Science and Faith Wrestle with Nothing over the Big Bang


The creator of the YouTube Channel, Science Uprising, does a good job with the production of Big Bang: Something from Nothing, both in the technical aspects of the video and its content. The mask is a nice, dramatic touch.

The mask has taken on a the meaning of standing up to tyranny in countercultural circles, and that meaning is not lost in the video. Popular science promoters of the atheist stripe in the last 20 years have been aggressive in trying to squelch the idea that faith and science can live together. This YouTuber is having none of it!

Indeed, the effort seems to have awoken and inspired many believing scientists in recent years like some of the people who appear in this video, pushing back against the New Atheist mantra. Not only do science and faith fit together like a hand in a glove; non-theism seems to be pulling at the fringes of credibility to walk back the determination that the universe had a beginning a finite time ago.

The so-called “Big Bang” or “singularity”, as Hawking called it, has proven problematic for the scientist who wants to remain a materialist. The implication of a Beginning from the fact that there was a beginning to matter, space, energy and time is a conclusion that Einstein didn’t want to face, though his theory of relativity suggested it.

He came around, and so have almost all scientists today, albeit reluctantly for many who thought that science buried God years ago. Hawking, who proved singularity mathematically, spent much of the rest of his life trying to avoid the inevitable conclusion that his math confirmed. Multiverses would be his answer, though they are no more provable by science than a creator.

Science, though, didn’t bury God. Science is increasingly being seen as the study of the universe God created. I know a handful of atheists who became believers through science. The dogma of the New Atheists is turning brittle as time wears on.

These are just some of the things I think about as I view this short, but well done, video:

What Does It Mean to Give as Alms those Things that Are Within You?

The Pharisees are much more like us than we might care to admit, and we have the same tendency to clean the outside of the cup.

I spend a fair amount of time thinking about the Pharisees in Jesus’s day and who the Pharisees of our day might be. Jesus was pretty tough on them as a group. It seems that maybe we should pay attention.

They were religious leaders, of course. The Oxford online dictionary defines a Pharisee as “a member of an ancient Jewish sect, distinguished by strict observance of the traditional and written law, and commonly held to have pretensions to superior sanctity”. The word, Pharisee, has become synonymous with a self-righteous person or a hypocrite.

I think it’s easy to write them off as a particularly unenlightened, archaic clique of religious leaders who completely missed the boat when God became man and walked among them. I also think it’s dangerous for us to dismiss them so offhandedly.

Pharisees weren’t the only religious leaders in the First Century. The Sadducees were the other “party” of religious leaders in that time. Like Democrats and Republicans today, the two groups were in conflict with each other over politics and theology.

The Sadducees were more elite and upper class than the Pharisees. They were also more conservative, at least in the sense of recognizing only the written Torah, rejecting the “oral Torah” (along with the Prophets and the idea of resurrection of the dead).

The Pharisees were more trusted by common folks. While the Sadducees incorporated the influence of Greek culture and thought, the Pharisees opposed it, remaining more “pure”, emphasizing Mosaic Law alone.

The word, Pharisee, means “set apart, separated”. Though we know of no Sadducees who followed Jesus, more than a few Pharisees were believers, including Nicodemus (John 3:2), Joseph of Arimathea (John 19:38), an unknown number of “those of the party of the Pharisees who believed” (Acts 15:5), and Paul, of course.

The Pharisees were the trusted religious leaders of the common people, and they had the most interaction with Jesus, perhaps, because they interacted more with the common people than did the Sadducees. The Sadducees were more politically aligned with the Romans and enjoyed more privilege and position.

The Pharisees, as I have come to see them, are a lot like many of our religious leaders today. They were earnest in their effort to remain true to the Mosaic teachings, to honor God and to live lives devoted to God.

They were also misguided, of course. They missed the proverbial forest for the trees. God became man and walked among them, and they didn’t recognize Him. They clung too tightly to their ideas of who the Messiah would be and what he would be like (they clung too tightly to to their doctrines) to recognize the Messiah when he showed up.

In this tendency to cling to traditional ideas, to be dogmatic about doctrine, to focus too much on particulars and, thereby, miss the big picture, I see possible parallels to the Christian world of today. I don’t claim to know exactly how that parallel applies, but I think we need to take that possibility seriously.

Some scholars say that Jesus grew up in the tradition of the Pharisees and had more in common with them than the Sadducees (and the Essenes and Zealots who were the other religious groups of the time). To that extent, I think we err dangerously to assume that the Pharisees were wholly unlike us today.

I think the Pharisees are much more like us than we care to admit or consider. Most devout believers are more in danger of being a “Pharisee” than a heathen, for instance. If we are going to fall into error, it will likely be on the side of the Pharisee.

The Pharisees weren’t necessarily wrong (or weren’t all wrong) in their theology. It was more in the application. They focused on the letter of the Law, but they failed to understand its “spirit”. They focused more on how they appeared to others than how God saw them.

They knew their Scripture. They knew that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem, from the house of David, so they rejected Jesus because he was from Nazareth. They “knew” nothing good came from Nazareth (more of a cultural reality), but they failed to keep an open mind. If they had, they would have discovered that Jesus did come from David’s line and had ties to Bethlehem.

Dogmatic thinking that “locks in” certain interpretations of Scripture and the expectations that grow out them is as much a danger for us today as it was for the Pharisees in the First Century.

