The Philosophy of History:
Exploring Creation & History

What does Cosmology have to do with anything?


What is the Cause of the Universe?

For a finite universe to exist there needs to be a cause. This question is regardless of religion, it is a question of truth.   Based on the observable universe we know there was a time when the universe as we know it did not exit.  What brought the universe into existence? Did the universe always exit? Did matter, space and time one day explode into existence? Did matter always exist? These questions have pondered scientist, philosophizer and theologian.


For those who are seeking evidence for the existence of God.  The creation of the universe is one of the most powerful arguments. This is the Cosmological argument for the existence of God.

The Cosmological Argument

In the cosmological discussion the first question that needs to be answered is, “Did the universe have a beginning?”  What are the options?

  • If the universe had a beginning, then it needs a first cause. 
  • Did the universe self-cause itself? In order to self-cause itself it would have to not exist (to cause existence) and exist (in order to be caused) at the same time. Therefore, this option is ruled out because it violates the “Law of non-contradiction”.
  • Did the universe always exist? As Carl Sagan believes, (“The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be”).  Naturalist believe the universe either;

                  A. Came from nothing by nothing

                  B. Always existed.

Option A. is impossible, it not possible for nothing to produce something. So the option left is to accept that the universe always existed, option b.

Laws that affect the Universe:

  1. The First Law (Law of Energy Conservation) states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed.
  2. The Second Law (Law of Energy Decay) states that in a closed system, the amount of usable energy in the universe is decreasing.” Entropy is the level of disorder in a system.

A highly ordered system is in a low state of entropy. A disordered system is in a higher state of entropy.


Is the Cosmos running out of usable energy?

Cosmologists treat the universe as a gigantic heat engine with no external source of energy input.  This means that the total amount of usable energy in the universe is fixed and is decreasing as time passes (nuclear fusion is occurring throughout the universe).[1]

This means that at some point the universe was at highly ordered state. According to the 2nd Law, the universe is expected to run out of usable energy. Roy Peacock, an expert in thermodynamics, wrote “A Brief History of Eternity” to show how discoveries in the universe along with the laws of thermodynamics show the universe is finite.He writes,

 The Second Law of thermodynamics is probably the most powerful piece of legislation in the physical world. It ultimately describes every process we have ever discovered: it is the final Court of Appeal in any dispute relating to action and procedures, whether they are naturally generated or man inspired. It draws the conclusion that in our universe there is an overall reduction in order, a loss of available energy that is measured as an increase in entropy.  So the available stock of order is being exhausted. Akin to the dying battery of a flashlight, useful energy is being dissipated into entropy after which none remains for use…For us to live in a universe in which the Second Law of thermodynamics holds, then, it must be a universe that has a starting point, a creation.[2]

Is there Evidence of a Finite Universe?

The Radiation Echo:

Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson, two physicists at Bell Laboratories discovered the earth is bathed in a faint glow of radiation. They were awarded the Nobel Prize in 1978.  Their data found this radiation was left over from the initial explosion of the beginning of the universe, commonly referred to as the Big Bang.

In November of 1989, a satellite named COBE, (Cosmic Background Explorer) was successfully launched into space with instruments aboard capable of measuring the radiation echo left behind from the Big Bang. In April 1992, the final summation of COBE’s data was made public and hailed as unprecedented.  Stephen Hawking, author of “A Brief History of Time”, called the discovery, “The most important discovery of the century, if not all time.” [3]  This affirms the universe had a beginning.

The Expanding Universe

Albert Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity predicted that the universe had a beginning and is expanding in all directions. If we reversed the theory, there would be a starting point to the universe.  This disturbed Einstein; his own theory demanded a starting point for the universe.  Robert Jastrow, founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies and served for twenty years as its director wrote about Einstein’s reaction in his realization of a finite universe:

Around this time, signs of irritation began to appear among the scientists. Einstein was the first to complain. He was disturbed by the idea of a Universe that blows up, because it implied that the world had a beginning. In a letter to de Sitter—discovered in a box of old records in Leiden some years ago—Einstein wrote, “This circumstance (of the expanding Universe irritates me,” and in another letter about he expanding Universe, he said: To admit such possibilities seems senseless.”….I suppose that beginning in time annoyed Einstein because of its theological implications.[4]

Based on Einstein’s theory of general relativity, the universe is finite and expanding in all directions. Since 1919 this theory has been verified numerous experiments. Therefore, we can conclude the universe had a beginning. It is finite.

