Is the universe expanding?
Question: "Is the universe expanding?"
Answer: Virtually all scientists say that the universe is expanding. The question of concern for many Christians is whether an expanding universe supports creationism or the Big Bang theory. The answer is that it supports both! Not only that, but the expansion of the universe is mentioned in the Bible, not once but numerous times. Although science only discovered less than a hundred years ago that the universe is expanding, the men who wrote the Bible included the concept in the Scriptures almost 3,000 years ago.
An expanding universe does not negate the biblical story of creation. The great majority of scientists would say that matter is not eternal—that matter did not exist prior to the Big Bang. In fact, the prevailing theory is that nothing at all existed prior to the Big Bang, including time and space. At the moment of the Big Bang—the moment of creation—time began. Space began. Matter began.
Too many Christians see a clash between science and the Bible where no clash truly exists. Aspects of the Big Bang theory can actually support the creation account in Genesis. For years, many scientists saw the universe as being infinite and eternal. If the universe has no beginning or end, then there is nothing for a god to create. That view fit perfectly with the beliefs of atheistic scientists.
However, in the early twentieth century, astronomer Edwin Hubble (the man for whom the Hubble telescope was named) found that galaxies are moving away from each other. The universe is expanding. His theory became known as “Hubble’s Law” or the “Law of the Expanding Universe.” The galaxies’ movement away from each other suggests that they were once closer together. The implications of Hubble’s discovery were unsettling to many scientists. If the universe is currently expanding, then, at some time in the distant past, the universe had a beginning.
Many scientists hated the idea of a universe with a beginning. Albert Einstein said the whole idea “irritated” him, although he conceded later in life that he had accepted the idea that the universe had a beginning. Arthur Eddington, a mathematician and the most distinguished British astronomer of his day, wrote in a 1931 letter that “the notion of a beginning is repugnant to me. . . . I simply do not believe that the present order of things started off with a bang. . . . The expanding Universe is preposterous . . . incredible. . . . It leaves me cold.” Eddington later said that he hoped a “loophole” could be found to avoid the implication of a supernatural Creator. But, however hard he and others might try to avoid the truth, the heavens continue to declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1).
The Big Bang theory remains today’s prevailing theory concerning the origin of the universe. With it comes the theory that the universe is expanding and that it had a beginning. The Bible, of course, references the beginning of the universe in Genesis 1, and it also speaks of an expanding universe in the following passages:
Isaiah 42:5 – “This is what God the LORD says—the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out . . .”
Isaiah 44:24 – “ . . . I am the LORD, the Maker of all things, who stretches out the heavens . . .”
Isaiah 45:12 – “My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts.”
Jeremiah 10:12 – “God . . . stretched out the heavens by his understanding.”
Jeremiah 51:15 – “He founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.”
The prophets of the Bible knew that God had “stretched out the heavens”—a description that bears an uncanny similarity to the theory of an expanding universe. What was often considered a metaphorical, poetic expression turns out to be more literal than ever thought, according to modern science. The Word of God, inspired by God, continues to amaze.
The Bible and science both agree that matter has not always existed. Scientists have no explanation for how the universe began if neither time nor space nor matter existed prior to the Big Bang. But Christians know that God created everything and that He created the universe ex nihilo (out of nothing). The Creator, existing before the moment of creation, must be immaterial and beyond time and space. In other words, the only possibility for our existence is the existence of an eternal Being who created everything and “flipped the switch” in the instant of the Big Bang/creation. In that moment, time, space, and matter were all created. But, once again, it’s in the Bible. In fact, it’s in the very first verse: “In the beginning [TIME] God created the heavens [SPACE] and the earth [MATTER]” (Genesis 1:1).
Recommended Resource: Darwin's Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and the Case for Intelligent Design by Stephen Meyer
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