Is it pseudo-science to claim that scientific evidence demonstrates the existence of God? Does science give good reasons to believe that God exists? The only way to answer this question is to examine the evidence. Too often people are willing to use science to criticize religion, but then are unwilling to honestly consider an attempt to use science to give evidence for religion. Such a double standard is simply inconsistent. We must give up any a priori presuppositions that science can have nothing to do with religious faith (other than “disprove” it), and let the evidence speak for itself.
In this paper, we will examine an argument that has recently become very popular in answering the question I have posed with a yes—science does give us very good evidence for the existence of God. It is called the Kalam Cosmological argument. During the course of detailing the argument, we will also examine several objections to see if it can hold its weight. In the end, I hope it will be clear why I agree with the Christian apologists who find in the Cosmological argument a very strong case for God’s existence.
Before beginning, let me first remove a few possible misunderstandings. First, I am not out to deal with the red-herring religious disputes over the age of the earth–a belief in an old earth is perfectly consistent with an ordinary manner of interpreting the Bible.
Second, the Cosmological argument does not “propose some sort of creation science whereby God becomes a part of a scientific theory.” The role of science in the argument is simply to show that the universe had a beginning–which is religiously neutral. The questions raised by this are logical and philosophical in character, not scientific. Science need not deal with the religious implications of a beginning of the universe, but as human beings we must surely examine the questions raised by the scientific evidence that the universe has not always been here. The Cosmological argument applies here by, after examining the scientific evidence, taking a look at its meaningful ramifications; but it does not try and mold science to fit into a specific world-view.
Third, this argument does not claim to offer absolute proof for God’s existence. It is simply attempting to show that His existence is abundantly pointed to by the evidence. With this in mind, let us begin our investigation.
The Kalam Cosmological argument is really very simple:
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
4. Philosophical analysis reveals that this cause must be God.
5. Therefore, God exists.
If each premise is true, it is clear that the case for God’s existence has been established. So the task that we must place before ourselves is to answer the question, Are there good reasons to believe that each of these steps is true?
This premise does not require much defending. Christian philosopher William Lane Craig remarks that it is “so intuitively obvious that I think scarcely anyone could sincerely believe it to be false.” He later asks, “Does anyone in his right mind really believe that, say, a raging tiger could suddenly come into existence uncaused, out of nothing, in this room right now? The same applies to the universe: if prior to the existence of the universe, there was absolutely nothing — no God, no space, no time — how could the universe possibly have come to exist?”
There are two sets of arguments that the universe had a beginning. One set is philosophical and one is scientific. The philosophical argument has two different branches, both arguing for the impossibility of a universe that has always existed and never had a beginning. The scientific argument has five prongs. We will first take a brief look at the philosophical argument and then take an in-depth look at the scientific argument.
The philosophical argument for a beginning of the universe
The first branch of the philosophical argument is as follows:
1. The series of events in time is a collection formed by adding one member after another.
This is obvious, for “the past did not spring into being whole and entire but was formed sequentially, one event occurring after another,” as Craig puts it.
2. A collection formed by adding one member after another cannot be actually infinite.
This is because you can always add ONE MORE, but as long as you can add one more, it is not infinity. One might say that this is true only in finite time, but if there was an infinite amount of time this task could be accomplished. However, the problem has to do with the nature of an actual infinite itself, not how much time one has. The objection does not work because it simply postulates “one actual infinite to resolve problems with another actual infinite…but this merely shifts those problems from one actual infinite to another,” which begs the question. Even if one had been counting forever, it would still be impossible for him to finish writing down all of the negative numbers and ending at -1.
3. Therefore, the series of events in time cannot be actually infinite.
4. Therefore the universe had a beginning.
The second branch of the philosophical argument that the universe began to exist is that it is impossible for an actual infinity to exist in reality (potential infinities are possible, an example of which is simply being able to begin counting and then continue forever). However, if the universe had no beginning, then this would entail an actual infinity of past events. Since this is impossible, the universe must have had a beginning. Why can’t an actual infinity exist? This is because the existence of an actual infinity in reality would lead to irreconcilable contradictions. Mathematician David Hilbert has shown this very well in his thought experiment that came to be labeled “Hilbert’s Hotel.”
These two independently established philosophical arguments in themselves give a strong case for the beginning of the universe. But the Cosmological argument is able to be made even stronger. We will now turn to the scientific evidence for a beginning of the universe.
