The Faculty of Jewish Studies
The Office of the Campus Rabbi
Bible and Science--Genesis 5758
Creation and Modern Science
Prof. Nathan Aviezer
Department of Physics
The harmony between the biblical account of the origin and development of the universe and many new scientific discoveries has recently become a subject of interest to many scientists. A single example suffices to make the point. The Bible begins with the famous words, "In the beginning God created...," from which it follows that the universe was created ex nihilo. This is also the position taken by modern science.
For over two decades "creation" has been commonly used by cosmologists to describe the beginning of the universe. The Big Bang theory maintains that the universe was indeed created out of nothing. Creation has essentially become a scientific fact. It is instructive to quote several first class cosmologists on the subject (for references, see my book, In the Beginning, Tel Aviv, 1994, pp. 14-15):
Nobel laureate Paul Dirac, from Cambridge University, a leading physicist of the twentieth century, wrote, "It seems certain that there was a definite time of creation."
Prof. Allan Guth, an important cosmologist, wrote, "The instant of creation remains unexplained."
Prof. Joseph Silk, from the University of California, began his new book on modern cosmology, The Big Bang, with the words, "The big bang is the modern version of the creation of the universe."
Prof. Steven Hawking, of Cambridge University, a highly reputed cosmologist, wrote, "The actual point of creation lies outside the scope of presently known laws of physics."
The titles of recently-published books and articles also indicate this development. Two scientific works on cosmology, published in the eighties, were entitled The Moment of Creation and The Creation, and an article recently published in Physics Letters carried the title "Creation of the Universe from Nothing."
All these citations clearly show that the term "creation" has left the private preserve of biblical scholars and has become part of the scientific lexicon. There can no longer be any meaningful scientific discussion of cosmology where creation does not play a central role.
What essentially was created at the inception of the universe? Scientists have discovered that the universe began with the sudden and inexplicable appearance of a vast explosion of light, called by cosmologists the "primeval fireball," but more popularly known as the "big bang." This we see as the scientific correlation to Scripture's "God said: 'Let there be light'; and there was light"(Gen. 1:3). The remains of the prieval fireball were discovered in 1965 by two American scientists, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, winning them the Nobel prise in physics in 1978.
We conclude with a few words on chronology. How long did the cosmic events having to do with the creation of the universe take? Surprisingly, only a few minutes. This fact has been stressed by Prof. Steven Weinberg, Harvard Nobel laureate, who decided to call his book on modern cosmology The First Three Minutes. However it takes Weinberg 151 pages to describe the momentous cosmological changes that took place in a mere three minutes.
The correlation between modern science and the account of creation given in Genesis is, in my opinion, quite striking in all areas: the emergence of the solar system, the ice age, the mysterious origin of life, the sudden appearance of the animal world and the inexplicable appearance of modern man. To see this the reader has but to refer to the relevant discussions in my aforementioned book.
"How great are Thy works, O Lord! Thy thoughts are very deep" (Ps. 92:6)
The weekly Torah portion is distributed with the assistance of the President's Fund for Torah and Science.