The Pharisees were very much concerned about making sure people behaved in certain ways that were acceptable and were quick to denounce actions that were out of step. They also tried hard to conform their own actions to those expectations. In doing this, they were focusing on outward appearances.

Jesus took challenged them in their assumptions, their traditions, their dogmatic adherence to their theology and doctrines and in their practices:

“And the Lord said to him, ‘Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you. But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others.'” Luke 11:39‭-‬42 ES

This reminds me of the faith and works tension that we wrestle with as Christians. We should know, better than the First Century Pharisees did, that we are not saved by our outward actions. We are not saved by merit and what we can do. We are saved by grace alone, which we perceive by faith.

Yet, we have the tension that faith without works is dead. A tree is known by its fruit. We also care deeply how other people perceive us. We have no less pressure to conform our actions to expectations. How, then, should we live?

Continue reading “What Does It Mean to Give as Alms those Things that Are Within You?”

If Creation Worships God

If creation sings Your praises so will I


So Will I (A Hundred Million Times) by Hillsong is my inspiration today. Listen to the version by the UPPERROOM, featuring Abbie Simmons while you read the lyrics and view the photos of the wonders of God’s creation.


God of creation
There at the start
Before the beginning of time



With no point of reference
You spoke to the dark
And fleshed out the wonder of light



And as You speak
A hundred billion galaxies are born



In the vapor of Your breath the planets form



If the stars were made to worship so will I


I can see Your heart in everything You’ve made


Every burning star A signal fire of grace



If creation sings Your praises so will I



God of Your promise
You don’t speak in vain
No syllable empty or void
For once You have spoken
All nature and science
Follow the sound of Your voice


Photo credit Deb Zehyer

And as You speak

A hundred billion creatures catch Your breath


Evolving in pursuit of what You said
If it all reveals Your nature so will I



I can see Your heart in everything You say

Every painted sky
A canvas of Your grace


Photo credit Miriam Higgs

If creation still obeys You so will I
So will I
So will

If the stars were made to worship so will I



If the mountains bow in reverence so will I



If the oceans roar Your greatness so will I



For if everything exists to lift You high so will I
If the wind goes where You send it so will I



If the rocks cry out in silence so will I


Photo credit Paul Smith

If the sum of all our praises still falls shy
Then we’ll sing again a hundred billion times



God of salvation
You chased down my heart
Through all of my failure and pride



On a hill You created
The light of the world


The Door On Which We Have Been Knocking

When I attempted to describe our spiritual longings. . . .

Photo credit to Steve Mazur

“When I attempted . . . to describe our spiritual longings, I was omitting one of their most curious characteristics. We usually notice it just as the moment of vision dies away, as the music ends, or as the landscape loses the celestial light.”


Photo credit to Deb Zeyher

“For a few minutes we have had the illusion of belonging to that world. Now we wake to find that it is no such thing. We have been mere spectators. Beauty has smiled, but not to welcome us; her face was turned in our direction, but not to see us. We have not been accepted, welcomed, or taken into the dance. We may go when we please, we may stay if we can: ‘Nobody [notices] us.'”


Photo credit to Rudy Vierickl

“A scientist may reply that since most of the things we call beautiful are inanimate, it is not very surprising that they take no notice of us. That, of course, is true. It is not the physical objects that I am speaking of, but that indescribable something of which they become for a moment the messengers.

Photo credit Paul Smith

“And part of the bitterness which mixes with the sweetness of that message is due to the fact that it so seldom seems to be a message intended for us, but rather something we have overheard. By bitterness I mean pain, not resentment. We should hardly dare to ask that any notice be taken of ourselves. But we pine. The sense that in this universe we are treated as strangers, the longing to be acknowledged, to meet with some response, to bridge some chasm that yawns between us and reality, is part of our inconsolable secret.”


Photo credit to Kevin Drendel

And surely, from this point of view, the promise of glory, in the sense described, becomes highly relevant to our deep desire. For glory means good report with God, acceptance by God, response, acknowledgement, and welcome into the heart of things. The door on which we have been knocking all our lives will open at last.”

CS Lewis from the Weight of Glory

Photo Credit Dee Rexroat

Leaven: the World in the Church, and the Church in the World

As I read through the Bible, I often see comparisons that I had not previously considered. Recently, I noted a couple of different times and different ways that Jesus used the analogy of leaven. The two uses of the term, leaven, contrast with each other in interesting ways.

In Matthew 13, Jesus used the term in telling a short parable about the kingdom of God. Later, in Matthew 16, Jesus used the term in speaking about the influence of the Pharisees. They appear in the ESV as follows:

“He told them another parable, ‘The kingdom of heaven is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour, till it was all leavened.’” (Matthew 13:33)


“When the disciples reached the other side, they had forgotten to bring any bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Watch and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ And they began discussing it among themselves, saying, ‘We brought no bread.’ But Jesus, aware of this, said, ‘O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? How is it that you fail to understand that I did not speak about bread? Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees.’ Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.” (Matthew 16:5-12)

So, the kingdom of God is like leaven, but there is a “leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees” of which we should beware. The leaven that is the kingdom of God is good, but the leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees is bad. What is Jesus talking about?

Continue reading “Leaven: the World in the Church, and the Church in the World”