Hope Through Brokenness

shattered-cup

For much of my life, I’ve found myself pretending to be perfect.

I care so much about what people think about me, where it bothers me when people don’t think that I’m (cool, fun, smart, nice, insert good thing here). It’s simply a part of the human (*after the fall*) condition: we are insecure about how we are perceived because we don’t completely trust that God and others love us and want what’s best for us.

So I have found myself putting on a face, faking that everything’s alright when it’s not. I’d imagine that everyone reading this can relate. Our world is pro at this, especially with social media like Facebook and Instagram: we put up our best, happiest pictures for the world to see. And then what happens? Everyone looks at those pictures from their bedroom all alone or something and gets jealous thinking that they’re a loser because they aren’t experiencing all of the crazy stuff that their friends are.

We have to remember that life has both good and bad moments, and that’s okay! Pretending that only good things happen is a false hope. Even optimism, as much as I love it, is a false philosophy if it isn’t based on reality. It’s okay to be sad for a while, it’s a regular human emotion that God gave us. Even Jesus cried when His friend Lazarus died! John 11:35. (He later raised Lazarus from the dead… haha goes to show how awesome being Jesus’ friend is… : )

In life we go through a boatload of stuff. Good and bad, happy and sad, exciting and depressing. What keeps you centered through it all? Is what keeps you centered going to constantly be there for you? Does it help both in good times and in bad?

What keeps me centered through all the bumps in the road is my faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus is always there for us, even when it’s hard to just have faith in the first place. I love and appreciate the support of my family and friends, but they simply can’t be there for me in the most intimate ways that I need it. It’s one thing to calm someone who is crying. It’s a radically different thing to give peace to a soul. True intimacy not only allows us to share our bodies, as we are accustomed to thinking of it, but also our emotions, fears, hopes, dreams, struggles. If we are holding things back, then we are not being truly intimate (quick stereotypical Catholic thought: apply that to contraception.. (light bulbs, anyone?)). And only our God, who created each of us uniquely, can truly understand us and accept us completely as we are.

I remember a friend of mine making a statement to me a few weeks ago: “Chris, I’m not even sure if Christianity is relevant to me.”

You know, there are probably times when we are all tempted to think that. If everything is going well, if we seem to be in a good place and are living an exciting life, why would we want anything more? But if we come to realize that even in our greatest triumphs, our most ecstatic joys, there is still a part of us that is crying out for more. These moments are oh so familiar for those who are poor, spiritually broken, alone, needy, sick, and mourning. Our souls are longing in these moments for complete and total love. For security and fulfillment. Something that this world cannot give.

As for the relevance of Christianity: it is only as relevant as its God. And our Lord Jesus Christ, the bridegroom to each of our souls, is exactly what we need. We are like broken pots, busy trying to hide our imperfections from each other, afraid that someone might notice. We have two options. We can stay all by ourselves, continuing to try and live a lie of our own self-fulfillment, or we can call out to the master potter, who will hastily come to us, pick up each of our pieces, and put us back together good as new.

This Christmas marks the coming of Jesus Christ into the world to do just that. He came so that He can help us become the children of God that He created us to be. All that we need to do is call out, and He will be with us to help heal our brokenness.

Here’s a prayer that maybe you can join me in praying this Advent: Lord Jesus, I need you. I am broken and in need of your help to heal my body, soul, emotions, and all. Please come and heal my faith, help me to believe in and know you with great conviction. Give me a strong hope to get through the difficult times of life. Give me a strong love for the people in my life, especially those in need. Help me to see you in the poor, the suffering, the needy. Come into my life and renew me, make me your own creation. Amen. 

Why I Believe in God

Colorado

This sure as heck isn’t an exhaustive list, but here are some very simple reasons why I’ve never struggled with belief in God:

– We live in a beautiful world

– How else could anything exist if there wasn’t something there to “bang” the Big Bang?