Scientific evidence for the beginning of the universe
Agnostic and internationally known scientist Robert Jastrow, in his book God and the Astronomers, lists “five independent lines of evidence” that the universe had a beginning. They are, “the motions of the galaxies, the discovery of the primordial fireball, the laws of thermodynamics, the abundance of helium in the Universe and the life story of the stars.” Those who argue for the Cosmological argument point to this evidence as well, but classify it somewhat differently. For our purposes, we will first look at the evidence for the Big Bang (supported by such things as the motions of galaxies, the discovery of the primordial fireball, and the abundance of helium) and how it points to a beginning of the universe. Then, we will examine some of the alternatives to the Big Bang model. Third, we will examine the implications of thermodynamics, and then briefly look at “the life story of the stars.”
Evidence for a beginning from the Big Bang
In 1929 astronomer Edwin Hubble discovered a red shift of light from distant galaxies, which meant that the galaxies were moving away from us. Furthermore, the speed at which the galaxies are moving away is proportional to their distance from us. This meant that the universe is expanding the same in all directions, which is what happens in an explosion. Growing evidence served to confirm Hubble’s’s conclusions, and also showed that at an earlier time in the universe galaxies were traveling away from each other at greater speeds than they are now. This meant that the universal expansion is actually slowing down from an initial, powerful “surge.” Therefore, modern science had further confirmation that the universe is not simply expanding, it is exploding.
According to Craig, “the staggering implication of this is that some point in the past the entire known universe was contracted down to a single mathematical point, from which it has been expanding ever since” and which also marks the origin of the universe.
Einstein’s general theory of relativity also gives good evidence for an expanding universe. His equations showed that if the universe’s density is lower than a certain amount (the critical density), the universe should be expanding with time. If the mass in the universe was greater than this amount, the universe would eventually stop expanding and fall together on itself. At first Einstein tried to avoid such conclusions about an expanding universe and added his famous “cosmological constant” for this purpose in his 1917 paper, “Cosmological Considerations on the General Theory of Relativity.” But in 1922 mathematician Alexander Friedmann found an error in Einstein’s attempt to establish that the universe was static, and showed that the universe must either be expanding or contracting. Astronomer William de Sitter, who worked independently of Friedmann five years before, also found that on the basis of Einstein’s equations the universe must be expanding. Later, Einstein admitted his error and called his cosmological constant “the greatest blunder of my life.”
George Lemaitre, the father of the Big Bang theory, and many other theorists such as George Gamow and Ralph Alpher, predicted that the heat from the big bang must still exist since it would have nowhere to escape (since there is nowhere “outside” the universe). Thus, if this radiation could be found, it would serve as overwhelming confirmation of the Big Bang.
In 1965 Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, two physicists at the AT&T Bell laboratories, discovered microwave background radiation of approximately 3 degrees Kelvin from every point in the sky–indicating that its source was the universe itself, not any part of the universe. This was the “primordial fireball”–the remnant of the Big Bang predicted by theorists. While critics dismissed Penzias and Wilson’s 1965 discovery as a failure because the measured temperature was lower than predicted (three degrees Kelvin as opposed to five), the significance of the discovery is that the radiation was there at all. And further analysis confirmed that the radiation was from the Big Bang, as it was found to match with “the pattern of intensities at different wavelengths and frequencies of radiation that matches the pattern of the radiation produced in an explosion.” In fact, the radiation was eventually found to match perfectly with the spectrum predicted for the cosmic explosion of the Big Bang. Additionally, the temperature was extremely even, evidencing a common origin. This is extraordinary evidence for the Big Bang–the evenness of the temperature, the conformity to blackbody radiation, and its emission from all parts of the universe.
But this background radiation also posed a big problem to theory. It appeared to be too smooth; it would have to be slightly rippled to account for a type of explosion that could produce galaxies. But a revolutionary discovery in 1992 solved this problem, when NASA’s COBE satellite team discovered the ripples in the cosmic background radiation predicted by the Big Bang theory.
Finally, the Big Bang theory predicts that the universe should contain about three-quarters hydrogen and one-quarter helium (and a small amount of the other elements). Observation of the stars has confirmed this prediction.
