Q and A With Dr. Craig: I Didn’t Ask To Be Born

Reasonable Faith

Kevin Harris: Dr. Craig, we’re going to look at some questions on various topics that we get here at Reasonable Faith. This one says,

Hello Dr. Craig. First I would like to just express my appreciation for this great ministry. Eight years ago I was born again and filled with the Spirit of God, and I was pre-law which developed into a philosophy major. Philosophy gave me the questions humanity had been asking for thousands of years. I was called into the ministry. From the street to the churches to the jails, this ministry of apologetics has been pertinent to the Great Commission. You have articulated and formulated so much of what I never learned in school and have inspired me to seek out these great truths further. Thank you. My question: on the cosmological argument we contend that an uncaused cause must precede the Big Bang. However the Hartle-Hawking state posits that near the beginning of the universe, white hole, time would slow down to nothing within this singularity. It seems that this would cause a problem for the uncaused cause arguments as beginnings are time oriented entities, and that without time causal relations would be impossible as cause and effect exist in and are essentially concepts of time. How can we posit a cause for the universe if time – which makes cause and effect possible – did not exist initially? Thank you.

Now, Bill, you’ve done a lot of work on this but I just got to tell you, it’s one of those things we need to repeat because this does come up quite often; how any kind of a cause and effect can be timeless when it requires time for the transaction and all these things like that.

Dr. Craig: Right. The reader is referring to the Hartle-Hawking model which has been popularized by Stephen Hawking in his books A Brief History of Time and The Grand Design. Now, in this model there is no initial singularity, as the questioner states; that’s a misunderstanding. In the standard model, as you go into the past space-time shrinks down to a singular point. That is the boundary of space-time rather like the point is the boundary of a cone. You can’t extend the cone any further through its point; that’s a boundary point. But in the Hartle-Hawking model as you go back in time the point of the cone is rounded off so that the initial part of the universe is rather like a badminton birdie. Instead of going back to a sharp point it’s rounded off into a sort of southern hemisphere. In The Grand Design Hawking says you can interpret the lines of latitude, as it were, on this southern hemisphere as going back in time until you get to the south pole, and the south pole, he says, represents the beginning of time. So on this interpretation of the model there just isn’t any difficulty at all. The model describes a universe which is finite in the past, and time goes right back to the initial beginning of the universe. There is no singular state at which the laws break down, there is no boundary point, but the south pole would represent the point of space-time at which the universe begins to exist.

How would that stand in causal relations to a transcendent cause? Well, I would say that God creates the universe at the moment at which it begins to exist. So that the moment of God’s creation of the universe is the moment at which the universe begins to exist. What could be more obvious, when you think of that? Of course those are simultaneous, those are coincident, they occur at the same time. So at t=0, so to speak, at the south pole of this southern hemisphere of space-time, God creates the universe. Space and time come into being at that point, and the universe then expands. So I don’t see any difficulty in understanding God’s relationship to time or his causation of the universe.

Kevin Harris: Okay. This next question says,

Dr. Craig, in what way is it justifiable for a single person to suffer hell when that person could ultimately say, “When did I ask to be born? I didn’t choose to be born. When did I choose this responsibility?” or “I don’t want to have lived,” as in, not suffer hell or enjoy heaven, just never have existed. Is it fair that we never were given that option?

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I Didn’t Ask To Be Born | Reasonable Faith