Barriers to Understanding the Truths of Creation


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Why do so many God-fearing people reject new interpretations of scriptures relating to how the universe, the world and mankind were created by God? How does one define – what is true? What is truth? For each person – early in life, truths are based on what they have been taught to believe by parents and other authoritative persons. Later, what one views as truth – on important matters – this may change based on new information (data) and/or personal experiences.

Sometimes individuals resist believing changes in matters they hold very dear. They often allow their emotions rather than their intellect to control what they believe. Their truths are the same truths their families have held for generations and they will be defended at all costs. They may not be open to new information and will avoid addressing unfamiliar and complex ideas because their educational background limits what they are prepared to evaluate and attempt to believe.

The beautiful stories of beginnings given to us in the early chapters of the book of Genesis express broad and general information that people of the Old Testament could understand.  The powerful and central message was that “God created the Heavens and the Earth.” This landmark statement establishes the foundation and source of beginnings through the power and creative nature of our heavenly Father. Somehow, some way, the Holy Spirit gave to Moses and other early biblical writers, the next level of detail, seven sequential events that broadly describes how God created the universe, the earth and then all living creatures. These allegorical writings set the stage for later understandings of God’s creation processes. The detailed knowledge of how the world came into being could not possibly be understood by the first generations of ancient people. At this point in pre-history, science did not even exist as a known discipline. Over three thousand years of evolutionary history would be required by scientists to discover and understand the mechanics of how God put together the complete story of creation. To reach our current level of understanding, God would allow and help create multiple scientific fields of study such as: biology, physics, chemistry, geology and paleontology (to name a few) to evolve and identify the detailed pieces of God’s creation plan.

It has taken the International Scientific community over the last several hundred years to recognize and agree that: the Universe is 13 billion or more years in age, the earth is 3 to 4 billion years old and mankind struggled through several million years of evolution to become fully human. To be fully human, God’s upright, bipedal creatures had to slowly acquire brain sizes that finally attained the knowledge to discern the difference between right and wrong, the power to love and care and thus gain a human conscience. Most Christians believe the Holy Spirit was involved in this first awakening  of fully human beings. This broad and general description of God’s evolutionary process is recognized as fact – not just theory – by the overwhelming majority of informed scientists in every country in the world. Wow, what a marvelous beginning!

So today, turning a page to national statistics, we learn (in 2014) that only about 27% of our adult population have a bachelor’s degree or higher in some discipline. This means that about two-thirds (or more) of all students have not had any chance (maybe a little in high school) to be exposed to the details of this evolutionary process. In some rural areas, this percentage is even larger.

If these statistics are true, there is good reason to understand why so many fine Christian people reject or simply avoid scientific reports of God’s creation that seem to negate their traditional understandings and the literal words of the Bible. Many would conclude that accepting modern scientific creation explanations is a vote against the Biblical story. In reality, this is not true – one must learn to understand that God’s Word in the bible and later scientific interpretations are very compatible.

It may be helpful to reflect on the Christian values received from the Bible. While many of God’s important messages are wrapped in ancient historical stories, one must remember that God’s Word in the bible is about: purpose, meaning and God’s struggle to evolve a primitive civilization to believe in one God. The Bible was never meant to be a science book. To attempt to interpret scripture as a scientific explanation of creation is a mistake practiced by many good folks expecting the writers of the bible to literally explain the details of God’s complex creation process. It is only through intelligent and prayerful thinking that God’s people may begin to understand how the broad and beautiful report of beginnings, recorded in the book of Genesis, may be reconciled with the abundance of new and detailed facts which the scientific community has accumulated over the last millennium.

In the middle of intense debates about creation, some well-meaning Christians rationalize that understanding the truths of God’s creative processes are of little importance.  They suggest that the center of our Christian faith is given to us in the New Testament through the life, teachings and sacrifices of Jesus, and thus, the details of Creation do not seriously impact our Christian faith. I disagree with this conclusion.. If the Christian faith is about anything meaningful, it is about seeking to understand truths. The real creation story discovered by the full world scientific community is absolutely true – even if some of the details are not yet fully understood. It is the most exciting, logical and inspiring story anyone could ever imagine.

