Apologetics Pt 8
An exploration of premise (2) of the Cosmological Argument.
Premise (2): The universe began to exist.
This premise is somewhat easier to defend than premise 1. Most people will simply accept this on face value – it’s impossible to conceive of anything we have experience of that didn’t begin to exist at some point in the past. However, for a very slim minority, they may respond with a common objection, which is easily defended –
- Why can’t the universe just be infinite in the past?
There are two ways to answer this issue, one scientific, the other philosophical:
Scientific: We can see from the red shift in the universe that the universe is expanding at a phenomenal rate. Anything that is expanding had to begin expanding at a certain point in time. The Big Bang was the cause of this expansion, and as our most widely-accepted model for the universe, we should have no trouble accepting the scientific evidence for it. Even if you want to suggest that our universe is just one in a multitude of other universes, we still have evidence for the beginning of our universe. Why not think that any other universe would have the same need for a beginning? Even so, no other model for the universe (string theory, M-theory, the multiverse etc.) has yet been successful in showing how it even could be possible for any universe to be eternal in the past. Therefore, we should be confident in following the scientific evidence where it leads – to a beginning of the universe a finite time ago.
Philosophical: Imagine you have an infinite amount of coins in your possession. What happens if you give 10 away? Mathematically, you’re still left with an infinite number of coins. In real life however, you have ten fewer than when you began, and therefore could add more, and therefore could not still have an infinite number of coins! Well, for the universe to be eternal in the past, that would mean that an actually infinite number of events would have happened in our universe. However, as the coin illustration points out, that is impossible! Therefore, just like everything else we experience in the world around us, we should be confident in believing that the universe is not infinite in the past, but had a beginning a finite time ago.
I believe there is something beyond all this that really does point to the hopelessness of the Atheist position. Atheists will basically suggest things which are logically impossible, self-contradictory and worse than magic in order to avoid the conclusion of this argument. Atheists have been known to assert that the universe created itself! In my opinion, that just reveals the lack of intellectual integrity on the part of someone who would say such a thing. I think that all Christians should take great confidence that all the scientific and philosophical evidence points towards a cause of this universe.
Next time we’ll look at the conclusion to the Cosmological Argument and its implications.