Frequently Asked Questions

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91. It’s hard to understand what God is like

Very Brief Answer:

If I could entirely understand a God, I would immediately assume that that “God” was only an invention by people, who I am able to fathom. It may help to start by recognizing, I am not God. A being such as God would be impossible to entirely wrap our mind around, existing in situations so different from the experiences we currently base our thought upon.

Answer 2:

Truth can be hard to handle, which is another reason why there are so many different religions and divisions within religions. Some are fringe issues that just bring differences within the same overall structure, others are core issues, which are like load-bearing walls, if they are changed or removed then the structure falls.

For example, traditions in Catholicism, such as the authority of pope and celibacy of priests, are differences, but still fit in the Christian building. Mormons, on the other hand, claim Jesus was simply an angel, we have no need of his sacrifice, we can all be gods and populate our own worlds, etc., which are not standing on the foundational Christian beliefs, and therefore stand on a different foundation, erecting an entirely new belief structure, by definition, a cult, something entirely outside of the Christian walls.

Answer 3:

Basic logic dictates: We do not have to entirely explain the explanation of something, for it to be the best explanation and true. The best explanation DEPENDS ON THE EVIDENCE and STANDARD TESTS FOR TRUTH. Therefore, if the biblical God is the best explanation for something based on the evidence, then just because we do not fully understand God, does not mean the explanation is not correct.
Imagine astronauts find machinery on Mars, which performed the function of an engine and was complex beyond the ability of any natural law or process. Even if we had no idea what designer could have made the complicated machinery, or how it got there, we do not need to know all those answers fully in order to recognize the machinery is the result of some designer with a purpose. Challenges, or things you do not understand about an explanation, do not negate the positive evidence and superiority of that explanation over alternate explanations.

19.  You Christians ignore science, history, geology, biology and physics, but some ancient writing from tribesmen, a preacher, who only has a theology degree, or some “idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in tongues may be all the evidence you need”

Very Brief Answer:

Some Christians unfortunately do this, to their detriment. Nevertheless, only someone, who is themselves ignorant of science, history, geology, biology, physics and theology, would make such the ignorant claim above as the all the aforementioned fields do affirm Christian belief.

Answer 2:

The challenge above was taken from an anonymous blog, and I liked the response given, so I will start with that:

How dare y…

Ah yeah… actually that’s a good point.

A troubling number of Christians simply do not hold to a high enough standard of evidence for certain beliefs. I’m one of the first to remind Christians who say ‘I just feel that it’s true in my heart’, that so do many others of many other religions and cults. It’s simply not good enough to trust your heart. Individuals routinely swing both into and out of Christianity based on how it makes them feel.

Having said that, a very great many Christians committed to a faith built on the Word of God are far less privy to be swayed by the winds of any doctrine of man. Christians who respect the value of the brain that God gave them and told them to use are generally better able to weather the storms.[1]

[1] http://www.christianvalour.com/ten-signs-you-are-an-unquestioning-christian-debunked/

Answer 3:

Let’s consider each part of the challenge in proper context.

a)  “You Christians ignore science, history, geology, biology and physics . . .”

We are teaching all public school children, from kindergarten through high school, and potentially into our twenties or even later through collegiate studies, we can explain everything without God. Isn’t it more likely for people to believe God doesn’t fit in those areas of study when educated that way? It’s like being put on a jury, then the prosecutor gets up and makes their full case, and when it is time for the defense to make their case, the judge steps in and says, “No, you stay seated and silent. Okay jury, now make your decision.” Almost all aspects of God were removed from public education, in order to avoid indoctrination. I get it, but it is still indoctrination.

The reason some Christians “ignore science, history, geology, biology and physics”, is because they were purposely not taught how God ties into those subjects.

I was asked to speak at a high school, and while I was waiting for the last class to end, a history teacher, who didn’t seem to have enough planned to keep the students occupied for the last 10 minutes of class, asked if I wanted to give a pitch for my talk after school. Instantly, the image of Calvin (of Calvin & Hobbes fame), popped into my head, along with exactly what I wanted to say.

I asked the students to pull out their history textbooks, they gave me some nasty looks and eye-rolling. Then, I asked them to find the section(s) covering Ghandi. Once the class was turned to the main section, I asked how many pages, assignments and test questions were covered in the study of Ghandi. The class discussed this, and significant class focus and time were given to this impactful figure. I asked them to do the same for Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King Jr. They gave me the answers. Then I asked them to do the same for Jesus.

The difference in the amount of coverage, focus, and importance placed on the previous three historical figures versus the education, or lack thereof, regarding Jesus was stunning. Jesus was covered in a few paragraphs and a thousand-foot-politically-correct-pole. Blatant under-educating or mis-educating is involved as the previous three historical figures themselves all acknowledged that the latter was far and away the most important in history. Historical scholarship concurs. Yet our education system walks us down a different path.

Furthermore, when such a figure in history makes the claims Jesus did, isn’t that a significant part of the education regarding the figure? If George Washington claimed to be God (which he wouldn’t as he believed in Jesus) and was personally going to show us his love and authority through his life, sacrifice and resurrection, wouldn’t that be something we should learn about to be properly educated about the figure?

This is a God-Sized hole in our education (title of an upcoming book), and the holes are equally egregious in science. When you learned about the Big Bang, were you educated on any of the information provided in The BEGINNING Evidence or The CAUSED Evidence? If you want students to have all relevant and applicable knowledge to apply to life, and to teach how to problem solve when faced with the big questions in life, then present the information concerning the Big Bang, present the options for the Big Cause, and ask the students to research, prepare, and wisely and winsomely discuss their findings in the class. Maybe then we wouldn’t have the vast majority of the population wrecking Thanksgivings and making fools of themselves on Facebook due to the rampant inability to intelligently and productively discuss their beliefs.

Science is asking questions about the world, and then following organized steps to find answers. Yet, one possibility, God, is always purposely kept out of the options. Thankfully, the actual scientists involved in the most important discoveries in science did not follow their high school teachings, so they were able to complement their science with philosophy and consider what these most important discoveries mean in the big picture of life.

Cutting God out of public education wouldn’t be so egregious if there where another system in place to pick up the slack. However, parents do not have the time to train to be proper educators in these specific areas. Not even church leaders have time, as there are too many other areas of life of their members they have to focus on, and this still would leave those who don’t attend church mis-educated.

What the critic failed to note is, and maybe due to lack of experience, when you ask anyone in any different belief system to support WHY they believe WHAT they believe, they get anxious, stammer, and usually entirely fail to provide anything useful. The only people I have observed, who provide answers from any of the fields of study the critic mentioned, are some Christians, and some atheists.

However, and this is huge, when atheists give their reasons, almost always they claim to believe in the big bang and/or evolution and therefore cannot believe in God. This is a non-sequitur, and just proves the point they were educated to believe, incorrectly, the big bang and evolution explains reality and no God is needed.

b)  Regarding the claim: For Christians some ancient writing from tribesmen, a preacher, who only has a theology degree, or some idiot rolling around on the floor speaking in tongues may be all the evidence you need

Start by asking the one making the claim: “Have you read the Bible? What tribesman are you referring to?” Wait for an answer, and let the awkward answer be given. Let the person’s lack of properly knowing what s/he is talking about sink in.

Next, provide the actual situation . . .

The Bible is a book different from all others in its background. This is a book:

1) written across a span of over 1,500 years;

2) written by over 40 different authors, which came from every walk of life including kings, peasants, philosophers, fisherman, poets, statesman, scholars, etc;

3) written in diverse places, including: a wilderness, a palace, while traveling, while on military campaigns, in prison, etc;

4) written during varying times and moods: during periods of peace and war, and

ranging from times of complete joy to complete despair;

5) written on 3 continents: Africa, Asia, and Europe;

6) written in 3 languages: Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek;

7) written in a variety of literary types, including history, law (civil, criminal, ethical, ritual, sanitary), poetry, instructive treatises, parable, allegory, biography, personal correspondence, personal memoirs and diaries, and the distinctive biblical types of prophecy and apocalyptic.

8) Written concerning hundreds of contentious topics that cover a tremendous range of human experience.

If the Bible was from a God, who wants to communicate to all kinds of people in all kinds of situations, then having such a diverse collection of writers, styles and situations is good.

Further, tribesman, or whomever provided the information, whom you look down upon (another error in thinking known as chronological snobbery), are able to provide multiple, clear, specific predictions about the universe, which all other belief systems and science was directly opposed to, until around Einstein’s time, when some of the greatest discoveries of modern science confirmed the accurate and absolutely unique knowledge provided 3000 years prior. Do you think these writers are worth further consideration? If not, why?

You could also ask: “Even if Christian belief did come from those sources, what do you think that means?” The source of the information, however distasteful to a person, does not determine whether the information is true or not. It is an error in thinking known as the genetic fallacy, to think a belief is inaccurate due to the where the belief came from (the origin of the belief). The truth of a belief depends on whether it fits reality, and that can be determined by the evidence.

Notice the hostile emotion being shown. Before trying to give an answer to this person, it may be useful to first ask, “If you had absolute proof Christianity were true, would you become a Christian?” If they hesitate, then you can point out maybe their emotions are guiding their thinking more than intellectual reasons, and ask if they really want to discuss the issues, or is their purpose just to vent/lecture. In which case, you can let them know you didn’t sign up for a vent/lecture session.

13. I don’t really want to follow any religion or worldview.

Very Brief Answer:

Well you already do, you just don’t realize your situation.

Answer 2

Once, when taking a taxi back to the hotel from a physics conference, the driver started a conversation about God not existing, and how he follows his own belief system. After he concluded his points, I spent maybe ten minutes discussing some supports from science that God does exist. The taxi driver was thoughtful for a moment, then responded, “Well, God probably does exist, but while I am not a perfect person, I am not concerned about God because I am a good person overall, so I will be fine in what comes after-life.”

For someone not concerned, I wondered why he brought up the issue. Anyway, I remarked that his idea of God, and the standards used to determine our after-life, sounded really good, however, why would he believe in his idea about God? I noted the biblical God I provided evidence for earlier has support from science, history, logic, and other areas, which we could discuss if interested. On the stark other hand, his God, this good-personism God, who let any person (except maybe Hitler and child abusers) into Heaven, may sound nice, but has absolutely no evidence supporting such a God exists. I asked why he would believe his idea? Awkward silence for a little bit, and some hmmm’s, so the conclusion was: he was following a belief system, and he had no real reason to believe in it.

This person was intelligent, and his thoughts aren’t rare. In fact, far from unique, the belief that people can earn their way to salvation by “good” behavior is basically the core of every religion or belief system not founded on the Bible. Some people then mix in other ideas, for example, instead of Heaven, they believe we turn to some form of energy and are one with the Universe, like some Eastern religions teach; or, take a hodge-podge approach by adding in nice-sounding ideas from many belief systems. Bottom-line: everyone still has a belief system.

Answer 3

You, like everyone else, have a set of beliefs about reality, about the “big questions in life,” and your place in this world, which is your worldview belief system. Therefore, everyone has a worldview. Everything you think about culture, politics, religion, relationships, and all of your choices, responses, goals, priorities, direction in life, etc., are shaped by your worldview beliefs.

Some people do not follow the core beliefs of a major religion, but you still have core beliefs, which are then atheist, if you believe there is no God, agnostic if you believe you cannot know about God, or that you just don’t know, or if you don’t care about whether God exists or not, you could be called an apatheist (combine “apathy,” meaning lack of care about, and “theist,” having to do with the study of God).

Whether you know it or not, and whether you like it or not, the most important and impactful thing in your life is whether your worldview beliefs are accurate (true), or not. Wherever your beliefs are accurate, then everything you think about culture, politics, religion, relationships, and all of your choices, responses, goals, priorities, direction in life, etc., are shaped correctly and will bring the best possible consequences. Ignore or base your worldview against reality (truth), and disaster awaits you both in this life, and forever, if there is an existence after this life.

“Religion” is just people’s ways of organizing themselves with the set of beliefs. Even if you are not tied to any organized religion, you still have your set of beliefs, which you use to view and choose how to act in the world, and you likely have specific people around you, media you prefer, and activities and routines you perform that are guided by or support your worldview beliefs.

Of course, any religion/worldview belief system that is false, based on inaccurate beliefs, is not only a waste of time, but also leads to negative consequences mentioned above. Of course, not being involved in an accurately-based religion, is also harmful to you. Of course, religions are composed of people, so even an accurate religion can have people acting falsely within it, which makes it up to each person to use proper judgement.

30.  Where did it all come from? Why are we here?

Answer 1:

 

It depends on what ultimately caused the universe, which is why the answers we stand on for the “big questions” in life will have such a wide and deep impact on us.
Either there is an a) entirely natural cause, with no mind or purpose involved, or b) an intelligent agent with a purpose was involved. Either a or b is true, there is no third option.
If the former is true, then:
1) Our existence is purely coincidental, therefore, there is no real or objective purpose, meaning, or importance to our life (at least no more than other animals, which also live, reproduce, some care for their young, die and have not a single further thought or experience after the body stops functioning). 2) Everything we ever think or do is entirely determined by initial conditions and the natural laws that control not only the entire universe’s existence, but also us (so you have no free will, thoughts, choices, beliefs, or feelings that are your own, controlled by “you”).
3) There is no “right” way to live as there is no real choice, or purpose, or “good” or “evil.” We just have people’s subjective opinions, with none able to be judged by a standard to be better than the others.
4) When our body ceases to function, the meat robot that was “you” ceases all activity and simply decomposes, with no further consequence, good or bad, to you from your existence.
On the other hand, if an intelligent agent acted with a purpose for this life, then:
1) As with things we create, the creator knows the purpose, and . . .
2) Our value would be greater than the universe itself, which was created to allow our purpose to be fulfilled.
3) Because our cause had intelligence, purpose, and was beyond the created nature, we also can have the capacity to have freedom in our choices, actions, thoughts, etc., as our cause was not mindless nature, but a purposeful mind, and there can be something beyond the natural world that makes “you” you, and therefore capable of acting beyond the entire control of initial conditions and natural laws.
4) There is a “best” way to go through life, and . . .
5) The purpose of why we are here and the consequences, which logically follow form our choices, will have an existence beyond the loss of our body.
Stark differences in answers to the meaning of life, and in what the intelligent response to life choices are, depending only on whether a or b is true.

Answer 2:

There are only a handful of options regarding what is the ultimate cause of the universe, and both modern science and logic provide very clear answers regarding a or b. This is covered in the Show Me Evidence of God section on the website, in the folder for The CAUSED Evidence.

 

31. Why does the universe need a cause, maybe it had no cause

Very Brief Answer:

You should know you are on shaky ground when denying cause and effect, which science & rational thought is based upon.

