by Ken Williams
Where did we come from? This is one of the most fascinating questions we can ask. When asked, most of us immediately begin to think of human origins (evolution vs. God). We are naturally most interested in knowing about ourselves and where we came from. After all, we’ve been told by science and school that evolution is a fact and this goes against everything we’ve learned at home and church and can be discouraging to some.
But in answering the question of origins, I believe it’s a mistake to begin with the evolution debate. There is a more foundational question to answer first and that answer will shed much light on all the other questions that follow.
The first question that should be asked is, where did everything come from? Not just us, but the entire universe. Put it another way, why is there something rather than nothing at all?
Arguably, the most important sentence in the Bible is the first one. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. If that sentence is true, it makes everything that follows plausible and possible.
For a very long time atheists argued that the universe had always existed, i.e. it was eternal. Therefore, there was no need for a “god” to start it, it just always was. Like Carl Sagan famously said, “The Cosmos is all that is or was or ever will be.”
Why were atheists so adamant that the universe had always existed? Because they knew that a beginning to the universe implied a beginner. And that beginner must be something other than the universe itself. In other words, other than the time, space and matter that make up the universe, the universe can’t cause itself to exist. That would mean it had to exist…before it existed…and this is obviously nonsensical.
They also knew that it could not have just popped into existence out of nothing. As Julie Andrews says in The Sound of Music “nothing comes from nothing, nothing ever could.” Everybody knows this is true. So the only two options left are a universe that has always existed or a universe that came into existence by some cause other than itself. Knowing the implications of this, most of the atheists put all their eggs into an eternal universe.
That is, until Albert Einstein revealed his findings in what he would be called the Theory of General Relativity. What Einstein was discovering was that the universe was not eternal but that there was a definitive beginning to it and everything, all time, space and matter. Einstein himself called this discovery “irritating”. He wanted the universe to be self existent, eternal and not reliant on any outside cause. But like the great scientist he was, he followed the facts where they led. And ever since, scientists have been confirming and reconfirming new evidence to support this Theory of General Relativity. So much so, that today General Relativity stands as one of the most attested to facts of science, and, lucky for us, it is one of the strongest lines of evidence for the existence of a theistic God.
How so? Well, let’s state the argument in its logical form, the way our children might learn it in Mr. Hindall’s logic class.
1. Everything that had a beginning had a cause.
2. The universe had a beginning.
3. Therefore the universe had a cause.
Premise 1. Everything that had a beginning had a cause:
In science, this is known as the law of causality. It is the fundamental principle of science; without it, science is impossible.
Francis Bacon, the father of modern science, said that “science is the search for causes”. In other words, that is what scientists do, they try to figure out what caused what. Since this principle is so well-established, we can say with confidence that it is fully accepted as true by just about everyone.
Premise 2. The universe had a beginning:
All that remains is to prove premise 2 true and then the conclusion (premise 3) naturally follows, and is therefore true as well. So how do we do that? To quote Julie Andrews again from The Sound of Music:
“Let’s start at the very beginning
a very good place to start
when you read you begin with ABC…”
When you argue origins
you begin with S.U.R.G.E…If you sing it just right, it really does rhyme.
SURGE is an acronym to help remember the five lines of scientific evidence that help show that the universe had a beginning. That beginning is what scientists call the Big Bang and so we can think of it this way, in the beginning there was a great SURGE.
S – Stands for the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Thermodynamics is the study of matter and energy and the second law states (among other things) that the universe is running out of usable energy. With each passing moment, the amount of usable energy in the universe is shrinking. Leading scientists to the obvious conclusion that all energy will be gone one day and the universe will eventually die.
Think of a flashlight that has been left on overnight. What will the intensity of the light be in the morning? It will be very weak, why? Because the energy in the batteries has been used up. Well, the universe is like that dying flashlight, but because it still has some battery life (we are still here and alive) it can’t be eternal. It must have had a beginning because if it were eternal the batteries would have run out an eternity ago.
