GOD’S OTHER BOOK

GOD’S OTHER BOOK

Preface

Over the past several hundred years, many adherents of the intellectual disciplines known collectively as “Science” have conducted numerous systematically structured investigations into the origins of the universe, and how it has developed out of nothing from formless plasma into to the complex of myriad components-especially our own earth-which we are able to observe in detail today. The culmination of this scientific effort is an understanding of the natural processes that have been-and continue to be-involved in this development, and a conclusion from the evidence that it has taken about 14 billion years to accomplish since its now identified unique single instant and point of beginning.

The cause of the instantaneous beginning that created time, space, and the universe in what is generally concluded to have been a void of “nothingness”, is still debated within the scientific community, but a supernatural one is increasingly being favored as the best explanation consistent with the apparent facts.

On the other hand, the Judeo-Christian Bible’s description of how the entire natural universe came to exist declares it to have been accomplished through a six-day (as we measure days now) supernatural event in which God created everything natural in completed kind and form as Biblically described as then existing. Some Biblical scholars estimate from Biblically recorded genealogies and events that this creative event occurred 6 to 10 thousand years ago.

Obviously, both “explanations” cannot logically co-exist as being literally true.

The intent of this brief paper is, first, to present and substantiate a position that there is no conceptual conflict between the two despite their widely divergent descriptions of how Creative events specifically occurred. For, as we shall see, the valid basis for both is the same Source, one that is eternally consistent and infallible, the Creator Lord God. And second, since most readers will be (or readily can become) familiar with the Biblical version, but likely unaware of even the principal details of how Science has arrived at its conclusions, I will present a condensed, largely non-technical outline of how the detailed observations and studies of the myriad components of Nature, itself, have led to an understanding of God’s supernatural creative power to bring the Universe to its present state.

For those who wonder what “credentials” I might claim that entitle me to comment on the issues I discuss, I first am a committed professing Christian who has had an inherent belief in a Creator God since childhood from an early introduction to the complex variety of Nature by my parents.  My understanding of the Bible has been enhanced through both the excellent teachings of countless lessons from Pastors of the Churches I have attended over the years, the adult Bible classes that I have taught, and the many Precept Ministries’ formal Inductive Bible studies that I have participated in.

On the “Science” side, my curiosity about nature, from astronomy to geology to biology was early evidenced in my reading choices, and the subjects in high school that I found of most interest, all of which led to a college course of study that earned me a Bachelor’s degree in Plant Science, and a Master’s in Silviculture & Forest Management; All of which provided attendant appropriate knowledge in physics, chemistry, and what are collectively known as the “earth sciences”. 

Therefore, while I make no claim to expertise in all of the areas of science that I will discuss below, I am sufficiently confident of my at least general understanding of the subject matter and the basis for the scientific conclusions that have been reached.  I have not knowingly ignored any serious scientifically valid disagreements with what I present, and welcome factual rebuttals.

My goal in this paper is to improve understanding of why and how rational people on each side of this controversy believe as they do, and from that will come realization that in truth there is really no conflict, for each of the two versions simply presents a valid explanation of God’s creation-Nature-that is consistent with the level of technical sophistication of the respective cultures in and for which each “version’ was developed, the two cultures being separated by several thousand years during which magnitudes of steady progress were made in the ability to observe and understand the complex details of nature both on earth and in the skies above.

The difference between the versions of course, begs the question: If the “Science” version of Creation is factual, do I imply that the “conflicting” Biblical description of Creation that is presented in Chapter 1 of Genesis is then false, despite that it is inspired text?

Being a devoted Christian who has studied the Bible and subscribes to its God-declared inerrancy, my answer, of course, is a firm “NO”.  But that answer requires recognition that the writers of the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, as well as Jesus, Himself, often used allegories and metaphors to make important themes, events, or concepts easily understandable for the people of their era by relating them to then familiar things. The Earth is depicted in Psalms as ‘standing still’ while the sun and stars revolve around it in order to acknowledge their apparent daily motion; Jesus is referred to as a “door” and a “shepherd”, and His followers as “sheep”; the Psalmist (90:4) reminded us (and the Apostle Paul confirms (2Tim 3:8) that, metaphorically, a thousand [human] years are like a day to God. Jesus’ parables while essentially are just stories, the content of each represents particular “truths” presented in easily understandable form. There is a major difference between a writing that is false with intent to deceive the reader, and that which, while the content may not be literally factual, presents an unfamiliar or complex truth as an understandable metaphor or allegory. The first is obviously false; the second simply uses familiar parallels to convey a potentially complicated conceptual truth in a more understandable context for the intended audience. The break with factual reality comes when you misinterpret a statement that is a metaphor or allegory as a literal fact. How can you know the difference? The standard admonition for Biblical understanding of “difficult” passages applies: Careful attention to context, both general and specific.

The essential point conveyed by Genesis 1 is that God initiated Creation of “something” from “nothing” by which everything in the Universe has come into existence by His command.


