“The Cosmological Argument” by William Lane Craig, Frank Turek, & Norman L. Geisler (Summary)

The Cosmological Argument

          “…Suppose we were to accept the mythical genesis of the world from night or the natural philosophers’ claim that ‘all things were originally together.’ We are still left with the same impossible consequence. How is everything to be set in motion, unless there is actually to be some cause of movement? Matter is not going to set itself in motion-its movement depends on a motive cause.”

-Aristotle, 340 B.C.

In logical form, WLC has put the argument like this:

1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.

2. The universe had a beginning.

3. Therefore the universe had a cause.

The 3rd part of the argument is just the logical inference of the 1st and 2nd contentions. So, the claim rests on the validity of the first two contentions.
 

Proofs

The proof of the 1st contention–“Everything that had a beginning had a cause.”–is part of the “Kalām Cosmological Argument” defended by William Lane Craig which uses Philosophy/Mathematics:


 
Philosophy:

1. Something cannot come from nothing.
2. If something could come into being from nothing, then it becomes inexplicable why just anything or everything doesn’t come into being from nothing.
3. Common experience and scientific evidence confirm the truth of premise 1.

“…This first premise is intuitively obvious once you clearly grasp the concept of absolute nothingness. You see, the idea that things can come into being uncaused out of nothing is worse than magic. At least when a magician pulls a rabbit out of a hat, there’s the magician [agent] and the hat [mechanism].

Mathematics:

“Since the past would involve an actually infinite number of events, then the past simply can’t be infinite.”

Example using numbered marbles:

  • Infinite marbles minus infinite marbles equals zero marbles. (m – m = 0m)
  • Infinite marbles minus odd or even numbered marbles equals infinite marbles. (m – ½m = m)
  • Infinite marbles minus marbles numbered four and higher equals three marbles. (m – m4+ = 3m)

“In each case, we have subtracted the identical number from the identical number, but we have come up with nonidentical results. For that reason, mathematicians are forbidden from doing subtraction and division in transfinite arithmetic, because this would lead to contradictions. . . . Substitute ‘past events’ for ‘marbles,’ and you can see the absurdities that would result.”

You could also use the illustration of a dominoes. If you needed a domino (called “x”) to fall, but you also needed an infinite number of preceding dominoes to fall in order to knock “x” down, “x” will never fall.

“In fact, we can go further. Even if you could have an actual infinite number of things, you couldn’t form such a collection by adding one member after another. That’s because no matter how many you add, you can always add one more before you get to infinity. This is sometimes called the Impossibility of Traversing the Infinite. But if the past really were infinite, then that would mean we have managed to traverse an infinite past to arrive at today. It would be as if someone had managed to count down all of the negative numbers and to arrive at zero at the present moment.”

Time and space are creations of God that began at the Big Bang [sic]. If you go back beyond the beginning of time itself, there is simply eternity. By that, I mean eternity in the sense of timelessness. . . . God transcends time. He’s beyond time.

The cause of the universe must therefore be “an uncaused, beginningless, timeless, spaceless, immaterial, personal being endowed with freedom of will and enormous power.” And using Ockam’s razor, we can also tell that there is only one cause since it “says we should not multiply causes beyond what’s necessary to explain the effect.”

 

The proof of the 2nd contention–“The universe had a beginning”–goes in an acronym defended by Frank Turek and Norman Geisler labeled S.U.R.G.E.:


 
S – The Second Law of Thermodynamics
U – The Universe Is Expanding
R – Radiation from the Big Bang
G – Great Galaxy Seeds
E – Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity
 
S – The Second Law of Thermodynamics

    • The law states that everything in the universe has a component of entropy (i.e. – the universe is running out of usable energy). “Like a running car, the universe will ultimately run out of gas.” This will result in what is called a ‘heat death’ where the temperature of everything is at absolute zero and will be completely immobile (even at the atomic level). This shows that the universe had a beginning because, if it were eternal, it would have run out of gas by now.

U – The Universe Is Expanding

    • The evidence holds that space is expanding and it’s causing everything to move away from each other. This can be seen by looking at galaxies through a telescope multiple times and notice that the light from them is changing frequencies. The light waves are becoming larger and larger every time we look at them in what is called “Red Shift” (like how the sound waves of a car changes as it drives further away from you). Working backwards, this shows that the universe would have started from an infinitely small (basically zero) point (known as a singularity).

