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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: Is the Big Bang Theory Compatible with the Bible?

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Don Stewart
It is not scientifically possible to study the origin of the universe. The experimental scientific method calls for testing and repeating a hypothesis. The beginning of the universe can neither be tested experimentally nor repeated. In addition, no human observer was present to witness the beginning. Despite this, various ideas or theories have been proposed on how the universe began.

Big Bang

The most popular idea regarding the origin of the universe is the big bang theory. Since the early 1920's, the majority of scientists have accepted the theory that the universe started with a big bang. The basic idea behind the big bang theory is that many billion years ago (variously estimated from 10 to 30 billion) all the matter in the universe was concentrated in a single point or sphere. At some point that condensed bundle of light (radiation) exploded with a big bang and the universe began to expand from that point. It is believed that mass, or solid matter, was formed out of the original radiation. After this explosion random chance took over. Molecules came together to form the various heavenly bodies. On earth non-living molecules came together to form simple life. Through millions of years this simple life evolved into the complex life we have today. This expanding of the universe is supposedly still going on.

The big bang model is based upon high speed computer models. These powerful computer models were made available by research that was necessary in the successful design of nuclear weapons during and after World War II.

Evidence Is Circumstantial

Evidence for the big bang is circumstantial. The main argument advanced for the big bang is the red shift of light spectra. The red shift might be a basis for believing that some aspects of the universe are expanding from some point of beginning. The problem is that no one can identify that point. Nobody knows from what point the universe is expanding, if in fact it is expanding.

Background radio noise and wave radiation, also offered as evidence for the big bang, might be a basis for asserting that remnants of some supposed initial explosion have been detected. It is also possible that exploding stars could be a basis for believing that if some parts of the universe explode, then maybe the entire universe resulted from an explosion. But all this is only inference. Astrophysicist Harold Slusher writes:

The fact that the galaxies moving apart can be explained by many other states of matter and energy than a primeval atom that exploded. For that matter, the alleged explosion produces radiation and high-speed elementary particles, not galaxies. Galaxies moving apart have nothing whatever to do with the expanding motion of debris from an explosion (Harold Slusher, The Origin of the Universe, Revised edition, Box 2667, El Cajon, California: Institute for Creation Research, 1980, p. 24).

In addition, no one knows or can describe the initial conditions of the universe. Each of the points of circumstantial evidence may be used to support the idea that some beginning of the universe is required but not necessarily the "big bang."

Troubled Theory

Not all scientists are satisfied with the big bang theory. Astronomer Sir Fred Hoyle wrote:

As a result of this, the main efforts of investigators have been in papering over holes in the big bang theory, to build up an idea that has become ever more complex and cumbersome . . . I have little hesitation in saying that a sickly pall now hangs over the big bang theory. When a pattern of facts becomes set against a theory, experience shows that the theory rarely recovers (Sir Fred Hoyle, "The Big Bang Under Attack," Science Digest 92, May 1984, p. 84).

Scientist Lambert Dolphin notes:

Serious flaws [in the big bang theory] have begun to appear in recent years because of new evidence from the farthest reaches of space and new questions raised in nuclear physics (Lambert Dolphin, Jesus: Lord of Space and Time, Green Forest Arizona: New Leaf Press, 1988, p. 61).

Non-Christian scientist H. Alfven concurs:

On the other hand, there are an increasing number of observational facts that are difficult to reconcile in the Big-Bang hypothesis. The Big-Bang establishment very seldom mentions these, and when non-believers try to draw attention to them, the powerful establishment refuses to discuss them in a fair way . . . .

The present situation is characterized by rather desperate attempts to reconcile observations with the hypothesis to 'save the phenomena.' . . . In reality, with the possible exception of the microwave background condition, there is not a single prediction that has been confirmed (H. Alfven, "Cosmology: Myth or Science?", Astrophysics and Astronomy, 1984, pp. 79,90).

