Cross Examination: Is the Universe Eternal?

One of the most vexing and foundational questions that I’ve come across in my study of Christianity: “Is the Universe eternal?”  The answer to that question has huge ramifications, both for science and for people that believe in a personal God.

Universe

Why is this important?
People might say, “I thought this series was going to be an examination of Christianity, not the universe!?!”  However, there are two things that need to be examined in my study, not one.  First, I have to examine whether or not there is a god.  Only after I examine that can I ask the question, “Is Christianity true?”  In order to believe in a god, one must first look at the evidence for any god, which means looking at what we see around us, and examining scientific explanations or proofs for a god.

The question of the eternality of the universe is one of the very first things a person should examine.  If the universe is eternal, and did not have a beginning, then one must conclude that the vast majority of religions are false, because most religions claim that there was a beginning to the universe, and offer an explanation for what happened in the beginning.  For example, the very first verse of the Bible says, “In the beginning, God created…”  It states that (a) there was a beginning to everything, and (b) God was the creator of everything.  If the universe is eternal (and had no beginning), then that would be a large proof against there being any god.

The theory of general relativity
In 1916, Albert Einstein came up with what he called an “irritating” theory.  He didn’t like where his calculations were taking him.  His theory of General Relativity was pointing him to believe that the universe was not eternal, but instead had a beginning.  This changed much of the previous thought about the universe; before him, scientists had for generations believed that the universe was eternal.  He wanted to believe that the universe was self-existent, but his calculations just weren’t headed that way.

He was so disturbed by his findings that he created a new variable to his theory, the “cosmological constant,” which allowed him to state that the universe was stationary.

The cosmological constant and subsequent testing
The cosmological constant was created by Einstein as a modification to his original theory of general relativity in order to achieve a stationary universe.  In 1927, Georges Lemaître showed that the static universe that Einstein had envisioned could not be possible.  He posited that the universe must either be expanding or contracting, and made a prediction that it would be shown to be expanding.  Shortly after he published his theory, Edwin Hubble observed that the universe did indeed appear to be expanding, which ran contrary to the cosmological constant.

Albert Einstein later called his failure to predict the expansion of the universe the “biggest blunder” of his life.  He abandoned the concept of the cosmological constant.

New theories
So, the universe is expanding.  “Big deal,” one might say.  “That doesn’t prove that a god created anything!”  But it does offer evidence that the universe had a beginning.  If the universe had a beginning, then there can be a debate over whether there was one who began it.

Stephen Hawking, the English theoretical physicist and cosmologist, in a lecture called “The Origin of the Universe,” made some statements about the theory of general relativity, and also offered some new theories to explain the expansion of the universe from a non-theistic worldview.  First, he said,

The expansion of the universe was one of the most important intellectual discoveries of the 20th century, or of any century. It transformed the debate about whether the universe had a beginning. If galaxies are moving apart now, they must have been closer together in the past. If their speed had been constant, they would all have been on top of one another about 15 billion years ago. Was this the beginning of the universe? Many scientists were still unhappy with the universe having a beginning because it seemed to imply that physics broke down. One would have to invoke an outside agency, which for convenience, one can call God, to determine how the universe began.

He then gave some theories that were put forth by scientists in order to explain the origin of the universe WITHOUT conceding that there was a god.

Hawking on the Steady State theory:

In the Steady State theory, as galaxies moved apart, the idea was that new galaxies would form from matter that was supposed to be continually being created throughout space. The universe would have existed for ever and would have looked the same at all times. This last property had the great virtue, from a positivist point of view, of being a definite prediction that could be tested by observation. The Cambridge radio astronomy group, under Martin Ryle, did a survey of weak radio sources in the early 1960s. These were distributed fairly uniformly across the sky, indicating that most of the sources lay outside our galaxy. The weaker sources would be further away, on average. The Steady State theory predicted the shape of the graph of the number of sources against source strength. But the observations showed more faint sources than predicted, indicating that the density sources were higher in the past. This was contrary to the basic assumption of the Steady State theory, that everything was constant in time. For this, and other reasons, the Steady State theory was abandoned.

Hawking on the limitations of general relativity:

We have made tremendous progress in cosmology in the last hundred years. The General Theory of Relativity and the discovery of the expansion of the universe shattered the old picture of an ever existing and ever lasting universe. Instead, general relativity predicted that the universe, and time itself, would begin in the big bang. It also predicted that time would come to an end in black holes. The discovery of the cosmic microwave background and observations of black holes support these conclusions. This is a profound change in our picture of the universe and of reality itself. Although the General Theory of Relativity predicted that the universe must have come from a period of high curvature in the past, it could not predict how the universe would emerge from the big bang. Thus general relativity on its own cannot answer the central question in cosmology: Why is the universe the way it is? However, if general relativity is combined with quantum theory, it may be possible to predict how the universe would start. It would initially expand at an ever increasing rate.

His conclusion about the beginning of the universe?

Despite having had some great successes, not everything is solved. We do not yet have a good theoretical understanding of the observations that the expansion of the universe is accelerating again, after a long period of slowing down. Without such an understanding, we cannot be sure of the future of the universe. Will it continue to expand forever? Is inflation a law of Nature? Or will the universe eventually collapse again? New observational results and theoretical advances are coming in rapidly. Cosmology is a very exciting and active subject. We are getting close to answering the age old questions. Why are we here? Where did we come from?