– Love exists

– When I pray, things happen. Not every time, and not always in the way that I want them to, since God isn’t a magic genie but rather our Father.

– The entire story of Jesus is way too crazy to fake. Starting with the 12 Apostles themselves, millions of Christians died for Him, especially those first 300 years afterwards when it was a crime to believe in Christ. Those people that died in the Coliseum? Those people were often Christians. Why die for something that you knew to be a lie?

– There is purpose and meaning to life

– Even in the darkest moments of life, we have hope

– We desire more than what this world has to offer and are incomplete without God. Just listen to Drake: “I want it all, and then some.” According to the world, he’s made it. But even he admits that he’s still missing something. “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you.” – St. Augustine

– The most genuinely happy people that I know are always the ones who have a close relationship with Jesus. They know that God loves them, and everyone else, and there’s nothing that this world can do that can take that from them.

– I have experienced Jesus’ peace and love in my own life, and seen how He’s worked through me in ways that I could have never expected

What is the Relationship Between Faith and Science?

God Universe

For the first few weeks of school, I led a discussion group on faith and science. I decided to summarize my points on this blog for your benefit. This post is on the relationship between faith and science. In future posts I will cover supposed reasons why God has been disproved, and close with reasons to believe in God.

So why faith and science?

As a graduate of the University of Illinois with a bachelor of science in electrical engineering, I come from a prestigious university well known for engineering (EE is #3 in the nation). In this environment, faith in God is often bashed as blind and baseless. Our culture in general in the West often makes fun of people of faith for being “ignorant.” Despite these criticisms, I found my faith while in college and found answers to all of the questions that I had. I hope to explain some of the answers that I found in this post and in the following ones.

Faith

What is faith? What do we mean by faith?

In the strict religious sense, faith could be defined as whether or not you believe revelation from God. But faith is also used in everyday experiences. For example, if I were to tell you that my favorite color is green, there would be no way for you to prove that I’m telling you the truth. In addition, when we start our car in the morning, do we double check that all of the parts and equipment will work? Do we double check our brakes? No, we don’t. These are examples of faith, but they aren’t blind faith.. there is actually reason involved in these decisions.

You probably trust that with sharing a simple thing like my favorite color, I wouldn’t have a reason to lie. In addition, you probably have the idea that I’m at least a pretty decent person and wouldn’t be prone to lying. With regards to the car, we realize that though we haven’t checked all the parts, they were working just fine last night and nothing should have changed over the course of the night. In a similar way, our faith in God isn’t just blind. We have good reasons to believe, reasons that aren’t always 100% verifiable, but they can make a very solid case. I’ll be going through these with you over the next couple of blog posts in this series.

Revelation

How does God reveal Himself to us?

God reveals Himself to us in many different ways: through reason, philosophy, and the sciences, in the world around us, in who we are, and in what He directly reveals to us. God reveals Himself to us through reason as we contemplate how the world came to be and exists. He reveals Himself to us through our own longings like our desire for the infinite, for truth and happiness, for unconditional and infinite love. God reveals himself to us in the human person: in our desire to truth and beauty, our sense of morality, and our own inherent idea of God. God also reveals Himself more directly, as the God of Noah, Abraham, and Moses. As a Christian I believe that God most fully revealed Himself as Jesus. God reveals Himself in the world from its order and beauty.

Science

What is science?

When we think of science, (I hope) we think of the scientific method, which allows us to test and prove things in a quantifiable manner.

The Scientific method:

1. Define a question

2. Gather information and observe

3. Form hypothesis

4. Test the hypothesis, perform an experiment

5. Analyze the data

6. Draw conclusions from data

7. Publish results

8. Retest conclusion

The scientific method is a powerful way to make conclusions about quantifiable phenomena. We can use science to measure data in the physical realm, but even science has its limits. With the scientific method, we can find out what we are made of and how our bodies work, but we can’t find out our purpose and meaning in life.

