The Bible begins with the resounding statement, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen 1:1 New International Version). Genesis Chapter one walks through each period of creation stating what was done on six days of creation, ending with: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day” (Gen 1:1 New International Version). For the duration of this essay the presuppositions will be that God indeed did create all things, the Bible is the inerrant word of God, and that the Genesis account can be trusted. Yet even after these conclusions are weighed in, still the question must be asked: Did God create the universe in six literal days or was his method of creation the big bang? This question has effectively divided the body of Christ on Earth, with great men and women of faith on both sides of the debate. The two theories have very little in common but the debate is extremely heated, with Christians on both sides, as well as atheists and most in the scientific community blasting both young-earth creationism and old earth intelligent design, insisting on an old earth evolutionary view leaving the question of the first cause effectively blank. There are some similarities, many differences, and both six day creation and the big bang have science to back up their views.
The scientific community fought for many years for an eternal universe (thus needing no creator), but eventually in the 1990s the big bang became the accepted model (Craig, 2004). There are not only many brilliant atheistic/agnostic thinkers holding the Old Earth view, but there are also many brilliant Christian thinkers, most notably: William Lane Craig, Francis Collins, Norman Geisler, and Frank Turek. Frank Turek’s view on the big bang is summed up in his own words when he said, “Yes I’m a Christian and I believe in the Big Bang. I just know who banged it!” In 1929 Edwin Hubble discovered that galaxies were moving away from each other, and that the universe was expanding (Netting, 2014). It became clear to Hubble that to go back in time the universe must have existed at a single point with infinite mass, before exploding outward (Netting, 2014). According to Nasa’s website (2014) this big bang event occurred about 14 billion years ago. Einstein’s theory of general relativity greatly added to the big bang model (Netting, 2014). According to Netting (2014) “if we were to look at the Universe one second after the Big Bang, what we would see is a 10-billion degree sea of neutrons, protons, electrons, anti-electrons (positrons), photons, and neutrinos. Then, as time went on, we would see the Universe cool, the neutrons either decaying into protons and electrons or combining with protons to make deuterium (an isotope of hydrogen).“ Coupled with observations on the rate of expansion of the universe, geologists use a variety of methods to date rocks estimating the age of the Earth to be approximately 4.5 billion years old (Lutgens, 2014).
There are many great minds on the side of the Old-Earth Big Bang view, but there are also great minds on the side of the Young-Earth six day creation view. Notable young-earth view holders include: Ken Ham, Tom Wagner, Kent Hovind, John Morris, and John MacArthur. In very basic terms the holders of this view look to a literal interpretation of Genesis 1. The Genesis account of creation indicates that God created everything in six days, the Hebrew word “yom” translated into English as “day” (Morris, 1994). The Hebrew word “yom” can mean both a single solar day and can also mean an extended period of time (Ham, 1995). When observing the word “yom” in context in the Genesis account the only conclusion can be that the word is referring to a 24 hour day (Ham, 1995). Six Day creationists point to the flaws in the theory of evolution, such as the absence of transitional forms in the fossil record, the complex design in living things, the fine tuning of the universe to allow for life, and unreliability of radioisotope dating methods (Morris, 1994). Six-Day Creationists also point to the second law of thermodynamics that says systems tend toward disorder, not order (Morris, 1994). Therefore time becomes the enemy of the evolutionary model, not the friend (Morris, 1994). In addition the fossil record tends to point to a creation view because fossils tended to appear in a very small period of time, something referred to as the Cambrian explosion (Morris, 1994). The Six-Day Creation front tends to spend most of it’s time attacking the evolutionary model instead of building their own scientifically credible model, which is a problem. Of course confronting evolution is important, and there are many holes in the theory. To quote Charles Darwin: “To suppose that the eye, with all its inimitable [matchless] contrivances [plans] for adjusting the focus to different distances, for admitting different amounts of light, and for the correction of spherical and chromatic aberration, could have been formed by natural selection, seems, I freely confess, absurd in the highest possible degree” (Wagner, 1994).
Contrasting the Views
The Big Bang theory and the six day creation model have some similarities but many differences. Both views attempt to explain the origin of the universe and the planet Earth. Both views rely upon science and presupposition to explain their views. Both views are reasonable and coherent worldviews with solid evidence and implication on both sides. A lot of the problem has been the incredible hostility on both sides of the debate. Both sides condemn and minimize the other side, and finding common ground is quite difficult. In the end both views approach the evidence with presuppositions. Clearly six day creationists have an agenda, they believe there is a God, that the Bible is the word of that God, and that truth can be known (Morris, 1994). On the other side you have a majority of scientists extremely hostile toward theism and utterly intent on providing models and systems that exclude any hint of a supernatural first cause. Both sides have been guilty of generating their own propaganda and silencing the competition’s view. In the early 1900s the scientific evolutionary view was silenced and condemned by a powerful Christian majority. Now in the early 21st century the creation view is openly mocked, ridiculed, and ignored by the powerful forces of science and the university (Morris, 1994).
In conclusion, I’m in full agreement with Dr. Francis Collins when he said, “I believe God did intend, in giving us intelligence, to give us the opportunity to investigate and appreciate the wonders of His creation. He is not threatened by our scientific adventures” (Collins, 2009).
Both the Six Day Creation view and the Big Bang view show compelling proofs regarding the origins of the universe. Six-day creation holds closely to a literal reading of the word of God and also show clear failings in the evolutionary model (Ham, 1995). The Big bang theory looks more to science to prove it’s origins, but many good Christians hold to the view of an old earth resulting from a big bang event (Craig, 2004). Both sides of the debate have merits, and though there are some similarities there are major differences between the two worldviews. Science and Religion may never be resolved in a coherent manner, but in the end, if God does exist then he is everything, and if he does not exist then it doesn’t matter anyway.
Lutgens, F. K., & Tarbuck, E. J. (2014). Foundations of earth science (Seventh ed.). Upper Saddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall.
Morris, J. D. (1994). The Young Earth. Colorado Springs, CO: Master Books.
NIV Bible (Popular ed.). (1997). London: Hodder & Stoughton.
Netting, R. (2014, May 13). The Big Bang. NASAScience. Retrieved June 29, 2014, from http://science.nasa.gov/astrophysics/focus-areas/what-powered-the-big-bang/
Wagner, T. (1994, September 1). Darwin vs. the Eye. Answers in Genesis. Retrieved July 2, 2014, from https://answersingenesis.org/charles-darwin/darwin-vs-the-eye/
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