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Evidence for God
My case for the existence of a personal, infinite God does not rest on the validity of one sole argument. Instead, I have chosen to utilize a cumulative case for God. This cumulative case will examine nine different aspects of human experience that are more adequately explained by theism (the belief in a personal God) than by atheism (the rejection of the belief in a personal God). The thesis I seek to defend is as follows: it is more reasonable to be a theist than it is to be an atheist.
The God of theism is the eternal uncaused Cause of all else that exists. This Being is personal (i.e., a moral and intelligent being) and unlimited in all His attributes. This Being is separate from His creation (transcendent), but He is also involved with it (immanent).
THE BEGINNING OF THE UNIVERSE;
This argument is called the kalam cosmological argument for God's existence. Saint Bonaventure utilized this argument.1 William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland are two modern proponents of it.2 This argument is as follows: 1) whatever began to exist must have a cause, 2) the universe began to exist, 3) therefore, the universe had a cause.
Premise #1 uses the law of causality—non-being cannot cause being. In other words, from nothing, nothing comes. Since nothing is nothing, it can do nothing. Therefore, it can cause nothing. Hence, whatever began to exist needs a cause for its existence.
Premise #2 contends that the universe had a beginning. Scientific evidence for the beginning of the universe includes the second law of thermodynamics (energy deterioration) and the Big Bang Model. The second law of thermodynamics is one of the most firmly established laws of modern science. It states that the amount of usable energy in a closed system is running down. This means that someday in the finite future all the energy in the universe will be useless (unless there is intervention from “outside” the universe). In other words, if left to itself, the universe will have an end. But if the universe is going to have an end, it had to have a beginning. At one time, in the finite past, all the energy in the universe was usable. Since the universe is winding down, it must have been wound up. The universe is not eternal; it had a beginning. Since it had a beginning, it needs a cause, for from nothing, nothing comes.
It should also be noted that, due to energy deterioration, if the universe is eternal it would have reached a state of equilibrium in which no change is possible an infinite amount of time ago. All of the universe's energy would already have been used up. Obviously, this is not the case. Therefore, the universe had a beginning.
The Big Bang Model also indicates that the universe had a beginning. In 1929, astronomer Edwin Hubble discovered that the universe is expanding at the same rate in all directions. As time moves forward the universe is growing apart. But this means that if we go back in time the physical universe would get smaller and smaller. Eventually, if we go back far enough in the past, the entire universe would be what scientists call “a point of infinite density” or “a point of dimensionless space.” However, if something physical is infinitely dense, it is non-existent, for physical, existent things can only be finitely small. The same can be said for points of dimensionless space. If a physical point has no dimensions, it is non-existent for it takes up no space. Therefore, if the Big Bang Model is correct, it shows that the universe began out of nothing a finite time ago.
There have been two main attempts to refute the beginning of the universe. The first is called the steady-state model. This view holds that the universe never had a beginning. Instead, it always existed in the same state. Because of the mounting evidence for the Big Bang Model, this view has been abandoned my most of its adherents.
The second attempt to evade the beginning of the universe is called the oscillating model. This model teaches that, at some point during the universe's expansion, gravity will halt the expansion and pull everything back together again. From that point there will be another big bang. This process will be repeated over and over again throughout all eternity. However, the oscillating model fails. First, there is no known principle of physics that would reverse the collapse of the universe and cause another big bang. Second, current scientific research has shown that the universe is not dense enough for gravity to pull it back together again. And third, even if it could be proven that several big bangs have occurred, the second law of thermodynamics would still require that there was a first big bang.
Many scientists accept the beginning of the universe, but believe that it does not need a cause. The evidence proposed by these scientists consists of speculation dealing with quantum physics (the study of subatomic particles). Appeal is made to Heisenberg's Principle of Indeterminacy in order to claim that quantum particles pop into existence out of nothing, entirely without a cause. However, Heisenberg's Principle does not necessitate such an absurd interpretation. Simply because scientists cannot presently find the causes does not mean that the causes do not exist. All that Heisenberg's Principle states is that scientists are presently unable to accurately predict where a specific subatomic particle will be at a given time. If this principle proved that events can occur without causes then this would destroy one of the pillars of modern science—the principle of causality (every event must have an adequate cause). It seems obvious to me that the principle of causality is on firmer epistemological ground than the belief that things can pop into existence without a cause.
Non-being cannot cause being. If the universe had a beginning, then it needs a cause. Besides this scientific evidence there is also philosophical evidence for the beginning of the universe. If the universe is eternal, then there would be an actual infinite number of events in time. However, as Zeno's paradoxes have shown, it is impossible to traverse an actual infinite set of points. If we assume the existence of an infinite amount of actual points between two locations, then we can never get from location A to location B, since no matter how many points we have traversed, there will still be an infinite number of points left. If the universe is eternal, then there must exist an actual infinite set of events in the past, but then it would be impossible to reach the present moment. Since the present moment has been reached, there cannot be an actual infinite set of events in the past. There could only be a finite number. Therefore, there had to be a first event. Hence, the universe had a beginning.
