This is what you’ve been waiting for — number 500. It’s hard to believe, but we once considered ending this series with an especially crazy letter — see #167: The Final Climax.
Today’s letter-to the editor is the Buffalo News of Buffalo, New York. It’s titled God must have existed before the Big Bang. There’s a comments section at the end, but there’s only one comment so far — and it’s favorable.
Today’s writer isn’t a politician or a preacher, but he’s sufficiently prominent that we’ll use his full name. He’s described at the end as Zach Krajacic, “vice president at 101.7 FM The Station of the Cross Catholic Radio Network, based in Williamsville.” Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!
Though consistent with the Catholic Church’s historic teaching, Pope Francis’ recent affirmation of the plausibility of the Big Bang theory has apparently shocked the world.
It didn’t shock us — see Pope Francis, Evolution, & the Big Bang. Then we’re told:
However, the Big Bang is not incompatible with God, because something would have had to exist prior to the Big Bang taking place, for an explosion could not have happened in a state of “nothing.” This “something” is what we refer to as God.
The creation of the universe as a byproduct of an explosion would mean that nothing existed before the explosion. But, as will be demonstrated, it is not possible to have a state of nothing (or a state of non-existence), and even if it were possible, a state of nothing could not create something, because there would be no substance or catalyst from which it could be created. This means there must be a supernatural being that was not created but simply exists, and is therefore intertwined with existence itself.
[*Curmudgeon groans*] No one claims that there was literally nothing before the Big Bang — it’s just that we don’t know what it was. Zach sounds like Ray Comfort, the author of Nothing Created Everything: The Scientific Impossibility of Atheistic Evolution.
As we’ve said before, if one begins with the premise that everything has a cause, and then works his way back to God’s being the cause of the universe, the game isn’t over yet. It has just begun. The conclusion that God created the universe isn’t exempt from the premise that brought you to that conclusion. The premise that “everything has a cause” demands that you persevere and seek the cause of God — which leads to the absurdity of an infinite series of earlier gods.
The traditional “solution” is that when one gets to the desired moment in the causal chain, he arbitrarily abandons the suddenly inconvenient premise, leaving him with God as an “uncaused cause” — a conclusion which contradicts the premise. But one can’t arbitrarily stop with some allegedly transcendent thing and assert that it needs no cause. Why? You arrived at that point because everything has a cause. Whether one capriciously abandons the premise at the “right” place in the causal chain, or diligently pursues it to an infinite series of gods — the argument is either self-contradictory or it leads to an absurdity.
There’s nothing wrong with the premise of causality; but it doesn’t support theism’s desired conclusion. Anyway, Zach is on a roll. He continues:
The concept of existence is the key to any discussion about the origin of the universe. Too often the focus of these discussions is on how visible matter came into existence – human beings, animals, planets, stars, sun, moon and so on. The discussion must go much deeper. It must address questions of how existence came to be and whether non-existence (i.e., nothing) is even possible.
This is deep thinking. Deep! Here’s more:
[N]on-existence is not possible. Even if it were possible, a state of nothing would have to be a permanent state, because it is impossible for something to be created from nothing. In order for the creation of anything to have taken place, something must always have existed. This something is God.
Yeah, okay. Moving along:
For this reason the theory of evolution in no way undermines the existence of God. Even if we accept that human beings evolved from monkeys, the next question is: Where did monkeys come from? The answer to that question prompts another question and so on. Each question illustrates the process of cause and effect: something comes into being as the result of something before it. As we continue to proceed through the chain of cause and effect, we eventually reach the atom (the basic building block of all matter) and wonder how the atom came into being.
Ooooooooooh — this is so profound! Then he goes on and on about the need for a prime mover. Skipping that, we come to another excerpt:
This can only mean one thing: A higher power outside of matter must have always existed without having been created. Existence therefore is a state of being that transcends matter and has no beginning and no end. This state of being is what we refer to as God. Aside from God, there is no other way to identify a prime mover that had no need of being created, one who simply exists.
Didn’t he already say that? Oh well, on with the letter:
Since God has always existed, he did not need to be created.
There goes Zach’s whole argument about causality. No, wait — he takes one final stab at it as we arrive at the end:
Yet we can understand how God has always existed from this perspective: Existence has always existed (or alternatively, there is no such thing as non-existence), which can only be explained through the existence of a supernatural being that is completely distinct from matter. This being is known as God. Unlike the world, he has no beginning and no end. He is existence itself.
So there you are. Everything needs a cause — except the First Cause, which somehow requires no cause. It’s all so very clear.
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