A couple of days ago this blog had an article on a logical proof for God’s existence. At the risk of putting even more people to sleep, I’ll try to clarify a bit. The argument was stated:
Everything that has a beginning needs a cause.
The universe had a beginning.
The universe needs a cause.
The first premise (everything that has a beginning needs a cause) is true for a couple of reasons. First, nothing can cause itself. A cause has to exist before the effect. Nothing can exist prior to when it exists. It would be nonsense to say “The universe existed prior to when it began, so that it could cause itself.” Second, all effects need a cause, for this is the definition of an effect (e.g., something that needs a cause). So whatever begins needs a beginner….something to cause it to begin. It cannot begin itself, for it would have to exist prior to when it exists. So the first premise is held by most people to be beyond all doubt.
Philosopher Bertrand Russel countered this by asking “If everything needs a cause, what caused God?” and then dismissed the whole argument. This is not logical and proves nothing, because it misunderstands the first premise. Note the first premise says “Everything that has a beginning needs a cause.” Theists never claim that God has a beginning. We never claimed that everything needs a cause, but only those things that have a beginning. Since God never began, then He doesn’t need a cause. (I know your next question….but hold it until after I explain the second premise.)
Second Premise: “The universe had a beginning.” This simply says that the universe cannot be eternal. As proof, the second law of thermodynamics usually works well. I will quote a standard college thermodynamics text, Fundamentals of Thermodynamics, 6th ed., by Sontag, Borgnakke, and Wylen: “The second law acknowledges that processes proceed in a certain direction but not in the opposite direction. A hot cup of coffee cools by virtue of heat transfer to the surroundings, but heat will not flow from the cooler surroundings to the hotter cup of coffee” and goes on to speak about “the impossibility of constructing a perpetual-motion machine.” (214, 222). So as long as the universe is made of matter, it cannot be a perpetual-motion machine, and is in the process of cooling. If it were an infinite number of years old, then it would have completely cooled off a very long time ago. Since it is still in the process of cooling, it must have had a beginning, and is not eternal. Nothing “recycles” without a Recycler that is outside of the system causing it to recycle. Nothing avoids the second law without something that is outside the system feeding more energy into the system. So the second premise is proven.
And the universe is different than God, because it is made of matter and is cooling. So the universe can be said to have a beginning, but God cannot, for God is not made of matter and has no beginning.
Now the atheists say that all that exists is material (only atoms exist), and try to come up with some way that energy can be transferred from outside the universe to inside of it, to keep the universe going. But all this does is prove God, and call Him something else……for theists are saying the same thing, that there is something outside of the universe (God) that is causing the universe.
The atheist materialist is fond of saying that the earth is not subject to the seond law in an absolute sense, since it is getting energy from the sun. But we are not talking about the earth, we are talking about the entire universe, i.e., all matter, which is indeed subject to the second law.
So this argument proves God. Necessarily, absolutely. One of the great modern proponents of this view is William Lane Craig.
Further, any attempts to make statements about God not being logical, or not being provable, are self-refuting. For what they are actually claiming is that “I have investigated the whole God system and have concluded that you can’t conclude anything about God, and I’m proving that you can’t prove anything about God.”