Premise A: Everything that exists must have a cause.
Premise B: This cause must be a great causer.
Premise C: The only causer great enough would be God.
Conclusion: Therefore, God exists.
Imagine a group of friends. Angela needs a jacket because she is cold. She turns to Luke and asks, “Can I borrow a jacket from you?”
Luke says, “Of course, but I don’t have a jacket. Let me borrow one from my friend Dalton.” He turns to Dalton and asks to borrow a jacket.
Dalton is willing to lend Luke a jacket, but he does not have one either. So he turns to Matt and asks him if he can borrow a jacket. Matt says, “I don’t have one but I know someone who does.” He tries to borrow a jacket from another member of the group. That person tries to borrow a jacket from another person.
This series is made up of “borrowing lenders.” If there is an infinite series of borrowing lenders, no one will ever get a jacket. If everyone in the group has to borrow a jacket, then no one actually has a jacket. In order for the circle of borrowing to come to an end, someone has to actually own a jacket. In other words, you have to stop the series with a “first lender” who has a jacket.
In the same way, if one thing causes another thing, and that thing is caused by something else, eventually, one has to come to a “first mover” or a “first causer.” A first causer is someone who exists by his very nature. If we don’t stop this chain with a being who simply has being simply in and of his own existence, then nothing else could exist. There has to be a being in the chain that has being in and of Himself. He cannot gain His being from someone else. We call this being “necessary” because without His existence nothing else would exist. So eventually we come to an Unmade Maker, an Uncreated Creator, or an Unmoved Mover. This necessarily first cause is what we call God.
The Uncaused Cause
To address what seems to be a natural and perennial interest in causation, serious thinkers throughout history have developed the Cosmological Proof. This proof states that everything in the universe has been caused, one cause after another, all the way back to a great Uncaused Cause, called God. Importantly for Christians, this argument is validated by the first verse of the Bible which says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).
The argument also bears similarities to Sir Isaac Newton’s Laws of Motion. The First Law states that, “A body at rest stays at rest, unless moved upon by outside forces.” The Second Law states, “The change of momentum of a body is proportional to the impulse impressed on the body, and happens along the straight line on which that impulse is impressed.” The Third Law states, “To every action there is always an equal and opposite reaction.” Newton’s Laws of Motion tell us that every movement has a cause.
Consider a pool table. The black eight ball stays at rest on the table until it is hit by another object. No matter how long the ball sits there, it will never fall into the corner pocket unless a chain reaction from player to cue to cue ball knocks the eight ball into the hole. Every movement has a cause. The cause itself is a movement. The movement of the cause has its own cause, and so to a chain of causes. But a chain that hangs on nothing is impossible to conceive. Hence the concept of an Uncaused Cause or an Unmoved Mover.
Aristotle (384-322 B.C), was the first to propose the idea of an Unmoved Mover. He did not know of the Christian God, but he did understand that someone must be the cause of the universe. Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274 A.D.), the greatest Western philosopher of the Medieval Age, thought “the first and more manifest way” to prove God’s existence was the proof from motion.
His reasoning is as follows:
Premise A: Things move.
Premise B: Nothing moves itself, since everything that is moved must be moved by another.
Premise C: If that which causes the motion is itself being moved, then it must be moved by another.
Premise D: This process of movement cannot go on to infinity.
Conclusion: Therefore, there must be a first Unmoved Mover, which people call God.
When Aquinas talks about motion, he means more than movement from one place to another. Rather, he is referring to change of any kind—whether of life, death, growth, learning, heating, cooling, or any other possibility. All kinds of motion or change or development must have an ultimate unmoving, unchanging, complete cause.
The importance of understanding causation led Aquinas to develop further logical proofs, including another version of the Cosmological Proof:
Premise A: Things are caused.
Premise B: Everything that is caused is caused by something else.
Premise C: An infinite regress of causation is impossible.
Conclusion: There must be an Uncaused Cause of all that is caused. This Uncaused Cause is God.
In a third version of the Cosmological Proof, Aquinas argues for a Necessary Being.
Premise A: Things exist.
Premise B: Since out of nothing, nothing comes, there must be a Being who caused things to come into existence.
