The Four Big Bangs

Posted: August 15, 2011 by Amy Hall in God is Real, Intelligently Designed

This video sums up four sudden appearances that can’t be explained by a naturalistic answer:

1. Something from nothing
2. Life from non-life
3. Mind from biological machines
4. Morality and an appreciation of the good, the true, and the beautiful

They can’t be explained naturalistically not because people haven’t yet thought of a naturalistic answer, but because by their very nature, the changes require a moral being Who is outside of nature and self-existent. For example, life is something beyond mere matter, and everything we know from science refutes abiogenesis; life only comes from life. It’s also not possible for something to come from nothing (I’m talking about a real void here (no space or time), not a vacuum state). Something must generate something, and that Something had to have been outside of nature because nature didn’t exist. Etc.

I think the third point is weak, as presented in the video—it’s unclear what the difference is between #3 and #4. But I heard Frank Pastore explain #3 as an emergence of the mind, so I think that’s what they were trying to convey.

  1. Sam Harper says:

    I don’t think your #3 and #4 are the same as his #3 and his #4. His #3 is how man came from animals. That’s his anthropological big bang. His #4 is how mind came from biological machines. That’s his psychological big bang.

    I think the strongest points are the cosmological big bang and the psychological big bang.

    But let me ask you a question about the cosmological big bang. In the video at 2:00, he said characterized the big bang by saying, “Now you don’t see it; now you do.” But think about that characterization for a second. If the big bang was the beginning of time, then there was no “before” the big bang. And if there was no “before” the big bang, then there was no “Now you don’t see it.” There never was a state of affairs in which the universe didn’t exist since such a state of affairs couldn’t have happened before the big bang or since the big bang. There’s a sense in which the universe has always existed even if it’s finite in the past.

    You said, “It’s also not possible for something to come from nothing (I’m talking about a real void here (no space or time), not a vacuum state). Something must generate something, and that Something had to have been outside of nature because nature didn’t exist. Etc.”

    You’re defining “nothing” as the absence of both space and time. But since there was no “before” time, how could there have ever been a state of affairs in which nothing existed? How could there have ever been such a thing as timelessness?

    What does it even mean for the universe to come into existence out of nothing since there was never a time in which the universe didn’t exist, even if it is finite in the past? How could God be timeless without creation if there could never have been a state of affairs in which God existed, but the universe did not?

  2. Amy Hall says:

    Well, I was trying to give him the benefit of the doubt, based on the interview I heard. If those really are the #3 and #4 he was trying to say, then I think he really only has three points because the two are the same. The only reason the existence of humans is special is because of #4. And people could (and do) argue that physically, human beings came from animals, so #3 doesn’t seem to be on the same footing as the others. There is no even conceivable mechanism for non-living material suddenly becoming alive.

    Regarding the big bang question, no nature exists outside space and time, but why would that exclude a completely other type of thing from existing (i.e., God). From our perspective, we could never see outside of time because we’re part of nature, but if nature isn’t all that exists, then the possibility is open that there is something outside of it, including outside of time.

    I just heard William Lane Craig addressing this objection, but I can’t for the life of me remember where!

    • Sam says:

      He addressed it near the end of his book, Time and Eternity. I read it last night. I’ll quote it when I get home. It makes some sense, but I’m still struggling with it.

    • Sam Harper says:

      Here we are.


      But now we are confronted with an extremely bizarre situation. God exists in time. Time had a beginning. God did not have a beginning. How can these three statements be reconciled? If time began to exist–say, for simplicity’s sake, at the Big Bang–then in some difficult-to-articulate sense God must exist beyond the Big Bang, alone without the universe. He must be changeless in such a state; otherwise time would exist. And yet this state, strictly speaking, cannot exist before the Big Bang in a temporal sense, since time had a beginning. God must be causally, but not temporally, prior to the Big Bang. With the creation of the universe, time began, and God entered into time at the moment of creation in virtue of His real relations with the created order. It follows that God must therefore be timeless without the universe and temporal with the universe.

      Now this conclusion is startling and not a little odd. For on such a view, there seems to be two phases of God’s life, a timeless phase and a temporal phase, and the timeless phase seems to have existed earlier than the temporal phase. But this is logically incoherent, since to stand in a relation of earlier than is by all accounts to be temporal.

      1 Amorphous Time

      [I’m going to skip this section because Craig rejects it in the end.]

      Timelessness without Creation

      Perhaps this realization ought to prompt us to reconsider the alternative that God is simply timeless without creation and temporal subsequent to creation. Detractors of this position simply assume that if God’s life lacks earlier and later parts, then it has no phases. But why could there not be two phases of God’s life, one timeless and one temporal, which are not related to each other as earlier and later? Critics have perhaps too quickly assumed that if any phase of God’s life is timeless, the whole must be timeless.

      We have already seen that a state of undifferentiated time looks very much like timelessness. This impression is reinforced by recalling the dynamic theory of time. On a static theory of time, it is very tempting to picture the two phases of God’s life as equally existent, bounded by the moment of creation, the one earlier and the other later. But given a dynamic theory of time, this picture is a misrepresentation. In reality God existing without creation is changelessly alone, and no event disturbs this complete tranquility. There is no before, no after, no temporal passage, no future phase of his life. There is just God.

      To claim that time would exist without the universe in virtue of the beginning of the world seems to postulate a sort of backward causation: The occurrence of the first event causes time to exist not only with the event but also before it. But on a tensed theory of time, such retrocausation is metaphysically impossible, for it amounts to something’s being caused by nothing, since at the time of the effect the retro-cause in no sense exists.

      The impression that God without creation is timeless can be reinforced by a thought experiment. Imagine God existing changelessly alone in a possible world in which He refrains from creation. In such a world, God is reasonably conceived to be timeless. But God, actually existing alone without creation, is no different than he would be in such a possible world, even though in the actual world He becomes temporal by creating. Apart from backward causation, there seems to be nothing that would produce a time prior to the moment of creation.

      Perhaps an analogy from physical time will be illuminating. The initial Big Bang singularity is not considered to be part of time, but to constitute a boundary to time. Nevertheless, it is causally connected to the universe. In an analogous way, perhaps we could say that God’s timeless eternity is, as it were, a boundary of time which is causally, but not temporally, prior to the origin of the universe.

      It seems to me, therefore, that it is not only coherent but also plausible that God’s existing changelessly alone without creation is timeless and that He enters time at the moment of creation in virtue of His real relation to the temporal universe. The image of God existing idly before creation is just that: a figment of the imagination. Given that time began to exist, the most plausible view of God’s relationship to time is that He is timeless without creation and temporal subsequent to creation. (~Craig, Time and Eternity, p. 233-236)
      The second to the last paragraph and the third to the last paragraph make some sense to me.

  3. Looks like I need to get that book sometime.

    • Sam Harper says:

      It’ll really stir the noodle, Kyle. It’s one of the most difficult books by Craig that I’ve read. And I’ve read Theism, Atheism, and Big Bang Cosmology!

      Woops! I mean it’ll really stir the mind…metaphorically speaking, of course since minds can’t really be stirred with a spoon.

  4. billy squibs says:

    By way of clarification with regards to “something from nothing”, quantum mechanics proposes that before the big bang there was something, namely a quantum vacuum. Out of this arose space-time i.e. life, the universe and everything. You will often hear physicists assert that there was nothing before the big bang. This, however, is incorrect. The quantum vacuum is a thing.