Answer 2:

If you really believe that? Why, what evidence?
Asking what evidence they have to support their claim is important, and it might help make clear why they choose to believe something that goes against all experience and science. Why would one choose to believe the universe came into existence without a cause?
Cosmologist Paul Davies, recognizing the dilemma presented by the evidence, writes, “One might consider some supernatural force, some agency beyond space and time as being responsible . . . or one might prefer to regard the [beginning of the universe] as an event without a cause. It seems to me that we don’t have too much choice. Either… something outside of the physical world… or… an event without a cause.”[1]
[1] Paul Davies, “The Birth of the Cosmos,” in God, Cosmos, Nature and Creativity, ed. Jill Gready (Edinburgh: Scottish Academic Press, 1995), pp. 8-9, as cited in Craig, http://www.reasonablefaith.org/the-ultimate-question-of-origins-god-and-the-beginning-of-the-Universe

Answer 3:

Cause and effect is not just a physical truth tied to our physical universe, but a metaphysical truth, which means it is just part of reality.
It is not invalidated just because we go beyond our universe, and if you think it is, then what is your evidence, aside from the fact that you may not like the implications?
Here is some evidence that cause and effect is a metaphysical truth, which means it’s truth is not limited to just the physical universe. If the law of cause and effect were only confined to our physical universe, then logic would never work. Here is the argument some may give against cause and effect:
Premise 1: Causality only applies to physical things in space time.
Premise 2: Since the creation of universe was not in space and time,
Conclusion: therefore, causality does not apply.
Funny, but their very argument, or syllogism, is not physical, the premises are not physical and there is no physical connection between the premises of the argument and conclusion. Yet, for the argument to work causality must apply to the argument. So their argument defeats itself. Cause and effect operates beyond the physical realm.
Further, this is what science does: determines what cause led to a particular event. And science recognizes all things that came to be have a cause. So on what basis does a person make an exception for the universe? It appears to be a desperate attempt to avoid an obvious, but unwanted conclusion.

Answer 4:

 

If you claim you do not need a sufficient cause, then you have to believe anything can happen!
Do you believe a molecule can pop into existence from nothing into this room? What about an elephant (there is certainly a figurative elephant in the room right now, but not a physical one popping in from no cause), a planet, a galaxy, which are all much simpler than the entire universe? When does this belief in things popping into existence without a cause, become not ridiculous, when it reaches the size scale of the universe?

Answer 5:

 

If you believe the entire universe can come into existence from nothing, without any cause, then your faith is well beyond miraculous faith.
 Because a miracle at least has a sufficient cause in a miracle worker, and other reasons to support it. As Dr. William Lane Craig notes: this would be worse than magic as at least magic has a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat. Furthermore, because ALL the evidence we have supports cause and effect, you would be going against all the evidence and have a delusional faith if believing cause and effect did not operate in the case of the universe.

Answer 6:

 

Picture complete and absolute nothingness (it is hard, but do the best you can). Question: Can any change occur from this, can any effect be caused or come about from this?
It’s hard to imagine “nothing.” Aristotle tried with an example: “nothing” is what rocks dream about. Nothing has no potential or properties, and no ability to do anything.
“Something” is required to be the cause of an effect, and if you listen carefully to those who try to say the universe can come from “nothing”, you will notice that they often will slip “something” in and just try to call it “nothing”. Sounds goofy, and it is, but this error in thinking is made often by otherwise very intelligent people in science.

Answer 7:

 

Suppose you hear a loud bang outside the door … and you ask me, “What made that bang?” and I reply, “Nothing, it just banged.”
You would not accept that. In fact you would rightly be wondering, “What is this person’s problem?” Because you recognize a big bang requires a bigger cause.

Answer 8:

 

People try to claim quantum mechanics (QM) shows things are not determined. Anyone who claims to understand QM, doesn’t understand.
There are 10 differ physical interpretations (or theories of what QM means in the real world) of the mathematical formulations of the QM equations, and we do not know which of those ten, if any, are correct. Most current ones are fully deterministic, meaning cause and effect operates as usual.

Answer 9:

 

Some have suggested the universe just created itself out of nothing. Ask this person to lift themselves entirely off the ground by their bootstraps.
Atheist author Daniel Dennett, in Breaking the Spell, wrote:
What does need its origin explained is the concrete Universe itself, and as Hume…long ago asked: Why not stop at the material world?  It…does perform a version of the ultimate bootstrapping trick; it creates itself ex nihilo. Or at any rate out of something that is well-nigh indistinguishable from nothing at all.[1]
First, Dennett provides no evidence to support his claim, he just makes a claim. A claim is worthless without evidence to support it – worse than a roof with no walls. Even worse, to believe his claim would require delusional faith, because all the evidence we have demonstrates an effect requires some cause, so you would be believing in something with no evidence against something with all the evidence.
Second, calling the idea the “ultimate bootstrapping trick” is a good description, as it is equally absurd. Try lifting yourself up, off the ground, by your bootstraps, and then you will better appreciate the impossibility of Dennett’s claim. For the universe to cause itself to come into being – the universe would already have to exist, before it existed! If Dennett can demonstrate how he can give birth to his parents, then his idea about the universe would be slightly less absurd.
Finally, Dennett displays his misunderstanding of “nothing”. He starts with the idea of the universe popping into existence from non-being, absolute nothing, then tries to back-peddle on his claim by tagging on “Or at any rate out of something that is well-nigh indistinguishable from nothing”. In other words, Dennett says the universe created itself from nothing, or something that is real close to nothing. He is changing the definition of “nothing”, which is an example of the error in thinking noted in (A6). As philosopher William Lane Craig notes:
This caveat evinces a lack of appreciation of the metaphysical chasm between being and nothingness. There is no third thing between being and non-being; if anything at all exists, however ethereal, it is something and therefore not nothing.  So what could this mysterious some thing be?  Dennett does not tell us.[2]
[1] Craig, William Lane. Reasonable Faith, 3rd edition. Crossway Books, Wheaton, IL, 2008, p. 151
[2] Ibid, p. 151.

32.    We don’t need a cause for the Universe because of Quantum Indeterminancy (Superposition) & the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle

Very Brief Answer:

Do you really believe that? Why, what evidence?
These are interesting concepts in physics, but neither of them remove the evidence the universe had a cause, nor provide any evidence that the universe was uncaused.

Answer 2:

The idea of Superposition[1] is that events actually exist as a superposition (or mix of different possibilities all really existing at the same time) until an observer makes only one of the possibilities become reality. Even if the idea of Superposition were true, it is a faulty jump in logic to think it means the universe beginning did not require a cause.
You may have heard of Schroedinger’s cat, which involved a thought-experiment by Nobel Prize-winning physicist Erwin Schroedinger, who did fantastic work with wave mechanics in quantum theory.
Here is a description using some of the technical terms. There are 10 different interpretations of the mathematical equations of quantum mechanics, no one knows which is correct. While many are fully deterministic (meaning anything that happens had to happen based upon how things where before the event, and the natural laws that led to what happened), the Copenhagen interpretation, on the other hand, involves quantum superposition, which claims states of affairs are not determinate, they are neither this way, nor that.
For example, a radioactive atom is neither decayed, nor not decayed, but in an indeterminate state, where it exists as both decayed and not decayed, until it interacts with, or is observed by, the external world, causing the collapse of the wave function into one definite state. Copenhagen theory also claims this applies not just to quantum systems, but to macroscopic objects, like you and me, as well.
A less detailed description can be given with the cat. Schroedinger pointed out: if the Copenhagen interpretation were true, then if a cat were in a box, with a vial of poison gas, and the release of the gas depended on a quantum system, like whether a radioactive atom in the box decayed or not. And if that radioactive atom existed as both decayed & not-decayed (in quantum superposition) until someone looked in the box and observed it, then the cat must actually exist in an indeterminate state (meaning the cat exists as both dead because the poison was released & still alive because the poison was not released) until observed, then the cat is either dead or alive. Schroedinger used this thought-experiment to expose the Copenhagen interpretation as ridiculous, and most agree, but some have accepted and support the idea of a simultaneously dead & alive cat.
Again, even if such a situation were reality, it provides no evidence that a cause is not required, nor does it remove all the evidence we do have, which includes the need of a cause even if there were a pre-existing quantum state before our universe.
Someone attempted to use the same idea of needing an observer to collapse wave functions for things to exist by claiming:
Premise 1) God is all seeing,
Premise 2) So all wave functions would be collapsed,
Premise 3) Not all wave functions are collapsed,
Conclusion: God does not exist.
First, if God is not part of external or classical objects that interact with quantum systems, what impact would a spirit have? Further, this is actually evidence for God, because the person looking into the box is a finite observer, who would also have a quantum physics description, and be in an indeterminate superposition of states, and the observer of that person, who gives a definite state to them, is in the same need of an observer. So you get a chain of infinite regress, and no one’s wave function would be collapsed, to bring them into reality. Yet, here we are. Therefore, what collapsed the ultimate indeterminate state of all the universe? This leads to the need for an ultimate observer to stop the infinite regress of measurers, and solves the measurement problem. This ultimate observer would have to be non-physical, transcend the physical world, to not be described by the quantum physics equation and require an observer themself. God best fits that description.
[1] http://whatis.techtarget.com/definition/superposition

 

Answer 3:

Virtual particles coming into existence from a vacuum is not something coming into existence from “nothing”
Quentin Smith, philosophy professor at Western Michigan University, claims that because the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, among other things, allows particles (specifically virtual particles) to “spontaneously come into existence”, then the “crucial step in the argument to a supernatural cause of the Big Bang . . . is faulty”.[1]
While I certainly enjoy any discussion involving Heisenberg, Smith’s argument is Breaking Bad from the moment he attempts to describe virtual particles. Virtual particles do not come into existence spontaneously out of nothing, he entirely misunderstands what virtual particles are, which makes his claim invalid.
Smith, being a philosopher, recognizes the importance of tight definitions. Yet, he surprisingly makes an error in thinking by messing up the definition of “nothing.” When Smith says virtual particles come into existence from “nothing,” he refers to particles coming from the vacuum of space. This is not “nothing!” Even if you go to the most empty spot in space, that little volume is still part of the fabric of all space, and every part of space is filled with dynamic energy. Sometimes the energy changes its configuration and becomes for the briefest moment, a particle, and then instantly changes back into energy. Energy and matter can turn into each other under certain conditions as Einstein’s famous e = mc2 equation shows. The “e” is energy, and the “m” is mass or matter, and the equal sign shows that matter and energy are equivalent, or can change into one another following certain natural laws.
Like my hand, which I typically have open and touching or grasping something, but when I change the configuration by balling up my fingers, a fist appears. The fist did not “spontaneously come into existence” from nothing, but instead is simply a re-configuration of what was already there. The same is true of virtual particles and the vacuum energy in space.
[1] Quentin Smith, “The Uncaused Beginning of the Universe,” Philosophy of Science 55:39-57. p. 50 as cited in William L. Craig, “The Caused Beginning of the Universe: a Response to Quentin Smith.” British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 44 (1993): 623-639.

Answer 4:

 

The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle means we may not be able to predict everything exactly, but it is a faulty jump in logic to think it means the universe beginning did not require a cause.
Walter White had specific motivations when he was breaking bad. One has to wonder what Smith’s motivations may be, as he compounds his inaccurate definition of “nothing” with an another error in logic, a non-sequitur, which as a philosophy professor he understands better than myself and most others, yet he falls directly into.
A non-sequitur occurs when one makes a claim that just does not follow from the evidence they give. For example, my mom did not make me the healthiest sandwich she could have, therefore she doesn’t love me. It may be true she didn’t make me the healthiest possible meal, but it does not follow that she doesn’t love me.
The Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle notes that changes in a system, such as a change in something’s position and momentum (most obvious when dealing with very small things, like an electron), can only be known to a certain level of precision, but we cannot know both values exactly. Smith claims that because of this, the universe’s beginning does not have to have a cause. Do you see the leap in logic? Just because we may not know certain properties of something exactly, this tells us absolutely nothing about whether something coming into existence has a cause or not. He is thinking something being not perfectly predictable means it may be uncaused, but being predictable and being uncaused are two very different things. Smith’s argument doesn’t show the universe could begin to exist without a cause, only that the beginning may have some unpredictability.

33.    The laws governing how the universe behaves were totally different early in the universe, so we cannot know if there was a cause.

Answer 1:

 

How do you know we cannot know?
When you go back in time toward the beginning, the universe becomes smaller and smaller and more and more dense, until it becomes sub-atomic in size and the theory of General Relativity does not accurately describe how things work, so we need to find some quantum theory of gravity for when the universe was that tiny.
So what? This is not some new understanding, it has been known, and astronomers, physicists and logic tell us it does not change any of the evidence that the universe needs a cause. Again, just because we cannot explain what law was functioning at the briefest moment of time, does not mean that the universe does not require a cause.

34.    Science will explain it all someday.

Very Brief Answer:

No, science will not. Believing this requires:
(a) an error in logic,
(b) an inaccurate understanding of science, and . . .
(c) either being ignorant of, or purposefully filtering out, the evidence already available.

Answer 2:

More details
(a) Some are waiting for science to produce a natural explanation for the cause of the universe. First, this is an error in thinking known as the argumentum ad futuris fallacy[1]. Here is what is actually being said: “I know there is no support for what I believe yet, but someday, science will discover something to show my belief is correct.” Not basing their belief on evidence, but wishful thinking.
(b) Second, this belief is dangerously narrow-sighted. While one can always be open to searching for a natural explanation, even if an entirely natural explanation is found for what caused the beginning of the universe, science is incapable of ever precluding the involvement of a personal, purposeful creator.
There are two types of causal explanations: 1) we can explain how something was caused in scientific terms by describing initial conditions (how things started out before the event we are looking at) and the natural laws that led to the event, and 2) we can explain how, and even why, something was caused with a personal explanation in terms of an agent and their volitions (will, wants, or purpose).
Even if we had a time-lapse video and the specific equations explaining the entire process in scientific terms how natural laws worked on natural stuff to cause the beginning of the universe, this still fails to show a personal agent wasn’t involved. This is what I mean by being dangerously narrow-sighted.
If you were looking at a beautiful piece of pottery, you could use physics to describe how the pottery came to be using forces and heat, and could, depending on the complexity and specific features of that particular pottery, possibly explain how simple natural forces and heat alone could have produced it.
But if an art dealer steps up and reveals the beautiful art was made by a famous artist as an expression of joy and a gift to her new child, then I wouldn’t turn my brain off and say, “No, natural causes alone can account for it.” That would be extremely narrow-sighted.
If I liked the piece, and cared about my investment as the artist was famous, and a creation of hers held great value, then I would look into whether her revelation about creating the pottery and purpose for her creation were valid.
The same is true regarding God’s creation and revelation. A scientific explanation neither conflicts, nor competes with the personal agent explanation.
And when I noted one would have to have an inaccurate understanding of science, I meant that science describes our universe using initial conditions and natural laws, but if there is something, or some agent acting beyond the closed system of nature and natural laws, then science is incapable of precluding such an agent. This is explained in more detail in the FAQ: “Scientism: the belief that science is the only or best source of knowledge.”
(c) What science can do is provide properties of the causal agent, or evidence that can be used to support the activity of a causal agent beyond nature and natural laws – and science has done this (see articles 3.2a The CAUSED Evidence and 3.2b The Big Cause. If the person supposedly trusts in science, then not trusting or filtering what science provides displays the person allowing what they want to believe to overwhelm evidence or reasons.
[1] http://footnotesplato.blogspot.com/2014/07/the-argumentum-ad-futuris-or-appeal-to.html

 

Answer 3:

35.    I have no need of that (God) hypothesis. God is not the simplest explanation, so by Ockham’s razor it is not the best theory.

