What Started it All? 

I am interested in origins. Aren’t you? Any thoughtful person questions what started all of this — life, I mean. So in this post, I am going to unpack some intriguing ideas about the origins of life, even though I am not a scientist. However, I do love science and have a personal connection to it, as you’ll see in a moment. First, let me give you a bit of my backstory.

Sunday School on Mama’s lap

As a child, I was taught about God from my Mom who dragged my brother and I to church on Easter Sundays or took us to church in our preschool years. When that did not work well (my brother wasn’t into it and my Dad thought all Christians were all hypocrites), Mom taught us Bible stories in her bedroom. Picture Sunday school on Mom’s lap. I remember those times fondly. I loved the story of Noah’s ark and all the animals being saved.

Eventually, we all fell away from church going by the time I was about 8 years old; no more Bible stories and no more talk about God. 

Secular Humanism Worldview 

From third grade on, I was raised with a secular-humanist worldview. This a system that focuses on human beings, rather than supernatural or divine insight. I was told that people are inherently good. 

But as I got older, when I really thought about it, I kept on getting my heart broken by people. If people were so good, why was I being treated so badly? My worldview began to crumble.

I was re-introduced to Christianity at 25 years old by a guy I met in college. He gave me a Bible translation that I could actually understand (I had an old King James Version and the “thees or thous” threw me). He told me to read the Gospel of John. And as simple as that, I became a believer reading the first few verses of John chapter one. It was a divine moment – a Holy Spirit revelation, you might call it.

Then had to deal with lots of skeptics in my family. Some of them thought I had joined a cult! I needed to learn more about what I believed and why I believed it. My personal experiences were not convincing to them.

Some say that you become a Christian because you were raised that way. However, even though we were raised in the same household, my brother found science and he is now an Evolutionary Ecologist who was an atheist and is now an agonistic. My brother doesn’t believe in anything you can’t prove scientifically. He is most likely a materialist – that is someone who does not believe in anything supernatural.

My brother and I goofing around

But I believed that there must be something more to life than what meets the eye. We both have very different world-views. Raised the same way, we came to very different conclusions as to the origins of life.

Origins

To discuss this topic, I am going to be using the laws of logical inference to unpack the best explanatory power for why anything exists at all, using reasoning. And interestingly enough, the use of reason became of extreme value during the Enlightenment period.

Historians of Science identify the shift away from a theistic foundation of modern science with three major developments in Western intellectual history:

1. Enlightenment idea that human reason could replace and function autonomously from religious belief

2. Increasing skepticism about the existence of God

3. Rise of Scientific Materialism -affirming matter & energy rather than God

These similar ideas have carried over to this present moment, when many believe that science can explain everything. Some claim God is no longer needed.

What Science Cannot Do

Science is great, but it doesn’t explain all of life’s phenomenon. For example, science can tell us what things are, but it can’t tell us what to do with those things. And we can’t use the scientific method to get outside of the universe to answer what created it. Instead, we need to use logical inference.

Origin Theories

Up until recently, many thought that the universe existed eternally. This idea claimed the universe was neither expanding or collapsing, and was called the “Steady State Theory.” This was eventually disprovenbecause of ‘relatively’ recent discoveries

Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity

Einstein’s theory showed that a static universe would be gravitationally unstable. Everything needed to either be moving away from one another or collapsing towards one another, if the fabric of space obeyed Einstein’s theory. 

Confirming Einstein’s theory, Edwin Hubble (named the famous Hubble telescope) discovered evidence that distant galaxies were expanding away from the Earth in all directions. Then scientists realized that the universe wasn’t static – instead, it’s expanding.

Big Bang Theory

This is the dominant theory of the origin of the Universe. Basically, this theory states that the universe began from an initial point or singularity which has expanded over billions of years to form the universe as we now know it.

It was discovered in 1927 by Roman Catholic priest & physicist Georges Lemaitre, who independently calculated that the matter of the universe would reach an infinite density and temperature at a finite time in the past. This meant the universe must have begun in an incredibly small, dense point of matter — a definite moment of “creation” to the universe.

