God And The Creation Of The Universe

One of the few (in fact probably the only) reasonable argument for the existence of a God revolves around the creation of the universe. However this is a far weaker argument than it first seems. After all God is not necessary for creation and even if he was, it still leaves numerous other problems with his/its existence.

Religious people often ask Atheists, if there is no God then where did the universe come from? How can something come from nothing? They look at the world and proclaim it is not possible for everything on Earth to come about naturally, it must have a designer.

Let me answer this question with a question. If God created the universe then what created God? If nothing can come from nothing, where did God come from? Suddenly we are back at square one. This is the major flaw in the religious argument that is often overlooked and causing the debate to descend into chicken and egg style endlessness.

However, even if God did create the universe there are still other problems. For example, God may no longer be around. Creating the universe would prove God existed at one point in time but doesn’t prove he still exists. He could have died, after all 14 billion years is a long time. Creating the universe does not prove God hears or answers prays, that Jesus is his son, that a word of the Bible is true, that God even knows humans exist. God could have created the universe and that would still not mean a word of Christianity (or any other religion) is true.

There is another overlooked problem. Why did God create the universe? No religion I know of can come up with a reason. If we humans are the centre of the universe (as vain and arrogant as that idea is) then why are there trillions of other planets? If God created the universe for us then the other planets are unnecessary so why are they there? Why did he wait billions of years before the Earth was formed and humans evolved? Did God create us just to worship him? That makes God out to be an attention seeking vainglorious thing that I wouldn’t be that comfortable worshipping.

Religious people argue that the universe couldn’t possibly come from nothing. Why not? Every book must have a first page, everything must have a beginning, before which it was nothing. I don’t see why the universe would be any different.  There is no such thing as eternity (which is why I don’t believe the claims about Heaven and Hell), everything ends. This isn’t a particularly strange or scary thought; rather it’s a fact of life.

Regarding life on Earth, it is true that the odds of this happening are tiny. Let’s say there is a one-in-a-trillion chance that a planet like Earth could form with just the right conditions for life. Well there are 3 trillion planets in the universe, which means there are 3 Earths. So it is possible for life on Earth to form naturally and unaided, this is even more plausible when you consider how small Earth is compared to the rest of the universe. Just as it seems strange that something as complicated as a tree could form naturally without the help of a designer, so too did the universe.

Another flaw in the religious argument is that it is not in any way supported by either the Bible or Church teachings. This leads me to conclude that whoever wrote the Bible had no idea how the universe was formed and so made up the absurd story in Genesis. In fact the foundation of what we know about the universe is based on studies by people who were persecuted by the Church. The Church knew that if views about the universe that contracted its teachings were spread people would lose faith in the Church and even God.

Some religious people respond to this problem by cheating. They make up rules that say God doesn’t have a beginning or that he is that creator of the universe and therefore not subject to its laws. I have no idea what basis they have for claiming this and it is essentially moving the goalposts to win an argument. This argument is that everything has a cause except God, to which you could reply that maybe everything has a cause except the universe. The God of the Bible is depicted in almost human terms. He has a gender, a son, he walks, talks, displays emotions like love and anger. None of which are what you would expect from a thing beyond the limits of space, time and the laws of the universe. The other answer is to quote the bible which is as useless as it is daft.

So religious claims that God created the universe are not only flawed but they create more problems than they solve.

Stephen Hawkins believes there is no need for a God to create the universe, http://www.guardian.co.uk/science/2010/sep/02/stephen-hawking-big-bang-creator

An excellent site for a further explanation of the non-religious argument is http://www.vexen.co.uk/religion/universe.html

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29 thoughts on “God And The Creation Of The Universe”

  1. Regarding the kalam cosmological argument, I hate when Christian apologists such as J.P. Moreland and William Lane Craig throw out some arbitrary calculation by various physicists that the universe could not have come into being because the odds are simply improbable. I believe it was Boyle who used the famous 747 analogy. The problem I have is that calculating probability requires knowing the conditions and possibilities within a certain context. So if we’re trying to calculate how probable life is on other planets we need certain information (1) to know how many and how many kinds of planets there are and (2) how many different ways life could have arisen on any one of those given planets. But that task is far beyond the reach of current cosmological and astronomical methods or technology. So whenever I hear some cacameme statistic about how unlikely it is that the universe arise through chance (by the way, it’s not chance, as I’m sure you know, but just a debate technique used by apologists) I immediately shut off. They can’t possibly know such information and they should refrain from using it.

