Thursday, December 14, 2006


In the little book THE ORIGIN OF THE UNIVERSE, the author, John D. Barrow, attempts to explain, in words understandable by laymen, how he believes the universe had its beginnings about 15 billion years ago in what is commonly known as the “big bang.” He speaks of an “initial singularity” at the beginning, at which “all the mass in the universe is compressed into a state of infinite density” (pg. 37). A bit further on (pg. 45), he asks a number of questions: “If the universe did begin at a singularity from which matter appeared with infinite density and temperature, then we are confronted with a number of problems in our attempts to push cosmology any further. ‘What’ determines the sort of universe that emerges? If space and time do not exist before that singular beginning, how do we account for the laws of gravitation, or of logic, or mathematics? Did they exist ‘before’ the singularity?” His answer is quite astounding: “If so -- and we seem to grant as much when we apply mathematics and logic to the singularity itself – then we must admit to a rationality larger than the material universe.” Earlier (pg. 27) he says “ … the starting state of the universe must have been very highly ordered, and hence extremely special and perhaps governed by some grand principle of symmetry or economy.”

The apostle John begins his gospel, “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 came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being” (1:1-3). Our English word, “Word,” is a translation of the Greek word “Logos.” Now, logos means much more than our English translation would have us think. John was using one of the most complex and profound theological and philosophical concepts He could find. THE GREEK-ENGLISH LEXICON of Liddell & Scott, takes 2-1/2 pages to define Logos – 5 columns – 3-1/4 inches x 9-1/2 inches each of very fine print.

The word had a broad range of meanings over almost a thousand-year history. Though sometimes it had the meaning of “verbal expression or utterance,” it rarely meant a “single word,” but “usually a phrase.” However, among the various other definitions given, were “proposition,” … “reason, ground” … “reason as a faculty” … “creative reason.” Perhaps “rationality” would not be an incorrect translation.

Logos was also used in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament – ca. 200+ BC) to translate the Hebrew “Dabar” – “word” (Psalm 33:6; ”by the Word of the LORD, the Heavens were made”).

So maybe Mister Barrow is on to something. Perhaps he and John are saying the same thing. If we replace John’s “Word” with Mr. Barrow’s words, we have “In the beginning was the ‘grand principle of symmetry or economy’, ‘the rationality larger than the universe’ and the rationality was with God and the rationality was God.”

I believe Mr. Barrow is “not far from the Kingdom of God” (Mark 12:34).

But we must go farther than scientific hypotheses can take us. John goes on in verse 14 to tell us that the Word not only was the origin and originator of all things, but that the Word entered into and became part of the universe that He had created. “And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

And that’s what we celebrate at this season of the year.

Bill Ball

1 comment:

cbrent1963 said...

Thanks Bill, great thoughts.