The first post in this series was an introduction to worldviews. It gave a couple definitions of the term worldview, it discussed who has them (everyone), and then spoke of why they’re important. Now, I’d like to look at each of the five broad questions that provide the framework for all worldviews.
As we discussed, a worldview is a collection of beliefs that can be boiled down to what one thinks about the questions of origins, identity, meaning, morality, and destiny.
The first question is one of origins: Where did everything come from?
When we look around at the world, when we gaze up at the clouds in the daytime or at the stars at night, when we think about why or how the physical world came to be, these are thoughts in the area of origins. When we think about the origins of the universe, there are only two possibilities.
- The universe came into being at some point in the past as an effect of some other action or occurrence.
- The universe is eternal in nature and therefore was always here. It had no beginning and it had no cause.
It seems to me that it takes only a brief moment of reflection to decide that option #2 is very unlikely. In fact, everything we know about science, logic, and even the scientific method cries against the idea that the physical universe had no beginning.
Albert Einstein said that his Theory of Relativity shows that the universe is not eternal as he’d previously thought. He said that his theory proved that the universe is not a cause, but one big effect, and that something brought it into existence.
By the way, Einstein disliked this conclusion, and that led him to introduce what he called a “fudge factor” that allowed for an eternal universe. The problem is his fudge factor required a division by zero in his calculations. As we all know, dividing by zero is bad math. Einstein later admitted the error, calling it “the greatest blunder of [his] life.” After confirming further research that showed that the universe is expanding just like his theory predicted, he conceded the fact that the universe is not eternal. He’s then quoted as saying that he “wanted to know how God created the world.”
So, the universe had a beginning, according to logical reflection and scientific confirmation. When we think about this, the first basic question that we have to ask is “Why is there something here (the universe) instead of nothing here?” Everything we know about how reality works points to the fact that effects have causes. In fact, the entire enterprise of the scientific method would not work without the basic truth that effects have causes. The beginning of the universe is an effect, so, like all effects, it had a cause.
So, what caused the universe? Since causes cannot come after their effects, natural forces (those forces that are part of the natural universe) cannot account for the existence of the universe; there must be something outside of nature to do the job. By the way, that’s what the word “supernatural” means: something outside of nature.
The next question is: What or who created the universe? As we’ll see, whatever or whoever created the universe had to have been extremely complex, exceedingly powerful, highly intelligent, and eternal in nature. Let’s take each of these in turn.
The universe is a very complex place. From astrophysics to microbiology, and from the most complicated branches of chemistry to the most advanced mathematics, the complexity of the universe is evident everywhere. Given the extremely complex nature of the universe, we can conclude that whatever or whoever created the universe must have been extremely complex itself.
Given the sheer vastness of the universe in its scope and size, we have to conclude that the creator of the universe is exceedingly powerful. We often marvel at the creative power of the world’s greatest architects, or the creative power that has allowed us to put a man on the moon or build the space station. We often gaze in wonder at the pyramids in Egypt or the Colosseum in Rome or the Great Wall of China. But considering the creative power that was necessary to create the universe, the creativity of the human race is almost nothing. Anything we create is done by taking raw materials and applying what we’ve learned of physics, earth sciences, engineering, and other trades, and forming those raw materials into the creation. The creator of the universe had no raw materials to begin with. The creator of the universe created it out of nothing, or so it would seem. We’ve created things that seem large to us, but the creator of the universe … well, created the universe. I can’t even begin to grasp such power in my wildest imagination.
Another thing we can see and discover about the universe is that it seems very well designed. It seems so specifically designed, in fact, that there are over 100 “constants” in nature that have to be so precisely fine-tuned that the earth could never sustain life otherwise. Take a look at these statements of fine tuning.
- Oxygen Level – On earth, the atmosphere contains 21 percent oxygen. If the oxygen level were 25 percent, fires would spontaneously erupt. If the oxygen level were 15 percent, we would all suffocate.
- Atmospheric Transparency – If the atmosphere were less transparent than it is, not enough solar radiation would reach earth. If it were more transparent, we’d be bombarded with too much solar radiation.
- The Moon’s Gravity – If the moon’s gravity were greater than it is, the ocean tides would be too severe and the rotation of the earth would be too slow. If the moons gravity were less, the result would be tremendous climatic instabilities.
- Centrifugal Forces in our Solar System – The centrifugal force of the planetary movements precisely balance gravitational forces. If they didn’t, nothing would be held in orbit around the sun.
These are just a few of the narrowly-defined constants governing the universe, each of which is necessary for life on earth. This strongly points to a highly intelligent designer. And since we’re talking about a designer that’s intelligent, we’re no longer talking about a “what” but a “who.” “Whats” don’t have intelligence; only “whos” do.
Lastly, we can conclude that whoever created the universe had to have eternally existed, with no beginning. How can we know that? Simple logic will tell us.
As we’ve already determined, the universe had a beginning. Since it had a beginning, it had to have had a “beginner” to begin it. So, you can ask the question “If someone made it, where did that someone come from?” But then you have to ask “Who created the thing that created the thing that created the thing that created the universe?” And on and on it goes in an infinite regress with no end.
The nature of an infinite regress is an illogical one, and one that is not sustainable. To avoid this logical problem, we have to come to the conclusion that whoever created the universe has to have existed with no beginning. Every effect has a cause, and if we take the causes back far enough, eventually we will find something that is eternal—the ultimate cause. It may be hard to wrap the mind around, but this truth is a logical certainty; there’s no way around it.
So, on the question of origins, I think it’s safe to say that there is a complex, powerful, intelligent, eternal being that created it all. Of course, you have to decide for yourself what’s the most reasonable conclusion to make, and that will be the first major part of your more precisely thought-out worldview.
Next time, we’ll get into the second broad worldview question: Identity – Who am I essentially?