In the British journal Nature we find the following comment:

Apart from being philosophically unacceptable, the Big Bang is an over-simple view of how the universe began, and is unlikely to survive the decade ahead . . . In all respects save that of convenience, this view of the origin of the universe is thoroughly unsatisfactory. It is an effect whose cause cannot be identified or even discussed (Nature, August 10, 1989).

Where Did Material Come From?

One problem not addressed by the big bang theory is where this material from the alleged big bang explosion originally came from. Scientist David Rosevear observes:

Firstly one has to ask how the material in the universe arose in the first place. The first law of thermodynamics says that matter and energy cannot be created or destroyed. A theory has been advanced that, given the first few kilograms of matter, the rest could produce itself by a process of self-creation. Apparently this 'free meal' idea can be tolerated because, for such a unique situation, perhaps we should not expect the normal laws of physics to be obeyed! (David Rosevear, Creation Science, Chichester, England: New Wine Press, 1991, pp. 32,33).

Order From Disorder?

The big bang theory says that this great explosion caused order to increase in the universe. However, observation has demonstrated that explosions always decrease order, they are never known to increase it. The idea that some cosmic explosion could somehow generate a highly ordered and complex universe seems ridiculous to even consider. Since explosions generate disorder, this ultimate explosion would certainly have produced the ultimate in disorder. Yet astronomers continue to hypothesize that there was somehow inherent order in the "explosion."

David Rosevear notes:

The postulated big bang would have been the ultimate in destructive incidents. Yet we see our universe with its ordered spiral galaxies, and within our solar system the degree of order is breath-taking. The ancients looked for the rising of the star Sirius over the Nile at dawn, knowing that this would be repeated 365 days, 6 hours, 9 minutes and 9.6 seconds later-a sidereal year. Such is the order in the solar system that we can send space-probes on predetermined paths. Everywhere in the universe we see order and available energy. This is not what we would expect to see as the outcome of an explosion (Rosevear, Creation Science, p. 33).

Duane Gish writes about the probability of an original big bang:

This huge cosmic egg then exploded-and here we are today, several billion years later, human beings with a three-pound brain composed of twelve billion neurons each connected to about ten thousand other neurons in the most complicated arrangement of matter known to man. (There are thus 120 trillion connections in the human brain).
If this is true, then what we are and how we came to be were due solely to the properties inherent in electrons, protons, and neutrons. To believe this obviously requires a tremendous exercise of faith (Duane T. Gish, Evolution: The Challenge of the Fossil Record, San Diego: Creation-Life Publishers, 1985, pp. 24,25).

Not Scriptural

Apart from the scientific problems connected with the big bang theory, it cannot be reconciled with what the Bible teaches concerning origins. What is presented in Genesis 1:1 has no relationship to the modern-day big bang theory. According to Scripture, the earth did not begin as an incandescent fireball but was created in the beginning with a surface covered with water. The earth did not come about as a result of some explosion.

Series Of Commands

In addition, the Bible says God created the universe, light and life itself through a series of commands. The hypothetical big bang would have God doing very little work after the initial explosion. The non-involvement of God, as the big bang theory assumes, is at odds with Scripture because God was intimately involved in His creation. The big bang theory teaches a "hands off" universe as Lambert Dolphin explains:

The Big Bang Model means a "hands off universe." The whole idea of the big bang is that the history of the universe is totally determined once the initial conditions have been fixed. No real room for subsequent intervention by God . . . Any divine intervention would upset the delicate balance rendering the present cosmology incorrect. This contrasts with a universe formed and fashioned in every detail by a loving Craftsman . . . The non-involvement of God . . . is presupposed by this theory. This cannot be established from Scripture as the way things really happened. "Let there be light" is a powerful command of God, calling light into existence. For the Son of God merely to roll back the cloud layer covering the earth so as to let light from space to shine on the earth would be a trivial command. Likewise for most of the creative work of God to be condensed into the "the creation event", i.e. the hypothetical big bang explosion, leaves God very little work to do during the ensuing six days. The Christian church has always understood God as having spoken the universe into existence by a series of commands. This is brought out in John chapter one. If most of the important work of creating the universe is over and done with by the end of Genesis 1:2, the commands that follow on the remaining five days are miniscule in comparison, except for the emergence of life. However the commands that bring life into being are weighed equally with the rest of the spoken words of God calling everything into being (Lambert Dolphin, Critique of Hugh Ross, n.d., p. 5).