We have seen the overwhelming evidence for the Big Bang. This means that at, as we quoted Craig in saying earlier, at “some point in the past the entire known universe was contracted down to a single mathematical point [called a singularity’], from which it has been expanding ever since.” But the ramifications of this are not simply that the universe exploded a long time ago, but that the universe exploded into existence a finite time ago. Craig shows how this is drawn from the fact of the “single mathematical point” from which the universe exploded. He points out that as we trace the universe’s expansion back in time,
the universe becomes denser and denser until one reaches point of infinite density from which the universe began to expand…This event that marked the beginning of the universe becomes all the more amazing when one reflects on the fact that a state of `infinite density’ is synonymous to `nothing.’ [This is because] there can be no object that possesses infinite density, for if it had any size at all it could still be even more dense. Therefore, as Cambridge astronomer Fred Hoyle points out, the Big Bang Theory requires the creation of matter from nothing. This is because as one goes back in time, one reaches a point at which, in Hoyle’s words, the universe was shrunk down to nothing at all.'
In other words, the universe exploded from a mathematical point of infinite density. But since a state of infinite density is equivalent to nothing, this is equivalent to saying that the universe exploded into existence from nothing. But is it justified to say that a point of infinite density is “synonymous to nothing”? Secular physicist Barry Parker confirms that this singularity of infinite density would have zero dimensions. As Craig points out, this is because if it did have size it would be capable of increasing in its density, and thus would not be infinitely dense. Physicist Harold Fritzsch also points out that time and matter both cease to exist in singularities.
The implications of this are clear. Craig quotes “four of the world’s most famous astronomers” about how the Big Bang reveals a beginning to the universe: “The universe began from a state of infinite density….Space and time were created in that event and so was all the matter in the universe. It is not meaningful to ask what happened before the Big Bang; it is like asking what is north of the North Pole.”
So, according to the Big Bang theory, the universe did not simply start its expansion 15 billion years ago; space, time, and matter themselves sprang into existence at that time. British physicist P.C.W. Davies explains why this is so: “If we extrapolate this prediction to its extreme, we reach a point when all distances in the universe have shrunk to zero. An initial cosmological singularity therefore forms a past temporal extremity to the universe. We cannot continue physical reasoning or even the concept of space time, through such an extremity. For this reason most cosmologists think of the initial singularity as the beginning of the universe. On this view the big bang represents the creation event; the creation not only of all the matter and energy in the universe, but also of space time itself.”
Another pair of scientists has also concluded that “At this singularity, space and time came into existence; literally nothing existed before the singularity, and, if the Universe originated in such a singularity, we would truly have creation ex nihilio [out of nothing].”
Do alternative models disprove the Big Bang?
Christopher Isham has said: “Perhaps the best argument in favor of the thesis that the Big Bang supports theism is the obvious unease with which it is greeted by some atheist physicists. At times this has led to scientific ideas, such as continuous creation or an oscillating universe, being advanced with a tenacity which so exceeds their intrinsic worth that one can only suspect the operation of psychological forces lying very much deeper than the usual academic desire of a theorist to support his/her theory.”
Those who argue for the Cosmological argument are aware of scientific models other than the big bang. But the alternative models are not convincing; the best explanation seems to be the Big Bang. Most scientists agree that the other models fail, including Robert Jastrow. We will now look at the reasons scientists reject these other theories so that we do not simply need to take the authority of others.
The Steady State Modeldenies that the universe had a beginning, instead claiming that the universe has always existed in the same state. The average density of the universe remains constant because new matter continually comes into existence to counterbalance the expansion and fill the voids left by the retreating galaxies. Jastrow describes it this way: “such a world exists in a state of perpetual balance, forever expanding, forever ageing, and yet forever renewed.”
This theory, according to S.L. Jaki, never had “a single piece of experimental verification.” Jastrow points out that the steady state model was convincingly “refuted” by the 1965 discovery of the “cosmic fireball radiation” which points conclusively to an explosive beginning of the universe–a big bang. In the steady state model, this cosmic fireball could never have existed because in it the universe is supposed to be from eternity.
Additionally, this theory cannot account for “the fact that a count of galaxies emitting radio waves indicates that there were once more radio sources than there are today. Therefore, the universe is not in a steady state after all.” According to Jastrow, “adverse evidence has led to the abandonment of the Steady State theory by nearly everyone, leaving the Big Bang theory exposed as the only adequate explanation of the facts.”
