By Bob Sullivan
There are numerous scientific and logical approaches which provide significant evidence for God’s existence. As I mentioned in an earlier column, the arguments are not conclusive on the issue. A skeptic can remain a skeptic all the way to Judgment Day. All we can do is offer evidence that a reasonable skeptic (yes, they do exist) may someday accept as the basis for belief.
This approach is called the argument from contingency. Contingency means that something does not necessarily have to happen or exist. However, if the circumstances are right, we can expect that the “something” will in fact happen or exist.
You begin by posing two scientific facts:
1. Everything that exists has an explanation for its existence, either within or outside of itself. (a.k.a The Principle of Sufficient Reason)
2. The universe (space, time, matter, force, energy, etc…) does not have an explanation for its existence within itself.
(This leads you to an initial conclusion.)
3. Therefore, the universe has an explanation for its existence outside of itself.
(You then pose your premise which is:)
4. The overwhelming majority of humans call this explanation outside of the universe “God.”
(You finally conclude.)
5. God exists.
Your skeptical friend will probably resist accepting your conclusion (#5), but we’ll get to the defense of that conclusion in a moment.
First, it is important to understand that this argument is fully supported by secular sources, including the Big Bang Theory (Yes, that theory which was developed by Father Georges Lemaitre and enthusiastically embraced by Albert Einstein and most other leading scientists since that day).
If you recall, the Big Bang Theory proposes that before the Big Bang, absolutely nothing existed, not even darkness, coldness or a black hole.
Making the argument is one thing, defending it is the icing on the cake. Your skeptical friend may accept that the cause of the universe is from outside our universe but deny that the cause is God. Your friend might say:
“Can’t the cause be the result of other universes?”
Your Answer: It could, but what created the other universes? Your objection just kicks the can (the ultimate answer) down the road. The universe is defined as the total collection of all space, time, matter, energy, etc… and that definition would apply to the original universe that created the universe, which created our universe, wouldn’t it?
“Okay, if our universe was not the first universe and if it wasn’t created by other universes, maybe our universe was created by something other than another universe or God.”
Your Answer: What would you call this Creator who is by definition, outside the universe? You see, whatever created all space, time, matter, etc… is by its very nature “The Creator.” You are seeking the physical aspects of this Creator without considering the metaphysical aspects (physics without metaphysics).
The question remains: “why does that Creator exist?” which is answered by metaphysics. Metaphysics is a branch of philosophy that examines reality and why reality behaves as it does.
“Fine, then I say the universe has simply always existed.”
Your Answer: Then you are still ignoring the “why” question AND you disagree with the vast amount of related scientific discoveries up to this time, as well as the great majority of scientists who study the cosmic origins of the universe. Now which one of us is placing our beliefs in something other than science? That’s a rhetorical question.
Let me ask you one more question: How long ago did we start this discussion, maybe 15 minutes? (Whatever they say, they have just agreed to the actual passage of time.)
Mathematically, scientifically and logically, you have just affirmed that time passes. This defeats the theory that the universe has always existed, because that would make the past infinite.
The best scientists, mathematicians and philosophers have all agreed that an infinite past is not scientifically, mathematically or logically possible. If the past were infinite, we would not exist, because there would be no starting point. Without a starting point, nothing can happen, which is one basis for the Big Bang theory. And this is why the vast majority of civilization has always believed in a God or gods.
“Time is an illusion which only exists in our minds.”
Your Answer: I’ll go one better. The theory that time is an illusion which only exists in our mind, is itself, an illusion. Does anything else that only exists in our minds have the same universal impact as time? In other words, all of us seem to experience time in the same way. Our days, weeks and years have a rhythm; our bodies deteriorate in a highly predictable manner; we have to wait for the same things for the same amount of time, etc…
When talking about time, we are talking about physics. The role of physics is to explain how reality works (metaphysics addresses the why and physics addresses the how). Until physicists have studied and explained the illusion some wish to call time, it is nothing more than a guess to say time is an illusion. For instance, most atheists believe in evolution. How can evolution be considered a possibility if time is an illusion?
If you are willing to say that evolution is merely an illusion, I actually disagree. Evolution is compatible with creation and both are evidence of God. One serious flaw of evolution is that it does not go back far enough in time. Considering creation as the precursor to evolution provides a complete scientific explanation.