VIEW THAT DENIES GOD’S EXISTENCE AND ACCEPTS THE ETERNAL EXISTENCE OF MATTER IN THE LIGHT OF THE BIG BANG
The view that denies God’s existence is the view of atheists. According to them, matter is not created; it cannot be destroyed; it is self-existent; it is the only substance, and nothing else exists. An ideologist of materialistic philosophy in the role of Hamlet would have said: “Whether matter is eternal or not, that is the question.” Whatever exists, according to materialists, exists thanks to matter and its material. They postulate that a God who has created matter, a universe that depends on Him, and who is exterior to it cannot exist. Given the fact that this material universe has not been created and cannot be destroyed, it had neither beginning nor end. This has been maintained by atheists throughout history.
Today, there are those who argue that materialism conforms to the data of science. To examine this it is advisable that we explore the basic arguments of materialists over the course of history, for these ideas, propounded at a period when scientific evidences were still inexistent, purported to indicate what should be now if the materialist view were true. A controversy that has been going on for millennia will be appraised and a conclusion will be reached in the light of the Big Bang. Two questions needing answers are:
1-What did they say?
INDIAN PHILOSOPHY AND BUDDHISM
We note that a significant number of the Indian philosophies accept the idea that the universe has existed from eternity. Therefore, a major part of the partisans of Indian philosophies may be examined in the same category, i.e. as materialists who do not believe in God. A poet of the Jainistic creed sings his concept of eternal universe as follows.
No single being had the skill to make this world
For how can an immaterial god create that which is material?
How could God have made the world without any raw material?
If you say he made this first, and then the world, you are faced with an endless regression.
If you declare that this raw material arose naturally you fall into another fallacy,
For the whole universe might thus have been its own creator, and have arisen equally naturally.
If God created the world by an act of his own will, without any raw material,
Then it is just his will and nothing else and who will believe this silly stuff?
If he is ever perfect and complete, how could the will to create have arisen in him?
Taoism believes that the universe is self-generated and is eternal. However, there are Taoist commentaries that advocate contrary beliefs as well. In Taoism (in many of the Far Eastern religious, for that matter) we do not come across the explicit expressions we see, for example, in Marxism and monotheistic religions.
In Buddhism, it is believed that everything is made of matter, in conformity with mechanical laws without divine intervention. Certain branches of Buddhism may acknowledge the existence of God or gods; but as in the basic writings of Buddhism there is no mention of a God or gods, it may fit in the category of atheistic religions that accept matter as eternal.
DEMOCRITUS, EPICURUS AND LUCRETIUS
In the Far East, there have been partisans of points of view similar to those in materialistic thinking. Yet, for most of the books on the subject, the origin of materialism goes back to Ancient Greece. The first name mentioned is Democritus. According to him matter is made up of eternal atoms. His atomic system assumes an infinite multitude of everlasting atoms, from whose random combinations spring an infinite number of successive world-orders in which there is law but not design. He is considered the ancestor of our present day materialists. Once matter is taken to be everlasting and everything is reduced to matter, there is no need for a Divine Being, providing thus a basis for atheistic consideration. The idea of eternal matter had been insinuated previously, as in Anaximander and Heraclitus, although not explicitly stressed as in Democritus.
Epicurus was a faithful follower of Democritus. He also thought that there was an eternal world-order according to which births and deaths succeeded one other. The most influential materialist in history, Karl Marx, wrote a doctoral thesis entitled, Philosophies of Nature in Democritus and Epicurus.
Lucretius, Roman poet and philosopher, who is somewhat nearer to the materialists of today, advocated not only the eternal existence of matter, but, like the materialist atheists of our day, openly avowed that God did not exist.
Our principle then will be
Nothing can be created out of nothing with divine power.
The mortals are taken by fright
As they fail to find a perceptible cause
Of phenomenon upon earth or in the sky
It’s easy to explain them by reverting to God’s will
Once we understand that nothing can come out of nothing
We shall better see our way
All objects are made of
Atoms and their combinations.
For nothing can destroy them
The fact they represent the absolute end will protect them everlastingly.
Turgot, d’Alembert, and Condorcet were the prominent representatives of materialism, but Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels were the most celebrated founders of materialist philosophy. Marxist theoreticians contend that the most important issue of philosophy is the question as to whether the universe and matter are eternal; this is the most important characteristic that separates the materialists from other philosophies in their defense of the eternity of the universe.
