Don’t worry, I’m not talking about the TV show.
It’s time to talk about the scientific theory popularly known as “The Big Bang Theory” because Christians should LOVE this thing. I’m not saying we should tolerate it or “not feel threatened” by it. I’m not saying we should try to find some common ground because the scientific community supports it.
I AM saying we should 100% publicly adore everything about this monumental piece of scientific discovery. The Church should literally be it’s biggest advocate.
The Big Bang Theory represents one of history’s most incredible opportunities for Christians to stand hand-in-hand with the scientific community.
And yet, here in America, we’ve completely rejected this opportunity. Mention the Big Bang Theory to most pastors and they will practically vomit in their mouths in disgust. Try to discuss it, and…
We’ve falsely convinced ourselves in the Church that this theory of the universe’s beginnings is at odds with our belief systems.
We’ll get there. But first, let’s look at the theory itself and why you should love it.
1. It Is 100% Compatible With Belief In Divine Creation
You may not realize this, so I want to start here before hitting on the really juicy stuff, but the Big Bang Theory is actually 100% compatible with a belief in divine creation.
This theory, originally proposed as the “hypothesis of the primeval atom”, observes that the universe is expanding and traces that expansion back to a single point in space/time. For all the matter of the known universe to have existed at a central point, it would have been impossibly hot and dense, and from what we can observe looking into space, the beginning of the known universe would have looked like a violent explosion as this matter launched out in all directions from this central point.
Let me rephrase that for you.
The prevailing scientific model of the universe’s origin proposes that all of the known universe burst from a single point at a single moment in time.
If you believe that God created the universe by speaking it into existence, you might say that at one point, there was no universe and the next moment, it was all there.
So on the one hand, Christians believe that God created the world. And on the other hand, scientists observe that at one point there was no universe and then the next moment, it burst forth into existence.
If you are following along, those are two completely compatible ideas. There is no contradiction. You might even say this theory seems awfully convenient for people wanting to believe in God…. which is EXACTLY what the scientific community said when it was first proposed.
2. The Scientific World Initially Rejected It As An “Obvious” Church Ploy To Legitimize Creation
Guess what many scientists around the world said when they first heard the Big Bang Theory?
“Haha nice try Church. We aren’t falling for that one.” (exact words may have varied slightly)
At first glance, this theory seemed to many like an obvious attempt to scientifically back the idea of divine creation. It was the first model to propose an actual beginning to the universe, which had previously been viewed as a static, timeless entity.
The term “The Big Bang” was actually coined by scientist Fred Hoyle as a mockery of the theory. The theory itself and its proponents were largely ignored for decades, and according to Stephen Hawking, “few people took the idea of the beginning of the Universe seriously.”
Why was it taken for granted that this theory was based in religious motivations?
Well, for starters, the Catholic Church found it to be decidedly compatible with the idea of divine creation, as I previously mentioned. In fact, this is what Pope Pius XII had to say about it:
. . . contemporary science, with one sweep back across the centuries, has succeeded in bearing witness to the august instant of the primordial Fiat Lux, which along with the matter there burst forth from nothing a sea of light and radiation . . . Thus, with that concreteness which is characteristic of physical proofs, modern science has confirmed the contingency of the universe and also the well-founded deduction to the epoch when the world came forth from the hands of the creator.
And second, because the entire thing was first proposed by a Catholic priest!
3. It Was First Proposed By A Catholic Priest
I’m not making this up. A Catholic priest, physicist and astronomer by the name of Georges Lemaître is the man responsible for proposing the “hypothesis of the primeval atom”, which would ultimately become the basis for the “Big Bang Theory”.
Georges Lemaitre was a committed priest of strong faith as well as a world-class scientist. His writings on the intersection of faith and science are truly enlightened, and… oh yeah… Albert Einstein gave up the keynote at a seminar in Belgium so he could listen to Lemaitre speak instead.
But before we talk about Einstein’s involvement, I’d like to quickly discuss something that was near and dear to Lemaitre’s heart.
If you’d like to learn more about Georges Lemaitre (you would very much like to), enter your email below:
4. Science & Faith Are Not Mutually Exclusive
Most Western Christians have a fundamental misunderstanding of science. We somehow think that science is invested in disproving our beliefs. But in reality, science doesn’t care about our beliefs, because science has nothing to do with our beliefs.
Stick with me here, because it is paramount for the Church to understand this as we move forward into the information age.
The SOLE goal of science is to observe, study, and obtain an empirical understanding of the natural, physical universe. That’s it.
