Why is there something rather than nothing?

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I remember, when I was a kid, I used to lie on my back and look at the night sky full of stars in awe and wonder. The vastness of it all has always captivated my imagination. Just thinking about it for a second. There are between 200 to 400 billion stars just in our galaxy and there are up to 200 billion galaxies in our universe. Some of these distant galaxies are so far away that it can take billions of years for their light to reach our eyes. And it the midst of it all there is our little blue planet dancing its way through space.

The vastness of the Universe begs the questions: why is there something rather than nothing? What caused the universe into existence? Why light instead of darkness? Why life instead of non-existence? I think these are profound questions that everyone should ask, especially those, who in all honesty, question the existence of God. These are important questions because their answers reveal much about who we are. Are we just a random cosmic accident manipulated by chemical reactions in our brains and doomed to non-existence when all is over? Or are we something more?

I believe that it is far more reasonable to believe that there is a Creator rather than to think that the Universe and life are the results of a “cosmic dance” of chance; that we were made for something more. We know from Aristotelian logic to Newtonian mechanics that for every effect there is a cause. Thus we also know that nothing cannot come out of nothing. It follows that every physical reality, most have a cause. The Universe could not have created itself out of nothing. So what caused the universe into existence? St. Thomas Aquinas, the great theologian of the Catholic Church, argued that it must be:

  1. Something that exists independent of space and time.
  2. Something that was not created, but is existence itself.

An uncaused cause, meaning something that is completely independent from any cause for its existence. Unlike our atoms that depend on the existence of protons, neutrons and electrons or space and time, which depends on the existence of matter and the rate upon which it changes, the uncaused cause simply exists. Alternative explanations must account for the creation of something out of nothing without invoking the principle of infinitive regression or violating the principle of parsimony.

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Fr. Robert Spitzer makes precisely this point in his book: New Proofs for the Existence of God: Contribution of Contemporary Physics and Philosophy. I highly recommend this well research and articulated book. He argues that evidence from contemporary physics points toward a universe that had a beginning and that was designed by a supreme being and discusses philosophical proofs for the existence of God. I hope to unpack some of those arguments that appear in his book in future posts.

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As Christians, we need to engage the culture through the vocation that God has given us. With the rise of new atheist and the aggressiveness that they pursue to change the culture, in their own image, we must be ready to do the best we can stand our ground. As St. Peter encourages in 1 Peter 3:15: “always be ready to give an answer to every man who ask you a reason for the hope that is in you”. This can seem daunting but it does not need to be. We really do not need a Ph.D. in physics or philosophy to make a defense of our belief, using science or philosophy against the arguments set forth by modern atheists but we cannot stand idle either and not do much to enrich our intellects. After all, the more we learn about the universe the more we learn about God.

God Bless!

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19 thoughts on “Why is there something rather than nothing?”

  1. So we should jump to the conclusion that not only did a deity cause all of this, but that your specific deity did it and all because you think that because the universe is big and beautiful, that a supernatural agent must be the cause.

    Personally, I’ll wait for some evidence before jumping to conclusions, especially if those conclusions involve the iron age myths you put so mych stock in. You’ll need to do better than emotional pleading and pleading from ignorance. Just because you don’t understand how something works, doesnt mean you can just stick your own version of a magical deity in the gap.

    1. Thank you for the comment. I really appreciate you taking the time and effort to engage in this discussion. However, I am a bit confused by your response. First, you misrepresented my position by stating that I expected people to believe that there is a God because the Universe is big and beautiful. That is silly, not the argument, of course, but the fact that you choose a straw man argument to inaugurate your comment. Although I personally like the argument for the existence of God from the standpoint of beauty and order, I did not make that argument in this post.

      Second, could you please clarify what “iron age myths” you are referring? Moreover can you point where I used those “myths” to illustrate my point? The post was not intended to give proof for the existence of God, but ask the question: why there is something rather than nothing? And present the Christian answer to such a question that is not solely dependent on the Bible, but that it is supported through philosophical arguments and evidence from contemporary physics, which points to a supreme being. I grant you that I did not go through those evidences in this post, but that I hope to discuss them later. You can even pick up the book that I refer in my post. The author does a much better job that I could ever do in explaining them. You may disagree with them but they are well explained and researched.

      Also, to be perfectly honest, I did not have a general audience in mind when I wrote this post. Rather, it was an exhortation to fellow Christians to learn more about science and other philosophical proofs for the existence of God. This may have confused you and I apologize for that.

      Third, I agree with you that if you don’t understand how something works, that you should not “stick your own version of magical deity in the gap”. That again would be silly. But, the opposite is also true: that because you understand how something works it does not necessarily follow that there is no supreme intelligence that created it. How many people go by a Monet painting and think what a wonderful accident?

      God Bless!

      1. “First, you misrepresented my position by stating that I expected people to believe that there is a God because the Universe is big and beautiful. That is silly, not the argument, of course, but the fact that you choose a straw man argument to inaugurate your comment. ”

        That’s pretty much exactly what you do. Let me refresh your memory.

        “I believe that it is far more reasonable to believe that there is a Creator rather than to think that the Universe and life are the results of a “cosmic dance” of chance”

        You then go on to quote theologians, and wheel out the tired Christian arguments.

        “Second, could you please clarify what “iron age myths” you are referring? ”

        Christianity.

        “Moreover can you point where I used those “myths” to illustrate my point? ”

        Theologians that you directly quote.

        ” And present the Christian answer to such a question that is not solely dependent on the Bible, but that it is supported through philosophical arguments and evidence from contemporary physics, which points to a supreme being.”

        There is no scientific evidence for God. That’s why you need faith to believe.Believers need to stop with the line that there is scientific evidence for their God. It’s not being truthful.

        “That again would be silly. But, the opposite is also true: that because you understand how something works it does not necessarily follow that there is no supreme intelligence that created it.”

        True. Or that magical gnomes, aliens, unicorns, invisible Djinns did it. Unfortunately, there is as much evidence for them as your God.

        “How many people go by a Monet painting and think what a wonderful accident?”

        This statement shows you don’t understand evolution or science.

      2. Dear Mike,

        Thanks for your comments!

        You failed to demonstrate where in my post I said that you should believe in God because the universe is big and beautiful. The quote that you choose only says that I think is far more reasonable to believe that there is a Creator that created the universe rather than just coincidence. Perhaps you are projecting your own biases about believers in your comments.

        Moreover, just because you say that they are tired Christian arguments does not make them invalid. That is just your opinion. I suggested you that if you want to challenge someone positions, don’t just give your opinion but rather argue the merits of the arguments.
        There is no scientific evidence for God”. I am sorry, but this just shows the bubble that the new atheists enclosed themselves. Although, I think you and I can agree that science cannot prove the existence of God just as it can prove that DNA contains our genetic make up. Because science is limited to, test the material world and God, as most theists understand it, is a being that exists outside our time and space and therefore cannot be experimented or observed as we can do with nature. However, science can find his finger’s prints all over His creation.

        Having said that, it is just foolish to ignore all the scientific evidence that points to a creator, from the Big Bang which points to an origin of our Universe and the BVG theorem, which demonstrate that any universe or multi-universe independent of any physical, must have a beginning, to the observable anthropic principles that demonstrate the infinitesimal small probability of having a universe capable of sustaining life like ours by chance, all points towards God. Just one example, the probability of a low entropy universe out of the big bang that allows for the universe that we observe is:

        1 in 10 to the 10^123

        This is an astronomically small possibility. Moreover, there is no scientific evidence for all arguments that try to explain this “cosmic coincidence”, only theoretical mathematical models some of which cannot with our current technology and perhaps with any future technology can be proven. It requires faith to believe some of these arguments that try to explain the universe that we live in without contemplating the possibility of a supreme intelligent being.
        My exhortation is simple: just look at the other side with a fair mind. Believers are not the old tired caricature of fairy believing closed minded people. Look at the evidence and at least wonder why people like Arno Penzias, Nobel-prize-winning physicist say things like:

        “Astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing, and delicately balance to prove exactly the conditions require to support life. In the absence of an absurdly improbable accident, the observations of modern science seem to suggest an underlying, one might say supernatural plan”.

        Brock 1992, cited in Bradley 1998 (From New Proof of the Existance of God).

        Cheers!

  2. “Perhaps you are projecting your own biases about believers in your comments.”

    No, You start off your entire post by talking about the vastness and beauty of the universe and then launch into how this is somehow a reason to believe it was created.

    Did you read your own blog or just wish to play word games?

    Do you or do you not think there is a creator god? If so, in plain english, why do you think so?

    It seems obvious that you think so because of many things, one of which is that the universe is complex.

    “Moreover, just because you say that they are tired Christian arguments does not make them invalid. ”

    And that they’ve been debunked over and over again. Do you not read anything counter to your arguments? Or do you only read Christian apologetics?

    I know when I was a curious Christian, I read both sides of the debate.

    “Although, I think you and I can agree that science cannot prove the existence of God just as it can prove that DNA contains our genetic make up.”

    It can’t prove the existence of flying invisible gnomes either.

    I also disagree. This god created the universe (supposedly) and interacts with it. Therefore, it’s within sciences purview.

    For example, the bible says there was a worldwide flood. There is no sign of this happening. The bible says it took seven days to create the Earth and in what order it happened. Science says light comes from stars, yet the bible has light first then stars. The list can go on.

    “Having said that, it is just foolish to ignore all the scientific evidence that points to a creator”

    It’s not ignored. It works fine without the god hypothesis.

    “demonstrate the infinitesimal small probability of having a universe capable of sustaining life like ours by chance, all points towards God. Just one example, the probability of a low entropy universe out of the big bang ”

    Again, just because you don’t understand something, doesn’t mean Jesus is automatically the answer.

    “My exhortation is simple: just look at the other side with a fair mind. Believers are not the old tired caricature of fairy believing closed minded people.”

    I used to be on the other side. I get it. You still believe in a supernatural entity in the sky.

    And you’ve yet to demonstrate why we should believe?

    But we both know you need faith. Your religion even admits this. If you had evidence, faith would be unnecessary.

    1. Dear Mike,

      Once again you refuse to discuss the merits of the argument and continue to argue against a straw man. I open the post from a personal perspective about the vastness of the universe and how as a a kid it filled with awe and wonder but at no point I made the argument that you should believe in God because it is big and beautiful. You extrapolated that and decided to taunt the post based on your own interpretation. That is your prerogative.

      Again you say: “And that they’ve been debunked over and over again”…it is your burden to bring forth the evidence that they have been debunked over and over again, without it your argument lacks any substance.

      I still think that there is common ground between us and perhaps the problem is the way we articulate our positions. I argued that although science cannot directly proof the existence of God it can point towards a universe that was created and thereby it can show His fingerprints. Although I disagree with you that science cannot give convincing evidence that there is no invisible gnomes in our surrounding. I think it can because they are presumably material creatures that live within our space and time and science can/could test that. I gave you the example of the probability of a low entropy universe after the Big Bang, as evidence that points towards the fingerprints of a supreme intelligent being and yet you appeal to ignorance as an argument against the possibility that there is a God.

      I generally agree with your argument about the Book of Genesis. However so do the vast majority of Christians through the centuries. St. Augustine, writing in the fourth century, presented a framework from which we can reconciled the biblical account of creation with modern scientific understanding in his commentary on the Book of Genesis, called The Literal Meaning of the Book of Genesis.

      Evidence from physics shows that the universe had a beginning and that it is extremely improbable that the universal constants that allow for life in our universe happen by chance. I believe this is reasonable evidence for the fingerprints of God.