According to Marx and Engels the main issue is the question as to whether nature is essential substance or not and that this question is the primary difference between materialism and idealism. On the other hand, George Politzer, the prominent exponent of materialism said that the basic question of philosophy (no matter how one puts it) is whether matter (nature) is eternal and eternally essential and soul (consciousness) but a derivation, or soul (consciousness) is eternal and essential and matter (nature) but a derivation.
Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, whose influence has been great in the spread of atheism the world over, and their followers like Lenin and Mao, who put their theories into practice, have defended the eternal existence of matter. This principle is the sine qua non of their system. Avoidance of all sorts of idealism and being atheist form the basic tenets of communistic materialism. The attitudes of the communist materialists and other atheistic materialists are identical. The eternal existence of matter is the common incontestable denominator of all materialists. The following distinction can be made based on the common writings of materialist philosophers:
1-Either God precedes the universe and the universe is the work of God and materialistic philosophies are in error.
2-Or, matter is eternal and there is no God. Matter may explain everything and monotheistic religions are in error.
DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SUN WORSHIPPERS AND MATERIALISTS
We have seen the consequences of scientific discoveries in philosophical and religious terms. Let us take as an example a religion whose followers worship the sun. Once the structure of the sun becomes enlightened by science, we are led to believe that the sun had a beginning and will have an end and the deification of the sun will be considered to have been erroneous in the light of scientific discoveries. Likewise, the Big Bang theory postulates that the universe had a beginning and it will come to an end. This fact repudiates materialistic philosophies. Sun worshippers may stick to their age-old beliefs despite scientific discoveries; as a matter of fact, there are still such intransigent people, even though their number is few. The persistence of materialism in spite of the Big Bang theory may be compared to the worshippers of the sun after the scientific structure of the sun came to light. It would be appropriate to style such a materialistic approach “unscientific materialism” or “fideistic materialism” rather than “scientific materialism.”
An Indian who rejects the authority of science and intelligence may perpetuate his eternal universe belief within the endless cycles of this philosophy (or religion). But the same thing does not hold true for a Marxist-atheist who has sanctified science and always adopted an antagonistic approach toward religion and skeptical philosophies. For instance, Engels criticizes Kant based on the achievements of science. He said that we did not have sufficient knowledge of natural objects in Kant’s age; and that though we might surmise that there was a Dasein (existence) enveloped in mysteries, those things considered inconceivable came within men’s reach to be analyzed and even reproduced; he said that we cannot possibly say that we do not know anything about what we have produced and that in the first half of the 19th century organic matter was yet a mystery, but today we know how to compose them using their chemical elements without recourse to organic processes.
CHANGE THROUGH SCIENTIFIC DEVELOPMENT
Materialism, with its sanctification of science, assumes that the changes occurring in science must restructure philosophy. Lenin, quoting Engels, tells us that materialism should change its aspect at every new discovery that opens a new era in the natural sciences. The Marxist-materialists have stressed the importance they give to science, emphasizing their scientific backgrounds with such attributes as “scientific socialism” and “scientific materialism.”
The materialists of the 19th and the following centuries used the achievements of science to oppose the idealism of Berkeley and skepticism of Kant. Engels used the advancements in chemical science to undermine Kant’s skeptical approach to Dasein, in the same way that the Big Bang theory can now use advancements in science to pass judgment on materialistic philosophy. The theoreticians of materialistic philosophy discussed whether matter or God had existed eternally. But now developments in astrophysics are judging and countering materialism. This does not represent a superficial revision of knowledge, but rather the complete abrogation of materialism.
ABOLITION OF MATERIALISTIC ETHICS
Having lost the support on which they were founded, the philosophies that assume matter to have an eternal existence now must undergo complete changes in their systems. In the case of ethics, for instance, the ethics that grew out of systems that profess the perpetuity of matter must now be subjected to close scrutiny, since these systems assume matter to be the only essential element, postulate the inexistence of God and, consequently, construct their belief sets on these foundations. Since these foundations have collapsed, their ethics will, of necessity, collapse as well.
