[Reader’s note, much of the information contained in this post follows the acronym S.U.R.G.E used by Frank Turek and his people at CrossExamined.org. As always, I am not looking to write in great detail on these topics. If you wish to know more, by all means continue to research further.]
The next most common objection you will come across deals with the existence of God. You will encounter people whose entire objection to Christianity is that there is no God, that science has proven that God does not exist, and that there are no scientific explanations for the existence of God. This will be your chance to show them how it is that they are wrong, that science does in fact point to the existence of God. This goes back to the previous lesson dealing with the differing schools of thought. I usually choose a Classical approach, with a touch of Presuppositionalism in order to keep me grounded. Especially if you have issues with pride, like I do, then you have to find something to anchor yourself to in order to avoid getting lost in the argument and wrecking the whole effort.
The Law of Cause and Effect
The law of cause and effect states that every cause has an effect and every effect is the cause of something else. The finite nature of our universe indicates that there has to be a first cause, an eternal cause, an initial causal agent that is uncaused. A cue ball doesn’t roll itself, it takes someone with a pool cue to set it in motion. This law forms the bedrock of all of science. Without cause and effect, you have no scientific growth or understanding. One shining example of this is Newton’s First Law of Motion, which states, “Every object in a state of uniform motion will remain in that state of motion unless an external force acts on it.”
Atheism comes with the expectation that we must adhere to the Law of Cause and Effect in every area except this one. They would have us believe that there was no first cause, that the universe simply created itself, and then morphed itself into its present form through unguided means. For obvious reasons, we must look at that assertion through the lens of science, and see if the evidence backs up the idea. From where I stand, it simply does not stack up.
The evidence for a finite universe is so immense, and so well defined that very few scientists will even question the idea that the universe had a beginning. Granted, the scientific community is not monolithic, and there are a few scientists who have clung to the idea of a steady state universe, but they are few and far between. The majority seem to be very content with the idea that our universe is finite, that it had a definite beginning, and will have a definite end. Where they go off the rails is when faced with the idea that these facts dictate that there had to be a beginner that is separate from the processes which govern our physical existence. Logic dictates that blind, unguided processes cannot spontaneously go from chaotic, to organized, and back. A bowl of Alphabits Cereal is not going to spontaneously spell out the opening lines of Shakespeare’s “Othello”, now is it?
What we must then do is show them our interpretation of the available evidence, so that they can choose whether or not to make the logical leap they must make. In order to do that, we must become a bit more familiar with the fields of Cosmology, Astronomy, and Physics in order to accomplish this rather weighty task. We will begin with something I have already mentioned, the Steady State.
What is the Steady State?
For millennia, virtually all of humanity was convinced that the universe was static, that it went on for eternity. This ideology holds that the universe has no end, no beginning, no movement, and no change. This was the dominant belief in the scientific community for thousands of years. In fact, Albert Einstein was an adherent of the Steady State Model, and it was his Theory of General Relativity that caused him the greatest difficulty because it showed that the universe existed in a state of continuous expansion, but more on that in a bit.
The Kalam Cosmological Argument
This argument was first proposed by Dr. William Lane Craig, and is one that has caused scientists no small amount of angst. The argument itself is said to draw from a mixture of arguments stemming from Greek philosophy (Aristotelianism) and ancient Islamic thought. In fact, Kalam is the Arabic word for speech, and is tied to an Islamic form of scholasticism dating back to the 11th Century. These ideas hold that 1) there must be an unmoved mover, and 2) that the universe came into existence due to the will of the unmoved mover (God).
It has been my experience that atheists will become furiously angry over the use of this argument, which tells me that we are on the right track. The argument holds that everything that has a beginning must have a beginner. This applies to the universe, among a great many other things. When viewed through the lens of cause and effect, the first cause is what creates the universe. We arrive at this conclusion because it is consistent with the Law of Cause and Effect. According to Space-Time Theorems, prior to the moment of the Big Bang, none of the physical laws of the universe existed. That means that there was no time, no space, no matter. This sounds an awful lot like “nothing”, or “without form” (tohu תֹ֙הוּ֙) as it says in Genesis 1:2. Logically speaking, that means that the First Cause had to be:
- Spaceless because He created space
- Timeless because He created time
- Immaterial because He created matter
- Powerful because He created from nothing
- Intelligent because both the Big Bang and the universe are clearly designed.
