Does God Exist?: Arguments for the Existence of God – Program 3

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Whatever begins to exist has a cause. The universe began to exist. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

You will learn why the following simple argument is strong evidence for God’s existence, both scientifically and philosophically.


does God exist. A recent Pew survey revealed that more than one in five americans now consider themselves atheist agnostic or nothing in particular. Maybe you yourself are asking does God exist, what are the philosophical and scientific arguments that show God exists? My guest today, who will answer these questions is philosopher Dr William Lane Craig. He is considered by many to be the top christian philosopher of our generation and has debated many of the most well known atheists in some of the leading universities around the world. Dr craig holds a PhD in philosophy from the University of Birmingham in England and also a doctor of Theology degree from the University of Munich. He serves as research professor of philosophy at Talbot School of Theology and is the founder of reasonable faith dot org. He has authored or edited over 30 books and over 100 articles in professional journals of philosophy and theology. Two of his most popular books are reasonable faith and on guard today we will examine the question why the origin of the universe is strong evidence for the existence of God. The argument is simply formulated premise one is that whatever begins to exist has a cause number two, is that the universe began to exist? And from those two premises it follows logically three, therefore the universe has a cause, why does this simple argument have strong philosophical and scientific support and why does this argument lead one to the conclusion that God exists. We invite you to join us for this special edition of the johnny Karberg show, Welcome to our program. I’m John, thanks for joining me today. My guest is philosopher Dr. William Lane Craig, of whom other philosophers, because of his academic work, have ranked among the top 1% of practicing philosophers in the Western world. I want you to think about that for a moment, and you’re gonna be listening to that man today, and we’re gonna be examining the question, is there evidence for the existence of God? And Dr Craig believes that the existence of the universe is strong evidence for the existence of a god who created it. Now folks, if you go online and you just search Bill Craig’s name and you talk about the cosmological argument, you’re gonna find that the modern form, what we’re gonna talk about today was first characterized by him in his book the Kalam cosmological argument in 1979. And I want you to realize Michael Martin, formerly of boston University. He said that Dr Craig’s revised argument is among the most sophisticated And well argued in contemporary theological philosophy. There have been more articles written about this argument that he has proposed from 1979 since that time than any other philosophical argument that’s out there and dr craig, we’re really glad that you’re here today. And folks, I’d like to start by showing you a segment of a great video clip that’ll explain in simple terms, the argument for the existence of God. This video clip was produced by dr craig’s organization, reasonable faith dot org and I’d like you to watch, Does God exist? Or is the material universe all that is or ever was or ever will be. One approach to answering this question is the cosmological argument. It goes like this, Whatever begins to exist has a cause the universe began to exist. Therefore the universe has a cause is the first premise true. Let’s consider believing that something can pop into existence without a cause is more of a stretch than believing in magic, at least with magic, you’ve got a hat and a magician. And if something can come into being from nothing, then why don’t we see this happening all the time? No, everyday experience and scientific evidence confirm our first premise. If something begins to exist, it must have a cause. But what about our second premise, did the universe begin? Or has it always existed? Atheists have typically said that the universe has been here forever. The universe is just there. And that’s all. First, let’s consider the Second law of thermodynamics. It tells us the universe is slowly running out of usable energy. And that’s the point if the universe had been here forever, it would have run out of usable energy by now. The second law points us to a universe that has a definite beginning. This is further confirmed by a series of remarkable scientific discoveries. In 1915, Albert Einstein presented his general theory of relativity. This allowed us for the first time to talk meaningfully about the past history of the universe. Next Alexander, Friedman and George Le Metro, each working with Einstein’s equations predicted that the universe is expanding. Then in 1929, Edwin Hubble measured the red shift in light from distant Galaxies. This empirical evidence confirmed not only that the universe is expanding, but that it sprang into being from a single point in the finite past. It was a monumental discovery almost beyond comprehension. However, not everyone is fond of a finite universe, so it wasn’t long before alternative models popped into existence, but one by one, these models failed to stand the test of time. More recently, three leading cosmologists, Arvind borde, Alan guth and alexander for Lincoln proved that any universe which has on average been expanding throughout its history, cannot be eternal in the past but must have an absolute beginning. This even applies to the multiverse. If there is such a thing, this means that scientists can no longer hide behind a past eternal