The Argument • Famously put forward by St Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica • It is an a priori argument • He presented Five Ways to prove the existence of God – this covers 3 of them • The Way of Motion (everything we experience ‘moves’); The Way of Causality (all things are caused to ‘move’); The Way of Potentiality (all of these things we experience are contingent) • He believed there had to be a First Cause which was ‘necessary’ in order to start off the chain of causes that resulted in the universe. • This First Cause had to be a necessary being who did not require a cause (God).
Origin of the Universe Big Bang Theory
Big Bang Theory • Scientists now believe that the universe had a definite beginning, and it will have an end. • The ‘best’ explanation for the existence of the universe is currently the Big Bang Theory. • The Big Bang is thought to be an explosion from a SINGULARITY (a single point of density – where all known space was compressed into an infinitely small mass). • This happened 12-15bn years ago (12,000,000,000-15,000,000,000 years) • They don’t really know what the singularity was or ‘how long’ it had been there.
Unlike Steady State Theory, the universe is not ‘filling up’ as it expands – the galaxies are moving further away from each other, with more space in-between. • In the first second after the explosion, gravity and electro-magnetism were ‘created’. • In the first minute the universe had grown to 1million billion miles (1,000,000,000,000) across • In the first 3 minutes, the heat (10 billion degrees celsius) causes nuclear reaction with lightest particles to make 98% of all matter in the universe.
The Big bang was thought to produce 2 main types of particle: matter and anti-matter. • Matter and anti-matter in equal quantities cancel each other out. The surplus is what the universe is made of. • After 500,000 years, particles from atoms • 500,000 years after that, atoms and molecules start to gather together and form galaxies and suns • Out of the first stars came H, He, C, O • Our solar system is about 4.5 billion years old.
Evidence Supporting the Big Bang Theory • Hubble’s Law: the speed of the galaxies moving away from each other causes a change in the light spectrum, ‘red shift’. • Background radiation: We can still detect radiation from an explosion of this size – the radiation is the same everywhere on earth (TV static, etc). • Composition of Older Galaxies: Analysis of light from galaxies towards the ‘outside’ of the universe confirm theories about the early universe. They are made up of approx 93% H, 7% He, and trace Li
But… • Cosmologists cannot follow the evidence right back to the origin of the Big Bang • There is observable evidence to count for 90% of the explosion (10.5bn years) – no light to be measured from other 10% • The other 10% is only ‘known’ through hypothetical mathematical simulations – they are only theoretical.
Religious Use of the ‘Gap’ • As science is not 100% certain about the cause of the Big Bang, it is reasonable to posit God there (no evidence against this) – this is a ‘God of the Gaps’ approach • Some facts about the world might always be beyond science – even if we do figure out all of the processes behind how we got here, it still does not answer why we are here. There could always be an ultimate power behind it all. This is an area of faith.
Conclusions • Spontaneously created from nothing (like Quarks appear to be) – all natural laws etc have developed randomly over time • There are basic laws / creative powers ‘behind’ nature that explain how it has come do develop the way it has. This creative power is the final explanation of the universe (which some people also call God)
Challenges of Big Bang Theory to Religious Belief& Responses to those Challenges!
Challenges Big Bang brings to Religion • The world is older than Christianity thought – evidence for Big Bang shows universe is billions, not thousands, of years old. • The universe is bigger than is implied in Genesis – if it is that big, then earth is not all-important. • If we are just a tiny part of this big universe, then we are not all that important either! Do we even have a purpose? • Scientific theories present challenges as to how Christians understand teachings on heaven and hell / sin and suffering / the story of Jesus / etc • Some say the Big Bang theory removes all need for God as an explanation for the universe.
This is used by scientific materialists It states that the best and most truthful way to solve a problem is the most simple way For example, it is more simple to attribute the flu to germs, and to explain it will work it’s way out of your system naturally than it is to explain that you are sick because you upset God by doing a,b,c and he is punishing you for this, and if you want to get better you must do x,y,z. Therefore it is most logical to believe the most simple explanation – germs cause the flu Therefore, when talking about the origin of the universe it is most simple to stop with the Big Bang than to add another level of explanation by saying ‘God caused the Big Bang’ The Big Bang alone explains it, therefore stop there! Adding God makes it more complicated! Ockham’s Razor
Responses to the Challenge of the Big Bang • Scientific theories say the universe had a beginning – with the Big Bang. Christians who accept science see God as the ‘author’ of the Big Bang. • Timescale and size do not matter if you take a symbolic view of Genesis - it still gives a message as to importance of human life • Science answers ‘how’ and religion answers ‘why’ • Uncovering the ‘how’ shows God let some ‘openness’ for human creativity etc – after all, Christians don’t want to be puppets • The fact that this vast universe created us is amazing – shows evidence of ‘Intelligent Design’ rather than randomness • Some people just say science and religion are different and should stick to their own areas without commenting on each other! • Others reject science all together as misguided misinterpretation of the facts revealed to us by God!