An interesting point to make is that science isn’t the only rational system of thinking: all of the branches of philosophy require reason. Philosophy is basically the study of being: what exists and why they exist. This is specifically called metaphysics and is the basis of all philosophy. There are other branches of philosophy, like philosophy of man (what is human nature), philosophy of ethics (how should man act), philosophy of politics (how should society be), epistemology (study of knowledge, how does man know what he knows), and finally natural philosophy (study of nature). What we call science is actually only one branch of philosophy, natural philosophy. All the other branches of philosophy still require reason and rational thought, but often the only one that we think of nowadays is science.

Can the scientific method be applied to God? We know that science can only be applied to things that we can quantify, things we can measure and observe. So now we have to see if God matches up to these requirements.

Who/What is God? How would you describe Him?

There are a few traits that we have to become familiar with in order to describe God. The first is that God is omnipotent, which means that God is all powerful. The next is that God is perfect- all good and benevolent. God is also omnipresent, which means that He is continuously and simultaneously present throughout the whole of creation. God is eternal- He always was and always has been. The final important trait of God for now is that He is transcendent, or outside of the universe.

With all of this in mind, we have to realize that God cannot be studied by science. Since God is transcendent, he can’t be measured or observed. God isn’t a material being (besides the part where Jesus walked here on Earth and Jesus in the Eucharist in the Tabernacle of your local Catholic Church).

How does the Catholic Church view faith and science?

Believe it or not, Pope John Paul II wrote an entire encyclical on the topic in 1998, called Fides et Ratio (Latin for Faith and Reason). You can read it in English here. In the encyclical, Pope John Paul II argues that faith and reason are essential together, like two wings of a bird.

“Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth; and God has placed in the human heart a desire to know the truth- in a word, to know himself- so that, by knowing and loving God, men and women may also come to the fullness of truth about themselves.” – Pope John Paul II, Fides et Ratio

Can faith and scientific reason ever contradict each other?

Since the Catholic Christian faith is true and reason is true, they should never conflict. Often people have misconceptions of the faith which makes the faith appear to be false, though. I’ll cover that in the next post.

We don’t need necessarily need “blind” faith to believe in God’s existence, God’s existence can be understood through reason, which I’ll cover in the last post. Specific things about God and Jesus, etc. must be taken by faith in God’s revelation, though.

Here are a few more quotes from the Church on the relationship between faith and reason:

“Believing is an act of the intellect assenting to the divine truth by command of the will moved by God through grace.” – St. Thomas Aquinas

“Since the same God who reveals mysteries and infuses faith has bestowed the light of reason on the human mind, God cannot deny himself, nor can truth ever contradict truth.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church 159

“Consequently, methodical research in all branches of knowledge, provided it is carried out in a truly scientific manner and does not override moral laws, can never conflict with the faith, because the things of the world and the things of faith derive from the same God. The humble and persevering investigator of the secrets of nature is being led, as it were, by the hand of God in spite of himself, for it is God, the conserver of all things, who made them what they are.” – Catechism of the Catholic Church 159

In terms of religion, the whole point of this discussion is to show you that believing in God isn’t a “blind” faith based decision but rather an exercise of reason. Believing certain things about God may require faith, but believing in God’s existence does not.

The next post will be about supposed reasons why God has been “disproved” and I’ll debunk them. In the final post I’ll share some reasons to believe in God.

Why Faith?

door to heaven

Why is faith so important to God? Why does He have to “hide” from us? After all, in other relationships, people who love us reveal themselves to us and are personally involved in our lives. Why would God seemingly do the opposite?

I don’t have the official answer, but I’d love to take a stab at it. Let’s imagine that God revealed Himself to everyone out of love for them. It’s kind of funny to write that out because you could understand it two ways: God HAS revealed Himself to everyone through Jesus Christ, yet God HASN’T personally revealed Himself to everyone in the same way that people reveal themselves to each other.

