Episode 206 - One Day, Will We Discover A Non-Supernatural Cause For The Universe?

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On the last episode, we addressed one of the 10 questions that supposedly a theist can't answer. A theist is someone who believes there is one personal God, one God anywhere, but that that God is personally involved in creation, and that question, that first question, dealt with how or if the Bible actually supports the assertion that it makes in the first verse of the Bible that God created the heavens and the earth, so I'd encourage you to go back and listen to that.

Today's question builds on that, and here is what this writer has put in his article that Christians supposedly cannot answer, and here's what he says. "The Big Bang is regarded by some as the beginning of the Universe. Others refer to it as a change of state. Whichever it is, I don't know if there's a third hypothesis," he says, "a plain fact about our Universe remains, there is no evidence that a supernatural source is behind it or set it into motion. Consider demonic possession," he says. "It was once thought to be the cause of certain ailments, and, today, we're well-acquainted with the germ theory of disease and neurological disorders."

I'm skipping a part of what he says, and then he says, "By contrast, you don't trust," he's talking about us Christians, "Christians don't trust cosmology's current understanding of the Universe, that there was a 'Big Bang' that led to the expansion of the Universe and that this happened roughly 14 billion years ago. People once said, 'God did it,' as an answer to what caused disease. People once said, 'God did it,' as a way to account for storms, so, if God did it, now seems to be foolish in light of what is commonly understood about hurricanes and neurological ailments, why do you resort to 'God did it' for the Big Bang when a natural answer, if we ever find one, will account for it?"

There's a lot there, and I'll try and post a link to this original article with his 10 supposedly unanswerable questions or assertions, but let's talk about this today. The first thing to point out is that he seems to be assuming that Christians, all Christians, reject the idea that the Universe is old. I've talked about this several times over the last few years. Actually, I am fine with the idea of the Universe being billions of years old.

I don't think the reason why God wrote and inspired Genesis 1 and 2 was to tell people about science. You have Israel coming out from under 400 years of Egyptian bondage and slavery and Egyptian idol and god-worship, and the first thing they needed to hear was not a science lesson. What they needed was a theology lesson. They needed to understand who God was and that they were created in his image with an intent and a purpose to glorify him. That's what Genesis 1 is doing. It's actually, when you look at the details of it and compare them to the details of what the Egyptians believed, a refutation of Egyptian beliefs.

I've talked about this numerous times before, and I'll link to some of those in the podcast transcript. I'm okay with listening and looking at what scientific evidence points to in terms of the age of the Universe because I don't think the Bible speaks to that. However, God is very clear that, in the beginning, he created the heavens and the earth, so do I believe everything is old? Yes. Do I believe God created it all? Yes, and I think both of those square nicely with what scripture says and also what it leaves open.

God has spoken in his word and he has spoken through his works in nature. I remember the Psalm, that, "The heavens declare the glory of God; in Romans 1, that, "People are without excuse because God has revealed his eternal power and divine nature in the created world," so the natural world testifies to the fact that there is a God who created it, and this is why, in Romans 1, Paul says that, "The chief sin is that people do not worship him or give him thanks, and they can know that they should do this, and they do know that they should do this because creation exists and points to its creator," but while I'm okay with, and I do believe that the Universe is old because God has given us science as a tool to learn about the world, this doesn't mean that somehow God didn't create it.

We have to be careful both as Christians and if you're listening as a non-Christian not to think that all Christians believe that God created everything 6,000 years ago. There are a large number who believe that God created everything billions of years ago and yet still also affirm that evolution, at least this macro view of evolution, the Neo-Darwinian synthesis is false, so that's just the first thing I want to get off the table. I'm going to attack this question from the belief that God did create everything, that the cause of everything coming into existence at the Big Bang was God, and I do believe that happened a long time ago.

Now, the next little point I want to make is, at the very beginning of this, the gentleman writing the article says, "The Big Bang is regarded by some as the beginning and by others as a change of state," I'm going to be responding to this in response to the beginning view, not a change of state. If someone wants to believe that the Universe is eternally old, perhaps we'll talk about that at another time. I think that's deeply problematic, so I'm going to be talking about this question from the perspective of the fact that the beginning of everything is what we call the Big Bang, or at least what many people call the Big Bang.

If that's the case, this gentleman is saying that it does not make sense to believe that there was a supernatural cause for everything, so let's get through the options. If the Universe did come into being at some point in the past, it strikes me that there are only two options. Something could have caused it, or nothing could have caused it. There's no other option. It's either something or nothing. There's no third option.

To say that nothing caused it sounds utterly ridiculous. Nothing caused everything that exists to come into existence. That makes no sense. Hopefully, you see that. Nothing in our experience ever, nothing in science, nothing in philosophy would ever teach us that everything can come into existence without a cause, that it can come uncaused from nothing. That makes no sense, so we're going to set the nothing option aside if we're going to be reasonable, rational and biblically informed people, which leaves the other option, something caused the Universe. If something caused it, there are another two options. Either the something that caused it is made of material, or it is immaterial. Either, it's natural would be another way to say it, or it's supernatural.

