Is there a God? It’s a simple question but rarely brings a simple answer. Some would say that the fact that I am finally finished building my airplane is evidence enough that there must be a God! For most, though, that won’t be sufficient. Most look for good evidence. Do we have good evidence for God? I believe we do. I believe that by using the fields of philosophy, science, logic and history, we can find good evidence and reason to believe that there is a God.  

As I observe and experience this world I find that it consists of two different types of objects – those that began to exist and those that have always existed.   Things that began to exist are easy to find. Plants, animals, clouds and people are just a small sample of the many things that began to exist.   Things that have always existed (i.e. had no beginning) are more difficult to detect. Examples are abstract things like the laws of logic or mathematical concepts. These are things that weren’t created but were discovered. It seems to me that the idea that 2+2=4 is not a concept that depends on our existence or any other. It would hold true even if there was no one here to test it.  

                                            The Cosmological Argument  

So, which type of object is the universe which we live in? Until the 20th century many scientist believed that the universe was eternal – that it always existed – but in 1929 Edwin Hubble observed that distant galaxies were moving away from each other. He saw that the universe is expanding. This finding was consistent with what had already been predicted by Einstein’s general theory of relativity.   Hubble’s finding has been confirmed by numerous tests since 1929. If the universe is expanding, though, it would be logical to propose that if we could travel backwards in time we would see all the galaxies closer and closer until we see a point where they were all on top of each other - a point where the universe came into existence. This point is known as a singularity.

According to research by Physicists Borde, Vilenkin and Guth, any universe that is, on average expanding, as ours is, must have had a beginning.[1]   According to the current leading cosmological models, all space, time and matter would have come into existence at this singularity point. The singularity point is where spatially, temporally and materially we went from nothing existing to something existing. It would truly be a creation ex nihilo.[2]   In addition to the expanding universe we have the laws of thermodynamics that support the idea that the universe came into existence. The laws of thermodynamics deal with the exchange of heat or energy within systems. The earth would be considered an open system because it receives energy from an outside source – the Sun. The universe, on the other hand, is an isolated system because it’s not believed to be receiving energy from an outside source. The 2nd law of thermodynamics states that in an isolated system the amount of usable energy will always decrease until the usable and unusable energy reach an equilibrium or heat death. If this universe was eternal then we should expect that by now it would have reached this heat death but clearly there is still usable energy available – the Sun and other stars.  

The famous astrophysicist Stephen Hawking had this to say about an eternal universe:   “…the theory that the universe has existed forever is in serious difficulty with the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The Second Law, states that disorder always increases with time. Like the argument about human progress, it indicates that there must have been a beginning. Otherwise, the universe would be in a state of complete disorder by now, and everything would be at the same temperature. In an infinite and everlasting universe, every line of sight would end on the surface of a star. This would mean that the night sky would have been as bright as the surface of the Sun. The only way of avoiding this problem would be if, for some reason, the stars did not shine before a certain time.”[3]  

So, we see that the universe came into existence. That’s as far as science can currently take us. Science is not currently able to tell us anything about what caused the universe to come into existence.

We can represent where we stand with the following logical argument:  
1. Everything that comes into existence has a cause
2. The universe came into existence
3. Therefore, the universe must have a cause.  

If points 1 and 2 are true, then point 3 is the necessary conclusion. Point 2 is scientifically supported as I stated above. What about point 1? I’ve seen no evidence that things can pop into existence uncaused. For someone to argue against point 1 they will be arguing for a universe that came into existence from nothing and by nothing. Some may point to the field of Quantum mechanics for things coming into existence from nothing but these are actually things coming from the Quantum vacuum, which is not nothing.   So, without seeing any valid refutations to points 1 and 2 our first piece of evidence is that the universe must have a cause. This cause would have to be non-spatial, timeless and immaterial since all space, time and material came into existence with the universe.    

                    The Argument from the Fine Tuning of the Universe  

As I look at my airplane, I see that there are many things required for it to be able to fly. The wings must have a certain shape to create lift. The wings must be positioned at a specific point on the fuselage to give it proper balance. A means of thrust must be present. In this case, it is an engine driven propeller. That source of thrust must be powerful enough to pull the aircraft through the air fast enough to generate enough lift from the wings, which will enable it to overcome gravity. With these details, along with many others, set just right we will be able to take flight.

Now, it would seem obvious to anyone that was observing this airplane for the first time that these details did not have to be positioned and shaped just as they are. It could have been done differently and been something else that doesn’t fly. So, these materials did not have to become an airplane.

