The following argument grounds reasonable belief in a transcendent God as outlined by the Christian theistic scriptures.
Modern cosmology affirms that there was a finite beginning to the universe, according to prominent scientist Stephen Hawking, “[A]lmost everyone now believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the big bang” (1). In other words, there was a time when absolutely nothing existed. And if absolutely nothing existed there would still be nothing for nothing cannot cause anything to exist. Thus to argue that something could arise without a cause is to delve into the realms of absurdity as a most basic principle of reason tells us that no effect can come to exist without a cause. It is safe to say that no-one in any field whether that be quantum physics or beyond has ever demonstrated an effect without a cause.
Perhaps an absurd attempt to explain this away is seen in Peter Atkins who, staunchly committed to his atheism, argues that the universe does not need a cause since it had its origin from fluctuations in the quantum vacuum. Philosophers and scientists have routinely shown this to be an absurd notion for the quantum world is something. After all, one could ask, what caused the fluctuations? What was the situation that defined the quantum vacuum? The answer would have to be something, thus it remains that if ever there was a time when absolutely nothing existed, there would still be nothing. Philosopher William Lane Craig muses that “Believing that something can pop into existence without a cause is more of a stretch than believing in magic. At least with magic you’ve got a hat and a magician” (2).
The obvious implication is that something has had to have always existed in order to bring into existence the universe. And since we know that the universe had a beginning then it would follow that all composed things have been caused to be by a prior cause. Philosopher Richard Swinburne explains that “there are two types of causal explanation: scientific explanations in terms of laws and initial conditions and personal explanations in terms of agents and their volitions… Now a first state of the universe cannot have a scientific explanation, since there is nothing before it, and therefore it cannot be accounted for in terms of laws operating on initial conditions. It can only be accounted for in terms of an agent and his volitions, a personal explanation” (3).
This is airtight logic since no-one has ever demonstrated a composition coming about on its own, it must have come from from a casual agent. And since this is consistent with the experience of all humanity the burden of proof is therefore on the skeptic to demonstrate that a composition can come to be without a cause, Craig asks “if something can come into being from nothing, then why don’t we see this happening all the time? No… Everyday experience and scientific evidence confirm our first premise – If something begins to exist, it must have a cause” (4). This necessitates that the cause of the existence of the universe must be immaterial (since it created the material universe), spaceless (since it created space), self-existent and uncaused (since it created everything that exists), timeless (since it created time), and unimaginably powerful (since it created the entire universe and all that is within it). We can represent this via a deductive argument known as the Kalam Cosmological Argument:
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
We can now add a forth premise:
4. And the cause must be spaceless, timeless, immaterial, uncaused, and unimaginably powerful.
If this conclusion follows this brings us to the foot of God, particularly the Christian one outlined in scripture. As Craig concludes, “The Cosmological Argument shows that, in fact, it is quite reasonable to believe that God does exist” (5).
1. Hawking, S. & Penrose, R. 1996. The Nature of Space and Time. p. 20
2. The Kalam Cosmological Argument. 2015. Available.
3. Richard Swinburne quoted by William Lane Craig & J.P. in Moreland in Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology. 2012. p. 192-3.
4. Craig, W. Transcript: The Kalam Cosmological Argument. Available.
5. Craig, W. Ibid.