- Personal because He made a choice to create a universe from nothing. (Courtesy of Frank Turek and his team at CrossExamined.org)
When I first began the process of researching and writing this lesson, it became clear that this would not be easy. I am not a scientist, and my scientific background consists primarily of High School Biology, some College science classes, and whatever I have been able to learn on my own. Make no mistake, while I do have the patience to sit through various forms of media in order to learn what I need to understand the materials I am presenting, I will never make the claim to expertise.
I was initially stymied by how to present this lesson, but a presentation by Frank Turek provided me with what I needed. The acronym S.U.R.G.E is used by apologist Frank Turek to demonstrate five points of evidence that the universe had a definite beginning, which in turn supports the Kalam Cosmological Argument in the statement that whatever has a beginning must have a beginner. The five points in the acronym corresponds with a point of evidence.
S-The Second Law of Thermodynamics
This is a physical law that makes known a few biblical principals that we simply take for granted. First, the law states that the total entropy of an isolated system can never decrease over time. The total entropy of a system and its surroundings can remain constant in ideal cases where the system is in thermodynamic equilibrium, or is undergoing a (fictive) reversible process. In all processes that occur, including spontaneous processes, the total entropy of the system and its surroundings increases and the process is irreversible in the thermodynamic sense. The increase in entropy accounts for the irreversibility of natural processes, and the asymmetry between future and past.
What all of this means in Layman’s terms is that a system that is organized, and isolated, will experience no decay of any kind. Our system, meaning our entire universe, is not an isolated system, which means that our system does experience decay over time, and becomes gradually more unstable as time passes. As the Apostle Paul said,
“Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” (Romans 8:21, KJV)
In the original Greek, the word for corruption here, φθορᾶς (phthoras), translates as “Corruption, destruction, decay, rottenness, decomposition” (Strong’s Greek 5356). This is entropy expressed in biblical language.
What is entropy? The entropy of an object is a measure of the amount of energy which is unavailable to do work. Entropy is also a measure of the number of possible arrangements the atoms in a system can have. In this sense, entropy is a measure of uncertainty or randomness. The lower the entropy rate of a given system, the more stable and organized that system is. The greater the entropy rate of a system, the more disorganized the system, and our system (universe) has an entropy rate that is gradually increasing as can be expected given the circumstances. If our universe existed in a steady state, then our entropy would be equalized, and it is not.
The best way to illustrate this is to look at the universe prior to the fall of Adam and Eve vs the universe after the fall. In Genesis 1 through 3, what we see is a world that was perfectly balanced, that was for all intents and purposes an isolated system. There was no decay, no death, no struggle, no disease. It was perfect in every sense of the word, and the Lord walked with Adam and Eve in the Garden. The relationship between humanity and God was perfect, and there was only one law: do not eat from that one tree.
The instant our first parents broke that singular law, death, decay, disease, and struggle came into the picture. In other words, the system ceased to be isolated, and the entropy rate began to increase. Think of it as a countdown timer, and what it is counting down to is a system reset that will result in humanity returning to that perfect state once again, which is what we will see after the Day of Judgment.
U-The Expanding Universe
As I mentioned earlier, the idea of an expanding universe was not a well-known idea in the scientific community. Until the early 20th Century, the consensus was that the universe was infinite, ageless, non-expanding, unchanging, and totally steady. In 1929, things began to change. Edwin Hubble was working at the Carnegie Observatories in Pasadena, California, when he noted that there was a noticeable red-shift in his observations of distant galaxies. This red-shift phenomenon indicates that the galaxies in question were in motion. When he compared the red-shift of the galaxies with their distances relative to each other, he noted that they were gradually moving away from each other. This indicated to him that the universe was expanding, and prompted him to contact Albert Einstein and invite him out to have a look for himself.
