From Big Bang to Accelerating Universe: The God of Creation and New Creation
Article by David Wilkinson (2013)
Read the Full Article

While many Christians have explored the integration of science and religion, few have viewed the Christian hope of new creation in light of the long-term future of the universe. This article puts many physicists’ projection of the eventual death of all living things in the universe in conversation with Christianity, which hopes for a new heavens and a new earth. Pastors can use the ideas in this article to begin a conversation about creation and new creation that gives hope to the hopeless. Instead of all the stars eventually burning out, causing the universe to become cold, dark, and inhospitable to all living things, as many physicists hypothesize, Christians can rest assured that God will create a new heavens and a new earth that is life-giving and will never end.

“The source of the universe’s unity, order, and consistency is to be found, Colossians is suggesting, in the continuing work of God in Christ.”

-David Wilkinson

What to Consider

  • Should physics influence Christian theology? Should Christian theology influence physics? Can you think of a time when your theology has been shaped by physics or other areas of scientific research?
  • What “proofs” for God have you heard that have their origins in “the gaps” of scientific research? In your opinion, are they valid arguments, or do you agree with Wilkinson that the “god of the gaps” is “always in danger of becoming irrelevant as science fills in more of its own story?”
  • Wilkinson quotes Karl Barth, a staunch opponent of natural theology who nonetheless insists that creation reveals God to humanity. Where do you see yourself in this discussion? Can creation reveal God, even if only in a limited way, or is God only known through Jesus Christ, as Barth insisted? What difference does it make in our theology? What about in our preaching?

How to Go Deeper

  • Read Matthew 9:1-8 and Proverbs 8:22-36 and compare the different ways that God acts in both of these passages. Connect these passages to modern day miracles and our understanding of the universe. Talk about the different ways that God works in our lives and in all of creation as the Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer.
  • Share physicists’ projections that all intelligent life will ultimately cease to exist and stars will run out of fuel and die. Connect the creation narrative in Genesis 2:5-3:24 with the new creation narrative in Revelation 21:1-6 using Romans 8:18-25. Emphasize the “groaning” of creation (v. 22) that longs to be “set free from its bondage to decay” (21). Talk about this transformation and the renewal of all of creation. Set aside time for reflection and invite congregants to consider what this means for them individually as well as the universe.
  • Explore the relationship between God, time, creation, and new creation brought up by Wilkinson. Read Revelation 1:8, and consider what it means, in terms of the general relativity, for God to be the “Alpha and the Omega… who is and who was and who is to come.” Make connections to the many times in the Old Testament when Israel recited all that God had done for them in the past and what that meant for God’s faithfulness in the present and future. Invite congregants to put their trust in God even when our present and future seem unstable, unknown, and insurmountable.

Relevant Scripture

All references in parenthesis refer to Lectionary readings. For more information on what the Lectionary is, please click here. For additional Lectionary resources click here.

Related Research

“The Size of the Universe”

“Is Time the Same for Everyone”

“The Meaningless Big Bang Question”

“13.7 billion years of evolution in 85 seconds”

Neanderthals, Denisovans and Human Speciation
Article by Dennis Venema (2011)
Read the Full Article

April 27th, 2017|7 Comments

What is the Science? The fossil record suggests that the majority of human characteristics emerged between 3.5 to 5.5 million years ago. One of the earliest of the genus homo lived one to [...]

Death and Rebirth: The Role of Extinction in Evolution
Article by Dennis Venema (2012)
Read the Full Article

March 14th, 2017|4 Comments

What is the Science? According to Dennis Venema, evolutionary theory is the "theory that changes in heritable variation over time can shift average characteristics of a population, and that differential reproductive success (selection) [...]

5 Tips for ‘Going Public’ as an Evolutionary Creationist
Article by Mario A. Russo (2017)
Read the Full Article

February 24th, 2017|8 Comments

What is the Science? “How do you share with a resistant audience that you accept the scientific data and still believe in the truth of the Christian faith?” In asking this question, BioLogos [...]

Why the Multiverse Isn’t Just Madness
Marcus Woo (2017)
Read the Full Article

February 22nd, 2017|3 Comments

What is the Science? Science fiction writers have been speculating about other dimensions and universes for decades, but recently a growing number of physicists have brought this idea into the mainstream conversation. At [...]

Are We Alone?
Article by Slate (2016)
Read the full article

January 16th, 2017|7 Comments

What is the Science? When it comes to humanity’s place in the universe, mathematics continue to support the probability that we are not alone. As scientific understanding evolves and the search for biomarkers [...]