Science has ZERO interest in disproving or even addressing metaphysical or supernatural ideas. Sure, there are some scientists who are invested in these pursuits, but most of these are more concerned with disproving specific (often ignorant) claims made by the religious. The scientific process itself is merely a system for studying, observing, and concluding. It has no interest in philosophical speculation on the existential meaning behind our physical universe.
The quest to understand the physical universe is made for the purpose of understanding the physical universe. For a true scientist, this quest should be uninfluenced by bias, including religious, political or social biases. To quote Lemaitre:
We may speak of this event as of a beginning. I do not say a creation. Physically it is a beginning in the sense that if something happened before, it has no observable influence on the behavior of our universe, as any feature of matter before this beginning has been completely lost by the extreme contraction at the theoretical zero. Any preexistence of the universe has a metaphysical character. Physically, everything happens as if the theoretical zero was really a beginning. The question if it was really a beginning or rather a creation, something started from nothing, is a philosophical question which cannot be settled by physical or astronomical considerations.
Accordingly, there is zero reason for a Christian to be inherently skeptical of agreed-upon scientific findings. These findings are humanity’s best understanding of Creation, which we claim ultimately comes from our Creator.
And if we believe God actually created everything, why are we so scared of those studying what He made?
If anything, Christians should be the most ardent supporters of science one can find. And in some areas of the world, this is actually the case.
But here in America, we like to be really, really ignorant with our Biblical application, which brings me to my next point…
5. The Bible Is Neither Historically Nor Scientifically Infallible
In all honesty, literal belief in the Bible as a historically or scientifically infallible document demonstrates such willful ignorance that it’s really not worth spending much time on. Most of you reading this already realize what a laughable assertion this would be, and yet, we see church after church holding dogmatically to this paradigm.
For the purposes of our discussion, I’ll let Lemaitre sum things up:
The writers of the Bible were illuminated more or less — some more than others — on the question of salvation. On other questions they were as wise or ignorant as their generation. Hence it is utterly unimportant that errors in historic and scientific fact should be found in the Bible, especially if the errors related to events that were not directly observed by those who wrote about them . . . The idea that because they were right in their doctrine of immortality and salvation they must also be right on all other subjects, is simply the fallacy of people who have an incomplete understanding of why the Bible was given to us at all.
While the Bible is not infallible in these regards, it does often point us in the direction of truth. And I find it interesting that The Big Bang Theory offers us such a compatible match between Biblical interpretation and scientific observation, particularly given how incompatible the previous model was.
6. It Replaced A Previous Universe Model That Was Incompatible With Divine Creation
Before Lemaitre came along with his new theory, the prevailing cosmological model was that of a static, dynamically stable universe that was neither expanding nor contracting. Furthermore, this universe was believed to be infinite in time, having neither an observable beginning nor an expected conclusion.
This view was the standard, generally accepted view from 1687, when Sir Isaac Newton first proposed an official model for it, until Edwin Hubble confirmed the expansion of the universe in 1929, giving new feet to Georges Lemaitre’s primeval atom theory.
In other words, for nearly 300 years, the scientific community believed in a cosmological model that was fundamentally incompatible with all Biblical views of divine creation. When the Big Bang Theory came along, it revolutionized our understanding of the universe, and remarkably, gave us a scientific look at what the moment of Creation may have looked like.
Furthermore, the evidence behind this shift in perspective was so compelling, Albert Einstein gave up his keynote address to hear more about it.
7. Albert Einstein Gave Up His Keynote To A Priest In Order To Hear About It
As I just discussed, the previous cosmological model depicted a static universe. But what I have yet to mention, is that Albert Einstein was a key proponent of this model. In fact, Einstein’s famous theory of relativity was based on this model. So when Georges Lemaitre begin developing a theory that involved an expanding universe, he decided to meet with Einstein to discuss his findings.
When the two first met in 1927, Einstein was largely dismissive, telling Lemaitre that, “Your calculations are good, but your physics is terrible.” He offered Lemaitre a few suggestions for continuing his research and then left unconvinced.
But 1929, after Edwin Hubble documented key observations of planetary movement, the reality of an expanding universe could no longer be ignored. According to biography we made available for download:
In May of 1933, Albert Einstein was scheduled to deliver a series of lectures in Belgium. However, following the second lecture, Einstein announced that Lemaître would be delivering the final seminar, much to Lemaître’s surprise. Einstein told the scientists that Lemaître “has interesting things to tell us” and following the seminar said simply, “Very beautiful, very beautiful indeed.”
