The Difficulty with Genesis 1:1

by Sean McDowell

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).

Difficulty #1: Doesn’t science claim the universe is eternal? If so, how can it have a beginning?

Explanation: The First Law of Thermodynamics states that matter and energy can be changed from one form to another, but it cannot be created or destroyed. For centuries scientists believed the universe was uncaused and eternal.

In the early part of the twentieth century the scientific community was confronted with the ramifications of Albert Einstein’s general theory of relativity. Like most scientists of the day, Einstein assumed the universe was static and eternal. Yet his mathematical equation of relativity pointed strongly toward a universe that was either expanding or contracting. While this seemed to unsettle him, Einstein later accepted that the universe had a finite past. Why did he change his mind?

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In 1929 cosmologist Edwin Hubble used his hundred-inch telescope to demonstrate that light from distant galaxies was shifting toward the red end of the light spectrum. This meant that the universe was expanding in all directions. This was a powerful confirmation of Einstein’s findings that the universe is not static but at some point in time had a beginning.1 This first moment of existence is now referred to as the singularity, which is an edge or boundary to space-time itself. According to Professor Paul Davies at Oregon State University, “For this reason most cosmologists think of the initial singularity as the beginning of the universe.”2

This doesn’t mean that all scientists necessarily accept God as the best explanation for the beginning of the universe, but most now believe that the universe began to exist at a finite point in the past. It appears that many in the scientific community have caught up with the biblical declaration that “in the beginning…”

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