Also, it would seem highly unlikely that natural causes would have, just by chance, brought these materials together as they are. The precision, detail and order would seem to defy the idea that it came together by chance. It would seem clear that this vehicle was purposely designed and fine tuned for flight.   Similarly, scientists have observed that there are many constants, quantities and ratios that were present in the initial moments of our universe and that if the value of these constants, quantities and ratios had varied just slightly then the window of opportunity for life to be possible in this universe would have been gone. Scientists refer to this as the fine-tuning of the universe.

So that no one thinks I am jumping the gun and begging the question, the term fine-tuning does not imply that there was an intentional fine-tuner but only states that the constants, quantities and ratios are/were within the precision necessary for life to be possible.   Some refer to the fine-tuning of these items as coincidences. Scientists vary on how many of these coincidences exist. I’ve seen estimates from as low as 20 to as high as 300. The book, “The Anthropic Cosmological Principle” by Barrow & Tipler is a good source for these coincidences. Astrophysicist, Dr. Hugh Ross lists 93 of these at his website.[4] These include items such as the mass density of the universe, the speed of light, the entropy level of the universe and the gravitational constant. With this many “coincidences” we must ask ourselves, how many coincidences must take place before we consider them to be non-coincidental? In most cases in our lives, it would only take 3 or 4.  

How precise must these coincidences have been? Physicist Paul Davies has calculated that the odds against the initial conditions of the universe being suitable for later star formation (without which planets could not exist) is one followed by a thousand, billion, billion zeroes, at least.[5] That number is so large that if you started counting one number each second for the next billion years you still wouldn’t be close to reaching it. You wouldn’t even be 1% of the way to reaching it.  

Stephen Hawking has estimated 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 re-collapsed into a hot fireball.[6]  

Mathematical Physicist Roger Penrose, estimated that the odds of the entropy level of the universe being in the life permitting range by chance is 1 part in 10 to the power of (10 to the power of 123).[7]   When we consider the number of coincidences, the great precision required, and that all of these coincidences must be within these precise windows for life to be permissible in the universe, we must entertain the idea that chance as an explanation is highly unlikely.

We assume things of fewer coincidences and less precision in our daily lives to not be chance – why should we judge this by a different standard?  

What about necessity? Are the constants, quantities and ratios the values they are by necessity? It doesn’t seem so to me. Surely, it would seem than any number of these coincidences could have been some other value. Anyone that would argue for necessity would be arguing for the impossibility of a life prohibiting universe to exist. The scientific community would seem to agree that it is not necessary. This is evidenced by the fact that instead of arguing for necessity, they are researching the possibilities of multiple universes, each of which could have different values and physical laws. Also, as stated earlier, many of these values were in place in the initial stages of the universe. They are independent of the physical laws of the universe. They did not evolve with the universe but were already in place. If someone wants to argue for necessity then they will have the burden of explaining the reason why it is necessary – i.e. the cause of the necessity. This cause would require the same properties of the cause we previously uncovered with the Cosmological Argument.   We can lay out the situation like this:  

1. The universe displays many constants, quantities and ratios now and in its initial stages that are highly fine-tuned for life to be permissible.
2. These values are the result of necessity, chance or design.
3. It’s not by necessity and chance is highly unlikely.
4. Therefore, design is the most plausible explanation.  

Some would object and argue that we shouldn’t be surprised to find the values to be fine tuned because if they weren’t then we wouldn’t be here to observe them. But this objection is missing the point and confusing the following claims:  

The true claim A: If observers in a universe observe its constants and quantities, it is highly probable that they will observe them to be fine-tuned for their existence.   With the false claim A`: It is highly probable that a universe exist which is finely tuned for observers to be within it.[8]  

Another objection is that the values aren’t unlikely but are just as likely as any other values. They might give an example of rolling a 6-sided die. The probability of getting any side is 1/6. All sides have the same 1/6 probability but this also misses the point. We are not looking for just any side but the side that will permit life to exist. Suppose that the side with 1 dot is the life permitting side and all other sides are life prohibiting. The probability of getting a life permitting roll is 1/6. The probability of getting a life prohibiting roll is 5/6. So, it is much more likely to get a life prohibiting roll than a life permitting one. Now, for the fine-tuned values we have discussed we wouldn’t have just 6 sides. Depending on the item, our die would have to have hundreds or thousands of sides with just the side with 1 dot being life permitting. For example, in the case of the density of the universe our die would have about 10 to the power of 60 sides. In the case of entropy it would have about 10 to the power of (10 to the power of 123) sides. On top of that it wouldn’t be just one die. It would be anywhere from 20 to 300 and all of them must land on the single life permitting side. It seems highly improbable – about as close to zero as we can get without actually saying it is zero.  

So, evidence from the Cosmological Argument inferred a non-spatial, timeless and immaterial creator. The evidence from the Fine Tuning of the Universe infers an intelligent designer.   Our next piece of evidence comes to us from our observations of human behavior.  

