Comics and Cosmic Origins

By Timothy Fox

Every superhero has an origin story. Spider-man was bitten by a radioactive spider. Batman’s parents were murdered before his very eyes as a child. Superman’s parents sent him on a rocket to earth where he was discovered and raised by the Kents. Origin stories tell the tale of how a superhero gained his powers or what event drove him to fight for truth and justice.

However, we don’t just like origin stories. We need to know how these heroes were created. Why did the Avengers first assemble? How did Wolverine get those awesome claws? We won’t accept a superhero has powers just because. There needs to be a reason why.

And it isn’t just superheroes. We need an origin story as well. Why are we here? How did the universe begin? But while you get to pick your favorite superhero – or even your favorite version of that superhero – that doesn’t work for reality. The universe can have only one true origin story.

Origin of the Universe

So what are our options? One story may start with a God (or gods) who created the universe. Another story may tell that the universe – or at least the materials that formed into the universe as we know it – has always been here. A third option is that there was absolutely nothing in the beginning – no matter, no deities, nothing – but that it still somehow came into existence at some time in the past.

Those are our three options for the universe’s origin story: the universe is eternal, it was created by some deity, or it simply came into existence. How do we know which is the true origin story of reality? Let’s look at the facts:

Big Bang cosmology teaches us that the universe came into existence at some finite point in the past. The Second Law of Thermodynamics states the universe is running out of usable energy, so if the universe were here forever, it would have run out of energy by now. It hasn’t; therefore, the universe must have a starting point. From a logical standpoint, the impossibility of an infinite regress also makes it impossible for the universe to be past-eternal. Thus, our universe must have a definite time of origin.

Now, we would never accept a superhero simply having powers for no reason. Something had to cause The Flash to gain super speed. Something must cause Bruce Banner to become The Hulk. We need some kind of explanation, no matter how bizarre or farfetched. Likewise, would you accept the universe coming into existence without a cause? I should hope not!

The Best Explanation

So then what would be an adequate explanation for the universe coming into existence? It would have to be pretty powerful to create a universe. It must be pretty smart too. It wouldn’t be made up of any of the same stuff of the universe, so it must be immaterial. Since the beginning of the universe is also the beginning of time, the cause of the universe must also be timeless. It must also have a mind to be able to willingly create something. If you put all of these properties (superpowers?) together, it becomes clear that the universe must have a personal creator, one that we would simply call “God.”

The same way that superheroes must have an origin story to explain how they got their powers and decided to battle the forces of evil, the universe must also have an origin story. But unlike fictional stories, there can be only one true origin story for the universe. If we look at the facts of reality and understand that all effects – and superpowers – need causes, the origin story of our universe becomes clear: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1).

But wait!

If every superhero needs an origin story, if the universe needs an origin story, what about God? Doesn’t God need an origin story too?!

To be continued…

 


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17 replies
  1. jcb says:

    Comics and Cosmic Origins, and God
    https://crossexamined.org/comics-and-cosmic-origins/
    (Almost) Every superhero has an origin story. (T)
    Superheroes must have origin stories (F)
    We need to know such origin stories (F)
    Many of us enjoy such origin stories (T)
    There probably are reasons for why things are/have the powers they do (T)
    There probably is a cause of our universe (T)
    There are many possibilities as to that cause (T)
    A perfect being, Nothing, or itself, are 3 often discussed possible causes (T)
    These are the only options (F) “Those are our three options for the universe’s origin story”
    Either the universe is eternal, or it was created by (some) God, or it came from nothing (F)
    It is not likely that the universe came from nothing, or is eternal (T)
    God best explains how the universe was created (F)
    God is an “adequate” explanation for the universe coming into existence (F)
    God probably created our universe (F)
    That which created our universe would have had the power to do it (T)
    That thing must have been very smart/knowing (F)
    PF gives evidence for why he claims it would be smart (F)
    It wouldn’t be made by the stuff in our known universe (T)
    So it must be immaterial: 1. Made of nothing (F). 2. Not made of the things in our universe (T)
    Immateriality is a thing (F: it is a lack of materiality)
    The beginning of the universe is the beginning of time (F)
    God existed before time, but then later created time (F) and that’s not contradictory (F)
    Time as we can measure it starts at the big bang moment (T)
    That is, no known temporal event has been evidenced/recorded prior to the big bang moment (T)
    The cause of the universe must have a mind and a will (F)
    The cause of the universe must have a personal (Human like? Caring? Thinking?) creator (F)
    God is just that thing (F: God is usually thought to also be perfect in every way)

    To summarize:
    1. True: the universe probably has a cause
    2. The universe was probably caused by a timeless mind being (F)
    3. The universe was probably caused by a perfect being/God (F)

    Reply
  2. Andy Ryan says:

    “From a logical standpoint, the impossibility of an infinite regress also makes it impossible for the universe to be past-eternal.”
    By that argument, God cannot be eternal either.

