Several lines of evidence strongly suggest that the whole of physical reality (all contiguous space, time, and matter) truly began to exist, whether it was at the Big Bang or not.
This page analyzes six evidences.
The Universe's having a beginning would support God's existence, because if space, time, and matter began to exist, then the required cause of those three things obviously couldn't depend on those three things. (That would require self-causation.) So the cause would need to be spaceless, timeless, and immaterial. Moreover, it would have needed both the ability and disposition to cause space, time, and matter to exist. This sounds very suspiciously like God, and functions as a powerfully fulfilled theistic prediction.1 By contrast, the discovery that the universe began was a uniquely awkward and surprising development for atheist thinkers; it “was not even remotely expected”.2 (In fact, for a while atheists largely hated it and labeled the idea unscientific.)3
But so what? Plausibly,…
- Quentin Smith (Atheist professor of philosophy at Western Michigan): “The central idea of this cosmology, that the universe exploded into existence in a 'big bang' about 15 billion years ago or so, seemed tailor-made to a theistic viewpoint. Big bang cosmology seemed to offer empirical evidence for the religious doctrine of creation ex nihilo.” [“A Big Bang Cosmological Argument For God's Nonexistence” in Faith and Philosophy Vol. 9. No. 2 (1992): 217]
- Lawrence Krauss & Robert Scherrer: “In 1908 the scientific consensus was that the universe was static and eternal. The beginning of the universe in a fiery big bang was not even remotely suspected.” [“The End of Cosmology?” Scientific American (March 2008)]
- Robert Jastrow (Agnostic cosmologist, director of NASA): “…the essential element in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis is the same; ...” [14.] “For the [non-believing] scientist... the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.” [God and the Astronomers, 2nd ed. (W.W. Norton & Company, 1992), 116.]
Of all the known ways the Universe's physical laws, constants, and initial conditions could have been, few ways would ever allow any life to exist.1
This page analyzes three evidences.
This is an awkward and shocking development for atheist cosmologists2 because it means for them that we got really lucky for no reason. If God exists, however, then the Universe’s ability to permit life is not nearly so surprising or improbable.3 A life-permitting universe is the kind of thing God would plausibly choose to create.4
But against the truth of fine-tuning, plausibly…
And against the relevance of fine-tuning, plausibly…
• Philip Ball (Physicist, 10+ years editor for Nature): “Our universe is so unlikely that we must be missing something… the incomprehensibility of our situation even drives Susskind's team to ponder whether an ‘unknown agent intervened in the evolution [of the Universe] for reasons of its own’…” [“Is Physics Watching Over Us?” Nature, Science Update, 2002.]
• Fred Hoyle (Former atheist “greatly shaken” by fine-tuning; influential astrophysicist): “A common-sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.” [“The Universe: Past and Present Reflections” Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics (1982): 20:16.]
Of all the known ways that a life-permitting universe could have been, few have initial conditions, laws, and physical constants which would ever allow its potential lifeforms to learn about it.
See this page to explore four examples of this:
The discoverability of the universe ends up being evidence for God given that:
(1) It is a uniquely awkward and shocking development for atheists. After all, it means for them that we got really lucky for no reason. (2) By contrast, on the hypothesis of theism the Universe’s amenability to being discovered and known is not nearly so surprising. Such a user-friendly universe is the kind of thing God would plausibly choose to create. In defense of both of these propositions, see the intro section here.[Note: these three links will lead to some quotes from experts and a paper, but the arguments are not developed on BeliefMap yet.]
Features of living organisms resemble the products of an intelligent mind intentionally arranging parts for a purpose.
This page only analyzes one evidence at the moment, namely that the cell and its inner workings seem to be intelligently designed. The prima facie impression of design is overwhelming as one examines the cell's inner machinery, e.g. cell wrapping and DNA replication, as well as flagellar assembly.
This overwhelming impression of design counts as evidence for theism because if God does not exist, then the likelihood of there being such an overwhelming superficial appearance of design in life is very low. By contrast, if God does exist, then life's existing and resembling intelligently designed objects is not nearly so unexpected—it was designed.
Actually, the appearance of design is not relevant. After all, it is plausible that life evolved in an unguided way that merely mimics the pattern of intelligent design (i.e. Darwininan evolution).1[Forthcoming]
Our perception, memory, reason, and so forth can justify beliefs, and have a propensity to recommend to us true beliefs rather than false ones.1
See this page for examples regarding the faculty of philosophical intuition (the most controversial): it justifies beliefs like…
This is relevant because it is awkward and unexplained if atheism is true, whereas if theism is true, it is not nearly so unlikely or unexpected. After all, creating moral agents with generally reliable cognitive faculties able to interact with each other is the kind of thing a good God would plausibly choose to do.
Actually, it's not relevant. Plausibly…
Humans are innately inclined to believe in God or gods (contra naturalism), instinctively finding it commonsensical or intuitive, even if they and/or their culture ultimately resist it and are “educated” out of it.
See this page to analyze four evidences.
