Is There Any Evidence?
Sometimes as Christians we can find ourselves cornered by non-believers who seem to have scientific evidence that God does not exist. The secular world has developed such a love affair with science and the desire to eliminate the unknown. Sometimes their arguments can sound quite compelling, at least on the surface. But a little information can be very dangerous. While Christians stand on solid ground scientifically, they may not even know it, and many Christians seem to resort to silly defenses of their faith. Atheists listen carefully to what we say in as we try to argue for the existence of God, and have compiled a list of ridiculous defenses:
The “Nature is Pretty” Argument
(1) Check out that tree. Isn’t it pretty?
(2) Therefore, God exists.
The Argument from “Miracles”
(1) My aunt Eloise was most likely going to die from cancer.
(2) She didn’t.
(3) Therefore, God exists.
The “Moral” Argument
(1) In my younger days I was a cursing, drinking, smoking, gambling, thieving, murdering, bed -wetting jerk.
(2) That all changed once I became religious.
(3) Therefore, God exists.
The Argument from “Fear”
(1) If there is no God then we’re all going to die.
(2) Therefore, God exists.
The Argument from “The Bible”
(1) [arbitrary passage from OT]
(2) [arbitrary passage from NT]
(3) Therefore, God exists.
The “Parental” Argument
(1) My mommy and daddy told me that God exists.
(2) Therefore, God exists
The Argument from “Intelligence”
(1) Look, there’s really no point in me trying to explain the whole thing to you stupid atheists – it’s too complicated for you to understand. God exists whether you like it or not.
(2) Therefore, God exists.
The Argument from “Creation”
(1) If evolution is false, then creationism is true, and therefore God exists.
(2) Evolution can’t be true, since I lack the mental capacity to understand it; moreover, to accept its truth would cause me to be uncomfortable
(3) Therefore, God exists.
We Had the Evidence All Along
Yes, these are tragically un-compelling arguments that many of us have made over the years, trying to argue for God’s existence. And they are tragic because all the while, as we have sometimes squirmed and felt uncomfortable that the world seems to be piling the scientific evidence up against our belief system, we never even examined this evidence well enough to realize that the more we discover through scientific observation, the more support we have for the TRUTH of God’s existence. In reality, the scientific explorations of the past 100 years should not make us uncomfortable at all. The discoveries of science should make us even more certain, as they continue to point to God’s existence! It’s the scientists who have become more and more uncomfortable, doing whatever they can to deny the reality of what they observe. We simply need to examine the evidence and make the case from what we see.
The Effort to Understand the Eternal
Now every world view on the planet has to, in some way, deal with the mystery of the eternal and the infinite. Christians aren’t the only ones who have questioned and struggled to understand the nature of infinity. Scientists have pondered the notion for generations. All of us want to understand eternity, especially as it may relate to our origins:
“What was here before anything was here?”
“If there is a God, where did he come from?”
“How can time be infinite? Was there a time before time?”
Whatever We Call Eternal, That Is Our God
It’s our desire to understand the eternal and infinite that drives us to science and, ultimately, to theology. You see, whatever we decide is infinite, that is the thing that we will recognize as the mysterious almighty being or entity. If, for example we decide that the universe had no beginning and has always existed, we are basically recognizing the universe as the mysterious almighty force. It is, in essence the source of everything, including itself, and is, therefore, God. Carl Sagan took this view of things:
“The Cosmos (notice the capital “C”) is everything that ever was, is and will be.”
That’s a rather theological sounding statement, and Carl intended it to be. For Carl, the universe (the “Cosmos”) truly is God. He recognized the fact that we assign deity to whatever we call eternal. Many of us don’t believe that the universe is eternal and infinite, but instead believe that the cosmos are created and finite. We believe instead that there is a creative being that possesses these attributes of eternity. We call that being God. But be certain 0of one thing. All us believe in deity. Some of us have assigned this deity to the physical world we can see, and others have assigned this deity to a being who is spiritual in nature. None of us live without faith in something that we think of as eternal and all-powerful.
What Causes It?
