What do Aristotle, Ptolemy, and even Einstein have in common?
Well, obviously they were really smart and their contributions to their fields of philosophy and science are highly regarded. In addition, they all believed in a static universe- one that didn’t move. Yet, Einstein’s theory helped to prove that the universe is expanding. Not only is our universe moving outward, it is moving outward at a rate that is accelerating- to the eventual demise of the universe, as you may have recently read about in the New York Post article November 11.
Throughout history, there have been many discoveries that shape our view of the grandeur of the universe, which declares the glory of God (Psalm 19:1). For the majority of history, people believed the earth was the center of a static universe. During the 16th Century, Nicolaus Copernicus showed that the earth is not the center of the universe. In 1917, Curtis Shapely showed that the sun is not the center of our galaxy. In 1925, Edwin Hubble revealed that the Milky Way is not the only galaxy.
Then, in 1929, Edwin Hubble shocked the scientific community, and indeed the world, by concluding, through use of improved telescopes, that the galaxies and clusters of galaxies are soaring apart from one another at a great speed. Like a balloon expanding, our universe is constantly, rapidly expanding outwardly.
Why Was An Expanding Universe So Shocking?
If the universe isn’t static, if it is indeed moving, then it must have had a beginning. It could not have just always been. Since it has a beginning, something must have happened to cause it’s beginning. For faith communities, this was not so shocking. Religions (such as Christianity, Judaism, and Islam) which hold to the Old Testament of the Bible as the authoritative Word of God, have long held to the reality that the universe had a beginning.
A More Recent Shocking Discovery
In 2011, three scientists won the Nobel Prize for independently determining that the universe is expanding at an accelerated rate. In short, it is expanding faster than it did in the past. Some mysterious force that scientists know very little about is pushing the clusters of galaxies apart from one another at a faster and faster rate. Since it is so little understood, scientists coined this force “dark energy.”
What Does the Accelerating Expansion Mean?
Scientists have posed a number of theories (The Big Crunch, the Big Chill, and the Big Rip), but all end in the universe ending. Scientists are still speculating which it will be.
Since we know so little about dark energy, how much there is, what it is, how long it will last, etc, it is a bit hard to determine what to expect it to do. The Big Rip would mean that as the universe expands, it would eventually be ripped apart, with even atoms ripping apart.
What Does this Mean for Believers?
Science is a fascinating, glorious subject of study. The more I study, the more I see the glory of God in His handiwork.
1The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above[a] proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours out speech,
and night to night reveals knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words,
whose voice is not heard.
4 Their voice[b] goes out through all the earth,
and their words to the end of the world.
The more scientists research anything from the extreme forces at work on an atom level to the forces at work in the universe, the more many are turning from a belief in lack of design in the universe to the belief in either intelligent design or an intelligent designer.
Whatever stance others may take on their belief about the universe, I believe firmly in God’s Word and God’s teachings therein that the universe was created and that it will be unmade. Christians held this belief long before scientific evidence backed the reality up. And in the meantime, the universe reveals the glory of God and points us to Him.
Romans 1:20: For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world,[g] in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
A Few of the Verses About End Times and the Universe:
Mark 13:31:Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Joel 3:15 The sun and the moon are darkened, and the stars withdraw their shining.
Matthew 24:29-31, 35 Immediately after the tribulation of those days the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, and the stars will fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 30 Then will appear in heaven the sign of the Son of Man, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And he will send out his angels with a loud trumpet call, and they will gather his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other…Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.
Revelation 6:12-14 When he opened the sixth seal, I looked, and behold, there was a great earthquake, and the sun became black as sackcloth, the full moon became like blood, 13 and the stars of the sky fell to the earth as the fig tree sheds its winter fruit when shaken by a gale. 14 The sky vanished like a scroll that is being rolled up, and every mountain and island was removed from its place.
Isaiah 34:4 All the host of heaven shall rot away,
and the skies roll up like a scroll.
All their host shall fall,
as leaves fall from the vine,
like leaves falling from the fig tree.
Revelation 20:11 Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. From his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them.
2 Peter 3:10-12 10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies[b]will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.[c]
11 Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, 12 waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! 13 But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells.