Cosmological Argument


eternityA simple reflection tells us that something must be eternal.  After all, if you start with nothing, you’ll always end up with nothing.  But we ended up with something, which means we must have started with something.  Put another way, since something exists now something must have always existed.  There could never be a time when absolutely nothing existed.  Something must be eternal, but what is that something?

There are good scientific and philosophical reasons to conclude that physical reality has not always existed, so physical reality can’t be the eternal something.  Since things which begin to exist must be caused to exist by something else, physical reality had to be caused by something else, and perhaps the cause of the physical world is the eternal something we are looking for.  How would we know?

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Atheists claim that nature is all that exists. If nature made us, then what made nature?  After all, the scientific evidence tells us physical reality had a beginning.  Things which begin to exist need a cause, so nature needs a cause.  That cause must be supernatural (beyond nature) by definition.  God is what made nature.

But if God made nature, what made God?  Nothing.  Unlike nature, God is eternal.  Things that are eternal never begin to exist, so they do not need a cause.  How do we know God is eternal?  Time is a feature of the physical world, so it began to exist when nature began to exist.  That which brings time into existence cannot itself be temporal, but must be eternal.  God is eternal.  Nature is not.  That’s why nature needs a cause but God does not.

William Lane Craig’s ministry, Reasonable Faith, has released another excellent video illustrating a major argument for God’s existence.  This time it’s the argument from contingency.  Of the four released thus far (kalam, moral, cosmic fine-tuning), this is probably the most difficult to follow, but it also has the best graphics.  Take a look:

Brute Facts Yellow Garbage CanCaleb Clanton wrote an article in the most recent volume of Philosophia Christi in defense of the cosmological argument.[1] More precisely, he argued for the principle of sufficient reason that undergirds the argument, and against the existence of brute facts which undercuts the argument. Here is a brief summary of his argument.

A contingent being is one whose existence is derived from a source outside of itself.  Everything we see around us is a contingent being: trees, rocks, planets, stars, and even the universe itself.  How did the set of all contingent beings originate?  While the vast majority of all contingent beings can be explained by appealing to a prior contingent being, this cannot go on ad infinitum because an infinite regress is logically absurd.  It follows, then, that the entire set of contingent beings cannot be explained by appealing to another contingent being because as the set of all contingent beings, there can’t be any additional contingent beings.  Only a being that is not contingent can explain the set.  A being that is not contingent is a necessary being, meaning it does not derive its existence from anything outside of itself, but has existence in and of itself by a necessity of its own nature.  Theists identify this necessary being as God. (more…)

Here’s another great video from William Lane Craig, this time on the fine-tuning of the universe for the existence of life (see also his video on the kalam cosmological argument).

Multiverse 2Scientists differ among themselves regarding the scientific status of multiverse theories. Some, such as George Ellis, don’t think multiverse theories are testable, and hence not scientific. Others, think multiverse models are (or could be) testable, and hence are scientific. Many Christian apologists have sided with Ellis et al and rejected the multiverse as a valid scientific theory on the grounds that it is not testable. Some, including myself, have argued that multiverse theories are not based on the evidence, but ad hoc theories invented by cosmologists to get around the theistic implications of fine-tuning in physics.

Jeff Zweerink from Reasons to Believe wrote a short article addressing the scientific nature of and foundation for multiverse theories. He argues that some multiverse models do make testable predictions (even if we are currently unable to test those predictions empirically), and thus should be “included in the realm of scientific investigation (while stopping short of taking a firm position on the demarcation question –whether multiverse theories qualify as scientific).

More importantly, he argues that at least some multiverse theories are based on other scientific findings, and not invented whole-cloth for the purpose of answering the fine-tuning problem:

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A or BIf you’re looking for an explanation of the universe, which is a collection of contingent beings, there are only two possibilities: 1) The explanation is found in a necessary being that transcends the universe; 2) There is no explanation.

Regarding 1), every physical entity is a contingent being. The “universe” simply refers to the whole collection of physical, contingent beings.  One cannot explain why the universe exists by appealing to another physical, contingent being because there can be no physical, contingent beings outside of the collection of all physical, contingent beings.  “But,” one might say, “perhaps it could be explained by a prior non-physical, contingent being.  Perhaps, but even if so, as a contingent being, that non-physical, contingent entity would also require an explanation for its existence.  To avoid an infinite regress, one must ultimately arrive at a necessary being that transcends the universe, and explains why the universe exists.

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