Biblical and modern cosmologies

The BBC recently re-broadcast a fascinating documentary on the latest developments in cosmology (originally broadcast in 2010). British readers can watch the programme here on iPlayer until mid-November.

What struck me was this. Those who find a biblical cosmology fanciful in the light of modern science have no idea of the cosmology proposed by modern science!

Christians believe in a heavenly realm, populated by spiritual beings, separate from our realm, but significantly affecting it.

We can assume such ideas are fanciful and alien to modern science.

But it may not be as strange as we may think. According to the current standard cosmological model, cosmologists believe our universe started with a big bang and then expanded for a quadrillionth of a second after which everything slowed. This was followed by a period of inflation in which the universe expanded in a fraction of a second to a quadrillion, quadrillion times it former size (though we do not how this happened).

But there are some problems with this model. Galaxies do not work in the way they should. In our solar system the further a planet is from the sun, the slower it moves. That is what we would expect to happen given our knowledge of the laws of physics. The same should be true of galaxies, but it is not. Stars at the centre should move faster than stars at the edge. But in fact they move at just as fast as those at the centre. According to the laws of physics, this should lead to galaxies flying apart.

So to make galaxies work as they should according to the laws of physics there needs to be more gravity and that means there needs to be more matter that there appears to be. But cosmologists could not find this extra matter. So they invented it. They theorised the presence of ‘dark matter’. It is called dark matter because it cannot be seen. Unlike ordinary matter it neither emits light or reflects it. Indeed we have no idea what it is.

The calculations suggest that for every kilogramme of normal matter there are another five kilogrammes of dark matter. And this dark matter is everywhere, all around us. Five-sixths of the universe appears to be made of something different from the matter from which we are made, something unknown to us. It is a kind of particle of which we have no experience. It is able to pass through ordinary matter without us noticing. Millions of dark matter particles are streaming through us all the time.

This is starting to sound similar to a biblical cosmology – another form of existence, unseen by us, existing alongside our experienced universe, acting upon it in unknown, but discernible ways.

This is not the only problem with the standard model. The expansion of the universe should be slowing according to the standard model as gravity starts to pull the universe back towards itself. But its expansion is actually increasing. So cosmologists postulate ‘dark energy’ – an tremendous source of unknown energy in ‘nothing’ that creates ‘nothing’.

I am not suggesting dark matter is the heavenly realms (although who knows!). Nor am I wanting to mock modern cosmologists. Quite the opposite. I am full of admiration for their work. Rather I want to highlight how a biblical cosmology is not as ridiculous in the light of modern science as people may assume.

In a similar vein, the BBC have also broadcast an awe-inspiring film-length documentary on the hunt for the Higgs Boson particle in their Storyville series which British viewers can watch here on iPlayer. I did shed a tear at one point as a marvelled at the fulfilment of the cultural mandate in this amazing collaboration to explore God’s creation. On the other hand, there is an extraordinary moment when one of the world’s leading cosmologists says the chances of the cosmos being anything other that chaotic are so remote that it is as if there is a benign hand on the dial, finely tuning our universe. But rather than accepting this, he says there therefore must be multiple universes, most of which are chaotic, and ours just happens to be one of the few that works. Notice two things about this argument. First, what drives this thinking is not what can be observed (the scientific process), but a prior commitment to rule out a benign hand on the dial (a God). Second, for this worldview to work, there must be a reality outside our universe. Once again materialists who find a biblical cosmology fanciful in the light of modern science have no idea of the cosmology proposed by modern science!

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