As a Christian can we believe in big bang?
@Jeshuren Yes, we can believe in the big bang as Christians. Both Hugh Ross (Reasons to Believe) and Dr. William Lane Craig (Reasonable Faith) point out that the big bang model agrees with the Bible, which says the universe had a beginning. Pagan religions often predicted that the universe itself was eternal, but the Bible has always been clear that the universe had a beginning and that God is outside the universe.
That being said, the big bang model is just a scientific model. It could change as we discover new scientific evidence. Models are scientists’ attempt to explain what they observe in the universe----they are not actually facts. Accepted scientific models have strong predictive power and match what we observe, but that does not guarantee they are necessarily equal to what is actual going on in the physical universe and they can change as we make new / unexpected observations about the universe.
@Jeshuren some would say that the big bang is the greatest proof that God is real and that the bible is accurate, of the 20th century Let me explain why.
Prior to the 1900s when the big bang was first theorized it was the belief of the majority of the scientific community that the universe was eternal. Here are examples of thinking throughout the ages.
Bertrand Russell: The universe is just there. That’s all.
Aristotle: The idea of a first instant of time is inconceivable.
Epicurus: Truly this universe has always been such as it now is, and so it shall always be; for there is nothing into which it can change, and there is nothing outside the universe that can enter into it and bring about a change.
As a model of a cosmic beginning began to emerge the majority of scientists were opposed to it. Did you know that the term “big bang” was actually coined by Fred Hoyle in 1949 as a derogatory term as it did not align with his steady-state model?
Here are some other examples of the scientific community’s resistance to the big bang, that was shared by John Lennox in the RZIM Academy Science module.
Hoyle proposed a ‘steady-state theory’ to explain the expansion
John Gribbin (1976): Hoyle’s steady-state theory was given impetus by philosophers and theologians recognizing the problems and questions raised by the idea that the universe had a beginning
Sir Bernard Lovell: Neither steady state nor big bang cosmology offers a satisfactory explanation from science so they ‘must move over into metaphysics’ and postulate divine creation.
Lennox also notes that many scientists immediately saw how an cosmic beginning which the big bang theorized would only feed the argument for a creator God.
Christopher Isham - Perhaps the best argument that the Big Bang supports theism is the obvious unease with which it is greeted by some atheist physicists.
Stephen Hawking - Many people do not like the idea that time has a beginning, probably because it smacks of divine intervention.
What evidence do we have for a cosmic beginning? Also known as a space-time beginning or the big bang.
1920s - Alexander Friedman & George Lemaitre: Einstein’s theory of general relativity allows an expanding solution beginning with a singularity.
1929 – Edwin Hubble showed a red shift in spectra in visible light from other galaxies, the Doppler shift effect that indicated the universe was expanding.
1964 - Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson discovered cosmic background radiation, an omnidirectional signal in the microwave band. Their discovery provided substantial confirmation of the big-bang predictions by Alpher, Herman and Gamow around 1950. This basically proved that the universe was expanding and thus had a beginning that it was expanding from. In 1978 Penzias and Wilson were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for their work. (Taken from Wikipedia)
Here is a beautiful quote from Penzias:
The best data we have are precisely what I would have predicted had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, and the Bible as a whole.
And finally for the greatest proof for the big bang:
Genesis 1:1 - In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.
John 1:1-3 - In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him, nothing was made that has been made.
I have nothing to add to their direct answers to your question, but I would like to comment about a broader issue that is pertinent to the application of your question, and to one of the reasons why I am attracted to RZIM Connect.
Your question is related to the young versus old Earth debate. This debate has become one of the most sadly and unnecessarily divisive issues within the Christian family. I personally know someone who was not allowed to teach at a church simply because he believes in an old Earth. I have also listened to a pastor ridicule the Big Bang theory itself in more than one sermon by comparing it to exploding a bomb in a bedroom. A moment’s thought reveals that the Big Bang was not hemmed in by walls, and the comparison fails, yet the audience inevitably laughs. If you were a skeptic who has seriously studied the matter and you were sitting in the midst of that laughing audience, how would you feel?
This is nothing new. St. Augustine warned against such behavior 1,600 years ago in his work, The Literal Meaning of Genesis. General revelation is special revelation’s beautiful younger sister, not ugly stepsister. We need to be very careful sincerely and openly to examine what Creation tells us in light of, and in partnership with, God’s Word. If we are to claim that our faith is based on a logical interpretation of eyewitness evidence of Jesus’s and the Apostles’ contemporaries, then we must also allow the peer-reviewed, logical interpretation of eyewitness evidence of scientific discovery to run its course without denigrating it in any way. If we denigrate efforts to explain origins such as the Big Bang theory that are based on empirical observation, then we set our children up for failure by teaching them that empirical evidence is only good insofar as it supports our (or their college professors’) worldviews. This too closely resembles the postmodernist and relativist thinking that should be anathema to Christians. This is the type of thing that leads to collapses of faith.
