Until the 1960's, scientists held to the Steady State theory that the universe had no beginning or end in time, that the earth has always existed in one form or another. They scoffed at the Bible for saying that the earth had a beginning.
The first use of the term 'big bang' was by astronomer Fred Hoyle on a BBC broadcast in 1949 when he said that a new theory was being proposed 'based on the hypothesis that all matter in the universe was created in one big bang at a particular time in the remote past.' He argued against the theory and said it was 'irrational and outside science.'
However, as a result of better telescopes and observations of the universe's constant expansion, by the 1980's the 'Big Bang' had become the dominant theory of astronomers and astrophysicists.
Today, the Big Bang theory is generally regarded as settled science. The universe started with a 'singularity' (Christians say 'God'), then exploded, expanding and cooling over the next 13.8 billion years into the cosmos we know today – and it's still expanding!
In the first second after the universe began, the surrounding temperature was more than10 billion degrees Fahrenheit according to NASA, heat so intense that light cannot pass through it.
The Bible says that 'In the beginning' the earth was 'formless and empty' (quotation at top of page) – just gasses, everything vaporized.
There was 'darkness over the face of the deep' – light could not penetrate the extreme heat; the earth was a deep mass of swirling vapor.
The 'spirit of God was hovering over the waters' (steam condensing); God was giving special attention to planet earth because he planned to do something special here, to create life here.
The Big Bang – known to science for only about 60 years – is what the Bible has been saying for more than 3,000 years!
There are no natural explanations for the universe, either its existence or its purpose.
If the big bang is the beginning of nature, then some intelligence and power outside of nature and above nature had to trigger the big bang, to start everything out of nothing, and to establish the predetermined laws of nuclear energy, physics and chemistry that enabled it happen with orderly precision.
Christians believe that divine intelligence and power is the only reason that can explain a universe of such magnitude, majesty and precision.
Apparently it took about 10 billion years – the time between Genesis 1:2 and Genesis 1:6 – for the earth to cool and form a crust. Then God began shaping the earth and putting life on it.
The stages of transformation are summarized and examined in Origin 1.2.
The compiler/writer of Genesis (generally thought to be Moses) could not have had this amazing scientific insight more than three thousand years ago without special revelation from God.
The earth is still cooling, a whirling glob of molten rock, 8,000 miles in diameter, with a 25-mile crust that supports life, unknown anywhere else in the universe. The place we live is awesome and mostly incomprehensible.
Genesis 1 and the scientific community are now in essential agreement about the beginning of our physical world, the world of atoms.
But there's also another part of our world which came later – the non-physical part, even more complex – which is the human soul (mind, will and emotion) and spirit (connection to God).
Man is made in the image of God, a trinity (body, soul and spirit) that mirrors God's trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit), discussed in Purpose 2.5.
Science investigates only life in the physical world. Theology investigates life in the spiritual world. Theology continues where science ends.
There can be no difference between true science and true Christianity because both seek truth – and there is only one truth! Science inquires into the physical, and Christianity inquires into the spiritual. They make different inquiries in different ways, but both are part of the same quest for truth and understanding.
Conflicts between science and the Bible have resulted from lack of knowledge at particular times in history. For example:
> Christians fought the theory advanced by Pythagoras that the earth is a globe, arguing from simple observation and citing Bible verses that refer to 'the four corners the earth.'
> Christians fought the theory advanced by Copernicius that the earth revolves around the sun, arguing from Psalms 93:2 ('... the earth is firmly established, it will not be moved') and Psalms 104:5 ('He established the earth upon its foundations ...').
> Cosmologists scoffed at the Bible for stating that the earth had a beginning, arguing that the Steady State theory had been settled science for centuries.
> Critics said the Bible was obviously wrong about creation in stating that light came on Day 1 and vegetation on Day 3, before the sun on Day 4.
Today these and similar issues have been resolved by our new understanding of the Big Bang.