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January 23, 2014 / BTM

Ever Wonder Why We Have A Universe At All?

universeThis is a question that William Lane Craig often asks whenever he debates an atheist on the question Does God Exist?  Do you ever wonder this yourself?

My guess is that, like me, you probably don’t.  We take the universe for granted.  It’s only been in the last 100 years that scientists have had to face the hard facts that the universe actually had a beginning, and that the beginning of the universe originated from nothing.  You might be surprised to hear how gut-wrenching a discovery this was to leading scientists of the day.  Einstein was irritated by it.  Arthur Eddington (astrophysicist) found it repugnant.  Robert Jastrow (astronomer, physicist and cosmologist) found it distasteful to his scientific mind.

Why all the fuss?

Because a universe with a beginning requires someone or something to begin it.  The beginning point was nicknamed The Big Bang.  As Greg Koukl has quipped: “It seems to me that a ‘Big Bang’ requires a ‘Big Banger’.”  A universe with a beginning suggests an all-powerful entity created it.  The fact that we have a universe at all is powerful evidence for God.

Up until the about middle of the last century, scientists thought that the universe was eternal.  An eternal universe did not require a cause to bring it into existence.

Here’s a summary of the culmination of scientific discovery that forced scientists to conclude that the universe was not eternal, but that it had a definite beginning, and that that beginning came out of nothing:

  • Einstein’s general theory of relativity predicted an expanding universe (which implies that it had a beginning).  An eternal universe would be static, but Einstein’s theory required the universe to not be static;
  • Mathematicians Friedmann and Lemaître separately applied Einstein’s theory in models and predicted an expanding universe;
  • In 1929, the Hubble telescope discovered what is called a ‘red shift’ of light – this illustrates how galaxies are moving away from us because the universe is expanding from an initial stating point.  An expanding universe must have begun at the starting point of expansion;
  • Cosmic background radiation, the ‘afterglow’ of the Big Bang, was discovered.  This is the remnant heat that was generated from the sudden and violent beginning of the universe.
  • Light elements (hydrogen and helium) required heat to forge them which could only be explained through a Big Bang;
  • The amount of hydrogen and helium that we have in the universe is consistent with a universe with a beginning;
  • Radioactive isotopes would have decayed if the universe were eternal rather than had a beginning.  Since these isotopes still exist, the universe couldn’t have been around forever;
  • The formation of stars uses up more hydrogen than it creates.  If the universe were eternal, there would be no more hydrogen in the universe, which is contrary to what we do see;
  • Applying the second law of thermodynamics to nuclear fusion inside stars: the fact that there is still useable energy anywhere in the universe is a sign that the universe has not been around forever.

Consider this illustration put forth by William Lane Craig: When you are away from home, do you ever worry that an alligator will pop into existence out of nothing and chew up your living room couch?

Probably not.  Why?

Because things that begin to exist (things that didn’t exist before) don’t pop into existence from nothing.  If something begins to exist, it had a cause – something or someone created it because we don’t get something from nothing.

If something or someone created the universe, He/It had to be outside of time and space, extremely powerful and self-sufficient.  Sound similar to the God of the Bible?  See all this summarized very briefly in a great video by Reasonable Faith (William Lane Craig) that I learned about through Wintery Knight and Natasha Crain.

You now have a very basic overview of the evidence for some sort of an intelligent, supreme being creating the universe.

Try this child-friendly activity to teach this lesson to your children:

Who is the Big Banger?

What’s Inside the Box?

Want more?

If you would like more rigorous information on these lines of evidence, read this post by Wintery Knight.

If you are interested in how an atheist tries to explain these points but sidestep the need for a Big Banger to start off the universe, check out this explanation by William Lane Craig on Wintery Knight’s blog.

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Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/KPNO/University of Missouri-Kansas City, sourced from: http://photojournal.jpl.nasa.gov/catalog/PIA17565

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