Chapter 3

Did It All Start With a Big Bang?

From the booklet Our Awesome Universe Potential
By Joel Hilliker

Science has proven that the universe did not always exist. It had a beginning.

That might seem obvious, but what’s interesting is that scientists didn’t always believe that. Just a few generations ago, general

consensus was that the universe had no beginning and no end—it just always was. Evolutionists found this convenient, as it contradicted the biblical creation account.

Evidence began to refute this idea in the 1920s. Data showed that distant objects were drifting away from our galaxy. Edwin Hubble, by measuring the wavelengths of light coming from other galaxies, determined that the universe is expanding in all directions. This discovery set the scientific world on fire. After all, if the universe is moving apart, then at one time it must have been compressed in a single location. It must have had a beginning.

The big bang theory was born.

What Is the Big Bang Theory?

The big bang idea has undergone significant refinement and revision over its near-80-year lifespan; today, cosmologists are developing and testing a few dozen variations of it. But in essence the idea is that, somewhere between 10 and 15 billion years ago, the entire universe came to exist suddenly, dramatically, in an infinitesimally brief moment. Theoretical physicist Brian Greene describes the “inflationary” big bang model this way: “[T]he size of the universe increased by a factor larger than a million trillion trillion in less than a millionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second” (The Fabric of the Cosmos).

Wow! Why would matter do that?

Scientists first rejected the big bang concept because it seemed too religious. Its echoes of “in the beginning” bothered them. (Their concern was no doubt heightened by the fact that the physicist who first advanced the theory, Georges Lemaître, was also a priest.) Somehow, though, atheists the world over eventually came to accept it as proof that the cosmos has no creator.

But is it?

There appears to be much solid evidence that the basics of the theory are correct. Reliable measurements have confirmed that the universe was far hotter in the past and is cooling as it expands. Faint background radiation still fills the cosmos at a highly uniform temperature; scientists believe this is a result of that rapid initial cooling. The universe’s galaxies all appear to have been formed during the window of time that the big bang model predicts. Photos show that the farther we look out into space (hence the further back in time, since light requires time to reach our telescopes), the more densely packed the galaxies are (inset, “Our Expanding Universe,” page 51). These are just a few of many proofs that the universe had a definite beginning.

But then big bang theorists hit a wall. Going backward in time from the universe’s current expansion, they say it must have been more and more compressed—that, in fact, at the start it must have existed within a single point. This “singularity” is supposed to have been an infinitely small, infinitely hot, infinitely dense something. Lemaître called it a “primeval atom.”

Now—if that is right, then where did this “cosmic seed” come from? Big bang theorists can’t explain it. In fact, they don’t even try: The origin of matter is not part of the theory.

Why did it suddenly expand? This too is a mystery to cosmologists.

And there is another problem. In nature, things decay—they move from order toward disorder. Greene says this natural law suggests that the universe in its infancy began “in an extraordinarily special, highly ordered state of low entropy.” Extraordinarily special? Highly ordered? Well then, how did it start out in such a state? Once again, science is silent.

An Orderly Expansion

Astronomers recognize that the term “big bang” is misleading. According to the theory, the initial event wasn’t an explosion, but an orderly expansion—more like an inflating balloon. Dr. Hugh Ross explains, “The big bang is not a big ‘bang’ as most lay people would comprehend the term. This expression conjures up images of bomb blasts or exploding dynamite. Such a ‘bang’ would yield disorder and destruction. In truth, this ‘bang’ represents an immensely powerful yet carefully planned and controlled release of matter, energy, space and time within the strict confines of very carefully finely tuned physical constraints and laws which govern their behavior and interactions. The power and care this explosion reveals exceeds human potential for design by multiple orders of magnitude” (www.reasons.org; emphasis ours).

Cosmologists are intently studying the beginning of time. They are staring at the sudden appearance of energy, time and matter. They are recognizing unimaginable order and accuracy in the event. They can perceive physical laws controlling it. And these potent and precise forces become more impressive the more they are scrutinized and the more we learn. They are so complex, so incomprehensibly powerful, so potentially catastrophic, that an infinitesimal variation in any one of a number of factors would have yielded a cataclysm rather than the stunning cosmos that exists today.

