Big Bang cosmology isn’t the only scientific evidence for the universe having a beginning. There are parallel laws of nature that point us to the same conclusion and, again, it is not some earth-shatteringly complicated concept to comprehend. You understand it already because you have to charge your cell phone every night.
A battery holds a certain amount of energy within it and, unless and until you plug it in to recharge it, the battery will eventually go dead. A battery can only hold a finite amount of energy. You can use it up, but you won’t get anymore. As far as we know, the universe is a “closed system” similar to a giant battery … except that it is not rechargeable.
Instead of reinventing that wheel here, I would like to offer a brief overview of the most powerful arguments on this topic and some links to video and other resources I have found helpful. Readers can pursue whichever ones they would like to know more about.
As the subtitle of the post puts it succinctly, beginnings require beginners. Effects require causes. Events don’t just occur without something to make them happen. The universe is not exempt from these facts.
With that in mind, the three most powerful and simple arguments you should be familiar with are:
The Cosmological Argument (The Big Bang)
The Second Law of Thermodynamics
Aristotle’s Unmoved Mover
The first two are scientific; the third is philosophical. Don’t get scared off by “Aristotle” or “philosophical.” The concept is simple to comprehend and actually the most indisputable of the three. As someone interested in defending a theistic view of the world, being able to discuss each of these should become second nature to you.
I will discuss each argument in a separate post to avoid being cumbersome.
Big Bang Cosmology
For thousands of years and with few exceptions, the consensus view of the universe was that it was “static and eternal.”
“Static” – while we observed things moving around in the heavens, the common assumption was that the universe itself was not moving at all. It was thought of as a giant “blob” of space that contained all the heavenly objects within it. The blob didn’t move or change; the stuff we could see just swirled around inside it.
“Eternal” – the universe had always been here. It had no beginning or end, it just “was.”
No one had much reason to question this view until Albert Einstein came along with his Theory of General Relativity (GR). GR was his attempt to find an explanation for gravity. The mathematics of the problem led him to discover a connection between matter, energy, space, and time. His equations made sense of everything, with one exception.
You can visit his post for yourself, but let me just offer a summary of the apologetically relevant topics. The requirements for life on any planet require hundreds of factors that have to be “just right” but among them are:
Uneven temperature variations that cause weather patterns and a water cycle
Tidal fluctuations that move and replace nutrients between land and sea
A stable planetary orbit in a “habitable zone” (not too close to the system’s star, and not too far away)
A star (like our Sun) that is of a certain size and maturity — not too early in its burn cycle and not too late
Though it’s not intuitively obvious, some of these factors — like the tidal variations and weather patterns — cannot exist on a planet that rotates on plane perfectly perfectly perpendicular to its plane of orbit. For a planet to sustain life, it must be tilted in reference to its plane of orbit around its star. That tilt leads to uneven heating and uneven heating creates air currents — and the weather required to move and cycle water.
In addition to that, the planet cannot “wobble” as it rotates. Planetary “wobble” would be physically destructive to the environment and not conducive to sustained life.
So what does all this have to do with an eclipse?
As it turns out, the Earth is tilted at 23.5 degrees from its plane of orbit. This angle varies slightly but it is held within a nearly perfect, life-allowing range and held there by a Moon that is inordinately large in relation to the planet it orbits. The size of the Moon in relation to the Earth, and it’s distance from the Earth, has an equally important impact of modulating the ocean tides within a narrow, life-allowing range.
So we have the uncanny “coincidences” that our Moon’s size is required to: 1) stabilize the Earth’s tilt and wobble, 2) modulate the Earth’s tides, and 3) allow for the Earth’s life-enhancing water cycle, while at the same time being the perfect size to eclipse the Sun and allow us to discover otherwise unknowable facts about the physics of the universe we live in. Listen to Jay explain it himself:
Maybe this is all just a coincidence … or maybe it is part of a divine conspiracy that not only explains our very existence but also allows us to discover that there is evidence for a Person who is behind it all — and able to offer us answers to life’s most important questions.