Got this email:
My biggest question for you guys is…
How do you believe that we (and by we, I mean the entire earth and all of its contents) are here? Of course Christians, like myself, believe in the 7 Days of Creation.
I’m watching your television show (your showdown with Ray Comfort) and I see the fallacies in his argument and the unwillingness to address your valid points. He also did not question you to the extent that I would have liked to if that were me. Somewhere in there, I came up with the question, “How do they think we got here?”
Do you accept the Big Bang/Point of Singularity or do you believe that the universe is ever-existent in itself? If it is the former, I’ve always wanted an atheist view on it. I watched a piece that Steven Hawking endorsed that was something along the lines of “Does God Exist.” He “proved” that God did not create the universe because time did not exist in which God could have created it. However, I cannot/refuse to believe that the amount of force needed to create that explosion could have been self-existent.
It would be awesome if y’all could address this question. I do not have a lot of free time, as I am a college student working 24 hours a week. Therefore, I can’t really turn on the tube and watch the show. Even if I could, I don’t think I have that channel. What I’m wondering is, if you could address it through e-mail or if you could address it on the show and send me a link where I can watch it on the internet.
I believe it will be fascinating to see a new view, as I live in a religiously-dominated area and differing opinions are few and far between.
I appreciate you guys taking the time!
[Name withheld], Freshman at [University withheld]
My reply is below.
Of course Christians, like myself, believe in the 7 Days of Creation.
Actually this may surprise you, but as a categorical statement that is simply not true. A certain variety of Christians known as “Young earth creationists” believe in a literal seven days of creation. Although 85% of Americans are Christians, surveys indicate that only 30% of Americans accept the Biblical account of creation as literally true.
The mainstream scientific view of the origins of the present universe — that it expanded from a singularity approximately 13.7 billion years ago — is not based on a denial of the existence of God. It’s based on observations about the universe that are correlated with our understanding of how matter behaves. If you’re curious about the reasons why modern cosmologists almost unanimously recognize a big bang event having occurred at that point, including lines of evidence such as the red shift, measurements of cosmic radiation, and the observed distribution and distance of stars, you might want to check out
Some Christians do begin with the assumption that a literalistic reading of the Bible is sufficient to establish scientific truth, and any other observations which seem to contradict this literal reading should be discarded in some way. However, scientists generally recognize that scientific inquiry cannot properly progress based on such assumptions. Therefore, most Christians who are involved in scientific research tend to gravitate towards more figurative interpretations of the Bible. Hence, there is a variation of belief known as “old earth creationism” which tries to reconcile the conflict by treating the “days” of creation in the Bible as a metaphor for longer time periods. In some cases, they point out that literal 24 hour “days” in human terms are measured by rotation of the Earth with respect to the sun, and the sun did not exist until day 4 in the Bible. Therefore, using “day” to mean 24 hours wouldn’t be meaningful, hence it could have stood in for millions or billions of years.
Even with these tweaks, the order of creation in the Bible still conflicts with current scientific understanding. Genesis describes God creating “light” on the first day, plants on the third day, and the sun on the fourth. There isn’t any source of generic “light” that exists in the universe as far as we’re aware. Light comes from matter giving off photons, and pretty much all of the light that shines on earth comes from the sun. Also, plants survive by creating energy that they photosynthesize from sunlight, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense to create plants first and THEN the sun.
Because of this, other Christians who take the scientific method seriously prefer to see the Bible not as literal truth, but a story that is full of allegory and metaphor, not intended to be a literal scientific textbook at all. They generally still see it as a great, and perhaps divinely inspired, work of literature, full of poetry and guidance and good moral teachings. I personally disagree with this, but I do know many smart Christians who think this way.
Do you accept the Big Bang/Point of Singularity or do you believe that the universe is ever-existent in itself? If it is the former, I’ve always wanted an atheist view on it.
I’d like to point out that at the beginning I said that the present universe expanded from a singularity. The reason I put it that way is because when a lot of matter is packed into a very dense space, the laws of physics work in ways that are fundamentally different from those we’re familiar with. Since you can’t replicate the conditions of the universe just before the big bang, it’s not really possible to conclusively say whether the post big-bang universe really represent ***THE*** universe (meaning all things that exist). One popular lecture by Lawrence Krauss is title “a universe from nothing” and he explains how, in effect, “time” may have originated with the big bang, which means that it’s not actually meaningful to talk about any time “before” the big bang.
Other speculations include the idea that the universe could be contained in a larger meta-universe, or that the expansion of the big bang was generated by an explosion following the collapse of a previous universe. This would imply that the universe oscillates, and has indeed been around in different forms forever.
Some of these ideas are taken more seriously than others. My point is that there is not currently any definitive answer to whether the Big Bang was the beginning of “everything” or whether something else has always existed.
I watched a piece that Steven Hawking endorsed that was something along the lines of “Does God Exist.” He “proved” that God did not create the universe because time did not exist in which God could have created it.
I don’t think Stephen Hawking has ever claimed to “prove” that God did not create the universe. At most I believe he has just stated, as I do, that the assumption of a God existence is not necessary to explain the existence of the universe.
However, I cannot/refuse to believe that the amount of force needed to create that explosion could have been self-existent.
Well, science doesn’t always line up with things that you refuse to believe.
I hope this answered some of your questions. Thanks for writing.