There are other theories to explain this: there is The Cosmic Rebound Theory, which Hawkins strikes down in the same lecture, saying, “I didn’t believe their so-called proof [about the universe bouncing], and set out with Roger Penrose to develop new mathematical techniques to study the question. We showed that the universe couldn’t bounce. If Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity is correct, there will be a singularity, a point of infinite density and spacetime curvature, where time has a beginning.”

Another theory, which Hawkings puts forward, is the theory of “imaginary time.”  Hawkings himself calls it “just a [metaphysical] proposal” that cannot explain what happened in real time.  “In real time,” he concedes, “the universe had a beginning…”

Faith or evidence?
So where does this leave us?  Well, the preponderance of evidence points to the universe having a beginning.  Yes, there are theories (yet to be observed or proven) that state that there’s another explanation for the way things are.  But, if one were to believe in these yet-to-be-tested theories, they would have to do so by… faith.

Question: For the smarter people than me out there: Am I looking at this all wrong?  Is there something I’ve overlooked?  You can leave your comments by clicking here.

This post is in my series called “Cross Examination: Is Debunking Christianity Possible?”  I’m looking at a myriad of topics in the rational examination of my faith, and will write at least one post per week for the next year.  If you would like to read some of the previous posts in this series, click on the links below:

  • Anonymous

    Brother Bob, I find it hilarious that you quote Stephen Hawking in your article to add “weight ” to your obvious bias that the universe was created by a Creator.  While you are at it,why don’t you also include Stephen Hawking’s comments that the universe did not require a Creator and that Heaven is a fairy tale.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/09/02/stephen-hawking-god-not-n_n_703179.html

    http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=CNG.4f8ccccd2e38de074f4c1305131c47e4.491&show_article=1

    Brother Bob, you are such a lightweight.

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      Sid, I was not trying to argue in this post that the universe was created by
      a Creator. However, I will look at the articles that you cite when I deal
      with whether or not the universe had a creator.

      Thanks for the input.

      • Anonymous

        Brother Bob,

        You are a member of Grace Church of DuPage:

        http://www.gracechurchofdupage.org/staff.html

        This is your doctrinal statement:

        http://www.gracechurchofdupage.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/doctrinal_statement.pdf

        This is an excerpt copied verbatim from your church’s doctrinal statement:

        <<>>

        Brother Bob, if you adhere to your own church’s doctrinal statement, you do believe the universe was created by a Creator.  Your attempt to appear to be open to the possibility that there may not be a Creator is disingenuous.  You OBVIOUSLY believe there is a Creator, and you worship that Creator. Furthermore, you believe you are commissioned by the Creator to spread your faith to all corners of the world.

        Matthew 28:19-20

        New International Version (NIV)

        19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

      • Anonymous

        If you adhere to you own church’s doctrine, you obviously believe in a Creator.  I posted a reference message re. your church’s doctrine on this thread but is strangely disappeared after about 30 minutes.

        • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

          Sid, you seem to specialize in ad hominem attacks. How do you justify this
          logically?

          • Anonymous

            You are questioning my logic?  Are you serious?  I am only pointing out your own statements whilst referencing your own doctrine.  

            Try growing a thicker skin, mate.    

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Yet you don’t deal with the substance of what I wrote, and are more
            comfortable trying to attack me personally. That IS a flaw in logic.

            My skin is plenty thick. I’ll take it the personal attacks as long as you
            dish it out. I’m not the one hiding behind a pseudonym.

          • Anonymous

            You must be joking.  

             
            1.  You cited Stephen Hawking in this article and referenced his comments, yet you conveniently excluded Stephen Hawking’s explicit comments that he believes the universe did not require a Creator.

            2.  I copied a link to your church’s doctrine on this thread.  I then copied and pasted a section of your church’s doctrine which explicitly states your church’s believe in a Creator.  I then pointed out that if you adhere to your own church’s doctrine, then you do believe the universe has a Creator.  I believe that you are being disingenuous in this article when appearing to embrace the possibility that there was no Creator.    

            3. You referenced a Bible verse, James 1:27 in another thread.  I responded to the content of that verse and noted that Martin Luther took issue with the Book of James.

            Brother Bob, iIf you feel these are “ad hominem” attacks, methinks you don’t know the meaning of the term.

            P.S.  I have referred to you as a lightweight.  That is my opinion… and I am sticking with it.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            1. I didn’t cite Hawking’s belief that there is not a Creator, because I
            wasn’t dealing with the universe having a Creator. Did you read the post?

            2. I didn’t state that I don’t believe that there was no Creator. I wasn’t
            dealing with that in this post. When I write about the universe having a
            Creator, then I’ll deal with your claims. However, it’s interesting that
            you blow past the premise of this post, or don’t even comment on it…
            perhaps because most scientists believe that the the universe had a
            beginning, and you don’t want to deal with that?

            3. You talk about my comments on other threads… you seem more concerned
            with who I am than with the arguments that I put forward…. are you
            concerned that you cannot make arguments against mine, so you satisfy
            yourself by attacking me instead?

