The Big Ruckus Over the Big Bang

In recent days the press has been full of stories about NASA's latest discovery, which scientists say may help confirm the big bang theory. A scientist interviewed on "Nightline" said the finding proves that the Genesis account is false. Of course, that's not what it proves at all. According to the big bang theory, the universe began as a tiny, densely packed ball that exploded with a blinding blast of energy. Tiny bits of matter were sent hurtling outward in a smooth cloud of gas. Eventually the gas coalesced to from the first stars and galaxies. But there's always been a serious problem with this scenario. If the universe began as a smoothly expanding cloud of gas, what caused it to coalesce into galaxies? The basic laws of motion tell us that a moving object will continue straight ahead unless some force acts upon it. What force could cause matter to stop moving straight ahead and clump into stars and galaxies? Scientists used to say gravity. But gravity is a very weak force. You yourself exert gravity on everything around you, but it's too weak to produce any noticeable effect. A body has to be quite large before gravity becomes a significant force. That means there must be a crucial first step after the big bang where a group of molecules somehow gather into a lump dense enough for gravity to take over. For the past two decades, cosmologists have been searching evidence of this first step. It's been referred to as the missing link of the big bang theory. The recent discovery means that just maybe they've found it. What scientists actually detected is a kind of radiation they believe is a residue from an early stage of the universe. It is marked by very slight temperature variations, indicating differences in density, like vast ripples out in space. Scientists think it may represent the initial clumping they've been searching for. If it is, does that disprove Genesis? Not at all. The very fact that scientists consider the big bang plausible is, in fact, a major change in the way people think about beginnings. From ancient times the Genesis account has been unique in teaching that God is a real creator, Who begins with nothing. In other cultures, creation stories always start with some sort of pre-existing material that is eternal. The earliest philosophies from ancient Greece also taught that matter is eternal, a teaching that Christians had to battle against all through the early church and the Middle Ages. In the nineteenth century scientists formulated the law of conservation of matter--that matter can neither be created nor destroyed--and it seemed science itself was teaching that matter is eternal. The biblical doctrine of creation out of nothing was mocked as hopelessly unscientific. Then about 60 years ago, scientists first suggested the big bang theory. Matter is not eternal after all. It came into existence at a particular time in the remote past--just as Genesis says. Now the really important questions remains. If the universe is not eternal, what cause it to come into existence? Science can't answer that. But obviously the cause of the universe must be something outside the universe--which is just what Christians have been saying all along. Yes, the heavens do declare the glory of God. And today they seem to be speaking louder than ever.  


Chuck Colson


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