Very Brief Answer:

No, you have no “want” of that hypothesis, but you definitely have a need because all alternate hypotheses are not sufficient.

Answer 2:

Reputed reply from Laplace to Emperor Napoleon I, who had asked why he hadn’t mentioned God in his discourse on secular variations of the orbits of Saturn and Jupiter.[1] In that case, being restricted to the topic it was, Laplace correctly observed he could explain all the involved facts using natural law. Newton discovered the Universal Law of Gravitation, and also described it using only aspects of the physical universe, and marveled at how God set up such a stunning system.
In the case of the cause of the universe, Laplace’s quote no longer fits. Naturalists, who believe all things can be explained with only natural causes, may claim, “Our models (biological, cosmological, etc.) fit the data, therefore God is excluded and he is not necessary in order to explain the world we experience. The world looks very much like it would be if naturalism were true?”  Is that a good argument? No. Aside from the point that naturalism has already been disproven – there could not be a natural cause of the universe as there was no nature, there is also a sufficiency problem in their belief.
[1] https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Pierre-Simon_Laplace

 

Answer 3:

Consider the properties of the first cause, given in article 3.2a The CAUSED Evidence.
  1. Must be outside of, or beyond, all matter, energy, space, anything of the physical universe (supernatural)
“The world began abruptly in an act of creation. . . . That there are what I or anyone would call super-natural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.”[1] Astronomer Robert Jastrow, and echoed by astronomer, physicist, mathematician Sir Arthur Eddington, and others.[2]
      2.  Must be beyond time, an uncaused first cause
      3.  Must be more powerful and capable of order than the sum of all power and ordering potential in the entire universe
      4.  Must be capable of operating and producing effects beyond the laws of nature
“To make sense of this view (design as opposed to accident), one must accept the idea of transcendence: that the Designer exists in a totally different order of reality or being, not restrained within the bounds of the Universe itself.”[3]
Therefore, we have a supernatural, eternal, all-powerful, miracle working, first cause of all there is. This is not special pleading, or trying to read back into the Bible what we find in science – when hearing those qualities we think of God because those were all in the Bible thousands of years ago. And then there is the sufficiency issue …
       5.  Must be sufficient to explain:
a) Why only personal agency can explain transitioning from a changeless to a temporal state
  • Matter/energy/laws are not sufficient as the nature of nature is ceaseless change, therefore, if these were the cause we would be in heat death
  • Matter/energy/laws do absolutely nothing, if no time passes
b) Only other options in all scientific and philosophical literature are a disembodied mind or abstract objects.
  • Abstract objects do not exist in causal relationships (are incapable of causing anything) & do not all of a sudden change in nature or operation
c) Why were so many of these clear, specific features predicted by the Bible thousands of years before modern science found out the same.
d) The FINE-TUNING evidence
e) An effect is not greater than its cause (C > E), so how do we have personal characteristics from non-personal, intelligence from non-intelligence, information from none
f) Why is the universe structured and explained so well by mathematics
g) How did we get such vast information content in the universe
In fact, article 3.2b The BIG CAUSE, provides the evidence why the biblical God is not only the best explanation of the evidence, but the only option that can be.
[1] Robert Jastrow, as quoted by B. Durbin, “A Scientist Caught Between Two Faiths: Interview with Robert Jastrow,” Christianity Today, Vol. 26, 6 August 1982, p. 15.
[2] Eddington, Arthur. “The Expanding Universe,” Penguin: Harmondsworth, Middlesex UK, 1940, p.117.
[3] George F. R. Ellis, Before the Beginning: Cosmology Explained. London and New York: Boyars/Bowerdean, 1993, 1994, p. 97.

 

Answer 4:

 

As far as the simplest explanation (Ockham’s Razor), most people who bring this up do not understand the principle.
  • The basic idea is we should not multiply entities (explanations) unnecessarily. Given that we are trying to explain e (an event, phenomena, object, state of affairs, ) and given also that X itself explains e (roughly: X causally entails e), it doesn’t make sense to say we additionally need Y to explain e.”
No claim here is made about whether another causal factor Y exists, for all we know it might, but it is not necessarily required for a sufficient explanation of e. This is why when Laplace said he could explain variations in orbits using only physical laws (X) without God (Y), and Newton’s explaining his law of gravitation using only aspects of the physical universe (X) and, at the same time, marveling at how God (Y) set up such a system (e) can both be correct in their statements.
  • The reason why those posing the question, who believe we do not need God because it is simpler to explain with just nature, are wrong, is because X (naturalism) is not sufficient to explain e (universe), therefore, we need something else, X + Y = e.
If you found a dead body, with very precise stab wounds impossible for the victim to inflict on himself, would you expect the CSI show to end with natural causes (X), explaining what we found (e), without the need to think some other agent (Y) was involved?

Answer 5:

 

Some may ask why explore more if we have a fully explainable model. Even fully explainable models, do not necessarily exclude the involvement of other factors worth exploring. This is explained more fully in the previous FAQ: “Science will explain it all someday.”

36.    What are other possible causes?

Very Brief Answer:

 

Only 4 possible causes of the Universe have been given in all the scientific and philosophical literature, and these were dealt with in article 3.2b The BIG CAUSE.
Answer: 3 have fatal flaws and are not options on their own, only an immaterial mind exists as an option and comes with the best explanation of the evidence.

Answer 2:

The Biblical model:
What model best fits the facts, best explains what we know about the universe and life, has core beliefs supported with evidence, provides claims (especially predictions) we can test, and the evidence from all fields of study and the trends of further discovery point directly to its accuracy?
      These are the standards historians, scientists, attorneys, crime scene investigators (CSI), logicians, and everyone associated with evaluating evidence have relied upon. It is extraordinary how far separated the biblical option stands from all other theories – One of the worldviews is not like the others.
  1. a) Explanatory power: The biblical model accounts for all the necessary properties of the uncaused, first cause, and simultaneously accounts for all the properties noted in article 3.2a. While all other models fail to account for necessary properties.
  2. b) Explanatory scope:The model also comprehensively accounts for the fine-tuning evidence, personal agency properties, coherently answers the big questions of life, and other areas of study that natural explanations cannot.
  3. c) Testability, especially Predictability: Models need to be tested for truth. The biblical model provided multiple, clear, specific predictions about the beginning and cause of the universe, against the other belief systems, including atheism, agnosticism, and scientific thought, over 3000 years before modern scientific discoveries reached the same answers. Nothing else produced by humanity compares (if you disagree, provide examples).
  4. d) Cumulative case: There is evidence in history, philosophy, biology, etc., and when all fields of study are taken into account, the biblical model’s support is consistently best and growing, while other belief systems have serious and fatal failures in one or more areas of study.
  5. e) Trends: As time and discoveries go on, support for the biblical model grows exponentially, while other belief systems have equally steep drops.
  6. f) Avoids poor logic: Biblical beliefs are not ad hoc, but given thousands of years in advance of confirmation. For good examples of ad hoc arguments, the natural models provide many.
  7. g) Coherent answers: The biggest questions in life are all coherently, and elegantly answered by the biblical model, while other models cannot compare.
The no-intelligent-agent-involved options:
  • Fail to meet even the NECESSARY PROPERTIES of the first cause,
  • Do not have ANY EVIDENCE to support belief in them,
  • Have FATAL PROBLEMS,
  • Goes against a model that does have significant positive evidence.
In the mean time, if you have faith that something other than the biblical God caused the universe, then why? Is it due to reason, logic, or evidence, if so, then what are your reasons, logic, or evidence that has greater explanatory power, scope, predictive ability, and other features of an accurate model, which surpass the biblical model? If you don’t have a lot, then that says something about how you approach your beliefs.
If you expect (hope) that someday some other cause will be found – you are involved in wishful thinking – and standing on blind or delusional faith as it goes against the biblical model, which does have significant evidence.

 

Answer 3:

Aside from what was covered in the article 3.2b, the more common options brought up will be covered below.
“Something” is required to be the cause of an effect, and if you listen carefully to those who try to say the universe can come from “nothing”, you will notice that they often will slip “something” in and just try to call it “nothing”. Sounds goofy, and it is, but this error in thinking is made often by otherwise very intelligent people in science. Two common claims guilty of this are that the universe came into existence from a pre-existing vacuum, or by a virtual particle.
Quantum vacuum fluctuations
  1. This logic error is called “equivocation.” It is a mistake to claim a vacuum is “nothing”, when a vacuum is certainly something. If someone said, “I had nothing to eat . . . and it tasted great,” you would realize there is a problem with that statement. A vacuum in space is still a part of the fabric of space-time and full of energy, which can turn into a particle via Einstein’s e = mc2, and then turns back into the energy from which it came. A vacuum is not nothing.
  2. Probability of a virtual particle coming into existence from the vacuum energy is inversely related to the time the particle can last. So if you are hoping for a particle to come from the vacuum and last a second or more, the odds against it are astronomical, and get worse the longer you are hoping the particle will last.
            You can do the calculation showing the universe fluctuating into existence in that way would not last long enough for inflation to even begin, but since our universe did last long enough for inflation to begin, our universe did not come from a vacuum fluctuation.
Since they come out of the quantum vacuum, and return to it, you don’t get to keep particles that fluctuate into existence this way, and they are probably better described as disturbances or re-configurations of the energy in the vacuum.
  • Virtual particles may be said to be unpredictable currently, but since it requires initial conditions, it cannot be said to be uncaused because it came from the initial conditions and natural laws that science uses to describe events in the universe.
  1. Does not meet the required properties 1, 2, and probably 3-6, noted in article 3.2a.
Supernatural matter
  1. What’s it like & what evidence do you have to believe in it?
  2. ENTROPY: Nature of nature – ceaselessly changing – when the conditions are right, then events happen, and even if super/hyper/meta-natural matter existed, then we are back to the same problem – we would have reached heat death a long time ago, and since stars are still shining, this idea must be false.
  • OUTSIDE OF TIME: every physics equation describing how nature works has (t)ime in it, and when t = 0, then nothing can happen, permanent stasis, nothing ever can or will change.
  1. Does not meet required properties 1-6
“Laws” & Abstract objects
  1. Laws do not cause anything. Laws describe events
Newton’s laws do not cause gravity, or the matter, which it acts upon. Laws of arithmetic couldn’t add anything to my bank account.
  1. Laws require stuff to already exist to act on.
     For example, Here is the equation describing the force of gravity:
where m1 and m2 are masses and d is the distance between them. If there is no mass before the universe begins, then the (F)orce of gravity = 0, and can cause nothing. Actually the equation is invalid as d wouldn’t even have a value. Nothing can happen.
  • Laws fit nicely in the biblical model though, as the Bible explains that God set up the fixed laws in nature, even before we knew there were fixed laws in nature.
  1. Conway’s computer world: Abstract objects by definition do not cause anything, fails properties 4,5,6
Hawking quantum gravity or hyper (supernatural) quantum mechanics
  1. Logic error – first say “nothing”, then also call it quantum gravity, which is something and definitely needs something to at upon – fails property 1
  2. No quantum event can occur without time – fails 2
  • Recognized in a timeless state only immaterial mind or abstract objects, but ad hoc as what evidence makes you believe this is true? All experience in science shows abstract objects do not exist in causal relationships.
  1. Just pushes back a step, as still have to ask where that meta-universe, where this quantum gravity operates, came from. It still requires a beginning and cause by BGV papers.
 
Hawking Gravity is Cause
P 180 Grand Design because there is a law like gravity, the universe can and will create itself out of nothing – stepped out of science and into philosophy, and very bad philosophy. 1st gravity not nothing but something and only describes, does not do anything. Gravity does same thing over and over again, if drops one more I not pull to center as not choose, same over and over. Lennox mathematician ar oxford wrote in response to hawking and said when brilliant scientists say nonsense its still nonsense and what hawking says about gravity creating anything is nonsense, against sense.
 
+/- energy cancel out to equal “nothing”
  1. Positive & negative energy is not “nothing”
  2. Would still fall into heat death
  • Would still require a beginning and cause by BGV
We examined the positive supports for the no-God options, which was easy as there aren’t any I am aware of, but feel free to send me any positive evidence for no-God models, which I may have missed. We also looked at the negative evidence against the no-God models. So we have to also consider any negative evidence against the biblical model.
Answers that apply for any challenge to God as the first cause
(A1): It may help to start by saying: I am not God. A being such as God would be impossible to entirely wrap our mind around, existing in situations so different from the experiences we currently base our thought upon. A “God,” which I could entirely understand, I would immediately assume was only an invention by people, who I am able to fathom.
(A2): Basic logic dictates that we do not have to entirely understand an explanation, for it to be the best explanation and true. The best explanation depends on the evidence and standard tests for truth.
(A3): Challenges or things you do not understand do not negate the positive evidence and superiority to alternate explanations.

37.     If God existed timelessly, then no thoughts or change could occur as thoughts and change require a sequence or passage of time.

Answer 1:

 

This is a category error as it compares beings in 3-dimensional space and time (us) to a being that was operating outside 3D space-time (God). Thoughts do require a passage of time for the operation of physical brains, but God is an immaterial being, and so in a different category.
Further, people confuse making a free decision as a process always involving a period of indecision. The Bible always noted God is changeless, all that was known was known already, changelessly, so no sequence of thoughts occurred.

Answer 2:

Here is a simplified analogy of God making the decision to create: if God was sitting in a timeless state, always knowing that he will stand up, then the moment he begins to stand, there is change & then time begins.alls.

 

Answer 3:

An immaterial mind is the only thing that can go from a changeless state to a temporal one (one where time operates).
Nothing natural could do this, because the nature of nature is that it is ceaselessly changing, the only way anything natural could be in a changeless state is for it to exist outside of time. However, if anything natural existed outside of time, then it would remain changeless forever, as every natural law, which describes natural change, involves time, and if time = 0, then no change can ever occur.
The only other option given in all philosophical and scientific literature are abstract objects, but abstract objects, by definition, are incapable of causing anything to happen. Therefore, only an immaterial mind, a spiritual being would be in this category, is a possible cause able to move from a changeless existence to one that brings in time and change.

