For me personally, the big bang creation model was a major factor in my becoming a disciple of Jesus Christ. From the time I was 7 I was an ardent student of astronomy. During my childhood years, I kept up with the debates among scientists over which cosmic model best explained the observed features and history of the universe. By the time I was 16 it became clear to me that the big bang model was winning. I knew that if the big bang model was correct, the universe must have a beginning. If the universe had a beginning, it must have a Beginner.
Starting at age 17 I began to search for the cosmic Beginner in the writings of the great philosophers and in the holy books of the world’s great religions. What stunned me was to discover that Bible authors thousands of years ago had accurately described all the fundamental features of the big bang creation model.1 I recognized that for more than 2,000 years, the Bible stood alone in predicting these future scientific discoveries about the universe. The Bible’s power to accurately predict hundreds of future scientific discoveries and hundreds of future events in human history convinced me that the Bible was the inspired, inerrant Word of God. Based on that evidence, at age 19 I signed my name in the back of a Gideon Bible, committing my life to Jesus Christ as my personal Lord and Savior.
The big bang creation model is great news for every Bible-believing Christian. The news gets greater as astronomers learn more about the universe. The scientific evidence establishing the validity of the big bang creation model is far more overwhelming today than it was when I signed my name in that Gideon Bible.
The Two Groups Opposed to the Big Bang
There are two groups of people, however, who, in spite of the overwhelming evidence, still insist that the big bang model is wrong. The first group are a contingent of atheists who chafe at the theological implications of the big bang. This group is committed to eliminating the necessity of a cosmic beginning and, hence, the need for a cosmic Beginner. They also are committed to making the universe old enough to sustain a naturalistic (that is, a nontheistic) explanation for the origin of life, and for a natural, nontheistic explanation for the transformation of Earth’s first life into complex plants, animals, and human beings.
The second group are young-earth creationists. For them, the problem is not that the big bang makes the universe too young. It is that it makes the universe too old. They believe Genesis 1 teaches that God created everything that physically exists in just 144 hours, and that the biblical genealogies imply only about 6,000 years have transpired since that 144-hour period. They accept that the universe has a beginning and a Beginner, but adamantly assert that the universe cannot possibly be older than about 6,000 years.
How to Respond to Big Bang Opponents
How should we respond to these two groups? There are two ways I have found to be effective for people in the two groups who are willing to listen. One way is to present them with the increasing evidence for the big bang explanation for the origin and history of the universe. The validity test for any model is whether the case for the model gets stronger and more comprehensive as we learn more about the disciplines and subdisciplines that are relevant to the model.
#1 – Present Relevant Evidence Supporting the Big Bang
For each group it is important to choose the disciplines and subdisciplines they most respect. For the atheist skeptics of the big bang, I recommend presenting the increasing evidence from astronomy and physics for big bang cosmology. For the young-earth creationist skeptics, I recommend presenting the increasing biblical evidence for a day-age interpretation of the Genesis 1 creation days and for the big bang creation model.
Last year, we released a new edition of my book A Matter of Days, which shows how a comprehensive integration of the 66 books of the Bible establishes that the Hebrew word yôm (translated as “day”) is best defined as long, finite time periods when it’s used in the six creation days in Genesis 1. That book also shows how Hebrew scholarship establishes that an unspecified duration of time transpired between the creation of the universe (Genesis 1:1) and the initial formation of Earth (Genesis 1:2). Likewise, that scholarship establishes that a second unspecified duration of time transpired between the initial formation of Earth (Genesis 1:2) and the events of the first creation day (Genesis 1:3).
My experience is that once young-earth creationists recognize that biblical inerrancy is well defended from a day-age perspective but fails to be defended from a young-earth perspective, the big bang creation model is no longer a problem for them. In fact, they frequently become the most enthusiastic promoters of big bang cosmology.
Right now, I am more than halfway through the writing of a fourth edition of The Creator and the Cosmos. Part of the book will be the presentation of just how much stronger and comprehensive the evidence from physics and astronomy has become for the big bang creation model compared to what I presented in the third edition of the book, which was released in 2001. My prayer is that when unbelievers read the book, they will be astounded at how much scientific evidence exists for a transcendent Causal Agent for the universe and how science establishes in great detail the personal attributes of this Causal Agent.
#2 – Help Resolve Anomalies in the Big Bang Theory
The second way I have found to be effective in helping atheists and young-earth creationists overcome their skepticism about the big bang creation model is to show them pathways for resolution for the most significant remaining observed anomalies in the big bang model. Ironically, atheist and young-earth skeptics often point to the same anomalies. Their common challenges mean that we can help both groups simultaneously by showing them how an anomaly can be straightforwardly resolved in favor of the big bang creation model.
In my next blog post I will address what is probably the most frequently pointed out anomaly for big bang creationism. That anomaly is the cosmic abundance of lithium.