Does God Exist ?
Does God Exist ?
Some have speculated that another universe or a hypothetical multiverse may have created our universe. While such speculation can’t be automatically dismissed, it doesn’t solve our problem about what created this other universe or multiverse. In other words, this argument merely extends into another universe the problem of “something coming from nothing." In the end, we still must return to the necessity of pure act and the Necessary Being.
Could there be an infinite regression of universes, each creating another, in sequential order? This objection is more of an attempt to find a theoretical solution than a real world solution of what actually happened. Regardless, this objection is flawed because it relies on a universe that, itself, relied on another universe which, itself, was not the cause of its own existence. The problem is that we never find that first universe that put all the other universes into motion. Instead, we only find a series of universes that never came into existence to begin with.
This is much like a clock with an infinite number of gears with each gear relying on a previous gear for its motion. The problem is that none of these gears are
the cause of their own motion; therefore, they remain static until moved by a gear [or something such as a battery or winding] that has a principle of motion. Since that “first gear” that moves of its own power is never found, the entire system remains static or unmoved. The clock never works.
Some have speculated that the universe somehow came into being by mere chance from nothing. This, of course, is impossible because all potency is grounded in act and potency is unable to bring itself into act. In other words, from nothing comes nothing. However, if we were to take the “mere chance” argument seriously, what type of universe would we expect to see?
A universe that occurred by chance could be expected to operate without consistent laws or with laws that would be unlikely to support matter. Events and things would appear, disappear, or move without predictability, cause, or rationality. However, when scientists look out at our universe, they marvel at the incredible order they see.
But if the impossible could happen and something could come from nothing, why couldn’t a well-ordered universe come into existence by chance? The reason is the following: Our universe has been designed with finely tuned physical constants. If any of these constants were minutely different, not only would the universe be unable to support life, but the entire universe, itself, might not even have stability. For these constants to be so delicately balanced by chance is inconceivably slim. To conceptualize this, if everyone on the Earth had a lottery ticket, you would have a much greater chance of winning this lottery than for our universe to come into existence by mere chance.
However, both of these points are moot. As we know, something can not come from nothing.
Some postulate that God doesn’t exist and that intelligent life can be explained by natural selection alone. This is false because the opposite is true: Intelligent life is able to evolve and survive through natural selection only because an intelligent designer created a universe of incredible order, harmony, and predictability that allows it to function. While the answer to this objection may be more difficult to grasp in biological beings, it’s easier to determine in non-biological being.
As we know from science, there is great order and harmony in the universe. Atoms, molecules, stars, and galaxies operate in very predictable and ordered ways and not by chance or random occurrence. This order points to an intelligent being that designed the elements of the world to work towards a certain, predictable end (e.g. in a certain fashion). The Scholastic philosophers call this Finality. This is true because a mindless designer would only be capable of designing a mindless universe. Our universe doesn’t act in a mindless way; rather, it operates with great order and harmony that suggests design by a superior intellect.
Since this order and harmony is true of non-biological being, it’s also true of biological beings since these beings are of the same universe and of the same designer. But mere chance, alone, can not explain this order because chance by definition is disorder. When plant and animal life develop, even under the appearance of chance, its only because the universe has been designed and directed with a certain order and harmony that the possibility of a chance variation can move towards order.
For example, in a mindless universe without order, a chance variation might help a biological being to survive in one second and then hurt it for the next 100 seconds. Why? Because for each subsequent second, the being would experience different surroundings from hot, to cold, to zero gravity, to crushing gravity, etc. The chance variation of the being wouldn’t help it to adapt and survive in such chaos.
But we live in a universe of order and harmony that indicates a designer of incredible intelligence. Within this order, most biological chance variations are either neutral or inhibit a being’s survival. But those variations that help a being to survive, such as an animal whose fur turns from gray to black in a dark forest, does so because of the order, stability, and predictability of that forest. The ordered forest that supports natural selection didn’t occur by accident.
Consequently, the order accruing from natural selection can be the result of mere chance but only as predetermined and foreseen as a consequence of what had been designed into the universe by the Absolute Being. Chance, by itself, does not flourish.
What type of intellect created this grand order? The Scholastic philosophers state that it couldn’t be an intellect like ours that merely comprehends intelligible being. Rather it must be an intellect of a much higher order. They determined that this Absolute Being must be thought, itself – self-subsisting intellection.
Some say that the universe isn’t actually logical and; therefore, we don’t have to use logic in philosophy to speak of God, the universe, its origins, and cause/effect. This strain of thought denies the foundational identity of mathematics and classical philosophy that “one is one” (e.g. 1=1) and, interestingly, often cites quantum mechanics to justify its position.
There’s a tremendous amount of misinformation in the public domain about quantum mechanics. The main allegation is that quantum mechanics describes a universe that's random and not ordered. While there are still mysteries at the quantum level that haven’t yet been explained such as non-locality (a.k.a. Einstein’s “spooky action at a distance”), allegations of true randomness are based on ignorance. Much of the confusion pertains to the binary nature of particle spin; or measuring equipment that interfere with particles under test; or a romantic misunderstanding of the meaning of terms such as “collapse of the wave function” or “non-locality.” To be sure, there are weird things at the quantum level that haven’t yet been fully understood, but none of this lack of understanding actually suggests an illogical universe. Rather, this only suggests that science has much more to learn about the Universe. In fact, non-locality actually suggests a universe that is much more interconnected and ordered than previously thought.
This shouldn’t be any surprise. The quantum world is exactly the same world as the classical world of Newtonian physics. If the quantum world were actually illogical and random, this illogic would translate into what we observe at the macro level. But as we know, the classical world of physics demonstrates remarkable order and predictability. This means that the average and overall workings at the quantum level are also remarkably well ordered and predictable. In short, a person can not cite quantum mechanics as evidence that the universe is illogical.
For modern society to rely so much on logic and science and then to abandon it when speaking of the Great Issues of Life speaks to the weakness of this objection. The denial of the principle of identity and the rejection of logic is not grounded in the reality around us or in the way how we live our lives.
Photos provided courtesy of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
Philosophy based on information from the following sources:
– “Scholastic Metaphysics” by Edward Feser, Ph.D., Editiones Scholasticae, 2014.
– “Scholastic Metaphysics” Part II, by John McCormick, S.J., Loyola University Press, 1931.
– “God: His Existence and His Nature” Volume I, by Reginald Garrigou-LaGrange, O.P., B. Herder Books, 1939.
Quantum Mechanics based on information from “Quantum Mechanics" by Leonard Susskind, P.h.D and Art Friedman, Basic Books, 2014.