R – Radiation from the Big Bang

    • “Technically known as the cosmic background radiation, this afterglow is actually light and heat from the initial explosion. This light is no longer visible because its wavelength has been stretched by the expanding universe to wavelengths slightly shorter than those produced by a microwave oven. But the heat can still be detected.” Roger Penrose states that if you plot the intensity against each frequency, you will find the Planck Curve (Black Body Spectrum) which shows that the beginning of the universe must have been in thermal equilibrium (a state in which energy is most random; and has the least reason to begin by itself).
    • [This “evidence for the Big Bang” is in dispute by YEC’s D. Russell Humphreys and Jason Lisle. Brian Thomas points out that, “Another problem with the Big Bang is the horizon problem, which is the question of why temperature is so remarkably uniform throughout the universe when light has not had enough time since the Big Bang to travel throughout space and evenly distribute radiation. Also, the Big Bang should have resulted in equal amounts of matter and antimatter, but the real universe is dominated by matter.” http://www.icr.org/article/new-sky-map-shows-big-bang-even-more/ ]

G – Great Galaxy Seeds

    • “If the Big Bang actually occurred, scientists believed that we should see slight variations (or ripples) in the temperature of the cosmic background radiation [. . .]. These temperature ripples enabled matter to congregate by gravitational attraction into galaxies. If found, they would comprise the fourth line of scientific evidence that the universe had a beginning. [. . .] The ripples show that the explosion and expansion of the universe was precisely tweaked to cause just enough matter to congregate to allow galaxy formation, but not enough to cause the universe to collapse back on itself.”

E – Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity

    • “The theory itself, which has been verified to five decimal places, demands an absolute beginning for time, space, and matter.” It shows that time, space, and matter are co-relative. That is, they are interdependent–you can’t have one without the others. Matter couldn’t exist timelessly as thought before by Greek philosophers; they all came into existed (were created) at once.

 
As an aside: I personally don’t believe in a big bang. A God that is capable of creating the universe is also capable of creating it in 6 days with the present processes working in place.
 

Quote

          “When a scientist writes about God, his colleagues assume he is either over the hill or going bonkers. In my case it should be understood from the start that I am an agnostic in religious matters. My views on this question are close to those of Darwin, who wrote, ‘My theology is a simple muddle. I cannot look at the Universe as the result of blind chance, yet I see no evidence of beneficent design in the details.'”

          “Now we see how the astronomical evidence supports the biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.”

          “There is a strange ring of feeling and emotion in these reactions [of scientists to evidence that the universe had a sudden beginning]. They come from the heart whereas you would expect the judgments to come from the brain. Why? I think part of the answer is that scientists cannot bear the thought of a natural phenomenon which cannot be explained, even with unlimited time and money. There is a kind of religion in science; it is the religion of a person who believes there is order and harmony in the Universe. Every event can be explained in a rational way as the product of some previous event; every effect must have its cause, there is no First Cause. … This religious faith of the scientist is violated by the discovery that the world had a beginning under conditions in which the known laws of physics are not valid, and as a product of forces or circumstances we cannot discover. When that happens, the scientist has lost control. If he really examined the implications, he would be traumatized.”

          “Consider the enormity of the problem. Science has proved that the universe exploded into being at a certain moment. It asks: What cause produced this effect? Who or what put the matter or energy into the universe? And science cannot answer these questions, because, according to the astronomers, in the first moments of its existence the Universe was compressed to an extraordinary degree, and consumed by the heat of a fire beyond human imagination. The shock of that instant must have destroyed every particle of evidence that could have yielded a clue to the cause of the great explosion.”

          “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountain of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”

-Robert Jastrow

 

Importance

          The “beginning” of the universe was not a natural occurrence. Something that is natural can only be explained working within the confines of the universe. This means that the cause of the universe must have been supernatural. And if that is the case, miracles (meaning supernatural events) can be easily explained because the greatest of all miracles has already happened.
 

Verse

“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1)

 

References

Strobel, Lee. The Case for a Creator: A Journalist Investigates Scientific Evidence That Points Toward God. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2004. 93-111. Print.

Rfvidz. “Kalam Cosmological Argument (William Lane Craig).” YouTube. YouTube, 28 Jan. 2011. Web. 21 June 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kQ70I7MPMR8 >.

Geisler, Norman L., and Frank Turek. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2004. Print.

TurekVideo. “Evidence for God.” YouTube. YouTube, 09 Sept. 2009. Web. 21 June 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5u7cm6OH9KM >.

Jastrow, Robert. God and the Astronomers. New York: Norton, 1978. Print.
 

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