By Dr. Jeff Zweerink
Did the universe begin to exist or has it always existed? RTB argues that strong biblical and scientific evidence point to a beginning. We would say the Bible claims that the universe began to exist and that science can address the assertion. This notion of a beginning represents a significant, testable claim of Christianity, and the standard model of cosmology—an inflationary big bang—definitely points to a beginning.
However, scientists occasionally publish articles claiming that new research disproves the big bang or, more pointedly, indicates that the universe has existed forever. I expect to see more of these types of articles in the future. Thus, I want to articulate some key points related to the question of a beginning and to think through the issues to help you understand the nature of the problem and the proposed answers.
Theological and Scientific Background
From a biblical perspective, the doctrine of creation ex nihilo states that there was nothing but God and, by means of his incalculable wisdom and infinite power alone, God brought the universe (all matter, energy, time, and space) into existence from nothing. That the early church fathers placed this doctrine alongside Jesus’ incarnation, death, and resurrection illustrates its importance. One reasonable inference of creation ex nihilo is that the universe began to exist.
Big bang cosmology provides strong scientific support for the idea of a beginning. Albert Einstein’s development of the theory of general relativity (GR), Edwin Hubble’s discovery of the expansion of the universe, and Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose’s space-time theorems all point strongly to a beginning for the universe.
Originally formulated in the 1960s and 1970s, the space-time theorems show that as a star collapses to form a black hole, GR leads to an end of time inside the black hole. Then, given the expansion of the universe, these theorems demonstrate that enough mass exists to force a similar conclusion for the entire universe when time is run backwards. Consequently, the theorems prove that a singularity (a point at which the density becomes infinite) marks the beginning of the universe’s existence…
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