The Cosmological Argument as a Response to Atheism.
The essay below if by Randy Hroziencik, a student in our Apologetics Certificate program (see the link on the front page of the site). It is a follow-up to another essay (referred to as essay #2) in which he answered a request to write a defense of atheism. Thanks to Randy for permission to publish this essay.
Write a counter-argument to essay #2. Choose one of the arguments for the existence of God presented in this course and use it to refute essay #2. Remember to not only describe the argument, but also to use it to show why the atheistic argument you already made does not hold up.
I have to go no further than the cosmological argument to refute the naturalistic worldview. I realize how cocky that statement may sound, but the argument from cause-and-effect is overwhelmingly powerful when it comes to refuting the notion that “matter is all there is.”
Following are the steps involved in a fairly thorough discussion of the cosmological argument:
1. Either the universe had a beginning, or it did not. If the universe is eternal, then God is basically “out of a job,” so to speak, but if the universe had a beginning then we need to investigate the premise that the universe had a “Beginner.”
2. Modern scientific discoveries overwhelmingly demonstrate a beginning of time, space, and matter/energy. This beginning point is most commonly referred to as the Big Bang.
3. Therefore, the universe must have had a beginning. We can now state with confidence that a “Beginner” or “First Cause” of the universe is to be seriously considered, unless it can be plausibly shown that the universe could “spring into existence” through uncaused, naturalistic processes.
4. The beginning of the universe was either caused or uncaused. The universe had a beginning, but was this beginning caused (implying intelligence) or uncaused, which would have occurred through unknown, and unproven, naturalistic processes?
5. The claim that the beginning of the universe was uncaused entails that the universe “sprang into existence” out of nothing. If the beginning was uncaused, or without intelligent input, the only option is that the universe exploded into being through strictly natural processes.
6. However, it is absurd to think that the universe was uncaused and “sprang into existence” from absolutely nothing, for nothing can produce only nothing. Some claim that a so-called “quantum vacuum” is responsible for bringing the universe into existence. However, even this quantum vacuum is something. A quantum vacuum, whether physical or non-physical in nature, is a finite thing which must have had a cause for its existence. If it is eternal, transcending the physical universe itself, then the quantum vacuum is essentially God. For some, such as scientific pantheists and religious humanists, the quantum vacuum – which is impersonal in nature – is the First Cause. For these non-theistic skeptics, the quantum vacuum becomes a convenient replacement for the true God of the universe.
7. Therefore, the beginning of the universe had a cause. At this point, it is clear that the universe had a Beginner. Atheism is thoroughly defeated at this point, for there is something or someone beyond nature (supernatural, or literally “beyond nature”) that is responsible for the beginning of time, space, and matter/energy. However, atheism posits that nature is all there is, which cannot be the case in light of the rational and scientific evidence thus far.
8. The cause of the beginning of the universe either came from within the universe itself or from outside of the universe.
9. However, the cause of the beginning of the whole universe cannot lie within the universe itself, for in cause-and-effect relationships the cause always transcends the effect. If the Beginner resided within the physical universe, this Beginner would had to have existed prior to creating the universe, or in other words the Beginner would have existed prior to creating itself, which is an absurd impossibility.
10. Therefore, the cause of the universe had to be something or someone from outside of the universe as a whole. Therefore, the cause is supernatural, or beyond the physical universe itself. Pantheism, which fails to distinguish between the creation and the Creator, and panentheism, which is the belief that the physical universe is the “body” of God, are at this point also effectively eliminated.
11. Either this First Cause was caused to exist by something else, or the First Cause does not depend upon anything else for its existence.
12. We cannot suppose that the First Cause depends for its existence upon an infinite series of causes, because an actual infinitely long series of causes cannot be completed. If we ask the question, “What caused God?” we can find ourselves asking the follow-up question, “What caused the cause of God?” and on and on ad infinitum. That, of course, is an infinitely long series – which is impossible.
13. Therefore, either the First Cause was ultimately caused to exist by something else that does not depend for its existence upon anything else, or more simply the First Cause does not depend upon anything else for its existence. The principle of “Ockham’s Razor,” which states that one should select the hypothesis which makes the fewest assumptions, or has the least requirements, or is the least complicated without compromising any of the necessary data, points us in the direction of the latter choice – the First Cause does not depend upon anything else for its existence. Regarding the former hypothesis, there is no sensible reason to suppose that the First Cause – which would actually be the “Second Cause” in this case – itself had a cause, and then conveniently stop there. The “Cause of the First Cause” is unnecessary, and nonsensical by definition, and therefore should be eliminated. It should also be stressed that polytheism, the belief in multiple gods, is eliminated at this point due to the deductive reasoning associated with “Ockham’s Razor”; there is no need to appeal to multiple creators when only one is necessary.
14. Either way, however, the universe ultimately depends for its existence upon something that is (a.) supernatural and (b.) does not depend for its existence upon anything else. This is, of course, a common definition of God, albeit a very generic definition at this point.
15. Therefore, the cosmological argument proves the existence of God. However, God may be variously defined. The cosmological argument just as easily demonstrates the existence of the so-called “God of the philosophers” (deism) as well as the God of the Bible. The cosmological argument demonstrates the existence of the uncaused, independent First Cause of the universe. It is up to the other theistic arguments to “flesh out” the identity of this First Cause.
Even though there are still some “hold-outs” regarding a denial of the Big Bang (creation event or event horizon), it is pretty solid to say that the universe had a beginning. The science of Big Bang cosmology – the first two laws of thermodynamics, the expansion of the universe (red shift), cosmic background radiation, and so forth as well as a refutation of the oscillating and steady-state theories – combined with the philosophical reasoning of the cosmological argument and the impossibility of infinite regression demonstrates with confidence that the universe had a beginning. The Humanist Manifesto’s held on to the steady-state theory for way too long, showing us how desperate some atheists were in their “case for scientific materialism.”