As I prayerfully considered what I would write on this week I pondered the similarities and differences of science and faith. For instance, a similarity is both disciplines are fields of study. Science studies natural phenomena and faith studies the supernatural or spiritual realm. A difference would be that science studies what can be seen or better yet what can be observed, faith is a contemplation of what is not, for the most part, visible to the natural eye.
It should be no surprise that there are times when the two find themselves in agreement and at times they are at odds with one another. One of the differences I have noticed between the two is science is in a constant state of flux; the Bible isn’t. As science discovers new facts and gathers more information, its perception of the present and theories about the past and future change accordingly. The Scriptures have remained unchanged from the time they were originally penned. Theologians who believe the Bible is a divine revelation do not toy with changing it. After all, God is omniscient; He knows the past, present and future. What is there to change?
The Bible is not a science textbook. Nevertheless, it does contain statements about the reality of the universe we live in, and when it does students of the Scriptures accept those declarations as being accurate. Some think this puts biblical revelation in direct conflict with scientific fact. There is not enough room in one article to address all of the seeming contradictions between science and religion. So let’s see what the Bible says regarding the universe compared to what theoretical physicists say about it.
The first verse in the Bible says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The Scriptures do not reveal when the universe (i.e., the heavens and the earth) began. Moses does not claim to have observed it and I see nothing he wrote that would contradict the beginning taking place a long time ago. The exact date of the beginning is irrelevant to the biblical narrative. Remember, the Bible is not a science textbook.
Theoretical scientists, who did not observe the beginning either, say the universe came into existence in a “big bang” 13.7 billion years ago. Of course, physicists may uncover information that may cause them to recalculate when the Big Bang occurred, but any change in their theory will not contradict what he Bible says because the Bible does not make any claim about when the universe began.
Theologians believe God created the physical universe ex nihilo, from nothing. Theoretical physicists theorize nothing existed before the Big Bang. In the third verse of the Bible God said, “Let there be light; and there was light.” Light is a byproduct of expended energy. Physicists are now saying that all the matter in the universe came into existence from a source of all the energy of the universe compressed to an area about the size of an atom. This claim that energy became matter is not inconsistent with the biblical account.
The first chapter of Genesis says creation occurred over a six day period. Lawrence Krauss, theoretical physicist at Arizona State University and author of the book A Universe from Nothing, said in episode one of How the Universe Works that all the matter in the universe was created within the first three minutes of the Big Bang. Krauss claims this matter was disorganized and needed to be coalesced to form elements, but the rudiments for all the matter in the universe, a universe whose limits are not known, came into existence in three minutes.
Science also claims that the physical universe( inorganic matter) preceded the beginning of life (organic matter). This is also consistent with the biblical account. God created the physical universe, set it in order, and during the third day created life starting with plants. And just as science says life began with simpler life forms followed by more complex life forms, so does the Bible.
Theoretical physicists also claim the universe will eventually cease to exist in a cataclysmic event similar to a nuclear meltdown. Sounds like what Peter predicted, “…the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up (2 Peter 3:10).”
It seems the more scientific theories change the closer they come to the Bible that has not changed. Imagine that.