Science and religion in big bang


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Science and religion in big bang

  1. 1. IS A CAN OF BEANS ROUND OR SQUARE?Science and creationism • They are separate viewpoints and must be kept separate. • Neither viewpoint has any authority to comment on the other. • Science, by definition, has no authority to make pronouncements about spiritual matters. • Scientists are only qualfied to offer personal opinions about such things. 1
  2. 2. • Christianity, similarly, has no authority to make pronouncements about science. • All Christians believe in creation, but cannot assume they know exactly how it happened.Doesnt science spoil the wonder of it all?Science grows and beauty dwindles.Alfred TennysonIs this really true?There is grandeur in this view of life…Charles DarwinHasn’t science solved the mysteries that bewildered our ancestors?In fact, modern astronomy has shown the universe to be inconceivably vaster than our ancestorsimagined…and mind-bogglingly more mysterious.The sun is Earths nearest star. Light takes eight minutes to reach us from the sun. Our next nearest staris 4.3 light years away. It seems unlikely that human beings will ever reach it.A galaxy is the most awesome object in the sky. Andromeda is the nearest galaxy to ours. It is huge. It hasas many stars as a beach has sand grains. Its light takes 2.3 million years to reach us. Light takes 200,000years just to travel across it. The Hubble Space Telescope tried photographing a tiny patch of "empty" sky, 1/30th of the diameter of the full moon: approximately the amount of sky covered by a sand-grain held at arms-length. The resulting image was staggering…Astronomers now estimate 50 thousand million galaxies in thevisible part of the universe. Galaxies are as numerous as sand grainson a beach! They calculate that some of these galaxies are about 13thousand million light years away. This image is looking back 13thousand million years, almost to the beginning of time.Virtually all cosmologists now agree that the universe somehowburst out of nothingness, about 14 thousand million years ago. Butthey also calculate that some of the galaxies visible here are about13 thousand million light years away. This amazing photographlooks back into time, showing the more distant galaxies as theywere 13 thousand million years ago, relatively close to the“beginning”. 2
  3. 3. Science reveals a universe far more awesome and more mysterious than our ancestors ever imagined.The Big Bang theory?There was a time when scientists thought the universe had always existed. New evidence has convincedalmost all cosmologists that the universe somehow had a beginning.The Big Bang theory has arguably made it more difficult for a scientist to be an atheist…From Scientific American, special edition Vol 12 No 2 2002This is an up-to-date summary of the Big Bang theory. Is it so different from the opening verses ofGenesis?…Then God said, "Let there be light"; …/ … and God divided the light from the darkness.Isn’t the Genesis creation story…kind of…childish?The first chapter of Genesis is more subtle and sophisticated than it might appear. There is a remarkablycareful and deliberate structure to it. This diagram shows just one example. Things appearing in each of the first three days appear to be "populated" by things appearing in the next three days. For example light and darkness are the main subjects of day 1, while sun and moon are the main subjects of day 4 … and so on. The ancient document represented by the first chapter of Genesis was always specially revered as sacred writing. Probably more than any other parts of the Bible, it is densely packed with hidden, but obviously intentional, number- patterns and symmetries. It is important to recognise this ancient way of thinking, before making superficial, simplistic comparisons between Genesis and a science textbook. 3
  4. 4. • The writing is constructed on an intricate framework of poetic and numerical patterns. • Rather like the New Testament parables, this creation passage is also packed with profound symbolism. • The order of events described also happens to match the scientific account far more closely than people realise.Do Genesis chapter 1 and science clearly contradict each other?Because this issue is so polarised, few people notice the many similarities between the Genesis order ofcreation and the modern scientific picture. Of course we must always be careful to avoid confusing theboundaries between Biblical and scientific viewpoints. But so much ill-informed criticism and prejudicehave been directed at Genesis that it is hard to resist pointing out the scientific bulls-eyes scored by thisthree-thousand-years-old "creation myth". • Verse 1. There was a beginning. Not all cultures have believed this. Only a few decades ago, before the Big Bang Theory, most modern scientists doubted it. Now they explain that time, space and matter somehow burst out of nothingness. Genesis opens with the words, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." • Verse 3. Light is commanded to appear first. The Big Bang theory says