The next model is the oscillating model. This is the theory that the universe is continually expanding, collapsing again, then expanding again, and repeating this cycle eternally. Craig brings out two “very well-known difficulties” with this theory. The first problem is that the oscillating model contradicts the known laws of physics. The late Yale professor Tinsley reports that “even though the mathematics says that the universe oscillates, there is no known physics to reverse the collapse and bounce back to a new expansion. The physics seem to say that those models start from the Big Bang, expand, collapse, then end.”
The second problem with the oscillating model is that the observational evidence contradicts it. Craig shows two pieces of this observation evidence which contradict the oscillating model. First, matter appears to be evenly distributed throughout the universe. There is no way for this to be on the oscillating model, because if the universe were to contract black holes would begin to suck everything up. “But when the universe (supposedly) rebounds from its contracting phase, there is no mechanism to `iron out’ these lumps and make the distribution smooth.”
Secondly, it appears as if “the force of the expansion is greater than the force of gravity so that the expansion will never stop but will just go on and on forever.” Density is the main factor in determining the strength of gravity. If the universe is expanding at a speed beyond the “escape velocity” that will allow it to overcome the force of gravity, then it will keep expanding forever. In order for the universe to re-contract, it must be expanding at a speed slower than the escape velocity. Craig points out in one of his articles that “recent work on calculating the speed and deceleration of the expansion confirms that the universe is expanding at, so to speak, `escape velocity’ and will not therefore re-contract.” Measurements indicate that there is not enough density in the universe to provide the gravity necessary to re-contract the universe.
Jastrow elaborates on how calculation of the rate of expansion reveals that there is not enough density to provide the gravity necessary for re-contraction. If the universe has slowed down a lot over the eons, then it indicates a high density that would be able to make the universe re-contract. But if the universe has only slowed down a little, it indicates that there is not a significantly high density to bring about re-contraction. Jastrow relates that the rate of expansion of the universe has not slowed down very much over the billions of years–the “Hubble age” is only slightly more than the “true age,” revealing only a slight decrease. The implications of this are that “there is a relatively low density of matter in the Universe”–a density level that is “not sufficient to halt the expansion” and make the universe recontract. This yields “the result that the Universe will expand forever.” This method seems to be highly accurate because it does not require the direct observation of matter, or even direct knowledge of the density of every form of matter (such as that of neutrinos), as it calculates the density from velocity instead.
Other forms of calculating the density of the universe confirm that there is not enough density to bring about re-contraction. Goldsmith points out that observational evidence indicates that the luminous matter in the universe amounts to less than 2 percent of the critical density needed for re-contraction. In a frantic search to account for this extra matter needed to provide the density for re-contraction, there are two theories of extra-ordinary, non-luminous matter posed to account for it.
The first theory is hot dark matter. This theory holds that subatomic particles such as neutrinos, which are not thought to have any mass, may have mass after all. This mass could perhaps bring us to the critical density. However, Fritzsch makes it clear that there is no good evidence that neutrinos have mass, and they have always behaved as if they do not have any mass. Further, if neutrinos had mass it would predict a large-scale structure of the universe that is inconsistent with observational evidence. Further, even if neutrinos did have mass, it would not be enough to bring the density up to the re-contraction point. According to Fritzsch, the mass of a neutrino would be between 1 and 30 eV, but a mass of 50 eV is needed for re-contraction.
The second theory is cold dark matter. This matter could only exist in intergalactic space, for otherwise it would “disrupt the measured motion of galaxies.” However, “the existence of vast amounts of exotic matter in intergalactic space is incompatible with the recent measurements by the COBE satellite of the primordial fluctuations in the microwave background radiation.” No one can find where this cold dark matter could come from; appealing to its existence to solve the problem therefore has no more basis than saying that the dragon in my garage is immaterial and invisible. Perhaps more astonishingly, Goldsmith points out that even if we were to add the mass of luminous and the alleged dark matter (either cold or hot) together, we would still have only about 5 percent of the critical density needed to re-contract. Craig quotes two scientists, Sandage and Tammann, as concluding: “Hence, we are forced to decide that…it seems inevitable that the universe will expand forever.”
Sandage and Tammann later relate their discovery that, based upon the observational evidence, it seems that even high density universes would be unable to re-contract. “Hence, the one certain conclusion is that in all models of either high or low density, …the Universe will not stop its expansion. This means it has happened only once. The creation event was unique.”
