Two contributors present brief
essays in response to some perennial questions. Each writes
independently of the other. One comes from a person closely linked to a
Christian denomination. The other comes from a person at the fringes of
the traditional Church.
5. Did God create the universe?
This is one of the great questions of life - though it must be
said that most people today probably leave out the "God" part. They ask
instead something like, "Is there ultimate meaning to the universe?" or
"Is the universe purposeful?"
We may enquire about the origin of everything in an abstract way, but
what we're really wondering is whether our lives are significant. We are
each but one of billions of souls. In terms of the vast stretches of
time since the universe began, and of the apparently endless ages still
to come, our years occupy the briefest of moments. Our planet is but a
tiny speck of dust in dark reaches of space. Are we of any importance in
the greater scheme of things?
And so we turn to examine the universe. Evidence indicates
overwhelmingly that it began with an event we call the Big Bang. There
is no point in asking "What came before that?" because the event brought
the space/time dimension into being. That is, no "before" could precede
the Big Bang. and there is no "outside" to the universe. The universe
is time and space.
A person or force preceding the universe can only be spoken about by
analogy. Some say that what came "before" the Big Bang from "outside"
the universe is a person-like being who intended us to evolve as we
have. We are, therefore we must have been caused.
But we don't and can't know what "caused" the universe because the
very notion of cause and effect belongs to the way we perceive things.
It's not a property of the universe but construction which helps us
understand the universe as a coherent system. For example, we can no
more say that a combination of hydrogen and oxygen atoms causes
water. It just is
Moreover, that I "cause" water to boil is a way of connecting steam
with the act of turning the kettle on. What caused the kettle to boil?
My finger on the switch? Or generators at a power station? Or trees
which became coal? And ultimately a creator God who caused the
Similarly, the universe just is. Yes, we can know something
about why we are alive. But we can't find a first cause for that, except
that such things happen when this particular universe exists. We can
tell that this comes before that in a chain of cause and effect. But the
complete system of cause and effect is beyond our grasp and will always
be - for it is too complex to be described.
Be that as it may, I suggest that although it is possible to
construct a concept of "before" and an "outside" in relation to the
universe, that sort of abstraction is useless. If so, it follows that
ultimate meaning (that which fills the otherwise empty word "God") is to
be discovered in life, not in any answer to the question posed about how
the universe began.
Logical argument about the creation of the universe demonstrates only
that we are finite, unable to know anything greater than ourselves or
anything other than this universe and the world of which we are part.
We live in a world of cause and effect. Every
phenomenon in the material universe can be disassembled and attributed
to some antecedent event. The Big Bang is thought to have caused the
creation of galaxies composed of materials from nuclear reactions. From
these came organic compounds that led to animate life evolving to
Homo Sapiens. There is a continuous stream of cause and effect.
All disease can be attributed to some cause or an inherited
predisposition. Some may not be currently known but scientists operate
by investigating patterns of cause and effect under the assurance that
with time all diseases will be understood.
Thus, the idea of cause and effect is pervasive in human thinking. In
fact it is heretical in the scientific world not to invoke cause and
effect in research.
If we use the Big Bang theory as the model for the creation of all
reality in time and space it seems not unreasonable to ask, "Who or what
caused the Big Bang?" It is at this fleeting starting point most
scientists plead complete ignorance and suspend their previous reliance
on the principle of cause and effect. In other words, at the instant of
the primordial explosion, reason was created. Nothing went before it.
There was an uncaused cause.
It seems to me that God-believers and scientists have a common
meeting ground in the uncaused cause. It is simply logical to recognize
it as such. Most scientists reject the idea that the uncaused cause has
a special relationship to individual humans. If they believe in the
uncaused cause at all, most would say it has neither special relevance
to individual human beings nor any conscious concern for the universe
that was caused. Or some would say there is no uncaused cause.
According to the scientist, cause and effect began at the instant of
the Big Bang but there was no antecedent cause; it was purely a random
event. But suddenly, a nanosecond or less after the Bang, cause and
Maybe this is a tortuous and impossible semantic argument.
Nonetheless, it can be argued that at the instant of the Big Bang the
basis of reason was established. A nanosecond or less before that, the
basis of faith was created in the form of the uncaused cause. It is the
uncaused cause that believers in a non-material reality consider to be
At the fleeting instant of the Big Bang a point of choice occurs.
Many things may influence a person�s choice to adhere to either a purely
materialist view of reality or to a coexistent non-material world. There
is no way to settle the question to the satisfaction of all. How one
chooses either world view is one of the enduring mysteries of life. As
for me, God is the uncaused cause and, therefore, he created the