I tend to read in cycles. No not while riding my bike. Ok actually when I’m on the stationary bike I do read, but that isn’t the point. I also don’t read in generally less or more so much as I read different genres and subsets of books in cycles. A while back I was reading a lot of SciFi, and then technical books and Pastoral, and then I went through a suspense/mystery binge. Right now I’m reading Apologetic books. Apologetics isn’t about “saying sorry” it is about defending your beliefs. I think it is important for all Christians to be able to make a reasonable defense of their faith. Too many Christians have this foolish notion that believing for actual, logical reasons isn’t real faith and should be avoided. Maybe they are concerned that digging to deep will make them an unbeliever.
All I know is that it is frustrating when Christians can’t answer simple objections to our faith. To try and help with this I’m going to address several aspects of faith in a brief series titled “I owe you an Apology.”
Since everything starts at the beginning I thought I should start with Creation. Of course, it might make more sense to start with the Bible, after all many seem to think that the only basis for believing in Creation is the Bible. That is not reality though.
The Bible itself alludes to certain truths that stand without a Biblical basis for believing them. Natural laws that affirm the super natural. These laws include, but are not limited to, Moral Laws, the Laws of Nature that science tries to define, Laws of Logic, and Mathematical Principles. It is important to note that, with the exception of Moral Laws, these are the guidelines many will use to attempt a refutation of Christian Faith. Christians that are afraid and willfully ignorant of these truths will know less about the God they claim to worship and leave themselves unarmed when their faith is challenged.
As such there are a few simple guidelines that must be established. First, all we know and can know must stand are certain truths that cannot be refuted. These might be best called “First Principles.” Anyone familiar with logic and philisophy will be familiar with this concept. The secular mind might try and toss a couple of freebies into the pile. They might try and say “We cannot know God in the natural and so it is a founding principle of logic that He cannot be proven and so does not exist.”
This sounds very logical, but falls apart on many levels. First and foremost is is not a principle which cannot be deduced by other principles, so cannot be a freebie.
Your basic truths that are free from debate include basic logic, that is to say “If A = B and C = B then A = C” The conclusion will always follow if the premise and the steps to the conclusion are valid. However, if the conclusion is known to be invalid then a prior statement or all prior statements bust be invalid. This works as a philosophical, theological, mathematical, and scientific truth and must be the foundation for any reasonable discussion of faith as well.
So why should critics of Christianity not be allowed to assume there is no God? Well because the premise that God cannot be known is invalid, for one. In fact, if there are a lot of other things that must be disprove before it can be stated that God cannot be known. It might be more reasonable to say “God cannot be fully known” but then the conclusion doesn’t follow. I cannot fully know anyone, not even myself, but I do not write of the existence of the natural world because of my own limitations. My inability to explain quantum physics will not bring the universe to a halt any more than my inability to explain an infinite God will prevent the existence of God.
So now that we know that God can’t be thrown out at the outset, lets consider the Fact of Creation.
Science is ultimately about answering the question of cause. A founding principle of science is that for every effect, there is a cause. If an apple falls to the ground instead of into the sky, then something caused it. We now know this to be a force known as gravity. Science is working to more accurately define gravity and the cause behind that phenomena, but we don’t need to worry about the details, we just need to know apples don’t fall into the sky and invisible spirits or other such stuff don’t make things fall.
Since science is about finding a cause, it would like to believe the Universe is eternal. If it never came into existence then nothing had to bring it into existence; however, while ancient scientists and philosophers tried to get a freebie, the Bible and ancient theologians saw a flaw in the belief of an eternal Universe.
Actually they saw many flaws. First and foremost they came to the conclusion that if something is not immutable (if it can change, grow, decay …) then it cannot be eternal. This flows from certain natural laws that science does currently recognize as absolute fact. The Laws of Entropy essentially state that things tend to become less organized over time. This is a subset of Thermodynamics, and is a very interesting line of though, but basically it holds this line of thought.
If the universe is infinite it must not be changing, the universe is changing so it must not be infinite.