When you ask scientists and others and those who use the term Big Bang in a specific way, "Did everything that exists come into existence at the Big Bang?" they're going to say, "Yes," unless they're one of those who believe in a change of state theory, and there are other issues with that, but let's just talk about the beginning theory, so everything that's physical, they would say, came into existence at the Big Bang, so could something physical cause the existence of everything that is physical?

No. If everything that's physical came into existence at the Big Bang, then the cause of everything that is physical coming into existence could not itself have been physical. It would be the same issue when saying, "Can I be my own father?" No, I can't. I need someone else to father me because I was not around to father myself. It's the same issue here. You just have two options. You have two sets of two options. Either something caused the Universe, or nothing caused the Universe. If something caused it, then it's either natural or supernatural or, another way of saying it, it's either material or immaterial. If it's material, then that makes no sense because there was no material around to create all the material that came into existence and has ever existed, which means, as you can obviously see where I'm going, the cause of everything is immaterial. It's supernatural.

This guy asks, "Why do Christians resort to saying God did it?" On the one hand, hopefully they've been informed by scripture, and scripture says, "God did it." Scripture is God's revelation of himself, but there's a lot more we can say parallel to that also. For instance, we can run through the simple set of two options, something or nothing, if something, natural or supernatural. Natural can't cause everything that's natural that came into existence. If they want to get off on the first exit and say that nothing caused everything, I don't know how to help you. You just have to ask someone, "Do you really think that makes sense? What scientific evidence do you have that everything can come into existence from nothing with no cause because, if there's nothing around, then there's nothing to cause it to come into existence?"

That makes no sense. We've got to lay out those options and say there are only four options here, and only one of them makes any logical sense. Christians hear me. We cannot let the non-Christian frame this as intellectual sophistication against sticking-your-head-in-the-sand religious dogma. Actually, only one of these makes sense, and it's the supernatural option. It's the only one logically that makes sense. There's no other option here, but I want to point something else out.

This guy is arguing against the Christian position by saying, "Christians historically have used a God of the gaps argument." I don't think he uses that exact term, but that's what he's saying. Christians have said, "God did it or something supernatural did it when actually what happened was there was a natural weather storm or, perhaps, someone had a mental illness or they actually caught a virus, and we've attributed supernatural causes to that when there weren't any."

Now, as Christians, hopefully with a full-orbed view of nature and God's sovereignty in all things, we can actually point to God's involvement in miracles in the past and his hand in sustaining everything that exists, but the guy does have a point. Sometimes, you just have a virus. It doesn't mean you have a demon. However, he's using this to argue against a God of the gaps argument where Christians say, "We don't understand something, so we just say God did it." I do think we have to be careful there.

However, what does he do in his last sentence? Let me read it to you. "Why do you resort to a 'God did it' for the Big Bang when a natural answer, if we ever find one, will account for it?" Isn't he doing a science of the gaps argument there at the end? Why say God did it if we might actually discover that God didn't do it? What if we discover that science will tell us and give us a natural answer? It's a naturalism of the gaps answer, a materialism of the gaps answer, and atheism of the gaps answer. He doesn't have evidence right now for what caused everything in a natural manner, but he's very comfortable saying, "Something natural did it."

Now, he hasn't told us why he's justified in that and, going back to his first question that we looked at last week, he wants Christians to give answer supporting their view, but he hasn't done that here. Admittedly, this is probably not the right venue for him to do so, but if you're going to say Christians need to give reasons for why they're going to say God did it, the question could rightly be said back to him. What's your evidence that God didn't do it? In other words, what's your evidence that it's a naturalistic answer? He doesn't give one, but that's a naturalism or a science of the gaps argument. He's falling prey to the same sort of thing he's critiquing the Christian of doing.

It's also worth pointing out that if anyone ever were able to do a lab experiment to show that something could come from nothing, what they would have evidenced is actually creation. They would have had a scientist who set up the conditions and ran an experiment and used whatever mechanism they discovered and invented to create something from nothing. I don't actually think you can create something as a human person from nothing, but that's a separate issue. Let's just say you could. You would not have shown what they're trying to attempt to prove. You would have shown that an intelligent cause was necessary, so there's another issue with that.

As we looked at it last week when we talked about the Kalam cosmological argument, the cause of the Universe could not itself have been material, which means it needs to be immaterial, we looked at that today also, and the cause of everything would need to be powerful and intelligent and personal. It would have needed to be creating and making a decision to create, and it at least initially would have needed to be timeless, and when you ask anyone what that set of attributes reflects, they would say, "God."

Now, that doesn't get us all the way to the God of the Bible, but it definitely coheres with and supports what the Bible has already made clear, that the heavens declare the glory of God and that man is accountable because he does not worship him or give him thanks, because what can be known about God has been made transparent and plain to us, so, when we come to this question, it's actually the person asking the question that's in the hot seat. Christians have science on their side. They have philosophy and logic on their side on this question, and they certainly have scripture on their side to say nothing of every single piece of nature that points to and declares the glory of God.

We have the strong footing on this, and let's recall that. Let's not let someone paint us into a corner or make us doubt the fact that reason and all of reality is on the side of Christianity when it comes to answering this question. I'll talk with you next time on Unapologetic.