Whether you believe that the universe is six-thousand years old or sixteen-billion years old, the consensus in science is not questioning whether or not it actually began, but why and how it did so. While there is still a small handful of academics that try to argue against the universe’s initial ignition, repeated experimentation, examination, analysis and testing has shown that at one point in time there was nothing, and then from nowhere… something.
Cosmological arguments for the existence of God may include the Leibnizian, which asks why something exists, instead of nothing, the Thomist, which attempts to discover sustaining ground of being in the world and the Kalam, which explains the first cause of the beginning of the universe. Classical defenders of this argument include such names as Plato, Aristotle, ibn Sina, al-Ghazali, Maimonides, Anselm, Aquinas, Scotus, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, and Locke, to name a few.1
The syllogism for this argument is pretty simple and goes like this:
- Everything that begins to exist has a cause
- The universe began to exist
- Therefore the universe has a cause
Since the first premise is plainly obvious to just about everyone outside of asylums, I won’t spend unnecessary time on it, unless responder email requires me to. What I will do in this article is go over some of the evidence that supports the argument’s conclusion and then explain why it points to a creator of the universe.
Expansion of the Universe
Before the 1920’s, most astronomers figured that the universe was stationary and without beginning. This view however was struck a devastating blow in 1917 while Albert Einstein was working on his General Theory of Relativity when he found that his theory would not allow for an eternal and static universe unless he fudged his equations in order to make them say something that he preferred. A decision he decided to make. But what his calculations resulted in was a highly unstable universe, where the slightest transfer of matter from one side of the cosmos to the other could cause it to either expand or implode.2 However, British cosmologist Arthur Eddington (1919), after conducting his own experiments discovered that Einstein’s initial findings were true; the universe had a beginning!3
After the Russian mathematician Alexander Friedman found the mistakes in Einstein’s work, he and Belgian astronomer Georges Lemaître were able to put together a more accurate and stable model of equations in the 1920’s which predicted not only a finite universe, but an expanding universe. This monumental theory in science was indeed revolutionary as it showed that not only was the universe a fixed entity, but it was a vibrant object with history, motion and majesty!4
As proof of their theory, in 1929, the American astronomer Edwin Hubble observed that light from distant galaxies was always passing further into the red spectrum. This was taken to be a Doppler effect which showed that the light sources were always moving further out of our line of sight.5
Through further study, it was established that the distance between galaxies is always getting larger and larger as time goes on (Much like how dots drawn on a balloon get further and further apart as it is inflated). If we were to turn back time and observe those same stars, we would see the galaxies get closer together and space get more dense as we get nearer to the beginning of time, until finally, they collide and condense down into a singularity. If you were to go that point and then press play once again, what you would see is what Fred Hoyle called, ‘;The Big Bang.’ According to P.C.W. Davies, this event not only represents the creation event, but the moment that matter, energy, space and time themselves came into being.6
The Second Law of Thermodynamics
In an attempting to present evidence from an extremely difficult field to understand, I will do my best to make the following understandable to those with no formal education in the field. Thermodynamics is a field of study which studies the relationship of heat with other forms of energy. The second law of this field describes how processes within a closed system always tend to head toward a state of equilibrium.7
An example of this could be: If you were to walk into an airtight room (Closed system) that was filled halfway with oxygen and halfway with nitrogen, you would not expect to walk in and observe all the oxygen on one side of the room and all the nitrogen on the other; but you would expect the mixture to be about even throughout the entire chamber. But if that room had a vent that was constantly pumping in one of the two elements (Open system), there wouldn’t be any consistency in the density of the two gasses throughout the area because there would be an agent that is constantly presenting chaos into what would otherwise be an equilibrium.
While this may sound confusing at first, it is fairly simple to wrap your mind around once you get all the facts. Our universe is what is known as a gigantic closed system, no energy going in and no energy going out. In the nineteenth century, scientists realized that if the second law is true and we are in fact in a closed system, then at some point of time we will have to reach a state of equilibrium, where no change is possible. This is known as ‘;heat death,’ when all usable energy is exhausted. While there are varying views as to how and what exactly will happen during this time, the point stands that if the universe is infinitely old, we would’ve reached this state an infinite amount of time ago. Since we see that this state has not yet been reached, it is safe to say that the universe was started a finite time ago and we have yet to come to the ‘;heat death.’8
Radiation from the Big Bang
In 1965, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson discovered - quite by accident - one of the most important findings of the last century. While working at Bell Lab, they came across the radiation that was the afterglow from the Big Bang! Since 1948, it had been said that if the Big Bang did in fact occur, that this radiation should still exist in the universe and in fact, it does.9
Upon further examination of this radiation after NASA launched the satellite titled COBE (Cosmic Background Explorer) in 1989, astronomer George Smoot released his findings in 1992 which said that the radiation contained predicted ripples which revealed that the explosion and expansion of the universe was precisely tweaked to allow for just the right amount of matter to congregate to form galaxies but not so much that it would cause the universe to collapse back on itself. Any slight variation one way or the other and none of us would be around to discover it.10
Pointing to a Creator
So how does the fact of the universe having a beginning point to God in any way? Surely Einstein saw the problem as did Eddington. A Big Bang means someone pulled the trigger. But how can we show this more fully? Philosopher William Lane Craig explains that whatever the cause of the universe was, it had to contain a certain set of properties. For example, in order to cause space and time, the cause itself must be outside space (immaterial) and time (timeless). Additionally, it must be uncaused, unimaginably powerful and personal.
Why personal? Because whatever the cause is, it must be both timeless and immaterial. The only things we know of that can posses such properties are either minds or abstract objects, such as numbers. But since abstract objects cannot cause anything by their very definition, the cause of the universe must have a mind. That mind is God.11
- Craig, William Lane., and James Porter Moreland. The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. Chichester, U.K.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. 101. Print.
- Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008. 171. Print.
- Geisler, Norman L., and Frank Turek. I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2004. 73. Print.
- Reasonable Faith: Christian Truth and Apologetics. 125-126
- Ibid. 126
- Ibid. 140-141
- Ibid. 141-144
- I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. 81
- Ibid. 82
- Reasonable Faith. 152-153