Category Archives: God Exists

God Exists – I Can Prove It! Pt. 2

In my last blog post, we pretty much nailed the idea that the universe has a beginning. And if it has a beginning, it must have a Beginner who is omnipotent.

In a recent discussion with an atheist, however, I got an interesting retort at this point:

Just because there was a “beginning” of this universe of ours, does not mean there could not have been other universes before ours. Moreover, how do you know there are not parallel universes to ours and that ours came from one or more of them? Or, how do you know the universe doesn’t exist eternally through unlimited numbers of “big bangs?” Perhaps the universe simply expands and contracts over and over again. And why do you claim it to require “infinite power” to create something from nothing? You make no sense!

Here we go!

Science vs. Science Fiction

Let’s take these one at a time. With regard to it requiring infinite power to create something from nothing, let me use an analogy: Imagine that you happened upon two construction sites where houses were to be built. One of them had nothing there but piles of concrete mix, drywall, bricks, windows, doors, wire, etc. while the other already had a foundation laid, the walls, roof, and even some doors up and attached, but was still not complete. Which house would require more power or more effort to construct?

This is not a trick question.

The first house has less actuality and more potentiality; thus, it would require more power to actualize, to use philosophical terms. The more potency, the more power required to actualize that potency.

Well, now let’s imagine we have absolutely nothing to work with to bring a house into being. This would require infinite power because we would be considering infinite potency and zero actuality. Infinite potency would require infinite power. So how much power is required to create the universe ex nihilo, or from nothing? Infinite power.

As far as my friend’s other points are concerned, I think we are now traversing away from science and into the realm of science fiction. Physicists have generally discounted the expanding and contracting universe theory now that they have calculated in rough terms (certainly far from exact) what would be the size and density of the entire universe. Many scientists have thus concluded there is simply not enough density in the universe—even if you add so-called “dark matter” to the equation—for the universe to contract. Let me explain.

If you were to set off a large firecracker here on good ole’ terra firma, the paper in which the explosives would be wrapped would fly upward due to the concussion of the explosion. Then, that same paper would float back down to the earth. Why? Because there is a massive and dense object called “the earth” beneath it that generates a gravitational force strong enough to pull those objects back down to earth. The truth is, there is simply not enough density in the roughly 100 billion galaxies in the universe that could generate a force strong enough to pull all of those galaxies back together to cause another “big bang.” Moreover, physicists tell us that the laws of thermodynamics would still apply to an expanding and contracting universe. It would still run out of usable energy in time. And the increasing entropy still implies a beginning—ultimately. No matter how you slice it, science and scientists seem to be telling us there really was a “beginning!”

Multiverse Theory

As far the idea of multiple or even infinite universes goes, we can put this in the same category as so-called “string theory”—or theories—involving multiple dimensions and/or multiple universes; they ultimately only move the question of the first cause back a notch. Notwithstanding the fact that we are really in the realm of philosophy here and not science, because these theories are not scientifically falsifiable, there is, at best, no scientific evidence for any of these dimensions or universes. And even if there were evidence in favor of any of these theories, none of them can answer the ultimate question of the cause of all of these so-called universes or dimensions. And so it goes.

Back to Philosophy

But let us now leave the rarified atmosphere of science and come back to philosophy because there is a crucial point we need to make clear. Whether we are speaking of motion, cause, or being, it would be absurd to attempt to posit an infinite succession of finite movers, causes, or beings without the classic “unmoved mover,” “uncaused cause,” or ”necessary being”—God—because that would be like positing an infinite number of cars on a train none of which having the power to move the train itself. Whether your infinite movers are labeled as simply matter, parallel dimensions, or expanding and contracting universes, there has to be a first mover—the engine, if you will—in order to explain it all.

Making Another Motion

Often, in conversation with atheists at this point in the discussion, you will hit a wall with regard to the concept of “unmoved mover.” Yet, this concept is absolutely crucial. The objection will come in words to the effect of: ”How do you know your ‘first mover’ was not moved? Isn’t this denying the scientific laws of motion? If it is ‘moving’ it had to be moved!”