Why the Genesis 1 Creation account is valid scripture


The Holy Bible, written some two or three thousand
years ago by men inspired by God to reveal Himself to all people, is well-known, read and studied at least in part by most everyone who has interest or professes belief in Him. The explanation of Creation presented in the Book of Genesis clearly establishes God as the unquestionably sole Creator of everything in terms of what the reader then could personally observe on Earth and in the Heavens above about His Creation-the collective natural components of what we now refer to as the ‘Cosmos’, or ‘Universe’. It does this by describing God’s creation in terms that, while not literally complete in detail or procedure, they were ones that correctly conveyed the concepts of creation based on what was observable in ways that were understandable by the culture of that day. Doing so does not make it “false”. Supporting the validity of this is the fact that the order of creation in Genesis essentially is the same order of the formation of the universe and the earth and the occurrence of plant and animal life as that which scientific study has determined. 

 What the Genesis version of Creation obviously lacks, for reasons that I believe are clear, are the incredibly complex details of the myriad essential physical, chemical, and physiological elements and processes that, while hidden from the naked eye, collectively are the basis for the observable superficial characteristics of nature.  The evidence of these intricate hidden details of God’s creation are not lost, though, for He carefully imbedded them in discoverable form in all the diverse individual components of His Creation: “the things that have been made”, as Paul wrote in his letter to the Romans.

I believe that it clearly is God’s intention that this evidence of the how of Creation would eventually be discovered and understood by his children. For He subsequently has led Scientists to observe and understand it through the natural curiosity and ability to reason with which He endowed them, so that we are now able to marvel at the methods of His natural creative ways, ways that He makes it unarguably clear through the observable evidence that His methods involved eons of supernatural wisdom, not six literal days, in which to systematically carry out His creation progressively using capabilities which He had imbedded in nature itself.

Understanding the results of Science’s search for the facts of how the created material universe has come to be in the state in which we witness it today requires acknowledgment that it is based on the evidence found in what has been termed “God’s other Book” [1] — one “written” personally by God, Himself. QThe fundamental basis for these scientific studies is simply what God provided for us in observable natural form: detailed evidence of both the way His creation has been (and still is being) carried out, and the designed configuration and on-going function of all the natural elements that compose what we collectively refer to as “Nature”.

    [1] First use of this term to describe the totality of Created Nature as a revelation by God of His power that stands alongside the inspired texts of the Bible, has been attributed to the 3rd century Christian theologian, Augustine of Hippo. The concept has been repeated by such respected notables as 13th century philosopher/theologian Thomas Aquinas, (thought by some to rival Paul, himself, in his insights on God and Christianity), and, on the science side, early systematic seekers of answers to Nature’s secrets, Galileo and Sir Francis Bacon.

  Before continuing, we need to clear up some misconceptions about “Science”

 Science as a discipline is not the irreconcilable opponent of religion that some perceive it to be. In fact, it is evident that the strong Judeo-Christian beliefs of many preeminent early scientists were a factor underlying what led up to the”scientific revolution” of the 16th and 17th centuries. This was a period that saw significant advancements in the observation and understanding of Nature, both on earth and in the heavens above. These advancements corrected flawed and biased beliefs from ancient times and established formal systematic procedures for scientific observation, experiment, and analysis that form the basis for modern scientific enquiry-the Scientific Method, a formal process    of testing and analysis to validate (or refute) proposed explanations of observed natural phenomena.            .  

By definition, “Science” as a discipline is merely the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the natural physical world and universe through detailed formal observation and reasoned analysis. Its sole objective is to gain and increase the understanding of “matter”— everything in the universe that is substantive, that is, having mass and volume.  Matter exists in solid, liquid, gas, and plasma form, and it and energy are interchangeable.

In ancient civilizations a mythical supernatural controlling deity was credited for each phenomenon of nature because there was little understanding of the “whys” and “hows” of nature itself.  The earliest roots of a disciplined approach to begin to understand the natural world by observation of the superficial causes and effects of phenomena were by the ancient Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Greeks, and Romans ca. 4000 – 3000 BCE. (The word ‘science’ in English comes from the Latin one for “knowledge”.) 

Over the course of ensuing millennia, recognition grew that the explanations which scientists sought about nature’s components were to be found in the formal study of the observable details of nature itself. With that, the early modern practice of science was born, and its practitioners began to distance themselves from using made up supernatural forces as the source and cause of natural phenomena. This approach to restrict their attention to observable material evidence for answers eventually became imbedded in the formal rules of scientific investigation as studies involving the natural “laws” of physics that govern the characteristics of matter increasingly revealed identifiable natural physical causes for more and more of nature’s apparent enigmas.

This growing ability to begin to satisfactorily explain nature’s make up, even if only superficially, by increased understanding of its components, over time provided some scientists with a sufficient reason to disavow the existence of Judeo-Christian religion’s supernatural Creator God, along with any credibility in the Biblical Scripture that claimed to reveal Him. This view, while by no means ever unanimous among the scientific community has been sufficient over the centuries to get scientific endeavors into understanding Creation through Nature’s evidence generally branded as “anti-religion” by religious groups.

As I shall discuss later, scientific discoveries over the past century have erased at least some of the principal reasons for this “anti-science” bias, and there is a growing recognition within the science community that the answer to the ultimate question: “how did ‘matter’, and more particularly “life” itself, with its apparent supernatural attributes, come into existence?” lies outside of a scientific search that focuses solely on the physical components of the universe.

