Welcome to tomthinking.com Thursday, March 22 2018 @ 12:06 PM UTC
Where Did Everything Come From?
Author Armin Navabi, in his book, Why There Is No God, tries to cleverly use a rebuttal against the cosmological argument that infers that all things have a cause and the first cause of all things is God.
To sum up the cosmological argument, all things have a cause and nothing exists or happens that does not have a cause. We call this cause and effect. At some point in the past there was a first effect, which had a first cause. If the first effect is the creation of the universe, then that first cause must be outside that universe and itself be uncaused.
Navabi argues against this by saying, "This might seem like a reasonable argument, but it falls victim to the same problem as the hypothetical God behind the argument from design, as discussed in Chapter 1: if everything has a cause or a creator, then who created God? And who, then, created the entity that created God? Rather than solving the problem of infinite causality, the cosmological argument simply recreates the problem using different terms. God is used as an answer, but in reality, the issue of God simply raises new questions. You cannot solve a mystery by using a bigger mystery as the answer."
Navabi's challenge falls flat, however, in that all he is doing is reversing the original argument by asking, why does the first cause have to be God? This is not an argument that God does not exist. It is simply an argument that God was not the first cause.
His second error is assuming that in a state of existence prior to the universe, that cause and effect work the same way as they would in the later created universe. This is an assumption, and it is a bad one because there is no way of knowing—by observation—if this is true. Neither could previous universes that don't have cause and effect lead to this one. This concept destroys Navabi's argument because if there were a universe before ours in which cause did not precede effect, then that universe could never give rise to one that does have cause and effect. Thus, the creation of universes would end and we would not exist.
What makes the cosmological argument work is that the first cause must be uncaused and only God fits this description. And it is only the God of the Bible that makes this claim about his existence. In the book of Isaiah, God says, "Before me no god was formed, nor shall there be any after me. I, I am the LORD, and besides me there is no savior" (Isaiah 43:11-12).
Navabi's argument against the cosmological argument does not, as a necessity, rule out God as creator, though he argues that way. Navabi turns to speculation about multiple universes to make a case that our universe may have come from the destruction of a previous universe and so on. This is an argument ad infinitum, which is not only fruitless, it also happens to be a violation of the laws of physics, which govern the universe. Postulating earlier universes without any evidence for universes violates the rules Navabi sets for his own apologetic, which is that something with no evidence is something to be rejected. To use Navabi's own words, he is trying to solve a problem by creating a "bigger mystery as the answer."
Even if you accept Navabi's argument as valid, that their have been an unknown number of universes prior to this one that resulted in our creation, you are still left with the problem that there was still a first universe, a first effect, with a first cause. If you subscribe to the idea that there have been an infinity of universes then you run into the problem of an infinity of past universes that would never arrive at this one because it would take an infinity to reach this one, and traveling through infinity to reach a finite place is impossible.
After arguing that previous universes and their states have no need to follow the same laws of physics as we do, he forgets what he's just said and argues that, "If a deity truly existed who could break all natural laws and exist outside of reality, there would be no need for him to conform to the laws of physics."
Yes. Thank you. You've just made my point.