Isn’t the universe eternal? (Thus doing away with the need for a creator).
“The universe had a beginning. There was once nothing and now there is something.”
–Janna Levin, from the Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University
A universe with a finite past requires a beginning, which in turn requires a transcendent (or supernatural) cause. This is why our universe must be eternal for atheism to be valid. But Big Bang cosmology has shown that the universe is NOT eternal. In New Proofs for the Existence of God, Robert J. Spitzer (who was assisted by Dr. Stephen Barr of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Delaware) reveals that:
“Prior to Einstein’s publication of the General Theory of Relativity, one could have thought that supernatural design was completely unnecessary because it was believed (in accordance with Newton’s postulates) that the universe existed for an infinite amount of time with an infinite amount of space and an infinite amount of interacting content. Therefore, there would have been an infinite number of ‘tries’ [for randomness to produce an orderly universe] to bring about virtually any degree of complexity.”
“Standard Big Bang cosmology totally changed these postulates, and reduced the total number of ‘tries’ in the observable universe to a very finite number…..This comparatively small number of ‘total possible mass energy interactions in the universe for all time’ revealed the extreme improbability of high degrees of complexity arising out of the universe by pure chance.”
Further, this book also states that “David Hilbert (the father of finite mathematics) has given new probative force and depth to the argument for the intrinsic finitude of past time (implying a timeless creator) in his article On The Infinite.”
Hilbert (among the greatest mathematicians of the 20th century) said:
“The infinite [as in infinite past time] is nowhere to be found in reality. It neither exists in nature nor provides a legitimate basis for rational thought. The role that remains for the infinite…is solely that of an idea.”
Many other contemporary mathematicians (such as mathematicians Frankel, Rotman, Kneebone, Zermelo, and Robinson) draw the same conclusion. Mathematicians Rotman and Kneebone state in The Theory of Sets and Transfinite Numbers:
“The conception of an infinite sequence of choices (or any other acts)…is a mathematical fiction—an idealization of what is imaginable only in finite cases.”
But rather than just taking some highly prominent mathematicians at their word, wouldn’t it be nice to understand for oneself just why infinite past time is mathematically impossible? Fortunately, the mathematical concepts herein are easily accessible to non-mathematicians. Below is an excerpt from The Case for the Creator by Lee Strobel and features an interview the author conducted with William Lane Craig:
“Let’s use an example involving marbles,” he said. “Imagine I had an infinite number of marbles in my possession, and that I wanted to give you some. In fact, suppose I wanted to give you an infinite number of marbles. One way I could do that would be to give you the entire pile of marbles. In that case I would have zero marbles left for myself.”
“However, another way to do it would be to give you all of the odd numbered marbles. Then I would still have an infinity left over for myself, and you would have an infinity too. You’d have just as many as I would–and, in fact, each of us would have just as many as I originally had before we divided into odd and even! Or another approach would be for me to give you all of the marbles numbered four and higher. That way, you would have an infinity of marbles, but I would only have three marbles left.”
“What these illustrations demonstrate is that the notion of an actual infinite number of things leads to contradictory results. In the first case in which I gave you all the marbles, infinity minus infinity is zero; in the second case in which I gave you all the odd-numbered marbles, infinity minus infinity is infinity; and in the third case in which I gave you all the marbles numbered four and greater, infinity minus infinity is three. In each case, we have subtracted the identical number from the identical number, but we have come up with nonidentical results.”
“For that reason, mathematicians are forbidden from doing subtraction and division in transfinite arithmetic, because this would lead to contradictions. You see, the idea of an actual infinity is just conceptual; it exists only in our minds.”
And lastly, in 2003, physicists Borde, Vilenkin and Guth corroborated to formulate a proof that demonstrates that an eternal universe is not possible. It is known as the BVG theorem. Alexander Vilenkin is very blunt in regard to the implications of this proof:
“It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.” (Many Worlds in One [New York: Hill and Wang, 2006], p.176).
It should be noted that this proof applies to any proposed “multiverse” or “oscillating universe,” etc. in which our universe may be situated. Astrophysicist Robert Jastrow (the founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies) echoes Vilenkin’s above comments:
“The lingering decline predicted by astronomers for the end of the world differs from the explosive conditions they have calculated for its birth, but the impact is the same: modern science denies an eternal existence to the Universe, either in the past or in the future.“
To explore this subject matter in more detail, please read this article.