What Key Arguments Are There for God’s Existence? (Part 1: Cosmological Argument)

Key Arguments for God's Existence Part 1: Cosmological Argument

 

I’m excited to start my series today on “65 Questions Every Christian Parent Needs to Learn to Answer.” Yes, I’m going to answer each one on my blog this year (amongst other posts)!

Let’s get right to question #1: What key arguments are there for God’s existence? If you can’t confidently answer that question right now in a way that doesn’t reference your personal experience or the Bible, this is a post you need to read.

 

Why This Question is Important

(I’ll start all posts in the series with this section.)

In today’s secular culture, the Bible is increasingly considered to be a set of ancient documents filled with inconsistencies, erroneous science, implausible miracles, and irrelevant moral standards for modern life. Its difficulties have become the stumbling block driving many young adults away from Christianity.

But what if we step back and look at the evidence for God without discussing the Bible at all? The actual existence of God is a prerequisite for the Bible even mattering. If your kids are strongly convicted of God’s existence, they’ll be far less likely to casually toss their faith aside when they begin encountering biblical or other spiritual difficulties.

All three of the arguments I’ll discuss in this series are easily understandable by kids of all ages. I’ve described each to my 5-year-olds (in an age appropriate way).

 

Three Major Arguments for God’s Existence

There are three major arguments used to “prove” God’s existence. Many other lines of reasoning have been used, but the three most significant you should know are the creation (“cosmological”) argument, the design (“teleological”) argument and the moral argument. In this post, I’ll discuss the creation argument. My next two posts will explain the design and moral arguments.

While this may sound highly philosophical (perhaps boring if you’re not normally into this kind of discussion), I assure you that these arguments have immense practical significance. And when you fully internalize their meaning, dare I suggest you might even find them spiritually invigorating?

Nothing has solidified my personal faith, taking me from belief to passionate conviction, like learning these three arguments for God’s existence in depth.

 

Outline of the Creation Argument

The creation argument provides reasoning for God based on the existence of the universe. There are three parts to remember (people state this in various ways, but the conclusion is the same):

  1. The universe had a beginning.
  2. Anything that had a beginning must have been caused by something else.
  3. Therefore the universe was caused by something else, which we call God.

It’s quite simple on the surface, but it’s a powerful argument with far-reaching implications if true. Let’s look at each part briefly.

 

The Universe Had a Beginning: A Big, Bold, Hugely Important Statement

I know that sounds like a no-brainer: “Of course the universe had a beginning; how else would it get here?!”

That is the logic of our everyday experience. We know everything that exists around us had a beginning and didn’t just exist forever.

But the overall creation argument is so powerful – leading to the inevitable conclusion that there must be a cause of the universe – that many scientists and philosophers through the years have worked to show the universe is eternal (i.e., without a beginning) in order to escape the need for a cause that could be God.

Much to their chagrin, modern astronomy has shown the opposite to be true.

 

Science Evidence That the Universe Had a Beginning

In the 1920s, astronomers for the first time had access to extremely powerful telescopes that allowed them to discover galaxies outside of our own (until that time it was debated whether our Milky Way galaxy was the only one). Astronomer Edwin Hubble measured the distances and motions of these newly found galaxies and discovered something that had astronomical (pun intended) theological implications:

The universe is expanding; those galaxies are moving away from us, like spots on an inflating balloon.

If the universe is expanding, it implies a beginning. Why?  If you rewind the process of something expanding (think of deflating the balloon), you would eventually get to a single point – the moment the universe began. Hubble’s findings changed everything. The universe had a beginning, and you don’t even have to believe in the Bible to arrive at that conclusion.

(Note that there is other significant scientific and philosophical evidence for the beginning of the universe outside the scope of this post.)

 

Anything that had a beginning must have been caused by something else.

The next part of the argument – that anything with a beginning must have been caused by something else – is somewhat more straightforward. I say “somewhat,” because if you really want to get lost in philosophical arguments over whether or not things can pop into existence out of thin air, you can. (Just Google it.) But almost everyone agrees that things with a beginning are caused by something or someone else.

 

Therefore, the universe was caused by something else, which we call God.

Let’s recap what we have here: almost universally accepted scientific evidence that the universe had a beginning and knowledge that anything with a beginning is caused by something else. That leads us to the conclusion that the universe had to have been caused by something else.

