Evolution & the “Big Bang Theory.” Is it Fact or Fiction?? (Part 1 of 3)
Answers to Bible Questions
Scriptures are from the KJV of the Bible
(Q) Evolution & the “Big Bang Theory.” Is it Fact or Fiction??
**Because of its length, this article will be divided into three parts**
The source of information for this article is taken from the book, “It Couldn’t Just Happen,” written by the Author Lawrence O’ Richards. Mr. Richards has graciously given me permission to use his material.
**PART ONE OF THREE**
(A) Today most people in our society think that the Theory of Evolution is a fact. It is taught that way in public schools. It is written about that way in newspapers and even in college textbooks. Almost daily we’re exposed to news items like these: New fossil casts a different light on man’s ancestors (Time). World’s oldest fossil bird strengthens the link between birds, dinosaurs (AP). Harvard professor says: Creationism is not science (UPI).
Most Christian parents, and even teachers, aren’t sure how to answer the questions such items raise. Many adults have doubts and questions of their own!
The doubts are understandable. Often they grow out of a basic misunderstanding. The word “evolve” simply means to undergo change. When we write “evolution” with a small “e,” it simply means that something has experienced a slow or gradual change.
The Theory of Evolution is different. It holds that (1) life began as a chance combination of nonliving chemicals, and (2) that all living things today developed from one celled creatures which (3) over millions of years gradually changed into the fish, reptiles, birds and mammals of today’s world.
We can all agree that evolution, in the sense of change, happens. But evolution is not proof of the Theory of Evolution.
This article examines one of the most important questions of our day. What does the evidence really say about the Theory of Evolution? How fascinating (and reassuring) to find that the Theory of Evolution is not a “fact!” The truly strong evidence is for creation!
Because doubts and uncertainty are often planted early in a person’s life, this article is written in a way that everyone will be able to understand.
If you look up at the night sky, it seems filled with stars. At first there might seem too many to count. But if you sat down and carefully counted each star we can see, you’d reach a total of 1,029.
About 300 years ago a man named Galileo invented the first telescope. How many stars would you count if you looked at the night sky through Galileo’s telescope? You would be able to see 3,310.
Today, through the use of giant telescopes and radio telescopes that “see” radio waves, we know that our sun lies in a great cluster of stars, called a galaxy. Astronomers estimate that there are 100 billion stars in our own galaxy – and that there may be 100 billion galaxies in the universe!
Long ago God told Abraham, “Look up at the heavens and count the stars – if indeed you can count them” (Genesis 15:5). God knew, although in that day before telescopes no one else could have known, that it is impossible to number the stars in his universe! But, God knows how many stars there are and names them: Psalm 147:4: 4 He telleth the number of the stars; he calleth them all by their names. 5 Great is our Lord, and of great power: his understanding is infinite.
Looking at the sky at night, we can’t begin to see the end of the universe. But scientists have found ways to measure the distance to the farthest stars they can find. Distances in our universe aren’t measured in miles. Distances are just too vast to measure that way. Suppose you draw two circles, large and one small, with their centers just nine inches apart. If each inch represents ten million miles (10,000,000), your picture will show the distance between our Earth and the sun.
Now, let’s say you want to draw another circle that shows where the nearest star will be. How far away will you have to draw it? That circle will be forty miles from the sun you drew on your paper. The nearest star, Alpha Centauri, is twenty-four thousand million miles away! That’s 24,000,000,000,000 miles.
The distance to our nearest star is so great that it’s hard to imagine. Suppose you started out the moment you were born and ran a mile every four minutes, without stopping. You would be 700 years old before you even reached our sun, just nine inches away on your drawing! And you would be 182 million years old before you reached the nearest star!
Since it’s too difficult to measure star distances in miles, scientists use a different measure, called a light year. We know that light travels at the tremendous speed of 186,000 ……., miles each second. That means light could speed around our planet seven and one-half times a second. Scientists use the speed that light travels in a year (a “light year”) to measure star distances. By that measure, our sun is only about eight light minutes away. That is, it takes light eight minutes to travel from the sun to Earth, compared to your running for 700 years. How long does it take light to travel to Earth from the nearest star? It takes over four years.
How far away is the farthest object in the universe we know about? One of the farthest is a quasar named OQl72, nearly 17,000 million light years away! A quasar is a distant starlike body that gives off immense quantities of light or radio waves.
Although quasars were not discovered until 1960 by astronomers at the Palomar Observatory near San Diego, California, the writers of the Bible described the vastness of the universe centuries earlier.
Many years ago David wrote a psalm, a song of praise to God. David had been a shepherd and had spent many nights alone under the sky gazing at the stars. There, looking up, David thought: The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world, Psalm 19:1-4.
Today we know the universe is more vast than even David could have imagined.