Quantum models are the remaining significant alternatives. The first of these are vacuum fluctuation models, which state that our universe is simply a “mini-universe” which sprang into existence from within the steady state of a much larger universes; likewise, there are probably many such “mini-universes” beyond our own which have sprung into existence. However, such models do not have a very wide following and have been abandoned by many of their originators. Craig details many problems with such theories, but the problem which is easiest to explain is that the vacuum fluctuation models have been shown to be contrary to observational cosmology. On the vacuum model, there is no way to tell exactly where a “fluctuation in the primordial vacuum will occur which will grow into a universe.” Such fluctuations could occur simply anywhere in space. Thus, throughout an infinite past history of time a universe will spring into existence at every point and, as they expand, they will collide with one another. We simply do not observe anything of the sort in nature.
Another set of Quantum models are the quantum gravity models. Perhaps that advocated by Stephen Hawking has drawn the most attention. “Hawking’s theory is based on assigning numbers to all possible universes. All of the numbers cancel out except for a universe with features our universe possesses. …This remaining universe has a certain probability very high–near a hundred percent–of coming into existence uncaused.” Hawking’s theory is consistent with evidence such as the expansion of the universe, the evenly-distributed matter on a large scales, the inflation near the beginning of the universe, and the COBE satellites discoveries.
Hawking’s theory claims that the universe need not have a cause because “the wave function of the universe implies there is a 95% probability that the universe came into existence uncaused.” It doesn’t need a cause because it comes into existence due to its natural, mathematical properties, not a supernatural force.
Hawking says of his view, “The quantum theory of gravity has opened up a new possibility, in which there would be no boundary to space time…There would be no singularities at which the laws of science broke down and no edge of space-time at which one would have to appeal to God or some new law to set the boundary conditions for space-time…The universe would be completely self-contained and not affected by anything outside itself. It would neither be created nor destroyed. It would just BE… What place, then, for a creator?”
Craig and others give a complicated and many faceted critique of this theory, but I will try and put it into the most concise and simple language that I can. The main problem is that Hawking’s theory only works with imaginary numbers. While imaginary numbers are fine to work with in equations, one learns in any advanced math class (I myself learned this in High School) that it is always necessary to convert the imaginary numbers back to real numbers in order to have a meaningful result that corresponds to reality. The fatal problem with Hawking’s use of imaginary numbers is that he does not re-convert them back to real numbers. When Hawking’s equations are actually taken through the necessary step of converting back to real numbers, his theory evaporates. As Hawking himself admits, “Only if we could picture the universe in terms of imaginary time would there be no singularities…when one goes back to the real time in which we live, however, there will still appear to be singularities [and thus the need for a beginning].” Hawking himself says that “in real time, the universe has a beginning.”
Second, Hawking’s concept of “imaginary time” is unintelligible. It makes no more sense than an imaginary elephant in my garage, or an imaginary volume of liquid. “Thus, Hawking does not really eliminate the singularity [and thus beginning of the universe]. He conceals it behind the physically unintelligible artifice of imaginary time.”
Third, Hawking’s use of imaginary numbers makes time a spatial dimension, “which is just bad metaphysics.” Space and time are necessarily different things–space being defined by a relation of betweenness, and time by a relation of earlier/later than. Time made out to be a dimension of space, as Hawking makes it, would thus cease to be time. Because of the commonality between Hawking’s model and all other quantum gravitational models, the critique given to Hawking applies to the other models as well.
Now that we have seen the fatal flaws in the alternative models, it should be even more clear that the Big Bang is very likely an accurate account of the universe’s origin. While this in itself makes the Cosmological argument very convincing, the case is made even stronger by giving thermodynamic confirmation for the beginning of the universe. This line of evidence is independent of the Big Bang theory and thus serves to greatly strengthen our case–in other words, even if the Big Bang theory was wrong, the evidence from thermodynamics would still stand.
The second law of thermodynamics indicates that a closed system will tend toward a state of maximum entropy. When we apply this to the universe as a whole, it means that the universe will eventually run down, and come to a state of thermal equilibrium. This is called heat death, and there are two forms of it.
A hot death would occur if the universe were to re-contract. We have already seen the evidence against this, but even if it were possible, black holes would suck up everything around them as the universe contracted. As the universe got even smaller, the black holes themselves would have to merge with one another. Thus, everything in the universe would finally coalesce into one large black hole from which it would never be able to re-emerge (since nothing can escape a black hole).
