Here is an ice cream cone. What does this object remind you of? Me, it reminds me of God.
Madame Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters, and friends, good evening.
Before I will tell you how ice cream cones remind me of God, here’s a brief background.
When I was in college, I had a classmate who played guitar for the Campus Ministry. One day, he asked me, “Dante, are you free this afternoon? I want to invite you to this “center” not far from here. It’s a very nice place. There are a lot of books and it’s very quiet, kind of like a library. I was free so I said, “Sure.”
So we went to this place, and it turned out to be a Catholic study center. There was a small and beautiful chapel beside it and we heard Mass there. After the Mass my friend introduced me to a friend of his. He was a very kind and professional guy, and he asked me how my experience was. He said, “So Dante, how do you like our place?”
And I said, “Well, sir, it’s really nice. I really love it. It’s very quiet and I find your books quite interesting. But I’m not sure if I believe in God.”
This floored my friend and his friend. They were speechless. Needless to say, my friend did not invite me again after that.
So in college, I was an atheist. I did not believe in God. I saw religion as just part of culture and tradition that gets passed on from generation to generation. I saw it as something that my parents just had to pass on to me, and I didn’t tell them that I was a skeptic or an unbeliever because I didn’t want to upset them. So for me then, religion was just wishful thinking; it involved blind faith.
Years later, I read this book by an author who converted to Christianity from atheism, and it opened the door for me to the world of philosophy, theology, and Christian apologetics. It was a very exciting discovery for me because I didn’t know that Christianity had an intellectual dimension or a rational foundation.
I discovered one Christian philosopher in particular. His name is William Lane Craig and he’s considered to be one of the best philosophers in the world today. He has doctorates in philosophy and theology and he has written over thirty books and published more than a hundred articles in peer-reviewed journals.
I eventually became a believer because of him and because of other factors.
Does God exist? Each of us must have asked this question many times in our lives. And it’s probably the most important question anyone can ever ask. God’s existence, or non-existence, have pretty serious and profound implications for all of us.
Tonight, my goal is to persuade you that God does exist, and I will illustrate that using this ice cream cone.
There are many good arguments for the existence of God. For example, there are the cosmological arguments, the teleological or Fine Tuning argument, the ontological argument, the moral argument, and the argument for the resurrection of Jesus.
Tonight, I will be talking about one argument in particular, the Kalam Cosmological Argument.
The Kalam Cosmological Argument originated in the writings of Al Ghazali, an Islamic theologian in the medieval period. A few other Christian thinkers and theologians wrote about the argument over the centuries following Al Ghazali, but the one who really developed, refined, and popularized it was William Lane Craig. The Kalam Cosmological Argument was the subject of his doctoral dissertation.
The argument is very simple and it goes like this:
1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
Logicians would say that there are two conditions that make an argument good:
1. If its logic is valid. Meaning, it’s impossible for the conclusion to be false if the premises are true; and
2. If its premises are plausibly true. Meaning, its premises are justified, warranted, or supported by evidence, facts, and further good arguments. Or that the premises are more plausibly true than their opposites.
I think that the Kalam Cosmological Argument meets these two conditions.
The premises are true
Recall the first premise. It is just obviously true that whatever begins to exist has a cause. It is supported by the metaphysical principle that something cannot come out of nothing; or out of nothing, nothing comes; or being cannot come out of non-being.
Recall the second premise. It is supported both by philosophical argument and scientific confirmation. Basically, the philosophical support goes like this: It is impossible for there to be an infinite number of things or events in the real world. If actual infinites did exist in the real world, it would lead to absurdities, therefore they cannot be actual. For example, what is infinity minus infinity? It will lead to contradictory answers. There’s an interesting thought experiment that illustrates the absurdity of actual infinites. It’s called Hilbert’s Hotel.
The scientific support is this: the Big Bang Theory.
Many people in Einstein’s time believed that the universe was not expanding. His theory on gravity, the General Theory of Relativity (1917) predicted that the universe was in a state of expansion. This baffled him because he believed that the universe was not expanding. Then in the 1920s, mathematician Alexander Friedman and Georges LeMaitre, a priest and astronomer, used Einstein’s theory and came up with a model that predicted that the universe was indeed expanding. This was further confirmed in 1929 by the astronomer Edwin Hubble when he saw through his telescope that the stars in the distant galaxies appeared redder than the stars in the nearby galaxies. He called this “red shifting” and this proved that galaxies are moving farther and further away from each other which meant that the universe was in fact expanding. Friedman and LeMaitre’s model eventually became known as The Big Bang Theory.
In 2003, further confirmation came. Cosmologists Alan Guth, Arvind Borde, and Alexander Vilenkin came up with a theorem that predicted that any model of the universe – whether it’s the Big Bang Model or other models – that is on a state of expansion must have an absolute beginning.
What all these means is that if you reverse the universe’s expansion, if you trace its history, you will eventually come to a situation where the distance between any two points in the universe is equal to zero – you will eventually come to what’s called an “Initial Cosmological Singularity”.
The ice cream cone
This is where the ice cream cone comes in. The singularity is smaller than the tip of this ice cream cone. It means that 13.7 billion years ago, the whole universe was so dense that it’s no bigger than the tip of this cone.
But what’s most shocking is that prior to the singularity or prior to the event of the Big Bang, there was literally nothing. Since the universe is all of space, time, matter, and energy, this means that prior to the Big bang, there was no space, no time, no matter, and no energy.
But how can this be? Surely, the universe did not come into existence out of literally nothing. We already know that that violates the metaphysical principle that something cannot come out of nothing, or that out of nothing nothing comes.
Therefore, the universe must have a cause. The only question is, what caused the universe?
Philosophers would say that there are only two candidates for what this cause might be: (1) an abstract object, like numbers or sets, or else, (2) a mind.
But abstract objects don’t have the power to cause anything. Hence, the cause of the universe must be a mind.
We can think of it this way: The universe is composed of matter, energy, space, and time. So whatever caused the universe, must be non-material and non-physical, non-spatial or spaceless, and non-temporal or timeless. Furthermore, this cause must be mind-boggingly powerful, because it brought the universe out of nothing or out of non-being. And it must be personal, because the exercise of choice was involved in creating the universe.
There are other scientific evidences that support the second premise of the Kalam Cosmological Argument, such as the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and the discovery of the Cosmic Background Radiation.
The logic is valid
The logic of the argument is valid because it is impossible for the conclusion to be false given that the premises are true. And the argument is deductive, which means that since the premises are true, the conclusion must inescapably true.
To summarize, we have seen that there is at least one good argument for the existence of God. The Kalam Cosmological Argument is good because it meets the two conditions for a good, and in particular deductive, argument. So I was wrong back then. Belief in God is not wishful thinking. It’s not blind faith. It is based on good reasons.
The next time you eat an ice cream on a cone, remember the argument. Remember the Big Bang Theory. Remember God.
*Speech delivered at the Queen City Toastmasters Club, September 24, 2016.