      I agree with you, Faith is necessary but God also gave us reason and I believe that that reason can points towards his existence. The great philosophers like Socrates, Aristotle and Plato reach this conclusion without any divine revelation. As Pope Sylvester II said: “The divinity made a great gift to man in giving them faith while not denying them knowledge.”

      Cheers!

      1. ” I argued that although science cannot directly proof the existence of God it can point towards a universe that was created and thereby it can show His fingerprints. ”

        And yet no fingerprints are found.

        ” I think it can because they are presumably material creatures that live within our space and time and science can/could test that.”

        You could also test for the fingerprints. Also, I could give my invisible gnomes god-like power and say they’re beyond space and time (with no evidence of course) and you’d have to accept it using your logic.

        “However so do the vast majority of Christians through the centuries.”

        You’re fooling yourself. Large quantities of Christians today (when they should know better) believe in creation.

        It was worse in the past.

        “Evidence from physics shows that the universe had a beginning and that it is extremely improbable that the universal constants that allow for life in our universe happen by chance.”

        They don’t know what started it all. Your jumping to the conclusion that god did it is premature.

        “I agree with you, Faith is necessary but God also gave us reason and I believe that that reason can points towards his existence.”

        But you need faith because there is absolutely no evidence. Your god is as probable as past gods, such as Odin.

      2. Dear Mike,

        I continue to appreciate our discussion. The main problem is that implicit in your counter arguments is a deficient acknowledgement of the evidence and poor understanding of philosophy. I provided two lines of evidence, that although do not directly proof the existence of God they do points toward a creator. First I discussed the evidence from the Big Bang that point that our observable universe had a beginning. We know from laws of physics that every effect has a cause. I argue that God caused the universe to begin. You may very well disagree with that conclusion but please do not insult anyone’s intelligence by completely ignoring the possibility that a beginning implies a causation. Second, I discussed one line of evidence that states that the probability of a low entropy universe, capable of sustaining life, is infinitesimally small. This points to fine-tune universe which in turn opens the possibility of an intelligence that turn the cosmological knobs. Again you may completely disagree with this conclusion but do not claimed that this is no evidence that points towards the existence of God. You may explore different hypothetical mathematical models that may offer an explanation but you need to reconcile them with the possibility that some of them are not testable and violate principles of parsimony.

        One last thing, when you say that there is “absolutely no evidence” have you tested all the possibilities and all theories and proved them to be wrong? If so I am truly impressed.

        Cheers!

  3. I think a potential problem with this line of thinking is that the observable universe isn’t the entire universe. From what i’ve read, quite a lot of scientists don’t think there was a big bang, although they can’t agree on what happened instead. The ultimate free lunch argument is a fun one. It is perfectly possible for pretty much anything to happen, including spontaneous universes. Whether our universe is such an event remains to be seen.

    1. Well at that point in the argumentation you have to make a distinction between observations based on facts and speculative theory, which can be absolutely fun to entertain but nonetheless are just theoretical speculations, especially those theories that fragrantly violate the Law of Parsimony 🙂

  4. You are both underestimating the Scriptures as reliable proof of God’s reality, why read what man thinks or depend of unproven theories and mans fleshy reasoning, logic and understanding.

    The time line of the Scriptures is confirmed by the Dead Sea Scrolls and even by Secular History and the Truths confirmed in the Scriptures show clearly that only God could have known them when they were recorded.

    Stop right now Caleb and ask yourself; do I believe what God tells us or men.

    2 Timothy 3: 17 ALL SCRIPTURE IS GIVEN BY INSPIRATION OF GOD and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the Man/Woman of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works. (KJV).

    As for fleshy worldly Atheists like Mike, I was one for almost 30 years too and yes I was a fool as shown by my fleshy pride in thinking I knew more than God who Created me.

    Blessings – Anne.

    1. Dear Anne,

      God wrote two gospels: the scriptures and the world around us…both contain truth and as you know truth cannot contradict itself. Therefore there is no reason why science should oppose faith or faith opposes science. God give us rational and inquisitive minds that not only allowed us to ask question about our own existence but also to explore some of those answers through philosophy and science.

