The Big Bang and Genesis

bigbangWhen 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 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.

Is there a time gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2? (Part 1)

Dr. Cornelis Van Dam

Evolution requires time and lots of it.  One of the keystones of evolutionary theory is that the earth has a history dating back many millions of years.  This presents a problem for Christians who find evolutionary theory persuasive, who accept it, or are inclined to accept it.  The problem is that, on a surface reading, Genesis does not seem to speak of a history of millions of years.  One of the efforts to resolve this has been to posit a lengthy gap between Genesis 1:1 and 1:2.  But how sound are the exegetical arguments for such a move?  In a two-part series originally published in Clarion in 1988/89, Dr. Cornelis Van Dam weighs the arguments and finds them wanting.  Today we’re pleased to share the first part.  Here Dr. Van Dam addresses two of the arguments in support of the gap theory:  1) That there is a distinction between the Hebrew words for “create” and “make,”  2) That the first word in Hebrew in Genesis 1:2 includes the element of sequential action.  You can find this article here — it’s also available in our Articles section.

The first verse

Today we’re posting the first of several popular articles by Dr. Cornelis Van Dam. Some years ago he published these in the Clarion.[1] By including articles such as this one, we aim to make our website a gathering place of useful resources, particularly from the Canadian Reformed Churches (of which we all are members). We intend to re-host or write both popular-level articles such as this one and those that involve more technical exegetical, theological, and philosophical arguments.

Van Dam’s article opens,

God’s Word starts off with those impressive words in Genesis chapter one. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” What a powerful and deep opening word of divine revelation! There’s nothing else like this in the so-called creation stories of man’s imagination. This is revelation! For that reason this opening verse continues to speak so directly to man today.

Besides examining briefly all the words of Genesis 1:1, Dr. Van Dam notices the implications of this verse as a refutation of atheism, polytheism, materialism, and pantheism. He also briefly notes that the context of the verse “makes it clear that this work of the creation of heaven and earth did not consist of making something out of what already existed, but it brought into being what did not exist.”

Read the rest of the article here: The first verse

[1] Dr. Van Dam’s article “The first verse” first appeared in Clarion: The Canadian Reformed Magazine 37.24 (Nov. 25, 1988), pp. 485–6. Dr. Van Dam quotes Scripture from the Revised Standard Version. We are hosting it here at with permission from the author and publisher. His own first footnote stated the following: “This article is the first in a series selected from lectures delivered on a popular level.”