Astoundingly, however, there are few who, like Dr. Ross, will admit to seeing deliberate planning, fine-tuning and design in it!

How can scientists blithely believe that this gorgeous, life-rich planet called Earth, which circles a beautiful, stable star called the sun, which is clustered together with several hundred billion other suns in a galaxy that is just one of trillions—all came from a primeval pinprick much, much smaller than an electron or even a quark—by random chance? How can astronomers accept the idea that an infinitely small, infinitely hot, infinitely dense singularity simply appeared and then exploded in a precise cosmic expansion to produce the entire universe—from the largest supernovas to the smallest subatomic particles, with all their physical properties perfectly governed by laws of physics and chemistry—all coming from nothing?

It takes more faith to believe that than it does to believe in an eternal, superintelligent, all-powerful God.

Never in human history has science treated the Creator with such contempt. Yet paradoxically, never has science discovered so much spectacular proof of His existence as in this past, most-godless century!

Open your eyes. The beautiful truth surrounds and envelops us. “Everything points with overwhelming force to a definite event, or series of events of creation at some time or times, not indefinitely remote,” English physicist and astronomer Sir James Jeans said. “The universe cannot have arisen by chance out of its present ingredients, and neither can it have always been the same as now.”

“The real big bang was a well-planned, deliberately executed act of creation!” the Plain Truth magazine wrote in June 1984. “How would you expect a superpowerful divine Being to bring forth an entire universe? With a small fizzle, a limp thud or a weak whimper? Of course not! The creation of the universe was accomplished with a glorious display of light, heat, matter and energy—a display that still reverberates throughout space ….”

The Hubble Space Telescope has given us remarkable insight into the history of the universe. Cosmologists are continually having to rethink and revise their understanding based on new evidence that is pouring in. One of the purposes that nasa scientists say the telescope is serving is helping us to “discover our origins.”

But their understanding is certain to remain shrouded in darkness as long as they reject what God has revealed to us about those origins in the Bible! You simply cannot discover the full truth about our origins by looking exclusively at the material realm.

That is why God included so much revelation about this subject in Scripture: to provide the foundation for our observation—to help us understand what we cannot merely observe.

The reality is this: Science is proving the Bible true.

In the Beginning

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. … By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth. … For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (Genesis 1:1; Psalm 33:6, 9; New King James Version).

How did the galaxies and stars and planets and life come to exist? The great Astronomer, Designer, Architect, Mathematician and Physicist—Godcreated the universe.

It is important to understand that there is a chronological gap—of probably millions or billions of years—between the spectacular creation event described in Genesis 1:1 and the state of disorder and decay (Hebrew tohu and bohu) described in Genesis 1:2 (which preceded the rest of Genesis 1, in which God renewed the face of the Earth—Psalm 104:30). In Isaiah 45:18, God says He did not create the Earth in vain (Hebrew tohu). Other scriptural passages show the cause of this Genesis 1:2 desolation: the angelic rebellion led by Lucifer, which caused a violent war in heaven (see Isaiah 14:12-15 and Ezekiel 28:11-19). Request a free copy of Herbert W. Armstrong’s book Mystery of the Ages for a thorough scriptural explanation of this truth.

Science has proven that the universe and Earth are more than 6,000 years old. A true understanding of the biblical creation account confirms these observations.

When you study the biblical accounts of God creating the universe, the most common description is that God “stretched out” or “spreads out” the heavens. God “created the heavens, and stretched them out” (Isaiah 42:5). “He stretcheth out the north over the empty place, and hangeth the earth upon nothing” (Job 26:7).

This is highly unusual terminology. What exactly does it mean? The phrase spreadeth out comes from the Hebrew natah, which means to stretch or spread; it can mean to extend in every direction. Scripture refers to the heavens in this way a total of 11 times, by the pen of five different biblical writers: Job, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Zechariah.

