A Defense for the Beginning of the Universe and the Existence of God

 

“This most beautiful system of the sun, planets and comets, could only proceed from the counsel and dominion of an intelligent and powerful Being.” – Isaac Newton

 For centuries, philosophers and scientists alike, have postulated that the universe existed eternally and is uncaused. The original idea is that the universe just existed necessarily and is infinite. However, this assertion is unlikely because the universe being infinite is illogical. For example, if the universe never began to exist and existed eternally, that means that the number of past events in the history of the universe are infinite. Having an actual infinite number of past events or things leads to self-contradictions. One such example of this is what is infinity minus infinity? Mathematically, one is left with self-contradictions. David Hilbert, one of the greatest mathematicians in the twentieth-century, observes that “The infinite is nowhere to be found in reality. It neither exists in nature nor provides a legitimate basis for rational thought. The role that remains for the infinite to play is solely that of an idea.” Ultimately, this would entail that the past events are not just ideals. They are real and finite which would lead to the philosophical conclusion that the universe is finite.

In addition, science and modern cosmology suggests that the universe is not eternal, but rather, finite. The first major scientific inquiry that suggested this was Einstein’s theory of General Relativity. Einstein original hopes were that his theory would prove a universe was self-existent, function independently, but most importantly, a universe that was infinite. However, his theory would, ironically enough, show a finite universe. Einstein later wrote, “Philosophically the notion of a beginning of the present order of nature is repugnant to me… I should like to find a genuine loophole.” 

However, Einstein’s peers such as Alexander Friedman and George Lemaitre, who found independent of Einstein’s theory, concluded that the universe was finite. Not only that, but the discovery of the Law of Entropy (commonly known as the Second Law of Thermodynamics), stated that nature tends to bring things disorder and with time, things naturally fall apart. But this also begs the question of where the natural order originated from? As Astronomer Robert Jastrow likens the universe as if it were a wind up clock running down.If its running down, then someone or something must have wounded it up.

Einstein’s desperate hopes for a loophole ultimately failed and finally he came to grips with the conclusion of his theory. Einstein wrote that the cosmological constant was “the greatest blunder of my life,” and described his theory of General Relativity as “irritating.”The general view of the universe being infinite defies logic and science. Secular naturalists, like Einstein, had to come to terms with this. As Alex Velkin notes, “…There is no escape, they [atheists] have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.” The prevailing theory accepted by the scientists and cosmologists today is the Big Bang Theory. The Big Bang occurred 13 billion years ago. The event was a huge cosmic event, where all energy, matter, time, and space, and the universe itself, came into existence. As P.C.W. Davies describes “the coming into being of the universe, as discussed in modern science . . . is not just a matter of imposing some sort of organization . . . upon a previous incoherent state, but literally the coming-into-being of all physical things from nothing.” This is also echoed by Victor Stenger, an atheist physicist at University of Hawaii, where he has stated that “the universe exploded out of nothingness.” The grave implication of the Big Bang is the atheist is force to believe that the universe came into existence from nothing and by nothing.

This leads into my first argument for the existence of God which is the Cosmological Argument. Here I will be utilizing a deductive argument in the form of logical syllogism. The one I used was originally created by Gottfried Wihelm Leibniz in the late 17th and early 18th century. This particular formula is used by contemporary philosopher and theologian, Dr. William Lane Craig. It is summarized as follows:

(1). Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

(2). The universe began to exist.

(3). Therefore, the universe has a cause.

(1) Is necessarily true because of the Laws of Causality. Everything that begins to exists has a cause, events do not happen without a case. For example, when driving a car, another car on the road does not pop from nothingness and begins to exist. That is obviously not the case because the car was manufactured and built. Nothing pops into existence from nothing. Even the great skeptic David Hume stated that “I never asserted so absurd a proposition as that something could arise without a cause.” It is fallacious to think that (1) is false considering things do not exist infinitely or coming into being without a cause. In addition, there are good reasons to think (2) is true. As I previously stated, there are numerous philosophical and scientific evidence of the Big Bang which points to a finite universe. If both (1) and (2) are true, then it therefore follows that (3) is true. The universe must have a cause.

This leads into the argument from contingency. Essentially, there must be an explanation for what caused the universe. Again using the model presented by William Lane Craig, it is summarized as follows:

(1). Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.

