Something Cannot Come from Nothing

You Yourself are a miracle. 

Something cannot come from nothing.  This is a given according to physical science, common sense, and everyday experience.  We know that money doesn’t just appear.  Neither do babies in our arms, or education in our minds.  Some of us tell our children on a regular basis not to worry, because monsters do not appear underneath beds.

Something cannot come from nothing, and there’s a zero percent chance it ever will.  Nobody has a problem with that statement.  We all agree with it until we start to talk about the origin of the universe.  Then all of a sudden we backpedal away from reality, waffling over ways in which something might have come from nothing.  

Back in the late eighties, we launched a satellite called COBE, or, Cosmic Background Explorer.  It took measurements in space of microwave background radiation.  We gathered quite a bit of evidential data from COBE, confirming that the universe, though old, is not infinite.  It is finite, having had a beginning—what some have colloquially called “the big bang.”  It’s very difficult for us to evaluate this event according to science, because at that trillionth of a second prior to the Big Bang event, science didn’t exist.  All time, space, and physical laws burst out suddenly, completely defined.  

But something cannot come from nothing.  This fact leaves us with the inevitable conclusion that an agent outside the universe caused the universe to come into being.  Whenever we begin to suspect the cause as being intelligent, there are endless attempts to get out of it.  One scientist is on record as saying, “I would like to find a loophole.”   And so begins a mad scramble to escape a universe that might have been created.  Many people feel uncomfortable with the very thought.  

It seems everyone likes to pontificate on the Theory of Evolution, yet when the discussion backs up a little further to the origin of the universe, the room falls silent.  

But the Bible is not:

Hebrews 11:3 says, “by faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible.”

Yes, the Bible says, the universe was created.  When you look through a telescope, the material you see has not originated from other materials.  It didn’t come out of things seen; it came out of an unseen source, ultimately speaking.  We can only comprehend this by faith, because the Creator is not subject to lab coats and clipboards.  He doesn’t subject himself to instrumentation, because He doesn’t want to be primarily known through those means.  

So does that make faith and science enemies?  We’ve certainly heard as much.  The world would have us believe we must choose between being either the goofy, gullible person of faith, or the reasonable, mature person with the pocket protector.  This dichotomy, though, is a false one.  Science is actually just the study of the natural world through observation and experimentation.  It explains what God has done in the physical order.  That means science and faith are traveling companions.  They go together.  

Then where do the problems come from? It’s when we think of science as being the same as a philosophy called Naturalism.  Naturalism is a commitment to non-theism.  As a philosophy, It respects  science to a certain extent, and will defer to it, but as soon as that same science suggests that there might have been a god involved at some point, or involved now, naturalism will reject science, and begin looking for loopholes.  

As it stands then, science is not a problem to faith.  We can find in the highest levels of academia, plenty of educated, accomplished scientists who believe in God and believe in the Bible.  Instead, the conflict is between faith and a hostile philosophy.

This is never more apparent than when we talk about the origin of life.  Our culture has preached to us a message that says life simply started on its own, in essence, creating itself.  And now every living organism around us are the products of unguided mechanistic change.  Everything is an accident.  

This obviously flies in the face of faith, but it also flies in the face of mathematics.  I’ve seen a number of calculations deeply unfavorable toward accidental beginnings—some of them by brilliant astronomers and biologists who are not people of faith.  One English astronomer calculated the chance of life self-assembling, with all the correct enzymes and sequences, as being one in 10-40,000.   That is an outrageous improbability, but unfortunately when we laymen look at it, we say, So, you’re saying there’s a chance!   In reality, odds of this kind are  saying there’s not a chance.  

It’s like when you try to talk your friend out of buying lotto tickets.  You begin to quote the odds against winning, but they argue that somebody out there is going to win it.  To be honest, they do have a much better chance of winning the Powerball not only once, but everyday for the rest of their lives compared to the odds given for life self-generating.  Still, I’ve heard otherwise reasonable folks persist by saying, “Well, however unlikely, it must have happened, because here we are.”  

The problem is not just with bucking the odds once, but the trillions of times it must happen again.  The naturalist view tells us life not only began on its own, but it also changed into complex forms and radiated out into the incredible diversity of the world around us.  One time chance already stretches the imagination, but multiple times?  You begin to wonder who’s the gullible one.  