The answer is simple, but quite profound. If the “first mover” or “unmoved mover” were moving, or moved, it could not be the unmoved mover. It could not explain the existence of motion. That’s the point!

At this point in the conversation it becomes imperative to introduce some language with which many in the modern world will not be familiar. When we speak of the “unmoved mover,” it would logically have to be what philosophers call pure act. In order to understand this, we need to examine the concept of “motion” for a moment. If we look at the motion of any object in the universe, we say that it (or “he” if we were going to consider the motion of living beings) must first have the “potency” or “potential” to the kind of motion being considered. Then, that “potency” must be actualized or “reduced to act” as philosophers say, by another already actualized in this particular kind of motion we would be considering. This is Newton in philosophical terms.

Some may interject at this point, “I don’t have to be moved by anyone in order for me to move from here to there. I can move myself. What are you talking about?” And that is true. One of the defining characteristics of all living things is that they are capable of “immanent action,” which means they act “from within” as a whole being. We acknowledge that. But we are now speaking of ultimate motion, i.e., how all of creation was moved in the first place.

To make this as clear as we can, let’s consider “you” for a moment. Yes, you can move yourself. But you are not the explanation for your “first” motion. Your parents, for example, were the two “movers” who first “moved” you, so to speak, but they were not the absolute first mover because they themselves were “moved.” And as I said before, there cannot be infinite movers none of which being the “first mover,” because that would be absurd. And here’s the key: The “first mover,” would logically have to be “unmoved,” yet the source of all motion. Otherwise, motion itself simply could not be. What does that old song say? “Nothing from nothing leaves nothing…”

Moving Forward

Now, let’s move this argument forward… Get it? Move the argument…

A poor attempt at philosophical humor, I know.

Anyway, once we see that the first mover must be necessarily ”unmoved,” as I’ve demonstrated, it follows there would be no “potency” to motion in the unmoved mover. “He,” or “it” would be what philosophers refer to as pure act. It could not “move” from here to there because it would already be “there.” It would be omnipresent.

This “unmoved mover” could not then be comprised of matter. Matter is, by definition, measurable and finite—movable. By its very nature, matter possesses the potential, or “potency” for change. Thus, the unmoved mover would be of necessity immaterial. We call that “spirit.”

Moreover, the unmoved mover could not be comprised of parts, and it could not be finite. “Parts,” like matter, would necessarily have potency. And even a pure spirit (like angels) that is finite would necessarily have potency–the potential to move, learn, grow, etc. That which has potency cannot be the first mover.

So what can we conclude of the first, or “unmoved,” mover! It would have to be “spirit,” or not composed of matter. And it would have to pure actuality with no potency whatsoever.

But what does that mean?

There could be nothing that is not a logical contradiction that the unmoved mover would not be able to do. It would be all-powerful. If it lacked power, it would have the “potential” to grow in power.

It would not be able to come to know anything. Why? Because it would already know everything that is knowable. If it lacked in knowledge, it would have the potential to grow in knowledge.

So, guess what? We have now demonstrated the unmoved mover must be rational. “It” must possess rationality. So “it” is now a “he.” We’ll come back to this point in a moment.

Uncaused Cause

Let’s now consider the idea of the “uncaused cause.” ”It” would have to be eternal. Think about it. If it is “uncaused” that means it has no beginning. It would be eternal as well as the cause of all that is.

Some may object at this point. “Just because this ‘uncaused cause’ may have been eternal in the past, doesn’t mean it would still exist!”

Actually, it does. To have no beginning is to be outside of time and change. It would be impossible for an eternal being to move from being to non-being because an eternal being is changeless. Death requires movement from being to non-being that would be impossible for an eternal being. And this leads us to our next point…

Considering the Nature of Being

St. Thomas’s third proof for the existence of God is from contingent and necessary being. When we speak of “the unmoved mover,” and “the uncaused cause,” the problem folks have conceptually is they are thinking in terms of this ultimate being as just a larger version of a human being. We are not. In this third proof, we see this distinction a bit more clearly. When we speak of “the necessary being” of Thomas’s third proof, we are not speaking of just another being among beings. We are considering “being” itself.