John Wesley, gave us the Wesleyan Quadrangle containing the proper elements for making serious decisions:  Reason, Tradition, Experience and Scripture. Surely, the more knowledgeable all Christians become regarding the real truths of God’s evolutionary creation, the more attractive the Christian faith should become for all intelligent and educated people. Think about this:  Why would a young college educated Christian want to be associated with a traditional church that hangs on to the literal words of the bible suggesting that the universe and mankind were created in seven, twenty-four hour days? And we wonder why many young adults are leaving or avoiding the churches of their parents.

As for all dedicated Christians who, for whatever reasons, do not have the fortune of advanced education, please study when you can, keep an open mind, and pray that God will help you to believe these scientists that have given us all so many beautiful, complex, and useful scientific inventions to enjoy. Although we trust but do not always understand their creation. God surely blessed us with many wonderful scientific discoveries long after the Bible was written.

Please know that all of this written presentation is meant to inform, wake up traditional thinkers, strengthen their Christian faith and hopefully help our traditional churches, in every denomination, to survive and grow. “O Lord, please help us all to accept these truths!”

Jesus said: “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”

W.F. Peck, Jr.

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The Beginning of Human Life

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As Christians, we look to the biblical stories in the Old Testament seeking to understand God’s messages regarding how mankind first began. A literal reading and interpretation of the “Adam and Eve” story seems to produce more questions than answers regarding how mankind first evolved. Tradition labels their act of disobeying God as a negative experience with God reacting punitively against them and the symbolic serpent. One could easily surmise that their disobedience doomed the development of the human race – but the reverse interpretation makes more sense.

Prior to Adam and Eve’s defiance of God’s directives, they are described as mere happy, naïve and comfortable children, or angels or partly evolved homo sapiens with little understanding of who they really were or who they were destined to become. God chose the events needed to create fully human kind through a beautiful allegorical story that allowed our first symbolic humans (Adam and Eve) to make decisions that opened their eyes (for the first time) and awaken  them to recognize the differences between right and wrong. In Genesis, chapter three, God says: “they became like me (god) with the power to decide what is right and what is wrong!” This is the positive interpretation of this ancient story and it fits well with our modern understanding of how up-right, bipedal hominids over thousands of years, evolved brain sizes and cultural relationships that came to fruition when God breathed his Holy Spirit into his developing creatures and they became fully human! Human life truly began when the first humans realized they were in direct relationship with God as well as with one another. 

Whether we like it or not, God chose to create humans as imperfect beings with the freedom to make good or bad decisions. Mankind could not exist without the power to exercise a “free will”. This was not man’s decision – it was God’s decision. To suggest that “the devil made us this way” – is to conclude that God was not fully in charge of man’s creation. Surely, we do not believe this!

From this creation event forward, the Old Testament presents numerous stories, generally organized chronologically, that picture God’s struggles to teach his wayward people how to grow in their understanding of a “one God  (Yahweh) concept”. We are allowed to witness multiple triumphs and failures in the Old Testament as God’s chosen people slowly move, over more than two thousand years, from paganism to the one and only true God. His people finally are blessed with the presence of God through the life, teachings, death and resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ.

This inspiring interpretation of human beginnings in the early chapters of the book of Genesis provides a sensible and solid foundation for the building of the Christian faith.

Written by W.F. Peck

Modern Beliefs About Creation

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Modern day Christians need to adjust their theological understandings of the biblical story of beginnings as new scientific facts are uncovered. We have all been raised and “schooled” to accept the traditional and cultural interpretations of the early chapters of the book of Genesis – that is, God created the universe and the earth in a short period of time (one week).

Current scientific facts clearly disclose that the universe, and later, planet earth, to be billions of years old. Are these scientific facts reliable? Have they been proven beyond any doubt to be accurate? Yes they have! But rather than trying to understand a set of complex scientific proofs, most layman would opt to believe what a majority of competent scientists believe. International statistics consistently report that 95% of all informed scientists – across the entire world- believe in these evolutionary facts. Additionally, most educated adults accept these scientific facts as being true, even though they may not understand the technical details. Also, the vast majority of our most highly educated clergy (in all denominations) believe in the evolutionary process.

