“Why is there something rather than nothing?” Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnez
Today we start a long journey on our way toward proving the existence of God. In addition and most importantly, we will show that the Triune God of the Bible makes known that God. However, these first few posts will deal primarily with showing that a Supreme Being must exist.
THE COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
We will begin with the cosmological argument for the existence of God focusing especially on the Kalam cosmological argument. The cosmological argument for the existence of God attempts to prove that because anything exists there must be a God who ushered it into existence.
To clarify, the basic design of the cosmological argument states that things exist. Furthermore, it is possible for those things to not exist. Consequently, if something that exists doesn’t have to exist, something caused it to come into being. Something would have to exist in order to bring itself into existence and yes, that sounds very illogical.
In addition, something cannot be brought into existence by an infinite number of causes. Indeed, an infinite recurrence of causes produces no initial cause, which means no cause of existence. Therefore, considering the universe exists, it must have a cause. In other words, an uncaused cause of all things must exist. This Uncaused Cause must be God.
KALAM COSMOLOGICAL ARGUMENT
Based on logic, the Kalam argument posits that the universe is not eternal. Therefore, it must have had a Cause outside the universe, that being God.
But how do we know that the universe is not eternal and therefore, infinite? First of all, the Big Bang Theory very strongly supports that the universe is finite. But, more importantly, philosophical logic upholds this position. Peter Kreft states in his Handbook of Christian Apologetics the following:
“Can an infinite task ever be done or completed? If, in order to reach a certain end, infinitely many steps had to precede it, could the end ever be reached? Of course not—not even in an infinite time. For an infinite time would be unending, just as the steps would be. In other words, no end would ever be reached. The task would—could—never be completed.
But what about the step just before the end? Could that point ever be reached? Well, if the task is really infinite, then an infinity of steps must also have preceded it. And therefore the step just before the end could also never be reached. But then neither could the step just before that one. In fact, no step in the sequence could be reached, because an infinity of steps must always have preceded any step; must always have been gone through one by one before it. The problem comes from supposing that an infinite sequence could ever reach, by temporal succession, any point at all.”
POTENTIAL AND ACTUAL INFINITIES
To understand Kreft’s argument one must understand potential and actual infinities. Both exist in math but only one exists in reality.
Potential infinities subsist of sets of numbers that continually increase by adding another number to the series. For example, a geometric line with a starting point could extend on, potentially, without end. Also, a list of numbers with a starting point can always have more number added to it. Nevertheless, a potential infinity can never actually be infinite. It remains a finite set of numbers to which another number can be added.
Sets of numbers to which no increment can be added due to their infiniteness represent actual infinities. These sets include all numbers so there is nothing to add. My mind hurts just trying to imagine this. Indeed, actual infinities do not and cannot exist in the physical world. To illustrate the absurdity of actual infinities let me first say that if the universe existed infinitely we would never have reached this point where I would be writing to you describing how the universe cannot be infinite. William Lane Craig describes this much better than me in this long quote on “Hilbert’s Hotel.”
“Let me use one of my favorites, Hilbert’s Hotel, a product of the mind of the great German mathematician, David Hilbert. Let us imagine a hotel with a finite number of rooms. Suppose, furthermore, that all the rooms are full. When a new guest arrives asking for a room, the proprietor apologizes, “Sorry, all the rooms are full.” But now let us imagine a hotel with an infinite number of rooms and suppose once more that all the rooms are full. There is not a single vacant room throughout the entire infinite hotel. Now suppose a new guest shows up, asking for a room. “But of course!” says the proprietor, and he immediately shifts the person in room #1 into room #2, the person in room #2 into room #3, the person in room #3 into room #4 and so on, out to infinity. As a result of these room changes, room #1 now becomes vacant and the new guest gratefully checks in. But remember, before he arrived, all the rooms were full! Equally curious, according to the mathematicians, there are now no more persons in the hotel than there were before: the number is just infinite. But how can this be? The proprietor just added the new guest’s name to the register and gave him his keys-how can there not be one more person in the hotel than before? But the situation becomes even stranger. For suppose an infinity of new guests show up to the desk, asking for a room. “Of course, of course!” says the proprietor, and he proceeds to shift the person in room #1 into room #2, the person in room #2 into room #4, the person in room #3 into room #6, and so on out to infinity, always putting each former occupant into the room number twice his own. As a result, all the odd numbered rooms become vacant, and the infinity of new guests is easily accommodated. And yet, before they came, all the rooms were full! And again, strangely enough, the number of guests in the hotel is the same after the infinity of new guests check in as before, even though there were as many new guests as old guests. In fact, the proprietor could repeat this process infinitely many times and yet there would never be one single person more in the hotel than before.
But Hilbert’s Hotel is even stranger than the German mathematician gave it out to be. For suppose some of the guests start to check out. Suppose the guest in room #1 departs. Is there not now one less person in the hotel? Not according to the mathematicians-but just ask the woman who makes the beds! Suppose the guests in room numbers 1, 3, 5, . . . check out. In this case an infinite number of people have left the hotel, but according to the mathematicians there are no less people in the hotel-but don’t talk to that laundry woman! In fact, we could have every other guest check out of the hotel and repeat this process infinitely many times, and yet there would never be any less people in the hotel. But suppose instead the persons in room number 4, 5, 6, . . . checked out. At a single stroke the hotel would be virtually emptied, the guest register reduced to three names, and the infinite converted to finitude. And yet it would remain true that the same number of guests checked out this time as when the guests in room numbers 1, 3, 5, . . . checked out. Can anyone sincerely believe that such a hotel could exist in reality? These sorts of absurdities illustrate the impossibility of the existence of an actually infinite number of things.”
One More Example
Now let’s apply this craziness to one simple law, the 2nd law of thermodynamics otherwise known as the law of entropy. According to the law of entropy, the amount of usable energy in the universe is running out and will eventually exhaust itself. If the universe existed as an actual infinity the amount of usable energy could run out but there would still be the same amount of usable energy as existed throughout all eternity. Doesn’t make a whole lot of sense does it? By the way, the law of entropy is probably the best evidence that the universe is not eternal and infinite.
I hope you can at least begin to see how the universe cannot be infinite and therefore must have a First Cause. The implications of this are staggering.
I can tell that this first post in this series on apologetics must encompass more than one post. So, in part two of this post we will discuss time and causality, the Uncaused Cause, the Leibnizian argument, and scientific arguments. I hope you like what you have read and if you do please be sure to hit the Facebook like button at the bottom of this page.