Faith is important because we haven’t experienced God in a very tangible way, even very active Christians like myself. I don’t have to have faith that my laptop exists, it’s right here in front of me. I can touch it, it functions how I’d expect a laptop to, it makes noises, etc. Since God doesn’t often reveal Himself in a tangible way to us, we need faith to believe in Him because He isn’t someone we can see or hear. This faith isn’t as unreasonable as some people might say it is. We also use the same type of faith to trust that the brakes in our car are working.. we haven’t checked the brakes every time before we get in the car to even see if they are there, let alone working, before we drive off on our way. We have faith in many things that aren’t God, and it isn’t out of ignorance but out of understanding what makes the most sense. I have faith because I have experienced God. God has revealed Himself to me through the generosity of Christians, the infinite desires in my heart, the reality of the story of Jesus and the Catholic Church- especially Jesus’ life and the lives of the Apostles, prayer (I think I could write a whole post about this one), answered prayers, the complexity of nature and the universe, and of course in the sacraments! With all of these experiences, the only reasonable explanation IS to believe in God!

So why would God value faith? I began this post by pointing out that having faith isn’t just limited to religious things. But there has to be more too it than that. I think that God values faith because it is a test to see if we truly love Him. He will reveal enough of Himself for us to begin to know Him, and He is always running after us (remember, He’s the God who came to us, that’s why Christmas and the Incarnation are such big deals!), but He also gives us enough wiggle room to actually have difficulty in this department. He’s not going to just show up the moment that we are about to do our favorite sin. He’s there cheering us on to do the right thing, but He gives us all free will. He doesn’t force us to believe in Him but lets us find Him.

God does not have us rely on faith to “hide” from us, He is the one seeking us, and I’m only one of many baptized Christians whose job it is to share His message with the whole world. That’s what He commanded us to do in Matthew 28:18-20. If God really wanted to hide from us, He definitely wouldn’t have sent Jesus. Another point of note was that God the Father didn’t even reveal Himself to Jesus, the Son, even at His darkest hour! Jesus participated in the same difficulty that we do!

God likes to see if we actually love and trust Him as much as He loves us. Faith is just one of the methods of His perfect justice and love. He can’t wait to reveal His love to anyone who seeks Him.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.” – Jesus, Matthew 7:7

What Draws Me to God

For some people, faith in God comes easily. For others, faith seems foreign and even scary. I’ve definitely experienced both. Here are some promptings in my heart that have led me to God:

  • A desire for purpose in life
  • Longing to be loved
  • Acknowledgement that all people are created uniquely and deserve to be loved
  • Desire for perfect justice
  • Desire for mercy for the wrongs I have done
  • A longing to thank the Creator for the beauty of nature
  • Desire for someone to stick up for me in good times and in bad, giving completely of themselves

God has fulfilled each of these desires in me and it has allowed me to live a happier, more fulfilling life. My life is just as hard as anyone else’s, but my faith is the rock on which I can stand steady even in the midst of storms and gives me hope and peace in all things.

Shea’s Conversion Story

The  following is a guest post by a good friend, Shea. Check out her blog!

 

Contrary to many people’s beliefs about my life, I have not always been a lover of Christianity. As I’ve pointed out on my own blog, I was baptized as an infant and received the sacraments (praise God), but Christianity was something I did on Sundays, and sadly – I know I’m not alone in that regard. Sometimes however, just like any good parent, God must let us go where we think we need to before we realize we only need Him. My life is just one of billions if not trillions of examples since the existence of Christ on earth.

My conversion was more recent than it feels, in fact, it’s been 5 days short of 12 months. Just like John and Andrew in Jn 1:40, I had a 4 PM moment – I can remember the day and the hour, what I was wearing, who I was with, and exactly what happened when I had the most potent encounter with the unfathomable love of Christ yet. You see, I was one of those people that needed to hit my rock bottom before sprinting to Christ’s open arms.