(2). If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.

(3). The universe exists.

(4). Therefore, the universe has an explanation of its existence (from 1, 3).

(5). Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God (from 2, 4).

Whatever caused the universe to exist does is confined in space because prior to the Big Bang, there was no space, the universe was created ex-nihilo (this means from or out of nothing). Moreover, the cause is not bound by temporal time because it never began to exist. In other words, the cause of the universe must have existed eternally. Also, the cause cannot be material because prior to the Big Bang, matter could have not existed because matter came into being after the Big Bang occurred. Finally, the cause must be sovereign and extremely powerful because it brought matter and space into existence ex-nihilo.

It begs the question–what is the cause for universe? William Lane Craig argues that only two non-material realities could cause the Big Bang. He argues that only “Abstract objects, like numbers, set and mathematical relations…[or] an unembodied mind.” Craig notes that abstract objects, such as numbers, cannot affect nature. He argues for the latter, that the cause of the universe was by an intelligent and or agent. In thus follows from the argument of contingency, there exists a Personal Creator of the universe (5). This Creator is timeless, spaceless, eternal, changeless, exists necessarily, uncaused, and enormously powerful. It falls perfectly align with the Juedo-Christian belief of the Genesis narrative that the universe began to exists (Genesis 1:1-3).

Proponents of the Cosmological Argument, such as Dr. Craig, are not without critics. One of the main weaknesses of the Cosmological Argument is that it needs an explanation for God. secular naturalists have pointed this out, most notably, Richard Dawkins (notably in his famous book God Delusion). Dawkins outlines this in his third premise of his central argument for atheism. Here is his main argument for naturalism in God Delusion:

1. One of the greatest challenges to the human intellect has been to explain how the complex, improbable appearance of design in the universe arises.

2. The natural temptation is to attribute the appearance of design to actual design itself.

3. The temptation is a false one because the designer hypothesis immediately raises the larger problem of who designed the designer.

4. The most ingenious and powerful explanation is Darwinism evolution by natural selection and we don’t have an equivalent explanation for physics.

5. We should not give up the hope of a better explanation arising in physics, something as powerful as Darwinism is for biology.

[Conclusion:] God almost certainly does not exist.

I will briefly discuss one of the main problems with Dawkins’s argumentation. For one thing, even if one were to grant all of Dawkins’s premises to be true, it still would not logically follow that God almost certainly does not exist. Some of these premises like (1) and (5) for example, are asserting ignorance and do nothing to provide positive arguments for naturalism. Kai Nielsen, an atheist philosopher, explains that “To show that an argument is invalid or unsound is not to show that the conclusion of the argument is false…All the proofs of God’s existence may fail, but it still may be the case that God exists. In short, to show that the proofs do not work is not enough by itself. It may still be the case that God exists.” In other words, it is not enough to provide negative counter-arguments against the ‘proofs‘ or arguments for the existence of God. Even if these arguments for theism fail, they still can be true. Therefore, if one uses negative arguments, they must also supply positive arguments that the natural world is all there is and we are absent of a supernatural entity or deity. In this case, Dawkins fails in providing positive arguments for naturalism and it cannot logically follow from (1) and (5) that almost certainly God does not exist.

Another problem is with (3). The one premise specifically pertains to the cosmological argument is (3), which stipulates, “The temptation is a false one because the designer hypothesis immediately raises the larger problem of who designed the designer?” This is Dawkins’s supposed knock down argument against theism. The problem with (3) is in natural science, you do not need an explanation for the explanation. As a result, the question of who designed the designer leads into an infinite regress. This is where one needs an additional explanation for that explanation and the result is one gets an infinite amount of explanations. The consequence of this is one cannot explain anything and thus science is destroyed because one would be unable to explain anything. Also, by definition God is uncaused. He exists eternally and necessarily which would make sense because one of the requirements for the Big Bang to take place is an eternal, immaterial, transcendent mind. Rightly so, Quentin Smith, who is an eminent philosopher and an atheist, has called Dawkins’s argument “the worst atheistic argument in the history of Western thought.”