    Reply
    • toby says:

      They’ll say that he’s timeless/not-created. But that’s the special pleading you mentioned in another post. I’ve never heard anyone even acknowledge the question, “How can something that doesn’t change or exists without time do anything?” I don’t think that the attribute of timeless by itself is coherent, but I don’t think it’s coherent when you start adding other attributes or actions that clearly require time. Like creation. At one time there isn’t anything, and then there is. I don’t think WLC’s “god exists timelessly SANS creation” is taken too seriously by anyone but him. i’ve only heard one or two other apologists mention it.

      Reply
      • Brent Hurst says:

        Toby,
        .
        “””””“How can something that doesn’t change or exists without time do anything?”””””””
        .
        Because He is constantly creating, no doubt we are focused on our particular universe as if we are the center of Gods Infinite presence, the shift from thinking in our finite mode of thought to an infinite one is not easy, even for theoretical physicists.
        .
        The infinite is not static, it is infinitely becoming more infinite, like a bottle of water that continues to pour, the finite universe does not allow for this but then again, it is finite. Infinite Being would know no limitations to it’s Being, “all” and “becoming” simultaneously. Thinking about this our minds will constantly try to drag it back into the dimensions of time and space we live in, and so it might seem illogical.
        .
        But Infinity, that does not even exist in this universe other than a potential ideal, is not limited to the design of this universe.

        Reply
        • toby says:

          The infinite is not static, it is infinitely becoming more infinite, like a bottle of water that continues to pour, the finite universe does not allow for this but then again, it is finite.
          This is such a full of crap statement. You have no reason to believe any of this. It’s just woo-woo muck. You sound like someone that can be in awe of “energies”. Wow, the energy in the plant effects my energy man.

          Reply
          • Brent Hurst says:

            “”””This is such a full of crap statement. You have no reason to believe any of this.”””””
            .
            Ah, spoken like a true scientist,
            .
            Yet “energies” only applies within the finite universe as forces with set limitations, but that’s okay, few minds can truly think beyond a finite context because even in the Church people constantly think of God as if He possess finite attributes, hence the “three persons” of the Trinity.
            .
            Likewise when people state the big bang was all matter simply focalized into a single space. Time and space only came into effect as the expansion started, before that there was nowhere or when for matter to exist.
            .
            And so it is that science also considers that everything came from nothing
            .
            To explain this they develop theories of multiple universes, no doubt this is akin to saying Life began on other planets and simply was transported here, it just pushes the problem farther back.
            .
            The general consensus is that there are ten other universes, making eleven in total.
            .
            Now do you want to hear the really amazing fact of the bible, when God creates, even though there are seven days, there are in fact TEN commands.
            .
            Ten forces that He uses to Create this Creation. But a person who have to develop some ability to discern the symbolism to understand how these forces actually create the laws of this universe. This is actually detailed in my book “In Search of the Lost Parable”, but it is apparent you would not have the intellect to understand it. After all, anything understand is just “crap”, right?
            .
            So, man, do you realize that the words I am using now are only symbols, symbols with a supposedly agreed upon definition. To a person who cannot read English do you know what they would appear like, just a bunch of woo-woo muck, so such a statement can only reflect upon the ignorance of the reader, not the writer.
            .
            Ah Toby, you and your boys are so silly, you learn a few facts then stumble around saying prove it or some such and think you are smart and have it all figured out. You are no different than those Christian use just sling verses as if that could accomplish anything. Learn to think deeply, consider, meditate to at least understand something before you respond, otherwise you are nothing but a ?????, you figure it out but its not good

          • toby says:

            Well we’re certainly glad that you know all the answers and have it all figured out. Have fun peddling obfuscating muck and enjoy that little tickle you get in your pants when you think of how smart you are and dumb others are. I’ve yet to meet one you apologists that have an ounce of humility it comes to their intellect. Why should they, right? They have all the answers.

