Some-thing Doesn’t Come From No-thing
by PastorErick | 8/8/17, 9:43 AM
Yes the title directly above this line essentially spells out the thrust of this argument for God’s existence- it’s that simple. Chances are you’ve either used this line of defense in talking to people about why you believe in God or why you think unbelief in God doesn’t make sense. And you know what? Using this argument places you in good company: Plato, Aristotle, the Apostle Paul, Augustine, Thomas Aquinas, Anselm, the brightest Muslim thinkers of the medieval period (al-farabi and Avicenna) and the Jewish thinker Moses Maimonides all used this very obvious line of reasoning. To state the argument in formal terms, listen to Norman Geisler’s basic breakdown:
- The universe had a beginning
- Anything that has a beginning must have been caused by something else.
- Therefore, the universe was caused by something else, and this cause was God.
Now let’s take a brief moment to examine each of the claims made above:
Did the universe have a beginning? Of course the Bible tells us it did (Genesis 1, Romans 1), but is there evidence from science to support such a claim? Absolutely. As a matter of fact, the vast majority of scientists nearly all agree that this universe has not always existed, but actually had a starting point. Consider this from Stephen Hawking (no believer himself):
Almost everyone now believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the Big Bang.
Frances Collins (a Christian), leader of the Human Genome Project explained it well in his book The Language of God:
We have this very solid conclusion that the universe had an origin, the Big Bang. Fifteen billion years ago, the universe began with an unimaginably bright flash of energy from an infinitesimally small point. That implies that before that, there was nothing. I can’t imagine how nature, in this case the universe, could have created itself. And the very fact that the universe had a beginning implies that someone was able to begin it. And it seems to me that had to be outside of nature.
(The preceding quotes taken from Tim Keller's Reason for God, pg. 128)
This leads to the second claim of the argument which states that “anything that has a beginning must have been caused by something else.” We know this intuitively so it doesn’t take much to make the case. Frogs don’t just spontaneously appear; rocks don’t just pop out of thin air, but are formed over many years by previously existent material. Nothing that exists spontaneously came into existence; it came into effect from a previous cause.
So then, the third claim: The universe was caused by something else, and this cause was God.
In response to this last point, many atheists have rightly pointed out that even if the logic leads us to believe that Something had to have created the universe, this in no way tells us that it is the Christian God, or for that matter, any other god worshipped on the planet today. This is true. The argument stated above does not really tell us much specific about the Creator except that He is outside space/time as we know it and is immensely powerful. But that’s sort of the point at this level of argumentation- it’s merely to show the plausibility of a Creator as opposed to none at all.
So what are some alternatives to this form of the Cosmological argument? There may be more, but I can think of three right now off the top of my head:
- The universe is eternal- This was the view held by Carl Sagan and others throughout history that have sought to deny the necessity of God to explain the world’s existence. However, between the 2nd law of thermodynamics (which states the universe is running out of usable energy) and the discovery of the Big Bang, virtually no one holds to the idea of an infinite universe anymore. Besides, there are HUGE philosophical problems with the whole idea of an infinite universe that I don’t have time to go into here (here’s a link to a discussion about the philosophical problem of “actual infinites” if you want more info)
- The universe we’re in is one of many, many other universes- Who knows? There is quite a bit of work in scientific theory right now that suggests it could be a possibility. However, this idea really does nothing to effect the basic argument laid out above. Even if there were a billion other universes, the same problems would need to be dealt with. Actual infinites can’t occur and at some point there was a beginning.
- Alien life started our universe/planet- Yes, this is a real idea floated out there by some. Besides the fact that there still isn’t any evidence of alien life that we know of, it still doesn’t deal with the force of the argument above: If something began to exist (even aliens), Something without a beginning must have made them exist.
So there’s a very basic rundown of the argument from Creation. Much more could be written about this, but for today this should suffice. Next week, we’ll tackle the argument from Design.
- 31 - Reasons for Faith in the Bible Part I: Jesus Said So
- 24 - Reasons For Faith In Jesus’ Resurrection Part V: The Uniqueness of the Resurrection
- 17 - Reasons For Faith In Jesus’ Resurrection Part IV: The External Evidence
- 10 - Reasons For Faith In Jesus’ Resurrection Part III: The Birth, Rapid Expansion and Martyrdom Of The Early Church
- 03 - Reasons for (Christian) Faith Part II: The Counterproductive Gospel