Monday, December 7, 2020

High School Youth Group, December 6th -- The Catholic Response to Atheism, Session 6 -- Did the Universe have a Beginning? The Big Bang Theory (Father Ryan Erlenbush, Corpus Christi Parish)

This week, we discuss why the proofs for God's existence do not require the universe to have had a beginning and also that the Big Bang Theory (or any other scientific theory about the origin of the universe) would not undermine St Thomas' proofs for God's existence.

We also point out some serious scientific problems with the Big Bang Theory.

Listen online [here]!


High School Youth Group – Fall 2020 – The Catholic Response to Atheism

December 6th  - Session 6 – Did the World Have a Beginning? The Big Bang Theory

“The fool hath said in his heart: There is no God.”  -Psalm 13:1



I. Calendar: December 20th, Last Class of Fall, resuming January 10th and continuing until May 2nd.


II.  Review of the Proofs for God’s Existence

A. The five ways of St Thomas:  1) Motion  2) Efficient Causality   3) Contingency  4) Degrees of perfection  5) Order


B. Notice that none of these “ways” of St Thomas would fall to the “God of the Gaps” objection because:  1) They don’t deal with creation in the beginning, but with why things exist now; 2) They aren’t discussing the kinds of questions that science can answer, but deeper metaphysical questions;  3) St Thomas’ “ways” are very different from most modern arguments (such as Intelligent Design Theory) in that they are metaphysical, but also different from the ontological argument of St Anselm in that they are still based on sense experience.



III. Review: Explanation of a couple points from the proofs for God’s existence

A.  What does it mean to say that God is “perfect/pure Existence”?

B. Consider the way that existence is limited by nature or by matter in angels/men, unlimited in God

C. Why does this mean that there can be only one God?



IV. Philosophically, do we know whether the world had a beginning?

A. St Thomas, “The reason of this is that the newness of the world cannot be demonstrated on the part of the world itself. For the principle of demonstration is the essence of a thing. Now everything according to its species is abstracted from "here" and "now"; whence it is said that universals are everywhere and always. Hence it cannot be demonstrated that man, or heaven, or a stone were not always.”


B. Objection, “Further, if the world always was, the consequence is that infinite days preceded this present day. But it is impossible to pass through an infinite medium. Therefore we should never have arrived at this present day; which is manifestly false.” Reply, “Passage is always understood as being from term to term. Whatever bygone day we choose, from it to the present day there is a finite number of days which can be passed through. The objection is founded on the idea that, given two extremes, there is an infinite number of mean terms.”


C. Objection, “Further, if the world was eternal, generation also was eternal. Therefore one man was begotten of another in an infinite series. But the father is the efficient cause of the son. Therefore in efficient causes there could be an infinite series, which is disproved.”   Reply, “In efficient causes it is impossible to proceed to infinity per se—thus, there cannot be an infinite number of causes that are per se required for a certain effect; for instance, that a stone be moved by a stick, the stick by the hand, and so on to infinity. But it is not impossible to proceed to infinity "accidentally" as regards efficient causes; for instance, if all the causes thus infinitely multiplied should have the order of only one cause, their multiplication being accidental, as an artificer acts by means of many hammers accidentally, because one after the other may be broken. It is accidental, therefore, that one particular hammer acts after the action of another; and likewise it is accidental to this particular man as generator to be generated by another man; for he generates as a man, and not as the son of another man. For all men generating hold one grade in efficient causes—viz. the grade of a particular generator. Hence it is not impossible for a man to be generated by man to infinity; but such a thing would be impossible if the generation of this man depended upon this man, and on an elementary body, and on the sun, and so on to infinity.”



V. What is the Big Bang Theory?

A. The Universe appears to be expanding; therefore, there was once a time 15 billion years ago in which the universe was a single small point much smaller than a proton which was of infinite density and temperature. 

B. From this infinitely small point, there is an explosion/bang in which all things burst forth to form the universe we have, and the universe continues to expand.

C. Inside this massive exploding gas cloud, gravity gathers material together to form galaxies and stars and planets etc.



VI. Problems with the Big Bang Theory?

A. There is no tolerance of serious objections to the big bang theory – anyone who attempts to question it is immediately black listed and made out to be a creationist.  There is a continual recourse to new theories and hypotheses to explain the problems with the big bang: Dark Matter is hypothesized to explain the lack of matter in some areas, but then Dark Energy is used to explain why other areas seem to have too much matter.


B. Stephen Hawking on the big bang, “In agreement with all the observational evidence that we have today” … one of the more questions it leaves unanswered is “the question of the formation of stars and galaxies.”  How can this explain the formation of the universe if it doesn’t explain stars and galaxies?


C. The amount of matter needed for gravity to pull things together to form stars and galaxies is such that we are missing 90 to 95% of what should be there, “it is a fairly embarrassing situation to admit we can’t find 90 to 95% of the universe”.


D. In the real world, explosions make a mess, they destroy and create chaos – that is why we drop bombs. But, in the academic world, the big bang makes a universe and order, and eventually even liberal university professors and atheistic scientists.


E. “Red Shift” is the shift of light to longer wavelengths (which is from blue to red), but there is nothing that really proves this indicates distance or speed etc. Thus, there is no reason to believe that the universe is expanding.


F. Additionally, if the universe were expanding, we would expect to find different temperatures in different parts of the universe – because the temperature would not have come to equilibrium in the various places if the universe were expanding and the outer region was younger than the inner region.  However, this isn’t the case, the temperature is the same everywhere.


G. Many are finally admitting that we have known for years that the Big Bang theory doesn’t work. Another point, we have discovered stars that are far older than what the Big Bang theory claims.



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