If you recall from my last post, we’ve already established that every single thing and every being in the universe is contingent. Everything we see could either be or not be because everything we see has received its being from another. Because of this fact, nothing in the universe can explain its own being as well as being itself. There must be a being, then, that did not receive its being from another. It would simply be being itself—infinite being. This is the definition of the necessary being. In fact, it would not even be proper to refer to it as “a” being, technically speaking. It is being itself. Everything else that exists would merely participate in what “it” possesses infinitely!

As an aside here, I find it fascinating that God revealed his name to Moses as “I AM” in Exodus 3:14. Names, in ancient Hebrew culture, revealed something about the ontology of the one named. God appears to have revealed himself to Moses as this ultimate and infinite being which I have just demonstrated must actually exist.

Objection!

The next objection that often comes is to say something like this: ”I can see how there would have to be a being that did not receive its being from another, but my question is: why would this first being have to be infinite?”

Even though I’ve already demonstrated this to be true, I find this point needs to be hammered home over and over before it sinks in. So at this point I approach it from yet another angle that seems to be helpful for some.

Let’s consider what we can know about being itself. Think about this. Here in my hand, I am holding an acorn. This acorn has the potential of becoming an oak tree. Does the oak tree that this acorn has the potential of becoming actually exist? Of course not! That almost goes without saying. Well, doesn’t it follow logically that being, considered in and of itself, is actual? There is no potency when we consider being per se. Inasmuch as there is potential, we are no longer considering being itself in an absolute sense. If you are considering as the first being, a being that has potency, e.g., the potential to be or not be, to move, grow, learn, etc., then you are no longer speaking of the first and necessary being. The first and necessary being would be by definition infinite being and in a category all by itself.

The Pantheism Problem

At this point an astute interlocutor will often say this sounds like pantheism. If being has to be actual without potency, then wouldn’t I then meet the definition of God as “pure act” and no potency? I exist, right? Even more, wouldn’t everything that exists then be “pure act?” Am I saying here that “everything is God?”

The answer is no, I’m not.

I can eliminate me and every other thing and being in the universe as being “God” precisely because everything we see has potency and is subject to change. Inasmuch as they are actual, all things and beings we encounter do exist, but they would not qualify to be the first and necessary being because they each possess both actuality, inasmuch as they exist, and potency, inasmuch as they have the “potential” to motion, growth, learning, etc. Thus, we can conclude that every “thing” we encounter in our universe participates in being, but none of these “things” qualify to be being itself. Being itself, or what St. Thomas would call the necessary being, would be infinite being, pure act, without even the possibility of either lack of any perfection or the slightest change. This is a basic definition of God.

May the Force be with You

“What a minute,” someone might object. “Even if I acknowledge there must be a first mover, a first cause or first being, we are a long way from saying there’s a God. Maybe this ‘first mover’ you speak about was a space alien from another Galaxy, or perhaps an impersonal force like we see in Star Wars. Further, if this ‘first mover’ is the cause of all motion, it would have to be in motion itself. You yourself quoted Newton who said every object in motion must be acted upon by another object itself in motion. Well, then, your so-called ‘first mover’ would have had to have been in motion; and therefore, placed in motion, anyway. You’ve answered nothing.”

Perhaps the problem here is we live in a culture that watches too many science fiction movies! To attempt to say the first mover was ET only moves the question back without really addressing the question at all. That’s a cop out! And remember, the “unmoved mover” cannot be in motion, because if it, or he, were in motion, it, or he, would not be the first mover; and therefore, it could not explain motion itself. The first mover cannot be in motion.

Expanding Motion

It might help at this point to expand our discussion of “the unmoved mover,” and what we mean by motion, and then we’ll move on to one final idea to consider.

