Brian Greene, who is a theoretical physicist and professor of physics and mathematics at Columbia University, recently made the following statement: “…the standard Big Bang theory does not actually tell us how the universe got started.” The Big Bang, of course, is a scientific theory intended to explain the universe’s early development. The term “Big Bang” implies the rapid expansion of the universe that many scientists believe happened in the distant past. Greene indicates that the Big Bang is a theory regarding how the universe evolved “from a split second after whatever brought the universe into existence.” Greene emphasizes that while many people combine the Big Bang theory into a theory of how the universe actually began, it is simply not true to point to the Big Bang as the birth of the universe. Green makes this fascinating statement: “The mathematics underlying the Big Bang theory breaks down when you go all the way back to time zero. The equations are silent as to what actually started the universe off in the first place.”
It should, first of all, be noted that the Big Bang theory is just that: a theory. It is not a proven explanation for the development of the universe. In the July 2014 edition of Acts and Facts magazine, Dr. Jake Hebert and Brian Thomas of The Institute for Creation Research indicate that there are inconsistencies between science and the Big Bang theory. They indicate that the Big Bang theory requires 85 percent of all matter to exist in a form that has never been observed – something called dark matter. They also note that the Big Bang theory requires the existence of “dark energy” – another unknown component. They note that overall, 96% of the “stuff” in the universe according to the Big Bang model is unknown. They conclude that the Big Bang model is not a good scientific model, and actually does a very poor job of explaining the universe.
Not only is the Big Bang theory a poor model, but Brian Greene’s concession that “the mathematics underlying the Big Bang theory breaks down when you go all the way back to time zero”, and that “The equations are silent as to what actually started the universe off in the first place” is very revealing. Here is an admission – unwittingly or not – that science is limited. Since human scientific inquiry is investigative by nature, and uses tools that are part of creation, it cannot be used to scientifically explain that which “precedes” creation (that is, that which gives rise to creation). Likewise, since science is a discipline of finite humanity, and human beings are part of a temporal reality (the universe), science cannot be used to observe that which is prior to time’s beginning. Greene notes that mathematics breaks down when we go back to time zero (the moment the universe began). Time, of course, began with the creation of the universe. Thus, that which is in time (and everything in the universe is in time), cannot “reach back” to observe that which is before time, since that which is before time is not part of the universe – and science’s “domain” is the universe! No! Nothing in creation can scientifically explain the origin of creation, since to explain scientifically the origin of creation would require us to observe and measure the moment of creation. Being finite created beings, we can only be aware of ourselves once created. We cannot be aware of ourselves prior to our own creation. A child has no knowledge – experiential knowledge – of anything prior to his or her existence. Likewise, we in the universe cannot scientifically explain our own creation, since we did not precede our creation.
This, of course, is not to suggest that science is not helpful. Indeed, science can be tremendously helpful (and some of the contributions by individuals like Albert Einstein and Brian Greene are profoundly interesting). I myself love science! Actually, astronomy and theoretical physics are among the fields of study that interest me the most. I like to say that true science and true theology are like cousins. The latter concerns God. The former concerns God’s creation. Science – when kept within its proper place – is of tremendous value when it comes to explaining the world around us. Science must simply recognize its limits. When science contradicts God’s Word, God’s Word must take priority. When dealing with the infinite God, the timeless God, science must submit to what God has revealed in His Word. That which cannot be known by human investigation and reason must be revealed to us by God. “How” we got here is a prime example of this. The Bible simply states: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Period! One must simply accept this statement by faith! God has revealed, human beings must believe!
God is infinite. That simply means that He is unbounded, immeasurable, and unquantifiable with respect to time and space. He is not “big” and He is not “small” – as we understand those words. He cannot be measured. Psalm 145:3 states: “Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure His greatness” (NASB). God is also eternal. That is, He has no beginning, and He has no end. This, of course, is difficult for our minds to understand! God had no “starting point”, and He will have no end. Psalm 90:2 states: “Before the mountains were born or You gave birth to the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting You are God” (NASB). Revelation 22:13 states: “I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end” (NASB).