      In the John 1:1 it says:

      In the beginning was the Word,
      and the Word was with God,
      and the Word was God.

      The Greek word for “Word” is “Logos”, which means reason. The inspired author is saying that God is Reason. Thereby God created a reasonable universe with laws that governs its workings…I think you and I can agree with me on this point.

      The evidence around us point towards a beginning for the universe and confirmed that the universe is about 13.7 billion years old. These are not theories but solid scientific facts that flow naturally from the laws that governs the universe. You just cannot discard them because they seem to be in conflict with your interpretation of the bible. That is unreasonable.

      The biblical account of creation was not intended to be a literalistic historical account but rather as a way to convey a transcendent truth of creation to a pre-scientific civilization. Imaging God explaining physics to the ancients Israelites, it was hard enough to teach them about the moral law, much more harder to teach them about the wonders of the universe. However, If you study the account of creation of ancient’s civilizations from across cultures you will notice that all have the commonality that they presuppose that the universe had no beginning. The Jewish people through divine revelation affirmed the contrary: that the universe indeed not only had a beginning but also had a Creator. This is the main point in the story of creation in Genesis. That the universe had a beginning and that it had a Creator. Moreover a literalistic interpretation of the story of creation fails to account the literary genera and the cultural milieu in which it was written.

      Therefore there is no contradiction between the biblical story of creation and the evidence that point towards the origins of the universe.

      God bless!

      Caleb

      1. As I have shared before Caleb, I’m not a Teacher and I don’t want people to follow me but to seek Jesus our only Teacher so I share God’s Truth as He leads me to, I do not argue about mans fleshy, worldly understanding, so today will be the last time I will seek to help you understand God’s reality in Creation as confirmed in the Scriptures.

        If you continue to reject them Caleb as you have done before and instead seek confirmation from Secular Scientists, then what is the use of you even claiming you believe in the Bible at all, why not delete it as Atheists do in denial of the reality of our Creator God and you than continue to have the same focus as they have that we evolved over billions of years even though God tells us the opposite in Scripture as confirmed below, the earth was created by God to be inhabited by Mankind from it’s beginning, not billions of years later.

        Isaiah 45:17-19 For thus saith the LORD that Created the heavens; God Himself that formed the earth and made it; He hath established it, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited: I am the LORD and there is none else. I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth: I said not unto the seed of Jacob, Seek ye me in vain: I The LORD speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.(KJV)

        There are many Christian Scientists Caleb who have confirmed the account of Creation in Genesis and that the Earth is no more than 6,000 years old so why do you believe Secular Scientists who mock God ?

        To be continued…

        Christian Love – Anne

      2. Dear Anne,

        What I failed to understand is how my understanding of the creation contradicts in any way what the bible teaches.

        I believe that God created the Heavens and the Earth. I believe that he is the source of life and existence itself!

        I simply do not adhere to your interpretation of scriptures, which is strictly literalistic.

        God left his finger prints all over his creation…to ignore and discard aspect of science that reveal some truths about His creation is to waste a great gift that God has given us. That is the use of reason. The ability to genuinely explore the universe and learn from his creation is wonderful gift. That not only brings us closer to him but also bring him praise and glory.

        Cheers,

        Caleb

  5. Below Caleb is a part of a message from Creation Science Today, if you want a list of notable Christian Scientists who are highly regarded and have many honors and awards for their research, than please ask and I will provide it.

    As Documented…….
    So why do Secular Scientists behave in such a manner assume something is true when it cannot be proved and in fact it has never been observed? The simple answer is that the term “Supernatural” or the concept of God or Supernatural Creation is considered to be outside the realm of real Science and. Life is here on earth, so Secular Scientists feel they must explain life “naturalistically” consequently, they believe that evolutionary doctrine and ignoring data contrary to evolution is legitimate but considering the Heavens and the Earth and all that exists, how short-sighted and narrow-minded is such thinking? Secondarily, many modern Secular Scientists today are atheistic a Divine Creator is inconceivable.

