A Lesson from History for the Church
(Understanding the Big Bang)
A few centuries ago three believers, Nicolas Copernicus (1473-1543), Galileo Galilei
(1564-1642) and Johannes Kepler (1571-1630) were all roundly criticized by the Church
for their observations postulating the earth revolved around the sun. Due to current
misinterpretations of the Bible and the acceptance of Ptolemaic cosmology as biblical,
the Church at that time denounced these Christians who could not reconcile their
cosmological observations with current Church dogma. It was Galileo who received the
brunt of Church criticism and persecution when he was warned by Cardinal Bellarmine
under orders from Pope Paul V that he should not discuss or defend Copernican theories.
In 1633 the Inquisition found him guilty of heresy, and he was sent home to house arrest.
In 1992 a papal commission finally acknowledged the Vaticans error.
Today there are those within the Christian Church who have roundly criticized fellow
Christians who have accepted cosmological observations which indicate a universe of
great age approximately 15 billion years and a creation of the universe at that time
commonly called the Big Bang. These observations have been termed heretical
because they are thought to contradict the critics biblical understanding. These critics in
the Church have portrayed other Christians such as Hugh Ross as somehow succumbing
to liberalism by his support of the Big Bang theory. Could it not be that we are facing a
situation very much like that which Galileo faced? He thought all truth is Gods truth,
and therefore thought truly scientific observation and biblical truth to be the same. This
is also what Hugh Ross believes.
Critics of an old universe are forced to make judgments which cast doubt on the very
nature of God himself. If observations confirm an ancient universe: that is, if there is the
general appearance through study that we are dealing with billions of years rather than
with tens of thousands of years as the critics believe, then it would seem that God has
made the universe to appear much older than it really is. This concept of God would not
conform to the kind of God revealed in Scripture who would certainly not mislead us.
Furthermore, if the speed of light has remained constant since creation, then observations
from the Hubble telescope which is picking up light emitted billions of years ago from
distant galaxies would have to be doctored somehow by those holding to a young
universe. They would have to say that somehow either God has drastically changed the
speed of light or that He has somehow made distant galaxies appear to be billions of
light-years away when in fact they are not.
Wouldnt it be better to find a way to harmonize our biblical understanding with
cosmological observations rather than condemning Christians who are simply
registering scientific data much like Galileo did? All truth is still Gods truth! I am
thoroughly convinced that some day critics in the Church who condemn fellow Christians
who hold to an ancient universe will have to eat humble pie much like the Church did in
1992 reversing the condemnation of Galileo for his obviously correct observations of the