            Here’s a challenge… I’ve been open with who I am… you can read my
            “About” page and get as much information as you’ve “uncovered” by sifting
            through my Disqus activity… who are you? Why don’t you post anything
            about yourself? Do you consider yourself a “heavyweight”? If so, why?

          • Anonymous

            “Here’s a challenge… I’ve been open with who I am[…]”

            Being “open” to blogging under your real name is simply showing a willingness to publish your personal information. It says nothing about being  “open-minded”, the kind of “openness” that puts prejudice and bias aside. I think the challenge is irrelevant, personally.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Did I say that it had anything to do with the challenge having to do with
            being “open-minded”? I don’t think so. I just think that Sid (and you, for
            that matter) is not willing to show their own prejudices and biases, while
            being plenty willing to attack others’.

            If you don’t want to participate in the challenge, I can accept that.

          • Anonymous

            “Did I say that it had anything to do with the challenge having to do with being ‘open-minded’? I don’t think so”

            And you are correct, however, I was simply making an observation. I concluded by saying that whether we do, or do not, publish our personal information..i.e..our real names,  is not pertinent to anything in the discussion. IOW, **it’s an irrelevant “challenge”.  

            “I just think that Sid (and you, for that matter) is not willing to show their own prejudices and biases, while being plenty willing to attack others.”

            I really have no idea what you just said, and I’m not convinced that you do either. Are you saying that if I gave my real name, that this, alone, would make me less prejudice and/or bias? 

            And no, for this** reason, I don’t want to participate in your challenge.

          • Anonymous

            1.  I read your post several times.  You included this direct quote from Hawking:

            ” One would have to invoke an outside agency, which for convenience, one can call God, to determine how the universe began”.

            If you want to be fair and unbiased, please also reference Hawking’s claim that no Creator is necessary.  I provided a link to his comments for your convenience.  I rest my case re. point #1.  On to point #2…

            2.  You don’t have to state your belief re. a beginning of the universe and a Creator.  We all know what you believe.  My perception is that you wrote this article whilst appearing to be open to considering the arguments on both sides of this issue of  whether the universe had a beginning.  I, for one, do not know if the universe had a “beginning” or not.  If the preponderance of evidence suggests that it did, that would be fine with me.  However, Brother Bob, it is patently obvious that YOU do believe the universe had a beginning AND you believe a Creator was responsible for its existence.   I do not believe you are really open to considering that it did not have a beginning or a Creator.  Therefore, this article appears to ME to be disingenuous.  That is only my humble opinion.  I rest my case re. point #2.  On to point #3.

            3.  You posted this on the the exchristian.net website:

            <<>>

            I have read a variety comments you have made in multiple forums in an honest attempt to better understand the breadth and depth of your points of view.  That is fair, is it not?  As an aside, you need not ever be personally concerned, Bob.  I have no interest in ever engaging you beyond written exchanges on these forums.  I would never have come here if you had not first come to exchristian.net to engage us.  You chose to pay us a visit us and engage us even though our website explicitly states that our forum is for ex Christians.   

            <<>>

            No.

            <<>>

            I am sidvicious.

            <<>>

            I am not an apologist.  You are.  I am responding to your claims.  I would never have come here to engage you if you didn’t first come to exchristian.net and start this “rational discourse”.

            <<>>

            Not particularly.  Again, I am not an apologist.  I have a broader grasp of Christendom than some and less than others.  I do believe I spent more time as a devout Christian that you have, as I believe I am considerably older than you.  I could be wrong, but you appear to be under 40.  I was a devout Christian about that long.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Sid, I went on ExChristian.net in order to understand atheists (and found that there were more than just atheists there).  I’m still reading the things that are posted there, in order to continue to broaden my understanding.

            I’m doing this “Cross Examination” series to examine my own faith as I hold it right now.  While I may believe that there is a Creator now, I’m doing this study in order to examine that belief.

            If the fact that I’m a part of Grace Church of DuPage makes me look disingenuous to you, I guess that’s your problem, not mine.

            Don’t fool yourself, my friend… you are an apologist (of sorts).  While you may not be a “Christian apologist,” you are an apologist for what you believe, or in this case, what you don’t believe.  Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here trying to argue against me.  Now, don’t get me wrong; I applaud you for being an apologist for what you believe.

            And, if by trying to actually think about what I believe, that makes me an “apologist” in your eyes, then I guess I’ll have to accept that.

          • Anonymous

            Bob, you chose to visit exchristian.net.  During some of your visits, you argued several of your points of view with people on our site.  Do I need to repost some of those messages to refresh your memory?

            <<>>

            I merely referenced your own church’s doctrinal statement to illustrate the source of your bias.  The folks of Grace Church of DuPage may be genuine believers as you appear to be.  I don’t doubt that.  I simply do not believe you are sincerely open to the possibility that you are wrong.  

            <<>>

            The explicitly stated purpose of the exchristian.net website is to encourage and support other ex Christians who willingly choose to visit our site and participate in our forum.  I would never have engaged you if you hadn’t engaged us.  You initiated this ongoing dialogue.  We responded.

          • Anonymous

            “Don’t fool yourself, my friend… you are an apologist (of sorts).  While you may not be a ‘Christian apologist’, you are an apologist for what you believe, or in this case, what you don’t believe.”