By “intuitive” here, we mean that cognitively healthy humans from childhood into adulthood are innately predisposed to think atheism “seems” false or absurd. This is relevant because, in the absence of a new belief which undercuts or rebuts it, it is rational to heed the suggestions of our philosophical intuitions. Doing otherwise runs one into severe worldview consequences, where one is suddenly unable to justify one's most basic beliefs.
But so what? Plausibly,
Some actions are morally wrong despite what anybody believes. The existence of such specifically personal facts in the world is unlikely if the world is, at bottom, impersonal (e.g. just particles and physics), and yet it is very much the kind of thing we would anticipate if a God exists who grounds the world and who could not fail to have been loving, honest, etc. To the degree that it is more expected on the hypothesis that God exists (which is a lot), it constitutes a corresponding amount of evidence for theism over atheism.
Some thing exists which is such that it could not have failed to exist; it could not be missing from any truly possible reality.
See this page to analyze seven evidences.
That is to say, there is an entity/thing which, by its own nature, could not fail to exist. This is relevant because the entity in question will, by necessity, have a series of properties that strikingly resemble those of God.1
Genuine supernatural events have occurred within human history, ones that are plausibly imbued with spiritual significance.
This is relevant because it is highly unlikely that such supernatural events would occur unless God exists.
God's properties, both individually and/or taken together, are incoherent or yield contradictions.
This relates to the question of God's existence because if God's properties are incoherent or impossible, then God is incoherent or impossible.
By way of response, however...
The idea of a God existing is extravagant and intrinsically improbable; the so-called prior probability of God’s existence—prior to looking at evidence for or against—seems very low. This is relevant because a low prior probability is functionally similar to having evidence against it. More complex and bold hypotheses have more ways/chances of being wrong. We expect them to be wrong in the absence of sufficient evidence.
- Stewart Goetz: “Thus a table, unlike a soul, is a complex entity or thing in virtue of the fact that it is made up of parts that are themselves substances (substantive parts). Physical scientists inform us that a table is actually a lattice structure of molecules bound together by attractive powers affecting appropriate capacities, and when this lattice structure is broken by a sufficient force, the table breaks. Unlike a table and material objects in general, a soul is not a complex entity because it has no substantive parts. Instead, it is substantively simple in nature. It is a simple thing. While a soul is complex in so far as it has a multiplicity of properties, it is simple in so far as it has no substantive parts. Thus complexity at the property level is compatible with simplicity at the level of thinghood. [“Human Persons are Material and Immaterial (Body and Soul)” in Debating Christian Theism (Oxford, 2013), 262.]
- Trent Dougherty: “[The Standard Model of Physics] posits 16 fundamental particles that fit into three categories....Some theists think that the simplicity of a theistic universe should be assessed similarly (See Swinburne 2004, chapter 5...) Theism postulates one brute fact and the rest flows from that in conjunction with necessary truths about value. Bare Theism's fact is the existence of a person with two properties -- knowledge and power -- held in the simplest possible way -- zero limitation. The explanation of every contingent truth (other than his own existence, if that is taken to be contingent, an issue too big for the present discussion) is a function of the goodness of the corresponding state of affairs. Since there is no best world, an arbitrary choice must be made as to which initial world segment to actualize among sufficiently good initial world segments (this wording allows for "...the universe to unfold in ways perhaps unforeseen to God, if it contains beings with free will or if it contains certain kinds of chance processes). If having a good deal of chance in that world is best, then that world will be expected to have a good deal of chance. So if one applies a method of assessing the complexity of the physical universe to assessing the complexity of the theistic hypothesis, Theism turns out to be a very simple hypothesis indeed. Naturalism lacks this kind of explanatory simplicity and systematicisy. there will be quite a number of brute facts: the existence of contingent being, the existence of a number of laws, the many particular parameters of those laws, and so on. Counting up the number of brute facts in Naturalism by the same method used earlier will be difficult but it seems that inevitably it postulates more than one brute existent with only two properties held in the simplest ways.” [“Reflections on Explanation and Draper's Argument” The Blackwell Companion to Evil (Blackwell, 2014), 85.]
Fundamental reality is mindless (or mathematically describable). This is relevant because God is essentially a thinking-thing without limits, and God's nature cannot be captured by mathematical equations.
Any good God who exists would've chosen to ensure less (or no) suffering occur.
This page analyzes two evidences.
This is relevant because so many today and throughout history have suffered, sometimes even through horrific pain.
Plausibly, greater goods require, risk, or result in suffering. Like the conjunction of these goods:
Any loving God who exists would've chosen to ensure less (or no) disbelief occurs.
God's would-be desire to ensure that more people believe He exists factors into the debate because, frankly, there are so many today and throughout history who have inculpably remained in non-belief. These are persons who have obviously not had any God convincingly meet them or otherwise bring them to belief. So a God who wants them to know Him ostensibly does not exist.
Theistic explanation is illegitimate; real potential explanations cannot feature God.
This page analyzes eight arguments:
God's failing to be a possible/responsible explanation matters because if God or God's activity cannot feature as part of a real explanation, then God obviously cannot be accepted as the explanation for the Universe's existence. Insofar as God is defined as the creator of the universe, this would render Western theism irrational. (And so, presumably false?)
But no, God can theoretically feature in a real potential explanation: