Questions Christians Hope No One Will Ask
- Monday, October 18, 2010
As I've been exploring these matters for the last twenty-five years or so, I've come to believe that today, perhaps more than in any other period of human history, the fingerprints of God have become exceedingly evident for anyone who is willing to search for them. Each of these arguments is powerful on its own and has convinced many people of the reality of God. But when considered together, along with our own testimonies of experiencing him in our daily lives, the cumulative case is staggering.
Evidence #1: The Existence of the Universe
Throughout history, many people have supposed that the universe always existed. A number of famous ancient thinkers from the East (such as Lao Tzu, a central figure in the Taoist religion) and the West (such as Aristotle) believed that the universe is eternal—in other words, that it never had a beginning. This was a fairly prevalent view among philosophers and scientists up until the twentieth century. They had their reasons for believing this, but there was no effective way to either confirm or disconfirm their beliefs—until recently.
Fortunately, in the last several decades there has been an exponential growth of understanding in many areas of science, especially in physics, astronomy, and cosmology. This third area, cosmology—which is the study of the origin, structure, and development of the physical universe—has seen explosive advancements in recent years. Let's look at one example.
In 1915, Albert Einstein developed the general theory of relativity (which is far too complex to explain in this chapter, even if I could fully explain it!). This theory, which is now almost universally accepted, has certain implications. One is that the universe—defined as time, space, matter, and physical energy—had a starting point in history. And, since it had a beginning, it's not eternal as Lao Tzu and Aristotle believed. As a matter of fact, through Einstein's equations we can trace the development of the universe back to its very origin, back to what's called the singularity event when it actually popped into being (what is often referred to as the "Big Bang").
Now, many scientists and others, including Einstein himself, didn't like this result (perhaps because it sounded too much like the biblical account of Creation?). So they tried to find an error in the equations—one that would allow for the universe to be understood as eternal after all. But they didn't succeed. And recent experimental observations have provided even more support showing that Einstein had it right: the universe really did have a beginning.
One of the scientific confirmations of Einstein's theory was provided by the Hubble Space Telescope, named after American astronomer Edwin Hubble. This impressive telescope allowed astronomers to see that the universe is actually expanding—and the farther away the galaxy is, the faster it's moving. This led most scientists to further reinforce their conclusion that the universe had a beginning point from which it began this expansion process.
So how does this Hubble confirmation of the origin of the universe provide evidence for God? Great question! Here's how: if the universe had a starting point in history, then obviously it began to exist. But if it began to exist, then it must have had a cause for its existence. Things don't just begin to exist without a cause. Science itself operates on the principle that all events need a cause. As Einstein once declared, "The scientist is possessed by a sense of universal causation."
But if the universe needs a cause for its coming into being, then that cause must be beyond the universe. As we saw earlier, the universe—by definition—is time, space, matter, and physical energy. So the cause for the universe must be something beyond time and space and matter and physical energy. In other words, the cause must be something uncannily similar to what we commonly refer to as "God"!
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