Saturday, March 14, 2015

Big Bang Question (Duncan)


I'm not ideologically committed to one theory of the cosmos like the Big Bang, but it seems that a Christian must be committed to some view of the universe that accepts a beginning and creation of the world (Gen 1:1). The Big Bang theory could turn out to be wrong; however, that would not mean that the universe is eternal or uncreated or did not have a beginning. Nevertheless, the Big Bang still lives in scientific circles--it is healthy and thriving in this way:

"Let us focus first on mainstream science. To what evidence does it appeal? The evidence comes primarily from geology and astronomy. The mainstream claims that the geologic formations contain rocks that were formed millions of years ago. And astronomers claim that by extrapolating backward from the present motions of distant galaxies, we arrive at a time about 14 billion years ago, when the matter and energy of the present visible universe were concentrated in a very small region of space, from which they moved outward explosively in a 'Big Bang.' The universe then gradually expanded outward to its present size" (Vern Poythress, Redeeming Science: A God-Centered Approach. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2006, page 101).

This quote from Poythress' work abides by copyright law for the United States of America. It qualifies as fair use.

Let's also not forget Alan Guth's "inflationary universe" idea which was supposed to be confirmed last year by the observation of "strong gravity waves." That development possibly was one of the big letdowns of 2014.


Duncan said...


My video was just one of the many reasons to be weary of a "big bang" beginning. There is much in the data that cannot easily be reconciled with it.

In the beginning god created (filled out, fattened) the sky and the land.

We have to be careful not to push a text beyond it's natural limits. All the text that follows is concerned with the sky and the land & that which resides within them.

I have found no theory as yet with enough weight of evidence to be convincing, scientifically, to prove or disprove anything with regards to the universes origin. I am also reluctant to use Bereshit 1 as a justification for an attempt to do so.

I am wary of siding with any hypothesis just because it fit's a preconception.

Current science in these areas is extremely biases, blinkered & more importantly extremely limited, just as it is for Darwinism.

Neither a creationist nor a Darwinist - but he sees the fundamental holes in that theory - this video also applies to the "geological" dating you reference.

I always think of phlogiston as a useful reminder and warning against putting too much store in mainstream "science".

I am not opposed to the universe having a beginning - but that is my faith.

Edgar Foster said...


it would take a long time to interact with each area of minor disagreement, so I'm not going there now. Just a few points below:

Are you questioning the scriptural and scientific basis for a cosmic beginning? Well, all scientific and logical "proof" for a cosmic origin will always be provisional or limited insofar as the proof is inductive. We can only deal with probabilities in science or logic (philosophy) or with the preponderance of evidence. You will never find apodictic evidence/proof for any empirical idea. It's not possible.

As for scripture, to the weaving of interpretations, there's no end. But I find it hard to believe that Almighty God has left us in a spiritual ditch with no substantive guidance whatsoever. Faith, science and reason don't have to be divorced from one another: they are complementary.

I make this last point clear as well: I'm not advocating any cosmic theory. My only point is that there's scientific and revelatory factors that support the notion of a cosmic beginning. Many scientists--even agnostics and atheists--have taken the idea of a universal beginning seriously. That the cosmos had a beginning is not only a matter of faith, but is evidenced by science (though not all concur in science), by reason, and scripture.

Edgar Foster said...


I'm no Darwinist--not by a long shot. Moreover, we need to exercise caution when reading secular literature which includes "mainstream science." Yet a universe that begins is not just limited to scientific theory, religion or philosophical speculation. Varying lines of evidence support the earth beginning, and besides, it's what the holy scriptures say.

Duncan said...


The earths inhabitable beginnings should not be confused with THE beginning.

I am in no way suggesting that you are a Darwinist - my point of posting that video was in relation to the overlapping subject of the dating of the geological record.

Almighty God has given us what we need to know - why do you feel my point would leave us in a spiritual ditch? Is anything beyond our beginnings currently what we need to know?

If verses 1&2 encompasses the verses that follow it would makes logical sense & is very relevant to us.

Faith, science and reason - yes we need them all in balance.

Edgar Foster said...


