I was taken today by the cogency of the following argument for a supernatural origin of the universe. I heard this as part of the regular daily radio broadcast, "Grace to You," with Pastor John MacArthur. The current sermon series is entitled "Battle for the Beginning" and is the basis for MacArthur's book of the same name. The following is taken from the transcript of that program dealing with Day 5 of the Biblical creation account:
Now my friend, R.C. Sproul, is part theologian and part philosopher. And I appreciate him for his theology, but I really appreciate him for his philosophy. He is actually...he is actually a funny philosopher because he can make people look so foolish that you can hardly help but chuckle. Now Sproul says there are only four options for the origin of the universe. You only have four.
Option number one, the universe is an illusion, it doesn't exist. That's option number one.
Option number two, it is self-created.
Option number three, it is self-existent and eternal.
Option number four, it was created by someone who is self-existent.
Sproul says there aren't any other options. Either it doesn't exist or it created itself, or it always existed, or somebody created it. That's it. He says, "I have puzzled over this for decades and sought the counsel of philosophers, theologians and scientists. I have been unable to locate any other theoretical options that cannot be subsumed under these four options. That's all you've got."
Then Sproul says, "Option number one must be eliminated for two reasons." That's the option that says it doesn't exist, it's all an illusion. "First, if it's a false illusion, then it isn't an illusion. If it's a true illusion, then someone or something must be existing to have that illusion. If this is the case then that which is having the illusion must either be self-created, self-existent, or caused by someone ultimately self-existent. So therefore everything is not an illusion."
Secondly he says, "You can eliminate number one, the illusion theory because if we assume the illusion is absolute, that is nothing does exist, including that which is having the illusion, then there is no question of origins even to answer because literally nothing exists. But if something exists, then whatever exists must either be self-created, self-existent, or created by someone who is self-existent."
Let's look at option two, that the universe created itself. Well this is by all logic formally false. It is contradictory and logically impossible. Sproul says, "In essence, self-creation requires the existence of something before it exists." Do you get that? You can't create yourself unless you exist to create yourself. "Self creation is a logical and rational impossibility," he writes, "for something to create itself it must be before it is. This is impossible...it's impossible for solids, liquids and gases, it's impossible for atoms and subatomic particles, it is impossible for light, it is impossible for heat, it is impossible for God. Nothing anywhere any time can create itself because if it could it would have to exist before it created itself." Sproul points out that in it he can be self-existent and not violate logic, but it can't be self-created.
When scientists say, "Well, fifteen to twenty billion years ago the universe created itself," what are they saying? They're saying nothing exploded into something. That is a logical impossibility. To retain a theory of self-creation is totally irrational and rejects all logic. Such a theory can be believed but it can't be argued reasonably.
Then you've got option number three, that the universe as it exists as we know it has always existed eternally. Well that doesn't fly. You're not eternal, and neither am I. We didn't always exist. There was a time when we didn't exist. There was a time when our children didn't exist. There are all kinds of things in this world that once did not exist. In fact, everything around us once did not exist. How could the universe exist forever and then do in time, i.e. create life, what it had never done forever? If the universe always existed, then everything in it always existed. And we know everything in it didn't always exist because you and I didn't always exist, our parents will verify that. You cannot be born and be always existing. Cars and watches and chairs and all that were brought into existence at some point in time.
Option one, option two, option three are impossible. We're left with only one possibility, the universe exists because it was created by someone who existed before it existed, a pre-existing intelligent power, namely God. Matter can't create itself, only an eternal pre-existing God could create.