What Caused the Universe?

If the universe had beginning then it must have a cause.   The Big Bang does not only involve the start of matter but also space and time. Matter, space and time are interdependent.  The explosion of the universe was a highly orchestrated cosmic explosion with just the right mixture of gravity and explosive energy.  John Polkinhorne, a theoretical physicist, and a colleague of Stephen Hawking, writes:

In the early expansion of the universe, there has to been a close balance between the expansive energy (driving things apart) and the force of gravity (pulling things together).  If expansion dominated then matter would fly apart too rapidly for condensation into galaxies and stars to take place…(The possibility of our existence) requires a balance between the effects of expansion and contraction which at a very early epoch in the universe’s history (The Planck time) has to differ from equality by not more than 1 in 1060 .  The numerate (mathematical) will marvel at such a degree of accuracy. For the non-numerate, I will borrow an illustration from Paul Davies of what that accuracy means.  He points out that it is the same as aiming at a target an inch wide on the other side of the observable universe, twenty thousand million light years away, and hitting the mark.[5]

“If the existence of the cosmos as a whole needs to be explained, and if it cannot be explained by natural causes, Then we must look to the existence and action of a supernatural cause for its explanation”[6]

Since it is impossible for nothing to produce something, something must have always exited as the “First Cause” of the universe. Furthermore, this First Cause must be eternal (outside of time, since time is part of the finite universe) and powerful enough to account for the origin and existence of the universe.  This Cause must be knowledgeable, powerful and eternal.

The Design Argument (Teleological)

                The beginning of the universe requires a “First Cause”, because the universe has a starting point and is finite, the cause must be greater then the effect.  In the same light, we know the existence of life also has a starting point.  Matter is the building block of life, without matter, we cannot have life in this physical universe, as we know it.  Therefore, the next question to be addressed is, “What is the origin to Life?”

                Is the same “First Cause” that caused the universe to explode into existence the “First Cause” of life as well?   There are two competing origin of life models; the macroevolutionary model and the design model. 

The macroevolutionary model states that life was self-generated from nonliving (inorganic) matter. Once the gap from non-life to life was bridged, the first living cell began to evolve by random changes (mutations) in its genetic information system, creating new characteristics that were not in the original organism.

The design model and the Law of Bio-genesis states that non-life never produces life and that the first life forms were the direct result of super-intelligence.


Creation and Big Bang Cosmology

William Lane Craig    


Recent discussions have raised the issue of the metaphysical implications of standard Big Bang cosmology. Grünbaum's argument that the causal principle cannot be applied to the origin of the universe rests on a pseudo-dilemma, since the cause could act neither before nor after t=0, but at t=0. Lévy-Leblond's advocacy of a remetrication of cosmic time to push the singularity to - involves various conceptual difficulties and is in any case unavailing, since the universe's beginning is not eliminated. Maddox's aversion to the possible metaphysical implications of the standard model evinces a narrow scientism. Standard Big Bang cosmogeny does therefore seem to have those metaphysical implications which some have found so discomfiting.

Several years ago popular science writer Robert Jastrow ruffled scientific feathers by asserting in his little book God and the Astronomers [(1978), pp. 113-116] that many cosmologists have a deep-seated aversion to the possible metaphysical and, indeed, theological implications of classical Big Bang cosmogeny. Recent correspondence to the British science magazine Nature seems to bear out this judgment [Maddox (1989), Lévy-Leblond (1989), Grünbaum (1990)]. J. Maddox eagerly anticipates the downfall of the Big Bang model because in it creationists have "ample justification" for their theistic creed; J.-M. Lévy-Leblond seeks instead to subvert the metaphysical implications of the Big Bang theory by a remetrication of cosmic time so as to push the origin of the universe back to infinity, where "it seems to belong"; A. Grünbaum sees no exigency for such a device, since the conception of a cause of the initial cosmological singularity is self-contradictory and the question of what caused the universe's origin therefore a "pseudo-problem."

