I am not a scientist, but I do try to listen to scientists. When they make Genesis seem a sober account of how the universe began, I lose the Victorian idea of science as certainty, religion as speculation.
Take this paper as a start. It is fairly insubstantial, and can be scrunched up and made into a small lump – but wait till you have finished this article to do so. Paper consists of atoms and molecules which contain tiny electric charges, plus an awful lot of nothing at all. All matter is like this, so that if you now throw in the chair you are sitting in, plus yourself, the scrunched result would be invisible to the naked eye.
Now comes a more difficult bit. Throw in the furnishings of your house, the house itself, the road outside, the whole town, the county, the country, the world itself, and your lump will still not be big enough to see. Have courage, because if you then proceed to throw in the planets, the stars, and the galaxies you will find the task becoming easier: so much stuff exerts a colossal force of gravity and pulls things together. In the end you will just about begin to see it all as the size of a pinhead. That, at least, is what I understand scientists to be saying.
Apparently, in what we may like Genesis call the beginning, a tiny lump like this exploded outwards, driving everything at an immense speed.
Everything is still galloping outwards accordingly, as can be seen through a telescope.
Now I am going to quote words written by the Lady Julian of Norwich five hundred years ago, and spotted by Alec Guinness who quotes them in his book Blessings in Disguise: ‘Our Lord…showed me a little thing, the quantity of a hazelnut, in the palm of my hand, and it was as round as a ball. I thought there upon with the eye of my understanding, and thought, what may this be? And it was generally answered thus: It is all that is made.’
Never tell me science and religion are far apart.