How the Principle of Causality Points to the Existence of God

by J Warner Wallace

All of us, regardless of worldview, are looking for the first, uncaused cause of the universe. As an atheist (and committed philosophical naturalist), I believed science would eventually identify such a cause, and I expected the answer to be something other than “God”. Alexander Vilenkin (professor of Physics and Director of the Institute of Cosmology at Tufts University), for example, believes this cause is an eternal, primordial, quantum vacuum from which our universe (and many, many others) popped into existence. The vacuum, according to Vilenkin, was the first, uncaused cause; making questions like, “Where did the vacuum come from?” irrelevant and meaningless. First, uncaused causes don’t need a cause, after all.

Interestingly, cosmologists have refined their thinking on this issue over the past several decades. Early researchers (like Einstein) initially rejected the idea our universe had a beginning at all. For

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thinkers like Einstein, our universe was the uncaused environment from which stars and planetary systems evolved. Why is everyone so obsessed with identifying an eternal entity and an uncaused, first cause? Because the nature of this first cause will determine which worldview (atheism or theism) is true. For committed atheists, like Carl Sagan, the desire to identify the eternal is deeply metaphysical:

“The Cosmos is everything that ever was, is and will be.”

That’s a rather theological sounding statement, and Sagan intended it to be. For Sagan, the universe (the “Cosmos”) was worthy of worship. In fact, most of us will direct this kind of reverent awe to the first, uncaused cause in any series of causal events leading to our existence. For Vilenkin, the primordial vacuum merits this sort of awe and inspiration. As a theist and a Christian, I have come to place my awe in the uncreated Creator. All of us are in awe of something, and this something typically lies at the beginning of a causal chain. Why is this true? Because each of us intuitively understands something called the Principle of Causality. If you came into a room and observed a ball rolling across the floor, you would naturally look around to see who kicked it. The ball didn’t start moving on its own without the help of someone (or something) to begin its movement. The ball has no ability to move without an initial cause; an initial mover. Scientists recognize this reality and have developed a list of things requiring a cause…

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