If the universe continues to expand forever, however, it will experience a cold death. This means that it will simply keep expanding until everything finally cools off and all matter attains thermal equilibrium. No change would ever be possible from this condition.
In light of this, Craig asks a potent question: “if given enough time the universe will reach a heat death, then why is it not in a state of heat death now, if it has existed forever, from eternity? If the universe did not begin to exist, then it should now be in a state of equilibrium.” In the words of theoretical physicist Paul Davies: “The universe cannot have existed forever, otherwise it would have reached its equilibrium end state an infinite time ago. Conclusion: the universe did not always exist.”
The oscillating model is one attempt to escape this conclusion. However, we have already seen why it cannot work. Further, even if it were true, it would still point to a beginning of the universe. “For as several scientists have pointed out, each time the model universe expands it would expand farther than before. Therefore, if you traced the expansions back in time they would get smaller and smaller and smaller” which amounts to a time when it had to begin. In fact, it is estimated that “on the basis of the current level of entropy in the universes that it could not have gone through more than 100 previous oscillations.”
One objection to this is that there is a continuous creation of energy from nothingness. However, “there is no scientific evidence for continuous creation of matter or energy, even if such a notion could be squared with the highly rational principle that something cannot come from nothing without a cause.” Craig brings out the ramifications of thermodynamics: “whether you choose a re-contracting model, an ever-expanding mode, or an oscillating model, thermodynamics implies that the universe had a beginning…Prior to the creation, the universe simply did not exist.”
The life of stars
Jastrow points out that stars burn hydrogen and convert it to heavier elements, making it impossible for the hydrogen to be restored to its original state. Thus, the amount of hydrogen in the universe is continually decreasing and cannot be replenished. The further back in time we go, the more hydrogen there will be. Finally, “the astronomer comes to a time when the Universe contained nothing but hydrogen….This point in time must mark the beginning of the universe.” Further, if the universe was eternal, it would have run out of hydrogen long ago.
Now let’s take a step back and summarize the arguments for the beginning of the universe. We have given five reasons to conclude that the universe had a beginning: the philosophical argument for the impossibility of an actual infinity resulting from adding one event after another, the philosophical argument for the impossibility of an actual infinity at all, the scientific arguments for the Big Bang theory, the unconvincing nature of theories other than the Big Bang, the scientific evidence from thermodynamics, and the scientific evidence from the life of stars.
It should be noted that an argument is stronger when it has more independent premises supporting it. In regards to our argument for the beginning of the universe, all five of our lines of evidence are independent–they do not depend on each other for their truth. This means, for example, that even if one could refute the Big Bang, the evidence from thermodynamics would still require a beginning of the universe. But even if one could also refute the evidence from thermodynamics, one would still have to refute both of his philosophical arguments for the beginning of the universe and the evidence from the life of stars. Thus, the five independently established cords to this argument make it very, very strong.
It therefore seems clear that the universe must have had a beginning, and it therefore requires a cause. There is simply one last step to the argument: What is the nature of this first cause?
Robert Jastrow writes: “Consider the enormity of the problem. Science has proven that the Universe exploded into being at a certain moment. It asks, What cause produced this effect? Who or what put the matter and energy into the Universe? ….And science cannot answer these questions…” Through philosophical analysis of the situation, we will attempt to discover the nature of this first cause so that we can go, as human beings, where science does not.
First, it is evident that this cause is supernatural. Having established that the physical universe came into existence a finite time ago means that the cause of this beginning could not itself be physical (i.e., natural)–because nothing physical existed yet. Thus, the cause must be supernatural–not part of the physical universe. From this it also follows that the cause is independent of its creation–it is self-existent, rather than dependant upon creation for existence.
This leads to the second thing–this cause must be infinite. For if it were not infinite, it would be limited by some other thing, and thus it would no longer be independent.
Third, this cause must be eternally existing outside of time and space. Many people object to the Cosmological argument asking, what caused God? It is unjustified to make Him the only exception to the rule, they say. However, this is to misunderstand the argument. The argument is not that everything that exists has a cause, but that whatever begins to exist has a cause. The reason God does not require a cause is because He never began to exist. It is the definition of God that He is the uncaused first cause of all things–for without this Being there would be an infinite regress of causes, a sure impossibility. It reminds me of the child who asked, “What holds up the earth?” The parent responded, “A giant elephant.” “But what holds up the elephant?” probed the child. “Why, another elephant,” the parent replied. “But what about that elephant–what holds it up?” The parent responded, “It is elephants all the way down.” Surely that is absurd! Likewise, there must be an immutable, eternal first cause in order to escape the contradictions of an infinite regress of causes, and this is included in what we mean by God.