As astronomers studied the light from stars, they made a discovery that at first amazed them. To study light, scientists spread it out, separating it into different colors. As light shines through a crystal, it separates into colors, just, as light shining through drops of water in the atmosphere separates into the rainbow. Each color of separated light, from purple at one end to red at the other, has its own wavelength.
When light from a particular star is separated, a series of black lines appears along the band of separated light. These black lines are like fingerprints. They tell the elements the star is made of and are different for every star.
In 1962 the light from the quasar 3C 273 was studied. The black lines had shifted from their usual place, toward the red end of the separated light.
Other stars were studied, and many more showed a “red shift.” But what did the shift to red mean? The answer stunned the scientists. Astronomers believe that the red shift means that galaxies are traveling away from us at 100 million miles an hour!
But the red shift tells us even more. The red shift increases with an object’s increasing distance from the Earth. So by studying how far the black lines in the separated light have shifted toward the red, astronomers can estimate how far away from us a star is.
You can see how if you try this experiment. Mark two dots on the surface of a balloon. Blow up the balloon, and the dots shift, moving away from each other. As the universe expands, stars too move away from each other.
By studying the red shift, astronomers have estimated just how astoundingly far away many objects in the heavens are. Astronomers have located quasars that seem to be as much as 17,000 million light years distant. Not only that, but for their light to reach us, these objects must be a hundred times brighter than a whole galaxy of stars- even though they are far smaller!
What is the significance to us of the red shift? What does it tell us about the beginning of the universe?
DID OUR UNIVERSE HAVE A BEGINNING??
The discovery of the red shift changed many scientists’ ideas about our universe. There have always been scientists who believe in God and other scientists who do not. Before the discovery of the red shift, many nonbelieving scientists argued that the universe had always existed. If there were no beginning, there was no need to believe in a God who created everything.
But then astronomers learned that our universe is expanding-exploding outward at tremendous speeds. They realized that an exploding universe must have had a beginning!
Today most scientists believe that the universe began in a fantastic explosion that they call the “Big Bang,” and they think that it happened about 15 billion years ago.
But what caused the Big Bang? No scientist has an answer. One science book calls this the “ultimate mystery” and says “there is no scientific answer to what happened before the Big Bang.” Then the writer goes on to say that “we must accept that the universe did begin.”
For Christians, this is no surprise at all. The Bible tells us that “in the beginning God created“(Genesis 1:1). We already knew that the universe was created from nothing-by our God, Psalm 33:6-9: 6 By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. 7 He gathereth the waters of the sea together as an heap: he layeth up the depth in storehouses. 8 Let all the earth fear the LORD: let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him. 9 For he spake, and it was done; he commanded, and it stood fast. Hebrews 11:3: 3 Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. Colossians 1:16-17: 16 For by Him (CHRIST) 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 things were created by Him, and for Him: 17 And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist (HELD TOGETHER). Ephesians 3:9: 9 And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:
Of course, we do not know when God created or how. The Bible does not say that creation took place as a Big Bang or that it happened 15 billion years ago. Yet we do know from the Bible that there was a time when God spoke, and everything sprang into existence. Yes, the universe did have a beginning. And only if God exists can that beginning be explained.
Our universe is a cosmos, not a chaos (a confused mass or mixture). The word “cosmos” comes from the Greek word kosmos and means “orderly universe.” It is the order of the universe that lets scientists discover and describe the natural laws that govern it. Such laws have been found to govern everything from the behavior of the atoms that make up all matter to the movements of enormous spinning galaxies. The methods of science and the very concept of science are rooted in the notion that the universe is orderly.
For instance, a scientist might observe traffic patterns in an unfamiliar city. He or she watches streams of cars stopping, starting and flowing on again. After carefully noting how individual cars and groups of cars behave, our scientist would try to understand the laws that govern vehicle behavior. For instance, he or she might suggest a Red Light law: “All vehicles, except those with flashing lights or sirens, must stop at red lights.” Of course, there would be one problem. Some drivers run red lights and go through them when they aren’t supposed to. But in the universe, natural objects cannot choose to violate natural laws.
Using this basic approach of observation and description, scientists have found that all the physical universe behaves in an orderly way, with all things following their own sets of laws.
As scientists have studied the laws that govern the universe, they have found other surprising things. For instance, if these laws were just slightly different, life could not exist. Our existence depends on a great number of precise rules that govern nature, from the behavior of atomic particles to the behavior of stars and galaxies. Only the perfect balance that exists between nuclear forces and electrical forces allows the existence of stars and planets. For example, only the precise amount of gravity on the Earth allows people and animals to walk about freely and, yet, not fly off into space. There was no margin for error in the establishment of these laws.
But where did these laws come from? There must have been starting conditions that established the laws. In fact, everything scientists have found proves that only very special and unique starting conditions could possibly allow for the development of an orderly universe. Actually, any starting condition marked by chaos appears to end not in order, but in more chaos, without stars, galaxies or life! So the order and structure scientists have described in stating laws like the law of gravity exist only because that order was established within the universe at the moment of its creation!
