Posted by: BibleScienceGuy | July 12, 2017

Science in the Bible – Expanding Universe

(3 Minute Read)

Over 2,700 years ago, the prophet Isaiah wrote,
It is He who sits above the circle of the earth,
And its inhabitants are like grasshoppers,
Who stretches out the heavens like a curtain
And spreads them out like a tent to dwell in.
(Isaiah 40:22 NASB)

Isaiah alluded to an expanding universe. Yet few scientists believed Isaiah.

Four thousand years ago, Job said of Yahweh,
Who alone stretches out the heavens and tramples down the waves of the sea. (Job 9:8 NASB)

Yet few scientists believed Job.

At least seven other times Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Zechariah refer to the Creator “stretching out the heavens.”

Thus says God the Lord, Who created the heavens and stretched them out,
Who spread out the earth and its offspring,
Who gives breath to the people on it
And spirit to those who walk in it.
(Isaiah 42:5 NASB)

Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb,
“I, the Lord, am the maker of all things,
Stretching out the heavens by Myself
And spreading out the earth all alone.”
(Isaiah 44:24 NASB)

“It is I who made the earth, and created man upon it.
I stretched out the heavens with My hands
And I ordained all their host.”
(Isaiah 45:12 NASB)

That you have forgotten the Lord your Maker,
Who stretched out the heavens
And laid the foundations of the earth.
(Isaiah 51:13 NASB)

It is He who made the earth by His power,
Who established the world by His wisdom;
And by His understanding He has stretched out the heavens.
(Jeremiah 10:12 NASB cf. Jeremiah 51:15)

The burden of the word of the Lord concerning Israel. Thus declares the Lord who stretches out the heavens, lays the foundation of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him. (Zechariah 12:1 NASB)

Yet few scientists believed Isaiah’s, Jeremiah’s, and Zechariah’s references to an expanding universe.

In the early 1900s, most scientists, including Albert Einstein, thought the universe was static – neither expanding nor contracting. Some, however, thought the universe would eventually collapse in on itself due to gravity.

But in 1927, Georges Lemaître (1894–1966), a Catholic priest, astronomer, and professor of physics at the Catholic University of Leuven in Belgium, published a theory on the expansion of the universe that he derived from Einstein’s general relativity equations. His paper, “A Homogeneous Universe of Constant Mass and Increasing Radius Accounting for the Radial Velocity of Extra Galactic Nebulae,” directly challenged Einstein’s belief in a static universe.

Lemaître proposed that a galaxy’s velocity was proportional to its distance from the earth; that is, space is expanding. Later this became known as Hubble’s Law. Lemaître even estimated the rate of expansion which later came to be called the Hubble Constant.

Two years later in 1929, astronomer Edwin Hubble confirmed Lemaître’s work through observations of rapidly receding galaxies. The further away the galaxies appeared to be, the faster they seemed to be moving.

Lemaître’s and Hubble’s work revolutionized astronomy. Lemaître’s mathematically-based theory of an expanding universe was validated by Hubble’s observations, but Hubble got the credit for Lemaître’s idea in the public’s mind. Today most astronomers agree that the universe is expanding.

Following a 1933 lecture at Cal Tech in Pasadena by Lemaître on his research, Einstein said, “This is the most beautiful and satisfactory explanation of creation to which I ever listened.”

Lemaître is probably the greatest scientist who is completely unknown to most people. Franciscan friar Rev. Hubert Vecchierello said of Georges Lemaître,
“It is a point of great interest nowadays, when there is so much loose thinking and still looser writing and talking about the non-existence of God, of the immortal soul, and of a host of eternal verities, to see a man who is both a priest and a scientist fraternizing on the most intimate terms with the world’s most illustrious scientific geniuses. He not only associates with them, but he is their peer; and in that is the lie given to the old and empty charge that the study of science means the loss of belief in religion. Lemaître, of course, is usually an object of great curiosity — not so much to his coreligionists as to many not of the faith who marvel at the “phenomenon” of a Catholic priest being a scientist, yes, not only a scientist of the regular run, but a genius whose theories are most daring.”
(Vecchierello, Einstein and Relativity; Lemaître and the Expanding Universe, St. Anthony Guild Press, 1934, p. 23)

The eminent theoretical physicist and Nobel Laureate Paul Dirac said of Lemaître,
“The measure of greatness in a scientific idea is the extent to which it stimulates thought and opens up new lines of research. In these respects we must rate Lemaître’s cosmology of the highest caliber.”
(Dirac, The Scientific Work of Georges Lemaître, p. 17)

Lemaître concluded a review of his research on the expanding universe with this comment:
“We cannot end this rapid review which we have made together of the most magnificent subject that the human mind may be tempted to explore without being proud of these splendid endeavors of Science in the conquest of the Earth, and also without expressing our gratitude to One Who has said: “I am the Truth,” One Who gave us the mind to understand Him and to recognize a glimpse of His glory in our universe which He has so wonderfully adjusted to the mental power with which He has endowed us.”
(Lemaître, The Primeval Atom, D. Van Nostrand Company, 1950, p. 55)

I wonder if the Catholic priest Lemaître got his original inspiration from the Old Testament which mentions Yahweh stretching out the heavens nine times. We’ll probably never know this side of the grave.

Science Catches Up to the Bible

Thousands of years before scientists discovered that the universe is expanding, the Old Testament prophets repeatedly referred to the Creator stretching out the heavens.

Although the Bible is not primarily a science textbook, it does hint at many scientific truths like this one and like those mentioned in this Science in the Bible series, truths that long pre-date their discovery by today’s scientists. This is strong evidence of divine authorship of the Bible.

Questions to Ponder

1. Why do people find it so hard to accept clear Biblical statements like stretches out the heavens?
2. Why is it unusual for a deeply Christian man like Lemaître to also be a world-class scientist?

Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.

Soli Deo Gloria.

This is the 18th in the Science in the Bible series of blog posts. While there is much science connected with Creation and Noah’s Flood, this series will focus on lesser known scientific truths that were alluded to in the Bible long before they were known to scientists.
Read the prequels:
1. Science in the Bible – Blood
2. Science in the Bible – Ocean Currents
3. Science in the Bible – Undersea Mountains
4. Science in the Bible – Ocean Reservoirs
5. Science in the Bible – Good Medicine
6. Science in the Bible – Round Earth
7. Science in the Bible – Don’t Marry Kin
8. Science in the Bible – Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
9. Science in the Bible – Hanging Earth
10. Science in the Bible – Thermodynamics
11. Science in the Bible – Water Cycle
12. Science in the Bible – Quarantine
13. Science in the Bible – Starry Host
14. Science in the Bible – Turning Earth
15. Science in the Bible – Hygiene
16. Science in the Bible – Seed of Life
17. Science in the Bible – Circumcision

Read the sequel:
19. Science in the Bible – Visible From Invisible

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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
“for the defense of the gospel”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:5; Phil 1:16)
Wednesday July 12, 2017 A.D.

Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. (Psalm 119:105)

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Responses

  1. In answer to the first question, after all is said and done, people believe what they want to believe. It all comes down to a decision.

    For the second, I think that many Christians lack the courage to follow their convictions, especially in this age when “tolerance” is supposed to be granted to everyone else, but not to us. But that’s only my opinion.

    Another great article! Keep up the good work.

    Like


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