The ideas expressed here may be controversial for some - they're intended to be.
The idea is to get you thinking about why you believe what you believe, and generate a bit of discussion.
Many blogs offer devotional inspiration, I want to offer theological inspiration.

Friday, 18 June 2010

The Age of the Universe – God is a liar

A 17th Century Irish bishop called James Ussher made detailed calculations taking into account recorded history along with all the events of the Bible. When he finished, he discovered that the universe actually began on October 3rd, BC 4004... which we can now know was a Thursday.

Whilst such a precise date is a little hard to accept, millions of Christians and Jews continue to believe that creation began, at most, 10,000 years ago. According to Wikipedia, “As of 2008 a Gallup poll indicated that 36% of US adults agreed with the statement ‘human beings developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process.’, 14% believed that ‘Human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had no part in this process.’ and 44% of US adults agreed with the statement ‘God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so.’” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Young_Earth_Creationism

If they are right, then, according the Bible, God must be a liar.
Why? Take a look at Romans 1:20 which says, “For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities--his eternal power and divine nature--have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

In essence, this is says that God made creation as the ultimate visual aid – to help us understand what He is like. In other words, true science isn’t an evil atheist conspiracy. We are supposed to probe and investigate creation, that’s what it’s there for. With the proper frame of mind, exploring and considering the universe will help us discover God's invisible qualities.

So how does this make God a liar?
According to science, light has speed. It travels at 700 million miles an hour (and you thought Usain Bolt was fast!). So if I strike a match whilst standing on the surface of the sun, assuming you could see me, I’d be so far away that you wouldn’t notice for 8½ minutes... by which time it would be too late to tell me what an idiot I was. The key thing is, you’re looking back in time. If I were to do the same thing on our nearest star, it would be 4 years before the light of the match reached you.

Go out a little further and light from the nearest galaxy to ours takes 2 ½ million years to reach us. The furthest object astronomers have seen is a galaxy which is so far away that its light takes 12.3 billion to get here.

There are only two possible conclusions you can come to these facts:
1.    The universe really is billions of years old, as science says.
OR
2.    God created the universe with all the light rays from distant stars already in place.

If the latter is true, then our God-given ability to explore and question would lead us to the wrong answer to the question of the age of the universe. God would have made creation in such a way as to mislead us, making him a deceiver – a liar, in other words.

Though the history of science shows it doesn’t always get things right, God simply cannot have made creation to deceive us in any way. If there were anything misleading about the universe, we would not be able to trust any scientific experiment or its conclusions. Nothing we see and experience in the universe would be certain, because any one part of could potentially be ‘faked’ by God.

The mistake some scientists (and atheists) make is thinking that science is the only way to understand the universe.
The mistake some Christians make is thinking that a literal understanding of the Bible is the only way to understand the universe.

7 comments:

  1. Tim- this is great- these are great- you are great... maybe that's because God is Great.
    Thank you and bless you- Jessamy

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  2. This is a unique way of gainsaying the so-called conflict between science and religion. Just one little minor point: the sun is our nearest star - but we know what you meant. Alan

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  3. I have no trouble believing that God created an old universe and an old earth. That would actually teach us not to trust science or man's own wisdom and it makes the earth so much more interesting. If the earth was just recently created - as new-, it would be boring: no Grand Canyon, no mountains and no gold to dig up. Explorers we are, God gives us a perfect place to have adventures in.
    Besides, saying that God would not create an old universe is putting God in a box.

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  4. Hi Tim,

    I have to disagree with you! As you point out, the verse in Romans refers to God’s revelation of his nature through what he has created. From this we are helped to understand something of His power, greatness, wisdom and beauty. Science can help us do this, for example, by enabling us to build more powerful telescopes through which we might better behold the glory of God, as seen in the heavens. Science, however, which is the study of natural processes, has clear limitations. It will never completely explain the supernatural act of creation, for example. Also, while some areas of science are well established, such as the second law of thermodynamics, many other areas are under constant revision. It is therefore a mistake to say that because some modern scientific ideas contradict the Bible’s account of creation, then the Bible must be re-interpreted to fit current ‘scientific thinking’. Ideas like the Big Bang, for example, have many problems. In another fifty years, there will probably be a very different ‘scientific’ theory of origins. No doubt, many well then modify their interpretation of Genesis to fit this new theory.

    It is a mistake to argue that the Earth must be millions of years old because, otherwise, we would be unable to see light from stars billions of light years away. Einsteinian physics, for example, makes it clear that time varies under different conditions. It is quite possible for the Earth to have been made first and stars later, as the Bible teaches, but the Earth to be much younger than the stars. (See chapter 5 of the Creation Answers Book http://creation.com/the-creation-answers-book-index.) The Bible teaches that the Earth and stars were made around 6,000 years ago Earth time, not star time. It is possible for there to have been billions of years for light to reach Earth from distant stars and the Earth still to be only around 6,000 years old.

    It is my growing conviction that there is no conflict between the Bible and science. A plain, straight forward reading of the Bible implies that creation took place around 6,000 years ago (Earth time) and the balance of scientific knowledge has not shown this to be wrong. The Bible may therefore be considered a reliable document in all that it teaches about God, man, sin, righteousness and Earth history.

    Dominic Statham, Creation Ministries International

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  5. It's great to get all points of view on this subject expressed. As you can guess, I have don't see any conflicts between current scientific theories and Genesis chaps 1-3. Dominic is absolutely right that science doesn't have all the answers and has a record of getting things wrong, as far as creation is concerned.

    I am a creationist - God made the whole universe - not some unexplained fluke. I disagree the absolute literalist view on two main points.

    First, the word 'day' in the Bible frequently means a period of time or era, particularly in poetic, prophetic or visionary literature.

    Second, Genesis' account of creation is not primarily a historical document, it's visionary. It can't be history, as no-one was there to record it, God had to have at least told the author what happened in some way or other.

    BUT, I still believe in the truth of Genesis. In fact the events mentioned tie-in amazingly with what science says - eg the early universe was so hot that there were no stars - only light.
    If you look up "Day Age Creationism" on the internet, you'll get more about this - thought I'm not really a day-age creationist.

    I'll be creating a website soon, hopefully, where I'll publish a full article I've written, which explores all this and shows how it's possible to believe that Genesis is true and still be able to accept science's findings.

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  6. "The mistake some Christians make is thinking that a literal understanding of the Bible is the only way to understand the universe."

    Though, if there is a non-literal way of understanding the Bible, wouldn't such a process be inherantly scientific? Otherwise, you put human infallibility back into the equation of understanding God's word, therefore cutting humanity off from divine truth.

    A literal understanding of the Bible is the only scientific approach to theology because it's objective - not subjective.

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