So do these new scientific discoveries undermine or discount the value of the Bible? Of course not! God has continued to reveal more and more about his beautiful creation every year through modern science. God’s biblical messages regarding creation are still true. Although modern knowledge of the processes have been refined- God is still at the center of Creation!

Even so, many traditional Christians still have trouble accepting new scientific information. Most layman do not understand the scientific processes – that appear to contradict the Bible. Well, can we agree that many of God’s best messages are often hidden behind the literal words of the Bible – in metaphorical or allegorical stories? Jesus used similar teaching methods through parables. If one cannot accept this premise, then surely one will find interpretations of certain scriptures to be troublesome. Please remember, St. Augustine of Hippo, one of the founding fathers of Christian theology – in about 300AD – stated: “When scientific facts appear to be in conflict with scripture, it is time to reinterpret scripture.” Traditional thinking has not been wrong, it simply requires intelligent updating.

Since some would suggest that none of this discussion impacts our central beliefs regarding the life and teachings of Jesus, why worry about it? I disagree. Jesus said: “Ye shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free”. If Christianity is to remain viable in the lives of human kind, it must be about truth. Our young people are progressively exposed to more and more scientific information. They are smart, analytical and perceptive. Their school training is complex and comprehensive and includes studies of scientific creation. They are far ahead of most mature adults in their learning. It only takes a few years of college training or experience in the work place for them to discover many new truths about God and his creation. How can we expect them to remain loyal to their traditional family churches that tend to hide from or give lip service to scientific truths? This topic is crucial to keeping our traditional churches viable and growing for future generations.

As I view it, there are five (5) related reasons why scientific truths are ignored or suppressed by many Christian churches:

1). Many pastors cling tenaciously to the literal interpretation of all scriptures because it fits well with the educational level of the majority of their church members. Tis far easier to promote peace and harmony than intellectual analysis.

2). Many pastors, who intellectually believe in scientific evolution, will admit it privately, but stay away from it in their public pronouncements. Why is this? Pastors have to weigh carefully what they say from the pulpit – regarding nontraditional matters, for fear of confusing or losing many loyal church members. In my view, they are placating the older traditional members while risking the loss of their now grown children. Carefully planned and objectively presented educational programs are the answer.

3). Knowledge of Scientific Evolution is very complex and continuously changing. Even the scientific community cannot provide clear and simple answers to many creation questions. Most people do not have the educational background to grasp highly technical concepts. Our public libraries offer dozens of well written books on scientific creation, written by both theologians and scientists, that most layman can understand. Unfortunately, most senior citizens do not care or will not change their traditional beliefs regarding creation.

4). The fundamental movement across America attracts many people who prefer a simple, literal and traditional interpretation of all scriptures. It seems sad and wasteful for so much time and energy to be expended defending outdated and inaccurate interpretations of scripture.

5). Scholars (on both sides – scientific and religious) have for centuries had great difficulties blending our beautiful Christian beliefs with new and ever changing scientific knowledge. This must be done. Substantial progress has been made in the last few years toward understanding God’s real processes of creation. Fully understood, the scientific explanations for God’s processes of creation are exciting, rational and inspiring. The future of our wonderful, traditional churches may be dependent on this encouraging trend.

 

Written by W.F. Peck

Original Sin – A Cultural History by Alan Jacob (Thoughts by Bill Peck)

