Theological spin on scientific discoveries

After posting earlier today about the detection of when the cosmic dawn (i.e., the appearance of the first stars) occurred, I started thinking about how religious people would react to news like this, especially those religions that have anthropocentric views of the universe, like the Abrahamic religions that have the Genesis story as their foundational myths

Young Earth creationists will reject any idea that the universe is that old and will come up with some ad hoc explanation, such as that the signals that were detected by the researchers were created by their god at the same time as the universe was created about 6,000 years ago, just like he created the fossils. This was all done in some mysterious attempt to make us think that the universe is old when it is not. Their god is such a kidder, always messing with the minds of his creations!

More sophisticated religious apologists take the Genesis story as metaphors and will interpret their creation myths to include these results. “In the beginning …” will be taken as a metaphor for the Big Bang and this latest finding will signal the moment when their god metaphorically said “Let their be light!” All this effort will be expended in pursuance of the anthropocentric idea that their god created the universe and set in motion a complex process by which human beings in his image would eventually emerge billions of years later.

Both groups need to explain why human beings are special. The young Earthers have a straightforward explanation for how humans appeared (“God created them directly”) that requires them to reject pretty much all of science. The sophisticated apologists who largely accept science are forced to create a highly contrived scenario of their god creating a Rube Goldberg apparatus of the universe to eventually produce humans when he could have simply and directly created them.

It is not easy being religious in this scientific age.


  1. Lassi Hippeläinen says

    But Rube Goldberg is GOD! It’s there hiding in plain sight: GOlDberg. And Goldberg also contains the letters of LORD!!!
    Checkmate, athiests!!1!

  2. EigenSprocketUK says

    Well obviously humans were created directly and instantaneously by god: it says so in the bible. And you can’t argue with that.
    My earliest beginnings of my slow journey towards atheism began as a young kid was meeting a missionary from the USA who had come to our church (an easy gig for them, free youth volunteers for the church). I said “Yes, I believe in the bible, but obviously you can’t take the bible completely literally: there’s all the evidence and the Big Bang obviously is more accurate and there’s all the other science and…”
    He fixed me with an earnest stare and said “No doubts: the bible is completely true, every word. It happened exactly like The bible says. I believe it completely. COMPLETELY. Completely
    My further splutterings were completely wasted on him. Though it took me a decade to realise just how wrong we both were. Funny how that conversation stays with me.

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