When an atheist or agnostic will not continue talking with me about the existence of God because I’m using God’s Word in my faith defense, I like to turn to the Cosmological Argument because it deals with something everyone can see – the universe. Atheists and agnostics argue that they don’t believe in anything they cannot see, hear, taste, touch, or smell. They say they believe in the natural only – not the supernatural. The universe is something they can see (light waves) and hear (radio waves). The earth – a part of the universe – is also something they can taste, touch and smell.
The Cosmological Argument is that everything that had a beginning had a cause; the universe had a beginning, therefore the universe had a cause.
Other ways of saying it are –
- “First, whatever begins to exist has a cause.”
- “Everything begun must have an adequate cause. The universe was begun; therefore, the universe must have an adequate cause for its production.”
- “Everything which has had a beginning was produced by a sufficient cause. The Universe has had a beginning, and therefore must have had a cause sufficient to bring it into existence.”
This is an old argument – dating back at least to the time of Plato (theory of the “demiurge”) and Aristotle (theory of “the unmoved mover”). Even more ancient civilizations than Greece had First Cause philosophies about an uncaused being or beings bringing the universe into existence.
Atheists have a quick response to our use of the Cosmological Argument – What caused the Cause? That’s a tough one for some Christians to answer because they struggle with some of the same issues. How can God have always existed? How can it be that God did not have a beginning? Every experience we have on earth has a beginning. Everything in the universe has a beginning. The universe itself had a beginning. So, how can it be that God had no beginning?
We make a mistake thinking of God as being bound by the universal laws that are our boundaries. God exists outside those boundaries. In fact, God is the One Who designed the universal laws that affect every aspect of life inside the universe. God, who is larger than the universe is not affected by those universal laws.
This is honestly a great point of faith on the part of Christians and something God spent a great deal of time explaining to His people through the centuries. It is hard for a created being to understand how the Creator could have always been. However, it is not outside the realm of possibility or probability that a Being with the power to Create the universe could also be Eternal in Nature. Just because someone has difficulty in understanding a truth, their struggle does not impact the truth of that truth. Christians believe what God says about Himself even though some of what He says is beyond our ability to comprehend. Atheists do not believe what God says about Himself because they do not believe in God. However, their unbelief does not change the truth of God’s existence. As we will see in future Faith Defense studies, the weight of proof is squarely on the shoulders of unbelievers.
Another objection you will probably hear from an atheist or agnostic is that even if they accepted your argument as proof of a First Cause, that doesn’t prove that the First Cause is God. Before you answer their objection, ask them if they are saying that they accept your argument as proof of a First Cause. If they say, yes, they do accept your argument, then you can move on to share other arguments that will lead to the reasonable conclusion that the First Cause is God. If they say, no, they don’t accept your argument as proof of a First Cause, then ask them why. It is a solid argument that deserves the attention of anyone who really wants to know the truth. Remember, we’re not trying to win an argument. We’re trying to help a fellow human being place their faith and trust in their Creator – just like we did. We are no better than unbelievers – we’re just saved.
Some atheists will also argue that the Cosmological (First Cause) Argument falls apart at this point – “The universe was begun” – because, they say, the universe is infinite and had no beginning. This argument against the existence of God is known as the Infinite Universe Theory (IUT) – and has also been called the Steady State Theory (SST). Both reject the Big Bang Theory (BBT) and Intelligent Design Theory (IDT). The question is which theory is based on the best scientific investigation and reasoned logic. We will deal with these in detail in upcoming articles because you will run into this issue as you talk with skeptics and scoffers.
Atheists, and some agnostics, think of themselves as freethinkers. That term is based on the philosophical viewpoint of “freethought” that says opinions should be based on science, reason, and logic and not on dogma or tradition. I once thought of myself as a freethinker – someone who was above believing in religious fairytales. I was a journalist and everyone knows journalists seek after truth. The fact is I was not, and atheists are not, really seeking after truth. Atheists believe what they believe because it fits with their sinful lifestyle and allows them to do as they please without guilt. I usually bring that up in discussions with atheists and agnostics – that truth is the goal of freedom. If they are truly freethinkers, they will go wherever truth takes them – without prejudice. I ask them if they agree with that. If they do agree, then we can move on to continued discussions about a variety of arguments for the existence of God. If they do not agree, then I ask them why. Knowing their reasons can open doors to further discussions. The arguments for the existence of God are steeped in science, reason, and logic – as well as faith – so anyone who wants to know the truth should give those arguments a fair hearing.
In our next study about the existence of God – we will look at the Teleological Argument.
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”