THE BIG BANG THEORY Lonnie Branam
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). This is the very first verse in the Bible, and it reveals the fact that the universe has not always been here. There was a beginning, and this means that the visible world has not always existed. Another pertinent fact about the material universe is revealed in the book of 2 Peter 3:10,11, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought you to be in all holy conversation and godliness. “ This passage describes the end of the world, sometimes called the cosmos or the material universe. The two passages describe the beginning and the end of the world we live in. I accept these amazing truths with mixed emotions. The earth, along with the canopy of heavenly bodies which surround us, is our home. It has been the wonderful dwelling place of mankind for perhaps some sixty to ninety centuries. There is no proof positive evidence that the human race has existed on this planet longer than 6,000 to 9,000 years. All other claims are simply prehistory speculations and opinions.We cannot ascertain with certainty the age of the human race by the study of the Bible or science. Evolutionists speculate that man has been on the earth for millions of years, but to believe this you must put your faith in the evolutionists instead of the Bible. Much of the evolution theory belongs in the realm of science fiction. It is only natural that we should be attached to this present world, for this is the only world we have known by experience. As difficult as it may be for our minds to conceive, the material universe had a beginning, and it will have an end. My first observation is that the remarkable end awaiting our world is no more remarkable than its beginning. We learn from the New Testament that God did not create the cosmos out of pre-existing material, for the material out of which all the heavenly bodies are made did not exist prior to the time mentioned in Genesis 1:1. This Bible passage dec1are, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” The New Testament makes this statement about the beginning of our world, “Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear”. (Hebrews 11:3). The meaning is that the universe was created at the command of God and did not evolve or arise out of the material things you see. The presence of the universe is not an accident; it was made by God. The universe is not eternal; it has not always been here. It had a beginning. God first originated matter, and then formed the universe out of it. Some leading scientists believe that the original material out of which all other elements were made was hydrogen. I don̓t know if this is true. If it should be true, then God first brought hydrogen into existence and then formed the universe out of that original substance. Tssientific world, for the most part, has rejected the idea that the universe had a beginning. The prevailing view held by ancient Greek philosophers and modern day scientists is that matter is eternal, the universe has always been here, and the thought of a beginning was out of the question. However, the science of Astronomy is making a revolutionary change in this attitude toward the universe. There are astronomers and scientists in high places who think they have discovered a marvelous truth about our universe. I want to tell you out it because it is of special interest to all Bible believing people. It has been known for fifty years that our universe is expanding. The material universe consists of countless trillions OF burning gaseous orbs called stars. These stars are not scattered in the universe in a uniform way as individual and isolated bodies. The stars are collected together in clusters, and these clusters or familes called galaxies and are separated from other clusters by distances which defy the imagination. The heavenly bodies are grouped together much like people are grouped together into nations or widely separated cities. These magnificent star systems are called clusters and nebulae. When a galaxy is near enough to permit its individual stars to be shown by the telescope, it is called a cluster. But when the mingled light of all its stars can only be seen as a hazy cloud, it is called a nebula. These island universes are also called galaxies. The word galaxy comes from a Greek word meaning milky white. Thus the galaxy we live in is called the milky way from the glistening whiteness of its color. An average galaxy contains several billion individual stars. A typical galaxy extends for a distance of 600 thousand trillion miles. The distance between each galaxy on the average is 20 million trillion miles. The nearest galaxy to the one we live in is two million light years away. A light year is the distance light ravels in a year's time at the speed of 186,000 miles per second. Thousands of galaxies exist within a distance of 100 million light years from us, and many billions of galaxies are within the range of the 200 inch telescope on Palomar Mountain. Such is the scale on which our universe is built, and this is the universe we live in. This is the universe which came into existence in the beginning at the command of God, according to Genesis 1:1. When we consider the sun, moonconsider the sun, moon, and stars, the works of His hands, we are made to lift up our eyes to God and confess with our lips, “How great You are.”We live in one of these magnificent star galaxies called the milky way. Our sun is one of 200 billion stars in this star cluster which has the shape of a giant saucer. The milky way, our home galaxy, rotates slowly and majestically in space with luminous arms trailing like an enormous Roman candle. Our sun, with its planets, is located in one of the arms of this spiral and is revolving around the center of the Milky Way Galaxy. It takes our sun 250 million years to make one revoluton around the center of the Milky Way. Some astronomers believe that the star Alcyone is the center of gravity around which all stars in the Milky Way are revolving. Alcyone is the principal star in the cluster of stars called the Pleiades. The Pleiades are mentioned in the Bible in Job 38:31. Seven of the stars in the Pleides are visible to the naked eye and Alcyone is the brightest of the Pleides.
