Cosmology

Cosmology is the study of the nature and origin of the cosmos. The rare word, cosmogony, is sometimes refers to the origin of the cosmos. The study of cosmology requires that there be a cosmos that is physical. Idealists cannot, strictly speaking, be cosmologists since they claim there is nothing but ideas and minds. As such, cosmology ends up being a grand psychology. Pantheism falls into this category, since it claims that all is universal Mind and that there is no creation of anything apart from this Mind.

The cosmos exists for only one of three reasons. (1) It has always existed in some form, extending into an infinitely long past (2) It came into existence out of nothing and without a case a finite time ago (3) It came into existence a finite time ago because it was created by a First Cause. Consider each possibility:

  1. The eternal cosmos idea may be with atheistic or theistic. Materialists, such as Bertrand Russell, believe that the universe if “just there,” as he claimed in his debate with F. Coppleston in 1948. Some theists have taught—or allowed as possible—that the cosmos and God are coeternal, but that for all this time, the cosmos was contingent on God’s sustaining power. Thomas Aquinas claimed that natural theology can only prove this much. It takes special revelation for us to know that God created the world out of nothing a finite time ago.
  1. Pressured by the cogency of the big bang cosmological theory, some atheists affirm that the cosmos is not eternal. It originated at the big bang. However, they do not attribute a cause to this first event. The late Christian philosopher, Dallas Willard, called this “big bang mysticism.” This mysticism without God must grant that there are a-causal events or something can come from nothing without a cause. Principles such as this contravene all normal thinking about science and everyday life. There are no analogues to the big godless bang. As such, it is not rational to hold this view.
  1. If the cosmos began to exist a finite time ago, the best explanation for its origin is an immaterial being that is before and outside the cosmos. This Being possesses tremendous power (to create ex nihilo) and has the requisite knowledge to front load the big bang with all that is needed for life on earth. Thus, from modern physics, these divine attributes: creator, immateriality, unmatched power, transcendence, and knowledge (personality). As the Apostle Paul wrote: “ For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse” (Romans 1:20).

DG CONTRIBUTOR PROFILE

Author: Douglas Groothuis

Author of Christian Apologetics, Truth Decay, On Jesus, On Pascal, and others. Professor of Philosophy, Denver Seminary since 1993. Head of The Apologetics and Ethics Masters Degree Program and Co-Director of The Gordon Lewis Center for Christian Thought and Culture. Senior Fellow for Apologetics.com.

2 thoughts

  1. I have encountered the big bang mysticism before. It comes in the form of “that is really mysterious, but I don’t think the cause was personal.” Of course, as you point out elsewhere, it is only mysterious if there is no causation. Causation and personal agency actually make sense.

  2. You have not included the views of any actual cosmologists. Their ideas might provide some insight on this topic.

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