  2. Tafacory, I’m still ignorant on this point, so perhaps you can enlighten me. What is the argument about how the universe may have arisen, and how do we know that it is not by chance?

    I’m interested, because today I watched a video of my 12 year old Creationist self ranting about the Big Bang and saying “An accident! An accident! We’re not an accident. That’s an insult to God and an insult to man.”

    I want to make a YouTube video in which I respond to my 12 year old self and explain the facts. I understand how evolution is a non-random process, and I can guess how abiogenesis may work in some non-random way, but for both abiogenesis and the origin of the universe, I am still stumbling in the dark. I realise that these are still questions science is working on, but could you point me to some good resources?

  3. I can only reply to one or two objections, unfortunately.

    First, the question of why “nothing can come from nothing”

    “the famous claim that ‘out of nothing, nothing comes’ (a claim that goes back to Parmenides of Elea in the 5th century B.C) is clearly true by definition. To exist or to be is to be a something or other, having one or more properties. ‘Nothing’, which is a term of universal negation, is ‘no thing’ – i.e. not a something of any kind at all. ‘Nothing’ does not have any properties (since there’s nothing there to have any properties). By definition, then, ‘nothing’ doesn’t have any properties capable of doing anything – certainly not creating something. ”
    That’s from here: http://www.bethinking.org/science-christianity/advanced/a-universe-from-someone-against-lawrence-krauss.htm

    You could find answers to your other questions if you search. There is no shortage of answers. Try starting from the website I just linked to.

    1. I’m not entirely sure what the meaning of your reply was, all I got was nothing is nothing. Regards the article it makes the same mistakes I mentioned in my article claiming everything has a first cause except for God or in one particularly ridiculous moment of pretend logic it says :” If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God. Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God.” The article was written by someone who wants to believe God created the universe and twists everything to fit with this idea

      1. 1. To exist is to be something, to have properties
        2. Nothing is a term of universal negation, which means “no thing at all”
        3. Nothing, therefore has no properties because it is not a thing and only things have properties
        4. Therefore, nothing, having no properties, can’t do anything.

        Which one of those points are you having trouble with?

        The argument he put forward is the leibnizian cosmological argument.
        1) Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause. (proposition)
        2) The universe exists. (proposition)
        3) Therefore the universe has an explanation of its existence. (from 1 and 2)
        4) If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God. (proposition)
        5) Therefore, the explanation of the universe’s existence is God. (from 3 and 4)

        Since 3 and 5 are deductive, resting on other premises, they do not need to be defended. Only 1, 2 and 4 need to be defended. 2 is obviously true. That leaves us with 1 and 4 to defend. What exactly is your problem with the argument?

        1. Point 4 simply states without any reason given that God created the universe, leading to the unsurprising conclusion that God created the universe. That’s not logic, that’s merely restating your pre-existing belief. I could likewise change point 4 to say that God did not create the universe and the argument would be just as (il-)logical

          1. Haha. It’s a premise. The person is then supposed to defend it. This is how he goes on to do it:

            “As for premise 4 – ‘If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God’ – this is synonymous with the standard atheistic claim that if God doesn’t exist, then the universe has no explanation of its existence. The only other alternative to theism is to claim the universe has an explanation of its existence in the necessity of its own nature. But this would be a very radical step (and I can’t think of any contemporary atheist who takes it). After all, it’s coherent to imagine a universe made from a wholly different collection of quarks/fields/strings than the collection that actually exists; but such a universe would be a different universe, so universes clearly don’t exist necessarily. Indeed, Krauss invokes the possibility of other universes (“theorists have estimated that there are perhaps 10500 different possible consistent four-dimensional universes that could result from a single ten-dimensional string theory”[14]) and this possibility entails that universes doesn’t exist by a necessity of their own nature.[15]

