It was an epic encounter, although those involved did not know it then. The time was January 1931. The meeting took place above the mountains overlooking Los Angeles in southern California. Two eminent scientists would come together here, one a physicist and the other an astronomer—Albert Einstein and Edwin Hubble.
One of the great secrets of the universe was about to be confirmed—and this finding, along with others that followed, has a lot to do with you and me.
The necessity of a beginning—and a First Cause
Einstein had traveled from Germany to the United States to peer through the largest telescope in the world, the 100-inch telescope at Mount Wilson Observatory. He wanted to see the mounting evidence for himself. He wanted to confirm if the findings that the universe was expanding were correct or not.
Edwin Hubble showed him photographic plates of distant galaxies and other evidence that pointed to a cosmos that was expanding outward in every direction. A remote galaxy receding is marked by its light being shifted to the red end of the spectrum. The farther away the galaxy appears, the more pronounced is the redness of its light. A newsreel of the time showed Einstein looking into the telescope and then declaring, “I now see the necessity of a beginning.”
Those were momentous words, for then scientists the world over had to seriously contemplate the idea that the universe had a beginning—with its theistic implications of a divine Creator. Even Einstein, like most scientists before him, had thought the universe was stationary and eternal. But now the incontrovertible evidence of outward expansion indicated a beginning point to this expansion—a point of origin. Scientists would have to reexamine their own beliefs and ponder the beginning of the cosmos—and the possibility of a Beginner who had caused it all to emerge out of nothing!
Other related findings came later in the 20th century, such as the faint cosmic microwave background, thought to be a remnant of the universe’s formation, and the discovery that the universe’s expansion is accelerating, which some have proposed is due to the gravitational effects of mysterious dark matter and energy.
In any case, extrapolating backward from the expansion brings everything down to a single moment when the cosmos appeared out of nothing. Hardly anyone in academia at the time had expected that result—though it was written in the first verse of the Bible thousands of years before: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1 Genesis 1:1In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
American King James Version×).
Perhaps the scientist who best expressed this startling discovery was the famous astronomer and former NASA director, the late Robert Jastrow. He candidly admitted: “A sound explanation may exist for the explosive birth of our Universe; but if it does, science cannot find out what the explanation is. The scientist’s pursuit of the past ends in the moment of creation. This is an exceedingly strange development, unexpected by all but the theologians. They have always accepted the word of the Bible: ‘In the beginning God created heaven and earth.’ It is unexpected because science has had such extraordinary success in tracing the chain of cause and effect backward in time.
“Now we would like to pursue that inquiry farther back in time, but the barrier to further progress seems insurmountable. It is not a matter of another year, another decade of work, another measurement, or another theory; at this moment it seems as though science will never be able to raise the curtain on the mystery of creation. For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries” ( God and the Astronomers, 1978, p. 116).
Through physics and astronomical observation, Einstein and Hubble were providing evidence for the universe having a beginning and, without intending it, pointing to a First Cause that had brought it all about.
The fine-tuning of the universe
Yet scientists were very uncomfortable with these results that led to a Creator God. Even the great British astronomer Sir Arthur Eddington remarked in 1931: “I have no ax to grind in this discussion, but the notion of a beginning is repugnant to me … The expanding universe is preposterous … incredible … it leaves me cold” (quoted by Robert Jastrow, “Have Astronomers Found God?” New York Times Magazine, June 25, 1978, p. 5, emphasis added throughout).
Clearly, those in the academic scientific community were not about to give up!
But things would become yet more uncomfortable as evidence began to pile up—as it continues to do today—for exquisitely calibrated laws governing the entire universe.
The physicist Brandon Carter coined the term “anthropic principle” in 1973 in reference to our man-centered, fine-tuned universe, its many physical laws and constants carefully balanced and coordinated to allow for us to exist.
More recently, author Eric Metaxas wrote the following in The Wall Street Journal: “Today there are more than 200 known parameters necessary for a planet to support life—every single one of which must be perfectly met, or the whole thing falls apart.
“Without a massive planet like Jupiter nearby, whose gravity will draw away asteroids, a thousand times as many would hit Earth’s surface. The odds against life in the universe are simply astonishing. Yet here we are, not only existing, but talking about existing. What can account for it? Can every one of those many parameters have been perfect by accident? At what point is it fair to admit that science suggests that we cannot be the result of random forces? Doesn’t assuming that an intelligence created these perfect conditions require far less faith than believing that a life-sustaining Earth just happened to beat the inconceivable odds to come into being?