            Really? What policies, claims, mandates, institutions, and/or doctrines are we “Atheist apologists” defending? And this notion of  “nonbelief” having defenders(“apologists”), is nonsensical.

             Nonbelief is simply neutrality, whereas, Christian apologists certainly aren’t maintaining neutrality. No, they are making a positive claim, which, alone, wouldn’t be so bad—but on top of that, that are asking people to believe it. If your public blog’s mission statement is,  “Christ is the answer”…. and further, if the implication is an explicit, or even an implicit…..  “And if you don’t believe it, you’re going to burn in hell!”, you had better be able to defend/prove it. I don’t need to prove or defend that I don’t believe you. If you don’t want people here asking you to support your claims, you can always make this forum a “sign up and register” only, forum.

            In any case, this “tit-for-tat” argument of Xians is surely in the top 10 list of fallacious arguments: Putting belief and nonbelief on equal ground.

          • Anonymous

            boomSLANG,

            We appear to be having a dialogue with someone who has a different view re. what “apologist” and “ad hominem” mean.  I don’t know how else to explain his reactions. I don’t think Bob is stupid at all, and I never implied that he is. I do, however, believe he is being disingenuous in the article referenced on this thread. I don’t perceive that he sincerely believes he could ever be proven wrong re. his firmly established set of beliefs. He is a zealous apologist.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            boom, are you saying that non-belief in God is neutral, or that non-belief in Christianity is neutral?  I just want to understand what you’re saying here.  Are you also saying that atheism is not a belief, but merely a “neutral fact”?

          • Anonymous

            “boom, are you saying that non-belief in God is neutral, or that non-belief in Christianity is neutral?”

            I’m saying that nonbelief, in general, is a position of neutrality. (see more below)

            “Are you also saying that atheism is not a belief, but merely a ‘neutral fact’?”

            Broc and I have already been over the first half of the question, extensively. Surely you’ve read the exchange, yes? If not, Atheism is not a belief, but a lack of belief. One cannot prove a negative in the absolute sense, in this case, the existence of invisible, conscious beings. It is for this very reason that my position is not, “God does not exist!”, but instead, “I don’t believe in God”. And no, it’s not “semantics” or weasle-wording. The two proclamations mean different things and have different implications. 

            As for the second half of the question, I don’t know what you mean by “neutral fact”. Yes, it’s a fact that I don’t believe in “God”/gods, and yes, it’s a fact that I’m neutral on the existence of “God”/gods until some credible, convincing evidence is forthcoming.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Would you say that you’re advocating a position AGAINST Christianity,
            though? While you don’t take a position in proving the negative statement,
            “God does not exist,” you do take positions against Christianity (i.e. The
            Bible is incorrect or errant; history doesn’t bear out Christianity; God
            gives immoral commands; etc.). In this sense, I consider you an apologist,
            too. You have positions on controversial topics, and you defend them.
            On Mon, Jun 20, 2011 at 9:37 PM, Disqus <

          • Anonymous

            “Would you say that you’re advocating a position AGAINST Christianity, though?”

            Yes, and think of it this way:  If neither the bible nor proponents of the bible were telling me that “Christianity” is true, I wouldn’t be “advocating” anything. I have zero reason to believe that things like virgin births, walking cadavers, holy ghosts, and the like, have any referent in reality. Until/unless those who posit that such things have a referent in reality prove that they do, I take the default position of <i nonbelief. To “advocate” nonbelief is nonsensical.

            “While you don’t take a position in proving the negative statement, ‘God does not exist,’ you do take positions against Christianity (i.e. The Bible is incorrect or errant; history doesn’t bear out Christianity; God gives immoral commands; etc.).”

            Taking a “position against” something does not necessarily mean I’m creating a defense, making excuses, doing mental gymnastics..i.e..being an “apologist”, while doing so. You offer what you believe to be evidence for why your fantastic claims are true; I shoot those offers down and give reasons for why you aren’t convincing(or in some cases, aren’t being honest).

            “In this sense, I consider you an apologist, too.”

            Good for you, Bob. Consider me “an apologist”, if you please. Doing so doesn’t do a damned thing to advance your position, nor does it do anything to damage mine. It boils down to evidence, excluding Holy Texts, Divine Revelation, and personal testimony, since those things would make ANY religion “true”.

            ” You have positions on controversial topics, and you defend them.” 

            It’s only “controversial” because people are no longer going to accept people’s fantastic religious claims on ZERO evidence. We’ve moved out of the 18th century….well, some of us. People living in a modern society are no longer afraid to question that which is illogical. Trust me, no one is more afraid of “Hell” than those who actually believe in it. I don’t believe in it, Bob, thus, I’m simply not scared of the terroristic threats your bible makes. Notwithstanding, I’m still sick to death of people like you spouting unproven nonsense. Let’s review: You came to an Ex-Xian website. To my knowledge, you couldn’t substantiate any of your claims. You then came scurrying back to your own website crying “foul”, and now you are supposedly wanting to “cross examine” your beliefs. Well, I’m sorry, but I just do not believe you. This is not to say that you’ve have to deconvert before I’d be convinced of your honesty. You’d need only stop dodging the tough questions, or equivocating on the ones you do address,  and meet them good, well-thought-out, convincing arguments. So far, you haven’t scratched the surface, IMO.

