Objections to the Cosmological Argument

October 13, 2011

Talk to the hand!

In my last post I introduced the Cosmological Argument to you and in this post I want to address some objections or questions that may come up from those you share with.  If you missed the Cosmological Argument click here to read it first.

The most likely response to the Cosmological Argument that you may get is a question, “Who made God?”   This is a key question in Richard Dawkins’ book The God Delusion.    Apologist Sean McDowell notes “While rhetorically powerful, this objection misses the point of the argument.  The claim is not that everything has a cause.  Rather, everything that begins to exist has a cause.”  Think about it, if God was caused, then you would have an infinite regress without a beginning.  Remember our conclusion from the last post.

Since the universe is physical, finite in space, has a beginning, and slowly running out of energy we can then say the cause had to be outside the physical, (i.e. non-physical) infinite, timeless, changeless, and powerful.  Sounds a little like the God the Bible describes.

While this doesn’t point to a particular God, like that of the Bible, the character traits that are given this creator/beginner are the same as the God of the Bible.  God is non-physical, infinite, timeless, changeless, and powerful.  This type of being does not need a cause.

Another objection you might hear from someone is that the universe caused itself to come into existence without the aid of anything outside itself.  This is as it sounds, absurd.  It that were possible, why wouldn’t other things come into existence all by themselves also?  Why don’t we have people or basketballs randomly appearing in the universe?  The laws of nature cannot explain how this might be, this is the ultimate magicians rabbit out of the hat trick.

One last objection to the Cosmological Argument might be to the premise that the universe does not have a beginning.  Someone may want to challenge your statement that you make on a beginning.  They may point out that the recent work of Stephen Hawking, a brilliant Astrophysicist and mathematician.   Hawking says that the beginning of the universe can be avoided because time has been rounded off at the final moments before the Big Bang Singularity.  The way that Hawking got this to work in mathematical equations was with the use of imaginary numbers combined with Einsteins equations.  Unfortunately these numbers do not work out when you replace the imaginary numbers with real numbers in real life.  “But if the universe can be eternal and uncaused,” as Sean McDowell states “then why can’t God?”   What is most unreasonable is to suppose that the universe arose, uncaused from nothing.

As always, questions, comments, discussions are welcome.  If you can think of any other objects feel free to post them in a comment.

Starting at the Beginning

October 12, 2011

It’s time to start looking at the evidence and reasons for having a Christian worldview.  Before you can look at the Bible and Evidence that supports Christianity, we need to step back and look at the evidence  and reasons that point to the existence of a God or gods first.  After we show support for the existence of a God, then we will move toward the evidence for Christianity.    A good place to start would be at the beginning.

As Christians we know the universe and the world had a beginning.  The first verse in the Bible says “In [the] Beginning God created [the] heavens and [the] earth” – Genesis 1:1.  (I put accents around the word “the”  because in the Hebrew language,  in which it was written in there was not a definite article.  It is added to make it easier to read.)  So we believe according to the Bible that the universe had a beginning.  According to the law of non-contradiction, the universe either had a beginning or it did not, both cannot be correct.  So, is there any evidence or reasons that we can point to that support the claim in the Bible?  There are!

The first argument we will look at is called the Cosmological Argument or also know as the Argument for a Creator or The First Cause.  It is also called the Kalām Cosmological Argument, because it is related to Islamic theologians of the Kalām tradition in Medieval times.  The origins of the Cosmological argument go all the way back to Aristotle in which he called it The Prime Mover. I’m sure he wasn’t the first to think about the beginning though, just the earliest we can trace back in writings.  Thomas Aquinas who lived in the 3rd century wrote extensively about it in Summa Theologica, perhaps his greatest work.

The Cosmological Argument is a philosophical argument that is based on the Principal of Causality and states the following 4 premises and conclusions:

  1. Premise: Everything that has a beginning has a cause.
  2. Premise: The universe had  a beginning.
  3. Conclusion: The universe had a cause.
  4. Conclusion: The cause of the universe is a personal, uncaused, non-physical being, we call God.

