Since the beginnings of recorded history humans have debated the existence of a God. Scientists and philosophers have gone back and forth with evidence pointing toward a God and evidence that there could not possibly be a God. One side making a scientific discovery that supports their side, and then six months later the opposing side makes a huge discovery in science that supports their argument! How can all of these scientists and philosophers look at the exact same information, yet come up with 2 totally different answers?
When debating on cosmology in particular, Theists state that everything about the Big Bang points towards a creator, yet Atheists will use the same science to show how everything about the Big Bang points towards something other than a creator. How is this even possible? How can many of the smartest people on the face of the planet see the exact same scientific information and declare 2 different truths? Here I will share some of both side’s evidence, mostly in regards to the Big Bang Theory.
Theists, Christians in particular, start with The Law of Cause and Effect (Law of Causation or Causality), which states that everything that has a beginning must have a cause. Merriam-Webster defines the Law of Causality as a principle that every change in nature is produced by some cause. This is a law that cannot be disproved, it is as concrete as the Law of Gravity. With this being accepted as truth we then must move forward with the statement that the universe had a beginning, therefore the universe had a cause (Geisler and Turek). There is a great deal of evidence that the universe had a beginning and it is accepted by most modern scientists, because none of it can be disproved. The typical name given to the start of the universe is the Theory of the Big Bang. Some of this evidence for this includes: The Second Law of Thermodynamics, radiation discovered from the Big Bang, the expansion of the universe, and the Theory of General Relativity.
In 1916 Albert Einstein went on a quest to try and find that the world was eternal, but his findings did just the opposite. He continued to pursue with a relentless effort to try and disprove what he had found and show that the universe was self-existent, even to the point of accidentally dividing by zero (Geisler and Turek). As any child in basic elementary math knows, dividing by zero is impossible. His calculations eventually lead him to accept what he coined as the Theory of General Relativity, one of Einstein’s greatest discoveries that revolutionized the scientific understanding of space, time, mass, energy, and gravity (Redd). The Theory of General Relativity states that time, space and matter are interdependent (Einstein). You cannot have any of them without having all of them, which then shows that there had to be a beginning to the universe, because they all came in to existence at the same instant. There was no time before matter and space. Notice that I previously said “at the same instant”. This is what leads scientists to believe that the Big Bang actually did occur.
All the universe was created from nothing in an instant. This declaration would disprove the Law of Causality if we were to affirm that it was true. Why? Something (the universe) can’t come from nothing (nothing).
Many atheists would state that The Big Bang isn’t nothing, so the Big Bang could be the cause of nothing coming from something, and that nothing could be the Big Bang. But then where did the Big Bang come from? Some scientist claim that it came from virtual particles that can pop up out of nowhere. Virtual particles are a part of Quantum Physics and are used to explain how one particle can become a pair of heavier particles (the so-called virtual particles), which quickly rejoin into the original particle as if they had never been there (Kane). These particles then spontaneously combusted resulting in the Big Bang, and the inception of the universe. To further explain the concept of virtual particles I will share the easiest understandable definition that I was able to find that would allow the general layperson to understand what it actually is. A “virtual particle”, generally, is a disturbance in a field that will never be found on its own, but instead is something that is caused by the presence of other particles, often of other fields (Strassler). Here is where the dilemma is found in the theory that virtual particles could have created the world from nothing. They are not self-existent. They have been studied, and found to be real to a certain degree, but have also always been caused by the presence of other particles. So following that train of thought, there had to be other particles present at the time of the Big Bang to have created the virtual particles that then collided and created the universe.
Now we are let with two arguments, both of which can’t be proven. We have Theists that state that a God who exists outside of space, time, and matter created the universe in one instant; forming space, time, and matter interdependently, thus creating the Big Bang. However, they cannot prove that. There is no way to prove scientifically that there is something unobservable that created the universe. Then we have the Atheists that state a virtual particle, or two, collided, thus creating the Big Bang. They too will never be able to prove this, because we will never be able to observe a virtual particle popping up without other particles being present. So what exactly are we left with here? We have absolutely no answer, no solid truth, but rather a decision. A decision to have faith that something exists outside of space, time, and matter, and created the entire universe in an instant; or faith to believe that a situation we have never observed (virtual particles popping up without other particles present) in an instant collided and created the universe. We can’t concretely prove or disprove either of these theories. What do we do with this decision then? Does it really even matter since we can’t prove either side of the argument? Why in the world have scientists and philosophers continuously debated a topic that has no answers and can’t even be proven one way or the other? Does it matter what side is right?
Well the non-theistic debaters such as Richard Dawkins say that it is a debate for millions of lives. Here is an excerpt from his famous book The God Delusion: “Imagine, with John Lennon, a world with no religion. Imagine no suicide bombers, no 9/11, no 7/7, no Crusades, no witch-hunts, no Gunpowder Plot, no Indian partition, no Israeli/Palestinian wars, no Serb/Croat/Muslim massacres, no persecution of Jews as ‘Christ-killers’, no Northern Ireland ‘troubles’, no ‘honour killings’, no shiny-suited bouffant-haired televangelists fleecing gullible people of their money (‘God wants you to give till it hurts’). Imagine no Taliban to blow up ancient statues, no public beheadings of blasphemers, no flogging of female skin for the crime of showing an inch of it.” He’s right. There is no debating what he states here. There are so many horrible things that have been done in the name of religion, from just about every single religion that has ever existed. However, if Dawkins is in this fight for the sake of saving lives it seems he is on the wrong side. It seems to me that he isn’t, but is in it to find truth and understanding
The theistic debaters, Christians in particular, state that it is a debate for every single person’s life that has ever existed, and that the effect is one that will play out for the rest of eternity (Turek and Geisler). This means that there are billions and billions of lives at stake. Every single person who ever existed has an eternal life at stake if they are right! How do we even begin to determine the magnitude and weight that finding the truth about this topic has when every single person is involved? It seems that this is exactly why it has been debated for so long. There’s so many lives at stake.
We are a species searching for purpose and now we are left with a decision. Can the truth about this topic be relative, or is it absolute? Will we ever really know the truth about whether or not there is a God?
Craig, William Lane, and Quentin Smith. Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology. Oxford: Clarendon, 1993. Print.
Dawkins, Richard. The God Delusion. Great Britain: Bantam Press, 2006. Print.
Einstein, Albert. Relativity: The Special and the General Theory. Charleston, SC: BiblioBazaar, 1916. Print.
Geisler, Norman L., and Frank Turek. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2004. Print.
Kane, Gordon. “Are Virtual Particles Really Constantly Popping in and out of Existence? Or Are They Merely a Mathematical Bookkeeping Device for Quantum Mechanics?” Scientific American Global RSS. Scientific American, 09 Oct. 2006. Web. 05 Nov. 2015.
Redd, Nola Taylor. “Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity: A Simplified Explanation.” Space.com. Space.com, 10 Apr. 2015. Web. 22 Oct. 2015.
Science Refutes God: A Debate. Films on Demand, 2014.
Stephen Hawking’s Universe: Seeing is Believing and The Big Bang. NC Video, 1997.