Gen 1:1 is not just about the earth, but includes the "heavens" which scholarly works and lexica will tell you refers to something on the cosmic level. The opening verse takes us further than reporting an inhabitable start for earth.

As for the geological record, it was a side point. I have no strong opinions/real concerns about the geological record. Earth may/may not be 4.5 billion years old. In truth, we don't know for sure.

My comment about the spiritual ditch was made b/c it seems you were saying that we must remain unsure about our cosmic origins. Did the universe have a beginning or not? Does Gen 1:1 teach that the universe had a beginning? I took you to be saying that (in scripture) we have no clear statement about God creating the universe, nor does science indicxate that the cosmos had a start. Maybe I did not understand your statements.

Gen 1:1 has been interpreted many different ways, but the best rendering appears to be one that acknowledges the writer is saying something about our cosmic origins..

Duncan said...

So how do we differentiate between verse 1 & verses 8,20?

What about in contrast to psalms 148:4, Deuteronomy 10:14, 1 Kings 8:27 & Psalm 115:16?

Duncan said...

Edgar Foster said...


I'm not trying to be dismissive at all, since you ask very good questions, IMO. But I'm sure you're aware of the different ways heaven is used scripturally.

Gen 1:1 seems to be discussing the absolute beginning, not just the start of earth's inhabitable origins. The verse doesn't merely state that God created the heavens (sky) or earth, but that it was "in the beginning."

Please see

Each verse must be read in context. For example, the "heavens of the heavens" (1 Kings 8:27) describes something different from just writing "the heavens." It appears to be superlative usage by the speaker (King Solomon).

Ps 115:16 should be read in the light of 115:15 and Gen 14:22. Compare Deut 4:19; 10:14; Isa 66:1; Revelation 14:6.

JimSpace said...

Let me offer this explanation. Context clearly helps us differentiate the "heavens" in the creation account. Genesis 1:1 pertains to the cosmic heavens since the creative days are about the development of the earth. The heavens in 1:8 are identified in that verse and in verse 7 as being the atmospheric heavens developed during Day 2 of the creation week. In verse 20 the heavens are identified in that verse as being the atmospheric heavens now occupied by flying creatures of Day 5.

Context also helps us identify the heavens in the other scriptures referenced.

Edgar Foster said...

I don't have time to remark on all the verses you referenced in the link above, but we can see that "heaven" (sky) has different uses in the Tanach. For example, "The LORD your God has multiplied you, and behold, you are today as numerous as the stars of heaven" (Deut 1:10 ESV).

Why limit the heavens in this verse to the sky wherein birds fly?

Edgar Foster said...

There are more recent Hebrew lexica, but BDB is just easier for me to use since my primary studies are Greek/Latin. The entry for "heaven" can be found here:

I believe other lexica would dovetail with BDB.

Duncan said...

As you say context is king - but it does not prove the usage or meaning of an idiom - heaven of heaven. We need comparison for a frame of reference just as we do for 2 Corinthians 12:2

As for "in the beginning." this in itself is highly debatable & this is why the latest JPS study edition has for its primary translation - "When god began to create".

Duncan said...

The proto-semitic has the pictograph of the palm of the hand representing a covering, followed by picture of a tent. Combined these mean "covering of the tent" - this we translate as stars.

So when referring to stars as the "universe" we must also look at how these were understood when this text was written.

Edgar Foster said...

Context (literary cotext)establishes how a word/expression is being used in a particular verse/passage. Parallel passages from various sources or within the same text help establish idioms.

Scholars have thoroughly studies 1 Kings 8:27, and many commentaries have been written about the book itself. Please see for a start.

From the Cambridge Bible on 1 Kings 8:27:

the heaven and heaven of heavens] The expression is found in Deuteronomy 10:14; Ps. 67:36, Ps. 113:16, and is used to express the widest compass of heaven.

Duncan said...

bara = create?

Edgar Foster said...

Why not consult scholarly Hebrew sources. I'm not saying that we should be enslaved to lexica or scholarly monographs/articles, but the guys/girls who have studied Hebrew for years on an academic level are worth reading most of the time. The Complete Word Study of the Old Testament makes these statements about BARA and you can find them in other works too:

"The basic meaning of ASAH is 'do' or 'make' in a general sense . . . In the account of creation, BARA and ASAH alternate. BARA conveys the thought of creation ex nihilo (out of nothing), while ASAH is broader in scope and dealt with refinement. In other words, The emphasis was on fashioning the created objects . . . Cf. Gen. 8:6, 33:17, Ex.
25:10, 11, 13, 17."