In reflecting on this dispute, it seems to me that Grünbaum's attempt to elicit a contradiction from the conception of a cause of the Big Bang fails and that Maddox is therefore correct in holding that the classical model does have certain metaphysical implications; on the other hand, the attempts of Maddox and Lévy-Leblond to avert or discredit those implications also fail.

Grünbaum's argument is that even if we assume that to is a well-defined instant at which the Big Bang singularity occurred, that "event" cannot have a prior cause because there simply did not exist any instants before to. The Big Bang singularity "cannot have any cause at all in the universe" (presumably because backward causation is impossible) nor can it "be the effect of any prior cause" (because time did not exist prior to to). As Grünbaum elsewhere makes clear [(1991), p. 248], this argument does not depend essentially upon the assumption that to was the first instant of time, rather than a singular point constituting the boundary of time, which, on the analogy of a series of fractions converging toward zero as the limit, has no first instant. In either case, the objection remains the same: since no instants of time existed prior to to, there can be no antecedent cause of the initial cosmological singularity. Therefore, that singularity must be uniquely uncaused and the ultimate origin question posed by Maddox inappropriate.

Unfortunately, Grünbaum's objection is pretty clearly a pseudo-dilemma. For he fails to consider the obvious alternative that the cause of the Big Bang operated at to, that is, simultaneously (or coincidentally [1]) with the Big Bang. Philosophical discussions of causal directionality routinely treat simultaneous causation, the question being how to distinguish A as the cause and B as the effect when these occur together at the same time [Dummett and Flew (1954); Mackie (1966); Suchting (1968-69); Brier (1974), pp. 91-98; Brand (1979)]. [2] Even on a mundane level, we regularly experience simultaneous causation; to borrow an example from Kant, a heavy ball's resting on a cushion being the cause of a depression in that cushion. [3] Indeed, some philosophers argue that all efficient causation is simultaneous, for if the causal conditions sufficient for some event E were present prior to the time t of E's occurrence, then E would happen prior to t; similarly if the causal conditions for E were to vanish at t after having existed at tn < t, then E would not occur at t. In any case, there seems to be no conceptual difficulty in saying that the cause of the origin of the universe acted simultaneously (or coincidentally) with the origination of the universe. We should therefore say that the cause of the origin of the universe is causally prior to the Big Bang, though not temporally prior to the Big Bang. In such a case, the cause may be said to exist spacelessly and timelessly sans the universe, but temporally subsequent to the moment of creation.

But why think that such a cause exists at all? Very simply, the causal inference is based in the metaphysical intuition that something cannot come out of absolutely nothing. A pure potentiality cannot actualize itself. In the case of the universe (including any boundary points), there was not anything physically prior to the initial singularity.[4] The potentiality for the existence of the universe could not therefore have lain in itself, since it did not exist prior to the singularity. On the theistic hypothesis, the potentiality of the universe's existence lay in the power of God to create it. On the atheistic hypothesis, there did not even exist the potentiality for the existence of the universe. But then it seems inconceivable that the universe should become actual if there did not exist any potentiality for its existence. It seems to me therefore that a little reflection leads us to the conclusion that the origin of the universe had a cause.

From the nature of the case involved, that cause must have transcended space and time (at least sans the universe) and therefore be uncaused, changeless, eternal, immaterial, and enormously powerful. Moreover, as I have argued elsewhere [Craig (1979), pp. 149-153; (1991), pp. 104-108], the cause is most plausibly construed to be personal. For the only way in which a temporal effect could originate from an eternal, changeless cause would seem to be if the cause is a personal agent who eternally chooses to create an effect in time. A changeless, mechanically operating cause would produce either an immemorial effect or none at all; but an agent endowed with free will can have an eternal determination to operate causally at a (first) moment of time and thereby to produce a temporally first effect. Therefore, the cause of the universe is plausibly regarded as personal. This conclusion receives confirmation from the incredible complexity of the initial conditions given in the early universe, which bespeak intelligent design [Leslie (1990)]. These attributes are some of the core properties of what theists mean by "God."

