When you look around at the night sky, what do you see? Have you ever seen the Aurora Borealis? Imagine if you could travel through the universe and see it all like it really is. That would be amazing.
Psalm 19:1-2 says,
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
And night to night reveals knowledge.
Is there anyone out there? It there a Creator God? If the atheist is right about the non-existence of God, then there are no eternal consequences for what we do in this life. Let us eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we die.
If there is no God, as atheists argue, we’re just wasting our breath. But, if that’s true then for the Christian all that we have done in this life is point people to a source of love, forgiveness, mercy, hope, peace, well-being, joy, etc. In essence…a better life. What’s wrong with that? It’s my breath to waste, isn’t it?
On the other hand, if there is a God…well, that changes things. I asked an atheist I know, “If you’re wrong about there being no God, what are the consequences for you?” Without hesitation, he said, “I’m screwed.” And he then just laughed it off because he had no fear of being wrong. Is there anyone out there?
In his book, God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?, Dr. John Lennox, professor of mathematics at the University of Oxford and Fellow in Mathematics and the Philosophy of Science at Green Templeton College, writes:
“Are we and the universe with its profusion of galactic beauty and subtle biological complexity nothing but the products of irrational forces acting on mindless matter and energy in an unguided way, as the so-called New Atheists, led by Richard Dawkins, suggest?”
“Is human life ultimately only one, admittedly improbable, but nevertheless fortuitous, arrangement of atoms among many? In any case, how could we be in any sense special since we now know that we inhabit a tiny planet orbiting a fairly undistinguished star far out in an arm of a spiral galaxy containing billions of similar stars, a galaxy that is only one of billions distributed throughout the vastness of space?”
Let that sink in for a minute. We live on a tiny planet, orbiting a star indistinguishable from billions of other stars, in a spiral galaxy that is indistinguishable from billions of other galaxies in a vast universe. Earth is like one tiny grain of sand among all the sand on the earth. Yet God chose this planet and put us here. Mind-blowing!
Richard Dawkins, an outspoken atheist, one of the so-called New Atheists, is well known for his criticism of creationism and intelligent design. In his book, The God Delusion, Dawkins contends that “a supernatural creator almost certainly does NOT exist, and that religious faith is just a delusion.”
Along with fellow atheists Sam Harris, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens, they make up what has been referred to as the four horsemen of new atheism. The so-called new atheists advocate the view that “religion should not simply be tolerated but should be countered, criticized, and exposed by rational argument wherever its influence arises.” In fact, Dawkins in an article appearing in The Humanist magazine, wrote:
“Faith is one of the world’s greatest evils, comparable to the smallpox virus but harder to eradicate. Faith, being belief that isn’t based on evidence, is the principal vice of any religion.”
So, apparently, according to the New Atheism, not only are we Christians wasting our breath, that’s not enough. Religious faith must be eradicated. Sadly, Dawkins has taken all forms of religious faith to mean blind faith. He has either wrongly assumed that there is no evidence to support faith, or he has written off and deliberately ignored that an overwhelming majority of Christians believe that faith and evidence are closely linked.
Dr. Francis Collins is an American physician-geneticist who discovered the genes associated with a number of diseases and who led the Human Genome Project, which you may have heard of. He is also currently the director of the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland. In 2007, in his book The Language of God, he wrote this about Dawkins’ definition of faith:
It “certainly does not describe the faith of most serious believers in history, nor of most of those in my personal acquaintance.”
Someone may be wondering if the existence of God can be proven with 100% certainty. The answer to that question is “no.” That may surprise some people, but I believe no one can prove with 100%, absolute certainty that God exists.
If it could be proven that God exists with 100% certainty, everyone would believe in God just like they believe in gravity and there would be no need for faith. Hebrews 11:6 says,
“And without faith (trust) it is impossible to please him (God), for whoever would draw near to God (enter into a relationship with Him) must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” (Parentheses mine)
What the author of Hebrews is telling us is that no matter how much evidence there may be, at some point a relationship with God does require faith. You and I each must decide. No one can decide for us. It’s an individual decision. But that decision is not based on blind faith as the new atheists contend. We can decide based on the evidence. Faith and science are not counter-intuitive.
According to Hebrews 11, faith begins with first believing God exists and then acting on that belief by placing your total trust in Him. But an equal amount of faith, and I would say a greater amount of faith, is required for those who don’t believe God exists.
