Saved by a false gospel?

A person who believes in the big bang wrote to me saying: “… I am saying that scientists are getting saved because of Big Bang cosmology. Specifically, they are starting spiritual journeys that result in their salvation. Dr. Allan Sandage and Dr. Hugh Ross are two of the better known examples. Dr. Richard Smalley also embraced the Big Bang as a support to his conversion.”

This prompted me to consider this idea. Can a false idea lead someone to Christ? Well, quite clearly God is sovereign and can do anything He likes.  He says:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8,9)

I wouldn’t say one has to believe in a literal 6-day six thousand-year old Creation to be eternally saved. But can someone come to know the Lord though false information is presented to him?

This issue relates to the fact that some so-called biblical apologists, like William Lane Craig and Hugh Ross, use the big bang as evidence that the Bible is true because the big bang has an origin in time.   But that is where the similarities end unfortunately. I admit it is appealing and even my own cosmology is based on Carmeli’s big bang cosmology, but I have used Biblical initial conditions and make the assumption that God is the initial First Cause and Creator of the Universe.

Picture1In an expanding universe one could hypothetically conceive of a moment in the past where all matter and energy was concentrated in a single high density state. In the 1950s this idea got the believers in the big bang (eg. Gamov, Dicke, Ryle) the label “evangelicals” (they were largely from the US) even though they were atheists, by comparison to the steady state theory believers (Hoyle, Bondi, Gold), who were also atheists. Sir Fred Hoyle, though fiercely opposing it, coined the name “big bang” in derision. Unfortunately the name stuck.

But does God bring salvation through a false gospel? From a straightforward reading of Genesis chapter 1 the supposed history of the Universe described by the big bang cosmogony must be false, otherwise we can’t take Genesis as history. And there are many more problems with the assumption. For starters, the sequence of events is totally contrary to the order given in Genesis chapter 1. God made the Earth before the Sun, but in the big bang scenario the Sun formed before the Earth. Birds (day 5) preceded land dinosaurs (day 6) etc. Russ Humphreys estimated 37 such out-of-sequence events.

Then there is the issue of Jesus himself quoting or referring to Genesis as real history. For example Mark 10:6, He said man was created at the beginning of Creation. According to the big bang/evolution scenario man was supposed to have evolved in the last million years of a 14 billion year timeline– hardly at the beginning.

We read in Galatians 1:8,9:

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, If any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

Obviously there was a need for Paul to warn the Galatian church against those who bring in a false gospel. People may then follow after a man, who they perceive to have the truth of God. This we see all around us today with the cults and gurus etc. But there is only one true gospel, and that comes from the scriptures themselves.

There have always been those who took their lead from that which was created, ie nature itself. These are the pagan religions – they esteem the creation above the Creator.

20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:

21 Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.

22 Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools,

23 And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

24 Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves:

25 Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.  (Romans 1:20-25)

The Lord also warned some who were apparently believers that had done “many wonderful works” in His name, even “cast our devils” saying,

21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?

23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:21-23)

If they are not known by God then they are not His, hence though they may think they are a Christian and live a religious life, they are not actually “born again.” They don’t have the saving grace of God, because they are living in their own pride doing good that they may earn merit with God. But God says of our own righteousness, that it is like menstruous rags.

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (Isaiah 64:6)

Picture3Hugh Ross with his Reasons to Believe ministry believes the Bible taught that the origin of the Universe began in the big bang.  But there is not a single mention of it. So if that is a reason to believe the Bible is true, it is a very strange type of “truth.”

Now from Dr Hugh Ross’ own testimony, which I took from his website,1 he says that at the age of 15, he concluded that the big bang must be true (obviously before he was born-again in Christ), and that the existence of the world demanded that there be a Creator, so he began a study of religions. He decided that the one true religion should be self-consistent and that it should agree with the natural world. He began reading the Bible, starting with Genesis, and he saw that it alone met the requirements of being the one true religion.  He wrote:

“I also recognized that the Bible stood alone in describing God and His dealings with man from a perspective that demanded more than just the dimensions we humans experience (length, width, height, and time). Further, I had proven to myself, on the basis of predicted history and science, that the Bible was more reliable than many of the laws of physics. My only rational option was to trust the Bible’s authority to the same degree as I trusted the laws of physics.”  (emphasis added)

He claims that science is the 67th book of the Bible, on the same par as the Bible, to be read that way. Ross argues that science alone can drive men to the correct understanding of our origin and hence see the necessity of a Creator. I say it is the exact opposite. One must interpret science through the glasses or filter of the Word of God. This all comes down to the authority of scripture itself. And our understanding of the laws of physics can be wrong, as history can attest.

