Could the universe have created itself or is a God necessary for that?
It’s common today to hear about the conflict between science and faith, generally when it comes to our origins — where we came from. A lot of people think that the Bible says that we were created in six literal days, and this flies in the face of modern science.
Now in future weeks, we might talk about Genesis 1 and Genesis 2 — two conflicting creation accounts — and look at ways to possibly harmonize them or, at the least, understand them in their context.
Today, I want to talk about the scientific evidence that actually greatly supports the Christian world view. The fact that we’re here is one of the greatest evidences for God’s existence. Our existence is a great evidence for God’s existence.
We’re going to look at one of my favorite arguments for God’s existence. By “argument” I just mean a well-reasoned case, not something where people are yelling at each other.
Before we get too far in, I want to explain what this can and cannot do. This argument will demonstrate that there is a God. It will not demonstrate that the God of the Bible is that God. However, for many people, going from “no God” to “there is a God” is a huge step.
We started out looking at truth and now we’re going to look at God existing. We’ve already looked at some evidence for the reliability of the Bible. All of these pieces can come together, when you’re making a case to someone that Christianity is the best explanation for reality.
This argument for God’s existence that we’re going to look at today it’s called the “Kalām cosmological argument”. Don’t be turned off by the name that you probably haven’t heard. “Kalām” is actually an Arabic word that just means speech and “cosmological” just refers to the cosmos, the universe, if you will.
This is a very simple argument. It’s just three sentences.
Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
The universe began to exist.
Therefore, the universe has a cause.
For the remainder of this episode we’re going to look at ways to support that argument, but what’s worth noting is you can teach this to a seven-year old, to a five-year old. In fact, it’s easier for some five-year olds to believe this than it is for people in their 30s.
Studies have shown that there’s actually a natural instinct inside of us as humans that we’re born with to see creation in things that are actually created. This sadly gets trained out of people due to our secular influences in society.
You can go as deep into this argument or as shallow as you want. What it basically says is that everything that comes into existence has a cause. The universe came into existence, therefore the universe must have had a cause.
Right off the bat, we can rule some potential causes out. The cause of the universe cannot have been something in the universe because before the universe existed there was nothing in it that could have created itself. It’s like saying, “I’m my father.” In order for me to be my father, I would have had been around, before I was around. There’s just a logical problem there.
In fact, Stephen Hawking has actually said something similar. “Due to the law of gravity, the universe can and will create itself out of nothing.” You can be really smart like Stephen Hawking (he’s far smarter than I am) but you don’t get to say stupid stuff like that without people analyzing your claim and just coming to realize that there are grave, logical problems with it.
Continuing on, whatever begins to exist has a cause. This matches reality and experience and reason. It makes much more sense than the atheistic position which would say that the universe came into existence uncaused and from nothing.
Philosopher William Lane Craig has said that a belief like that is worse than magic. In a magic trick where a magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat, at least you’ve got a magician and you’ve got a hat and a rabbit appears.
On this “universe is coming into existence uncaused and from nothing” view, there is nothing that’s creating something and that doesn’t make any sense. It takes more faith to believe in that than it does that there is a creator God out there who created everything. That makes more logical sense.
When I say that this matches our experience, what I mean is we don’t experience things popping into existence uncaused and from nothing. Every event that we see has a cause. When someone knocks on the door you don’t say, “Who’s there,” and your wife says, “Well, no one. The knock knocked itself,” right? No, not at all.
We don’t see animals popping in to existence out of nothing. Stars or cars or Pavarotti or pretzels, nothing pops into existence without a cause and certainly not from nothing. Why do some people want to say that the only exception to that rule is everything itself in the form of the universe? That doesn’t make any sense.
Premise 2: The universe began to exist. What this really means is that the past is not infinite. There was a time at which time began, if you will, that the past just not go on forever. One of the great proofs for this that we can use to support his premise of the argument is the expansion of the universe. The universe is actually getting bigger.
When Einstein was working on one of his theories, he noted that the math, the physics, shows that the universe was expanding, and he didn’t believe that it actually was. He thought it was constant in size, not getting smaller, not getting bigger. Constant. He added a constant to his equations. A fudge factor, if you will, so that the math, the physics, all kind of worked out to show that the universe was in a constant state. It wasn’t getting bigger.
Interestingly enough though, his math had showed that it was getting bigger. Around the same time, Edwin Hubble at the National Observatory was looking through his large telescope, for which our Hubble telescope is named, and he was looking at objects in the sky that were far, far away and he noticed that these objects looked a little more red than they should have.
