Did you all read my summary of the excellent debate between William Lane Craig and Peter Millican? That was probably the best debate I have seen in since 2005. William Lane Craig presented the arguments for theism, including his standard Kalam cosmological argument which asserts that the universe had a beginning. The atheist, Peter Millican, raised several objections to the notion of a beginning to the universe. But Craig was able to establish the beginning of the universe by appealing to something called the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem. This theorem is new – but it is worth learning about.
First, let’s review Craig’s cosmological argument:
A1) The origin of the universe
- The universe began to exist.
- If the universe began to exist, then the universe has a transcendent cause.
- The universe has a transcendent cause.
The origin of the universe is confirmed by philosophical arguments and scientific evidence.
There cannot be an actual infinite number of past events, because mathematical operations like subtraction and division cannot be applied to actual infinities.
The Borde-Guth-Vilenkin (BGV) proof shows that every universe that expands must have a space-time boundary in the past. That means that no expanding universe, no matter what the model, can be eternal into the past.
Even speculative alternative cosmologies do not escape the need for a beginning.
The cause of the universe must be transcendent and supernatural. It must be uncaused, because there cannot be an infinite regress of causes. It must be eternal, because it created time. It must be non-physical, because it created space. There are only two possibilities for such a cause. It could be an abstract object or an agent. Abstract objects cannot cause effects. Therefore, the cause is an agent.
So he appealed to the Bord-Guth-Vilenkin theorem right from the start in order to guarantee a space-time boundary in the past – i.e., a beginning of the universe, which is his premise 1.
Ok, now let’s take a look at some videos on this theorem.
The Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem, explained
Millican tried to argue that there was a way to get a beginning in an eternal universe if the universe was contracting. I’m guessing he means that the new universe would begin to exist within some outside hyper-universe.
But Craig had a response:
If you would like to read a nice LONG article about Craig’s cosmological argument, just check this post I wrote a while back. And it even contains a nice peer-reviewed paper that Craig wrote for an Astrophysics journal – and the abstract is online on Springer! Now put your Evil Hat on and think with me – think of the fun you could have by sending that paper to all your atheist friends. Send them the abstract on Springer, and send them the full text of the article. Then send them the link to my summary of the Craig-Millican debate which has the audio. If that doesn’t rehabiliate God’s reputation and honor in their eyes, then nothing will. At the very least, they should be ready to accept that atheism is not as well supported by science, which is exactly the way that God intended things to be.
What does the Bible say in Psalm 19:1-6:
1 The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
2 Day after day they pour forth speech;
night after night they reveal knowledge.
3 They have no speech, they use no words;
no sound is heard from them.
4 Yet their voice goes out into all the earth,
their words to the ends of the world.
In the heavens God has pitched a tent for the sun.
5 It is like a bridegroom coming out of his chamber,
like a champion rejoicing to run his course.
6 It rises at one end of the heavens
and makes its circuit to the other;
nothing is deprived of its warmth.
And in Romans 1:20:
20 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.
And in Hebrews 11:3:
3 By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.
Indeed. And it’s our job to make his glory know to the unbeliever – using good science.
5 thoughts on “The cosmological argument and the new BGV theorem”
Heb 3:4 (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.).
This passage clearly establishes that complex things that require a plan or blueprint (like a house) are “built” are done by “someone”, a person, incorporating the nature of a mind…not nature. Intelligent Design. The Bible described it first!
Having recently discovered your blog, referenced by an atheist, no less, I tip my hat to your writing on behalf of our Lord. But it has been my experience that not one in 100 beyond the age of around thirty who have adopted the philosophy of materialism have repented despite any and all evidence one can bring to bear.
So to quote another Hebrews passage in addition to Mike’s:
Heb 6:4-6 “For in the case of those who have once been enlightened and have tasted of the heavenly gift and have been made partakers of the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, it is impossible to renew them again to repentance, since they again crucify to themselves the Son of God and put Him to open shame.”
Is it just me, or is there not a pattern that people harden their hearts, and then God cements the hardening? The cynic in me wants to share the gospel once and if refused, ‘shake the dust off’ and move on, searching for whiter fields ready for harvest, so to speak.
And therefore, the effort of apologetics such as the above defense is of greater effect upon those ‘on the edge’ of doubt rather than the confirmed skeptic.
“That means that no expanding universe, no matter what the model, cannot be eternal into the past.” I think this is grammatically mush… please check! Thanks!