Why I’m Still a Young-Earth Creationist, Even Though It’s Getting Increasingly Lonely over Here
According to the current popular view, cosmic evolution—the development of the universe—began just less than 14 billion years ago with a singularity: space and time did not yet exist, and all matter was infinitely dense. This singularity began a rapid expansion (the so-called “Big Bang”), with every particle—subatomic particles in the early stages—moving away from every other particle as the space containing them expanded. Eventually these particles began regathering—in space—to form nuclei, then atoms, then clouds of gas and dust, then stars, then galaxies.
The physics behind all this is not simple. Lots of really smart people have wrestled with the questions raised; there are names like Einstein and Planck involved, and not a few Nobel prizes. The Big Bang model has made predictions, perhaps most notably the expected presence of Cosmic Background Radiation, which have been confirmed by later experimentation. This is pretty serious stuff.
But any scientist—and lay person—should question his presuppositions, beginning with the very first ones. I have lots of questions; I’d like to focus on the singularity model for now.
Some—many—of my questions, I’m pretty sure, stem from the fact that I’m not a physicist and don’t understand the model. I wonder, for example, how the expansion occurred without being restrained by gravity, which at that time had to be practically infinite—that is, the most gravity possible in the universe. But for all I know, that’s not even a legitimate question. I’m going to leave the heavy lifting to people who have actual expertise in the field.
But I would like to raise a couple of considerations, one philosophical and one sociological (since my academic credentials are more right-brained than left).
What caused the expansion? It seems to me that this is the very first question to be asked of the model.
My first exposure to a serious answer to that question came in Stephen Hawking’s seminal work A Brief History of Time: From the Big Bang to Black Holes, where he addressed the question briefly. At singularity, he said, all the laws of physics are rendered inoperative; we have no scientific tools with which to investigate it.
In the decades since Hawking’s book, the model has been refined, but I’m not aware of any suggestion that Hawking’s observation is viewed as incorrect; physicists today still agree that the singularity is not open to investigation by the tools of science.
So the first premise of the entire worldview is outside the realm of scientific investigation. I’m OK with that—the existence of God in eternity past is outside the realm of scientific investigation too. But it seems ironic for adherents to the Big Bang model to ridicule supernaturalists on scientific grounds.
In his Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams took a swipe at supernaturalism with his question, “Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?” But how do we grant veto power to the Big Bang model when its first question is beyond scientific examination? Isn’t that a mite overconfident?
My second question, the sociological one, has been generated by several decades of experience interacting with people who think I’m crazy—or hopelessly ignorant—to believe in a Creator God. When I ask them about their own model, their answers often indicate that they don’t understand it themselves. I recall several years ago, when I was still laboring under the misconception that the Big Bang was an explosion rather than a rapid expansion (and yes, the difference is significant to physicists), I asked an engineer how the explosion could overpower all the gravity in the universe. His reply was, “Hmm. I’ve never thought about that.” Now, to be fair, he’s an engineer, not a physicist, and yes, it’s a complex theory. But this is just on the surface of the model, and it astonished me that as an engineer, whose job it is to think through systems, he’d never even asked the question—literally the first question about his worldview, about which he was so confident. I, the religious guy, was the one asking the questions and seeking to understand the model.
Now, my question was ignorant, as I later learned; the Big Bang, according to the model, did not work like an explosion. But my engineer friend didn’t know that, and he further admitted that he hadn’t given the foundation of his worldview any serious consideration. Yet he was confident that I was deluded. That doesn’t discredit the model, of course; the engineer wasn’t one of its developers. But it does make me SMH.
I have other questions—the antimatter problem comes to mind—but my gravest concern is that by far the majority of fervent adherents to the Big Bang model—the people who most aggressively ridicule young-earth creationists—seem not to have asked and answered these questions for themselves, precisely because the model is so arcane. How are they on any firmer ground than those they ridicule? How is their position not, um, religious—based on faith in the High Priesthood, which understands these Very Complicated Doctrines?
Given the apparent philosophical inconsistency, it seems presumptuous to ask me to discard hard evidence of a supernatural book in order to genuflect before the dogma of the Assumption of the Virgin Matter. And it seems grossly immoral for the many adherents who literally don’t know what they’re talking about to pass judgment on any who disagree.
Part 6 Part 7 Part 8 Part 9 Part 10
“Assumption of the Virgin Matter?” That is classic. Dare I call it the “Immaculate Assumption?” Another thought – provoking post.
HENRY SHIRAH says
The subject itself is more indicative of a larger issue which to me is trying to understand the Lord’s intellect and power which frankly go beyond my ability (and yours) to grasp. How does the natural go about understanding the supernatural? Not possible which leaves one with faith and that is supernatural as well. The other problem is the impossibility of intelligent discussion with people, whoever they might be, who can only believe what their senses tell them. In this case, they can never accept a donkey talking, dead rising from graves or the election of Donald Trump never mind an earth that is young. As far as believers discussing Genesis there is no consensus on form of baptism. The thing is, we accept the science that gives us the speed of light. That same science says the earth is ancient and the stars are billions of years distant.
Dan Olinger says
It’s true that no ordinary human knows everything, even within the natural realm. And I would agree that there’s a supernatural realm as well. But I think your conclusion is a non sequitur. The fact that I can’t be infinitely certain, or even the fact that I have to trust the knowledge of experts in their fields of expertise, doesn’t force me to conclude that the experts are always right; in fact the first premise leads exactly otherwise. And a certain amount of skepticism is all the more called for when the experts disagree. Which is why I’m asking questions in this series and deferring to the biblical account unless and until those questions are answered. (And to be frank, I’m not holding my breath.).
So this might be a strange question, but how are people defining the Big Bang in the first place? Does it have to mean a chaotic and mindless explosion? ‘Cause there being absolutely nothing, and then a fully formed earth appearing with no natural cause is kind of a pretty big deal from a cosmological perspective. Couldn’t we call that a Big
Bang and still affirm that six or seven thousand years ago God created a fully-formed earth in six days? And wouldn’t that explain Cosmic Background Radiation?
Dan Olinger says
Not sure what you’re suggesting. The Big Bang doesn’t posit a fully formed earth appearing with no natural cause, and I don’t know anyone who would be interested in trying to combine the Big Bang with that concept. Anyone today who accepts the Big Bang cosmology would also accept the geologic time scale for the fossil record, which in turn seems to conflict with the biblical view of death appearing as the result of sin, specifically Adam’s sin. Let me know if you’re thinking of something else.