Other sources claim that Einstein said of Lemaitre’s findings, “This is the most beautiful and satisfactory explanation of creation to which I have ever listened.”
Regardless of his actual words, we know the Einstein embraced Lemaitre’s findings and gave him his own platform to share them from, despite the challenges they brought up in revising his previous work. Which brings me to another reason why Christians should love the Big Bang Theory.
8. It Signifies A Moment Where A Christian Clergyman Actually Led The Scientific World
There is a growing movement in Western Christianity that proposes Christians should be leading the various mountains of society – leading in education, government, business, the arts, etc. Even outside of this movement, most Evangelicals are adamant about putting professed Christians in public office and it seems to be generally accepted that Christians being in positions of power, influence, and authority is good thing.
Based on this view, Christians should LOVE the idea of a clergyman actually leading the scientific world in discovery of our universe. You’d think this would be a perfectly smug talking point around Sunday barbecues, and yet somehow, it has managed to get rejected.
This is literally a moment in history where one of the most famous scientists of all time asked a Catholic priest to teach in his place, because that priest possessed the most cutting edge theory on the nature of our universe.
9. There Are Other Possible Models And Variations That Would REALLY Give Christians Headaches
What’s so ironic about all this is that the Big Bang Theory, despite being the generally agreed upon theory, is only one of several viable cosmological models, and it’s the only one with even a shred of Biblical compatibility.
Another model, called the Oscillating model, eliminates the idea of a beginning by proposing an infinite universe that continuously expands and contracts. For even more of a headache, the Multiverse Model continues to gain traction, with the potential to throw the biggest of all monkey wrenches in our carefully arranged doctrine.
My point being, if you have any stock in the Bible being scientifically viable, you should hop on the Big Bang Theory bandwagon while it lasts, because it only gets weirder from here.
10. Because Science Is Freaking Awesome
Honestly, how can you not love science? It’s freaking awesome. This universe that we live in is so mind-blowingly fascinating, it defies description. The more I learn, the more I marvel.
And the more I marvel, the more sympathetic I feel for those who have simplified this marvelous journey of life into tiny, doctrinal boxes. We look up into the skies and see a universe that defies our mind for it’s sheer size. We look down at our hands and see more atoms in our finger than there are stars in our galaxy. We look at the human species and see profound beauty, creativity, and love…
…. and we think God created all this for the purpose of ordering us around, dividing humanity into “believers” and “nonbelievers”, or sending the broken to hell?
The more I learn about this universe, the more petty the concerns of Pharisees, both old and new, seem to me.
God has made a truly incredible cosmos, and I’ll be damned if I don’t enjoy it (well… not literally).
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Great post, by the way. I remember watching a documentary about the Big Bang and being absolutely in awe of God’s handiwork.
I think you’re making a really good point when you say that the biblical writers wrote according to the understanding of their generation, though I think that extends even to matters of theology. For example, tribal Israel simply had no concept of a loving heavenly Father who wanted to live with them; they only saw a god who could be easily angered if they messed up and didn’t placate him by sacrifices. God had to reeducate them patiently and slowly until they were ready for the truth. But that’s another topic.
Jacob McMillen says
Totally agree with you Hannelore. 100% actually. I think we absolutely see a progressively evolving view of God through Scripture.
We have an extensive post on the Bible currently in the works.
Absolutely agree 100%!
I live in Europe, but even here many church leaders confuse the Big Bang Theory with evolution (which they also disagree with) and/or the idea that it means the universe arose by chance. This is because they have not read your article – or any other that explains the real meaning of the theory!
In Matthew 22 Jesus said, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God.” In this case, many people are “mistaken not understanding the science … nor the power of God!”
Thanks for such a clear explanation!
Jacob McMillen says
I think a legitimate understanding of science would revolutionize the Church, and it baffles me that we aren’t more committed to understanding the Creator through discovering Creation.
But here’s to that changing!
chuck miller says
I understand your thoughts. I think the problem is that the most out spoken scientist of our time try to take God out of the equasion. They claim to be athiest and deny Gods very existence, such as dawkins and hawking.
I only entered my email once, and I get updates about once a week.
Beautiful! I’m having trouble finding it, but I came across an article once that described how evolution teaches us about God’s character. I recognize this post is not about evolution, but the two subjects seem to be cousins. The article shared how the process of evolution reveals God’s unending patience, his love for diversity/uniqueness, and some other wonderful traits. It stuck with me. Anyways – awesome post, Jacob – yet another well needed message.
