If We Believe in the Big Bang, Should We Still Rest on the Sabbath?

Q: If we believe and can prove the “Big Bang,” then what do we make of ideas that God created the seventh day for rest? Should we still rest?

The creation stories in the Old Testament weren’t written as science textbooks trying to explain the literal origin of the world. They were “etiological stories” written as a way to grapple with philosophical questions such as “Why are we here? What kind of a being or God created this world? What is our relationship to the rest of the material world?” As such, we can hold a scientific belief in the Big Bang while still holding the values taught in Genesis. In this case, we can continue to “honor the Sabbath” by intentionally taking rest one day a week because of the inherent value in the practice.

Taking time to rest reminds us that we are limited human beings – not machines meant for full-time productivity. It reminds us that we are not God, and the world will continue to turn even if we take a break. (An admission that is quite humbling to many of us who think so much is dependent on our work.) Resting helps us put our work into perspective by reminding us that we are called to be human ‘beings’ not human ‘doings.’ It allows for recreation, creativity, spontaneity, and refreshment which we may not make time for otherwise. It encourages us to make more time for the people and relationships in our lives. We might learn from Orthodox Jews who very carefully guard their Sabbath days, using their non-work time for connecting with their families, nourishing their spiritual lives with reading, scripture study, and prayer, making love to their spouses, and taking naps.
If you aren’t in the habit of honoring the Sabbath, give it a try. You’ll find that what has been good for Jews and Christians for 2,500 years will be good for you.

Ann Naffziger is a scripture instructor and spiritual director in the San Francisco Bay area. She has has written articles on spirituality and theology for various national magazines and edited several books on the Hebrew Scriptures.