|What does mainstream Christianity believe?
Genesis chapter 1, verse 1: “In the beginning God created the universe” (ISV)1
Hebrews chapter 11, verse 3 explains it further: “By faith we understand that the entire universe was formed at God’s command, that what we now see did not come from anything that can be seen.” (NLT)2
|What does mainstream Science believe?
The NASA website, Universe 101 Our Universe (http://map.gsfc.nasa.gov/universe/uni_life.html) state the following: “The universe began with an unimaginably enormous density and temperature. This immense primordial energy was the cauldron from which all life arose. Elementary particles were created and destroyed by the ultimate particle accelerator in the first moments of the universe… With the sudden expansion of a pinhead size portion of the universe in a fraction of a second, random quantum fluctuations inflated rapidly from the tiny quantum world to a macroscopic landscape of astronomical proportions.”
The above information is reported to come from the Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) “… a NASA Explorer mission that launched June 2001 to make fundamental measurements of cosmology — the study of the properties of our universe as a whole. WMAP has been stunningly successful, producing our new Standard Model of Cosmology.”
The scientific explanation that we are all made up of atoms and molecules is believable because it is easy to understand. We can all understand magnification and how things can look different when magnified. So when we are told that through a special high-powered microscope one can see the atoms that comprise an object because they are too small to be seen individually by the naked eye, it makes sense.
Not so with the Big-Bang theory’s theory of the origin of this earth and the universe. Only certain people understand how it is true. In other words, going by the scientific principle that expects conclusions must be observable and measurable the vast majority of us rely on the knowledge of a very few really smart people to tell us scientifically how the universe came into being. Only they can tell how it is measured and observable. The irony here is that learning how the universe came to be, for the vast majority of people, seems to depend on faith and trust for the veracity of the information. But one may ask: Why should we trust their information? There are uncountable instances when high-level intellectuals have falsified information and many other well-meaning individuals have used their false or misleading information to build on. For example with respect to a modern cosmological theory Stephen Hawking3 states: ”The Steady State theory, was what Karl Popper would call, a good scientific theory: it made definite predictions, which could be tested by observation, and possibly falsified. Unfortunately for the theory, they were falsified…”
A second huge problem arises from the question: How is it possible to observe something before anything existed?
As a model to explain how physical and biological activities and processes occur in the world Science does provide factual and progressive knowledge. By studying the way the world works and thereby making possible the numerous successful inventions Science has advanced human civilization tremendously. Over time however, Science seems to have come to believe that the model used to decipher and know how the existent world of physical and biological objects and events work and interact can be used to decipher and know how this existing world came into being in the first place.
Gottfried de Purucker a leading Theosophist (deceased), is said to have observed that mathematics cannot cause reality to occur and that its results, though a very valuable instrument of the human thinking process derive from premises, which may be wrong in the first place. The proponents of the explanation of the origin of the universe using theoretical physics need never to forget this fact.
In earlier times Science accepted the opaque divide between the pre-existing state of the world and its existent state. As such many scientists of that day believed in a world created supernaturally, that is in a manner outside of the natural order of living and non-living objects to which Science applies. At a certain point the view that the sphere of scientific operation is within the mundane environment of this world shifted to believing that Science can inquire into and discover everything or anything about this world. It appears that starting from the work of Galileo Science realized in hindsight that it was possible to probe and unveil occurrences that previously were seen as beyond human ability and therefore supernatural. Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life” introduced Science to yet another area of its claimed omniscience, namely evolution. Science walked boldly through this door previously believed to be the bastion of a divine creator and therefore considered closed to mankind’s knowledge. Probably through these two gateways to “the beyond” Science recognized it could enter and tread where only angels trod and since no one stopped it the notion that this was God’s domain was jettisoned. In time, the agnostic view of the origin of the world was dispensed with, as many new discoveries empowered Science to feel omniscient. Soon, all put together the range and scope of scientific knowledge led to the conclusion there is no Creator-God likely due to the strong belief that Science now has access to knowing everything. Hence the quest for “A Theory of Everything”! Science however went on to substitute this “theory” in place of the actual knowledge itself.
Nonetheless Science has not definitively answered how everything came into being. It seems to have retrospectively “predicted” how all life must have originated. Prediction however is not the same as knowledge, whether of the past or the future. Knowledge is certainty and factual; prediction is possibility based on facts. It is interesting to note that the style of shifting from what’s in the cross hairs of scientific vision to asserting its materialization seems typical. Sooner or later Science appears to label a wish as a done deal. For a period of time Science proposed the theory of evolution, which it later seemed to have declared to be a fact and similarly the so-called Big Bang theory after some time was pronounced to be no longer theory but fact. Despite scientifically acknowledged presumed so-called “missing links” in the case of the evolutionary theory and the unexplained presence of primordial material (a tiny dense point of something or “microscopic dot of concentrated matter and energy”), which erupted to cause a big bang, Science still claims it has completely explained the origin of mankind and the earth respectively.
The “gaps” at several points on the evolutionary tree are each supposed to be occupied by a creature that provides the evidence to explain how a preceding species is related to the one following. These linking animal types have still not shown up in fossils nor have any of their transitional stages; but Science nevertheless considers the matter proven. Without any tangible or observable piece of evidence or human experience of it how can we scientifically know something existed? Intuitively perhaps; but this the same way God can be explained.
A statement on the website (https://ncse.com/media/voices/botanical-society-america) of the Botanical Society of America (BSA) reads:
“Natural selection has been repeatedly demonstrated in both field and laboratory, and descent with modification is so well documented that scientists are justified in saying that evolution is true.” XXX
This view appears to portray how the trajectory from theory (that tells us what we wish to know based on what we know now) to knowledge (that comprises of what we have as actual verifiable facts) is accomplished. The problem with the ABS assertion is embedded in statement itself, namely in the words: “with modification”.
Based on the above quotation of the BSA, we cannot know through Science what is actually “true” of the evolution process if there are “gaps” or the possibility of “modification”. This seems unavoidable because acceptance of new and rejection of previously accepted hypotheses as warranted is the process of Science. As such there is no guarantee that current ways of perceiving the world and its “contents” will be permanent. The BSA article continues to state the following:
“The history of science is littered with discarded explanations”
Nonetheless for certain matters Science seems to stop at this theory stage, calling it the knowledge stage. Moreover Science needs to give a logical response to the question it is asked about scientific and theological education, as stated in the BSA article, namely:
“Why, in all fairness, don’t we teach both explanations and let students decide?”
In reality students cannot be left to decide on what to learn, otherwise I fear the majority of them would not choose Science, especially mathematics. Putting aside the matter of giving choice, it is necessary to comfortably accept the teaching of both Science and Theology, for Science to avoid leaving the impression of irrational fear.