When we speak of motion we are not only speaking of physical motion, but all motion. Let’s first consider the physical motion of inanimate objects once again. As I said before, in order for an object to be moved it must first have the potential or potency to motion. However, that potency only becomes actualized, or it only moves from potency to act when it is acted upon by another object that is already in motion, or in act. Now we want to consider this: the same could be said for spiritual or intellectual motion. In order for a rational being to come to know truth, he must be acted upon by a being who has already actualized that truth. The one who is to come to know truth must first have the potential to know and then that potency must be moved into actuality. This necessary, first “Unmoved Mover” of which we have been speaking, then, could not be just some inanimate object or “force.” It could not have any potency whatsoever with regard to intellectual motion, as well as physical motion. It would be necessarily both omnipresent and omniscient. We could add to the equation as well any potency with regard to power. Thus, it would also be omnipotent. Thus, we have, once again, demonstrated the Unmoved Mover to be omniscient, and therefore rational, as well as omnipresent and omnipotent. In fact, I think we are safe now to refer to “him” as “God,” because we have just given the classic definition of the term!

Thomas’s Fourth and Fifth

Thomas’s first three proofs for the existence of God seem the most compelling. In fact, St. Thomas considered his first proof the “most manifest” way of proving God’s existence. And I agree with him. But his fourth and fifth ways of demonstrating God’s existence seem easier to grasp by most people. I am going to combine them as one unified proof.

Here goes.

We see all around us in the universe things and beings possessing various levels of perfection they did not give to themselves that are ordered toward ends they did not devise themselves. There must of necessity be absolute and infinite perfection and order, or reason, in order to explain the existence of these levels of perfection and order. Indeed, I argue that any person who honestly investigates the nature of the material universe discovers mathematical precision and reason to the universe that necessarily means the first cause of this universe would have to be rational. Thus, we find yet another reason we can conclude God is not a force; “he” would be a person. Indeed, by revelation in Scripture and Tradition, we believe he is three persons. But we’ll leave that for another time, and another discussion!

The bottom line here is this: the incredible complexity and order we discover in nature demands not only an intelligent first cause, but a first cause who is omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent!

What’s Love Got To Do With It?

For many who come to the existence of God through reason there can be a tendency to reduce the God they discover to an impersonal force, or a deistic God that has nothing to do with us. To say this “God” actually “loves” us would be ludicrous.

In the New Testament, God has revealed himself to be love in the eternal relations subsisting within the inner life of God. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit pour themselves out into one another in an infinite and singular act of love! But that requires accepting the gift of faith and believing in the revelation that our Lord communicated to us 2,000 years ago. Can we get at this God of love apart from that revelation?

Certainly, we cannot arrive at God as Trinity apart from revelation. And so, God as “love” revealed in a Trinitarian fashion is impossible without revelation. But I would argue there is a hint of God’s essence being love by examining what God has done in creation.

My final thought: Scientists tell us the “Big Bang” (creation) occurred ca. 13.7 billion years ago. If God created the universe 13.7 billion years ago, can’t we ask the question, why didn’t he do it 10 billion years ago? Why not 2 billion, 100 thousand or five years ago? The implication here is that God was “free” to create when he did. There is not reason to consider the creation as something the Creator had to do.

We can also ask the question, “Why?” Why would an infinite being create something that could not add anything to himself? He is infinite and perfect being!

What is the definition of “love?” St. Thomas Aquinas defines it as “willing the good of the other,” and I would add, “without expecting anything in return.” That is what love is. And that is precisely what God did in creating the universe. He created it for its sake without expecting anything in return. Seems like love to me.

I know we need revelation for this last, but if we add to this the Christian notion that God knew from all eternity not only that his creation could add nothing to him, but that one day his creation would kill him, this is a kind of love that is mind-blowing.

That’s for another time to consider.

If you enjoyed this, you’ll want to click here for more.

God Exists – I Can Prove It! Pt. 1

As a Catholic apologist, I hear way too many sad stories from parents telling of children gone astray. Little Johnny (or little Janey) went off to college and got ”enlightened” as to the truth about God and science. The refrain is repeated: “Science has disproved the existence of God, mom and dad. All that we know or can know exists is what we see in the material universe and that can be scientifically proven. Any notion of ‘spirit’ or a ‘supreme being’ is based purely on emotion and wishful thinking.”

