by the One who created the universe (or by denying that it presents such a picture at all).

Earlier scientists recognized the power of its presentation. The nickname Big Bang was given to the cosmological theory in derision by atheist astromoner Fred Hoyle who wanted to believe the universe always existed and who offered the steady state theory as an alternative.[1] Accumulating evidence has confirmed Big Bang predictions and refuted steady state cosmology.

Features of Agreement

Here are some features of the Big Bang that tally with biblical teaching:

• A causal agent beyond space and time (Genesis 1:1 etc).

• Creation of everything out of nothing we can see (Hebrews 11:3).

• A beginning to space and time (Paul in 1 Corinthians 2:7 and in his letters to Timothy and Titus speaks of time having a beginning. Augustine wrote thoughtfully about this in his Confessions).

• A beginning for matter and energy (Genesis 1:1, etc).

• Continuous cosmic expansion (God is described in several Old Testament passages as stretching out the heavens: e.g.: Jeremiah 51:15, Isaiah 51:13, Zechariah 12:1 & other verses in Job and the Psalms. This is sometimes mocked on the grounds that the stretching is compared poetically in one passage to stretching out a tent.)

• Constant laws of physics (Jeremiah and other Old Testament writers speak of God’s unchanging laws in context of the physical universe. Jeremiah 33:25, etc.) Astronomers analyzing radio observations from distant quasars find no evidence for any changes in the fundamental constants. [2]

• Creation of the cosmos before life on earth. (Genesis 1:1 says “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The combination “Heavens and earth” is used only six times in the Hebrew Bible and always to mean the entirety of everything. [3]

• Universal decay (Paul in Romans 8, ie: the second law of thermodynamics).

Additional Evidence

The Big Bang with Guth’s inflationary hypothesis (which seems to have been confirmed with hard evidence in March 2014) [4], is a strong argument for creation. It turns out cosmic inflation had to have speeded up and slowed down by just the right amounts at just the right moments for a life-sustaining universe to exist. Only a causal agent outside the universe can explain it. The fine tuning involved is amazing and ought to convince anyone who is not utterly hardened in heart that there is a creator. Apologists such as William Lane Craig use this fine-tuning as a powerful tool in their apologetics arsenal. [5]

The implications are not lost on non-theists. Three of them, Lisa Dyson, Matthew Kleban, and Leonard Susskind—wrote a paper in 2002 called “Disturbing Implications of a Cosmological Constant” in which they stated (in the preprint version), “Arranging the universe as we think it arranged [that is with dark energy] would have required a miracle.” and “An external agent intervened in cosmic history for reasons of its own.” So disturbing to them was this conclusion, that they ended by saying, “The only reasonable conclusion is that we do not live in a world with a true cosmological constant.’ [6,7] However, within weeks of the issuance of this paper, several independent lines of observation established beyond all reasonable doubt that the theory of dark energy (another name for the cosmological constant) is true, consequently proving naturalism false.

What about the Six Days?

People who misread Genesis 1 bring up the six days of creation as a refutation of biblical cosmology. In a correct reading, at the end of the initial creative process, the universe existed but the earth was in a chaotic state. At that point God began his six creative days. What follows the two opening verses is an orderly account of God’s preparation of the earth for inhabitation by man as seen from the surface of the earth. Science has gradually confirmed this sequence, from the initial darkness owing to a dense atmosphere, through the clearing of the atmosphere so that sun and moon became visible, through creation of various life forms. [8]

That these six days are not literal twenty-four hours days is established by the amount of detail crammed into the third and sixth days. The sixth especially requires a separate chapter to amplify it. Also, the evening / morning formula is not used for the seventh day. It is noteworthy that Christ declared that God had not ceased work to “this day” (i.e.: the first century) indicating that the seventh day, the day of God’s rest from creation, is still ongoing but that God does sustaining work in it (John 5:17).

Caveat

A paper this short can only hit a few highlights of an enormous topic. The model of an old universe (emerging in the instant of the Big Bang) connects the largest amount of physical data with the simplest unifying explanation, conforms to the evidence pouring in, and is consistent with the cosmology advanced by Scripture.

References:

  1. [1] “Fred Hoyle Dies at 86; Opposed ‘Big Bang’ but Named It.” http://www.nytimes.com/2001/08/22/world/fred-hoyle-dies-at-86-opposed-big-bang-but-named-it.html. back
  2. [2] P. Tzanavaris et al., “Probing Variations in Fundamental Constants with Radio and Optical Quasar Absorption-line Observations,” Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society 374 (2007): 634-46 back
  3. [3] Whitefield, Rodney. Reading Genesis One. back
  4. [4] http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/18/science/space/detection-of-waves-in-space-buttresses-landmark-theory-of-big-bang.html?_r=0. back
  5. [5] Strobel, Lee. Interview with William Lane Craig in The Case for a Creator. back
  6. [6] Quoted by Hugh Ross in one of the six linked videos at http://youtube.com/watch?v=LuEYjYDrKH4&feature=related back
  7. [7] The paper appears at: http://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0208013 but you have to be a subscriber to read it. back
  8. [8] For amplification, see Hugh Ross’ A Matter of Days. back

Books Authored or Co-authored by Dan

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The Archbishop Who Killed a Man.
Anecdotes from Christian history.
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Doctors Who Followed Christ.
36 notable Christian doctors.
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Scientists of Faith.
48 notable scientists who were Christians.
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The Earth Will Reel.
A study of the Bible’s Geological prophecies. Revised 2017.
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Great Women in Christian History.
37 women who changed their world.
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This Day in Christian History.
366 days in Christian history.