My senior year of high school (almost exactly two years ago), an incredible tragedy struck my family. For their own privacy, I need not go into detail on the interwebz. An unexpected burden had fallen on my shoulders, my role as a child had been somewhat reversed, and I had no idea what to do. In the midst of this ongoing family crisis, I had no close friends at my massive high school because my close ones had graduated, I was struggling with schoolwork, freaking out about auditioning for colleges as a music major, trying to figure out college applications, practicing, keeping my seven year old sister and 13 year old brother in line (which was pretty much impossible) while my mom was at school to renew her nursing license, another sister had cancer, and I had to keep it all together emotionally for people – this tragedy was quietly swept under the rug. I kept these problems, anxieties, and emotions inside and figured they would dissolve once going off to college.

I was wrong, they only got worse. In high school, I was vehemently opposed to the drinking and hook up culture (which is probably why I had no friends), but when I got to campus I let my guard down. I felt like there was no point in caring anymore, because of this family tragedy. Thankfully, my run in with frat parties and apartment crawls was short lived when I was introduced to a Father Charles casually by a mutual friend, my old youth minister from my home parish who came to campus to visit her sister for a weekend. A week after attending a football game (on Saturday, October 15, 2011) with the two of them, I felt a sudden need to go to confession, and who is the priest in the confessional? Well, Fr. Charles of course. At the end of the confession he recommended I go on a Koinonia retreat. I remember bursting into tears and suddenly talking about how I knew I needed a community and that I was so hurt by what had happened, I needed the family atmosphere here at school. I had no idea what was happening to me, because community was something I didn’t really care about, I thought it was juvenile and stupid, and I wasn’t into my faith, where were these words coming from? He and I began meeting weekly to heal these gaping wounds, this transformation was not overnight, nor was it easy. After some slight resistance on my part, I decided to go ahead and give Koinonia a shot, I have never cried so hard and laughed so hard in my entire life, as I did on that weekend (November 4-6, 2011).

After that weekend, I didn’t know much in my head about the faith, but I knew I had encountered the love and face of Jesus that weekend. My most powerful 4 PM moment was November the fourth, the first day of the retreat. This was the most intimate and intense encounter with Jesus that I have ever had. I can point to that single evening as the pivot point of my life. Earthly words cannot describe the conversation of heart I had with Him, which is why it’s pointless to go into detail. But after that, I knew that what was in my heart did not match up with how I was living my life – and that’s when I changed physically, socially, and morally (what ya’ll see (or read?) now from the outside). I realized that if what I encountered truly was a Person of God, and if God is truly what we say He is, then why was I living the life I was? It wasn’t consistent, and it was painful. I was living a life of anger, hatred, and angst and had been given an opportunity for something better (it’s also for eternity, so that’s also a bonus), so why not take it?

This is why I am who I am today, should I now apologize to the world for my love affair? He gave me this cross and through my death I have been resurrected. We all have crosses, and Christ is waiting for us to pick them up, uniting them to His, and carry them to Calvary. Calvary is not the end, the Resurrection is. Because of that resurrection I will never leave His side and am not and will never be ashamed of my love of Him.

Creationism and Science: The Seven Day Creation, the Big Bang, and Genesis

The following is a guest post by Eric Novitsky:

The Big Bang theory is one of the most widely known explanations of how the universe could have developed. Most textbooks estimate that the universe is around 15 billion years old, however a recent paper estimated it to be around 13.75 billion.1,2 The oldest rocks and crystals on the planet earth have been found to be between approximately 4.3 to 4.4 billion years old.3-5 The earth was initially a ball of molten rock and metal at temperatures of around 2000 degrees Celsius and needed time to cool before solid rocks could form, so the age of the earth is estimated to be slightly older, at around 4.5 billion years old.4 Many meteorites that have been suggested to have formed the same time as the earth have also been dated to around 4.5 billion years old.6 But what about the “seven day creation” that is outlined in the Bible? Does the Bible declare that the universe and the earth were created in only one week? By looking at the original Hebrew text, we can see that there is no contradiction between scientific evidence and the Bible.

