Friday, February 5, 2021

Leftovers of the Initial Creation Event

 With a nod to the spectacular, we recently posted accounts of the ‘great planetary conjunction’ of Jupiter and Saturn, a spectacular rare total solar eclipse, a beautiful comet visitor, and a fireball meteor which spread treasured fragments of cosmic matter on our home planet’s surface. We resist focusing exclusively on overly spectacular astronomical phenomena. Everyday environmental events provide plentiful examples of natural wonder.  

There is nothing boring about sunrises and sunsets, the common star-filled sky (and perhaps the cloud cover obscuring the stellar show), ubiquitous common insects, (even in the spring), gentle rain events, plant growth, ordinary animal behavior, and  dozens of other daily events in which we are immersed.

Bear with us as we develop our case for divine creation, utilizing the term “leftover,” not in a pejorative but rather in a positive sense.

We highlighted both the spectacular and the mundane in our opening paragraphs. Both suggest a rich history. What came before? In terms of the ‘spectaculars mentioned in our opening paragraph: Are the gas giant planets Jupiter and Saturn “leftovers” of a divine creation event? Is Earth’s Moon, a main player in solar and lunar eclipses, a “leftover?” Are comets, fireball meteors, and meteorites “leftovers?” We ask, “Leftovers from what?” In terms of more ordinary phenomena including mountains and living things, could we make a case for creation’s leftovers? If we agree that the Big Bang, occurring 13.8 billion years ago, was God’s initial act of creation in our universe, the answer is an emphatic “Yes.”

For many, the issue of a young earth is important. They interpret the seven “days” as literal rather than figurative. They do not acknowledge that Genesis days could be anything other than literal 24-hour days. Their position forces then to the conclusion that Earth and the universe itself is only six to ten thousand years old.

The position of our blog and the position of the John Ankerberg ministry is that diverse interpretations of the Hebrew yom (day) in early chapters of Genesis allow for a very ancient Planet Earth and universe in accord with multiple discoveries of historical science. Most scientists are in agreement that there is overwhelming evidence that the Big Bang occurred 13.8 billion years ago. On the same time scale Planet Earth originated about 4.5 billion years ago and simple life first appeared about 3.8 billion years ago. Fully modern humanity appeared very recently—about 50,000 to 65,000 years ago. At that time there was a significant leap in the ability of homo sapiens. That human achievement leap is described as a cultural explosion. Some analysts call this ability leap evidence of a divine creation event.

Recently I was challenged to recommend a book supporting the relationship of science and faith. I offered a volume by theologian C. John Collins, entitled “Science and Faith: Friends or Foes?” (Crossway Books, 2003). The 400-page volume is a comprehensive defense of Collins’ confidence in science and its relationship to faith. Collins states, “I have already given you my reasons for rejecting the claim that the Bible teaches a young earth…” He outlines theories proposed by theologian/physicists John Polkinghorne and Ian Barbour:

     “About 15 billion…years ago, space, time, and the universe began when the initial 

     singularity—all the matter and energy compressed into a point with zero

     dimensions—suddenly began expanding unimaginably rapidly. (Theorists disagree

     on how rapidly, and how the rate has changed over time.) After the first three

     minutes, atomic nuclei could form, yielding helium and hydrogen; after about

     500,000 years, the lighter elements could be formed. After about a billion years 

     of expansion, the stars and galaxies began to form, in which the heavier elements

     were produced. Some of these stars have died and some have scattered their

     matter—this is how the basic building blocks for biological systems became

     available. About 4 1/2 billion years ago planet earth was formed, condensed out

     of cosmic clouds. Biological life first appeared on earth about 3 - 3 1/2  billion

     years ago.”

Note the citation of the formation of planet earth in the quote above. As planets formed from the gas cloud, likewise, comets and meteors formed in the same way. In Collins’ words they formed from rocky masses and frozen gases which “bashed into each other and fused.” In our times planets, meteors, meteorites, and comets remain as “leftovers” from the initial Big Bang creation event. These leftovers are composed of “heavy elements” formed from “light elements” helium and hydrogen. Primeval stars exploded into supernovae. Light elements fused and spread heavy elements, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, and other heavy elements into space. Living things are now composed of light and heavy elements—“leftovers” from the Big Bang. (Carl Sagan in his TV series Cosmos once voiced, “We’re made of star stuff.” Sagan was not a Christian, but he was correct in his “star stuff” utterance.)

Throughout Earth history our Creator has performed miracles. In other posts we have categorized miracles as (1) sustaining, (2) transformational, or (3) transcendent. We recognize the Big Bang as “God’s initial creative act.” In this universe it qualifies as a transcendent miracle. The origin of life on our planet, including fully modern humanity, is a transcendent miracle. Other events such as the formation of planets from gas clouds could be classified transformational miracles. Everyday maintenance of the orderly physical system exemplifies ongoing sustaining miracles. In all these categories, our Creator is at work to manifest His glory.

The Creator endowed matter with a coherent set of physical laws and physical constants by which the current cosmic order has achieved its present maturity. We speak of a wondrous endowment: God’s handiwork is present in thousands of ways within our sphere of existence. Science has discovered how the manifold physical systems operate. We observe creation miracles each day. For these gifts we offer God our thankful worship.