In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.John 1:1-5
In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.Genesis 1:1-4
I’ve pretty much always associated the “Let there be light” moment as an incredibly apt and poetic description of the big bang – an immense explosion of light, so much light that it coalesces into all of the matter of the universe. Incredible. Also, as a side note, almost directly observable – our telescopes can pick up what the universe looked like starting from about 30 minutes after the big bang. Only pretty recently have I started to associate Jesus as “the Word of God” with God’s words, “Let there be light”, and this has been kind of blowing my mind recently – Jesus as the created light so good and brilliant that indeed all things were made through and of it.
One of the things I’ve been thinking about for a while is the perspective of how Christianity puts the universe together – what’s the grand cosmological view of the universe that Christianity takes? Here’s my attempt at summarizing:
Before the universe existed there was God – and he’s a God with several notable qualities to this view: He’s perfect, and he fully embodies both love and justice. Also, he’s a community of beings. And he desired/desires a people who will fully love him, who can enter into his community. Here’s the catch though: axiomatic to love is free will, and the capability to choose something or someone else. Love without free will is not a thing – that’s like The Stepford Wives. And even more complicated is that, because he is perfect, giving people the choice to choose to love something other than him requires giving them the choice and chance to be less than perfect, and to do less than perfect things, including to each other, which will also require that they face the justice due for their actions.
So this is what God did: he created a universe that could be a neutral, imperfect stage to allow humans the free choice to learn to love him or not. And then, to resolve the issue that humans would not be perfect, he chose for one of the beings in his community to come down and live as one of us, and volunteer for the punishment due to each of us for the wrongs we commit. It not only fills the justice requirement, but it allows him to express his perfect love, and overcomes our inevitable imperfections that separate us from him.
There are several items I like about this lens on Christianity and the universe. For one thing, the attributes of God that are fundamental to this worldview are very different than the attributes that different religions try and claim to God, which sets Christianity as clearly apart from other religions, and puts to rest the argument that “all religions are basically the same”. Also, it clearly calls out and explains one of the main questions people typically struggle with: how could God let evil and natural disasters happen? Perhaps the thing I like the most, however, is the extent to which it informs worldview about individual purpose as well as the shape of society – when God created the universe he specifically wanted so many things (such as marriage or the justice system, for example) within it to serve as metaphors for us to learn to understand the relationship he wanted us to have with him. I find there’s a feedback loop of understanding how these systems should be idealized through the Bible as well as understanding aspects of the Bible through these systems.