The King James translation of the Bible was first printed in 1611. Thirty-one years later, in 1642, Cambridge University Vice-Chancellor John Lightfoot published his calculated date for the creation of the universe: September 17, 3928 B.C. He drew this conclusion by analyzing the genealogies in Genesis, Exodus, 1 and 2 Kings, and 1 and 2 Chronicles.7 Eight years later James Ussher, an Anglican archbishop of Ireland, corrected Lightfoot’s date, making it October 3, 4004 B.C. After that, Lightfoot even “calculated” Adam’s creation: October 23, 4004 B.C. at 9:00 a.m.!7 Neither scholar consulted the original Hebrew texts.

If one looks at the original Hebrew text, it can be seen that the Bible doesn’t necessarily advocate that the universe was created in seven, 24 hour days. The Hebrew word yôm was translated into “day” in the Bible.7 Yôm is used in biblical Hebrew to indicate a number of different time periods: day, year, age, season, sunrise to sunset, sunset to sunset, or a segment of time without any reference to solar days.7-9 William Wilson, in his Old Testament Word Studies, explains that yôm is “frequently put for time in general, or for a long time, a whole period under consideration…Day [yôm] is also put for a particular season or time when any extraordinary event happens.”10

Outside of Genesis 1, yôm is used in many other places throughout the Bible. Some examples: Genesis 4:3 (yôm = process of time); Genesis 30:14 (yôm = wheat harvest time); Joshua 24:7 (yôm = a long season); 2 Chronicles 21:19 (yôm = years); Isaiah 4:2 (yôm = a future era); Zechariah 14:8 (yôm = summer and winter), and many references to the phrase “the day of the Lord”, where no specific time frame is given.7,8

There have been some grammatical arguments against yôm, as some have argued that when yôm is attached to an ordinal (second, third, fourth, etc.) that is must refer to a 24 hour time period. However, nowhere else in the Bible are sequential epochs enumerated. The rules of Hebrew grammar do not require that yôm must refer to 24 hours, even when attached to an ordinal.7,11 Hosea 6:2 prophesies that “after two days He [God] will revive us [Israel]; on the third day He will restore us.” Bible commentators have noted that the “days” in this passage (where the ordinal is used) refer to a year, years, a thousand years, or maybe more.10,12,13 It has also been argued that the Hebrew word ‘olam would have been used instead to indicate a long time period. However, Hebrew lexicons show that only in post-biblical writings did ‘olam only refer to a long age or epoch. In biblical times it meant forever, perpetual, lasting, always, of olden times, or the remote past, future, or both. The range of its usage did not include a set period of time.7,14,15

The Hebrew word ‘ereb, translated evening, also means sunset, night, or ending of the day.11,16,17 And the word bôqer, translated morning, also means sunrise, coming of light, beginning of day, break of day, or dawning.14,16 In the first chapter of Genesis, ‘ereb and bôqer are used in the sentences that separate the “days” of creation. Looking at the translation of the Hebrew text, one finds this phraseology: “and was evening and was morning day X”.7 Dr. Hugh Ross explains the grammar structure in this sentence: “If ‘day X’ were intended as the noun compliment for the one evening and morning together, the linking verb should appear just once, in plural form. We would expect the literal Hebrew to say, ‘and were evening and morning day X”, but it does not.”7 The use of evening and morning does not imply twenty four hour days, but instead gives no indication of time. So how old does the Bible say that the universe is? After analyzing the original Hebrew text, we can’t say for sure, but it surely was not 7 days, with each day defined as 24 hours.

