Templeton Foundation Sponsors God and the Big Bang for School Children in UK

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At-a-Glance

  • God and the Big Bang is designed to help school children (ages 11–18) explore science and the Christian faith.
  • In their discussion about the meaning of Genesis, the authors of God and the Big Bang see Genesis not as historical but as a myth.
  • God and the Big Bang argues that morality originated from evolution.
  • In order to deal with the issue of suffering and evil, God and the Big Bang promotes the idea of Process Theology.
  • Because religion in God and the Big Bang is seen as an institution, the church’s long-held beliefs are open to be challenged.

In January, the organization Religious Education Today Services, an ecumenical educational charity, was sponsored by the Templeton World Charity Foundation to launch God and the Big Bang. The book is designed to help school children (ages 11–18) explore science and the Christian faith:

The God and the Big Bang project conducted a survey of over 2,000 teenagers in UK secondary schools. The results show that 50 per cent of students feel that science makes it hard to believe in God. The project seeks to gently challenge this view. It has done this with an initiative hosted by more than 35 schools in the last two years, allowing more than 3,000 14–18 year olds to explore the compatibility of science and religion in the presence of experts.1

According to reports, “By the end of March [2017] they will have visited more than 60 schools across the UK.”2 This means that potentially it could reach thousands of students by the end of the year. When statistics show that compromising the Scriptures with evolution and the teaching of millions of years actually leads young people away from the church, it is sad to see Christians publishing and promoting a resource that ultimately tells young people that they do not have to believe Scripture.

Sadly, as will be shown, the content of God and the Big Bang is anything but biblical but is the consequence of synthesising evolution and the idea of millions of years into the Bible.

Genesis: The Beginning

In their discussion about the meaning of Genesis, the authors of God and the Big Bang quote Christian and liberal scholars alike to argue that

Genesis cannot be read as a modern science book.

Genesis is written to communicate spiritual truths to ancient people.

It might seem odd that the sun and moon are not created until the fourth day. . . . This suggests, firstly, that the Genesis account is indeed figurative rather than historical.

God and the Big Bang also advocates the documentary hypothesis, which argues that Genesis was written by more than one author sometime between the eighth and sixth century BC.3

These are all common arguments used by both Christian and liberal scholars to argue that Genesis is not historical but mythological. However, each of these arguments has long been answered. For example, biblical creationists do not believe that Genesis is a book of science, but rather that it contains a reliable, historical account of the creation of the world and humanity since God divinely revealed them both. As an accurate historical account, Genesis reveals not only spiritual truths but also historical ones (e.g., man created on Day Six: Genesis 1:26–28; Mark 10:6). Although the Bible is not a scientific textbook, the scientific method came about through a worldview—Christianity. For example, the founders of modern science held a deep-seated belief in an intelligence behind the universe. They believed nature was intelligible since it was made by a rational intellect, namely the God of Scripture. God is rational and has a rational mind and made us in His image so that we too had rationality. Ultimately, God and the Big Bang fails to understand the important difference between two significantly different types of science: historical science and observational science. The big bang and the evolution of man are part of historical, not observational, science.

The sun being created on Day Four is not a problem with the text but is based on the presupposition that the sun is necessary to have a day marked by evening and morning. But to have an evening and morning on the first three days, all that is needed is a rotating earth and a light source, which God created on Day One (Genesis 1:3). Although, the Bible does not tell us what the source was, God is not dependent upon the sun to produce the phenomenon of light. The Bible states that God is light (1 John 1:5).

Furthermore, the documentary hypothesis, which arose out of deistic philosophy in the 18th century,4 is based on a purely theoretical literary analysis of the Pentateuch; therefore, it does not fit with the witness of the Old and New Testaments, which strongly favor Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, composed in the second millennium BC (Leviticus 4:1; Numbers 33:2; Deuteronomy 31:24–26; Matthew 8:4, 23:2; Luke 16:29–31; John 5:45-47; Acts 15:1; Romans 9:15, 10:5).

The Rise of Humanity

As would be expected, God and the Big Bang promotes the evolution of humanity, arguing that our closest living relatives are chimpanzees and our last common ancestor with them lived seven million years ago. But it also wrongly teaches young people that

in reality, the Christian and scientific views of humans aren’t so different. For one thing, most Christian churches are comfortable with the theory of evolution as the best explanation of how diverse life evolved after the world came into being.5

For one thing, the evolutionary view of human origins is completely incompatible with the biblical view, regardless of what “most Christian churches are comfortable with.” In Genesis 2, Adam is the first man (1 Corinthians 15:45) supernaturally created by God, on Day Six, from the dust of the ground with no animal forebears. Evolution, however, demands that there was never one uniquely created man who started out good and rebelled against God, or from whom all human beings descended, and therefore none are in need of a savior. Instead, the human race began as a group of hominids who had no knowledge of God or righteousness, struggling for existence in a world already filled with death. It therefore follows that sin and death cannot have originated with Adam. Yet the Bible clearly states that physical (and spiritual) death originated with Adam’s disobedience against God (Genesis 3:8, 19; Romans 5:12; 1 Corinthians 15:21–22). Moreover, the argument that “most Christians accept evolution” is irrelevant since the majority do not decide what is true. God decides what is true, and He has told us how long it took to create the world (Exodus 20:11).

