This is a profound question.
In fact, it’s a very foundational question.
If one truly does not believe that there is a God, then the Christian worldview is a wholly inadequate explanation for our reality. What one believes in this regard will have lasting and eternal consequences in their lives.
The scriptures tell us that God is the source for the cosmos we see all around us. (Genesis 1) That it was God who created everything in the cosmos. Can we rule God out as the origin of this creative power?
How do we reasonably determine if it is possible that God exists?
One view is what I would describe as a “simplified cosmological view.”
In the end, what is the best explanation that describes the existence of the cosmos that surrounds us?
There are only two logical possibilities to this question:
1.The cosmos had a specific beginning point in time. A time when at one moment there existed nothing, and in the next moment there existed something.
2.The cosmos has always existed, having been around for eternity.
In investigative science, one must draw conclusions about reality and truth based upon both the measurable and circumstantial evidence. If the preponderance of evidence suggests a reality, then that becomes the reality we must hold to until sufficient contradictory evidence is presented to the contrary.
From a purely naturalistic perspective, meaning a view without any consideration for a supernatural being such as God, neither of the above explanations seems to offer us a reasonable conclusion about our cosmos.
Nonetheless, these are the only two options that exist; therefore we will have to work with them.
To aid us in our evaluation, we’ll use a tool from science. Scientists often formulate their questions in the structure of a hypothesis. A hypothesis is a statement that takes the form:
- Null Hypothesis: (H0) What I am trying to disprove, there is no difference, status quo.
- Alternative Hypothesis: (HA) What I am trying to prove, there is a difference.
Together, HA and H0 cover all the possibilities.
Logically, it is easier to disprove something than it is to prove it. Therefore, the claim to be tested appears as H0. We can reject H0 or fail to reject it. We can never accept it.
One of these hypotheses represents reality with respect to God:
- Null Hypothesis (H0): God does not exist
- Alternative Hypothesis (HA): We have failed to prove that God does not exist, therefore there is a possibility that He exists and must be considered in our reality.
There are many points upon which we might apply this test, but for the sake of brevity, we will only consider the existence of our cosmos to make our case of whether or not God might exist.
Going back to our two logical possibilities for the existence of the cosmos,
1. The cosmos had a specific beginning point in time. A time when at one moment there existed nothing, and in the next moment there existed something.
2. The cosmos has always existed, having been around for eternity.
Let’s take a look at item 2 first.
Basic physics tells us that due to the first and second laws of thermodynamics our cosmos, had it been in existence forever, would be a cold dead place at this very moment. Given the infinite size of the cosmos, it is not possible for us to be here now if the cosmos never had a beginning that it has always existed.
The first law, in laymen’s terms, says that all the energy we have is all we get. Energy may transfer, or change form, but “new” energy cannot be created from nothing.
The second law, also in very simplistic terms, states that every time energy gets transferred or transformed, some of it becomes less useful. In time, all of it becomes useless. In time, all of this less useful energy gets radiated out into the cosmos and dissipated over an infinite degree of space.
Another way to wrap your mind around the second law of thermodynamics is to consider the following.
Suppose we walked into a sealed gymnasium in the depth of a winter snow storm in the middle of the night with no lights turned on. The gym would be super cold; in fact it would be freezing, and very dark.
In the middle of this cavernous gym there was a table and a single white candle. You extract a small flashlight and a lighter and approach the table. You light the wick and turn off your light.
The wax of the candle is a form of stored energy, and it can be released by lighting the wick which transforms the stored energy into light and heat energy. The flame on the candle is hot enough to burn your finger if you were close enough to it. You might even feel some of the heat energy even as much as a few inches from the flame. But if you walk across the entire gym, it’s not likely you will feel any heat energy from the candle.
If you had a super sensitive thermometer however, the device would in fact pick up a slight increase of temperature of the air in the gym. Other than looking like a distant star on a dark night, the energy from this candle is pretty useless energy as far as you’re concerned; it doesn’t do anything to actually keep you warm.
Eventually the candle converts all of the wax to heat energy, and runs out of fuel. The flame flickers and then goes out. You’re immediately plunged into total darkness. In time, the heat energy released from the candle will equally distribute itself in the room. But a lot of good that will do you! If you stayed in the gym, eventually you would freeze to death!
Imagine that the candle represents all the energy of all the stars in our cosmos, and the gym represents our cosmos. Given enough time, our stars, like the candle, would convert all of their energy into a less useful form, which would distribute itself across the cosmos. Given our cosmos is infinitely large, and the known amount of matter is fixed, and can never increase (Law 1) then if our cosmos had been in existence forever, you would not be reading this now, and it would be really cold and dark.
So option 2, our Universe has been in existence forever is not an option.
Logically then, that leaves us with option 1, that our Universe had a beginning. But what about the first law? The first law pretty much seals up option 1, because if the Universe had a beginning, then that would imply that matter and energy had to be created from nothing to make the beginning possible, something physicists know cannot happen. Is that the end of the story? Neither option working?
Fortunately there were a couple of really smart scientists that have proved with science that the Universe had to have a beginning.
Dr. Albert Einstein created a mathematical model that demonstrated an expanding Universe. Not liking that idea, he put in a “cosmological constant” to fix that problem. (He later regretted ever having done that.)
One of Einstein’s contemporaries, Dr. Edwin Hubble, (Namesake of the Hubble Space Telescope) also made some astounding astronomical observations that showed an expanding Universe. Scientists since, have universally acknowledged that our Universe is in fact expanding and emanating from a particular point. Most of us know this commonly as the “Big Bang Theory.”
Why is it significant to our story that the universe is expanding from a central point?
Think of it this way. Suppose you traveled to a lake that was absolutely smooth, there were no ripples on the surface of the water anywhere.
Now suppose that you were hovering in a helicopter with a video camera pointed down to the lake, and dropped a big rock in the middle of it. You begin to film the concentric rings of ripples expanding outwards from the point of impact in the middle of the lake.
Once you got home and watched the video, you could see the expanding ripples of water moving out in all directions from the point of impact. At some point, you realized that you could watch the video in reverse, and in so doing you observed that the rings gradually moved towards the point of impact, until you saw the moment the rock hit the lake.
The expanding rings had a beginning, the beginning was when the rock hit the lake surface.
Likewise, the cosmos also has a beginning. If we could track all the galaxies, stars, and planets on video from the beginning of time, and then play it backwards, we would see the single point where everything emanated from.
Scientists have since named this point, calling it a singularity.
Metaphysically, all of the above create a very interesting dilemma for naturalists. The only way that our cosmos could have come into being, without any supernatural events, would be to violate the natural laws of physics.
We have then, just from the cosmological aspect of our universe, a solid source of data that points us to a supernatural start of our cosmos.
Most commonly, we have ascribed such supernatural powers to only one being, God.