I believe in God… creator of heaven and earth. —The Apostles’ Creed
We tend to credit Edwin Hubble with discovering the expanding universe, but in truth he confirmed by astronomical observation what others like Alexander Friedmann and Georges Lemaitre had theorized earlier, based on, of course, Einstein’s work. It’s always Einstein. All these and others concluded that the universe was expanding, rapidly, everything moving away from everything else. Logically, then, if the clocks of historical time could be spun backwards, it would mean that the universe had a very specific and violent beginning where all the planets and stars were in a single lump.
Before that beginning, popularly known as the Big Bang, science has nothing to say. The Big Bang theory claims that all of the matter in the universe had its birth as the tiniest ball of ridiculously hot, unfathomably compressed “stuff” that exploded and formed all the elements, all the planets and stars and galaxies. Where did that ball of stuff come from? What existed before the Bang? Those are unanswerable questions.
It’s important to remember that the Big Bang has nothing to say about life on our planet or the potential for life on other planets. For theories about life, science moves from observational data and mathematics to a theory of life beginning in some random and spontaneous way, followed by biological evolution, theories that cannot be falsified because they cannot be tested. It’s a desperate move, but understandable. There has to be some explanation for life, and the theory of creation by a Creator God is also one that cannot be falsified because it cannot be tested. But this second theory, that God did it all, has the added disadvantage of calling for answers that are outside of the domain of the material sciences.
The Scriptures say that the universe and everything in it was created by a few words spoken by the Judeo-Christian God. The universe and everything in it is the product of God’s great creative mind. Genesis says that the universe was void, timeless, formless and empty until God spoke it into existence. The creation account is not a scientific treatise, which is unfortunate for us curious types. Rather, it’s written to tell us something about God’s heart, and it culminates in God’s very special creation of human beings, men and women, who, unlike every other living thing have been given the mysterious gift of being made in the image of God himself.
Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us. They will reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the livestock, all the wild animals on the earth, and the small animals that scurry along the ground.”
So God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
Then God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and multiply. Fill the earth and govern it. Reign over the fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, and all the animals that scurry along the ground.”
Then God said, “Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant throughout the earth and all the fruit trees for your food. And I have given every green plant as food for all the wild animals, the birds in the sky, and the small animals that scurry along the ground—everything that has life.” And that is what happened.
Then God looked over all he had made, and he saw that it was very good! And evening passed and morning came, marking the sixth day. —Genesis 1:26-31 (NLT)
It is no great leap to agree that there is an eternal and almighty God out there somewhere, and then to say that this great being has the power and intelligence to engineer a living universe. Honestly, the whole thing sounds preposterous. But just as preposterous is the notion that a violent explosion put into motion a series of chance occurrences that created singing birds, blue whales, galloping horses, roses and poppies, tomatoes and potatoes, and thinking, reasoning, loving human beings. I’m persuaded by arguments about complexity vs random chance that it is far more likely that we are living in a created universe than an accidental one.
But it’s not just a flip-of-the-coin choice. I do not see how music could exist unless humans were imbued with a sense of joy, hope, love, and majesty that makes no particular sense unless it is a response to God’s spirit drifting through his creation. I do not see how we can have a desire for beauty and the ability to create beauty ourselves unless we are instinctively imitating the heart of God that is written into our spiritual DNA. I do not believe we can act unselfishly and sacrificially unless we can shake off the dog-eat-dog instincts of so much of the animal kingdom and lean into a very unintuitive and self-denying form of love that Scriptures tell us comes from the God who is himself love.
If the world and all that we are is merely the product of a random universal accident, then humans are the final authority for such things as morality, justice, meaning, and purpose. If the world has been created by a living and wise God, we have an authority to look to for answers to such vitally important questions as “How should we live?” If a God created the world who poured qualities of himself into humankind, we have someone to go to when we ask “Why?” and “What now?” And, we can be certain that such a God as that will be very interested in giving us an answer.