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 (Manna 42: Science and Technology)
Can You Trust The Biblical Account Of Creation
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Stephen Ku — Pacifica, California, USA

Brought up in a Christian family, I always accepted without question what I was taught about the Bible and about God. But my faith began to meet some serious challenges during my college years. One of them was the study of science.


During my first semester I took a geography class. Geological evidence of the age of the earth often came up in lectures, readings, or discussion sessions. Based on fossil records and radiometric dating, which measures the radioactive decay of rocks and meteorites, scientists estimated that the earth is about 4.6 billion years old.

This clearly contradicted my belief that the universe was only a few thousand years old. Without even attempting to weigh the evidence, I simply dismissed the information as an unreliable claim founded on an inaccurate dating method.

The issue of the age of Earth and the universe surfaced again a year later when I took an astronomy class. This time, it smacked me right in the face.

In a discussion session, our TA talked about the size of our universe. He started by saying, “The universe is so vast that it is way bigger than you could possibly imagine!” Then he introduced the concept of the light year, a unit of measurement with which astronomers estimate the distance of objects in space. Light travels at 3x108 kilometers per second. A light year, then, is the distance light can travel in one year, i.e. 9,500,000,000,000 kilometers.

Just to give an idea of the scale that we are dealing with:

·         Alpha Centauri, the closest star to us besides the sun, is 4.3 light years from us.

·         Our galaxy, known as the Milky Way, is about 100,000 light years in diameter. (This means it would take light 100,000 years to travel from one end of our galaxy to the other!)

·         Our nearest neighboring galaxy, Andromeda, is 2.2 million light years away.

·         The distance to the galaxy M87 in the Virgo cluster is 50 million light years.

·         The distance to the most distant object seen in the universe is about 18 billion light years (18 x 109 light years).

Because it takes time for light from stars to reach Earth, we are actually looking back in time when we look at the stars. For example, in 1987, scientists observed a supernova in a nearby galaxy called the Large Magellanic Cloud. Since this galaxy is 190,000 light years from us, they were looking at an event that actually occurred 190,000 years ago.

The most distant objects that astronomers can see now are about eighteen billion light years from Earth. This means that the universe must have existed eighteen billion years ago, which is, incidentally, the current estimate for the age of the universe. In other words, when we see these objects in space, we are literally looking back in time at things that existed at a time when the universe was just formed.

When I learned of these facts, I was blown away. I was amazed at the vastness of the universe we live in, and I suddenly realized how tiny and insignificant human beings are. At the same time, I was forced to confront the fact that this universe is billions of years old. This time around, I couldn’t run away from the evidence; it was all too real.


As I learned more and more from the astronomy class, I became increasingly uneasy. I couldn’t help but question the beliefs I had taken for granted: What about the biblical account of creation? Didn’t God tell us in the Bible that He made everything in six days? Did this universe really begin with a huge explosion and expand to the current state over billions of years? And if it did, where was God in all of this?

I became afraid to know more than I wanted to know, and I was apprehensive at the thought that the Bible I had believed in all my life could possibly contain such a gross error. And if the biblical account of creation cannot be trusted, what in the Bible can be trusted?

I could have ignored the facts and held firmly to what I believed. But I would be fooling myself; my belief would be nothing more than a superstition. On the other hand, if it turned out that the Bible was wrong, I would be completely lost! What would I do if I found out that my faith in God had been nothing but an illusion?

I went to the school library and picked up books on the Big Bang theory and the origin of the universe. I also visited the library of a nearby union of divinity schools and found a handful of books on science and creation. I tried to be as open-minded and objective as I could and made a point to see the issues from different points of view.

After some extensive research and deliberation, I was able to resolve many of the questions I had. My mind opened up to a much wider horizon. On the one hand, I had to reshape some of my former prejudices. On the other hand, I became more convinced of my faith in God and in the Bible.

I do not have any degree in science, and I do not presume to speak as someone who is well versed in it. But I will share with you, from a lay-person’s perspective, a few of the things I learned in the process of my search, in the hope that they will also help readers who may have little knowledge in science.