Jacob McMillen says
Very cool; if you ever come back across that post, send it my way!
And I completely agree with that conclusion. The reality that we are the result of a 14 billion year process is mind boggling, and the magnitude of it all really forces us to reconsider the petty metrics we use to measure the value and purpose of this life.
Thanks for kind feedback Austin!
John Velasco says
Awesome post. Take a read at this book by Ray Comfort about scientific facts in the Bible. I don’t know how valid they all are but interesting read…
John Velasco says
You should also read about “primordial gravitational waves”…
Aka cosmic stretch marks.
There’s a race for the Nobel Peace Prize to validate it.
Science can now see evidence the Universe expanded like seeing stretch marks on a balloon (or human).
Seeing these waves is seeing evidence of the “nothing” that stretched into “something”. Ok that excites me as it means we can now “see” through Science the physical thing that happened in the very first words in the Bible, “In the beginning…” Umm, WOW.
Jacob McMillen says
I share your excitement on this topic John. It’s some really fascinating stuff!
What we understand is nearly as interesting as the gaps we can’t figure out. And it’s incredibly exciting to know that exponentially more will be discovered in our lifetimes!
You are aware that Evangelicals do not consider Catholics Christians, right? Which means that George’s (sorry, no idea how to render the circonflex in his last name) influence is actually a big reason to hate the theory?
K, which is more important, if evangelicals believe Catholics are not Christians or if God does?
Paul Rose Jr. says
I would say first that it is a huge generalization to say that Evangelicals do not believe Catholics are Christians. There is a very vocal minority that hold this position, but historically, Evangelicals agreed that members of the Catholic Church are Christians. Otherwise why would they read books by Brennan Manning and sing worship songs written by Matt Maher. And that’s just the contemporary stuff.
The fact is, 95% of Evangelicals’ belief system is based on Catholicism, from the Nicene Creed to the sacraments. There are select issues about which Evangelicals and Catholics differ: purgatory, the apocrypha, additional holiness attributed to Mary, praying to the saints, transubstantiation (and a good number of Evangelicals believe this too), for starters.
Did you know that the term “Evangelicals” comes from the Lutheran church in Germany? The same Luther who tried to reform, not replace or deny the salvation of the Catholic Church.
Did you know that Catholics believe that Jesus Christ was fully God & fully man, lived on this earth, died for all men’s sins and three days later rose from the grave? The same thing Evangelicals believe. Everything else is window dressing that deserves grace of gentle correction, not denying their brotherhood in the family of Christ.
Well, another thing you could have mentioned was that Western Science was propelled forward by the Church’s adament regard for truth. By building a mountain on the truth of Jesus, the Church also looked for truth in science thus eventually overwhelming antiquity’s ways of thinking. One example the Church gets pounded upon is about the Earth being flat as Aristotle thought and not a planet revolving around the Sun.
Copernicus, another priest, talked about harmonies. It was rejected because there was no proof. The proof only arrived in the 1930s when we had the equipment to measure the forces.
The Church has always been about truth. God is big enough to handle it.
Jacob McMillen says
There’s definitely some truth to that Dan, but it does seem a bit like a whitewashing of the Church’s history.
The Church has propelled many good things through history, scientific discovery among them, but it’s also had more than its share of control and violent supression. We could trade examples alll day on both ends of the spectrum, which is why I can’t rightfully cast the Church as some noble seeker of truth through history, although it’s certainly had its moments.
This might be the article @austin might have been referring to.
I enjoy y’all’s articles and share them in print frequently with a friend I have in prison. Keep up the great work.
