The Story of Creation
Science vs. the Bible... the First Six Days
The works of many of history's most celebrated scientists and mathematicians were not recognized until these great men had been dead for many years. Examples include Newton,Pascal, Copernicus, Kepler, Planck, and most recently, Einstein. Albert Einstein, however, did enjoy some notoriety during his lifetime, predominantly from a part of his Special Theory ofRelativity, introduced in 1905, which led to the discovery of the relationship between energy and matter, the famous E = mc2. The practical application of this theory ultimately brought an end to the second World War and hence ushered in the age of the harnessing of nuclear energy.
However, Einstein's General Theory of Relativity introduced in 1915 received much less attention and in fact, has gone largely unnoticed by all but the most academic of physicists, mathematicians and post graduate educators (with the possible exception of the eight million people who purchased a copy of Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time"). Nevertheless its (relativity's) elaboration contains perhaps the most practical application of Biblical truth since Kepler's discovery of the true structure of our solar system, dispelling thousands of years of misunderstanding of the Bible. Unlike Kepler whose work stemmed directly from his staunch belief in the inerrancy of Scripture, Einstein was unable to reconcile the pain and suffering evident in the world to an omnipotent, omniscient and loving God. This lead him to reject the notion of an expanding universe until the last few years of his life. His equations pointed to an expanding universe, but throughout his life he applied a "universal expansion constant" which corrected his equations to represent a static (eternal) universe. As the data mounted pointing unmistakably toward the truth of this universal expansion (hence demanding a beginning, i.e. Creation), Einstein finally conceded, "This was the biggest blunder of my life." when Edwin Hubble proved without a shadow of doubt the expansion of the universe.
Few today would debate the fact that Einstein's theories have become widely accepted by the scientific community next to the laws of nature defined by Newton, Galileo and Kepler. Even fewer, though, realize or even know about the second part of his theory describing the relationship between time, space, velocity (Special Relativity) and gravity (General Relativity). From our point of reference on the earth, the passing of time has a rather absolute and unchanging appearance. But then, so does our velocity. From our viewpoint along the surface of the earth, we have no sensation whatever that we are moving; yet we are swishing along through space at a smooth 1000 miles per hour as the earth's surface rotates on its central axis. More amazingly, we travel around the sun on the earth's orbit at an astounding 67,000 miles per hour! Yet, from our viewpoint, we sense no evidence of this velocity of motion.
The Universe is Expanding (hence a beginning!)
An overview of Einstein's theory shows us that the passing of time is, in fact, relative to... 1) the velocity from one's current viewpoint (or inertial reference frame) in the universe and 2) the gravity near that point in the universe. The math behind this relationship is not quite so simple as E = mc2, but suffice it to say that the greater the velocity and/or the mass (and resultant gravity), the more compressed the passing of time will be when viewed from a given reference frame. This idea of time being relative (dependent upon our frame of reference in the universe) is profoundly difficult for us to come to grips with. It is most counter intuitive. Yet, we know from a variety of scientifically confirmed observations such as the absolute temperature of the universe in black space (2.73 degrees Kelvin) as evidenced by the omnipresent cosmic background radiation (that ever present time clock of radiation left over from the "big bang" of Creation), and the red shift of distant stars in galaxies beyond the Milky Way, that the universe is expanding at a constant rate.
These facts demand that all observers must view their own special version of time, depending upon their reference frame in the time-space continuum. Viewing this seeming paradox from another angle, it demands that the passing of time is relative to local gravity and/or one’s velocity through that time-space fabric.
Let’s consider a common application of this principle from daily living that each of us likely takes for granted, our current GPS satellite system. If the effect that relativity has on the passing of time in just one day were not taken into account in the mathematical formulae used to triangulate with light waves a specific location on the earth’s surface, the precision of the positioning system would be off by several miles! This is because of the error in distance interjected because the speed of light remains the same for all observers in any reference frame. This means the passing of time on the earth’s surface is noticeably faster (because of gravity’s effect on the passing of time) than that observed at the satellites’ location in space some eleven thousand miles above the earth’s surface.
An even simpler practical conception of this theory’s relevance was revealed when a group of scientists placed two atomic clocks, one atop a tall water tower and another at its base. According to Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, the clock closest to the gravitational field of the earth should run more slowly (i.e. Time is moving faster). And indeed it did!