He came to understand that this meant that the objects were moving away. Moving away from him, from earth. It didn’t matter what object in the sky he looked at. They were all moving away from us. He came to understand that what Einstein had initially stumbled on was correct, that the universe and the space itself is expanding.
That’s a cool story and there’s actually a pretty cool picture of Einstein coming to look through Hubble’s telescope to see the visual confirmation of what he had theorized, but the fact that the universe is expanding points to it being smaller when we go back in the past and smaller yet and smaller yet until you go back far enough and it’s infinitely small. It takes up the space of one point in space. That is of infinite density and then it expanded from there. The fact that it’s constantly getting bigger means it hasn’t reached an infinite size, so the past cannot be infinite.
Another evidence that we could use to say that the universe had a beginning is the lack of equilibrium in the universe. There are differences in heat. There are differences in speed. What we would expect is is for everything to be the same temperature and not to have movement, to have, what physicists would call, “heat death”, to have reached equilibrium.
This is what happens when you take ice cream out of the freezer and you put it on the counter. The room gets a little cooler and the ice cream gets a lot hotter until they reach the same temperature, they reach equilibrium. If the universe were infinitely old, this would have happened to the universe also.
What we see is that the universe began to exist. Since everything that begins to exist has a cause and the universe began to exist, the universe must have had a cause. Without using the Bible, without using anything else, we can come to learn something about that cause. One, it must be immaterial, it cannot be physical because all physical material came into existence when the universe came into existence at the Big Bang.
The first thing we know about this cause is it’s immaterial. The second thing we must know is that it had to be personal. It had to make a choice to create. It has to be very powerful. I don’t think anyone would say that you could create a universe and not be powerful. It also must be intelligent. This universe works remarkably well. It doesn’t seem like some haphazard accident.
We know four things about this cause: powerful, intelligent, immaterial and personal. What does that kind of sound like to you? That sounds a whole lot like God to me and it sounds a whole lot like God to other people too, which is why this argument has been used for centuries. It was first used by Islamic scholars around the 12th century to argue for the existence of Allah.
Remember, this argument only proves the existence of a God. It doesn’t tell you which God is He, whether it’s Allah or Yahweh of the Bible, but it does take us remarkably far.
I think this is just a very good argument that you can use. You can use with your children. You can use with the 45-year old PhD. You can use it with anyone. It’s remarkably simple.
Inevitably, someone will say, “Well, who created God? God created the universe, well who made Him?”
There are a couple of ways to handle this. Depending on how good of a sense of humor the person has you could say, “How much does yellow weigh? Does blue smell good?” You can keep going with that type of nonsense talking, they’re going to say, “What are you talking about?”
Here’s the thing: asking how much a color weighs is a category error. You’re asking about a type of property that that object can’t have. Colors don’t have weights. Colors also don’t have smells. If they do, you should probably see a doctor. In the same way, it’s a category error to ask when an uncreated being was created.
In this conversation you’re having with this non-Christian, they don’t think God was created because they don’t think He exists and you don’t think God was created either, so no one in this conversation thinks God was created. All the argument says, all the cosmological argument says, is that anything that begins to exist has a cause.
God never began to exist. He has always existed. Just because we don’t have an explanation for that doesn’t mean we’re not justifying and believing that God created everything.
There’s also this tendency today to say, “Unless you can explain every part of a system or a chain of events, you’re not justifying believing it.” What’s amusing to me is that the person making this is standing firmly planted on Terra firma, on earthm while this make this claim. They’re standing there and they’re not floating away because of the force of gravity.
Physicists don’t know why gravity exists or why it works. Yes, we have some equations that can model it, but we don’t understand it fundamentally and yet we still do great feats with it. We put people on the moon because we can calculate gravity, we can work with it, but we don’t understand why it exist.
In the same way, I think we can make a parallel. We can understand what God did, that He created, but we’re not going to understand everything about Him or how it works for a being to have always existed and not had a beginning.
My main point in this is it’s not logically contradictory to say that God did not have a beginning but the universe did. The science supports it, even the recent discovery in the last few years of gravity waves points to the universe having a beginning which raises the question: where did it come from?
I hope you’ve seen today on Unapologetic that there’s a very simple and powerful argument for God’s existence that you can use with the young, with the old, with the educated with the uneducated, that whatever comes into existence has a cause. The universe came into existence, therefore the universe has a cause.
Personally, in my moments of doubt, brief as they may be, this is one of the things I turn to to just reground myself, to recenter and say, “Yes, Christianity makes sense.” It makes so much more sense to say that there’s a God than that there isn’t because we’re here.
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