Since that time, the idea that our universe is finite, expanding, and moving from stable to unstable has become all but guaranteed. There are very few dissenting voices within the scientific community, with most finding the evidence more than compelling enough to agree that the Steady State model is no longer valid. Speaking from a biblical perspective, all one can say is, “It’s about time.”
For nearly 3,000 years, the only document on this planet that had definitively referred to the universe as expanding has been the Bible. The prophet Isaiah, for example, makes the statement that the universe is expanding.
“It is he that sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers; that stretcheth out the heavens as a curtain, and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in:” (Isaiah 40:22, KJV)
In the original Hebrew, the root word used for “stretcheth” is natah (נָטָה) which translates as “To stretch out, spread out, extend, incline, bend” (Strong’s 5186). This word is a reference to the expansion of the subject, which in this case is the heavens (Samayim שָׁמַ֔יִם ). This is a clear statement that the heavens (the universe) are expanding, and was made roughly about 2,800 to 3,000 years before the modern scientific community caught on. Given that humanity had no way of knowing that in and of itself, it lends credence to the idea that the only way the prophet Isaiah could have known that was if someone with higher knowledge either imparted it on him, or showed it to him.
R-The Radiation Afterglow of the Universe
Also known as the Cosmic Background Radiation, this phenomenon is the left over heat from the Big Bang that occurred when the universe was created. Scientists have described it as a “baby photo” of the universe, showing what it looked like shortly after the universe came into being. The significance of this was not lost on Stephen Hawking, who called it “the discovery of the century, if not all time”. George Smoot, a Nobel Prize winning experimentalist, and co-discoverer of the Great Galaxy seeds, said that it was “like looking at God”. It was so compelling that Robert Wilson, one of the co-discoverers of the afterglow said, “Certainly there was something that set it off. Certainly, if you’re religious, I can’t think of a better theory of the origin of the universe to match with Genesis.”
This leads us to the next point:
G-The Great Galaxy Seeds in the Radiation Afterglow
When the universe came into being, there were ripples in temperature and gravity that caused certain areas to condense, which in turn would cause the formation of galaxies. They are known as Galaxy Seeds. These areas had been mathematically predicted, but were not confirmed until NASA launched the Cosmic Background Explorer (COBE) in 1989. Its primary purpose was to find those ripples, and measure them. Their findings were published in 1992, and they caused tremendous excitement. George Smoot, the lead astronomer for the project was quoted as saying, “If you’re religious, it’s “like looking at God.” Another astrophysicist, Michael Turner, called it the “Holy Grail of Cosmology”.
The images captured by COBE showed clear proof that the universe had a beginning, and was able to show what the universe looked like at various points in its growth and development, all of which shows not only how well tuned our universe is to our existence, but also clearly demonstrates the hand of God in His efforts to take the whole chaotic mess and turn it into an orderly existence complete with all of the physical laws required to keep it that way.
E-Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity
I think we would be hard pressed to find someone over the age of ten who has not heard of this rather famous theory. Owing almost entirely to the equation E=MC2, most people have at least a passing awareness that this theory has had an absolutely tremendous impact on their lives. The most amazing part is that most people are not aware of just how much.
As I mentioned before, when Einstein first completed the equations for this theory, he was a proponent of the Steady State model. The math involved in this theory caused him no small amount of panic because it only worked if the universe were in a constant state of expansion. It was such a profound shock to his system that his first instinct was to assume he had made a mistake and rework the math to fit a Steady State. It would be years later, in 1929, when he would travel out to Pasadena, CA at the behest of Edwin Hubble.
When faced with the evidence that his math had actually been right, Einstein was forced to discard the Steady State model in favor of a new model, one which came with very heavy implications for many in the scientific community. Now, they had to determine how the universe came into being, and by which agent. It seemed that the religious, especially Christians, were the only ones not very surprised. As I said, the Bible had been making these statements about the universe for nearly 3,000 years. All that was left was to say, “Amen. Hallelujah!”
In the next lesson, we will continue to examine the argument for the existence of God. We must be convinced of it ourselves if we are to argue it to others, and we must know what we are talking about in order to get there.