Now as we are discussing the reality of eternity, we need to understand a basic scientific principle that guides us in examinations of this nature. It is the Principle of Causality. To even begin to understand the nature of the universe and the existence of God, we have to begin with the realization that most everything we observe has a cause; something that caused it to come into being or move, or act or continue. If you came into a room and observed a ball rolling across the room, you would naturally look around to see who kicked it. Why? Because you understand that the ball can’t just start moving on its own without the help of someone who could place it in motion. You recognize that the ball has no ability to move without an initial cause; an initial ‘mover’. Scientists also recognize this reality and have developed a list of things that require a cause:
Every EFFECT has a cause
Everything that BEGINS has a cause
Everything that CHANGES has a cause
Everything that is FINITE has a cause
Everything that is LIMITED has a cause
It’s important for us to understand this. Even one the world’s historical skeptics understood that most everything in our world has a cause:
David Hume (1711-1776)
“I never asserted so absurd a proposition as that anything might arise without a cause.”
Applying Causality to the Cosmos
Now if we apply this simply reality of causality to the universe that we observe, we can make a classic argument for the existence of God. It is called the “Cosmological Argument” and it is perhaps the strongest continuing argument for the presence of God. With thousands and thousands of scientists working for generations to prove that God does not exist, they are still left with the reality of the cosmological argument. This argument continues to defy them and defend the truth of God’s existence. Let’s take a look at it step by step:
(1) The Universe Has a Beginning
(we take this position because the evidence supports it)
(2) Anything That Has a Beginning Must Have Been Caused By Something Else
(we know this from the Principal of Causality)
(3) Therefore, the Universe Must Have a Cause
(that certainly follows)
(4) This Cause Must Be Eternal and Uncaused
(or it too would have a cause, and then we are back where we started)
(5) The Cause is God
(we recognize deity in that which is eternal and uncaused!)
This simple five step argument, like any argument, rests on an assumption. If point number one is true, the argument proceeds without question to point five. If the universe has a beginning, it must also have a beginner. One understanding leads to the final conclusion. If the first point is true, then we have to deal with the reality of the presence of God, the eternal cause of everything that we see.
The Argument Over a Beginning
As Christians we simply need to discover whether or not the evidence supports the notion that the universe has a beginning. If it does, there is a God. If it doesn’t, than Carl Sagan is right and the universe is a god unto itself. So, what does the evidence show? To understand the evidence, we can look in many places, and one of the clearest writers on the topic has been Robert Jastrow, an astrophysicist who established NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies in 1961 (this is a U.S. Government laboratory charged with carrying out research in astronomy and planetary science). He is presently the Director and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Mount Wilson Institute which manages the Mount Wilson Observatory. In his book, “God and the Astronomers”, he talks about the evidence for the beginning of the universe. As we examine and understand these evidences, we get a clear picture and understanding that brings us to the conclusion that the universe did, in fact, have a beginning.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics
This simply law recognizes the fact that heat will not flow spontaneously from a cold object to a hot object. In fact, hot objects dissipate their heat into the surrounding environment and become cold! It also recognizes that any system which is free of external influences becomes more disordered with time. This disorder can be expressed in terms of the quantity that we call ‘entropy’. Over time, things become less ordered, not more ordered. Less intricate and sophisticated, not more ordered and complex. In essence, the second law of thermodynamics recognizes that everything in our universe and in our world, if not acted upon by an outside force, continues to run down and deteriorate.
Many of us have played with wind up toys over the years. We all recognize that after the toy is wound, we can enjoy watching it perform the activity it is designed for. But we all know that over the span of a few seconds, the toy will eventually slow down and stop as it runs out of energy. As we observe the second law of thermodynamics in our environment, we also recognize that the universe has an ultimate destiny of cessation. Everything is running out of energy, from our sun to the stars in our galaxy. But if we look back in time, we also have to recognize that the further we retreat on the calendar, the higher the level of heat and energy in our universe. The Cosmos themselves are unwinding, and point to a time when they were wound much tighter than they are today. We are living in a “wind-up” universe that, by implication, has a point in the distant past in which the universe had not yet been wound. And the only question is, “what wound it up to begin with”?
Expansion of the Universe
The second reality that the universe had a beginning is the observation that the cosmos are actually expanding. Over the years, a number of scientists have come to this conclusion through both academic research and simply observation.