HOW SCIENCE ARRIVED AT THE APPROXIMATIONS OF

THE AGES OF THE UNIVERSE AND THE EARTH

Preface: The role of science

Before embarking on the explanations for how members of the scientific community came up with their age approximations, I need to address two items that bear directly on the historic objectives of science in general, i.e., what it does and why it does it.

First, I direct your attention to the previous reference in the Book of Romans, a letter that the Apostle Paul wrote to the Christians in Rome, a letter which has been called both a theological masterpiece and the constitution of the Christian faith. It is so well organized in its presentation of the precepts of Christianity that it has been used in some law schools as an example of how to prepare a legal brief, a formal document a lawyer uses both to convince a court that the client’s argument is sound, and to persuade the court to adopt that position.

In it, as recorded in Chapter 1, verses 19 and 20, Paul rebukes the ungodly and unrighteous who suppress the truth (deny any knowledge of the existence of God) by their actions, “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them, for His invisible attributes, namely His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly perceived ever since the creation of the World in the things that have been made. So, they are without excuse.”

Paul states here that to know that a Divine Supernatural God exists, we need only look at nature itself, where He has revealed Himself in His creation, “the things that have been made”. Paul does not tell us that all we need to do is to go read Chapter 1 of Genesis to realize and understand the revelation of what He has done and how he did it (His invisible attributes). His Creation-nature-is all around, visible to any who will look at it, and through it He has revealed Himself to all. And while science has not yet ever declared that its objective in the studies of nature is to find God, its continuing discoveries of nature’s myriad components, and in the unraveling of nature’s innermost workings, answers to the mysteries of the HOWs of God’s Creation are revealed, leading us to a secure understanding of His Divinity, Majesty, and awesome Supernatural Power.

Please keep in mind that the only purpose here is to challenge the literal interpretation of the creation account as it is presented in the opening Chapter of Genesis. There is no intent to falsify, denigrate, or belittle the basic concepts underlying that Chapter, for it serves an important unique purpose that embodies an essential message of its own, a message that is the very foundation of all scripture, to wit: God is eternal, and He existed before there was anything; it is He who has created all things from nothing by and through His supreme divine power.

What the first Chapter does clearly identify is the WHAT and WHO of creation; through the rest of scripture, we come to know God, learn the WHY, and acquire understanding of His ways and expectations for us. It is in nature (“the things that have been made”) that we, through our understanding of the intellectual discipline called “science”, which is based on the use of the God-appointed power of our mind to reason [2], look with awe at the infinite complexity in the design of that creation and the way it is sustained. It is through careful study of His Creation through improving technology that we can fully understand and appreciate God’s awesome power and divine ways-the HOW it was-and still being-carried out.

[2]   E.g., Job 23:7; Isa 1:18

With respect to concerns that many had about apparent conflicts between scripture and the results of scientific investigation, Thomas Aquinas, 13th century philosopher/theologian, allegedly expanding on the thoughts of the 3rd century theologian, Augustine, observed that the natural sciences serve as a kind of veto over the subjective or literal interpretation of a biblical passage when that interpretation is in conflict with what the objective scientific study of nature itself establishes through appropriate observation, analysis and testing to be a fact. 

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(NOTE: The following sections provide an overview of the more significant discoveries by scientists that have occurred along path that scientists have traveled over the past century or so in their exploration of the mysteries of nature in order to understand how the universe in which we live came to be. Technical detail is held to a minimum, but the information provided is based on technically supported documentation.)

Four natural forces–God’s tools for His design of the Universe
and operation of its natural functions


Underlying the science for the issue of age calculations for both the universe and the Earth, and how created energy and matter formed the physical components of the Cosmos that exist today, is an important discovery by scientists over the years of the underlying components of God’s designed creation that are responsible for the continuing existence of nature itself:  Four natural FORCES, products of Creation, itself, that are the “glue” that holds the Universe and all its material components together and which enables them both to function and to dynamically change in form and composition over time.

That such essential forces existed in nature, with Jesus Christ their source and presence, had been revealed by the Apostle Paul many centuries earlier in his letter to the Colossians 1:16,17:  “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have 4been created through him and for him; 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”

These four natural forces came into existence at the moment of creation and are fundamental to all matter which comprises the universe. Should they suddenly disappear, the entire universe would literally fly apart and disintegrate in an instant. Science has been able to determine very accurately through observation and experiment the nature of these forces and how they behave, but it cannot explain either how they came into existence, or why they have the inherent capability to act as they do.

We personally experience two of these forces every day:

—The Force of Gravity, is a natural phenomenon by which all things with mass or energy — including planets, stars, galaxies, gaseous matter, and even light — are attracted to one another. We experience it as our weight as the earth pulls on us. It caused the original gaseous matter to coalesce to form stars, and the stars to group together to form galaxies, and It keeps the planets in our solar system fixed in their orbits about the Sun. The gravitational attraction of our Moon is responsible for our oceans’ tides and currents as it orbits the Earth. Theoretically, anything with “mass” exhibits gravitational attraction, but the strength is too weak except in very large or very dense bodies of matter to have an effect.

