We are going to spend a few weeks on this very important question. It is one of the most fundamental questions that will be asked to those of us who believe in God. How do you know He exists? How can you prove it?
Have you ever been asked these sorts of questions? It’s important to consider how you would respond because if we just say we don’t know we will just appear a bit silly.
In this increasingly secular culture, the existence of God is becoming an ever more irrelevant issue. Until we tackle this issue, it can cause a stumbling block to belief in God.
Most people aren’t even aware that there are perfectly rational and logical explanations for the existence of God, but indeed there are a number of significant arguments that God exists and we will cover 3 of the main ones over the coming weeks.
I liken these different arguments to gathering evidence at a crime scene. Just one clue on its own is not very convincing, but if you gather eyewitness evidence, DNA, physical and forensic evidence it all adds up to a very strong case. That is what it is like with the existence of God. Each argument for the existence of God builds upon the other until I believe you have a very compelling case.
The three main arguments for the existence of God are the argument from creation (also called the cosmological argument) the argument from design (also called the teleological argument) and simply the moral argument.
This week we will look at the cosmological argument. Don’t be put off by the lofty sounding title, the basic premises of this argument are essentially very simple and can actually solidify and cement your own faith.
There are three main parts to this argument which are set out in statements using the logical principles we have covered in recent weeks. They can be adapted slightly but basically they are:
· The universe had a beginning.
· Anything that had a beginning must have been caused by something else.
· Therefore the universe was caused by something else, which we call God.
A very simple but powerful argument and one with huge implications if you can agree with each statement. As you can imagine people don’t agree with every statement, but there is a logical reason to agree with each of them, which we will now look at briefly.
(1) The universe had a beginning
It sounds like an obvious statement and something that is natural to our existence. Everything we see around us had a beginning, what we would call a ‘cause’. The trouble with people fully accepting this argument is they would either have to admit that the universe caused itself or that the universe had another cause, leading to the obvious assumption that the cause would have to be a higher power (God). This trying to wriggle out of admitting that there is a higher power has led to some very illogical conclusions, one of which being that the universe is eternal (A logical impossibility!).
The general consensus now from the majority of scientists and astronomers is that the universe did have a beginning. This was because in the 1920’s came the development of ever more powerful telescopes to look into the night sky and astronomers such as Edwin Hubble used these telescopes to discover galaxies beyond our own. He also discovered the fact that the universe is actually expanding (rather like spots on an inflating balloon). It was this discovery that birthed the now popular concept of the ‘big bang’ the fact that if the universe is expanding it must have expanded from one central point.
(2) Anything that had a beginning must have been caused by something else.
This would seem to be a straightforward argument too, but in order to try and disprove God some people have attempted to prove that things can just pop into existence out of nothing. They will use the example of subatomic particles (virtual particles) which appear to pop in and out of existence due to a fluctuation of energy contained in a vacuum. But clearly that is not ‘nothing’ the fact there is fluctuating energy shows that is something. We are talking about absolutely nothing (the absence of anything!) The question would be if the universe just suddenly popped into existence, why do we not see other things just randomly pop into existence? Almost everyone agrees that things with a beginning are caused by something or someone else.
(3) Therefore, the universe was caused by something else, which we call God.
So proceeding from the almost universally accepted scientific evidence that the universe had a beginning and the accepted fact that anything with a beginning is caused by something else, this leads us to the conclusion that the universe had to have been caused by something else.
So what was it that caused the universe? To use logic again we can come to quite a few conclusions to determine the thing that created the universe. Logic would dictate the following attributes:
· Personal (i.e. able to choose to create)
· uncaused (not having a cause of its own)
· Eternal (having no beginning or end)
· Immaterial (not being made of any matter – spirit)
· Infinitely powerful
· Infinitely intelligent.
That description sounds very much like the God of the bible!
Have you noticed the flaw yet that people will immediately raise as an objection?
So what caused God?
A derivative of the cosmological argument called the ‘Kalam cosmological argument’ asserts that this is not important. The argument does not say that everything needs a cause; it says that “everything that has a beginning needs a cause” Something without a beginning doesn’t require a cause it has always existed. God is the original “uncaused cause.”
Everything we have looked at in this post is a powerful argument for the existence of an uncaused first cause but it doesn’t necessarily point to the God of the bible, in fact the Kalam argument was originally developed by Muslims (Al-kindi in the 9thcentury AD)
But as I said at the beginning, it is just one foundation alongside many others that build together to form a strong argument for the existence of God. I have found this excellent short video which clearly demonstrates what I have been saying
Next week we will look at the argument for God’s existence from design.