What if…?

What if…?

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Image by Genty from Pixabay

I came across an article on space.com that makes three common errors skeptics and atheists may make when you have conversations about the existence of God. The first is we can’t trust our own judgment because we have been wired for survival, not necessarily to have an accurate understanding of reality. The second is ‘what if…’ stories. Some may suggest alternative options or reasons for something by asking you, “What if this or that was true?” Most of these ‘what if’ questions have no foundation in scientific facts. The third mistake is a misunderstanding of how Christians view God, an eternal, all-powerful being who created not only space and matter but time itself. They often ask, “If God made the universe, then who made God?” This just pushes back the initial cause of the universe, when we as Christians view God as the Alpha and Omega. Let’s look at each one briefly. 

The first is we can’t trust our intellect, our judgment, or instincts. In an article on cosmology or the beginnings of the universe, Mike Wall wrote, “Our universe could have popped into existence 13.7 billion years ago without any divine help whatsoever, researchers say…That may run counter to our instincts, which recoil at the thought of something coming from nothing. But we shouldn’t necessarily trust our instincts, for they were honed to help us survive on the African savannah 150,000 years ago, not understand the inner workings of the universe. Instead, scientists say, we should trust the laws of physics.”1

Wall does not recognize the inherent contradiction in what he suggested. We can’t trust our instincts or our understanding of how things work, but we should trust the laws of physics? I would ask, how did we come to understand the laws of physics? By our instincts, our senses, and our reason. That in turn, enables us to draw natural conclusions on how the world works, which includes physics. How is it we can’t trust our senses and reason, but we can trust physics, which we have come to understand via our senses and reason? Yes, that confuses me too. 

In other words, don’t believe everything you read, but you should read and believe this… It is a self-defeating statement. 

We function every day having to trust what we have learned from the world around us. Don’t smoke near gasoline. Don’t stand in the middle of a busy highway. Sharp knives can cut you, loaded guns can kill you, and mullet haircuts make you look stupid. Ok, maybe the last one is subjective, but you get my drift. Not only do we trust our instincts and senses, but we also have to function daily, relying on them, that is if you want to survive. Funny how survival and a proper understanding of reality go hand in hand.  

Further on in the article, the ‘what if’ stories come into play, which is a 2nd error Christians let others get away with. You have heard them. The skeptic or atheist spins a tail and asks you to consider a view that has no foundation in reality. They come in several forms, and when you pay attention, you will begin to spot them in a conversation or article. Here are a few that will probably sound familiar. 

  • What if…
  • You could say…
  • Imagine if…
  • It could be… and if that is true…
  • If you could say… then you might…

The above ‘what if’ claims are hollow and do not offer any hard evidence or science to back them up. Frankly, they are simply a waste of time because we can ‘what if’ each other all day and make zero progress in an intelligent and thoughtful discussion. See if you can recognize any in the paragraph from the article below.

“If you would just, in this room, just twist time and space the right way, you might create an entirely new universe.”1

Or how about this one from the same article. “So it could be that this universe is merely the science fair project of a kid in another universe,” Shostak added. “I don’t know how that affects your theological leanings, but it is something to consider.”1

They are easy to spot when you know what to look for. When someone spins a ‘what if’ tail or story, you should have a question for them. And the evidence for that is?  How did you come to that conclusion?  Can you share with me the research that supports that suggestion? What if stories are just that, stories. Anyone can spin a story, and some can spin a tale that sounds thoughtful and reasonable but is not backed by any science or facts. 

Finally, Wall addresses the question ‘If God made the universe, then who made God?’ This question shows he clearly doesn’t understand what we mean when we say God. He writes, “The question, then, is, ‘Why are there laws of physics?’ And you could say, Well, that required a divine creator, who created these laws of physics and the spark that led from the laws of physics to these universes, maybe more than one. But that answer just continues to kick the can down the road, because you still need to explain where the divine creator came from. The process leads to a never-ending chain that always leaves you short of the ultimate answer…”1

Has God been created? Is that what scripture teaches? Not at all. Isaiah 40:28, Psalm 90:2, Hebrews 3:4, and Hebrews 13:8 are just a few examples. God has always existed, and He began creation (space, time, matter). Science supports a beginning moment for all creation. If time did not have a beginning, then we could never have reached this moment in time. 

William Lane Craig explains it this way, “When we say that God is infinite, we mean, for example, that God is uncaused: he doesn’t depend on anyone or anything for his existence. Rather everything else depends on him. He is utterly distinct from his creation: we are creatures; he is Creator. We also mean that God is eternal: he never began to exist and will never cease to exist…as the evidence suggests, time and space began to exist in the Big Bang, then God transcends time and space in the sense that he existed without time and space and then brought them into being at the moment to creation.”2

Melissa Travis in her book ‘Science and the Mind of the Maker‘ points out that a Muslim philosopher Al-Ghazali was one of the first to lean against the idea of an eternal universe. Al-Ghazali recognized that many of his contemporaries began to adopt a Greek or Aristotelian view that the universe always existed, which undermined the need of a creator.3

In his book ‘On Guard‘ William Lane Craig formulated this syllogism. 