The parents are always devastated and often ill-prepared to deal with their newly atheistic child.

In this blog post, and the next, I will offer recommends in the way of step by step instructions concerning just how to demonstrate to even the most skeptical of skeptics that God both exists and loves each and every one of us infinitely!

A Response for Johnny:

1. The idea that “all we can know is what we can see” represents a logical contradiction at its core. And it has nothing to do with true science. In fact, this is not a scientific claim at all; it’s a metaphysical statement, and therefore, self-refuting. Saying there is no God is to claim knowledge beyond the material, which little Johnny (and all true atheists) says can’t be known.

2. This statement is not only non-scientific, but it is, quite ironically, contrary to science in this sense: No scientist has ever seen a sub-atomic particle, yet, none that I know of would deny the existence of sub-atomic particles. Scientists examine the effects of these particles and from those effects conclude the particles must exist, even though they cannot see them. Moreover, scientists are nearly unanimous that there are certain patterns, or laws of nature, in the universe that govern all that we see, but no scientist has ever “seen” them either. Indeed, physicists tell us that there are more than 30 “cosmological or physical parameters” (more on that below) that govern the material universe, each having to be calibrated with a precision that boggles the mind in order for life to exist in the universe. No one has ever seen any of them!

So considering the fact that God is, by definition, pure spirit; it should come as no surprise that he cannot be “seen.” And most importantly, the fact that he can’t be seen does not mean we cannot prove he exists.

What we will seek to do, then, in these two posts, is present evidence for the existence of God analogous to the scientist who presents proof for the existence of a sub-atomic particle. We will demonstrate from the nature of material universe, considered as an “effect,” that it must of necessity have a creator–a cause. And we will then seek to discover what we can naturally know of the nature of that (first) cause, which is God.

When I say this is “analogous” to the scientist presenting proof for the existence of a sub-atomic particle, I want to be clear. This will not be “proof” as in something we can “see” with an electron microscope or measure in a test tube. These are philosophical proofs. But they will be “proofs” that rise to the level that a court of law would say are ”beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Cosmological Parameters

When we speak of “cosmological parameters,” we are speaking about  certain physical laws, “forces,” or patterns we discover in our universe that cannot be explained via the scientific method. Four examples among the many we could consider are the “forces” of strong nuclear force, weak nuclear force, electro-magnetic force, and gravity. 

Scientists may argue over whether these four forces are actually one or two more unified forces with differing manifestations, or that they are four distinct forces, but they generally acknowledge that these forces we have discovered in our universe are real.

Most importantly, these four forces are radically fine-tuned in their force strengths, and, it would appear, necessarily so. If the “tuning” of these forces were to be altered in the slightest, the universe we know would not exist.

Here arises the problem for the atheist. How did these physical forces come into being and how did they get themselves as “finely-tuned” as they are? Think about this: We only named four, but there are 30+ cosmological parameters include things like “the cosmological constant,”—the energy density of so-called empty space (that is actually not “empty” at all)—the certain ratio of carbon to oxygen produced inside stars, the difference in mass between neutrons and protons, and this is just to name a few more. Physicists in general speak of these as “fine-tuned” because even the slightest change in any of their properties would prove devastating to the universe as we know it and most especially for the prospects of there being life in the universe. How do we explain this “fine-tuning” without a “fine-tuner?”

The Gravity of the Situation

If we consider just one of these over thirty cosmological parameters—gravity—we discover a precision that betrays an intelligent source. Remember, there is an enormous range of possible force strengths in nature. There is no necessity involved with the “fine-tuning” of the force of gravity or any of the other physical forces. Dr. Robin Collins, PhD, has described this precision like this:

Imagine a ruler, or one of those old-fashioned linear radio dials that goes all the way across the universe… broken down into one-inch increments. The entire dial represents the range of [possible] force strengths in nature…

Now, let’s imagine that you want to move the dial from where it’s currently set. Even if you move it by one inch the impact on life in the universe would be catastrophic.