Finally. Thank you for this… and the other great articles on your site. Frankly, I’m tired of proposing ‘new ideas’ to church folk, who then ‘handle me’ me with care, warn me against humanism all the while trying to avoid looking at my breasts. Being a thinking woman makes me an ever present ‘stranger danger’. I’ll just send them your way in future…
I agree with the main premise of the article – true science is the empirical discovery of how God created the world. And yes Christians should not be afraid of this. Many great scientists in the past were Christians AND they found inspiration for some of their scientific discoveries in the scripture. But what is called science today in many arenas does not follow this empirical model. It is used to promote a godless philosophy with theories and claims that are not based on any empirical evidence. And Christians should reject these theories. This is one reason people are gun shy with science. You have also made a statement that the bible is not historically or scientifically infallible. Only on matters of morality and salvation is it infallible. I have to whole-heartedly disagree. To believe this takes the legs out of the very gospel we believe. If the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus was not literally and historically correct then we have nothing to believe in. Actually we find that real science and archeology over time has confirmed the historic accuracy of the scriptures. Unfortunately some believe that we have to dismiss the “literalness” of certain passages like the creation account in Genesis so we can believe in scientific theories like macro evolution. When someone finds some real empirical evidence for this send it my way. I see the world ordered in the way that God made it in Genesis and it still is today with the different orders and kinds in the plant and animal kingdom – as He literally created it to be. As Christians we should believe in the bible as God’s infallible word and we should understand that true science is the study of Gods creation that will bring glory to God because it confirms that there is an intelligent Creator who engineered all of what we see. The big bang theory is a good theory – there was nothing then there was something initiated by an outside force to start the universe – God. But God did not leave it to expand and all of life to evolve from one big bang. God has been actively involved with the world and specifically the earth and life on the earth since it’s creation. He has lovingly fashioned a world to be inhabited by humans and animals and plants. We forget that His goal was to create a place where we could live and get to know Him as not only Creator God but a loving heavenly Father. That is why were are here! To take His active involvement in creation and leave it in the hands of chance is a blatant disregard for His loving nature toward us.
He took the time to create the earth with the proper amount of oxygen in the atmosphere, the right distance from the sun etc to sustain life here so that we could live and love and know Him! And He further intervened and sent His Son Jesus to die for us so that we can embrace His love for us and become part of His loving family!
Jim Alexander says
Jacob, I got as far as point number 5, ‘The Bible Is Neither Historically Nor Scientifically Infallible’, and would like to speak up on this point.
By the above statement, I’m reminded of the conversation recorded in Genesis 3 where Eve is tested about her knowledge of the Word of God spoken to her by her husband, Adam, and she fails to present it accurately when trying to correct what the Serpent deceptively told her; the Serpent knew full well what the correct answer was, and that she was wrong, that there was no threat of death for merely touching the fruit in the original Word of God given directly to Adam by God Himself.
She got it wrong and because of that, both she and her husband were sitting human targets for the final death blow by the Serpent. Too bad for her and her husband, and even worse for us, the children of Adam.
She got it wrong and by this error caught by the wiley Serpent, she opened the door to the ‘coup de grace’ of doubt/deception with the question the Serpent then asked “HAS God INDEED said?” (The reader, it would seem, is able to add emphasis based on his or her own interpretation of the context of the verbal transactions, hence my capitalization of ‘INDEED’).
The venom of deception from the Serpent quickly worked in her to the point where she believed she was greater than God whom, she was convinced, was a deceiver and manipulator, falsely concluding that God was actually a god, and therefore, non-existent as God, little-knowing that in the process she and her husband became the slaves of sin and, ultimately, sin produced death in all of Creation.
Once again, Jacob, we are presented with the original ‘Has God indeed said’ in a creatively disguised and altered form with the above, easy to believe statement about inerrancy: “The Bible Is Neither Historically Nor Scientifically Infallible.”
Who, INDEED, would doubt that?
With that statement in mind, when we look in the bible, which some call ‘The Word of God’, will we be looking for what God has said, and for the Truth, or, like walking on one of the sensationally new glass bridges today, dare not walk on it if there was a sign that expressed doubt as to the qualifications of the engineer that built it?
Isn’t that where all questions about the inerrancy of the bible finally end up: the author of the bible, God? Can we really believe that which it declares, that all scripture is given by divine inspiration?
Has God indeed said?
According to the Serpent, the answer is ‘No’, perhaps with ‘INDEED’ added for emphasis, depending.
Back in the day that Eve was talking to the Serpent, the consequence of not caring enough to properly understand and correctly recite the Word of God, and for not believing what you did recite correctly, was enslavement, and that is just the same result for today”s modern world.
Taking a quick look around in the world I live in today, I see there are all kinds of enslavement and bondage available for those who feel that there is no certainty in God, nor in the Word of God; money; gambling; alcohol; drugs; food; sex; tobacco; fear, and, ironically, most of them found where it can be said, with gusto, “This is a FREE country”.
Sorry, Jacob, but your point number 5 does not give me reason to LOVE the Big Bang Theory, but rather more reason to be saddened by the growing crowds on the wide road leading to destruction, convinced that it has to be the right road because there are so many other people on it who also believe the bible is anything but the inspired Word of God because, after all, how can so many intelligent, reasonable, sane people all be wrong?