But what about the big bang and the creation of the universe? The characteristic of the creation of the universe stated more frequently than any other in the Bible is its being “stretched out”, as can be seen in eleven different verses: Job 9:8; Psalm 104:2; Isaiah 40:22; 42:5; 44:24; 45:12; 48:13; 51:13; Jeremiah 10:12; 51:15; and Zechariah 12:1.18 However, the word used for “heavens” or “skies” is shehaqîm, which refers to clouds of fine particles of water or dust located in earth’s atmosphere and throughout the universe, not the shamayim, which refers to the heavens of the astronomical universe.14,17,18 Dr. Hugh Ross gives another analysis on the grammar in the sentence structure:

“What is particularly interesting about the eleven verses is that different Hebrew verb forms are used to describe the cosmic stretching. Seven verses, Job 9:8; Psalm 104:2; Isaiah 40:22; 42:5; 44:24; 51:13; and Zechariah 12:1, employ the active participle form of the verb natah. This form literally means “the stretcher out of them” (the heavens) and implies continual or ongoing stretching. Four verses, Isaiah 45:12; 48:13; and Jeremiah 10:12; 51:15 use the perfect form. This form literally means that the stretching of the heavens was completed or finished some time ago. This simultaneously finished and ongoing aspect of cosmic stretching is identical to the big bang concept of cosmic expansion. According to the big bang, at the creation event all the physics (specifically, the laws, constants, and equations of physics) are instantly created, designed, and finished so as to guarantee an ongoing, continual expansion of the universe at exactly the right rates with respect to time so that physical life will be possible.”18

The theories that have been proposed to explain the formation and expansion of the universe do not contradict with the words of the Bible. The creation outline of Genesis is another example. At first glance, it seems that in Genesis the formation of the earth is before the creation of light. However, the “light” of Genesis 1:3 existed prior to the separation of light from darkness in Genesis 1:4. The light of that early period was in the energy range of gamma rays, an energy far in excess of that which is visible to the eye, as the temperature of the universe was well above 3000 degrees Kelvin which completely ionized almost all atoms.3,19,20 As the thermal energy of the universe fell below 3000 °K, allowing electrons to bind in stable orbitals around hydrogen and helium nuclei, not only did the photons break free from the matter of the universe (“separated”) but they became visible as well.3 Another theory is that the darkness may not have been an absence of light, but instead it could mean a source of energy. Isaiah 45:7 tells us that the Hebrew word for darkness, hoshek, could be a created substance of the universe.3

Reading further into the creation account, the beginning of Genesis 1:14-15 states, “Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the dome of the sky, to separate day from night. Let them mark the fixed times, the days and the years, and serve as luminaries in the dome of the sky, to shed light upon the earth.’” This is after plant life in Genesis 1:11, which might seem out of place, since light is necessary in photosynthesis which enables plants to survive. However, as noted earlier, light had already been created in the universe. When the earth cooled down after it was formed, the original atmosphere of the earth contained dust and dirt particles that rendered the atmosphere translucent.3,4 The sun and the stars were not visible through this atmosphere, but light was still able to pass through and support plant life. Genesis 1:14-15 outlines when at least a portion of the atmosphere clears, transforming it from translucent to transparent.

After the atmosphere clears, the sun and the stars are visible from the face of the earth, as can be seen in Genesis 1:16: “God made the two great lights, the greater one to govern the day, and the lesser one to govern the night; and he made the stars.” This is not a new creation and does not conflict with the fact that light and the stars were already created. The Hebrew word for made, ‘asah, in this verse is the verb form indicating completed action, meaning this verse is just a reference to the light and the stars that had already formed.7,21

The bible writers occasionally describe the vastness of the universe. In Genesis 22:17, Jeremiah 33:22, and Hebrews 11:12, the number of God’s children is compared with the number or stars in the sky and the number of grains of sand on the seashore, a “countless” number. The Hebrew (and Greek) numbering systems included numbers up to the billions. “Countless” would indicate a number at least one order of magnitude greater, so at least tens of billions.7

