Have you ever asked yourself where the universe came from? Why is it here? Why is there something rather than nothing? Did the universe have a beginning or has it always existed?
Through the centuries many Atheists have held that the universe has always existed; eternally and uncaused. However, the evidence, both philosophical and scientific, seems to cut against this position. As the evidence for an absolute beginning to space-time continues to build, there is less and less credibility to the ancient Greek philosophical notion of a beginning-less universe.
The cosmological argument is, in my view, the most important argument in all of philosophy. If successful, it shows that the cause of the universe must be an uncaused, timeless, spaceless, immaterial, unembodied mind. In other words, this argument, relying solely on philosophy and cosmology, shows that a theistic God exists.
The cosmological argument is also notable for its ancient roots. Three hundred years before Christ, Aristotle argued for the logical necessity of a “prime mover” and in the 11th century, the Islamic scholar, Al Ghazali formulated something like the modern iteration. However, one of the most compelling aspects of the cosmological argument is that is so well supported by modern cosmology and astrophysics.
The form of the argument which I will defend here is known as The Kalam Cosmological Argument, revitalized by Christian apologist William Lane Craig and so named for its origin in Islamic scholarship. The argument consists of two premises and a conclusion:
- Anything that begins to exist has a cause.
- The universe began to exist.
- Therefore, the universe has a cause.
Premise 1: Anything that begins to exist has a cause. This claim is, for the most part, uncontroversial in contemporary scholarship. The law of causality is foundational to science. After all, science is a search for causes. It is based on the idea that there are causal connections to every effect. To assert that anything can come into being without a cause is to completely undermine the work of science. Denying the first premise of the cosmological argument is a deadly pill for the person committed to seeking truth.
Even the great skeptic, David Hume, eventually affirmed this principle.
“I never asserted so absurd a proposition as that anything might arise without a cause…” – David Hume
Even so, there have been some notable objectors. Enter prominent theoretical physicist Lawrence Krauss.
In his book A Universe from Nothing , Dr. Krauss argues that the universe could have sprung into being from nothing. There is much that could be said about his book, but the fatal flaw in Dr. Krauss’ objection is his definition of “nothing”. Quantum vacuums, simply put, are not nothing! Nor is gravity, nor are the laws of physics! Nothing literally means “no things”, or to use Aristotle’s definition, “what rocks dream about”. So we are still left with explaining how matter can come from non-matter… And that is another matter (see what I did there).
Premise 2: The universe began to exist. This premise is supported by “big bang” cosmology, the second law of thermodynamics, Aristotelian philosophy, and even, as I have argued, by evolution. But I will focus here on only a few lines of scientific evidence and philosophy:
- The “red-shift” of distant galaxies: Light, like sound, travels in waves. When an object is moving away from us, it appears red because the light waves are stretched out. Conversely, light moving towards us appears blue because the waves are compressed. The red shift observed in distant galaxies shows us that the universe is expanding and we can extrapolate from the whole of our observations that the universe was once condensed into a very small initial point.
- Cosmic microwave background radiation (CMB): Present everywhere in space, CMB is the residual heat of creation predicted by the big bang theory and discovered by accident in 1964 by Robert Wilson and Arno Penzias. Read more about CMB and its implications here.
- The 2nd law of thermodynamics: Simply put, this law states that, as energy is transferred, more and more of it is wasted. What this means is that our universe is that it is running out of usable energy and will eventually end in heat death. If the universe were eternal in the past, this “death” would have already occurred. If the amount of time in the past were infinite, we would have run out of energy by now according to the 2nd law of thermodynamics. Therefore, the universe is not eternal in the past, but had a beginning.
- The Impossibility of an actual infinite number of past events. As Aristotle recognized, there were good philosophical reasons to deny the past infinitude of the universe well before the rise of modern science. I.e. If the number of days in the past were INFINITE, we would have never reached the present day. Likewise, if you could travel back in time, no matter how far back you go, there would still be an infinite number of days in the past. This is metaphysically absurd. For further reading on the absurdity of an actual infinity, I recommend Reasonable Faith by William Lane Craig
Many Atheists have resisted this premise because of the obvious theological implications. As such, it seems as if there is a new theory every day devised to avoid an absolute beginning to space-time, but most of these models are evidence free and ALL of them fail to resolve the philosophical absurdities.
Thus, the second premise “the universe began to exist” is true.
Conclusion: Therefore, universe has a cause. And since the universe is composed of time, space and matter, the uncaused first cause of the universe is, by definition, timeless, space-less and immaterial. In other words, the cause of the universe is what Christians would call “God”.
Or am I wrong? Let me know in the comments section and click follow if you want to see new posts as soon as they are published!