In the Beginning... God or Matter?
In the beginning...
The bible starts with these words. In the beginning. In the beginning of what? Existence? We as Christians must have answers if we are to be effective in reaching out to a lost and dying world. Let's be willing to put our faith to the test. Let's examine what we believe from an objective viewpoint.
So many of us simply believe what we believe because someone else told us this is what we should believe. How strong can that foundation be? No rational thought? Just because someone else said it was so? I feel it is true? He speaks to my heart? Are these rational reasons to believe? Many of you reading this have also read my hub on Infinite regression. I spoke of how we can logically conclude the existence of God through rational critical analysis of the facts. This is a companion piece I am writing as much for myself as anyone else. I write this because I have once again been challenged in my reasoning for faith. I asked myself, "would I die for my belief?" I wasn't expecting my answer to be unsure. It was. I asked myself, "Why do I believe what I believe?" Well...I believe what I believe because there was a time when I was searching for answers and purpose and redemption and my grandmother gave me a bible. I never questioned it I just read it and believed it. Recently that fact was pointed out to me. The foundation for my faith was that someone told me the bible was true and I simply believed on that basis.
I have been conversing with one of the brightest minds in the world over the past few weeks. He is foremost in the world of critical analysis. His words have caused me to really question what I believe as well as why. I knew this would be dangerous territory going in, but I also decided that if God cannot stand in the face of objective critical analysis, He was not God. For me to be willing to not only lay down my life inservice to Him, but also be willing to Die for that faith, I better be certain of my belief. Can you see the words I am using? Belief. Faith? Are these terms as strong as Fact or rational? They need to be if I'm going to be willing to live and die for them.
In the beginning
I started out this piece with a question. In the beginning of what? I was going to use the word time but replaced it with existence. Let's look at existence and time together. Did time have a beginning? Could existence have a beginning? It comes down to this. Either matter is eternal and without cause or God is eternal and without cause. It's a leap of faith either way because in the end it SHOULD just be one infinite eternal void and we shouldn't be here to discuss it. But we are and so the question needs to be asked. Which one is more rational?
We believe in a God who never had a moment when He became self aware. Try and wrap your mind around that. My friend believes that matter is eternal and without beginning. He put my God to the test. He started with the different possibilities for the creation or starting point of matter with God being creator. The first possibility he considered was.
God created matter out of nothing. He asked how something could be created out of nothing. It's like multiplying by zero. Nothing is NOTHING.
The second premise was that God created out of himself. Which means that what we call existence are really parts of God Himself. Since matter cannot be created from nothing, for the universe to exist, from a creationist view it would either have to be part of the existing eternal God, or for matter to be eternal without God.
The third scenario is that God caused creation of what we call the universe by taking what already existed and perfoming causal action on it. Like a man taking a tree and turning it into a table. Without the tree, there could be no table.
He was FAR more detailed in his reasoning. All 3 scenarios ended with the conclusion that God could not be the cause for the existence of matter, therefore matter is eternal and without cause. We seem to have a winner! Not so fast my friend.
Just because something seems to make sense it doesn't neccessarily make it true
I will use an example that my friend gave.
1) Atoms are invisible to the naked eye.
2) The human body is made up of atoms.
3) The human body is invisible to the naked eye.
The first 2 premises are true and based on them we should be able to logically conclude that number 3 would be true as well. Is it? I think NOT!
He concludes that space is without cause. How could we argue with that. I could agree that space would exist without God. But that would be all that would exist. He concludes that by presentation of his analysis in the previous text, matter is eternal and without cause. Let's start there.
In the beginning... matter. without cause... eternal. This lifeless matter performed causal action without thought or purpose on other matter. Atoms bouncing around affecting each other, colliding eternally, without life or thought. Until one day BOOM!!! They formed spherical obects like sun moon planet. But they didn't stop there. Oh no, these causeless, lifeless, thoughtless, atoms randomly thoughtlessly came together to form an atmoshere over the one "lucky" planet we call Earth! How serendipitous! This lifeless thoughtless collection of atoms didn't stop there either. Hydrogen atoms, joined with oxygen atoms and became what we call water. All without any intelligence behind it. But wait there's more! Hmmmm! Lifeless, thoughtless atoms randomly got together with other lifeless thoughtless atoms to form... let's start with a blade of grass. That shouldn't be too much to ask from lifeless thoughtless atoms that are credited with being responsible for all of existence should it? The problem is grass is a LIVING thing. These are lifeless thoughtless causers. How did lifeless thoughtless causers jump from lifeless to life?
It's like multiplying by zero to me. Lifeless x Lifeless= Lifeless. Always will. Under this scenario we are asked to believe that these lifeless thoughtless atoms came together to form complex beings such as sea creatures, and wildlife that roam the Earth. These lifeless thoughtless atoms went on to form man. Huh!? That's a pretty neat trick considering how complex we are. We don't just exist on instinct, we have powers of reasoning. We can assess situations and predict outcomes. We can communicate verbally, through the written word and body language. All because atoms bounced off each other JUST right. Pretty impressive, especially for something that is lifeless and thoughtless.
The reason I BELIEVE
If matter is eternal it would always be lifeless. You can't produce life without all the ingredients necessary for it. No tree, no table. More than that. No MAN,(causal force) no tree,(target object) no table (caused existence). No matter, no existence. But there is matter. Matter alone could never produce life. So I conclude, God took matter (Which He created) and made lifeless thoughtless matter into a living thing. It takes life and intelligence to create, not random bouncing of lifeless thoughtless atoms off of other lifeless thoughtless atoms.
My friend was very persuasive in his presentation. Based on his reasoning I had no refute. I told him he "killed God". I was ready to throw in the towel. God led me on a journey that led to the death of my faith? I was afraid to live a life that had no meaning. For 2 days I was in the wilderness. Then God gave me this. It's OK to question faith. God will stand the test. He wants us to be able to provide a reason for what we believe that goes beyond, it's what someone told me to believe. The foundation of my faith was, because my grandmother told me it was true and I started to build on that. Now I believe because after careful consideration of the possibilities... In the beginning God! Makes the most sense and I believe it is impossible for it to be otherwise based on a critical analysis of the possibilities.