The beginning of Genesis 2:4 sums up creation: “Such is the story of the heavens and the earth at their creation.” The literal Hebrew reads “These are the generations of the heavens and the earth where they were created in the day of their making.” Here the word day refers to all six creation days and the creation of the universe that took place prior to the first creation day. Hebrew lexicons verify that the word for generation (toledah) refers to the time between a person’s birth and parenthood or to an arbitrarily longer time span. 14 In Genesis 2:4 the plural form is used, indicating that multiple “generations” have passed.7

If we believe that God is truth, speaks truth, guides us into truth, and does not lie, any apparent contradiction between the facts of nature and the words of the Bible is from human misunderstanding. The more we explore and study science alongside God’s word in the Bible, the more we can attempt to understand God’s truth in science.

References
1. Silk, Joseph. The Big Bang. W. H. Freeman and Co.: New York, 1989.
2. Jarosik, N. et al. “Seven-Year Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) Observations: Sky Maps, Systematic Errors, and Basic Results.” Astrophysical Journal Supplement Series, 2010.
3. Schroeder, Gerald L. Genesis and the Big Bang. Bantam Books: New York, 1990.
4. Gallant, Roy A. Earth: The Making of a Planet. Marshall Cavendish: New York, 1998.
5. Wilde, Simon A.; Valley, John W.; Peck, William H.; Graham, Colin M. “Evidence from detrital zircons for the existence of continental crust and oceans on the Earth 4.4 Gyr ago.” Nature. 2001, 409, 175.
6. Stassen, Chris. “The Age of the Earth.” The TalkOrigins Archive, http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/faq-age-of-earth.html.
7. Ross, Hugh. Creation and Time. NavPress Publishing Co.: Colorado, 1994.
8. Neyman, Greg. “Word Study: Yom.” Old Earth Ministries, http://www.oldearth.org/
word_study_yom.htm.
9. Whitefield, Rodney. The Hebrew Word Yom Used With a Number in Genesis 1. http://www.godandscience.org/youngearth/yom_with_number.pdf.
10. Wilson, William. Old Testament Word Studies. Kregel Publications: Grand Rapids, 1978.
11. Deem, Rich. “Does the Bible Say God Created the Universe in Six 24-Hour Days?” Evidence for God from Science. http://www.godandscience.org/youngearth/
sixdays.html.
12. Calvin, Jean, Commentaries on the Twelve Minor Prophets, Volume I: Hosea, trans. John Owen (Edinburgh, UK: The Calvin Translation Society, 1846).
13. Given, J.J., “Hosea”, The Pulpit Commentary, vol. 13, Daniel, Hosea, and Joel, ed. H. D. M. Spence and Joseph S. Exell. Eerdmans: Grand Rapids, 1950.
14. Harris, R. Laird; Archer, Gleason L.; Waltke, Bruce K., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, vol. I. Moody: Chicago, 1980.
15. Tregelles, Samuel P., Gesenius’ Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament. Baker Book House: Grand Rapids, 1979.
16. Brown, Francis; Driver, S. R.; and Briggs, Charles A., A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament. Clarendon Press: Oxford, UK, 1968.
17. Harris, R. Laird; Archer, Gleason L.; Waltke, Bruce K., Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament, vol. II. Moody: Chicago, 1980.
18. Ross, Hugh; Rea, John. “Big Bang – The Bible Taught It First!” Reasons to Believe. http://www.reasons.org/articles/big-bang—the-bible-taught-it-first.
19. The University of Sheffield. “Primordial Nucleosynthesis.” http://www.shef.ac.uk/
polopoly_fs/1.14553!/file/Topic3.pdf.
20. Georgia State University. “Temperature and Expansion Time in the Standard Big Bang Model.” http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/astro/expand.html.
21. Mansoor, Menahem. Biblical Hebrew Step by Step, vol. 1, second edition. Baker Book House: Grand Rapids, 1980.

Eric has also written:
Purgatory in Scripture

A book that I found very very interesting and enlightening on this topic is “The Genesis Enigma” by Andrew Parker.