“Why is there something rather than nothing” G.W. Leibniz
“Why do we have something rather than nothing at all” Martin Heidegger
This is a question that’s been asked through the ages and I’ve decided to put this series together to address this, and a few other questions, concerning God’s existence.
In considering the above question, there are only four possible options for reality:
1) 1) Reality is an Illusion.
2) 2) Reality is self-created.
3) 3) Reality is self-existent.
4) 4) Reality was created by something that is self-existent.
Reality is an illusion:
Student to professor “Professor, I’m not sure I even exist!”
Professor to student “Who, then, may I say is asking?”
You must exist to deny your own existence so it is a self-defeating statement to claim you don’t exist and are just an illusion. Illusions require something to experience the illusion, so the long and short of it that Reality is NOT an illusion.
Reality is self-created:
Stephen Hawking said “Because there is a law like gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.”
The problem with this statement is that gravity is NOT nothing. Hydrogen, Helium, Lithium, Quantum vacuum, particles, matter, energy, motion, space, time, etc is NOT nothing. For reality to be self-created, Hydrogen, Helium, etc would have to be self-created from absolutely NOTHING.
Aristotle said that “Nothing is what rocks dream about”
John Lennox said of Hawking’s statement “Hawking's argument appears to me even more illogical when he says the existence of gravity means the creation of the universe was inevitable. But how did gravity exist in the first place? Who put it there? And what was the creative force behind its birth? Similarly, when Hawking argues in support of his theory of spontaneous creation that it was only necessary for 'the blue touch paper' to be lit to 'set the universe going', the question must be: where did this blue touch paper come from? And who lit it, if not God?”
A second issue with self-creation of Reality is that a thing cannot be ontologically prior to itself. To create yourself, you must have existed prior to yourself. Self-creation FAILS as an explanation because it is analytically false.
So there are two options left:
“The Cosmos is all there will ever be” – Carl Sagan
“In the beginning, God…” – The Bible
“Something exists; nothing cannot create something; therefore, a necessary and eternal being exists.” Jonathan Edwards
“There are not many options – essentially just two. Either human intelligence ultimately owes its origin to mindless matter; or there is a Creator. It is strange that some people claim that it is their intelligence that leads them to prefer the first to the second.” John Lennox
“However concrete physical reality is sectioned up, the result will be a state of affairs which owes its being to something other than itself” Dallas Willard
Reality is self-existent:
The problems here are the following:
1) 1) All current scientific evidence points to a beginning of the universe.
2) 2) If the universe had a beginning then it has not always existed.
3) 3) If the universe hasn’t always existed, then something else must.
Consider the Kalam Cosmological Argument:
1) 1) Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
2) 2) The universe began to exist.
3) 3) Therefore, the universe has a cause.
There are many other scientific observations and theories that indicate the universe had a beginning such as:
1) The Second Law of Thermodynamics – the universe is running down
2) Expanding Universe – confirmed through Hubble telescope.
3) Radiation Echo – discovered in the 1930’s.
4) Galaxy Seeds – discovered in the 1990’s by COBE explorer.
5) Einstein’s theory of relativity – proves universe had a beginning.
There’s also the problem of infinite regress, that an infinite series of regresses (every cause had a cause that had a cause, and so on into infinity) is not possible. This is not a problem for an eternal self-existent God as the first cause of everything. The question “what caused God?” fails logically as an eternal God need no cause. If the universe began to exist, the only rational solution to what caused the universe is an eternal being without a cause. Things popping into existence from nothing has never been observed (how about a lion popping into existence right next to you now?)
What about quantum vacuum? Does Quantum Mechanics (QM) show that things come into existence from nothing? At least 10 different interpretations exist of the mathematical equations of QM, some fully deterministic and some indeterminate. No one knows which is correct but more importantly, the quantum vacuum is not NOTHING. The vacuum is a sea of fluctuating energy governed by physical laws having a physical structure. No evidence suggests that things come into being from nothing.
What about the multi-verse? The multiple universe theory postulates the simultaneous existence of many, possibly infinitely many, parallel universes in which almost anything which is theoretically possible. A multi-verse still has the problem of an infinite regress. Such an issue is not limited to this universe; it applies to any reality. Scientifically, there is no evidence for it, and good reasons for thinking that such a thing does not exist. No model has evidence showing any reality that extends into the infinite past. In 2003, Arvind Borde, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin were able to prove that any universe which has, on average, been expanding throughout its history cannot be infinite in the past but must have a past space/time boundary. What makes their proof so powerful is that it holds regardless of the physical description of the very early universe. Their theorem implies that the quantum vacuum state which may have characterized the early universe cannot be eternal in the past but must have had an absolute beginning.
