Apologetics for the Masses #338 - The Case for God (Part 4)

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Does it Matter? - The Case for God (Part 4)

 

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General Comments

     Quick reminder for you ladies in the Birmingham, Alabama vicinity.  Dynamite women's conference tomorrow.  Mass at 8:30 AM (fulfills your holy day obligation).  Leah Darrow speaks at 9:45.  Kelly Nieto at 11:00.  Lunch from 12:00 - 1:00.  Close out with Johnnette Benkovic Williams speaking from 1:00 - 2:00.  Half a day - Mass, 3 great speakers, great company, uplifting, and edifying and then back to Christmas shopping by 2 o'clock.

     We welcome people just showing up at the door - no cost whatsoever.  Although, for those of you who show up tomorrow without having made reservations, we will not be able to provide a lunch for you.  But, you are more than welcome to bring something of your own.

 

Introduction

Is the belief in God solely a religious belief?  Is it based only on faith?  Or is there evidence, apart from religious faith, for the existence of God? (Part 4)

 

Challenge/Response/Strategy

Does It Matter?

     Both atheist and theist believe matter came into existence all at once.  The main difference between the two is the answer to the question of why matter just all of a sudden popped into existence.  The atheist says, "It just did."  The theist says, "Because God spoke it into existence."  In an earlier newsletter I looked at the question of "why" - why is there something instead of nothing?  In this issue, I want to look at the question of what

     What caused the universe to just POOF! pop into existence all at once?  In science, we know that every effect has a cause.  So, if we start tracing each current effect to its cause, and then back to what caused those causes, and then back to what caused those causes, and keep going farther and farther back into time tracing causes and effects, we end up with two possibilities, either: 1) there is a series of causes and effects that stretches back for an infinite amount of time - no first cause, or no beginning, in other words; or 2) there is at some point in the series of causes and effects, an uncaused cause from which all cause and effect emanate. Something that did not come into existence, but that has always existed. Something that is, in fact, existence itself, which brought the universe into existence.

     Out of those two choices, the first one is actually impossible. The series of causes and effects cannot go back for an infinite amount of time, because that would mean that it would never have gotten to where we are.  We would not exist.  Besides, we all know, through common sense, that everything has to have a beginning.  And, again, we know through science that everything has a beginning - that every effect has a cause.  Think of it this way - let's say that you stop at a railroad crossing as a train is going by.  A number of cars have already passed and you can't see the beginning of the train.  Well, if you can't see the beginning of the train, how do you know that it has a beginning?   

     Well, you can see that each car is pulling the car behind it.  Each car is, in essence, the cause of the car behind them moving.  So, let me ask you this: Is it possible that this train has no beginning?  Is it possible that this train is a series of causes and effects that go back for an infinite period of time and just simply has no beginning?  No, that's not possible, and you know that's not possible.  If the train had no beginning, then exactly what was it that got these cars moving?  Something had to start this train into motion.  Same with the universe.  Something had to have started it into motion.  It cannot be an infinite regression of causes and effects.

     Okay, so we know that the universe had to have a beginning.  And, since there is no infinite regression of cause and effect, we know that the universe had a cause which made it come into being.  But, that cause could not have a cause - or else we're stuck with our infinite regression of cause and effect.  So, an uncaused cause caused the universe to come into being. 

    Can we know anything about this uncaused cause?  Well, one of the fundamental questions I ask about the beginning of the universe is this: Can something create itself?  For example, can a rock create itself, or can a bird create itself?  How about a flower.  No, to all of those questions.  Animal, vegetable, or mineral - none of them can create themselves.  In other words, looking at the big picture, matter cannot create itself.  This is a scientific fact.  Which means something other than matter must bring matter into existence. So, when both atheist and theist say that matter came into being from nothing, they are saying that matter was created not from something material, but from something immaterial. 

     The non-material must bring the material into existence. So, logic tells us that the universe was begun by a non-material uncaused cause. That is what we theists call God, but let's not, for the sake of the atheist, try to go there just yet.

     We first need to answer the question: "What is the non-material?" The non-material can basically fall into two categories: 1) non-material things; and 2) non-material beings.  Non-material things would be, for example, something like an idea.  Do ideas have physical boundaries - height, weight, depth, etc.?  No.  Can you see an idea?  You can see the fruit of an idea - an invention, a poem, etc. - but can you see the idea itself?  No.  Now, a materialist would say that an idea is merely an electrical impulse firing through the neurons of your brain.  Maybe so, but what about concepts such as freedom, love, rights, hope, truth, and so on?  Are these merely electrical impulses traveling through the mind (well, no such thing as a "mind" in a materialist-only universe) - traveling through the brain?  Is freedom not an objective reality?  Would a materialist who was locked in a jail cell, and who demanded to be set free, be satisfied with the jailer's response of, "Freedom is all in your head, there's no such thing!"?