38.    Why would God wait so long to create the universe?

Answer 1:

 

This is one of those areas where God did not communicate a specific answer, so I can only speculate. This is a “thus guesseth Scott,” not a “thus sayeth the Lord.” And while there is much God does communicate about himself, there are some things we just will not know, which means a number of possibilities are discussable, such as: maybe God being outside time makes the long wait not applicable, as there is no waiting when there is no passage of time; however when the universe was created, there was still a long time before humanity was on the scene, so maybe God simply set up the intricate system of the universe to progressively and naturally develop a place for our purpose, and while this occurred, allowed the angelic system to develop and run its course. What do you think?

Answer 2:

Why not wait?

If you have a perfect relationship within the Trinity, why would you want to add other personalities, and add the drama? We were not needed by God, I think God simply wanted to share the wonderful relationship experienced by the Trinity.

While I appreciate parents wanting to bring kids in to the world to share in their love relationship, my advice would be to enjoy your spouse’s company and all there was to experience together, and then have kids maybe in your 60’s.

39.     How could an immaterial mind interact with physical things?

Answer 1:

 

The best answer is: “I don’t know, I wasn’t there.” And we don’t need explain everything for an explanation to be accurate and most plausible. We don’t understand all about quantum mechanics (QM), but it has very good explanatory scope, power and predictive ability.

Answer 2:

Philosophers have discussed this, but an imperfect analogy may get your minding thinking about it: Consider a physical object, such as a radio receiver. This physical object produces sound because something separate from it, electromagnetic waves, travel through the air to interact with the antenna and cause the effect.
Similarly, if “you” involves both a physical body and an immaterial soul or spirit, then your physical mind would receive some interaction or inputs from your spirit, transforming them into physical activity. On the other hand, if “you” involves only your physical body, then your mind is entirely controlled by initial physical conditions and natural laws, and none of your thoughts, emotions, or actions are under your control – you are a meat robot.

40.    What did God use to create the universe?

Very Brief Answer:

Don’t know. We can be open to any type of answer, such as the unlikely, but interesting French horn type process described by Brian Greene in his TED talk on the multiverse.

41.  A cause must precede events in time, but there was no time so there can’t be a cause

Answer 1:

 

A cause doesn’t necessarily depend on time. As far as the cause of the Universe, it is true we cannot use the word “precede” chronologically (meaning saying a cause was “before”, or putting events in order by time) because there was no time prior to the universe coming into existence, so there was no “before” chronologically.
However, something can “come before” something else ontologically (something ontologically “before” means its existence depends on nothing else, but this something may lead to the existence of other things). Thing X is considered ontologically prior to thing Y, if and only if, Thing X does not depend on thing Y in order to be, but thing Y does depend on thing X in order to be.
The cause of the universe can be ontologically prior to the universe, and then at the moment the creative process began, then there is change and that is when time starts. If God simply maintained what was always known, “I will create,” then there is no change and this situation can exist in a timeless state.
Aristotle brought up this concept with his “Unmoved Mover.” The first cause of all there is, must exist necessarily, and not depend on anything else for its existence, and philosophers and scientists have long contemplated this, but most just expected this to be the Universe itself. The Universe however had a beginning, and therefore requires, or depends on, something else, some cause beyond time, for its existence.

Answer 2:

If someone thinks cause and effect only work in the physical space-time of our universe, ask why do you believe that? Cause and effect can be a metaphysical truth, meaning causality operates whether within or beyond our physical Universe.
            Would logic and science simply stop just because we are beyond our physical Universe? Science is built on the law of causality, determining what cause(s) produce what effect. All we observe fits cause and effect, why would there be an exception only for the biggest effect we observe?
Or would cause and effect in logical syllogisms still exist and allow us to logically make points, even when outside our Universe? Consider the logical argument attempting to limit application of cause and effect:
  1. Causality only operates in space and time.
  2. Creation of the Universe occurred beyond the space and time.
  3. Conclusion: causality does not apply.
Premises 1 & 2, and the conclusion are not physical and have no physical connection with the conclusion, but for the argument to work it needs causality.

42.     Cause & effect only applies inside time-space

Answer 1:

 

Why do you believe cause and effect only operates within time and physical space? What do you base that belief on?

Answer 2:

Causality is metaphysical, meaning causality operates even beyond just physical things, for example, in all of science and in logic.
Science is built on the law of causality, determining what causes produce what effect. All we observe fits cause and effect, why would there be an exception only for the biggest effect we observe?
Consider the logical argument attempting to limit application of cause and effect:
  1. Causality only operates in space and time.
  2. Creation of the Universe occurred beyond the space and time.
  3. Conclusion: causality does not apply.
Premises 1 & 2, and the conclusion are not physical and have no physical connection with the conclusion, but for the argument to work it needs causality.

 

21.    Was there a beginning of the Universe?

Very Brief Answer:

ALL the evidence we have supports a beginning[1], there is none supporting there was no beginning. When all of the evidence is on one side, and none is on the other, even a graduate from Ohio State University can figure out what that means. What evidence supports your belief?
[1] New Scientist, Why physicists can’t avoid a creation event”, January 11, 2012, Cosmologist from Tufts University, A. Vilenkin, stated: “All the evidence we have says that the universe had a beginning.”

 

Answer 2:

The general understanding of science is that the universe had a beginning. The evidence includes some of the great minds, multiple Nobel Prize winners, and some of the greatest discoveries of science. Einstein’s Field Equations for General Relativity, Hubble’s red shifts, microwave background radiation, predicted ripples in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation, and one piece of evidence you can see every night:
The stars of the universe run on fuel (hydrogen mostly). If every star that we know of runs on hydrogen (and later on some heavier elements too before dying), then what would happen to the hydrogen supply if the universe did not have a beginning, and was burning hydrogen forever? Clearly the universe would have RAN OUT OF GAS, and no stars would be shining.

Answer 3:

Three leading cosmologists, Arvind Borde, Alan Guth, and Alexander Vilenkin spent ten years and produced five papers attempting to find any possible model of a life-permitting universe, which did not require a beginning. What they proved was that any universe, even a multiverse, which is expanding on average, cannot be eternal, but must have a beginning. There are some proposed models that do not expand on average, but in 2012 Vilenkin went on to show those models fail for other reasons to avoid requiring a beginning of the universe Vilenkin concluded, “None of these scenarios can actually be past-eternal.”[1] “All the evidence we have says that the universe had a beginning.”[2]
William Lane Craig has brought this point up in debates, and an opponent claimed he used the conclusion wrong, but in a series of emails between Craig and Vilenkin, Vilenkin confirmed the papers do confirm our universe must have had an absolute beginning.
[1] Audrey Mithani and Alexander Vilenkin, “Did the universe have a beginning?” arXiv:1204.4658v1 [hep-th] 20 Apr 2012, p. p. 1; cf. p. 5. For an accessible video, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXCQelhKJ7A, where Vilenkin concludes, “there are no models at this time that provide a satisfactory model for a universe without a beginning.”
[2] A.Vilenkin, cited in “Why physicists can’t avoid a creation event,” by Lisa Grossman, New Scientist (January 11, 2012).

Answer 4:

 

Philosophers have known that there must be an uncaused, first cause. From Aristotle, or earlier, to modern philosophers, the necessity of an uncaused cause was recognized to avoid the impossibility of crossing an INFINITE REGRESS OF CAUSES.
Picture the universe walking up a staircase, and each moment that passed, the universe stepped up one more step, if there were an actual infinite number of steps to cross before reaching now, would the universe ever reach now? No, it would still have an infinite number of steps to get through – it is impossible to cross an actual infinite number of things.
Another illustration demonstrating how an actual sum of infinite quantity would lead to absurdities is given by Hilbert’s Hotel. Starting with a hotel that has an infinite number of rooms, all of which are occupied by guests, if another guest wants a room, is there room? Sure, just have everyone move to one room number higher. Then how many guests are in the hotel, infinity (∞), so ∞ + 1 = ∞. In fact, if an infinite number of guests wanted to check out, how many guests would be left? Still an infinite number of guests, so ∞ – ∞ = ∞.[1] The footnote gives the Youtube video illustrating Hilbert’s Hotel, and these absurdities are a reason to doubt the existence of an actual infinite number of things.
There are two ways something may be without beginning or end. One way, is if it existed infinitely in time past, and will exist infinitely in future time. But this way is really doubtful as noted above because an actual infinite amount of anything (energy, atoms, seconds, moments of time) most likely is not logically possible. The other way would be if something transcended, or was beyond time, then there would no beginning nor end. When theologians state that God is eternal, it typically means transcending time, this is implied by time having a beginning in the finite past, which means the cause of time must transcend time, in order to bring space and time into existence. So God existing timelessly does not involve the kind of absurdities of existing in an infinite past, but the rational probability of the cause of the universe existing beyond time.
[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uj3_KqkI9Zo

22. Who made God?

Very Brief Answer:

God is not in the same category as any “stuff” of the natural Universe. All parts of the natural Universe had a beginning and require a cause, that is not true of God.

Answer 2:

The question “Who made God?” comes up when people make the mistake of thinking the cause of the universe is comparable to the things in the universe. If the universe had a beginning, then it is in the category of “contingent” things, meaning it depends on something else for its existence. Asking, “Who made God?” is a mistake in thinking known as a category error, as God (or whatever the first cause is) is not in the same category as anything in the universe.

It would be a fair question to ask all the other belief systems, which have a God or creator that was created or is part of the universe. Because we now know all the universe came into existence, had a beginning, and requires a cause, then if a creator like those in the other belief systems existed, even that creator would need a creator. So those who ask, who made God, can ask that to those who believe in a God who is “one with the universe” or maybe all belief systems not tied to the Bible, as such a belief does have a serious problem with that question. But the Bible went against all other belief systems in proclaiming all the universe was created, but God is independent from the universe, and uncreated.

The argument we make for a cause of the universe is based on the Kalam Cosmological Argument:

Premise 1: Everything that begins to exist has a cause (supported by the law of causation; cause and effect is the basis of science and rational thought)

Premise 2: The universe began to exist (all the evidence supports this)

Conclusion: Therefore, the universe has a cause

The Universe, and all natural things in the Universe, had a beginning, therefore, it is all contingent, and is tied to, and subject to the dimension of time, where cause and effect takes place. On the other hand, the cause of the Universe is necessarily outside of all that is part of the Universe, and is also outside of, and not subject to time. Therefore, the ultimate cause of the Universe does not require a beginning, and can be the uncaused, first-cause needed to avoid the impossibility of an infinite regress of causes (it is impossible to go infinitely backwards with every cause needing a cause). The uncaused, first cause philosophers and scientists have expected, fits the biblical description of God precisely.

The universe, and all natural things in the universe, had a beginning, therefore, it is all contingent, and is tied to, and subject to the dimension of time, where cause and effect takes place. On the other hand, the cause of the universe is necessarily outside of all that is part of the universe, and is also outside of, and not subject to time. Therefore, the ultimate cause of the universe does not require a beginning, and can be the uncaused, first-cause needed to avoid the impossibility of an infinite regress of causes (it is impossible to go infinitely backwards with every cause needing a cause). The uncaused, first cause philosophers and scientists have expected, fits the biblical description of God precisely.

Answer 2:

Some will counter: “If God always existed, why can’t we say the universe just always existed and save a step?” That was a reasonable thought, right up until it was discovered the universe did not always exist. Knowing there needed to be some uncaused, eternal, first cause, those who assumed it was the universe, now need another first cause.
People who ask this show they do not have a problem with something being eternal, they just think it must be something “natural” and not God. However, it cannot be anything “natural” or anything aside from a supernatural mind (for the full explanation of this see The CAUSED Evidence and Making It Simple . . .).

Answer 3:

Philosophical and scientific thought expected some ultimate first cause, which is uncaused, non-contingent, and eternal, in order to avoid the impossibility of crossing an infinite regress of causes. Many just expected the universe to be the eternal, ultimate cause, but we now know this is not the case. God, or whatever that first cause is, is dependent upon (requires for its existence, or must be made by) nothing.
Something being “eternal” or uncaused may be very difficult to wrap our minds around, but to think this makes it less true is a mistake. You do not have to fully understand or explain something for it to be true.
Why would you expect to fully understand a being such as God? If I could fully understand a supposed “God”, then that would be good evidence the “God” is simply the invention of people.
Some have noted simplicity is a criteria used to judge scientific theories, as many discoveries have led to elegantly simple answers. While simplicity is one criterion, it is not the only one, nor the strongest. Those who bring this claim, implying God is more complex than the universe, and therefore probably isn’t the ultimate cause, need to realize there is nothing wrong with postulating a cause, which is more complex than the effect.
In the film adaptation of Carl Sagan’s novel Contact, astronomers were searching space for any signal of intelligent life. One day, while listening to the signals, the star of the movie heard a series of pulses and pauses, which corresponded to a list of prime numbers. She instantly recognized this was proof of intelligent agents. Why? Because we have pulses in space, a pulsar is a rotating neutron star, which emits a beam of electromagnetic radiation. We can detect this radiation, and we “hear” it at regular intervals, every few milliseconds or seconds whenever the source of emission is pointing at us as the star rotates, like light from a lighthouse. When things happen in regular patterns, laws of nature can explain how those simple patterns occur. On the contrary, the natural laws cannot explain irregular pulses and pauses that fit the list of prime numbers. You must have something far more complex than natural laws, you need an intelligent agent.
When Newton used his Universal Law of Gravitation to describe how an apple fell, many understood it. Then Einstein explained gravity is really due to warping of space-time, this increased the complexity of the explanation. Quantum mechanics is needed to further explain things when at subatomic levels, which makes things even more complex. You see, an explanation becoming more complex, doesn’t make it less true, truth depends not on simplicity or complexity, but on the evidence.
Richard Dawkins, responding in a debate to evidence the universe required a designer, asked “Who designed the designer,” and big-time applause followed. Dawkins, and those who applauded, based their belief on the assumption that God (the designer) and the universe are comparable to a computer maker and the computer. However, aside from the category error mentioned already, another one is involved here because unlike the universe, computer or computer maker, God is a non-physical entity, not composed of complex parts functioning together – in an entirely different category. So the implication of God needing a designer is a bad one, based on the incorrect assumption of God being comparable to physical things in this universe.

23.  What beliefs are supported or refuted by the beginning of the Universe?

Answer 1:

 

The Bible was not only shown to be accurate by modern science, but also displayed one of the best hallmarks of an accurate theory or model by providing predictions of around a dozen aspects of the beginning of the universe, which were clear, specific and given thousands of years before modern science discovered those same aspects. If you do not think God is behind the Bible, then provide other human-products that match that characteristic – multiple, clear, specific, predictions thousands of years in advance of modern science discovering the same – because if there were nothing but humans behind the Bible, then there would be many such products.