    • daryn says:

      You start with the term logical. What is that? and where did it originate? how did it get its meaning? etc etc

      Reply
  3. KR says:

    “Big Bang cosmology teaches us that the universe came into existence at some finite point in the past.”
    .
    No, the Big Bang theory suggests that the universe started expanding from an extremely dense, extremely hot state – called a singularity – at a finite point in time. It says nothing about the origin of this singularity. The problem is that the singularity is a prediction of classical relativity theory physics. We know this can’t be the whole story because relativity theory doesn’t take quantum mechanics into account – the singularity is the point where classical relativity physics breaks down.
    .
    So how does the Big Bang work in a quantum mechanical framework? Well, that’s what the cosmologists are trying to figure out by building mathematical models to fit the data into. Some models have the universe starting with the Big Bang but there are other models where the Big Bang is just a phase that the universe is going through. I realize that Christian apologetics thrives on clear-cut, unambiguous answers but in this case I think we just have to accept that the jury is out – for now, we just don’t know.
    .
    “The Second Law of Thermodynamics states the universe is running out of usable energy, so if the universe were here forever, it would have run out of energy by now.”
    .
    There are a couple of problems with this reasoning. Firstly, what the 2nd law of thermodynamics actually states is that the total entropy of an isolated system can never decrease over time. The entire universe is, by definition, all there is which would mean it can be viewed as an isolated system. However, the universe we’re talking about in relation to the Big Bang is the universe we’re able to observe and I see no particular reason to think that it qualifies as an isolated system.
    .
    Secondly, even if we were to accept that the observable universe is an isolated system, we would still need to take the 1st law of thermodynamics into account: the total energy of an isolated system is constant, i.e. energy can be transformed from one form to another, but can be neither created nor destroyed. This would seem to be more consistent with an eternal universe.
    .
    “From a logical standpoint, the impossibility of an infinite regress also makes it impossible for the universe to be past-eternal.”
    .
    This is a misunderstanding of the concept of an infinite regress. An infinite regress is a logical fallacy where a proposition is justified by another proposition, which is in turn justified by a 3rd proposition a.s.o. If there’s no way to justify these propositions except by continuing to throw out more propositions ad infinitum, you have an infinite regress. This is clearly fallacious as no verifiable justification has been provided for these propositions. This doesn’t apply to the suggestion that the universe could be infinitely old. No laws of logic are broken by this proposition. Whether the universe is infinitely old or not is presently unknown but that’s an empirical question, not a logical one.
    .
    “So then what would be an adequate explanation for the universe coming into existence?”
    .
    As I’ve explained, this is putting the cart before the horse. Before demanding an answer to this question, you need to show that the universe did indeed “come into existence”. I think it’s pretty safe to say that a Nobel prize awaits anyone who pulls this off.

    Reply
  4. staircaseghost says:

    “Big Bang cosmology teaches us that the universe came into existence at some finite point in the past”

    No it doesn’t.

    Serious question for Christian lurkers: which do you think makes your side look worse to those you are trying to convert, the fact that the author clearly doesn’t know what he’s talking about, or the fact that no other Christian apologist has swooped in at the editorial step or in the comments to gently correct his simple error?

    “Another story may tell that the universe – or at least the materials that formed into the universe as we know it – has always been here.”

    Sort of like the pre-existing water oceans that the Bible explicitly says the Gods formed the earth out of?

    Reply
    • Thoughtful Discussion says:

      Staircaseghost – No it doesn’t.
      So, just a refusal without evidence or counterpoint? Do you want to argue what you believe it does indicate?
      .
      Staircaseghost – Sort of like the pre-existing water oceans that the Bible explicitly says the Gods formed the earth out of?
      Pre-existing water oceans? Gods? What religion are you referring to?

      Reply
      • KR says:

        “So, just a refusal without evidence or counterpoint? Do you want to argue what you believe it does indicate?”
        .
        Did you happen to see my post right above the one you responded to? It explains that the Big Bang theory can’t tell us what (if anything) came before the Big Bang since the theory is based on classical relativity physics which breaks down at this point. We have a better chance of getting the answer if we take quantum mechanics into account but this is an ongoing project and we don’t have a clear picture yet.

        Reply
    • Brent Hurst says:

