We live in a cause and effect world. Examples are all around us. Cause: squirrels chew wires in my vehicles; Effect: the “service engine” light comes on and I’m out hundreds of dollars to fix the chewed wires (multiple times!) and I put up scary owls in my yard in a desperate attempt to deter them. Cause: a toddler exists in my house; Effect: my cabinets are regularly pillaged and toy tubs are repeatedly emptied of their contents. Cause: six children live in my house, five of whom are boys; Effect: everything we own is broken.
All these are effects with known causes, but often we have only the effect and must reason to the cause. So, we walk outside and everything is wet. That’s the effect. We then reason to the cause: it rained. Or, we walk outside and see water splotches on the sidewalk with bits of rubber balloons lying about. That’s the effect. We then reason to the cause: neighborhood children had a water balloon fight.
But let’s make the effect bigger. Let’s say we walked into a field and discovered a huge spherical object. This would be a real head-scratcher. What cause could produce this effect? There must be a person behind it somehow because nature doesn’t produce huge spherical objects in fields. Now, let’s hop into a spacecraft and shoot into space. We look back and see an enormous blue sphere suspended in space orbiting around an unimaginably larger blazing sphere. Let’s call it Earth. What cause could produce this effect?
Examining the Effect: Matter
Think with me as we reason through this question. What do we know about the effect? What defining characteristics do we see? The first obvious one is that it is composed of matter. Where did the matter come from? Some used to try to claim that the matter was infinite, but science, for a whole host of complicated reasons having to do with the observed ongoing expansion of the universe, has shown that matter isn’t eternal; it had a beginning (and philosophy has long acknowledged the problem of an infinite universe, observing that it’s impossible to transverse infinity). So if matter (all matter) had a beginning, then whatever brought matter into existence, can't be made of matter. The cause can’t be made of matter.
Examining the Effect: Inconceivable Order
Second, we see an inconceivably ordered world. Scientists stand in awe at the number of physical constants (universal constants, electromagnetic constants, atomic and nuclear constants, physio-chemical constants, etc.) necessary for our universe to exist, not to mention life! To illustrate, imagine an old radio with dials. Now imagine that in order to get a radio station, you didn’t just have to turn one dial to the right station, but 40. And imagine that there was only one radio station possible on an unbelievably long frequency range. What are the chances that all 40 dials would be turned to precisely the right setting without an intelligent agent? Effectively nil. Such is the situation in which we find ourselves. This is the effect we see. We live in an inconceivably ordered universe and order to this magnitude doesn’t arise spontaneously. It must have an intelligent source. So, the cause must be super-intelligent.
Examining the Effect: An Immense Universe
Third, we see an inconceivably immense universe. We’re not even close to discovering its boundaries, if it has boundaries! To date, the Hubble telescope has spotted an estimated 100 billion galaxies – galaxies! A galaxy can house hundreds of billions of stars and be thousands and thousands of light years across! And, to date, we’ve numbered 100 billion of them! That’s the seemingly limitless effect, so the cause must be inconceivably powerful.
Examining the Effect: Ordered Information
Fourth, when we turn our telescopes into microscopes we discover not merely order, but information, inconceivably ordered information – like computer code, but mind-bogglingly more complex than any computer code we’ve ever produced. This code directs operations within the cell like a conductor conducts a symphony, like a conductor conducting dozens of symphonies – simultaneously!
Consider the example of the protein. Proteins are built out of sequence-specific amino acids linked together by peptide bonds. So, these amino acids must be arranged just right to get a functional protein. A brilliant scientist has calculated the probability of getting a functional protein out of all the possible amino acid combinations. It’s 1 x 10167! That means there is 1 chance in 10 with 167 zeros behind it of getting a functional protein chain. There is one combination out of 10167 potential polypeptide arrangements of getting a functional protein!
Let’s put that in perspective. There are only 1080 elemental particles in the known universe! And we’re only talking about 1 functional protein. Even a “simple” cell needs numerous proteins to function and replicate. And DNA holds the code that tells amino acids how to assemble in the precise sequence necessary to perform the vital functions necessary for the cell’s survival and replication. So highly ordered and specified information, like a computer code, is the effect. The cause must be some intelligence on an unimaginable scale.