Miracles and Science: A Third Way
Article by Robert John Russell (2016)
Read the Full Article

January 14th, 2017|2 Comments

What is the Science? Ever since the Enlightenment period in the 18th century, Western Christians have largely had only two choices available to understand God’s work in the world: 1) God suspends [...]

By | 2017-01-05T15:16:04+00:00 September 27th, 2016|Cosmos, Research|9 Comments

About the Author:

Zach is currently a PhD student at Fuller Theological Seminary researching the role of leaders in congregational change. His calling in life is to train and equip pastors to faithfully lead local congregations. When not studying, he'll most likely be watching Sporting Kansas City score goals or hiking with his wife and two kids.

9 Comments

  1. Reed Metcalf February 3, 2017 at 12:50 am

    I greatly appreciate the work Wilkinson does here in painting in broad strokes the main pressure points in the theology/cosmology discussion. Two things in particular I think are worth mentioning/exploring in more depth, and I think I should address them in two comments for the sake of organizing any generated responses:
    1. Wilkinson’s discussion of the “God of the gaps” theory is, I think, the most hazardous of pitfalls for Christians generally. Choosing an unexplored or unexplained area of scientific research–like, for instance, the still mysterious dark matter and dark energy–and positing God as standing behind it as the direct cause paints a target on God’s anthropomorphic head; as soon as science does explain that area, God is written off as unnecessary for that aspect of the universe. Putting the God of the Christian Scriptures as the “how” to the universe always courts the danger of suddenly having God be irrelevant as scientific understanding progresses. We can–and I think must–still hold to God being the “why” of the universe (a question which is beyond the reach of scientific inquiry), but we must be open to deepening our understanding of how God went about the creative process.

  2. Reed Metcalf February 3, 2017 at 12:51 am

    2. My second point is far more speculative than I care for, but it is something I have pondered for quite some time. In his sixth listing of the biblical themes that might touch on this discussion, Wilkinson suggests that our current experience of time is fractional, and that there is a larger concept of time that is an ontological reality that we could dub “eternity.” I think what Wilkinson is suggesting is that new creation ultimately plays by different rules than we can observe and likely imagine. I have often thought that this must be the case in new creation–physics in every aspect and form must be inherently different. We see in both Luke and John’s resurrection accounts that Jesus’s body plays by different rules, so to speak, than does our current bodily state. Yet both accounts insist on the bodily resurrection of Christ. I think it must be the same for the universe at large; when new creation is revealed, the physics of the cosmos, from general relativity to quantum theory, will be antiquated. I do not see how an eternal creation without decay or death can exist with current physical laws.

    • JarrodCraw May 26, 2017 at 11:48 am

      I love your point here, even though it is indeed speculation. I love the scenes in “The Last Battle” when the people are able to run right alongside the cheetahs and they swim without any fear of drowning. Aslan’s land is ‘bigger’ on the inside than it looked – all speculative, as well, but they do throw the laws of physics out the window. I, too, wonder what the new creation might be like, but we can really only speak of it in terms of negation: no sorrow, death, disease…because we can’t conceive what life will be like in the new creation having never experienced anything else before.

  3. Weabz May 19, 2017 at 5:54 pm

    The article mentions “one of the biggest scientific discoveries in 21st century” and this comes from CERN. The problem I have is if we are believers then should we not be cautious and be more judicious in our examination or acceptance of “scientific findings” from a company with a large Shiva statue repping their company?? If that doesn’t cause us pause, we are in trouble.

  4. Weabz May 22, 2017 at 5:28 am

    Has anyone read “Evolution: A Theory in Crisis” by Michael Denton

    From a non-Christian scientist, so I’m thinking that is a good source, especially when most scientists aren’t willing or are too fearful to come out against the Theory of evolution as busted.

    Another scientific explanation? Sure maybe. But we keep trying for a square peg in a round hole.

    Anybody have any other suggested books like the above?

  5. aidenkang June 5, 2017 at 1:12 am

    First time I discovered that Karl Barth was an opponent of natural theology I thought he was so wrong. After all, Scripture declares that the heavens declare the glory of God, but the more I’ve studied Barth, the more I find myself agreeing with Barth that while creation can reveal that there is a creator, it can’t reveal the saving knowledge found only in Jesus Christ.

    • matt@ncstudycenter.org August 16, 2017 at 9:00 pm

      I think Aquinas/RCs would largely agree; nature can reveal that there is a creator, but only revelation can reveal the unique identity of that creator as trinity

  6. aidenkang June 5, 2017 at 1:16 am

    Thanks for this great article – Really appreciate how detailed it is, and revealing how desperately we’re in need of humility to even start a dialogue.

Leave A Comment