The Bible and most scientists agree on one thing: “In the beginning” something happened. Scientist believe that “something” was The Big Bang; although there are several new theories being offered. The Bible says “God created the heavens and the earth.” While scientist usually don’t like to admit the similarities, they are obvious to most people.
Just like the Moral Argument for God, the Cosmological Argument doesn’t definitively prove God exists. It is simply another powerful piece of evidence that points to God based on the Law of Causality.
Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover
The idea of a single creator was developed by Aristotle from Plato and Socrates’ earlier thoughts. Aristotle argued “that there must be an immortal, unchanging being, ultimately responsible for all wholeness and orderliness in the sensible world.” He also said this being would be indivisible. His idea was that all the universe couldn’t have created itself. It had to have someone that created it and set it in motion.
Aristotle also believed the world is progressing toward a particular end; that end must be directed by something. Aristotle called this the Unmoved Mover or Prime Mover.
Kalam Cosmological Argument
Kalam is Arabic for “science of discourse” (ilm al-Kalam). William Lane Craig traces the origins of the Kalam Cosmological Argument to Al-Ghazali, an Islamic scholar in the 1100’s. Al-Ghazali formulated a basic argument to show that an infinite number of days cannot exist. From this he suggested the universe couldn’t be eternal. Despite his philosophical argument, the leading idea was that the universe was eternal until the 1960’s when the Big Bang Theory was widely accepted.
Al-Ghazali’s original argument is stated like this: an infinite number of days in history can never be reached; Today is the end of history; Therefore, there can’t be an infinite number of days or else we couldn’t have arrived at today. Al-Ghazali’s argument shows that the idea of an eternal universe is not possible; time had a beginning.
Al-Ghazali later refined his argument, likely borrowing from Aristotle, to say: “Every being which begins has a cause for its beginning; now the world is a being which begins; therefore, it possesses a cause for its beginning.” (Craig, Reasonable Faith, 1984). He went on to argue that this cause had to be a personal being to choose to create something; that it wasn’t necessary to create.
Craig refined these ideas into the Kalam Cosmological Argument which states: Everything that begins to exist has a cause of its existence; The universe began to exist; Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence. Notice that Craig’s argument doesn’t claim that everything needs a cause, just those that began to exist. Borrowing from Aristotle, Craig names God as the uncaused first cause.
The Big Bang Began It All
The Big Bang theory had its beginnings in Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. Einstein’s calculations showed that the universe had a beginning. Einstein didn’t like the possible implications of his theory, but in 1927 Edwin Hubble invited him to Mount Wilson Observatory to observe the “red shift” in light from distance planets. This red shift confirmed the universe was expanding and Einstein’s Relativity theory was correct. The universe had a beginning.
This idea wasn’t fully accepted until 1965 when Arno Penzias and Roger Wilson detected background radiation in the universe. The radiation afterglow was a remnant of the Big Bang explosion. Scientist in 1948 had predicted the afterglow as an effect of the Big Bang.
Frank Turek sums up the scientific evidence for the cosmological argument, in “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist”, with the acronym SURGE. “S” is for the Second Law of Thermodynamics. By this law, new energy isn’t being created and the universe is slowly running out of usable energy. Accordingly, if the universe is “running down” it can’t be infinite in the past or all the energy would have been depleted by now; we would be in a dead universe.
“U” stands for the Universe is expanding. Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity and Hubble’s red shift both confirmed the universe is indeed expanding. This expansion is radiating from the source of the Big Bang. The radiation afterglow gives us the “R” in SURGE. When Penzias and Wilson discovered this, they proved earlier proposals of the occurrence of a massive explosion that started the universe.
“G” and “E” come from the Great Galaxy seeds and Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity. The great galaxy seeds are areas in the universe where variations in the radiation afterglow allow matter to congregate and form stars and galaxies. This was predicted by scientists and confirmed in 1989 by the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE). Project leader George Smoot described seeing these variations “like looking at the face of God.”
Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity not only predicted the expansion of the universe, but also showed that all space, time, and matter originated with the Big Bang. Prior to that there was no “prior to that”, there was no matter, and not even space. There was nothing. Aristotle described nothing “as what rocks dream about.”
Even alternate theories to the Big Bang point back to a beginning to space, time and matter. The Multiverse Theory, which has no concrete, provable evidence, must rely on a beginning to the succession of infinite universes that are created. Stephen Hawking, before he died, published his theory on the origins of the universe. His theory, a finite number of universes each with similar attributes that had to exist, still relies on an initial starting point; before which nothing existed.
Cosmology Points to God
Combining all these evidences (and the Moral Argument) we come up with an Uncaused First Cause as a being that is: spaceless (the cause can’t be within space if it created space), timeless (the cause must be outside time if time didn’t exist), immaterial (if matter didn’t exist it couldn’t have created itself), personal (the Prime Mover chose to create), powerful (creating all space, time, and matter requires unimaginable power), intelligent (the cause had to be infinitely intelligent), and morally perfect (from the Moral argument; objective moral truths). All these point to the attributes of a monotheistic God.
As we said in our last post (here), this doesn’t allow us to determine which of the monotheistic religions (Judaism, Christianity, and Islam) is correct. We will take up that discussion when we address each religion to see which is the most accurate depiction of God. Our next post will discuss the argument from design (Teleological Argument) for God’s existence.