It is one thing to try to explain the Big Bang without God. It is another to try to explain the establishment of natural law at the moment of creation without God.
One of the most important natural laws known to science is the Second Law of Thermodynamics, often called the law of entropy. This law tells us that anything which is organized tends, with time, to become disorganized. Originally this law was linked with the science of heat energy. But it has been found to apply to every physical process, from how atoms operate to the chemistry of our own bodies. It is because of the law of entropy that scientists believe our sun must eventually burn out. Many scientists think that entropy is the cause of aging and physical death. Because of its application to all things, Albert Einstein viewed the Second Law of Thermodynamics as premier law of all science.
How does this important natural law apply to the question of the origin of the universe? Very simply, it tells us that our ordered universe could not have developed from chaos! The principle that the Second Law expresses-that everything tends toward disorder rather than order-is deeply imbedded in the nature of the universe itself.
The law of entropy then is powerful proof that the universe must have been orderly at its creation, with all natural laws in place. For our universe to exist as an ordered place to-day, its starting condition must have been orderly as well.
It seems obvious that only God could have built laws into the universe that make it exactly right for life. It is beyond belief that the universe came into existence in an ancient Big Bang and at that moment orderly relations in the universe were established by chance.
And yet, many scientists continue to believe the unbelievable. Why? It seems puzzling. Nearly all scientists now believe that the universe had a beginning. It seems obvious that something must have caused that beginning. The tremendous energy and power flooding our universe could hardly have just happened. The only reasonable explanation we can imagine is God. But still, there are many people who don’t believe in God! Why?
Romans 1:18 says that men who do not believe “suppress the truth.” That is, they simply will not believe, whatever the evidence. And there is evidence!
What may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 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, Romans 1 :19-20
This Bible passage helps us realize something important. Even the strongest evidence won’t make a person believe in God. In fact, some people will make fun of Christian beliefs even when the evidence is on our side.
It’s also important to realize that some scientists even argue for their theories against the evidence because they insist on trying to explain things without God.
We just saw that scientists who accept the Big Bang theory are sure that the universe must have had a beginning. In this they agree with the Bible, which also teaches that our universe had a beginning. But a few scientists still argue that the universe, not God, has existed forever.
One theory holds that the universe had no beginning and keeps on expanding forever. As galaxies move apart, new galaxies just spring into existence between them. This theory is very strange. Where do the galaxies that spring into existence come from? Astronomers have found no evidence that this theory might be true.
Another theory holds that the universe explodes outward only so far and then falls back in on itself due to gravity. It falls back toward its center, until it explodes in another Big Bang. This theory has no evidence to support it and is not a scientific theory at all. And even if such a thing could happen, the theory still must explain how the first Big Bang happened. So most modern scientists who study the universe do believe that the universe had a beginning. The Big Bang is “the accepted view.” Even so, many scientists who accept the Big Bang do not believe in God!
But just think a minute. Is it reasonable to think that something could begin without a cause; that the universe could begin without a Creator; that natural laws present from the beginning could govern our universe without their being designed? Not really. Every reasonable conclusion requires God! And no reasonable explanation other than God has ever been offered!
It is really not enough to say that the Big Bang “just happened.” How much more reasonable it is to believe that God exists and that the universe exists because it was made by him.
Those who study the stars constantly find new wonders. There are radio galaxies which give off the energy of a million stars, not as visible light but as radio waves. There are quasars, bodies whose super-hot discs outshine a hundred galaxies. And there are pulsars, rapidly spinning stars that have collapsed and become very dense. If our sun were to turn into a pulsar, it would shrink from being 865,000 miles wide to being just 15 miles across!
The spinning stars are called pulsars because each time the star spins it sends out a burst, or pulse, of energy. How fast do pulsars spin? Our sun spins, or rotates, about once a month (every twenty-five days). Most pulsars spin about once every second, and we know of one pulsar that spins thirty times a second!
The more we learn about the universe, the more strange and awesome it appears. Yet everything is ordered; everything is ruled by natural laws whose only possible source is God!
Two Russian cosmonauts, Yuri Gagarin and Gherman Titov, returned from orbiting Earth and reported that they hadn’t seen God anywhere in the heavens. How foolish. Colonel Jack Lousma, a U.S. astronaut, wrote that “even after traveling 24,400,000 miles, I really haven’t gone any- where.” Colonel Lousma went around the earth 858 times, and each orbit took ninety-three minutes. Yet, as he says, light travels that far in less than one-seventh of a second! How far out in space have human beings explored? Imagine dividing one second into a thousand parts. If the known universe is 15 billion light years across, human beings have traveled out into space just 1.5 thousandths of a light second!
