Friday, May 10, 2013

Read Along: Chapter 5—How Did the Universe Begin?

Today we continue with Chapter Five in the Read Along with Apologetics 315 project. This is a chapter-by-chapter study through the book Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists by Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow. (Hear an interview about the book here.) Below you will find an audio intro for Chapter Five, a brief summary of the chapter, a PDF workbook with questions for the chapter, and some notable quotes. You’re also encouraged to share your comments and feedback for each chapter in the comment section below. Feel free to interact!

[Audio Intro] – Sean McDowell introduces this chapter.
[Chapter 05 Study Questions] (with kindle locations) – PDF study guide.
[Podcast Feed RSS | Podcast in iTunes] – Click to subscribe to the audio.

Chapter Five: How Did the Universe Begin?
(pages 71-82)

Chapter five asks the fundamental question of the origin of the universe. The authors point to scientific and philosophical reasons to believe that the universe had a beginning. They introduce the kalam cosmological argument and unpack the premises. Alternate explanations of the origin of the universe that try to avoid an absolute beginning are assessed, and the authors provide an answer to the question, “who made God?” Finally, the implications of a the universe having a cause are explored, showing that the cause is most plausibly non-physical, spaceless, timeless, changeless and powerful.

Christian philosopher Doug Geivett contributes an essay entitled, “God, the Universe, and Me.” Here he briefly looks at some implications of there being a Creator of the universe.

Notable quotes:

“It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.”‘ – Alexander Vilenkin. (p. 76)  

The kalam argument cannot demonstrate that the Bible is reliable, that Jesus is God, or that Christianity is true. What the kalam reveals is that the universe was made and that someone made it. Further, the kalam helps narrow the range of possible causes to a being that is nonphysical, spaceless, timeless, changeless, and powerful(p. 78)

The best explanation for the origin of the universe is that it was brought into existence through the free will of a personal Creator. Since the universe is the result of a creative act, it is best explained as the result of a mind. (p. 79)


  1. Why is the question of the origin of the universe important?
  2. Can you give an example of something coming into existence without a cause?
  3. Why might someone want to avoid the conclusion that the universe had a beginning?
Recommended Reading
Next Week: Chapter 6—How Did Life Begin?


  1. pamlogan May 11, 2013

    How do I get copies of the past 4 chapter's PDF study guide?

  2. Brian Auten May 11, 2013

    Just use this link.