—The Electromagnetic (EM) Force is the radiant energy (“radiation”) associated with magnetic and electric fields. Its presence is extensive and diverse, from holding atoms together (which is why things are solid) to making such diverse things as TVs, cell phones, X-Rays, MRIs, your microwave oven, and even your eyesight possible.

The full range of all possible EM frequencies or wavelengths [3] make up the Electromagnetic Spectrum, from shortest wavelengths (gamma rays, X-rays) to the longest (radio and TV waves). Tucked in a very narrow band in the center is the only EM radiation that can be detected by the human eye-visible light.

This visible light band is made up of the EM frequencies for each of the colors from violet through blues, greens, yellows, oranges to reds, the order being the same as a prism produces from a beam of white sunlight. (This will be relevant to our discussion below on age of Universe.)

[3] Electromagnetic energy is transmitted in the form of ‘waves’ (as is sound as a different form of energy.) The measured ‘frequency’ (the number of times a wave peak passes a particular point each second) determines the properties or type of each EM form. “Wavelength” is concurrent way to characterize any wave form, and is the measured distance between wave peaks expressed in meters.


The other two natural Forces operate at the level of the individual atom:

—The ‘Strong Force’ holds the subatomic particles in the nucleus of an atom together, thereby maintaining the integrity of the particular chemical element that the atom forms. (Chemical properties of atoms are determined by the number of protons in the nucleus)
 —The ‘Weak Force’ is responsible for the controlled radioactive decay in those elements, such as radium and uranium, which, by their nature, have a systematically unstable nucleus and lose energy by radiation. (It is this Force that is responsible for providing scientists with the basis for determining the age of the Earth and its features, as will be discussed below.)

Skeptics have questioned the validity of the assumption that the effects of these four basic forces have remained constant over time while the environments in which they have operated have varied significantly, for they maintain-based on conjecture-that even minor changes might invalidate scientific conclusions of historic natural phenomena developed from their use in calculations on which those conclusions are based.

Relying on the inerrancy of the Colossians verse quoted above that it is Christ who holds the Universe together, Hebrews 13:8 assures us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”.  That straightforward statement would be a “truth’, and not a metaphor, a verse we can take literally. Scripturally, then, these basic forces were the same at the moment of creation as we observe them to be today. Science has found no evidence to the contrary.

How scientists have calculated the estimated age of the Universe.

First, this section is not a detailed textbook recitation of all the mathematics and physics that describe the many intricate technical steps that have been pursued by scientists that led to the procedures that enable them to calculate a reliable estimate of the age of the Universe, and details about its development.  Only enough technical detail is given for an understanding that the way scientists have been able to develop the age of the Universe is based on nature’s facts and sound reasoning.  For any readers unsatisfied with abbreviated general descriptions, I suggest an Internet search for “estimating the age of the Universe” to find the full details on the physics technologies that are involved. (Without an appropriate academic background, prepare to be at least somewhat overwhelmed.)

 Calculation of the age of anything obviously requires knowledge of when it came into existence. For the scientific determination of the age of the Universe, this initially presented an insurmountable problem since there appeared to be no way to even verify that the event actually occurred. For generations, people argued over whether the Universe had always existed in a stable form, or was it eternally cyclical, expanding and contracting with neither beginning nor end, or whether it had a supernatural beginning as the Bible declared. However, starting in the early 20th century, improving technology enabled scientists to begin to explore the Universe in greater systematic detail, steadily increasing their discovery and understanding of its components and how they worked. 

In 1929, Edwin Hubble  confirmed and enlarged upon a discovery that Vesto Slipher had made in 1912 that the light from most distant galaxies [4] was ‘redder’ than those in our own Milky Way. Hubble, using the now available 100-inch telescope on Mt. Wilson in California, was studying the light from the stars in very distant galaxies  using a spectroscope [5], and observed that the spectral lines of the of the colors for the light emitted by the stars in the galaxies under observation did not have exactly the wavelengths as those indicated for the same colors from a spectroscope of light in the laboratory. Rather, the wavelengths of each of the colors were systematically shifted slightly toward the red end of the color spectrum indicating that the transmission of each color from the light source had a slightly longer wavelength.

[4] A galaxy is a gravitationally bound system of stars, stellar remnants, interstellar gas, dust, and dark matter. The word galaxy is derived from the Greek galaxias, literally “milky”, an early 1800’s reference to ‘our’ Milky Way. Galaxies range in size from dwarfs with just a few hundred million stars to giants with one hundred trillion stars, each orbiting its galaxy’s center. It is estimated that Earth’s “home”, the Milky Way Galaxy, is made up of an estimated 100 billion stars (similar to our sun). The closer ones are mostly what can be seen with the naked eyes in the night sky except for the 5 the planets of our solar system, and one major galaxy, the Andromeda, which is “only” 2.5 million light years away, and a few small ones that are part of our Galaxy and look just like the stars.