Based on observable evidence, scientists believe there was an initial rapid stretching out of cosmic material—and there has been an ongoing expansion ever since. God’s revelation in Scripture seems to corroborate that view. Four verses (Isaiah 45:12; 48:13; Jeremiah 10:12; 51:15) use a form of natah that literally means the action was completed some time ago. Seven instances use a form of the verb natah that implies continual or ongoing stretching (Job 9:8; Psalm 104:2; Isaiah 40:22; 42:5; 44:24; 51:13; Zechariah 12:1). Both of these aspects of this stretching can be seen in Isaiah 40:22, which says that God “stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in.” Stretches out comes from natah and implies something continuing today, while spreadeth comes from the Hebrew mathach (this word’s only use in the Old Testament)—meaning to stretch out and implying something that God has already done and completed.

Intriguingly, “Not until the 20th century did any other book—whether science, theology or philosophy—even hint at the universe’s continuous expansion” (Hugh Ross, Why the Universe Is the Way It Is).

Job 9:8 tells us that “[God] alone spreadeth out the heavens.” This is an ongoing process for which God claims sole responsibility. Interestingly, scientists really don’t fully understand the workings by which the universe is expanding. They do recognize that something is causing it—but it is invisible and cannot be specifically measured. Only its effects can be measured. It remains shrouded in a certain mystery (inset, “Our Expanding Universe,” page 51).

“Praise him, ye heavens of heavens, and ye waters that be above the heavens. Let them praise the name of the Lord: for he commanded, and they were created. … He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names” (Psalm 148:4-5; 147:4). Our Milky Way galaxy alone is estimated to have 200 billion stars. If we could count them at a rate of about two stars a second, it would take 4,000 years without rest to complete the count. This is only one galaxy among billions of galaxies in this universe. God has every single star numbered and even named. This strongly indicates His ongoing, active involvement with His cosmic creation, not simply His setting the ball in motion and letting natural processes play out.

Seeing the Invisible

Scientists have absolutely no explanation of where the “primeval atom” came from that they suppose existed before the big bang. Whether or not such an “atom” existed, God reveals that the existence of spirit essence preceded His creation of physical matter.

Here, then, is the answer to a question eluding some of the brightest minds in science: How did it all begin? There was a moment when God used that invisible spirit energy to bring into being matter that didn’t exist before. “By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen [physical matter] was made out of things which do not appear” (Hebrews 11:3, rsv). The physical universe is visible—we can see it and measure it. But it was made from the invisible: things we cannot see and cannot measure.

As this verse says, it does require faith to accept God’s revelation on these matters (though much less faith than humanly devised explanations which ignore God). But it is not blind faith. God challenges man to test Him—to prove whether He speaks the truth (e.g. Isaiah 44:6-8; 45:11; Malachi 3:10). That is what true science does. (Request free copies of our booklets Does God Exist? and The Proof of the Bible, both written by Herbert W. Armstrong.)

Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things,” God says, “that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth” (Isaiah 40:26).

God says, I want you to behold who has created these things! Sadly, man wants to take God out of the picture and worship the creation. He clearly sees God’s handiwork, but fails to recognize God behind it!

Likewise, people throughout history saw His prophets, they saw His apostles, they even saw His Son! But they couldn’t see God—and they ended up persecuting and even killing His messengers. In the same way, very few people recognize God’s Work today.

God has not denied man access to the knowledge to make such powerful instruments which allow us to see into the deep secrets of the universe. But what has man done with this knowledge? Has it increased his faith in God?

Scientists who are speculating about origins and ignoring this revelation are concocting increasingly illogical and outrageous explanations for how such a spectacular creation could have come to exist on its own. They “resolve” the remote improbability of the universe’s extreme fine-tuning being an accident by suggesting that there are an infinite number of universes—or that this universe will expand and contract an infinite number of times, remaking itself each time. Thus, every possibility, no matter how statistically remote, becomes an “inevitability.” Of course, such hypotheses cannot be tested or verified. There is little to distinguish them from fiction.

Believing in those ideas truly does require blind faith.

Without Excuse

Consider all the inspiring truth we are learning from the observations of the Hubble Space Telescope. How can anyone talk about the phenomenal data it is capturing without ever mentioning God or the Bible? How can scientists never consider the possibility that God created all of this?

Jesus Christ answered that question in another of His statements that applies to them with deadly accuracy: “[T]heir eyes they have closed” (Matthew 13:15).

These scientists are studying God’s creation—and their eyes are closed! They choose to exalt the creation above the magnificent Creator.