In addition, the Bible seems to indicate that creation was instantaneous:

By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth . . . For He spoke and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast (Psalm 33:6,9).

Scientist Donald Chittick comments:

Some Christians wondered whether the big bang might be the creation event described in Genesis. However, it is wrong to confuse the postulated big bang with creation. It is a philosophical mistake because the big bang explanation was invented as a philosophical alternative to creation. It did not come from a study of Scripture. The big bang is a mechanistic or naturalistic explanation. It is an antisupernatural explanation of origins (Donald Chittick, The Controversy, Portland: Multnomah Press, 1984, p. 62).

Too Many Problems

The big bang theory has too many problems to make it compatible with either science or Scripture. Donald DeYoung provides a helpful summary of the problems.

The Big Bang as it is understood today is an inadequate theory since there are many fundamental problems that are seldom mentioned in the pertinent literature. The following are some of the "missing links" in the theory.

1.Missing Origin. The Big Bang theory assumes a original concentration of energy. Where did this energy come from? Astronomers sometimes speak of origin from a
quantum mechanical fluctuation within a vacuum." However, an energy source is still needed. Actually, there is no secular origin theory, since every idea is based upon pre-existing matter or energy.

2.Missing Fuse. What ignited the Big Bang? The mass concentration proposed in this theory would remain forever as a universal black hole. Gravity would prevent it from expanding outward.

3.Missing Star Formation. No natural way has been found to explain the formation of planets, stars, and galaxies. An explosion should produce, at best, an outward spray of gas and radiation. This gas should continue expanding, not form intricate planets, stars, and entire galaxies.

4.Missing Antimatter. Some versions of the Big Bang theory require an equal production of matter and antimatter. However, only small traces of antimatter (positrons, antiprotons) are found in space.

5.Missing Time. Some experiments indicate that the universe may be young, on the order of 10,000 years old. If true, then there is not sufficient time for the consequences of the Big Bang to unfold. A short time span would not allow for the gradual evolution of the earth, heavens, and mankind.

6.Missing Mass. Many scientists assume the universe will eventually stop expanding and begin to collapse inward. Then it will again explode and repeat its oscillating type of perpetual motion. This idea is an effort to avoid an origin and destiny for the universe. For oscillation to occur, the universe must have a certain density or distribution of mass. So far, measurements of the mass density are a hundred times smaller than expected. The universe does not appear to be oscillating. The necessary mass is "missing."

7.Missing Life. In an evolving universe, life should have developed everywhere. Space should be filled with signals from intelligent life forms. Where is everybody?

8.Missing Neutrinos. These small particles should flood the earth from the sun's fusion process. Their absence raises questions about the sun's energy source and man's overall understanding of the universe. How then can science speak about "origins" with any authority (Donald DeYoung, Astronomy And The Bible, Grand Rapids, Baker Book House, 1989, pp. 89,90).


The big bang theory attempts to explain the origin of the universe in a non-supernatural way. Though some Christians attempt to equate the big bang with the creation of Genesis 1:1, it is not an advisable thing to do. David E. O'Brien perceptively writes:

In the past hundred years many have tried to establish linkages between the spare, beautiful account of Genesis 1 and the emerging details of what are still infant sciences.
The best of these disturb me, for one simple reason. It's been tried before and the results have always been disastrous . . . .
It's a monumental blunder when we support a questionable biblical interpretation with questionable science, but an even more incredible blunder when we adopt a scientific world view as "biblical" and then use Scripture to support it (David E. O'Brien, Today's Handbook for Solving Bible Difficulties, Minneapolis: Bethany House Publishers, 1990, p. 169).

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