"It really does matter, and matters very much, how we think about the cosmos," declares historian and college president Dr. George Roche. Immanual Kant, for example, posited an infinitely old and infinitely large universe. Such a universe Kant reasoned might permit an infinite number of random chances. Thus even such highly improbable events as atoms self-assembling into human beings might be possible. God, then, becomes unnecessary.
But is Immanual Kant's concept of the cosmos really true? Thanks to many spectacular discoveries made primarily in the last several years, we can say no. In fact, not only can we say that God must exist, but also the description of Him found in the Bible matches what science is finding. The god of the other religions is now demonstrably false.
The first such scientific breakthrough arose from Einstein's theory of general relativity. Subtracting one set of his famous field equations from the other yielded the surprising result that everything in the universe is simultaneously expanding and decelerating. The only physical phenomenon satisfying simultaneous expansion and deceleration is an explosion. But, if the universe is the aftermath of an explosion, then sometime in the past it must have had a beginning. If it had a beginning, then there must be a Beginner.
Einstein's own world view initially kept him from adopting such a conclusion. Rather he proposed a new force of physics that would perfectly cancel out the deceleration and expansion induced by gravity. However, Edwin Hubble soon proved that the galaxies indeed were expanding away from one another in the manner predicted by Einstein's original formulation of general relativity. Confronted with this, Einstein gave grudging acceptance to "the necessity for a beginning,"1 and to "the presence of a superior reasoning power. "2
Others were not so ready to concede a theistic world view. Sir Arthur Eddington proposed that the universe part way through its general expansion undergoes a quasi-static pause of infinite duration so as to "allow evolution an infinite time to get started."3 Herman Bondi, Thomas Gold and Fred Hoyle attempted to circumvent the beginning by proposing continual creation. Accordingly, the universe, though expanding indefinitely, takes on an unchanging and eternal quality since the voids that result from expansion are filled by the continual creation of new matter. Willem de Sitter, Richard Tolman, and Robert Dicke revived the ancient Hindu belief in an oscillating universe. The universe was presumed to explode, implode, and bounce back into a new cycle of explosion and implosion ad infinitum and thus "relieve us of the necessity of understanding the origin of matter at any finite time in the past."4
These and a few other theories were considered viable loopholes until the limits and parameters of the universe were measured. We now know that the universe is too large to allow for any kind of pause in the general expansion.5, 6 It is too small to permit continual creation.7 It radiates much too perfectly for the universe ever to bounce.8, 9
Moreover, as astronomers look back in time with their telescopes, they see that the universe has changed precisely as predicted by a general relativistic explosion.
All this evidence has become somewhat academic. In 1968 and 1970 three British astrophysicists, Stephen Hawking, George Ellis, and Roger Penrose, extended the solution of the equations of general relativity to include space and time.10, 11 Their papers showed that if these equations are valid for the universe, then, under reasonably general conditions, space and time also must have an origin, an origin coincident with that for matter and energy. In other words, time must have a beginning. In 1970 general relativity still had not been overwhelmingly established by observations. But by 1980 observations removed any doubts.12
Three independent lines of research (color-luminosity fitting of globular cluster stars, nucleochronology of supernovae nuclides, and the Hubble time for the expansion of the universe) yield a definite and consistent age for the universe of 16 +/- 3 billion years. With the knowledge that time has a beginning, and a relatively recent beginning at that, all age-lengthening attempts to save agnostic science should cease. Moreover, the common origin of matter, energy, space, and time proves that the act(s) of creation must transcend the dimensions and substance of the universea powerful argument for the biblical doctrine of God.
Now that the limits and parameters of the universe have come within the measuring capacity of astronomers and physicists, the design characteristics of the universe are being examined and acknowledged. Anything but the slightest disturbance in the values for the four constants of physics and for more than a dozen parameters of the universe would yield a universe unsuitable to support life.13 One astrophysicist likened the "coincidental" nature of these constants and parameters to the chance of balancing thousands of pencils upright on their points. Design characteristics also are becoming apparent for our planet earth. At least nineteen such life-sensitive parameters have been investigated.14 Considering that the universe contains only about a trillion galaxies, each averaging a hundred billion stars, we can safely conclude that not even one planet would be expected, by natural processes alone, to possess the necessary conditions to sustain life. These lists, each of which grows longer each year, would seem to provide another body of convincing evidence for the hand of the Creator-God of the Bible in the formation of the universe and of the earth.
Now that the limits of the universe have been established, it is possible to calculate whether it is large enough and old enough to produce life by natural processes. The universe contains no more than 1080 nucleons (basically protons and neutrons) and has been in existence for no more than 1018 seconds.
Compared to the inorganic systems comprising the universe, biological systems are enormously complex. The genome for the DNA of an E Coli bacterium has the equivalent of about two million amino acid residues. A single human cell contains the equivalent of about six billion amino acid residues. Moreover, unlike inorganic systems, the sequence in which the individual components (amino acids) are assembled is critical for the survival of biological systems. Also, only amino acids with left-handed configurations can be used in protein synthesis; the amino acids can be joined only by peptide bonds; each amino acid first must be activated by a specific enzyme; and multiple special enzymes are required to bind messenger RNA to ribosomes before protein synthesis can begin or end.
The bottom line is that the universe is at least ten billion orders of magnitude (a factor of 1010,000,000,000 times) too small or too young to permit life to be assembled by natural processes. Researchers, who are both non-theists and theists and who are in a variety of disciplines, have arrived at this calculation.15 - 20
Invoking other universes cannot solve the problem. All such models require that the additional universes remain totally out of contact with one another; that is, their space-time manifolds cannot overlap. Thus the only explanation for how living organisms received their highly complex and ordered configurations is that an intelligent, transcendent Creator personally infused this information.
Even the sardonic enemy of Christianity, Fred Hoyle, has conceded that "there is a good deal of cosmology in the Bible."21 Table 1 reviews some examples of that cosmology. Most significantly for our skeptical times, the latest discoveries on the frontiers of astronomy and physics validate and help to explain all this Biblical cosmology. Moreover, the Bible among all holy books stands uniquely apart in its statements about cosmology. No other sacred writings teach an extradimensional reality independent of the dimensions of our universe. Most, in fact, flatly contradict it.
Table 1: Some biblical statements of cosmological significance
As vital as the new cosmology may be for convincing the skeptic that Jesus Christ is his one and only Lord and Savior, it is equally important as an aid to Christians in living a Spirit-filled life. Christians are transformed and strengthened as they become convinced that the Savior they cannot see is every bit as real and close as their next of kin-even closer. Further, all the paradoxical doctrines in the Bible (e.g., the Trinity, free-will and predestination, eternal security, baptism in the Holy Spirit, heaven, hell, spiritual gifts) can, be resolved and understood within the framework of extradimensional reality.