Our Awesome Universe How Big Is

The size of our solar system alone—not to mention the Milky Way galaxy—Is so large that It defies Imagination. Let's try to visualize It on a scale we can begin to comprehend.

Let's first envision our sun as the size of an orange. On that scale, the earth Is a grain of sand orbiting the sun 30 feet away. The gigantic planet Jupiter, many times larger than Earth, Is a cherry pit circling 200 feet away. Saturn, the size of a slightly smaller cherry pit, orbits two blocks away\mm the sun. Pluto Is another speck of sand almost half a mile from our orange-sized sun.

How does that compare with distances within our galaxy? On that scale the sun's nearest neighbor, the star Alpha Centaurl, Is 1,300 miles away. Our galaxy, on that scale, could be compared to a group of 200 billion oranges, each an average of 2,000 miles apart, with the entire group forming a cluster 20 million miles In diameter (more than 41A times the actual distance from the earth to the sun).

Based on research using their most advanced telescopes and other tools, astronomers estimate that 100 billion or more gal-axles exist In the universe. They haven't yet found an end or edge to the universe; this Is simply all we can detect using our most advanced Instruments to peer 10 billion light years Into space. Such distances make human space travel beyond our solar system

The universe is unimaginably huge. Even when we try to put it in terms we can understand, such attempts soon break down. How did such an incomprehensible universe come to exist?

Impossible. (Adapted from Robert Jastrow, Red Giants and White Dwarfs, 1990, p. 15).

The amount of matter and energy In the universe Is unfathomable to the human mind. We describe distances and space In terms of light-years—the distance light travels In one year (almost six trillion miles)—as though we comprehend It. But we cannot begin to understand these kinds of figures. Still we must face the question: How did all this come to be?

reconstruct an event that defies all scientific understanding.

Some scientists draw incorrect conclusions from these facts, assuming that, since science can't discover what took place before the universe was formed, nothing could have happened before it was formed. This tells us nothing about God's existence or nonexistence, but it does say a lot about the limitations of the traditional scientific approach. We must seek a source other than science to understand who or what existed before the origin of the universe. And only one source offers a truly believable and rational explanation—(he Bible.

There is only one alternative to the biblical claim of supernatural creation by a supreme Intelligence. Atheists must argue that the entire universe came from nothing without a cause. They must insist on this unfounded, insupportable assertion because there is no other way to avoid the existence of a First Cause.

Yet their most basic assertion is fundamentally flawed. The beginning of the universe has been proven to be a specific event. We all know from years and years of experience that one of the most fundamental truths is that events have causes. This fundamental truth underlies the laws that govern energy and matter. Nothing happens without a cause. The beginning of the universe is an event that had a specific cause.

The Bible's claims

"In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth," says the Bible (Genesis 1:1). This is a simple statement, but it answers the most basic and scientific of all questions: Where did we come from?

This verse describes the beginning of the universe. The universe had a beginning caused by a timeless force outside of this physical universe. When matter came into existence, this was the beginning of time as we measure it. For the origin of the universe, this verse answers the questions of who, what and when. The why comes a little later.

Hebrews 11:3 adds another detail: "By faith [by trusting what God has revealed] we understand that the worlds were prepared by the word of God, so that what is seen was made from things that are not visible" (New Revised Standard Version).

Two things should be noted in this explanation. First, the universe did have a cause; it came from something. What it came from was not visible; that is, it was not preexisting matter. Scripture tells us our universe had a cause—truly a scientific statement.

Second, it tells us that by faith we understand that the worlds were prepared by

Scientists continually discover new wonders throughout the universe. Yet each is governed by the precise laws of nature.

The Beginning of the Universe 17

The Beginning of the Universe 17

the Word of God. But this is not blind faith. We are not asked to believe that the cosmos popped into existence without a cause and without a purpose—the tenets of the faith of an atheist. Rather, we are asked to believe that it began as the act of a Being who is timeless and powerful enough to bring the universe into existence.

Understanding Genesis 1:1-2

During the last 150 years or so, no part of the Bible has come under more rigorous attack than the creation account in Genesis 1. Darwinists have made much of certain indications that the earth may be 4 to 5 billion years old and the universe around 15 billion. This contradicts the belief of many Bible believers that the earth has existed for only around 6,000 years, based on a careful genealogical study of the scriptural record combined with history. The first two verses of the Bible are critical to this discussion.

This controversy leads to an important question. If the earth should be billions of years old and if the Bible's direct statements about creation are flawed then how can you believe the Bible's other claims? This question is valid, and the controversy over it has set the stage for the science-vs.-religion approach prevailing in our educational systems. The claims of science are impressive. But how does the biblical account stack up, and what does the Bible really say?

Several Bible versions and study Bibles, including the New International Version, The Scofield Reference Bible and The Companion Bible, note that the phrase "the earth was without form, and void" (verse 2) can be rightly translated "the earth became without form and void." The Hebrew word hayah, typically translated "was" here, means "to become, occur, come to pass, be" (Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, 1985, "To Be").

In other words, God created the earth, but the original Hebrew can just as easily indicate that it later became "without form, and void." It can imply that something spoiled the original creation described in Genesis 1:1 and caused God to restore order out of chaos—which would have happened during six days of restoration followed by a Sabbath rest day. (For a detailed account of the rationale and reference sources that support this view of Genesis 1:1-2, please download or request our free booklets Creation or Evolution: Does It Really Matter What You Believe ? and Is the Bible True ?)

We must realize that God is not the author of confusion and chaos (see 1 Corinthians 14:33). God is a being of perfection, order and beauty. Chaos and disorder result from rejection of or rebellion against Him. In Ezekiel 28:15, God told the powerful angelic being elsewhere called Lucifer, "You were perfect in your ways from the day you were created, till iniquity [lawlessness] was found in you."

Other scriptures indicate that an original, earlier creation (Genesis 1:1) preceded the earth's becoming in verse 2 "without form, and void" (Hebrew tohu and bohu, meaning a condition of chaotic disorder and confusion). Isaiah 45:18 tells us specifically that God "did not create it [the earth] in vain [tohu]." The chaotic condition described in Genesis 1:2 came later.

This chaos apparently resulted from the rebellion against God by Lucifer,

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