            Suppose I ask you to loan me a certain book, but you say: ‘I don’t have a copy right now, but I’ll ask my friend to lend me his copy and then I’ll lend it to you.’ Suppose your friend says the same thing to you, and so on. Two things are clear. First, if the process of asking to borrow the book goes on ad infinitum, I’ll never get the book. Second, if I get the book, the process that led to me getting it can’t have gone on ad infinitum. Somewhere down the line of requests to borrow the book, someone had the book without having to borrow it. Likewise, argues Richard Purtill, consider any contingent reality:

            the same two principles apply. If the process of everything getting its existence from something else went on to infinity, then the thing in question would never [have] existence. And if the thing has … existence then the process hasn’t gone on to infinity. There was something that had existence without having to receive it from something else…[16]

            A necessary being explaining all physical reality can’t itself be a physical reality. The only remaining possibilities are an abstract object or an immaterial mind. But abstract objects (even granting their existence) are by definition causally impotent. Therefore, the explanation of the physical universe is a necessarily existent, transcendent mind.”

            You’re supposed to respond to the defense of the argument!

            1. I have the feeling that you are talking past me rather than to me. In your replys, all you have established is that nothing comes from nothing and that there cannot be an infinite number of causes instead everything has a beginning. Neither of which are particularly controversial points that I would argue over. You then state that God created the universe based on the fact that God created the universe. Seeing as we don’t seem to be getting anywhere here, can we go back to basics? Is there any point that I raised in my article that you disagree with or wish to comment on? Particularly my central point, namely the fact that problems for apologists don’t go away even if god did create the universe?

              1. I saw your post and I thought “Hey, this guy has an entire list of stuff that I disagree with and I only have like 2 minutes so I thought I might as well give a thought or two. You responded by pointing out a perceived problem with the article I linked to and I tried to clarify it.

                I was responding to the question: “Religious people argue that the universe couldn’t possibly come from nothing. Why not? Every book must have a first page, everything must have a beginning, before which it was nothing.”
                I don’t know where I said that God created the universe because he created the universe.

                Anyway, I suppose I could make another point on whether the “who made God” thing is a problem for theists. We don’t need to know who made God in order to show that God made the universe. In order to have an explanation for something, you don’t need an explanation for the explanation. Also, at the risk of running into your argument that “Some religious people respond to this problem by cheating. They make up rules that say God doesn’t have a beginning or that he is that creator of the universe and therefore not subject to its laws. I have no idea what basis they have for claiming this and it is essentially moving the goalposts to win an argument.”

                The same article I linked to has an explanation for the basis on which God is said to not need a creator. Remember the 1st premise of the cosmological argument: “Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.”

                The argument is that God has an explanation, but it is not in an external cause, but in the necessity of his own nature.

                Here it goes from that article: “Suppose I ask you to loan me a certain book, but you say: ‘I don’t have a copy right now, but I’ll ask my friend to lend me his copy and then I’ll lend it to you.’ Suppose your friend says the same thing to you, and so on. Two things are clear. First, if the process of asking to borrow the book goes on ad infinitum, I’ll never get the book. Second, if I get the book, the process that led to me getting it can’t have gone on ad infinitum. Somewhere down the line of requests to borrow the book, someone had the book without having to borrow it. Likewise, argues Richard Purtill, consider any contingent reality:

                the same two principles apply. If the process of everything getting its existence from something else went on to infinity, then the thing in question would never [have] existence. And if the thing has … existence then the process hasn’t gone on to infinity. There was something that had existence without having to receive it from something else…[16]” i.e. something whose existence is in a necessity of its own nature (i.e. necessary). And this thing is what philosophers call God.

                What do you think of that?