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  • Genesis (chaps. 1 & 2) is an allegory describing Creation at a level the ancients could understand.
  • Before upright, bipedal primates (hominids) became fully human, they were mammals or animals.   Animals do not have the intelligence or conscience to avoid bad conduct.
  • When God, over millions of years, evolved hominids into full humans, they gained: a free will, a conscience and thus the intelligence to discern good and evil conduct.
  • The first symbolic humans, identified as Adam and Eve in the book of Genesis, may have been perfect for a while (as gods or angels) – however, when God breathed the Holy Spirit into selected, evolved hominids for the first time, they symbolically ate the forbidden fruit from the symbolic tree of knowledge of good and evil and they became aware of who they really were. They covered their nakedness. 
  • When the Bible states that mankind was made in the image of God, they attained the intellectual powers of reasoning and  realized they could choose between good and evil. 
  • To be fully human, mankind became imperfect (sinners) either because God made them that way, or an evil power (Satan) .. already on our primordial earth, came along as the symbolic serpent and infected Adam and Eve.
  • It seems convenient to blame the evolutionary events in the lives of Adam and Eve as the cause of mankind’s propensity to choose decisions contrary to the will of God. God selected to have mankind with the freedom of choices.
  • The title: “Original Sin” came from St. Augustine in the 4th century AD. He developed this doctrine from his studies of Paul’s writings primarily from the book of Romans.
  • Did Paul say: “When man is born, he is already born with death because he contracts sin from Adam?” meaning he contracts it, as though it were a disease!! This seems strange!
  • Augustine believed even new born children were inclined to original sins, and would be condemned to hell if they died before being baptized. How could this great Christian theologian believe this? All baptized persons are still sinners!
  • Was evil in the world prior to Adam and Eve or did the development and awakening of humanity initiate the presence of evil? It’s hard to conclude either way – since evil does not exist, except as an act between living creatures, or God acting through his natural laws that impact living creatures. One could conclude that the only evil of any consequences came with the evolution of mankind.
  • As we define what it means to be human, how could humanity exist without the free will to be imperfect?
  • Original Sin seems to be a component of the description of the criteria God set in place as he evolved his up-right, bi-pedal primates into fully accountable human beings.
  • What are the practical problems of the doctrine of Original Sin for modern Christians? These are my thoughts:
  • Mankind, knowing that we all have a natural propensity to be imperfect, rationalizes that humans cannot help being sinful.
  • Christians know they can be forgiven for their sins, so why sweat it?
  • By definition, to be human is to be imperfect so being imperfect is not so bad.
  • No one, including infants, is condemned to hell, simply because they have never been baptized.  I believe Jesus would approve of this statement.
  • The Adam/Eve act of disobedience, expressed in allegorical language, sets the stage for humanity to begin the life long struggle to move from being self centered to being God centered. This is one of the main reasons why the Christian church exists.
  • Could it be that modern Christians need to focus more on their commitment to the teachings of Jesus Christ rather than worrying about the implications of the doctrine of Original Sin?

Why Does Evil Exist?

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The Bible tells us that evil has existed since the beginning of time. Some interpret the devil (satan) as a fallen Angel from heaven. We are not sure how satan originated in the universe.

When God first breathed, what the Hebrews describe as the “Neshama”, into fully developed man, the potential for both good and evil emerged  onto the human scene. For to be fully human, mankind, by definition, gained the powers associated with free will, a conscience and knowledge of what is right or wrong. God decided what characteristics humanity would have and he introduced humanity to the world through the Biblical allegory of Adam and Eve. The story of their original sin initiated man’s ability and propensity to become self centered for the first time. From this beginning mankind grew in stature and knowledge of all of the good and evil choices that were available to them. And so, one possible nature of evil was created when God decided what it meant to be human.

A second possible source of evil dates back to Aristotle and beyond. The world exists within systems of “dualism” – light and darkness, love and hate, beautiful and ugly and good and evil. These are forces that exist in the world that cannot be explained. Evil is an entity that has existed since the beginning of time and its source is unknown.

Thirdly, God’s world and its evolution were allowed to grow, change, and be subject to the possibilities of chance. This means that although God created and continues to nurture our world, he does not orchestrate it with a heavy, high control hand. It is a part of God’s plan to allow his laws of nature and other innovative acts of mankind, to operate within boundaries, but with potential chances for success and failure, good or evil.

A fourth source of evil emerges from acts of nature such as earth quakes, volcanoes, hurricanes, tornados and communicable diseases.  As far as we can discern, God allows events to happen in his universe that are guided by the physical laws of nature which God created. We do not fully understand it, but God allows violent acts of nature to occur in every part of the world – even as humans work through science and technologies to oppose these events. The rains fall equally on the just and the unjust, the rich and the poor.

Albert Einstein, during an academic debate in college explained that:

  • Darkness is not a substance – it is the absence of Light.
  • Cold is not a substance – it is the absence of Heat.
  • Evil is not a substance (or entity) – it is the absence of Goodness

Or better said, evil is the absence and the rejection of God.

