Thinkers Bible Studies | preparing for dialog with doubters
Thinkers Bible Studies
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? - Random questions

ETERNAL TORMENT

Does the Bible really say that people will burn in hell forever?

How can that kind of God be loving and just?

Or does the Bible say something else?

Answer
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! - Random thoughts

BIBLE

The Bible didn't create Christianity.

Christianity (death and resurrection of Jesus) created the Bible.

The Bible came 30-70 years later.

The Bible is the record of what Jesus said and did.

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O - Random interviews
Hear doubters express their thoughts in random street interviews:
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ORIGIN 1.1
Big Bang
Universe begins with divine spark
Tradition
What traditional Christians think

Earth is less than 10,000 years old

For 45 years, Gallup Polls have been tracking what American's believe about age of the earth.

The most recent Gallup Poll shows that 68% of weekly church attenders believe that the earth was created less than 10,000 years ago.

The typical traditional belief – at least the stated belief – is that the universe was created about 6,000 years ago (per biblical genealogies), all in six 24-hour days.

In contrast, the entire scientific community believes that the universe is billions of years old, as has been taught in all public schools for decades.

The younger generations (Millennials and GenZ) have a much different view of the earth's origin and age than older generations. Listen to Street Interviews below to tap into their thinking.

Big bang in bible
Doubters
What doubters think

Most Christians are uninformed

Most traditional Christians are uninformed at best, or stupid at worst, to deny that the earth is billions of years old. It's like saying the earth is flat.

The Bible is just plain wrong in saying that the universe and everything in it was created only about 6,000 years ago.

[Actually, the Bible doesn't say that, as examined in Bible Study 1.2.1.]

The Bible is not credible

Astronomers, biologists, archaeologists and virtually every other kind of scientist have proven within their own fields that the earth is billions of years old.

If the Bible is wrong about age of the earth, it is probably wrong about other things too.

[An erroneous interpretation of the ancient Hebrew word 'yom', studied here in Bible Study 1.2.1, is causing a monumental handicap for believing the Bible is true.]

'I could never believe that'

Millions of doubters say they could never believe a book that is so wrong and out-of-date. Many think they would have to become young earth and unscientific to become a Bible-believing Christian.

Big bang in bible
Questions
Barriers to faith

• Does the Bible really say that the earth is less than 10,000 years old?

• Has life on earth always been essentially 'as is,' or has it evolved over time?

• Is there inherent conflict between science and the Bible so that we must choose one or the other?

Big bang in bible
Investigate
See what the Bible actually says

Why important

With regard to age of the earth, most Christians just shrug off the question by saying, It doesn't matter to me whether the earth is young or old. It's not important.

But this response misses the real issue: It's not about me. It's about them!

Credibility is the issue. If the Bible is wrong about age of the earth, doubters can reasonably conclude that it is probably wrong about other things, too, and that the Bible cannot be trusted as a book of truth.

Similarly, a Christian's testimony is greatly diminished if others think he is uneducated, naive or brain-washed.

It's important to get it right about age of the earth in order to establish respect and influence. Maybe the subject will never come up in open conversation with a doubter, but every Christian should be ready if it does! And in some cases, the subject should be raised just to clear out hidden misunderstandings and to establish better rapport.

This section gives reasons for concluding that the earth is very old ... and that science and the Bible are not in conflict
First paragraph in Bible
'IN THE BEGINNING God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the face of the deep, and the spirt of God was hovering over the waters.' – Genesis 1:1-2
IN TODAY'S LANGUAGE: God created the universe instantly with a release of divine energy beyond human comprehension, the Big Bang. Everything was vaporized with heat so intense that even light could not penetrate it. Vapors eventually cooled to form the earth's crust and a deep watery surface. God was getting ready to do something special here!

This is all the information that the Bible provides about creation of the universe. To say more would have created credibility issues for people in earlier times who didn't have the historical and scientific understanding we have today.


These first two verses of the Bible are just an introductory summary of God's creation. See 1.2, the next section, for the verses of Genesis 1 which show how God brought life to earth in six stages called 'days,' essentially the same sequence as modern science now explains it – written more than 3,000 years ago!

Old science was 'Steady State'

Until the 1960s, scientists held to the Steady State theory that the universe had no beginning or end in time, that the earth has always existed in one form or another. They scoffed at the Bible for saying that the earth had a beginning.

The first use of the term 'big bang' was by astronomer Fred Hoyle on a BBC broadcast in 1949 when he said that a new theory was being proposed 'based on the hypothesis that all matter in the universe was created in one big bang at a particular time in the remote past.' He argued against the theory and said it was 'irrational and outside science.'

However, as a result of better telescopes and instrumentation, by the 1980s the 'Big Bang' had become the dominant theory (explanation) of astronomers and astrophysicists.

New science is 'Big Bang'

Today, the Big Bang is generally regarded as settled science. The universe started with a 'singularity' (Christians say 'God'), then exploded, expanding and cooling over the next 13.8 billion years into the cosmos we know today – and it's still expanding!

NASA calculated that In the first second after the universe began the surrounding temperature was more than10 billion degrees Fahrenheit.

Science just discovered what Bible says

See quotation in yellow above. The Bible says that 'In the beginning' the earth was 'formless and empty:'  Heat was so intense that everything was vaporized, just gasses.

There was 'darkness over the face of the deep:' Light cannot penetrate intense heat.