Lévy-Leblond will avoid this metaphysical implication by adopting Misner's remetrication of cosmic time, which converts the range of physical time from ]to, ¥ [ to ] - ¥ , + ¥ [. He apparently thinks that by making the initial cosmological singularity infinitely distant in the metric past, one can thereby safely ignore the metaphysical issues it raises. But why should we regard Misner's temporal metric as a factually objective description of the actual past of the universe rather than the standard metric? Lévy-Leblond seems to suggest three reasons: (i) since the singularity does not belong to the past of the universe, lying as it does on the boundary of the past, this "out-of-reach instant" may be said to be infinitely remote; (ii) on the analogy of the limit velocity c and absolute zero, we should accept "the idea of a time origin before which the concept of time makes no sense"; (iii) since according to GTR the choice of coordinates used to describe the universe is arbitrary, we are at liberty to modify the spatio-temporal parameters through which the Robertson-Walker metric is expressed and thus send the origin of time back to minus infinity.

But these are insufficient grounds for preferring Misner's remetrication: (i) The singularity is out-of-reach on the standard metric only if one proceeds toward it through an open interval instant by instant; but if we regress by distances of equal non-zero temporal intervals, then we do reach an absolute origin of the universe in a finite number of steps, in that we arrive at a first year, or hour, or second, or what have you, even though those temporal segments lack a first instant [Smith (1985)]. The singularity is the boundary point of the first temporal segment and therefore is not infinitely remote. (ii) On the standard metric we already have a time origin before which the concept of time makes no sense, so that this provides no justification for a remetrication. (iii) While GTR, when considered in abstracto, does not lay down any formula for slicing up the spacetime manifold of points, certain models of spacetime, like the Friedman model, have a dynamic, evolving physical geometry that is tied to the boundary conditions of homogeneity and isotropy of the cosmological fluid and which results in certain natural symmetries which serve as markers for the preferred foliation of spacetime and the assigning of a cosmic time parameter [Misner, et. al. (1973), p. 714]. The underdetermination of the theory in abstracto is simply irrelevant to preferring some non-standard clock to record cosmic time over the standard clock.

On the other hand, there are positive reasons for rejecting Lévy-Leblond's prescription: (i) While the metric of time is conventional in a trivial sense shared by all physical quantities, our choice of a metric is constrained by our pre-theoretical conceptions of temporal congruence. A metric which assigned equal temporal intervals to, say, my eating my lunch and to the period of galaxy formation may satisfy all the formal axioms for congruence and yet it would still just not be a theory of temporal congruence; any property shared to an equal degree by the interval of galaxy formation and by my lunch just is not temporal duration [Friedman (1973), pp. 231-232]. In the same way, a metric which assigns to the universe an infinite age and infinite past temporal duration, as Milne realized in proposing his parameter t [Milne (1948)], just is not factually objective, but is a mathematical artifice. (ii) By sending the initial cosmological singularity back to minus infinity (1 + * w ), Lévy-Leblond lands himself squarely in the absurdity of an infinite past as argued by G. J. Whitrow [1980], namely, that it is impossible for any present event to retreat infinitely distant into the past. Typically, one responds to Whitrow by pointing out that an infinite past does not entail infinitely distant events; but for Lévy-Leblond such a recourse is not open because he has made the origin of the universe into an infinitely distant "event" or entity on the boundary of the past. (iii) In the same vein, Misner's remetrication, despite his protestations, does fall prey to Zeno's Paradoxes of motion in that it would be impossible to proceed through the infinite series of intervals separating any time t from the singular origin of the universe [Bartels (1986), p. 112]. The usual escape route--that the intervals converge in size toward zero--cannot work for Misner because, by redefining what counts as temporally congruent in order to achieve an infinite age for the universe, he has, in effect, made the intervals equal in length, so that Zeno's Dichotomy paradox goes through with a vengeance. (iv) Since Misner's time scale does not remove the physical beginning of the universe at the initial cosmological singularity, but merely reassigns its date, it ultimately does nothing to avoid the metaphysical problems associated with an absolute origin. We should only be required to say that on this peculiar time scale, the universe came into being and so was created an infinite time ago. [5] Lévy-Leblond's prescription for avoiding the metaphysical implications so feared by Maddox thus seems utterly unavailing.

Which brings us back to Maddox's concern: is it discreditable to draw these sorts of metaphysical inferences? Maddox seems to think that such inferences obfuscate "an important issue, that of the ultimate origin of the world." But it seems to me that he has made up his mind in advance as to what sort of answers to that question are going to be deemed acceptable. That seems to be philosophical prejudice on his part. As Jastrow emphasized, the scientist's pursuit of the past ends at the moment of creation; but simply as thinking men and women desiring to discover the meaning of life and the universe, are we to be debarred a priori from drawing what may seem to us plausible metaphysical conclusions?

