My previous blog opened the door to questions about the universe and how it may have begun. Evidently this topic doesn't interest as many readers as I thought, so I've decided to discontinue my planned series on this subject. But I do want to hit a few major points before I leave the topic.
Here is my main point: Many people believe that science and the Bible are mutually exclusive, i.e.you have to believe one or the other. I believe that science and religion are not enemies, but actually support each other. However it's necessary to consider many of the statements and stories in the Bible metaphorically. That's not to imply that the Bible is not the inspired word of God. I just mean that some things are not to be taken literally. Jesus referred to himself as "the door." Was that a literal description or a metaphor?
I pointed out previously that there is no such thing as "settled science." Science constantly changes as more and more information becomes available. So if there appears to be a gap between science and the Bible, it could be a misunderstanding of the scripture or perhaps lag time on the part of science to fill the gap.
Let's assume that the Big Bang Theory is basically correct. In the early 20th century, astronomer Edwin Hubble applying the Doppler effect noted that light from distant galaxies shifts toward the red end of the spectrum indicating an expanding universe. He calculated that everything in the universe, including matter, energy, space and even time itself, actually had a beginning. Creation or the big bang didn't take place in time. Time began when there was matter and motion.
Stephen Hawking, the most famous living scientist, in his book, "Grand Design", says the laws of physics explain the creation of the universe. "Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself out of nothing." But Dr. Francis Collins, head of the Genome project, argues that gravity is "something," therefore gravity and the laws of physics nullify Hawking's definition of "nothing." And how or by whom were the laws of physics established?
Dr. John Lennox, British scientist and mathematician, in his book, "God and Stephen Hawking" says, "The laws of physics can explain how the jet engine works, but not how it came to exist in the first place."
I don't want to sound like a preacher, but it is true that the universe had to either have a creator or it must be explained by science. I want to consider some options.
Some scientists believed that our universe never had a beginning. They believed that mass, space and energy had always existed in time, but the big bang theory offered another option. The term "big bang" was used sarcastically by British astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle, who held tenaciously to the idea that the universe had always existed. But the scientific evidence of a beginning became overwhelming.
Dr. George Smoot, the Nobel Prize winning scientist who came up with the big bang theory said that a parallel exists between the big bang theory and the Christian notion of creation. Smoot was an agnostic, so he was comfortable sitting on the fence. (metaphor)
It's important to realize that science has its limitations and is not the only path to knowledge and truth. Einstein said, "Science without religion is lame. Religion without science is blind." I said previously that science and religion confirm each other but require an adequate understanding of both.
So here are some options:
Atheism eliminates the possibility of a creator or a supreme intelligence behind the universe. Stephen Hawking would be in this category.
Agnosticism is not sure about a Creator, like George Smoot.
Deism is the belief that God set the universe in motion but does not interfere with how it runs. This notion began in the 17th and 18th century and is common today. Thomas Jefferson was a deist.
Theism is the belief that God created the universe. The difference from deism is that God didn't stop there. He continues to be involved in his creation and in the lives of human beings.
There are subcategories to consider. There is the New Earth position initiated by James Ussher, an Anglican Archbishop, who dated our earth's age at roughly 6,000 years with six literal days of creation.
British biologist Philip Goss, back in1857 tried to explain the scientific evidence of an old earth with the idea that God created the earth in six 24 hour days with the appearance of age. God just made it look old. But this implies that God is a trickster.
Regarding the old earth belief, many of the problems with the Genesis account can be ameliorated if it is understood that there could be millions of years between the first verse, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," and the second verse and those describing the days of creation that follow. There are several theories about the order and sequence of the days described as well.
Augustine took "morning" and "evening" figuratively, for example. John Lennox says that the Bible ". . . leaves the time of creation open."
I've tossed out some ideas to think about. I know that we'll never have all the answers, but, personally I find it impossible to believe in design without a designer.