During the conversation I had with the man I previously mentioned, who made no bones about the fact that he is an atheist, I looked at him and said, “Wow! You are a man of great faith!” He gave me a puzzled look, smiled and asked, “What do you mean?” To which I responded, “You have much greater faith than I do.” Still appearing puzzled, I added, “It takes much greater faith to believe what you believe than to believe what I believe.”
In other words, he believed with absolute certainty, with no room for questioning or doubt, that there is nothing that has ever or will ever point to the existence of God. Such a claim requires an amount of knowledge that no human being has ever possessed. At best, it requires faith that science will one day come up with “the” explanation that will prove 100% that the universe and all that is in it came about by purely natural causes. Science will answer the question why anything exists at all, instead of nothing. That’s faith…faith in science. Whether you believe in God or not, at some point, an element of faith is involved. Faith that God exists, or faith that only science has all the answers.
So now we come to the argument for God from the existence of the universe, or frequently called the “cosmological argument.”
One form of the argument goes like this:
- Premise 1: Whatever begins to exist must have a cause for its existence.
- Premise 2: The universe began to exist.
- Conclusion: Therefore, the universe must have a cause for its existence.
Does that seem possible? Does it seem reasonable? Let’s break that down and examine each piece.
In this article I’ll examine premise 1: Whatever begins to exist must have a cause for its existence.
The heavens declare the glory of God,
and the sky above proclaims his handiwork. (Psalm 19:1)
The existence of the universe is at least circumstantial evidence for the existence of God, or a clue that points us in the direction of the existence of God. Whatever begins to exist must have a cause for its existence. Throughout history, many people (i.e. Aristotle) have supposed that the universe always existed. In other words, it never had a beginning.
However, more than a century ago, “Albert Einstein, developed a general theory of relativity. This theory, which is almost universally accepted today, has certain implications. One is that the universe—defined as time, space, matter, and physical energy—had a starting point in history. Since it had a beginning, it’s not eternal… It did not always exist. As a matter of fact, through Einstein’s equations scientists can trace the development of the universe back to its very origin, back to what’s called the singularity event when it actually began to exist. You may have heard it referred to as the “Big Bang.”
You have no doubt heard of the Law of Cause and Effect, or the Law of Causality. Albert Einstein once wrote, “the scientist is possessed by the sense of universal causation.” According to the laws of cause and effect, some act must have caused the universe to appear, which would imply that that cause is both outside of the universe, and is beyond time, space, matter and energy; a cause that is infinite and all powerful.
In response, there are those who say, “No, no, no! Not so fast! Natural causes + time + chance was the cause. All those things came together and then “Bang” the cosmos began!” However, for that to be true, natural causes and time and chance had to exist prior to the big bang. But where did they come from? Natural causes would include things like the laws of physics. Where did those laws come from? Did they somehow form themselves? Are laws living entities that can form themselves? Hardly! Laws cannot decide to do or create anything. Then what were they formed out of? Natural causes are something. Time is something. Chance is something. If they are something, then either we throw out the law of cause and effect, or all those things are effects which, themselves, were the result of a cause. So, what or who was that cause?
What this all boils down to leaves us with a couple of options. Option 1: No one created something out of nothing, which is the atheists view. Option 2: someone created something out of nothing, which is the theist’s view. Which seems to be the most reasonable conclusion to you?
Dr. Frank Turek, in his book, Stealing from God, says,
“0ption two says that someone created something out of nothing. Now that is a miracle. But at least there is a miracle worker—a ‘someone.’ Option one is a miracle with no Miracle worker. That’s clearly absurd.”
More than likely you have probably heard of the Hubble Space Telescope, named after American astronomer Edwin Hubble. Launched into low Earth orbit in 1990, it remains in operation today.
There have been missions to repair and update Hubble, but it continues its course, outside the Earth’s atmosphere which allows it to take extremely high-resolution images and a much clearer view of the universe than most of its ground-based counterparts.
Hubble has recorded some of the most amazing, detailed visible light images ever, allowing a deep view into space, such as the one you see here. As the result of discoveries made Hubble, most scientists now believe that the universe was not eternal but had a beginning.
The universe cannot act as its own cause. If it is its own cause, it would have had to exist before the act of creating itself. It takes more faith to believe that then it does to believe in a Causer, or Law Giver, or Creator, doesn’t it?
So, we have premise 1: Whatever begins to exist must have a cause for its existence, which leads us to premise #2: the universe began to exist, which I’ll discuss next time