This is an issue that belongs in the Romans 14 category of freedom of conscience. John Lennox applies this principle in the way that he handles differing interpretations of Genesis 1 with such grace and tact. RZIM team members also live it day after day, which is why I am attracted to this site. I hope that you spend time listening to and reading their material as I do.
Thanks dear brother
Now i am busy brother so i can’t active on this topic.
Small doubt bro…
–> Big bang is the proof of God,how could we relate this with bible.God created heaven’s and earth that means God just banged by his word?
@Jeshuren no problem at all that you are busy at the moment. I am very happy to answer your questions about this topic
Your question now is in relation to how you decide you will interpret the first two chapters of the Book of Genesis, as @blbossard rightly touched on above. It all comes down to how old you believe the earth is. There have been many discussions about this in Connect already like this one. Here is a short version of the John Lennox video that @blbossard shared.
Some Christians believe that the earth is very young at about 5000 years old while other Christians believe that the world is millions of years old. I have very close family and friends who believe very differently and I love discussing this with them. Do you understand root of the problem now?
As was already mentioned, SeanO, Brianlalor, and blbossard have answered your question quite well from a variety of perspectives (none rendering a judgement, which is fine in this context). I’ll also chime in from a novel perspective; that of changing positions and materialist effort to argue against the Big Bang.
Wrt changing positions, multiple eminent atheists of the mid 20th and early 21st Centuries jumped the atheist ship and became theists, some even Christians. Why? Because the scientific data was overwhelmingly pointing a beginning of the universe, and that beginning necessitated a “first cause.” Since there were no other first cause candidates, God became the exclusive creative conclusion in everyone’s minds (especially the atheists). Atheists such as Anthony Flew, C. S. Lewis, and Francis Collins (and others) were all atheists who were intellectually honest enough to weight the scientific evidence and admit the unavoidable conclusion–there is a God.
Wrt the resource and effort materialists invest in trying to argue against the Big Bang (Dawkins, Pinker, Harris, many others) is a strong indicator of how important this topic (i.e., study your “adversary”). They each (and many other atheists/materialists) argue relentlessly in their book about the impossibility of the Big Band (due to the impossibility of the Singularity) and pushing their materialist alternative (the multiverse). Yet even Hawkins, who was a materialist and multiverse advocate for much of his professional life admitted he was “never a fan” [of the multiverse} do to multiple scientific reasons. Thus, when you get an agnostic of materialist in an honest frame they will have no choice but to admit the lunacy of the multiverse theory (and all its collateral non-sense).
The bottom-line is that if the Big Bang weren’t a threat to atheism, the materialists would just ignore it, yet they invest heavily to argue against it. I hope this helps.
To follow along with your thought, I have never seen scientists so willing to delve into the realm of utter speculation as when they are trying to avoid the Big Bang by positing the multiverse theory. They even admit that their theory is untestable and unprovable. It is not even that there is no evidence for it, but that there cannot be evidence for it. Yet their willingness to believe in such a theory and continue to study it, to me, is so much evidence of perceptual blindness due to ideology, rather than to some scientific epistemology.
@Joshua_Hansen All the more reason for us Christians to separate ourselves from the crowd by avoiding infighting over the age of the universe based on unprovable assertions. I was somewhat saddened to hear a good sermon about the fig tree that Jesus cursed outside of Jerusalem marred by a tangent on how God could have made the Universe with the appearance of age. This quite speculative assertion is as unprovable as the multiverse.
You’re well read and coherent in your thoughts, so no doubt we’ll agree on may things. I don’t agree with you however in associating the scientific evidence for an old universe with the highly speculative footing of the multiverse. The scientific evidence for an old universe (and an old Earth) is overwhelming and there is no credible alternative. YEC’s attempts to conjure excuses and speculations is reminiscent of the multiverse–I don’t believe God needs my help to defend Himself or His truth, and He certainly doesn’t need my fabrications and speculations to do so.
I know YEC positions are from their foundation well-meaning, but they are false, as can be easily tested: if God did create the universe (and therefore Earth) with the appearance of age yet the universe is young, doesn’t that make God deceitful? Why did God do that? Was He in a hurry? Was He late? There is no good reason for God to be in a hurry so why not operate by the natural law He created and allow the universe to develop naturally and in agreement with the law rather than counter to the law?
