Even Secular Scientific Skeptics Can’t Deny This Proof
Introduction: Far too often, I’d read and either mis-understood - or just didn’t “get” - the idea of the phrase Fear the Lord. However, once I got studying on it, and asking for help in finding answers, I eeventually came to understand that the Fear of God actually means reverential trust and unreserved awe.
“Fear” - that in-awe feeling you get when contemplating God's Holy Majesty - is the glimmering of our understanding, as mere mortals, of just how awesome God really is.
The term The Fear of God, as explained in Proverbs (9:10) and Psalms 111:10, is about wisdom. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.”
I came to understand that sense of awe, at least intellectually. However, I didn’t “feel” that awe - to me, it was a concept as remote as creation itself.
I realized that, to really understand The Fear of the Lord, I was going to have to feel awe-struck by God’s majesty. And I desperately wanted to feel this awe, to Fear the Lord and, in doing so, find the beginnings of wisdom.
So, first, I prayed for a clear, unambiguous and “felt” understanding of God’s awesome nature. Then, having asked for help, I went looking for that awesome nature of the God of Abraham and Moses, the God who sent his only Son to Earth as the perfect blood sacrifice for the sins of all who believe in him. Including me.
Unexpectedly, I was led back to the beginning of everything – not by some passionate evangelical preacher, but by an extremely well-credentialed scientist writing about the geological origins of the planet earth. That was the last place I'd have thought to look for that "awe," but God knew right where to lead me.
In the Beginning: Follow with me as we go back just a bit farther than 13.7 billion years ago, believed by scientists to be “the beginning” of … well, everything.
Now picture this. Before “the beginning,” there was nothing. Literally nothing. Not even empty space. Nothing existed. Not an atom, not a photon, nothing at all. Not even time.
As someone grounded in matter, illuminated by light and whipsawed by the steady advance of time, it’s hard for me to imagine a “time” before time, a “time” when none of that existed.
However, God can imagine this. After all, He was there. Before He created all that is, the non-existence was: “Without form and void,” as it says in Genesis 1:2 (KJV).
Then, in a blink of time too short to measure, “nothing” was gone forever. In that blink, in a flash of light, “everything” was suddenly here. The universe – all of it. Energy. Matter. Mass. Empty space. Even time. Created in a flash of light.
Time itself began at that instant.
Where did all this "everything" come from? Again, Christians know.
“And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.”
More than thirteen billion years after that incredible instant, it is now possible for astrophysicists to imagine and describe the universe at the moment of creation.
More to the point, we can, too. All we have to do look up into the sky on any dark, clear night. The universe shines forth in incredible majesty.
However, while we can see our glorious universe today, if we look back to that timeless nothing that didn’t exist (remember, nothing existed) before God said “Let there be light,” it’s hard for me – and, I suspect for any reasoning person – to really comprehend the absence of anything.
Scientists may be able to describe the conditions before the Big Bang with remarkable precision, but I’m not sure that even a genius like Stephen Hawking can really grasp … nothing.
Today, scientists have learned that to uncover the facts about anything in this physical universe, you must answer five simple, specific questions.
Who, what, when, where, why and how.
We can use those six questions to examine what scientists know, and what Christians believe, and perhaps draw some conclusions.
So how do these scientists stack up in their understanding of the sudden creation of the universe?
When it comes to the beginning of everything, scientists can describe in very specific detail “what” happened at the instant of creation. And they believe they know, plus or minus a hundred-million years, “when” that instant of creation took place. They even know what happened in the nano-seconds after that spectacular instant, as creation started to unfold.
Scientists also know approximately “where” the Big Bang took place – they are convinced that it remains at the center of our present universe, and that seems logical enough to me to "give it to them."
But for all their supposed knowledge, these genius-grade scientists cannot explain “why” the Big Bang happened, or “how” it happened. Or, for that matter, “who” created the singularity (a precise scientific term, explained below) that suddenly erupted into everything that is or ever will be.
Those are the three big questions about which the world’s best astrophysicists and other scientists can’t even offer creative guesses. Some of those scientists, such as Dr. Robert Hazen, are actually brave enough, and have enough integrity, to admit that they not only don’t have answers, they don’t have clues … or even guesses.
But Christians know the answers to “why,” to “how” and – more important – to “who.” Their answer can be found in John 1: 1-5 (NIV). The “beloved disciple” made it clear that God spoke the universe into creation:
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him, all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made.
In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Reluctantly, secular science agrees with scripture that before there was light, there was nothing – not even darkness. There was nothing at all – not even the absence of something.
That nothingness is an intensely challenging concept. It is hard for scientists – or laymen – to honestly contemplate a nothingness that’s not even an empty, aching void. However, despite their lack of answers, the challenge of conceiving of what “there” was – before there was anything – is not too great for some philosophers and some scientists to at least try to address.