Some secular naturalists have accepted the first two premises of the Cosmological Argument. The prominent secular naturalist, Daniel Dennett, accepts that whatever begins to exists has a cause and that the universe began to exists. However, Dennett contends that the universe caused itself. He describes it as the “ultimate boot-strapping trick.” Dennett’s theory of the universe creating itself is absurd because how can something create itself? He hopelessly contradicts himself. William Lane Craig responds to Dennett’s “boot-strapping trick”:

Dennett’s view is plainly nonsense. Notice that he’s not saying that the universe is self-caused in the sense that it has always existed. No, Dennett agrees that the universe had an absolute beginning but claims that the universe brought itself into being. But this is clearly impossible, for in order to create itself, the universe would have to al ready exist. It would have to exist before it existed! Dennett’s view is thus logically incoherent. The cause of the universe must therefore be a transcendent cause beyond the universe.

Other theories such as the multiverse, singular string theories, and others cannot be conclusively proven and even if they were, these world-views inevitably requires a cause because all they do is reset the starting point of the universe. The cosmological argument and its implications point to a supernatural cause to the universe. It is one of the strongest arguments for the existence of God and for the world-view of theism.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Source:

 

 Bertrand Russell and F. C. Copleston, “The Existence of God,” in The Existence of God, ed. with an Introduction by John Hick, Problems of Philosophy Series (New York: Macmillan, 1964), p. 175.

 David Hilbert, “On the Infinite,” in Philosophy of Mathematics, ed. with an Introduction by Paul Benacerraf and Hillary Putnam (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1964), 139, 141.

 A. Einstein, “Cosmological Considerations on the General Theory of Relativity,” in The Principle of relativity, by A. Einstein, et. al., with Notes by A. Sommerfeld, trans. W. Perrett and J. B. Jefferey (rep. ed.: New York: Dover Publications, 1952), pp. 177-88; Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos, (Colorado Springs: NavPress: 1995), 57.

 A. Friedman, “On the curvature of space,” (Journal of Physics, 10: 1922): 377-86.; G. Lemaitre, “A homogeneous Universe of Constant Mass and Increasing Radius, Reporting on the Radial Velocity of Extragalactic Nebulae” (Annals of the Scientific Society of Brussels, 47: 1927), 49-59.

 Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers (New York: Norton, 1978), 48.

 Fred Heern, Show Me God, (Wheeling, Ill.: Daystar, 2000), 135.

 ABC Science Online, “The Big Questions: In the Beginning,” Interview of Paul Davies by Philp Adams, “http://aca.mq.edu.au/pdavies.html.” Retrieved 3-14-13.

 V.J. Stenger, “The Face of Chaos,” Free Inquiry 13 (Winter 1992-1993): 13.

 William Lane Craig, The New Atheism and Five Arguments for God, HYPERLINK “http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-new-atheism-and-five-arguments-for-god,” Retrieved 4/12/13.

 David Hume, in J.Y.T. Greig, ed., The Letters of David Hume, 2 Vols, (New York: Garland, 1983), 1:187.

 See page four for my argument for an absolute beginning of the universe in relation to premise (2).

 William Lane Craig, The New Atheism and Five Arguments for God, “http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-new-atheism-and-five-arguments-for-god” Retrieved 4/12/13.

 Craig, William Lane., and Quentin Smith. Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology, (Oxford England: Clarendon: 1993), 30.

 Ibid.

 Ibid.

 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” The Hebrew word used for beginning is bara which is translated as created out of nothing; John Sailhamer, Genesis Unbound: A Provocative New Look at the Creation Account (Multnomah Books, 1996). (Note: Sailhamer is an Old Testament scholar and was President of the Evangelical Theological Society in 2000. He holds an MA in Semitic Languages and a Ph.D. in Ancient Near East languages and literature.) He also holds a Master of Theology in Old Testament from Dallas Theological Seminary.)

 The premises to the argument also deal with the fine-tuning of the universe and this will be discussed in the teleological argument section of this essay; Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006), 157-158.

 Kai Nielsen, Reason and Practice (New York: Harper & Row, 1971), pp. 143-4. cited at: http://www.origins.org/articles/craig_tooley_3.html

 William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith, 3rd ed. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008), 157-79.

 See pg, 6.

 Quentin Smith, “The Wave Function of a Godless Universe,” in Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1993), 322.

 Daniel Dennett, Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon (New York: Viking, 2006), 244.

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