And we are only considering one cosmological parameter here. When you begin to add up the numbers with regard to all of the cosmological parameters required for there to be life in the universe, it becomes obvious to the unbiased observer that somebody has been tinkering with things here!

If we add just one more of these finely-tuned parameters—”the cosmological constant” (i.e., the energy density of so-called “empty space” that allows matter to cluster together so that we can have things like galaxies, stars and solar systems), we find the fine tuning to be to the order of “one part in a hundred million trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion.” That number roughly equals the entire number of atoms in the universe!

Just to give you a sense of what we are talking about here, the chances of just these two cosmological parameters among the more than thirty to have been “fine-tuned” by happenstance and without intelligent intervention would be akin to painting one atom among all atoms in the universe red, shaking them all up, and then picking the red atom out of a universe-sized hat! It’s evidence like this that has led even a leading evolutionist like Sir Fred Hoyle to say,

… a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and… there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.

And these parameters are intimately interwoven as well. According to Collins:

… recent studies by the physicist Heinz Oberhummer and his colleagues show that just a one-percent change in the strong nuclear force would have a thirty-to a thousand-fold impact on the production of oxygen and carbon in stars.

Without oxygen and carbon existing in a proper ratio to sustain life, life in the universe is impossible. Or, consider the difference in Mass between neutrons and protons: Increase the mass of the neutron by about one part in seven hundred and nuclear fusion in stars would stop. There would be no energy source for life. And we could go on and on.

Perhaps They “Just Exist”

In a recent dialogue with an atheist, and after I presented the above and more to him, his response was, “You make interesting points, but I would argue that these so-called cosmological parameters just exist. They weren’t created at all. They’ve just always been there.”

The amazing thing here is this fellow did not seem to realize his obvious contradiction. He had earlier stated his belief that all we can know is what we can prove scientifically. So where might we find scientific proof for such a statement as this? “They’ve just always been there?”

There is none.

But I must say my atheist friend then surprised me. He conceded the point, but then proceeded to challenge me saying, “I may not be able to prove that statement scientifically, but you can’t prove that your God is the source of these cosmological parameters either.”

It’s On!

Without belaboring the point that this atheist was actually making a declaration of faith–oh, the irony–the fact is, we can prove God to be the source not only of all the “cosmological parameters” in the universe, but we can demonstrate him to be the source of the entire universe and all of its parts. And in some ways, it is actually scientific discovery that is pointing the way today to this conclusion as never before. The most recent discoveries in science have led many scientists such as the esteemed quantum physicist John Archibald Wheeler, former president of the American Physical Society and professor of physics at Princeton University, as well as recipient of the Einstein Award and member of the National Academy of Sciences, to conclude that what underlies all existence is not matter; rather, it is an idea, “the ‘bit’ (the binary digit) of information that gives rise to the ‘it,’ the substance of matter.” In other words, science seems to point to the first cause of the universe being rational. Roy Abraham Varghese quotes Wheeler as making a fascinating statement about the movement of science in our time:

The quantum physicist John Archibald Wheeler has said that his lifetime in physics was divided into three periods: (1) “everything is particles,” (2) “everything is fields,” and now, (3) “everything is information.”

It appears that from the macro-level of the cosmos to the microscopic world of the cell and DNA, to the atomic and sub-atomic level, science points us to the realization that there is a wisdom and rationality to our universe that simply cannot be explained by examining the material alone. Attempting to discover the ultimate answers for existence in matter alone would be like looking for the first cause of a Shakespearian sonnet by examining iambic pentameter and the ink and paper upon which the sonnet is written. As Varghese describes it, in nature “information precedes its manifestation in matter.”

Another esteemed physicist, Dr. Gerald Schroeder, puts it this way:

A single consciousness, an all-encompassing wisdom, pervades the universe. The discoveries of science… have moved us to the brink of a startling realization: all existence is the expression of this wisdom.

