Big Bang – The Bible Taught It First!

by Dr. Hugh Ross and John Rea

Most science textbooks that address cosmology credit Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson with the discovery that the universe arose from a hot big bang creation event. While it is true that they were the first (1965) to detect the radiation left over from the creation event,1 they were not the first scientists to recognize that the universe expanded from an extremely hot and compact state. In 1946 George Gamow calculated that nothing less than the universe expanding from a near infinitely hot condition could account for the present abundance of elements.2 In 1929 observations made by Edwin Hubble established that the velocities of galaxies result from a general expansion of the universe.3 Beginning in 1925 Abbé Georges Lemaître, who was both an astrophysicist and a Jesuit priest, was the first scientist to promote a big bang creation event.4

The first direct scientific evidence for a big bang universe dates back to 1916. That is when Albert Einstein noted that his field equations of general relativity predicted an expanding universe.5 Unwilling to accept the cosmic beginning implied by such expansion, Einstein altered his theory to conform with the common wisdom of his day, namely an eternally existing universe.6

All these scientists, however, were upstaged by 2500 years and more by Job, Moses, David, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and other Bible authors. The Bible’s prophets and apostles stated explicitly and repeatedly the two most fundamental properties of the big bang, a transcendent cosmic beginning a finite time period ago and a universe undergoing a general, continual expansion. In Isaiah 42:5 both properties were declared, “This is what the Lord says—He who created the heavens and stretched them out.”

The Hebrew verb translated “created” in Isaiah 42:5 is bara’ which has as its primary definition “bringing into existence something new, something that did not exist before.”7 The proclamation that God created (bara’) the entirety of the heavens is stated seven times in the Old Testament. (Genesis 1:1; 2:3; 2:4; Psalm 148:5; Isaiah 40:26; 42:5; 45:18). This principle of transcendent creation is made more explicit by passages like Hebrews 11:3 which states that the universe that we humans can measure and detect was made out of that which we cannot measure or detect. Also, Isaiah 45:5-22; John 1:3; and Colossians 1:15-17 stipulate that God alone is the agent for the universe’s existence. Biblical claims that God predated the universe and was actively involved in causing certain effects before the existence of the universe is not only found in Colossians 1 but also in Proverbs 8:22-31; John 17:24; Ephesians 1:4; 2 Timothy 1:9; Titus 1:2; and 1 Peter 1:20.

The characteristic of the universe stated more frequently than any other in the Bible is its being “stretched out.” Five different Bible authors pen such a statement in eleven different verses: Job 9:8; Psalm 104:2; Isaiah 40:22; 42:5; 44:24; 45:12; 48:13; 51:13; Jeremiah 10:12; 51:15; and Zechariah 12:1. Job 37:18 appears to be a twelfth verse. However, the word used for “heavens” or “skies” is shehaqîm which refers to the clouds of fine particles (of water or dust) that are located in Earth’s atmosphere,8 not the shamayim, the heavens of the astronomical universe.9 Three of the eleven verses, Job 9:8; Isaiah 44:24; and 45:12 make the point that God alone was responsible for the cosmic stretching.

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