Time is Relative!
Remembering that when the universe was younger (say, perhaps, during the first few days after its creation), the universe was much more compact. Heavenly bodies, including the earth, were in much closer proximity to each other. Hence, had we been able to be present (as was our Creator) and observed the passing of those first six days from a viewpoint (inertial reference frame) on the surface of an earth surrounded by the almost unimaginably large mass (and gravitational forces) of this compact universe, the passing of those first six days would have been much, much faster compared to our inertial reference frame (frame of reference) on the surface of the earth at its velocity and location in space today (although the passing of time then would have appeared exactly the same as today from that reference frame). Said another way, comparing those first six days to the relative length of time it takes for the passing of "six days" today on the earth, approximately 15.7 billion years would have passed... during those first six days when viewed from today's reference frame! Therefore, as you can see, there really is no conflict between the geologic age of the earth (and the universe) as determined by modern science and that of the Biblical account of Creation in Genesis. It did indeed all occur in six days, defined as morning and evening, the passing of one day just as Genesis states. Our Creator, the designer and sustainer of all that exists, views this universe with its inherent time, space, mass, and physical laws obviously from outside its relative time. Hence, the profound revelation from His Word, Ps. 90:4... "For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night." and 2 Pet. 3:8 ¶ "But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day." (NIV)8
Evolution is not the Answer
Now, don't flinch and leave this discussion thinking that I am drawing the conclusion that just because the earth appears geologically to be very old, that I am somehow trying to leave a crack in the door through which to drive the truck of macroevolution. Quite the contrary, just because the earth appears very old, we need not conclude that God was confined to the use of macroevolution (the gradual generation of new and more complex life forms from earlier and more simple life forms) in order to generate the vast array of life forms we see on the earth today, nor those evident from the fossil record. Many Christian scientists today have bought into this idea of Creation. However, the fossil record fits the order, type, timing, pattern (in phases) and magnitude of plant and animal life as they appeared on the scene in Genesis far more precisely than it does that of gradual macroevolution. The Bible and the geologic and fossil records agree that the strata of plant and animal life suddenly burst onto the scene in clear and distinct phases rather than by way of a gradual process such as macroevolution. In fact, if you do the math, the Genesis account so precisely fits that of the scientific record that one must wonder why all the fuss about rejecting it. It is as though the earth was finely tuned to support the life that was to come during each phase. Following the Creation event, as the earth would become ripe for life of a particular type, God would bring it into being in tremendous phases amidst a perfectly tuned ecosystem.
The correlation between the geologic and Biblical accounts are really quite staggering when compared…
A Practical Insight
One afternoon not long ago, my wife and I were walking along a gravel country road when I reached down and picked up a nearly perfectly spherical sandstone rock. I showed it to her and we speculated upon how nature must have caused it to be so round. A bit further down the same road, I picked up a 5/8 inch hexagonal head steel bolt with a lock washer and a hexagonal nut attached. I passed it to her and said, "amazing how nature could form two such different formations" (referring to the round rock and the bolt assembly). She looked at me wryly and said, "Have you been drinking the cooking sherry?" Had this bolt/washer/nut assembly crashed into one of our space stations from distant space, anyone, virtually regardless of their position on the existence of God, would have concluded that intelligent design was inherently obvious in the bolt/washer/nut assembly.
Yet, we look at the order and staggering complexity inherent within the human genome, and the end products of its templating in the formation of a human organism and conclude that there is no evidence of intelligent design here? Give me a break! If we took the basic ingredients of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet, and brought them into close proximity within a large cauldron of molten elements and compounds, what do you suppose would be the mathematical likelihood of a new 747 forming by random chance over extreme periods of time without outside influence from intelligent design? On the surface, the question seems preposterous. Yet, this is the very logic we use to conclude that random mathematical chance produced entities far more complex than a 747 in the process of natural Darwinian selection working through the macro evolutionary process. How desperate we are to reject God!
Even if we had not been given the Scriptures to reveal God's special revelation to us in nature, one would have to engage a really vivid imagination to buy into the idea of macroevolution. Perhaps you have never really read Charles Darwin's "Origin of Species". It represents a compelling argument favoring gradual evolution if, and only if, you have first completely rejected any possibility of Creation.