                1. You really love that library book story don’t you? So essentially you say God created himself (or his “existence is in a necessity of its own nature”). Can you just say the universe created itself? Or its “existence is in a necessity of its own nature”? Could I simply say that “In order to have an explanation for something, you don’t need an explanation for the explanation”, so the Big Bang is the explanation of the universe, end of story?

                  This is missing the main point of the story, namely how even if God created the universe there are still problems. For example he could have died since then. Even if he created the universe, he may not answer prayers, have a son named Jesus, love us or even know we exist. My main point was that God could have created the universe and that still wouldn’t mean a word of Christianity is true.

                  1. No, it’s not that God created himself. It’s that he wasn’t created. we can’t say the same about the universe for two reasons. Firstly, because we know the universe began to exist at the big bang and if something began to exist, it isn’t necessary. The second is that the universe could have been different from the way it is. It could have had different laws and constants and necessary things by nature, could not have been other than they are.

                    “My main point was that God could have created the universe and that still wouldn’t mean a word of Christianity is true.”

                    You could have said that earlier. Of course, the cosmological argument doesn’t show that every single Christian teaching is true. That is not what it was meant to do. That the cosmological argument doesn’t show that God answers prayers is no more remarkable than the fact that my toaster doesn’t clean floors. What it does show, however, is that atheism is false and God does exist. Other arguments can be made for other Christian doctrines.

                    1. I think you’re really jumping the gun saying atheism is false and god exists. My point is that this is the main if not only argument made by the religious, other than this, there isn’t really anything to support their cause.

                      I do agree that God wasn’t created. He doesn’t exist 🙂

    2. This, and your link, are nothing more than a display of circular reasoning. You’ve proven nothing, and have stated nothing to disprove what Robert has said.

      1. Simply accusing me of circular reasoning is not a good method of arguing. You have to point out what exactly I said that was circular. And to the best of my knowledge, I haven’t tried to disprove anything. So, what can be deduced from my inability to do what I did not try to do?

        1. Well, I didn’t accuse you of anything; I stated a fact. The quote you gave uses circular reasoning. This is also circular reasoning:

          “1. To exist is to be something, to have properties
          2. Nothing is a term of universal negation, which means “no thing at all”
          3. Nothing, therefore has no properties because it is not a thing and only things have properties
          4. Therefore, nothing, having no properties, can’t do anything. ”

          Clearly you were trying to disprove what Robert had said, otherwise, why did you leave the comment?

  4. My reply to the Earth being a perfect environment for life and “what are the odds?” is, and always has been, that “Yes, it is a very very small chance but it’s still a chance and if it hadn’t happened, we wouldn’t exactly be standing around saying ‘I told you so’.”

  5. One point that I forgot to add to my article is the fact if nothing can come from nothing then what did God use to create the universe? What material did he use? From what did he make all the planets?

  6. One of the really overlooked problems with ‘God’ is not that people claim his existence by way of the ‘something can’t come from nothing’ argument (that actually makes a certain amount of sense, even if it leads to infinitely recursive thinking), but that, having established (maybe) that ‘something can’t come from nothing’, people go on to assume a lot of unfounded things about the ‘something’ that ‘created’ the universe.

    That there should have been a first cause in the chain of cause and effect governing our universe is fairly intuitive. Not guaranteed, but sensible to expect.

    That the ‘first cause’ is ‘God’ in any sense of the word that we stupid humans mean it is in no way proven simply by the expectation of a ‘first cause’. There is no rational reason to conclude, because ‘something can’t come from nothing’, that the universe was created by ‘God’. That the ‘first cause’ has a personality, intentions, creativity, or self-awareness is the leap of logic that non-believers won’t make without some kind of evidence of an intentional being.

    Robert, you said:

    “…the foundation of what we know about the universe is based on studies by people who were persecuted by the Church,”

    I just wanted to let you know how much that made me cheer inside. =)

  7. Thank you Robert,

    You are in the field I enjoy studying and discussing.

