When I was a seminary student, we had the privilege of having Dr. Margaret Helder as a guest speaker. Having grown up in Edmonton, Dr. Helder was not a stranger to me. She had occasionally been a guest speaker at our Christian school in Alberta. However, on this particular occasion at the Canadian Reformed Seminary in Hamilton, I heard her say something that I couldn’t recall having heard before. I don’t remember if it was part of her original presentation or in reply to a question, but she pointed out that the so-called Big Bang and Genesis are incompatible. I don’t remember the exact reasons she gave as to why that was, but it sounded quite reasonable to me at the time and, since then, I’ve kept it in the back of my mind.
I thought about this again recently as I encountered a book which suggested that the Big Bang and Genesis are compatible. Gregory Koukl’s new book The Story of Reality is generally a recommended overview of the Christian worldview (a review will be appearing shortly on my blog Yinkahdinay). In chapter 7, Koukl is answering two objections to the Christian view of God as Creator. The second has to do with miracles. After all, creation is a miracle. He notes that all scientists “pretty much agree that the universe had a beginning.” That beginning was the Big Bang where “all things exploded into existence in a fraction of an instant.” Then he says this (page 51):
I know the Big Bang idea is controversial with some Christians, but I think that’s because they haven’t realized how well it fits the Story [the Christian worldview laid out in the Bible], which basically says the same thing.
So according to Koukl, the Big Bang fits with Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Reading this gave me occasion to look a little more into this and refresh my memory as to why Dr. Helder had told a group of seminary students and professors otherwise.
I found this article on creation.com to be especially helpful: The Big Bang is not a Reason to Believe. If you don’t have the time or inclination to read the whole article, this chart about sums it up — each flash on this chart represents a conflict between the chronology of Genesis 1-2 and Big Bang cosmology:
Does the Big Bang really fit the story that well? Perhaps if you define “Big Bang” in some way that doesn’t reflect how it’s really being used in astrophysics. Maybe that’s what Koukl has done. Or perhaps if you insist that Genesis 1-2 don’t give us a chronologically accurate, historic account of the origins of the universe. Of course, that second option could find you up against Jesus Christ, who clearly taught that Adam and Eve were created at the beginning (Matthew 19:4). No, I still think that Dr. Helder was right. There’s no reconciling the Big Bang and God’s Word.