Science and Faith Differ in Scope but Are Mutually Complementary

Science and faith explore two different kinds of realities. Whereas science studies the physical realm, religion helps us understand the spiritual. Science explains the mechanics of things, but religion inquires about the meaning and purpose of things. Science makes deductions from things that can be observed and tested, but faith is based on God’s direct revelation through His word.

Scientists can tell us that the universe is expanding, but they do not have the authority to claim that it wasn’t God who caused the expansion. On the other hand, Christians do not need to fear that new discoveries in science might undermine their faith and thus reject scientific explanations on the mechanics of how this universe originated.

Albert Einstein commented, “Science without religion is lame; religion without science is blind.” Although science and faith are concerned with different realities, they must complement each other.

Science seeks to understand God’s general revelation through nature. Faith seeks to understand God’s special revelation through Scripture (see sidebar). It would be foolish to think that science has made religion obsolete, just as it would be narrow-minded to think that scientific discoveries can pose a threat to our faith.

When we are willing to open our eyes to God’s general and special revelation, we gain a much fuller understanding of God and His works.

Faith helps science students gain a spiritual perspective on the physical things they observe. It answers questions such as, “Who brought this universe into existence?”, “What is His relationship to us?”, and “What is His purpose for us in this physical existence?”

On the other hand, science helps believers in God gain a greater appreciation and understanding of God’s creation. Astronomy, for example, gives us insight into the vastness and complexity of this universe,

When we continually discover the wonders of God’s creation, we cannot but stand in awe of the Almighty God and praise Him for His greatness.

Belief in an Old Universe Does Not Entail Belief in Atheism

Some Christians reject the old age of the universe outright or look at it with suspicion because they believe that it is an attempt by atheists to deny the Creator. But such an attitude is unfounded.

Physical sciences make observations, gather empirical data, and arrive at physical laws or theories without any personal prejudice. In this sense, science continually helps us understand the physical existence.

But it does not and cannot draw conclusions for us about things beyond the physical existence—that is where faith comes in. Therefore, scientific findings are neutral as far as spiritual implications are concerned. It is up to the individual to interpret the scientific finding according to his personal faith.

The discovery of the old age of the universe was not the result of an atheistic agenda. Neither is the Big Bang model an attempt to discredit faith in a creator. In my search for answers, I came across books by Bible-believing scientists who believed in the old age of the universe and the Big Bang model. To me that speaks volumes.

These scientists did not compromise their faith to accept the old age of the universe. They were individuals who were sincere in their faith and well respected in the scientific community.

I came to the conclusion that if these scientists could openly embrace the old age of the universe without compromising their faith in God, I had no reason to fear.

There is also no need for Christians to be on the defensive, for a billion-year universe would not threaten our faith at all. We just need to resolve the apparent conflict between science and our beliefs.

Scientific Facts Help Us Re-Evaluate Our Understanding of God and His Word

When scientific facts seem to contradict the Bible, the problem does not lie in the reliability of God’s word. Rather, it is often the result of our own misinterpretation of the biblical text.

We ought to humbly acknowledge that our understanding of God’s word is limited and be open to a more accurate interpretation. We should not defend our interpretation as if it were the absolute truth.

We have learned from history the mistakes some Christian leaders in the Middle Ages made of condemning scientists as heretics in order to defend the view of a flat Earth.

One major objection to the old age of the universe is that it implies that the universe evolved naturally. People who are in this position argue, “If the universe took billions of years to form, then that would mean that there is no creator!”

They firmly believe that God must have created things instantaneously. When God said, “Let there be…,” things just appeared in a split second as if touched by a magic wand. Billions of years to form the universe simply rules out a Creator, they claim, because that is not how God does things.

I bring up the above example not to argue for or against an old universe. But it just shows that we tend to interpret the Bible with our own preconceptions. Those who hold to the idea of “instantaneous creation” question how God could have possibly taken THAT long to create the universe.

But if we think about this position critically, we can just as well ask, “But who is to say that God couldn’t have slowly formed the universe the way a craftsman carefully works at his masterpiece?”

God’s word is eternal, and it stands firm in the heavens (Ps 119:89). The eternal truths of God’s word, such as God’s love for the human race, His redemption through Jesus Christ, His everlasting dominion, and His commandment to love the Lord and our neighbors, can never be changed.