universe, there is no escape. They have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning. Any adequate model must have a beginning, just like the standard model. It’s quite plausible then that both premises of the argument are true. This means that the conclusion is also true. The universe has a cause and since the universe can’t cause itself, its cause must be beyond the space time universe. Now folks, if you’d like to see that entire video clip, go to dr craig’s website at reasonable faith dot org. And Bill, I want you to start by summarizing again for us the three premises that form the Kalam cosmological argument and explain why this simple argument is strong evidence for God’s existence. The argument is simply formulated premise. One is that whatever begins to exist has a cause. Number two is that the universe began to exist. And from those two premises it follows logically three, therefore the universe has a cause and then one can analyze what it is to be a cause of the universe and the number of theologically striking and significant properties of this transcendent cause emerge. Give us that first premise and the reason supporting it. The first premise, you remember is whatever begins to exist has a cause. I think that this is almost obvious, but I give three reasons in support of this. First reason is that something cannot come out of nothing out of nothing. Nothing comes for the universe to come into being uncaught caused from nothing would be literally worse than magic. So if we reject magic, we should reject the idea that the universe just popped into existence and caused. Now, sometimes skeptics will say. But quantum physics allows things to come into being from nothing. Subatomic particles can pop into existence out of the vacuum as random fluctuations. But john this is a deliberate misrepresentation of the science, the quantum vacuum is not what the layman thinks a vacuum is, the quantum vacuum is most emphatically not nothing. It is a roiling sea of energy, a field of intense activity governed by physical laws. It is not nothing. So for people to say that these particles come into existence from nothing is simply a distortion of the science involved. The word nothing in the english language is a term of universal negation. It means not anything. So when we say the universe came into existence out of nothing, that does not mean that there was something prior to the universe and that was nothing. No, it means that the universe did not come into existence out of anything. Um and so for the universe to come into existence without a cause from nothing would be literally, as I say, worse than magic. So I think that’s the first good reason for affirming premise. One, the second reason for affirming that whatever begins to exist has a cause is that if things could come into existence, uncaught caused from nothing, then it becomes inexplicable why just anything and everything doesn’t come into existence on caused from nothing, why don’t bicycles and root beer and Beethoven pop into existence and caused from nothing. Why is it only universes that can come into being uncaught caused from nothing. So if you allow universes to do that, everything and anything should be allowed to do that and that obviously doesn’t happen. That’s false. The third reason is that this premise that whatever begins to exist has a cause is universally verified by scientific evidence and common experience and never falsified. This is evidence that ought to appeal to the scientific naturalist. We have the strongest inductive evidence from experience that whatever begins to exist does have a cause. Bill. There are two philosophical arguments and to scientific arguments in defense of premise two, namely that the universe began to exist. Give me a couple of the philosophical arguments. The first philosophical argument is based upon the impossibility of the existence of an actually infinite number of things. Now, what do we mean by actually infinite? Well, here mathematicians distinguish between a potential infinite and an actual infinite, a potential infinite is a collection that is growing toward infinity, but it never gets there by contrast and actual infinite is a completed infinite. It’s it is actually infinite. Already complete. Now, if the past never had a beginning, then there has been an actually infinite number of events prior to today. But mathematicians recognize that the idea of an actually infinite number of things leads to various absurdities. 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. Therefore, since past events are not just ideas in your mind but are real. The number of past events must be finite and therefore the universe began to exist. The second philosophical argument is based upon the impossibility of forming an actually infinite collection by adding one member after another. This is sometimes called the impossibility of counting to infinity. You can never count to infinity because you can always add one more before you get there. But if you can’t count to infinity, how can you count down from infinity? This is equally absurd to illustrate. Imagine two planets that have been orbiting the Sun and the one goes twice as fast as the other. The longer they orbit the greater the disparity between the number of orbits goes 2 to 142 to 8 to 4, etcetera etcetera. In fact, the longer they orbit the greater the disparity would grow and would eventually approach infinity, but now turn it around. And let’s imagine they have been orbiting from eternity past which one has completed the most orbits! Well, the mathematical answer, is there equal the numbers just infinity? But that seems absurd. The longer they orbit, the greater the disparity between them grow. So how can the number now magically be equal? Just because they’ve been