[5] An instrument that breaks a ray of light into its component spectral lines (colors) and identifies their respective frequency and wavelength .(Descriptive measures that identify unique characteristics of individual electro-magnetic energy transmissions, e.g., each color has a unique wavelength and frequency.)

In considering the reason for this phenomenon, the only plausible conclusion was that these red shifts occurred because the galaxy from which the light that was being studied originated was moving rapidly away from our Milky Way galaxy. It was then noted that other observed galaxies exhibited the same shift. The cause of this change in wavelength is due to a natural physics principle known as the Doppler effect, or Doppler shift, which had been previously observed and verified in connection with an unrelated “Earthbound” application.

 The reason for the Doppler effect is that when the source of light (or sound) waves is moving towards the observer, each successive wave crest is emitted from a position slightly closer to the observer than the crest of the previous wave. Therefore, each successive wave takes slightly less time to reach the observer than the previous wave. Hence, the wavelength is reduced, and the frequency (the time between the arrivals of successive wave crests at the observer) is shorter. Conversely, if the source of waves is moving away from the observer, each wave is emitted from a position farther from the observer than the previous wave, so the arrival time between successive waves is increased, increasing the light’s wavelength, and in this case, affecting the individual colors that make up the star’s light.

A common example of Doppler shift in wave-form energy is the change of pitch of sound that is heard when a train or vehicle sounding its horn approaches and recedes from an observer. (Sound, while not electromagnetic, is transmitted in wave form through air.) Compared to the emitted sound’s frequency, the received frequency (and tone) is higher during the approach, identical at the instant of passing by, and lower as the source of the sound recedes.

This discovery that all galaxies are rapidly moving outward and away from each other led to the new understanding that the Universe was expanding uniformly like a balloon; and the velocity at which any distant galaxy was moving could be calculated by the amount of the wavelength “red shift” measured by the Spectrometer. With this this new information, scientists were now able to estimate the rate at which both the Universe and space itself is expanding in all directions, the current estimate being about 42 miles per second, per parsec (a unit of length used to measure astronomical distances One parsec = ~19,2 trillon miles.).

More importantly, this new information provided the key to what many physicists concluded settled the question about how and when did everything start? Armed with the information that all the components of the Universe were moving outward from a point of common beginning, it now was factually knowable that the Universe did have a definite singular point and time of beginning, one which was quickly labeled as the “Big Bang”. 
This, of course, only served to give new life to the debate among scientists, atheists, and Judeo-Christians that continues today about what caused the Big Bang to occur, how did energy and matter appear out of ‘nothing’, and from where and how did the specific information that appears to have guided all the subsequent development of the Universe in general, and the Earth in particular (especially life itself), originate?
 

Creation event is estimated by scientists from evidence still observable in the cosmos [6]  to have been instantaneous, and incredibly hot and violent, producing and ejecting particles with great force in all directions into the void, creating out of nothing in an instant, energy, particles of matter, and time and space, none of which existed before.[7]  Our learned knowledge of natural chemical and physical principles from systematic observations now enables us to understand how these particles of matter merged to form through nuclear fusion, first atoms of hydrogen, and then through the highspeed collisions of these, atoms of helium, the two “simplest” (and still most abundant) elements in the Universe, having but 1 and 2 protons respectively in their nucleus. (For comparison, later formed elements such as oxygen has 16, and iron 26.)

[6] Among this evidence, when the “Big Bang” of creation was first hypothesized, scientists calculated, based on known properties of the resultant observed existing energy and matter, that, if there were such an event, some of the extreme energy that would have been released as an electromagnetic (EM) force at the instant of its creation would have included a specific frequency in the microwave range that should still be discernable as faint background radiation in space. Radio telescope searches found nothing, however, until a few years later when a totally unrelated space EM radiation-related research project was “bothered” by unexplainable interference, which proved to be background radiation on exactly the frequency previously predicted for the “Big Bang”.  Given the vast multitude of possible EM frequencies, discovering one “lurking in the background” exactly as predicted is hard to believe as merely a coincidence.

[7] Scientists acknowledge that this event created what is referred to as Space to begin filling the void and contain the Universe. The hypothesis is that Space continues to expand into the void.

Of major importance from Hubble’s discovery was that scientists now had the ability to approximate with reasonable certainty based on nature’s own imbedded attributes, the amount of time that has elapsed since the Universe came into existence at the “Big Bang”.

In 1996 two teams of physicists using the available data in slightly different methods, independently determined the time of the creation event:  One estimated 9-12 billion years ago, the other 11-15 billion. More recent data provided by improved technology now places the Universe’s estimated age at 13.8 billion years, with a +/- confidence of 20 million years.  The data has also now made it possible to tell from observations of the direction in which individual galaxies are moving outward, the general location in the present Universe of where the Big Bang took place by tracing their trajectories back to a common generalized “point”.

The above brief description of how scientists have determined the age of the Universe is by intent, general in content, and describes only what led them to that end. The path to our present knowledge of the components of the Universe is filled with far more technical detail than covered here.  It is my hope that what I have provided will bring understanding that the effort has been a search of Nature itself, one that has successfully revealed how things have progressed based on observations of “the things that have been made” and understanding and use of Nature’s own “laws” of physics from Creation.

