"Both philosophically and scientifically," Craig said, "I would argue that the universe and time itself had a beginning at some point in the finite past. But since something cannot just come out of nothing, there has to be a transcendent cause beyond space and time which brought the universe into being."
"And the universe came into being in what has been called the Big Bang?" I asked.
"Exactly. As Stephen Hawking said, 'Almost everyone now believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the Big Bang."' That's where the overwhelming scientific evidence points-to an event approximately fourteen billion years ago. Now, this poses a major problem for skeptics. As Anthony Kenny of Oxford University says, '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.'" 17
Craig chuckled. "Of course, something coming from nothing doesn't make sense! Lee, you've been quoting the famous skeptic David Hume quite a bit in our interview. Well, even he said: 'But allow me to tell you that I never asserted so absurd a proposition as that anything might arise without a cause.'is
"Atheists recognize this. For example, one of contemporary philosophy's most prominent atheists, Kai Nielsen, once said: 'Suppose you suddenly hear a loud bang ... and you ask me, 'What made that bang?' and I reply, 'Nothing, it just happened: You would not accept that.'i9
"And he's absolutely correct. Yet think about it: if there must be a cause for a little bang, then doesn't it also make sense that there would be a cause for a big bang?"
It was a question that didn't seem to need a response. "So how would you summarize this initial argument?" I asked.
As he made each point, Craig grabbed a finger to count them off. "First, whatever begins to exist has a cause. Second, the universe began to exist. And, third, therefore, the universe has a cause. As the eminent scientist Sir Arthur Eddington wrote: 'The beginning seems to present insuperable difficulties unless we agree to look on it as frankly supernatural.' 20
I interrupted. "Okay, that points toward a Creator, but does it tell us much about him?" "Actually, yes, it does," Craig replied. "We know this supernatural cause must be an uncaused, changeless, timeless, and immaterial being." "What's the basis of your conclusions?"
"It must be uncaused because we know that there cannot be an infinite regress of causes. It must be timeless and therefore changeless, at least without the universe, because it was the creator of time. In addition, because it also created space, it must transcend space and therefore be immaterial rather than physical in nature."
There was an obvious question that had to be asked. "If everything must have a cause, then who or what caused God?" I said.
"Wait a second-I never said everything must have a cause," Craig replied. "The premise is that whatever begins to exist must have a cause. In other words, 'being' can't come from 'nonbeing.' Since God never began to exist, he doesn't require a cause. He never came into being."
I told him that sounded suspiciously like he was making a special exception for God. "Atheists themselves used to be very comfortable in maintaining that the universe is eternal and uncaused," he replied. "The problem is that they can no longer hold that position because of modern evidence that the universe started with the Big Bang. So they can't legitimately object when I make the same claim about God-he is eternal and he is uncaused." Reason #2: God Makes Sense of the Universe's Complexity
"In the last thirty-five years," Craig said, "scientists have been stunned to discover that the Big Bang was not some chaotic, primordial event, but rather a highly ordered event that required an enormous amount of information. In fact, from the very moment of its inception, the universe had to be fine-tuned to an incomprehensible precision for the existence of life like ourselves. And that points in a very compelling way toward the existence of an Intelligent Designer."
"'Fine-tuned' is a subjective term," I pointed out. "It could mean a lot of things. What do you mean by it?" "Let me put it this way," he said. "Scientifically speaking, it's far more probable for a life-prohibiting universe to exist than a life-sustaining one. Life is balanced on a razor's edge."
As an example, he cited Hawking's writings. "He has calculated," Craig said, "that if the rate of the universe's expansion one second after the Big Bang had been smaller by even one part in a hundred thousand million million, the universe would have collapsed into a fireball."2i
In short order, Craig proceeded to go down a list of several other mind-boggling statistics to support his conclusion.22 Among them:
British physicist P C. W Davies has concluded the odds against the initial conditions being suitable for the formation of stars-a necessity for planets and thus life-is a one followed by at least a thousand billion billion zeroes.23
Davies also estimated that if the strength of gravity or of the weak force were changed by only one part in a ten followed by a hundred zeroes, life could never have developed.24
There are about fifty constants and quantities-for example, the amount of usable energy in the universe, the difference in mass between protons and neutrons, the ratios of the fundamental forces of nature, and the proportion of matter to antimatterthat must be balanced to a mathematically infinitesimal degree for any life to be possible?25
"All of this," said Craig, "amply supports the conclusion that there's an intelligence behind creation. In fact, the alternate explanations just don't add up.
"For instance, one theory is called 'natural necessity,' which means there is some unknown Theory of Everything that would explain the way the universe is. In other words, something in nature made it necessary that things would turn out this way.
"That concept falls apart, however, when you study it deeply. First, anyone who claims the universe must be life-permitting is making a radical claim that requires strong proof, but this alternative is merely an assertion. Second, there are other models of the universe that are different from ours, so it must be possible for the universe to have been different. And, third, even if the laws of nature are necessary, you still have to have initial conditions put in at the beginning on which these laws can operate."
Yet this wasn't the only possible alternative. I interrupted to raise a different scenario that sounded plausible on the surface. "What about the possibility that the fine-tuning of the universe is the result of pure chance?" I asked. "Maybe the whole thing is merely a big cosmic accident-a colossal roll of the dice, so to speak."
Craig sighed. "Lee, I'll tell you this: the precision is so utterly fantastic, so mathematically breathtaking, that it's just plain silly to think it could have been an accident. Especially since we're not just talking about simple odds but what theorists call 'specified probability,' which rules out chance beyond a reasonable doubt."
I wasn't ready to abandon the option of chance. "What if there were an infinite number of other universes existing apart from ours?" I asked. "Then the odds would be that one of them would have the right conditions for sustaining life-and that's the one in which we happen to find ourselves."
Craig had heard that theory before. "It's called the Many Worlds Hypothesis," he said. "Hawking has talked about this concept. Here's the problem: these other theoretical universes are inaccessible to us and therefore there's no possible way to provide any evidence that this might be true. It's purely a concept, an idea, without scientific proof. The prominent British scientist and theologian John Polkinghorne has called it 'pseudo-science' and 'a metaphysical guess."26
"And think about it: if this were true, it would make rational conduct of life impossible, because you could explain away anything-no matter how improbable-by postulating an infinite number of other universes."
I wasn't quite following that line of reasoning. "What do you mean by that?" I asked.
"For example, if you were dealing cards in a poker game and each time you dealt yourself four aces, you couldn't be accused of cheating, no matter how improbable the situation. You could merely point out that in an infinite ensemble of universes, there will occur a universe in which every time a person deals, he deals four aces to himself and therefore-lucky me!-I just happen to be in that universe!
"Look-this is pure metaphysics. There's no real reason to believe such parallel worlds exist. The very fact that skeptics have to come up with such an outlandish theory is because the fine-tuning of the universe points powerfully toward an Intelligent Designer-and some people will hypothesize anything to avoid reaching that conclusion."
I knew that this astonishingly precise balance of the universe was one of the main factors in leading Harvard-educated Patrick Glynn, the Associate Director and Scholar-in-Residence at the George Washington University Institute for Communitarian Policy Studies, to abandon atheism and become a Christian. In his book God: The Evidence, he shoots holes in such other alternate theories as quantum mechanics and "baby universes," coming to this conclusion:
Today, the concrete data point strongly in the direction of the God hypothesis Those who wish to oppose it have no testable theory to marshal, only speculations about unseen universes spun from fertile scientific imagination Ironically, the picture of the universe bequeathed to us by the most advanced twentieth-century science is closer in spirit to the vision presented in the Book of Genesis than anything offered by science since Copernicus.27
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