Boy did we bite off a lot to chew in this episode! For all you moms out there, raise your hand if you have heard this question. (Aunt Hillary raising her hand…) I have heard this question from children, from adults, from basically anyone who has thought about the origins of our universe. Let's be honest... Who HASN'T asked this question?! We'll give a beginner, intermediate, and advanced way to answer. Click To Tweet

The issue with this question is that there is a beginner, intermediate, and advanced way to answer this question, and we try to cover all of them in this podcast. Because this is such a complex topic, we have provided some very thorough podcast notes for you. But in case we don’t make it clear in the podcast, the main thesis that I want you to come away with is this: Every worldview has an uncaused first cause that cannot be explained by other causes. It just is, and it was the first. Never let someone tell you that belief in God as the “uncaused first cause” is somehow “less scientific” than whatever they postulate. Just keep digging underneath their worldview and you will find another uncaused first cause that they cannot “prove.” We are all on equal footing when it comes to origins in that everyone has to assume a starting point, but each of our starting points require the same element: faith that the starting point is eternally self-existing, and capable of creating something from nothing. I think that when one looks at the options, the concept of God makes way more sense than the other options. But don’t just take my word for it. Listen for yourself!

Have fun chewing on all the details in this episode!Every worldview has an uncaused first cause that cannot be explained by other causes. God-belief is not a 'less scientific' philosophical option. Click To Tweet

Topics Discussed:

Question: Who made God? (Question behind the question: How did the universe come to be here?)

Answer: God is a pre-existent, eternal being who is capable of creating everything from nothing.

Admitted difficulties embedded in this question:

  • The question assumes God is like us. Unlike God’s, our nature came into being at a specific moment.
  • In our world, effects have causes, but God is the Uncaused Cause, not an effect.
  • The answer sounds like a copout until other options have been examined.
  • The underlying question needing to be answered is, “How did the universe come to be here?”

The sentence that every worldview asserts in faith is: “________________ is eternally self-existent and capable of creating.” Every worldview fills in the blank with something that cannot be proved and which requires faith.Every worldview asserts a faith statement that '___________ is eternally self-existent and capable of creating.' None of these statements are science. They are all philosophy. Click To Tweet

There are forks in the road when asking, “Where did everything come from?”

I. Naturalism – only the material world exists. Several views are offered under naturalism, but they all side step explaining the original issue of how something came from nothing.  Some naturalists are called “non-material” naturalists because they believe laws of nature and numbers are real and self-existent. Stephen Hawking is a non-material naturalist.

A. The naturalist here has to fill the blank with “nature (matter and energy)”. That’s the only option on this view. This version of naturalism holds that the cosmos is eternally self-existent and thus capable of creating, which is a faith There are 3 models on this view:

i. The Static Model – Space is neither expanding nor contracting.

ii. The Cyclic (or Oscillating) Model – In an effort to get around the fact that the universe had a beginning, this model postulates that there was a beginning, but that it was also eternally self-existent. It observes that the universe expands and contracts. It posits the “Big Bang” and the “The Big Crunch.” Circa 1929, Edwin Hubble discovered evidence of the universe’s expansion, now called “Hubble’s Law.” Einstein had shown mathematically that the universe had to either be expanding or contracting, but knew that couldn’t be the case, so he introduced the Cosmological Constant, which he later recanted and called his “biggest blunder.”

iii. The Multiverse – Like the Cyclic Model, the Multiverse model postulates that there was still a beginning, but it was instigated only of material properties, not of supernatural ones. There are two parts of the multiverse view:

a. There are duplicate universes that are next door to us that we can’t really observe. This tries to avoid the idea of God producing the universe by postulating that there is some sort of universe generator spitting out universes.

b. This Universe Generator is constantly spawning off new universes, each with the properties randomly assigned. We just happen to be in the one that was randomly assigned the properties which foster life and discovery. Thus, there is no need to explain how our universe is so fine-tuned for life. It was bound to happen eventually, and no God was required.

B. Non-material (supernatural) naturalism. Things like numbers and laws are real, but not material.

i. Gravity (and/or other natural laws) are eternally self-existent and thus capable of creating.

II. Supernaturalism – in addition to the material world, there is also something else

A. ________________ is eternally self-existent and capable of creating. “God” fills in the blank here.

B. Cosmological Argument

i. Cause and Effect Idea

1. The cause and effect are always adequate to one another.

2. If the universe is eternal, it doesn’t require a cause, because something that is eternal didn’t ever start to exist. But what we know from scientific evidence is that the universe had a beginning. Things are decaying, and eternal things don’t do that, nor do they expand. We also know that the universe can’t create matter or energy. So the options are: 1) the universe either caused its own beginning, or 2) something else did.

3. The universe couldn’t cause itself. See fallacy of circular reasoning.

4. Something outside universe caused it, so something outside of time, space, energy, and matter caused it.

a. The eternal does not need a cause.

b. If there was ever no universe and no god, we would still have nothing.

c. As Aquinas would say, God is pure actuality. He does not have to be brought into being. He just exists. As he tells Moses, “I AM”.

Unfamiliar Vocab:

Discrete, finite beginning – In the standard model, the universe has one beginning, and began a finite time ago. In contrast, other models of the universe or (different parts of the) multiverse, there are cyclic or separate (non-discrete) beginnings/endings, sometimes going back an infinite time ago.

Ex nihilo – Latin for “out of nothing.” Used in phrases such as “creation ex nihilo”.

Anthropic fine-tuning – That we would have all the physical parameters exactly the value they need to be to result in conditions suitable for producing and sustaining life, when they could have been anything out of infinity, is probabilistically astronomical to have come about through random chance.