Answer 2:

It is instructive that belief systems divided so cleanly between the two options on this foundational issue, because entirely on the other hand are belief systems not founded on the Bible, including atheism, agnosticism, and the general belief in science, which all claimed there was no beginning, the universe was eternal. These other belief systems were shown to be inaccurate in one of the foundational issues.

 

Answer 3:

Those close to the discoveries get it:

 

  • Astronomer Sir Frederick Hoyle was confronted with points mentioned above about the beginning of the universe, he believed the universe was eternal and ridiculed the idea of a beginning as “scientific Genesis.” He called the theory the “Big Bang” in his disbelief. The name stuck.
  • Robert Jastrow, founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies said: “…astronomical evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world.… the essential element in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis is the same.”[1]
  • Nobel Prize winners Penzias and Wilson add respectively: “The best data we have (concerning the Big Bang) are exactly what I would have predicted had I had nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms and the Bible as a whole.”[2] And,Certainly there was something that set it all off…. I can’t think of a better theory of the origin of the universe to match Genesis.”[3]
  • Mathematical physicist Frank Tipler: “From the perspective of the latest physical theories, Christianity is not a mere religion, but an experimentally testable science.”[4]

[1] Jastrow, R. 1978. God and the Astronomers. New York, W.W. Norton, p. 116.Mathematical physicist Frank Tipler: “From the perspective of the latest physical theories, Christianity is not a mere religion, but an experimentally testable science.”

[2] Penzias, Arno. New York Times on March 12, 1978.

[3] Robert Wilson in interview with Fred Heeren. 2000. Show Me God: What the Message from Space Is Telling Us About God, Day Star Publications, p. 157.

[4] Tipler, F.J. 2007. The Physics Of Christianity. New York, Doubleday.

24.    Biblical model cannot be a scientific model

Very Brief Answer:

Mathematical physicist Frank Tipler of MIT: “From the perspective of the latest physical theories, Christianity is not a mere religion, but an experimentally testable science.”[1]

[1] Tipler, F.J. 2007. The Physics Of Christianity. New York, Doubleday.

Answer 2:

To approach a topic objectively, scientists present their positions in the form of models that can be tested. Here are key components of a scientific model:
  1. An explanation of something, put in the form of a comprehensive and detailed model with . . .
  2. citable scientific research or discoveries to support primary premises, and . . .
  3. suggests specific tests, or research projects, or most notably, predictions of what will be discovered through future research to either confirm or falsify its premises, and improve our understanding of the record of nature. That is as good as a scientific model gets.
    And the biblical model has those key characteristics.
Look over what the Bible provides regarding the beginning and cause of the Universe to check if key components of a scientific model are at work:
  1. An explanation of the origin of the Universe was given with specific details regarding the beginning and cause.
  2. Citable scientific research, some of the most important discoveries of all time, including multiple Nobel Prize winners, support primary premises, and . . .
  3. suggests specific tests, research areas, and even predictions, such as did the Universe have a creation ex nihilo (a beginning out of what did not exist previously), did time have a beginning, are fixed laws involved, was the cause outside of nature and time, etc., to verify or falsify its claims.
  • Mathematical physicist Frank Tipler of MIT: “From the perspective of the latest physical theories, Christianity is not a mere religion, but an experimentally testable science.”[1]

Answer 3:

Some may try to argue that science only covers natural phenomena.
Okay, if that is the definition of “science” they want to use, then not only is science incapable of being used to argue against anything supernatural, but also because the biblical model includes the major components of scientific models, there are still things that can be checked, and then require explanation in the natural world, and these things are best explained by the biblical God.

Answer 2:

Some may try to argue that science only covers natural phenomena, okay, if that is the definition of “science” they want to use, then not only is science incapable of being used to argue against anything supernatural, but also because the biblical model includes the major components of scientific models, there are still things that can be checked, and then require explanation in the natural world, and these things are best explained by the biblical God.

 

25.    Could the Big Bang Model be wrong? What about other models?

Very Brief Answer:

Some aspects of the Big Bang model have been adjusted over time to the current ΛCDM (Lambda cold dark matter) model, which is what happens to established models to make them more robust. But, the basic concepts of the Big Bang have not been in dispute, on the other hand, the overwhelming evidential support has only grown.
It would be remarkably unreasonable for one to expect this theory to be wrong.

Answer 2:

The original big bang model has had some aspects adjusted, currently the ΛCDM (Lambda cold dark matter) model is called the standard big bang model, and it may someday be extended by including things like cosmological inflation within the first second after the beginning. However, successful models get revised, not rejected, which is what we see with the Big Bang model, and the original model’s prediction of a beginning of the universe only grows stronger as new discoveries consistently add supportive evidence, while opposing models are rejected.
The basic concepts are not in dispute: all matter, energy, space, and time that make up the universe had a beginning, being created out of nothing (not anything that is part of the universe) in a very dense, hot beginning, which then expanded, likely included a super-brief inflationary period within the first second, and continues to expand and cool.

Answer 3:

Trends speak loudly, and the trend is: the more evidence we find, the more the big bang model is supported, and the model only gets refined, while opposing theories only increase the litter of failed models surrounding this one supported model.

 

Answer 4:

The human element (emotion or volitional wants) is involved.
  • Quantum cosmologist Christopher Isham observes: “Perhaps the best argument in favor of the thesis that the Big Bang supports theism is the obvious unease with which it is greeted by some atheist physicists. At times this has led to scientific ideas, such as continuous creation or an oscillating universe, being advanced with a tenacity which so exceeds their intrinsic worth that one can only suspect the operation of psychological forces lying very much deeper than the usual academic desire of a theorist to support his/her theory.”[1]
  • “Down with the Big Bang” is the title of an editorial written by the editor of Nature, John Maddox, wherein he encouraged the fall of the Big Bang as it was “philosophically unacceptable” in that it provides theological creationists with “ample justification” for their creationist creed. It is easy to see why many pushed harder than warranted for theories against the Big Bang, as physicist Hubert Reeves observed, the Big Bang “involves a certain metaphysical aspect which may be either appealing or revolting”[2] Maddox expected the theory wouldn’t survive past the 1990s with the upcoming Hubble discoveries. The discoveries since Maddox’s article have only added to the entirely conformational evidence for the beginning.
  • Jastrow added: “I am fascinated by some strange developments going on in astronomy–partly because of their religious implications and partly because of the peculiar reactions of my colleagues. The essence of the strange developments is that the universe had, in some sense, a beginning–that it began at a certain moment in time!”[3]
[1] Isham, C. 1988. “Creation of the Universe as a Quantum Process,” in Physics, Philosophy, and Theology, A Common Quest for Understanding, eds. R. J. Russell, W. R. Stoeger, and G. V. Coyne, Vatican City State: Vatican Observatory, p. 378.
[2] Apart from being philosophically unacceptable, the Big-Bang is an over-simple view of how the Universe began, and it is unlikely to survive the decade ahead.” Maddox, J. 1989. Down with the Big Bang. Nature 340: 425, and Reeves, H., Andouze, J., Fowler, W. A., and Schramm, D. N. 1973. On the Origin of the Light Elements. Astrophysical Journal 179: 912. Both cited by Richard Deem: http://www.godandscience.org/slideshow/sld017.html
[3] Robert Jastrow, God And The Astronomers (1978), W. W. Norton & Company, 2000 2nd edition, p. 105.

 

Answer 5:

ALL evidence supports the universe had a beginning, while alternate models all share serious problems:
  1. No supportive evidence
  2. Pure metaphysical speculation; involve nature-of-the-gaps thinking
  3. Do not meet the required PROPERTIES covered in article 3.2a
  4. Have significant contrary evidence, as Vilenkin noted: none of the proposals for an eternal universe are workable, mathematics and the laws of physics can’t eliminate the need for a starting point – the beginning.
  5. Goes against the model that does have significant explanatory power, scope, predictive ability, etc. SO WHY GO vs. the one with EVIDENCE? Consider the Isham quote in Answer 4.

Answer 6:

The alternate models are explained well by James Sinclair in Blackwell’s Companion to Natural Theology, which is briefly summarized below.

Three broad research programs currently include exceptions to the Hawking-Penrose singularity theorems, which support the standard model’s prediction of the initial singularity beginning. In 2012, Vilenkin authored a scientific paper with Audrey Mithani examining these three alternate models, entitled, “Did the Universe Have a Beginning?” The conclusion was: “The first two of these scenarios are geodesically incomplete to the past, and thus cannot describe a universe without a beginning. The third, although it is stable with respect to classical perturbations, can collapse quantum mechanically, and therefore cannot have an eternal past.”

Here is a brief summary of the four:

  1. Closed Time-like Curves
  2. Violation of the Strong Energy Condition (Eternal Inflation)
  3. Falsity of General Relativity (Quantum Gravity)
  4. More “rubbish”

The first conjectures about unusual spacetime, which is characterized by circular time in the past. These ideas lack evidence and are not taken seriously by the vast majority of cosmologists.

The second postulates the universe is constantly giving birth to smaller “bubble universes” within a forever expanding multiverse. Each bubble universe goes through an exponential cosmic inflation, like ours probably did, which occurred for the briefest of moments (sometime between 1036 and 1032 seconds after the Big Bang) within the universe’s first second of existence. Some claim this bubble universe creation has gone on for eternity, some versions of this theory have the bubbles going both backward and forward in time, and somehow allowing for an infinite past.

The supposed eternal inflation universe expands on average, therefore, it is one of the models that falls under the Borde, Guth, Vilenkin study and fails in its claim of being eternal – even if this idea were true with many new inflating regions, it would still require a beginning.

A third model, which tried to avoid the beginning by positing the universe would expand, slow down, then contract into a big crunch, and begin a universe with another big bang. This would repeat forever in a cycle of bangs and crunches, which is why this theory is called the cyclic or oscillating universe. Actually sounds like Hinduism’s cycling universe, except Hinduism didn’t posit the expansion/contraction mechanism.

Aside from the pure speculation such theories rest upon, and the more current models, like the Ekpyrotic Scenario relying on even further speculation wrapped up in String Theory, the evidence we do have shows the failure of these models. Discoveries include the universe not having enough mass for gravity to slow the expansion and pull it back to a crunch. Neil Turok, director of the Perimeter Institute in Canada, was a proponent of this theory and had a bet with Stephen Hawking that gravitational waves did not exist, because as Hawking noted on BBC Radio 4: “cyclic universe theory predicts no gravitational waves from the early universe.” Hawking has called in that bet as gravitational waves have been discovered.

Furthermore, even if the universe was able to cycle, it could not be eternal, cycling forever, as it would run out of energy and either fail to re-bang, or succumb to dark energy and expand beyond the ability to contract again, which an infinite time ago would have resulted in the universe being a cold, dead, expanding universe where nothing else could possibly happen. Another way to look at it would be recognizing that disorder increases with time, so if the universe had been cycling forever, then an infinite time ago it would have reached maximum disorder (maximum entropy) and the universe could have nothing interesting, that had order, like galaxies, stars and planets. If you see stars shining, then the universe has not existed forever.

A fourth model involves a universe having existed eternally as a “cosmic egg”, while less known, this was seriously offered as a model. The egg finally “cracked”, which was the Big Bang. This theory got cooked when it was shown that quantum instabilities would have forced this egg cosmos to collapse after a certain amount of time.[1] And if it cracked before it collapsed, then this beginning still occurred after a finite amount of time.

A fifth set, quantum gravity models, have gotten a lot of discussion. Nevertheless, in that briefest moment when the universe was at the size where quantum mechanics operate, it was still part of our space-time, and therefore, still requires a beginning.

Hawking-Hartle and Vilenkin’s models involve quantum tunneling, but both require a beginning, even if not from a singular point.

If quantum gravity somehow operated before the space-time of this universe came into existence, then it is part of a multiverse, still requires a beginning to explain why it transitioned to our universe 13.5 billion years ago, and falls under the Borde, Guth, Vilenkin conditions.

Quantum Gravity (QG) models and Inflationary models were those included in the Borde, Guth, and Vilenkin papers of models that would fail to produce our universe, or if able to produce our universe, then would require a beginning. In fact, regarding hypothetical models of a universe that does not require a beginning, Vilenkin makes the point very clear: “It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men 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.”[2]

When it comes to wanting something else to be true, than what actually is, people can be phenomenally unreasonable. This last idea is covered because it recently came out in an article and had many people asking me if the hype was warranted. It wasn’t. Ahmed Farag Ali, et al., put out an article, “Cosmology from Quantum Potential”, which claimed it may have ruled out the Big Bang and a beginning.

The first thing that struck me was that this article was published in Physics Letters B, which allows publication of ideas without evidence, “What if’s”, and theories that need not pertain to actual reality. That is not only not a bad thing, but also is an important outlet. However, many seem to miss how speculative and fraught with problems some of these ideas are. The theory presented in the article is based upon  David Bohm’s quantum potential theory, and Bohm was heavy into New Age mysticism (founded on Eastern religions, which hold to the belief that reality is an illusion) and the paranormal, and had very different beliefs about space-time and causality than almost all others in the field, and these beliefs Hawking referred to as “absolute rubbish”.[3]

The article provides nothing to test or falsify its claims, making their theory scientifically irrelevant. Further, the only reason the Big Bang or a beginning is ruled out by the new theory is because Ali and Das start with an assumption that would not allow such a beginning. Is the assumption based on any evidence – no. Ali and Das just felt

  • Geodiscs shortest path between points on curved or flat space-time surface, and models of universe show all geodiscs converge to a singularity, beginning of universe, basis of space-time theorems – Ali & Das starting assumption, can replace geodiscs with quantal Bohmian trajectories, rules out Big Bang from the start, doesn’t give evidence no BB or beginning
  • Lashin felt fatal these Bohmian trajectories are not “timelike”, or basically not physical, Ali and Das acknowledge and try claim like virtual particles in that universe in one of the bohemian trajectories has no measureable characteristics, so universe went through a phase where it was “unreal”.

[1] A.T. Mithani, A. Vilenkin. http://arxiv.org/abs/1110.4096

[2] Vilenkin, A. Many Worlds in One (New York: Hill and Wang, 2006), p.176.

[3] Stephen Hawking, quoted in Boslough, Stephen Hawking’s Universe, 126–27.

26.    Cannot prove there was a beginning because we cannot check what happened “before” the supposed beginning, or even prior to Planck time

Very Brief Answer:

Science agrees we cannot have “proof,” but that does not mean we cannot draw secure conclusions. All the evidence we have supports the universe having a beginning, so the real question is, why don’t you accept all the evidence for the beginning?

