Ever since the “Big Bang Theory” was proposed, Christians have engaged the secular world in the seemingly endless debate over the origins of the universe. Recently, scientists believe they have found the “smoking gun” for the Big Bang (or more accurately, the theory of “inflation,” i.e., that the universe has been ‘inflating,’ or expanding, over time, and that this expansion originated with some type of explosion or explosion-like phenomenon). Some claim this is irrefutable evidence for the Big Bang theory, a seeming minority disagree. Even within evangelical circles there is debate over the validity of the Big Bang.
Despite the arguments, one must ask whether this debate is fruitful. While Emeal Zwayne of “The Comfort Zone” argues that “these theories have ramifications”—and he is correct—the consequences are a matter of interpretation. A Christian can look at the Big Bang and conclude God caused it, an atheist would interpret the results as an unexplained natural phenomenon devoid of any higher power outside nature. Thus, this debate is more a distraction than anything else.
While the secular scientific community seeks to disprove God, or seeks to prove its own theories that exclude any divine causation, they create what I call the Big Bang Trap. This trap lures Christians into a debate that neither proves nor disproves the biblical account. Christians pounce on the lure and end up in a debate that they will never win, and end up losing not only the battle over life’s origins, but also the battles over individual souls.
How the Big Bang Trap Works
Despite anyone’s claim to the contrary, no philosopher or scientist approaches their theories with absolute objectivity; there is always a presupposition or overriding worldview that helps shape the research and, often, the analysis. As many in the secular world investigate the Big Bang, they approach their research under the presuppositions that (1) the Big Bang is a factual historical event, (2) it occurred billions of years ago, (3) the universe evolved over time through the process of Darwinian evolution (natural selection), and (4) there is no God that caused it (many Christian Big Bang advocates would disagree with premises 3 and 4, but would accept 1 and 2). Thus, as evidence is discovered, it is interpreted through this lens; any conclusion to the contrary must be rejected.
When a Christian who disputes any aspect of the Big Bang theory enters into the debate, they enter with a completely different set of presuppositions. They believe (1) the Big Bang is mere theory, (2) the age of the universe cannot be truly known, (3) God created the universe and life, and (4) there is a God. This is where the trap is triggered. The secular scientist who rejects God invites the Christian to debate the Big Bang, but to do so on the premises of the secular scientist (see above paragraph). In order to refute the Big Bang, the Christian must first prove there is a God, prove that God created all things, disprove the theory of evolution, disprove the commonly-accepted age of the universe, prove the true age of the universe, etc. Basically, the Christian must disprove all the atheistic/agnostic secular scientist’s presuppositions, prove all the countermanding Christian presuppositions long before they ever debate the validity of the Big Bang.
Such a task is not impossible, but it is very difficult. However, when Christians enter the debate over the Big Bang, they fall into the trap of having to first debate many other scientific theories and, thus, change the presuppositions and ground rules for debate that the secular scientist already established. Any attempt to change the rules or presuppositions is immediately rejected as the Christian failing to be objective.
“So, how is this a trap? The debates are worthwhile,” you say. The trap is not that the debate is worthless. The trap is that the Christian becomes so overwhelmed and burdened trying to change the rules of the debate that they forget the real debate. The trap is that the Christian becomes so focused on disproving the Big Bang that the bigger truth is forsaken.
The Big Bang Debate is a Distraction
The reality is that while the Big Bang theory has ramifications, its impact is relatively small. Scripture tells us that God created the heavens and the earth (Gen 1:1). That is not disputed amongst Christians. However, Genesis tells us only that God created, not how He created. It is quite possible that God, through a big bang, created the entire universe and spread it out. From there, He formed all we know. Within God’s sovereign power and will, this could have taken seven literal days, or many years.
I do not know how God created, nor do I believe anyone will ever fully know or understand how God created. Moses did not intend to give is a scientific outline of the exact process of creation, but he did intend to establish the fact that God created. Genesis (and somewhat the gospel of John) does give some indications of the order of creation, and that order does contradict accepted scientific facts, such as light preceding the source of that light (but then, God is God, and He has many times operated contrary to the laws of science and mathematics that He established).
Does the Big Bang theory necessarily negate God as creator as recorded in Scripture? No. However, debate over the validity can be a vain distraction. Sometimes as Christians seek to disprove the Big Bang, they fall into the trap of endless scientific arguments over a plethora of issues. Meanwhile, the bigger truth is forsaken. While we may argue over the Big Bang, we must never ignore the bigger truth of Christ: Calvary and the empty tomb (we must never focus on the cross and ignore the tomb, cf. 1 Cor 15).
The Bigger Truth is the Gospel
Nobody will go to hell for accepting or rejecting the Big Bang theory. However, everyone who dies without faith in Christ as risen Lord and Savior is condemned already (John 3:18). The Big Bang does not disprove God, but without Jesus there is no salvation (Acts 4:12). The bigger truth is that Jesus came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10). As we debate the scientific questions, we must not fall into traps that distract us from our primary mission of making disciples (Matt 28:19). The Gospel is the bigger truth that we must tell the world (Rom 1:16-17).
What is the Gospel? It is the truth that we all are sinners. Nobody is qualified to be in God’s holy, perfect presence. We’re all guilty and have earned the penalty of death. But God, in His love and mercy, sent Jesus to pay the penalty of death for sin. On the third day, Jesus rose from the tomb and later ascended to heaven. All those who put their faith in Jesus, confess Him as Savior, and believe that God raised Him from the dead will be saved!
That is the the bigger truth, that is the Gospel, that is the mission. Don’t be distracted by the Big Bang Trap, but be focused on the Big Gospel Truth!