Albert Einstein, in 1905, developed the Special Theory of Relativity that involved measurements of length, velocity and time from moving observers. These equations led to the now famous equation E = mc2, which describes how matter and energy can be converted from one form to another. In 1915, by applying relativity to Newtonian physics, Einstein derived the equations of general relativity which describe the relationships between gravity, the speed of light, mass, and other factors in regard to the universe as a whole. What did all this show him? He realized that the universe is experiencing negative acceleration, or decelerating. As he and others used his equations to solve more equations, they also began to recognize that the universe is expanding. What, in nature, is simultaneously expanding and decelerating? An explosion.
Alexander Friedman, a Russian mathematician working in the 1920’s with Einstein’s theories, used the mathematics to prove that the universe is expanding. His work was being paralleled at the time by astronomers in Belgium who independently came to the same conclusion.
Vesto Slipher, an astronomer, presented findings at an obscure astronomy meeting in 1914 which showed that several ‘nebulae’ were receding away from the earth. A graduate student named Hubble was in attendance and realized the implications.
Edwin Hubble later proved that these nebulae were actually galaxies, composed of billions of stars. In 1929 he proposed the law of red shifts. Galaxies which are moving away from the earth demonstrate emission spectra with bands that are shifted toward the red (or longer wavelengths) end of the spectrum, and Hubble observed that these distant galaxies demonstrated this red shift phenomena. In essence, he proved by observation, that the universe is indeed expanding.
All these observations revealed a universe that is expanding like a balloon. Imagine that the individual galaxies are drawn on the balloon surface. As the edge of the balloon expands the edge galaxies are moving away from center, distributing mass outward, away from the center nucleus. This is what we are seeing in the universe today, mass moving away from center. But let’s think about it for a second. If we could reverse the process and ‘deflate the balloon, moving backward in time, we start to see an initial point of convergence. A very small, tiny point of beginning! The science is showing us that the universe seems to having a beginning.
The Radiation Echo
The third piece of evidence that Jastrow cites as he develops the case for a universe that has a beginning, is the existence of underlying radiation in the universe. Of course, as this radiation was discovered, the larger question of it’s source became the central issue:
Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson discovered this cosmic microwave background radiation in 1963, and the discovery seemed to set the sea of approval for the Big Bang theory. It brought cosmology to the forefront as a scientific discipline. It was the long sought proof that the universe was born at a definite moment in time.
COBE, (the Cosmic Background Explorer satellite) was successfully launched into space in November of 1989 with instruments aboard capable of measuring the radiation echo left behind from the Big Bang. In April 1992, the final summary of COBE’s data was made public and hailed as unprecedented. Stephen Hawking, author of “A Brief History of Time”, called the discovery, “The most important discovery of the century, if not all time.” This affirmed, once again, that the universe had a beginning.
The Philosophy of Infinite Regression
As if these three evidences weren’t enough to prove that the universe has a beginning, there is also a very powerful philosophical reality related to the concept of infinity that comes into play when we think about the start of the universe. It’s a tough concept, but an important one to understand. If the universe truly did exist from all eternity, then time would also exist from all eternity. There would be no ‘beginning of time’. If this were actually true, we could never arrive at today. That’s right, if you don’t have a solid and definite place from which you begin time, you can never measure your way up to the present day. Imagine a race track with a starting line and a set of starting blocks. You set up in the blocks and get ready to start the race. Looking down the track, you can see the finish line. It’s just one hundred yards away. You can get there! But just before you start the race, I come up and pull back the block, forcing you to start from a few feet farther back. Well, no big deal, you can still make it, it’s just a little farther away. But just as you begin again, I come up and pull back the blocks once more. Frustrating, isn’t it? Well imagine if I continued to do that indefinitely. Every time you are just about to begin, I pull back the blocks. You would never be able to reach to finish line if I continued to distance your starting line! And that’s exactly what an infinite past does to the possibility of reaching the finish line of “today”. If there isn’t a firm ‘beginning of time’, there can be no ‘today’. You can’t ever reach the finish line. This truth alone should cause us to recognize that the universe had a beginning.
It seems that the hard work of Scientists in the last century, many of whom were determined to understand a universe without the assistance of theology, has in fact, pointed to a singular point in time in which everything we see in our universe begins. A point of beginning that calls undisputedly for a ‘first cause’; an ‘uncaused cause’; that very thing that we call God. Science and reason once again lead us to the presence of God in our universe.
Does Scripture Speak About Any of This?