Imagine if they really believed in the Creator of those majestic heavens!

It wasn’t always so unfashionable for a scientist to accept God as Creator. Believers and admirers of God’s handiwork have always existed at the heart of scientific development, humbled in the knowledge that all that exists in the physical world emanated from an intelligence far, far superior to theirs—a supreme intelligence that created their own far inferior human intelligence. Isaac Newton was one. Toward the end of his life he proclaimed, “I do not know what I may appear to the world, but to myself I seem to have been only like a boy playing on the seashore, and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered before me” (L.T. Moore, Isaac Newton).

Exactly right. God intends His creation to teach us about Him and point us to Him! That is what the Apostle Paul told us in Romans 1:19-20: “[T]hat which may be known of God is manifest in them [people who disbelieve]; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse.” Never have we been so “without excuse” as we are today!

The Hubble telescope has shown us “things that are made”—by God. We have never seen more that has been made than we have with that incredible instrument. Highly educated people are staring up at that marvelous creation, studying it, measuring it, trying to comprehend it. They ought to be seeing God out there, but they still arrive at the ludicrous conclusion that it all evolved out of nothing!

God says He’s angry when people deny the truth that they can plainly see. Romans 1 says scientists have no excuse because when God showed the truth to them, they suppressed it (that is what “hold” means in verse 18). How much truth are these individuals suppressing because it doesn’t fit their erroneous, anti-God ideas?

The Work of God’s Fingers

“If our retinas could register wavelengths, we would witness a firmament of such turbulence and incandescent splendor that it would make the Fourth of July fireworks look like a backyard sparkler,” wrote Newsweek in June 1991. “We would see black holes slurp up their neighbors and jets of plasma stream across the sky with the energy of 100 million suns. We would see stars—so small they would fit comfortably in Lake Tahoe—spin an astounding 643 times per second. We would see neutron stars so dense that a teaspoonful of their tiny bodies would weigh one billion tons and clouds bigger than our solar system collapse like a poorly timed soufflé.”

This article closed with an astounding admission: “Time and time again, astronomers have been humbled by the realization that nature’s imagination is much greater than their own.” Notice they just cannot say GOD! They use the word nature instead.

They can see the power. They can recognize the intelligence. They can perceive the craft. They can marvel at the elegance. But they won’t see God. They are missing the transcendental vision wrapped up in that mind-staggering creation. The invisible God can be seen through what He created!

King David studied astronomy. “O Lord our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! who hast set thy glory above the heavens,” he was inspired to write. “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? …” (Psalm 8:1, 3-4). He knew that the universe wasn’t the result of chance, but a magnificent product of God’s creative handiwork—and one that placed a special importance on human beings.

It is only when we accept that truth, testified eloquently by both the Bible and the whole of creation, that we can begin to approach an answer to the far more intriguing and difficult—and inspiring—question:

Why the universe?

What Is Dark Matter?

Our telescopes show us a universe populated with brilliant balls of fiery gas, piercing quasars, shining stars, illuminated planets and vast galaxies. But, there is also something out there we cannot see.

Based on the gravity required to keep the great clusters of galaxies intact and the orbital speeds and distances of spiral galaxies, astronomers have concluded that the universe must have something else holding it all together that emits no electromagnetic radiation and is therefore invisible. They have termed this material “dark matter.” They believe that large clusters of galaxies are composed of over 90 percent of the stuff!

What is dark matter? No one knows. We can register its effects, but we cannot see it or measure it.

When God spoke to Job about the universe, He may have revealed the existence of dark matter. He asked Job, “Where is the way where light dwelleth? and as for darkness, where is the place thereof, that thou shouldest take it to the bound thereof, and that thou shouldest know the paths to the house thereof?” (Job 38:19-20). The Living Bible renders this, “[T]ell me about the darkness. Where does it come from? Can you find its boundaries, or go to its source?”

Romans 1:20 says “the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made ….” The visible universe shows that there must be this invisible matter or force holding it all together. We can see the invisible power of God by seeing the visible.

