NGC 2440 (NASA/ESA more)

ONE MINUTE BRIEF

Issue: Is the Bible’s description of God as an eternal, transcendent Being who existed “before time began” and brought the universe into existence, consistent with the findings of modern-day science?  Skip to the Bottom Line for a one minute response.

As pointed out by many Christian theologians and philosophers, some people are surprised to learn that both the Bible and modern-day science teach the universe (including time itself) came into existence in the finite past from a transcendentcause, i.e., a cause that exists “outside of”, “apart from”, “independent of” the space and time dimensions of the universe. 

The Scientific Perspective

The Universe had a Beginning:  It has now been confirmed beyond reasonable doubt that the universe came into existence in the finite past. The universe is not eternal as scientists once proposed in the Steady State Theory.  As stated by Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose (the physicists who developed the space-time theorem of general relativity), “almost everyone now believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning.” (Emphasis added.) [Hawking & Penrose, Nature of Space and Time, pg. 20 (1996); see also, William Lane Craig, Time and Eternity, pgs. 217-233 (2001) www.ReasonableFaith.org; Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, pgs. 101-102 (2001) www.reasons.org]   A more recent theorem (the Borde-Vilenkin-Guth Theorem) further “implies that even if the universe is just one of multiple universes, the multiverse itself must have an absolute beginning.’” [William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith, “How did the Universe Begin”, Part 1, aired on NRB 12/3/2012 (www.ReasonableFaith.org)]

EINSTEIN

The Universe had a Transcendent Cause:  As explained by Christian apologist and astrophysicist, Hugh Ross, one of the things established by Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity is that whatever the cause of the universe is, that cause must transcend the universe; i.e., the cause must exist “outside of” or, more accurately stated, “independently of” all the space and time dimensions of the universe.

As set forth below, Hugh Ross explains that the Bible’s descriptions of God and the beginning of the universe are remarkably consistent with the findings of modern-day science.

The Biblical Perspective

The Universe had a Beginning:  Several Bible passages refer to the universe (including time itself) having a beginning.  The very first verse of the Bible, Genesis 1:1, states, “In the beginning, God created the heavens (the “shamayim” in Hebrew) and the earth (the “erets” in Hebrew).”  Christian astrophysicist and apologist, Hugh Ross (see, www.Reasons.org), points out that when the two Hebrew  words (“shamayim” and “erets“) are used together, the phrase refers to the entire physical universe. [Hugh Ross, Creation and Time, pg. 151(1994) citing to Waltke, “Creation and Chaos: An Exegetical and Theological Study of Biblical Cosmology” (Portland, OR: Western Conservative Baptist Seminary, pgs. 20,25-26 (1974)].  Titus 1:2 says God promised eternal life “before the beginning of time.” Remarkably, these verses were written long before scientists had scientifically determined the universe, including its dimension of time, had a beginning.

The Universe had a Transcendent Cause: The Bible also describes God as an eternal being who transcends (exists independently of) the universe and who brought the universe into existence:

  • Genesis 21:33 refers to God as “the eternal (everlasting) God.
  • Romans 1:20 says that since the “creation of the world God’s invisible qualities – his eternal power and nature – have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”
  • Colossians 1:16-17 says, “For by him [God] all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible … all things were created by him…. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

Consequently, as maintained by Christian astrophysicist, Hugh Ross, the Bible not only correctly describes a universe with a beginning, but a beginning from a transcendent cause (God), which is remarkably consistent with what scientists have recently discovered to be true about the universe [Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, pgs.23-24, 108 (2001) www.reasons.org]

The universe coming into existence in the finite past rationally necessitates the existence of a transcendent cause to explain how the universe came into existence (more).  Bible verses like Genesis 1:1 and Colossians 1:16-17 (referenced above) identify the transcendent cause as God.  Because the evidence that the universe had a beginning is so compelling, scientists reluctantly abandoned the Steady State theory (which proposed the universe was eternal) and accepted that the universe had a beginning as stated in the Bible (e.g., Genesis 1:1 and Colossians 1:16-17).  Alexander Vilenkin (one of the scientist who developed the Borde-Vilenkin-Guth Theorem) states as follows:

It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man.  With the proof now in place cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past eternal universe.  There is no escape.  They have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.    See, William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith, “How did the Universe Begin”, Part 1 citing to Vilenkin, aired on NRB 12/3/2012 (www.ReasonableFaith.org)

Bottom Line: Modern-day science has now firmly established that the universe (including time itself) had a beginning from a transcendent cause (i.e., a cause that exists independently of all the space-time dimensions of the universe).  These findings are remarkably consistent with verses in the Bible (such as Genesis 1:1 and Colossians 1:16-17) which describe God as an eternal, transcendent Being who existed “before time began” and brought the universe into existence in the finite past.

For further discussion on this issue and related issues, visit the FactsandFaith.com website and read the following articles:

  • Hugh Ross, Ph.D. — Scientist Becomes a Christian after Finding the Bible More Reliable than Laws of Physics (here)
  • Evidence from a Beginning — God’s Existence is the Best Explanation for the Universe Coming into Existence (here)
  • God is Eternal — What Does that Mean?  How Does God’s Eternalness Affect Us? (here)
  • Does the Big Bang Eliminate the Need of a Creator or Is it Evidence of a Transcendent Creator? (here)
  • Is the Bible’s Description of God and the Existence of the Universe Consistent with Laws of Logic and Scientific Findings? (here)

KNOW WHAT YOU BELIEVE and WHY YOU BELIEVE IT!

“[W]e do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” — 2 Corinthians 4:2

DO YOU BELIEVE GOD EXISTS? WHY DO YOU BELIEVE WHAT YOU BELIEVE? Browse through the articles on the FactsandFaith.com website and consider some of the REASONS Christian philosophers and theologians give for contending that belief in the God of the Bible is a very rational belief, if not the most rational belief possible given what scientists and philosophers have determined to be true about the universe.

Visit Facts & Faith on Facebook and “Like” and “Share” this ONE MINUTE BRIEF with others so they may consider thereasons Christians have for believing in the God of the Bible.

Have a good and prosperous day. Let your light shine before men so they notice your moral excellence as well as your good and noble deeds and, thereby, recognize and glorify your Father in heaven!

(See, Matt. 5:16, Amplified Bible)

© 2013 by Andrina G. Hanson

Published: June 20, 2013

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Slideshow Photo:  This cropped photo of NGC 2440 (located about 4,000 light-years from Earth toward the constellation Puppis) was taken in 2007 with Hubble’s Wide Field Planetary Camera 2.  The image was downloaded from www.wikimedia.org which states the image is in the public domain because it was created by NASA and ESA

Photo of Einstein: This photo of Albert Einstein was taken by Ferdinand Schmutzer (1870 – 1928) during a lecture Einstein gave in Vienna in 1921 (the same year Einstein was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics “for his services to Theoretical Physics, and especially for his discovery of the law of the photoelectric effect”). The image was downloaded from www.wikimedia.org which states the image is in the public domain in the USA and countries with a copyright term of the life of the author plus 80 years or less.

Tags: Albert Einstein, beginning, Bible, bible consistent with science, Borde, cause of the universe, Christian, Christianity, dimensions, Eternal, Gen. 1:1, general relativity, Genesis 1:1, God, Guth, Hugh Ross, science, space-time, steady state, steady state theory, Stephen Hawking, time, transcend, transcendent, universe, Vilenkin, William Lane Craig

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