Creation of the universe
'In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth'
(OT), chapter 1, verse 1)
|Many who explore Christianity
don't have a problem with the idea of a creator,
but struggle with the idea that to be Christian
might have to
believe in creation taking precisely 6 days of 24 hours—or 144 hours, or
8640 minutes, or 518,400 seconds.
Sometimes struggling is important to a genuine faith, but let me share
ideas in this series of articles that have helped someone who is both a
scientist and a Christian get his head round these mind-boggling concepts,
trusting the Bible while trying to understand the physical evidence in the
universe God created.
In the Bible passage above, the term ‘heavens-and-earth’ in Hebrew is one of those compound
phrases (like we might say ‘bits and pieces’ instead of ‘stuff’), used because
the writer didn't have a word like ‘universe’ at his disposal, and
the concept of a universe (meaning everything that exists) doesn't appear
in Greek culture until much later. So this verse talks about
the creation of the entire universe in a seemingly
In the 19th and early part of the 20th centuries, most scientists would
have had trouble with the idea of the creation of the universe in anything
but a very long time, it being so—well—big, and prevailing ideas were
more along the lines of the universe being infinitely old—or, as British
astronomer Professor Fred Hoyle postulated, of along the idea of 'continuous creation' of matter.
But 20th-century studies of the cosmos (aka universe) showed that it is
expanding at an ever-increasing rate (the furthest stars are moving
away from us faster than those closer to us), suggesting a vast cosmic explosion.
After doing the sums (rather beyond the scope of this article), they were
able to project backwards to when everything must therefore have been in the
same place at the same time—the so-called
Big Bang moment. (Again, excuse
me for saying ‘moment’ because, of course, moment implies time, and there
wasn’t such a thing until the universe existed).
In a single blinding pulse, a moment of glory much too swift and
expansive for any form of words, the 'singularity' (as cosmologists like to
call it, being wary of using words like 'creation') assumed heavenly
dimensions... space beyond conception.
Within the tiniest split second after the singularity, the temperature
hit 100 billion degrees centigrade. The first second produced gravity and
other forces that govern physics. In less than 60 seconds, the
universe was already a million billion miles across. In less than 3
minutes, 98% of all the matter that would ever exist had been
produced (thanks to Bill Bryson for a lot of the phraseology in those two
Does that sound pretty quick work to you? It does to me. And since those first few dramatic moments, the universe has continued spreading
out like the debris of a huge explosion.
Of course, such descriptions (if true, and of course CNN wasn't there to
film it!) would not have conveyed much to readers in the millennia since
Genesis was written, so—rather like Forest Gump—that's all the Bible wants
to say about that.
There’s no conflict between the Bible and current cosmology - for the
first few minutes of the universe, at least.
People of faith and people of science can agree on at least one thing: there was a beginning. Beyond that, Christians take a variety of views, but
continue to say, `In the beginning, God created...' —however he did it.
Next up – the early earth
Pray: Lord, only you know how the universe came into being! Who are we to try and work out exactly how you did it? Your creation was beautiful and perfect, and now we look forward to a time when that perfection will be restored. Thank you for everything you have done, and help me to appreciate it. Amen.
Visit Reasons to Believe - a science/faith think-thank website
Watch the video clip Accidental Masterpiece
Watch the video clip Psalm 19, with voiceover plus 'music' recorded from space
Read the book A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson
Read the book The Creator and the Cosmos by Hugh Ross
tell a friend about
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