orbiting from infinity past. These sorts of absurdities go to illustrate the point that the past cannot be infinite, that it must be finite and therefore the universe began to exist. Alright, so you get to philosophical arguments and you say there’s two scientific arguments. Yes. With the advent of the 20th century, there began to emerge in physics. dramatic and unexpected Scientific confirmation of the fact that the universe is not past eternal, but had an absolute beginning about 14 billion years ago in the finite past. The first of the scientific confirmations comes from the expansion of the universe. When Albert Einstein applied his newly discovered gravitational theory, the general theory of relativity, to the universe As a whole. In 1917, it had a very unwelcome prediction. It showed that the universe could not exist in a sort of static eternal condition. It would either be in a state of cosmic expansion or a state of cosmic contraction. And Einstein didn’t know how to handle this result. And so he actually fudged his equations in order to preserve an eternal universe. Well, during the 1920s, by taking Einstein’s equations at face value. The Russian mathematician Alexander Friedman and the Belgian astronomer George were able to show independently models of an expanding universe that had a beginning at some point in the finite past and is now expanding and these models came to be called the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe. What is so remarkable about the Big Bang theory is that the beginning it postulates is an absolute beginning of the universe. Not only all matter and energy originate at that moment, but physical space and time themselves originate at that moment, so that it is physically impossible to extend space and time, matter and energy back any further than that point, It is the absolute beginning of the universe. And you’ve got an illustration in terms of using a balloon that describes this. It’s very important not to misunderstand this model. It’s much more radical than the laymen normally thinks. The model does not describe the expansion of our material universe into a pre existing empty space. The model is much more radical than that. Rather, what the model describes is the expansion of space itself. And to get an idea of this, we can think of a balloon with buttons glued on the surface of the balloon. Now the buttons are stationary with respect to the surface of the balloon, they’re stuck in place. But as the balloon blows up, the buttons get further and further and further apart because the balloon itself is expanding. Now the surface of the balloon is just like our three dimensional space. The Galaxies are actually at rest in space, but they move away from each other because space itself is expanding and the radical implication of this is that as you trace the expansion back in time, the Galaxies get closer and closer and closer together until finally everything is contracted down to a single point before which The universe literally did not exist. So this is an absolute origin of space, time matter and energy in the Big Bang event. This prediction of an absolute beginning of the universe has now stood for almost 100 years through the most tumultuous and incredible period of advance in both theoretical and experimental physics, in fact, in the year 2003, 3 leading cosmologists, Arvind borde, Alan guth and alexander vii Lincoln showed that any universe which is on average in a state of cosmic expansion, cannot be eternal in the past, but must have an absolute beginning at some time. In the finite past. According to the board goofball Lincoln theorem, classical spacetime cannot be extended to past infinity, but must terminate in a boundary. If that boundary was the beginning of the universe, then the universe began to exist. If there was something on the other side of that boundary described by a yet to be discovered theory of everything. Uh then V Lincoln says that is the beginning of the universe. What you cannot have is a universe that exists for infinite past time. So, the Lincoln is very forthright about the implications. This is what he says, it is said that an argument is what convinces a reasonable man and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man With the proof. Now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past eternal universe. There is no escape. They have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning. Yeah, what you’re saying is the layperson hears all of the different theories that are proposed to defeat what they’re saying, but for 100 years it stood. And the very defeat of all of these proposals show that the universe had a beginning. That’s exactly right. The the history of 20th century cosmology can, in a way be seen as a parade of failed theories trying to avoid the absolute beginning of the universe, steady state models, vacuum, fluctuation models, oscillating models, string models over and over again. Theorists have tried to avoid the absolute beginning, and none of these attempts has proved itself more plausible in the minds of the scientific community than models with the beginning. Yeah, that’s important. The second scientific argument is the thermodynamics of the universe experience as if it weren’t enough to have one scientific confirmation. We actually have a second from the laws of thermodynamics. The laws of thermodynamics predict that a closed system that is, say, a system that doesn’t have energy being fed into it, eventually will run down and quit as its energy is exhausted. Now on Atheism, the universe just is a gigantic, closed system, since there is nothing outside of it feeding energy into it. What that means is that over enough time the universe will eventually run into a state of thermodynamic heat, death of one sort or the