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World Views and God’s Existence

October 17, 2011

Does God Exist?

Before we discuss the existence of God it would be a good first step to first determine if the question is even important.  We can start this by defining the term “Worldview”.

  • The meaning of the term worldview (also world-view, world view, and German Weltanschauung) seems self-evident: An intellectual perspective on the world or universe. But a world view can also be defined as a set of presuppositions which we hold about the makeup of our world.  It is how we view the world.

“A “presupposition” is not just any assumption in an argument, but a personal commitment that is held at the most basic level of one’s network of beliefs. Presuppositions form a wide-ranging, foundational perspective (or starting point) in terms of which everything else is interpreted and evaluated. As such, presuppositions have the greatest authority in one’s thinking, being treated as one’s least negotiable beliefs and being granted the highest immunity to revision.”

– Greg Bahnsen

If “presuppositions have the greatest authority in one’s thinking” than discussing ones worldview may be very important.  This is because our perspective in life affects everything that we do and think.

Two very broad and mutually exclusive (both cannot be truth) world views is that of Theism vs. Atheism.  They are mutually exclusive because on one worldview, theism, they believe that (God, god, or gods) exist.  While on the other worldview, atheism, they believes that (God, god, and gods) do not exist.  Being that God, god, or gods cannot both exist and not exist at the same time, the question, “Does God exist?” is a dividing question and thus is very important to ask.  Dr. Craig, Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology, has a few thoughts on this question.

                  “Does God exist?” – Dr. William Craig

“In raising the question of God’s existence, we are in effect engaging in the assessment of a hypothesis about the world, namely, the hypothesis that God exists.

If our goal is to determine rationally whether or not this hypothesis is true, we must conduct our inquiry according to the basic rules of logic. Arguments based on invalid logic, however emotionally appealing, are worthless in providing any rational warrant for their conclusions.

Accordingly, we need to ask ourselves two questions with respect to this hypothesis:

  • (1) What evidence is there that serves to verify this hypothesis? (That God exists)
  •  (2) What evidence is there that serves to falsify this hypothesis? (That God does not exist)

Lets first look the first question: What evidence is there that serves to verify God’s existence?

Tonight I’m going to present five reasons in support of the specific hypothesis that a personal Creator and Designer of the universe exists, who is the locus of absolute value and who has revealed Himself in Christ. Whole books have been written on each one of these, so all I can present here is a brief sketch of each argument.  The first of which is:

First Argument

1. The origin of the universe.

  • Have you ever asked yourself where the universe came from? Why everything exists instead of just nothing? Typically atheists have said the universe is just eternal and uncaused. But surely this is unreasonable. Just think about it a minute. If the universe is eternal and never had a beginning, that means that the number of past events in the history of the universe is infinite. But mathematicians recognize that the idea of an actually infinite number of things leads to self-contradictions. For example, what is infinity minus infinity? Well, mathematically, you get self-contradictory answers. This shows that infinity is just an idea in your mind, not something that exists in reality.
  • David Hilbert, perhaps the greatest mathematician of this century, states, “The infinite is nowhere to be found in reality. It neither exists in nature nor provides a legitimate basis for rational thought. The role that remains for the infinite to play is solely that of an idea.”2 But that entails that since past events are not just ideas, but are real, the number of past events must be finite. Therefore, the series of past events can’t go back forever; rather the universe must have begun to exist.
  • This conclusion has been confirmed by remarkable discoveries in astronomy and astrophysics. The astrophysical evidence indicates that the universe began to exist in a great explosion called the “Big Bang” 15 billion years ago. Physical space and time were created in that event, as well as all the matter and energy in the universe. Therefore, as Cambridge astronomer Fred Hoyle points out, the Big Bang theory requires the creation of the universe from nothing. This is because, as you go back in time, you reach a point at which, in Hoyle’s words, the universe was “shrunk down to nothing at all.”3 Thus, what the Big Bang model requires is that the universe began to exist and was created out of nothing.

Now this tends to be very awkward for the atheist. For as Anthony Kenny of Oxford University urges, “A proponent of the big bang theory, at least if he is an atheist, must believe that the . . . universe came from nothing and by nothing.”4 But surely that doesn’t make sense! Out of nothing, nothing comes. So why does the universe exist instead of just nothing? Where did it come from? There must have been a cause which brought the universe into being.

We can summarize our argument thus far as follows:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

2. The universe began to exist.

3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

Now from the very nature of the case, as the cause of space and time, this cause must be an uncaused, changeless, timeless, and immaterial being of unimaginable power which created the universe.

Moreover, I would argue, it must also be personal. For how else could a “timeless cause” give rise to a temporal effect like the universe?

If the cause were an impersonal set of necessary and sufficient conditions, then the cause could never exist without the effect. If the cause were timelessly present, then the effect would be timelessly present as well. The only way for the cause to be timeless and the effect to begin in time is for the cause to be a personal agent who freely chooses to create an effect in time without any prior determining conditions. Thus, we are brought, not merely to a transcendent cause of the universe, but to its Personal Creator.

Isn’t it incredible that the Big Bang theory thus fits in with what the Christian theist has always believed: that in the beginning God created the universe?

Now I put it to you: which makes more sense: that the theist is right or that the universe popped into being uncaused out of nothing?”

1 Massimo Pigliucci, “God as a Falsifiable Hypothesis”.

2 David Hilbert, “On the Infinite,” in Philosophy of Mathematics, ed. with an Introduction by Paul Benacerraf and Hillary Putnam (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1964), pp. 139, 141.

3 Fred Hoyle, Astronomy and Cosmology (San Francisco: W.H. Freeman, 1975), p. 658.

4 Anthony Kenny, The Five Ways: St. Thomas Aquinas’ Proofs of God’s Existence (New York: Schocken Books, 1969), p. 66.

William Lane Craig is Research Professor of Philosophy at Talbot School of Theology in La Mirada, California.

  • D.Theol., Ludwig-Maximilliéns-Universität München, Germany
  • Ph.D., University of Birmingham England
  • M.A., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School
  • B.A., Wheaton College
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