GOD: The Best Explanation Of Our Reality?

What is the most plausible way to explain the features that we observe about our universe?

In this first installment of our new miniseries, "GOD: The Best Explanation?", we begin to investigate whether a personal Creator God might or might not be a good explanation to the variety of features we observe in our Reality.

In this video we also discuss 4 features of a strong worldview that need to be present:

- Explanatory Power

- Explanatory Scope

- High Degree of Plausibility

- Minimal Ad Hoc

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The First Cause

A number of theories have been proposed to explain a materialistic origin of the universe.

Self-creation

Some materialists have claimed that the universe created itself. As Stephen Hawking argues, "Because there is a law like gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing." But for anything to create itself, it would have to exist before it was created. Most people would agree this is logically absurd. Oxford mathematician John Lennox observes that Hawking confuses physical laws -- which merely describe how the universe works -- with ultimate explanations:

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FOR EARTHDAY: PhD Proves Our Universe Has a Cause!

"It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man.

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." Alexander Vilenkin, PhD Physicist & Cosmologist

Alexander Vilenkin is a Professor of Physics and Director of the Institute of Cosmology at Tufts University. A theoretical physicist who has been working in the field of

cosmology for 25 years, Vilenkin has written over 150 papers professional papers.

His work has been featured in numerous newspaper and magazine articles in the United States, Europe,Russia, and Japan, and in many popular books.

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Must the Beginning of the Universe Have a Personal Cause?: A Rejoinder

William Lane Craig
Wes Morriston maintains that a negative answer to the question, "Did the First Cause exist in time prior to creation?" forces the defender of the kalam cosmological argument to analyze the concept of 'beginning to exist' in a way that raises serious doubts about the argument's main causal principle and that it also undercuts the main argument for saying that the cause of the universe must be a person.

Morriston in the first part of his critique tries to show that premiss (1) Whatever begins to exist has a cause loses much of its plausibility when it is applied to the beginning of time itself. At the heart of Morriston's denial that we have a metaphysical intuition of the principle's truth lies a dubious distinction between intra- and extratemporal beginnings. Apart from that same distinction Morriston provides no good reason to doubt the plausibility of the causal principle as an empirical generalization. His claim that the absence of a material cause of the universe is as troubling as the absence of an efficient cause backfires because in an uncaused origination of the universe we lack both. Finally, Morriston errs in thinking that a reductive analysis, if adequate, should preserve the same epistemic obviousness involved in the analysandum and in thinking that all intuitively grasped, metaphysically necessary, synthetic truths should exhibit the same self-evidence and perspicuity.

In the second part of his article Morriston, still assuming that God exists atemporally sans the universe, criticizes an argument for the personhood of the First Cause inspired by the Islamic Principle of Determination. Morriston objects that appeal to agent causation is nugatory because God's changeless state of willing the universe is sufficient for the existence of the universe and is an instance of state-state causation. The failing of Morriston's objection is that in speaking of God's willing that the universe exist, he does not differentiate between God's timeless intention to create a temporal world and God's undertaking to create a temporal world. Once we make the distinction, we see that creation ex nihilo is not (given a tensed theory of time) an instance of state-state causation and is therefore not susceptible to Morriston's objection.
"Must the Beginning of the Universe Have a Personal Cause?"  Faith and Philosophy 19 (2002):  94-105.
In his interesting article "Must the Beginning of the Universe Have a Personal Cause?" Wes Morriston explores several "little discussed aspects" of the ancient kalam cosmological argument.1 The argument may be simply formulated:
1. Everything that 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.



Q & A: No Time for a First Cause?

This post features an interesting question that I received yesterday from ’Kelly’. Her question generated from claims by overstated cosmologist, Stephen Hawking, who says that, ‘Since the Big Bang created time itself, there was no prior time available in which a “first cause” could have created the universe.

Question:
I was watching a show the other day during which Hawking said there couldn’t have been a cause of the universe because the Big Bang created time itself, so there was no time for a cause. From the post about “nothing” in cosmology it sounds like there couldn’t have been literally nothing before the Big Bang. So can we still say there had to have been a first cause? Can we also say that God exists outside of time and therefore could have caused it, even if there was no time before the Big Bang?
- Kelly
Answer:
Hi Kelly,  This is a great question.
The word ‘time’ is used to characterize the system in which sequences of physical events occur. Therefore, when Hawking says that “time did not exist prior to the Big Bang”, he is essentially saying that “a system in which sequences of physical events can occur, did not exist prior to the physical universe”. In other words, Hawking is arguing that, “the operations within the universe did not exist prior to the universe.” This however, is hardly a novel conclusion.
If Christians believed that the existence of God was contingent upon the processes of the universe (like time), then Hawking’s objection would present an insurmountable paradox. However, God is not contingent upon the universe nor any process within – He is rather, the Cause of both.
So then, you’re on the right track with your second question; “Can we also say that God exists outside of time and therefore could have caused it, even if there was no time before the Big Bang”? Yes. A system containing sequences of physical events (i.e. time) certainly did not exist prior to the universe. But this says nothing about sequences of metaphysical events. God, by the Christian definition, is a metaphysical being. This means that He is independent and transcendent of space/time.
So, Hawking is correct when he asserts that a ‘temporally prior being could not exist prior to the Big Bang’. But God is not a temporal being. He is a metaphysically, ontologically prior Being who exists independent of “physical measures of time”. Thus, the absence of the physical (prior to the Big Bang) does not challenge existence of a metaphysical Being.
Hawking gets the physics correct here, as he always does, but he gets the metaphysics wrong, as he usually does.
God bless,
Eric

