By Steven Bancarz| We all think about the idea of “God” at some point in our life. While many people see the idea of God as being an idea worth taking seriously, there seems to be a misconception in our culture that belief in God is a product of “blind faith”, a sort of shot in the dark that rests on hope alone. A cop-out for the weak, fearful, and intellectually lazy.
Some think “God” is just a religious concept that was fabricated out of the minds of primitive man in an attempt to account for the world around him. These statements could not be farther from the truth.
In reality, belief in God is extremely rational and is grounded in the best scientific evidence we have. Not only is belief in God the beginning of our spiritual journey (ultimately leading to the cross), it is when we first begin to fulfill the longing we all have for something more to life. Hope, meaning, and purpose flood in when we come into alignment with the truth of who God is.
We are going to look at three of the best, most established, and most powerful philosophical and scientific reasons to believe in the existence of God. And by “God”, what we mean is a personal, transcendent, timeless, spaceless, immaterial being of immense power and infinite goodness who brought the universe into existence.
So let’s take a look:
1. The universe began to exist, and therefore requires a transcendent cause.
All of our best scientific evidence, from the expansion of the universe to the second law of thermodynamics, tells us that the universe had an absolutely beginning a finite time ago. According to modern science, roughly 13.4 billion years ago all of space-time reality popped into existence in a single instant.
According to Stephen Hawking, “almost everyone now believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the big bang” (1). Physics professor and Director of the Institute of Cosmology at Tufts University Alexander Vilenkin explains that scientists
“can no longer hide behind a past-eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning” (2).
This is uncontroversial and can be found in any textbook on cosmology and astronomy.
The “Big Bang”, while typically thought to be an objection to Theism, is actually the best argument we have for the existence of God. If the universe (space itself, time itself, matter, and energy) had an absolute beginning, what caused the universe itself to come into being? What made the Big Bang go “BANG” in the first place?
Whatever caused space to come into being couldn’t have already been operating from within space, and whatever caused matter to come into being must be immaterial. This is quite obvious, seeing as there would be no space-time reality to operate within if the universe did not exist. And there would be no matter from which the cause could have been made, since matter did not exist. This means the cause must be “transcendent“, outside of the universe.
All multiverse theories fail to escape an absolute beginning, for the multiverses themselves must also have a beginning as it an established scientific fact that any universe that is expanding must have had a moment of initial singularity, a beginning. The multiverses themselves would also need a transcendent explanation as their cause as they cannot be extrapolated into infinity past.
So what caused everything to happen in the first place?
The argument goes as follows:
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. If the universe began to exist, the universe has a transcendent cause.
3. The universe began to exist.
Conclusion: Therefore the universe has a transcendent cause.
If these three premises are true, the conclusion is unavoidable. These premises are, at the very least, more probably true than not, giving us an extremely good reason to believe in a transcendent cause of the universe.
This cause must be spaceless, timeless, immaterial powerful, eternal and uncaused (since it is outside of time). This cause also must be a personal agent, which we will look at in future articles. These are properties normally attributed to God. Here is a video explaining this more thoroughly:
2. The universe is exquisitely finely tuned, and this cannot be explained by sheer chance.
A fascinating scientific fact is that our universe is delicately tuned with constants and quantities so precise that it boggles human imagination. When you expresses physical laws and conditions of the universe in mathematical numbers, you get what are called “constants” and “quantities”.
The cosmological constant for example is the value of the energy density of the vacuum of space, and if this were adjusted by as little as one part in 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 with another 90 zeros on the end (10120), the universe would not be able to sustain life.
By contrast, the number of seconds that have passed in 13.4 billion years is only 1020. Roger Penrose, a mathematical physicist of Oxford university, has calculated that the low-entropy state’s odds of existing by chance alone are one part in 1010123(3), a number which is so incalculably small that to suggest this happened by blind chance must be seen as irrational.
We could write a “0” on every single particle in the universe and still wouldn’t have enough zeros to amount to this figure. He goes on to say:
“I cannot even recall seeing anything else in physics whose accuracy is known to approach, even remotely, a figure like one part in 1010(123).” (4)
Other constants include Plank’s constant, Plank mass-energy, the mass of the electron, proton, and neutron, the ratio of electron to proton mass, the gravitational constant, the Hubble constant, Higg’s vacuum expectation value, and more. These are the physical laws fundamental to the operation of energy, matter, and space in our universe and they all MUST be balanced as they are in order for life to exist.
The fact that ALL of them are life-permitting at the same time demands some kind of explanation. As professor of mathematics and leading cosmological theorist Dr. George Ellis has said, the universe has “Amazing fine tuning occurs in the laws that make this [complexity] possible. Realization of the complexity of what is accomplished makes it very difficult not to use the word ‘miraculous’ without taking a stand as to the ontological status of the word” (5).
If there was a drum filled with tens of billions lottery balls, and all of them were white with black numbers written on them, except for one solid life-permitting black lottery ball in the mix, you would think somebody rigged the game if you pulled that black lottery ball out and missed all the billions of non-life-permitting lottery balls.
