The Big Bang, the Standard Cosmological Model and the Bible | Adventist Review

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The scriptures state that observing the universe can give us important information about its Creator. The psalmist writes: “The heavens proclaim the glory of God; and the firmament shows his handiwork. Day by day speaks words, and night by night proclaims knowledge. There is neither speech nor language where their voice is not heard” (Ps. 19:1-3, KJV).

With the launch of the James Webb Space Telescope, questions arose regarding the origins of the universe. Do modern theories provide adequate answers? How do they relate to the biblical picture of the origin of our world?

A static universe?

From the time of the ancient Greek philosophers until the beginning of the 20th century, the universe was considered to be static, unchanging on a large scale. According to materialistic theories, it also exists eternally, having no beginning and no end. The theory of relativity1 challenged this assumption.

In this theory, the universe, depending on its average density, should either expand or contract. It cannot be static, as Russian physicist and mathematician Alexander Friedmann showed.2 The same conclusions were reached by the Belgian mathematician and Catholic priest Georges Lemaitre, who developed the theory of the expanding universe.3

The next important step in the question of the stability of the universe was the discovery of the so-called redshift in the spectrum of distant galaxies. The magnitude of the redshift is directly related to the distance to the galaxy: the farther the galaxy, the greater its redshift and, therefore, the faster the galaxy moves away from us. It was called Hubble’s Law and fitted very well with the theories of Friedmann and Lemaitre.4 These observations confirmed assumptions that the universe is not static, ending the age-old belief in the stability of the cosmos.

Unresolved questions

But here a logical question arises: if the universe is really expanding, then there was a “zero moment” in the past, from which this expansion began. At that time, all the matter in the universe had to be compressed into a point of infinite density (in astrophysics, this is called the “singularity”).

Where does this singularity come from? What caused its “explosion” and the subsequent expansion of space and matter? How could the complex structures we see in the universe – galaxies, stars, planets – have formed because of this “explosion”? The Big Bang theory attempts to answer these questions.

A brief summary of this theory looks like this:5 About 14 billion years ago, the universe was in a state of singularity, and for reasons we don’t understand, that singularity “exploded.” Modern science has no theory that explains the processes that took place at that time. About 10-42 seconds after the “explosion” there was an extremely rapid expansion, called “cosmic inflation”, which lasted 10-36 seconds and literally “inflated” the universe.

After inflation, the fundamental “building blocks” of the universe – quarks and gluons – were formed. These formed protons and neutrons, which formed the nuclei of the simplest atoms, including hydrogen, deuterium, helium, and some other light isotopes. After about 400,000 years after the “zero moment”, the temperature of the universe, initially infinitely large, dropped so much that the formation of hydrogen atoms became possible.

At this time, the universe became transparent to radiation, which, traveling freely through space, came to us in the form of cosmic microwave background radiation. About a billion years after the start of cosmic expansion, the first stars and galaxies began to form. The first stars served as “factories” to produce heavy elements born during nuclear reactions, and then, as a result of supernova explosions, were thrown into the surrounding space. From these heavy elements, planets and planetary systems were formed.

There are many questions about the Big Bang theory, especially if viewed from a purely materialistic perspective, excluding a Creator. Perhaps the most important question, which scientists have wrestled with for more than 50 years, concerns the nature of the singularity. Where is he from? There is no scientific explanation for such a “super point”. It is something outside of science, closer to the realm of faith, something that points us to the act of creation and the Creator!

Another question about the Big Bang theory is the question of fine-tuning the universe in such a way that complex structures can appear in it. Ordinary explosions destroy and disintegrate rather than generate new complex structures. For complex structures such as galaxies, stars and planets to appear after the Big Bang, this explosion had to be extremely and precisely planned.6 Where does this setting come from? Who made it? Blind luck? It would be practically impossible!seven

In general, for an unbiased researcher, to reflect on the origin of the universe leads to the question of an intelligent creation and, therefore, of an omnipotent Creator.

Biblical Perspectives

From the perspective of modern cosmology, the universe is about 14 billion years old. What does this have to do with the biblical account of the creation of the world? The fact that we observe star systems so far away that light takes millions and billions of years to reach our eyes is strong evidence that the age of the universe is far greater than the many thousands of years that have passed since Creation week.

Based on a close study of the Hebrew text of Genesis 1, many theologians tend to conclude that the creation of the universe took place before the events of Creation week. They suggest that there is an indefinite time gap between the events described in Genesis 1:1, 2 and the rest of the chapter’s narrative. The age of the universe may be well over several thousand years, although the Bible makes no comment on this discrepancy or on the events that took place during this indefinite period of time. This theory has been called the passive gap theory.8

On the other hand, the idea that the universe was created during Creation week, just a few thousand years ago, is often referred to as the no-gap theory.9 In favor of this view, we can say that the processes that took place during Creation Week are beyond the scope of modern science and cannot be understood from a scientific point of view.

As a result, the apparent contradictions can be explained by phenomena still unknown to science. None of these positions can be taken as the absolute truth, and all of the above arguments in support of either position should be considered only as assumptions, which may prove to be incorrect. Our knowledge is far from complete, especially regarding the creation of our universe. Give glory to God, who “created the heavens and the earth.”

1 Robert M. Wald, General relativity (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984).

2 A. Friedmann, “Über die Krümmung des Raumes”, Zeitschrift für Physik 10 (1922): 377-386.

3 G. Lemaitre, “A Homogeneous Universe of Constant Mass and Increasing Radius Accounting for the Radial Velocity of Extragalactic Nebulae”, Annals of the Scientific Society of Brussels 47 (1927): 49-59.

4 E. Hubble, E. “A Relationship Between Distance and Radial Velocity Among Extra-Galactic Nebulae,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 15, no. 3 (1929): 168-173.

5 A.Liddle, An introduction to modern cosmology, 2nd ed. (London: Wiley, 2003).

6 PCW Davies, The accidental universe (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982).

seven R. Penrose, The Emperor’s New Spirit (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989), p. 344.

8 RM Davidson, “The Genesis Account of Origins,” in He spoke and it was: the divine creation in the Old Testament, ed. Gerald A. Klingbeil (Boise, Idaho: Pacific Press Pub. Assn., 2015), p. 47-54.

9 Same.

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