For 38 years we have been discussing the implications of what is known about cosmology to the existence of God. In those 38 years, there has been an amazing volume of scientific discovery, and each new find has enhanced and supported what we have been presenting. When the author of the famous 19th Psalm said "The heavens declare the glory of God," he was undoubtedly looking at a very clear sky full of mysterious things that he did not understand, but he saw the beauty, the complexity, and the vastness of the things he did see and his statement went far beyond any poetic purpose he may have had. As scientists wrestle with the newest discoveries in cosmology, they propose theories and attempt to suggest observations which can test their theories. This is how science operates. Most of the time the theories fail the tests of observation, and the theory is discarded. Unfortunately, many times authors in popular journals and atheists' publications catch the theories, but not their demise. Even more unfortunate is the fact that many times the proposed theories do not contradict the apologetic argument for the existence of God, and are thus presented as bogus arguments for atheism.
The Beginning. The first point that we have made in our cosmological argument for the existence of God is that the evidence supports the fact that there was a beginning. The Bible states that in its opening words "In the beginning...." Atheism generally finds it difficult to accept the fact that there was a beginning. The basic problem is that if you admit there was a beginning, then you have to deal with cause. It is simpler and easier to simply deny that there was a beginning, and then the cause issue is avoided. We will point out the problem with the cause question later in this essay, but maintaining that the cosmos is eternal in one way or another has been a favorite theme of most atheist writers. In the middle of the twentieth century, people were talking about a steady state universe in which matter/energy just recycled over and over. Carl Sagan popularized an oscillating eternal universe in his famous Cosmos series and even invoked Hinduism as a vehicle to understand such a cosmological view. In recent years we have had proposals of parallel universes with an infinite number of universes each having its own set of laws and properties and therefore its own cosmology. All of these proposals are really irrelevant to the biblical concept of there being a beginning, since the question of what the beginning was remains unanswered. Was it the beginning of the earth, of man's existence, of our galaxy, or something else? If parallel universes, super strings, branes or any of the other modern theories become popular among scientists it will not affect the statement of Genesis 1:1. It is a relevant question for our cosmological argument for the existence of God however.
The evidence that the cosmos had a beginning from science is extensive. In short, three strands of that evidence are:
1) The cosmos is expanding, and it is accelerating in that expansion. Whether that acceleration is a function of the shape of space, or whether there is some unknown energy causing the expansion has not been answered at this time. It may be that gravity can repel as well as attract--just as electric charges can. All of these processes however, suggest that the creative process of bringing time, space, and energy into existence determined the expansion and acceleration. Nothing about it would suggest that it is repetitive.
2) The energy process of the cosmos demands fuel depletion. It is easy to show that the initial creation of the cosmos involved essentially infinite temperatures. The formation of the building blocks of matter from quarks has considerable support, and ends up with a proton and an electron being the rest mass particles that culminated from the infinitely hot early cosmos. An electron orbiting a proton is a hydrogen atom, and hydrogen is the building block of stars and all that stars produce--heavy elements, planets, comets, asteroids, nebulae, black holes etc. We understand fusion pretty well, and we can duplicate the production of heavier elements from hydrogen in our particle accelerators. There is no process that can produce hydrogen in nature, so it is the fuel that started and continues to power the cosmos. The fact that we still have massive amounts of hydrogen in the cosmos is an indication that there was a beginning, or the fuel would have already run out.
3) Heat death involves a law of physics--the second law of thermodynamics which states that in a closed system things tend to move toward a state of disorder. It is the second law that allows diffusion and other essential processes to our physical survival. It is the second law which causes us to grow old. Not only does the second law explain aging in humans, but also aging in stars and in matter itself. The cosmos is aging, and everything is moving toward a time when the entire cosmos will be at the same temperature and no available energy will exist. This heat death is true because of the fact that the cosmos by definition is a closed system. Carl Sagan was fond of saying "The cosmos is everything that was or is or ever will be," and that is the classic definition of a completely closed system. If there was no beginning, the cosmos would already be in heat death. We have no evidence of energy being added to the cosmos, and theories that try to explain how that is possible are frequently creative, but devoid of evidence.
There are other arguments that can be given for the fact that there was a beginning, but evading these three by proposing systems for which we have no evidence is an evasion. We see no evidence or support for the idea that we are connected to some other system that allows matter/energy to circulate between the systems. Suggesting that black holes are connected to white holes by worm holes allowing transitions between parallel universes is creative, and can give us wonderful science fiction stories, but we observe no white holes, and theorists tell us that there are all kinds of technical problems with the models like this that have been proposed.
The bottom line remains that every evidence we have supports the fact that there was a beginning. That does not mean that the beginning was God necessarily. Atheists are quick to point out that there are other options other than God that might explain the beginning of space, time, and energy and we agree. That is why we need to move to the next step in the logic of cosmologically arguing for the existence of God.