          • http://exchristian.net The Truth Seeker

            Bob, what people on Ex-Christian don’t like is that you basically refuse to answer straight forward questions.  You equivocate or start a non-relevant discussion.  I gave you thirty or so questions about what I didn’t like about Christianity or why I doubted Christianity and you have given no response except you will study them.  When will that study be finished?  Just answer one if you don’t have time to answer all of them. 

            There is no question to me that you don’t have an open mind.  Otherwise there would not be all of this back and forth that you do.  You are continuing to defend Christianity and appear to have little interest in why we believe as we do.  You do not ask questions about our lack of belief and how we came to that position.  If you really were interested in non-theism you would ask intelligent questions without trying to defend your beliefs.  Once we can see that you are really interested to learn about our belief system we will be able to have a rational discussion without having to attack each other.  Are you willing to do that? 

          • Anonymous

            And anyway, who says the use of “ad hominem” attempts to “justify” anything? If it was the only tactic used?…. then yes, it is devoid of a logical argument and falls flat. 

            On the other hand, if “ad hominem” is used in conjunction with other, logically-based arguments or well thought-out refutations, then those arguments/refutations might very well stand on their own. For example, if Sid or myself came waltzing in here and said, “Oh, look what Bob has written. That is frickin’ hilarious!”, then sure, this is mere opinion and proves nothing at all. However,  if I (or Sid) said, “I find it hilarious that Bob thinks that a God could existed independently of space-time, but yet,  participate in activities that require time”, that statement is not devoid of logic.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            And the point of saying something is “frickin’ hilarious” is to what…
            paint yourselves as superior?

            Frankly, they make you look arrogant and silly. Sid is using them as
            personal attacks, in order to say, “Look at Bob over here… he’s associated
            with this church, which I think is stupid. How could anyone ever believe
            anything he says?”

            And, the ad hominem attacks make it hard to judge the articulate arguments
            from the ranting drivel. I would prefer if people would stick to actual
            arguments, like this one: “It’s impossible to think that a God could existed
            independently of space-time, but yet, participate in activities that require
            time,” even if it’s not entirely germaine to the subject of today’s post.

            The rest is unnecessary and arrogant.

            However, if Sid would like to insist on using personal attacks, I will
            endure it, for the cause of rational discourse.

          • Anonymous

            <<>>

            Brother Bob, that is absolute balderdash. I never said any such thing. Besides, you are doing a fine job of this all by yourself.

            <<>>

            100% baloney. I made two articulate arguments with salient points on this thread and both posts mysteriously vanished.

            <<>>

            You must be joking You came to the exchristian website and cherry picked various replies from your “rational discourse” with our members and then you painted us in a thoroughly negative light.

            Stop playing the victim card, Brother Bob. It doesn’t serve you well.

          • Anonymous

            “And the point of saying something is “frickin’ hilarious” is to what…paint yourselves as superior?”

            That was a hypothetical—you’d have to ask the guy or girl who might write that. If I had to speculate, someone might write that out frustration, and/or, to really, really put the pressure on the person it’s directed at to get him or her think harder. After all, we’ve all been teenagers, in which case, we all know that this thing called peer pressure works.

            “Frankly, they make you look arrogant and silly.”

            So, people who use ad hominem to get their point across look “arrogant and silly”. Wow. The irony sneaks up again. 

            ” Sid is using them as personal attacks, in order to say, ‘Look at Bob over here… he’s associated with this church, which I think is stupid. How could anyone ever believe anything he says?’. “ 

            You’d have to ask him if that’s what he really means to say. In the meantime, I don’t recall anyone calling anybody “stupid”, here. For the record, I don’t think all Christians are “stupid”. However, in my experience, most superstitious people I encounter appear to be ignorant.

  • Anonymous

    So, you’ve decided to put the “Cross Examination” of your religious/spiritual beliefs aside, and instead, focus on whether or not the universe had a beginning, because if it did, to you, this is conclusive evidence that a god contemplated, “designed”, and “created” said universe. Is that a fair assessment? If so, here are somethings to mull over, assuming you’re genuinely interested in finding out if you could be wrong:

    1. If “space-time” started when the universe started, then that suggests that “The Starter” is atemporal, since he/she/it presumably existed prior to the “beginning”. While that would align nicely with the notion that “The Starter” is “timeless”, “transcends time”, etc., it doesn’t align nicely at all with the notion that “The Starter” did things like plan, contemplate, design, and create. Logic says that those are all temporal activities. Ask yourself a few questions to confirm: a) at what point in time did “The Starter” decide to “create”? b) can you think of a time when time didn’t exist?

    2. The 125 billion known galaxies out there appear to have been designed for black holes, dark matter/dark energy, if anything. A look through the Hubble telescope reveals that entire galaxies are colliding into one another. They are doing so as we type back and forth. That doesn’t look like the universe was “designed” with humans  in mind, does it? IWO, perhaps a non-personal higher Intelligence brought everything into existence, in which case, your work is cut out for you in a couple of different ways: 1) proving that “The Starter” is a personal being who takes a personal interest in humankind, and 2) proving that this being is the Xian biblegod. 

