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By James Bishop
My intent here is to briefly touch on the troubles that a universe with a beginning has for atheists, especially for their proposed explanations.
The beginning of our universe is evidently troubling for atheists judging by their responses. For a start philosophical reasoning shows that it is not possible to have an infinite regress of past events. Couple that with persuasive scientific evidence from cosmic expansion and the second law of thermodynamics, and we needn’t doubt that the universe had its finite beginning in the Big Bang.
According to prominent cosmologist Paul Davies, “the big bang represents the creation event; the creation not only of all the matter and energy in the universe, but also of spacetime itself” (1). Atheist scientist Stephen Hawking chimes in that “almost everyone now believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the big bang” (2).
Atheists, however, have traditionally believed that the universe never had a beginning but that it had existed eternally. According to some contemporary atheists, “Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created” (3). However, as noted this is problematic both philosophically and scientifically.
Next to no expert in the field accepts an eternal universe and no evidence has proven convincing to cosmologists, as Robin Schumacher realizes,
“atheism’s struggle is to explain how the universe is eternal when all scientific discovery shows it had a beginning.” (4)
Other atheists like Lewis Wolpert more honestly admit that “there’s the whole problem of where the universe itself came from,” and then asks “How did that all happen? I haven’t got a clue” (5). I suppose many atheists leave it at that and put it on the back burner until hopefully the dilemma is resolved one day.
Moreover, I think Stephen Hawking is quite informative in saying that:
“Many people do not like the idea that time has a beginning, probably because it smacks of divine intervention.” (6)
Of course it smacks of divine intervention precisely because we are dealing with a creation event from nothing…
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