Not every philosophical or religious system that acknowledges the eternal attributes of matter defends a definite set of ethical rules; as a matter of fact, there are wide divergences in the ethical make-up of their systems. The hedonistic ethics of Epicurus, who held that pleasure is the chief good, the ethics of Buddhism that preaches spiritual purity and freedom from passions, and the ethics of militancy of Marxist ideologies cannot be considered identical. But all these divergent ethical approaches share the idea that matter is eternal and that there is no God. Once matter is considered eternal, the “human being” or “mankind” occupies the center of the concept of ethics, for it is he who is endowed with the consciousness that matter lacks. Buddhism’s advocacy of salvation through the abrogation of passion and Epicurus’s hedonistic approach were both human-centered.
Man’s limited power does not allow him to cope with death, a grim reality facing mortals. Materialistic philosophies fail to rationally account for the renunciation of egoistic impulses by the man who considers life as a process of brief duration ending in death. It is true that certain classes of people who profess belief in materialistic philosophies are of exemplary character. This is not contrary to what has been suggested. What is meant here does not preclude a materialist’s being of impeccable morals, but the fact that the materialistic philosophy’s ethics cannot be rationally grounded. In creeds where God is acknowledged to be the Creator of the universe, ethics is God-centered since God’s superiority, will and omnipotence are the basic postulates. By conceiving of the existence of God, man will be in a position to cope with the mystery of death and have rational grounds for expunging any egotistic impulses. We see that the Big Bang theory also has consequences in terms of “philosophy of ethics.” Forming a belief in the existence of God and understanding that matter is not the essential and unique substance will lead us to the conclusion that ethical concerns will come to the fore by positioning God in the center.
ARGUMENT FROM DESIGN
Bertrand Russell said during a conversation, “The universe is just there, and that’s all.” By this remark he meant that the eternal universe was the explanation of everything. Nevertheless, the Big Bang demonstrated that the universe was not the explanation of everything, that it required an Agent outside of its confines and that all materialistic philosophies postulated in the course of thousands of years have been in error.
Atheists like Lucretius, Marx or Russell contended that the universe had an eternal existence and that it was not designed. This is the natural consequence of their philosophy, for those denying God’s existence are obliged to accept that the universe is the outcome of the concatenation of coincidences.
Yet, the phenomena occurring during the process of the Big Bang demonstrate that the universe is the product of a conscious Power. Had the Big Bang explosion been of greater or lesser intensity, the universe would not have formed, while all the critical values subsequent to it, from the ratio of matter and antimatter to the arrangement of entropy in the origin of the universe, point to a design behind it. All the critical values in matter owe their existence to the properties immanent in it. This is a sign that matter was a product of creation and all the process in the universe is the outcome of a design.
END OF THE UNIVERSE AND SUMMARY
We have seen that the universe is expanding. Under the circumstances, one of two scenarios is to occur. Either the universe will go on expanding, its end resolved in the Big Chill as a consequence of the “cold death” or, when the expansion reaches a certain point, the gravitational force will start the shrinking process, the collapse referred to as the Big Crunch. In case of such a collapse, given the fact that the universe is no longer, time also will be obliterated and universal time will come to an end. Those who have discussed the philosophical consequences of the Big Bang have pointed to the origin of the universe, but have only superficially touched upon the apocalyptic issue.
Before science demonstrated the fact that the universe had a beginning and will have an end, atheists insisted that the universe was eternal. In the face of their own end in death, at least some of these atheists sought some limited consolation in the idea of an eternal existence of the universe. While passing judgment on the history of philosophy, the Big Bang also undermines this atheistic argument.
To summarize, the Big Bang theory invalidates all materialistic philosophies in five important points. Those who have built up their system of creeds, behaviors and morals within the framework of these philosophies should subject them to a revision. The five points in question are:
1-The universe is not eternal. The materialistic philosophies that postulate the universe and matter as the only substance have been invalidated.
2-The formulas of the theory of relativity have linked the universe and time; thus, the demonstration that the universe had a beginning is also a demonstration of the beginning of time. The materialist thinkers who perceive of time as an eternal and independently-existing entity are in error.
3-Processes that followed the Big Bang prove that there is a design in the universe. The materialist philosophy that denies the intervention of a conscious Creator has lost its validity.
4-Materialism imagined a universe and matter, steady and incorruptible and not subject to erosion by time. The actual evolutionary processes in the universe have proved that the reverse was true. The expansion, entropy, the conclusion reached about the prospective extinction of stars and light show that the only thing that never changes is continuous and uninterrupted change.
5-The universe has an end; it had an origin and will die like all other living things. This basic axiom of materialists has also been disproved.