It was some years ago when I was reading Stephen Hawking’s “A brief history of time”, a great book to understand somethings about our universe in plain English. I was always fascinated by space travel and I still love to read about the universe and how it operates. My single greatest curiosity is still, “whats out there 5 billion light years away?”, and it was the same when I was a child. I still wish I could one day travel into space (highly unlikely), I never was good with maths so despite my love of physics I am not a very technical guy when it comes to calculations and I hear that the guys who go up there have to be very intelligent, oh well, never mind.
What I was reading was that, how Einstein’s general relativity theory predicted the behavior of our universe, and in there hawking also wrote that if the universe had a beginning then an outside agency must be involved, which for the sake of our convenience we may call God. But he also wrote that if quantum physics and general theory of relativity are combined, a universe may have been formed literally out of dense matter, at quantum levels. The math is dense but his point being, that this way the creation of the universe would not need a creator, as time would not matter, his famous line being, the start of the universe is like the south pole, whats south of the south pole? it does not really matter. This way the creation of the universe would be governed by the laws of science.
Of course this is just in theory, a lot of engineering feats must be achieved before we can know the complete picture.
But suddenly I had this mammoth of a question in front of me, does it affect my faith? It is really a good question and I realized that it did, it did a lot. Because I believed that the universe had an absolute beginning and a cause and that cause was God. I am sure that there are many out there who believe in this. I was raised in a YEC environment but the more I studied the more I realized that the universe was indeed very old. Our findings in science affirm the predictions made by Newtonian and later, Einstein’s relativity theory.
When I read that the universe may not have a beginning which requires God, I felt excited and also dismayed, dismayed because this line of thinking went against what I was taught and believed, excited because the approach opened up whole new avenues of questions about cosmology and what we know about it. What if Hawking is right? I understand that our current evidence is more on the side that the universe did indeed have a beginning but if one day it was shown to be false, then the fans of William Lane Craig, and those who prefer the Kalam cosmological argument as the basis of their belief are in some real problems.
If we do find out, even if that day is a million days away, that the universe indeed had no first cause, that God did in fact play dice and that this entire cosmos came out of nothing but quantum gravity and some matter particles which were a trillionth the size of an atom, that we are in fact a little accident in the great river of time; my question is would that affect your faith?
Think about it, where does your faith rests? I realize back then that my faith rested on good reasons and my observations but remember this, we learn new things all the time. Even if the universe came out of dense matter on its own, does it negate God? no, it negates what we believed to be true and how we were taught this belief.
God is not a scientific question, if he does exist, it is beyond our natural universe but for the people who do rely on the Kalam argument let me say this, it is basically a god of the gaps argument, it is philosophical in nature not scientific. The first cause argument is good as long as we can know for certain that the universe had a beginning, and if so, its a great argument but if the premise is proven to be wrong one day, people who advocate it will have a blow to their understanding and faith.
Let your faith rest in Christ, as we learn more and more, we have to remember about our faith and on what it rests. True faith can not be at odds with God’s marvels. Christian faith means more than just believing in a first cause and have your faith hang on a theory. I know back when I read it, I felt a pang in my heart because I thought if Hawking was right then my faith is just a lie, nothing more. I felt lost too, I felt it was all gone, the bubble had burst, what I felt as faith back then I would never feel again. My faith had evaporated and that troubled me greatly.
I thank God that he never forsook me. I realize now that faith is more than just blind recitation of a creed. It is to be honest about your hopes and convictions. As I read more and study, I am careful not to confuse my faith with what I want to be true. Remember, that is the trap you have to avoid. Never let your theory change the facts and never let your faith rest on anything other than Christ and his love for you. For to be in Christ the age of the universe or how it came to be are trivial things. If there is a God, he is not bothered by our understanding of time or the universe. He loves us and that is all that matters.
Dogmatic faith has placed boundaries on faith which even Christ did not bother to lay down. There may come a time when you realize that what you believed about the universe and its beginning was not true so don’t let your faith hang on things which we still have to learn about. Do not be infinitely sure about these things which we are still investigating. Science learns and corrects itself and that is how it is.
If you are in Christ and he is in you, that is all that matters for your faith and if you do that, then turn around, look up at the heavens and marvel at the breathtaking universe and remain at ease when we actually find out how it really came about.