Cause. In the Bible the second and third words in Genesis 1 are "God created." The Hebrew word used for God is the word Elohim, a word that was used when the power and majesty of God were being emphasized. It is used with the word "bara" translated created. This word is used only in reference to something God can do, never to something that man can do. The Bible clearly states that the beginning was caused and maintains that the cause was God.
What is the choice that we must embrace if we accept the notion that the cosmos is uncaused? If the cosmos had a beginning and yet is uncaused, then something had to come into existence from nothing! That is not a possibility scientifically, because it violates all conservation laws of science. All of us know from our earliest science classes that conservation laws underlie all of science. The conservation of matter/energy, angular momentum, electric charge, baryon number, and on and on, are all connected to the conservation laws of science. You cannot have a beginning and still talk about something before the beginning unless your concept of the beginning is restricted in some way. In this case, the discussion is about the cosmos--a three-dimensional entity that exists in time and space. If something caused the beginning it would have to be something outside of time and space. That does not mean that God is the answer. In recent years quantum mechanics and nuclear science have shown us that there are many things that exist outside of time and space. Knowing that there is a cause does not automatically mean that the cause is God.
The answer to this question lies in what the nature of the cause has to be. An atheist is constrained to believe that the cause has to be something that is mindless and mechanical that lies outside of space and time and can intersect our physical world. The term "tachyon" has been used in the past to describe such an entity. The notion is that these multidimensional particles or energies come together in some way that conforms to the laws of the dimensions in which they exist, and cause things to happen that result in the three-dimensional world in which we exist. Since these energies and forces that exist outside of space and time are by nature mindless, their interactions would be random and many three-dimensional worlds would exist. This is the basis of much of what is seen in everything from National Geographic to Scientific American as multiple or parallel universes. Trying to come up with a way of testing this hypothesis is a challenge that many cosmologists are trying to meet, but by its nature any test would be vulnerable to a myriad of assumptions and problems of observation.
The first response that has to be made to such esoteric explanations is that if there are laws in these higher dimensions, such laws would have come from a mind. Our Supreme Court justices are supposed to be people of intelligence who make decisions about laws that benefit the people who live under those laws. The very fact that there is a law of any kind means that there has to be a mind to give that law. As long as a system operates on the basis of a complex series of laws, blind chance is a poor option to choose.
More to the point is the fact that in the case of the physical cosmos, there is a mountain of evidence that blind mechanistic chance is not the origin of the cause, but rather there is an intelligence that operates as the causer.
The Causer--The Designer. Those of us who have taken and taught courses in quantum mechanics, nuclear physics, and relativity can tell you that these are challenging concepts. Sometimes a concept, like special relativity, is really easy to understand but extremely difficult to believe. The idea that time is relative and that it changes with the observer is very simple, but to actually believe it happens is hard. The equations that describe these things are not hard to derive, but the genius of Einstein and the others who originally thought them out speak of a very special intelligence just to describe what we can now see experimentally is true. To set these things in motion and to make them work to produce a stable sustained universe is something that demands a far greater intelligence. Einstein said it well when he said "the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection."
On a simpler level, we can look around us and see evidence of planning and design everywhere we look. It is difficult to take a class in chemistry or physics and not be astounded at the wisdom and design seen in every aspect of the functioning of inanimate matter. In a year of teaching general basic physics, I always found myself at the end of the school year frustrated because there were so many laws and principles that I had not had a chance to show my students. In the past 50 years, scientists of all kinds of religious and philosophical backgrounds have sought to apply statistics to these laws to see if it is reasonable to believe that they could be the product of blind mechanistic chance. Atheists like Francis Crick, the discoverer of the helical structure of DNA, have come to the same conclusion as scientists like Francis Schaeffer who believes in God. The statistics show probabilities that rule out the possibility of chance being the cause of the beginning. Crick solves this by proposing that aliens did the designing, which really just pushes the question one level back. Atheists like Antony Flew have admitted there has to be an intelligence, but deny it is God. The point is that it is clear that blind chance cannot be the cause.
If you widen your concept of design to include things beyond the physical world, your answer will also become wider and better. It is not just neutrinos and Schroedinger's cat from quantum mechanics that speak of design at all levels of the world in which we live, it is also the guidance that we need to live our lives in the most fulfilling and most productive way. Basing how you treat people on the basis of natural selection or any chance criteria does not work. There is a need for us to have a proven constant way of living our lives, and the teachings of Jesus Christ do that. Religion is not the answer, but the beautiful truths of the teachings of Christ is. It not only answers the question of what the cause of the beginning was, but it also tells us how to live successfully in this physical world and what our purpose in existing is all about. "Love your enemy, turn the other cheek as much as it depends upon you, live at peace with all men" flows over with wisdom beyond that of man, and offers the potential for the best that this physical world could ever offer, with the hope of an even better existence beyond this dimension in which we now live. (See Matthew 5-7).
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