Naturalists, atheists, and skeptics are taking a not-so-new approach to dismissing the scientific evidence for God. Recently, they have been asserting that any claim to God creating the universe is out of bounds since such a claim is an appeal to magic. An example is this question that appeared on my Facebook page.

Q: How would you respond to naturalists and atheists who continually say that the universe cannot be created because that would be magic?

A: I would respond first by pointing out to the naturalists and atheists that they are engaging in circular reasoning. They begin with the presuppositions that miracles and magic are impossible and, therefore, conclude that a God who performs miracles or magic cannot exist. Often it helps to illustrate their appeal to circular reasoning with a neutral example, one that has nothing to do with God. Consider the following:

“I am always right.”
“Because I said it, it must be right.”
“Therefore, I am always right.”

Second, I would explain that if the universe has a beginning then the cause of that beginning must lie outside of the universe. If the cause is outside the universe, then by definition the cause is some kind of miracle or “magic.”

Third, I would show the voluminous observational, experimental, and theoretical evidence that establishes beyond all reasonable doubt that the universe has a beginning. Astronomers have measurements showing that the universe is expanding and has been expanding at all look back times (because of the finite and constant velocity of light, the farther away an astronomer looks, the farther back in time he is observing). As astronomers look back in time they note that the galaxies get progressively closer together and the temperature of the universe measures progressively hotter in a manner that can be explained only if the universe arose from an infinitesimally small volume and an infinitely high temperature. The relative abundances of the elements making up the periodic table, again, can be explained only if the universe had a beginning about 13.8 billion years ago. The most conclusive proof that the universe has a beginning comes from the space-time theorems. Based on two unassailable assumptions, namely that the universe contains mass and the equations of general relativity reliably describe the movements of massive bodies in the universe, the space-time theorems prove that the universe has a beginning, a beginning that even includes the origin of space and time itself.

The foregoing paragraph outlines just some of the evidence that eliminates all reasonable doubt that the universe has a beginning. Those desiring a more complete account will find it in two of my books.1

The space-time theorems a decade ago were generalized to apply to all possible inflationary hot big bang models that conceivably could support some kind of physical life. As Alexander Vilenkin, one of the authors of the most powerful of the space-time theorems, wrote,

With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape: they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.2

The “problem” is that the space-time theorems imply that a God beyond space and time must have performed a miracle in bringing about the existence of the universe. Evidence establishing the beginning of the universe that includes the beginning of space and time establishes that scientists have proven the greatest possible miracle that science could ever hope to uncover. The discovery of such a miracle means that science can no longer operate as if miracles never happen. That God performed such an outstanding miracle 13.8 billion years ago opens up the possibility that He may have performed other miracles. Thus, scientists must be open-minded to the possibility that the causes they are investigating in their scientific research could be natural or supernatural.

 

Endnotes

  1. Hugh Ross, The Creator and the Cosmos: How the Latest Scientific Discoveries Reveal God, 3rd ed. (Glendora, CA: Reasons to Believe, 2001); Hugh Ross, Why the Universe Is the Way It Is (Grand Rapids: Baker, 2008).
  2. Alex Vilenkin, Many Worlds in One: The Search for Other Universes (New York: Hill & Wang, 2006): 176.

Subjects: Apologetics, Cosmology, Uncategorized, Origin of the Universe

Check out more from Reasons to Believe @Reasons.org

About The Author

Dr. Hugh Ross

Reasons to Believe emerged from my passion to research, develop, and proclaim the most powerful new reasons to believe in Christ as Creator, Lord, and Savior and to use those new reasons to reach people for Christ. I also am eager to equip Christians to engage, rather than withdraw from or attack, educated non-Christians. One of the approaches I’ve developed, with the help of my RTB colleagues, is a biblical creation model that is testable, falsifiable, and predictive. I enjoy constructively integrating all 66 books of the Bible with all the science disciplines as a way to discover and apply deeper truths. 1 Peter 3:15–16 sets my ministry goal, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience." Hugh Ross launched his career at age seven when he went to the library to find out why stars are hot. Physics and astronomy captured his curiosity and never let go. At age seventeen he became the youngest person ever to serve as director of observations for Vancouver's Royal Astronomical Society. With the help of a provincial scholarship and a National Research Council (NRC) of Canada fellowship, he completed his undergraduate degree in physics (University of British Columbia) and graduate degrees in astronomy (University of Toronto). The NRC also sent him to the United States for postdoctoral studies. At Caltech he researched quasi-stellar objects, or "quasars," some of the most distant and ancient objects in the universe. Not all of Hugh's discoveries involved astrophysics. Prompted by curiosity, he studied the world’s religions and "holy books" and found only one book that proved scientifically and historically accurate: the Bible. Hugh started at religious "ground zero" and through scientific and historical reality-testing became convinced that the Bible is truly the Word of God! When he went on to describe for others his journey to faith in Jesus Christ, he was surprised to discover how many people believed or disbelieved without checking the evidence. Hugh's unshakable confidence that God's revelations in Scripture and nature do not, will not, and cannot contradict became his unique message. Wholeheartedly encouraged by family and friends, communicating that message as broadly and clearly as possible became his mission. Thus, in 1986, he founded science-faith think tank Reasons to Believe (RTB). He and his colleagues at RTB keep tabs on the frontiers of research to share with scientists and nonscientists alike the thrilling news of what's being discovered and how it connects with biblical theology. In this realm, he has written many books, including: The Fingerprint of God, The Creator and the Cosmos, Beyond the Cosmos, A Matter of Days, Creation as Science, Why the Universe Is the Way It Is, and More Than a Theory. Between writing books and articles, recording podcasts, and taking interviews, Hugh travels the world challenging students and faculty, churches and professional groups, to consider what they believe and why. He presents a persuasive case for Christianity without applying pressure. Because he treats people's questions and comments with respect, he is in great demand as a speaker and as a talk-radio and television guest. Having grown up amid the splendor of Canada's mountains, wildlife, and waterways, Hugh loves the outdoors. Hiking, trail running, and photography are among his favorite recreational pursuits - in addition to stargazing. Hugh lives in Southern California with his wife, Kathy, and two sons.



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