My chief interest in this discussion has to do with a development in the science of Astronomy regarding the billions of island universes which surround us in all directions. The 200 inch telescope on Mount Palomar shows that our milky way is but one of billions of milky ways in the universe. Moreover, it is an established scientific fact that all of these galaxies are moving away from our galaxy at astronomical speeds. No matter where we look into the dark ocean of space all the distant star systems are moving away from us and from one another. All evidence at our disposal points to the fact that the universe is literally expanding all around us. The universe appears to be blowing up before our very eyes, as if we were witnessing the aftermath of a gigantic explosion. Prominent scientists have been very slow to accept this idea of an expanding universe. Albert Einstein refused to accept the idea for many years, but in later years acknowledged that the evidence was overwhelmingly in favor of an expanding universe. Many prominent astronomers and scientists have concluded that all this evidence points to but one explanation. If all galaxies in the universe are moving away from each other, then at some earlier time they must have been closer together. At a still earlier time, they reason, they must have been still closer together. Their conclusion is that at some time in the distant past all of the matter of the universe was packed into one giant hydrogen fireball, with temperatures ranging up to trillions of degrees. A fiery explosion took place like a firecracker going off, hurling matter in all directions. Many noted astronomers believe that all of the galaxies of the universe were formed by this explosion and are still moving away from one another by the original force of that explosion. It would appear to these scientists that something happened comparable to the explosion of a cosmic hydrogen bomb, and the instant in which the cosmic bomb exploded marked the birth of the universe. This is called in scientific circles, “The Big Bang Theory.” The expanding universe can be compared to a loaf of raisin bread which is placed in the oven to be baked. The bread is full of raisins and each raisin represents a galaxy in the universe. As the bread begins to rise, all raisins begin to move away from one another. Thus, all galaxies are moving away from one another, and we do not know where the center of the universe is. I do not know if the big bang theory is true. If the universe did begin this way, there is no conflict with the Bible. Geneis 1,2 say little about the creation of the stars. It simply says that god made the stars The Bible does not reveal a precise method God used in creating matter. Genesis 1,2 is concerned mostly with but one star cluster, the milky way, and in particular one star in that system and planet earth which revolves around the sun.I would like to give some quotes from noted astronomers regarding the expanding universe which encourage Bible believing people. William J. Kaufmann, connected with the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, California Institute of Technology, and Department of Physics, San Diego State University, wrote a book entitled, Exploration of the Solar System. This book was published in 1978. Mr. Kaufmann said, “Most astronomers believe that the big-bang comology is correc at least; it is the best theory anyone has ever proposed.The big-bang cosmology is entirely consistent with all observational evidence.” I call your attention to another scientific book written by Robert Jastrow who is an internationally known astronomer. He is founder and director of NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies, Professor of Astronomy and Geology at Columbia University, and Professor of Earth Sciences at Dartmouth College. He wrote a book entitled, "Until The Sun Dies" which was published in 1977. This book was written in the aftermath of the great Viking discoveries on Mars, which have the potential for effecting further changes in our understanding of man's position in the cosmic order. After presenting the evidence for an expanding universe and the Big Bang Theory, Mr. Jastrow said, “Most remarkable of all is the fact that in science, as in the Bible, the world begins with an act of creation. That view has not always been held by scientists. Only as a result of the most recent discoveries can we say with a fair degree of confidence that the world has not existed forever; that it began abruptly, without apparent cause, in a blinding event that defies scientific explanation.” I think this statement is significant coming from a man of science, an astronomer, who proclaims himself a religious agnostic.
In another book by Mr. Jastrow, entitled, God And The Astronomers, he said, “I am fascinated by some strange developments going on in astronomy——partly because of their religious implications and partly because of the peculiar reactions of my colleagues.” The essence of what he calls a “strange development” is the evidence that “the universe had, in some sense, a beginning—-that it began at a certain moment in time and under circumstances that seem to make it impossible, not just now but ever, to find out what force or forces brought the world into being at tha that moment.” The astronomer goes on to explain that the formerly accepted theory of the eternity of matter and the theory that the universe has always been here has now been abandoned in favor of the big bang theory. I quote again from Mr. Jastrow, “The astronomical evidence leads to a Biblical view of the origin of the world. All the details differ, but the essential element in the astronomical and Biblical accounts of Genesis is the ame; the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply, at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.flash of light and energy.” Jastrow is intrigued by the reaction of his fellow astronomers. He says that many scientific minds appear closed to the new truths. I am still quoting from Mr. Jastrow, “Some scientists are unhappy with the idea that the world began in this way...Theologians generally are delighted with the proof that the universe had a beginning, but astronomes are curiously upset~ Their reactions provide an interesting demonstration of the response of the scientific mind, supposedly a very objective mind, when evidence uncovered by science itself leads to a conflict with the article of faith in our profession. It turns out that the scientist behaves the way the rest of us do when our beliefs are in conflict with the evidence. We become irritated, we pretend the conflict does not exist, or we paper it over with meaningless phrases.” This man is an honest scientist who reveals that scientists have bias too. In spite of evidence which keeps pouring in for an expanding universe, in spite of the fact that the big bang theory has no competitors, scientists still do not want to believe it because of its religious implications. It has taken science centuries to arrive at the conclusion that there was a beginning to the universe, whereas Bible believers have known there was a beginning for the past 3500 years. I can see how this would be embarrassing to scientific-minded people. Jastrow expressed this embarrassment well in this final quotation, “Science has proven that the universe exploded into being at a certain moment. A sound explanation may exist for the explosive birth of our universe; but if it does, science cannot find out what the explanation is. The scientist̓s pursuit of the past ends in the moment of creation...He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquers the highest peak; as he pulls himself over he highest rock, he is greeted with a band of who have been sitting there for centuries.” Significantly, our space research increasingly confirms the limits of our finite intellects and confirms the veracity of Scripture. Inspired and moved by God, Moses wrote this statement in 1500 B.C., “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). Our faith in the Bible as God's inspired word of truth has been strengthened by scientific voices saying, “We also believe the universe had a beginning from our independent study of nature.” As difficult as it may be for our minds to conceive, the world had a beginning, and it will have an end. Christ did come, and He will come again. The world of nature is not all there is. —4—