Cable and the Cosmos: What I Learned about the Big Bang


by Rachel Held Evans Read Distraction Free

While stuck in beautiful LaGrange, Dan and I took full advantage of cable and watched six straight hours of National Geographic,  HGTV, and the History Channel. (Yes, we know we’re cheap for not buying cable of our own; and yes, we know we’re nerds for watching six straight hours of National Geographic, HGTV, and the History Channel.) 

So they had this really interesting documentary about the Big Bang theory on one of these educational stations. About halfway through the show, I realized something: I know nothing about the Big Bang.  Hubble, redshifts, cosmic inflation, primordial elements-all news to me. 

I guess most of my high school science teachers were pretty conservative and simply didn’t address controversial issues like evolution or the Big Bang. After graduating from high school, I attended a Christian college, where I was taught that these sort of theories were part of a naturalistic worldview and not worth taking seriously.  

Yet all the catching up I’ve done on evolutionary theory in recent years has been surprisingly intriguing…and convincing. (The Language of God by Francis Collins was particularly helpful, as it seeks to harmonize evolutionary theory and a Christian worldview.) Now add this new information about the Big Bang, and I’m starting to wonder if being “protected” from science all these years was such a good idea after all. (I mean, what if I’m on Jeopardy and one of the categories is “cosmology”?) 

If scientists really have observational evidence to support their theories, I’d like to know about it. Sure, I’m aware that there are some significant problems (particularly with Big Bang), but I’m beginning to question the idea that the entire  scientific community is conspiring against the Church. It seems to me that it would not be in their best interest to falsify data or do sloppy work. (Folks don’t win Nobel prizes for sloppy work.) 

The whole thing made me worry about how Dan and I will educate our children. (We don’t have any children right now, but as a professional worrier I think about nonexistent responsibilities often.) I fear that if they receive completely secular educations, they will get into the nasty habit of compartmentalizing their faith, of assuming that Christianity plays no role in science or art or music or literature. And yet, if they receive Christian educations, they might never learn about valid, accepted scientific discoveries…unless they too get stuck in  hotel rooms with free National Geographic. 

The folks behind the Creation Museum confidently proclaim on their Web site that “the heavens declare a young  universe.” One article concludes that “each of us must decide whether we are going to trust the secular opinions of human beings, or the clear teachings of the Bible.”

Why does it always have to be a choice? Why can’t believers at least acknowledge that there’s good evidence to support both evolutionary theory and the Big Bang? Why are we so often presented with just two options:  either disavow God altogether or become conspiracy theorists?

I know I’m not always going to like what I hear from the scientific community, but I think it’s time I at least start listening. 

…Guess we’re going to have to get cable!

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