Is postulating an eternal God explanatorily equivalent to positing an eternal universe?
By Jason Dulle
Many atheists assert that an eternal universe is explanatorily equivalent to an eternal God. For example, Sagan once asked, “If we say that God has always been, why not save a step and conclude that the universe has always been?” And just recently, two prominent atheists made the same claim. In his new book, A Universe from Nothing, Lawrence Krauss writes, “[T]he declaration of a First Cause still leaves open the question, ‘Who created the Creator?’ After all, what is the difference between arguing in favor of an eternally existing creator versus an eternally existing universe without one?” Victor Stenger agrees with Krauss:
Krauss also describes how cosmology now strongly suggests that a “multiverse” exists in which our universe is just one member. So, the real issue is not where our particular universe came from but where the multiverse came from. This question has an easy answer: the multiverse is eternal. So, since it always was, it didn’t have to come from anything.
And, to bring religion into the picture, one could ask: Why is there God rather than nothing? Once theologians assert that there is a God (as opposed to nothing), they can’t turn around and ask a cosmologist why there is a universe (as opposed to nothing). They claim God is a necessary entity. But then, why can’t a godless multiverse be a necessary entity?
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Apart from the fact that all of the evidence points to a temporally finite universe and a temporally finite multiverse (if a multiverse even exists), is it true that an eternal universe is explanatorily equivalent to an eternal God? No, not at all! An eternal universe would be a brute fact that lacks an explanation for its own contingent existence, whereas God—as a metaphysically necessary being—provides an explanation for both His own existence and that of the contingent world…
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