Why is it more logical to say that God has always existed? Surely if God could always exist without cause, the universe could too. The truth is, at face value there is no logical difference. If something can exist without a beginning then anything could exist without a beginning. Why should it only be one thing?
There is, of course, a problem with the logic above. If there wasn’t, I wouldn’t have anything to write about. Here is the most important difference between an eternal universe and an eternal God, anyone claiming that God has always existed has found it reasonable to believe in God. If God claims that He created the universe and we believe in God, then the matter settles itself.
So what about the atheist. Having found no reason to believe in God, how can we defend the idea that God being eternal is more reasonable than the universe being eternal?
The Universe Appears To Have Had A Beginning
The strongest price of evidence that the universe has had a finite existence is the fact that the universe is expanding. In Big Bang cosmology, the universe erupted from a central point and has continued to expand from that point. It was once thought that the universe would one day cease expanding and begin to recede back into itself, then erupt again. This cycle could have been endless, with the universe perfectly balanced in such a way that the cycle would never be broken. This was referred to as the oscillating model.
The issue with ideas like this is simply that if the universe were to eventually regress back to its “condensed” state, we would expect the expansion of the universe to be slowing down. This is not what is observed. It appears as though the universe is expanding at an ever increasing rate. While I will avoid going into theories about how this strange reality is possible, I will tell you that it makes it far less likely for the oscillating model to be true. It seems to suggests that the Big Bang was a one time event.
What Existed Before The Big Bang?
If we accept Big Bang cosmology, then we need to ask the obvious question about the state of the universe in the moments prior to the Big Bang. This question will give us the answer as to whether or not it is more reasonable to say whether God or the universe has existed eternally.
There are many theories about what may have existed prior to the Big Bang, quantum fields or gluon fields seem to be the latest and most popular. I have written an article discussing these at length here. Generally speaking, it does not matter what material item we claim existed prior to our universe. Whatever it is or was, had to have existed eternally prior to the Big Bang. This means one of two things:
If the observable universe spawned from material that had existed for an eternity prior to the Big Bang, then we have to ask why there are no other universes. Why do we need to ask this question? Well, it has to do with the fact that a material cannot decide to do something. A brick cannot decide to become rubble, an atom cannot decide to split itself. There is, however, a chance that an atom will split naturally over time and given a long enough time, the decay of an atom will become inevitable. Given a long enough time frame, everything, no matter how improbable, will become inevitable. This is equally true for a material that may have spawned the universe.
Given a long enough time frame, everything, no matter how improbable, will become inevitable.Tweet
Let’s presume that quantum fluctuations are capable of spawning a universe at any second. Let’s also pretend that the odds of such an event occurring are 1 out of 100. How many seconds should reasonably pass before our quantum event occurs? 100 seconds? Would you feel comfortable saying that that it is virtually guaranteed to happen if we were to then wait 100 years? That is three billion seconds, surely the event would have occurred multiple times by now correct? This is the issue with a material cause for the universe. If we have a material, even something as complex and random as quantum fields, and that material has a certain likelihood of “correctly” doing something by chance, it is merely a matter of time before it occurs. On an eternal scale, the event is inevitable.
This of course introduces a new problem. On an eternal time line, anything, no matter how improbable, will happen an infinite number of times. That is to say, we should either observe an infinite number of universes or see evidence of the destruction of the our previous universe. The latter would also imply that at any moment our universe could be obliterated by the birth of the next universe.
To complicate matters even more, not only do we need to consider probability of a single quantum fluctuation but we also need to consider that there may very well be an infinite space of quantum fields. These fields theoretically exist quite literally everywhere, across a space that may well be infinite. There may well be an infinite number of “universe machines” constantly attempting to spawn a new universe for an infinite amount of time, but I do not think that results in a single universe that has managed to exist for billions of years. Thus, I do not think this is a reasonable position to take.
Capable Of Decision
Keeping in mind evidence that suggests the universe began, as well as a lack of evidence to suggest an infinite or even finite number of universes existing simultaneously or prior to our own, is there another explanation for the beginning of our universe? It seems to me that if there were some level of intelligence involved, it becomes much easier to explain how we have arrived at our current situation, with an aged universe that had a beginning and no other observable universes. A mind that is capable of choosing when to create and when to destroy would surely fit the bill. In fact, a mind that handed humanity a creation narrative which follows the outline of widely accepted scientific discoveries involving Big Bang cosmology and even evolution would certainly fit the bill. Especially considering that this narrative had been written thousands of years before science itself even existed.
In this context, it is only more reasonable to claim an eternal God rather than an eternal universe because the evidence largely infers that the universe had a beginning and that any mindless cause of the universe would likely have created a great number of universes across an infinite timeline, none of which are visible to us. If this evidence were to change, then in this context alone it may become more reasonable to think that the universe is eternal. However, given that this is not the only context under which one can examine the existence of God, it should also not be the only context in which we examine the reasonableness of an eternal universe vs an eternal God.
Hi, I’m James Dusenbery, the Founder/Lead Editor at CanonOfReason.com. I have a deep passion for the Bible and am constantly studying one part or another. In addition to an interest in theology and Christian apologetics, I also love philosophy. My podcast and website merge these interests together to create a unique experience that you will not find anywhere else.