Reviewing Some of the Basics of the Cosmological Argument
by guest blogger Eric Chabot
In a Christian worldview, the universe was created from nothing (ex nihilo).One of the classical or traditional arguments for God’s existence is the cosmological argument. While Christian apologist William Lane Craig has revived the horizontal form of the cosmological argument, Thomas Aquinas left the church with an apologetic for the vertical form of the same argument. While the former centers on how the universe began in some time in the past, the latter focuses on how the universe exists at this very moment. In other words, the horizontal form is interested in originating causality or the First Cause of the universe while the vertical form defends the need for conserving causality or a Sustainer of the universe. Hopefully everyone can agree that the universe exists. Let’s go over some of the options as to how the universe came into existence:
1. The universe doesn’t exist, all is an illusion
2. The universe created itself
3. The universe is eternal (it never came into existence).
4. There is an argument that has yet to be created that can explain the universe without implying something non-finite.
5. Something non-finite created the finite (and this we call God)
I think we can agree that Number #1, is silly. But what about Number #2. The latest attempt at this was done by Stephen Hawking in his book The Grand Design. I will go ahead and punt to Edgar Andrews who has written a response to this.
So let’s look at #3. Could it be that universe has always existed? This seems very unlikely given what we know about the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The second law basically says that, in a closed system (such as our universe), there is a finite amount of usable energy. In other words, the total amount of usable energy in our universe will eventually be consumed, and would have been already if the universe had existed eternally. This is possibly the most important pieces of evidence supporting a finite universe.
One of the most well-know physicists today is Paul Davies. I will quote him here: Davies says,
“Today, few cosmologists doubt that the universe, at least as we know it, did have an origin at a finite moment in the past. The alternative-that the universe has always existed in one form or one another-runs into a rather basic paradox. The sun and the stars cannot keep burning forever: sooner or later they will run out of fuel and die. The same is true of all irreversible physical processes; the stock and energy available in the universe to drive them out is finite, and cannot last for eternity. This is an example of the so-called second law of thermodynamics, which, applied to the entire cosmos, predicts that it is stuck on a way slide of degeneration and decay towards a final state of maximum entropy, or disorder. As this final state has not been reached, it follows that the universe cannot have existed for an infinite time.” (1)
If we look at # 4, science is desperately looking for some way to explain the cause of our universe that doesn’t resort to a Designer. So here are some of the theories:
The Multiple Universe Theory
The Multiple Universe Theory says that there is the hypothetical set of multiple possible universes. So we just happen to be in one universe of many that allows for all the requirements for life to get going on our present earth. Here is a response:
1. Even if we could show evidence for multiple universes this would only multiply the need for a Creator and Designer because each one would need creation and fine tuning to get started.
2. If true, who or what is keeping these universes from colliding?
3. There is no known mechanism that exists for generating such universes.
4. That itself would require impressive design.
String Theory says that is a theory that matter is comprised of strings of energy that undergo quantum vibrations in 10 or 11 dimensions of space-time. Let me give a short response:
1. This is highly speculative– not a shred of experimental evidence.
2. String theory just pushes the question one step further “Why do strings exist rather than nothing?”
Does Quantum Physics Shows That Subatomic Events Are Uncaused: Can Something Come From Nothing?
Perhaps we can remember the line from the Sound of Music that says, “”Nothing comes from nothing nothing ever could.” Sadly, there are those that say that “something can come from nothing.” There is a theory called Quantum Physics which attempts to say that things can pop in and out of existence without resorting to any cause. But this is problematic since the latest findings in cosmology show that everything in the known universe—all time, space, energy, and matter—was once contained in a point of infinite density known as a singularity. This means there was “nothing” before there was time, space, matter, and energy. Also, Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity shows time, space, and matter are co-relative. They are interdependent on one another-you cannot have one without the other. So to say that particles can come into existence out of nothing is incorrect. These particles arise as spontaneous fluctuations of the energy contained in the sub-atomic vacuum which constitutes an indeterministic cause of their obligation. So the vacuum is not “nothing” but it is sea of fluctuating energy endowed with rich structure and subject to physical laws.(2)
So the most reasonable answer to the cause of the universe is #5. Whatever the cause is of the universe, it must be:
1. Spaceless: Because it created space:
2. Timeless: Because it created time.
3. Immaterial: Because it created matter.
4. Powerful: Because it created out of nothing.
5. Intelligent: Because the universe was precisely designed.
6. Personal: To convert a state of nothing into something.
We see that some of these characteristics of the First Cause resemble the God of the Bible. Finite objects can be measured by how much space they occupy. They can be located somewhere which limits their ability to be somewhere else. With God, since He has no materiality, He cannot be localized at a particular point. Also, since God endures eternally, wholly above and separate from all the succession of time. God’s eternity (ever-present now) encompasses all the characteristics of time (past, present, future) in one moment (Genesis 21:33; Psalm 90:2). God is one without any parts. He is uncompounded, incomplex and indivisible, unique, and essentiality a Spirit being (John 1:18; 4:24; 1 Timothy 1:17; 6:15-16.
Objection: What about the silly objection, “What Caused God?” or “Who Designed The Designer?”
For starters, it is a category mistake by assigning to something a property which applies only to objects of another category. We must not confuse two categories- the made and the unmade. Whatever is made has composition. Obviously, from the Orthodox Christian view, God has no composition. The Hebrew word for one is “echad” which leaves room for a plurality within a unity of substance- but there is no implication of a plurality of be
ings or parts within a being. Scripture admonishes mankind about making any physical image of God (Exodus 20:4). God is pure spirit ( John 4:24). He has no parts and is an immaterial Being. Hence, the God of the Bible is unmade. Also, many skeptics misunderstand the law of causality which states that everything that comes to be had a cause. Since God did not come to be, he does not need an explanation. If we had to continually offer an explanation for an explanation it would lead to an infinite regress. There would be no science.
1. Paul Davies, “The Big Bang and Before, ”The Thomas Aquinas Lecture Series, Thomas Aquinas College (Santa Paula, CA: March 2002); cited in William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith; Christian Truth and Apologetics: Third Ed. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2008), 144.
2. William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith; Christian Truth and Apologetics: Third Ed. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2008), 114-115.