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Can a Christian believe in the Big Bang theory? by Fr. Gabriel Wissa

September 25, 2019

In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit; One God, Amen.

Can a Christian believe in the Big Bang theory? Does the Big Bang contradict Scripture? And if the Big Bang is true, what implications does such a theory have on Christianity? Let us explore together this vital subject.

 

As you have seen in the first video in this series oChristianity and Science’, Orthodox Christians in the first centuries AD deeply studied the different sciences of the time. They didn’t shy away from science but happily engaged with it. Now, since the early 20th century, so fairly recentlyscientists have discovered that the universe is not static, as people thought at the time, but it is expanding. And if it is expanding today, then if we go far back in time, it must have been originated from a single point, which scientists call ‘the singularity. Now, don’t worry I am not planning on making this video overly complicated. In fact, the Big Bang has a wide range of empirical evidence and this information is readily available online so this video does not aim at providing hard evidence for the Big Bang. The purpose of this video is to look at the implications of the Big Bang theory on Christianity and try to look passed the Big Bang and draw some conclusions from there. And, toward the end of the video, I will share some facts that I personally find quite impressive so stick with me till the endSo what is the Big Bang theory? It is an explosion that occurred around 13.8 billion years ago, according to scientists, and this explosion was the beginning of 4 things: time, space, matter and energy, where time and space are often referred to as space-time continuum or spacetime. I’ll get back to these 4 later. After the Big Bang, the universe started with a very high-density and high-temperature state, then, the universe cooled enough to allow for the formation of subatomic particles, then atoms; which eventually led to the formation of stars and galaxies and ultimately led to life as we see it today. Some might be asking themselves ‘well, wait a second, doesn’t the Big Bang contradict Scripture?’ The simple answer is ‘No, it doesn’t.’ God willing, in the future, we can make a separate video focusing solely on this question. But for now, let us stick to the purpose of this video. 

 

When objectively looking at the universe today, scientists can see a high level of precision in the universe. Let me give you a few quick examples. First, the cosmological constant… this constant is linked with the observed acceleration of the universe’s expansion. If the universe had expanded slightly slower than it did, the universe expansion would have stopped and collapsed on itself. On the other hand, if it expanded faster, than no galaxies would have formed. Another example is gravity, if the gravitational force were altered by a percentage of 0 followed by 37 zeros and a 1, our sun would not exist, and, therefore, there would be no life on earth. As a last quick example, let us consider the 23-degree axis tilt of the earth. The angle of this tilt is perfectly adjusted with our sun. In fact, if the tilt were slightly altered the earth surface temperature would be too extreme for life. These 3 examples, or 3 Anthropic Constants, provide a small idea of the level of design we can see in the universe. Astrophysicist Hugh Ross has put together a list of 122 constants that are absolutely essential for life on ANY planet in the universe! He also calculated the probability that these 122 constants would exist on any planet in the universe without a mind, or an intelligent Being, behind it all. His conclusion is that the chances that any planet on the universe can have all of these constants by chance is 0 followed by 138 zeros and a 1, which is obviously close to impossible.  

 

Now, moving on to another point, let us say that I create a table. I, as a human being, am I in the table? Am I bound by it? Am I controlled by it? No, I am beyond the table. In that specific example, I am outside my creation, which is the table. Now, let us go back to the Big bang being the beginning of time, space, matter and energy. So let us use this point here as a reference for the singularity, when the explosion happened. Right after this point, there is space, time, matter and energy. Right before this point, if I can say that, there is no space, no time, no matter and no energy. Now, going back to my table example, I created the table and therefore I am the one that caused it to be. I am its creator. I am beyond it. In the same way, the Being who created this Big Bang, must also be beyond the Big Bang (not bound by it)He is its Creator. So let us now try to describe the characteristics of this Being, He must be first beyond time (since He is beyond the Big Bang and the Big Bang was the beginning of time). And that implies that He has no beginning and no end, since to have a beginning or end implies being under time. But since He is not bound by time, He has no beginning. He also must be beyond space, beyond matter, meaning He is immaterial or, in other words, a spiritual Being. He must also be beyond energy, He is the Cause and Source of this incredible energy. In addition, based on the 122 Constants mentioned earlier demonstrating the precision of the universe, this Being must be extremely intelligent. So this Being’s characteristics are: 1. Beyond time, meaning no beginning and no end, which implies eternity; 2. He is a spiritual Being; 3. He is extremely powerful because He caused this massive energy to exist; 4. He is extremely intelligent since the universe is very precise. Of course, this Being has more characteristics than this but we will stick to these ones in this video. Note also that as Christians we speak of eternal life with God. It is very probable that this eternal life will be spent with Him beyond time, beyond the Big Bang, if you will. So, in heaven, it will not be the year 5400 for example. We will be with Him beyond time. 

 

The fascinating bit for me is how the Church Fathers described God in the fourth century. It is fascinating because these Fathers lived at a time where the Aristotelian science prevailed. And Aristotle believed that the cosmos was a single eternal entity. So to him, the universe always existed. Scientists and philosophers at the time did not understand that the Creator is beyond time and matter. Nodid they understand that He created the universe from nothing. Again, since the science of the time assumed that the universe always existed, then, it made sense that there was no creation out of nothing. There was neither a moment where there was no time or matter. Yet, during this time St. Gregory the Theologian believed otherwise… in the Liturgy attributed to him, he spells out for us some of God’s characteristics, he says“It is fitting indeed and right, that we praise You, bless You, serve You, worship You and glorify You, the one, only true God, the lover of Mankind… [then he mentions God’s characteristics] ineffable, invisible (implying God is spiritual)infinite, without beginning, everlasting, timeless (all of those imply being beyond time), immeasurable, incomprehensible, unchangeablecreator of all, savior of everyone…” These characteristics fit exactly what science teaches us through the Big Bang. Note also that the above characteristics answer the question ‘who created God?’ You can find the answer to this question in another video which we will put the link to in the comments section below. Going back to the Fathers, St. Athanasius as well, who lived also in the fourth century surprises us with a beautiful passage in his book On the Incarnation section 2, he says: “Others take the view expressed by Plato, that giant among the Greeks. He said that God had made all things out of pre-existent and uncreated matter, just as the carpenter makes things only out of wood that already exists. But those who hold this view do not realise that to deny that God is Himself the Cause of matter is to impute limitation to Him, just as it is undoubtedly a limitation on the part of the carpenter that he can make nothing unless he has the wood. How could God be called Maker and Artificer if His ability to make depended on some other cause, namely on matter itself? If He only worked up existing matter and did not Himself bring matter into being, He would be not the Creator but only a craftsman.” St. Athanasius truly was against the world, not only in defending the true faith against Arius but also in redirecting the science and philosophy of his time to the knowledge of the truth based on the revelation of Jesus Christ. It took science fifteen more centuries to converge to St. Athanasius and St. Gregorys conclusions 

 

 

 

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