‘In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.’ (Genesis 1:1).
The atheist Richard Dawkins said in a debate with archbishop Rowan Williams, ‘What I can’t understand is why you can’t see the extraordinary beauty of the idea that life started from nothing …’ Stephen Hawking wrote in his book Grand Design, ‘Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing.’ You don’t say? At least Dawkins and Hawking have laid out a fundamental problem of creation without God, though they do not consider it a problem. If everything started as nothing, no God, then spontaneous generation must be the impetus of creation, unless matter is eternal. Only a something can do something and a something needs to do something to create another something otherwise it is ‘nothing’ that spontaneously generated everything, if it is without God. The nothing problem, in my opinion, deserves greater attention than mutation, time and chance although problems for evolution taken by themselves.
Stephen Charnock put it this way in his ‘A Discourse on the Existence of God’, ‘Action always supposeth a principle from whence it flows; as nothing hath no existence, so it hath no operation: there must be, therefore, something of real existence to give a being to those things that are, …’
The rock group Dawkins and Hawking speak of ‘nothing’ as if it had a body with ability. We have bodies. We can grasp a pencil, write with it, and erase our errors. We can do a multitude of actions in accordance with the space we inhabit. In an absence of all things you also have an absence of all action. The action in question is creation. What is the vehicle of creation when there is nothing? Why is there anything? Our two atheists that promote this spontaneous generation suppose that a ‘nothing’ was the spark of creation or at least that there didn’t have to be anything for creation to spontaneously generate. But again ‘nothing’ could not because it is not.
Charnock put it this way, ‘Whatsoever begun in time was not; and when it was nothing, it had nothing, and could do nothing; and therefore could never give to itself, nor to any other, to be, or to be able to do: for then it gave what it had not, and did what it could not.’
The atheist Bertrand Russell said in his famous essay ‘Why I am not a Christian’, ‘If everything must have a cause then God must have a cause.’ He was mistaken. Not everything must have a cause but only that every effect must have a cause. There can be a first cause, God, that was not effected. There must be an uncaused first cause (God) otherwise you have an eternal chain of cause and effect going backwards. If nothing was the germ that started it all then the somethings we have now ‘were the cause of itself … it was before it was, it was as a cause before it was an effect.’ (Charnock) God can be because He can be eternal and not an effect that was caused. You either have a self-created creation or a creation created by a First Cause, that is, God.
And again Charnock makes the case, ‘Matter cannot subsist without form, nor put on any form without the action of some cause. This cause must be in being before it acted; that which is not cannot act. The cause of the world must necessarily exist before any matter was endued with any form;…’ You either have an eternal Creator or an eternal creation.
I’ve heard John MacArthur put it this way, ‘We accept one big miracle, ‘God’, and everything else makes sense. An atheist denies God and has to have a miracle for every other thing.’