“There’s more. The fine-tuning necessary for life to exist on a planet is nothing compared with the fine-tuning required for the universe to exist at all. For example, astrophysicists now know that the values of the four fundamental forces—gravity, the electromagnetic force, and the ‘strong’ and ‘weak’ nuclear forces—were determined less than one millionth of a second after the big bang. Alter any one value and the universe could not exist. For instance, if the ratio between the nuclear strong force and the electromagnetic force had been off by the tiniest fraction of the tiniest fraction—by even one part in 100,000,000,000,000,000— then no stars could have ever formed at all. Feel free to gulp.
“Multiply that single parameter by all the other necessary conditions, and the odds against the universe existing are so heart-stoppingly astronomical that the notion that it all ‘just happened’ defies common sense. It would be like tossing a coin and having it come up heads 10 quintillion times in a row. Really?” (“Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God,” Dec. 25, 2014).
Sadly, many reject the obvious conclusion.
The Bible laid out the truth long ago
Thanks to advanced telescopes, some that orbit the earth, and other technological breakthroughs, we have come to three great certainties: 1) the universe had a beginning; 2) it is rapidly expanding; and 3) it is fine-tuned and fit for life.
Is it just a coincidence that the Bible described these three scientific discoveries thousands of years ago? Let’s take a look at a listing of verses to see this.
The origin of the universe as described in the Bible
• Psalms 33:6 Psalms 33:6By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.
American King James Version×: “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.”
• Psalms 148:4-6 Psalms 148:4-6 4 Praise him, you heavens of heavens, and you waters that be above the heavens.
5 Let them praise the name of the LORD: for he commanded, and they were created.
6 He has also established them for ever and ever: he has made a decree which shall not pass.
American King James Version×: “Praise Him, you heavens of heavens, and you waters above the heavens! Let them praise the name of the Lord, for He commanded and they were created. He also established them forever and ever; He made a decree which shall not pass away.”
• John 1:1-3 John 1:1-3 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 The same was in the beginning with God.
3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
American King James Version×: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.”
• Romans 1:18-20 Romans 1:18-20 18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has showed it to them.
20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
American King James Version×: “The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (New International Version).
• Hebrews 1:1-2 Hebrews 1:1-2 1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets,
2 Has in these last days spoken to us by his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;
American King James Version×: “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds.”
The expansion of the universe described in Scripture
• Psalms 104:1-2 Psalms 104:1-2 1 Bless the LORD, O my soul. O LORD my God, you are very great; you are clothed with honor and majesty.
2 Who cover yourself with light as with a garment: who stretch out the heavens like a curtain:
American King James Version×: “Bless the Lord, O my soul! O Lord my God, You are very great: You are clothed with honor and majesty, who cover Yourself with light as with a garment, who stretch out the heavens like a curtain.”
• Isaiah 40:22 Isaiah 40:22It is he that sits on the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretches out the heavens as a curtain, and spreads them out as a tent to dwell in:
American King James Version×: “It is He who sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers, who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, and spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.”
• Isaiah 42:5 Isaiah 42:5Thus said God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which comes out of it; he that gives breath to the people on it, and spirit to them that walk therein:
American King James Version×: “Thus says God the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread forth the earth and that which comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it, and spirit to those who walk on it.”
• Isaiah 45:12 Isaiah 45:12I have made the earth, and created man on it: I, even my hands, have stretched out the heavens, and all their host have I commanded.
American King James Version×: “I have made the earth, and created man on it. I—My hands—stretched out the heavens, and all their host I have commanded.”
• Jeremiah 10:12 Jeremiah 10:12He has made the earth by his power, he has established the world by his wisdom, and has stretched out the heavens by his discretion.
American King James Version×: “He has made the earth by His power, He has established the world by His wisdom, and has stretched out the heavens at His discretion.”
The fine-tuning of the universe in the Bible
• Job 38:33 Job 38:33Know you the ordinances of heaven? can you set the dominion thereof in the earth?
American King James Version×: “Do you know the laws that govern the heavens, and can you make them rule the earth?” (Contemporary English Version).
• Psalms 119:89-91 Psalms 119:89-91 89 For ever, O LORD, your word is settled in heaven.