In his own earth-shattering research and discoveries, the great Albert Einstein saw science pointing to the existence of reason—the logos—as necessarily preceding the material universe:

Whoever has undergone the intense experience of successful advances in this domain [science] is moved by profound reverence for the rationality made manifest in existence… the grandeur of reason incarnate in existence.

If you think about it, the idea of “chair” is qualitatively different than the physical chair I am sitting in. I could burn this chair until there is nothing but ash remaining. This particular “chair” would then be gone. But would the idea of chair be gone? Of course not! An idea is non-material; it is spiritual. Indeed, the idea of chair in the mind of the maker of that chair preceded that chair. Well, science is pointing in the direction of the “idea” of the universe preceding the creation of the universe itself.

At this point, all we’ve done is to show that examination of the material universe points to an intelligence behind the material universe. This does not mean this intelligent source is “God.” How do we prove that to be the case?

Making the First Motion

St. Thomas Aquinas gave many gifts to the world by way of philosophy and theology, but perhaps his most well-known are his famous “five ways” to prove God’s existence. But before we can start to explain them, we must first get acquainted with some foundational principles that will help us to understand these proofs. And these are principles  that most scientists would agree with today.

1. St. Thomas’s proofs are based on the observable and knowable first principles that objects and beings we encounter every day are in motion, caused, and contingent. Moreover, as we examine these objects and beings we find they each possess various degrees of perfection and they are ordered toward particular ends. Yet, there is not a single object or being we see that can explain the origin of any of these phenomena. And most importantly, no finite being or object could ever explain these phenomena.

2. Let’s break down what we mean by “no finite being could ever explain these phenomena.” First, let’s consider “motion.” Every high school physics student knows Sir Isaac Newton’s three laws of motion. One aspect of the first of those laws tells us that every object at rest will remain at rest until it is acted upon by an object already in motion. Thus, according to scientific principle, the explanation for the motion of every object or being in motion is not within itself; its motion originates from another. This is good science.

Second, let’s consider “cause.” It is integral to the scientific method to understand that no finite thing or being can cause itself. That would mean it would have to be before it existed, which is absurd. This is foundational to science because the scientific method seeks to discover the natural cause to every natural effect. This presupposes that there is, in fact, a natural “cause” to every natural “effect.”

Third, let’s consider “contingency.” And again this is good science. Everything we see in the universe is contingent. It can either be or not be because it owes its very existence to other things or beings. That is what we mean by contingent being. Thus, no thing or creature that exists or has ever existed can explain or is the source of its own existence.

Fourth, let’s consider “degrees of perfection” and “order.” We’ll combine the fourth and fifth of St. Thomas’ points by observing that we see things and beings possessing various levels of perfection that are designed into them and that they act for particular ends they did not devise. For example, termites in Africa can keep the interior chamber of their mounds protected to within a few degrees in temperature regardless of whether it is 20 or 120 degrees outside by the “worker” termites spraying small amounts of water on the walls of the inner chamber where the queen is kept and protected. This water along with the construction of and the materials used in constructing the mound, keep the temperature within the needed 2 to 3 degrees centigrade so that the queen is able to lay her eggs. This incredibly complex system was not designed by the termites. There is not one engineering degree to be found among them! And this is one of the simpler systems we see in nature. We don’t have time now, but if we were to examine the human cell with its hundreds of thousands of microscopic working parts, machines within machines, and the complexity of DNA within the cell, which is basically a computer program that provides the blueprint for the construction of proteins, which are the building blocks of life, the argument becomes all the more convincing.

The bottom line is: the “design” we find in nature, whether we speak of DNA or termite mounds comes from without as just an infinitesimal part of a massively complex design we see in nature that cannot be explained by nature itself.

So What?

The response I have received more than once at this point of the discussion with atheists is to say, “So what if every thing and every being owes its motion, cause, being, perfection and purpose or end to another. What does that prove?”