    Robert, I am beginning to actually agreeing with your atheism. 🙂 According to your understanding of god, namely a god who came from somewhere, and a god may no longer be around, it totally agree this god does not exist. 🙂

    If this is the god, you are denying Robert, I am totally on your side. But I believe it would be very wrong to think that this is a god of Classical theism :).

    There are two popular versions of cosmological arguments(existence of God make sense of the origin/explanation of the universe) which can be outline as follows:

    Lebnizians:

    1. Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
    2. If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is in an external cause.
    3. The universe exists.
    4. The universe has an explanation of its existence.(from 1&2)
    5. Therefore, the explanation is in an external cause.(from 2 & 4)

    Kalam:

    1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence.
    2. The universe began to exist.
    3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence.

    From these arguments, the properties of this external cause is what Christians theist believes what God is, namely necessary existing by necessity of His own nature, timeless(did not being to exist), spaceless(thus meaningless asking where He came from), immaterial, non-physical and personal.

    I will be glad to defend any premise you find difficult to understand because I believe, though these arguments are not knockdown argument for God existence Robert, but really powerful.

    Prayson

    1. I’m glad you agree with me 🙂 Can I count you as a conversion? 🙂 The idea I am criticizing (I thought at least) is the general Christian view of God, specifically the Catholic one in which I was raised. I can understand if there are different Protestant views I haven’t heard of (Ireland is not the best place for a diversity of religious ideas).

      The problem I would have is with the first premises. If everything must have an external cause then how do you avoid falling into a continuous and never ending chicken-and-egg style argument to infinity? However claiming God is the solution seems to be cheating because you are ignoring the first premise. I don’t feel the idea that ‘Everything has a cause except God’ to be a strong argument. Surely if God does not need a cause then why does the universe need one?

      On a final note I would agree that this is by far the strongest theist argument for God’s existence, though I hope my post shows how it is not the trump card it is often depicted.

      1. Hej Robert,

        I understand your concern. I think if correctly understood these arguments makes a good case for Classical Theism.

        Remember Robert, we should not mix these two arguments(a classical mistake both by untrained Christians and non-Christians on Cosmological arguments)

        Kalam states that everything that begin to exist has a cause. The key issue is begin to exist(not everything began to exist, example 2 + 2 = 4 did not begin to exist, it was true that 2 + 2 = 4 even if know one knew about, or the universe did not exist.)

        God did not begin to exist, according to Classical Theism, thus asking for the caused god, is asking for a squarecircle.

        Lebnzinians: Everything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause, this include God. Classical theism claims that the explanation of God is in the necessity of His own nature.

        Did I help Robert?

        Prayson

        1. Yes that does explain it a bit, but I fear we’re falling into the land of abstract concepts that we cannot fully understand. How can we ever know that God always existed or that God existence is necessary? These seem to be questions we can never answer

          1. I have pondered that questions myself Robert. But I accepted that I do not have to know how we know that God has these properties. If I know, how I know, I would want to know how I know, I know and thus I be stuck in an endless absurdity.

            In Classical Christianity, God, is said, to has revealed Himself in Jewish history and last in a Nazarene carpenter son, Jesus. He has reveal Himself as a personal creator, everlasting/timeless (Job 36:26; Ps 55:19; Ps 93:2; Ps 102:24; Ps 102:27b; Isa 40:28; Jer 10:10; Hab 1:12), immutable(thus immaterial and non-physical Ps 102:27; Ja 1:17), spaceless (Jer 23:24)

            I believe its only a materialist/naturalist who worries that abstracts objects and beings beyond material/nature are not only notions that cannot be understand but impossible in her worldview. If materialism/naturalism is false, then I see no problem at all.

