“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1)

Not too long ago most astronomers and physicists held to the “steady-state” theory of the universe. This theory postulates that the universe has no beginning or end because it maintains a “constant average density” despite whatever change or expansion occurs.

But the scientific community began to chip away at the steady-state theory. “The death knell for the theory sounded when radio astronomers Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson discovered [in the 1960s] the cosmic microwave background, the leftover radiation from the Big Bang. The steady-staters had no reasonable way to explain this radiation, and their theory slowly faded away as so many of its predecessors had” (

The evidence now generally accepted in the scientific community is that the universe did, in fact, have a beginning, exploding into being billions of years ago in what is referred to as the “Big-Bang” theory. The astronomer Robert Jastrow explains to us that “three lines of evidence – the motions of galaxies, the laws of thermodynamics, and the life story of the stars – pointed to one conclusion: all indicated that the universe had a beginning” (God and the Astronomers, p.111).

“Arno Penzias, who won the Nobel Prize for his discovery of the cosmic background radiation [a ghostly whisper from the original moment of creation] that corroborated the Big-Bang, said, ‘The best data we have are exactly what I would have predicted had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, and the Bible as a whole.’”

Astronomer Robert Jastrow concludes: “Now we see how the astronomical evidence [of the Big-Bang origin of the universe] leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commence suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy” (A Scientist Caught, p.14). “Astronomers now find that they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation…as a product of forces they cannot hope to discover” (God and the Astronomers, p.15).

Tom Mulcahy, M.A.

Sources: My primary sources for this note, and for the quotes set forth above, are Norman Geisler’s article, “Big Bang Theory,” in the Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, and chapter eleven of What’s So Great About Christianity by D. D’Souza. I understand that astronomer Robert  Jastrow is an agnostic.

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  1. This is what St Augustine had to say, around A.D. 401-415: “Just as all those things, which, through the seasons, develop in the tree, so too it is to be understood of the world: that when God created all things AT ONCE, it had in it all things which were made by Him when day was made …. but even those things which water and earth produces potentially and causally, BEFORE they make their appearance in the course of time.” (The Literal Interpretation of Genesis”, 5,33,45.) (Para 1695 in The Faith of the Early Fathers, by William A Jurgens).) There is a hint of both the Big Bang and Evolution here!


  2. I spoke to a person who studied quantum mechanics which holds that the universe explodes and implodes in a cycle within a closed system. In other words, the big bang keeps happening eternally in an endless cycle. However, we are left with the question of where the laws that govern this system come from and, of course, the problem of which comes first: the chicken or the egg. Since chickens hatch from eggs to begin with, the egg must come first, having been formed by some motion of matter rather than having been laid by a hen. Perhaps the big bang could repeat endlessly, if God so chose. But it must have started the potential cycle to begin with on the Divine initiative.


  3. Astronomy: A Catholic Perspective, was a really neat talk at my Church last Spring. The presenter was a young parishioner PhD student Krzysztof Suberlak. His talk was on 4 or 5 famous astronomers in history, who were also devoutly Catholic. One was a Belgian Catholic priest, Georges Lemaitre, who proposed what later became known as the “Big Bang theory” of the origin of the universe, initially calling it the “hypothesis of the primeval atom”.


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