In Finding Dory, the beautiful blue fish begins to wonder where she came from. She knows her friends, but who are her parents? In thinking of her origins and trying her best to discover them, she says, “Well I’m here, so I must have parents.” Dory has an intuition pointing to this fact: Everything that begins to exist must have a cause. Because she exists, she knows she must have a cause. This is what sets her on the search for her parents. As you read along, you are in a similar situation to Dory. You know the universe exists, but what is the cause?
“Does God exist?” Whether you were a curious three-year-old or a confused 25-year-old, you know you’ve asked this. But is it the best question? Is there a better question? Whether or not we believe something exists doesn’t affect the fact that is does or does not exist. What we believe about whether or not the earth is flat or about Bigfoot or whether or not man actually went to the moon does not change the truth. Whether or not we believe in God doesn’t change the fact that he does or does not exist.
So, what is the better question? The better question is, “Can I know God exists?” The answer may not be what you want to hear. As a very logical person, I want a five-point answer or guide for everything. When it comes to God, we can’t give a 110% proof for his existence, but we can point to it.
What is one way we can point to his existence? One argument for the existence of a divine being is called the cosmological argument. It goes as follows:
- Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
- The universe began to exist.
- Therefore, the universe has a cause.
If this argument holds up, and a divine being could exist, then that changes everything! We’ll break each of these down to see if the argument holds up.
1) Whatever Begins to Exist Has a Cause
Here is a tough question, “Can something come from nothing?” I would hope your answer is no!
Growing up living near Branson, Missouri, we would occasionally take some weekend trips up there. A few times, we went to some magic shows. Now imagine at one of these magic shows, the magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat. Did the rabbit pop into existence out of thin air? No! The magician had placed the rabbit there prior to pulling it out of the hat. The rabbit came from something.
Now for another question, “Can something cause itself to come into existence?” Again, I hope your answer is no.
I was born in 1992. Let’s say we go back in time to 1930, and I try to will myself into existence at that point in time. It would be impossible because I didn’t exist. I couldn’t cause myself to come into existence. Nothing can cause itself to come into existence.
Who Created God?
Now, you may be thinking, “Well that’s great and all, Patrick, but if everything has a cause, then what is God’s cause?” We’ve all wondered, “Who created God?”
I would encourage you to look closer at the first premise. Whatever “begins” to exist has a cause. Everything we can imagine has a beginning, except for one thing, or more specifically, one person: God. God has no beginning and no end. He is not bound by time. As people who exist within a timeline, this can be difficult to wrap our minds around.
Imagine a sequence of dominoes that are set up to fall, each on knocking down the next. Some of these are incredibly elaborate and others are simple. The sequence cannot have been going back forever and going forward forever. It has to have a beginning and it has to have an end. Philosophers say that there cannot be an infinite regress of causes, meaning that there has to be an uncaused, first cause to start everything off. When we think of the universe, God is that uncaused, first cause.
2) The Universe Began to Exist
Would it surprise you to learn that prior to the 1900s, most people believed the age of the universe to be eternal? Many discoveries took place in the 1900s which pointed to the fact that the universe had a beginning at a point in the finite past.
There are two great ways (& many more) to show that the universe began to exist:
- The universe is expanding
- The second law of thermodynamics
I know, both of those are a mouthful, but we will do a brief overview as to why these things matter.
The Universe is Expanding
Around 1916, Albert Einstein (with his crazy hair and incredible brain) developed his General Theory of Relativity. In this, he discovered that the universe was moving, maybe even expanding. A few years later in 1920, a brilliant Russian mathematician got a hold of Einstein’s theory and equations and agreed that he might be on to something. Yet, this was all just math at this point. Nothing had been proven in reality.
Fast-forward a few years and what the mathematicians discovered in theory, astronomers began to discover in reality. In 1929, an astronomy by the name of Edwin Hubble found something called the red shift. If you think of the light spectrum (ROY-G-BV), red is on one end while violet is on the other.
Take this information and apply it to the wavelength of light as you see it. When an object is moving toward you, the wavelength of the light contracts and shifts toward the blue or violet end of the spectrum. When an object is moving away from you, the wavelength of the light stretches out and shifts toward the red end of the spectrum. Our naked eye may not even be able to notice it, but when a baseball is thrown toward you, it would appear slightly more blue, but when you throw a baseball away from you, it would appear slightly more red.
With this same logic in mind, as Edwin Hubble looked out into the night sky and observed distant stars and nebulas and galaxies, the light all shifted toward the red end of the spectrum. They were all moving away from earth, and at an increasingly rapid pace.
If the universe is expanding, it cannot have been expanding forever. I must have begun at some point in the past.
Second Law of Thermodynamics
As to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, it is more simple than it may initially sound. There is a complex way of understanding it, but for our purposes, we will simplify it.
Second Law of Thermodynamics = all usable energy is running down
When you were a child, you may have wound up a toy car and placed it on the floor to see how far it would go. As it zoomed across the floor, the energy was winding down. This is the same thing that is taking place in the universe. As all energy is winding down, there are two implications.
- It had to be wound up
- It had to start at some level of energy to fall from
All of this points to the theory known as the big bang. I want to be clear when I say this, the big bang is not anti-God! Read that last sentence again. When scientists first started discovering that the universe had a beginning and isn’t eternal, atheists began to get fidgety because they knew that they now had to answer the question, “Who began it?”
In his own words, Einstein called the discovery of the expanding universe “irritating.” He even changed his equations to make the universe appear as if it weren’t expanding and were static. Later on, he referred to this as the “greatest blunder” of his career.
Stephen Hawking said, “It would be very difficult to explain why the universe should have begun in just this way, except as the act of a God who intended to create beings like us.” As long as the universe didn’t have a beginning, nobody needed to worry about who began it. As soon as we found out it had a beginning, it made us nervous!
Contrary to what you may have initially thought, the big bang actually helps Christians build a case for God. Nobody now disputes the fact that the universe had a beginning. Hawking also said, “Almost everyone now believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the Big Bang.” If all of time, space, and matter had a beginning, does it not point to a beginner?
3) Therefore, the Universe Has a Cause
Science is incredibly helpful in helping us trace our origins by looking intensely at the evidence. But science falls short when it comes to answering questions of who got all of this going. Neil deGrasse Tyson, one of the world’s leading astrophysicists, wrote, “Scientists have no idea what happened before the big bang.”
The cause of the universe has to be outside of the universe. So, let’s understand what some essentials of our universe are.
The essential elements of the universe are:
Therefore, the cause of the universe must be:
On top of that, the cause has to be incredibly powerful. I’m not talking jet-engine or nuclear bomb powerful, but something far beyond that. All of those other powers must pale in comparison to this power.
I’m not sure about you, but all of this is beginning to sound a lot like God! Consider Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
- “In the beginning” = time
- “Heavens” = space
- “Earth” = matter
All of this points to the fact that something like our God must have brought the world into existence.
If there is no God, why is there something rather than nothing?