Friday’s Column: Brent’s Bent
Today, the term “science” is overused, or should I say abused? People conflate consensus with knowledge. To get rid of today’s biases, let’s go back in time to see how Noah Webster defined the word nearly 200 years ago. Webster told us that “science” refers to “knowledge, or certain knowledge; the comprehension or understanding of truth or facts by the mind” (Webster). The focus then shifts to determining the facts upon which we can rely. Perhaps you’ve heard that something can only be established as fact if it is observable or repeatable in the case of an experiment. That determination is valid.
Thus, regardless of whether you accept the existence of a Creator or believe our existence is the result of random chance, you must recognize your conclusion as a matter of faith. This admission is not to say that there isn’t any evidence. There is proof. The Creator supplies testimony of Himself that the creationist accepts. But, it becomes a matter of faith because we were not present to witness firsthand events, and we cannot recreate our universe’s emergence from chaos or nothingness. As a creationist, I have more reason to believe in my facts than the person who has to think that everything came from nothing, an event that all of written history fails to report.
I apologize for the lengthy preface, but a brother once chastised me for not approaching these topics more “scientifically.” There appears to be an irrational belief that you cannot open your mouth to speak on a subject unless you have a doctorate. People seem to have forgotten that the world had learned men before American colonials established Harvard or Yale. Indeed, men like Abraham Lincoln, who kept the American Union together, were self-taught. No one questions Lincoln’s wisdom as they read the speeches that have outlived him.
However, in this information age, we have become skeptical of any information that contradicts our paradigm. I’m not necessarily condemning this skepticism because it’s often justified. As Christians, we recall the Holy Spirit’s compliment to the noble Bereans for cross-referencing Paul’s sermons with God’s Word (Acts 17.11). But we must remember that education is only a tool, a means to an end. Education teaches us how to comprehend the truth. Any idiot can wield a chisel, but only the diligent can carve a statue out of a marble slab. I say this to remind us that a man with an advanced degree can have an overpriced piece of paper and stumble over a topic, whereas an avid reader can speak eloquently about the issues about which he reads.
I cannot speak eloquently on the science found in Genesis 1.1-2. I can only offer what I’ve learned from researching the topic. I will say that I have made an effort to comprehend opposing viewpoints. They can be entertaining, even if I know they are not valid explanations for our existence. I add that God did not intend the Bible to be a science textbook. As a result, any science gained from the Bible results from the fact that the Bible is true (John 17.17).
Friends who do not believe in a Creator are left to believe in one of several competing theories. Most of us are familiar with the Big Bang. In August 2022, some said that the James Webb Space Telescope disproved the Big Bang theory. On the other hand, scientists claim that such a declaration results from a false scientific approach (Cooper). Fair enough. There would be several other intriguing alternative explanations, even if one dismissed the Big Bang. The concept of quantum entanglement is one of these theories. Don’t worry. I won’t even attempt to explain it since I have no advanced degrees in physics.
However, time, energy, space, and matter are all mentioned in Genesis 1.1. Interestingly, NASA informs us that the universe “includes all of space, and all the matter and energy that space contains. It even includes time itself” (Brennan). So, Genesis 1.1 looks at our existence from a scientific point of view.
“In the beginning” refers to time.
“God created” refers to energy.
“The heavens” refers to space.
“The earth” refers to matter.
But this is where things get tricky. God used the idea of time to help us understand. He did this by dividing the creation into 24-hour blocks of creative work, starting in verse 3. Real-time, however, began when the light from day one merged into the sun on day four, the sun around which our planet transits. A year is a unit of time defined by one complete revolution around this star. God elaborated further with the creation of the sun, moon, and stars, saying that they “serve as signs and for seasons, and for days and years” (Genesis 1.14 NASB).
We would not know that there were three consecutive 24-hour periods if God did not elaborate that what He did on days one through three was completed in an evening and morning, a day (i.e., the Hebrew “yom,” which implies the length of a typical day). As a result, God completed the initial work of creation when time did not exist. I don’t say this as a concession to allow for a fourteen billion-year-old universe.
The unspoken implication is that God first created the material from which He would later shape our universe, as demonstrated in Genesis 1.2. There was something nebulous there, over which God’s Spirit hovered before He said, “Let there be light.” What happens when you try to age something that existed before time? Consider the dating techniques we employ and the potential flaws they contain. These methods necessitate consistency. When estimating the decay of a radioactive isotope in a rock, for example, I must assume that this radioactive element has always decayed at the same rate. Have any of us been alive during the time required to observe the stated decay rate? In short, the answer is no. How did these radioactive isotopes get into that rock in the first place?
There’s also the question of what we see when God creates flora, fauna, and humanity. He made all of these things fully mature and capable of reproducing. Thus, despite being only seconds old, Adam would have appeared to be an adult man. Why should our planet and universe be any different? There is no reason for me to make an exception. As a result, a mature world may appear billions of years old despite being only ten thousand years old.
Despite being frequently used against Christians, I believe Occam’s razor is on the side of creationists. The most basic explanation for our origin is that a Being with the ability to create a universe did so. Otherwise, our observations of this complex universe force us to resort to explanations including absurdities, such as the possibility that a Higgs boson or something similar exploded and produced all of the universe’s material, which gradually shaped itself into what we now observe. The latter shaping process managed to do so without the assistance of Intelligence and created conditions on one specific planet orbiting a star in just the right place to allow primordial seas to slosh together the right set of molecules capable of transforming an inanimate substance into an animated one. The topper is that we have not even explained from whence the Higgs boson has come.
When all is said, it comes down to faith. Which set of facts will be accepted? I’ll borrow a smug expression from today: “I’ll trust the science.” Yes, I believe in the science of Genesis 1.1-2.
Webster, Noah. “Websters Dictionary 1828 – Webster’s Dictionary 1828 – Science.” Websters Dictionary 1828, webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/science. Accessed 26 Jan. 2023.
Cooper, Keith. “The James Webb Space Telescope Never Disproved the Big Bang. Here’s How That Falsehood Spread.” Space.com, 7 Sept. 2022, www.space.com/james-webb-space-telescope-science-denial.
Brennan, Pat. “What Is the Universe? | What Is an Exoplanet? – Exoplanet Exploration: Planets Beyond Our Solar System.” Exoplanet Exploration: Planets Beyond Our Solar System, exoplanets.nasa.gov/what-is-an-exoplanet/what-is-the-universe. Accessed 26 Jan. 2023.