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/