God says He created the universe. Scientific materialists say it came into existence through natural physical means. Who is right? And what is the evidence?
When you look up into the night sky, you catch a glimpse of the same universe ancient stargazers saw. Even the few thousand stars visible to the naked eye can evoke awe and wonder (Psalm 8:3-4).
Now with the tools of modern astronomy, today’s scientists see a universe undreamed of even a century ago. While the full extent of the universe remains unknown, astronomers have peered out multiple billions of light-years. Within this known universe, there may be as many as 10 sextillion stars (a 1 followed by 22 zeros).
The size of some of these stars is also mind-boggling. Our sun is huge from our perspective—about 109 times the diameter of the earth. Yet some stars may be more than 1,500 times that diameter! Such a large star, placed at the center of our solar system, would extend beyond the orbit of Jupiter.
The universe is far more amazing than the ancients could have imagined!
An explosion of knowledge
An explosion of knowledge began around a hundred years ago with the development of Albert Einstein’s theory of general relativity concerning space, time and gravity. During the same period the construction of larger telescopes enabled astronomers to look deeper into space.
In 1929 Edwin Hubble used these tools to determine that the universe is not static but expanding. Further advances were spurred by new instrumentation, deep space probes and orbiting telescopes that can detect signals across the full spectrum of wavelengths.
This knowledge has led to the development of a generally accepted theoretical model for the beginning and growth of the universe. The model is referred to as the hot inflationary big bang theory or simply the big bang theory.
This theory is consistent with current observations and measurements of the observable universe; but as we will see, it doesn’t really explain how the universe could have formed by entirely natural means. It requires us to accept certain premises outside the realm of the known laws of physics.
Can the origin of the universe be explained by purely physical means?
The other alternative is to accept that our awesome universe must have had a Creator and that this Creator must have had unimaginable power.
How can you know which alternative is true?
Can you prove if God is the Creator?
Many religious people believe in God, but have never proven His existence. When people are questioned about the reasons for their belief in God, typical responses are often more emotional than rational. Such responses include:
- “It’s what my parents taught me.”
- “It gives meaning to life.”
- “It’s what my church teaches.”
- “I don’t want to burn in hell.”
But God wants our belief in Him to be based on hard evidence, and He challenges us to do just that. “Test all things, hold fast what is good” (1 Thessalonians 5:21; see also Romans 1:20).
This article is the first in a series that will help you answer that challenge by examining some of the physical evidence for the existence of God. A good place to start is at the beginning—the origin of the universe. What is the evidence for God as the Creator of the universe?
What the big bang theory can’t explain
The implications of the big bang theory are staggering. In order to believe it, though, we are asked to accept certain suppositions that fall outside the laws of nature and physics. These suppositions actually support the existence of an all-powerful Creator God.
First, the big bang theory and the scientific evidence behind it imply that space, time and the universe as a whole had a beginning. Anything having a beginning must have a cause. What was that first cause?
Second, the big bang theory is based on the premise that something (the entire universe) suddenly came into existence out of nothing. How could this happen?
Third, according to the big bang theory, at the beginning all the matter and energy in the entire universe was compressed into an infinitesimally small point of almost infinite temperature and density. Where did this “seed” come from, and what force held it together and then released it?
Fourth, another supposition—inflation—was introduced in order for the observable data to match the theory. The premise was that inflation occurred within the first trillionth of a second after the bang. This inflation caused the minuscule universe to increase in size to something perhaps approaching 50 percent of its current size! This idea defies all known laws of natural physics, but it does enable the theory to be consistent with the universe as we see it today.
The unanswered question is: What caused this sudden inflation to occur?
The big bang theory asks us to just accept these suppositions. Objections raised about these unanswered questions are typically dismissed by stating that there must be natural laws explaining it all, but they just have not been discovered yet. This response raises the question of who is exercising more faith in their beliefs. Scientists? Or those who believe in God as the Creator?
God’s claim as Creator
Scientists begin with a fundamental assumption that only natural processes and sequences of events that are consistent with natural laws should be considered. As such, the idea of God creating the universe is ruled out as a possibility from the beginning.
But then they present a theory—the hot inflationary big bang theory—that is not consistent with natural laws! The description of that first instant of inflation can’t be explained by the laws of the universe.
God addresses this issue by pointing out that the physical evidence of creation proves that He is God. “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20, emphasis added throughout).
The missing ingredient in the big bang theory is the power source.The missing ingredient in the big bang theory is the power source—a source beyond any natural physical law—a source beyond our imagination. The God of the Bible claims responsibility for the creation of the universe. Could anything other than the Almighty God fulfill the premises upon which the big bang theory is based?
The very first words of the Bible are, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). But this scripture does not define how far back in time this beginning was. Scientific evidence suggests it was billions of years, and the Bible does not disagree. (See the Life, Hope & Truth article “The Gap Theory” for further explanation.)
A similar declaration of God as the Creator is found in other scriptures as well. For example, “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth” (Psalm 33:6). This scripture perhaps poetically suggests inflation and the expanding universe as a part of the creation, as does Isaiah 40:22: “It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.”
Notice the emphasis on God’s power several verses later. “‘To whom then will you liken Me, or to whom shall I be equal?’ says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and see who has created these things, who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, by the greatness of His might and the strength of His power; not one is missing” (Isaiah 40:25-26).
This power to create is also emphasized in Revelation 4:11. “You are worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power; for You created all things, and by Your will they exist and were created.”
The beginning of time
Science agrees with the Bible on the idea that time had a beginning. Paul, referring to God’s promise of eternal life, wrote: “In hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began” (Titus 1:2).
This short article has merely scratched the surface of this huge subject. There is abundant physical evidence that the creation of the universe was a supernatural event. Scientists’ discoveries and theories point to a creation mechanism that cannot be explained by physical laws.
Only an all-powerful God could create something from nothing, constrain the energy of the universe in the palm of a hand, release this energy and inflate it in an instant to nearly the size of what we today call the universe.
The creation of this miraculous universe is only the first of many proofs of God’s existence. Next time we will explore a second proof—the design found in the universe. Could it have occurred without a Designer?
Learn more about creation as a proof of God in our Life, Hope & Truth articles “Creation Demands a Creator,” “Does the Big Bang Theory Require a Miracle?” and “Is God Really the Creator?”
For the next article in the series, see “Does God Exist? Proof 2: Design of the Universe.”