    • Anonymous

      I particularly like this image of two entire galaxies colliding into one another:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antennae_Galaxies

      I suppose the loving Creator intended for this to happen.

    • Anonymous

      boomSLANG,

      As an FYI, I posted two messages on this thread which were apparently deleted by the webmaster.  My messages includes salient points.  Isn’t it interesting that webmdave has allowed Brother Bob to post repeatedly on our website, exchristian.net, yet my messages were apparently deleted by the webmaster here.

      Gee, which forum is open minded?

      • Anonymous

        Sid, 

        I get what you’re saying, and this is why I do my best to keep on the “kid gloves” while here, whereas, I take them off @ Ex-Xtian…i.e…I do not want to give Bob the leverage to make excuses as to why he cannot/will not respond, or excuses for why my posts have been deleted……sort of like he is doing w/you right now. 

        • Anonymous

          boomSLANG,

          Yes, Bob is playing the victim card.  It will not serve him well.    

  • Anonymous

    Brother Bob,

    As a side note, you posted this message on another blog called: ‘Working for a Bigger Purpose’

    <<>>

    Here is the verse you referenced:

    James 1:27New International Version (NIV)27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

    Brother Bob, you should take care when you visit exchristian.net and/or engage with any of its members.   You might get polluted by our worldly views.  Also, Martin Luther reportedly cast doubt on the Book of James as “a right strawy epistle”.  I wonder if he was under the guidance of the Holy Spirit…

  • Anonymous

    <<>>

    Brother Bob, that is absolute balderdash.  I never said any such thing.  Besides, you are doing a fine job of this all by yourself.

    <<>>

    100% baloney.  I made two articulate arguments with salient points on this thread and both posts mysteriously vanished.  

    <<>>

    You must be joking  You came to the exchristian website and cherry picked various replies from your “rational discourse” with our members and then you painted us in a thoroughly negative light.

    Stop playing the victim card, Brother Bob.  It doesn’t serve you well.

  • Anonymous

    “In 1916, Albert Einstein came up with what he called an ‘irritating’ theory.  He didn’t like where his calculations were taking him.  His theory of General Relativity was pointing him to believe that the universe was not eternal, but instead had a beginning.  This changed much of the previous thought about the universe; before him, scientists had for generations believed that the universe was eternal.  He wanted to believe that the universe was self-existent, but his calculations just weren’t headed that way.” ~ from the article

    So, despite being irritated with his findings; despite that he “didn’t like where his calculations were taking him”; despite that he “wanted to believe that the universe was self-existent”, etc., Einstein was intellectually honest enough to change his mind and follow where the evidence was leading him.  That’s admirable, because he could have just as well made up all sorts of excuses(AKA apologetics) to defend his original position. For instance, by saying things like, “Well, science isn’t absolute.  Scientists may change their minds down the road”, or…”It’s just a theory!”, or…”God created the universe to look like it had a beginning just to test our faith!” IOW(in other words), Xians are fully prepared to accept science’ findings when it *SUPPORTS* their beliefs, but not when it flies in the face of their beliefs. For instance, bible-literalists will not accept the scientific theory(and fact) of evolution by natural selection. Genesis, the tale that posits that everything was created “as is” in 6 literal days, is falsified by science.

    • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

      In fact, Einstein DID make an “excuse,” as you call it. He created the
      cosmological constant, which he put in his theory in order to make the
      universe stationary, and therefore keep the universe eternal. This
      cosmological constant was later disproven. So, he wasn’t “intellectually
      honest enough” to change his mind, until his alteration was disproven.

      What you say is true… people will make excuses in order to defend what
      they believe, even in the face of evidence. But this isn’t just true of
      Christians; it’s true of everyone. Some people may be more prone to this
      than others (a scientist may be less prone to dogma than others, perhaps),
      but even someone as smart as Einstein was blindsided by his long-held
      beliefs.
      On Mon, Jun 20, 2011 at 2:39 PM, Disqus <

      • Anonymous

        “So, [Einstein] wasn’t ‘intellectually honest enough’ to change his mind, “until his alteration was disproven.” ~ R. Ewoldt[emphasis, mine]

        Case in point—-the Genesis account..i.e..that everything was specially “created” in present form in 6 literal days, has been, and is, disproven. It is disproven by the very thing that disproved Einstein’s “alteration”. So?….why don’t >you< accept it?

        • Anonymous

          <<>>

          Thank you.  That is a profound statement.  Richard Dawkins has long held the position that “better science” should replace existing science when a preponderance of evidence suggests existing science should be modified.  We have seen that throughout the course of our lives.  True scientists should gather data and make unbiased observations of the data and then submit their conclusions for peer review.  If a preponderance of evidence provided by the body of peers suggests those conclusions were wrong, so be it.  Science should be modified whenever the evidence clearly indicates the need for change.  BTW, here is another tidbit from the doctrinal statement of Bob’s church:

          <<>>

          It appears to me that Bob’s church believes scripture is beyond reproach from mere mortals, and we are in no position to question its authenticity and content.

          boomSLANG, do you really believe Bob is capable of objectivity re. these issues that are at the very core of his belief system? 