exactly the same. • Light appears before the sun. In ancient times, this might have attracted mockery and scepticism from "rational" sun-worshippers, but is scientifically correct from a cosmic perpective. • Verse 11. Plant-life develops on land before animal life. • Verse 16. Sun, moon and stars are not mentioned until late in the story (asah, a Hebrew word meaning "to appoint" is used here, not bara, meaning "to create"). Sun, moon and stars are unlikely to have been visible until the anoxic, dust and moisture-laden, ancient atmosphere cleared. • Verse 20. Animal life begins in the sea. • Verse 21. "Winged creatures" appear on land around the same time as the "age of fishes" (Devonian and Carboniferous periods). The Hebrew word, oph means "winged creatures", including insects, though most Bible translations say "birds". Few Bible translators are scientists! • Verse 24. Animal life becomes established on land after plants and before humans. • Verse 26. Humans are created at the end of the story, after the animals. • Creation is described as an orderly process over a period of time, using sober, detached language, e.g. "God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature according to its kind." This is in huge contrast with other creation myths, often portraying titanic struggles between various gods, goddesses and monsters, with whimsical, incidental acts of creation.Many historians of science acknowledge that the very orderliness of Genesis, with all creation beingsubject to the rational laws of a single, unchanging Divine Legislator, was actually essential for thedevelopment of modern scientific thinking. The great pre-Renaissance Islamic scientists also lived in aculture deeply influenced by Genesis.Whether or not this way of looking at chapter 1 is correct, the strikingly similar ordering of events showsthat Genesis and science clearly could be different views of the same thing.Therefore, neither non-believers nor "creationists" can say that Genesis chapter 1 contradictsmainstream science. Whatever the viewpoint, there is no reason for anger, anxiety or argument.There is equally no need for the many, different, unlikely-sounding, "creationist" alternatives tomainstream science.Literal days?Throughout the Bible the Hebrew word, yom, is often used to mean an extended, figurative period oftime. 4
  5. 5. Also, Peter wrote (2 Peter 3:8):…with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.Historically, there is nothing unorthodox about interpreting the Genesis "days" non-literally. In a bookcalled Genesis in the Literal Sense, St. Augustine of Hippo (AD 354-430) is not to be taken in the sense of our day, which we reckon by the course of the sun; but it must have another meaning,applicable to the three days mentioned before the creation of the heavenly bodies. And ...We must be on our guard againstgiving interpretations that are hazardous or opposed to science, and so exposing the Word of God to the ridicule ofunbelievers.Chance and natural processesHow big is the Christian concept of God? Are events attributed to chance or natural processes out ofGods control? This widespread prejudice seems to be a product of our scientific age that has crept un-noticed into modern Christian thinking.For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mothers womb. Psalm 139:13According to traditional theology, God rules over wind, rain, plant growth and all other natural processes.He is NOT merely a god-of-the-gaps-in-our-scientific-knowledge. Those who conceive of God as an ever-retreating god-of-the-gaps are driven to hunt obsessively (a) for miracles, and (b) for areas of uncertainty inscience, especially evolutionary science. Chance events and natural processes are entirely under thecontrol of the traditional Christian God who is also Sustainer (often forgotten nowadays) as well asCreator of the universe. God works freely within His own laws of science and probability. For example,if I toss a coin 100 times, these laws predict how many heads or tails I can expect … but not whichcoin-tosses will produce heads or tails. From the traditional Christian viewpoint, so-called chance is theHand of God.1. By definition, Darwinism = Chance2. By definition, Intelligent Design = The Hand of God3. According to traditional Christian theology, Chance = The Hand of God4. Therefore, according to traditional Christian theology, Darwinism = Intelligent Design = The Hand ofGod5. From the scientific viewpoint, even for the many scientists who are Christians, chance is unpredictablechance. This is how science works.So there is no possible overlap between the theological viewpoint and the scientific viewpoint.Each has a totally different view of chance.End of argument......except for • Christians unable to accept, as Augustine did back in the 4th century, a metaphorical reading of the Genesis days • Christians who have been wrongly persuaded to see mainstream science as intrinsically opposed to all religion • Christians and non-Christians unable to believe in a God big enough to control chance invisibly 5
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