Is the universe evolving?
The discovery made by Vesto Slipher in 1912 revolutionized our view of the universe. He observed that the light coming from other galaxies is not white but has a reddish hue to it; he had discovered what is known as galactic redshift. The implication was clear - in like manner to which the pitch of a train whistle suddenly drops as it rushes past and away from an observer the "pitch" of light shifts towards red as its source moves away from the earth. (If the light were bluish, it would indicate movement towards us.) Astronomers were sobered when they realized that every galaxy they looked at was moving away from us. How can that be? Amazement turned to near disbelief when Edwin Hubble (top) announced in 1917 that the degree of shift towards red varied in direct proportion to the distance of the glowing galaxy from us. More distant galaxies shone redder! Although even today the orthodox interpretation of this phenomenon has its detractors, the conclusion seems inescapable that the universe is expanding. It's bigger today than it was yesterday, and it's much, much bigger now than it was billions of years ago. In theory, if you could turn the clock back far enough you would reach a point when the universe was. well. a point. In short, the universe is constantly changing.
Add to this basic fact numerous other astronomical observations, such as that stars eventually run out of fuel and die, either in a cosmic explosion of awesome proportions (a supernova) or in a whimpering fizzle, we are forced to conclude that the universe is not only changing constantly but it is changing dramatically and radically. Can we say, then, that the universe is "evolving"? If you take "evolve" as a synonym for "change, then no other answer can be given to that question than, "Yes". But just a minute. Does that in any way prove, or even support, the proposition that the universe created itself or, if you prefer Stephen Hawking's way of putting it, that the laws of physics created it and that it's growing "bigger and better"? Of course not - no more than the development of a human being from a fertilized egg supports the notion that we are descended from primordial slime by a process of mutation and natural selection.
The universe is changing day by day. Call it "evolution" if you will, but dubbing it as such has no bearing whatsoever on how it came to be and what is making it change. Consider an entirely different model from the standard model of "an evolving universe":
You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They will perish, but You remain; and they will all grow old like a garment; like a cloak You will fold them up, and they will be changed (Heb. 1:10-12).
Probably few cosmologists would care to admit it, but this passage from the 1900-hundred-year-old book of Hebrews, quoting largely from the even older book of Isaiah (51:6), revealed a staggering cosmological insight almost two thousand years before Edwin Hubble gave birth to the modern cosmological concept of an evolving universe. This passage speaks of a changing universe! But please note the model of change given here. Rather than being described as "evolution" in terms of blossoming, improving, increasing in order, and so forth, its changeableness is put in terms of ageing, growing old, to the point of being folded up like a crumpled, threadbare rag and disposed of. Same facts being explained, but explained in a totally different way.
Though the focus in the Genesis account of creation is on planet earth rather than on the universe as a whole, the account certainly reads as if the universe, too, was created in stages over time. The Old Testament in other places speaks of God "stretching out" the heavens (see, for example, Psalm 104:2 and Isaiah 42:5), a clear picture of a dynamic, not static, method of creation. Would it be accurate to say that the instant creation week came to an end the universe went from being a universe in progress to a universe in decline? Probably. By analogy, a fetus developing in the womb could be loosely described as in the process of coming into being, after which, at birth, the person begins a process of maturing, ageing and decline. Funny. I've never once in my long life heard anybody describe individuals as "evolving" (except metaphorically) over the course of their lifetime. We speaking of growing up and growing old. Why don't we do the same with the universe?