How foolish of Gagarin and Titov to speak as if they had explored the whole universe, when they had hardly traveled away from Earth at all! How foolish to speak as if they expected to see God peeking around the moon!
As the Bible says about God, “The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you,” 1 Kings 8:27. God is not just out there among the stars. God created the stars. The universe itself is our strong evidence. We know from what God has made that He does exist.
THE ODD PLANET
Even from space, Earth looks different from the other planets. It hangs there, bright and blue, its skies dotted with floating white clouds. It hangs in the emptiness, circled by its moon, looking warm and friendly.
Astronomers have rightly called Earth the “odd planet.” In so many ways it is different from all the others. The other inner planets are pitted by craters caused by the rocks that hurtle through space. The surface of Earth shows fewer signs of craters.
Moons of other planets are not nearly so close to their planet’s size. Our moon is one-quarter the size of Earth itself.
Earth’s atmosphere is made primarily of nitrogen and oxygen gas, with water vapor. The other planets appear pale yellow or orange or pink or red. Not one has the free oxygen that is essential for life.
What’s more, only on Earth does water exist as liquid on the surface. It is water, covering two-thirds of our planet, with its vapor suspended in the air that makes life possible here and gives our world its beautiful blue hue.
In each of these ways, and in many others, Earth is unique in the solar system. It is as if Earth were purposely hung in space, at just the right distance from the sun, and provided with just the right amount of every element needed for life to exist.
It is no wonder that astronomers who have compared what we have on Earth to everything they have found in the solar system have called Earth “the mystery planet.” They realize that Earth is different. But they have no real explanation why, except to suggest that every condition needed for life to exist on Earth has “just happened.” Nearly all the energy used by living things on Earth comes from our sun, which is at the center of the solar system. So for us, it is by far the most important object in the sky.
Yet our sun is just one of 100 billion stars in just one of the universe’s 100 billion galaxies! Most of the stars in our galaxy are either red stars, whose surface temperature ranges from about 4,000° to 6,000° F, or are blue-white stars, whose temperature is ten times hotter.
Our own star is one of the smaller and more unusual, a yellow dwarf. It is an unusually mild star, yet we can hardly imagine the awesome power it produces.
At the sun’s core is a nuclear furnace, whose heat is at least 15,000,000° C. Particles of light, called photons, that carry the light and heat energy our Earth needs, are produced in the sun’s core. Around the core is a wide band of slightly cooler, but still compressed and blazing hot, gas.
To picture what happens, imagine a photon rushing away from the core. On its journey it runs into atoms of gas. It bounces off, and within a fraction of an inch, runs into more atoms. Back and forth the photon bounces, moving up and down. Each time it hits and bounces, the photon loses some of its energy. Finally the photon reaches a place where great bubbles of boiling gas form and hurl up toward the sun’s surface. Carried upward, the photons are finally flung out into space.
How long does it take a photon to get from the core to the boiling surface of the sun? The present estimate is that a photon must travel for 10 million years! But that long journey is extremely important to us. If the photon had not lost untold energy in its struggle to the surface, it would be a powerful ray that would destroy living things on Earth.
Even the structure of the sun seems to be designed to bring us safe energy, warming and supporting life on Earth, rather than destroying it.
Even though photons have lost much of their energy in the journey up from the center of the sun, no life could exist on Earth if we were not also protected by an envelope of air and a magnetic field. That magnetic field repels most particles that stream toward us from outer space. Our atmosphere, which stretches up 18,000 miles from sea level, further protects us from the sun’s rays.
How important is it for our Earth to receive just the right amount of energy from the sun? Even a tiny change would transform our planet. Just 1 % less energy, and Earth would soon be covered with ice. Just 1 % more and Earth would soon be unbearably hot. Yet the energy Earth receives is just right-and has remained just right through all human history.
Earth alone in all the solar system contains a “zone of life.” Only here can water remain liquid, and oxygen abounds in free, active form. While all this may seem odd to people who do not believe in God, nothing about Earth seems odd to Christians.
The Bible tells us the following: The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it; for he founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters, Psalm 24:1-2.
Another praise psalm in the Bible also focuses on water, one of those things which make Earth so “odd.” As you read the psalm, think about the specialness of our Earth. And think about the special concern God shows for living things. For: He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved. You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. But at your rebuke the waters fled, at the sound of your thunder they took to flight; they flowed over the mountains, they went down into the valleys, to the place you assigned for them. You set a boundary they cannot cross; never again will they cover the earth. He makes springs pour water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains. They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches. He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work. He makes grass grow for the cattie, and plants for the man to cultivate- bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart, Psalm 104:5-15.
Yes, the Earth does belong to God. This planet is odd because God has shaped it as a home for you and me and for all living creatures. How important then we must be to the Lord!
**END OF PART ONE —- PART TWO COMING SOON**