Science in Christian Perspective
Many things being taught our Sunday school pupils as God's Word are really only interpretations. Some of these can never be reconciled with the facts of science. Controversely many things being taught in our Universities as facts are really only generalizations from experimental observations. Some of these can never be reconciled with the Word of God. To my knowledge there is not fact of science or passage of Scripture that are contradictory to one another. The following account of creation is given from the best scientific evidence I know of today, Tomorrow parts of it may be obsolete in the light of new discoveries.
In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. In a moment with explosive force the matter of the Universe came into existence. According to Gammow, the initial temperature and pressure was so great that the Universe was blown outward like an immense bomb. The force of this explosion was so great that the most distant galaxies visible to us are still traveling away from us at 115 the velocity of light (38,000 miles/second). That is when the light we see started on its way toward us, 360 million light years ago. In the first few minutes of its existence the elements of the Universe were formed from created neutrons, protons, and various forms of radiant energy. In this brief moment the present relative abundances of the elements were fixed, considering known transmutations such as the fusion of hydrogen to form helium, our source of solar energy. All matter is composed of atoms of the various elements. Water is composed of atoms of hydrogen and oxygen. Hydrogen is the smallest atom. It contains just one proton, or if it is heavy hydrogen it contains one proton and one neutron. The protons and neutrons are very dense and occupy the central nucleus of the atom. The electrons spin about the nucleus like the planets spin about the sun. Theories which require the continuous creation of matter in order to maintain a static universe, while still appearing to expand, can never be anything more than entertaining mathematical models until some process of neutron and proton creation is known.5 Electron and positron pairs can unite to produce high energy light rays, and in turn can be formed by such rays; but there is no known way that neutrons and protons can be created or annihilated.
The earth and the whole Universe was a shapeless mass expanding with inconceivable speed. The initial flash of brilliant light had faded and it was dark and turbulent. It is difficult to imagine anything more desolate than an area devastated by an atomic blast. The word used to describe the Universe at this stage is void or a wreck. Isaiah 45:18 tells us that God created the earth not in vain, He created it to be inabited. T e matter out of which the earth will be formed is not inhabitable at this step of creation but God is not finished! In the thinking of some, ea ch stage of God's creative act must be perfect by our standards of perfection. When they read that the earth was shapeless, void and dark they conclude that it must be imperfect and hence something must have happened to destroy it. We would not consider a shapeless mass of pottery clay to be imperfect. A potter dug that clay and purified it not in vain. He intends to shape it into a beautiful piece. The earth of necessity would look desolate until it was clothed with grass and trees, and swarming with animal life.
Gradually the elements began to clump together and the larger clumps began to draw the smaller clumps into their gravitational fields. As the clumps grew to the size of stars the heat of contraction raised the temperature of the interior high enough for nuclear reactions to occur. And God said, "Let there be light", and there was light. The hot stars fueled by nuclear energy began to radiate light. Our sun (our star) was relatively recently formed from interstellar gas and dust. Our earth and the other planets in our solar system were probably forming at the same time our sun was taking shape. This step of creation (the formation of light) has reference primarily, I believe, to our solar system.
Did our sun begin to radiate in a moment of time? Or did God use the natural force of gravity and the natural forces of nuclear reactions to accomplish this result over the years and years of time such a process would require? We should not resent God's use of natural means when the laws of nature are God's laws. The force that parted the Red sea and froze a wall of ice on either side was, we are told, a wind. Let us conclude then, that the most natural means of accomplishing His purposes, is the -method of God's choice. We may assume then that God used the forces of nature and the time these forces would require, to shape the Universe and our earth for habitation. Certain alternative explanations have led to impossible interpretations of other Scriptures and the facts of science in order to make them consistent, such as fossils created as fossils, and light created half-way to the earth. These are justified on the basis that God can do anything. But there are things that God cannot do. God cannot act contrary to His own nature. Titus 1 :2 plainly tells us that God cannot lie. Fossils created as such and light created half-way to the earth would be a deceptive creation, giving the impression of great age that did not exist. Insisting on fantastic ideas such as this denies the Christian Faith to the scientist.
How then must we interpret the word day and the expression, "the evening and morning was the first day", if the time God took to form our sun into a light bearer was greater than our 24 hour day? The word "day" in Scripture, is used for periods of time longer than one solar day. It is used to describe the day of Salvation which has lasted now for thousands of years, II Cor. 6:2. "Evening and morning" could be a figure of speech, like when we speak of the sun rising and setting, when we know it is the earth that is moving. It could here convey the idea of finality; but I don't know that it means this. Once the sun began to radiate, it would continue to radiate until the creation of the new heavens and the new earth, II Peter 3:13. No sin of Satan could darken it until it had finished it's course. It is held by some that a literal interpretation of "evening and morning" necessitates a literal, 24 hour, interpretation for day. This is true. But if day is used figuratively then of course "evening and morning" will also be figurative, otherwise long periods of continual dark would be indicated, which we know could not have occurred.
If this Genesis account is a recreation account some explanation of the necessity of recreating the sun as a light emitting body must be found. Is it imagined that the sun was darkened in some way so that it could not give its light? Any process such as an explosion of the sun, which could darken it would also involve and destroy the earth as we know it, and our solar system would cease to exist. Bringing order out of such a chaos would look like an original creation because no remnant of a former order would survive it. The strata require a radiant sun for their formation. The principle strata are all the result of soil erosion by water; this water is drawn up into clouds from bodies of water by the sun, and dropped as rain. Darkening the sun is obviously inconsistent with the reconstruction theory for it provides no explanation of the strata and its fossils.
