The Mormon View Of An Eternal Universe:
Like we saw with Hinduism, and also with Secular Humanism (5), the Mormon faith runs into problems with its postulation of an eternally existing universe. According to the founder of Mormonism, Joseph Smith, “The elements are eternal. That which had a beginning will surely have an end; take a ring, it is without beginning or end – cut it for a beginning place and at the same time you have an ending place” (1). Further, Smith believed that the materials God organized out of chaos “had no beginning, and can have no end” (2).
This is a claim about the physical universe that is contradicted by modern scientific data. Several lines of data supports the conclusion that the universe once begun to exist, evidence such as from the cosmic microwave background radiation, the receding of galaxies moving away from us, the formation of galaxies and the large scale structure of the cosmos, and that we don’t see any stars older than 13.8 billion years (3). The physicist Paul Davies claims that “the big bang represents the creation event; the creation not only of all the matter and energy in the universe, but also of spacetime itself” (4) whereas atheist cosmologist Stephen Hawking writes that “[A]lmost everyone now believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the big bang” (6).
The widely published Mormon scholar Blake Ostler explains that “In contrast to the self-sufficient and solitary absolute who creates ex nihilo (out of nothing), the Mormon God did not bring into being the ultimate constituents of the cosmos — neither its fundamental matter nor the space/time matrix which defines it” (7).
The Christian View Of A Finite Universe:
However, rather striking is that the biblical narrative gets this (the beginning of the physical universe & space-time) spot on (Gen. 1:1) even when such knowledge was far beyond what the author of Genesis would have known at the time. Even the physicist Victor Weisskopf once said that “The Judeo-Christian tradition describes the beginning of the world in a way that is surprisingly similar to the scientific model” (8). According to Christian astrophysicist Hugh Ross it was “The Bible [that] was the first to predict big bang cosmology” (9).
Big Bang cosmology has also been used as an argument for the existence of a creator of the universe. This argument, the Kalam Cosmological Argument, is a personal favourite of mine alongside the powerful argument of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. William Lane Craig formulates the argument via the following syllogism (1):
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause of its existence.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence.
If point three can logically follow on from the prior two premises then it would make belief in a creator of the universe rationally justified (although there are other arguments for the existence of God that many find persuasive). So, for the Christian it is not only the fact that via an argument big Bang cosmology supports belief in the existence of God but it is also consistent with the very first sentence of the Bible, that “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). However, Mormonism isn’t as fortunate.
1. Smith, J. 1938. Scriptural Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith. p. 181.
2. Smith, J. 1938. Ibid. p. 352.
3. Cain, F. 2013. What Is The Evidence For The Big Bang. Available.
4. Davies, P. Spacetime Singularities in Cosmology in The Study of Time III.
5. American Humanist Association. Humanist Manifesto 1. Available. Quote: “Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created.”
6. Hawking, S, & Penrose, R. 1996. The Nature of Space and Time. p. 20.
7. Ostler, B. 1984. The Mormon Concept of God in Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought.
8. Victor Weisskopf quoted in: The World of Physics (1987). p. 300, 317.
9. O’Niel, T. 2014. Big Bang ‘Gravity Wave’ Discovery Supports Biblical Creation, Say Old Earth Creationists. Available.
10. Craig, W. The Existence of God and the Beginning of the Universe. Available.