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   Chapter 1 THAT THE UNIVERSE HAD A CREATOR

The Truth of Christianity By William Harry Turton Characters: 10253

Updated: 2017-12-06 00:03


(A.) The Origin of the Universe.

Explanation of the universe, its origin, a Free Force.

(1.) The Philosophical Argument. If the universe had not an origin, all events must have occurred before, and this seems incredible.

(2.) The Scientific Argument. From the process of evolution and the degradation of energy.

(B.) The Creator of the Universe.

The Single Supernatural Cause, which originated it.

It is proposed in this Essay to consider the reasons for and against believing in the truth of Christianity, meaning by that term, as will be explained later on (Chapter XIII.), the doctrines contained in the Three Creeds. For convenience the subject has been divided into three Parts, Natural Religion, the Jewish Religion, and the Christian Religion; but the second of these may be omitted by anyone not specially interested in that subject. At present we are considering Natural Religion only, which deals with the great questions of the Existence of God, and the probability, or otherwise, of His making some Revelation to man. And we will commence at the very beginning, though the first chapter will unfortunately have to be rather technical.

(A.) The Origin of the Universe.

Now by the universe is meant the material universe, which includes everything that exists (earth, sun, stars, and all they contain), with the exception of immaterial or spiritual beings, if there are any such. And by this universe having had an origin is meant that it was at some time acted on by a Free Force, that is to say, by a force which does not always act the same under the same circumstances, but which can act or not as it pleases. No doubt such a force would be totally different from all the known forces of nature; but there is no difficulty in understanding what is meant by the term, since man himself seems to possess such a force in his own free will. He seems for instance to be able to raise his hand, or not, as he likes. We are not, of course, assuming that man's will is really free, but merely that the idea of a free force, able to act or not as it pleases, is well known and generally understood.

Hence the statement that the universe had an origin means that at some time or other it was acted on by such a Free Force; in other words, it has not existed for ever under the fixed and invariable forces of nature, and without any external interference. We have now to consider the two arguments in favour of this, which may be called the Philosophical and the Scientific argument.

(1.) The Philosophical Argument.

By this is meant that, when we reflect on the subject, it seems inevitable that if the universe had not an origin, all present events must have occurred before. The reason for thinking this is, that if all free force is excluded, it is plain that matter must be eternal, since its coming into existence at any time could not have been a necessity, and must therefore have been due to some free force. It is equally plain that what we call the forces of nature and the properties of matter must also be eternal, since any alteration in them at any time would also have required a free force. And from this it follows that no new event can happen now. For every event which the forces of nature could possibly bring about of themselves would, since they have been acting from eternity, have been brought about long ago. Therefore present events are not new, but must have occurred before.

This is no doubt a possible theory. For example, if we assume that the universe will in process of time work itself back into precisely the same condition in which it was long ago as a nebula or anything else, when it will begin again precisely the same changes as before; then, and only then, is it possible that it has been going on doing so from all eternity. But this theory, though possible, is certainly not credible. For it requires that all events, past, present, and future, down to the minutest detail, have occurred, and will occur, over and over again. They must, in fact, form a recurring series. And when applied to a single example, say the history of the human race, this is seen to be quite incredible.

We must hence conclude that the universe has not existed for ever under the fixed forces of nature, and without any external interference; in other words, that it had an origin. No doubt there are difficulties in regard to this theory also, but they are mostly due to our ignorance. We may not know, for instance, whether matter itself is eternal. Nor may we know why, if a free force once acted on the universe, it never apparently does so at present, and still less can we picture to ourselves what such a force would be like; though the difficulty here is no greater than that of picturing a force which is not free, say gravity.

But our ignorance about all this is no reason for doubting what we do know. And it appears to the writer that we do know that, unless present events have occurred before, which seems incredible, the universe cannot have existed for ever without some Free Force having acted on it at some time. In short, it seems less diffic

ult to believe that the universe had an origin than to believe that it had not.

(2.) The Scientific Argument.

And this conclusion is greatly strengthened by two scientific theories now generally accepted-that of the process of evolution and the degradation of energy; both of which seem to show that the universe had a beginning.

The first subject, that of Evolution, will be discussed more fully in the next chapter. All that need be said here is, that the atoms of the universe, with their evolving properties, cannot have existed eternally; for then the course of evolution would have commenced in the eternal past, and would therefore have been finished now. But this is certainly not the case, and evolution is still in progress, or at all events was so a few thousand years ago; and a state of progress cannot be eternal. It thus differs from a mere state of change which as we have seen, might be eternal, if the changes were recurring. But a state of progress, in which the changes are not recurring, but all tend in one direction, can never be eternal. It must have had a commencement. And this commencement cannot have been a necessity, so it must have been due to some Free Force. In short, evolution requires a previous Evolver; since it cannot have been going on for ever, and it cannot have started itself.

The other theory, that of the Degradation of Energy, is that all energy (motion, etc.) tends to heat; the simplest instance being that of two bodies hitting each other when a certain amount of motion is lost, and a corresponding amount of heat is produced. And heat tends to be equally distributed. The heat, for instance, which is now stored up in the sun will in process of time be distributed throughout space, and the same applies to the whole universe; so that everything will eventually have the same temperature. And though this may take millions of years, they are yet nothing to eternity. Therefore, if the universe with all its present forces has existed from eternity, and without any external interference, it must have been reduced to this state long ago. So if this theory is correct (and the only reason for doubting it, is the curious behaviour of radium), it seems not only probable, but certain, that the universe had an origin.

But an objection has now to be considered. It may be said that the above reasoning is merely another form of the old argument, 'Everything must have a cause, and therefore there must have been a First Cause;' the obvious answer to which is, that then this First Cause must also have had a cause, and so on indefinitely. But this is not the case; for the alleged First Cause is of a different kind from all the others. It is a Free Cause, whereas natural causes are not free, but are themselves effects of other natural causes; and these, again, of previous ones. What we want is a cause which is not also an effect, in other words, a cause which is not moved by anything else, but is moved by itself, or Free. When once we get to such a cause as this, there is no need for a previous one.

This objection, then, cannot be maintained, and we therefore decide that the universe had an origin. And all we know at present about the Force which originated it, is that it was a Free Force. And the conclusion at which we have arrived may be concisely expressed by saying, that before all natural causes which acted necessarily, there was a First Cause which acted voluntarily.

(B.) The Creator of the Universe.

We have next to consider what else we can ascertain in regard to this First Cause. To begin with it can scarcely be disputed at the present day that it was a Single Cause, as modern science has completely established the unity which pervades the universe. We know for instance that the same materials are used everywhere, many of the elements which exist on this earth being also found in the sun and stars. Then there is the force of gravity, which is all-embracing, and applies equally to the most distant stars, and to the most minute objects on this earth; and many other examples might be given. But it is scarcely necessary, as everyone now admits that the universe (as the word implies) is one whole, and this plainly points to a Single First Cause.

Nor can it be disputed that this First Cause was Supernatural, which merely means that it differs from natural forces in being free; for this is exactly what we have shown. It was thus no kind of gravitation, or electricity, or anything of that sort. All these and all similar forces would always act the same under the same conditions; while the Force we are considering was of a different kind. It was a Free Force, a Force which voluntarily chose to originate the universe at a certain time. And such a Force must clearly have been Supernatural.

In conclusion we will call this Single Supernatural Cause, which originated the universe, its Creator. And if it be objected that the universe may have had no origin, owing to some Free Force having been always acting on it, such a Force must also be Single and Supernatural, and may equally well be called its Creator.

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