Because every mode of inquiry agrees that the universe is old, means if the universe is young that God lied numerous times–about the half-lives of radionuclides, the speed of light, the erosion rates of rock, the rate of plant generation of oxygen, the life-cycle of stars, and many many other things. I don’t believe God lied and I don’t believe God’s deceitful; I believe the universe is old, as every mode of evidence agrees.
This doesn’t mean that the Scripture is false, it means that the Scripture is not a scientific text and the authors, audience, original languages, and historical/cultural/ethnic context must be taken into account when interpreting the Scriptures. Further, it is very clear that God chose a narrative (story) mode for communicating Himself to humankind rather than a simple declarative mode (in which case God could have said everything He wanted to say to man in ~10 pages). Our hermeneutic should more liberally admit allegory as so many things in the Bible are antithetical in a strict literal interpretation. If we recognize that Scripture is not a scientific text and that God is speaking to us in Genesis in allegory, we should see reasonable agreement between Scripture and science. Thank you.
@klineeric To clarify, I meant exactly what you just wrote. I was referring to the speculative nature of assertions about the appearance of age that young earth creationists make. The pastor was using the example of the cursed fig tree to show that God could have made a young earth look old, which bothers me for the reasons that you stated. Thank you for doing my work for me!
Well meaning but false.
The first miracle that Jesus performed was creation at its best.
Water in a matter of seconds was turned in bulk to wine.
No additives, no decanting, in fact no grapes. No fermenting, no time yet all the wedding guests who drank it were convinced. The servants saw this, the kitchen folk saw this, the master chef was convinced. The master of the feast said it was the best wine.
Was Jesus a fake, a cheat, a magician, a hypnotist, or what?
He had a purpose- he can command and speed up time as He wishes.
Just because we finite humans cannot fathom the things of God wrt our time (designated ‘time’ only wrt Earth) and natural processes of the Earth, don’t even limit God.
God created Adam with the ‘appearance’ of age of maybe 18 yrs or 30 yrs but Adam was no baby. Every scientist who dates Adam on the day of creation would gauge his age definitely not a day old! He had a purpose to create man.
40 yr old blind man Bartimaeus was given an adult eye not a baby eye. He had a purpose to heal Bartimaeus with a good eye.
Yet his first sight was warped, and Jesus corrected his vision. What did that mean. To you something, to me that he had power to correct something in situ, as per that specific request and need. (Like the bleeding lady touching his hem to be healed).
And so on with every miracle of God…He is inscrutable.
As a geologist who studied rocks, fossils till they seeped out of every skin pore, I won’t waste my short life on earth questioning in doubt but to increase my belief and trust in a God who knows what He wants to achieve with me, with my relationships and being purposeful in glory to Him.
Everyone around me get irritated because I am bigger questioner than Thomas, as I am a scientist to my core, and like him I found my answers when He took the time to call me “and asked me” to put my finger into his wounds to feel his pain.
I’ll live to my dying day in peace, being still and knowing that He is Lord.
Praying for all of us questioners to rest in His loving hands knowing we can achieve great things for Him, even in not knowing everything!
You’re articulate and well-reasoned, and I appreciate the interesting genre of your feedback (thanks).
You make a good point, and that is a weakness in my position that I acknowledge, namely, that Christ did in fact perform miracles. I believe this and it poses a difficultly for me in explaining where God drew the boundaries of appropriate rendering of miracles. My personal belief is that His advent in space-time, and extending to His disciples, was the substantial limit to His authorization of miracles.
I also agree that God is far more than the limits of our imaginations. However, that does not mean that God has no limits, neither does the scale of our ignorance magnify God in any real or significant way (i.e., just because we’re ignorant it doesn’t follow that God is infinite, etc.).
No scientist that is practicing in the domain of science can posit Adam’s age upon creation (this is beyond the realm of science since evidence and observations are impossible)—this is even beyond metaphysical speculation. Besides, God could just as easily create Adam as a zygote and superintend his maturation for some natural span of years as create him as an adult. Further, even as an adult, Adam would have no knowledge of anything, language, how to walk, God, etc. So, God would have to allow these to develop naturally (inc. w/teaching) or He would have had to supernaturally provide these. If God provided all this supernatural collateral, why should Adam not have been a zygote? There is a significantly limited rational/reasonable basis for positing God created Adam as an adult.
In your citing of Jesus’ healing of Bartimaeus (I believe you mean the unnamed blind man of Mark 8:22-26) you suggest Jesus gave him an adult eye rather than a baby eye. However, we don’t know how Jesus healed him, there may have been no replacement of an eye(s) but just repair of existing eye(s). Your proposition could be extrapolated to Jesus raising the dead or other healing miracles. Yet, in none of these miracles does Jesus (explicitly) provide new flesh, just repair of existing flesh or bodies, so the proposition fails to make your desired point.
