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Benjamin L. Corey

Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is an author, speaker, scholar, and global traveler, who holds graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, and received his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller. He is the author of Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus, and Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith.

Science: The Universe Has Always Existed (Really Bad News for Young Earth Creationism)

 

A fascinating new scientific theory about the beginning of the universe is now floating around: it’s not billions of years old after all.

The new idea? The universe has eternally existed, and has no beginning.

Until now the dominant scientific view is that, somewhere around 13 billion years ago, there was a single point which exploded (AKA, the “Big Bang”). This explosive moment marked the beginning of the universe– everything that exists was born from a single point they call the “singularity.”

However, some scientists are now saying not so fast. The original theory of the Big Bang is based on Einstein’s theory of general relativity, but as scientists recently applied some quantum corrections to the model, they walked away with a new theory: the universe has existed forever. A big explosion occurred at some point, yes– but not one that essentially arose out of nothingness, or marked an actual beginning.

Instead, all that exists has always existed, according to the new theory.

This new model is being advanced by Ahmed Farag Ali at Benha University and Saurya Das at the University of Lethbridge, and has interesting implications.

According to the Richard Dawkins Foundation, some of the problems or limitations with the old understanding of the Big Bang can now be resolved in the Ali/Das model where the “universe has no beginning and no end.”

EarthSky.org summarizes the implications of the new theory this way:

“[W]ithout the singularity, this model predicts that the universe had no beginning. It existed forever as a kind of quantum potential before collapsing into the hot dense state we call the Big Bang.”

For Christians, the idea that the universe may have always existed alongside God invites us to embrace a slightly different narrative than the narrative where God created everything “out of nothing.” In this new narrative (which isn’t new at all, actually), we’re invited to embrace a story where God isn’t so much a creator of something out of nothing, but a God who tames the chaos of the universe to give order, purpose, and to create beauty.

It’s creating– but a different kind of creating.

Thus, when we read the Genesis poem and see the spirit of God “hovering above the waters” we see a God exploring this eternally existing universe, and seeking ways to tame, create, and spring  forth new life.

Certainly, the idea that the universe is eternal with no beginning and no end is just in the scientific hypothesis stage. If it were to become widely accepted however, I don’t think it would be earth shattering for many– but it would be to Young Earth Creationists, such as friends like Ken Ham at Answers in Genesis.

For those of us who grew up in Young Earth Creationism (show of hands?), we know that the name is entirely mislabeled. It’s not just “young earth” we were taught to believe in, but young universe. Everything that exists, from the known to the unknown, is just 7,000-10,000 years old. All beliefs, whether scientific or otherwise, are first filtered through this original assumption. Thus, a young universe is the very foundation that holds the entire worldview together.

Very few worldviews are a house of cards where if one falls, they all fall– but Young Earth Creationism actually is a house of cards (season 4 comes out today, BTW)Those who hold this view are often open about this fact (claiming that for them, if the earth is older than 7-10,000 years, the entire Bible is worthless), which is why they will go to any length to defend it.

This theory of an eternal universe, more than any other scientific idea in history, is the most threatening to that belief system.

Whereas before the discussion was debating a universe that’s a few thousand vs. a few billion years old (you say tomato, I say tomaaato), this one is a game changer– because you can’t get further apart than young universe vs. eternally existing universe.

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Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is a cultural anthropologist, public theologian, writer, speaker, global traveler, and tattoo collector. He is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell with graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies, and went on to receive his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller. He is the author of Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, and Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus. In addition to his blog, Formerly Fundie, his work has been regularly featured by a wide array of media outlets such as TIME magazine and CNN, among others.

BLC

Benjamin L. Corey

BLC is a cultural anthropologist, public theologian, writer, speaker, global traveler, and tattoo collector. He is a two-time graduate of Gordon-Conwell with graduate degrees in Theology & Intercultural Studies, and went on to receive his doctorate in Intercultural Studies from Fuller. He is the author of Unafraid: Moving Beyond Fear-Based Faith, and Undiluted: Rediscovering the Radical Message of Jesus. In addition to his blog, Formerly Fundie, his work has been regularly featured by a wide array of media outlets such as TIME magazine and CNN, among others.

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But let's be honest-- this is pretty #$@%! close.

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  • rationalobservations? says:

    Why do you merely consider the two conflicting creation myths (Gen1 andGen2) within judeo-christer mythology, Ben Corey?

    The imaginary Judeo-christian-islamic “creator god” is nothing special and far from unique.

    A “creator deity” is difficult to understand because it doesn’t show itself except through the mythology of men. It doesn’t explain how or when or why it made the universe and us. So people develop stories or allegories to explain to them “the inexplicable” that is mostly now explained by modern science: How did our universe come to be?

    There was probably really never any creator who vomited up everything, or who fought a monster and sliced up her body and created the world from it, or who hatched the universal egg on her stomach and created the world and heavens from its parts, or indeed a tribal deity named “Yahweh” who merely wished the vast and infinite Universe into existence from nothing fewer than 6000 years ago. It’s uncertain if people truly believed these things happened, but these exact stories were first told long ago by ignorant and primitive but imaginative men.

    To give a flavor of just one people’s telling of a creation tale, here is a short excerpt from the very first part of the American Indian Navajo creation story Dine bahan é:

    Of a long time ago, long ago these things are said.

    It is said that at To bil dahisk’id white arose in the east and was considered day. We now call that spot Place Where the Waters Crossed.

    Blue arose in the south. It too was considered day. So the Nilch’I diné’e, who already lived there, moved around. We would call them Air-Spirit People in the language spoken today by those who are given the name Bilagaana, which means White Man.