Answer 2:

It is a non-sequitur fallacy in thinking, just because we cannot describe what happened in that spec of a second before Planck time, it does not follow that there was no beginning. And how big is this gap in knowing, 10-43 seconds. Not being able to describe that spec of time, does not mean we escape the need for a beginning, it just means we cannot describe that spec yet.
It is also an error in thinking know as “Naturalism-of-the-gaps”, meaning science currently cannot say what happened in that gap from the beginning to Planck time because we do not have a quantum-gravity model yet when the universe was quantum-level small, but claiming science cannot know for certain because of that gap does not make it rational to expect an eternal universe and remove all the evidence for the beginning.
Stephen Hawking has tried to make the point that what occurred prior to the Big Bang doesn’t really matter because it hasn’t caused any “observational consequences” that would change our current understanding, so “one may as well cut them out of the theory, and say that time began at the Big Bang”[1] since what happened then hasn’t changed observational evidence, which all supports there was a beginning.
[1] http://www.hawking.org.uk/the-beginning-of-time.html

 

Answer 3:

Any possible model, which falls under the single condition of the Borde, Guth, and Vilenkin papers noted in question one, regardless of how we end up describing the earliest moments, or even if there were possible universes beyond the beginning of our universe, are still in the grip of requiring a beginning.

Answer 4:

 

The Big Bang model is based on Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, but when  the universe goes back to the tiniest fraction of a second after it came into existence, space was shrunk down to sub-atomic size and General Relativity fails to work at sub-atomic sizes. Quantum physics needs to tie in here as it deals with those small size scales, but no one knows how it ties in. This isn’t a new understanding; everyone was aware General Relativity breaks down by that point, but it doesn’t make them second-guess the evidence or necessity of the universe requiring a beginning.

Answer 5:

 

The stars running out of gas, and the impossibility of traversing the infinite, noted in question 1, still apply, and make a beginning necessary.

Answer 6:

 

Cannot predict when a radioactive I-125 seed will decay, but it doesn’t follow that there is no cause (because there is – it is proton-rich) or that that decay had no beginning.

27.    You are equivocating on what it means to “begin”

Answer 1:

 

Here is a clear definition of what it means to begin to exist, and this applies directly to the universe:
“x” begins to exist in time “t”, if and only if “x” exists at time “t”, and there is no time prior to “t” at which “x” exists.

28.    Asking whether there was a “beginning” is a bad/silly question

Very Brief Answer:

On the contrary, it is a foundational question for any belief system.

Answer 2:

It is a bad/silly question only if the “B” theory of time is true. So what evidence do you have to support the “B” theory over the “A” theory of time? The person who brings up this question, Sean Carroll did when I heard it, believes the B-theory of time is true, which includes the belief that there is no passing of time because all past, present and future always existed, like a sliced loaf of bread, with each moment in time disconnected from every other. This means “you” does not connect to the “you” the moment before, or a moment into the future. Do you believe that? What evidence makes this more likely than the “A” theory of time?

 

Answer 3:

Their answer must also include why the evidence unanimously support a beginning, alternate theories just litter the landscape around the beginning, and this is well-established among scientists, who are well aware of the B-theory of time, but do no accept that theory.

29.    There cannot be a beginning point, or singularity

Answer 1:

 

A beginning of the universe does not require a beginning point, that idea is a separate philosophical issue (about whether points exist; some argue that the universe has no instant of first existence, but it does not follow that the universe did not begin to exist; similar to whether there is some last instant a moving object was at rest, nonetheless, the object does begin to move) that does not impact whether there was a beginning or not.

Answer 2:

Picture space-time as a disc that shrinks as one goes back in time, until ending in a point, and that point is called a singularity. There are good arguments that singularities do not really exist, but in this case the singularity is not a point of space-time, but a boundary point where there is no space-time beyond that point. The same response applies from answer two of question four above: Cosmologists frequently “cut-out” the initial point or singularity because it doesn’t impact the evidence, so they just consider it an ideal point on the boundary of space-time.

 

1.    Why should I care about my beliefs?

 Why should I invest time in supporting what I believe?

 Why is my choice of beliefs important to me?

 Your beliefs do not impact life, so they don’t really matter.

Very Brief Answer:

Just like anything else in life, how much you should care about something depends on how much you will be impacted by it.

Answer 2:

If you judge the importance of beliefs with the same criteria you do for any other choice in life, then your choice of beliefs is as important as it gets.
Just like anything else in life, how much you should care about something depends on how much you will be impacted by it.
In other words, how much time/effort/thought we should invest in any issue is determined by how often (Quantity) and how serious (Quality) it impacts us, and how likely (Probability) it will impact us.
The reason why your beliefs about the way the universe is, which involve God, reality, and a possible after-life have been recognized throughout history as the “biggest questions” of life is because they have a QQP value that is off the charts.
  • Questions of beliefs come up CONSISTENTLY throughout life:
Something you see in a movie, read in a new book, some situation life brings that you must deal with, or something someone else brings up in conversation will stir questions in you about your beliefs about reality. You see a newscast of young children that were murdered in another confrontation in the world, and you wonder, or your child asks, “How can this happen?” When The Simpsons make a joke about a belief system, odds are it will be funny as they have good writers, but you wonder whether the point the writers are pushing is accurate or not. In a moment of thought away from the daily grind, you wonder whether this life is just about the things you pursue, or if there is a purpose that pursues you.
Very high (Q)uantity value.
  • COMPREHENSIVE DIRECTING INFLUENCE on your life:
The set of beliefs we have about reality, and our place in it – is our worldview foundation or map. Everyone has a worldview, which is the tower from which you view & guide your life, and leads to endless choices, actions, thoughts, responses, goals, priorities, directions you set in life, which in turn end up determining much of the good and/or bad you will experience in life. Furthermore, those who are near you, will also be impacted directly and indirectly.
Very high (Q)uality value.
  • The possibility of an ETERNITY:
A never-ending existence, dwarfs all the good and bad that this life could possibly bring.
Consider what eternity means for you. If you are just your physical body, then when it dies you simply decompose into the chemicals, which make you . . . you.
Or, some believe another possibility, that we simply become some form of energy and merge with the universe, which would be bad because of what we have discovered about the universe and what physicists call entropy: eventually you will cease to exist anyway as the entire universe will use up all possible energy and suffer what is known as universal heat death.
Or, if something of you goes on to face the Author of an eternal existence, then seeking and recognizing the authority of the one who judges will be the single most impactful and important thing you can do in your life. Anything you ever have done, or may someday do, will be only a drop in the ocean of consequences that flow from either meeting the Creator and being welcomed by the truth, or being on the wrong side of truth.
Highest possible (Q)uantity & (Q)uality value.
  • There is an endlessly growing & developing source of guidance to the correct path:
The likelihood, or (P)robability, that your life will be impacted by what you believe about the big questions in life is 100%. You will experience good and/or bad due to what you believe. And as far as an existence after this life: probability depends on the evidence that supports the likelihood of something occurring or being true, compared against the evidence supporting competing claims. The evidence for an after-life has so much material, that it is covered in separate sections. The worldview belief you choose (or worldview map you use) is the most significant choice you will make in life – beliefs have far & away the highest QQP value.

Answer 3:

You will know what map you are following in life, and what you will be led to.
It does not take a fortune-teller to know the course of your life, your future, or what you are headed for. It just takes someone willing to honestly think about themselves and life.
Once you know your worldview belief foundation, or map, you will know a deep part of your life, which all of us deal with by: avoiding it, just wading in the shallow end but not enough to know what we are really getting into, or walking fully into the deep questions in life and coming away with supported answers and confidence in the map that guides our life. Looking at these maps give a lot of information about what we will experience along our path – and the overall options are limited – see the next answer.

Answer 4:

At some point, we will all face the bottom-line, the 4 Quadrants (see below):

Answer 5:

What do you have to gain & lose?
We all invest time in some similar things like school, work, family, friends, entertainment, eating, sleeping, etc. But, on what do you CHOOSE to invest a most valuable and impactful commodity of our lives – the other time? Hobbies like sports or music, family, guys/girls, advancement, internet, God, more entertainment?
What do you have to lose? If you decide to take in information and honestly and rationally make your choice, then it will only take up some of your time. How much time do you spend choosing what car to buy, working on your hair, shopping, watching TV, or even discussing what you watched on TV? While all these activities are clearly necessary, they have a limited impact. In comparison, how much time do you spend on the question of your way of life and eternity? Considering the amount of time spent on relatively unimportant or limited activities, it would make sense to at least know what you believe, and why you believe what you do. If you choose the wrong car, you would be stuck with it for some time and may lose money. You make the wrong choice concerning your way of life and eternity, and the impact will be on quite another level.
This study is about existence, your existence. Some will feel their life and time are too important to waste some of it doing this study. Other people believe their life is not important enough to look into. The first group of people are closer to the truth. Your life has invaluable worth (according to the worldview this author has, which is why so much time was invested into this study), and ensuring you are guiding that life along the path that is best is as serious and impactful as it gets. No matter what you believe about your life, most would likely rather watch a favorite sit-com than examine their beliefs, me too. However, while hours of television will give good entertainment, moving your investment from other activities into going through this study can pay greater dividends to your life than most any other activity you could do.

Answer 6:

You will have put into your brain interesting and impressive knowledge.
At each step in the path, there are intersections (a choice for you to make) about which worldview best fits reality, and what other maps need to be discarded or revised. Very interesting information from many fields of science and life serve as guideposts at each intersection along the path.
We can talk about galaxies & atoms, kangaroo babies & the music group Korn, evolution & Star Wars (or The Notebook for our female readers), the Bible & Shakespeare, Jesus & Hinduism & surviving a fall from 10,000 feet without a parachute; and other amazing things in this life. You can use this information to help in your choice of beliefs, and as a side-benefit of this program your brain will literally grow – new connections will actually be made within your brain as you take in information new to you. While it is unfortunate so much of this information has not been taught, or not taught well, the good thing is you will now add impressive and interesting conversation pieces in many areas.
That sounds a bit like a self-help or get-rich-quick promise that floods the bookstores and commercials, but unlike those, this paper is more like exercise, your brain and emotions will be stretched probably beyond comfort, but that is how growth for our benefit occurs, and better to push yourself now, instead of waiting until life and reality does it for you.

Answer 7:

Ignorance is not pretty.
Choosing to not pursue this issue makes one ignorant about it, and unreliable. Such people should therefore keep their comments and actions regarding this topic to themselves, as their contributions can be harmful when backed by lack of knowledge.
People, who choose not to pursue this significant issue, would be described by comedian Steven Wright’s reflection: their conclusion is simply the place where they got tired of thinking.
Those who already accept the Bible are not free to stop their thinking either, as Proverbs 14:15 notes: “The simple believe anything but the prudent give thought to their steps.”

2.     It just isn’t that important what one believes.

Very Brief Answer:

So, whether you accept or ignore a Creator, who created the Universe and you for a purpose, or not, will have no impact?! Why do you believe that?

Answer 2:

Saying it doesn’t matter what one believes – is a claim – and any claim is only as good as its support. So, what supports that claim?

In contrast, the claim that what you believe is as important as it gets is supported by the evidence in the answers above.

Answer 3:

Really? Why do you believe that? Many belief systems have some similarities, for example, most believe in the importance of love, and some positive or negative results after this life, depending on our choices and actions. Moreover, during our lives, no matter the worldview, much will be the same with work, family, etc.

Yet, even with those similarities, do you really believe that whether you accept a relationship with an all-powerful creator, or ignore the relationship or choose to follow another direction having nothing to do with the actual creator of the Universe will have no impact on you? Why do you believe that?

If there is a design for the universe around us, and the evidence shows clearly there is, how do you think knowing the designer and following or rejecting the plan of the designer would impact you?

3.     Different belief systems are basically the same.

Different beliefs are just like different paths, which all can reach the top of the mountain.

There are many ways to God (The elephant and 5 blind men).

Very Brief Answer:

What’s more important: the similarities, or the differences? Many focus on the similarities, but it is the differences that make all the difference.
       You are offered two pills: both are white, the same size, color, smell, taste, and in every way, except that one is aspirin, and the other includes arsenic, so one will cure a headache, and the other will kill you. The difference(s) make all the difference, and if worldviews differ on even one of the big questions in life, tremendous impacts will follow.

Answer 2:

Different paths to a mountain peak do not contradict each other, but different beliefs do.

Contradictions are impossible, like a one-ended stick, a square circle, or stating “My biological sister is an only child.” Even though there are some things similar in different worldviews, they contradict each other on the biggest beliefs in life. Therefore, by the Law of Non-Contradiction, only 1, at most, can fit reality and be true, wherever the beliefs differ.

So, to hope all beliefs are basically the same and lead to basically the same results, is irrational, and will only lead to unexpected and negative consequences.

The truth about truth: truth is exclusive. All people are created equal, but not all ideas or beliefs. People deserve care and respect, but ideas: do not have feelings to hurt, do have the ability to impact people’s lives, and should be held up, or dropped, depending on whether providing good guidance to reality and life, or not.

Answer 3:

There are many ways to God (Blind men & the elephant parable): The elephant is supposed to represent God, and the 5 blind men feel different areas of the elephant and claim knowledge that it is a snake (trunk), fan (ear), wall (side), tree trunk (leg), rope (tail), but the raja (a prince in India) narrates the story and explains how all different beliefs have part of the truth.

Answers:

  • Self-refuting – The idea claims no truth exists, but is itself a truth claim. The raja in the story claims it is truth that no truth (in religion) exists.
  • Don’t forget the 6th blind person, who is a logical girl, and realizes the other five all contradict each other, and if one of the narrow-minded guys wrapped their arms around more maybe they could figure out the truth.
  • Do you see the seriously arrogant claim that is being made? Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Moses, and Muhammad are all blind, but in fact, I can see! These leaders all had a small perspective, but I (the one making this claim) am the one who sees the full picture.
  • Funny response – The elephant is supposed to be God, so if you want to apply the analogy correctly to Christianity, then the elephant would heal the blind men and then tell them about Himself.

4.    We all believe strongly in our own religion/belief system.

Very Brief Answer:

How strongly one believes is not a measure of its accuracy/truth, when a belief fits reality, then, and only then, it is true.

 

Answer 2:

Truth will mark an accurate belief by evidences. False beliefs, on the other hand, not only will fail to have supportive evidence, but also are often surrounded by illogical supports and logical falsifications, all of which trend upward over time.

 

An example of this is found when asking Mormons for evidence for why they believe what they believe, and they explain their “burning in the bosom” (although Mormons will not describe it using that phrase now). Also, when asking Muslims for a reason why their belief is accurate, emotional responses were always provided to support their belief, noting the Koran is so beautiful, it must be from God. I would argue that Shakespeare is more beautiful, does it mean the answers to the big questions must be Shakespearean?