Finally, we who are Christians believe in miraculous acts that defy God’s natural processes and laws. How, when and why some negative events and sufferings turn positive can only be explained as miraculous acts of God. On the other hand, God seems to follow the laws and natural processes he created most of the time. He either selects to limit his powers to intervene or he has limited powers to act in certain circumstances. We just really do not know. God cannot or will not:

  • Make 2+2 equal to anything other than 4
  • Stop a child from wandering out into traffic
  • Stop the sun from rising every morning
  • Stop a person from drowning who does not know how to swim.

It would seem that God represents all that is good and positive in our world but he does not intervene or micro-manage all of mankind’s actions.. Part of what it means to be made in the image of God is mankind’s responsibilities to understand, endure and oppose all forms of evil in God’s world.

 

Reconciling Old Testament Biblical Stories with Current Scientific Knowledge

dn13620-1_300All Christians agree that God created the universe, the earth and all living creatures. However, the beautiful and exciting wording of Genesis (chap 1-3) leaves open how God’s processes of creation actually occurred. Biblical truths, express in broad terms, that our creator God caused it to happen and left later generations of theologians, historians and scientists to discover and interpret the details.

For at least the last two hundred years many process details have been uncovered by dedicated scientists from dozens of countries with specialties in geology, archeology, anthropology, paleontology and biology. Many theories along the way have been proposed to explain the evolution of creation. Some have been critically evaluated and found wanting, while others have, over time, been accepted by the international scientific communities – first as theories and later as scientific facts.

Multiple scientific excavations (known as digs) have been made at hundreds of sites in many European, African and Mid Eastern sites by scientific teams usually representing universities or other private organizations seeking to gain a better understanding of how humanity evolved. Literally thousands of artifacts, fossils and special human like skulls and bones have been unearthed, preserved and dated especially from major “digs” in South-East Africa. With careful precision and multiple checks and balances, a pattern has been established that proves beyond any reasonable doubt that prehistoric up-right, bipedal creatures (hominids) lived in Africa (and beyond) whose brain sizes  developed slowly over the last million years (or so) from 500cc to 1450cc – the current size of modern human brains. By some point in history, most experts say between 10,000BC and 5000BC, these almost human creatures had learned to:

  • Take care of their families
  • Defend their tribes
  • Make useful tools and vessels
  • Paint pictures on cave walls
  • Bury their dead
  • Domesticate food production and certain animals

In my NIV Bible footnotes, we find these words: “Make, create and form are used to describe God’s creation of both man and animals. Humans and animals alike have the breath of life in them. The Hebrew phrase here translated “living being” is translated “living creature” in Genesis 1:20-24. The words of Genesis 2:7 therefore imply that people, at least physically, have “affinity” with the animals”. One definition of “affinity” is: “a relation between biological groups involving resemblance in structural plan and indicating a common origin”.

At this point the symbolic Biblical story of Adam and Eve enters into the evolutionary picture. Absolute knowledge of how these developing homo-sapiens became fully human cannot be scientifically proved. However, both the Bible and current scientific facts point strongly toward God choosing to breath his Holy Spirit into these almost human creatures. The Hebrews call it the “Neshama” – (or nephesh) they gained a soul and a conscience and like the scriptures confirm, symbolic Adam and Eve, for the first time, gained self awareness- they became ashamed of their nakedness – after disobeying God.  They chose to exercise their free will for the first time, rejecting God’s commandment, became imperfect and thus fully human sinners.

For centuries the best theological minds and the best scientists have struggled to reconcile the Biblical truths presented in the book of Genesis with modern scientific information. Progress has been slow at best. One of our greatest Christian theologians, Augustine of Hippo, stated in about 400AD: “When interpretations of scripture face serious conflicts with scientific knowledge, it is time to reinterpret scripture”. (maybe not exact quote).