The Second Law of Thermodynamics is also known as the Law of Entropy, which is a scientific way of saying things tend to move from a state of order to disorder. In other words, with time, things breakdown… your car, your house, your body. Just as with energy, this aspect of the second law tells us there was a beginning to the universe. Since we still have some order, it can’t be eternal. If it had always existed we would have reached complete disorder by now. So, simply stated: the universe cannot have always existed because it would have run out of usable energy and would have become completely disordered and uninhabitable by now.
U – Stands for the Universe is Expanding:
General relativity predicted that the universe was expanding (moving outward like the shrapnel of a explosion) and not only that, but expanding from a single point. This expansion was confirmed about a decade after Einstein revealed his theory. Dr. Edwin Hubble with his famous Hubble telescope actually visualized the universe expanding out away from itself.
How does this help prove a beginning to the universe? Think of it this way, if we had a video recording of the universe expanding from the beginning, we could watch it in reverse. What we would see is the universe coming back together, getting smaller and smaller until all matter collapsed in upon itself into a specific point. That point would be, not the size of a basketball, baseball or golf ball. Not even the size of a pinhead, but mathematically and logically a point so small that it would be equal to nothing. All matter, all time, and all space would go back to a point of nothingness. In other words, once there was nothing then BANG – there was something…actually everything. This point where nothing turns to something is commonly referred to as the Big Bang.
Many atheist are now searching for alternative explanations. None of them has come up with a plausible alternative that doesn’t include this expansion as part of their theory.
R – Stands for Radiation background from the Big Bang:
The third line of evidence was discovered by accident in 1965 by two scientists, Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson. They discovered that the earth is bathed in a faint glow of radiation left over from the Big Bang. They actually won a Nobel Prize for their findings. What was this radiation echo? Think of an old TV that has a tube in it. Remember when you turned it off in the dark, and you could still see it glow and radiate. That glow on the TV was the radiation echo caused by electrons bombarding the screen while the power was still on.
Back in the late 1940’s, several scientists predicted that this radiation would be out there somewhere if the Big Bang really had happened. Penzias and Wilson’s discovery of it was the death nail to any theory of an eternally existing universe.
“The radiation discovered…has the exact pattern of wavelengths expected for the light and heat produced in a great explosion…at the present time the big bang theory has no competitors.” Atheist astronomer, Robert Jastrow.
G – Stands for Great galaxy seeds
Another prediction was confirmed in the early 1990’s. Scientists believed that if the Big Bang really happened we should be able to use our powerful telescopes to see small variations in the temperature of the cosmic background radiation that Penzias and Wilson discovered.The importance of these variations is that they are what would have allowed matter to congregate by gravitational attraction into galaxies.
In 1992 the COBE satellite was able to take actual pictures of these temperature (ripples) variations. The projects lead astronomer, George Smoot, said about the findings “if you’re religious it’s like looking at God” scientists were amazed by the precision of the finding it was as if it was designed. The data showed that the explosion (Big Bang) and following expansion of the universe was so well controlled, it was as though it were balanced on a razor’s edge. Just enough matter was allowed to come together to form galaxies, but not enough that the universe would collapse back in on itself. Any slight variation one way or the other and you wouldn’t be here reading this right now! In fact, the ripples were so exact Dr. Smoot called them “machining marks from the creation of the universe” and the “fingerprints of the maker”. You can view pictures here.
E – Stands for Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity:
This is our fifth line of evidence, and it’s discovery was the beginning of the end for an eternal universe. It has been verified beyond any doubt, and it shows that time, space, and matter are all interdependent upon one another (i.e., you can’t have one with out the other). From it, scientist predicted and found the expanding universe, background radiation (afterglow) and the seeds of galaxy formation. Add to this the Second Law of Thermodynamics and you have a very powerful case for a beginning to the universe, and therefore, the need of a spaceless, timeless beginner…We call him God!
“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 mountains 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
Note: This article was adapted from the works of Dr. Norm Geisler.
This article was originally published in our Excelsior! monthly newsletter.