Reasons to Believe

Thoughts on the Big Bang

Controversy surrounds the big bang theory in both the scientific community and the Christian community. Some scientists reject it because it makes the universe “too young” (for evolution), some creationists because it makes the universe too old. How should Christians consider the big bang event?

The body of scientific evidence supporting big bang theory continually grows. It includes the discovery that our universe is expanding from an original point of origin, that Einstein’s general theory of relativity precisely predicted cosmic expansion, and that astronomers observe radiation left over from the origin event. Scientists’ reasons for doubt become less convincing as more evidence accumulates.

Those Christians who reject the big bang cite various reasons for doing so, including the “we-weren’t-there” argument, a lack of consensus in the scientific community, the dangerous “quicksand” of changing science, their belief that good can’t result from an explosion and that its billions of years contradict the “clear teaching of Scripture.”

These objections arise from exaggerations or misunderstandings. Although humans did not exist at the dawn of creation, today, when studying distant galaxies, we look back in time because it takes time for light to travel. Although the Christian community frequently lacks consensus, Christianity isn’t discredited. And although science does change, most of the evidence for the big bang appears in the data itself, which is unlikely to change. Additionally, visualizing the big bang as a chaotic explosion represents a misunderstanding. Think about the big bang as a very tightly-wound spring released to unwind.

Most significantly, there are ways to interpret Scripture that remain faithful to the text but permit the long periods of time required by the big bang. The biblical description of creation fits the key concepts of the big bang model: beginning, stretching, cooling, and ending. Genesis 1 says, “In the beginning, God created …”. Several passages, including Psalms 104, declare that “He stretches out the heavens like a tent.” Jeremiah 33 refers to the “fixed laws of heaven and earth,” a condition that implies the universe will cool as it expands. Peter and John both refer to heaven and earth passing away to be replaced by a new creation.

In spite of its reputation, the big bang provides a powerful evangelistic tool. It demonstrates that science and Scripture are not in conflict, but in complete harmony. In the end, we can claim that the Bible said it first.

Subjects: Big Bang

Dr. David Rogstad

Dr. Dave Rogstad received his PhD in physics from Caltech and worked over 30 years for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. Though now retired, Dave continues to serve as an RTB board member and participates regularly in several RTB podcasts.