          • Anonymous

            “boomSLANG, do you really believe Bob is capable of objectivity re. these issues that are at the very core of his belief system?”

            I suspect not, but he can always prove me(us) wrong if he would just answer the tough questions put to him. 

            “1) discover the commands which God gives us to obey;”

            There is not one scrap of non-circular evidence that a “God” gave us “commands” to “obey”. But even if were proven so, STILL, it is merely one individual’s opinion. When/if “God” says…. “thou shalt not kill!”, it is based on nothing, because if it were, then that would prove there is an *external* standard of “good” to which “God” adheres. Sheesh….it’s so simply refuted.

          • Anonymous

            boomSLANG,

            Here is my issue with Bob in a nutshell.  You and I are familiar with the scientific method.  Scientists are supposed to be unbiased when they conduct experiments and gather data and analyze the data and draw conclusions.  They then submit their findings to fellow scientists for peer review.  Bob wrote an article that discussed the issue of whether or not the universe had a beginning.   The issue I have with this is we know Bob absolutely does  believe the universe had a beginning and it has a Creator (which Bob openly worships).   It doesn’t matter if Bob stated his personal convictions in the article or not, because we know what those convictions were when he wrote the article.  Bob was not unbiased at all. 
               
            This is another  excerpt in the doctrinal statement of Bob’s home church.  This is a key point:

            <<>>

            I believe that for someone to honestly consider the possibility that Christianity may be completely wrong would be akin to questioning their own salvation.  If Bob were to honestly question his own salvation, Bob would seem to be contradicting the doctrine of his own church that explicitly claims he is secure in Christ forever.  Based upon my observations,  I believe Bob is determined to strike down any arguments made by anyone that challenges the Christian doctrine he adheres to.
               
            I do not believe Bob is open to the possibility that Christianity is wrong.  I do not believe that was ever the intent of this series of articles.   I believe this article Bob wrote re. the universe was a charade.  I believe the entire series of articles he plans to publish re. exploring Christianity are a charade.

          • Anonymous

            “I believe the entire series of articles he plans to publish re. exploring Christianity are a charade.”

            And I might add, intended to keep the already-convinced, convinced.

          • Anonymous

            Bingo!  That is what I believe is going on.  Perhaps we should be good friends and engage Bob every single step of the way on his “journey”…   ;->

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            So, you’re saying that I’ll find answers that explain all the problems that
            have been brought up about Christianity, but only because I’m not taking an
            objective approach? Because I’m only looking to confirm my bias? Because
            I’ve been so indoctrinated in Christianity, that my eyes are closed shut?

            Because, if I were truly objective, I would come to the same conclusions as
            you have come to, right?

            I just want to make sure I’m on the same page as you about your predictions.

          • Anonymous

            I have read through your church’s doctrinal statement.  I am assuming that you actually believe the contents of your church’s doctrinal statement.  Here are a few vital excerpts:

            1.  We teach that the Word of God is an objective, propositional revelation (1 Thessalonians2:13; 1 Corinthians 2:13), verbally inspired in every word (2 Timothy 3:16), absolutelyinerrant in the original documents, infallible, and God-breathed.

            2.  We teach that election is the act of God by which, before the foundation of the world, Hechose in Christ those whom He graciously regenerates, saves, and sanctifies (Romans8:28-30; Ephesians 1:4-11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 2:10; 1 Peter 1:1-2).

            3.  We teach that all the redeemed, once, saved are kept by God’s power and are thussecure in Christ forever (John 5:24; 6:37-40; 10:27-30; Romans 5:9-10; 8:1, 31-39; 1Corinthians 1:4-8; Ephesians 4:30; Hebrews 7:25; 13:5; 1 Peter 1:5; Jude 24).

            Bob, if you truly believe the Word of God is  absolutely inerrant in the original documents, infallible, and God-breathed… 

            AND

            If you truly believe God has elected you to salvation…

            AND

            If you truly believe that you are secure in Christ forever…

            THEN

            I do not believe you are truly open to the possibility that Christianity is wrong.  Doing so would be akin to questioning your own salvation.  It really is as simple as that.  However, if you do not believe any portion of your church’s doctrinal statement, you and your Pastor probably need to have a talk…

            <<>>

            If you truly believe the contents of doctrinal statement I just pasted, I do not believe you are objective.  You are a Christian apologist.  You believe you were commissioned by Christ to preach the Gospel to all the Earth.  If you truly believe that, then go to it, man!  Just please keep your preaching off the exchristian.net website.  We have heard it before.

            Matthew 28:19-20
            New International Version (NIV)

            19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            Sid, what I’m getting from the above is that you think that Christians who believe

            (a) The Bible is inerrant
            (b) They are saved
            (c) They are secure in their salvation

            cannot question their faith, because to do so would somehow negate one or all of those three things.  Is this right?

            If so, I don’t think that’s true.  Even people who believe in the doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints believe that there are people who fall away from their faith.  They would say that either (a) that person what NOT elect, or (b) they will come back to faith eventually.  But, one would not be able to know that, and the doctrine of Perseverance of the Saints does NOT negate an ability to think about or test one’s faith.

