Is God creating more of the universe as it expands?

Questions about God, the Bible and the Christian culture

Question: Is God creating more of the universe as it expands?

(Click here to read Monday Musings ... the place where I discuss the thinking that went into this article.)

Answer: Your question is somewhat open-ended, so I’ve chosen two issues to address. If these answers are not what you were looking for, feel free to query again.

First, does the Bible teach an expanding universe? I say no. I believe that the Bible allows for an expanding universe, but that is a much lower bar to make than saying that it teaches the same. The challenge for my stand is that several verses describe God as “stretching out” the heavens — and boy... does that sound like an expanding universe! Here are those verses.

“This is what God the LORD says—the Creator of the heavens, who stretches them out…” (Isaiah 42:5).

“ . . . I am the LORD, the Maker of all things, who stretches out the heavens . . .” (Isaiah 44:24).

“My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts.” (Isaiah 45:12).

“God . . . stretched out the heavens by his understanding.” (Jeremiah 10:12).

“He founded the world by his wisdom and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.” (Jeremiah 51:15)

The problem on their side is that these phrases are obviously poetic... which sucks the scientific juice out of them. Now, many credible ministries do not agree with me on this. One is a sister ministry, Got Questions Ministries. Click here to see their perspectives. To see more detail on why I believe that the answer is no, click here. This will take you to a more detailed Q & A session on the topic.

Second, does the fact that the universe is expanding mean that God is continually creating it? Again, my answer is no. Here’s why.

Not only is the universe expanding at an astounding rate, but the rate is also increasing! However, nothing is being added into “the system” (the whole of the universe) to drive this expansion. As such, the universe is continually taking up more “space” ... if you excuse the pun. But this is a mere increase in the volume... not in mass or energy.

Therefore, the thing you cannot say is that God is creating more matter or energy on the fly — and that is what’s driving the expansion. Science doesn’t know what is driving the expansion. This is why they refer to it as “dark energy.” Something is causing it. They just don’t know what.

Don’t be fooled by the term “dark energy” or its companion term “dark matter.” They are not real entities. They are placeholder names for the fudge factors needed to make the “standard model” work mathematically. The standard model is based on so-called “big bang” cosmology... where an unfathomably dense and energetic entity smaller than a soccer ball (sort of) exploded... forming things like stars — and eventually us.

But here’s the part that addresses your question the best. According to the best models that science has at this time, that tiny entity contained all the “stuff” that would ever be in the universe… and  “stuff” includes matter, energy and time.

Under that model, you can see that the volume of the universe increases while its average density decreases. So, although the universe is taking up more room every day, we cannot say that God is creating “more” of the universe by pushing its borders. If anything — in useful terms — he is making less of a universe! Since a fixed amount of matter and energy is occupying a greater volume, there is less energy available in any fixed location... and we occupy a fixed location.

But that phenomenon is descriptive of the whole universe over billions of years. We humans live such short lives that we are not impacted by this energy loss. However, we do experience entropy and thermodynamics locally. In fact, God created us to capitalize on those energy flows.

It’s easy to see how we do this with water. When we build dams, we turn water's potential energy into kinetic energy and make it do useful work when it falls through a turbine. Most of us understand on some level that the potential energy of the water is lost forever after it falls. This works with larger energetic entities like the sun.

Every day we “use” the sun’s energy. But the conservation of energy principle of thermodynamics tells us that — although we will not experience this in meaningful ways during our lifetimes — the sun has less potential to serve us every day.

Everything works like that as we expand our radius to include the solar system, our galaxy and our universe. The universe is heading towards what is sometimes called “heat death” — because on average, everything is cooling off. This means that every entity is losing heat energy to cooler bodies. The total energy will be conserved, but we are running out of useful energy.

Using the water analogy, when all the water on the earth is at the same level, it is still water. We just cannot use it for power anymore. It is the same with all the matter and energy of the universe. Everything wants to be at the same level... but it will take over 100 trillion years for this to happen.

In Romans 1:18-20, God challenges every human being to examine the cosmos. The work he has done is a testimony to his divinity and power, but it tells us other things too. God is not creating any more matter, energy or time... and this tells me that biological life will not survive after a certain point. But since God is the one who designed the system to work this way, the fact that we can “see” the end of life and energy tells us this about God: he transcends creation.

Now, terms like heat death might sound dire. But God uses all this “running out of steam” to aid human flourishing. God set up the universe with so much energy that it can wind down over billions of years... giving the energy needed to support human beings in its flow. It is rather like a huge spring that God wound up to the max… and let it start to unwind at t = 0 (the Big Bang).

In closing, let me mention that since God is omnipotent and omnitemporal, concepts like “efficiency” and “wasteful” are meaningless in discussions about how and how long it took God to create our habitat and us. Frankly, I am honored and amazed at the billions of years that boil down to me… me and my relationship to God.

I pray all this helped. God bless you.

 

(Mainsail Ministries articles often have a preamble where I discuss the thinking that went into them. These are called Monday Musings — and if you haven’t read the one associated with this article — consider doing so at the following link: 20211122 Borrowing Capital.)

(For comments, or to join the Monday Musings mailing list, contact us at mainsailep@gmail.com. To submit a question about God, the Bible or the Christian culture, click here.)