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The processes by which the vast and varied components of our Universe have been formed through the action of imbedded natural forces from the initial creation of matter and energy to the state in which we observe them today have been slowly revealed by intense scientific observation and study using ever improving technology over the past three centuries. For those interested (and able to wade through highly technical material), it is well documented in numerous scientific research papers, textbooks, and articles.

Since the principal focus of this paper is on our own tiny piece of the Universe, Earth, we will concentrate now on it in our further look now into how Science has been able to “decipher” the story of the development of the principal natural features and components of our world.

How scientists have documented the Earth’s formation and

development, and calculated its estimated age.

The following discussion will be only as technical as may be appropriate to provide understanding of the natural basis for a particular issue or scientific observation, procedure, or determination. 

I also need to make it clear up front that the discussion of how life arose and developed over time on earth as determined by main-stream science, which raises serious controversy between religion and science, and between conflicting views within science itself, an emerging branch of which supports “intelligent-design”, will be limited to brief statements of factual findings from observations of appropriate relevant evidence in nature. Readers’ knowledge of the Biblical version of God’s creation of plant, animal, and human life in the opening Chapters of Genesis is assumed. 

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Based on the known physical principles (or “laws”) of nature, and observations of the components and dynamics of the current Universe, scientist have been able to determine that the Sun and the Earth and the other seven planets that make up our solar system were formed  at the same time about 4.6 billion years ago when internal gravity caused a giant cloud of gas, called a nebula, to collapse into itself because of its mass and crushed all the gassy material in it into a rotating plane called the protoplanetary disc. (Remember, space is essentially a vacuum, and matter encounters no resistance to movement other than the force of gravity and inertia.)

Over a period of an estimated hundred thousand years after the collapse, the Sun was formed by the compression of nebular gasses, nearly 98% of which was hydrogen and helium, at the center of this disc, with the rest swirling around it. (Our Sun constitutes 98% of the mass of our Solar System today.) [8]  The gases and other materials outside of the mass that would become the Sun in this protoplanetary disc started clumping together at various spots. Constant collisions between these bodies formed miniature planets. These seeds of planets eventually grew by pulling more material in due to growing gravitational forces, a process called accretion, to become true planets within 100,000 years after the Sun’s formation. The gas giants, Jupiter and Saturn, and the ice giants, Uranus and Neptune, would have formed much faster than the four terrestrial planets closest to the Sun, Mercury, Venus, Earth, and Mars.

Clearly, in its very beginning, Earth was “without form and void”, as appropriately described by Genesis 1:2.

[8[  The Sun is the star at the center of our Solar System. It is a nearly perfect sphere of hot plasma, heated to incandescence by nuclear fusion reactions in its core, radiating the energy mainly as visible light, ultraviolet light, and infrared radiation. It is by far the most important source of energy for life on Earth. Its diameter is about 864,000 miles, or 109 times that of Earth. Its estimated life expectancy before it enters the death throes normal for a star and expands to become a “red giant” rendering Earth uninhabitable before it cools to a “white dwarf, is about another five billion years. 

The History of Earth’s development is recorded in Nature, itself


The history of the Earth’s subsequent transitions over time has involved short- and long-term large-scale disruptions of geography and climate to bring it to its contemporary configuration of continents and oceans, mountains and valleys, fertile plains, and arid deserts, all stocked with continuous successions of an almost incomprehensible variety of species of plant and animal life in sizes from the microscopic and simple to the “gigantic” and complex.  Searching out, understanding, and recording the details of this history have presented paleontologists, geologists, chemists, physicists, botanists, and zoologists with a monumental challenge.
Fortunately, the intricate detail of the historic natural events that have shaped our planet, the what and the when, and clues about the how have been recorded over time by nature itself, and faithfully preserved in Earth’s rocks and geological features for us to discover and read. 
Rocks hold tangible records of their initial formation and subsequent transitions that they have undergone. These records have been formed over hundreds of millions of years, storing evidence within them of the geologic activities and changes in contemporary plant and animal life that occurred in the passage of time.  The field of geology that studies and dates the successive layers in rock formations as they were formed over long periods of geologic time is called Stratigraphy. This information enables scientists to document the general timing and duration of significant geological processes and changes in the kinds of plant and animal species that have occurred as the earth developed, and to construct a geological time scale for the natural events that have occurred over Earth’s history as a planet.

This detailed history of how life started as a single celled organism that gave rise over uncountable thousands of generations through a succession of increasingly more complex types and species to the myriad variety of plant and animal species of today is knowable only because some rock formations-principally sedimentary [9]  types-in the Earth’s crust contain fossils. Fossils are the petrified (mineralized), often very detailed remains or impressions of an individual specimen of plant and animal species that existed in identifiable specific past geological time periods and was buried in the material, such as lake or stream deposits, that eventually formed the rock over subsequent eons. Determination of the age of the rock since its formation tell us when the particular species of the imbedded fossilized plant or animal existed in the geologic past.