To the contrary, a significant segment of current Christians – generally identified as fundamentalist, (most in the United States), hold defiantly to the literal interpretation of all scriptures. They categorically reject the evolutionary conclusions of the vast majority of the international scientific community. These people are, for the most part, very fine conscientious, well meaning Christians. However, most modern educated Christians believe the Biblical story of beginnings can, and must be, reconciled with what the scientific world has established as facts.  Most well read Christians think such a reconciliation will greatly enhance the credibility of the Old Testament. Attached is a partial list entitled: “What are possible reasons why some Christians emphatically defend the literal interpretations of all scriptures.” Other reasons may exist. How do you feel about these reasons?

Why is this subject important for the future of the Christian church? Unless we begin to reconcile the Biblical truths with what we know as scientific facts, we run the risk that future generations of our most educated youth will continue to move away from churches that hold on to outdated interpretations of Old Testament scriptures.

As an active Sunday school teacher in a large Methodist church, I believe this is the most logical and inspiring explanation of creation ever written! Hopefully, this attempt at understanding God’s creation will help all Christians – especially young people, involved in academic learning, to better understand the beautiful story of “beginnings.”  God gave us in the Old Testament book of Genesis. Jesus said: “Yea shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”

 
W.F. Peck   aka  Bill Peck

How Did the Universe Begin?

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Why would a retired,  civil engineer/management consultant and  Christian layman attempt to write about such a complex and controversial subject? Some may suggest that I’m trying to impress others. Well, maybe this is part of my motivation – but I think my reasons go much deeper. Here are my sincere reasons for attempting such a difficult writing:

  • My past technical education through Ga. Tech cultivated in me a drive and passion to research and attempt to understand issues related to the earth, evolution and God.
  • I have for decades sought to better understand the Bible and the deeper truths within scriptures.
  • I have a sense that our better understanding of God’s creation and how we can reconcile the Word with mountains of current scientific knowledge will bring us more inspiration and a stronger Christian faith. I have a natural inclination to teach – I love trying to help others.
  • Researching and forcing myself to commit to writing what I have studied helps me learn and remember.
  • I pray that all that I present to others through my writings and teachings will somehow be of value  but foremost that I am in tune with God’s will for my life.

The Beginning:

“The Christian Bible opens with these magnificent words: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” …..  We who are of the Christian faith believe there was a beginning of the universe and then the creation of our planet earth. God was the creator of it all –  but how he developed and evolved the universe, stars and the earth has always been a controversial issue. The truth is even our best scientists do not have all of the answers. In ancient times many powerful thinkers such as Aristotle thought that the universe was eternal while others described “beginnings as “ex nihilo” – meaning “created from or out of nothing”. The Bible states, and the scientific community confirms, that there was a beginning. This writing is a layman’s summary and understanding of how the universal beginning can be explained scientifically.  Some of the terminology is beyond my clear understanding – so frequent quotations are given from several books written by renowned scientists – usually astrophysicists or exceptional  technical scholars. One of the most frequently quoted references is: “Big Bang” by Simon Singh. In some cases, I paraphrase their comments rather than a direct quote. 

Early Research:

Albert Einstein’s General Relativity theory in the early 1920’s established the framework and foundation for other scientists to develop research and build models of how the universe was formed. Early on, international scientists such as Alexander Friedman, a Russian mathematician and George Lamaitre, a Belgian priest and scientist envisioned that in the beginning all initial atoms were squeezed into a super compact state dubbed the primordial atom. “Thus the moment of creation occurred when this single all encompassing atom suddenly decayed generating all the matter in the universe.”

To Lamaitre, Einstein’s General Relativity model implied that the universe was expanding.  “If the universe was expanding, Lamaitre concluded that the universe must have started from a highly compact state, the so called primeval atom of small but finite size. To him, this was the moment of creation.” If we fast forward the tape to 2009, the best available measurements suggests that the initial conditions of creation occurred around 13.3 to 13.9 billion years ago and the universe continues to expand  to this day. These dates agree astonishingly  well with geological dating methods using radioactive isotopes.

Later Research:

Over the first half of the twentieth century, the world wide scientific community debated intensely regarding the best model explaining the universe’s beginning. In 1920 Harlow Shapley believed all nebulae  existed within the Milky Way galaxy while his adversary, Heber Curtis held that nebulae (now known as galaxies) were independent galaxies outside the Milky Way. You will recall that our planet earth resides in the Milky Way galaxy. The debate continued unresolved for  years. Evidence that multiple galaxies existed beyond the Milky Way would support an expanding universe.

