• James Werner

DOES COSMOLOGICAL EVIDENCE POINT TO GOD'S EXISTENCE?

Updated: Mar 5


The first 10 words of Scripture start out with a bang. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” What a powerful claim! Did the Bible get it right, or are there other more reasonable explanations?


I am convinced there are many compelling reasons that demonstrate the existence of God. My personal favorite set of evidences generally focus on the following explanations:


1. God is the best explanation for the origin of the universe


2. God is the best explanation for the design or “fine tuning” of the universe for intelligent life


3. God is the best explanation for biological organisms that appear to be designed.


4. God is the best explanation for the existence of objective moral truth


These powerful arguments, scientific and philosophical, are more formally referred to as the Cosmological Argument, The Anthropic principle, The Teleological Argument, and the Moral Argument.


Each one of these premises need to be examined in much more depth, however for this post I will review the evidence supporting the first claim. God is the best explanation for the origin of the universe, or more commonly called the Cosmological Argument.


Let’s begin by establishing the premise and then we will come back and examine each line of evidence in more depth.


Cosmological Evidence


1. The universe began to exist

2. Anything that begins to exist must have a cause

3. Therefore, the universe must have a cause

4. This cause must be un-caused (eternal), space-less, timeless, immaterial, extremely powerful and personal.

5. This fits our description of God


Before we examine this evidence, I want to establish my reference point and briefly explore how I believe God reveals Himself to us.


REVELATION IN HIS WORD AND IN HIS WORLD.


As Christians, we believe the Bible is the inspired Word of God. It is literally “God breathed”. We can clearly understand from Scripture about the origin of the universe and who created it.


The physical universe is visible, observable and speaks of a Creator. We know Scripture declares God’s existence and it also thoroughly equips us for every good work. We can learn of His existence, His mighty power, and wisdom. So, God is revealed in His Word and also in his world (nature). Scripture is often referred to as His “special revelation” and his nature as “general revelation”. They will never contract each other. These “two books” come from God who is the source of all truth and they will complement each other.


Consider the following passages of Scripture:


“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they reveal knowledge. They have no speech, they use no words; no sound is heard from them. Yet their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” Psalm 19:1-4 NIV


“Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:19-20 NIV


So, whether we consider His written word or His creation, there is overwhelming evidence that speaks of Him. Let’s now look at the evidence I have presented not from His written Word the Bible, but from His creation or His special revelation.


THE UNIVERSE BEGAN TO EXIST


Is this premise true? Did the universe begin or has it always existed? The answer is extremely important and has tremendous implications. If it did begin to exist, then something or someone must have caused it to begin. However, if it is eternal some will conclude there is no need for a Creator.


For years, many in the scientific community held a common belief and had a general consensus that the universe was eternal. However, this began to change as we entered the 20th century. More and more evidence began to suggest that instead of eternal, the universe began at a singular point in the past.


While there are several scientific discoveries that would point to a cosmic beginning, I would like to briefly explore three: The Second Law of Thermodynamics, an Expanding Universe, and Cosmic Radiation.


1. The Second Law of Thermodynamics


Thermodynamics is the study of energy and matter. The Second Law states that the universe is running out of usable energy. It is like a car that starts out with a full tank of gas. If you keep driving (using the energy), it will eventually run out of gas. If you leave a flashlight on, eventually it begins to dim as the energy in the batteries is used up. If the universe was eternal, it would be out of energy by now.


The Second law is also known as the Law of Entropy. With time, things naturally deteriorate or fall apart. Things go from order to disorder. We see evidence of this all around us. All of this points to the reality that the universe had a beginning. Astronomer Robert Jastrow compares the universe to a wound-up clock. “If a wind-up clock is running down, then someone must have wound it up.” {source: I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist. Geisler/Turek page 77}


2. Expanding Universe


The famous E=mc2 equation comes from Albert Einstein who is known for developing the Special Theory of Relativity in 1905. This equation basically describes how matter and energy are converted from one form to another. He eventually showed the relationships between the speed of light, gravity, mass and other factors in regard to the universe. All of this work was consistent with an expanding universe.


Many other scientists were also coming to the same conclusion as Einstein as they calculated and observed an expanding universe.


A Russian mathematician Alexander Friedman and George Lemaitre, working with Einstein’s theory also came to the conclusion that the universe is expanding.


The famous astronomer Edwin Hubble in 1929 using findings from other astronomers and scientists made some of his own amazing discoveries. He measured the Red Shift in light from distant galaxies. His evidence confirmed the universe is not only expanding, but that it sprang into being from a single point in the finite past!


In 2003, three leading cosmologists by the names of Arvin Borde, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin proved the following:


Any universe which has on average been expanding throughout its history cannot be eternal in the past, but must have an absolute beginning. In Vilenkin’s book “Many Worlds in One” he states, “…scientists can no longer hide behind a past-eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.”


A simple illustration most would understand is to look at the universe like a balloon. Imagine if you took a marker and drew galaxies on the surface of the balloon. As you blow up the balloon the edges of the galaxies will move away from the center as well as from each other. If you let the air out, the process would reverse. This is basically what science has discovered. Since the universe is expanding, the universe had a beginning.


