Does God Exist?
Does God exist? Is there any proof that God exists or any type of deity exists?
For quite some time, I would have said something like, “probably not” or “it would be nice if it were true,” but I could not say a resounding “NO!” But that has changed in the last few months and I’ll detail it below as best as I can. I now now believe that the evidence greatly favors the existence of some transcendent being that is greater than the universe. Still, I do not identify with any religion at all or any belief system. But if philosophy can lead us down a specific road and a religion happens to be at the end of it, okay let’s go. I hope you’re willing to follow the evidence as well.
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John Loftus, author of Why I Became an Atheist, states that the reason anything exists comes down to two or three options: (1) something has always existed or (2) something came into existence out of nothing, with the final choice being that (3) existence is absurd at its core. However, this third option isn’t really an option, but a white flag of surrender to nihilism and human limitation. Either (1) or (2) is correct. Loftus goes on to lay out the atheist position as “the material universe either popped into existence out of nothing, has always existed, is self-caused, or is just a natural brute fact arising from the laws of physics.” The orthodox Christian position would claim that the universe was created ex nihilo (out of nothing) by God, who is eternal.
The idea of “anything/everything” relating to the universe has different meanings to theists and atheists. The atheist truly means “everything-that-actually-exists,” while the theist means “everything-that-actually-exists-besides-God” or rather, “everything-created-by-God.” The existence of the universe is a given (for most sane people), so we will look at how the existence of the universe points to something greater than itself. But first, who made God?
Who Made God? What Universe?
When I was near the edge of losing my faith a few years ago, I had come to the conclusion that one of two things have always existed: God or the universe. Since I could verify that the universe existed through experience, and God seemed to elude verification, it made since to conclude that the universe is all there is, has been, or ever will be.
But then… the Big Bang. Yes, that wretched thing that has been frustrating thinkers since Einstein. The Big Bang theory is the result of scientific research and mathematical thinking that requires that the universe have a beginning. And it doesn’t seen like we will ever escape it.
Suddenly, “who made God?” was echoed with “who made the universe?” The very question of God that I wrote off came back on the scene and needed to be addressed. So what’s the difference between these two questions?
The universe, as we know it, has a definite beginning that we call the Big Bang. God is defined as an eternal being outside of the universe (both space and time). So God does not, by definition, need to be created since God does not exist in a space or time in which to create. Let that sink in – God is beyond/outside time and space. So this isn’t like your typical multiverse idea where various universes exist simultaneously in different dimensions or similar dimensions with different events on the timeline or physical laws (sorry fellow Variants). But the universe, as we observe exists as space/time. (I say as because, in my opinion, space and time do not exist within the universe but are defining aspects of it. Feel free to disagree on the details, but I think the main point is still valid.)
But couldn’t the universe exist as a some form of multiverse?
From a probabilistic standpoint, a multiverse successfully addresses the theistic teleological argument. More on that when we get to those arguments below. But is there any actual evidence of a multiverse of any sort?
Unfortunately, we cannot observe anything outside of our universe in principle. All we can do is make guesses with mathematical principles, assuming that the laws of logic and mathematics are true for all persons in all places at all times. Michael Shermer presents several options for multiverses in his book, Giving the Devil his Due:
- Boom-and-Bust Cycles, sometimes called Bubble Universes or Oscillating Model, where the universe expands and contracts in an infinite series of Big Bangs and Big Crunches.
- Darwinian Universes, where multiple universes linearly or simultaneously exist and the ones not fine-tuned to support life have either died out or are in the process of doing so.
- Multiple Creations Cosmology, or Bubble Nucleation, where multiple universes bud off of a starting spacetime point and proceed causally unconnected.
- Many-Worlds Multiverse, where every possible event of a cause branches off in its own direction. (Think Loki on Disney+ if you need a visual.)
- Brane and String Universes, where the universes are created off of the energy of inter-dimensional interactions of three dimensional universes.
- Quantum Foam Universes, where the “nothing” of empty space is actually a playground of quantum particles that can form new universes. 
Regardless of the existence or nature of a multiverse, we are still left with the question of origins. Where is the starting point of the multiverse? All of these options requires the pre-existence of something, even the one that simply redefines “nothing” as something like Lawrence Krauss does in A Universe from Nothing, even though he doesn’t see it that way (I personally had an exchange with him online when it came out. Like all creators, he didn’t like me disagreeing with his hard work).
The only one I will touch on is the Oscillating Model, because it is the only one with the potential to be eternal itself. One of the biggest issues with this model is that we do not have any principle in physics that could cause an energy deprived universe to suddenly collapse and explode with new energy – not on its own accord. Not only that, but observations of red shifts and the uneven distribution of the cosmic microwave background radiation have made this theory nearly impossible since it requires a large set of constants in shape and size to function. Since the scientific evidence points to a beginning of the universe, again, thanks Big Bang Theory, the universe cannot be eternal and this model cannot answer the question of initial beginnings.
Now, the point of this post is to examine the existence of and defining the nature of both God and the universe, so I will refer all readers to William Lane Craig’s Reasonable Faith, especially page 116-156 in the third edition, chapter three for all other editions, for detailed evaluation of these concepts. The main point here is that we still don’t escape the idea that the universe (or multiverse) had a definite beginning.
The Cosmological Argument
I will not survey the history of the cosmological argument here. Instead, I will offer the most common argument put forth by Christian apologists called the Kalam Cosmological Argument. This is the argument thoroughly developed and advanced by William Lane Craig and goes like this:
- Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
- The universe began to exist.
- Therefore, the universe has a cause.
Not really all that thrilling, right? We don’t even get to see what the cause is! But that’s not the point. The point is that the universe had to have a cause and it could not be eternal. I think that the survey of possible ways to get around this above (the multiverse section) is enough to point out that argument 2 is true. What we are now interested in is the conclusion, number 3.
It’s here that we get to explore the nature of that cause. Craig summarizes what we can know about the first cause simply by logic as what follows (note that nowhere is any deity or power specifically referenced because THIS IS IMPORTANT):
- The first cause is unverifiable by science because there are no natural laws acting upon the first cause, so we must rely on logical reasoning to understand it.
- The first cause is timeless and immaterial. The only two things that we know of that fit this category are minds and abstract ideas.
- The first cause cannot be an abstract idea, so it must be mind in some sense.
- The first cause must have agency since something timeless created something temporal. Only a personal agent could choose to create. Of course, this would also mean that the agent must have always intended on creating anyways.
So what we are left with is a personal agent that seems to fit the identity of the first cause. We don’t have any other explanation besides, well, it wanted to create the universe. It’s also important to note that this does not qualify as a god if the gaps argument because this argument carries us past the empirical and into only the rational. Science cannot go beyond the physical universe and what we can observe confirms that the universe had a beginning. From there, we come to see that the universe needed something Supra-universal to create it.
I think this is the extent that the cosmological argument can take us – a personal agent that transcends the universe, and by this we mean is eternal (without time or space). Next, we will look at some of the other arguments and then try to philosophically narrow down what type of God/god/gods this being might be.
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