The Time Machine Funtington (Dr. Paul Strickland / CC-BY-2.0 more)
Today, most cosmologists believe the universe (including all of the space-time dimensions of the universe) rapidly expanded from an initial singularity. The rapid expansion of the space-time fabric of the universe is commonly referred to as the Big Bang.
Although the label “Big Bang” may imply a disordered or chaotic beginning to the universe, that is not what the theory actually describes. As explained by Christian astronomer and apologist Hugh Ross, the Big Bang describes the universe coming into existence from a rapidly expanding initial singularity and unfurling in an exquisitely controlled expansion. In an instant, time, space, matter and energy, along with the physical laws governing them all, came into existence from a source beyond the cosmos. As explained by Ross, rather than describing a chaotic explosion, the Big Bang describes a beginning to the universe that demonstrated exquisite balance, extreme fine-tuning, incredible precision and complex design. In Ross’ view, the design exhibited in the expansion of the universe points to the existence of a self-existent, transcendent Designer, like the God described in the Bible (more>>)
Without question there is vigorous debate amongst Christians over how the creation account in Genesis 1 is accurately interpreted and, consequently, how old the universe and the earth are. Generally speaking, Young Earth creationists (YECs) reject Big Bang cosmology and Old Earth Creationists (OECs) (more>>) embrace Big Bang cosmology. Regardless of one’s particular point of view on this issue, it seems wise for all Christians to have a general understanding of what the theory says/doesn’t say and why at least some Christian apologists maintain Big Bang cosmology supports a biblical worldview since Big Bang cosmology is taught in every secular High School and College, (more>>).
With respect to the initial singularity proposed by the Big Bang theory, many Christian apologists point out that Big Bang cosmology actually poses significant challenges to the atheistic worldview because an initial singularity logically implies the universe had a beginning and anything that has a beginning (i.e., comes into existence) logically requires a cause for it coming into existence (more>>). Consequently, atheists are compelled to explain the cause for the universe coming into existence.
STEPHEN HAWKING IN 2006 (HAWKING SUFFERS FROM ALS)
Many scientists who recognize the theological and philosophical implications associated with an initial singularity continue to search for alternative theories that do not logically require a cause for the universe coming into existence. While investigating such possibilities, Stephen Hawking (a world renown theoretical physicist who collaboratively developed theorems on gravitational singularities in the framework of general relativity) introduced the use of imaginary numbers for time variables in the mathematical equations used to describe the very early universe. However, as noted by philosopher, William Lane Craig, even Hawking acknowledges that models which use imaginary time “are not realistic descriptions of the universe“, rather, they have only instrumental value. [William Lane Craig, Time and Eternity, pg. 218 (2001) referencing Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose, The Nature of Space and Time, pgs. 3-4, 121; cf 53-55 (1996)] Hawking also admits that when you go back to the “real time in which we live”, “there will still appear to be singularities.” [William Lane Craig, Time and Eternity, pg. 218 (2001) referencing Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time, pg. 139 (1996)] For further discussion and criticisms of Hawking’s views, see, Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, pgs. 119-125 (2001).
The reason why many scientists continue to search for a cosmological theory that eliminates the necessity of a singularity is because of the theological and philosophical implications associated with a singularity — namely, a singularity means there was a beginning and a beginning implies the existence of a transcendent Beginner, like the God of the Bible. In fact, any cosmological theory which predicts a singularity is consistent with the statement made in Genesis 1:1 that “[i]n the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” According to the Bible, God (a transcendent and omnipotent being) caused the universe to come into existence. Psalm 33:6 states: “By the word of the LORD were the heavens made, their starry host by the breath of his mouth.” Hebrews 11:3 says the universe was formed at God’s command from nothing that preceded it and in Isaiah 45:12, God says, “My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts.”
Many secular scientists clearly understand the religious and philosophical implications of the universe coming into existence from an initial singularity. For example, consider the following statement of Robert Jastrow, an agnostic astronomer, physicist and cosmologist who has been recognized as one of NASA’s leading scientists.
“…astronomical evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world….the essential element in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis is the same.” — Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, pg. 14 (1978)
In an interview with Christianity Today in 1982, Jastrow further commented: “Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on the earth. And they have found that all this happened as a product of forces they cannot hope to discover. That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.”
Because of the obvious theological and philosophical implications of a Big Bang singularity, many scientists continue to search for alternative theories, using concepts like imaginary time. Meanwhile, many Christian apologists continue to point out that any theory, such as the Big Bang, which describes the universe coming into existence from an initial singularity is very consistent with the Bible’s description of God (an eternal, transcendent and omnipotent being) causing the universe to come into existence.
© 2012 by Andrina G. Hanson
QUICK LINKS TO SOURCES REFERENCED OR RELIED ON IN THIS ARTICLE
William Lane Craig, On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision(Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook; New Edition, 2010)
William Lane Craig, Time and Eternity: Exploring God’s Relationship to Time(Crossway Books, 2001)
Hugh Ross, Beyond the Cosmos: What Recent Discoveries in Astrophysics Reveal about the Glory and Love of God(Signalman Publishing, 3rd Ed., 2010)
Hugh Ross, More Than a Theory: Revealing a Testable Model for Creation (Reasons to Believe)(Baker Books; Reprint edition, 2012)
Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos: How the Greatest Scientific Discoveries of the Century Reveal God(Navpress; 2 edition, 1995)
IMAGE CREDITS & LICENSING
Slideshow Photo: Dr. Paul Strickland took this photo of the Time Machine located in an old chapel located in West Sussex, UK. The image was downloaded from www.wikimedia.org which states the image is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license (CC-BY-2.0)
Steven Hawking: Stephen Hawking during the press conference at the National Library of France to inaugurate the Laboratory of Astronomy and Particles in Paris and the French release of his work God created the integers. The image was downloaded from Wikimedia.org which states the photo was released into the public domain.
Tags: apologists, beginning, Bible, Big Bang, Cause, cosmos, Defending the Gospel (Apologetics), expansion, Genesis, God, imaginary time, initial singularity, Robert Jastrow, singularity, space-time, Stephen Hawking, universe, William Lane Craig