It can’t be a changing universe because we know that the sun, for example, is using fuel. Way back in the day people didn’t know about the kind of fuel the sun used, they thought it was burning gas or coal, but the logic followed that “anything that brings heat and light uses fuel, the sun brings heat and light, therefor the sun much use fuel.” We have been able to verify this truth and know the fuel is hydrogen which gets converted to helium for energy. Since this Universe is finite, there must be a limited (finite) amount of hydrogen. If the Universe has always existed then all of the hydrogen should have been used up an infinite span of time ago. Since we have hydrogen (the most common element in the Universe) we can know it isn’t eternal in nature.
As I said, theologians and many theistic scientists believed this truth for thousands of years, but Atheistic Scientists did not like this logical truism, so they fudged and assumed a “solid state” or eternal Universe. They had to assume this because if the universe came into being, then something had to bring it into being.
There are a lot of other logical reasons why the Universe cannot be eternal. I will explore just one more as it proves why the origin of the Universe requires a Theistic Wordlview.
The Kalam argument is closely related to this, but focuses more on the question of time as an infinite reality. Essentially it starts with the same logical process, all things that came into being must have been caused to come into being, the universe came into being, so it must have been caused to come into being. To prove why the Universe cannot be eternal it goes to the question of how a practical infinite universe could function within the laws of math and logic.
The short version is that one cannot add to an infinite set. Let me explain. There is something cute my wife and I use to do, still do on occasion. We “fight” over who loves the other more. It starts like “I love you more” and progresses to “I love you more times infinity.” The trump to this is “I love you more times infinity plus 1” and finally ends with “I love you more times infinity plus 1 more than anything you could say or think.”
Ok, that’s cute but it fails in a mathematical (logical) equation. If I love her more times infinity, then infinity plus, times, or to the power of any other number including infinity equals infinity. You can’t actually add to infinity, you can add to a set for infinity, continually adding one more, but the actual set remains finite, the theoretical endpoint keeps getting bigger. You cannot actually add to an infinite set though, the end result is the same number.
How does this apply to the finite Universe. Well, the Universe, and Time itself, must have a day 1. Otherwise we can’t have today or tomorrow. The progression of time is a known and measurable event, so there cannot be an infinite past. Now we can continue to move forward, you can keep adding to a finite set, but that will never make it an infinite set. In other words, you can’t count to infinity. 1, 2, skip a few, 99, infinity. Sorry doesn’t work.
What has science proven?
Actually science threw in the towel back in the 50s. Before that really. Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity is essentially the final nail in the Eternal Universe theory and no scientist worth anything holds to that. The revelation was so troublesome to Einstein that he introduced a “Cosmological Constant” into his theory to try and steal back his Eternal Universe. The math didn’t pay though. In fact the math was so poor that it was disputed very quickly. Moreover, there were many theories that could be tested to prove the fact that the Universe had a point of origin. Science began discovering these verifiable phenomena and labeled this the “Big Bang.” Fortunately for Science, many ignorant Christians feared this proved God didn’t create the Universe, not fully understanding that this meant the Universe had to be jump started somehow.
Now Science is left trying to explain the origin of the Universe, and the theories are almost laughable if they weren’t serious. However, all of them fail the original reasons why the Universe must have a logical starting point. They range from an expanding/collapsing universe (which has been disprove) to an infinite and spontaneous multiverse where our Universe exists and does not exist due to random chance, since it is infinite the math gets to say “chance” could bring the Universe into being. Personally I have an easier time believing that God did it than an unprovable infinite set of universes that defy simple logic (you can’t add to infinity and the infinite must be unchanging).
Of course critics might say “Ok I’ll give you the Universe was Created if you can explain the Creator.”
Fair enough. If I expect a reasonable explanation from science for how the Universe started without a Creator I guess I should try and do the same for how the Universe started with a Creator.
First, we can know certain attributes of God based on the logic we have followed.
God must be eternal:
If God was created, then we are left with an infinite regression of creators, which is just as impossible as an infinite number of days. Nothing created God, He just is.
