Hello, Friends! As I mentioned in my last post, I'm dedicating a series of posts in review of Natasha Crain's recent book called Keeping Your Kids on God's Side. Although each chapter of her book is fairly short, there are forty to cover. (Yikes!) The first chapter is titled "What evidence is there for God's existence?" and covers quite a bit of information, so let's get to it. Today I'll be tackling the Cosmological Argument.
While multiple versions of the cosmological argument exist, let's adhere to the one that Natasha utilizes:
1. The universe had a beginning.
2. Anything that had a beginning must have been caused by something else.
3. Therefore, the universe was caused by something, which we call God.
In regard to premise one, I agree that the universe had a beginning; but let's be certain of the definition we mean when referring to the universe, that being our local space-time reality in which we currently reside. As such, the Big Bang theory is widely accepted as the cosmological model for our universe. Based on Natasha's explanation of the first premise, we seem to be talking about the same thing as she describes the universe as expanding and thus having started at a "single point - the moment that thing began." So, let's move on to premise two.
Premise two states that anything that had a beginning must have been caused by something else. I'm not entirely sure, but there could be a problem with this statement resulting from the word "anything." While we can intuitively postulate cause and effect within our universe, we cannot assert that cause and effect is applicable to the universe in its entirety. Anything seems synonymous with everything, which some might refer to as the cosmos, that which is outside space and time. If this is the case, then we are moving from something that we can explore and test to something that, at least at this time, we cannot claim any knowledge of. In her analysis of premise two, Natasha states that "this premise is constantly confirmed by our experience in the natural world." Well, yes, if you're referencing our local universe but not if you're referring to anything (any thing) potentially outside of our local universe. Let's see how this plays out in premise three.
While most versions of the third premise of the cosmological argument stop at the universe having a cause, thus never actually asserting that the cause is God, Natasha adds the last phrase "which we call God." She defends this leap into the unfalsifiable realm of supernaturalism by stating that "in order for a cause to create a universe of space and time, that cause has to be outside of space and time." As such, she employs the services of leading Christian philosopher Dr. William Lane Craig to describe the necessary qualities of that which could cause the universe - personal, uncaused, beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, and enormously powerful. Coincidentally, that sounds just like God (at least what we're programmed to think a god should be). Not only are these qualifications entirely outside of the argument itself, but special pleading is required to allow God to become the exception to the rules of our natural world that Natasha espoused earlier. Moreover, Dr. Craig's list relies on a preconceived notion of what God supposedly is, therefore presenting an unknown as the endpoint of another unknown.
Perhaps the cosmos itself is the uncaused cause necessary for the foundation of our universe. Perhaps we will never know, and this is the problem. Our uncertainty and ignorance regarding why there is something rather than nothing is so unsettling for some that it is simply more comforting to accept the God hypothesis. However, I can't help but note that even if Natasha supports all three premises, she is absolutely no closer to the Christian god, than she is the Muslim god, the Greek god, the Norse god, the...well, you get the picture. If the conclusion to the argument is correct, should it not point to the same god?
Stay tuned for the next post where I'll tackle the design argument!
** If you're interested in a wonderful children's book that explains the Big Bang and our connection to the universe itself, you might check out Older Than the Stars by Karen C. Fox.