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What is the origin of the universe?

The question of the existence of the God has been one that consumed philosophers, scientists and priests since time immemorial and it is a question that will continue to occupy inquisitive minds and be explored for as long as man exists. Scientists such as Isaac Newton saw God as the masterful creator of the universe. A view that is consistent with classical theism espoused by philosophers such as Plato, Aristotle and Descartes who also believed in the existence of the supernatural being that was the source of the origin of the universe and species.

Charles Darwin on the other hand credits the existence of species to evolutionary biology. His Theory of Evolution suggests that species have common ancestry and have diversified over time. It has been widely reported that astrophysicist Stephen Hawking, in his new book The Grand Design, said that God had no role in the creation of the universe. Hawking said that “because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist”.

If Darwin and Hawking’s theories are true it would be reasonable to expect that man would have evolved into something else as evolution would be a continuous process, that other planets which never existed since the beginning of our time would have possibly created themselves from nothing. As far as we know, we remain the same species of humans that we were at the beginning of human existence. Surely if we evolved from apes, the same apes would have evolved from something. At what point did evolution begin?

The universe within which we exist today remains the same it was since its creation, except for continuously dying stars and the new ones that are formed from a “cloud of cool and dense molecular gas”. One may proceed further to ask, “what is the force driving such formation of these stars” and proponents of classical theism would argue it is God and so we would proceed on a neverending inquisition.

G Stolyarov II also holds a view that God could not have created the universe. He says: “If the universe is ‘everything that exists’ and it could be created, then, whatever entity could create the universe, would be outside that universe. It follows, then, that such an entity would be outside ‘everything that exists’. An entity ‘outside’ existence does not exist! A non-existent entity cannot do anything. Creation is an action that an entity must perform; it cannot be performed if the entity that would perform it does not exist!”

Stolyarov makes an interesting observation. If those whose views revolve within the orbit of religion establish that God was the omnipotent being that created the universe and all that exists in it, then where did God exist in the absence of the universe? Heaven? Where is Heaven? None of the religious faithfuls substantiate the veracity of such claim. This is primarily because faith is generally not premised on reality and rationality. Though atheists refuse to give consideration to the possibility of a supernatural being as the primary driving cause of the existence of the universe and species; they too cannot advance a convincing counter-argument on this causation.

Even Georges Lemaitre’s Big Bang Theory still raises some questions. According to the Big Bang Theory “the universe expanded with incomprehensible speed from its pebble-size origin to astronomical scope”. This theory suggests that the universe existed in some other form before its evolution to how we know it today. Lemaitre does not answer the question of the original creation of the universe. The advocates of this theory are also unable to conclusively explain how the universe evolved since the supposed Big Bang. One can safely say that even science has limitations and is not conclusive in some instances.

These atheistic arguments attempt to dispel views by proponents of classical theism such Plato who in The Laws claimed something must have created the world, the sun, the moon, the stars and the order therein, and that something must have been the gods.

On the same side as Plato is Descartes who in his treatise Meditations on First Philosophy says: “I know that I exist, and since I am not perfect in every way, I cannot have caused myself. So something else must have caused my existence, and no matter what that something is, we could ask what caused it to exist. The chain of causes must end eventually, and that will be with the ultimate, perfect, self-caused being, or god.”

Saint Thomas Aquinas, who was a priest of the Catholic Church said: “Therefore, whatever is moved is moved by another. If that by which it is moved be itself moved then this also must needs be moved by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because there would be no first mover, and consequently no other mover … therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover moved by no other, and this everyone understands to be God.”

None of the arguments put forward to proof the existence or non-existence of God and to explain the creation of the universe and species are of indubitable certainty. Such arguments of causal determinism advanced by Aquinas, Descartes and Plato suggest that everything else that exists has an antecedent cause but fail to explain how the original cause itself came into being. This line of argument is inconsistent with rationality. Neither science nor religion is able to explain beyond reasonable doubt the causality of everything that exists.

When science speaks of energy, matter and atoms, some may continue to ask what gave rise to all those elements and so we shall proceed on the endless journey of inquisition. It is safe to accept that we only have an idea, that we do not completely possess the requisite knowledge to remove all doubt about the origin of the universe and species.


  • Sentletse Diakanyo

    Sentletse Diakanyo's blogs may contain views on any subject which may upset sensitive readers. Parental guidance is strongly advised.