At the end of the nineties, I wrote a book on simple Christian apologetics.  I had to do a lot of cross-discipline reading, from Charles Darwin’s Origin of the Species across a spectrum of further evolutionary works.  Eventually I got to those who were doing the hard science, that is, the researchers looking through microscopes at the very structures alleged to have evolved.  They were basically saying, the unguided evolutionary processes of natural selection might have been a plausible idea in the nineteenth century, before anyone really knew about DNA, or modern molecular science, but such a theory doesn’t work today.  Easy transcendence of the species barrier cannot happen without intelligent guidance.  There’s no way it’s going to happen on its own.  

The problem from the Christian perspective is not who wins the debate.  The real problem lies in how we see ourselves.  If we believe humanity is an accident, and simply ended up on top of the food chain because we’ve got the guns and the pesticides, and the know-how to dominate everything else, then how we value ourselves and how we value others is going to be affected by that view.  As long as we are nothing more than smart animals, the value of human life will be low.  

The Bible though, shows us that the image of God is what gives a human being great worth. In the creation narrative of Genesis chapter one, “God said, let us make man in our image after our likeness and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the Earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the Earth.”

After all the other items of creation, there was a divine, uncharacteristic moment of deliberation.  The pause suggests great importance, a near savoring of what God was about to do, as though He were saying, This is going to be good, so profound.  And then He did it—made a human being that was unique among all His other works of creation.  Nothing else is said to have His image.  

The divine image is part of our created fabric, elevating us, bestowing upon us a worth beyond the physical biomass of this world.  What is this image?  Well, the verse also speaks of likeness, Godlikeness, which might function as something roughly synonymous with image.  However, think of it a bit further.  According to Colossians 1:15, “He [Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.”  When God made us in His image, He was actually making us according to Christ.  

The way the human brain is wired, we can potentially question the mysteries of the universe, astrophysics, astronomy, things way beyond the simple necessities of hunting and gathering and reproduction.  It’s a clue we’ve been deliberately designed to interface with some kind of profound reality. 

As image bearers, is it any wonder when we hear about Jesus, and in honest moments when we’re not trying to resist him, vaguely recognize the glory that made us?  We encounter His Humanity, and feel moved by His love, compassion, righteousness, courage, and self-sacrifice.  We feel, that’s the way I ought to be.  That’s the way the world ought to be.   This mysterious sense of “oughtness” rises up when we encounter Christ.  

Everyone and every situation ought to somehow reflect Him.  

God had this assessment originally as well.  John 1:2-3 says of Christ, “He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.”  

Everything bears some resemblance to the person through whom all was made.  And you, in a much more specific way, because you bear his image.  Now, because of Him and His image, we have a peculiar value.  

A couple of years ago, an old ledger was discovered that had belonged to Vincent van Gogh.  It had sat on a shelf for a hundred and twenty-six years, bundled together with a bunch of old, worthless books.  Inside of it, were sketches belonging to the artist nobody had ever seen before.   I checked Amazon for it, and you can get a copy of the book for $45 today.  Collector’s editions can go for as high as $1,100. 

However, upon its discovery, debate erupted between experts as to the book’s authenticity.  Some said it was Vincent, others said it was bologna.  I looked down in the Amazon reviews, and read a 1-star review from a man who had bought the book, and who had subsequently found out about the debate—that probably Van Gogh did not create the sketches, and therefore the images were not his.  The buyer sent his book back to get a refund.  While he was under the impression Van Gogh was the creator, the images were valuable. When he suspected this was not true, the images became worthless, just as fast.   It all goes to show you the creator is capable of bestowing value just by virtue of who he is.  

And we have intrinsic value because of who made us and whose image we now bear.  Upon hearing this, we’re all quick to respond politically, and socially.  We’ve been primed to think that way.  But the truth of God is not to promote an agenda.  It exists to encourage all the image-bearers to come to Christ.  That is the most normal thing for us to do, and at the very same time, it’s the most abnormal and awkward thing for us to do, because we have all fallen into sin. 

We have the image of God, but it has been defaced, because we’ve done things we’re embarrassed of, shameful things we can barely even think about.  We may have continued in this estranged state for years.  We say we’re atheist or agnostics. Some of us have become disillusioned, or a wounded warrior who has been hurt by various churches.  

But there’s no reason to remain in that state, stalled out and stuck.  Jesus himself said, “whoever comes to me, I will not cast out.”  (John 6:37).  In fact, as we come to the cross of Christ, where the Bible says Jesus died for our sins, “the blood of Christ purifies our conscience from dead works, that we might serve the living God” (Heb. 9:14).

Come meet your Maker, and your Redeemer.  

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