Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Cosmological Argument

I fully expected my cousin Mat to respond to my last post [Apologia] with some thought provoking observations and questions, and I was not disappointed. To a duplicate post on Facebook, he responded:

Dawkins has gone above and beyond the call of duty in his writing. As the burden of proof lies on the claimant, the religious community is responsible to offer proof of God. It is not the secular community's job to disprove him/her/it. Even if Dawkins lacked any of the evidence cited in The Blind Watchmaker, et al, one would have to remain agnostic (and, further, atheistic) toward religion in order to call themselves intellectually honest, because the only proof that religion offers is faith.

Mat has used this argument elsewhere in other posts at Men of Reason and Down with Absolutes. It is an interesting argument, but I am afraid it does not hold water. With all due respect to Mat, it seems to me to be the atheist’s ultimate artful dodge. In effect, the argument goes like this: “You are the one who came up with this God business, so the burden of proof is on you. As for me, I don’t have to prove a negative; i.e., that God doesn’t exist.”

Perhaps so, but the atheists, especially those who appeal to the sciences as the ultimate and only authoritative source of knowledge, have an even greater burden of proof. They need to explain the origin of the universe, and this has left them in a precarious position. As my good friend, Gordon Leidner states at his website Created Cosmos:

Today's scientists go to extreme lengths and propose some of the most fantastic theories in order to keep God out of the equation. In many of these theories, they are trying to create SOMETHING out of NOTHING.

Before Einstein’s theory of general relativity and the subsequent scientific consensus that the universe exploded out of nothingness some 14 billion years ago, the atheist could simply state that all matter and energy existed eternally (which, by the way, defies logic; but we will save that theme for another post). Armed with Darwinism and the now generally discredited "steady state" theory of the universe, atheists needed only explain how life arose out of inorganic matter (i.e., abiogenesis or spontaneous generation, which is still another far fetched absurdity that I hope to discuss in a subsequent post.)

But the atheists had the rug pulled out from under them with the theory of general relativity, a consensus that twentieth century scientists came to most reluctantly. As stated by Geisler and Turek in I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist:
It was 1916, and Albert Einstein did not like where his calculations were leading him. If his theory of General Relativity was true, it meant that the universe was not eternal but had a beginning. Einstein’s calculations indeed were revealing a definite beginning to all time, all nature, and all space. This flew in the face of his belief that the universe was static and eternal. Einstein later called his discovery “irritating”. He wanted the universe to be self existent—not reliant on an outside cause—but the universe seemed to be one giant effect.

Thus Geisler and Turek introduce the basic cosmological argument which starts to shatter the foundation of atheism:

  1. Everything that had a beginning had a cause
  2. The universe had a beginning.
  3. Therefore, the universe had a cause.

Despite the efforts of others to dance around such unassailable logic, Einstein knew the implications. Once he got over the initial irritation of his findings and came to terms with their implications, Einstein had yet another source of irritation:

In the view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what makes me really angry is that they quote me for support for such views.

Though best described as a deist as opposed to a theist, there is little doubt as to where Einstein stood on the God question:

I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know his thoughts. The rest are details.

Speaking of details, there were obviously many other questions and objections Mat raised to my previous post, but I will deal with them one at a time. Stay tuned.

Sunday, June 21, 2009


I would like to dedicate this post to my cousin Mat, an incredibly intelligent young man whom I highly respect. He has just graduated from high school and will be attending American University this fall. With an intellect beyond his years, he has a promising future. He is also a self-proclaimed atheist and has even created a blog on the subject: Men of Reason. With his nimble mindedness and keen intellect, I have no doubt that Mat can give me a run for my money in a debate, but he is highly mistaken in this critical area.

As indicated on the side bar of this website, Christian apologetics is one of my passions. Back when I was growing up in a somewhat religious household, it did not matter to me whether the things I was taught had any reasonable basis in fact. I just believed them, having no compelling reason to otherwise doubt them. But after I turned twenty and started to understand and personally embrace the Gospel for the first time, it suddenly became more important to know and be able to defend the foundations of the faith. After all, now it was no longer a religious tradition in which I was raised, but rather something personal on which I was staking my entire future. I needed to know that I was not building my life around a fable.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Lucca: Old World Charm off of Italy's Beaten Path

First time travelers to Italy usually take a whirlwind tour, as they obviously don’t want to miss the canals of Venice, the incredible art and architecture of Florence; and the cathedrals, monuments, ancient ruins and other glories of Rome. They might even take a day trip to see the leaning tower of Pisa, or even travel further south to Pompeii before taking in the breathtaking splendor of the Amalfi Coast. And well they should, but even multiple visits would barely scratch the surface of the rich culture, history, architecture, art and other treasures offered by the better known Italian cities.

But the same is true for the entirety of Italy, which also boasts of lesser known small to mid-size towns that are rich in these same categories and wonderful charm as well. One of many such places off the beaten path is the city of Lucca in the region of Tuscany, where Susan and I had the joy of visiting a couple years ago. We had spent the better part of the morning in Genoa before hopping in the car and heading south toward Pisa. Our intention was to get to Florence by early evening, which left us plenty of time to take in the scenery on the way down and even stop for a diversion or two.