Arguing God From First Cause, by Alister McGrath
by Robert Lawrence Kuhn (9/27/10 10:13 pm)
We’ve all seen it done: You start by observing nature and then argue that this points to the existence of a God. Of course, it raises as many questions as it answers. Is this the god of deism, theism, or Trinitarianism? Or a committee of gods (not what Christians mean by the Trinity, by the way)? In the past, writers such as William Paley argued that the existence of God could be deduced from the apparent wisdom of the ordering of the created order.
Yet long before Darwin came along, pulling the rug from under Paley’s argument, Christian theologians were expressing doubts about Paley. John Henry Newman famously stated that he believed “in design because I believe in God; not in God because I see design.” Paley’s argument, of course, could be restated, and salvaged to some extent. Charles Kingsley, for example, noted that it could be salvaged by declaring that God did not simply make things, but made things make themselves. But for many, the idea of arguing God’s existence from first causes, whether physical or biological, was in terminal decline once Darwin’s theories gained the ascendancy.
Yet the passing of time has raised new questions, which have reopened this old debate. The growing realization that the universe is not eternal, but came into being in an astonishingly short time, has raised again the question of whether it was “created.” How could it have caused itself, if there was nothing there to initiate a causal process? If the universe was “created,” then surely there is a “creator”? Things don’t just happen; they are made to happen.
Of course, it’s not that simple. Critics argue that “creation” and “origination” are totally different ideas. The universe may have come into being from nothing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that someone got it going. Yet the growing interest in anthropic phenomena, such as the apparent “fine-tuning” of the universe, has injected new energy into what some had prematurely regarded as a closed debate.
But this is only one way of looking at things. Some have turned instead to the idea of the quest for the “best explanation.” This approach doesn’t require a causal explanation of things. Instead, it looks for a good fit between theory and observation. British philosopher of religion Ian Ramsay likened the idea of “empirical fit” to trying on a hat for size rather than a precise causal account of things. So the question is now: Does belief in a creator God make more sense of what we observe in the world than does anything else? C. S. Lewis certainly thought so: “I believe in Christianity as I believe that the Sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else,” he said. The jury’s still out on this one, but there’s no doubt that many believe this is the best framework within which to discuss the whole question of whether nature points us to God.
+ view all Discussions (38)
Perhaps, although God knows the future, he just wants US to know how we would act within our free will. It is not for His benefit, but for ours. This can also be a discussion of all time happening at the same time :) He doesnt lay out our future, He just wants us to understand who we are with or without Him--consequences of our free will, even if He already knew? Perhaps He wanted us to know how much He loved us, by taking human form and dying for our sins. Someone can tell you, but actions show it--to oourselves and to others.
Posted 12:49 PM / October 21, 2012
i watched for the first time today and was hoping someone would mention that it is possible that if there is a God, he may not want us to know by science but by faith which he honors the most; God could have put a veil on this mystery (First Cause) so that no one could ever figure it out--he was the great mathematician and 'software developer' and could easily make it impossible for us to figure it out mathematically if he so wished--He may let us get so far in science but, in order to have the true believers, who will accept his gift by faith, He may put this block there on purpose. The Bible does say he has used a veil so some could not comprehend in other areas--why not in our brain or whatever so that we would have to decide by faith etc.--I am sure someone can explain this much better than I in this comment block :)
Posted 10:10 AM / October 21, 2012
Thanks for the response. I've always questioned the the existence of God, how and why we are here, and the legitimacy of religion. However, this is the first time I've outwardly asked questions. I still have plenty of questions, but they are for another blog.
Posted 2:05 AM / December 24, 2010
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