You don’t have to commit intellectual suicide to be a Christian.
You do not have to reject all of science to follow Christ.
Faith does not mean that you have to be stupid, naive, uninformed, insecure, or afraid of knowledge.
In my humble estimation, I believe that many people, especially young people, walk away from Christ because they are presented with a false option. It looks something like this: Either you have faith in Christ and reject science, or, you embrace the empirical conclusions of science and reject faith. This is particularly the truth when it comes to the origins of our universe.
The Big Bang Theory is widely accepted in the scientific community (yes, even among Christian scientists) as being an accurate description of what probably happened to kick-start our universe. The basic ideas is “that some 10 billion to 20 billion years ago, a massive blast allowed all the universe’s known matter and energy—even space and time themselves—to spring from some ancient and unknown type of energy” (http://science.nationalgeographic.com/science/space/universe/origins-universe-article/). But once you step outside of academic circles, especially here in the southern United States, you are quickly labeled a heretic if you claim to be a Christian who believes that the earth is not young (approx. 6,000 years old) and that the Big Bang Theory does indeed seem to be a great explanation for our cosmological origins.
Why this fear?
If a piece of science can be shown to be compatible with the Scriptures, then why are we so afraid to hold Science’s hand?
If God created the world, should not science testify of His handiwork as opposed to demonstrating that He does not exist?
Genesis 1:1-2 reads, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.”
What can we conclude from these two verses alone?
- God created the earth. It was, as Aristotle described, the “first cause.” This implies that there is not an infinite regresses of causes. Everything stops with God. He is infinite and and the original cause of all things. He is not caused or else He would not be God. If something was prior to Him, He could not be rightly labeled, God. This is the basis of the modern-day, Kalam-Cosmological Argument.
- Matter and water existed prior to the intentional six days of creation. This tells us that there are some things that the Bible leaves out. In these cases, using our imagination to fill in the blanks is acceptable so long as we are not embracing ideas that are clearly anti-Biblical.
- The Bible does not specify how much time might have passed between God creating the “without form, and void” earth and all that happened during the six days we as Christians originally refer to as Creation. In other words, the universe could easily be 13 billion years old as the majority of scientists accept (both atheists and Christians).
So, Genesis 1:1-2 does not rule out the possibility that matter and energy could have been floating around (not sure where the energy came from at first glance) completely unorganized for 13 billion years. Then, God steps in during the six “days” of creation and with His word, brings order out of the chaotic, formless void. Hebrews 11:3 reads, “By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” Whether this be the original formless matter or not, at some point God had to bring everything out of nothing. If the original matter is what God brought out of nothing, then the six days in large part was Him injecting order and principle into what already chaotically was.
I now want to share something with you that has blown my mind as a Christian. Heraclitus was a Greek philosopher that lived in Ephesus during the 6th century B.C. He was a not a Jew or Christian. He theorized that underneath the surface of all that we see and experience, there was Logos. Though this translates as “word,” he used this term in a different manner. For Heraclitus, this term represented a “universal, underlying principle” that under-girded and provided organization to all of reality. The Stoics later would speak of this same Logos as “the Seminal Reason, though which all things came to be, by which all things were ordered, and to which all things returned” (web.engr.oregonstate.edu). In other words, the Logos was the ultimate source of all that is, the ordering principle of all reality, the reason for all things.
Bear with me as I connect the dots. John wrote of Jesus Christ, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made” (John 1:1-3). Paul wrote, “All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist” (Colossians 1:16-17). Christ, as the second member of the Trinity, co-equal with God, played a major part in creating all that is. John wrote that all was made “through Him.” Paul wrote the same exact thing. I have always pictured the Father speaking everything into existence (Genesis 1, “Let there be…”), and as things came into existence, they literally passed through Christ himself as they were released into being.
Now to connect all of the dots. The Bible is clear that all things created passed through Christ. Upon closer examination of John 1, the term used for Christ was “Word of God.” This term “word” is actually the Greek word, Logos. In other words, “All things were made through Logos…” (John 1:1-3). John was identifying the person of Jesus as the Divine Logos that the Greeks knew to be the underlying, ordering principle of all reality. This supports the thought I was tossing out earlier, that maybe the earth is 13 billion years old as scientists say, and that what God did was bring order into the formless void through the Logos identified as Jesus Christ. This is no less spectacular than any other creation account. God could have used the Big Bang to introduce various kinds of matter and extra sources of energy and then later brought order into it through the Logos, Christ. In this view, Christ would therefore be the ultimate, unifying reality that gave/gives life, order, and unity to all that exists. Sounds pretty Biblical, right? The only thing Heraclitus lacked was the revelation that the Logos was something more than an abstract principle and/or force. Rather, it was personal (i.e. the person of Christ). In other words, Christ himself and His word is ontologically prior to all else that exists. Sounds pretty Biblical again, huh?
What does all of this mean? The Big Bang Theory is not anti-Christian. The earth/universe may be 13 billion years old. An ancient explosion and scattering of matter and energy does necessarily imply that God was not behind it. Once you realize this, the pressure to choose God or science dissipates. An either/or false dilemma pushes thinkers into a corner where they feel as if one must commit intellectual suicide in order to be a Christian. This is both tragic and sad.
Let’s look deeper. Let’s not be afraid or insecure. Let’s look at how science, which studies what we claim to be created by God, might actually mesh with Biblical accounts. So take a deep breathe. If you want to follow Christ but feel like you have to sacrifice your intellect in order to do so, think again. We need intelligent Christians. We need Christians who can, when possible, sync all facets of inquiry into a unified, consistent worldview. Whether it be the Big Bang or some other area of science, look a little deeper. The Scriptures leave much unsaid. We must be careful to not make it say what it does not say. When we do, we set up intellectual idols that cause more immature minds to feel as if they must abandon Christ altogether because they do not believe something we make the Bible say when in fact it doesn’t. There is much that we know and much that we don’t. Let’s not confuse the two.