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Pastor's Corner

September 2018

Something from Nothing?

Why are we here? Why does the world around us exist? Why is there anything at all?

In other words, why is there something rather than nothing?

It’s easy to suppose that we’re here “just because,” and that we’ve always existed in pretty much our current form. After all, we are status quo creatures: we naturally live as if life will continue in the future as it has in the past, and we have difficulty imagining a past that is radically different from our present. But all it takes is a little bit of thought to realize that there’s much more to the picture than this: what we are now is the effect of a series of causes in the past. And that’s true of the entire universe around us.

Everything that you are experiencing right now is an effect of something else, what we call a cause. If in turn we trace those prior causes to their source, we ultimately come to the beginning of the universe. The overwhelming scientific consensus is that the universe—time and space itself, together with all matter and energy—did indeed have a beginning. From this beginning has issued a long stream of effects causing additional effects and so on until the present as we experience it now. Barring miraculous interventions, there is nothing that we experience today that does not issue from the stream of causes and effects traceable to the beginning of the universe.

That leaves us with a problem, though. Everything that exists depends upon a prior cause, but it all had to start with something that did not depend upon a prior cause. Something had to get the ball rolling, so to speak, and that something could not in turn have been caused by something else. Logical necessity compels us to assume an uncaused cause, an unmoved mover, something that is not a part of our present reality, not a part of space and time, not composed of matter and energy—something that exists outside and independent of the natural universe.

Furthermore, this something had to have some capacity to make a decision—the decision to bring everything into existence from nothing. To be capable of making such a decision, this something had to be personal. This personal being, existing eternally beyond the constraints of time and space, matter and energy, is what we call God.

Notice that I have not appealed to Holy Scripture, or to faith. I have not asked you to suspend disbelief and suppose that such an eternal, personal being exists. All I have done so far is argue rationally from premises that are readily accessible to us all, requiring no special revelation from above. This is why St. Paul can say that God’s “invisible attributes, namely, His eternal power and godhead, have been clearly perceived from the creation of the world in the things that have been made” (Romans 1:20). The existence of God is not a matter of faith. It’s a matter of fact.

Christian apologists call this the “cosmological argument” for the existence of God. In debates with atheists, the apologists tend to lead with this argument. I’ve watched a number of debates with the late Christopher Hitchens, who was known for his passionate opposition to the very idea of God. In many of those debates, Christopher Hitchens claims that there are other, better explanations for the existence of the universe without recourse to an “uncaused cause,” i.e., God. The remarkable thing, though, is that, try as I might, I cannot find a single instance in which Christopher Hitchens actually offers such an alternative explanation. I don’t believe there is one. Simply put, to be an atheist is to believe that something, viz., the universe, sprung into being from nothing, purely spontaneously. This is incoherent, unintelligible, unbelievable, and unnecessary. There must have been, by logical necessity, an uncaused cause of all that exists, and that uncaused cause is what we call God.

I must emphasize again that it does not take faith to believe that God exists. Most people through history have believed this, and for good reasons, but without having saving faith. Faith in the Christian sense means a steadfast reliance specifically on Jesus Christ, the Son of God, revealed to us in Holy Scripture. But before we come to arguments for the divinity of Jesus, we’ll take a few months to consider further arguments for the existence of God.

 

In the beginning. . .GOD

Amen

Pastor Neuendorf

 

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