The Design (Teleological) Argument N.B. This goes with the Origin of Life section, and the First Cause Argument goes with the Origin of the universe section.
The Design Argument • Set out originally by William Paley in 1802 in a book called Natural Theology. • It is an a posteriori argument (meaning it is based on sense experience). • It is called the Teleological Argument because of the Greek word telos, meaning design or purpose. • It is based on the observation of the variety, order and beauty in the universe, which presupposes design and purpose in its’ creation.
Paley’s Watch Analogy 1 • If you were walking and came across a stone, you would presume it had always been there, requiring no purpose or design. • If you came across a watch (and you had never seen one before), however, you would naturally ask what it was and where it came from. • You would examine it and see that it is very complex – glass, cogs, a chain, etc. • You would conclude that such an object could not have just appeared randomly, or have just existed forever, but that someone must have made it. • If you watched the watch working, you would also conclude that it was made to carry out a purpose (to tell time). • Therefore, you could finally conclude that there had to be an intelligent watchmaker who designed this object with a purpose in mind.
Paley’s Watch Analogy 2 This argument is an analogy – comparing one thing with something similar, so the second half of Paley’s argument compares the watch with the universe. • Similarly, if you look at the world we live in you will see how complex it also is. • You could examine it and see that it has very complex systems – weather, gravity, etc. It also has so many complex organisms living on it, perfectly suited to their environments. • You would conclude that such complexity and harmony could not have just appeared randomly, but that it must have been designed somehow (like the watch was). • You might also conclude that everything seems to be working together to a similar end. • Therefore, you could finally conclude that there had to be an intelligent ‘world-maker’ who designed this universe and all of life with a purpose in mind. • This ‘world-maker’ must be God, as God is the only being out-with the universe, and is the only intelligent, powerful and loving creator.
Traditional Criticisms of the Design Argument These criticisms come mainly from David Hume’s book Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (1801 – BEFORE Paley published his book!). • His first argument that any analogical argument is weak – to say something is LIKE something else, is not proof. • If the universe was designed, it is not necessarily by God (the watch, for example, could have been designed by a team, or by a genius lunatic, etc so these possibilities should also apply to god).
The universe is NOT like a watch! (One is mechanical and ‘set’, the other is organic, changing and growing). • Nature is NOT perfect, beautiful and harmonious. There is just as much chaos and disorder as order and beauty (disease, disaster, war, etc) – either the designer is poor, or perverse! • If there is design in nature, nature may be providing it ‘herself’: “For all we know a priori, matter may contain the source or spring of order naturally within itself.” [Some people argue that Hume’s criticisms of the argument are so infallible, that Paley would not have published his book if he had known about them!]
The Theory of Evolution A Modern Criticism to the Design Argument (NOT to the First Cause Argument)
Evolutionary Theory • The word ‘evolution’ means ‘gradual development’ • Evolutionary ideas have been present (although not widely known) throughout history. • It was not until the observations of Charles Darwin (19th C) that a scientific theory of evolution began to emerge. • Darwin’s original theory was written in his Origin of Species in 1859. • Therefore, there was no theory of evolution at Hume / Paley’s time.
The Science of Evolution - Darwinism • Charles Darwin studied biology and geology, and was also interested in the works of William Paley! • On a 5 year voyage that took him to the Galapagos Islands he began to wonder why God would have bothered making different species for each different island. • He began to think that there was no ‘fixity of species’, but that they might instead be developing from a finite number of ‘original’ species.
On return home, Darwin began working on his new theory and was influenced by several writers (see p.46) • He liked the idea in Malthus of every being ‘fighting for survival’ where only the strongest survive. This led to the idea we now know of as natural selection (Darwin likened this to artificial selection in animal breeders). • Darwin believed if the natural variation in generations (longer legs, etc) were the traits to ‘win’ and develop, then over millions of years there could be a completely different group of animals / species from the original. • He later, in Descent of Man applied this controversial theory to humans.
Summary of Darwinism • Life originates from a primeval ‘soup’ 3,500-4,000 million years ago. • Initial species developed with the fittest surviving. • Competition amongst species lead to the fittest offspring surviving (there are always more babies than the environment can support – they compete for resources to survive and best adapted wins!) • No single act of creation needed for each species. • Humans are different by ‘degree’ not kind.