Fourth, this cause must be personal. This is because bringing the universe into existence a finite time ago required a choice on the part of the cause. Once there was nothing, then suddenly there was something. An act of the will on the part of the cause is what made the difference between there being nothing and suddenly there being something. The capability of making willing choices is a property of persons. Therefore, the cause is personal. Furthermore, it is a commonly known fact that causes must be greater than their effects. Personality is greater than non-personality. Therefore, the Creator of this world must be personal because He is the cause of personality.
Fifth, the Creator must be omnipotent in order to bring the universe into existence from nothing.
Sixth, the anthropic principle indicates that the Creator is loving. Scientific discoveries have revealed the intricate “fine-tuning of the universe, which bespeaks intelligent design.” Stephen Hawking wrote “If the rate of expansion one second after the big bang had been smaller by even one part in a hundred thousand million million, the universe would have re-collapsed before it ever reached its present state.” Slightly faster than the critical rate and matter would have dispersed too rapidly to allow stars and galaxies to form. Hugh Ross notes that “the universe, our galaxy, and our solar system exhibit more than sixty characteristics that require exquisite fine-tuning for their very existence, and also for the existence of life.”
Seventh, “since he brought the universe into being without any antecedently determining conditions and fine-tuned it with a precession that literally defies comprehension, he must be both free and unimaginable intelligent.” In other words, the Creator must be sovereignly free and omniscient.
It is these seven core properties which constitute the center of what we mean when we say “God.” Thus, it seems that philosophical analysis confirms what we had suspected–the universe was caused by God. As Craig says in his article “The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe,” “On the basis of our argument, this cause would have to be uncaused, eternal, changeless, timeless, and immaterial … Moreover, it would have to be a personal agent who freely elects to create an effect in time.”
One may object that it is invalid to conclude from this all that there is only one cause of the universe–i.e., one God. However, the inference to one God as the only cause of the universe “seems justified in light of the principle, commonly accepted in science, that one should not multiply causes beyond necessity. One is justified in inferring only causes such as are necessary to explain the effect in question; positing any more would be gratuitous. Since the universe is a single effect originating in the Big Bang event, we have no grounds for inferring a plurality of causes.”
In objection to the premise that whatever begins to exist has a cause, some point to the quantum phenomenon of particle pair production where it appears as if particles come into existence uncaused. However, this would provide “no analogy to something’s coming into being out of nothing. …all that actually occurs is conversion of energy into matter or vice versa. It is not the creation of matter out of nothing, but the conversion of already existing energy into material form.”
Second, it may simply be that there really is an ultimate cause behind the apparent indeterminacy, but we are simply unaware of what the cause is. Third, even if quantum mechanics shows that there are events at the subatomic level that do not have causes, it does not follow from this that “events above the subatomic level do not have causes…When an apple falls something caused it. When an event as massive as the big bang occurred, something caused it. It is an unwarranted extrapolation to argue from the microlevel to the macrolevel.”
But what if one argues that the origin of the universe was at the microlevel? First, it should be pointed out again that our knowledge of the quantum level may be incomplete such that there really are causes, we are just not aware of what they are. Second, “not all philosophers and physicists are agreed as to how to interpret quantum mechanics….in the absence of a clear consensus on quantum interpretation, it seems reasonable to hold to the well-established law of cause and effect.” Third, we have already seen that it is false to claim that quantum effects occur from nothing because they space (which is something) in order to occur. Said Fred Hoyle, “The physical properties of the vacuum would still be needed, and this would be something.” The universe, on the other hand, came into existence from absolutely nothing–space-time itself was created at its beginning.
The other main objection to the need for the Big Bang to have a cause is that, if there was no time before it, it could not therefore have a prior cause. The answer to this, however, is what is called simultaneous causation–the case then cause A and effect B occur together, at the same time, instead of the effect being before the cause. An everyday example of this is a heavy item resting on a cushion being the cause of a depression in the cushion. “We should therefore say that the cause of the origin of the universe is causally prior to the Big Bang, though not temporally prior to the Big Bang.”
