Religious understandings of .creation. and their relationship to the
following scientific views of the origin and nature of the universe:
Big Bang, Steady State (including Continuous Creation).
1 Read the passage and answer questions (a) - (d) which follow.
“ There is no need for science to oppose religion on the subject of the creation of the universe. The Steady State theory may challenge religious views, but when the Big Bang theory was proposed it was welcomed by many believers as confirmation of what they already believed.”
(a) Outline the scientific view of the origin of the universe known as the Big Bang theory. (10 marks)
(b) Explain the main points of one religious understanding of creation. (10 marks)
(c) Outline the Steady State theory, and explain why it may challenge some religious understandings of creation. (10 marks)
(d) Assess the view that the Big Bang theory is a confirmation of religious understandings of creation. (10 marks)
3 (a) Explain one religious and one scientific account of the origin of the universe. (20 marks)
(b) “Modern scientific theories have made religious accounts of the origins of the universe meaningless.”
Explain what this claim means and discuss how far it is true. (20 marks)
Science vs. religion How would you define the word ‘ religion ’? How would you define the word ‘ science ’? A set of beliefs about God(s) and the practises associated with these beliefs A way of looking at the world based on testing and experimenting
Even when suggesting definitions for words, people can find themselves in disagreement. Much of what we believe now, and therefore how we think and act, is dependent on prior beliefs and experiences.
How did you reach a decision?
Did the group agree?
Remember: Beliefs are often subjective and affected by what we have previously experienced. Belief systems Consider the following question: Which is the best month of the year?
What are the possible answers?
Do you think this is a question for science or religion?
Can it be answered by both?
Scientism is the belief that science alone can offer the truth about the universe. Those who hold this view believe that only testable and therefore provable facts have any merit. Now consider this question: Where did the universe come from?
The Scientific Method:
challenges and evaluates all truth claims
trusts in evidence and experimentation as a means of acquiring truth
Follows a process - make a hypothesis - perform experiments to test hypothesis - repeat tests - verification
No absolute truth, only the best interpretation of data. Always open to correction.
The Religious Method:
Natural Theology Uses scientific methods to make religious conclusions Starts with hypothesis and “finds” evidence
Revealed Theology Truth is revealed by God in scripture (such as…) or holy people (such as…). Depends on trust and commitment.
Personal Experience an experience that leads to new beliefs about God and the world. Not based on reason, but may support beliefs based on Natural and Revealed theology
The Relationship between Religion and Science
Right up until the Enlightenment religion ruled. The unknown was explain through religion
Science evolved as people began to question the world around them. It did not aim to disprove religion
By 18 th Century, it was widely believed that religion should be reasonable . Science aimed to strip religion of superstition. However, there was an increasing number who believed science would disprove and replace religion
Today Religion is as strong as ever . The relationship between the two ranges from: - both equally valid and in harmony with each other - both equally valid but cannot be harmonised - one excludes the other
Copernicus In around 1512, the Polish astronomer Nicholas Copernicus hypothesized that the sun, and not the earth, was at the centre of the universe and that all planets revolved around it. This theory of planetary motion is known as the Copernican system .
Galileo In the early 1600s, the Italian astronomer and physicist Galileo supported the Copernican system by understanding and explaining the structure of the Milky Way. He was brought before the Inquisition in Rome and was made to renounce all his scientific discoveries which suggested that the earth was not the centre of the universe. Before this time, people followed in the Ptolemaic system which placed the earth motionless at the centre of the universe. Why do you think the Church were afraid of Galileo’s findings? Is religion as afraid of science as it was when Copernicus and Galileo were making their discoveries?
Christian Creation Theory
God made light
Sea and Sky
Earth, oceans, plants
Sun, moon, stars
Animals, Adam and Eve
God took a rest!
Judaeo- Christian Beliefs about God…
Sole Creator . Genesis 1 – only God, creating entire universe ex nihilo.
