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What Explains the Existence of the Physical Universe?
by Bill Pratt
If there is one thing we can all agree on, it is that the physical universe exists. I think we can safely ignore anyone who believes that the universe is just an illusion or that we are in the “matrix.”
But if the universe exists, what explains it? Why does it exist? Any worldview worth considering needs an answer to this question. Let’s look at how Christian theism and atheistic naturalism attempt to answer this question and see which worldview offers a better explanation.
Atheistic naturalism has commonly offered a few responses to this question, all of which I believe are unsatisfactory. First, some naturalists will answer that the question itself is meaningless. They say that it is a nonsense question that has no answer. The universe just is and there is no explanation for it. As an explanation, however, this is no explanation at all. Everyone but the naturalist seems to know what the question means, so we can safely assume the naturalist simply doesn’t want to answer the question because their worldview has no answer.
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Second, naturalists have answered that the universe is self-existent, and that it has always existed. The problem with this explanation is that is has been soundly refuted by modern cosmology, by one of the very sciences that naturalists claim to be the arbiters of reality. There is also a philosophical problem with this explanation. Every physical object we observe in the universe is caused to exist by something else, so how can it be that the whole universe can be uncaused if everything in it is caused?
Here is an analogy. Let’s say you see a perfectly smooth, 1-foot diameter, glass globe sitting in the grass. You would conclude, without much thought, that something or someone caused that glass ball to come into existence. Now take that glass ball, blow it up, and make it the size of Jupiter. The Jupiter-sized glass ball still needs a cause, doesn’t it?
Now make the glass ball the size of the observable universe. Wouldn’t you agree that the universe-size glass ball even more obviously needs a cause than the 1-foot ball or the Jupiter-sized ball? Likewise, to say that even though everything smaller than the universe needs a cause, but the universe doesn’t need a cause, is simply implausible…
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