Until the 1960s, 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 instrumentation, by the 1980s the 'Big Bang' had become the dominant theory (explanation) of astronomers and astrophysicists.
Today, the Big Bang 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!
NASA calculated that In the first second after the universe began the surrounding temperature was more than10 billion degrees Fahrenheit.
See quotation at top of page. The Bible says that 'In the beginning' the earth was 'formless and empty:' Heat was so intense that everything was vaporized, just gasses.
There was 'darkness over the face of the deep:' Light cannot penetrate intense heat.
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.
The Big Bang is what science has been saying for about 60 years but what the Bible has been saying for more than 3,000 years!
There are no natural explanations for either the existence or the purpose of the universe.
If the Big Bang is the beginning of nature, then some intelligence and power outside of nature and greater than 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 to develop with orderly precision.
Christians believe that divine intelligence and power is the only reasonable explanation for an instant universe of such magnitude, majesty and precision.
The Bible does not tell when the Big Bang occurred, but scientists are now in agreement that it was approximately 13.8 billion years ago. See 1.2.1 for reasons from the Bible itself why 'day' in the creation account means more than a 24-hour period.
The solid earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old. Apparently it took about 9.3 billion years – the time between Genesis 1:2 and Genesis 1:6 – for the gasses to cool and form a crust. Then God began shaping the earth and putting life on it.
See 1.2 for summary of the stages of transformation.
The compiler/writer of Genesis 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. There is nothing like it anywhere else in the known 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.
But there's 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).
See 2.5 for discussion of how humans are made in the image of God: A human trinity (body, soul and spirit) that mirrors God's trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).
Science investigates life in the physical world. Theology investigates life in the spiritual world. Theology continues where science leaves off.
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.
Conflicts between science and the Bible have resulted from lack of knowledge at particular times in history but are eventually resolved. For example:
Science and the Bible are not enemies.
In fact, science is making the case for belief in a single almighty creator God – ONLY ONE GOD!
In ancient times, people believed in many gods. Even at time of Jesus, the prevailing understanding of deity was a pantheon of gods.
People believed that hurricanes, earthquakes, droughts and diseases were the wrath of angry gods. The gods had to be placated with offerings and rituals.
But the Bible message is that there is ONE GOD!
Science has been a great help to Christianity by revealing a single master design plan, leaving no doubt that the world is NOT run by a pantheon of gods and that natural disasters and illnesses are NOT caused by the wrath of the gods but by natural laws emanating from an intelligent and predictable master plan of life.
For most people today, the choice is not which spiritual deity to worship, but whether to acknowledge and obey the ONE GOD.