One of the outstanding contributors to cosmic observations was Edwin Hubble. Using a 100 inch Hooker Telescope at the Mt. Wilson Observatory in California, Hubble discovered in 1929 that multiple galaxies were moving further away from the earth and thus the Milky Way. The great theoretical debate was now settled by direct observations. Further calculations based on telescopic observations concluded that the Milky Way was 100,000 light years distance  in diameter. Recall that a light year is the distance that light travels through space at 186,000 miles per second. Also, the nearest galaxy to our Milky Way, Andromeda, was 900,000 light years from the earth. These distances are mind boggling- almost beyond human comprehension. None of this research could have been possible without the invention of telescopes by Galileo and others many centuries earlier, and their improvement overtime. Today, our most modern telescopes have 200 inch focal lengths and super powerful lenses that reach out a million light years and more!

Another scientific debate pitted a “Steady State” model of the universe against the “Expanding Universe” model. For years many renowned scientists supported the Steady State model – including Einstein. Fred Hoyle, the scientist that labeled the  universe’s initial condition as the Big Bang, held tenaciously to the Steady State model – even after the vast majority of scientists changed their support to the Big Bang theory. After visiting with Edwin Hubble at the Mt. Wilson Observatory and reviewing Hubble’s observations, Albert Einstein finally recanted, admitting he had been wrong – the universe was expanding and the galaxies were receding.

There were still many unanswered questions regarding the universe’s initial elemental content. What was the chemical elements of cosmic space? When and how was solid matter formed? How were stars and planets formed? Scientists have known for a long time that the lighter elements of hydrogen and helium initially emerged into the universe. Research continued through the 1930’s by dedicated scientists such as Alpher, Gamow, joined later by Herman, revealed many new facts. They discovered that the initial atoms in the universe were distributed as follows:

Element Relative Abundance

Hydrogen 10,000

Helium   1,000

Oxygen 6

Carbon 1

All others       < 1

Alpher and his associates calculated that during the initial 300 seconds of the Big Bang, hydrogen and helium were injected into space as a primordial plasma. And according to their research, all other chemical elements were created out of this primordial fluid in the first hour of creation. They further calculated that a hydrogen/helium plasma cooled to become real atoms at 3000 C degrees. It would take about 300,000 years for the universe to cool to this temperature.

They further surmised that the tremendous explosive processes produced continuous and intensive light that must have flashed over the entire expanding universe. The universe was thought to be “isotropic” – meaning the universe looks the same in all directions. If these assumptions are true, there should be remnants of this early intensive light every where in the universe. Since they could not convince anyone to financially support further research to find the “echo” of this cosmic light, their work ceased and each scientist moved on to other  scientific endeavors.

Discovery of Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation

There was little scientific interest in searching for this illusive “cosmic microwave background” radiation until Bell Labs. began to work for the military in the 1940’s  to create radar systems and methods of jamming German radio transmissions during WWII. They found that “radio waves”, like waves of visible light, are part of the electro-magnetic spectrum. However, radio waves are invisible and have wave lengths that are much longer than those of visible light. This new knowledge would later help solve the CMB mystery.

In 1963 Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson joined forces at the Bell Labs. and soon isolated a radio noise (similar to the static we hear on our radios) detected using a special telescope. “The echo from the Big Bang had transformed itself into radio waves  and was being detected as noise by Penzias and Wilson’s radio telescope.” These waves came from the radio spectrum known as microwaves. Thus the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) radiation was identified and Penzias and Wilson would later receive a Nobel Prize for this significant discovery that further  confirmed the Big Bang model.

Measuring Cosmic Distances

In the 1940’s and 50’s other studies by Baade and Sandage involved measuring distances to remote galaxies. Distances to far-off galaxies were absolutely critical in estimating the age of the universe according to the Big Bang model. Through years of telescopic observations and complex calculations, it became eventually clear that the universe was 10 to 20 billion years old.

