The Greek word for “world” is
kosmos. The original term had to do with “order” or “arrangement.” Cosmology is a study of the origin and structure of the universe.
How did the universe arise? Modern science hasn’t a clue, because the question of origins is beyond the pale of scientific investigation. Nonetheless, in their confusion, skeptical scientists and philosophers attempt to postulate various cosmological theories.
Bertrand Russell tried to cover all the bases when he wrote: “There is no reason why the world could not have come into being without a cause; nor, on the other hand, is there any reason why it should not have always existed” (p. 7).
Well which is it? Another recent writer says that “a universe with our characteristics [could] come into existence without a cause” (Smith, p. 36).
The fact is, even most agnostics now concede that the universe has not existed always. Dr. Robert Jastrow declares that “modern science denies an eternal existence to the Universe.”
Moreover, to suggest that the universe had no “cause” is the epitome of foolishness; that assertion violates one of the most fundamental laws of physics, namely: “Every effect must have an adequate cause.”
The truth is, the only logical explanation for our world is that it must have had a non-material cause. The Bible identifies this Cause as God (Gen. 1:1; Jn. 1:1ff).
But atheists, rather than just remaining silent with reference to the matter of origins (thus concealing their ignorance) choose to speculate. And such speculations bring them nothing but embarrassment. Consider, for example, the rather well-known quotation from Professor Victor Stenger of the University of Hawaii.
“[T]he universe is probably the result of a random quantum fluctuation in a spaceless, timeless void … the earth and humanity are not conscious creations but an accident … it is not sufficient merely to say, ‘you can’t get something from nothing.’ While everyday experience and common sense seem to support this principle, if there is anything that we have learned from twentieth-century physics, it is this: Common sense is often wrong, and our normal experiences are but a tiny fraction of reality” (p. 26-27).
Observe that Stenger prefaces his theory with a contingent term, “probably.” He knows there isn’t a shred of proof for the view he offers. It is pure speculation.
He opines that the universe resulted from a “quantum fluctuation in a spaceless, timeless void.” The statement is nonsensical. How could any effect occur, in-and-of-itself, in a void? In physics, the idea that energy can migrate from one level to another, in a “quantum leap,” proves nothing. The question of the origin of that energy is paramount. Atheism cannot explain the commencement of mechanical energy.
Also, Stenger says it is not sufficient to say: “You can’t get something from nothing.” Why not? If there was a point in the past when absolutely nothing existed, then nothing would exist today. Nothing produces nothing but nothingness! Where is the evidence that nothing can produce something? It does not exist. Even some infidels are uncomfortable with the notion that “something” can come from “nothing.” Hence some want to “fix” the theory. Richard Gott of Princeton University writes: “We suggest that the Universe emerged from something rather than nothing – and that something was itself” (Chown, p. 14; emp. WJ).
I once debated a skeptic (Paul Ricci, author of Fundamentals of Critical Thinking) who argued that something can come from nothing. When I pressed him for the evidence, all he could say was: “Read the literature.” I simply could not resist retorting that his argument was the best example of something from nothing I’d ever encountered!
But think about this. If something cannot come from nothing, and yet something exists, it must follow that something has existed always. That something cannot be “matter,” for the laws of physics demonstrate that matter has not existed forever. Jastrow, in his chapter, “The Riddle of Creation,” speaks of that point in time which he calls “the moment of creation,” when “the first particles of matter appear” (p. 4). If the eternal “something” is not matter, it must be Mind, namely, God.
Notice that Stenger petitions his readers to lay aside “everyday experience and common sense” in considering his theory. That is a telling admonition indeed. It is “everyday experience” that determines how scientific laws are recognized. There is nothing in experimental science to suggest that matter can create itself, and Stenger is quite aware of this fact. It is a real “thorn” in his theory. Moreover, is it not astoundingly revealing when a scientist begs his readers to put “common sense” on the shelf when considering a proposition. Such an admission reveals the desperation of the cause.
But also note Stenger’s statement that “our normal experiences are but a tiny fraction of reality.” That admission intrigues me. When Christians contend that Jesus and his apostles performed miracles 2,000 years ago, the common skeptical response is this: “We do not believe in miracles. They are contrary to our normal experience.”
Miracles are alien to our “normal experience” because they served a special and limited role in the divine scheme of things (cf. 1 Cor. 13:8ff). We believe in the biblical miracles, not because we have observed them, but because of the credibility of the New Testament.
But remember this: the next time some unbeliever ridicules your belief in Jesus’ miracles, because such are beyond “our normal experiences,” just refer them to Stenger! He says normal experiences are “but a tiny fraction of reality.”
One of the amazing features of the biblical record is the fact that the Genesis account of origins, though penned some 3,500 years ago, is still as fresh and accurate as if it had been produced today. There is not a solitary phrase in Genesis 1 that is at variance with any known fact of science. This can be explained only on the basis of the divine inspiration of the narrative. What a sublime document! How vastly superior to the utterly foolish theories of infidelity.
- Chown, Marcus. 1998. “In the Beginning,” New Scientist. January 24.
- Jastrow, Robert. 1977. Until The Sun Dies. New York, NY: Warner Books.
- Russell, Bertrand. 1957. Why I Am Not A Christian. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
- Smith, Quentin. 1998. “Big Bang Cosmology and Atheism,” Free Inquiry. Spring.
- Stenger, Victor. 1987. “Was the Universe Created?,” Free Inquiry. Summer, Vol. 7, No. 3.
About the Author
Wayne Jackson has written for and edited the Christian Courier since its inception in 1965. He has also written several books on a variety of biblical topics including The Bible and Science, Creation, Evolution, and the Age of the Earth, The Bible on Trial, and a number of commentaries. He lives in Stockton, California with his dear wife, and life-long partner, Betty.