Robert Jastrow is an astronomer and founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies. He also worked at the Mount Wilson observatory and he made some astounding statements, especially in light of his personal agnosticism. He wrote the following:


"Now we see how the astronomical evidence leads to a 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." {source: Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, 11.}


Jastrow also made the following statement in an interview, “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.” {source: “A Scientist Caught Between Two Faiths; Interview with Robert Jastrow” Christianity Today, August 6, 1982}


With all of this mounting evidence, most scientist now agree that the universe had a cosmic beginning. However, this is just another piece of the cumulative evidence that the universe had a beginning. Let’s consider one more.


3. Cosmic Radiation


The third line of scientific evidence is cosmic radiation. Two American scientists “accidentally” made an amazing discovery that earned them Nobel Prizes. In 1965 Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson detected radiation on their antenna at Bell Labs in New Jersey. No matter where they pointed their instrument in the universe, they were unable to eliminate the radio signal “noise”. Physicist and cosmologist Phillip Peebles at Princeton University proposed that they may be detecting the residual “background radiation” that was caused when the universe first came into being. After many more experiments and observations Peebles hypothesis was confirmed. It indeed was cosmic background radiation. There has been much additional data that was provided from the Cosmic Background Explorer satellite that was launched in 1989. This was just another line of evidence that confirmed the universe originated from a fixed time in the past.


We have briefly considered 3 scientific discoveries. Does this reinforce our first premise that the universe began to exist? The evidence seems to indicate that it does. Now let’s look at the next premise.


ANYTHING THAT BEGINS TO EXIST MUST HAVE A CAUSE


Is this premise true? Do things that begin to exist have a cause?

I think our everyday experiences confirm this. Things do not just “pop into existence”. If we see a baseball bat, we instinctively know it had a creator and it was designed for a purpose. In this case, to hit a baseball. This is a fundamental principle of science and confirms our premise of cause and effect. The law of causality says everything that had a beginning had a cause.


Francis Bacon (The father of science) said, “True knowledge is knowledge by causes.” Science is a search for causes. To deny the law of causality is to deny rationality.

Since we have already established it is very reasonable that the universe began to exist, and science and experience confirm the law of causality, then the conclusion must be that the universe has a cause.


THE UNIVERSE HAS A CAUSE


If the universe had a beginning then it must have had a beginner. The evidence really leaves us with just two options:


1. No one created something out of nothing (atheist view).

2. Someone created something out of nothing (Theist view).


I ask you an honest question, which one is more reasonable?


There are only two possibilities for anything that exists; Either it has always existed and is therefore uncaused, or it had a beginning and was caused by something or someone else. Since there is overwhelming evidence the universe had a beginning it must have been caused by something outside itself.


THIS UNCAUSED FIRST CAUSE FITS OUR DESCRIPTION OF GOD


The first cause must have the following characteristics:


1. We know that time, space, and matter came into existence, so the first cause must be outside of this and have no limits. It must be nonspatial, timeless, and immaterial. It must be self-existent.


2. The first cause must be unbelievably powerful to be able to create the entire universe out of nothing.


3. The cause must be supremely intelligent to design the universe with such incredible precision.


4. The cause must be personal and have the ability to make choices. A world was created just perfectly for humans to live in.


All of these characteristics are the same ones that we use to describe the God of the Bible. However, we were able to use scientific evidence to confirm once again the Bible did get it right! In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.


A BRIEF WORD ABOUT EVIDENCE


In spite of all of this, many skeptics will assert that there is no evidence for God. This statement is clearly false. It may be “possible” that the arguments we articulate and the evidence we provide are false, however they do count as evidence for God’s existence even though it may be unpersuasive to some.


I rarely tell someone I can prove God exists. I think there is a better approach. We need to trust in the power of the Holy Spirit. I like to tell people I can provide evidence that convinces me that God is the best explanation when you consider it with an open mind. You can provide all the evidence or facts but only God can change hearts.


We are all sinners and born with a bad heart. We are selfish, proud, stubborn and are looking out for what is in the best interest of ourselves. We are by nature at war with God. Many do not want there to be a God. They want to be their own God. Because of this, they will grasp at anything to “prove” Him away. We must have an honest heart and seek truth if we are ever going to see the evidence clearly.


In a court of law, there are some explanations that are better than others. However, we need to hear and evaluate all the evidence presented and determine what explanation best explains reality and persuades us beyond a “reasonable doubt”. Remember this, evidence by itself does not “say” anything. We must interpret the evidence. People can listen to the exact same arguments and evaluate the same evidence but come to different conclusions. This can be based on your life’s experiences, assumptions, your paradigm, and other factors.


In reality, the cumulative evidence for Christianity is very extensive and persuasive to those who honestly consider the claims with an open mind setting aside personal “bias”. It is critical that we do not omit possible explanations before we start our investigation. If we rule them out and take them off the table, such as a “supernatural” being, they will never be considered as possible options when in reality they may be the best explanation.


CONCLUSION


Finally, let’s review our premises of the Cosmological Evidence:


1. The universe began to exist

2. Anything that begins to exist must have a cause

3. Therefore, the universe must have a cause

4. This cause must be uncaused (eternal), spaceless, timeless, immaterial, extremely powerful and personal.

5. This fits our description of God


So, does cosmological evidence point to the existence of God? The evidence is reasonable and seems to lead to that conclusion and provide the best explanation. However, the cosmological argument is only one of many that demonstrates compelling and persuasive evidence for God. When you examine the entire cumulative case for God’s existence it is even more convincing and very powerful.