This source adds:

"However, the word ASAH is used in Scripture to describe God's
creative activity (Ps. 86:9, 95:5; 96:5) See the Greek word MOCHTHOS 3449, NT" (The Complete Word Study-Old Testament, p. 2353).

In contrast, the word BARA can mean, "to create, form, make, produce; to cut, to cut down; to engrave, to carve. This word occurs in the very first verse of the Bible (Gen. 1:1). BARA emphasizes the initiation
of the object, not manipulating it after original creation. The word as used in Qal refers only to an activity which can be performed by God . . . The word also has the meaning of "bringing into existence . . . Therefore it is not surprising it is used in Gen. 1:1, 21,, 27; 2:3" (Ibid., p. 2306).

G.J. Wenham also makes
this point in his Word commentary on Genesis:

"That God did create the world out of nothing is certainly implied by other OT passages which speak of his creating everything by his word
and his existence before the world (Ps 148:5; Prov 8:22-27)
(Ridderbos OTS 12 [1958] 257). Though such an interpretation of Gen 1:1 is quite possible, the phraseology used [in Gen 1:1] leaves the author's precise meaning uncertain on this point" (Genesis, page 1:14).

So while Gen 1:1 might not be full-blown creatio ex nihilo, Wenham and others show that BARA can have the meaning, "to create."

Duncan said...


This all seems like slight of hand. In gen 1 god creates man & then in gen 2 god forms man from the dirt?

This does lead me the wonder what the early english bible translators had in mind when using the term "create" looking at its related Latin terms. It,s also interesting how the first hebrew definition mimics the latin almost to the letter & also uses the Latin term.

Conservation of energy is the important aspect, not matter. Dynamic energy.

I am familular with the two hebrew terms.
Initiation of the object does not encompass the elements use. Like cutting and carving a fat or succulent tree or to cut the fat. However you look at it, it is something from something & if this is the case then what is the something?

They also seem confused as to the relationship between word & the spirit (breath) that flutters. Don't church fathers speak of father and son being of the same "substance", being spirit or wind that follows a prescribed path? I always wondered why there is no NT term translated as action the directed use of energy. Why " god is spirit" (serving him in actions and truth) is not seen in the same light as "god is love".

I think Jeff has been working on this subject to more than 15 years & is recognised by many as ground breaking (some of those working with him I can only describe as fanatically enthusiastic to find better answers to the problems in near eastern languages). Being self funded, partly through his books, he chooses how he concentrates his energies and I am convinced that given time some of his work will become mainstream.

Edgar Foster said...


I don't see a necessary problem between Gen 1 and 2. God "creates" the heavens and the earth (Gen 1:1; he "makes" male and female in his image and likeness (1:26-27); he then "forms" the man from the "dust" of the ground and breathes into him the breath of life (2:7), before he makes Eve from Adam's rib. Different language is used in these verses and it's possible that Gen 1 & 2 are complementary (not contradictory) accounts.

Maimonides argues for creatio ex nihilo although he believes that reason cannot settle the issue; only revelation can. I don't see why we have to reject the testimony of many church scholars, and Jewish rabbis regarding the creation of the world. Even if Christianity replaced Judaism as God's congregation, the ancient and medieval rabbis certainly knew how to read Hebrew. Did they really get the possible denotation of BARA so wrong? Even if the Bible doesn't teaach a full-blown doctrine of creatio ex nihilo, it does say that God created all things in more than one place or that he produced heaven and earth (stars, moon, and all).

Yes, the church fathers do speak of Father and Son being "one substance." However, by substance talk, they do not mean that the Father and Son consubstantially are spirit or like the wind. The usual explanation is that the Father and the Son are both divine (each person of the Trinity is God and of one substance in that sense).

Jeff's motives seem to be well-intentioned, but I completely disagree with his methodology and conclusions. While it's possible that some of his ideas could become mainstream, I'm not counting on it.