Arguments for the Existence of God: Cosmological
People often wonder, “Why are we here?” Not just why are we here in this canyon, but why are we here, in this universe? How did everything come to be? The question pops up most famously in the form of an argument for the existence of God known as the “First Cause” argument.
The argument goes like this:
- Everything that exists must have a cause.
- If you follow the chain of events backwards through time, it cannot go back infinitely, so eventually you arrive at the first cause.
- This cause must, itself, be uncaused.
- But nothing can exist without a cause, except for God.
- Therefore, God exists.
So, basically, you assume that everything that exists in the world was caused by something (even the things that caused the other things). If you could trace this chain of causation backwards through time, you would see that it can’t go back forever. It all had to have started somewhere. Something must have caused everything to begin with. Theists cause this something “God”.
There are a number of problems with this argument.
- Why can’t something have existed forever?
I have yet to hear a good reason why something can’t have existed forever. Who’s to say there isn’t an infinite chain of causes and effects stretching backwards in time? Just because we have a problem imagining infinity, we’re going to say it’s impossible?
The Big Bang theory is often brought up by theists to try to back up the premise that the universe had a beginning. This is not what the theory says, however. It says there was a gigantic explosion. Scientists don’t know what happened before the big bang because all the evidence was erased in the explosion. Anything could have been around before then. We just don’t know.
- Who created God?
Who created God? Was there another God that created the God of our universe? Are there an infinite number of Gods creating Gods? And if God doesn’t need to have a creator, why the hell not? How come he gets to be the exception to rule #1? If there can be a thing that doesn’t need a cause to exist, why not just let the universe be that thing?
- Who’s to say this first cause was a God?
Maybe the first cause was an unintelligent phenomenon? Maybe it was something we’re unaware of but doesn’t listen to our thoughts at all? Maybe it’s not omnipotent after all? Why assume omnipotence and all-powerful intelligence?
We’re trying to explain the complexity of the universe, and this just adds even more complexity that would need to be explained. Where did this God come from? What is it made of? Where does it reside? How did it come to be? If the first cause was just a speck of dust, does it still deserve to be worshipped?
All the first cause argument does is push the questions up one level into a region where we’re comfortable not knowing the answers. To be fair, I don’t think anyone actually believes in God because of this argument. I think they believe because they want to believe. This is just what people come up with when they try to use reason to defend their faith.
- (Photo by Matt Cavanagh)