The million dollar question: What could that have been?

A person can’t dismissively state, “It could have been anything.” Knowing what it would take to create our known universe greatly narrows what kind of cause we have to look for.

Dr. William Lane Craig, a leading philosopher who champions this argument, concludes that a candidate cause would have to match the following profile: personal (i.e., able to choose to create), uncaused, beginningless, changeless, immaterial, timeless, spaceless, enormously powerful, and enormously intelligent.

We call that God.

 

But if everything needs a cause, what caused God?

It’s important to understand that the argument doesn’t say everything needs a cause; it says everything that has a beginning needs a cause. In order for a cause to create a universe of space and time, that cause has to be outside of space and time (eternal). Whether you call that God or anything else, that cause cannot have a beginning itself. Something without a beginning doesn’t require a cause. It has always existed. God is the original “uncaused cause.”

 

In summary

The conclusion of this argument doesn’t necessarily point to the God of the Bible. Other reasoning is necessary to get from the existence of God in this sense to the existence of God in the biblical sense. But this is an important starting point for the chain of evidence that ultimately leads to Jesus being our Lord and Savior.

For a video presentation of the cosmological argument, click here (it’s stated a little differently than the version in this post, but the idea is the same). This is a great video to share with your kids if they are old enough! Also, you might enjoy playing with your kids on this site that demonstrates the scale of the universe to share just how huge God’s creation is.

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Comments

  1. Great post. I look forward to the rest.

  2. David Crain says:

    Excellent! The William Lane Craig argument and video are new to me and a great recommendation. I would love to know the reaction of Christian Mom Thoughts’ 5-year-old kids.

  3. Melanie Samuelson-Johnson says:

    Really good! I have a seven year old son who has loved science since he was a toddler. Because of his interest, we are constantly bombarded with evolution. I’m always prefacing and my kids are starting to say, “We KNOW mom, we know that it (fill in the blank) really wasn’t millions of years ago”. I think they are starting to get tired of hearing me before every science-related book or documentary! I believe they (at least my five and seven year old) are old enough for a deeper and more detailed explanation. Thank you and I look forward to reading the rest of your posts!

  4. Margaret D says:

    This was a real blessing to me today, and just what my very questioning 8-year-old needed! Thank-you for posting – God Bless!

  5. Love, love, love this! Can’t wait to read more. I’m planning to incorporate these topics into family discussion to be sure our kiddos have a clear understanding of their faith. Thank you for writing such an important series. :-)

  6. You might want to consider expanding this post at some point as more recent science is now questioning whether the Big Bang is a true beginning or not. A significant amount of effort is being put into proving the existence of a multiverse and our universe is just one of an infinite number of universes that has popped into existence out of the quantum foam. This theory is popular amoung many atheist scientists as it does away with a beginning and also does away with intelligent design as we are hear by chance as one of an infinite number of possibilities. Certainly provides for an even more stimulating conversation with my 12 year old!!

  7. Tristan Banks says:

    I love that 8-year-olds are questioning this explanation – but parents don’t!

  8. Yes neil, however atheists base there pints on evidence. At the moment no matter how much you believe something to be untrue, the Big Bang is what the evidence is pointing towards, this may change over time but actually at the moment the evidence points to something that gives a chance that god will still exist. So until it can be proven otherwise that there is more evidence any atheist that has really looked into it must acknowledge that there is evidence pointing towards a creator. This may change but at the moment you can’t really ignore the evidence. I’m not trying to start an argument it was just where you said about taking about more recent science. How the most recent science has very little evidence in comparison to the Big Bang theory.

  9. I am a biblical creationist (YEC). Cosmology is not one of my strong points, but I understand enough to know that the ‘big bang’ is not universally accepted – even by secular (non-religious) cosmologists. The ‘big bang’ model is popular because it provides the “billions of years” necessary to give the blind evolutionary accident its (extremely remote) possibility of getting started!

  10. Gideon van der Stelt says:

    I highly suggest reading up on the ‘big bounce theory’, stating that the universe has been there forever: http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/big-bang-or-big-bounce/

    • Hi Gideon,

      I’m curious, what do you mean by “forever”? Do you mean an infinite regress back in time? If so, I’d argue that that’s not possible given the non-existence of an actual infinite. For example, what is a second or a minute added to an infinite regress?

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