For most Christians, the Bible is the authoritative Word of God — period. We need no convincing, other than the Holy Spirit’s  witness within our souls, to confirm the truthfulness and authority of the Bible. However, non-believers do not view the Bible as God’s Holy Word, nor do they believe that it is authoritative. So, what kind of arguments, or evidence, could the Christian present to them, using common sense and logic, that might break down the barriers they hold against the Bible?
Now, I fully believe that the Holy Spirit is at work in this day and age to, “convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment…” (John 16:8 ESV). However, I also know that there are many who have erected intellectual barriers that render them unable to even consider the reality of God’s Word. These barriers keep them from seriously considering, much less acting upon, the Truths revealed in the Bible. The Cosmological Argument is one defense of the reality of God that can break down many of the barriers keeping lost men and women from knowing the Savior.
The Cosmological argument attempts to show that the universe could not have created itself, nor sustain itself, but must have been caused, and is currently sustained, by some agent that was neither part of the universe nor was itself caused. The argument is basically designed to refute the secular atheistic idea that the universe is eternal, that it had no beginning but has always existed, and therefore needs no Creator.
Basic premise: Every effect has a cause
The principle of causation says that everything that begins to exist must have a cause. The universe began to exist at some point, it exists now, and we exist within its boundaries. Since the universe exists, it must have had a cause. Something caused it to come into existence. This something had to be greater than the universe, and outside of the universe.
Now, an atheist might claim that the Big Bang, or something like it, caused the universe to come into existence. Even if that were so, the Big Bang came into existence; therefore, it must have a cause. If we work backwards from an effect to its cause, and from that effect to its cause, we would eventually wind up at a first cause, or an uncaused cause.
The first, or uncaused, cause
This first cause would have to have several characteristics.
- First, it would rely on nothing for its existence. If it needed anything else, it would be an effect instead of a cause.
- Secondly, it would be powerful enough to create the something from nothing. Obviously, if it alone existed, anything it made would have to be created from nothing.
- Thirdly, it would also have to be intelligent and have the will, the desire, to create…or to not create.
- Fourth, this cause would have to exist outside of the universe it would create.
These characteristics only make sense when applied to a powerful, sentient, being that exists outside of the universe, with the will and ability to create. These are the characteristics of God ; which are revealed beginning in the book of Genesis and extending throughout the entire Bible.
The historical development of the Cosmological argument for God
The Cosmological argument began with Adam and Eve. They clearly believed God created the universe and that He sustains it every day. However, we will look at a couple of more recent people who have formulated the clearest examples of the Cosmological argument.
Thomas Aquinas (1224-1274), in the 13th century, offered a clear and logical presentation of the cosmological argument. He said that everything that comes into existence owes its existence to something else. Nothing brings itself into existence or causes itself (Holman, p. 36). Once again, if we trace backward from the effect to cause, effect to cause, and so on, we will arrive at the uncaused first cause. As we have seen, Christians believe this is God.
G. F. W. von Leibniz (1646-1716) modified Aquinas’ argument by addressing the idea that there must be, along with a sufficient cause, a sufficient reason for the existence of the universe. Leibniz sought to answer the question of ‘why’ there was a universe. The universe does not necessarily have to be, therefore, something or someone wanted it to be. He posited that things that are caused do not happen without a reason. He said that, just as everything that is caused had a prior cause, everything that exists had a prior reason for existing, and that reason must be, “…outside of and prior to its existence. And just as there can be no infinite chain of causes, there can be no infinite chain of reasons. Thus, the universe cannot provide a sufficient explanation for its own existence or state of affairs. The only sufficient reason must be found outside of the universe in a being whose existence is “self-explanatory…(and) logically necessary.” And this being is who we call God” (Holman, p. 37).
The two truths that the Cosmological argument attempts to convince the unbeliever to acknowledge are: (1) something, or someone, caused the universe to come into existence, and (2) something, or someone, is keeping the universe existing right now.
If we can get the skeptic to consider these two points as true, or at least possible, we have removed barriers that provide the unbeliever with reasons (excuses) for rejecting the possibility of the existence of God. When these excuses no longer exist, the unbeliever has no grounds, or at least fewer grounds, for fighting the Holy Spirit’s calling.
Not only that, but once a skeptic acknowledges that there must be a force that created the universe, and even now sustains it, we can give biblical evidence for exactly Who that Creator/Sustainer is. Genesis 1:1 tells us that, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (ESV, cf. Job 38:4-7; Psalm 33:6, 136:5; Isaiah 42:5, 45:18; John 1:1-13; Acts 14:15, 17:24; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:10, 11:3; Revelation 4:11).
The Bible also is clear that God is sustaining everything in the universe…right now. While extolling the glory of Jesus, the apostle Paul says this about Him, “And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17 ESV). Again, in Hebrews 1:3, Paul says this about Jesus, “He…upholds the universe by the word of his power” (ESV).
The Cosmological argument is a tool to be used for the glory of God and the furtherance of His Kingdom. While nothing replaces or overshadows the power of the Holy Spirit in evangelism , a good argument in the hands of a committed follower of Jesus can be a powerful witness to an unbelieving world.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version
“Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV)
Geisler, Norman. Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics. Baker Academic, 1999.
Powell, Doug. Holman Guide to Christian Apologetics. Holman Reference, 2006.