God is the Creator, we are the created! Our finite minds cannot possibly understand everything about God and His works. Can a baby’s bottle contain Lake Ontario? Neither can finite human minds comprehend everything about an infinite God. This is one reason why faith in God is so important. Faith apprehends that which cannot be apprehended by reason and intellect. This does not mean that faith is unreasonable, or that God wants us to “turn off our minds”. Not at all! Theology engages the mind. It simply means that there are some things that we must begin with, or accept by, faith, even if we don’t understand everything. If we only accept what we can “figure out” – scientifically or otherwise – then we will never truly experience the living God. God cannot be put in a box. Infinity cannot be contained by finitude no more than Lake Ontario can fit in a baby’s bottle (the analogy is not perfect, but I trust you get the point). We must believe God’s Word. Revelation from God communicates to the believing soul that which cannot be apprehended by human reasoning. Again, human intellect is God-given and has a place. God gives tremendous understanding and light to the person who receives Him by faith. And science can be of tremendous interest and value! But if we elevate our faulty, finite, incomplete understanding above God’s revelation, we will step into intellectual idolatry. Simply put, the created cannot outsmart the Creator. A clay sculpture is not smarter than the sculptor.
When it comes to this issue of how the universe got here, we must embrace the revelation of God. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made, and by the breath of His mouth all their hosts” (Psalm 33:6, NASB). “Lift up your eyes on high And see who has created these stars, the One who leads forth their host by number, He calls them all by name; Because of the greatness of His might and the strength of His power, Not one of them is missing” (Isaiah 40:26, NASB). We must know our place, and our place as the created is to trust the Creator who reveals Himself to us.
Interestingly, there is another “In the beginning” passage in the Bible. John 1:1 – 3 states: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” In John 1:14 – 17, we are made aware that “the Word” is none other than Jesus Christ, the second Person of the Trinity. We are told that the “Word” was with God in the beginning, and that the Word was God. Jesus is identified both as being with the Father, and as God Himself. We will look more closely at the Trinity in a future blog.
We are told in verse 3 that it is through the Word – that is, through Jesus Christ – that “all things came into being”. Apart from Christ nothing came into being that has come into being. As Charles Ryrie notes, Jesus Christ was active in the creative work (Ryrie Study Bible). It is obvious then that the Son of God pre-exists creation. As God, Jesus Christ exists eternally and was active in the work of creation. Additionally, Hebrews 1:1 – 2 states: “God, after he spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, though whom also he made the world” (NASB). According to Ryrie, the word “world” in this Hebrews passage refers to ages, including “time, space, and the material world” (Ryrie Study Bible). Clearly then, creation came through Christ.
But it is not simply that creation came through Christ. Creation is also for Christ. In Colossians 1:16 – 17 we are told the following concerning Christ: “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together” (NASB). Here then is a crucial truth that cannot be apprehended by scientific inquiry – namely, that the goal of creation and the central figure of creation is none other than Jesus Christ. He is preeminent and supreme. All things were created through Him and for Him. In Him all things hold together. In the Hebrews passage we looked at above, we are told that Christ has been appointed “heir of all things.” Christ is the God-Man, the one who is both fully God and fully human. In Christ, divinity and humanity are united in one Person through His incarnation. The pre-existent Son of God became a human being (the incarnation) without losing any of His deity. Though Himself uncreated (being God), He took to on created humanity when He became a man. This incarnation of the Son of God is directly related to the redemption of creation, for as we saw a couple of blogs ago in the article The Two Adams, humanity – though a “very good” creation by God – fell into sin through Adam and became in need of being redeemed – something only another human being could do, but one who was qualified to do it. Only the sinless, divine Christ meets those qualifications, and it is in Christ that we find not only our redemption, but also our ultimate glorification, which is to come!
Philippians 2:6 – 11 states concerning Christ: “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (NIV). Yes, Christ Jesus, who died on the cross for sinful humanity and then rose again, is preeminent over creation, having been exalted to “the highest place”, and given a name “that is above every name.” Creation then, finds its redemption in Christ Jesus, the One who became human and paid the penalty of sin (which is death) on behalf of all humanity when He died in the cross. We find this redemption by placing our faith in the redeemer, Christ Jesus – trusting Him to save us from our sins (see God’s Gift to You).
Regarding creation, God’s Word states: “For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time” (Romans 8:20 – 22, NIV). God’s marvellous creation suffers the affects of humanity’s fall into sin (Genesis 3). It decays and groans. Yet we are promised that “the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay…” This is to come, ultimately when God fulfils His plan to produce a “new heaven and a new earth”, in which God Himself will dwell among His redeemed people (Revelation 21:1 – 3).