Examining the Effect: Intelligent Life
Fifth, when we look about this beautiful, blue sphere suspended in space, we see life; and not only life, but intelligent life (thinking, planning, goal-setting life). What can produce this effect? Surely nothing non-living can produce something living (no matter how much evolutionists wish otherwise). And surely intelligent life doesn’t arise out of non-intelligent life. Slugs can breed for a billion years and they will never ascend into the ranks of intelligent life evidenced in humans. So whatever caused intelligent life on earth, must itself be an ultra-intelligent life.
Examining the Effect: Personal, Conscious Minds
Sixth, when we consider the fact that we are able to consider the cause of our universe at all, we quickly realize that we live in a world of consciousness and mind. Other animals may have some degree of consciousness, but only humans seem to be conscious of their consciousness. So, a dog is aware of what it desires most; it cannot reflect on what is most desirable. Humans can. We have a higher degree of consciousness. Further, we are persons. And, despite the world’s attempt to depersonalize the unborn into non-persons with no right to life, we confess that two persons do not conceive a non-person who becomes a person at some magical moment, but that two persons conceive a person. Persons only come from persons.
So, we observe the following effect: conscious persons with minds. What cause can account for this? As stated before: persons only come from persons. And, as should be obvious, conscious minds only come from conscious minds. The cause, then, must be a conscious, personal, super-mind.
Examining the Effect: A Moral Code
Finally, much like the genetic code that directs operations in the cell, we live in a world haunted by a moral code that lingers in our minds. Despite what some claim, this code is universal. There are simply some things all people in all cultures know are wrong. Torturing babies for fun is wrong. Period. It’s not wrong for some cultures and right for others. It’s absolutely, completely, and universally wrong. Everyone knows this. Some muddy the waters by saying, “But people don’t live by this moral code. They must not know it. So, it must not be universal.” But consider: even a thief knows stealing is wrong – because he doesn’t want you to steal from him. Even a liar knows lying is wrong – because he doesn’t want you to lie to him. Even a cheater knows cheating is wrong – because he doesn’t want you to cheat him. People may, as St. Paul pointed out in Romans 1 suppress this moral law, but suppression of the truth doesn’t eliminate the truth.
We live in a moral universe haunted by a moral code. This is the effect. What causes a moral code? Inanimate objects don’t; rocks don’t formulate ethical systems. And nonphysical things don’t; the number seven has never uttered an ethical statement. So, the cause of the moral code has to be a moral agent.
So, let’s review. We live in a universe of effects. In fact, the universe is an effect. We ourselves are effects! What caused all these effects? Given what we’ve covered, whatever caused these effects must be:
- Not made of matter
- Inconceivably powerful
- An intelligent life
- A conscious, personal, super-mind
- A moral agent
Do any causal candidates come to mind? What if we were to open our Bible to the very first page? What would we find? “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The Bible begins with the causal explanation for the effect that we inhabit and the effect that we are. The Bible begins with the Cause to explain all effects: the true God! What a joy to know that the Bible begins where our reasoning ends; the Bible begins at the very place our reason has brought us, with the revelation of the great Cause of all the effects we observe.
I’m reminded of something American astronomer, physicist, and cosmologist Robert Jastrow (1925 - 2008) observed:
Consider the enormousness of the problem: Science has proved that the universe exploded into being at a certain moment. It asks: 'What cause produced this effect? Who or what put the matter or energy into the universe?' And science cannot answer these questions. For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountain of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.
How blessed are we to have the personal revelation of the universe’s great Cause! And how blessed are we to know Him and to be known by Him in Christ! It’s no wonder Scripture repeatedly breaks out into exultant doxologies of praise such as this:
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen (Ephesians 3:20-21).
Now, if anyone knows of any causes, that would effect the elimination of the squirrels, I would be much obliged! - Pastor Conner