For instance, remarkably well-credentialed scientist and author, Dr. Robert Hazen, wrote compellingly of this state of pre-creation non-being in his book, “The Story of Earth – The First 4.5 Billion Years, From Stardust to Living Planet.” I picked this book up a week or more before I began looking for the "awe" of God, and had no idea what I'd find there. But God knew that I would read:
… at the origin of all things – the Big Bang – about 13.7 billion years ago, by the latest estimates. That moment of creation remains the most elusive, incomprehensible, defining event in the history of the universe.
It was a singularity – a transformation from nothing to something that remains beyond the purview of modern science or the logic of mathematics.
If you would search for signs of a creator god in the cosmos, the Big Bang is the place to start …
Imagine – a secular scientist at the top of his game is forced to turn to the nebulous concept of an un-named creator god to explain something that is beyond his science, his mathematics or his secular scientific philosophy.
Awesome Revelation: Believe it or not, Dr. Hazen’s book, as represented by that paragraph on the first page of the first chapter (a chapter appropriately called “Birth”) came to me as the answer to that very specific prayer of mine, which I mentioned in the introduction.
Here's how that came about.
I had been reading the term “fear God,” which is quite prevalent in the Old Testament. However, that term was quite puzzling to me, a professing but confused Christian living 2,500 years after that first Testament had been written down. The whole idea of “fearing God” seemed at odds with my conception of a New Testament God who so loved me that he sent his only Son to be crucified, just so I could be forgiven and justified before that same loving God.
However, upon further study, I learned that what is usually translated into modern English as “fear God” or “fear of the Lord” really meant, when it was first written, something like: “hold God in unspeakable awe for the great and powerful things he does,” or words to that effect.
With that foothold toward understanding finally in my grasp, I prayed to the Holy Spirit for understanding. I wanted to know – to know what – that sense of awe was supposed to be. And then I wanted to feel that awe, to actually “fear God.”
Within days of that prayer, I picked up that book – which I’d ordered from Amazon weeks before I’d began puzzling over the whole “fear God” question. I love reading popularized hard-science books - I have a passion for it, and this time, that passion led me to answers.
As I was puzzling over that “fear God” question, I read that paragraph quoted above from Dr. Hazen’s The Story of Earth – The First 4.5 Billion Years, From Stardust to Living Planet.
Suddenly, in the blink of my own eye, I finally began to realize what it meant – and more important, what it felt like – to actually fear God. Suddenly, I felt what it meant to be in unspeakable awe of God. And now that I have that sense of awe, I’m not sure I’ll ever find any other single act of God that is more awe-creating than that instant of creation itself.
God not only created the universe – and all that is – in the blink of His eye; He loaded every last bit of “everything” for our entire universe in a spot smaller than a sub-atomic particle, such as an electron or quark. Everything that is or ever will be, loaded into that invisible speck.
If that doesn’t inspire awe, consider this. Our leading astrophysicists have projected that – based on what we can see and measure – there are more than 100 billion galaxies in our universe. In those galaxies are an average of 100 billion stars - our Milky Way is enormous, with more than 200 billion stars.
Orbiting around those billions of stars are at least 500 billion planets in the average galaxy – not to mention moons, planetesimals, asteroids, meteors, comets and space junk left over from the day of creation. There might be a trillion or more planets orbiting the 100 billion or so stars in that average galaxy.
On some of those trillions of planets, there must be life – and, some of that life on those far-distant planets will be the extraterrestrial equivalent of sparrows.
God, who created all that exists in our universe, and who keeps track of everything he created – including each sparrow who falls (regardless of the planet the sparrow comes from) – still sent his Son to Earth, to be tortured and murdered as the perfect blood sacrifice for sinners like me who believe in him. Then, as foretold in prophecy, He rose from the dead to prove His power over death, as well as life.
Now that is awesome! That is something I can feel.
God’s Creation: Old and New Testaments alike agree – and no scientist can disprove this belief: God “spoke” or “breathed” the universe into existence. Before He spoke the Word, there was nothing. Not even the absence of something. No time – nor lack of time. Just … nothing.
Then, at His single Word, with His single breath, and in the blink of God’s eye, everything that has ever existed – or ever will exist in our universe, going back over 13.7 billion years - burst into existence. Everything that is was created in that single divinely-ordained instant.
Who but God could do that? Even Dr. Hazen, that remarkably well-credentialed scientist who wrote that paragraph, acknowledged that his science could do nothing to explain the instantaneous transition from … nothing … to … something. To everything.
Dr. Hazen has the intellectual integrity, when he could explain it no other way, to choose to send us looking for an unnamed creator god to explain the Big Bang. To Dr. Hazen, that creator god was not “God” as we know him. Dr. Hazen wasn’t ready to concede that. However, Christians should have no trouble filling in the blanks. There are 44 verses in the bible that attest to the fact that the God of Abraham and Moses is the only God. So if an unnamed actually creator god exists, He has to be our God of Abraham and Moses.
