It’s getting colder. I don’t mean temperatures where you live, or even global temperatures. I’m referring to the whole universe. And the fact that the universe is getting colder is compelling evidence for the existence of God! How so? Read on …
The Second Law of Thermodynamics describes the inevitable increase in the entropy (disorder) of the universe at all temperatures above absolute zero. This means that the amount of available energy within our universe is diminishing: the universe is heading, inexorably, toward energy equilibrium. Or, to put it in simpler terms, the universe is slowly winding down and getting colder. Stars are gradually expending their energy, radiating their heat out into the frigid depths of space. As finite celestial bodies with finite mass and energy, it is not possible for stars to burn continuously for eternity. Given sufficient time, all the stars in our universe will eventually burn themselves out of existence. The massive nuclear reactions at their core will simply run out of fuel and the stars will become cold, dead artifacts in a cold, dead universe. As C.S. Lewis put it in his masterpiece, “The Problem of Pain”:
“The universe is doomed! And every race that comes into existence in any part of the universe is doomed; for the universe is running down and will sometime be a uniform infinity of homogeneous matter at a low temperature.” (C.S. Lewis, The Problem of Pain, Harper Collins, 1940, p.3)
Make no mistake about it, all life will one day cease, and the slowly encroaching unending cold will eventually claim the entire universe, enveloping it forever in its deadly grip. A universal temperature in the vicinity of absolute zero (-273 Celsius or -459 Fahrenheit) awaits us in the end. There will be no light either, for the same celestial bodies that produce heat are also the universe’s only light sources. Once they have been extinguished, all that will remain will be unwavering cold and total, absolute darkness.
Of course, this is assuming that the universe continues to exist for a long enough time for this cooling and darkening to occur. The process of energy entropy is not exactly rapid. It is going to take billions of years for our universe to become a frozen, dark void dotted with frozen, lifeless bodies. So there is no immediate need to rush out and buy extra thermal underwear! Don’t throw out your board shorts or bikini just yet.
My point is, however, that if the universe were to continue to exist forever, it would eventually reach a point where every star has burnt itself out and the universe would be unwaveringly cold, dark and lifeless. This is inevitable.
But here is the thing: It hasn’t happened yet. We are not even close to that point. This tells us that the universe has not existed forever. “How so?” I hear you ask. Quite simply, because if the universe had existed from eternity in the past, without ever having had a beginning (a difficult concept to grasp, I admit!) it would already have burnt itself out and would now be a cold, lifeless, desolate place. The Second Law of Thermodynamics means that the universe cannot exist forever (either forever into the future or from eternity in the past) without eventually and inevitably reaching a point of total energy depletion and thermal equilibrium. The fact that the universe has NOT reached such a lifeless state tells us unequivocally that the universe has NOT existed forever in the past.
In other words, the fact that the universe has not yet run out of energy is incontrovertible proof that the universe had a finite beginning. It began to exist at some point in the past. It came into existence at a finite moment with a finite amount of energy and began its slow, inexorable energy decline, a decline which is nowhere near reaching its final death throws.
The gradually cooling universe proves that the universe had a beginning.
But this leads to the biggest question of all: How did the physical universe come into existence? If it had a finite beginning, by what forces or processes was it born? What can explain the birth – let’s call it ‘creation’ – of physical matter and energy?
Whatever creative force we propose as an explanation must, by definition, be beyond physical matter itself, for physical matter cannot create itself. Anyone who argues that some kind of physical forces (whether they be quantum or otherwise) must have created physical matter is simply moving the quandary one step further back, thereby requiring an explanation of the origin of those forces. Furthermore, any such hypothetical pre-existing forces still require energy, and as usable energy cannot exist forever, we are forced, once again, to confront the supreme question of ultimate origin.
So, here is the predicament for the atheist. The universe, consisting of physical matter, energy and forces (such as the universal constants that govern our universe, like gravity, the small and large nuclear forces, the cosmological constant, etc) all had a finite beginning. And physical matter, energy and inanimate forces cannot create themselves from nothing. So where did they come from?
In considering a possible first cause for the universe, the following chain of logic is difficult to argue against:
Firstly, the universe is contingent. In other words, it must have a cause. Universes don’t just pop into existence out of nothing all by themselves!
Secondly, whatever caused the universe must exist outside or beyond the physical universe. The matter, energy and forces of the physical universe had to be created by something that exists outside that physical realm and is not constrained or limited by it. The creative entity must, by definition, be transcendent – something or Someone who transcends the physical universe.
Thirdly, Einstein’s Theory of General Relativity shows that time itself is a construct that is tied to our physical universe, such that scientists speak of the universe as being a ‘time-space continuum’. According to this theory, time itself only came into existence at the beginning of the physical universe, because it is tied intrinsically to the nature of matter. Thus, whatever or whoever created the universe in the beginning had to exist outside of time as well as outside of the physical universe. The creative entity must, by definition, be timeless.
Fourthly, the incredible design of the universe, from it’s precisely tuned universal constants at the macro or cosmological level, down to the incredibly complex world of microbiology with its vast array of intracellular protein machines and the mind-boggling amount of cellular programming in DNA, tells us that a super intellect was at work in designing our universe. Design, complexity and precisely detailed information systems don’t come from random processes – they are the obvious work of intelligence. Blind cosmic forces could not possibly have created the extraordinarily complex and ordered universe that we see today. A supreme intelligence was clearly at work.
Fifthly, the creative entity that produced our vast universe in the beginning must have been inconceivably powerful. The creation of billions of galaxies from nothing, each of which contains billions of stars and planets, would have required power of an order that is incomprehensible to us. The term ‘all-powerful’ comes to mind.
Sixthly and finally, the only adequate explanation for a contingent universe (one that has a cause outside of itself) is that its existence rests upon a non-contingent cause – something that is, itself, uncaused and eternal. The universe must have been created by an entity whose uncaused, eternal existence is derived from the inherent necessity of its own self-generating nature. Anything less than this would involve an endless regress of cascading prior causes.
To summarise the argument, logic tells us that:
- The universe had a finite beginning.
- The universe could not have created itself: it must have had a cause outside of itself.
- Whatever created the universe must, therefore, be immaterial, transcendent, timeless, intelligent, all-powerful, uncaused and eternal.
- Such an immaterial, transcendent, timeless, intelligent, all-powerful, uncaused, eternal, creative entity has a name: GOD!
If the idea of God creating the universe offends your sensibilities, feel free to call him “the immaterial, timeless, intelligent, all-powerful, uncaused, eternal, creative entity who created the entire universe from nothing” if you prefer.
Go ahead if that makes you feel better.
But I think you’re just avoiding the inevitable.
(For more information, see my book, “7 Reasons to Believe”).