Big Bang as Genesis

 [...]Just as the Ptolemaic cosmology was yoked to the theology of medieval Catholicism, so the Big Bang is today entangled with religious and theological ideas. It is used to support those concepts, and religion in turn is marshaled in defense of modern cosmology. Once again, as four hundred years ago, some theologians attempt to define which scientific concepts are permissible and which are not. The new scientific revolution, like the Copernican revolution, is not an attack on religion as a whole, but on the entanglement of science and religion--the idea that religious authority can dictate or reject scientific doctrines, or that the evidence of science can be used to bolster religious authority.

[...]So we should not be surprised that today cosmology remains entangled with religion. From theologians to physicists to novelists, it is widely believed that the Big Bang theory supports Christian concepts of a creator. In February of 1989, for example, the front-page article of the New York Times Book Review argued that scientists and novelists were returning to God, in large part through the influence of the Big Bang. A character in John Updike's 1987 novel Roger's Version is cited as typical of the trend. The character, a computer hacker, says, "The physicists are getting things down to the ultimate details and the last thing they ever expected to be happening is happening. God is showing through, facts are facts . . . God the Creator, maker of heaven and earth. He made it, we now can see, with such incredible precision that a Swiss watch is just a bunch of little rocks by comparison."

Astrophysicist Robert Jastrow echoes the same theme in his widely noted God and the Astronomers: the Big Bang of the astronomers is simply the scientific version of Genesis, a universe created in an instant, therefore the work of a creator. These ideas are repeated in a dozen or more popular books on cosmology and fundamental physics.

Such thinking is not limited to physicists and novelists, who could perhaps be dismissed as amateur theologians. Ever since 1951, when Pope Pius XII asserted that the still-new Big Bang supports the doctrine of creation ex nihilo, Catholic theologians have used it in this way. The pope wrote in an address to the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, "In fact, it seems that presentday science, with one sweeping step back across millions of centuries, has succeeded in bearing witness to that primordial 'Fiat lux' [Let there be light] uttered at the moment when, along with matter, there burst forth from nothing a sea of light and radiation, while the particles of the chemical elements split and formed into millions of galaxies. . . . Hence, creation took place in time, therefore, there is a Creator, therefore, God exists!"

To be sure, these views are by no means unanimous within the Catholic Church. The present pope, John Paul II, is far more cautious in mixing science and religion. In his own address on the subject, he repeatedly apologized on behalf of the Church for the persecution of Galileo and reaffirmed the autonomy of religion and science. Addressing the Pontifical Academy of Sciences in 1981 he paraphrased Galileo, saying that the Bible "does not wish to teach how heaven was made but how one goes to heaven." It is therefore not up to religion, he argues, to judge one or another cosmological theory. Yet in the same address, John Paul II favorably quotes from Pius XII's earlier speech and contends that the question of the beginning of the universe is not one that can be solved by science alone--to do so requires "above all the knowledge that comes from God's revelation."

 [Source: Eric J Lerner - The Big Bang Never Happened]