Answer by Philip Mott

The Big Bang theory was originally constructed as an explanation of why the spectral lines in the light received from distant galaxies were all red-shifted, i.e. at a longer wavelength than that measured in the laboratory. If you interpret the observed redshift to be a Doppler shift, i.e. due to relative motion, then that would imply that these galaxies were all moving away from us. If you then assume that there is nothing special about our location in the universe, i.e. that this redshift would be observed everywhere, then that would imply that the universe as a whole was expanding. If you then further assume what is known as the Cosmological Principle, which basically claims that at large scales the universe looks the same wherever you are, then that would make it possible to extrapolate that expansion backwards over time using the laws of physics as we currently understand them, assuming those laws held across the whole universe. The ultimate result of that extrapolation is what is known as the Big Bang.

It should be noted that at large distances the observed redshift becomes so large that if it were solely a Doppler shift then that would imply relative velocities greater than the current speed of light, which is a problem if you believe the speed of light to be constant (remember that, since the speed of light is finite, to look further away into the universe is to look back in time). To account for this, the Big Bang theory claims that the redshift is, in fact, a combination of relative motion and the expansion of space itself.

The theory was developed in the first half of the twentieth century, and was also used to account for later observational evidence, such as the Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation (CMBR). When it was first proposed, many were uncomfortable with the idea, since it seemed to imply a beginning, and a beginning seemed to imply a creator. However, although it is thus possible to be a theist and believe in the Big Bang, it is not consistent with the Bible. The only reason you end up with a Big Bang theory is if you are trying to find a naturalistic explanation for the origin and evolution of the universe, i.e. an explanation in terms of the natural laws of the universe only, without any reference to special Divine action. This directly contradicts the Biblical account, which states that the universe was created fully-functioning by God in six days. The Bible is replete with other examples that contradict naturalistic presuppositions, such as God making the Sun stand still (Joshua 10) or even go backwards (Isaiah 38), and most importantly the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Biblical order of creation is also different – for example, the plants were created before the Sun and the stars, as was the Earth.

The Big Bang theory certainly isn’t the only way of accounting for what we see – for an alternative explanation of the observed redshift and CMBR, as well as distant starlight and radioactive isotope dating, see here.

There are also many problems with the Big Bang theory from a scientific point of view, such as its inability to explain how the first stars were formed, not to mention that it predicts around 25 times more matter and energy in the universe than we actually observe. For more information on these problems, as well as those in other areas, such as the formation of our Solar System, we would recommend the DVDs ‘What You Aren’t Being Told About Astronomy’, obtainable at

Finally, the Cosmological Principle, on which the Big Bang theory depends, is increasingly being brought into question as new and better telescopes are starting to show that certain areas of the universe look different even on large scales, so it may well be that the Big Bang theory will end up being radically altered, if not abandoned, within our lifetime. Which brings us to the real question that we should be asking about the origin of the universe – should we believe the word of God who was there, or the word of Man who wasn’t?

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