God, in fact, pointed out that the Creation speaks so clearly in favor of His existence that we have no excuse for rejecting Him based upon its general revelation. Psalm 19:1,2 ~ "The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge." and Romans 1:20 ~ "For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse." (NASB)8 When science seems to contradict the Bible, we can have confidence in the Scriptures' unfailing truth not because we are dogmatic and follow a blind faith. On the contrary, if we open our eyes in a truly unbiased fashion, science will always reveal the truth of Scripture.
Stop for a moment and think about this. If this macro evolutionary machine is such an efficient producer of plant and animal life, just how many new species have burst onto the scene in the last few thousand years? Don't you think if it were able to produce millions upon millions of species over the geologic ages, that we would have seen evidence of at least one new specie roll off the assembly line every few thousand years? Yet there is not one. All we have is this feeble link of similarity buried in the fossil record of the earth's strata, and a few mutations and genetic drift within a single specie.
Now, how many species have become extinct in your lifetime? Hundreds! What did the Scriptures predict about the decay of Creation after the fall? Rom. 8:21 ..."that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God." (NIV)8 and Genesis 3:16-19 ~ "To the woman He said, "I will greatly multiply Your pain in childbirth, In pain you shall bring forth children; Yet your desire shall be for your husband, And he shall rule over you." Then to Adam He said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat from it'; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you shall eat the plants of the field; By the sweat of your face You shall eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return."(NASB)8
A Word of Caution
For those of you Christian believers who find yourselves wanting to believe such rational logic as this, but also are cautious about leaning on one's own understanding, I applaud your discernment and caution not to be swayed by every new idea the wind blows in. But I also ask that you remember the stories of our number who came before us guarding the Truth of Scripture. When Giordano Bruno, a follower of Copernicus and a contemporary of Galileo, ventured to even suggest that the earth might not be the center of the universe, well meaning but obviously overzealous church clergy took him out back and promptly burned him at the stake for such heresy! Sensing what was coming, Galileo himself escaped the clergy barely with his life after he was forced to publicly renounce his own theories concerning planetary motion.
When the Scriptures use phrases like "the four corners of the earth", "take the earth by the edges", and "from the ends of the earth", we must be careful not to assume these literary forms are meant, in their context, to portray geologic, cosmic or astronomic insights. We have nothing to fear in believing the inerrant Bible. When we see the findings of science in seeming contradiction to the Scriptures, just relax, be patient and learn. Our Creator is sovereign over all He has made. Science can ultimately prove nothing less, nor anything more.
A Comforting Thought
There is just one more point about this relativity issue I would like you to consider. Honestly, did you ever wonder just how it is that God, through Jesus Christ's death on the cross, atoned for the sins of not just those who came after Him, but for those who lived before Him? Does that not strike you as a bit odd? However, in view of general relativity as Einstein presented it in 1915, and certainly as we understand it today in the twenty first century, the event of Christ's atoning work on the cross does not bind God to any time-space absolutes. God is at work from outside our "inertial reference frame" (our point of reference in time-space). Therefore, this event has no time constraints from God's perspective. He is free by His very design of the universe with its time-space elements to perform outside its limits. I find that awfully reassuring.
I have read and reread books on this subject by intense, brilliant, discerning scientists like Stephen Hawking, Ph.D., Donald Chittick, Ph.D., Hugh Ross, Ph.D., Gerald Schroeder, Ph.D. Albert Einstein, and a host of others including textbooks on physics, organic & physical chemistry, and quantum mechanics. Each has excellent points to make and some of these guys might well disagree with my conclusions. The real truth of the matter is, that I do not know for certain whether I am correct about the effect gravity has on the passing of time. However, I believe the factual data I used to arrive at these conclusions is solid and that the concept does not violate Scripture. In fact, it confirms it.
My overarching and compelling reason for even entering this debate rests in a heartfelt hope of bringing Christian brothers together... to give us some common ground upon which we might assemble peacefully, yet continue to expand our knowledge of this incredible Creation.
The next time you stroll off into a patch of hardwoods shedding their amber leaves in a cool autumn breeze, remember what I have said here. Look up into the heavens and know that we are here for a reason… to honor and worship the God who made it all possible, to love those down the street and across the oceans with a passion that would make Him proud.
A. Robert Sheppard, M.D.