    Evolution is a belief system that many, if not most, Secular Scientists assume as fact and routinely use to interpret their observations. Herein lies the classic problem with many Secular Scientists and the Scientific community today.

    http://www.creationsciencetoday.com/

    Blessings – Anne

    1. Dear Anne,

      Thank you for the link. I will check it out!

      One thing I do agree with you is that there is a current secular trend that holds that science can explain everything…it sometimes is articulated in such a restrictive way that it becomes a form a extreme skepticism, which opposes reason and is detrimental to progress.

      Science can be very useful and help us to better understand the world around us, find cures for disease, improve our life and so on but it is not the end all be all…and most certainly it cannot explain or proof everything. Imaging someone trying to prove the existence of numbers!

      Science cannot proof the existence of God because God exits outside space and time. Thus is God beyond the limits of science. However, since God created the Universe and God is reasonable science can study the finger prints of God through out his creation.

      The mere fact that we can understand how things work (find a naturalistic explanation for the world around us) does not disprove the existence of God! For example because you understand how a plane works or the properties of physics that allows flight it does not mean that someone design and built the plane!

      Cheers,

      Caleb

  6. Finally Caleb, my Life is a testimony of God’s reality, I have no need to lie about the Miracles God has blessed me with even when I believed I evolved from an Ape and even though I didn’t recognize that it was God’s Miraculous intervention than having been lied to as a young teenager, they were indeed and have been proven to be…. I’m still alive today!

    Miracles bring big attention to God, even Jesus said; look at the Miracles and see His Fathers reality. Carnal man can’t explain them away and it is why even some Christians deny them, they want to put everything in their box of human understanding, logic and reasoning but God won’t be put in there, He is indeed God of the impossible.

    I pray fervently for you Caleb that you will seek with all your heart God’s understanding and not Carnal mans regardless of who they are, ask and receive God’s wisdom and be set free from the errors you believe are Truth.

    Atheists claim…. Creationists hijack lessons and teach Schoolkids that Man and Dinosaurs walked together.

    Dinosaurs is a relatively modern name for Dragons ….What does God tell Job about them?

    If I had a Son I would have wanted him to be gentle and caring like you Caleb but you can be sure I would have shared with him all about God’s reality because I Loved him…..I Love you Caleb in Christ Jesus.

    Blessings – Anne.

      1. Thank you Caleb, we have been encouraged and comforted by you too and we are thankful for your prayers to God during the Storm both Ron and myself are experiencing, I’m very thankful that our lives touched.

        God Loves us greatly as He does all His Children but grieves when we believe and teach error because it will lead to deception and heartache if it’s not corrected but God does not hurt us to do this but He does correct us through the Body of Christ, we are to be of the same mind, in other words in Unity in what we believe. The Holy Spirit does not say one thing to someone and something different to another when it contradicts although He may share with you Caleb something you can share with me or I with you but it will always be confirmed in Scripture and or in God’s Creation.

        Our disagreement Caleb is in regard to the time it took God to create the World and all that is in it, the Scriptures show clearly it took 6 literal days which I agree with but Evolutionist Scientists and Christians who believe them, claim it evolved over billions of years which you agree with.

        So Caleb let’s do what God tells us to do when we have differences, let’s take it to Him and He will show us who is in error and He does this by the confirmation of His inspired words in Scripture and they never contradict His Creation .

        Without my telling you what to look for Caleb first pray for God’s leading and than go through the 6 days of Creation as shown in Genesis, just one day at a time and see what was created on each day, than add your billions of years to each day the same as other Christians do who believe in Evolution and see what the result would have been. Read Job too and discover the animals God created that Job could see ? also what shape did God say the World was when they had no Space Rockets or Big Ships? and what did He tell us about D.N.A or called flesh over 2 thousand years ago when they had no Pathology or any other way Scientific way of knowing about it.

        Christian Love and Blessings- Anne.

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