It should also be noted that if it is possible for an actual infinite set to exist outside of a mind, contradictions and absurdities would be generated. To illustrate this point, let us look at two infinite sets. Set A consists of all numbers, both odd and even. Set B contains only all the odd numbers. Set A and Set B are equal since they both have an infinite number of members. Still, Set A has twice the number of members as Set B since Set A contains both odd and even numbers, while Set B contains only odd numbers. It is a clear contradiction to say that Set A and Set B have an equal amount of members, while Set A has twice as many members as Set B. Therefore, actual infinite sets cannot exist outside the mind. Actual sets existing outside the mind can only be potentially infinite, not actually infinite. These sets can be added to indefinitely; still, we will never reach an actual infinite by successive addition. Therefore, the universe cannot have an infinite number of events in the past. The universe had a beginning.
Since the universe had to have a beginning, it had to have a cause. For from nothing, nothing comes. But if the universe needs a cause, what if the cause of the universe also needs a cause? Could we not have an infinite chain of causes and effects stretching backwards in time throughout all eternity? Obviously, the answer is no, for we have already shown that an actual infinite set existing outside of a mind is impossible. Therefore, an infinite chain of causes and effects is also impossible. There had to be a first uncaused Cause of the universe. This uncaused Cause would be eternal, without beginning or end. Only eternal and uncaused existence can ground the existence of the universe.
In short, there are only four possible explanations as to why the universe exists. First, the universe could be an eternal chain of causes and effects. Second, the universe could have popped into existence out of nothing without a cause. Third, the universe could merely be an illusion. And, fourth, the universe could have been caused to come into existence by an eternal, uncaused Cause (i.e., God). I have provided strong evidence against the first and second options, as well as strong argumentation in favor of the fourth option. The third option is not a viable position, since it cannot be affirmed without contradiction. Those who claim the universe is an illusion usually contend that all of reality is one mind. However, the communicating of this view necessitates and assumes the existence of two or more minds. Hence, the statement that the universe is an illusion is self-refuting. Therefore, the most plausible explanation for the existence of the universe is that is has an uncaused Cause.
Today, most knowledgeable atheists acknowledge that the universe had a beginning. Still, they argue that the universe did not have a cause—it popped into existence, out of nothing, totally without a cause. “In the beginning God created the universe” seems much more plausible then “In the beginning nothing created the universe.” Atheists used to argue, before Hubble showed the universe is expanding, that the universe is eternal, it had no beginning, and hence it doesn't need a cause. Now, atheists admit the universe had a beginning, but still argue that it doesn't need a cause. However, this seems highly improbable. In fact, it is impossible, for no possibility can exist without something actual existing. It makes sense to say that if something actual exists (i.e., God), then He could have had the potential to create. But, if absolutely nothing exists, it (i.e., nothing) had no potential or power to create. Only actual things have potential or power; nothing lacks the potential to create, or do anything else for that matter. Since the universe had a beginning, theism (belief in God) is more reasonable than atheism.
Therefore, since the universe had a beginning, it must have had an uncaused Cause. Several attributes of the uncaused Cause of the universe can be discovered through examination of the universe. Intelligent life exists in the universe. Since intelligence is a perfection found in the universe, the ultimate Cause of the universe must also be an intelligent Being, for intelligence cannot come from non-intelligence. No one has ever presented a reasonable explanation as to how intelligence could evolve from mindless nature.
Morality also exists in the universe, for without morality, there would be no such thing as right and wrong. However, the moral judgments we make show that we do believe there are such things as right and wrong. Still, nature is non-moral. No one holds a rock morally responsible for tripping him. There is no way that mere “molecules in motion” could produce moral values. Since nature is non-moral but morality exists in the universe, the Cause of the universe must be a moral Being.
Dawkins refuses to accept any supernatural Cause for the universe. Hence, he is willing to believe in “chance” as the cause of the universe. However, there is a problem with this kind of reasoning. For, if absolutely nothing existed before the beginning of the universe, then chance did not exist as well. For there are no possibilities (i.e., chance) if there is nothing actual. I believe that if a person is willing to go where the evidence leads, then he will conclude that belief in God as the cause of the universe is more plausible than belief in “chance.”
The belief that God created the universe is far more believable than the belief that the universe came into existence totally without a cause. It is either “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” or “In the beginning nothing created the heavens and the earth.” The former is far more plausible than the latter. Concerning the origin of the universe, theism (belief in God) is more reasonable than atheism (the denial of God’s existence).
Excerpt's taken from Dr. Fernandes's book: the Atheist Delusion; A Christians response to Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins.
copyright 2009 Dr. Phil Fernandes, Ph.D.