“Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them.” Such was, as you will recall, God’s challenge to Abraham. Certainly he could not “tell the stars” but then, neither can twentieth century scientists. To be sure, astronomers have a vastly enhanced appreciation of the enormity of that number. Powerful telescopes, integrated with super computers and electronic detectors, have probed the universe to observe myriads of previously unknown stars and galaxies.
Our Milky Way galaxy, while average in size, is never the less incomprehensibly large. Estimated to be about one hundred thousand light years in diameter, this spiral galaxy contains conservatively half a trillion stars. Very approximately, ten billion is an educated guess of the actual number of galaxies described as “myriads”” So to “tell the stars”? A brief reflection by the more scientifically inclined will afford the very rough estimate of five times ten to the twenty first power: that’s a five followed by twenty one zeros.
Since, Lord willing, such large numbers will resurface in future articles, a moment spent “digesting” their significance may prove helpful. Suppose you were assigned the job at birth of “telling” those stars and commenced poste haste counting at the rate of two hundred and fifty per minute twenty four hours per day for your life time of seventy five years. The final tally for your gallant effort would be about 9.9 billion. Really though, it would have been scarcely worth the trouble it caused you because 99.99999999999% of the job would remain yet to be completed.
May we pause, then, to reflect on the God whose “understanding is infinite?” We can’t actually “tell the stars”, He can …. and He has names for them! “Who telleth the stars, He calleth them all by their names.” It is “ALL the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” that reside in Him who “created all things by Jesus Christ”.
But before an essential point is made, we need to consider now a physical property of those stars and, for that matter, all matter. That property is called mass. If you’re not that comfortable with the term, think of weight: it’s close enough for the moment. Galaxies typically range in mass from ten million to greater than a trillion times that of our sun. But that does not include the galactic halo and corona, the giant cloud of gas that envelops a galaxy. For in that gas is thought to reside a great deal of dark matter which may actually account for greater than ninety percent of the galaxy’s total mass. In fact, theorist today are insisting that what is observed in the universe may only be one percent of the total mass present!
Who hasn’t almost sat on a suitcase to close it before a trip? Borrowing Caiaphas’ words, we “know nothing at all”! For just imagine that nearly infinite mass of the universe, the awesome energy from each star, in fact the entire universe as we know it congealed to a point far smaller than an atom. Restated, a billion universes, metamorphized to time, space, and “unified forces” would fit nicely in any “o” on this page! Absurd! A flight of fantasy? In fact, it’s the “scientific” substitute for “In the beginning God.” You likely recognize it as the Big Bang theory.
A generation is being conditioned with increasing intensity, both in school and by the media, that God is neither a factor in creation nor in their lives. That is the teaching of secular humanism, and you will find at its foundation the Big Bang theory. From an original singularity of matter, space, time, and energy, the universe was born. That was the Big Bang. From super nova explosions in that universe, remaining elements essential to life were born. Through capricious chance and natural selection, we came to be. Man controls his destiny and must do so responsibly.
Such is the current “wisdom of this world”. But God’s Word applies to every generation: “The fool has said in his heart: no God”. We recognize astrophysicists and particle physicists as intellectual greats, but in substituting the “Big Bang” for God, sadly, the fool’s conclusion has been reached.
But, really now, does the concept of a “universe” the size of an atom appeal to reason? No. Do educators and media personnel, so influential in young lives, really understand the complex mathematics used to undergird the theory? With very few exceptions, a resounding no. But “Big Bang” is almost unquestioningly accepted as fact by students and the public at large. And that’s the “essential point”. Faith in “science”, even if its premises may be neither well understood nor very logical, has replaced faith in the divine Record: the Genesis account. Certainly most believers clearly recognize this, but the point needs to be reemphasized unless we ourselves become prey to the intellectual allure of “scientific” explanations.
Please be clear. The Genesis account is not to be contorted or spiritualized to accommodate scientific theory. To compromise Genesis chapter one is a denial of the inerrancy of the Word of God. It is also a denial of the Deity of Christ: for “Without Him was not one thing made that was made.” “Science” may challenge, but the theme of heaven remains eternal, “Thou art worthy for Thou hast created all things and for Thy pleasure they are and were created.”
In large measure, the Big Bang theory is rooted in what is known as the red shift. No doubt you’ve noticed the sudden change in pitch of a siren as an emergency vehicle has sped past. Approaching you, the wavelengths of sound from the siren are compressed and sound higher; the process is reversed as the vehicle retreats. That is known as the Doppler Effect and it applies equally as well to light. The red shift of light from distant stars is interpreted as proof that those objects are hurtling away from our position in the universe. In effect, we are told, we are still watching the aftermath from the Big Bang.
To assist young believers, we’ll attempt to review some very valid scientific challenges to this theory in these articles and, in doing so, address the often disconcerting question: “How old is the universe?”
If science’s substitute is rooted in the red shift and particle physics, the Divine Record is rooted in the spoken Word of God: “…the worlds were framed by the Word of God.” The import of this expression from Hebrews is both informative and thrilling.
Divine purpose, communicated from the God who is eternal, is the knife edge which divides the “Big Bang” from “In the Beginning God…” Both assert that “things which are seen were not made of things which do appear.” But then they are widely separated. The “Big Bang” theory resorts to chance; the spoken Word of God reveals divine purpose: “..the ages were planned by the Word of God”. That purviews the panoramic vista of all creation both 11 old” and “new” and, young believers, that includes you who have been called “according to His eternal purpose and grace given in Christ Jesus before the ages began.,,
But it is “through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God.” Be certain, however, the writer of Hebrews accepted no other possibility: God did create and plan the ages. That is really not an issue of faith: creation proves His deity and eternal power. Man is responsible to recognize that. But it is faith which enables us to understand that the means used to plan the ages was His spoken Word. Young believer, the divine Record is the Word of God, and for that there is no substitute. Be as Paul who made that confidence known to all when he said, “Sirs, I believe God”.