Of course, as Grünbaum reminds us, it is an empirical question as to whether classical Big Bang cosmogeny is a realistic account of the origin of the universe. But alternative models, whether quantum models [Craig (1993)] or plasma models [Kevles (1991)], have not yet proved to be convincing. Therefore, it seems to me that, like it or not, currently accepted cosmological theory does lend tangible support to the theistic doctrine of creatio ex nihilo.




Bartels, Andreas. [1986]. Kausalitätsverletzungen in allgemeinrelativistischen Raumzeiten. Erfahrung und Denken 68. Berlin: Dunker & Humboldt.

Brand, Miles. [1979]. "Causality." In Current Research in Philosophy of Science: Proceedings of the P.S.A. Critical Research Problems Conference, pp. 252-281. Ed. P.D. Asquith and H.E. Kyburg, Jr. East Lansing, Mich.: Philosophy of Science Association.

Brier, Bob. [1974]. Precognition and the Philosophy of Science: An Essay on Backward Causation. New York: Humanities Press.

Craig, William Lane. [1993]. "The Caused Beginning of the Universe: a Response to Quentin Smith." British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 44, pp. 623-639.

Craig, William Lane. [1979]. The Kalam Cosmological Argument. Library of Philosophy and Religion. London: Macmillan.

Craig, William Lane. [1991]. "The Kalam Cosmological Argument and the Hypothesis of a Quiescent Universe." Faith and Philosophy 8, pp. 104-108.

Craig, William Lane. [1990]. "'What Place, then, for a Creator?': Hawking on God and Creation." British Journal for the Philosophy of Science 41, pp. 473-491.

Dummett, A.E. and Flew, A. [1954]. "Can an Effect Precede its Cause?" In Belief and Will, pp. 27-62. Aristotelian Society Supplementary Volume 28. London: Harrison & Sons.

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Grünbaum, Adolf. [1990]. "Pseudo-Creation of the Big Bang." Nature 344, pp. 821-822.

Grünbaum, Adolf. [1991]. "Creation as a Pseudo-Explanation in Current Physical Cosmology." Erkenntnis 35, pp. 233-254.

Jastrow, Robert. [1978]. God and the Astronomers. New York: W.W. Norton.

Kevles, D.J. [May 16, 1991]. "The Final Secret of the Universe?" New York Review of Books 38/9, p. 31.

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Lévy-Leblond, Jean-Marc. [1989]. "The Unbegun Big Bang." Nature 342, p. 23.

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Maddox, John. [1989]. "Down with the Big Bang." Nature 340, p. 425.

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  • [1]

    coincidentally in case "simultaneity" is strictly defined in terms of occurrence at the same time. Since the singularity is not an instant or moment of time, but a boundary of time, a cause producing its effect at the singularity could not be strictly said to be simultaneous with its effect. Nonetheless they both occur coincidentally (in the literal sense of the word), that is, they both occur at to.

  • [2]

    In the case of God's creating the universe, it is, of course, evident which is the cause and which the effect, since it is metaphysically impossible for God to have an external cause.

  • [3]

    It would be in vain to object to the proposed solution that simultaneous causation is impossible due to the finite velocity of the propagation of physical causal influences, for (i) the objection fails to reckon with the fact that remote causes are linked by causal chains to the immediate causes of the events in question, such that for any arbitrarily chosen non-zero interval of time in which the event occurs simultaneously with its cause, one can denominate non-zero subintervals in which remote, intermediate, and immediate causes can be identified in the causal chain, with the result that simultaneous causation is never eliminated, and (ii) the objection is irrelevant to the case of creation, since God is not a physical object dependent upon finite velocity causal signals, but, as one who transcends space, is immediately present through His knowledge and power to every point in space (or on its boundary).

  • [4]

    This should not be interpreted to mean that there was an empty time prior to the singularity, for time begins ex hypothesiat the moment of creation. I mean that it is false that something existed prior to the singularity.

  • [5]

    Notice, therefore, that Lévy-Leblond's article has been mistitled, for on his view the universe has an infinitely distant beginning point.