The standard argument secularism makes against religion is that it is irrational, delusional, anti-science, and without any evidenciary support. Despite the fact that reductive naturalism only allows for evidence which confirms their presupposed conclusions, despite the fact that there is significant and beneficial dialogue between science and faith, and despite the fact that science itself eventually turns to unscientific faith-based claims, theism also stands on its own merit as a reasonable conclusion of logical inference derived from modern scientific discoveries.
Science is, fundamentally, the quest for causes. The universe, assumed to be rational, is therefore made up of the complex interplay between cause and effect, like a million strings of dominoes tumbling into each other over the course of billions of years. Scientific inquiry is essentially the attempt to trace this line of dominoes back to the original ‘push’ which set them into motion. As the dominoes are traced back, we are left with one of two options: either the universe is eternal, with the dominoes stretching back ad infinitum; or the universe had an originating cause. Carl Sagan argued for the eternal universe, offering up the following question in Pale Blue Dot, “If we must say that God created the universe, then where did God come from? And if we say that God is eternal, why not just skip a step, and say the universe is eternal?” (paraphrase mine)
The problem, however, is that scientists are fully convinced that the universe is NOT eternal, that there was a singularity from whence matter and energy exploded into being. This, most commonly referred to as the Big Bang, was further expanded upon by Einstein’s theory of relativity. Albert Einstein identified an indisputable link between matter, energy, and time – a “fabric” we now refer to as space-time. Stephen Hawking further elaborated on this, demonstrating mathematically how matter and time are not only linked, they are mutually dependent. The implications of this are profound… not only was matter and energy somehow caused to come into being, but so was time itself.
The Cosmological Argument
This leaves us with some interesting inferences that can be drawn from this. At the heart of this is the realization that there was a beginning, and a beginning in our rational universe necessitates a cause. For the purposes of our argument, however, let us suspend judgment as to the nature of this cause, and simply search out what qualities such a cause could logically be assumed to have.
- This cause, since it initiated all matter, must be powerful. This is especially true if matter and time did not exist until this cause triggered them to come into being.
- This cause, since it initiated time, must be timeless. That is, it must be capable of existing and operating in a state where there is no before, no after, no cause, no effect, until it triggers such a state which allows for time itself to become a variable.
- This cause, being timeless, has no preceding cause, as cause and effect do not exist apart from time.
- This cause, since it initiated both time and matter, must also be capable of operating within time, so as to ‘tip the domino’ initiating the cause-effect relationship which permeates all existence.
- This cause, since it has no preceding cause, is not a reaction to a preceding trigger, and is therefore self-contained.
- This cause, being self-contained, must therefore be capable of acting autonomously. The only framework we have which makes sense for spontaneous, autonomous action is that of choice. If this cause is capable of choice, it must bear a will; if it bears a will, it must have a mind.
Thus, we are left with a cause which bears certain qualities: it is powerful, timeless, causeless, both immanent and transcendent, and an autonomous, willful, mindful entity.
This is what we call God.
[EDIT] Edited for clarity on 4/15/12
- Oh Blessed Nudity (ofdustandkings.com)
- Weird Science: Is Religion The Antithesis Of Reason? (ofdustandkings.com)
- Forget Heaven. Forget Hell. Enjoy Your Life. (ofdustandkings.com)