Sarah was recently invited, along with two other scientists, to take part in a panel discussion for a group of mostly Christian students. After the main discussion, students were invited to submit questions via text message; there was very little time to address them, so only a few were answered. The questions were quite good, so over the next few weeks, Surak and Sarah will answer most of them here. All of the questions are listed in the Intro to this series. See also: Part 1; Part 2; Part 3.
You mentioned the big bang. In your interpretation, does the big bang coincide with the moment of creation? / How does scientific proof of the big bang line up with the biblical teaching of creationism?
The scientific theory of the big bang is in every way consistent with the Genesis account of creation. These two very different ways of understanding the origin of the universe agree on all of the basics:
- The universe had a beginning.
- The universe was created out of nothing (nothing material).
- What came before the big bang is scientifically unknowable.
- There was no matter in the universe just after creation.
- Something scientifically inexplicable happened just after the big bang. Physicists believe that something unusual (and so far unexplained) happened, and they call this one-time event ‘inflation.’ In scripture this one-time act of God is a miracle.
- After this one-time event, light came into existence.
- Darkness was created as something more than just the absence of light—in science this phenomenon is studied as dark matter and dark energy.
- Our universe is constructed out of what scientists call fluids and the Bible calls ‘waters’ (ancient Hebrew vocabulary was very limited—about 3000 words—and didn’t have a different word for fluids).
- The stars and galaxies were formed after light appeared.
- The Earth was formed after stars first appeared.
- Bodies of water and continents formed on Earth.
- Life almost immediately came into existence after these bodies of water formed.
- There was a progression in life forms.
- When the atmosphere became oxygen-rich it became transparent, which made the Sun, Moon, and stars visible from the Earth’s surface for the first time.
- Life first developed in water and eventually spread to dry land.
- Winged insects appeared.
- Dinosaurs lived (in the ancient Hebrew of Gen. 1:21 they are called e·thninm e·gdlim—the reptiles great).
- Other winged creatures besides insects appear.
- Mammals appear.
- Hominids appear.
- Conscious man appears.
When convincing evidence for the big bang was presented in the 1960s, newspaper headlines declared that the Bible had been vindicated1.
However, we must be careful not to overstate what science has done or is capable of doing. Science has not and cannot ‘prove’ that the big bang occurred. There is nothing in any branch of science that has been proven once and for all. Anyone searching for finality in understanding will be disappointed with science. Scientists have found evidence of the big bang that is so compelling that the theory is now accepted by most in the scientific community. But like every other theory in science it has gaps and unanswered questions.
Most important of all, science is the study of our material universe. It cannot directly address questions about what may or may not be outside the universe. The existence of God is therefore not scientifically provable or disprovable. What has been accomplished since the discovery of relativity, particle physics, and the big bang is the overthrow of the false argument that science and scripture are incompatible. That is enough.
 Several newspapers reported on astronomical observations, presented at the Royal Astronomical Society’s February 1961 meeting, that appeared to rule out steady-state theory. The Evening Standard published an article with the headline “‘How it all began’ fits in with Bible story” (Peter Fairley, 10 February 1961), and the Evening News and Star featured an article headlined, “The Bible was right,” (Evening News Science Reporter, 10 February 1961).
Wow this is great! As an advocate for evolution AND creation, I really appreciate that this is being talked about on college campuses.
Thanks, Bethany. Hopefully it’ll be talked about a lot more.