     Still, though, the materialist might say, “Yep, all those things are simply in one’s brain as electrical impulses.”  Which would mean that they essentially have no argument for the existence of such a thing as human “rights”.  Rights are non-material.  If they only exist as impulses in a person’s brain, if they are not objective realities in and of themselves, then no one has any rights.  There is no right to life.  No right to liberty.  No right to the pursuit of happiness.  To freedom of speech.  To freedom of religion.  To freedom...of any kind, period.  Pretty grim world we would be living in.  

     But, what about truth?  Here is where the materialist has all sorts of problems that they just can’t claim as being solved by an appeal to electrical impulses firing through neurons in the brain.  What is the material universe governed by?  Non-material laws of physics.  Are these laws of physics just neurons firing through each individual's brain?  No.  These laws are true and they are independent of the individual.  The law of gravity is true.  The laws of thermodynamics are true.  The laws of chemistry are true.  The laws of mathematics are true.  Has anyone ever seen gravity?  Does gravity have height, weight, length, width, or depth?  What about time?  Is time real?  Is it material?  What about truth?  Does it have spatial dimensions?  Is it a material item?  What about the mathematical concept of pi?  You can’t slice it because it isn’t material.  But it’s true!  It exists!

     So, I contend the existence of non-material things - concepts, physical laws, truth, and such - that every single human being is aware of and affected by, whether they will admit that they objectively exist or not. It is a scientific fact that the non-material exists.

     And, if there are non-material things, then why not non-material beings?  Angels...demons (fallen angels)...God?  Let’s not focus yet on what (or rather Who) I, and billions of others throughout time, have called God.  Let’s start with what we've already discussed.  Matter cannot create itself, which means the material universe cannot create itself.  It had to be created by...“something”.  That “something” had to be non-material.  Why?  Because matter cannot create itself and there cannot be an infinite regression of cause and effect back through time of matter coming into existence.  So, something other than the material had to bring matter into existence.  The only thing other than the material, is the non-material.  

     So far so good.  What else do we know about the “something” that brought the universe into existence?  Well, it cannot have a cause.  If it had a cause, then we are stuck with the same problem already discussed - you cannot have an infinite regression of cause and effect because, being infinite, it would never have arrived at where we are, and thus we would not exist.  So, the cause of the universe was itself, uncaused.  The uncaused cause of which Aquinas, and Aristotle before him, spoke of.  

     Also, judging from the order we find everywhere in the universe, one can rightly speculate that this “something” - this non-material uncaused cause - has an ordered nature.  I would also claim that this “something” seems to possess an intelligence by which it ordered the material universe.  Can one explain such precision in the laws of physics, chemistry, math, and so on as just blind chance?  I guess you could, but from a statistical standpoint, what are the odds of that?  I mean think about it - a billion monkeys sitting in front of a billion keyboards, typing away for a billion years would never reproduce a Shakespearean play; nor even a Shakespearean sonnet; and probably not even a single line of a Shakespearean play or sonnet.  Yet, the tiniest cell of any plant or animal is more complex, more amazing, more glorious, and more incredible than the greatest of Shakespeare’s works - and folks want me to believe it came into being because of the blind laws of the blind universe that came into being by blind chance?  Sorry, not buying it.  Logic points to an intelligence behind the ordering of the universe.  

     And what else?  This “something” that created the universe is not subject to time.  How so?  Well, time is a function of the material universe.  Therefore, this “something,” not being material, is not subject to time and, therefore, is infinite in regard to time.  Plus, since it existed before time, we can say that it exists outside of time.  This “something” also has to be very powerful - after all, it created the entire universe.  

     So, let’s put it all together: there is “something” that is non-material, and which existed before the material universe, that caused the material universe to be brought into being, and which itself does not have a cause.  This “something” is not subject to time - it is infinite.  It is exceedingly powerful.  It is most likely ordered, and most likely intelligent.  And, one other thing then, if it is intelligent, it undoubtedly has a will as it would have made the conscious decision to bring the universe into existence.  

     The uncaused, non-material, exceedingly powerful, probably ordered and intelligent, infinite, cause that caused the universe to come into being - you call it what you want, I call it God.  

     I’ll leave you with one last thought - a thought that is a reiteration of the last newsletter: If there is no God, then there is no purpose to life.  We are all just bits of cosmic dust that exist only by blind, unthinking, completely random, pitiless chance.  We can fool ourselves into thinking we have purpose, but if every thought we have is merely the result of chemical and electrical processes over which we have absolutely no control, and which were brought into being by blind unthinking chance, then by definition, there can be no purpose to life.  Love is not real.  Freedom is not real.  Rights are not real.  We are nothing more than biological robots.  We have no more purpose or value than an ant, or a worm, or even a rock.  And that would indeed be exceedingly sad.  

 

Closing Comments

 

I hope all of you are having a very fruitful Advent season. 

 

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Apologetics for the Masses