The Big Bang and the Bible

There is probably no subject in matters related to the existence of God where there is more confusion than what has popularly been called the big bang. Much of the problem has come from not understanding what the theory proposes. Historically, the first suggestion that would propose the idea came in 1916 from Albert Einstein's field equation of general relativity predicting an expanding universe. In 1916, the accepted philosophical position was that the cosmos had always existed, and Einstein's proposal clearly dictated that there was a beginning, so his theory was altered to conform to the accepted position. That position also contradicted the Bible which delighted atheists. In 1925, Abbe Georges Le Maitre, an astrophysicist and Jesuit priest promoted a hot big bang creation event. In the late 1930s, Edwin Hubble gathered spectra data that supported the fact that the cosmos was expanding. Since that time, more and more data has been gathered to add to the hot big bang event concept. In later years, Arno Penziar and Robert Wilson measured temperatures that fitted the picture and were awarded a Nobel Prize. Most recently evidence has shown that the cosmos is not only expanding, but in fact is accelerating in its expansion.

 All of this is in strong support of the Bible's assertion that there was a beginning. In cosmology, the view is that the big bang involved the creation of time and the creation of space (space/time) which again agrees with the notion that the creation was not just a rearrangement of energy/mass but a process that had a cause. The biblical concept of what God is fits this cause very well.

 What is especially interesting in this discussion is that the literal meaning of words in the Hebrew and Greek strongly support the expanding universe concept. It is this relationship of the big bang and the Bible that we would like to explore in this article.

God's Predating the Universe

The first point that needs to be made about this subject is that the Bible clearly points to God existing before the universe existed. This is not just the obvious point of Genesis 1:1, but is also stated in Proverbs 8:22-31, Colossians 1, John 17:24, Ephesians 1:4, 2 Timothy 1:9, Titus 1:2, and 1 Peter 1:20. The biblical concept of God is that He is a being outside of time and space and is the cause of the existence we have. Acts 17:28 clearly states it as ".in Him we live and move and have our being." It is also important to note the name of God chosen in Genesis 1 is Elohim. There are many names used in Hebrew for God, each indicative of the properties of God being discussed. Jaweh is used when one is talking about the promises of God. Adonai is used when the ruling aspect of God is the subject. When the power and creative nature of God are involved, the word is Elohim, and that is used exclusively in Genesis 1. In modern English, we might refer to our mate as our wife or husband, our old woman or old man, our lover, our battle ax. All of those convey different conceptions of the person we are married to.

The Creative Process

The word used in Genesis 1:1 to describe the creation is the Hebrew word bara. This word is never used in reference to something a human can do. Seven times in the Old Testament, it is used in reference to the creation (Genesis 1:1; 2:3-4; Psalm 148:5; Isaiah 40:26; 42:5; and 45:15). Hebrews 11:3 states that the cosmos we can see is made out of things which we cannot see. Numerous passages indicate that God is the sole source of the cosmos, further supporting God as the creator. (see Isaiah 45:5-22; John 1:3; and Colossians 1:15-17).

The Expansion of the Cosmos

The word shamayim is used in the Bible to refer to the astronomical universe. The word itself is connected with the phrase stretched out eleven times in the Old Testament (Job 9:8; Psalm 104:2; Isaiah 40:22; 42:5; 44:24; 45:12; 48:13; 51:13; Jeremiah 10:12; 51:15; Zachariah 12:1). The concept here is that the cosmos is not static but the verb natah is used in an active participle form indicating that the process is ongoing.

 You do not have to be a Hebrew scholar to understand the concept (I certainly would make no claim of personal credibility at all). Just take a concordance and look up the words and see what the common usage is. In Young's Analytical Concordance, for example, shamayim is referred to as heaved up things because of its connection to the stretching or expanding concept.

 It is important to understand that the concept of the big bang and the expansion of the cosmos makes no statement of it being something that is a product of blind chance. If a person takes that position, it is a religious assumption. The evidence that design is mandatory for a life-bearing planet to exist from the hot big bang model has been discussed many times in this journal.

The fact that the universe had a beginning that involved the creation of space/time and that the expansion of the cosmos is ongoing is supported both by the scientific evidence and by biblical claims. The Bible continues to hold an amazing record of accuracy and knowledge far beyond its day. We argue that the big bang is just one more of a massive number of examples that show it is the word of God.

 Much of the material for this article is from an article by Dr. John Rea, specialist in Old Testament languages and archaeology, and Dr. Hugh Ross in Facts for Faith, Quarter 3, 2000, pages 26-32.

 --John N. Clayton

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