 

Strong belief/feelings are not a good test for truth. Any test, which can point to contradicting beliefs, is not a reliable or valid test for truth. The Bible even notes that the heart/feelings can be deceitful above all things.

 

5.    Why are there so many religions?

Very Brief Answer:

Why are there so many religions? The answer is in psychology and sociology.
People sometimes will make their beliefs fit their wants, instead of the other-way-around. If people don’t like the actual image of God, or the way God is, they will make God in the image they like, which most often just reflects the person making the belief.

 

Answer 2:

Truth can be hard to handle, which is another reason why there are so many different religions and divisions within religions. Some are fringe issues that just bring differences within the same overall structure, others are core issues, which are like load-bearing walls, if they are changed or removed then the structure falls.
For example, traditions in Catholicism, such as the authority of pope and celibacy of priests, are differences, but still fit in the Christian building. Mormons, on the other hand, claim Jesus was simply an angel, we have no need of his sacrifice, we can all be gods and populate our own worlds, etc., which are not standing on the foundational Christian beliefs, and therefore stand on a different foundation, erecting an entirely new belief structure, by definition, a cult, something entirely outside of the Christian walls.

 

6.     I just believe in one less God than you.

Very Brief Answer:

Funny, but your implied small difference can make all the difference.

Answer 2:

If a parent, every day, sat in the living room, waiting for you to wake up, and choose to spend time with them. And, the parent is always thinking and working around you, yet the only time and care you pay to the parent is when you ask for something you need or want, or in extreme emergencies, when you expect them to help. The rest of the time, you simply do your own thing apart from them, which includes things that are directly against the parent’s nature and purpose for you.

Because the person in the above situation cared about one less parent, do you think that makes a difference?

If a Creator loves you enough and demonstrated by what was involved with the cross the seriousness of our situation, our value to him (value is shown by what one is willing to pay), and the ability to follow through with his plan, then why do you think rejecting or ignoring such a relationship would have no consequences?

7.     Belief in God is just a “crutch” for those too weak to face the harsh realities of life. “God” is just a projection of humans’ desires, wants, needs.

Very Brief Answer:

And what follows from that? If you think that means there is no God, you fell into illogical thinking known as the genetic fallacy (judging the truth of a belief by where the belief came from).

Answer 2:

You may answer, “Yes, Christianity is a crutch, which has worked to actually support and heal me.”
What is yours? A relationship, a bank account, 401k, a career, entertainment, what gives substance and meaning to your life? And the bigger question is – can your crutch support you? Christianity has the support necessary to stand all the tests life brings, what evidence supports your belief in your crutch being adequate to hold you up through anything and everything?

 

Answer 3:

If we are a reflection of God’s nature, then we should expect to have longings for things of God’s character, such as love, mercy, justice, wonder, etc., and maybe do project these into our thoughts and hopes about God. Whether we do this or not is secondary, the primary question still is: Does God exist.

10.    What is truth? Does truth exist?

Answer 1:

 

It is always helpful to start with definitions, below are simple ones for the main ideas.
Beliefs:      The way we understand things to be, or how we think things are.
Reality:     The way things are.
Truth:        Telling it like it really is; the reality of the situation.
So, there is a simple definition of what “truth” is, and as far as whether truth exists: when a belief fits reality, then it is true.
            The reason why so many people have trouble with “truth” is because our culture is currently suffering from truth decay, through decades of indulgence in sweet ideas, which required neglecting truth, and failure to brush up on logic in our education. Filling the holes in our rational thinking can be done with understanding the truth about truth (see article 2.1 The Truth about Truth).
If, and only if, your beliefs fit reality – then they are true – and can be relied upon, those opposed will drop you at some point into unexpected consequences, because that is what incorrect beliefs do.

 

Answer 3:

11.    Is truth important?

Answer 1:

 

It depends on the situation.

 

For instance, there is a truth, which may become clear hours or days later, of whether or not it was better for you to eat, or skip, that second piece of cake. The impact and importance of that truth is likely to be small and insignificant in the big picture of life.

 

On the other hand, in other situations, the truth will impact you in far-ranging and very serious ways.

 

  •  Is that “black ice” I am driving on?
  • Is this skin cancer, or will it just go away?
  • Was carrying out 9/11 an honorable act?

There is a truth behind these situations, and serious results.

 

 

Answer 2:

 

Is truth important to me? You will see the answer in your daily living & displayed in movies, songs, art.

 

Throughout your life, you will constantly come across the need to find and use truth, in order to reach what is best for you. Because some things are true and some things are not true, then your choice, and the consequences that follow, will come from the beliefs you accept as true – and whether those beliefs fit reality and give you proper guidance or not. Every movie you watch illustrates the point: our choices result from our beliefs, which are founded on either truth, or incorrect understanding, and lead to so much of our experiences and life.

 

What’s worth sacrificing for? Who do I let into my life? Should I go on the huge ship to start a new life

in America . . . Or, maybe not.

12.    Objections to truth:

       a) There is no truth
       b) You can’t know truth
       c) All truth is relative
       d) It’s all just opinions
       e) No one has the truth
       f) It’s true for you, but not for me
       g) You ought not judge, or be intolerant
       h) Whatever, I’ll do what I want

Very Brief Answer:

Is your objection to truth true?

Answer 2:

Objections to truth self-destruct, or are simply overwhelmed by reality. So an easy way to expose the claim against truth is to apply the claim to itself:
  1. There is no truth . . . Is THAT true?
  2. You can’t know truth . . . How do you then KNOW that is truth?
  3. All truth is relative . . . Is that absolutely true, or just a RELATIVE truth?
  4. It’s all just opinions . . . Is that just your OPINION, or is that truth?
  5. No one has the truth . . . But one, YOU, claim to have the truth?
  6. It’s true for you, but not for me . . . Is that true for EVERYBODY, including you and me?
  7. You ought not judge, or be intolerant . . . Isn’t that a judgmental statement and intolerant of those who do show judgment?
  8. Whatever, I’ll do what I want . . . Cannot argue that, you can do what you want, and you will slam against the hard reality of ignored truth.

 

 

 

Answer 3:

All claims against truth fail common experience – apply the claim to real life situations: standing before a judge when evidence for your crime is presented. Going 100 miles per hour in a 35 mph school zone, with video and field sobriety and chemical blood test evidence. Try any of the excuses shown in the image.

Answer 4:

 

Truth can be tested.
The bottom-line reality is only one belief system, at most, can be accurate, wherever beliefs contradict. And truth can either welcome you home with expected results, or be a hard reality you will collide with, depending on whether you stand on truth or an inaccurate belief.
Life brings some difficult and hard truths our way, so many people respond with avoiding, denial, distractions, focus on daily stuff, aggressive emotions, or apathy to stay in beliefs that may not fit reality, but are comfortable. Of course, then they are then only guided by something that may not be true, and eventually will end up with even worse consequences.
Ever witness a close friend or relative in an abusive relationship, and try to talk truth with them. They may say, “He will change once we have a child together,” or “she just had a rough day, and I deserved it,” or “I invested so much time in this relationship.” None of these views change the truth that the abuse probably will get worse, not go away. We can choose to avoid, deny, or reject truth, but then we will face the consequences of truth, which may never go away.

13.     Subjective perspective determines what we will see/think is reality.

Very Brief Answer:

Your subjective perspective does impact how you see or think about reality, but it doesn’t change the truth of the situation.

Answer 2:

Personal perceptions, hopes, opinions, etc., do not change the reality of any situation, or truth.

This is not a two-way street, where your perspective impacts reality and vice-versa. As far as impacts, your perspective is the fly and the semi-truck is reality, in that collision the fly is inconsequential, and your perspective carries even less of an impact on reality than that.

Jimmy Kimmel had a funny, and pretty good take on people thinking opinions make truth (see video below).

Don’t be caught in the “surrender cobra.” A friend and I were at a conference in North Carolina, and we left early to watch the end of a college football game. We were both heavily on opposite sides of rooting, and at end of game, my team had the game in hand. The TV camera showed a fan of my friend’s team, all dressed up in his team’s gear, and was so utterly depressed. My friend said, “You see that guy, that’s me.”
My friend began babbling about all that would have to happen for his team to win. After laughing at my friend’s pain, I had no response, except to say, ”Yeah, that’s what it would take.” Then, 15 seconds later, when all of it did happen . . . I had the perfect twist opportunity, they showed the image of one of my fans, and I said, “You see that fan, that’s me!”
Now I was doing what the fan pictured, and all those Michigan fans were doing: I had my opinions claims and hopes. My opinion was there was a penalty, there had to be, and they will call the horrible play back. I had my claim: Michigan is the better team, they deserve the win. And my hopes: maybe there is a little bit of time left, maybe a chance to do something amazing and somehow win. However, and as always, truth overwhelms opinions, claims and hopes and just hits you with reality. And the reality was on the scoreboard. You can see in the bottom-right-corner, Michigan State’s score popped up, time went to zero, game over.
A football game is not that big of a deal to me, not going to impact me that much. Worldview beliefs are on a whole other level of impact, making it essential that your perceptions, opinions and claims are not on the wrong side of truth, so you don’t end up like that kid, and on a whole other level of impact.

14.    People should be able to just live however they want, regardless of truth.

Very Brief Answer:

Yes, of course, that is free will.
However, the reason why we focus so much on truth is because truth (reality) is what brings the consequences, and if truth was ignored in how one lives, then all the person’s hopes, opinions, goals, etc., based on faulty beliefs will be horribly overwhelmed by the results truth brings.

Answer 2:

Are Christians trying to inhibit people reaching what is best for them? I can see why someone would think that, however, think some more . . . If there is a God, who loves us and has a plan for us the way the biblical God claims to, and validated on the cross, then the Creator would know better than us what is best for us. Not encouraging others to follow such a God would be uncaring.
Christians, who have experienced the positive results of relationship with God, and recognize how reliable God’s plan is for our future, seek to share with others those positive benefits, secure foundation and future. That is a caring and good motivation, there may of course be some who have bad motivations, but they do so acting against the beliefs they supposedly hold.
A related belief is: “People should be free to live however they want as long as they don’t hurt anybody.” Sounds like it makes sense, but aside from the fact that we should still care enough to encourage anyone not to make decisions founded on faulty understandings, you also have to assume people have inherent rights, which can only exist if God exists (see article: “Unalienable Rights – Why? Says the King of England”). And if God exists, then living accordingly would be the best the person could do for themselves, and for those close to them.
Yet, if a person is insistent on making a choice against what you may feel is best for them, it is still the person’s choice to make and consequences to bear, and even if the person is someone really important, who you really care about, there is a reasonable limit of how far to try to persuade someone, depending on the seriousness of the choice.

 

15.    How can we know what belief is true?

Very Brief Answer:

The same way we do with any decision in life – follow the evidence where it leads.

Answer 2:

The basic approach to determining what is true, is very straightforward, and we have used this approach naturally since we were children.
For details, see article 2.2 How can I know, as the boy sticks his fingers into the electrical socket
1st – RECOGNIZE HOW SERIOUS AND IMPACTFUL the decision is, so you will not wander from following a good decision-making process.
This means you seek for answers and you follow the evidence, not your WANTS. People display high capacity to force their beliefs to fit what they want to believe, which is why there are so many differing belief systems, when only 1, at most, can actually be true and fit reality (Law of Contradiction). Believing what you want can make you comfortable in the short-term, you have likely seen this in people who stay in bad relationships or those who refuse to seek treatment for an obviously serious illness, but the consequences of standing on an inaccurate belief system are as serious as it gets, which is why you must recognize the importance of your choice in beliefs enough to follow the evidence where it leads.
2nd – Seek answers, using THE SAME PROBLEM-SOLVING STEPS YOU USE FOR ANY IMPORTANT ISSUE, and have used naturally since childhood. Those problem-solving steps are covered in article 2.2. Reality works to continually test the truth of every belief system, and the evidence piles up (this happens in many areas of study and life, see image below), to show you the reality of situation. You just have to seek and be open to those answers, like any other important choice you make in life.
A comparable example comes to mind from the physical world, when you stick a magnet under some paper, and then slowly toss iron filings onto the paper, the more filings you add, the more the specific reality of the magnetic field that exists is made clear.
3rd – Evaluate the different beliefs using THE SAME TESTS TO KNOW which belief is true as is used with any theory, model, or choice in life.
These “tests to know” are also covered in article 2.2, but in reading the article you will find you naturally use those same tests every day since childhood (although you didn’t realize these standards had fancy terms like “explanatory scope” or “coherence”) to evaluate your choices.
Not all evidence or reasons will be intellectual, of course, because if God exists, he will reach to each of us in a variety of approaches, especially spiritually being a spiritual being, which is very hard to quantify for yourself and especially for others. The evidence is available in diverse fields of study and areas of life and has been, and will continue to be, available for use.

16.     What are sources of information/knowledge/evidence to be used?

Answer 1:

 

Below is a list of sources, and a brief evaluation of each as it applies to determining the reality, or truth, of beliefs.

17.    There is just too much information, misinformation, opinions, etc., to make a choice about worldview beliefs.

Very Brief Answer:

So, you have looked into it enough to know this? Then what are the best evidences for the Christian model, and why are other models just as good, making the most reasonable choice not to choose?

Answer 2:

The question of beliefs can seem overwhelming, with all the information, misinformation, opinions, etc. However, there are a number of useful approaches to effectively reach accurate conclusions about which worldview(s) fit reality, and which do not. Here is one known as the 5 Smooth Stones approach, summarized below, for two reasons: it is simple (notice only two possible options for half the steps), and the evidence is already in (a continuous flow of evidence has smoothed & hardened the 5 steps) to provide solid guidance to accurate answers.

 

Notice if we exist, there are only two options, either the Universe had a beginning, or it did not have a beginning. Simple. Next, if there was a beginning, then either that beginning had a personal, intelligent agent involved, or it did not. Again, only two options, and massive evidence is available to serve as a guidepost at that intersection. Once we follow the evidence where it leads on that issue, then we move to the next options, and examine even more amazing guideposts, until finally determining what it all means for each of us.

18.     It is all just a matter of “faith.”

Very Brief Answer:

Ask: What do you mean by “faith”? Because you seem to have a misunderstanding of what Christians mean by “faith.”

Answer 2:

People today often think faith is some fuzzy, non-checkable thing.
However, faith has 3 parts: 1) Object we have faith in (e.g., A chair), 2) What we believe about it (the chair will hold me up), 3) Reasons for our faith (looks sturdy, I hardly ever get dropped by a chair, and I don’t see Ashton Kutcher’s Punk’d cameras around). Faith is simply trusting in something for reasons, and we do this in science and in daily life, we just follow the evidence where it leads. This is the type of faith mentioned in the Bible, as it better translates as “trust,” and God always provided reasons to base the trust upon.

