Converging and Convincing Proof of God: At the Limits of Science
universe is open or closed.
The simplest model of the Big Bang theory assumes the whole universe is described by it. That is, it assumes that there was no universe "before" the Big Bang, and it assumes that the universe beyond that which we can observe (the observable universe) is the same as the part that we can observe. No empirical evidence exists that can disprove these assumptions. So we are standing on solid ground, or perhaps better said, at least not standing on unsolid ground.
As Fr. Spitzer puts it, in this simplest model, "the big bang was actually the beginning of the universe in a very strong sense: it was the beginning of time itself (and space too)."
What this means is that, contrary to some of the pagan philosophers (who believed that the universe was eternal), the Christian concept that creation occurred in time seems to concur with modern science. The Christian doctrine of creation ex nihilo (out of nothing) does not seem either irresponsible or unreasonable.
If science has proved the universe to be finite, and not infinite, then it begs the question: what happened before the universe as we know it, before physical history, before time and place, before the Big Bang?
Here, we reach the limits of science. As Fr. Spitzer puts it, "science cannot deductively prove a creation or God. This is because natural science deals with the physical universe and with the regularities which we call 'laws of nature' that are obeyed by the phenomena within the universe. But God is not an object or phenomenon or regularity within the universe."
"When we speak of a beginning (a point prior to which there is no physical reality), we stand at the threshold of physics and metaphysics (beyond physics)." We cannot rely on "laws of nature" where there is no more "nature" in time and place.
Science, in other words, must here decrease, so that metaphysics can increase.
Drawing from Shakespeare's King Lear (Act I, sc. 1), we might entertain this dialogue between science and metaphysics at the limits of science:
Metaphysics: What can you say as to what was before the Big Bang? Speak.
Science: Nothing, my Lord.
Metaphysics: How? Nothing will come of nothing. Speak again.
It's unfair for Metaphysics to ask Science to speak again. Science cannot speak again, for at the edge of science, only metaphysics can speak. Science stands mute, deaf and dumb.
But Metaphysics is not at a loss of words. Drawing from the Parmenidian insight (which is self-evident and cannot be denied as untrue without absurdity) that nothing comes from nothing, we know that there must be something behind the physical nothing that science knows nothing about and which lies "behind" and "before" the Big Bang.
Since whatever this "thing" is, is a physical nothing in time and place (because it is before the Big Bang, where only after physical things in time and place began to be), it must be a transcendental Something.
Et hoc omnes intelligunt Deum. And this everyone understands to be God.
(Note. There has been substantial development and speculation about the Big Bang theory beyond its classical formulation, including suggestions of "bouncing universes," an "eternal inflation," "higher dimension theories" such as the Kaluza-Klein theories, supergravity theories, super-string theory, Randall-Sundrum theories, ekpyrotic theory, etc. These suggest that the Big Bang, in its classical formulation, is not perhaps the beginning of time and space, but only one beginning of time and space. Fr. Spitzer calls these Past-extended Big Bang Models. But there are very complex problems with these theories, and the better arguments suggest that "even in Past-extended Big Bang Models, the universe and time itself had to have a beginning at some time, even if that point was not the big bang itself." So long as we have a beginning of time and space, even under a theory more complex than the classical Big Bang theory, this proof of God as a transcendent cause of the universe is valid. For those interested in more detail, one should consult Fr. Spitzer's work for starters.)
Andrew M. Greenwell is an attorney licensed to practice law in Texas, practicing in Corpus Christi, Texas. He is married with three children. He maintains a blog entirely devoted to the natural law called Lex Christianorum. You can contact Andrew at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: proofs of God, existence of God, Big Bang, nothing comes from nothing
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