The Universe depends on God . He is constantly active within the world. Without him the universe could not function, would cease to exist . Not Gnostic (bad god, good god)
A personal God . Genesis – relationship with Adam, shared likeness, God’s representatives
The Universe is ordered by God . Not Chaotic. Order demonstrates God’s existence. Creates time (day, night), seasons, matter
How should Genesis be viewed?
Gen 1&2 – literal, scientific, historic . Chronology and mechanism accurate. Fundamentalist, Creationist, Church pre-18 th century - Earth is 6000 yrs old - Evidence planted by the devil to deceive
Gen 1&2 – symbolic record Gen and Big Bang correlate. Gerald Schroeder says they are, “identical realities described in vastly different terms” “Let there be light” = “Breath of God” =
Gen 1&2 – mythological . ONIONS. What do they teach us about the world, God and humans?
Brahma the creator Shiva the destroyer Vishnu the preserver
Hinduism In a Hindu creation story we are told that this is only one universe of many:
What is the Hindu view of time?
How do you imagine Hindus have responded to the scientific theory that the world is billions of years old?
At first there is nothing but Lord Brahman who creates water. Out of the water comes Lord Vishnu who contains all the elements of creation, including the creator god, Brahma . Once Brahma emerges he creates the world from his own body. But then Lord Shiva gets annoyed and angry with this imperfect world and destroys it so that there is nothing again but Brahman who creates water…
Hindu cycle of creation Hindus believe that the universe is an endless cycle of creation and destruction. At first there was nothing but Lord Brahman Out of the water comes Lord Vishnu who contains all the elements of creation Vishnu also brings forth the creator god, Brahma Brahma creates the world from his own body Lord Shiva gets annoyed and angry with this imperfect world Shiva destroys it so that there is nothing again but Brahman
Big Bang Theory
Andrew McKellar 1941
Arno Penzias, Robert Wilson 1960’s
1990’s Satellite obs – radiation echoes
Hubble’s Constant - unfolding
14 billion years ago Within 3 Seconds 300 million years ago 5 Billion years ago 3.8 Million Years ago 600,000 Years ago TODAY
Big Bang Theory
About 14 Billion years ago there was a huge explosion
Within 3 seconds all the basic elements had formed
Our sun was formed around 5 billion years ago
By around 300 million years ago all stars and planets formed
Earliest life forms evolved around 3.8 million years ago
Humans evolved around 600,000 years ago
Today, the echoes of this Big Bang can still be heard
Hubble Telescope watches universe continue to expand
Evolution Darwin “ Natural Selection” Remember: this is origin of man not origin of the world
Steady State Theory
Bondi, Gold, Hoyle (1915-2001)
No single large explosion – series of smaller ‘bangs’
There was no beginning to the universe
There will be no end
Constant cycle of matter being created and destroyed – a steady state…
CHALLENGES Genesis big time!
Now no-longer widely accepted in the scientific community
Questions worth asking…
Can modern science DISPROVE the events of Genesis?
If we take a SCIENTISM view, then why is there anything at all? Liebniz “Why”?
If Big Bangs occur, why have there been no others in 16 billion years?
The Scientism view:
Our existence can be explained fully without God
Richard Dawkins says God is… “A phenomenon in the history of human evolution”
Steady State theory
Creationism view: 1. Christian Fundamentalsim 2. Literal interpretation of Genesis 3. Evidence such as fossils planted by the devil to deceive
1996 Catholic church accepted the Big Bang as HOW the world was made
Telihard De Chardin. “Evolution is HOW God made life
Leibniz: “Even if we know how we’re still left with the question why?
Your views Are Science and Religion in Conflict?
In his Philosophical Investigations (1953), Ludwig Wittgenstein claimed that it is very difficult for science and religion to converse because the meanings of the words they use are so different. Before you can play a game you need to understand the rules and language. Science and religion think they know and understand each other but do not.
Albert Einstein claimed that science, as well as religion, uses faith as a source of knowledge. ‘Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind’.
Galileo believed that science can provide information about our universe’s workings but that only religion can give us with meaning.