                                    The Argument from Objective Morality  

The argument goes like this:  
1. If objective morals exist then there must be an objective standard by which to measure moral actions.
2. Objective morals do exist.
3. Therefore, an objective moral standard exists  

If points 1 and 2 are true then point 3 is the necessary conclusion.   The use of objective here just means that it is beyond human opinion. It would be right or wrong regardless of any human defined standards agreeing or disagreeing with it.   Objective morals would be things like, murder is always wrong and rape is always wrong. I must qualify the word “murder” here so that no unnecessary objections are created. Murder is not the same as killing. One can kill without it being murder. Murder is the intentional killing of a human by another human where the victim has not committed any crime worthy of death or where the victim is not imposing a threat of death to the one who does the killing.   Objective morals are things that we understand, almost instinctively, from the time we are able to reason. It is not something that needs to be taught. We just know it as if it is programmed into us.  

Point 1 does not seem to be controversial. Just as you can’t tell if a line is straight without a straight edge to compare it to, we can’t measure morals unless we have a moral standard to compare it to.  

Point 2 is where most of the objections are directed. An objection is made that from the beginning of time people have not agreed on what is right and wrong. Different cultures have different standards. In different cultures we find rules about what people wear or don’t wear, what they eat or don’t eat and what they do or not do. While this is true this doesn’t refute the argument. When I argue that objective morals exist I am not saying that only objective morals exist. I recognize that subjective morals are also real.   Of course, some people ignore these instincts and murder or rape anyway but I have never heard a defendant try to defend themselves by saying that there was nothing wrong with the murder or rape they committed. Instead, they either try to argue that it wasn’t them or they try to give some justification for their action. For example, in the case of a murder charge they might argue it was self-defense, which would make it a justified killing instead of the murder that they objectively know to be wrong.   So, it seems to me that point 2 is true, objective morals do exist. Therefore, from point 3 we get that an objective moral standard exists but if the standard exists we must have a standard giver. It has to have a foundation somewhere. This standard giver must be beyond humans because if the standard was made by humans it would just be human opinion and as we have seen that varies from person to person and culture to culture.  

In addition to being beyond (or transcendent to) humans, this standard giver must be constant, otherwise the standards that are given will not be standard but arbitrary and capable of changing on a whim. This standard must be a part of the giver – built into it as part of its nature of existence.   Some would argue that objective morals are part of evolution but this would not deem anything to be right or wrong. At best we would only be able to judge an action to be advantageous or dangerous to a person, species or society. It does nothing to say that something is right or wrong. It is an argument based on the idea that what is right is the continuance of the species but on what evolutionary grounds does that become what ought to be? It is a presupposition without a foundation. It would be speciesism. In fact, we could think of situations where murder or rape could actually be advantageous to the continuance of the species…but I don’t think we could honestly envision it being right.  

Where does that leave us? Just as an investigator must compile his evidence to determine the profile of his suspect, we must do the same. Evidence from the Cosmological Argument inferred a non-spatial, timeless and immaterial creator. Evidence from the Fine Tuning of the Universe inferred an intelligent designer. The moral argument gives us the evidence for a foundation of objective morals. What fits this description? What could be the explanation? These details seem to fit the common definition of God but what god could it possibly be, if any? The Hindus have thousands of gods. Some New Age and eastern influenced religions say that we are god. Judaism and Islam believe in a unitarian god. Christianity believes in a Trinitarian God.   I will focus on the God of Christianity. I believe Christianity is the only world view that consistently and coherently answers the questions of life: Where did we come from? Why are we here? Where are we going? What is right and wrong?   Could this God be real? Could He be the explanation for the universe? Do we have any evidence for this specific God?  

                            The Argument from the Existence of Christianity  

Christianity is much different than any other world view. World views / religions recognize that this world is not exactly the way it ought to be. Non-Christian religions give multiple step processes or multiple rules in a legalistic fashion, by which each individual can, by themselves, correct their place in this world. Christianity teaches that the individual cannot do this themselves and that the corrective actions were done for us. This Doctrine of Atonement is what separates Christianity from all others.   There is an estimated 2 billion Christians in the world today. It is a belief system that has spread all over the world. In the Cosmological Argument, we went back in time, saw how the galaxies were closer and closer together, and then they were all on top of each other at a starting point. We can do the same with Christianity. We can follow it back in time to a time when it wasn’t spread all over the world. We can look at its early beginnings and the eventually get to the singularity—the starting point of Christianity.   The 1st century Roman Historian Tacitus wrote that there was a group of people known as Christians, whose origins were from a man known as Cristus (i.e. Christ). He says that this Cristus was executed during the reign of Tiberius by Pontius Pilate in Judea.[9]   The 1st century Jewish Historian Josephus makes two references to Jesus. The authenticity of one of the references is disputed so I will just focus on the undisputed one. This reference tells of the stoning to death of a man named James who had a brother named Jesus who was called the Christ.[10]   In a letter by an early 2nd century governor in modern day northern Turkey, Pliny the Younger wrote that a group known as Christians met regularly and chanted versus in honor of Christ, as if to a god.[11]  

