|Orthodox Outlet for Dogmatic Enquiries
God’s “Yes” and Omnipotence
The Creator of Space and Time
The existence of God and His association to the universe is a subject that preoccupies a multitude of people nowadays. God however is not an object that we can examine scientifically in any kind of laboratory. As a free Being, He reveals Himself, to whomever He wants. Thus, it is entirely inappropriate to speak of evidence of the existence or the non-existence of God; we can only express logical thoughts regarding His person. Given that these are issues outside any human experience, it is imperative that such a logical survey be made, for those people who seek a logical reason for believing in a Creator.
What is the primeval cause of the universe’s existence?
This is a good question to begin with. But, when seeking to locate this cause, it would not be consistent to look for it inside the universe, because the cause of its existence can only be situated beyond it, considering how the universe itself is a product of that cause.
But, does the universe actually have a beginning, or did it always exist?
Cosmologists have not yet given a final answer to this question. So, why don’t we take a look at all the options on the “kind” of universe we are living in?
First of all, it is imperative to mention that – in accordance with all the cosmological suppositions – space and time did not exist prior to the universe itself; furthermore, that the entire universe came into existence when time and space came into existence. Consequently, if the universe has a beginning, so must space-time.
There are two suggested models for the universe. One model upholds that the universe has a beginning, while the other model maintains that the universe always existed. Let’s examine the first model:
1. If the universe has a beginning, (and subsequently space-time has a beginning), things are quite simple. In this case, the universe would merely require an initial cause for its existence; something that would give it an existence, out of non-existence.
This initial, beginning-less, uncreated, infinite and everlasting cause, we call God.
a) It recycles itself, or
b) It is an expanding, super-universe, with possible infinite, subsidiary universes being born from it.
a) If our universe recycles itself, if it continuously expands and contracts, it would still require a cause behind its every expansion. In other words, if it contracts because of (existing) gravitational forces, then it would take a tremendous external force to make it overcome the pull of gravity on its immense mass, so that it can re-expand. Thus, we must again resort to this initial cause that we called God. Anyway, this hypothesis has recently been proven wrong, given that recent surveys (2 April 2001) led to the conclusion that our universe is open; in other words, it will be forever expanding. This in turn signifies that it neither pulsates nor is recycled. Specifically, Michael Turner (astronomer of the University of Chicago) had stated in a scientific convention at NASA’s central offices: “For seventy long years, astronomers and cosmologists believed that, although the universe is expanding, its rate of expansion will, at some point in the distant future, slacken. The question is ‘when?’ But now, after discovering the vast distance to the supernova star 1997ff, we proved that the universe not only continues to expand, but also, that its rate of expansion is steadily increasing instead of decreasing.”
b) If, on the other hand, our universe is just a “tiny bubble, of an expanding super-universe”, it could, itself, comprise one of the infinite, continuously-born and vanishing universes of every type, where each one of them would have its cause in another “ancestral” universe, which could possibly become the cause for the existence of a newer universe. In this kind of a universe, there are those who cannot see any reason for seeking another cause, beyond this super-universe; although, once again, in this scenario, there could exist the other cause: the one we called God.
Even so, the only thing achieved in this case is to make it even more complex, and the problem be shifted elsewhere. We would again require an answer to the question: “What is the cause for the existence of this super-universe?”
Even in a super-universe with no temporal beginning of its own, it is still compulsory to identify its beginning in respect to its existence - albeit each of its component-universes has its cause in one another! Given that the component-universes are interconnected in the time-space continuum, the overall system can still be seen as ONE super-universe, where its own time-space and its own (subsidiary) chain of causes become its noose… And, naturally, its reason for existence will likewise have to be sought outside this lattice of (possibly infinite numbers) of universes….
We must therefore conclude that every single thing in the universe is subject to the laws of space and time and is subsequently alterable. Only the initial cause is not subject to any kind of law and is subsequently unalterable, and it remains unchanging, no matter how much time goes by.
This is the first question that comes to mind. However, things here are different. Let’s not forget that we have mentioned three kinds of statuses: 1. of non-existence, 2. of the created and 3. of the uncreated.
We have already stated that the characteristic of non-existence or nothingness is the total lack of anything or any cause, while the characteristic of creation is changeableness, and its need of a cause for existence, since it is subject to laws.
The state of non-existence has never existed, since – even without the existence of the universe – the initial cause that we call God, did exist. Thus, in the world that we live in, there are two kinds of “beings”: the created beings and the Uncreated Being.
But, if the uncreated has unchangeability as its “characteristic” – or any other characteristic –doesn’t this mean that it is limited by its characteristic? In other words, if something characterizes the nature of the uncreated, doesn’t this mean that the uncreated is likewise subject to laws?
At this point, we shall touch upon the issue of volition for the first time.
Up until this point, we mainly spoke of the initial cause or of the uncreated, as though it were some kind of lifeless object, in order that we might approach the expression “supreme power” that many people use when they want to avoid admitting a “personal God”. But now, it becomes necessary to speak of the uncreated as we would of a personal God.
If God were a lifeless object, He would naturally be confined by whichever characteristic of His nature. And it is a fact, that whatever does not have intellect is subject to laws, and it exists in accordance to certain laws and characteristics of its nature. But this doesn’t apply to intelligent beings. An intelligent being has free will, which lifeless objects don’t have. For example, a grain of dust will go wherever the wind blows, and a planet will move continuously in its predefined orbit, according to nature’s laws. Even a law of nature behaves involuntarily, according to the characteristics that define it. However, the more intelligent that something is, the greater degree of freedom it will have. For example, a jellyfish has a greater degree of free will than a plant. A dog has an even greater degree of freedom, and so on, until we reach man, who possesses the greatest freedom of movement of all of earthly creation.
Of course even mankind is subject to certain limitations on account of its created nature. For example, man has to eat, to sleep, to follow certain specific moves in order to change his position in the space that he occupies, etc.. So, we can see now, that whatever is done out of necessity, is a confining characteristic of man’s nature, and whatever is done willingly, is a product of his free volition.
The only way to not seek another initial cause for the existence of God, is to allow that He has intelligence, that He is a free Person.
We also noted that, the more intelligent that a being is, the freer it is. This means that God, being absolutely free, has absolute intelligence and wisdom – something that is obvious in the grandeur of His creation. God is an absolutely free being: the only one that has the cause of His existence within Himself. He is not confined by, or dependent on, anything; while He Himself can do (and does) whatever He wills, with absolute freedom. Consequently, all of us, and all of the rest of nature, are what they are, the way they are, because He so willed it, without Him having any benefit from creation.
So, if God created us as products of a selfless volition, this means that we are products of His love, since He had no other reason to make us except to offer us everything that we enjoy – including our very existence.
Furthermore, our existence in this universe hides a purpose. It is up to us to discover it, so that we can have a personal relationship with Him, who created the universe and to Whom we are so indebted.
We invite you to survey with us all those things that He revealed about Himself, His creation, and His purpose for man.
Text: Í. Ì.
Translation by A. N.
Article published in English on: 26-9-2005.
Last update: 11-8-2008.