Georges Lemaitre

These findings have been confirmed by three main indicators:

1. 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (law of decay)

2. The expansion of the universe(Einstein’s theory of relativity used to figure this out)

3. The Radiation Echopicture ancient light trails

Scientist Fred Hoyle sarcastically coined the phrase ‘Big Bang’ while arguing against it. He disliked the idea of a creation event. He argued for an expanding Steady State universe with no beginning or end because he thought this new cosmological picture was disturbingly close to the Biblical account.

Disliked the idea of a creation event and made fun of it by calling it The Big Bang Developed the Steady State theory (1948), which said that as the universe expanded new matter was formed to fill the void left by the expansion.

During the 1950s & 1960s, more observation led to evidence against the Steady State Hypothesis. These included the discovery of bright radio sources (aka. quasars & radio galaxies) which were discovered in galaxies far from ours, showing many galaxies became “radio-quiet” over time.This shows the universe began to grow from a single point — about 13.8 billion years ago.

The Precision Event

A better term for what happened, in my opinion, would be the “Precision Event.” In this singularity were cosmic constants – laws that govern our universe. It’s kind of like a computer program – coded with information.

So, this infers that universe itself cannot be infinite, which leads an argument known as the Kalam Cosmological Argument. It was first developed by Muslims centuries ago, and is receiving new interest today. It goes like this:

(1) Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

(2) The universe began to exis

(3) Therefore, the universe has a cause.

One must wonder what caused this?Whatever caused this to happen must be out side of the known universe…

1. Outside of time (eternal) 

2. Outside of space (Immaterial)

 3. Uncaused – necessary
• not contingent upon anything or anyone
• the foundation for everything

Scientists have determined that all things began in the Big Bang moment … ALL matter, space and time.

Explanatory Power

So, what has the best explanatory power for this cause? You know where I am going with this… but let’s consider some alternate causes.

I. Multiverse Theory

This theory is very popular today – Marvel Comics loves it! “Dr. Strange Multiverse of Madness” movie is coming out soon, and I am going to go see this movie, to be sure. But is this a viable option to the cause of our universe?

Stephen Hawking believed gravity caused our universe, and thus, causes other universes to come into existence. Apparently, it’s mathematically possible, but there’s no evidence it’s real. We’d have to travel outside of the universe to examine it.  But even if it’s true,  one should wonder where did the ‘Law of Gravity’ come from?

2. Infinite Regress

Can we have an infinite number of universes just popping up? An infinite regress of physical events cannot exist. Why not? Any change occurring within the space-time (physical) universe has to have a start, otherwise we’d never arrive at this present moment

One analogy likens this concept to a ball dropping, going down, and down, and down, and never stopping to make a “now” moment. 

The Ancient Greek Philosopher, Aristotle, said there is a difference between a theoretical infinity and an actual infinity. You can’t practically put an infinite number of things between two points.

So, we can’t have an infinite number of physical events going back eternally – there must be a “first cause”, or a foundation of everything.

An Impersonal Force
A student once asked me if the Cause could be some ‘neutral force’ that started this chain of reactions to create the universe. It is reasonable to believe that impersonal forces don’t cause at will.If we accept an uncausedfirst cause, it’s reasonable that this is a personal force, capable of “willing the beginning” of the universe. It’s reasonable to simply recognize the attributes of this cause as an intelligent, powerful and personal.

Think about this — did matter create mind or mind create matter? The answer to this question does not point to a certain religion. It only suggests it is a reasonable inference that there might be an Intelligent Designer behind the Cosmos.

Final Thoughts

By definition, God seems to hold the best explanatory power for the cause of the Cosmos, as we understand it. You can certainly disagree with this conclusion, keeping in mind we all have biases towards either materialism or theism. But it’s important to note that this conclusion is not based on blind faith or what some have called a “God of the gaps” answer. The conclusion is reasonable based on logical inference.

Resources

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