“U—The Universe Is Expanding
Good scientific theories are those that are able to predict phenomena that have not yet been observed. As we have seen, General Relativity predicted an expanding universe. But it wasn’t until legendary astronomer Edwin Hubble looked through his telescope more than a decade later that scientists finally confirmed that the universe is expanding and that it’s expanding from a single point. (Astronomer Vesto Melvin Slipher was hot on the trail of this expanding universe as early as 1913, but it was Hubble who put all the pieces together, in the late 20s.) This expanding universe is the second line of scientific evidence that the universe had a beginning.
How does the expanding universe prove a beginning? Think about it this way: if we could watch a video recording of the history of the universe in reverse, we would see all matter in the universe collapse back to a point, not the size of a basketball, not the size of a golf ball, not even the size of a pinhead, but mathematically and logically to a point that is actually nothing (i.e., no space, no time, and no matter). In other words, once there was nothing, and then, BANG, there was something—the entire universe exploded into being! This, of course, is what is commonly called “the Big Bang.”
It’s important to understand that the universe is not expanding into empty space, but space itself is expanding—there was no space before the Big Bang. It’s also important to understand that the universe did not emerge from existing material but from nothing—there was no matter before the Big Bang. In fact, chronologically, there was no “before” the Big Bang because there are no “befores” without time, and there was no time until the Big Bang. Time, space, and matter came into existence at the Big Bang.
These facts give atheists a lot of trouble, as they did on a rainy night in Georgia in April of 1998. That night I (Frank) attended a debate in Atlanta on the question, “Does God exist?” William Lane Craig took the affirmative position, and Peter Atkins took the negative position. The debate was highly spirited and even humorous at times, partially due to the moderator, William F. Buckley, Jr. (Buckley did not hide his favoritism for Craig’s pro-God position: after introducing Craig and his impressive credentials, Buckley began to introduce Atkins by cracking, “On the side of the Devil is Dr. Peter Atkins!”)
One of Craig’s five arguments for the existence of God was the Cosmological Argument as supported by the Big Bang evidence we’ve been discussing here. He pointed out that the universe—all time, all matter, and all space—exploded out of nothing, a fact that Atkins had conceded in his book and reaffirmed later in the debate that night.
Since Craig spoke first, he informed the audience how Atkins attempts to explain the universe from an atheistic perspective: “In his book The Creation Revisited, Dr. Atkins struggles mightily to explain how the universe could come into existence, uncaused out of nothing. But in the end he finds himself trapped in self-contradiction. He [writes],
“Now we go back in time beyond the moment of creation to when there was no time, and to where there was no space.’ At this time before time, he imagines a swirling dust of mathematical points which recombine again and again and again and finally come by trial and error to form our space time universe.”10
Craig went on to point out that Atkins’s position is not a scientific theory but is actually self-contradictory pop-metaphysics. It is pop-metaphysics because it’s a made-up explanation—there’s absolutely no scientific evidence supporting it. And it’s self-contradictory because it assumes time and space before there was time and space.
Since Craig did not get a chance to dialogue with Atkins directly on this point, Ravi Zacharias and I stood in the question line near the end of the debate to ask Atkins about his position. Unfortunately, time expired before either of us could ask a question, so we approached Atkins backstage afterwards.
“Dr. Atkins,” Ravi started, “you admit that the universe exploded out of nothing, but your explanation for the beginning equivocates on what ‘nothing’ is. Swirling mathematical points are not nothing. Even they are something. How do you justify this?”
Instead of addressing the issue, Atkins verbally succumbed to the Second Law of Thermodynamics. He said, “Look, gentlemen, I am very tired. I can’t answer any more questions now.” In other words, his decrease of energy proved the Second Law was at work. Atkins literally had nothing to say!
Well, according to the modern cosmological evidence, the universe literally had nothing from which to emerge. Yet when it came to giving an atheistic explanation for this, Atkins didn’t really begin with nothing but with mathematical points and time. Of course, one can’t imagine how mere mathematical points and time could actually cause the universe anyway. Nevertheless, we wanted to press the fact that atheists like Atkins must be able to explain how the universe began from absolutely nothing. What is nothing? Aristotle had a good definition: he said that nothing is what rocks dream about! The nothing from which the universe emerged is not “mathematical points” as Atkins suggested or “positive and negative energy” as Isaac Asimov, who is also an atheist, once wrote. Nothing is literally no thing—what rocks dream about.
British author Anthony Kenny honestly described his own predicament as an atheist in light of evidence for the Big Bang. He wrote,
“According to the Big Bang Theory, the whole matter of the universe began to exist at a particular time in the remote past. A proponent of such a theory, at least if he is an atheist, must believe that the matter of the universe came from nothing and by nothing.”
Excerpt From: Norman L. Geisler & Frank Turek. “I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist.” Crossway Books. iBooks.
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