When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?
The Creation Debate
All Christians believe that the universe and living things are designed and created by God, but there is a wide range of opinions on how He did it, based on different interpretations of the Scripture and scientific data.
Some would hold to their personal interpretation of the Scripture in apparent contradiction of the scientific findings, others would interpret the Scripture according to the modern consensus, which is at variance with the traditional Christian doctrine. The situation rather reminds me of a Biblical verse, “No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other.”
If the God who has created the universe has also revealed Himself to Man through the Scripture, it is reasonable to believe that the Scripture and the universe must be consistent. The difficulty is that both the Scripture and the universe are immensely vast and deep, and we have only been skimming the surface of either, like the blind men and the elephant.
The Big Bang Controversy
Of the ancient Greek philosophers, Plato asserts the creation of time, viz. that time had a becoming together with the universe. Aristotle and Democritus posit that the universe and time are eternal. In his Confessions, St. Augustine writes that time only exists with matter and form as God’s creation, which are subject to change. There was no time before God created heaven and earth because matter didn’t exist. In other words, there is no time beyond the material world. God is eternal and immutable, and with Him there is no passing of time.
Fifteen centuries after Augustine, the Catholic priest and physicist Georges Lemaître applied Einstein’s theory of general relativity to cosmology and first formulated, before Hubble, what is now known as the Big Bang Theory. Many scientists, including Einstein himself, Sirs Fred Hoyle and John Maddox, a longtime editor of Nature, rejected the theory, not on scientific, but on philosophical ground, and its theological implication. In an article titled Down with the Big Bang, Maddox wrote that creationists “have ample justification in the doctrine of the Big Bang”.
According to Hoyle, there is “a deep-rooted attachment to the first pages of Genesis” in the scientific community. He proposed a rival Steady State theory, which was subsequently disproved by observations, such as the discovery of the cosmic microwave background. Interestingly, he came to believe in Intelligent Design as a result of his research. He was the first to postulate the theory of nucleosynthesis, for which he probably should have won a Nobel Prize. The theory states that carbon atoms that form the basis of all life forms on earth are generated in the stars via nuclear fusion, in which three helium combine to form carbon. Hoyle wrote, “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature.”
Man and Universe
A common argument against Creation is this: because the vast majority of the universe is violently inhospitable to man, who is confined on tiny earth, the universe is not designed purposely for man.
Such arguments severely underestimate the infinite complexity inherent in man.
Spacetime has unfolded from a “primeval point”, as Lemaître put it, to the current state. To put things in figures, if the universe is 14 billion years old, and Homo sapiens a few hundred thousand years, it means that 14 billion years is necessary to make a human life form possible with more than 3 billion DNA bps in its genome. There are an estimated 0.8 billion billion billion carbon atoms in an average human body. I cannot imagine how many stars are required to generate carbon, not to mention all other heavy elements, necessary to sustain mankind. It seems probable that every particle in the vast universe is necessary to sustain all the life forms that have ever existed and will come into existence in this universe.
When God said to Abraham, “I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven”, it wasn’t a mere figure of speech. The stars, which “God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven”, are evidence of divine providence. An omniscient and omnipotent God certainly could have created the universe in full form in the blink of an eye, but isn’t it possible that He allows time and space to unfold slowly so that we might be able to trace His handiwork, to appreciate and acknowledge His foresight and meticulous care in creating man?
- Lemaître, G. (1931). “The Beginning of the World from the Point of View of Quantum Theory“. Nature 127 (3210): 706. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v127/n3210/full/127706b0.html
- Maddox, John (1989) “Down with the Big Bang“. Nature 340 (6233): 425. http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v340/n6233/pdf/340425a0.pdf
- Hoyle, F. (1982) “The Universe: Past and Present Reflections“. Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 20(1), 1-36. http://www.annualreviews.org/doi/abs/10.1146/annurev.aa.20.090182.000245