The answer is simple. There must logically be an unmoved mover, that itself is not moved, yet is the cause of all motion, an uncaused cause, that is the first cause of all, yet not caused, a necessary being, to use Thomistic language, whose essence is existence, meaning simply that it did not receive its being from another—it simply exists, or more precisely, it is existence itself—and a source of all perfection and order that itself does not receive perfection or order from without. This being we are talking about is referred to commonly as “God.”

The Problem With an Infinite Universe

At this point, the discussion will often regress to an argument like this: “Why does matter, motion, or being necessarily have to have a beginning? What if I say matter has been in motion forever? In other words, how do you know the universe—and motion—is not eternal? And you still have not explained why this ‘God’ of yours would have to be infinite. I’m not buying it!”

There are two major problems with an “infinite material universe.”

1. An infinite universe is contrary to what science has uncovered. There is a growing consensus among scientists today that the universe had a beginning. Since the discoveries of the Hubble telescope in the 1920’s, the laws of thermodynamics and the reality of entropy, and Einstein’s theories of relativity, speculation about an infinite universe has become antiquated. Let me explain:

The Hubble telescope has given us overwhelming evidence, as was predicted by scientists like Fr. Georges Lamitre, a Belgian physicist and Catholic priest, that all of the galaxies and clusters of galaxies in the universe are moving away from each other, and somewhat surprisingly increasing in speed, yet from one central point in a uniform fashion. This means there was a “time” when the entire universe was reduced to a single point physicists refer to as “singularity.” All physical laws that we know of seem to break down at this point and all attempts to explain this beginning end up employing infinity, e.g. “infinite density,” in order to even begin to understand it. This mysterious beginning of our universe has been labeled as “the Big Bang.” Believers in the world’s great monotheistic religions call it “creation!” But most importantly, it represents a beginning.

The second law of thermodynamics tells us that the amount of entropy in the universe is constantly increasing. In other words, the amount of usable energy in the universe is decreasing, or tending toward entropy (this is why your morning cup of coffee goes from hot to tepid and why broken coffee cups don’t mend themselves, apart from intelligent direction). That would mean that the universe started with an immense amount of energy (scientists tell us ca. 13.7 billion years ago) and that one day the universe will run out of usable energy. That would mean there was a fixed beginning as well when it comes to energy.

And finally, Einstein demonstrated what has stood up to and has been confirmed by experiment after experiment over the years: energy, matter, velocity, time and space are all relative. His famous equation E=Mc2 tells us that energy equals mass times the speed of light squared. The key here is that “equals” sign. This means energy is just another form of matter and matter is another form of energy. And very importantly, it tells us they are relative to one another along with velocity, time and space. If there was a beginning with regard to energy—and we know there was—there was a beginning with regard to matter. Time is the measurement of the motion of physical bodies and thus would be relative to energy and matter as well. Thus, “time” has a beginning. And space would be relative as well because space itself is “created” by the relative position and direction of objects and events. Velocity is a quantifying of the rate of the change of position of objects. Thus, energy, matter, velocity (or motion), time and space are all relative and all have a beginning.

2. As Trent Horn points out in his book, “Answering Atheism,” available at Catholic Answers, an infinite universe cannot be. He uses the example of a woman who owns a flower shop. Every morning before she opens her shop, she has to count all of her flowers she will be selling for inventory purposes. What if she had an infinite number of flowers to count before she could open? She could never open her shop!

In the same way, if there were an infinite amount of time, or let’s say, an infinite number of “days,” there could never be a “today,” because we could never exhaust the days leading up to “today.” I argue that positing an infinite material universe is like positing a square circle. It is logically impossible.

Final Thoughts

Muslim, Jewish and Christian philosophers and theologians have been saying for centuries what scientists are finally coming around to seeing: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth!” If energy, matter and therefore time have a beginning, they had to be brought into being. And if this is so, they would have had to be brought into being by something or someone that is immaterial and exists outside of time and space. Moreover, this something or someone would have to have infinite power in order to bring something into being from nothing. Sound familiar? We’ll speak more about this “something” or more accurately “someone” in our next post. And we’ll also get to how we can know this someone loves us!

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