Think about cause and effect that you learned about in school.  Every Effect that happens had a cause that made it come to be.  If you imagine a row of domino’s that are lined up one in front of the other.  You push the first domino down and it falls into the next domino in the row, which in turn causes the second domino to fall on the 3rd domino in the row, and so on and so on.   If you were to look at the reverse order of the domino’s you can trace back each effect to a cause before it.  For example, What caused the 10th domino to fall, it was pushed by the 9th Domino.   What caused the 9th Domino to fall?  It was pushed by the 8th Domino.  You can trace them all the way back to the first domino.  What caused the first domino to fall?  We can see it wasn’t another domino.  What or Who caused the first domino to fall?  In the example, the person did.  Whenever you are tracing back a line of cause and effect relationships and an effect cannot be explained by a “what” it must be a “who” that caused it.

Now if we look at our two premises from above and examine them we will see how solid the Cosmological argument is.  Premise 1: Everything that has a beginning has a cause.  We have never observed something that began that did not have a cause in the history of modern man.  Anyone would be crazy not to accept that premise.  The second premise is a little harder, but we do have scientific evidence for premise 2: The universe had a beginning.  Here are the details.

1. The universe is winding down.  The cosmological constant (the expansion rate of the universe) shows us that the universe is gradually getting bigger and spreading out further and further from itself.  It is slowing down to a point of entropy.  (where all energy will equalize and come to rest, think of coffee cooling off in a mug slowly over time or a coin that is tossed and eventually comes to rest.)  If you follow the motion of the stars and galaxies backward they lead to a point where they all come together at a starting point.  Common sense would tell you that in order for the universe to wind down, it must have been first wound up by something or someone.

2. Philosophically, if there were no beginning of the universe, then we would not be here in the present.  Imagine a number line and trying to count to 0 from a negative infinity.  You can’t do it.

3. The natural sciences have a problem when it comes to matter.  Where did matter come from?  No matter how you back up the tape of time and divide and section the physical material world, you always have the same problem as you did before, where did that matter come from, what caused the matter to ‘be’?  You can look at atomic and sub-atomic particles and still ask where they came from.

Even the Big Bang Singularity states that there was a beginning of the universe.  Darwinian evolutionists know this and they are frantically looking for a way around the scientific evidence that they have now.  Steven Hawking, in his latest book, The Grand Design, has come up with a theory where the universe has no beginning.  Unfortunately, it is all done on mathematical models and imaginary numbers, and doesn’t pan out in the real world.  It even involves alternate universes and mini-universes!    It really goes to show you that they would rather accept a theory of the absurd, one like Hawking’s, rather than to accepted the Divine “foot in the door” evidence of a creator.   They so desperately want the universe to not have a cause, because they know the evidence of a cause will shut the door on their atheistic view of the universe.  I will come back to Hawking’s theory and others in a future post.

The Cosmological Argument gives us 5 specific traits of the first cause of the universe.  Since the universe is physical, finite in space, has a beginning, and slowly running out of energy we can then say the cause had to be outside the physical, (i.e. non-physical) infinite, timeless, changeless, and powerful.  Sounds a little like the God the Bible describes.

My next post will discuss some objections about the Cosmological Argument.  In the next weeks we will look at other arguments that point to a theistic worldview.  As always, questions, comments, discussions welcome.

Defining Terms: Law of Non-Contradiction

October 5, 2011

Law of Non-Contradiction
2 statements are made that contradict each other.  One must be true and the other must be false.  For example: “There is only one God.” and “There are multiple Gods.”  These statements contradict one another and therefore one must be false.

Ravi Zacharias often uses this example:
A husband and wife are going for a walk down the street for a walk together. They meet another couple on their walk and stop to talk to each other.  One of the other people make a statement “”I hear that both of you are pregnant.”   Immediately  together the wife says “yes” and husband says “no.”  The other couple is confused and waiting for an explanation.  Perhaps she is pregnant, and he doesn’t know yet, or perhaps there is a problem in the marriage.  Whatever the reason a woman cannot be both pregnant and not pregnant at the same time.

This law will keep a person honest when it comes to several things in apologetics.  It will also help someone who is hesitant to make a judgment about a position to decide where they stand on it.  For example in future posts we will discuss evidence that the universe had a beginning.  According to the law of non-contradiction  the universe either had a beginning or it did not.  Atheists have motives for not wanting the universe to have a beginning, because ever effect has a cause.  Christians gladly point to God as the first cause.  Even the Big Bang Singularity points to a beginning, even though it is not accepted by many Christians.    That’s why physicists like Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose are continuing to work on other alternative theories about the origin of the universe.