Exodus 20:11 makes one of the most unbelievable statements of the Bible: “In six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day.” It is hard to imagine a clearer statement defining how long God took in creating the entire universe. However, this simple statement has presented a seemingly impossible dilemma for Christians. On one hand, modern cosmology teaches that the universe has taken billions of years to form. On the other hand, if this clear and straightforward statement of the Bible can not be trusted to mean what it says, how can we know that any statement of the Bible can be trusted to mean what it says?
This was the dilemma which Dr. Russell Humphreys (physicist at Sandia National Laboratory) set out to solve as he studied what the Bible had to say about the formation of our universe. Most people have been taught that the universe is the result of a gigantic explosion called the “Big Bang”. During this explosive expansion, all the matter of the universe supposedly expanded outward from a tiny pinpoint. All modern cosmological models start with the assumption that the universe has neither a center nor an edge. When these assumptions are plugged into Einstein’s general theory of relativity, the result is an expanding universe which is billions of years old at every location.
Rather than start with these arbitrary assumptions (a universe having no center and no edge), Dr. Humphreys decided to take the most apparent meaning of the Biblical text and see what model of the universe developed. He reasoned that if the Bible was inspired by God, as it claims to be, it should not have to be twisted to be understood. It should have the same straight forward meaning for a “man on the street”, a brilliant physicist, or a theologian.
The Bible clearly indicates three things about God’s formation of the universe. First, the earth is the center of God’s attention in the universe. By implication, the earth may also be located near the center-perhaps so man can see the glory of God’s creation in every direction. Second, the universe (both matter and space itself) has been “stretched out”. Third, the universe has a boundary, and therefore it must have a center. If these three assumptions are plugged into the currently accepted formulas of physics, and the mathematical crank is turned, we live in a universe in which clocks tick at different rates depending on your location.
Furthermore, the time dilation effect would be magnified tremendously as the universe was originally expanding. As the universe expanded, there was a point at which time was moving very rapidly at the outer edge and essentially stopped near the center. At this point in the expansion of the universe, only days were passing near the center, while billions of years were passing in the heavens. This is the inevitable conclusion based on our current knowledge of physics and starting with Biblical assumptions instead of arbitrary ones. Albert Einstein rejected the idea that the Bible could be literally true. He wrote that, “Through the reading of popular scientific books I soon reached the convictions that many of the stories in the Bible could not be true.” How ironic that the most ridiculed Biblical story (about a recent, literal, six day creation of the universe) is exactly the story which Albert Einstein’s work has shown to be entirely possible. A comprehensive explanation of Dr. Humphreys’ work, can be found in his book.