            Prayson

  8. who created God? OFTEN ATHEIST POSE THIS QUESTION THINKING THAT THEY HAVE SILENCED CHRISTIAN BUT THIS NEED NOT BE IN FACT THE QUESTION IS A USELESS ONE. HOW? THE LOGICAL CONCLUSION IS THAT THE SOURCE OF ALL THINGS SHOULD HAVE NO BEGINNING. WHY? IF WE ASK WHO CREATED GOD WE WILL NEVER FIND AN ANSWER BECAUSE WE WILL CONTINUE TO ASK WHO THEN CREATED THE ONE THAT CREATED GOD, AND THE QUESTION GOES ON AND ON (GRASP WHAT I MEAN HERE). IF YOU LOOK AT IT, IT IS A NEVER ENDING QUESTION. THE SAME WOULD APPLY TO BIG BANG THEORY, THE QUESTION HERE WOULD BE WHERE DID THE THINGS THAT BANGED COME FROM. WHETHER AN ATHEIST, OR A CHRISTIAN OR AN AGNOSTIC THERE HAS TO BE A SOURCE AND THE SOURCE SHOULD HAVE NO BEGINNING. THAT’S THE ONLY LOGICAL CONCLUSION. THAT IS WHY THE CHRISTIAN GOD SAYS ‘ I AM GOD AND BESIDES ME THERE IS NO OTHER’. THE FACT THAT ALL OF US WERE NOT THERE WHEN THE WORLD WAS CREATED MEANS THAT WE ALL BASE OUR ASSERTIONS ON EVIDENCE BASED FAITH, BE IT A CHRISTIAN OR AN ATHEIST BUT YOU NEED GREATER FAITH FOR YOU TO BELIEVE THAT THE WORLD WAS CREATED THRU BIG BANG AND YOU STILL NEED GREATER FAITH FOR ONE TO BELIEVE THAT MANKIND EVOLVED. THUS, GOD SAYS ‘THE FOOL SAYS IN HIS HEART THERE IS NO GOD’. ONLY A FOOL WOULD COME TO THAT CONCLUSION BECAUSE THERE ARE A LOT OF EVIDENCES FOR GOD OUT THERE BUT FOR OTHER REASONS PEOPLE CHOOSE NOT TO BELIEVE. HERE ARE THE QUESTIONS TO BE CONSIDERED:
    1.THE BEGINNING OF THE UNIVERSE, IS IT THROUGH THE BIG BANG? IF IT IS, HOW THEN WERE THE STARS,MOON ,WATERS , SKY, CREATED? ALL THESE HAPPENED WITHOUT ANYONE CONTROLLING? HOW DID THE BIG BANG THEORY TELL THE EARTH TO BE MOVING AROUND THE SUN? DID IT JUST HAPPEN THAT WAY?

    2.EVOLUTION TEACHES THAT WE EVOLVED FROM SMALL BACTERIAS , HOW THEN DID IT DECIDE TO SWITCH FROM EVOLVING TO PROCREATION ? THE QUESTION IS WHY ARE WE PROCREATING INSTEAD OF EVOLVING? WHICH SEX EVOLVED FIRST, MALE OR FEMALE? WHO TOLD THEM TO START PROCREATING?

    3.LANGUAGE, IF WE EVOLVED SAY FROM ‘APES’ HOW COME THEY DO NOT SPEAK THE LANGUAGE WE SPEAK?HOW THEN DID THEY TEACH THE FIRST MAN THE LANGUAGE THEY KNOW NOT? THE DIVERSITIES OF LANGUAGE ,WHY ALL THESE LANGUAGES ENGLISH , FRENCH , ARABIC ,ETC. WHO TAUGHT WHO? HOW IS EVOLUTION EXPLAINING THIS?

    4.WHAT CAME FIRST BETWEEN AN EGG AND A CHICK , A SEED AND A PLANT,A MAN AND A WOMAN? HOW IS EVOLUTION EXPLAINING THIS?

    THE FIRST 2 CHAPTERS OF GENESIS PERFECTLY ANSWERS THESE QUESTIONS, WE ARE PROCREATING BECAUSE GOD CREATED MALE AND FEMALE, A TREE WAS CREATED FIRST WHICH THEN BORE FRUITS, A HEN WAS CREATED FIRST WHICH LAID EGGS AND LASTLY THE TOWER OF BABEL EXPLAINS THE DIVERSITIES OF LANGUAGES.

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