    In the west yellow arose and showed that evening had come. Then in the north black arose. So the Air-Spirit People lay down and slept.— From the book Diné bahane: The Navajo Creation Story, University of New Mexico Press, Paul G. Zolbrod, editor and translator.

    The text of the Navajo creation story runs 300 pages in Zolbrod’s book, and it tells a lot about ancient Navajo Indians.

    It is fortunate the Navajo people have such a complete creation story from many centuries ago. Other indigenous people are not so lucky. Many ancient people’s stories were never recorded and are lost because their cultures or civilizations ended by attrition or in various disasters, including colonialism, imperialism, and genocide.

    Below is a list of 20 “creator gods” as told by real people in real religions and cultures at various times around the world down through the ages. Some of these beings have fallen out of favor and have no believers left. Some were imagined or prophesied about thousands of years ago. Others, though their stories are old, are still loved and worshiped today:

    Atum of Egypt, “the not-yet-Completed One who will attain completion” and dwelt in the primordial depths, masturbated to create the father and mother of the earth and sky.

    Nammu is the Sumerian mother ancestress who gave birth to all the gods.

    Enki of Sumer impregnated the lovely Ninhursag, who was the mother of the land.

    Marduk of Babylon sliced up the body of the terrible monster Tiamat and formed all of creation from her corpus.

    Marduk and Tiamat ( Wikimedia Commons )

    The Persian gods Ahura Mazda, who fashioned all that is positive on Earth, and Ahriman, who fashioned all that is negative, are still believed in by Zoroastrians.

    Awonawilona was the Zuni god who existed before the beginning and who contained the universe within his male and female self.

    In Jewish Cabala, the Aged of the Aged, Unknown of the Unknown, Truth of all Truths, Form without Form, the Uncreated Uncreating has an unblinking face, Makroposopos, always seen in profile. On it is the blinking face of the Uncreated Creating, Mikroprosopos. Joseph Campbell describes them in his book The Hero With a Thousand Faces . Campbell said Cabalists believe Makroposopos is the “I AM” of the Old Testament, and the Mikroprosopos is named God.

    The Bible’s El or Elohim, worshipped by more than any other people and still invoked today by Christians, Jews and Muslims, saw that the earth was a shapeless, chaotic mass and divided the light from darkness and brought the world and all in it into being.

    Elohim created Adam by William Blake ( Wikimedia Commons )

    Kali Ma is the Dark Mother of Hinduism dwelling in an ocean of her own blood. Still worshiped, she is goddess of creation, preservation and destruction and has terrible aspect and benevolent aspects.

    The god known as Io-matua-te-kora,”Io the parentless,” is one of several creators to Polynesian people. Polynesian creation stories began with Te Kore, chaos, or the void. Then Te Pō, the night, and Te Ao Mārama, the world of light, come in. “There are numerous stages of Te Kore, Te Pō and Te Ao Mārama recorded in different whakapapa [genealogical tables] with each stage begetting the next. Sequences vary in different tribal retellings,” says The Encyclopedia of New Zealand.

    Kiho of Tuomotua, another Polynesian god of New Zealand people, mused all potential things and caused his thought to be invoked.

    The Dogon people still worship Amma, who created the egg from which hatched the twins who came forth as male and female, day and night, wet and dry, land beings and water beings, and good and evil. “The notion of a creator god named Amma or Amen is not unique to the Dogon but can also be found in the religious traditions of other West African and North African groups,” says Encyclopedia Britannica .

    Bunjil of Australia formed rivers, trees, plants and hills from the bare lands and then men from the clay. His brother Bat created women from mud in the depths of the water.

    Bumba of the Congo was a giant white god in human form who got a stomachache and vomited up the sun and moon and stars. He got sick again and vomited up the living creatures — a leopard, a crested eagle, a crocodile, a small fish, a tortoise, a white heron a beetle, a goat, and then created humans.

    Kururumany of the Arawaks was a creator who created men and goodness. Kulmina created women. Christopher Columbus and his henchmen killed off the Arawak Indians with murder, slavery and disease beginning in 1492 when the “conquistadores” came to Hispaniola and the New World.

    Luonnotar of Finland was all alone in the vast emptiness of space and then came down to the sea, where the wind caressed her bosom and the seas made her fertile. The great Roc visited her and made a nest upon her upthrust pelvis and laid eggs there, which made her aroused and excited, causing the eggs to spill out and break, the shells forming the earth and sky, the yolks the sun, the whites the moon, the spotted fragments the stars, and the black fragments the clouds.

    Pangu of China also hatched the universe from a cosmic egg.

    Earth diver, known to many peoples around the world, dove down into the first waters and brought up mud or earth from which the world took shape.

    Big Bang is the immeasurably dense basketball or smaller-sized singularity, the Primeval Fireball that contained everything, even the matter and energy that compose all of us, our world and the stars and space dust. As the song says, “We are stardust …”

    Vishnu, loved by hundreds of millions of Hindus still today, evolved from the primordial reality of praktri and then created the universe through austerities and meditation.

    If some Unknowable and Formless Ancient of Ancients, or some goddess-woman visited by a huge egg-laying bird, or some lonely being who just mused and magically wished everything into being (from nothing!) actually created our world, it takes a total dumb@$$ to believe in such things.

  • totalfreedom45 . says:

    True science is humble and proceeds little by little finding things about reality hesitantly without dogmatic pronouncements and pontifications. Therein lies its power.

    Science has proof without certainty. 🔬🔭
    Religion has certainty without proof.

    “Science flies you to the moon. 🚀 Religion flies you into buildings.” ✈️ —Victor J Stenger

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