The 'spirit of God was hovering over the waters' (steam condensing): God was giving special attention to planet earth because he planned to do something special here, to create life.

The Big Bang is what science has been saying for about 60 years but what the Bible has been saying for more than 3,000 years!

Universe began externally, not within nature

There are no natural explanations for either the existence or the purpose of the universe.

If the Big Bang is the beginning of nature, then some intelligence and power outside of nature and greater than nature had to trigger the Big Bang, to start everything out of nothing, and to establish the predetermined laws of nuclear energy, physics and chemistry that enabled it to develop with orderly precision.

Christians believe that divine intelligence and power is the only reasonable explanation for an instant universe of such magnitude, majesty and precision.

The Bible does not tell when the Big Bang occurred, but scientists are now in agreement that it was approximately 13.8 billion years ago. See 1.2.1 for reasons from the Bible itself why 'day' in the creation account means more than a 24-hour period.

Earth is very old

The solid earth is approximately 4.5 billion years old. Apparently it took about 9.3 billion years – the time between Genesis 1:2 and Genesis 1:6 – for the gasses to cool and form a crust. Then God began shaping the earth and putting life on it.

See 1.2 for summary of the stages of transformation.

The compiler/writer of Genesis could not have had this amazing scientific insight more than three thousand years ago without special revelation from God.

The earth is still cooling, a whirling glob of molten rock, 8,000 miles in diameter, with a 25-mile crust that supports life. There is nothing like it anywhere else in the known universe. The place we live is awesome and mostly incomprehensible!

Science and theology both seek truth

There can be no difference between true science and true Christianity because both seek truth – and there is only one truth! Science inquires into the physical and Christianity inquires into the spiritual. They make different inquiries in different ways, but both are part of the same quest for truth.

Conflicts between science and the Bible have resulted from lack of knowledge at particular times in history but are eventually resolved. For example:

  • Christians fought the theory advanced by Pythagoras that the earth is a globe, not flat, arguing from simple observation and citing Bible verses that refer to 'the four corners the earth.'
  • Christians fought the theory advanced by Copernicius that the earth revolves around the sun, believing that the earth is center of everything, and arguing from Psalm 93:2 ('... the earth is firmly established, it will not be moved') and Psalm 104:5 ('He established the earth upon its foundations ...').
  • Cosmologists scoffed at the Bible for saying that the earth had a beginning, arguing that the Steady State theory was settled science.
  • For centuries critics 'proved' the Bible to be wrong because it says that light came on Day 1, but the sun didn't come until Day 4 – obviously false they said – but now understandable by Big Bang and intense heat.

Science is making the case for God

Science and the Bible are not enemies.

In fact, science is making the case for belief in a single almighty creator God – ONLY ONE GOD!

In ancient times, people believed in many gods. Even at time of Jesus, the prevailing understanding of deity was a pantheon of gods.

People believed that hurricanes, earthquakes, droughts and diseases were the wrath of angry gods. The gods had to be placated with offerings and rituals.

But the Bible message is that there is ONE GOD!

  • About 4000 BC, God revealed himself to Adam in a physical form as ONE GOD!
  • About 2000 BC, Abraham was called by God to go to Egypt (nearly a two thousand mile walk), carrying that message. He became the father of monotheism – Jews, Christians and Muslims – teaching the world that there is ONE GOD.
  • About 1500 BC, Moses became leader of the Jewish nation (Israel) and received the Ten Commandments from God. The first commandment was, 'I am the Lord your God ... You shall have no other gods before me.' The main theme of the Old Testament – the story of God's chosen people – is that there is ONE GOD.
  • About 30 AD, Jesus gave this first commandment for Christians:  ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.' ONE GOD.

Science has been a great help to Christianity by revealing a single master design plan, leaving no doubt that the world is NOT run by a pantheon of gods and that natural disasters and illnesses are NOT caused by the wrath of the gods but by natural laws emanating from an intelligent and predictable master plan of life.

For most people today, the choice is not which spiritual deity to worship, but whether to acknowledge and obey the ONE GOD.

Earth made ready for life

Genesis 1 and the scientific community are now in essential agreement about the beginning of our physical world.

But there's another part of our world which came later – the non-physical part, even more complex – which is the human soul (mind, will and emotion) and spirit (connection to God).

See 2.5 for discussion of how humans are made in the image of God: A human trinity (body, soul and spirit) that mirrors God's trinity (Father, Son and Holy Spirit).

Science investigates life in the physical world. Theology investigates life in the spiritual world.

Proof of God

It is rare that anyone asks for proof of God by rules of logic or asks who created God, but see 1.1.2 for answers to those questions.

Big bang in bible
Summary
Ready for conversations
  • Logic. It is irrational to believe that the universe just happened by itself by chance from nothing. The universe bears ample evidence of supernatural intelligence and power.
  • Big Bang. The Bible says that the universe was created instantly in a burst of divine energy. God spoke it into existence. The earth was just heated gasses at first, but over billions of years God cooled and shaped it, and then put life on it.
  • Bible was right. It is only within the last 60 years that science has come to acknowledge that the earth had a formless beginning from massive external power, just as the Bible has been saying all along.
  • Divine revelation. It is highly unlikely that the writer of Genesis could have known three thousand years ago about the Big Bang without divine revelation from the designer/creator. This increases our confidence in the Bible.
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