Thinking Cap # 20 - The Question: Big Bang & God.
For years there has been a war for the hearts and minds of men going on between the
scientific world and Christians. Is this a young universe (measured in thousands) or an
old universe (measured in billions of years). Some of the world's greatest people of faith
started out as the world's greatest skeptics. Note the leery questions and doubts of
Abraham (Ge. 15:8; 17:17), Moses (Ex. 3:18; 4:1-13), Gideon (Jud. 6:13-17, 36- 40), David
(Ps. 22:1), Jeremiah (Jer. 12:1), all of the disciples and Paul (Acts. 9:1-5) to name just
The question here is not "evolution." Not only is that bad theology, but also
bad science. The question is did our universe originate in a precisely controlled
beginning in a hot flash producing an ever expanding creation (refered to as the "big
bang") billions of years ago. Or, was is just a few thousand years ago.
Those advancing the young earth view can pose a serious stumbling block to many who
fear they must subscribe to it in order to believe the Bible. Reasonable people, the
argument goes, who have some knowledge of science will tend to dismiss our gospel along
with our geology.
This has got to be one of my tougher "Thinking Caps" in that it has been an
area that I have struggled with for years. I am an avowed "trekkie" and have
always had an interest in astronomy. In my High School Philosophy class and in an adult
Discipleship 3 class I teach a series titled "The Gospel in the Stars." God's
hand is clearly seen in the universe and the more we study the universe, the more it lines
up with what the Bible says. That is why I have had these nagging questions in my mind all
these years regarding the age of the universe. I can stand up and quote the "party
line" and say that it is a young universe (several thousands of years) and all my
Christian friends smile at me. But there has just been too much reliable data available
(not on the earth, but in the solar system and beyond) that screams "billions"
of years of age. This "Thinking Cap" is longer than usual, and still just
opinion, but I couldn't find any way to make it smaller and still communicate the total
1. Evidences of an old universe include:
- The distance of stars from the earth have been measured by trigonometric parallax and
brightness levels and found to be between 8 and 20 billion light-years away.
- The universe appears to be expanding which is producing a "red-shift" in the
light we see from those stars (galaxies) the furthest from us. As a matter of fact those
galaxies that are twice as far from us are expanding twice as fast as predicted by
Einstein's field equations had predicted.
- There is a residual microwave energy coming at the earth uniformly from every point in
the sky. This energy, roughly 2.7K (just above absolute zero), is what would be expected
from an expanding universe that once started in a centralized hot spot.
- The fact that galaxies are distributed more densely - and quasars become more abundant -
the farther we look into space indicates that the universe has changed with time. These
observations argue against any static or steady state theory.
2. There have been several theories floated to explain all this. Some of which are:
- The Mature Creation (also called the "created-in-transit" theory).
It holds that when God created all the particles in the universe, He also instantaneously
created, in transit along their paths, all the light waves which would have been emitted
by those particles for billions of years prior to their creation. It is certainly possible
that God could have done such a thing, but there are several problems with this theory.
Would God who encourages us to delight in and study His great works create false histories
(Ps 111:2)? Are His creative wonders deceptive, or do we appreciate Him more the more we
learn of His lengthy preparations for humankind? There is no Biblical support for this
theory and no Biblical reason for God to have set up such an illusion.
- The Gap Theory. So called because it places a gap of unknown years
between Gen. 1:1 and 1:2. It is based upon the Hebrew word "toho wabohu," which
are often translated "desolate and void." It is plausible that God created the
universe in perfect condition in Gen 1:1, and this condition was marred in 1:2, probably
as a result of Satan and his angels being cast from heaven. I can find no other Scripture
supporting this view.
- The "Long Day" Theory. Noting the word for "day"
used in Gen 1 & 2, some hypothesize that it could refer to "ages" or
"generations" rather than literal 24 hour periods. While many scholars hint at
this option, I do not believe that we can treat it seriously.
- If you want to study others, read about the Moon-Spencer Theory, the Decay in the Speed
of Light Theory and the Heating of Galactic Gas and Dust Theory.
3. To proceed, I need to give you a couple definitions. I will greatly simplify this
material for your sake and for my sake.
- Einstein's General Theory of Relativity predicts "gravitational time
dilation." This fact has been proven experimentally many different ways. It
states that a clock (and all physical processes) will operated and run slower when in a
gravitational field. For instance the National Bureau of Standards clock at Boulder, CO
(5400 feet above sea level) gains about five microseconds per year relative to a similar
clock kept at the Royal Greenwich Observatory, England. This also means that the speed of
light is affected by the degree of the gravitational field.
- Black Holes and Event Horizons. Coined in the mid-1960's to explain the
process of a collapsing star, whose matter has all fallen towards the center of the star.
This in turn creates such a massive gravitational pull, that more and more matter is drawn
into the "hole." Eventually, the black hole becomes so intense that matter and
light on the outside (Event Horizon) will fall into the hole, but nothing could ever
return from it. Black holes, thus continue to grow. There is scientific evidence for three
and possibly a fourth such black hole in our current universe.