Neo-Darwinism • This is the type of evolutionary theory we have today. It is based on the original ideas of Darwin, but revised with more scientific evidence. • Darwin’s original theory did not account for emergent species, just adaptation to environments. • Gregor Mendel came up with a mathematical formula that became the basis for evolutionary biology. • Then, Francis Crick and James Watson worked out the structure of DNA, and how genes are passed on through generations – half DNA from each parent to make NEW COMBINATIONS. • This natural variety, and random mutations (when something ‘goes wrong’ in someone’s genes and leads to disability or an advantage), make up the changes we see in species over long periods of time. The best changes survive. • Life itself started with the first molecule of DNA, although scientists do not know how atoms managed to form living cells, and developed through mutations.
We now ‘know’ that: • Life probably started 4000 million years ago, although 2000 million years of this would have been mostly bacteria. • 1000 million years ago, simple multi-celled (visible) life would have appeared, with plants and animals soon to follow. • Variation in life is caused by gene mutations. These survive if they allow best adaptation to environment. • This process of change happens over many generations. • Evolution by natural selection therefore rules out the need for God.
Christianity: Science and Belief Revision – things you may not have picked up on…
Revelation and Scientific Method • Make sure you know the similarities and differences between the methods of both revelation and science (both use observation, draw conclusions from evidence, have an element of bias, require interpretation, etc BUT one is extremely personal and religious experiences cannot be re-enacted to confirm they were real, experiments can)
Viewpoints • Creationists – These are extremely fundamental Christians who take the Bible literally (young earth theory, rejection of modern science, God would not lie). • Progressive Creationists – These are fundamental Christians who are making an attempt to reconcile the ‘facts’ in the Bible with modern science. They may accept some fossils as evidence of Fixity of Species (not evolution), and may believe the 6 days are 6 time periods, but they still believe the Bible is fact and God wouldn’t lie. • Liberal Christians – Those who are ‘regular’ Christians in Britain today who use the Bible to give meaning and purpose to life, but would accept scientific evidence as showing the way God ‘got things done’ • Scientific Materialists – ‘Hard line’ scientists who give no room at all to belief. Truth is in the proof. • Other scientists – not all scientists are scientific materialists. You get open minded scientists who are not religious, but may believe there are limits to what science can find out. You also get religious scientists (in the past many major scientific breakthroughs have been by scientists motivated by wanting to find out how their God did things, or to understand the world God had given them)
Bible • Take note of the differences between Genesis 1 & 2 – 2 different stories from different times, cultures, and naturally with different emphases. • Used for origin of universe, origin of life, and purpose of life arguments – creationists believe it is literally true, liberal Christians take it in context of the history and draw meaning from it. • Remember the Bible is a collection of books (not one book by one person, more of a complex library)
First Cause Argument (Aquinas) • To be used for Origin of Universe essays • If asked KU on Cosmological / FC A then try and explain it using the Three Ways from Summa Theologica (Motion, Causality, and Potentiality, all drawing conclusion of God as First Cause / Unmoved Mover) • Remember objections and possible replies.
Big Bang Theory • It was NOT an explosion in space – there was no space to explode in! • The ‘explosion’ contains all space and time – we don’t even know if there is an ‘outside’ or what it would be like, just that it is not space and time as we experience it. • Remember words like singularity, expansion and cooling, 12-15 BILLION years, etc
Design Argument - Paley • Fits with Origins of Life essays • Remember for KU on Teleological / D A to give in-depth step-by-step account • Paley used human eye as evidence of design • Know criticisms and replies
Evolution • No need to discuss development in detail (e.g. bacteria in sea, oxygenation etc) • Explain life developed from simple single celled organisms to more and more complex ones • The ones best adapted to environments survive • Also competition for resources gives a regime of ‘survival of the fittest’ • The ones that are best adapted and survive the best have differences that make them better – these differences happen at a genetic level in DNA. • Random genetic mutations give an organism an advantage or disadvantage that can be passed on to offspring. • Over thousands of years these changes ‘take hold’ and species can change and survive, or change and die out. • Not all members of a species will change, so evolution happens with ‘branches’ and is not linear (so we have not descended directly from primates!)
More on Creationists • Bible = 100% true as comes from God and God would not lie (response is the contents of Bible interpreted by fallible humans) • Reject BBT = it says billions of years, young earth theory says 10,000 ish (response – evidence in light etc) • Reject Evolution = God created a Fixity of Species, not changing ones (Response – explain new strands of viruses etc) • Reject Evolution = says we came from animals and are not special, Bible says we are special, image of God, soul so cannot be (is there evidence of a soul, or some other explanation?)