other. Now, if that will happen in a finite amount of time, then why hasn’t it already happened? If the universe has already existed for infinite time, the universe should now be in a dark, dilute lifeless cold state, but it’s not. This indicates that the universe has not existed from infinity past, but began to exist a finite time ago with a certain amount of energy put in as an initial condition and it’s been running down since then as it expands. Alright, so then your third premise your conclusion. So we have both good philosophical arguments and scientific confirmation of that key second premise that the universe began to exist from the two premises. It follows logically, therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence. Now, what is it to be a cause of the universe? Well, what we’ve said so far implies a number of striking attributes. This cause must itself be uncalled caused because there cannot be an infinite regress of causes. So this must be an uncaught caused first cause of the origin of the universe, it must transcend both time and space, since it created both time and space. Therefore, it cannot be physical, but must be an immaterial being that transcends the universe. It must be a being of unimaginable power to bring all the matter and energy, space and time into existence in the first place. And finally, I would argue this being is plausibly personal. How else can you explain how you can get a temporal effect with the beginning from a cause that is eternal and permanent? If the cause is an impersonal mechanical set of conditions, then, once the cause is given, the effect has to be given as well. For example, the cause of water’s freezing is the temperature being below 0°C, if the temperature were below 0° from eternity past than any water that was around would be frozen from eternity past. It would be impossible for the water just to begin to freeze a finite time ago. The only way to get a temporary effect with the beginning from an eternal permanent cause is if that cause is a personal agent endowed with freedom of the will, who can therefore freely create a new effect in time without any prior determining conditions. For example, a man sitting from eternity could freely will to stand up and so you would have a temporal effect arise from an eternal cause. And so were brought not just to a transcendent cause of the universe, but to its personal creator. So I think that this argument gives us grounds for believing that there is a first uncaught caused beginning less timeless space, less immaterial, enormously powerful personal creator of the universe, which is what everybody means by God. Now folks, I want you to think about that and I hope that you’re gonna join us again next week because we’re gonna tackle another problem that arises when we talk about the existence of God and that’s the problem of evil. How can an all loving and all powerful God permit allow the evil and suffering that we see in the world today. I hope that you’ll join us to hear dr craig’s answer next week. Well, thank you for joining us today, here on the john in Coburg show. If you’re interested in becoming a christian, please go to our website at J A show dot org and click on become a christian, which you’ll find at the top of our homepage. You’ll also be able to read information and how you may start a personal relationship with jesus christ as your savior. For more information concerning today’s program. Or if you’d like to watch some of our other programs and topics, go to our website at J A. Show dot org and click on watch. If you’d like to watch our television programs on your smartphone, go to your app store and download our free johnny Karberg show app. It will open to over 60 of our television programs that you can watch anytime anywhere for free. You’ll also see many other categories of information that are available to you join us next week for another episode of the johnny Karberg show, I want to say thank you for watching May God richly bless you. Now. The second reason why you say it is not improbable that God exists while evil and suffering exists in the world is that we have certain biblical doctrines that acknowledge the existence of evil. How do these relate? The christian faith entails? Certain doctrines that greatly increase the probability of evil in the world If the christian God exists. What this means is that evil and suffering are really not all that surprising on christian Theism. Now, what are some of these doctrines? Well, the first is that the purpose of life is not human happiness in this life, but rather than knowledge of God, I think the reason the problem of suffering seems so difficult is that we naturally tend to assume that if God exists and his purpose for our lives is happiness in this world. God’s role is to construct a nice, comfortable terrarium for his human pets to flourish. But on the christian view this is false, We are not God’s pets, and the purpose of life is not human happiness in this world, but the knowledge of God, which will bring about ultimate human happiness and fulfillment and so many evils occur in this life, which may be utterly irrelevant to producing human happiness, but they may not be irrelevant to producing a deeper knowledge of God. It may well be that through the evil and suffering in the world, God actually uses these as a means of bringing people to a deeper knowledge of himself. You say the second reason, difficult reason is that man is in a state of rebellion against God and his purposes

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ABOUT DR. JOHN ANKERBERG Dr. John Ankerberg is an American Christian television host, author, and speaker. Dr. Ankerberg is a graduate of the University of Illinois—Chicago,...

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