MOSCOW, November 12, 2011 – In my recent article, I used a version of the cosmological argument to argue for the existence of God.
The argument goes something like this: Everything that begins to exist must be caused by something. Since according to science the universe began to exist – in the Big Bang, it is said – the universe, too, must have had a cause. That cause is God.
The article gave rise to a spirited discussion. In the course of it, a number of commenters questioned the argument’s validity on the grounds that it doesn’t explain who created God.
Wrote one reader: “But we’re to assume that God simply came from nothing, instead? I love when apologists point to the universe needing a cause, and then don’t apply the same formula to God.”
Another echoed the same point: “In the uncaused cause argument of theism, they still have a problem confronting what caused God?”
Though well meant, such objections are misguided. The argument is not invalidated by the fact that it does not explain God. We must keep in mind that the aim of the argument is not to explain the origin of God but the origin of the universe.
Logicians recognize that for an explanation to be the best explanation, we do not need to have an explanation of the explanation. In other words, we do not need to be able to explain who or what created God in order to conclude that God created the universe.
The following analogy should clear up the confusion.
Imagine that NASA sends a probe to Pluto. After years of traveling the depths of the solar system, the probe finally lands on the distant planet. In the footage it sends back to earth we see what appears to be a junkyard of complex machinery. Looking at this, we would immediately conclude that the equipment was built and placed there by some advanced civilization.
That would be the best and most logical explanation, even though we knew nothing about the creatures who made those machines. We would not know whether they visited Pluto ten years ago or ten millions years ago. We would not know whether they came from a neighboring galaxy or the other side of the universe. We would not know how they looked, whether their skin was green or blue or some other color. We would not even know whether their bodies were carbon based – as ours primarily are – or whether they were made up of some other chemical element.
Despite our lack of knowledge about the equipment’s creators, the inference that it was designed and manufactured by some advanced creatures would still be the best and most reasonable one. To reject this conclusion on the grounds that we know nothing about the creators would be a logical error.
The same logic applies to the cosmological argument. The argument points to the transcendent cause of the universe; the fact that we may know little about the cause, does nothing to invalidate it.
Those who want to question this argument in a logically valid way should call into question its premises. They should try to show that something can come into existence uncaused or that the universe existed forever. They could also try to show that the conclusion does not follow from the premises.
To say that the cosmological argument is invalid because it does not explain God is merely an evasion to avoid the obvious conclusion to which the argument leads.
That conclusion is this: The universe was brought into being by a transcendent cause, which we would normally refer to as God.
Born and raised under communism, Vasko Kohlmayer is a naturalized American citizen. He has lived in several countries under various forms of government, but he still marvels at the goodness of God and the wonder of life.
He has written for a number of newspapers, magazines and internet journals. Vasko currently lives in Europe with his long-suffering wife and two beautiful daughters. He is the founder of The Christian Writers Foundation.
His column “Higher Things” deals with matters pertaining to God. You can read more by clicking on this link.
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