            Yes, those who are elected by God will be saved, and will be secure in their salvation, but those things don’t mean that you cannot question, or “work out your faith.”

          • Anonymous

            Bob,

            What I said was crystal clear.  I said that I do not believe you are objective.  That is exactly what I said.  Please stop equivocating.  

            <<>>

            You state this as a matter of fact.  In fact, this is a matter of your opinion.

          • http://bobewoldt.com Robert Ewoldt

            What you’re saying–that I’m not objective–is based upon a false understanding of MY doctrine.

            Lastly, this conversation about “objectivity” is useless, both for you and for me.  It’s useless for you, because you’ve obviously made up your mind about what I believe (and what I CAN believe), and you’re hedging your argument by saying that I cannot possibly be objective.  It’s useless for me, because there’s obviously no way that I can demonstrate objectivity to you, because you’ve made up your mind about me.

          • Anonymous

            “It’s useless for me, because there’s obviously no way that I can demonstrate objectivity to you, because you’ve made up your mind about me”

            I think what Sid is saying, at least in part, is that you currently show zero sign of having doubt. Thus, the whole “cross examination” of your belief comes across as a smoke screen. It is crystal clear to me that you are currently firm in your beliefs. For instance, you’ll use “science” when it supports your current religious doctrine, but you won’t use it if it conflicts w/said doctrine. IOW, confirmation bias is what we’re seeing. I think it is tactics like that make you appear incapable of being objective, to Sid.

          • Anonymous

            <<>>

            Yes, that is one of my observations.  I have not seen any evidence of genuine objectivity from Bob.

            <<>>

            Yes, that is one of my observations.

            For Bob to state that he is truly “objective” on these matters would mean that Bob is fully open to the possibility that (a) the Bible is not the inerrant Word of God and (b) Bob may not be elected by God and (c) Bob’s salvation may not be genuine.  Based upon my observations, I do not believe Bob is sincerely open to any of these three possibilities.  

            Based upon my observations, I believe this article was a charade.  That is as clear as I can be.

          • Anonymous

            […] you’ve made up your mind about me.” ~ R. Ewoldt

            Actually, and ironically, it is “God” who has made up his mind about you, and there’s nothing that you or anyone else, including “God”, can do about it. 

            If “God” wills everything, including who he “elects” to “save”, then keeping in line with your doctrine, the future is solidified and unchangeable. We’d be illogical to think that “God” could change an outcome that he presumably ALREADY knows . Until/unless you can overcome that not-so-small quagmire, yes, my mind is made up about you. Guilty!

          • Anonymous

            Guilty!

          • Anonymous

            <<>>

            No, it is not.  You are equivocating.  Claiming that someone is examining their Christian faith is not the same as their being truly open to the possibility that Christianity is completely false.   If you truly believe you are among the elect and that God will not allow you to forfeit your salvation, you are not capable of being truly objective on these matters.  I don’t need to explain this any further.  
             

            I believe this article was a charade.  I have read several of your recent articles here and your posts on these threads and on exchristian.net.  You have at times stated your beliefs as facts.  You are a Christian apologist.  You believe you were commissioned by God to evangelize, and that is exactly what you are trying to accomplish.  

          • Anonymous

            ” If you truly believe you are among the elect and that God will not allow you to forfeit your salvation […]” ~ Sid

            If that’s the case, then Bob’s freewill is an illusion, and for him to discuss any of this would be pointless. Yet, it seems to be confirmed right here…..

            “Yes, those who are elected by God will be saved, and will be secure in their salvation, but those things don’t mean that you cannot question, or ‘work out your faith’.” ~ R. Ewoldt

            A believer who holds to Bob’s doctrine either believes that they have been “elected” in advance, or they do not. They either believe that they “WILL BE saved”[capitalization, mine], or they do not. If they do believe that, then it is utterly pointless to do things like “question” or “work out your faith”. You know you’re going to come back(or never leave) the “faith”, in which case, this whole “cross examine” thing is a waste of time. 

            Case in point: If Bob can change his mind and leave “the faith”, then his former “God” never “elected” him to begin with. This is perfect example of how omnipotence and prescience don’t work together.

          • Anonymous

            Amen!  Well stated, boomSLANG.

            Q.E.D.

  • Ed Poole

    I’m finally getting a chance to read, somewhat digest what’s being said, and respond to your post.  The Bible says that God created the heavens and the earth (Gen. 1:1).  So the universe had a beginning.  I’m unsure about the “shifting sands” type of theories that we hear from Hawking, Einstein, et. al.  God says that there will be a new heaven and a new earth.  I can only assume that piece of Scripture means that the universe will change somehow.  I do know that the Greek word “chronoi” has to do with time – a beginning and an end.  Things in creation are referred to in this way.  Humans, on the other hand, are known before the foundation of the earth and have “eternity” (Greek word “aionios”) stamped on them.  This Greek word means -having neither beginning nor end.  I don’t know if this has brought any clarity to the issue before us.  It makes me appreciate all the more what God did for me, and brings into sharper focus the Biblical words “eternal” and “forever.”

    • Anonymous

      Well, if  the “Bible says” it, then I guess that settles it. There you go, Bob. 

      Hey, why didn’t you think of that? Oh, wait…….nevermind.

  • Anonymous

    ..

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