90 Your faithfulness is to all generations: you have established the earth, and it stays.
91 They continue this day according to your ordinances: for all are your servants.
American King James Version×: “O Lord, your word is established in heaven forever. Your faithfulness endures throughout every generation. You set the earth in place, and it continues to stand. All things continue to stand today because of your regulations, since they are all your servants” (God’s Word Translation).
• Jeremiah 31:35-37 Jeremiah 31:35-37 35 Thus said the LORD, which gives the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divides the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name:
36 If those ordinances depart from before me, said the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever.
37 Thus said the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, said the LORD.
American King James Version×: “The Lord provides the sun to be a light during the day. He orders the moon and stars to be lights during the night. He stirs up the sea so that its waves roar. His name is the Lord of Armies. This is what the Lord says: Only if these laws stop working, declares the Lord, will Israel’s descendants stop being a nation in my presence. This is what the Lord says: Only if the heavens could be measured or the foundations of the earth could be searched, would I ever reject all of Israel’s descendants because of everything that they have done, declares the Lord” (GWT).
• Jeremiah 33:25-26 Jeremiah 33:25-26 25 Thus said the LORD; If my covenant be not with day and night, and if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth;
26 Then will I cast away the seed of Jacob and David my servant, so that I will not take any of his seed to be rulers over the seed of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: for I will cause their captivity to return, and have mercy on them.
American King James Version×: “This is what the Lord says: Suppose I hadn’t made an arrangement with day and night or made laws for heaven and earth. Then I would reject the descendants of Jacob and of my servant David. I would not let any of David’s descendants rule the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. However, I will restore their fortunes and love them” (GWT).
The fine-tuning of the universe and you
We have only briefly covered the evidence that points to these three great discoveries about the cosmos in the last century. We are blessed with more information now than at any other time in history to come to a reasonable conclusion about the existence of a Creator God who brought forth this universe from nothing, orchestrated its elegant expansion in space and made it fit for life— human life, yours and mine—through His fine-tuned laws.
I came to see much of this years ago at the young age of 17, as I examined the Scriptures and the predecessor of this magazine at that time, especially its articles on science. I realized I could not refute the evidence and decided to trust and follow God from then on. What a blessing it has been! Although I have fallen short at times, as we all do, God and the Bible have never failed me. Isn’t it time, if you haven’t done so already, to choose the same blessed path?
The Multiverse Cop-Out
Various theorists have tried to explain the vast improbability of the fine-tuning of the universe that makes our existence possible by resorting to the idea of the multiverse, the notion that many other universes exist besides our own—perhaps an infinite number. The idea is that with an enormous number of universes, while most would not support life, some would emerge with the impossibly rare fine-tuning that allows for life to exist.
Physicist Paul Davies remarked on the motivation behind this idea in the face of the fine-tuning: “At this stage, atheists began to take an interest. Unhappy that the fine-tuning of the laws of physics smacked of some sort of divine design, they seized on the multiverse theory as a neat explanation for the uncanny bio-friendliness of the universe” ( Cosmic Jackpot: Why Our Universe Is Just Right for Life, 2007, p. xi).
What concrete evidence is there for the so-called multiverse? Frankly, the short answer is that it only exists in the minds of the theorists proposing it, and the theory has been losing its initial popularity among scientists as more fine-tuning examples are turning up. Moreover, the most powerful telescopes have not even found the edge of this universe, let alone some other theoretical universes beyond our own. Philosopher Neil Manson candidly calls this theory “the last resort for the desperate atheist” ( God and Design: The Teleological Argument and Modern Science, 2003, p. 18).
It’s even harder to explain the origin of the multiverse. Is there a “multiverse machine” spitting out universes until it gets the right one to work properly? Is a master brain behind such efforts, or is it all by luck? The attempts by atheists and others to account for our fine-tuned universe by saying there must be infinitely more out there belies the fact that they would still have to explain who or what is behind the generation of the vast number of universes if they really did exist.
As physicist Peter Bussey notes about the multiverse theory: “Suggestions such as these stretch our notion of what is reasonable beyond normal limits. They are not forced upon us by observation, needless to say, but by theoretical ideas that are considered by their proposers to be attractive! … We need to think very hard about the criteria for judging concepts that are logically consistent but which seem to destroy understanding rather than extend it, or even destroy the need for understanding” ( Signposts to God, 2016, pp. 116-117).
We should recognize that belief in a multiverse, which has no evidence whatever to support it, is an act of either blind faith, which is ironic enough in people who denigrate religion, or is willful denial of reality to avoid what is otherwise clear—the existence of a Creator God!