It just so happens that what we observe in the universe has been known for thousands of years by those who have relied not on what they could prove, but what had been revealed to them from the mind of God. The Bible is replete with scriptures that tell us about the nature of our universe and the God who created it. Along the way, the observations of the scientists are confirmed:
“In the beginning you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment.” (God clearly tells us thousands of years ago that the principle of entropy is at work in our universe)
“It is I who made the earth and created mankind upon it. My own hands stretched out the heavens; I marshaled their starry hosts.” (The expression ‘stretched out’ is used over and over again in the scriptures to explain the process by which God created the universe. It is certainly consistent with our present understanding of an expanding universe)
“In the beginning God created the Heaven and the earth.”
1 Corinthians 2:6-7
“We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. No, we speak of God’s secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began.” (both the Genesis and 1 Corinthians passages, along with many more, indicate that time does have a beginning just as the principle of infinite regress affirms)
Scripture confirms what we now know to be true. It didn’t wait for the discovery. The scripture predicted the discovery because the scriptures come from the heart and knowledge of the eternal God who created everything we now see.
So Why Are They Still Denying It?
Even with all of this evidence to point to the fact that the universe has a beginning, there are still many scientists that are desperately searching for alternative theories that will deny the truth of a singular point of beginning. You have to ask yourself the question; “Why do so many scientists continue to deny what can so plainly be seen?”
Scripture confirms and predicts the fact that many of us will continue to deny the truth, even when it is sitting right in front of us:
They know everything that can be known about God, because God has shown it all to them. God’s eternal power and character cannot be seen. But from the beginning of creation, God has shown what these are like by all he has made. That’s why those people don’t have any excuse. They know about God, but they don’t honor him or even thank him. Their thoughts are useless, and their stupid minds are in the dark. They claim to be wise, but they are fools.
Trying to Defeat the First Premise
Scientists recognize the fact that if they accept the first point of the Cosmological Argument, they have to deal with the logical outcome. If they admit that the universe has a beginning, then they are going to have to admit that there is a ‘beginner’. And many of them, who want to deny a creator who can (and will) hold them accountable for the type of lives they are living, simply refuse to concede the first point. Einstein did not like the implications of what he had discovered, and all the observations that led to the Big Bang theory. He understood that these discoveries implied the existence of a Creator. He spent many years modifying his original equations to introduce a cosmological constant ‘fudge factor’ in an attempt to eliminate the need for a Creator. This cosmological constant remained undetected until the late 1990’s, and then it was many orders of magnitude smaller than that required to eliminate a beginning to the universe. Despite Einstein’s best effort, the truth of a singular beginning to the universe continues to plague us. So many other scientists have also been uncomfortable with the conclusions they have reached. Isn’t that interesting? Science has often pointed to believers as the ones who are uncomfortable with scientific conclusions when, in fact, we have the least need to be uncomfortable! It’s the scientists who should be (and are) squirming! But they have certainly tried valiantly to deny a beginning to the universe:
The Steady State Model
This theory is a model developed in 1949 by Sir Fred Hoyle, Thomas Gold and others as an alternative to the Big Bang theory. The steady state theory asserts that although the universe is expanding, it is simply the result of new matter being formed to keep the density equal over time. The most notable attribute of the theory was that it removed the need for the universe to have a beginning, but it had several flaws that caused scientists to abandon it. The theory violates the laws regulating the conservation of mass, has never been confirmed by a single observation, and was disproved in the late 1960’s, when observations supported the idea that the universe was in fact changing over time: quasars and radio galaxies were found only at large distances (which based on the red shift, and the finiteness of the speed of light, meant that they existed in the past) not in closer galaxies (which would be newer). In addition to this, the theory was destroyed with the discovery of the cosmic background radiation in 1965, which was predicted by the big bang theory. The Steady State theory tried to explain the radiation as the result of light from ancient stars which has been scattered by galactic dust. But this explanation has been unconvincing to most cosmologists as the cosmic microwave background is very smooth, making it difficult to explain how it arose from point sources, and the microwave background shows no evidence of features such as polarization which are normally associated with scattering (Big ideas that simply tell us that Steady State is an impossible dream)
The Oscillating Universe Model
