In contrast, traditional religions argue the opposite—that, even if all the evidence indicates that a religious belief is patently false, one should still believe in the unseen, inexperienced, fantastic reality precisely because some divine authority or book “said so.”
And the divine infallibility of this source must be accepted without evidence solely because the source itself claims divine, infallible authority:
“We know our religion is true because its source is divine and infallible. We know the source is divine and infallible because it says it is divine and infallible. And since, it is divine and infallible, it has to be right; thus its claim of infallibility is valid. Because it is validly infallible, we should believe all that is claimed by this source, including its claim of infallibility . . .” (etc., etc.)
Authoritative truth claims based on such impeccable, perfectly circular logic—i.e., mere claims that are otherwise unverifiable—cannot be used to prove anything! (Also see Hume’s discussion of the miracle claims made by unimpeachable authorities.)
In contrast, modern science has proven the existence of Yo (or “God,” as that word is used in certain mystic traditions). If this surprises you, consider the following proof of the existence of this “Yo.”
First, the scientific basis of Yo versus Creation Science and so-called “Intelligent Design”
Simply put (see The Word for another version of this proof), modern science has shown that the world we can touch, feel, taste, smell, and see—that is, the world we can truly know, sense, and experience—is composed of unseen, invisible arrangements of matter (mass and energy). These unseen matter constellations are described (and studied) by physicists who use words like particles (electrons, protons, neutrinos, etc.) or forces (gravitational, electromagnetic, nuclear) to talk about and create a model of the unseen world that gives rise to our experience.
There are those, like the Kansas Creationists, who would like you to believe that the world of science—which posits an unseen microscopic, atomic, and subatomic world or an ancient evolutionary history for all life—is just another unseen, unexperienced reality because some authority or book says so and, therefore, their creation myth (their “theory”) is equally valid and should be taught in public schools alongside the scientific theory of evolution or the theory of The Big Bang. The difference is that scientific theories make sense of sensation. Science “explains” or describes how our different sensations/experiences relate to one another in a way that can be used to make accurate predictions of what will happen in the future. That is, scientific theories tell us what we will experience or sense after certain events occur or we act in a certain manner.
The unseen world of science is therefore consistent (or at least, aims to be consistent) with the world we actually experience. If there are inconsistencies, the science is inadequate and must be corrected. The unseen world of traditional religions, on the other hand, contradicts the experiential world. If you are troubled by the contradictions, this is an indication of your failing, of your lack of faith. What you experience directly with your own senses must be ignored or denied. Your direct sense of what is real must be replaced by what you are told to believe so that your beliefs jibe with what some authoritative source dictates. (Again, see Hume for a full discussion of how traditional religious beliefs contradict experience.)
Back to our proof: The “First Cause” argument fails, but . . .
Aristotle’s popular cosmological argument for the existence of God was based on the notion that all motion is caused; something cannot come from nothing. The “prime mover” that set everything in motion is the First Cause, which he called God. Atheists and agnostics are quick to point out that this does not answer the question created by a need for a first cause: Who caused or created this God? An uncaused or uncreated God who simply exists without creation is no less problematic than an uncaused universe. For most doubters, this ends any claim that the cosmological argument proves the existence of God (not to mention Yo). The universe just is, just as such a God would be postulated to exist without a cause.
Indeed, among scientists, this seemed to be the general belief about what science could claim about God based on empirical evidence. As far as we knew, the universe may well have always existed, more or less the way it is now. No need for something outside of it to bring it into existence. No need for an Uncreated Creator God, whose existence would pose the same problem as an uncreated universe.
And this belief that the universe may have always existed without a moment of creation was unchallenged, until the 20th Century. Then science began to develop some strange theories and some disturbing evidence was found. Einstein’s relativity theories produced notions that were very unfamiliar; they had no clear counterparts in everyday experience and seemed to contradict some commonsense notions. In 1922, Alexander Friedman, a Russian mathematician, discerned that Einstein’s general theory of relativity implied a non-static, expanding universe; and an expanding universe implied that the universe could have had an origin, a beginning before which it did not exist.
The notion of a “beginning” of the universe had been deemed irrelevant, since there was nothing to indicate that the universe was not always the way it is today. Friedman’s new idea would bring science around to confront a question that had been relegated to religion. With a legitimate scientific theory suggesting that the universe may have had a beginning—that there may have been a moment of “creation” when the universe came into being—it became fair game for science to address the same cosmological, religious questions about the origin of the world that had been deemed to be beyond the scope of empiricism.
Einstein’s Blunder: The Cosmological Constant
Einstein—and most scientists at the time were aligned with him—appears to have been uncomfortable with non-static implications of his own general theory of relativity. The equations he had come up with that described the structure of the physical universe did, as Friedman had shown, suggest that the universe was changing unless one added a “cosmological constant” into the equations. Einstein did this in an act he called “the biggest blunder of my life.” But why did he do it? What were the implications that he was trying to avoid?
Well, at the time, there had been no evidence that the universe was changing and that it may have been quite different in the distant past or would be different in the future. Ironically, it would have been another source of validation of Einstein’s theory, had he used it to claim the universe was expanding before evidence of its expansion had been found. Einstein’s fudge factor blunder may have been added precisely to avoid the implication that an expanding universe would have to have had a beginning. It was just too much like religious creation stories in which, once-upon-a-time, the universe was not, and then it was. Or like theologies, in which the universe will come to an end in the distant future. With the cosmological constant, the universe could be static, and it could have existed uncaused like this forever. A world without end, without a beginning with no need for a creator or a first cause. Science could forge ahead in agnostic unbelief and not even consider the question of “creation.”
But in the late 1920′s, Edwin Hubble presented evidence that the universe was, indeed, expanding. And in the 1940′s, George Gamow, another Russian scientist, presented a theory that the universe began in a great fireball, a Big Bang. In this now accepted cosmology, our best theories consistent with the empirical evidence propose that—some 14 billion years ago—everything-that-is, “all the matter and energy and even the four dimensions of time and space, burst forth from a state of infinite or near infinite density, temperature, and pressure.” Before that moment, there was nothing. No time. No space. No matter. Nothing.
Since everything that has a beginning before which it was not must have a cause to bring it into being or to get it started, the universe must have a cause. While atheists and agnostics are quick to point out that this is still no proof of the existence of the Old Testament’s Yahweh, the New Testament’s Trinity, or the Qur’an’s Allah, it does suggest the existence of something that is not the universe itself that brought the universe into existence, that got things started. Before the existence of the universe, before the existence of time—without anything to get things going—it would seem that the universe would have simply remained unmanifested.
MORE ON THE WAY