If you pulled this single life-permitting ball out over a dozen times in a row when there are tens of billions of other non-life-permitting balls in there, you would be more justified in believing the game is somehow rigged than you would be to chalk it up to pure chance. In fact, your intellect may demand that you conclude it was designed to turn out that way.
As professional philosopher William Lane Craig has said : “get a handle on how many tiny points on the dial this is, compare it to the number of cells in your body (1014) or the number of seconds that have ticked by since time began (1020). If the gravitational constant had been out of tune by just one of these infinitesimally small increments, the universe would either have expanded and thinned out so rapidly that no stars could form and life couldn’t exist, or it would have collapsed back on itself with the same result: no stars, no planets, no life.” (6)
1. The fine-tuning of the universe is either due to physical necessity, chance, or design.
2. The fine-tuning of the universe is not due to physical necessity or chance.
Conclusion: Therefore, the fine-tuning of the universe is due to design.
For a more thorough explanation of the fine-tuning of the universe and this argument, see the video below:
3. Without God, moral values have no objective basis or foundation in reality. Yet, morality clearly exist.
We all know that torturing a little innocent child is evil. We know it is evil independent of what anyone’s opinion on it is. But if God does not exist, then objective opinion-independent moral values and duties do not exist in such a way as this.
In a universe with no God, morality is just a herd-mentality that we developed as a means of survival throughout the development of our species. This herd-mentality could have evolved very differently if we were under different circumstances, there is no reason to value our herd-mentality over, say, gorilla herd-mentality, and there is nothing “evil” about choosing to go against the ingraining of biological evolution.
Or, morality is just a product of our social and cultural conditioning, which is far from being objective. The problem is that if God does not exist, there is absolutely no standard by which to call child torture “evil”. Infanticide is practiced in the animal kingdom all the time, and in fact some mothers of other species neglect and kill the weakest of her offspring in the struggle for survival. Contrary to being evil, natural selection has seen it fit to require mothers to kill their children in some cases.
But if a mother were to kill, torture, or neglect her human child, she would be put in prison. And rightfully so. We KNOW this is wrong. But by what objective mind-independent standard can call this action wrong? How can we justify calling this action wrong? By what standard? What is this standard of morality rooted in? And what gives humans intrinsic moral worth?
“Well it causes suffering and causing suffering is wrong, right?” We all know causing suffering is absolutely wrong. That is not the question. The question is, how can anything (even inflicting suffering) be called “absolutely wrong” in a universe where there is nothing but animated chunks of matter reproducing with one another?
Without God, there is absolutely no justification for making objective claims about what is evil and what is good. We are just relatively evolved primates with an ingrained survival mechanism we call “morality”, and as Richard Dawkins says:
“there is, at bottom, no design, no purpose, no evil, no good, nothing but pitiless indifference.” – River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life. p. 132—33.
The fact that we know what Hitler did was evil, child torture is evil, rape is evil, is because we really do experience morality as being objective and independent of human opinion. This doesn’t mean there aren’t grey areas, it just means that we experience morality as being something real. Even as real the external world of objects that surround us.
We all live with an objective sense of morality every single day. And this is ONLY possible in a universe where God exists to act as a transcendent reality in which moral values and duties are anchored. For without God, no basis remains by which to justify and ground morality in any real way.
This is not to say we need belief in God to be moral, or that we need religion to be good, or that we need to believe in God to know torture is wrong, or that all atheists are immoral. Atheists and Theists alike are able to identify moral values and duties. The question is not “how do we come to know them?”, the question is “what are they rooted in?”.
Morality itself would not exist objectively in a universe without God. Ethicist Richard Taylor writes:
Contemporary writers in ethics, who blithely discourse upon moral right and wrong and moral obligation without any reference to religion, are really just weaving intellectual webs from thin air; which amounts to saying that they discourse without meaning. (7)
1. If God does not exist, objective moral values and duties do not exist.
2. Objective moral values and duties do exist.
Conclusion: Therefore, God exists.
The existence of evil, while thought to be an argument against God, is actually one of the most compelling arguments we have for God’s existence because it requires there to be something beyond human opinion and beyond nature in which these values of “good” and “evil” have their foundation
This would mean that God Himself is the foundation for the values and duties of our moral experience:
These three reasons, if successful, give us a powerful case for a personal loving designer of the universe. Further arguments could be made from consciousness, from design, from mind-body dualism (free will, intentionality, etc), from the applicability of mathematics to the universe, from the existence of anything rather than nothing, from religious experience, and even from the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus.
There is a lot of evidence for God that is powerful and grounded in the best scientific evidence we have available to us. This evidence should confront us with the question “What is the best explanation for the universe that we live in?”. Is everything just one big accident? Is the universe better explained by a Theistic or an Atheistic worldview?
I think the answer is self-evident. The universe and the data of our human experience speaks for itself. And when we decide to respond to God’s general revelation in His creation, it is His promise that he will draw us to Himself so long as we continue to sincerely and genuinely seek Him as he is.
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart. – Jeremiah 29:13