[9] Sedimentary rocks, which are formed from the deposited sediments of other rocks and mineral materials, form via different methods. Over a long period of geologic time as sediments become trapped, they grow compact from the weight of the overburden of layered material. Grains are forced together, squeezing out excess water, and ultimately, they cement together to form a solid rock layer. Since no destructive heat or disruptive forces are involved, organic specimens imbedded in the sediment can mineralize intact to form a fossil.

Fossil evidence ranges from the first evidence of life-microscopic single celled organisms, to partial parts of the stages in the development of more advanced species, to complete skeletons of mature specimens of increasingly more complex plants and animals that have lived on Earth since it cooled off from its fiery formation, and became able to support life, a span of more than a billion years.

Until 1926 controversy marked the issue of how to accurately date the ages of Earth’s geological history. In that year, The National Academy of Sciences assessed the available options, and adopted as the official standard an emerging scientifically sound, well-tested technology known as the radiometric time scale, which, with advances in collateral technologies, provided the basis for an acceptable method to determine the age of basic geological and carbon-related features of the earth as it formed.

Radiometric dating is a technique that takes advantage of the predictably consistent effects of nature’s “Weak Force” described earlier, which controls the predictable rate at which each radioactive element decays. While the dating methodology can be complex in some applications, the basic principle is straightforward. A simple explanation of the process is:

The planet Earth, being one of the four “inner” (i.e., closer to the sun) terrestrial planets of the solar system, while having a core of molten iron, its outer layers were basically formed out of minerals in the form of rock. (Soil came much later in the Earth’s development as the rock weathered and eroded.) Different kinds of rocks are made out of different kinds of elements, some of which may be radioactive, such as uranium, which over time “decay” atom by atom by spontaneously giving up energy and particles from their nucleus, thereby changing into an “isotope” — a related element with different properties from the original one.  For example, Uranium-238, one of the more common radioactive elements occurring in nature, decays into thorium-234. 

Radioactive elements and their isotopes are used for establishing the ages of rock formations that include these elements, and thereby the age of the fossils of plants and animals that were trapped in the parent material of the rock which subsequently formed.

This is possible because each radioactive element decays into its isotope at a predictable unique constant rate over time. This rate of decay is usually expressed in terms of the element’s “half-life”, that is, the time it takes for 50% of any amount of that element to decay into its isotope form. Scientists, using standard mathematical formulas, have calculated the rates of decay for all radioactive elements, making it possible to calculate the age of rock formations by simply determining through analysis the relative amounts of parent element and “daughter” isotope(s) present in a sample of the rock.

For example, if a rock sample is analyzed and is found to contain “x” grams of uranium-238 and “y” grams of its daughter isotope, thorium-234, we can calculate the fraction of the originally deposited uranium-238 that has radioactively decayed into thorium since its formation. By measuring the amount of each of these that is present in a sample and knowing the half-life of the parent uranium-238 (4.47 billion years), the age of the rock sample can be calculated by a standard mathematical formula. (This explanation has been simplified for easier understanding of the scientific principles involved.)

Multiple analyses like this, using a variety of radioactive elements and their isotopes from multiple diverse rock formations that were created as the Earth was first formed have indicated that the age of our planet is estimated to be 4.54 billion years, with a confidence of +/- 1%. Similar analyses of later forming rocks around the world have identified the timing in the fossil record of the presence of the succession of increasingly complex plant and animal life forms that have existed on earth since the evidence of the first simple single-cell life that appeared approximately 4 billion years ago.

AFTER THOUGHTS 

First, I must reemphasize an earlier statement that it is not my intention to-and I do not-argue with the scripture through either the thoughts that I present here or the material from a variety of sources that I have chosen in support of the points that I make. My intent is just the opposite, that is, to show that scripture and science are logically and factually complementary.

As I have presented in this paper, the evidence that God has made available in His Creation of nature itself,” the things that have been made” through His “invisible attributes, in the words of the Apostle Paul, is clear. I would submit that to deny this evidence-or the understanding of it that our God-given reason has then led us to-is, in effect, akin to denying God., Himself. The extensive “imbedded” evidence of a creation that has brought both geological formations and plant and animal life into its present forms over vast eons of time reveals the “HOW” of His creation and is as much a part of creation as the created things themselves. To place greater belief in favor of a contradictory literal interpretation of His 3000-year-old scripture passage written for a technically primitive culture, suggests a grossly misplaced faith in the human literal interpretation of words written by God for an ancient culture with sparse understanding of nature, for a very logically limited, specific purpose.

The fact cannot be ignored that what have been revealed through science is based solely on the readily observed effects of natural laws that have governed all of the content and ongoing actions of creation itself since the initial “big bang”. 

The conclusion by historical respected theologians that God wrote two books, one is in words, inspired scripture, and one in tangible, functional form, His Creation itself, also surely cannot be dismissed.  The first Book tells us Who, What and Why of Creation; the second, How He did it. We get some When, as well as the understanding of His unlimited Power in both.

Just as the New Testament does not nullify, but clarifies and expands upon, the truths of the Old, so the Book of Nature expands upon and clarifies the Books of scripture. All three sources of knowledge of God were given by Him at different times for different audiences.   Obviously, while the theme was readily apparent, the then-indecipherable technical details in Book of Nature weren’t even recognizable, let alone understandable 3000 years ago, so the needed important message in the opening Chapter of Genesis about how things came to be, was presented in simpler allegorical word pictures.

