– Groundhog Day
HEADLINE: MODERN SCIENCE POINTS TO THE EXISTENCE OF GOD
I believe in God. I believe in the God: the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Benjamin. I believe in the God of Christianity, the Trinitarian God – the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
I also believe in a god: the transcendent cause of everything. It is a winding road from god to God, but like Inigo Montoya, I’ll go back to the beginning. After all, the beginning is precisely where science points to god. Really.
You see, all the information we have indicates that the Universe had a beginning. Whether they believe that was 10,000 years ago or 13.8 billion, the vast majority of people agree. Math, physics, cosmology, metaphysics and logic all dictate this same conclusion, and the main holdouts tend to be those who desire to avoid the conclusions that a “beginning” requires. These are the conclusions that I will present here.
[NOTE: There are technical justifications behind the claims here that I will mostly avoid, but I am more than willing to expound or direct anyone who wants to the details. For example, the first part of this post is essentially a breakdown of the Kalam Cosmological Argument for the existence of God, popularized largely due to the efforts of William Lane Craig.]
I. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
Borrowing an illustration from Richard Taylor, let’s suppose you and a friend were walking through the woods and found a ball. Whatever else you thought, you would certainly assume that it was there for a reason. Maybe someone dropped it, maybe there are some kids nearby, maybe someone threw it out. Regardless, you can only assume that there is a cause behind its being there in the woods. Now let’s say that the ball is the size of a house: you would still believe there was something (or someone) that caused it to be there. If it were the size of Jupiter, or the galaxy, or the whole Universe, there still has to be a cause: the size doesn’t change the commonsense assumption that something caused it to exist. We have absolutely no experience with anything coming into existence on its own. “Nothing comes from nothing,” so to speak.
II. The Universe began to exist.
As I stated above, all evidence we have points to the Universe having a beginning. For a relatively brief period of time, many people believed that the Universe was eternal – that it had always been here. In addition to scientific discoveries and theories, there are numerous mathematical and metaphysical reasons that it cannot be eternal. What is widely agreed upon is that the Universe began to exist. Therefore, it had a cause. But what kind of being/object could possibly qualify as the case of our Universe?
III. The cause of the Universe has to be god.
This is not as controversial as it may sound at first (but mainly because I used a lower-case “g”). To make it simple, I will list the requirements for a cause of the Universe, along with why I believe they are required. While the ideas are somewhat complicated (and there is much room to expand the justifications), the conclusion is worth understanding the premises:
- Beyond time and space – in order to cause time and space, it must necessarily not be a part of either.
- Extremely powerful – it takes an enormous amount of power to cause an entire Universe to come into being.
- Eternal – If the cause began to exist, it would have a cause itself. Because an infinite regress is impossible, a stopping point must exist. The “uncaused cause” will be this point, wherever you choose to place it.
- Immaterial – it is estimated that every seven years, a person is fundamentally a completely different set of particles than before (cells die, new ones are created, etc.). This concept applies to all material objects, and so the initial cause must be immaterial, else it would experience the same eternally continuous change.
- Personal – this only means that the cause must have the attributes of a person (e.g. freedom to choose, an active will, etc.). First of all, a mere object has no ability to cause anything. Secondly, if a cause exists from all eternity without change, then the effect would necessarily result infinitely long ago, as well; therefore, the cause must choose to bring the Universe into existence. In fact, the cause must be an unembodied mind, because it has the attributes of personhood, but cannot be a physical being.
Following these assertions, we end up with a spaceless, timeless, very powerful, immaterial, eternal, personal cause of the Universe. While this is not necessarily a monotheistic, moral Creator god – much less the God of Christianity – we can easily see the attributes of a god. Even if the Universe was created by a race of super-intelligent beings, is the offspring of a “mother” universe, or simply a part of a larger “multiverse,” somewhere behind it all there must be the uncaused cause, with all the attendant attributes listed above.
As with any logical argument, you must deny one of the premises in order to deny the conclusion; to do so requires payment of some sort. If you deny that everything that exists has a cause (I), then you are going beyond all experience, science, and metaphysics. If you deny that the Universe began to exist (II), then you are claiming that it is eternal, which carries a similar intellectual price, albeit based on a different set of evidences. Since the conclusion – the Universe had a cause – is the logical conclusion, then the final point of contention would be over the attributes of a possible cause of the Universe (III). Each point can be countered, to be sure, but to do so carries a hefty price tag, essentially paid to avoid the existence of God.
Socrates implored us to follow the evidence where it leads, and the same slogan is regularly pointed at Christians of various persuasions. Clearly, however, dogmatism is not merely a characteristic of the religious.
“For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
“For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened.
“Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.”
– Romans 1:20-23