“It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.” Dr. Alexander Vilenkin, Physicist
Spontaneous creation from nothing…quantum vacuums….multi-verses…These and other such propositions by naturalistic scientists are an example of “drowning the fish”. You can use all the water in the oceans in an attempt to drown the animal, but in the end, it will still be there affirming its existence and presence.
“Many people do not like the idea that time has a beginning, probably because it smacks of divine intervention.” Stephen Hawking
“There are only two possibilities as to how life arose; one is spontaneous generation arising to evolution, the other is a supernatural creative act of God, there is no third possibility. Spontaneous generation that life arose from non-living matter was scientifically disproved 120 years ago by Louis Pasteur and others. That leaves us with only one possible conclusion that life arose as a creative act of God. I will not accept that philosophically because I do not want to believe in God, therefore I choose to believe in that which I know is scientifically impossible.” Dr. George Wald - Professor Emeritus of Biology, Harvard Nobel Prize winner in Biology
Reality was created by something that is self-existent:
“But why anything at all is, or exists, science knows not, precisely because it cannot even ask the question. To this supreme question, the only conceivable answer is that each and every particular existential energy, each and every particular existing thing, depends for its existence upon a pure Act of existence.” Etienne Gilson
Atheists regularly pose the problem of the cause of God…”I may say that when I was a young man and was debating these questions very seriously in my mind, I for a long time accepted the argument of the First Cause, until one day, at the age of eighteen, I read John Stuart Mill's Autobiography, and I there found this sentence: "My father taught me that the question 'Who made me?' cannot be answered, since it immediately suggests the further question `Who made god?'" That very simple sentence showed me, as I still think, the fallacy in the argument of the First Cause. If everything must have a cause, then God must have a cause.” Bertrand Russell
This is a category mistake and logical fallacy. It’s like asking “what does the color blue taste like?” or “where is the bachelor’s wife?” Positing a self-existent first cause is philosophically sound; you don’t make the unmade.
At this point most skeptics would stop and say “”A Self-Existent, Eternal God?? Gimme a Break! Impossible!” My answer to that would be “A Self-Existent, Eternal Universe?? Gimme a Break! Impossible!”
The issue is that you must go back to a Self-Existent, Eternal SOMETHING! If you deny a self-existent, necessary, and eternal Creator, you must automatically embrace a self-existent, necessary, and eternal universe (or a combination of the two, which is pantheism). Every drop of scientific data points to the conclusion that the universe had a beginning and is not eternal. Why is an eternal Creator preposterous and an eternal universe not? Perhaps because an eternal universe is an amoral entity who doesn't hold anyone accountable?
What would this first cause need to be?
1) The cause must be supernatural in nature (it created the natural).
2) The cause must be powerful (incredibly).
3) The cause must be eternal (self-existent; no infinite regress of causes).
4) The cause must be omnipresent (it created space and is not limited by it).
5) The cause must be timeless and changeless (it created time).
6) The cause must be immaterial (because it transcends space/physical).
7) The cause must be personal (defined as “having intent”).
8) The cause must be necessary (as everything else depends on it).
9) The cause must be infinite and singular as you cannot have two infinites.
10) The cause must be diverse yet have unity.
11) The cause must be intelligent (supremely).
12) The cause must be purposeful (it deliberately created everything).
13) The cause must be moral (no moral law can be had without a giver).
14) The cause must be caring (or no moral laws would have been given).
The bible describes just such a cause:
1) God is supernatural (Genesis 1:1)
2) Powerful (Jeremiah 32:17)
3) Eternal (Psalm 90:2)
4) Omnipresent (Psalm 139:7)
5) Timeless/changeless (Malachi 3:6)
6) Immaterial (John 5:24)
7) Personal (Genesis 3:9)
8) Necessary (Colossians 1:17)
9) Infinite/singular (Jeremiah 23:24, Deut. 6:4)
10) Diverse yet with unity (Matthew 28:19)
11) Intelligent (Psalm 147:4-5)
12) Purposeful (Jeremiah 29:11)
13) Moral (Daniel 9:14)
14) Caring (1 Peter 5:6-7)
“Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on the earth. And they have found that all this happened as a product of forces they cannot hope to discover. . . . That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.” Robert Jastrow, NASA Scientist
Which is more reasonable to believe:
1) That an impersonal, non-conscious, meaningless, purposeless, and amoral universe that had its own beginning accidentally created personal, conscious, moral beings who are obsessed with meaning and purpose, or
2) That a personal, conscious, purposeful, intelligent, moral, eternal God created beings in His likeness and established the universe and its laws to govern their existence?
“The best data we have [concerning the origin of the universe] are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, and the Bible as a whole.” Arno Penzias, Nobel Astrophysicist