Points of Emphasis

  1. Time is the system in which sequences of physical events occur
  2. The Christian God is not a physical being
  3. Therefore, the Christian God exists independent of time
  1. Time is the system in which sequences of physical events occur
  2. Metaphysical entities are not contingent upon physical measures of time
  3. God is a metaphysical entity
  4. Therefore, God is not contingent upon physical measures of time

article from 

http://standtherefore.com/blog/

Time and Creation

Is God inside or outside of time?

Why would God bind Himself by being temporal?
Today's question has to do with God and time. Is He outside of time? If so how can he interact with us inside of time? Is God inside of time? if so, does that mean that He is bound by time like us? 
For more on this topic we strongly encourage you to listen to Dr. Craig's podcast, specifically the Doctrine of God. Here's the question:

Dr. Craig,
Thank you for all your scholarly work in defense of the Faith and expansion of the Kingdom of God.
I am a youth pastor teaching my students the essentials of Christian doctrine every Sunday morning and have enjoyed every minute of it - they too are learning and enjoying.
As a resource I have been trying to utilize your Defenders podcasts on Christian doctrine as well as several other systematic theology and doctrine works for my class to craft worksheets and handouts to help them grapple with the more theological and philosophical concerns. We have finished up Doctrine of Revelation and are now in week 4 of the Doctrine of God.
In the doctrine of God I have come to God's relation to time and eternity and was wanting to see if you could address a few concerns that are popping up. I have come across a excerpt from a certain systematic theology book that affirms,
"It is...worthy of note that it is...incoherent to speak of God being eternal before creation and temporal after creation. For a theist, creating the world does not change the nature of God. The world is not created ex deo ('out of God'); that is pantheism. And for theism, the world is created ex nihilo ('out of nothing'). Consequently, God does not change 'internally,' that is, in His essence, by creating something else. The only thing that changes is 'external,' the relationship of the world to Him. Prior to creation, the world has no relationship to God, since it did not exist. At creation and after, God became 'Creator' for the first time...Prior to creation, He was God, but not Creator. That is, at creation God gained a new relationship, but not any new attributes. He did not change in His essence, but in His external activity...[The divine temporality argument] assumes that to act in time is to be temporal. It does not demonstrate that the Actor is temporal; only that His acts are temporal. Classical theists do not deny that God's actions are temporal--they only insist that God's attributes are not temporal."
From listening and reading your work I understand that you hold to the position that God is eternal without creation and temporal subsequent to creation. My question, "Is it not possible that God can remain eternal while His ACTS are seen temporally?" What assume that simply acting that He must becoming "wholly" spatially and temporally located?
An example of what I am trying to get across: A person could take a stamp with a date and press it on a piece of paper. While the stamped date is fixed with that specific date - we have a time at which something occurred - the stamper is not necessarily contained (trying not to use emotionally laden terms like "trapped") to that stamped time. Right?
I am trying to make sense of this. Why would God simply acting in time fix Him to time? Further is it not even possible or probable that a model of some divine hyper time could not actually be (even possibly formulated in the future) and we are simply limited in fully grasping a concept like eternity?
Sincerely,
Michael
United States


Dr. Craig responds:

Please click HERE to see Dr. Craig's response.


A Question for Christians: "Why do you think the Universe had a beginning?"

"Why do you think the Universe had a beginning?" is one of the frequent questions that Christians get asked from atheists or naturalists.  It also happens to be a very important question to answer, since the beginning of the universe points powerfully to a Creator, and a beginningless/uncaused universe would go right along with the atheistic view of the cosmos.

But how can we "prove" definitively that the universe does indeed have a beginning?

I would love to see all of you take a stab at answering this question, and whoever gets the first correct answer sent to me at jason@claycup.com will be announced on "Intelligent Faith 315" in the near future.  Out of all our viewers in China, Russia, Germany, U.S., Puerto Rico, Australia, Latvia, and the United Kingdom, let's see who can be the first to give the correct response.....

Remember the command of Peter in 1 Pt 3:15?....."always be ready to give an answer...."

God bless you, until next time!

- Pastor J.