But our reading of the historical records or the cultural references in the Bible may be subject to change as scientific or archeological discoveries shed new light on these passages. So when scientific facts do not seem to reconcile with our reading of these records, they should not call into question the reliability of the Scripture.

This is not to say that whatever scientists tell us is always right. Empirical data may often be indisputable, but theories based on scientific facts are not absolute. As science continues to develop and scientists make new discoveries, theories of the past may be rejected and replaced with more accurate models or physical laws.

Since theories will be tested with time, we will do well to take them into consideration and reserve our opinions about them for the time being.


With the above principles in mind, how should we resolve the apparent contradiction between an old universe and the six-day creation? Many solutions have been proposed, which we do not have time to analyze one by one. The table below summarizes three common interpretations of creation[1]:



Summary of Interpretation

Position on the Age of Earth and the Universe

Gap Theory

God first created the heavens and the earth, as recorded in Gen 1:1. Then there was a “gap”—an unspecified duration of time in which Satan and his angels rebelled and ravaged God’s creation. Starting with Gen 1:2 is the record of the creation week, a period of restitution in which God restored His creation.



God created all things in six twenty-four hour days. The exact length of day is an essential part of the creation account.

Young (Thousands of years-old)


The word “Day” in Scripture can be a period of indefinite length (e.g. Isa 11:10-11). Some who hold this view also understand the narrative of Genesis 1 as written from the perspective of the earth as it was being prepared for man rather than an account of the creation of the whole universe, which is very briefly stated in Gen 1:1.



If you are interested in the arguments for these interpretations and others not listed here, I encourage you to do some reading on your own and draw your own conclusions. I personally find the Day-Age position most satisfying exegetically and scientifically, but this does not mean that other views are definitely wrong.


Through my research on the issue, I have come to understand that there needs to be no conflict between science and faith and that the creation narrated in Genesis can be explained in view of scientific facts.

In fact, recent discoveries in science, not just in astronomy but also other fields, have provided more and more evidence that point to intelligent design in the universe by a loving Creator. Although Christians may not agree on the exact mechanics and duration of the creation event, we can agree that science attests strongly to the biblical account of creation.

However, I have also come to realize that, ultimately, our faith does not rest on the creation alone. The issues surrounding the Creation pale in comparison when we consider the overwhelming number of scientific discoveries that have confirmed the reliability of Scripture over the years.

The fulfillment of prophesies in the Bible, the impact that the Bible has had on human history, the confirmation of archeological findings on the historical accuracy of the Bible, and so forth, have all served to strengthen our faith in God’s unchanging word. Perhaps most important of all, our personal experience in the life-transforming power of God’s word is the best testimony to the truth in the Scripture.

While we continue to gain a greater knowledge of God and His creation through studies of science and the Bible, we can rest assured that science and faith are not on a collision course and that we do not have to choose between the two. Further insights into both the general revelation of nature and the special revelation of Scripture will only bring us closer to God’s eternal truth.

Sidebar 1: General Revelation and Special Revelation

God is infinitely higher and greater than human beings, and our minds are too limited to grasp the existence and nature of this Supreme Being. The only way for us to know God is through His revelation of Himself to us. The Bible teaches us that God reveals Himself to us in two important ways.

First, He reveals Himself to us through nature. This is usually called the “general revelation.” Paul writes about this kind of divine revelation, “Because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse” (Rom 1:19, 20). Because science explores the physical universe, the study of science can help us better understand our Creator and His creation.

The second kind of revelation is known as the “special revelation.” This refers to the Scripture, the written word of God. Through the Scripture, God reveals to us who He is, His relationship to us, His works, and His will for us. By studying God’s word, we may know Him and obey Him.

Because God is the Creator of this universe as well as the author of the Scripture, His general revelation and special revelation to us do not conflict with each other. Rather, they complement each other. The study of science and the study of Scripture together help us gain a fuller knowledge and appreciation of the one true God.


[1] A much more thorough presentations of the various interpretations of the Creation account can be found at http://www.reasons.org/resources/apologetics/pca_creation_study_committee_report.shtml?main

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Publisher: True Jesus Church