God and the Big Bang also discusses the origin of morality, and the Christian evolution view argues that

If there is a God who created this incredible Universe through all these amazing developmental processes, shaping and creating humanity through a process that we can track back through evolution, then would we not also expect morality to have developed through that process? I think we would.6

In the evolutionary worldview, because morals are an evolved phenomenon, morality is situational and relative. Therefore, there can be no objective universal code of behavior to which the world is held accountable to God (Romans 3:19). The Bible, however, does not teach that morality evolved but teaches that it comes from God. He has written it in the pages of the Bible and on people’s hearts, which is why we intrinsically know right from wrong (Romans 2:15).

Suffering and Evil

God and the Big Bang also tries to deal with the problem of suffering and evil. But it utterly fails because in an evolutionary worldview, suffering is a natural part of life. In trying to get students to think about how to answer the problem of suffering and evil, they present the different theodicies of the church fathers Irenaeus (we learn about goodness through witnessing evil) and Augustine (evil being the absence of good). However, alongside Irenaeus and Augustine, the authors of God and the Big Bang present another view, which they seemingly lean toward, called Process Theology as an acceptable solution to the problem of suffering and evil. They define it as

God is infinite and unchangeably good and wise. He has entered the Universe to engage with humanity. Because the Universe, the world and humans are subject to change and time, God also becomes subject to change by interacting with them.

The world changes, and many of these changes are brought about by the actions of human beings with free will. Therefore, we can say that both humans and the earth are ‘in process’; they do not stand still, but change.

God is omnipotent but is not coercive. God will not reduce humanity’s capacity to act freely by taking control. Therefore, in interactions with humans God is in process too.

The natural world has its own laws and consequences; it is also in process. God does not interfere with these laws. God cannot stop water from drowning someone or fire from burning someone. Therefore, in interactions with the natural world, God is also in process.

God loves and cares infinitely and is open to relationships with humans, on their terms, which are bound by time and the laws of the physical world, human emotion and psychology. In entering into this relationship, God chooses to be bound by the natural world and humanity’s processes.7

It is no wonder that they prefaced Process Theology by stating, “This is a radical view and some students might find it disturbing, such as the implication that God does not intervene to perform miracles.”8 This is because it is manifestly unbiblical, because in Process Theology “God,” who is not a personal being, is influenced by the world and dependent upon it. The Bible, however, tells us that God does not change in His being and is not dependent on the world because He is self-contained and sovereign over it (Psalm 102:25–27; Malachi 3:6; James. 1:17; Acts 17:24–25). He is also the God of the miraculous, with the ability to stop fire from burning someone (Daniel 3:19–27). What is most concerning is that nowhere does the book mention how Jesus ultimately dealt with suffering in His own death on the Cross. But this is no surprise since the death and Resurrection of Jesus contain the miraculous.

Challenging the Church

Because religion (i.e., Christianity) in God and the Big Bang is seen as an institution (something we do, rather than something God has done for us), beliefs that have long been held by the church are open to be challenged. For example, they specifically highlight how Gene Robinson, who was the first openly gay Anglican Bishop, changed church attitudes toward homosexuality:

In 2009 Robinson addressed the word ‘abomination,’ which in the King James translation of the Bible, is applied to same-sex relations (Leviticus 20:13). He argued that the phrase ‘abomination’ and the injunction against homosexual relations (for men) are part of the Jew’s ancient ‘holiness code’ (an attempt by the Jews to separate themselves from local practices seen in other tribes, such as idol-worship or sex with temple prostitutes).9

They go on to say “that a Christian (or Jew) who does not keep the holiness code does not have to view homosexual relations as unclean.”10 In other words, it is okay for Christians and others to practice homosexuality. The context of Leviticus 18–20, however, makes it clear that the prohibition against homosexuality was universal and not just a law for Israel (see Leviticus 18:24–25, 20:23). The Bible, throughout, only affirms relationships that are between one man and one woman (Genesis 1:26–28, 2:24; Matthew 19:4–6) and clearly states that homosexual practice is sinful (Matthew 15:19–20; Romans 1:26–27; 1 Corinthians 6:9).

Conclusion

The “Christian” content in God and the Big Bang is simply the consequence of adding the idea of millions of years to the Bible, and much of it is simply unbiblical. This is a resource that Christians need to be aware of and warned about since it could be used in their child’s religious education class.

Footnotes

  1. Kate Christopher, God and the Big Bang (Birmingham, England: Christian Education Publications, 2016), 3.
  2. See “God and the Big Bang Launched in Schools,” Inspire, February 2017, http://www.inspiremagazine.org.uk/Stories/National?storyaction=view&storyid=2395.
  3. God and the Big Bang, 7.
  4. From the 1st century to the 18th century, most Christian and Jewish scholars believed that the Pentateuch was authored by Moses.
  5. God and the Big Bang, 10.
  6. Ibid., 13.
  7. Ibid., 21.
  8. Ibid., 17.
  9. Ibid., 25.
  10. Ibid., 25.

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