Deist – someone who believes that a god got the universe into existence but is not still involved in it.

Ad hoc – conclusions or interpretations of evidence based on guiding presuppositions.

God of the gaps – using God to answer a question in the absence of evidence or reasons for any particular conclusion.

Monism – the belief in one substance or principle.

Free will – the idea that at least some of our choices are not predetermined or products of random chance, but are self-determined.

Pantheism – Fills in the blank with “god-nature”: ________________ is eternally self-existent and capable of creating.

Newton’s Third Law – For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.

First Law of Thermodynamics – The first law of thermodynamics defines the internal energy (E) as equal to the difference of the heat transfer (Q) into a system and the work (W) done by the system. (source)

Second Law of Thermodynamics – If the physical process is irreversible, the combined entropy of the system and the environment must increase. The final entropy must be greater than the initial entropy for an irreversible process. (source)

Resources mentioned:

Teaching Others to Defend Christianity — Cathryn Buse

Mama Bear Podcast 25: How Educated Do You Have To Be To Identify Nonsense?

Bible and Beer Consortium

A Brief History of the Multiverse by Paul Davies

A Brief History of Time by Stephen Hawking


People mentioned:

Richard Dawkins – Born in 1941, Dawkins is an English contemporary author, speaker, and debater on the subject of atheistic naturalism.  A former University of Oxford Professor for the Public Understanding of Science, Dawkins is well-known for his authorship of the book, “The God Delusion”.  He founded and operates the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason and Science.

Stephen Hawking – From his website: Stephen Hawking is the former Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge and author of A Brief History of Time, which was an international bestseller. Now the Dennis Stanton Avery and Sally Tsui Wong-Avery Director of Research at the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics, and Founder of the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at Cambridge, his other books for the general reader include A Briefer History of Time, the essay collection Black Holes and Baby Universe, and The Universe in a Nutshell.

Robert Jastrow – (b. 1925- d.2008). American astrophysicist, founding director of NASA lunar exploration program, author, researcher, speaker, and early proponent of climate change.

Richard Lewontin – From the link: Richard C. Lewontin is an evolutionary geneticist, philosopher of science, and social critic. He is best known among biologists for his role in the development of molecular population genetics in the 1960s and 1970s, especially the use of electrophoresis to study the evolutionary implications of enzyme polymorphisms. Lewontin received his A.B. from Harvard College in 1951 and his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 1954, where he was a student of Theodosius Dobzhansky. After professorships at North Carolina State University, University of Rochester and University of Chicago (where he served as Chairman of the Program in Evolutionary Biology from 1968-1973), Lewontin moved to Harvard University in 1973, where he has been ever since. He is currently Alexander Agassiz Research Professor there.

G.K. Chesterton – Integral contributor to writings and thought on the Christian faith. From the link: G.K. Chesterton, in full Gilbert Keith Chesterton (born May 29, 1874, London, England—died June 14, 1936, Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire), English critic and author of verse, essays, novels, and short stories, known also for his exuberant personality and rotund figure.

R.C. Sproul – Contemporary Christian pastor, author, and leader at Ligonier Ministries. Click here to receive a free book by R.C. Sproul.

Quotable Quotes:

“We need to not just answer the question; we actually need to go back a step to where the question is coming from.”

– Hillary Morgan Ferrer

“The reason why we’re so uncomfortable with the discrete finite beginning is because it smacks of divine intervention.”

– Stephen HawkingThe reason why we’re so uncomfortable with the discrete finite beginning is because it smacks of divine intervention. - Stephen Hawking Click To Tweet

“For the scientist who has lived by his faith and 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

“Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated, just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment – a commitment to materialism.  It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world. Oh but on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated, moreover that materialism is absolute.  For we cannot allow a divine foot in the door.”

– Richard Lewontin

“For a start, how is the existence of the other universes to be tested? To be sure, all cosmologists accept that there are some regions of the universe that lie beyond the reach of our telescopes. But somewhere on the slippery slope between that idea and the idea that there are an infinite number of universes, credibility reaches a limit. As one slips down that slope, more and more must be accepted on faith, and less and less is open to scientific verification. Extreme multiverse explanations are therefore reminiscent of theological discussions. Indeed, invoking an infinity of unseen universes to explain the unusual features of the one we do see is just as ad hoc as invoking an unseen creator. The multiverse theory may be dressed up in scientific language, but in essence, it requires the same leap of faith.”

– Paul Davies

“A true scientist who wants to say it’s all random, but is based on a fixed situation…I always find that a little bit comical.”

– Cathryn Buse

“Ladies and gentlemen, if anything exists now—this is elementary—then there never could have been a time when there was nothing. Because the most fundamental maxim of all reason, and all science, and all philosophy is the maxim, “ex nihilo nihil fit” out of nothing, nothing comes. / If there was ever a time when there was nothing, the only thing there could possibly be now couldn’t possibly be now. Because the only thing there could be would be nothing and nothing is not something.”

R.C. Sproul

“A well-known scientist, some say it was Bertrand Russell, once gave a public lecture on astronomy. He described how the earth orbits around the sun, and how the sun, in turn, orbits around the center of a vast collection of stars called our galaxy. At the end of the lecture a little old lady at the back of the room got up and said, ‘What you have told us is rubbish! The world is really a flat place, supported on the back of a giant tortoise!’  The scientist gave a superior smile before replying, ‘What is the tortoise standing on?’ and she says, ‘You’re very clever, young man!  Very clever.  But it’s turtles all the way down!”

– Stephen Hawking

Is it just turtles all the way down?🌎 🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢🐢... Click To Tweet

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