The universe is here. We can all agree on that (well perhaps some people of an Eastern spiritual nature might deny we’re here at all). So how did the universe get to be here? There are, from what I can see, three options.
- The universe has always existed
- The universe sprung into existence at some point in time from nothing
- Something outside the universe created the universe.
Let me unpack each of those options a bit.
The universe has always existed
This is the idea the universe has always been. Time, space, and matter have no beginning and no ending. This is what many in the ancient world believed. This however has a logical and scientific problem. First the logical.
If the universe had no beginning, has had an infinite number of days before today we could never get to today. How do I know that? Today is the last day in history (until tomorrow when tomorrow will be the last day in history). An infinite number of days has no end. If today is the end day in history and an infinite number of days has no end point then there hasn’t been an infinite number of days. To get to today you would have to cross a specific number of days. Infinite numbers are great in theory but don’t work out well in practice. Because of this we can logically conclude that the universe doesn’t have an infinite number of days. You can’t get to today if you have to cross an infinite number of days to get here.
The universe sprung into existence from nothing.
This is actually the current “scientific” theory of the universe’s beginning. The universe (time, space, and matter) sprung into existence from nothing. Do a quick search on google and you’ll find this everywhere. Some proponents of the Big Bang Theory postulate that it’s really only matter that came into existence from nothing and the space/time that we are in has always existed. That argument is really just the first argument with some accounting for red shift. So if you believe that, please see above. It’s a rule of science that nothing creates nothing. More formally it’s known as the rule of causality. Things only happen when they’re caused to happen. If this isn’t true it actually undermines your ability to do science. If you don’t need a cause for an effect then how would you know that what you did in your experiment caused what happened? Without the law of causality you can’t do science. We observe that effects don’t just spring up from nothing. You don’t walk down the street and then suddenly something pops up in front of you out of nothing. I’ve been told that we just don’t know how it happened yet. Someday we’ll discover how the universe came to be. I’m not sure how you would ever test that. You’re going to test something that exists without time, space, and matter? How do you set up such an experiment? You might say that we can develop a theory even if we can’t test it fully. Well as I’m fond of saying at my job (as a software developer) in theory, theory and practice are the same, in practice they are not.
Something outside the universe created the universe
Well if you’ve read this far, obviously this is the idea that makes the most sense to me. Everything that has come into being needs a cause (see the law of causality). That would include the universe (unless you believe it’s always existed, if so see above). This would be a supernatural cause as nature would not have yet existed before the universe did. It would be supernatural by definition (though I’d let you call it preternatural if you feel better about it). So some supernatural force existing outside of time, space, and matter created the universe. But actually it can’t just be a force. It has to be something that could decide to do it. Why? If there is nothing for an impersonal force to act upon (no matter) it can’t do anything. It has to decide to create. This sounds very much like the biblical description (in general) of the creation.
I could say some more, but I didn’t intend this to be a lengthy post, just a little one for now.