Origin of the Universe

Q. Someone told me you don’t need God to create the universe. All you need is an infinite regress of causes. What do you think?

A. I am a pastor with engineering and finance background, not a philosopher. I draw my conclusions based on evidence and logic. There are many with philosophy training who can articulate the reasoning behind why an “infinite regress” doesn’t work. Just go on YouTube and you can find many clear and concise answers e.g.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w4AHFBft2L8

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uiq1dyKcfhU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6UW3Imn5b8

But just for fun, I cite an illustration I heard this Sunday in a sermon by Tim Barnett of Stand to Reason, on the Origin of the Universe. Tim cited that originally Einstein did not like the idea of an expanding universe, and introduced a fudge fact, the cosmological constant, in his general theory of relativity, to produce a static and stable universe. This was until he looked at the evidence from Hubble’s telescope, which showed that there is a “red shift” in the light from distant galaxies, which means that the wavelength of the light is stretched, or that the light source is moving further and further away. In other words, the universe is expanding, not static! Einstein retracted his fudge factor and called it the greatest blunder in his life!

Since the universe is expanding, it means that in the past the universe was smaller. Now if you go back further and further in time, you can go all the way back to when the universe was infinitesimally small, beyond which it did not even exist. In other words, the universe had a beginning, and a beginning requires a Beginner. Remember “infinite regress” is only a mathematical abstraction, but does not exist in the real world. This Beginner must be outside of space-time to create space-time i.e. infinite, infinitely intelligent to design this complex universe with all its order and finely tuned conditions for life to exist, and infinitely powerful to call everything into existence from nothing (creation ex-nihilo. This eternal, omniscient and omnipotent Being, the First Cause, is whom we call God. Infinite regress have no reality. It is a figment of the imagination of those who refuse to accept scientific evidence.

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I Don’t Believe in God!

Q. “Don’t tell me about your religion. I don’t believe in God.” How would you answer that?

A. There are many ways to approach this. Let’s start by defining what, or who, we mean. The Oxford Dictionary defines god as “the creator and ruler of the universe and source of all moral authority; the supreme being”:
• Creator means “a person or thing that brings something into existence”;
• Ruler and source of all moral authority implies, as a minimum, intelligence and goodness; and
• Supreme being means the highest person.

For people who don’t believe in God, even though they may not say it, essentially they are denying:
A creator or First Cause. The Law of Cause and Effect states that every material effect must have an adequate antecedent or simultaneous cause. If you trace our physical universe to its beginning, it must be caused by something or someone outside of itself. It cannot cause itself into existence, otherwise it would violate the law of non-contradiction. This is because the universe must exist in order for it to create anything, and it must not exist such that it has to be created. But self-creation requires both to be true simultaneously, and it simply can’t be, otherwise logic breaks down and there is no basis for reasoning. So a transcendent First Cause must pre-exist our universe, whom we call the Creator.
A designer. If you examine our universe, you will observe order (e.g. planetary orbits), symmetry (e.g. structure in organisms), and intricate design such that things work together. Just as a building requires an architect and a painting requires a painter, so this careful design requires a highly intelligent Designer who planned and executed everything.
A person. Not only is the First Cause all-powerful in order to create the universe, and all-knowing to design all living and inorganic matters, He must have personality as we have intellect, emotions, an innate sense of right and wrong (morals), and a will to decide, as that which is created, namely us, cannot be greater than the creator.

So simple logic tells us that an omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), moral being (person) exists, and we call this First Cause Designer God. To say that you don’t believe in God simply tells us that you do not want to accept the evidence, which are plenty. It does not change the fact that God exists, who you can know if you care to find out.

Who is Restraining the Antichrist?

2 Thes 2 6-7 a

Q. In 2 Thessalonians 2: 6-7, who is holding the Antichrist back that when he steps out of the way, the Antichrist will be revealed?

A. Many possibilities have been proposed. Let’s first observe the passage:
2 Thes 2:6-7 And you know what restrains him now, so that in his time he will be revealed. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work; only he who now restrains will do so until he is taken out of the way.

Notice v 6 says “what restrains him now”, neuter gender. The first “him” refers to “the man of lawlessness, the son of destruction” in v 3, the “lawless one” in v 8. Therefore some suggest the “what” to be:
• the Roman state with its emperor,
• the Jewish state,
• the principle of law and government,
• Paul’s missionary work,
• the restraining ministry of the Spirit through the church.

However, v 7 says “he who now restrains” and “he is taken out of the way”, masculine gender. The noun “Spirit” is neuter gender, but the Bible uniformly uses “He” to describe the Holy Spirit. Therefore others suggest the “he” to be the Spirit:
Jn 16:13 But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.

Which is correct? Let’s examine the options in turn.

• Government, whether Roman, Jewish, or the principle of law, can restrain human evil, but are powerless to restrain supernatural or spiritual evil. They can even be used as instruments to carry out the evil schemes of Satan and the Antichrist, so they can’t be the restrainer.
• Paul’s missionary work had certainly advanced God’s Kingdom and overthrown the kingdom of darkness wherever it went, but that was nearly two thousand years ago, and the man of lawlessness has not yet been revealed. So it can’t be the restrainer either.
• Pretrib proponents use these verses to argue for the pre-tribulation rapture of the church. This is a faulty inference because they overlook the fact that the church is the bride of Christ, feminine, and not neuter nor masculine:
o 2 Co 11:2 For I am jealous for you with the jealousy of God himself. I promised you as a pure bride to one husband—Christ.
o Eph 5:25-27 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless.

The only option left is the Holy Spirit, who can certainly restrain the Antichrist as He is omnipotent. But the passage says both neuter (v 6) and masculine (v 7) gender. How can both be true? The Spirit’s restraining ministry would fit, though not through the church (feminine). The ultimate restrainer is the Spirit (He), while the mediate means is His restraining ministry (it).

One question remains. In what sense is the Holy Spirit taken out of the way, since He is omnipresent? In the sense that “taken out of the way” simply means He “lets go”, “releases the restraint”, or “steps aside”, not complete removal. Contrary to what pretrib supporters say, this actually argues against them. Even if the church were raptured, God is still on earth as He is everywhere:
Ps 139:7-8 Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend to heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in Sheol, behold, You are there.

The interpretation above does not presume pretrib which read suppositions into the text as if they were conclusions. Hope this helps.