Allan_Sandage

Dr Allan Sandage from Wikipedia

Allan Sandage seemed to have more to his testimony. He is quoted as saying “I could not live a life full of cynicism. I chose to believe, and a peace of mind came over me.”2  He also made statements like “If there is no God, nothing makes sense” and  in response to the question “Do recent astronomical discoveries have theological significance?” he said,3

I would say not, although the discovery of the expansion of the Universe with its consequences concerning the possibility that astronomers have identified the creation event does put astronomical cosmology close to the type of medieval natural theology that attempted to find God by identifying the first cause. Astronomers may have found the first effect, but not, thereby, necessarily the first cause sought by Anselm and Aquinas.

But knowledge of the creation is not knowledge of the creator, nor do any astronomical findings tell us why the event occurred. It is truly supernatural (i.e. outside our understanding of the natural order of things), and by this definition a miracle. But the nature of God is not to be found within any part of these findings of science. For that, one must turn to the scriptures, if indeed an answer is to be had within our finite human understanding. (emphasis added)

It seems like Sandage did not really think things through. He did not realise the assumptions he was implicitly making in even saying that the Universe is expanding. But he was Hubble’s assistant and all that would have had a great deal of an effect on his mind-set. Yet from the scant information I have found he seemed not to find God through comparative religion but through revelation.  It looks like it was not the big bang that led him to a saving knowledge of his Creator but by through knowing Christ.

I am sure there is more to Ross’ personal testimony than what I have quoted, and I don’t know his mind as God does, but salvation for me came as a result of God revealing to me that I am a sinner and, that, without Christ, I am nothing. I was not looking at religion, only at the need for a Savior. Christ came to me and picked me up out of the pit. He did it, not me. My only hope is Christ and Him alone. Christ believed the written Word from Genesis to be real history, so how can I do any less.

 References

  1. “Hugh Ross’s Testimony,” Jan 1, 1990, retrieved Feb 23, 2013, http://www.reasons.org/articles/hugh-ross-testimony
  2. The Daily Telegraph obituaries, www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/science-obituaries/8150004/Allan-Sandage.html, dated 21 Nov 2010
  3. A Scientist Reflects on Religious Belief, Dr Alan Sandage, http://www.leaderu.com/truth/1truth15.html

2 thoughts on “Saved by a false gospel?

  1. Hi John, I agree with you, but could you clarify this for me?

    I’ve heard of Ross citing Old Testament verses that refer to God stretching out the heavens (as support for concepts like inflation).

    (You’re probably familiar with the verses he cites e.g. http://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?quicksearch=stretched+heavens&qs_version=ESV)

    But, is it true that the big bang calls for the ‘bang’ happening everywhere at once, rather than stretching out from a single point in space?

    In a past post, I think you suggested that a stretched-out big bang was akin to a misleading pop culture explanation—and scientists would not describe it like that (if they wanted to be accurate). If stretching is an inaccurate description of the big bang model, I feel that Ross ought not to depend on those ‘stretching’ verses as Scriptural support for the big bang. Would you agree?

    I’ve also seen him refer to planetary accretion (to describe the formation of the earth) but I don’t find much support for that either.

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    • There is no way those Bible verses like “stretch” and “spread” (Hebrew words ‘natah’ and ‘mathach’) refer either to cosmological expansion, with expansion factors like 1000, since the so-call Last Scattering Surface of the big bang fire ball, or the notion of cosmic inflation with a volume expansion factor of something like 10^78 over some period of 10^-32 seconds just after the beginning of time. Read http://creation.com/bible-cosmological-expansion

      Yes, the idea of the big bang is that it was everywhere. It is the whole universe that ‘bangs’. But those verses in the Bible, in the most straight-forward meaning of their original Hebrew, simply mean God created the heavens, like putting up a tent or a canopy. No real stretching involved at all. In fact, the meaning implies space is stiff like beaten brass not stretchy at all.

      What he says is correct for the big bang, but it is very wrong for what the original Hebrew words mean. The big bang notion is a smooth expansion and the galaxies are stationary in the space and the space everywhere expands. And though my own cosmology employs an expanding universe, I no longer make claim to those particular verses. They could just as well describe a static universe.

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