So when we speak of God existing “prior” to the first moment of time, “we do not mean temporally prior to time, but outside time altogether….[we are] not treating God as a thing existing at a temporal location.”
In conclusion, we have seen the overwhelming scientific and philosophical evidence that the universe had a beginning, and that it therefore required a cause–a Cause who fits the basic core of what we mean by God. The words of Robert Jastrow are a fitting conclusion to our investigation: “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.”
1. William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics, (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 1994), p. 124.
2. Craig, p. 93.
3. Craig, p. 93.
4. J.P. Moreland, Scaling the Secular City (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1987), p. 31.
5. The first three steps of this argument are reproduced from Craig, p. 98.
6. Craig, pp. 95-97.
7. Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers (W.W. Norton & Company, INC, 2nd edition, 1992), p. 103.
8. Donald Goldsmith, Einstein’s Greatest Blunder?, (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995), pp. 53-55.
9. Craig, p. 101.
10. Fred Heeren, Show Me God, (Wheeling, IL: Searchlight Publications, 1995).
11. Heeren, p. 109; Goldsmith, pp. 66-75.
12. Jastrow, p. 70.
13. Jastrow gives a chart on page 73 which illustrates how amazingly precise the match actually is.
14. Jastrow, p. 81.
15. Craig, “The Existance of God and the Beginning of the Universe,” p. 7. See also Jastrow, p. 70.
16. Barry Parker, The Vindication of the Big Bang, (New York, NY: Plenum Press, 1993), p. 259.
17. Harold Fritzsch, The Creation of Matter, (New York, NY: Basic Books, 1984), p. 250.
18. Craig, p. 101, quoting J. Richard Gott, et al., “Will the Universe Expand Forever?” Scientific American (March 1976): 65. Emphasis added.
19. Craig, pp. 101-102, quoting P.C.W. Davies, “Space-time Singularities in Cosmology,” in The Study of Time III, eds. J.T. Frase, N. Lawrence, and D. Park (Berlin: Springer, 1978), pp. 78-79. Emphasis added.
20. Craig, p. 102, quoting John Barrow and Frank Tipler, The Anthropic Cosmological Principle (Oxford: Oxrford University Press, 1986), p. 442. Emphasis added.
21. Christopher Isham, “Creation of the Universe as a Quantum Process” in Physics, Philosophy and Theology, A Common Quest for Understanding, eds. R.J. Russell, W.R. Stoeger, and G.V. Coyne, p. 378.
22. Jastrow, p. 68.
23. Jastrow, p. 89.
24. Craig, p. 102.
25. Jastrow, p. 14.
26. Craig, p. 103.
27. Craig, p. 104.
28. Jastrow, p. 25.
29. Goldsmith, p. 120. See also Jastrow, p. 102.
30. Fritzsch, p. 241.
31. Fritzsch, p. 244.
32. Fritzsch, p. 243.
33. Craig, p. 105, citing Joseph Sil, “Cosmology Back to the Beginning,” Nature 356 (1992): 742.
34. Goldsmith, p. 123.
35. Craig, p. 106, quoting “Dynamical Parameters,” p. 144.
36. See Isham, “Creation of the Universe as a Quantum Process,” pp. 385-387.
37. Craig, p. 107.
38. Quentin Smith, “Two Ways to Prove Atheism,” p. 2.
39. Smith, p. 3.
40. Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time, p. 136.
41. Hawking, pp. 138-139.
42. Hawking, p. 139.
43. Craig, “Cosmos and Creator,” Origins & Design: 17:2, p. 4.
44. “Cosmos and Creator,” p. 4.
45. Craig, p. 115.
46. Moreland, p. 35.
47. Craig, p. 115.
48. Craig, p. 116, citing Silk, Big Bang, pp. 311-312.
49. Moreland, p. 36.
50. Craig, p. 116.
51. Jastrow, p. 85.
52. Jastrow, p. 106.
53. Hawking, cited in Heeren, p. 328.
54. Hugh Ross, Creation and Time, p. 127.
55. Craig, p. 119.
56. “The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe,” p. 10.
57. Craig, p. 120.
58. Craig, “The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe,” p. 9.
59. Moreland, p. 38.
60. Moreland, p. 39.
61. Hereen, p. 93.
62. Craig, “Creation and Big Bang Cosmology,” p. 2.
63. Moreland, p. 34.
64. Jastrow, p. 107.