- White Holes. This is a black hole running in reverse. Thus, while once
extremely compacted it is continuing to expand and it's event horizon continues to shrink.
- E.S.T. (Earth Standard Time). In a bounded universe, clocks in
different places can tick (or register time) at drastically different rates. So which set
of clocks is the Bible referring to in Gen. 1, or in Ex. 20:11, when it says that God made
the universe in six ordinary weekdays? We must remember that God, who sees the end from
the beginning (Is. 46:10; Rev 22:13; Jo. 8:58) is outside of time. Time is a created
feature of His universe, like matter and space. It is reasonable (and can be demonstrated)
that God's intention was to define time in terms of the earth's rotation and the earth's
motion around the sun, thus speaking of periods of time in our own frame of reference (Ge.
4. Assumptions that I would ask you to consider.
- The visible universe was once inside an event horizon
- The visible universe was once inside a white hole, whose event horizon has shrunk to
zero, meaning that an expansion of space continued at least until the white hole ceased to
- The universe is bounded (it has a finite end).
- The "firmament/expanse" of Genesis 1 is not the earth's atmosphere, but
- The "waters above the firmament/expanse" are cosmic in scale and represent a
boundary for interstellar space.
- The earth is near the center of the universe (and thus the center of gravity and also
where time runs the slowest, in a relative sense).
These assumptions are compatible with Einstein's Theory of General Relativity and would
also produce a universe as we now know it (young at earth and old at the edges of the
5. Some Scriptural background for the assumptions.
- The "firmament/expanse" is interstellar space. The Hebrew word
"raqia" denotes extended surface. It comes from the verb "raqa"
meaning to spread out. In Ge.1:14-17, we are told that the "lights" are to be
"in" the firmament/expanse. Note the key word "in." It does not say
under, or above, but in. The sun/moon/stars are "in" the expanse, ie.
- There are at least three heavens (2 Cor. 12:2). The first is synonymous with the
firmament/expanse. The second is what is on the outside of the water boundary of the
universe (in the beginning, God created the "heaven(s)" and the earth.) This
second heaven, is also referred to as the "heavens of heavens" which is on the
outside of the water boundary of the material universe (Ps. 148:1-6). The third heaven is
the residence of God.
- The universe has expanded. See Job 9:8; Ps. 104:2; Is. 40:22; Jer. 10:12: Zech.12:1, and
at least 12 other OT similar verses in the Bible which speak of a "stretching out of
the heavens." This expanding universe continued for the first several days of the
creation week, but sometime before day seven, it stopped expanding. Prior to that each
creation day was deemed "good," and finally, it was "very good" in
that His work was completed.
- The earth as somewhere near the center of the universe. Ge. 1:6 tells us that the
firmament/expanse was in the "midst" of the waters.
6. The heavens and earth God created in Ge. 1 consisted of 1) a large, mostly empty
space (the heavens of heavens), and 2) a ball or ordinary water more than two light-years
in diameter. This water contained within itself what would become a) the waters above the
expanse, b) another heavens called the expanse and the stars within it, and c) the earth.
Creation week can thus unfold.
- Day One. The deep contains all the mass of the visible universe.
Gravity is functioning, and its great strength allows a clearly-defined interface to exist
between the waters and the vacuum of the second heavens. The deep is within a black hole,
whose outer boundary, called the "event horizon," is millions of light-years
further out. Gravity causes it all to start to compress, it becomes very hot, and dense.
Thermonuclear fusion reactions begin, and "there was light." God saw the
"light" and it was good. However, at the "event horizon" it was dark
- Days Two and Three. God intervenes in the collapse and reverses the
direction. The black hole becomes a white hole and the universe begins to expand outward.
A firmament/expanse is created between the waters below (which would also become the
earth) and the waters above (which define the outer boundary of the universe.) This rapid
expansion and the physical results in the "waters" below begin to lay the
foundations of the earth (Job 38:4). The "waters above the heavens" reach the
event horizon and pass beyond it. Based upon the "time dilation" factor, and the
massive gravitation at the center of the white hole (where the earth exists), billions of
years worth galaxy formation take place further out; while just two days have passed on
- Day Four. The event horizon reaches earth early in the morning. During
that ordinary day as measured on earth, billions of years worth of physical processes take
place in the distant cosmos. God finishes coalescing the clusters of material left behind
in the expansion, and thermonuclear fusion begins in the newly-formed stars. During the
fourth day the distant stars age billions of years, while their light also has billions of
years to travel here. While the light from the more distant galaxies is traveling to
earth, space continues to expand, stretching the wavelengths of the light and thus
shifting them to the red side of the spectrum.
- Day Six. Adam and Eve, gaze up for the first time into the new night
sky, they can see the Milky Way, the Andromeda galaxy, and all the other splendors in the
heavens that declare the glory of God.
Thus, a young earth, an old universe, an inerrant and consistent Bible and good
science. Rom 11:33 "O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of
God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!"
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