God separated the light from the darkness. The earth began to rotate on its axis, and to circle about the sun in a plane at an angle to its rotation to give us our seasons. Here also we could raise the question, was the rotation of the earth on its axis reinstituted about 6-12,000 years ago after a long period of absence? By every physical criteria, the radiant energy of the sun and the rotation of the earth on its axis have continued much as they are today since their first appearance.
The evidence against a recreation seems pretty strong, but is there any evidence for it? 1. The use of the word, replenish, in Genesis 1:28. It is thought that this means that Adam is to reinhabit the world once inhabited by a pre-adamic race of men. The hebrew word mal'a simply means fill, or sometimes complete.3
2. The description of the, "at that time", future desolation of Palestine and Jerusalem, Jer. 4:16-29. Vs. 23-26, "1 looked on the earth, and lo, it was waste and void; and to the heavens, and they had no light. I looked on the mountains, and lo, they were quaking, and all the hills moved to and fro. I looked, and lo, there was no man, and all the birds of the air had fled. I looked, and lo, the fruitful land was a desert, and all its cities were laid in ruins before the Lord, before his fierce anger". The wording here sounds a little like Gen. 1:2. Some Christians have interpreted this as a literal reference to Genesis, and have used the expression, there was no man, to infer the destruction of a preadamic race, which they believe explains the ancient human fossils, such as the Java man. Paleontology indicates modern man is a descendant of fossil man. The cultural objects, such as tools, pottery, fire, art and evidence of religion, proves fossil men were truly men in our sense of the word, they were men as we are, not super animals. Only the deternimination to find proof for a recreation could lead a person to twist this description of a future desolation, to a literal reference to Genesis.
3. The possibility of using "became" in Gen. 1:2. It is possible to translate the verb "to be" as became, but this is not the usual meaning and nothing in the context suggests it. If it were to mean became, linguistic usage would require that the sentence begin with the verb followed by the preposition "lamedh"3 The Septuigant uses was. After a brief statement that God created the record goes on to describe how God shaped this creation for man's habitation.
4. Why the seventh day should be hallowed when it corresponds to a seventh era. The seventh day was given as a day of rest to commemorate God's rest from all the things He created to make.3 One day in the year commemorates the deliverance of Israel from Egypt, though the acutal time for all the plagues may have been more than a year. One day with the Lord is as a thousand years and a thousand years as one day. Setting one 24-hour day aside to commemorate the completion of God's creation, has nothing to dc with the length of time it took.
I have tried to answer objections to the day-era concept before bringing plant and animal life on the scene, in order to avoid any confusion that it necessitates belief in a theory of Evolution (which has suc cessive forms of all plants and animals coming into being by the natural selection of mutations). for it certainly does not!
How hot the original earth was we do not know, nor whether it is now cooling or heating up from radioactive energy in its interior. If it were originally quite hot the water would be in dense clouds of steam. As it cooled, water would condense into lakes and seas. "And God divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament."
The contraction of the earth and the buckling of its crust cannot account for the size of our continental masses and the height of our mountain ranges, nor can it explain how they are maintained when one would expect them to be eroded level. Heat convection currents in the mantel of the earth could explain our mountains. The mantel is composed of molten, viscous rock. The hotter interior expands it and causes it to flow toward the surface in periodic, rapid overturns. These could thrust the overlying crust up into mountain ranges. Our deep seas could be dug as the cooled rock flows back into the interior. And God said, "Let the waters under the heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear."
Now that land masses have been formed, the preparation of soil can begin. The water vapor and rains -and ground water can chemically alter the rocks, carry them down and deposit them in gentle slopes and valleys, ready for tiny roots of plants. And God said, "Let the earth bring forth grass." This grass is the first grass that ever grew. Gen. 2:5 says this is the record of how God created and made every plant of the field (fossil or otherwise), and every herb of the field before it grew. This event would probably correspond with the Cambrian strata of our earth. A person standing on an ancient Cambrian sea-shore would find it very similar to a modern sea-shore. It would abound with all forms of invertebrate animal life and the plants; algae, etc., that are in balance with them. The first appearance of life was rich and varied. And God said, "Let the waters bring forth abundantly". Why God waited until the fourth day of creation to designate the stars for signs and for seasons, I don't know. That some stars exist before our Solar system was formed we are reasonably sure.
There are local discontinuities in the fossil record and long-range cycles and trends, yet it tells but one unbroken account of life on this planet. There is no universal, simultaneous break in its continuity such as a recreation would be. Fern forests, dinosaurs and birds with teeth, blend imperceptibly with modern forms of life. As the fossil record is traced upward, vertebrate life makes its appearance, and the ancient seas begin to swarm with fish. Then mammals appear in terrestrial deposits, and finally man himself appears. And God said, "Let us make man in our image". In many ways man is similar to the animals and plants. We would expect God to use the same building blocks in us as in them to perform the same function.2 Our similarity with them is certainly evidence of a common origin. For in God we both live and move and have our being. For His pleasure we are and were created.
This account is not intended to be an answer for everything, but a reasonable interpretation that fits the facts as I see them. Genesis, chapter one, is here considered to cover several billion years. Successive creative acts are separated by indeterminate periods of time, resulting in a sequence of events which seems natural to the scientist, but is the handiwork of our Creator. Widely held alternative theories have been found to be unscriptural and inconsistent with the facts. This period of time may seem long to us, but I am sure that it is not long to God. The Husbandman of the earth hath long patience over the precious f ruit of the earth.I have two purposes in presenting this paper:
Acknowledgement: This paper is the result of a course of study made possible by the Los Angeles area A.S.A. The book covering the course material is "Modern Physics for the Engineer", Edited by, Louis Ridenour, Published by McGraw-Hill Book Co. 1954.