Other writers and philosophers who didn’t want to acknowledge the need for a creator developed the oscillating universe model to attempt to get around the creation of the universe. George Gamow was one such thinker. This model stated that the universe explodes and then somehow slows and actually begins to contract again resulting in another point of density that eventually explodes once more. The universe was described as an infinite cycle of explosions and contractions, over and over again. While the model certainly attempts to describe an infinite universe with no beginning, it does not explain the creation of the first matter at all. So, there remains a need for a creator. Of course, this theory also had inherent, unrecoverable problems. After years of searching, scientists were never able to discover enough of the needed matter density to ‘close’ the universe. There would be insufficient gravity to cause it to stop expanding and collapse. And most physicists now think that, even if the cosmos should contract again, the result would be a ‘dull crunch’ instead of another Big Bang. Simply put, the cosmos would collapse into the Largest Black Hole Ever Made and just sit there. It couldn’t explode again. (Yet again, the idea that the universe had a beginning prevails)
Quantum Gravity Models
While a number of other theories have emerged over the years (like the Chaotic Inflationary Universe Theory and the Vacuum Flux Theory) all have ultimately met their demise for reasons similar to the Steady State and Oscillating Universe theories. The latest attempts at eliminating the need for a creator have come in the form of the Quantum Gravity Models. In 1983 Stephen Hawking and James Hartle, appealing to quantum physics seen at the level of subatomic particles, claimed that the universe could have just popped into existence out of absolutely nothing at the beginning of time. In his theory, Hawking employed the use of imaginary time, similar to the use of imaginary numbers in mathematics. Neither imaginary time nor imaginary numbers exist in the real world, so their use in describing the real universe is somewhat artificial. Even Hawking makes this admission:
“Only if we could picture the universe in terms of imaginary time would there be no singularities…. When one goes back to the real time in which we live, however, there will still appear to be singularities” (Hawking, S.W. 1988. A Brief History of Time, pp. 138-139).
But, alas, there are also problems with this theory. According to quantum physics, virtual particles can pop into existence from nothingness through ‘quantum tunneling’. Some cosmologists have suggested that the entire universe could have emerged in this way as a giant quantum particle. However, quantum theory states that quantum systems possess dynamic properties such as position, momentum, and spin orientation only when these properties are measured by some device or observer. The physical measuring devices themselves can be given a quantum physical description. Therefore, for the universe, there is the problem that there is nothing beyond quantum physics to make the measurement that is a necessary condition of the reality of the properties of the universe. Unless, of course, that observer is God Himself. The second problem with quantum cosmology is that quantum mechanics states that quantum events occur according to finite probabilities within finite time intervals. The larger the time interval, the greater the probability that a quantum event will occur. Outside of time, however, no quantum event is possible. Since time originated at the moment of the creation of the universe, quantum tunneling could not be its ‘creator.’ (That’s still a lot of big language to say simply that this theory fails to prove that the universe has no beginning).
It Still Points to a Singularity
All that being said, each and every attempt to develop a cosmology which avoids the singularity, the fact that the universe has a beginning, has utterly failed. We are left with the truth that as of today, the big bang theory is the one theory that the majority of astronomers consider the best description of the origin of the universe. In most astrophysical publications, the big bang is implicitly accepted and is used as the basis of more complete theories. So we’re back to the question: “Why can’t the scientists simply see what is staring them so plainly in the face?” Again, we might be able to turn to the ancient wisdom of an eternal God for an answer:
Why do the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’ Our God is in heaven; he does whatever pleases him. But their idols are silver and gold, made by the hands of men. They have mouths, but cannot speak, eyes, but they cannot see…
So often we are unwilling to look to an invisible God, because we are so captivated by the gods we do see. We are imprisoned by the visible world and our own pursuit of the worldly. We want to do what we please without limitation or restriction. And to admit that there might be a God who creates all that we can see, would be to admit that there is a God to whom we should be accountable. And that is often the reason why the people around us refuse to look at or admit to the evidence that is so clear on this issue. But make no mistake. Believers are not standing on faith that is not supported by science. In fact, we are the ONLY ones who have a faith that is substantive, supported by what is seen and measured. God can, in fact, be demonstrated from the very creation He has created. He can be proved form the universe itself.
The information on this webpage is a simple consolidation of the work of some great Christian thinkers, philosophers and scientists! If you really want to hit the information from a higher level, please visit the work of William Lane Craig (especially related to cosmology) at his website HERE!Click here
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