From the teeming life in a drop of pond water to the structure of distant galaxies, we live in an amazing, orderly, and complex universe. Within ourselves as human beings we see not only this same complexity, but also personality and intelligence. Order, complexity, personality, and intelligence — did all of these just happen? There are really just two possibilities: either the universe just happened to be this way, or else there was someone or something behind it all. Francis Schaeffer described these two possibilities as either an impersonal beginning or a personal beginning.1
Schaeffer explained that an impersonal beginning in which everything “began with an impersonal something,” cannot fully explain the order and complexity of the universe, or the existence of intelligence and personality in human beings. Only a personal beginning, Schaeffer concluded, in which everything “began with a personal something” can explain human beings and the world around us. In other words, only a Creator with intelligence and personality could design an orderly and complex universe like ours.
Belief in a personal beginning and a Creator is a matter of faith. There is no need to apologize or be embarrassed about it. It is clearly explained in the Bible that belief in a Creator is a matter of faith (Hebrews 11:3). The very existence of the universe points to the necessity of a Creator, but it still requires faith to accept this.
Belief in an impersonal beginning and a universe formed by chance is also a matter of faith. It is a different kind of faith, but it is still faith. A person who rejects the idea of a Creator must believe in something else. Presently, the most accepted scientific explanation for the origin of the universe is the big bang theory. Even this requires belief in something: that matter existed before the “big bang” and that chemical processes could produce a universe like we see around us.
Theories such as the big bang cannot fully explain the intricacies of the universe and require a “faith” in mindless, random processes rather than an intelligent and personal Creator. Robert Jastrow, an agnostic astronomer, summed up well the problems of an impersonal beginning in his book Until the Sun Dies: “Science, unlike the Bible, has no explanation for the occurrence of that extraordinary event [the big bang]. The Universe, and everything that has happened since the beginning of time, are a grand effect without a known cause.”2
Several years ago I was speaking to a group of students and one young lady with a perplexed look on her face said to me, “Do you mean that you don’t believe in the big bang?” I responded that the big bang may in fact be the way in which God created the universe, but without a personal being to direct that process, the big bang cannot fully explain the existence and nature of the universe in which we live.
Either the universe had a personal beginning directed by the Creator, or it is, as Jastrow observed, a “grand effect without a known cause.” You can believe in one or the other. The choice is yours.
1. Francis Schaeffer, Genesis in Space and Time (InterVarsity Press, 1972), 19 – 21.
2. Robert Jastrow, Until the Sun Dies (Norton, 1977), 21.
Picture captions — top to bottom:
All pictures in this article: NASA (Hubble)
Saturn's Rings in Ultraviolet
The Antennae Galaxies
Barred Spiral Galaxy