The Truth – Works Both Ways
The truth has an interesting characteristic about it. If something is true, you can generally work the idea backward or forward and it just works. Let’s take a simple math problem, for example. If you add together 2 + 3, you get 5. Now, if you work it backwards and start at 5 and subtract 3, you end up back at 2. Most math teachers will tell their students that this is a good way to verify that they have answered a math problem correctly.
This works in other areas, too. If you have step-by-step directions to travel from one place to another, you should be able to follow the same set of directions in reverse and end up where you started. (Now, one-way streets may ruin this analogy, but you get the idea.) It also works when it comes to whether or not God exists.
Many people will start with God and then look at the universe and the Bible and such and marvel at how congruent the idea of God is with the world we see. I am not going to disagree with that logic at all, but since that seems to be the prevailing direction that people make such connections, I will not pursue that today so that I can spend more time going the other way. If God is true, we should be able to start with what is and end up with Him.
So, we start with what is. On a macro scale, that would be…the universe. The whole thing. All of it. Every galaxy, star, solar system, hunk of rock, molecule, atom, proton, etc. That would also include many of the attributes of the universe, such as the laws of logic and the laws of physics. I mention those specifically because they are germane to the topic at hand. As for the laws of physics, the specific one that I will reference is the second law of thermodynamics.
By using this law, physicists are able to determine that the universe must have come into existence at some point in the finite past. Because of how this law works, the universe is continually “cooling off” (loosing heat energy as it expands) and will eventually lose so much heat energy that all the stars will eventually burn out and all there will be is a vast expanse of lifeless rocks, floating about in the void. Doesn’t that sound encouraging?
The great thing about this, though, is that we can conclude from this fact that the universe had a beginning. If the universe has existed from the infinite past, “heat death” would have occurred some time in the infinite past and we would not be here. Because, no matter how far back in time you could go, there is always an infinite amount of time before it for the universe to lose all its heat energy. Therefore, we know that the universe has been around for a finite period of time.
The next question would could ask is…what follows from that? Well, we also know that anything that beginsto exist must have some sort of cause. Different theories have been offered to explain this. Most recently, physicist Steven Hawking and his co-author Leonard Mlodinow released a book called The Grand Design in which they posit that the universe was created by gravity, basically. Given that gravity requires mass and there was no mass prior to the existence of the universe, I’m not sure how this works out, exactly.
Whatever that cause was, however, there are certain things that it seems we can know about it. One thing that we know is that it would take a great deal of power to create such a thing as the entire universe. So, we can safely conclude that the cause of the universe was unimaginably powerful. Any cause that could be conceived that doesn’t have sufficient power, it seems to me, is excluded as a candidate for the cause of the universe.
But that is not all. The universe could have not existed. There is no reason why the universe had to begin to exist. I mean, prior to its existence, it didn’t exist. Yes, I know that using temporal language in that context doesn’t make a lot of sense, but sometimes it is simply easier to make the point that way. Nonetheless, it seems clear that if the universe started to exist, it could have just kept not existing. This seems to indicate that the cause of the universe was not only powerful, but volitional. It was able to choose to cause the universe to exist.
Those are two very important things that we can know about the cause of the universe, but they are not the only things we can discern. For example, when you look at the way the universe is set up, with the laws of logic, the universal gravitational constant, the weight of protons, the charge of electrons, the strong force, the weak force, the amount of matter and anti-matter, dark energy and any of several other attributes of the universe that we can measure mathematically, you find that if any of these attributes were even infinitesimally different from what they are, the universe would not be capable of supporting intelligent life.
With all of these forces and attributes so delicately balanced, one would not be unreasonable to conclude that the cause was not only powerful and volitional, but also highly intelligent. Is it just me, or is this starting to sound like a God who is talked about in the Bible? Personal, omnipotent, omniscient. Yep, we’re a fair distance toward the Christian God. Though, we have to be very careful, here. What we can ascertain with what has been discussed does not get us all the way to YAHWEH.
There are other areas that we can examine that help get us the rest of the way there. This was just to provide a starting point. But, with that, can you see how you can start with God and end up with the universe, or start with the universe and work backward to God? I encourage you to keep learning more about this kind of thing in order to strengthen your faith.
Grace, love and peace.