Does God Really Exist?
Proofs for the Existence of God – PART 2
Does God Really Exist? In my last blog post (check it out here), we asked where everything in the universe came from. We saw that something cannot come from nothing, and so if only nothing existed in the beginning, there would only be nothing now. But, the fact that we have life or anything at all means that there had to be Someone (or something) existing that brought everything else into being. We finished with the Kalam Argument:
- Everything that comes into existence has a cause
- The universe came into existence
- Therefore, the universe has a cause
Note, that I did not say that ‘everything’ has a cause, but rather, what “begins to exist” has a cause. Just as with movement and motion. Not everything is moving or in motion. But, whatever begins to move has a cause for its movement. The universe began to exist, so it must have a cause. So, what is that cause of the universe, and more importantly, what is the cause of everything we know of? Is it Matter? Energy? Nothing? Other?
We can understand it this way. Science recognizes that everything in the universe is dependent (contingent) on something else for its existence. There is not anything in the material world that is the cause of its own existence! Everything is dependent on something else for its existence. That’s important.
For example, human beings. I am dependent on my parents for existence, who are dependent on their parents, who are then dependent on their parents, and so on. Tracing this pathway of contingency back through the various forms of early life and following the dependence through the earliest years of the earth, one inevitably arrives at the beginnings of the universe. Even here, everything continues to require a cause. For example, carbon and oxygen are made from stars. Stars are made from hydrogen and helium. Hydrogen and helium are made from … and so on.
Remove one link from the chain, and you remove everything else after it! If my parents did not exist, neither would I. If stars never existed, neither would carbon, oxygen, or life, etc. Thus, everything is dependent, or contingent, on something else. However, this chain of dependency cannot go back infinitely. If this chain of cause and effect went back forever and ever indefinitely, this would lead to an infinite regress, which modern mathematics tells us is a contradiction, and thus, not possible. There has to be a starting point, a beginning. God. We will come back to this in a moment.
Dependent objects can not cause their own existence or keep themselves in existence. Things go into and out of existence all the time. Therefore, their existence is not necessary but dependent on something else. So why does anything exist rather than nothing at all? And what is keeping it all in existence? Certainly not any one of these individual entities. The answer is a transcendent cause, One who does not come into or go out of existence, something outside of the material universe.
Edward Feser speaks to this notion of essential causality relying on Aristotle and Aquinas. He uses the example of a person holding a stick and pushing a round stone with it. Each act required for the stone to move must occur simultaneously, and not one of those things individually are the cause of the rock moving. The stone always has the potential to move, but it is the person pushing it who actualizes it (makes it actually move).
But, of course, persons too are dependent on things, our brain, food, gravity, etc. But, just as the living person actualizes the movement of the rock, since dead things can’t move themselves, so God the necessary First Cause, is the one who actualizes the universe into being since a dead universe can’t create itself or actualize itself. God is pure actuality, the One who started everything and keeps it all in existence.
In the older versions of cosmology, virtually everyone believed that the material universe was eternal and that matter was eternal. It was thought that if the universe went back forever and had an infinite amount of time, then it was possible, no matter how unlikely, to have life arise without God. Thus, God wasn’t needed. This all came from an old, antiquated view of science where everything was explained only from natural, material causes.
Unfortunately, some scientifically minded scientists use anti-scientific statements that could never be proven as alternatives to believing in God. They say, “Well, how do we know that the universe is not eternal. It could be.” That’s like an indigenous tribe coming across a TV in the woods one day. Everyone gawks at it because they have never seen one before. One person asks, “Where did it come from?” The person who found it says, “it was always there. Nothing caused it.” No thinking person would find that satisfying. Saying the universe could have always been there is not to understand existence. Besides, if there universe was infinite, there would be an infinite amount of days before today, and therefore, we would never reach today. But, since we are at today, there could not be an infinite past.
Anyway, this was all categorically overturned with advances in modern science. Breakthrough discoveries disproved the old scientific views and refuted their presupposed ideologies. With the discovery of the Big Bang, scientific evidence now leans the complete other way and most scientists agree that the material universe had a definite beginning. All matter, energy, time, and space, once thought to be eternal, have now been shown to have a definite beginning with the Big Bang.
Now, most people envision the Big Bang as a huge explosion that occurred billions of years ago somewhere out in space. However, this is a great misunderstanding. There was no space in existence. There was no place that the Big Bang happened. All galaxies, universes, everything we know of and don’t know of, was packed tightly into a single point far, far, far, far smaller than the point on the head of a needle. Imagine all the universe in existence packed into one microscopic point. At the explosion, matter was created, space was created, fashioning and lining the universes (so to speak). In fact, space is still expanding today as the universe continues to spread and create more space. The Second Law of thermodynamics seems to confirm this, since it shows that the universe is slowly running out of energy. Eventually it will. So, if the universe was eternal, it would have already run out of energy. Thus, it cannot be eternal.
Coming full circle, everything that is created is dependent on something else for its existence. But, this chain of dependency cannot go back forever or regress indefinitely because nothing would ever begin and nothing would exist today. Thus, there had to be Someone, some power that created everything who is not dependent on anything else for existence. We refer to this being as God.
Take an analogy. Imagine a long train hundreds of cars in length. How does the caboose move? It’s pulled by the car in front of it. Well, how does that car move? It’s pulled by the car in front of it, etc. As you approach the engine, one may ask, “What makes the engine move?” Nothing. It moves itself. The proper response would be that by definition, an engine is self-sufficient. It is not in need of something to pull it but is capable of moving itself and the rest of the train too. Without the engine, the other cars would sit there lifeless, forever, until they disintegrate. An engine is needed!
God, like an engine, is needed too. It is impossible for the train cars, or the universe, to go back infinitely without arriving at some necessary starting point. Otherwise, if the train (or universe) went back indefinitely, the train could never begin, leading to contradiction.
Imagine a long line of kids falling over each other, one after another, going down a high school hall way. The line of kids falling cannot go back for ever and ever. Try to picture it going back forever. Go ahead. Question: How did it get started? Who started the pushing? It’s illogical to think they were always just falling. This only leads to contradiction because then no one could have first started the pushing, and thus no one would really be falling. Any smart person knows that there had to be someone who came up and pushed a kid, who then tripped over himself and pushed the kid in from of him and so on. If no kids were falling at all, it’s because no one pushed them in the first place. No one started the pushing process. But if there is a sequence of actions happening, like falling, then you know someone started the pushing and caused this. It’s like the universe; if there was nothing in existence, it’s because there was nothing to get it started. But since we have an order series of things in existence dependent on each other, there had to be Someone who started it. It can’t go back forever because there would be no one to start the pushing, so to speak, and thus nothing could have ever got started. Therefore, as anyone can see, God is the absolute necessary First Cause of everything else.
There is a God, and He created that which is. He is the first cause, and even vehement atheist Richard Dawkins sort of concedes this point in his book “The God Delusion” as long as it leads to his next question. “Then who designed the Designer?” In other words, Dawkins is asking the question “Who made God?”
This I will address in my next post, and you will see that the question is nonsensical and easier to answer than you might think.