Friday, January 16, 2009

How Did It All Begin? Part 1- Is The "Big Bang" Biblical?

If you have not already, please read my post "Nature vs. Scripture" before continuing.

First, let me start by explaining why this is question worth contemplating, then I will answer the question.

For many centuries the main idea about how the universe came into being was that it has always existed. "The universe is eternal. It has no beginning and no ending." The major theistic religions of the world (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam- in that order) have all stood alone among the many other worldviews as holding that the universe had a beginning in the finite past.

Albert Einstein rocked the boat quite a bit with his theory of special relativity. The math, he calculated, predicted that the universe did have a beginning. He did not believe this, so he introduced what he called the "cosmological constant". This allowed his equations to predict the eternal universe that was the reigning paradigm at the time. Later, Edwin Hubble confirmed Einstein's original equations by observing the expansion of the universe. Einstein was then forced to remove his "cosmological constant" from his equations.

Why did the expansion convince Einstein? Anything that is expanding gets larger with respect to time. If that time is reversed, the object that was expanding now contracts, all the way down to a singular point of beginning.

Fred Hoyle was an atheistic cosmologist that supported the idea of the universe being eternal, back in the 60's. On a radio show he described the model, proposed by Einstein's equations and observationally verified by Hubble, as a "big bang". It was used as a disparaging term, that caught on since then. Hubble despised this theory because he knew that if the universe was expanding, then something had to exist to initiate the expansion, thus the universe has a beginning. Hoyle did not like this idea because he also knew that this provided compelling evidence for the existence of a Beginner (God).

"Big Bang" theory:

...requires a beginning and, by implication, a Beginner.
...states that at the beginning of the universe, time itself began. Which implies that the Beginner must exist outside of time.
...states that the universe, literally, came from nothing.
...predicts the universe is expanding
...requires extremely fine-tuned values for numerous laws and relationships in the universe

The Bible states (not comprehensive):

God existed before the universe and created the universe. Genesis 1:1; John 1:1
God created the universe from the unseen. Hebrews 11:3
God stretches out the heavens. Job 9:8; Psalm 104:2; Isaiah 40:22; Zechariah 12:1

What's really ironic about the title "Big Bang" is that this term conjures up the idea of a chaotic explosion. In the last couple decades astronomers have discovered that the expansion of the universe has been extremely fine tuned. They have also discovered that numerous other factors in the universe (including the physical laws themselves) have been extremely fine tuned. The levels of fine tuning that has been discovered have such a remote possibility of taking place naturalistically as to be mathematically indistinguishable from zero. The only other explanation is that a Super Intellect designed the universe in a precise way for some reason.

Considering this evidence, I believe that "Big Bang" cosmology is compatible with the Bible. Further more, the possibility that the Biblical authors stood alone, for centuries, in describing the universe exactly as modern scientists have found it to be is astronomically minute. This provides extra support for the idea that the Bible was inspired by, not only a divine entity, but the One who created the universe and knows everything about it.

Here's an episode of Dr. William Lane Craig's podcast Reasonable Faith that discusses the issue: The Big Bang


For further investigation, I recommend:

DVDs:
Journey Toward Creation (Netflix or Blockbuster Online Rentals)
Cosmic Fingerprints
Why Is the Big Bang Evidence That God Created the Universe
Can The Biblical Account of Creation be Reconciled with Scientific Evidence Today?

Online Videos:
Reasons to Believe Q&A Videos

Podcasts:
Science News Flash
I Didn't Know That
Why The Universe Is The Way It Is
More Than a Theory

Websites:
Reasons to Believe "The Bible and Science" Web Page
Big Bang for Beginners
Lee Strobel.com
Ankerberg Theological Research Institute

Books:
Creation as Science- Dr. Hugh Ross
Creator and The Cosmos- Dr. Hugh Ross
Case for a Creator- Lee Strobel
Why the Universe Is The Way It Is- Dr. Hugh Ross

In Part 2, I will begin to discuss the equation of "Big Bang" with "Evolution". Does acceptance of the "Big Bang" require or, at least, imply acceptance of Evolution?

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