In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. — Genesis 1:1 (ESV)
“The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” — Carl Sagan, from Cosmos.
Which of these two quotes is a scientific statement, and which is a religious statement?
The initial reaction most people—including Christians— have had when I have asked this question is that the quote from Genesis is a religious statement, and the quote from Sagan is a scientific statement. In reality, both statements are religious or philosophical in nature, but only the Genesis quote is fully compatible with the universe as we know it.
I won’t dispute that the quote from the Bible is a religious statement. If religion is about God and his relationship to the universe and humanity, then Genesis 1:1 is clearly a religious statement.
Carl Sagan’s famous Cosmos statement is also a philosophical—and I would say religious—statement. Sagan had not observed that “the cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be,” nor had he nor any other scientist done an experiment which proved that God doesn’t exist or isn’t necessary. In other words, Sagan had not used anything like “the scientific method” to arrive at his conclusion, and his Cosmos quote is a philosophical statement, not a scientific one.
Atheists such as Sagan would say that science has explained everything from nuclear fusion to sexual reproduction without any need for inserting God into the process and so their faith that there is no God is justified (faith is the right word, even if they would scramble to say it in a different way). But in doing this they are confusing categories. It is one thing to say that stellar evolution or meiosis can be explained without inserting a “God did it” step. Christians do not insert a “God did it” step into these processes either. However, it is an entirely different matter to explain why there is a cosmos at all. This question is outside of science, and is one that theists have a better explanation for than do atheists.
Many dismiss the Christian belief that God created the entire cosmos—matter, energy, space, time, and laws—as coming from a primitive myth. By “cosmos” I mean “everything that is or ever was or ever will be,” which would include the multiverse (if there is such a thing) beyond our observed universe, but would not include God. Only one of the following statements, however, is actually compatible with the cosmos as we know it:
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
“In the beginning, nothing created everything.”
In the universe we live in, things do not pop into existence completely out of nothing. I am not talking about random quantum fluctuations creating subatomic particles here and there, because these particles are not truly popping up out of nothing. By nothing, I mean nothing — no space, time, matter, energy, nor laws. Because of this, it is incompatible with what we know about the cosmos—that is, it is incompatible with science—to believe that the cosmos came from absolutely nothing, or that it somehow created itself.
On the other hand, it is compatible with the universe as we know it (i.e. science) to advocate that it was caused to exist by something completely outside of it. There is absolutely no scientific reason, therefore, for a scientist to not accept that “in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
Grace and Peace
10 thoughts on “GeoScriptures — Genesis 1:1 — “In the beginning God” vs Carl Sagan”
Very well stated.
glad you mentioned the multiverse and quantum fluctuations. Those seem to be the standard atheist “outs” for explaining why there’s something rather than nothing.
matterhorn731 — Yes, the multiverse just puts the question back one step (and a step into utter darkness that is beyond science), and quantum fluctuations presuppose the existence of laws, and perhaps space and time.
I respectfully disagree! Genesis 1:1 is not about the original creation (the very beginning) of the Cosmos. Rather it is a summary of the six days of restoration, shown by the fact that the Earth was not made in the very beginning. It was made about nine billion years later. The beginning 1:1 speaks of, was the beginning as man knows it. See Merril F. Unger’s, O. T. Commentary (1981); The Lost World of Genesis One by John H. Walton and The Bible Knowledge Commentary (An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty) (Old Testament) pp.27, 28. On page 28 it says, “The word bara (“created”) may express creation out of nothing, but it certainly cannot be limited to that (cf. 2:7). Rather, it stresses that what was formed was new and perfect. The is used throughout the Bible only with God as its subject.”
Grace to you! Mike
The word is used throughout the Bible only with God as its subject.” I left out the “word” in the final sentence above.
The very beginning (with no mention of Earth, the heavens, any specific thing or the six days) is found in John 1:1-3. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” Science tells us “All things were created in the big bang!!
So science confirms the Bible, by what is “seen” through telescopes. The multiverse is based on nothing, seen or unseen!! It was invented because, evolutionists needed it to help them explain why our Universe is perfect in every way!! They say, “Out of all the universes, we just happen to live in the only perfect one–by freak chance!!!”
Albert Einstein said, “The scientist’s religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an Intelligence of such superiority that compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an insignificant reflection.” (The World AS I See It, p.29).
#7 This is not good enough, Mike. Multiverses may well be a cosmological sleight-of-hand to obviate the need of a Creator but, if they exist, the fact that we are suited to our Cosmos (and our environment) is not a miracle – If it were not so we would not be here to observe it!
Did Carl Sagan mean to include multiverses and/or 22 dimensions of space-time and/or String Theory (if it had been invented)? I think not. His was indeed a statement of faith; and the passage of time has almost certainly proven him to be wrong.
BTW, anyone who has any appreciable sense of humour will probably like this: The Sceptics’ Creed
Even the most sceptical critic of creationism appears to forget the annoying little fact that they themselves have some type of intelligence (some more than others of course) to enable them to render a personal opinion. However, they would strenuously deny that any intelligence was needed or required to create the universe (that we know – what about what we do not know?) and the abundant life forms that reside upon this ‘blue’ planet.