Thoughts about faith

Posts tagged “naturalism

In the beginning, God created…

For a long time, scientists thought the universe was eternal and static. By eternal, they meant the universe had no beginning and likely would have no end. It just always was. This meant the universe would not need a creator. By static, they meant the universe would neither expand nor contract. It would stay the same size.

Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity suggested the universe had a beginning. This was confirmed by the American astronomer Edwin Hubble who in 1929 captured the red-shift of light far out in the universe. This proved that the universe was still expanding at an ever-increasing pace. All this pointed to the universe having a beginning. In other words, there was a time when the universe did not exist.

This begged the question, what caused the universe to come into existence? Philosopher William Lane Craig advanced an argument known as the kalam cosmological argument. His argument had three premises:

  1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

(Craig, William Lane and James D. Sinclair, “The Kalam Cosmological Argument”, The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, edited by William Lane Craig and J.P. Moreland. West Sussex, UK:Wiley-Blackwell, 2009)

This is indeed consistent with our experience. Everything in our universe has a cause. At least so far as we can determine. There are things we have not yet discovered the cause of but we are certain there is a cause. So then, what about God? Did God have a cause? The answer is no. God had no cause because God never began to exist (see premise #1 above). God has always existed. He is without beginning or end. God is eternal. In other words, God is uncaused. This makes logical sense. If everything has to have a cause, to come into existence, then something, in the beginning, had to be without cause. Without that, nothing could come into being.

Science has confirmed the universe had a beginning. It had a cause. Therefore, the universe had to be caused by something. Since Hubble’s discovery, science has been trying to find a naturalistic explanation for the origins of the universe. Naturalism, in this context, means the material universe alone exists. Nothing exists outside of it. If true, then how did the universe come to be?

According to physicist Stephen Barr, naturalism is the view that “nothing exists except matter, and that everything in the world must therefore be the result of strict mathematical laws of physics and blind chance.” (Barr, Stephen. Modern Physics and Ancient Faith. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 2003)

If we dissect that statement, Barr is positing that matter is eternal. Matter is uncaused. Yet he states that matter was acted upon by “strict mathematical laws of physics.” Where did those laws come from? We know what the laws of physics are very exacting. They have to be exactly what they are in order for the universe to exist and life in it. Furthermore, the conditions at the beginning of the universe had to be very, very precise. Physicists call this the fine-tuning of the universe. Math is not a force. Math cannot cause anything to happen. Mathematical laws only describe how things behave once caused. If matter was eternal, mathematical laws could not cause that matter to form a universe. He also states that it was not just mathematical laws of physics but also blind chance. Chance also cannot cause anything to happen. Chance is a term we used to describe a mathematical probability. If you flip a coin, the chances of it coming up heads are 50%. Chance cannot flip the coin. Chance can only state the odds of the flip resulting in heads or tails. Blind chance is a non-sensical term. Chance neither sees nor is blind. Chance is a cold mathematical probability unbiased by anything. If chance were not blind, it would not be chance.

This all points to matter being a mere building block much like a brick. It can be used to create things and behaves when acted upon according to the laws of physics. Matter itself is not intelligent. If matter were intelligent then blind chance would not be necessary. Scientists like Barr want a naturalistic explanation of the universe yet have to make up causes like mathematical probability and blind chance neither of which are or can cause. They are trying to assign causal effects to something that can’t act.

This blind devotion to naturalism is what brings us other modern naturalistic theories like Multiverse Models, String Theory, Quantum Cosmology, and so on. Each of these theories fails to explain the origins of our universe. They all fail to identify the cause of it. If one limits themselves to naturalism then they will forever miss the answer. The first words of the Bible provide the answer. Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” God is the uncaused agent that caused the universe. While science purports to “follow the data” it violates that principle when it comes to the origins of the universe. I would suggest a reason.

Humanity does not want there to be a God. If we concede there is a God then we have to answer to that God. Coupled with the fact that God has identified Himself through the Bible such that we know what He requires from us, we now have to consider our actions and their morality. If, on the other hand, the universe is the product of blind chance with no creator, then we can decide for ourselves what is right and wrong. We can live however we want. Ever notice how people are generally accepting of philosophies or beliefs that are non-propositional? These are philosophies or beliefs that do not make any demands or believe in absolute truth. The Romans conquered many lands. They had their gods and many of the peoples they conquered had gods of their own. The Romans were happy to let them continue to worship their gods. They detested the Jews precisely because the Jews were monotheistic (the belief there is only one God). Jewish beliefs were an affront to the Romans because the Jews only worshipped Yahweh and thus rejected all the Roman gods. As soon as anyone insists on one truth, that offends people who want to be their own gods and decide right from wrong. Science is committed to atheism. There are non-atheist scientists but they are the exception in modern times. Science is biased but has convinced most people that they are not and only consider the facts. More on this…