Why is there something rather than nothing? Most scientists today agree that the universe had a beginning. They disagree on how it began, but they largely accept the idea that it began to exist. However, another question many ask is, “Why does anything exist?” If there was nothing before the universe began, why are we here?
If nothing existed before the universe began, it is difficult to explain why there is anything at all. Some scientists have tried redefining “nothing” to make it “something.” Sometimes they suggest that something is gravity. So, if gravity existed before there was anything, where did the gravity come from? What they are doing is to substitute gravity for God, but how can there be gravity without mass?
Isaac Newton described gravity as the attraction between objects that have mass. The more mass, the more gravity pulls them together. That was the accepted theory until Einstein devised a new idea. His theory defined gravity as a curvature in space-time, which is the accepted concept today. But, according to scientists, the cosmic creation event (usually referred to as the big bang) was also the beginning of space and time. So, where does gravity come from if there is no space-time or matter-energy? That still does not answer the question, “Why does anything exist?”
Of course, if science says that gravity existed before anything else, atheists argue that it is no different from saying that God existed before anything else. Who or what made God? Everything that begins to exist must indeed have a cause. However, God is eternal. He did not begin to exist. God is the first cause, the unmade Maker, the necessarily existing uncaused Being. If God created time and space, He is outside of time and space. God existed before time, but even using the term “before” shows that we are limited to thinking in time terms. There is no before or after with God. He knows the future because He can see the entire timeline of the cosmos, viewing it from the outside.
So back to our original question, “Why does anything exist?” We can say that everything exists because God exists. God chose to create this fine-tuned universe of space, time, matter, and energy. Since God is outside of time, He can hear the prayers of millions of people all over the world at the same time. There I go using that “time” word again. We can’t think outside of time because we can’t live outside of time. If we could, for just a moment (another time word), step outside of history’s timeline and see it from God’s perspective, we could understand why God allows things to happen. We could understand the things that make us ask, “Why doesn’t God stop that from happening?” We could see the conclusion of all things. We would know that because of God’s wisdom, justice, and love, the conclusion is good.
Relativity and light speed present a confusing concept in physics. My students always came into the physics class with prejudice based on what their family had told them. The relatives scared the students into thinking physics class was going to be hard. I always began the year by telling the students that physics was the easiest class they would ever take as long as they learn to speak algebra.
One year, a student enrolled in my physics class who had escaped Viet Nam and spoke virtually no English. The guidance counselor questioned how the student could handle my class with the language handicap. The young man smiled and said through his interpreter, “But I speak excellent algebra!” That was true, and he was my best student that year. Einstein’s theory of relativity is a physics unit that invokes fear in many minds, but it’s easy to understand if you know a little algebra.
The problem is not understanding relativity and light speed. The problem is believing it. Relativity begins with TWO BASIC POSTULATES:
THE FIRST is that the laws of physics are the same no matter where you are or what you are doing. If you are sitting in your chair reading this, all the laws of physics work very well. When you drop an object, it falls in accordance with the laws of motion. If you were in an airplane traveling near the speed of sound and you drop the same object, it would fall the same way as it did when you were sitting still.
THE SECOND postulate tells us that the speed of light is a universal constant. This one is easy to understand, but very hard to believe. Suppose I were in a rocket traveling toward you at half the speed of light. If I turn on my headlights, the light beam will travel at the speed of light. You are sitting still and measuring the speed of the light beam. What would your measurement be? You might be tempted to say, “The speed of the rocket, 0.5 times light speed, must be added to the speed of light. The answer would be 1.5 times light speed.” What Einstein’s postulate says is that you would measure it to be the speed of light–186,000 miles or 300,000,00 meters per second. That’s because the speed of light is a constant, independent of the motion of the light source or the observer.
Light speed is designed to be a universal constant according to Einstein relativity equations. You say, “How can that be?” According to Einstein, time is a created thing that depends upon the motion of the observer. As you go faster, time slows down. The algebraic equation is that the time you experience (t’) equals the time you would experience at rest (t), divided by the square root of 1 minus the velocity (v) squared divided by the speed of light (c) squared. Notice that the velocity cannot be higher than the speed of light. If it were, the denominator would be the square root of a negative number, which is not possible. If you don’t understand the equation, understand that time is not a fixed thing. It changes with velocity. The faster you go, the slower time passes. At light speed, time would stop.
Science fiction writers have suggested that this is a way to build a time machine. That won’t work, because time doesn’t reverse. Since the speed of light is always the same for all observers, time gets slower and slower but never stops. This is not wild speculation. Experiments at very high speeds in particle accelerators have verified what we have briefly sketched here.
As physicists and astronomers gather more data on the nature of the cosmos, the more they realize one important thing. Scientists realize that the cosmos came into being by agencies outside of time and space.
Einstein’s famous concept of gravity and mass as depressions in the fabric of space/time assumes that the view is being made by an observer outside of space/time. There is a famous illustration which shows a bowling ball and a soccer ball sitting on a mattress. The bowling ball makes a bigger dent in the mattress than the soccer ball does. Its mass is the explanation of the deeper impression than the soccer ball. All of that can only be seen by an observer looking at the mattress from a position outside of the frame of reference of the mattress.
In the mathematics of quantum mechanics and string theory, the equations suggest more than the traditional four dimensions of X, Y, Z, and time. In string theory, the equations suggest eleven spacial dimensions. This is another interesting agreement between science and faith. God is described throughout the Bible as existing in a higher dimension than X, Y, Z, and time. In Acts 17: 23-28 Paul talks about “the unknown God” and portrays the real God as one “in whom we live and move and have our being.”
Science and the Bible agree that there are more dimensions than three spacial dimensions and time. All evidence says that the creation process involved an entity or entities in higher dimensions than X, Y, Z, and time. Time and space could only be created by an entity outside of time and space. The disagreement is whether that entity is personal or impersonal. The properties of a personal creator would involve purpose, beauty, design, intelligence, and order. The properties of an entity that is not personal would have no purpose, would be totally chance-driven, would show no design, and would have no reason for beauty.