 

Answer 3:

Ask: Have you considered . . .  and provide any of the evidences available from science, history, philosophy, daily life, etc., to expose the “only faith” idea as an ignorant and inaccurate comment.

19.    No one can know for certain until they die.

Very Brief Answer:

True, but do you allow uncertainty to keep you from decisions in other areas of life?

 

Answer 2:

True, but the 1st warning sign that you are on unstable ground/thinking is: Do you apply that logic in other life choices?
You will not know for certain whether a potential spouse will be the best for you, whether a career is the best for you, whether a chair will hold you up, or whether your brakes will work when approaching a red light. However, you likely do not fail to make a decision about a spouse, choose a career, sit or drive because you are a career, sitting or driving agnostic. You obviously do not have a problem with not having certainty as you are living your life, and living your life you base almost every choice and response you make on uncertainty. We act in faith with the car, or other choices in life as we have certain facts and information, then just make the best inference based on the evidence.

 

Answer 3:

Ask: How do you know that no one can know? Then, check if the person making the claim actually investigated the evidence by asking them to list the main supports for the biblical claim, or any other, and why those supports aren’t sufficient. Usually people making that claim are ignorant of the evidence available, thereby exposing themselves as someone just not wanting to look.

Being comfortable where one is at in their beliefs, and passively resisting any information contrary to their opinion is very common. A leading atheist, Christopher Hitchens, was asked in a debate by Frank Turek, how as an atheist he believed the Universe came into existence from outside of space, time, and matter. Hitchens responded, he didn’t know, he was no physicist. Hitchens was debating why atheism is accurate, yet when presented this issue, which provides very interesting evidence against his belief (covered in “The BEGINNING Evidence” and “THE CAUSED Evidence” sections of the website) he said he didn’t know and didn’t have to know because it wasn’t his area.

Can you detect the avoidance going on? Hitchens was a writer and a social critic, yet he used philosophy, history, science and other areas, which weren’t his areas when it suited his opinions. Furthermore, not sure who brought this up, but it is a good point: if you are a detective and come across a murder victim, and find on the body a letter written in French, do you fail to use the letter at all because you don’t read French? Passively neglecting to take in available information regarding beliefs is actively making you more likely to be surprised by falling into the consequences of an inaccurate belief.

Answer 4:

Not making a choice, is having the choice made for you.

Failing to make a decision regarding beliefs, only makes the choice for you. If you can’t make a decision regarding what treatment will lead to the best results for you when diagnosed with cancer, which is tough as it is a tough thing to face, and given different options: (a) surgery, (b) radiation, (c) homeopathic, or (d) doing nothing for treatment; being uncertain and not making a decision – is making a decision – choice (d), and you will receive the corresponding results that go with the choice.

20.    How can you believe your beliefs are right, and all other ones are wrong? That is intolerant, arrogant, narrow-minded and mean.

Very Brief Answer:

It is irrational to believe anything else (because of the law of non-contradiction).

Answer 2:

The truth about truth: Truth is exclusive.
            Whether it is politically correct and comfy or not, does not change the fact that contradicting beliefs cannot all be true, only 1 at most fits reality, wherever different beliefs contradict each other. This is based upon the never-been-contradicted law of non-contradiction.
            Basically, this law of logic dictates that whenever two or more things contradict each other, then only 1, at most, can be accurate, and the rest are wrong.

 

Answer 3:

Some really wanted Atlanta to win the 2017 Super Bowl, others really expected New England, and some sad fools expected the Lions to win that year, but the reality is only 1 team won, New England. That is not narrow-minded, intolerant, arrogant, or mean – it is just reality.
The same is true of worldview beliefs about life. At some point, the game will be over for each of us, and the 1 truth will become clear. Can Buddhism be true and we will simply escape our illusion and be part of the Universe, Islam be true and Allah decides our fate by his whim, Christianity be true and our eternity depends on Jesus’s sacrifice, Atheism be true and there is nothing after the body dies, and also, those who believe all (except for Hitler, child abusers, etc.) are basically “good” and will be brought into heaven – can all these beliefs be true? Do you see the problem with that thinking?
Different worldview maps contradict each other, on the core questions, therefore, by the Law of Non-Contradiction, only 1, at most, can fit reality. It is not being narrow-minded, intolerant, arrogant, or mean, it is simply reality. Therefore, the all-important question is made clear – what belief system is true?

Answer 4:

 

All people are created equal, but not all ideas or beliefs.
            People deserve care and respect, but ideas: do not have feelings to hurt, do have the ability to impact people’s lives, and should be held up, or dropped, depending on whether providing good guidance to reality and life, or not. 9/11 should provide a memorable exclamation point to this point.

Answer 5:

 

Ask that critic a question: “Where your beliefs disagree with mine, do you think you are right?”
            If the person answers “Yes,” then their objection attacks itself. You can expose them by asking: why is it that when I think I am right I must be arrogant, intolerant, etc., and when you think you are right, you are not those same things you just assigned to me?
            This objection, primarily given by atheists or agnostics in my experience, is really using emotion to remove good thinking. What if the belief system of atheism or agnosticism is true, then even more people around the world will be wrong. Funny, do you see how the one making the objection does not realize it actually works against them.

Answer 6:

 

It does not matter how many people do not believe something. The entire world could be brainwashed into not believing an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan – but the fact remains that it did happen. Using emotional attacks, instead of following the evidence leads to irrational and ignorant decisions and the corresponding bad results that follow from emotion not leaving room for good judgment.

Answer 1

Guilt can either be beneficial or harmful. When we see someone get caught doing something wrong, like the local news showing someone who ripped off the elderly, we expect them to suffer from guilt, just as we do when our consciences get violated by something we did. When we do something wrong, like when I bullied a weaker kid in gym class, our conscious registers injury, and like the pain response our body provides to warn of danger, guilt is a beneficial defense mechanism to keep us from harmful behavior.

However, guilt is like chemotherapy, in that while it specifically targets the harmful stuff inside of us, if we kept taking in chemotherapy after the cancer was gone, then we are just poisoning ourselves. Feeling guilt beyond what keeps us from further bad choices, is harmful, not helpful.

Answer 2

Any guilt beyond what is necessary to keep you from repeating the bad behavior is not from God. If your child did something against you, a caring parent would hope the guilt would do its one job of leading the child away from harmful behavior and toward what is best for the child, but would not want to add extra stress or hurt esteem from excess and worthless guilt. Maybe you had a caring parent, maybe you haven’t been able to observe such a parent, but God demonstrated his care for us and the value placed upon us, both through numerous illustrations, and with historical markers, which leads to points 3 and 4.

Answer 3

The Parable of the Lost Son illustrates how God actually views our guilt. Guilt can be crushing. When I think of the choices I made, the mistakes, and even things that directly harmed others, who are equally loved by God, it makes me sick. Most of us would probably run, covering our eyes and ears, if our thoughts or past were displayed in a movie theater. So I am very thankful for Jesus’ answer.

Most seem to think Jesus’ parable is about the lost son, but the real focus of the story is the father. Luke 15:11-32 provides the account. When the lost son returned, after doing things, which in his culture would result in termination of family bonds, or even worse, the father did not follow the customs of the time, or behave as many of us would expect. Instead, the father runs to his child, falls onto him in a bear hug, brings him directly back into the family, and celebrates with such joy for the lost one, who came home. The focus of the story is the father because it is showing how God feels and will respond to us, when we recognize our guilt, our need for God, and come to the father, who does not focus on the bad behavior of the past, but on the joy of having you home.

Answer 4

It’s not really about you – it’s about what has been done for you – the cross does what we could not do. When considering what is “good” and “bad”, and where the line is between those who will be brought into heaven or not, most people place someone like Hitler at the far left (bad end), someone like Mother Theresa at the far right (good end), a co-worker they don’t like to the right of Hitler, themselves to the left of Mother Theresa, and the cut-off between heaven and hell somewhere in the middle between themselves and the nasty co-worker (as Frank Turek has illustrated, see image). 

The problem with that – God doesn’t grade on a curve – there is a standard. The standard is being “righteous”, without sin (“sin” is anything against the moral law, or holy nature of God), which none of us meet. If heaven allowed someone like me in, then it wouldn’t be what it was meant to be, but would be like it is here, stained by immoral behavior. That is the bad news. The good news (“Gospel” comes from a Greek word meaning “good news”) is it is not really about us, it is about what has been done for us. The Bible goes against all other belief systems, and what seems to be common thought, and asserts we are incapable of earning an after-life with God and the good following from that relationship. The only way to restore us, who have not lived up to God’s moral standard, must come from the top-down, from God doing the work for us. The cross is a historical marker that God’s work for us is already done. One of the last words Jesus was recorded to have said on the cross was “tetelestai” translated as “it is finished”. It was an accounting term at that time stamped over a bill once the debts were “paid in full.” Jesus did not come primarily to teach morality, or help the poor and suffering. Jesus’ specifically claimed purpose was to live to the standard we could not, to pay the debt we could not, and set us right with a holy God, because he could – due to his love for us.

Answer 5

The answer to guilt is not denial, extra suffering, or make-up work, the answer to guilt is forgiveness.

People still may not feel free from their guilt, which I think may be one of the reasons baptism was instituted, as baptism gives something visual people can grab onto, showing the stain of our wrongdoing being washed away in God’s accounting. The answer to guilt is not denial, or extra suffering, or doing good to balance the scales, the answer to guilt is forgiveness, which can only be given by the creator responsible for all we may have sinned against. A relationship with God is not for clean people, but people who have been cleansed by Jesus; it is not for good people, it is for forgiven people. Yet, some will persist in trying to earn their way, but reading through what Jesus and his disciples had to say will make the matter clear. Paul states that if we were able to simply earn our way, then what Jesus went through was all just a waste (Galations 2:21). Jesus’ harshest criticism was against the religious leaders who relied on following the law and “spiritual” actions as their way to salvation. He stated they looked clean on the outside, but were tombs on the inside. Harsh.

Answer 6

Misperception of God’s love for us. Many people have this perception of God loving them more depending on what “good” they have done, and loving them less or even disliking them because of “bad” things done. This perception is faulty and very hurtful. Many of you have children, and it is a safe assumption all of you were, at some point, a child. What would you think of a parent whose loved changed, even turned to dislike or hate, depending on how the child behaved? I would view such a parent as awful, with a pathetic capacity for love. Do you think God is only capable of that kind of love?

Unlike the fault-ridden love we sometimes experience from parents, family, spouses, or friends, God’s love is part of his nature (1 John 4:8), and does not change. This means God’s love for us is truly unconditional, not based upon feelings or emotions, or whether we are lovable. The love for us does not decrease when we act against God, or even increase when we do “good” things, it is always the same unconditional love.

In fact, if love is the greatest ethic, then self-sacrifice for one you love is probably the greatest possible expression of love. God demonstrated this level of love, and in the greatest possible way as Jesus’ sacrifice for us was done even when we were in the position of rebellion against God (Romans 5:8, John 3:16). Notice, these passages give no conditions we must meet to have God’s love. We are not told to clean up our lives, then I will love you, or I will suffer the cost to redeem you, but only if you love and continue to follow me. God’s love is given before, and even if we never accept God. Truly unconditional, unchanging, unearned love.

Have you ever been at the mercy of your parent, or someone who truly cared for your well-being, when you had nothing to offer (maybe even when you least deserved it), yet you still got unconditional love and grace (given good things when clearly not earned)? If you have before, then you have an idea of how grace can be given, even when not earned. If you haven’t, then that is a shame, but not entirely surprising in this world, and you have a wonder to look forward to, when experiencing the unmatchable grace of God (some of which will be in life, the best of which comes after this life ends and the new begins).

If you struggle recognizing the level of God’s love, then a message my cousin gave I found very useful, just click on the link here. It is not nepotism providing something my cousin provided, because he moved to Columbus, Ohio, and has spoken against the Michigan Wolverines, so we no longer consider him a relative 🙂

Answer 7

Guilt is evidence that God is not far, but still at your door. God is always gently knocking on our door, but some are leaning against the door to keep it closed. Some do this because they do not feel “ready” for God, as though they need to clean up the place before letting God in. Wrong sequence.

The biblical sequence is unique, in that it states we can’t clean the house enough to make it right. Instead, let God in first, and then God does the cleaning and includes us in the work. Most importantly, if you feel warranted guilt, that’s a definite sign God is still knocking on your door as that conscience is letting you know you need redemption (a turn from bad choices against God’s plan). If you went callous and felt no guilt, then that is truly something to worry about as you have become insensitive to the inherent pull toward and need for God, and the likelihood of a turn-around is unlikely.

Answer 8

Feeling excessive guilt is irrational for a believer in the biblical God, and always irrational for anyone else.

As noted by prominent atheists in diverse fields of study, if there is no God, then a) there is no true right or wrong, good or evil, just people’s different subjective opinions, none of which are right or wrong, b) all our thoughts and actions are entirely determined by the subatomic particles and energy in our brains following natural laws, so we are not “guilty” or responsible for any thought or action, c) this life is all there is, with nothing after, so whatever adds the most joy, and avoids the most discomfort is the best you can hope for, and d) there is no final justice for anything we do, or anything that happens to us.

If you do not believe in the biblical God, then guilt is irrational, as there is no real right and wrong, you are not responsible for your actions, and unless you get caught, then there will be no consequences coming from an unintelligent, indifferent universe. The only way you would feel guilt is due to what atheist proponents have labeled as weak thinking, because you are letting culture, societal norms, genetics, untrue religions, or other things produce an artificial feeling of guilt, which you should simply dismiss. If there is no God, then I agree with all those points above, thankfully the evidence does not support atheism as the best explanation.

If an Eastern religion, like Hinduism, were accurate, then the bad you did is a concern, because you would have to worry about Karma and being reincarnated as a dung beetle or something equally awful like being a running back for the Detroit Lions. However, my question would be: Why do you believe in Karma, or any doctrine from Hinduism? Aside from the obvious fact that certain bad behaviors are going to lead to bad consequences coming naturally to you over time, there is no evidence to support belief in Hindu ideas, and there is significant reason to think these doctrines are simply man-made and inaccurate. Therefore, no reason to have excessive guilt.

If the Qur’an is correct, then you should have serious guilt and fear for wrongdoings, but again I would have the same questions, and have found the same lack of evidential support, and fatal flaws with Islam as with other belief systems. Actual analysis of the different worldview belief systems is covered in the Cage Match section of the website.

Finally, if you believe in the biblical God, who is the ultimate judge, and who combined perfect justice and love at the cross, then guilt is only useful to lead you away from harmful behavior and toward your loving Father. Anything beyond that is not from God, and is a harmful, worthless emotion without basis.

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