Unless one has a substantial background in physics and mathematics, it is difficult to understand how distances between the earth, the moon, the sun and millions of stars can be calculated. Cosmic distance measurements begin with the use of basic trigonometric triangulating, then an understanding of parallax and finally comparative analyses of the brightness of stars. Much of the math is beyond me, but I understand enough to know that astrophysicists  know what they are doing.

Creation of Chemical Elements:

Research by Arthur Eddington on nucleosynthesis brought about new discoveries of how chemical elements were initially formed in the universe. Nucleosynthesis  is a cosmic process whereby the production of a chemical element from  simpler nuclei occurs (as of hydrogen especially in a star). “The temperature of stars was estimated to be a few thousand degrees at the surface and a few million degrees at the core. Creating neon atoms would require a temperature of three billion degrees and creating heavier silicon atoms would require a temperature of thirteen billion degrees. It became apparent that each type of star could act as a crucible for creating several different elements because stellar interiors changed dramatically during the course of a stars life and death. Hoyle’s calculations could even account for the exact abundances of almost all elements that we see today, explaining why oxygen and iron are common, while gold and platinum are rare.” Many have said: “our physical bodies are truly products of the stars!”

The Origin of Solid Matter:

Students of physics learn that the basic building blocks of creation are:

  • Strong Nuclear Force: holds the protons and neutrons together in the nucleus of an atom
  • Weak Nuclear Force: responsible for radioactivity
  • Electromagnetic Force: interacts with electrically charged particles like electrons and quarks
  • Gravitational Force: every particle feels the force of gravity according to its mass or energy

The source of these forces in nature is still a mystery. They simply exist and drive the creation of the physical universe and hold the cosmic system, including the solar system in place. I’m sure God either created these forces or blessed their creation within his developing universe.

We have reported that the early universe consisted of a very uniform and bland plasma (soup). If so, how did this initial condition evolve into a universe populated by stars, planets and massive galaxies? While initially very uniform, cosmologists believed there would be sufficient variations in density in the cooling of the universe to trigger the evolution of solid matter. Without some evidence of slight variations in density, the forces of nature, particularly gravity, could not attract and pull particles together to form stars and later full galaxies. Such a proof was essential to further verifying the Big Bang model.

After 300,000 years scientists knew that the temperature of the universe had cooled sufficiently to allow electrons to slow down, latch onto the nuclei and form fully developed atoms. The physical presence of atoms leading to small changes in density should interrupt the reflection of the cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB) in these denser areas. So the obvious place to look for fluctuations in density in the early universe would be to search the universe for variations in the CMB radiation. Extensive observations for many years found no variations.

In 1976 NASA joined the search launching measuring devices on board a U-2 high altitude jet. Within a few months Smoot (the project leader) and his colleges discovered variations in the CMB radiation. But more sensitive measuring instruments were needed. The research continued and in 1991 NASA launched a Cosmic Background Explorer Satellite (COBE).

In December 1991, after making 70 million measurements, a variation of 1 part in 100,000 in the CMB radiation was recorded. Even with this tiny variation scientists now knew that variations did exist!  They were just big enough to indicate density fluctuations in the early universe that were sufficient to seed the subsequent development of stars and thus galaxies. The COBE satellite had found evidence that roughly 300,000 years after the moment of creation, there were tiny density variations across the universe that would expand over time and ultimately result in the formation of all the galaxies we see today. These were the primordial seeds of modern day cosmic structures including our earth. At last the challenge to prove the Big Bang model was over!

Conclusions:

It is important to remember that this explanation of the history of  creation and the evolution of the universe is backed up with mountains of concrete evidence supported by the vast majority of the international scientific community.

The question always raised is: What existed before or initiated the Big Bang? What came before the Big Bang is impossible to answer. The Big Bang theory cannot and does not provide any explanation for such an initial condition, rather, it describes and explains the general evolution of the universe since that instant. Matter, time and space did not exist prior to the Big Bang event.   Only God existed prior to the Big Bang.

And Christians every where  should ask: What was God’s role in this complex and magnificent process? Surely, God was the Master Architect, setting the creation process in motion. We know God was involved and we praise him for releasing the forces leading to the creation of the universe and for breathing life into us all.

W.F. Peck

aka Bill