So, we see that in the 1st century Palestine there was a man named Jesus who was executed by Pontius Pilate. This Jesus had a brother named James. This Jesus was called the Christ (i.e. messiah, savior). This Jesus was also, being worshipped as a god.   The context in which Tacitus wrote of these Christians was in comments about people, known as Christians, that were receiving blame and persecution from Nero.   These Christians were willing to be persecuted for their beliefs. Why? What would cause someone to be so dedicated to a belief? What are the details of this belief?   Up to this point using only philosophy, science, logic and secular history we have been able to find that there was a non-spatial, timeless, immaterial, moral, intelligent designer/creator of the universe. We also learned that in 1st century Palestine a man named Jesus, known as the Christ, was executed by Pontius Pilate and that this Jesus was being worshipped as if He is a God.  

To get more details we must now look into the Bible. Specifically, we will look at the New Testament. In it, what was documented in secular history, is affirmed. It gives us details of the trial of Jesus and execution that followed. It tells us that He was buried in a tomb that was put under guard but 3 days later the tomb was found to be opened and the body was missing. It tells that afterwards his followers, known as disciples, believed they actually saw Him alive and spoke with Him and ate with Him. This seems to be the foundation for this belief known as Christianity.

Should we believe it?   That comes down to what we believe about these disciples and other early Christians. What was their motivation for telling this story? Were they frauds? Were they hallucinating? Were they telling the truth?   Were they frauds? This seems highly unlikely. What would they have to gain? Their writings speak of giving up wealth and being willing to die for the belief. In fact, history seems to affirm that many early Christians did die because of their belief. So, while possible, it seems highly unlikely.   Were they hallucinating? The Bible says the appearances of Jesus after His death happened to many different people, usually in groups, over a time span of about 50 days. Hallucinations typically happen to individuals and are private. The same hallucination typically doesn’t happen to large groups of people of various backgrounds. In the rare occasion of a group hallucination the group almost always has an expectation to see it, before they see it. That wouldn’t be the case with the resurrection. They had just witnessed this Jesus being beaten, bloodied and executed and there was no expectation in 1st century Pharisaic Judaism that the messiah would bodily rise from the dead before the general resurrection of the end times. The Jewish Sadducees didn’t believe in any life after death and the pagans believed death was a one way street to the after world and they had no desire to return to a resurrected bodily existence. Hallucinations also wouldn't explain the empty tomb.  

Were the early Christians telling the truth? That seems to be the best option left. Only if we presuppose that supernatural events are not possible would we have reason to object but we have already shown that it is most likely that God exists and the creation of the universe would have been a supernatural event.  

So, what does all this mean? What good is it? The apostle Paul, who was once a persecutor of Christians wrote,  that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,  and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the Twelve. Then He appeared to over 500 brothers at one time, most of whom remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. Then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles.[12]   Jesus, the Son of God and God Himself sacrificed Himself to correct what we cannot.   Jesus said, “because I live, you will live also”.[13]      

                                                                References    

1. “Inflationary spacetimes are not past-complete”, v2, Borde, Guth, Vilenkin, 2003, http://arxiv.org/abs/gr-qc/0110012v2  
2. “The Anthropic Cosmological Principle”, pg. 442, Barrow & Tipler, Oxford Univ. Press, 1996  
3. “The Beginning of Time”, Lecture by Hawking (http://www.hawking.org.uk/)  
4. http://www.reasons.org/fine-tuning-life-universe-aug-2006  
5. “Other Worlds”, pg, 160-161, 168-169, Davies, London: Dent, 1980  
6. “A Brief History of Time”, pg. 123, Hawking, New York: Bantam Books, 1988  
7. “Time-Asymmetry and Quantum Gravity”; In “Quantum Gravity” 2nd edition; pg.249; Isham, Penrose and Sciama; Oxford: Clarendon, 1981  
8. For more detailed explanation see “Reasonable Faith”, 3rd edition, pg. 165, Craig, Crossway Books, 2008  
9. “Annals”, 15.44, Tacitus
10. “Jewish Antiquities”, Josephus
11. “Letter”, 10.96, Pliny the Younger
12. 1 Corinthians 15:3-7
13: John 14:19