This is where a critic will cry “foul” but only because they don’t understand the definitions or refuse to accept the conclusion. One might say “how can your God be eternal but the Universe can’t be?” Well, that brings up points number 2 and 3.
God must be immutable
God cannot be changed by time. If He does change then he is subject to those same laws surrounding change. In other words if you could add to God or take away from God, then He would not be eternal, eventually He would be used up and need a recharge, like this Universe will eventually run out of hydrogen.
God must be omnipotent.
If God cannot be added to or subtracted from, then there must be literally no limit to his power. Eternal required Immutable and Immutable requires Omnipotent. Otherwise every expression of His power would drain from His potential power. This would be a change, which would lead to a God that cannot be eternal by logical definition.
God must be capable of decision
Decision is separate from change. Some eternal-infinite “pre-matter” is a theory to try and reconcile those three attributes of God without giving the being an identity. Typically this is a pantheistic notion, but many atheists hold that the material of the universe came out of something spontaneously, since the material is eternal, immutable, and unlimited (omnipotent) then it seems logical that it could be an unthinking origin. The problem comes back to the infinite regression, if a decision to create was not made, then nothing could cause the Universe to come into existence. If the cause could happen randomly then it should have happened an infinite span of time ago, what with the unthinking pre-matter having infinite time to work with, and so the universe must also be infinite. Since this is provably false, then the origin of the Universe must have been cause intentionally.
There are many other truths we can infer about God from these simple truths, but at this point I think it is enough to have provided a reasonable proof to the fact of Creation.
So why should critics of Hinduism not be allowed to assume there is no Vishnu? Well because the premise that Vishnu cannot be known is invalid, for one. In fact, if there are a lot of other things that must be disprove before it can be stated that Vishnu cannot be known.
If Shangdi was created, then we are left with an infinite regression of creators, which is just as impossible as an infinite number of days. Nothing created Shangdi, He just is.
If Zeus cannot be added to or subtracted from, then there must be literally no limit to his power.
I’m saying the universe came from somewhere. You’re claiming it was created by a specific god. The burden of proof is on you and every religion. Every reason you use to justify the christian creation story can be used to justify every other creation story. Prove to me why the christian god created the universe.
I enjoy reading your blog but I may have to stop if you continue writing posts like this.
Nick the Geek says
I’m sorry you feel that disagreeing with a post is reason to stop reading my blog. This is the type of intolerance Christian are labeled with, and while many do fall into this trap I think it is unfair that both sides are not accorded the same right to be intolerant.
As for the burden of proof, well I will be addressing this in more detail in another post. The main purpose of this specific post is to demonstrate that the universe is created and to establish a few attributes that the Creator must have. While I do believe that the God of the Bible is the only one that will ultimately meet all of the attributes (which I will demonstrate in another post), this post does not attempt to make that proof.
As such we appear to be in agreement when you say “I’m saying the universe came from somewhere,” and for my stated purpose for this specific post that is enough.
Thanks for your comment. I do hope that you continue to read and interact. I welcome divergent opinions. Without contrasting thought there is no purpose to discourse.
I guess I did reply pretty closed mindedly…
From your tone it sounded like you were just proving the universe had to be created by your flavor of deity. Your comment cleared it up that you were talking in generalities.
I’m looking forward to the next few posts on this topic.
Thanks for this. I’m currently engaged in a long series of discussions with my much-smarter atheist brother and anytime I am able to make a coherent point, he reverts to: “That may be so, but prove to me that God exists.” To say the least, it’s frustrating.
I’m a big fan of apologetics, and I’m a big fan of logic and reasoning backing up my faith.. I just need to study more, I presume. This helped today. 🙂
Nick the Geek says
I’m not sure where you are in your studies. I just finished “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist” and found it to be a good “primer.” It does a good job of addressing many of the arguments for and against a Christian faith. Some of the arguments are a bit rushed, largely because of the space available, but they are generally solid and have many other resources listed for more in depth study on given topics.