Default publications post thumbnail

Did the Universe Have a Beginning?

How do you respond when someone challenges you on one of your strongly held beliefs? Not long ago I faced such a challenge when someone showed me a published paper indicating that the universe did not have a beginning.

I first heard the scientific case for the beginning of the universe when introduced to Reasons to Believe during my years as an undergrad. For the past decade I have written and spoken extensively on how big bang cosmology (along with the associated space-time theorems of general relativity) demonstrates the scientific accuracy of the biblical account of cosmic creation.

The person who challenged my view argued that scientists need a quantum theory of gravity to know with total certainty whether or not the universe had a beginning (a noncontroversial and correct statement), and yet the sufficiently developed theories of quantum gravity point to a universe with no beginning! As I investigated his argument more closely, I recognized it carried some weight, and I acknowledged to him—and myself—that it required a reasoned response.

Furthermore, the experimental data to test the validity of these models still resides in the far distant future, at best. Second, the past hundred years is littered with theoretical models that attempted to explain away the beginning of the universe. All these models share one common history: the observational data eventually drove the scientific community back to models that include a beginning! The multiverse serves as one of the more recent examples.

I don’t know exactly what the proper theory of quantum gravity will look like, when and if we’re able to develop it, but studying the history of cosmology over the last 100 years makes me more confident of an important truth: If the Bible genuinely describes a universe with a beginning (and it certainly appears so), then the scientific data will eventually affirm that same conclusion.

Reasons to Believe recently produced a DVD titled How Do We Know the Universe Had a Beginning? that describes my experience in grappling with this challenge. I hope it will give you greater confidence in the reliability of Scripture and encourage you to share the hope of the gospel with your family, friends, and coworkers.