Returning to the moment of creation, that act he ascribed to the unnamed creator god, Dr. Hazen went on to explain what happened next.
In the beginning, all space and energy and matter came into existence from an unknowable void. Nothing. Then something. The concept is beyond our ability to craft metaphors.
Our universe did not suddenly appear where there had been only vacuum before, for before the Big Bang there was no volume and no time. Our concept of nothing implies emptiness – before the Big Bang there was nothing to be empty in.
Then in an instant, there was not just something, but everything that would ever be, all at once.
Remarkably, this “everything that would ever be” – including all the matter to make up, as we know, more than 100 billion galaxies, each averaging more than 100 billion stars – came into existence in a volume smaller than the nucleus of a single atom.
Scientists use the word “ultra-compressed” to describe this … idea … that everything that exists in our entire universe was contained in a single atom’s nucleus.
To stretch your mind just a bit farther into the realm of holding God in awe, that sub-atomic particle which contained everything was … all there was. That infinitesimal point was the entire universe. At the moment of creation, there was nothing except that point. There was no “outside the universe.”
That conceptual place, “outside the universe,” didn’t – and still doesn’t – exist. At least not in a sense physics can define. And, 13.7 billion years later, there is still nothing “outside the universe.”
Except for heaven, of course, and hell, but you won’t find many credentialed scientists speculating about that.
For lack of a better term, scientists call that incredible instant when space and time, matter and energy all came into being, all at once, as the “Big Bang,” though most agree that a singularity the size of a sub-atomic particle is hardly "Big," and that there was no actual “bang.”
However, I call it a miracle, an act of not just a scientifically-acknowledged but unnamed creator god, but the supreme act of creation of our own one and eternal God, the maker of heaven and earth.
God spoke the Word, and there was light. And that light illuminated everything.
Awesome Ongoing Creation: But astrophysicists who study the Big Bang believe that creation – the work of Dr. Hazen's unnamed creator god – didn’t stop with that instantaneous creation of … everything. That undifferentiated point-source of all that is and will ever be – that singularity – had to become … well … differentiated.
From that single point-source of everything to become the universe we know, God had to create sub-atomic particles like electrons and quarks, then atoms – the building blocks of matter. He also had to pull from that singularity things we take for granted: atoms, photons, time, energy and empty space.
Astrophysicists believe they can describe with incredible precision what happened every nano-second in the immediate aftermath of the Big Bang, that instant when the Universe burst into existence. Yet no scientist can explain where “everything” came from, or how “everything” came to be.
Nor do they even have a clue as to why that undifferentiated point source singularity transformed itself into the precise elemental building blocks that were going to be God’s necessary tools for creating life on Earth, and if it exists, elsewhere in our universe. Nor can these scientists explain the “who” of cosmic creation – God – or “how,” that spoken Word that created everything.
Conclusion: Awesome God, and His awesome universe.
There was nothing random about what Dr. Hazen’s creator god did in charting out what happened from that instantaneous moment of singularity all the way through the unfolding creation of the universe.
Our God has kept creating – stars and planets and galaxies. And Man. Life on our planet, and God’s crowning achievement. One that includes Dr. Hazen and all the skeptical scientists who cannot, at least not with intellectual rigor, explain away God and His creation.
With hard-science degrees from MIT, Harvard and Cambridge, Dr. Hazen knows the limits of science. He knows where science ends and the creator god begins.
One instant, there was nothing. The next immeasurably short span of time later, “everything” was here.
It was almost as if God spoke the Word, and everything was created, all at once.
Now, when I pray to God, I know what it feels like to “fear God” – to be in awe of his incredible powers. I conjure up 100 billion galaxies, each averaging 100 billion stars – those numbers are awesome enough. Then I consider all the planets that might have sparrow-like creatures, each of which God marks when it falls.
I think of the intricate dance of creation, where massive early-generation stars had to blow up to create the elements necessary for life which then coalesced in other stars, and other planets. And those blew up, too, adding more elements and triggering the creation of our Earth 4.5 billion years ago.
Finally, I think of the billions of people on this planet of ours today – and all the billions who came before us – and consider that God knows and loves each one of them. He sent his Son to Earth to atone for all the sinners who would come to believe in Christ. Then He sent out, generation after generation, apostles and missionaries to make disciples of all nations, and all people.
With all that swirling in my head, I think on how God sent his Son to suffer and die for me - specifically for me - so that I may have eternal life.
If you can’t find a bit of awe in all of that, you’re not trying very hard.
I welcome your insights.
Footnote – Defining singularity: Here are scientific and mathematical definitions of that word, “singularity” which defines the universe at the instant of its creation:
Astronomy & Physics: A singularity is a point in space-time, such as a black hole, at which matter has infinite density and infinitesimal volume and the curvature of space-time is infinite.
Mathematics: A singularity is a point at which the derivative does not exist for a given function but every neighborhood of which contains points for which the derivative exists.