Further, there’s no question in my mind and heart that many of the miracles cited in the OT are misinterpreted (if not altogether literally false, but not necessarily allegorically untrue). One of my favorite is the Sun stopping it’s (presumed) orbit about the Earth in Joshua. I find the physics impossible (I’m referring to the physics of stopping and restarting the rotation of the Earth). But even more difficult, I find the implications even worse (that God would possibly do something so stupid and for virtually no reason—God could have destroyed the Amalekites in many ways far far easier that stopping the rotation of the Earth and restarting it again; especially when Joshua tell us that the hail God rained upon the fleeing Amalekites killed more of them than the Hebrews’ swords). But the most difficult aspect is the execution (more like murder) of the people (women, children, old men, cripples, pregnant women, infants, everyone)–and these were not the people that attacked Israel, these were the decedents (very few, if any, of these people would have been alive during the crime of attacking Israel)–Ezekiel 18:20 says, “The one who sins is the one who will die. The child will not share the guilt of the parent, nor will the parent share the guilt of the child. The righteousness of the righteous will be credited to them, and the wickedness of the wicked will be charged against them.”
I respect and appreciate your declaration of faith. “The just shall live by faith” (Hab. 2:4). However, faith must be tempered, I believe, in truth. As Christians we have a very real challenge from science to our dogmas and doctrines. If they are true, they will survive any level of scrutiny. More difficult than the challenges of science are those imposed by morality—theodicy. No one who has seriously studied these questions fails take the challenge very seriously. We Christians must stand-up and do the hard work of illuminating our doctrines and dogmas against the scientific and moral evidence least America become irreversibly post-Christian. Doctrines and dogma are not sacrosanct, they are human frameworks for attempting to understand the metaphysical (a very lofty goal).
Thank you for your comments and feedback Philip.
I certainly give room for hyperbole in the Old Testament, especially in regards to accounts of war. But, I wonder to what extent this would apply to miracle claims. I wonder if @SeanO might have some thoughts on the matter.
@Joshua_Hansen Maybe a new topic Joshua is definitely a historical book and I don’t see anything in Joshua 10 that suggests it should be read metaphorically. However, as noted in the below article, the author of Joshua is describing what they observed; not necessarily making a scientific statement about how it happened. It is possible that the day lasted longer than usual for some other reason than that the sun literally stopped…
That said, one common element of normal, “everyday” speech and writing, both in Bible times and today, is the description of things as they appear (and not necessarily in the scientifically precise manner that we would expect in a geometry or chemistry classroom). Since to everyone on Earth (both in Bible times and today) it appears that the Sun moves from the east to the west, man has long referred to the Sun rising and setting (though technically what we see is the result of the Earth’s rotation on its axis). Could it be that the miracle God worked in Joshua 10 had less to do with the Sun than one might initially think? Certainly. As Hebrew scholar Justin Rogers commented: “Indeed, it appeared to them that ‘the sun stopped in the middle of the sky.’ This is clear use of phenomenological language, and it simply means this day was unusually long.
@klineeric, @Joshua_Hansen, @SeanO It seems to me that saying that certain things are “impossible” because they violate physical laws skirts Hume’s error. God created the Universe; therefore, he can suspend physical laws at whim. I have no problem imagining that God can suddenly halt the entire Universe’s motion without causing mass chaos.
@blbossard I agree - we worship the living God who spoke and the stars came to be! However, I think that just because God could have done it does not necessarily mean it is the correct explanation.
I am just entering into a 45 day discussion. Read all the posts and find them interesting. Generally however they are trying to reconcile current science with Scripture Revelation. This is a very difficult task. I am a retired Oil & Gas Executive/Engineer and I had to deal with this task daily throughout my career. In 2009 I went through The Truth Project which gave me a new perspective on how to deal with these 2 bases of knowledge that are both seeking Truth but from different perspectives. When discussing the subject of Scripture and Science particularly in the area of creation I now remind myself of some points that I would like to share. These points are from a description of the God and Creation relationship that I have also heard Ravi describe as well. That is God is above and outside all creation looking over it as an artist might look over a painting. Creation can be thought of as box with finite limits. It is created by God and thus, that which is in the creation can see and ascertain many of the attributes of its Creator but because Creation is finite that which is in the box (creation) cannot ever understand what is outside the box except by revelation.