      SCG,
      .
      ““Big Bang cosmology teaches us that the universe came into existence at some finite point in the past””
      .
      Answer “No it doesn’t.”
      .
      WIKI “Detailed measurements of the expansion rate of the universe place the Big Bang at around 13.8 billion years ago, which is thus considered the ((( age ))) of the universe.”
      .
      WIKI “This primordial singularity is itself sometimes called “the Big Bang”,[15] but the term can also refer to a more generic early hot, dense phase[16][notes 1] of the universe. In either case, “the Big Bang” as an event is also colloquially referred to as the “birth” of our universe since it represents the point in history where the universe can be verified to have entered into a regime where the laws of physics as we understand them (specifically general relativity and the standard model of particle physics) work. Based on measurements of the expansion using Type Ia supernovae and measurements of temperature fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background, the time that has passed since that event — otherwise known as the “age of the universe” — is 13.799 ± 0.021 billion years.”
      .
      Now perhaps you are taking exception to the words “finite point” as time itself is said to come into existence with the Big Bang and yet generically it can be said Time had a beginning and so generically it could be said Time came into existence at a finite point in the past. This kind of language simply reflects we are lateral thinkers, even most the scientists tend to think laterally.
      .
      In fact I’m really not seeing what you could possibly be objecting to, the Big Bang points to a “Beginning” and a “beginning” infers time, its just that “Time” has the same Beginning point as the Universe.
      .
      “”””””Serious question for Christian lurkers: which do you think makes your side look worse to those you are trying to convert, the fact that the author clearly doesn’t know what he’s talking about, or the fact that no other Christian apologist has swooped in at the editorial step or in the comments to gently correct his simple error?”””””
      .
      I don’t think the apologists or the article posters ever come back to read these comments, maybe the article writers but I don’t think I have ever seen them respond. This whole forum here is pretty cheesy, bad software, no alerts, this whole apologetic sight seems to be based upon one book “I don’t have enough faith to be an atheist” and the seminars that have been built around that book as they rehash it over and over, and this little forum they have attached to their website is just a commercial perk to make it look like they are more evangelical than they are. Take away this supposed blog and its just a commercial website for a book. I don’t consider these guys much in the way of true apologist, I see them as salesmen for Christianity and their book is all as many of my posts reflect. I don’t like that they think themselves to represent Christ.
      .
      But lets get to a meatier subject
      .
      “”””””Sort of like the pre-existing water oceans that the Bible explicitly says the Gods formed the earth out of?”””””
      .
      I agree that many Christians are earth centric and tend to only think of this Creation as it involves the Earth, but you show the same level of ignorance. Hebrew and other ancient languages do not have words for dark matter, protons, etc. The description of God creating the universe utilizes symbology. “Water” is chosen for its formless nature because “Form” is the biggest difference between an Infinite Oneness of God, and the Creation as a context that allows anything else to exist even temporally. It is Time and Space that allows for difference points whereby atoms or individual souls to form.
      .
      Therefore the “Waters” are describes as “void/empty” and formless. It is not H2O and only a neophyte would think so. God, as an Infinite, Omni presence, is indivisible, so when He creates He creates from Nothing, that Nothingness is given the symbol of Water as water is capable of taking whatever for possible.
      .
      As the Infinite remains forever separate from a finite reality, so it is that God hovers over the waters, the fact that God “speaks” creation into existence, reflects the fact that His breath transfers His desire upon the Nothingness the same way your speech cause a bowl of water in the room to vibrate by resonance, even though you never physically touched it. Creation only happens on the “surface” of the waters and it is now known the our experience of a 3 dimensional space is more likely a two dimensional palette which contains enough information for our 3 dimensional experience.
      .
      In the past when the scriptures were read by simpler minds, water might make elementary sense, ancient readers were not trying to understand creation on an atomic level, but yet as science has evolved, the scriptures have kept up because the symbology is accurate. Light is created on the first day, and the sun on the 4th. This is because “Time” is the first dynamic in the Creation of the universe and time is established by the set speed of light. On the second day there is the parting of the “expanses” as “space” is the second dynamic. The first 3 days of Creation deal with the context, the forces that define this Creation, on the 4th day begins the physical side of the universe and so the sun and moon appear. And I wrote a book that lays this all out.
      .
      English is a set of symbols, French is a different set, either can convey knowledge if you know how to read the language, once again I agree, most Christians do not know how to read the symbology of the Bible, not even the apologist who sponsor this site, but that does not mean it is unreadable to all. Symbology is the basis for every language of communication, from the mythology of the Greeks to the formulas of todays mathematicians, you either learn the language or you stumble around in the dark calling it nonsense, which only exposes your illiteracy.

      Reply
      • Bob says:

        BH – And I wrote a book that lays this all out.
        Brent – are you a “Christian Mystic”?
        And is this your book – “In Search of The Lost Parable”?

        Reply
        • Brent Hurst says:

          Bob,
          .
          “”””Brent – are you a “Christian Mystic”?”””””
          .
          Considering the depth of my understanding and theology, I find no other way to describe myself.
          .
          “””””And is this your book – “In Search of The Lost Parable”?””””
          .
          Yes, but I wouldn’t know why you would be interested, other than the fact it points out many errors in the modern church and their doctrines, it does so only as it defines God in His proper station. But all in all yes, I have done the work and not been merely a mouth on such forums.

          Reply

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