"Many people take exception to the idea that the universe came into existence without the intervention of any kind of intelligent being. They claim that the Big Bang model states that ‘something came from nothing’ and they dismiss this as being impossible for some reason although they don’t go into detail. They say that everything has a cause often going so far as to assert that this is a law of some sort and therefore the universe must have a cause. They usually go on to characterise this cause as some kind of intelligence which takes the form of a god as described by one religion or another. I reply that if everything must have a cause and the universe was created by a god – what caused this god to exist? After all, if we stop enquiring once we get to god we still have not found a satisfactory answer to where everything came from. They usually respond by stating that the law that everything must have a cause only applies to the universe and a cause is only required for something that begins to exist whereas god has existed forever.
This is where we reach an impasse because there is no point in arguing with someone who is willing to make assumptions without backing them up and then selectively apply the laws they have come up with for the benefit of their own argument. That is not an acceptable way to have a discussion. There are so many elements of this argument that are inconsistent or just plain wrong. First of all, the Big Bang model of the universe does not say that something came from nothing. Unfortunately this is a common misconception and it needs to be corrected. What the Big Bang really says is that something came from something.
The universe appears to have expanded from a very small, hot and dense singularity about 13.7 billion years ago. That singularity was not no-thing – it was something. The universe did not come from nothing. I find it stunning that someone would claim that everything must have a cause and that somehow this is a law, and then immediately turn round and propose the existence of something that has no cause. So everything needs a cause except for that?
A law with exceptions is not really a law – it is more a guideline or a suggestion. And if you are going to say that this supposed law only holds true within the universe, or it only applies to things that begin to exist, that means proposing some kind of extra-universal realm where the rules do not apply and things can exist forever with no beginning. If you have no problem with the idea of a god whose existence extends infinitely into the past, we could just as well say that the singularity that sparked the universe had always existed without a beginning. If the concept that something that exists forever is considered acceptable, there is no reason for this to be any less plausible. Alternatively we could say that there is a chain of causes and effects that extends infinitely into the past which eventually led to the Big Bang.
The idea that something caused the universe to begin and the unproven assumption that this something existed forever without a cause provides no reason to say that this cause was an intelligence of some sort rather than just another natural event. There is certainly nothing to indicate that this cause takes the form of a god from a favourite religion. So not only does this argument contradict its own premises but even if we accept the flimsy attempts at resolving this contradiction, it still hasn’t achieved the original goal of proving that a god exists. From beginning to end this argument fails every step of the way. It is remarkable that so many people continue to use an argument that boils down to ‘everything has a cause – well - not everything, therefore god exists’. They think that this is convincing? Well it is not. But if they understood why, they probably wouldn’t be using this argument to begin with."