In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light (Genesis 1:1-3). In the first three verses of the Bible, the Trinity has already been revealed. In verse 1, before time itself, the Father always existed. The Holy Spirit moved upon the face of the waters in verse 2. In verse 3, the moment it proclaims that God said, He opened His mouth His spoken Word came forth. His only begotten Son was that Word, the power that emanated from Him and created all things. And that Word was Him. John 1:1-3: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. This further sets up the revelation of a single God in a plural form in verse 26: And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.
The Old and New Testament are miraculous in how much they complement one another, and yet how vastly they differ. The last pen stroke on the scrolls of Malachi preceded the descriptions of Jesus’ lineage in Matthew by more than four centuries, and yet there is a perfect divine union between the two.
“Heaven,” a singular word describing the place God has prepared for us, is different from “the heavens,” a plural word referring to the cosmos beyond Earth. This distinct difference is reflected in the testaments; the Old Testament has almost no references to Heaven. In Ancient Hebrew, the word that almost exclusively appeared was samayim, a plural phrase literally translating to “the high places.” Meanwhile, the New Testament is almost the opposite; two-thirds of the 284 references to Heaven are singular, the Greek ouranos (“that which is raised up”). The Old Testament tells very little about Heaven, but the New Testament is saturated with exciting descriptions of it. Because Heaven was not revealed to man in the Old Testament, but in the New, Christ paved the way for man to enter Heaven and revelations of it were given like never before.
Therefore, we can conclude that almost all of the Old Testament descriptions of “the heavens” are actually referring to physical space and beyond. And there we can find a gold mine of information about the universe around us.
I normally avoid topics like this. If anyone has been listening to me teach or reading my messages, it may come as no surprise that art, history, and literature were my best subjects in school. Math and science were not. I sometimes cringe at hearing Christian scholars debate atheist scientists over the Bible, as if we need the devil-possessed world to approve of our faith. My feelings have always been that the Bible is not a book of science, and to focus on its scientific value is to miss the point. After all, when it comes to existence, science provides us with the how, while the Bible provides us with the why. Right?
But God moved on me to stop avoiding this debate, and embrace it with open arms. It took me stepping from my comfort zone as I began doing research on astronomy and physics. And then, against my expectations, the Lord started doing what He always does: opening my mind to amazing revelations. The more I’ve studied and learned from secular sources about space and the universe (mainly from Universe Today and its publisher, Fraser Cain), the more I see how perfectly the Bible described advance concepts in science long before scientists figured it out. It has helped build my faith tremendously, and I hope will do the same everyone reading.
Unfortunately, a great divide separates Christianity and science. Perhaps for reasons involving politics and/or money, most of the scientific community is firmly atheist, not just forwarding science but doing so with the blatant agenda of debunking God’s existence. On the other side, Christians bristle up defensively at the very mention of scientific theories like “the big bang” or “evolution.” But it doesn’t need to be this way; science and the Bible can comfortably coexist (especially compared to other religious texts). My lofty goal for this first series in my blog will be to try to bridge the gap between the two.
The word universe is from the French word univers, which derives from the Latin universum. Uni translates roughly to “one” and versum to “something that rotates and changes.” Webster defined the universe as “All created thing viewed as constituting one system or whole; the whole body of things.” Just how big is the universe we live in? It is far bigger than our human minds can comprehend. Our earth is about 8,000 miles across. The sun it revolves around is about 100 times bigger, or about 800,000 miles across. The distance between the earth and the sun is about 93 million miles.
Any bigger than that, and we can no longer measure length by miles, so we now use light years, which is how far light can travel within one year (5.56 trillion miles). The solar system is a little more than one light year across (5.58 trillion miles, to be exact). But if we keep going, we find that is still just a speck within the Milky Way, our galaxy that expands 100,000 light years in diameter. And as we continue, we see that is also just a speck in a gigantic cluster of roughly 100 billion galaxies. This constitutes what we call “the observable universe,” or what we can actually see. The observable universe is about 93 billion light years in diameter. What is beyond that is uncertain; the rest of the universe may stretch on infinitely, with at least 900 billion more galaxies beyond our visibility. And the universe is constantly growing and expanding.
Feeling small yet?
With its absolutely staggering size in mind, the atheist viewpoint is that the universe is just simply too big to have been created by one invisible being. The basis of their argument is that God, and all religion, is imaginary, stoked by man’s need to develop a sense of meaning in a meaningless universe. Their favorite catchphrase has become “God didn’t created man in His image, man created God in his.”
If we ponder the vastness space, and our own insignificant size in comparison, it’s tempting to fall into this trap of faithlessness. But it’s a cop-out.
First of all, I do not believe that, even given thousands of years, the human mind could have ever come up with something as radical as Judaism and Christianity. Its ideas are too diametrically opposed to every belief system ever concocted. No idol god, not Zeus, Ba’alzebub, Molech, Allah, Mother Earth, or Ba’al would ever love humanity. Every civilization’s idol gods were all weak, angry, power-hungry, and terrifyingly oppressive; being created by human hands, they and their hierarchies were all perfect reflections of the darker sides of the human psyche. They had to be imaginary.
Second, consider the lasting endurance of Judaism and Christianity throughout the centuries. In ancient times, before we even discovered our entire planet, the world was believed to be flat. Nobody knew what was beyond the sky. Many civilizations worshiped the earth and sun and moon and stars. Earth was widely accepted to be the center of the entire universe, whatever that was. The more we’ve advanced, the more amazing scientific discoveries we’ve made, and the more we’ve realized how big space is, how far out it stretches, and ultimately, how insignificant our planet is. Far from being the center, it is really just a grain of sand lost randomly somewhere in the infinite cosmos. As such, most all religions have died out. It has become obvious how fake the other silly gods like Zeus and Molech were. Even paganism, which worships the earth and its so-called spirits, can’t really stand before the expansion beyond our limited world. Only the Judeo-Christian God still endures, because only He is a God whose nature as described can still make sense.
Science, and its discoveries throughout the years, does not contradict the Bible. Rather, it has proven the vastness and infinite wonder that the Bible described of our God and His creation. A God who never had any beginning nor will ever end. He is the only God who cannot be comprehended fully by the human mind, just as the universe He created cannot be fathomed in its size or complexity.
Also consider that size itself is only a matter of perspective. In a universe like this one, there really is no such a thing as “big” or “small.” We may be a speck in the cosmos, but we are the same size as the cosmos compared to the microscopic world around us. The population of bacteria on the surface of one human body is about the same as the human population itself (between 6-7 billion). Bacteria are so small that a single drop of water contains about 50 million of them (my apologies to all the germaphobes out there). Each square inch of human skin consists of 19 million cells, 60 hairs, 90 oil glands, 19 feet of blood vessels, 625 sweat glands, and 19,000 nerves.
Even a single living cell is a world within itself; it takes about 50,000 chemical reactions taking place within it just to stay alive for one second (how could something so complex not be created?). The DNA of one human cell written out would fill about 1,000 volumes of encyclopedias. Let’s keep breaking it down: the human body consists of about 60 trillion cells; each cell has about 10,000 times as many molecules as the Milky Way has stars. And each cell in the human body consists of about 90 trillion atoms.
Feel big again? Good.
I could go on, but this is a series, so I should have ample time to demonstrate the links between the science of the universe and the Holy Scriptures. Next week we will examine creation itself; how the Bible accurately describes the origins of the universe and the planet we inhabit. After that, we will look at what the scriptures say about the expanding universe, whether or not there’s life out there, and just what other mysteries of the cosmos we can discover by studying God’s Holy Word.