TodayChristian’s 7th “unanswerable” question is probably supposed to be a real poser.
7. Where did the universe come from?
This one’s a favorite among certain believers because they think they have an answer and atheists don’t. Unfortunately, the answer that they have is not just superstitious, it’s unquestionably wrong.
William Lane Craig, among other Christian apologists, has attempted to make the Big Bang into an apologetic argument for God.
The standard Big Bang model thus describes a universe which is not eternal in the past, but which came into being a finite time ago. Moreover,–and this deserves underscoring–the origin it posits is an absolute origin ex nihilo. For not only all matter and energy, but space and time themselves come into being at the initial cosmological singularity.
Unfortunately for Craig, and for all Christian apologists who attempt to turn the Big Bang into Divine Creation, this argument contradicts the possibility that any sort of supernatural power could have created the universe. Read it again. What Craig is telling us (and he’s being strictly accurate here) is that the past is finite. It does not extend infinitely far back into the past. Space and time and matter and energy are all co-existent all the way back to the earliest possible moment.
That phrase “earliest possible moment” is key. “Earliest possible moment” means there was no earlier moment during which the universe failed to exist. Nor was there any earlier moment during which any deity could have decided He/She/It/They would like to create a universe ex nihilo. There was not even any earlier moment during which “nothing” could exist! There never was a nihilo (since there was never a time during which it could have existed) and therefore this universe cannot have come ex nihilo.
The fact that the past is finite means that the physical scientist has a much easier job than she would have if it were infinitely long. There are all kinds of problems with an infinite past, and Dr. Craig will be more than happy to list them for you. But they’re moot, because the past is not infinite. The phrase “all of time” only extends back as far as the Big Bang, and beyond that, there is nowhere left to go, and thus nothing left to explain.
The universe did not “come from” anywhere, since there was never a time when the universe did not already exist. No god has ever had any opportunity to create the universe, because there was never a time when the universe did not exist. The universe has certainly changed over time, and different individual features like stars and galaxies and planets began to exist at certain points in time, but the universe itself has existed for all of time. Indeed, time is one of the inherent properties of the universe, so it’s not surprising that time and the universe go all the way back together.
The mistake shared by William Lane Craig, TodayChristian, and all the others who fall into this trap is that it’s difficult for us, in our time-bound experience, to conceive of what it really means for there to be an earliest possible moment. If we’re not careful, we can easily fall into the mistake of imagining “the beginning of time” as just some arbitrary date on some divine calendar, with God waking up one morning and saying, “Oops, looks like the beginning of time is next week, better get planning on that whole laws of physics thing today”—totally forgetting that “morning” and “today” and “next week” are all moments or periods in time.
And that’s what believers are doing here. They’re nodding their heads and saying, “Yes, time has a beginning, we agree that there’s a certain point in time that is the earliest possible moment in time. But before that point in time, at some earlier moment, we believe God existed all by Himself and decided to create the universe.” They say there is an earliest possible moment, and then say that there were other moments even earlier, during which God did His creating, and completely fail to notice that they’re contradicting themselves.
But that’s what happens when you believe something that’s not true.
On to Question #8, which makes up for in words what it lacks in clarity.
8. What about miracles? What all the people who claim to have a connection with Jesus? What about those who claim to have seen saints or angels?
Yeah? What about ’em?