Perhaps “dark matter” is actually the invisible power of God holding the universe together. By the power of God “were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all thing were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:16-17). “By him all things consist” or are held together. Hebrews 1:3 says that Jesus Christ is “upholding the universe by his word of power” (rsv). Upholding comes from a Greek word meaning to bear or carry. God says in Psalm 75:3 that “When the earth totters, and all its inhabitants, it is I who keep steady its pillars” (rsv). God holds together and sustains the universe by His power.

Whatever “dark matter” actually is, we know that God created all things—both visible and invisible—and that He is the Sustainer of the universe.

A Stunning Look at a Young Universe

When astronomers only had access to surface-based telescopes, they saw a lot of empty black spaces out in the universe. Then, in April of 1990, they sent the Hubble Space Telescope into orbit.

While most Earth-based telescopes can peer into space 1 to 2 billion light years at best, the Hubble telescope is capable of reaching out many times farther than that. Its extended view would prove to revolutionize our understanding of the universe.

This telescope resembles a five-story cylindrical tower. During normal tracking operation, it locks onto three stars at a time, ensuring a precise fix on a distant star. One nasa engineer equated the precision to spotting a firefly in Sydney, Australia, from Washington. It’s equal to firing a laser beam from Washington at a dime 200 miles away in Manhattan and being able to hold the position for 24 hours (Richard Doherty, Technology).

Five years after Hubble launched, astronomers pointed it at an empty, black speck of sky, the size of a dime about 75 feet away. Over a period of 10 days in December 1995, they took 342 long exposures, capturing light emissions nearly 4 billion times fainter than the human eye can see—including objects as far away as what scientists estimate is 12 billion light years. That would mean it took light—traveling at over 186,000 miles per second—12 billion years to travel from its distant source all the way to the lens of our telescope.

Because the distances are so vast, we are literally looking back in time—seeing what the far distant galaxies looked like billions of years ago, when scientists believe the universe was near its infancy.

The resultant image showed that this black pinprick of “empty” outer space—one 2-millionth of the sky—actually contained about 3,000 galaxies, each with an average of 200 billion stars!

This was Hubble Deep Field, one of the most jaw-dropping pictures ever taken.

But wait—is the entire sky filled with galaxies like this, or did the Hubble scientists happen to capture a zone particularly dense with brilliant galaxies? In September and October of 1998, the telescope turned and pointed at a slice of sky near the celestial South Pole. Its target was one 2-millionth of the entire sky. Again, for 10 days it peered into the distance. What did it find? About 3,000 galaxies. Apparently no matter what part of the sky you look at, you will find literally thousands of galaxies glittering and shining back at you.

This revelation shocked and inspired the astronomers and all the rest of us. Scientists were forced to adjust their estimate of the number of galaxies in the observable universe up from about 10 billion to somewhere north of 80 billion.

The next major Hubble discovery came in late 2003. This time, Hubble focused above the Northern Hemisphere again into a pinprick of sky. If you were to cut a hole 1 millimeter square in a piece of paper and hold it up 3 feet away, you would be seeing slightly more “space” than what Hubble captured: one 12-millionth of the sky. To compose this view, Hubble made 400 orbits over 114 days, and took 800 exposures totaling 1 million seconds. The exposures ended on January 16, 2004.

The Hubble Ultra Deep Field view shows a cosmic cross section of galaxies ranging in age from a few hundred million years old to over 13 billion light years. Again, each tiny dot in this image is a galaxy—a collection of millions to hundreds of billions of stars.

That miniscule patch of one 12-millionth of the sky shows a stunning 10,000 galaxies!

That means the observable universe must contain something near 120 billion galaxies.

If a medium-size galaxy contains 200 billion stars, that computes to about 24 sextillion visible stars. That’s a 24 with 21 zeros: 24,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. And if each galaxy houses 100 million planets, then here is how many planets the cosmos may hold: 12,000,000,000,000,000,000. Twelve quintillion!

But consider: The universe today is quite different from the one in these pictures. Science has demonstrated that the universe is expanding. As it expands, more stars form. Astronomers believe that the actual universe today must be at least 10 times larger than the universe they can see through their telescopes.

Why are these cosmic regions so vast? Who needs that much room? Why so many stars and planets? Science does not and cannot answer these questions. But the Bible can! Those answers lie in the chapters to follow.

Continue Reading: Chapter 4: Why the Universe?