Conclusion: Therefore, this Necessary Being, called God, exists.
Why is there something rather than nothing?
Once there was a child who asked his father, “Where do apples come from?”
The father explained, “Apples come from a tree.”
Without skipping a beat, the budding philosopher said, “And where do trees come from?”
“Trees come from a seed.”
“Where do seeds come from?” asked the child.
“Seeds come from apples,” said the father.
After thinking for a while, the boy asked, “Where did the first apple come from?”
The father replied, “God created the first apple.”
“So, where did God come from?” asked the little boy.
Where God comes from is a question not only asked by little boys. If things are caused, it’s natural enough to ask, “What caused the first cause?” To the question of “Where did God come from?” the Christian’s answer is, “He didn’t come from anywhere. God is just there.” When Moses asked God, “Who are you?” God’s reply was simply: “I AM” (Exodus 3:14). God didn’t become, He didn’t happen. God is the great “I AM”—the One who simply, necessarily, eternally IS. Jesus claimed the same present tense title when He said, “Before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58).
Christian philosopher, J.P. Moreland explains that to ask “Who created God?” is to make a category fallacy. The God that I am arguing for in this chapter is a necessary being. If the cosmological proof is sound, then an Uncreated Creator is a necessary being. I am not arguing for a finite being like a unicorn that could be created. I am arguing for a necessary “first cause.” By definition, a necessary first cause cannot not exist.
What do atheists say?
Bertrand Russell said, “If everything must have a cause, then God must have a cause.” Stephen Hawking wrote, “Does [the universe] need a creator; and, if so, does he have any other effect on the universe? And who created him?” Daniel C. Dennett says, “If God created and designed all these wonderful things, who created God? Supergod? And who created Supergod? Or did God create himself? Was it hard work? Did it take time? Don’t ask!” Stephen Hawking and Lenard Mlodinow claim, “Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God…to set the Universe going.” If you ask an atheist, “What caused the universe?” he will likely say, “The Big Bang” If you ask “What caused the Big Bang?” he might reply, “It just happened.” For the atheist, everything ultimately comes from nothing.
Atheists criticize Christians for believing in a “magical being” who created everything, but it is surely more absurd to believe that everything came from nothing. “From nothing, nothing comes,” or in Latin, ex nihilo nihil fit. Imagine a magician who pulls a rabbit out of a hat. A young child might think the rabbit appears from nowhere, but an adult knows that a rabbit does not just materialize from thin air. But this is exactly what the atheist is asking people to believe about the existence of the universe. The atheist is proposing that the universe popped into existence by magic. But not any kind of magic—this is magic without a magician.
The Creator-creation narrative of Christians and the Big Bang of atheists have this in common: both require faith to be believed. It requires faith to believe that everything came from nothing, that order came from chaos, that life appeared from non-living matter (abiogenesis), and that consciousness appeared from non-consciousness. It is this problem that physicist and atheist, Lawrence Krauss, tried to reconcile in his book, A Universe from Nothing. To the question of “How did something come from nothing?” he answers by redefining the word “nothing” to mean “something.” He does not know exactly what that nothing-something is, but he hopes that someday science might figure it out. Ironically, Krauss should have titled his book, A Universe from Something.
When it comes to answering the question of why there is something rather than nothing, there are only two options:
1. Everything exists because of some inexplicable accident.
2. Everything exists because a Creator caused it to exist.
The evolutionist says that from absolutely nothing, prompted by nothing, and for no particular purpose or reason everything came into existence. As atheist and scientist Carl Sagan wrote, “The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.” The Christian, putting faith in the claims of the Bible, and supported by the rational argument from causation, knows that there is an eternal Creator who created everything for a specific purpose. “God said, ‘Let there be…and there was’” (Genesis 1:3-31).
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About the Author: Dr. Daniel King is a missionary evangelist who has traveled to over seventy nations in his quest for souls. His goal is to lead 1,000,000 people to Jesus every year through massive Gospel Festivals, distribution of literature, and leadership training. Because of his experience and research on evangelism, he is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading experts in mass evangelism. As an evangelist, he has a deep interest in using apologetics to convince skeptics that God is real.