I love stars and pictures of galaxies and of the universe. I find it incredibly beautiful. Always have. In fact, for the majority of my early teen years, I wanted to be an astronaut. And going into space is still at the top of my bucket list.
To say that the universe is big is an understatement. But there are 2 factors of the universe that are part of the arguments for the existence of God, which I will cover in this blog series.
The first argument for the existence of God that I want to cover is the very existence of the universe itself. For a long time, theologists have said that the universe had a beginning, while scientists said that the universe was eternal. Then at the turn of the 20th century, evidence started to come in that the universe did indeed have a beginning. There are now multiple points of evidence for a beginning of the universe:
- Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity
- The cosmological red shift, which gave evidence that the universe is expanding.
- The cosmic microwave background radiation.
- The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics. The amount of universal activity (galaxies, quasars, collisions) was more active in the past than it is now.
- The cosmic abundance of Hydrogen and Helium
- Dark Energy
So science confirms that the universe had a beginning. But this was pointed to by mathematics even before the scientific evidence when one understands the impossibility of infinite regress. J. Warner Wallace has a quick summation on most of these points in his blog Why We Know Our Universe, And Everything In It, Had A Beginning. Here’s a quote from that blog the gives a great, short explanation of the impossibility of infinite regress
Imagine a linear race track with a start and finish line. Now imagine you’re a new police recruit and I’ve asked you to put on your track shoes and step into the starting blocks for a physical training (PT) test. The finish line is one hundred yards away. As you place your feet in the blocks and prepare to run, I raise the starting pistol. Just before I fire it, however, I stop and tell you to move the start line and blocks back six inches. You reluctantly do that. Again I raise the pistol to the sky—only to command you, once again, to move the line back six inches. You grudgingly comply. Imagine this continues. Question: Will you ever reach the finish line? No. Unless there is a beginning, you’ll never get to the finish. In a similar way, time also requires a beginning in order for any of us to reach a finish; unless time has a beginning, we cannot arrive at the finish line we call “today.”
How does the beginning of the universe point to the existence of God? Consider the Kalam Cosmological Argument, as made famous by Dr. William Lane Craig:
- Everything that begins to exist has a cause
- The universe began to exist
- Therefore, the universe had a cause.
Science has established point #2. Think about point #1. “Everything begins to exist has a cause.” Another way to look at it is “For everything that begins to exist, science has observed to have a cause.” Have you ever seen something come into being uncaused from nothing? Dr. Craig explains this in his book On Guard: Defending Your Faith with Reason and Precision.
Something cannot come from nothing. To claim that something can come into being from nothing is worse than magic. When a magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat, at least you’ve got the magician, not to mention the hat! But if you deny premise 1, you’ve got to think that the whole universe just appeared at some point in the past for no reason whatsoever. But nobody sincerely believes that things, say, a horse or an Eskimo village, can just pop into being without a cause.
If something can come into being from nothing, then it becomes inexplicable why just anything or everything doesn’t come into being from nothing. Think about it: Why don’t bicycles and Beethoven and root beer just pop into being from nothing? Why is it only universes that can come into being from nothing? What makes nothingness so discriminatory? There can’t be anything about nothingness that favors universes, for nothingness doesn’t have any properties. Nor can anything constrain nothingness, for there isn’t anything to be constrained!
A common response here would be, “Well, what caused God?” But Premise 1 doesn’t say, “Everything that exists has a cause.” Rather, it says, “Everything that begins to exist has a cause.” God is uncaused. He is eternal. He is the first cause. As Dr. Craig puts it:
Something that is eternal wouldn’t need a cause, since it never came into being…This is not special pleading for God, since this is exactly what the atheist has traditionally said about the universe: It is eternal and uncaused. The problem is that we have good evidence that the universe is not eternal but had a beginning, and so the atheist is backed into the corner of saying the universe sprang into being without a cause, which is absurd.
Therefore, the universe had a cause. Now this cause cannot be inside the universe because everything in the universe came into being with the beginning of the universe. All space, time, and matter began when the universe began.
So if premise 1 and 2 are correct, then it logically follows that premise 3, “Therefore, the universe has a cause” is also correct.
Some will say that the universe created itself, but this would be impossible. In order to create itself, the universe would have to already exist. As J Warner Wallace sums up in his book God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe:
The Standard Cosmological Model accepted by physicists today is grounded on the foundational premise that our universe came into being from something beyond the space, time, matter, and evergy of our universe.
Dr. Craig elaborates on Premise 3:
The cause of the universe must therefore be a transcendent cause beyond the universe. This cause must be itself uncaused because we’ve seen that an infinite series of causes is impossible. It is therefore the Uncaused First Cause. It must transcend space and time, since it created space and time. Therefore, it must be immaterial and nonphysical. It must be unimaginably powerful, since it created all matter and energy.
Finally, it must be a personal being…with freedom of the will. His creating the universe is a free act that is independent of any prior conditions. So his act of creating can be something spontaneous and new. Thus, we’re brought not merely to a trascendent cause of the universe but to its Personal Creator.
Any being that has these properties is entitled to be called God.
The kalam cosmological argument thus gives us powerful grounds for believing in the existence of a beginningless, uncaused, timeless, spaceless, changeless, immaterial, enormously powerful Personal Creator of the universe.
Astronomer and planetary physicist, Robert Jastrow, who was a leading NASA scientist, says this:
“For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance, he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”