As Thomas Aquinas wisely advised, when human interpretation of scripture contradicts what Science has proven to be a fact by careful analysis of nature, e.g., it is the earth, not the sun that moves, it is the objective explanation by science, not the subjective human interpretation that should prevail.

————————————————————————————————–

ADDENDUM

The once popular scientifically accepted explanation that life arose “spontaneously” from the biotic chemicals presumed to have been available naturally in the “primordial ooze” of early earth has been thoroughly discredited due to the now provable extreme improbability of the required chemical interactions.

 A second theory that life came to earth from another planet outside our solar system simply transfers the intractable question of how life arose in the first place to another location, so is given little attention.

The answer, of course, for all those whose belief is locked on Biblical Scripture all being literally factual as written continues to be found in the Creation account as it is presented in the early Chapters of the Book of Genesis.

An emerging alternative now being given attention is one based on the processes of the scientific discoveries that have led to the  recognition that a Supernatural Force is necessary to adequately explain many complex facets of life itself.  Largely rejected by most scientists initially, this hypothesis has over the past 50 years captured the attention and support of an increasing number of respected biological, chemical, and mathematical scientists as providing the best explanation. 


 Called “Intelligent Design”, aka “ID”, this technically sophisticated scientific effort has focused on unravelling the myriad complexities of emerging biological systems as earth’s life forms can be observed in the geologic record as fossils and transform from the initial individual organisms consisting of a single living cell through the eons of earth’s development to the abundant plethora of animal and plant types and species with the diverse complexity of body forms that we can readily see around us today.

This research has found that life required for its initial existence, as well as for the subsequent development of new species, embedded complex information that could come only from an external “intelligent source”, a hypothesis subsequently confirmed in the 1950s by the discovery of DNA-the complex computer-like code found in all cells that is essential to guide their individual and collective development, function, and replication in the reproduction process.

Throughout the decades of its existence, ID scientists have carefully refrained from giving an identity, other than a non-specific “an intelligent designer” to the probable supernatural source of the intelligence behind the hypothesized designer and sustainer of life on earth, in deference to the main-stream science’s foundational biased systematic rejection of the existence of a Deity as the source of matter. A long-anticipated break from this practice finally has occurred with the recent publication of a book entitled “The return of the God hypothesis” by Dr. Stephen Meyer, author of several excellent prior books on the scientific steps that have led to the conclusion that contrary to Darwinian evolution, an Intelligent entity is required to explain both the very existence of life and the design of the myriad forms (species) in which it has existed on earth over the past several billion years.

In his newest book, Dr. Meyer addresses the issue of scientific proof of the existence of a supernatural “cause” of creation, proof which cannot be done by the accepted standard processes of deductive or inductive reasoning, by turning to one lesser commonly used-abductive reasoning-but one accepted and used in such fields as archaeology, law, computer science, artificial intelligence, and diagnostic ‘expert’ systems where hard facts (required for deduction and induction) may not be available to lead to a definitively provable conclusion. The abductive reasoning process instead leads to what logically is the “best available” or “most likely” explanation of all the available alternatives. Given the logical conclusion that an intelligent Creator/Designer exists, Meyer moves systematically to the final hypothesis that the Judeo-Christian God is the only defined Entity that “fills the bill”.

Meyer’s book is an extensive ‘summary’ of how and why an Intelligent designer is the best explanation for Creation and life on earth, reaching his conclusions by carefully dissecting and scientifically refuting proposed alternative theories. Since his target audience is principally, but not exclusively, other scientists, some of the material he covers can defy full understanding by those who lack a sufficient background in this area of the subject science. (I quickly turned more than a few pages to escape getting a brain cramp.)  But if you have an interest in learning why an increasing number of prominent scientists are acknowledging God’s existence and His design of nature, I highly recommend this book.

A book less filled with technical science but filled with compelling rational reasons and facts that sum up the many shortcomings of the still popular Darwinian theory that all life has evolved from a single cell to the myriad complexity that exists today simply through successive purely accidental mutations over of the eons of time. Titled Taking Leave of Darwin: A Longtime Agnostic Discovers the Case for Design, by Neil Thomas, discredits Darwin’s claims in an easily read text, and I recommend it also.

—————–

Also of considerable interest, Michael Denton of the Discovery Institute (home of the Intelligent Design science project) has written a series of small books on the Privileged Species in which he discusses the science of nature that make it apparent that earth is uniquely designed (which requires an intelligent creator) for human life. He summarizes his findings in a 46-minute video “The fitness of nature for mankind” which is available at:
  https://www.discovery.org/v/56184

Denton’s work presents unarguable facts to counter the World View that God and creation are religious myths. In my opinion this video is a “Must Watch” for all students before they are subjected to the public Educational System’s main-stream science myth that we and the universe are all just a big “accident”, with no purpose for existing.   


     Dick Chase    December 2021

     rachase@aol.com

*** CONSTRUCTIVE QUESTIONS AND DISCUSSION WELCOMED ***

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