- Scripture is Revelation that is fundamentally communicating Truths that we cannot know by our reason. Scripture communicates the perspective of God who is outside all creation and in particular the physical universe. Thus there are areas of Scripture that are above human logic. One of the greatest example of this is the revelation that God exists as Trinity of Co-Equal Persons that is One God. There is no way reason can come to this conclusion thinking about God.
- Science (and Engineering) is the study and application of the Truths of the physical universe. This study and application can see and understand the Order of God to some extent but it cannot incorporate the Whole of God into its analysis and thinking as nothing can know and understand the Whole of God except God Himself. As an example: An scientist/engineer can study, design, and build a building that is safe for occupation because inherently the scientist/engineer trusts the Order of the Universe established by God but cannot know how God establishes Order except as revealed by Scripture.
I would submit to this discussion that while it is good to discuss Science and Revelation to try and discover its harmony. It is a daunting task at best because of the 2 different perspectives that exist in the nature of Revelation and nature of Science. As I believe Dr. Van Allen put it: Science after 1000s of years climbing to the top of the mountain of knowledge will arrive and find the Theologians have been sitting there for years. I think this statement along with understanding that Scripture reveals Truth and Science discovers Truth puts forth the real problem of trying to reconcile Scripture and Science.
As to the Revelation of Creation in Genesis 1-3. I believe that if you divide these Scriptures into 3 Revelations concerning creation it helps put things in context. I see the following:
- Genesis 1:1 The revelation that all that is created is created by God. Also John 1:1-3
- Genesis 1:2-2:3 The revelation of the Order of Creation and that Creation has order. (Something all science is based on)
- Genesis 2:4-3:24 The revelation of the creation of man and his original nature along with man’s current nature as it exists today before Christ.
I believe that when you try to intermingle these 3 distinct revelations you begin to lose context. Further if you intermingle them and then try to reconcile Scripture coming from God with Science coming from Man you end up with a lot of problems. It is like trying to fully understand How, What, Where, When, and Why of the God and sin relationship. Not sure it can be done. What I can say that pragmatically relying on science and engineering principles to create, discover, and understand the physical world is necessary to accomplish work for the Glory of God. But as an engineer I always remember that the principles of science and engineering are discoveries and articulations primarily of fallen man.
Hope this helps on the subject and is not too far afield.
In this regard I was helped a lot by reading John Walton’s “The Lost World of Genesis One.” Sub-title: “Ancient Cosmology and the Origins Debate.” He puts forward “Propositions” rather than proofs and in my view is not dogmatic. But it was refreshing to get an alternate starting point for interpreting Genesis 1. (This publication is free for download in pdf from the internest. Just do a web search and you’ll find it.)
One aspect of the “Origins Debate” centres on the understanding of the word yom translated “day.” Many literalists seem to feel somehow that it is tantamount to denigrating that awesome power of God to believe that God created (the present conditions of) the world progressively through circa 13 billion years. It’s much more praise-worthy (?) to believe He did it all in 7 24-hr days, building in an impression of age at the same time. My difficulty with this underlying thinking is just that - with that thinking wouldn’t it be even more glorious to believe it took seconds to accomplish his word, not whole days. “Let there be light” doesn’t take 5 seconds to say - why wouldn’t it happen instantaneously? Why expect that it took God a whole day?
Exactly. It is also helpful, IMHO, to consider the purposes of the scriptures. Most believers are adamant about God’s inspiration of the scriptures, as stated by Paul in his letter to Timothy. But when quoting this verse (2 Tim. 3:16) they often neglect to finish Paul’s sentence as provided in vs 17. As translated in the RSV these two verses state:
" All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work."
In other words the Bible is not a textbook on astronomy, geology, physics, chemistry, biology, archaeology, etc. etc. If anything, it is a manual on right living, providing the proper underlying assumptions, principles, methods, goals, and practices, … i.e. for human fulfilment (completeness) and preparedness for good work.
Yes, the scriptures speak truth, and therefore all truth should be consistent. But perhaps we get sidetracked in our eagerness to focus on some types of “truth” and fail to grasp what a passage of scripture has to contribute to our “completeness” from a spiritual point of view, and our applying the Truth to those good daily works that God has prepared for us.
So: Big Bang, One literal week creation, Young Earth, 13 billion year creation, whatever… in what ways do these interpretations or alignments of beliefs, differ (if at all) in contributing constructively to our spiritual completeness (individually as well as collectively) and the development of our practice of good works daily, for the glory of God? Isn’t that a consideration to ponder? What lessons are we supposed to get from Genesis 1-3 that will make us live “truer” daily lives, in the sense that Jesus is the Truth, the Way, and the Life? Are we allowing the great deceiver to get us to focus on red herrings rather than on what really matters, falling once again for the trap he laid for Eve and Adam in Genesis 3?