  1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause outside of its self.
  2. The universe began to exist. 
  3. Therefore the universe has a cause outside of its self.4

We call that cause God, who has no cause. When someone asks who caused God, they assume He has a beginning; we know He does not. 

The Christian faith is on solid ground. Those willing to do the homework will not only find historical grounds for their faith, but scientific reasons also. 


What if… by James Glazier is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

  1. Wall, Mike. “The Big Bang Didn’t Need God.” Space, space.com, 24 June 2012, https://www.space.com/16281-big-bang-god-intervention-science.html [] [] [] []
  2. Craig, William Lane. “How to Know God as a Personal Reality in your Life” On Guard For Students, Colorado Springs, David C. Cook, 2015, pg. 275 []
  3. Travis, Melissa. “The Origin and Structure of the Cosmos: Finite and Finely Tuned” Science and the Mind of the Maker, Harvest House Publishers, 2018, pgs 53-57 []
  4. Craig, William Lane. “Why Does Anything At All Exist” On Guard For Students, Colorado Springs, David C. Cook, 2015, pg. 33 []
Reflection

Reflection

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Two or three times a week, I will head out for a spot to take some sunset pictures. The other day the horizon was cloudless, which does not offer much variety for photos; nevertheless, the few minutes are still enjoyable, quiet, pleasant, and reflective.

As I watched the sun settle in the cloudless sky, I began to notice more of my surroundings. Usually am watching the sun interact with the clouds, but since it was a clear blue sky, my eyes began to stray. I noticed on this mountain ridge, the small fescue (native grass) began to shine from the low sunlight. Suddenly my focus was not on the sky but on the ground surrounding me. I had wanted a brilliant sunset, with rays of sunlight piercing the clouds, but had been missing something splendid just at my feet. The sun, low in the sky, gave the fescue an iridescent look to them as if some fairies had sprinkled some phosphorescent pixie dust. I had never noticed that before.

At times in our lives, given a change in circumstances, we begin to notice things we might not have otherwise. I don’t know about you, but as I go through my days, most often I look at things that need to change regarding people, but the reality is I need to be looking at what I need to change about myself. 1Samuel 16:7

Never easy, and never fun to do the heavy lifting on our own character. It’s always been much easier for me to point out others’ faults, especially if it is someone I don’t like. Yet, sometimes, after reflection, or some friends pointing out a different perspective, I come to a place that needs some work. Thankfully His grace is ever-flowing and never-ending. Ephesians 2:8. Someone once defined grace as getting what you don’t deserve and not getting what you do deserve. I have been hearing more about grace in the last few weeks, and I don’t think we can ever hear enough.

I think of Joseph’s story in scripture, where his brothers sold him into slavery. Joseph dreamed his brothers were bowing down to him and had the arrogance to share this with them, probably while wearing his daddy’s coat of many colors. Some theologians may disagree, but I think he may have been an arrogant little punk who enjoyed his father’s favor and relished the position of reporting on his older brothers.

When I was a boy, I remember catching my older brother drinking directly from the cough syrup bottle instead of pouring it onto a spoon. I threatened to tell on him, and he responded by raising the bottle over my head as if he would pour it over me. I was ‘an arrogant little punk’ and declared in all confidence he would not dare do that. Moments later, he left the kitchen and I had cough syrup dripping down the side of my head. I can’t help but wonder if Joseph had some of the same pride and swagger toward his brothers I did toward mine. Well, Joseph suddenly had the time and a change in circumstances to reflect on his character and to think deeply about God’s grace. Genesis 37:23-24

In the last few years, I’ve needed more work than I care to admit, but I have appreciated friends pointing out some areas I still need to improve. When things begin to change, for better or worse, I still need to reflect Christ in my life. I’ve heard it said that out of a hundred people, one would read the Bible, and ninety-nine will read you. I don’t want to imagine someone basing their opinion of Christianity on my character, my behavior, or especially my thoughts. What a disaster that would be, but for His grace.

I had an opportunity to chat with a couple of homeless men a few weeks ago. They were both believers, and what struck me as we conversed for over two hours is their admission to their guilt, God’s grace toward them, and their desire to change their lives. I think the deeper the hole we are saved from, the greater our appreciation for being rescued. These men showed me what deep appreciation is. In reality, we are all in a deep hole, an abyss really, and don’t realize that. Some believe their good deeds basically out weight their bad, and they will make it into heaven. They believe the hole they are in is really nothing more than a depression in the sidewalk. They can step out of it on their own.

With the proper perspective, just the right angle of light, people can see us for who we are, deeply flawed Christians immersed in His grace. I would rather people see the flaws in me surrounded by His grace than the pretend someone who has their life together taking pictures of the perfect sunset.

In the early part of the twentieth century, a well-known London newspaper asked the notable journalist, novelist, poet, and Christian apologist G. K. Chesterson the question “What is wrong with the world?” They probably expected a lengthy reply full of insight and wisdom. Chesterson replied with two words, “I am.”

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