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College Life and Apologetics Part 4: Parallel Parking and the Existence of God

The following are posts by a young man, Nathan Apodaca, who I have had the privilege of discipling over the last few years.  He has a passion for making a case for Christianity wherever he can.  In this series he will talk about sharing on a college campus.

In my last post I discussed whether or not miracles can actually happen, and whether supernatural events have any credibility. I will continue my argument for miracles and in the process give an analogy to one of the most famous arguments in apologetics.

Just the other day, as I was waiting to pick up my brother from a class at our church, something interesting happened. While I was parallel parked in front of the building, I had my head bent down looking at a book I was reading. When I looked up, I noticed I had been boxed in by a minivan that I had not seen or heard pull up. At first I was annoyed, thinking to myself “Come on! How am I supposed to get out of here?” Then I got to thinking “Well, where did the van come from?” I decided there must be four possibilities:

1.  The van came into existence out of nothing. This could explain why I did not hear or see it arrive and box me in. Theologian and scholar Jonathon Edwards said if things can come from nothing, then why don’t we see this happen all the time? Good point! Our everyday experience says the van couldn’t come out of nothing.

2.  The van is one out of an infinite number of vans that have spawned one another. As I looked around I noticed the parking lot was full of vehicles. Perhaps the van was merely one out of an infinite number of minivans parked here. But wait a moment, that can’t be. After all, if a van was created by another van, there must have been a first van to get the process started. You cannot keep looking backward to infinity; you would commit what is called an infinite regress. If there was a beginning van, where did that come from?

3.  A quantum fluctuation produced the van. Similar to point number 1, some people have proposed on the sub-atomic level, a quantum vacuum that can produce particles of matter. So, perhaps there was a fluctuation of energy that caused the van to pop into existence out of “nothing.” There are several reasons to doubt this theory. First, as philosopher William Lane Craig and physicist Alexander Vilenkin have pointed out, a quantum vacuum is something (some argue this vacuum is no-thing). Secondly, I find this idea hard to believe because it is a part of the observable universe, which the majority of scientists say came into existence. Third, I also reject it because even if we don’t know why something is happening, should we automatically assume that it is caused by nothing? After all, there could be a material explanation we haven’t discovered yet. Plus Craig says there are at least 12 different interpretations of quantum mechanics. To point to a process that is scientifically controversial as to how something can come from “nothing” seems to be reaching for any answer, so as to avoid a supernatural one. So, it seems a quantum fluctuation doesn’t make much sense if we are asking why something came into existence (in this case, the minivan).

4.  Someone put the van here: Considering there are no good natural explanations for why the van is there, I propose someone put the van there. After all, the van physically boxed me in, so it must have been placed there by someone outside the van. Thus, it seems obvious that the van was placed by someone who exists independently of the van. In this case, there must have been a driver.

 You may be wondering “What does this have to do with the existence of God?” Well, ask yourself this question: If the universe had a beginning, did it have a cause? Logically speaking, anything that begins to exist must have a cause. And since we would not expect the above mentioned natural phenomena in the case of the van coming from nothing, then why would we expect the universe to come into existence in the same way? It’s clear that God as creator makes the most sense of the beginning of the universe.

 In conclusion, it seems pretty reasonable to believe that if the universe couldn’t come from nothing, then God exists. So, my second premise stands, God exists. So, since the first two premises are reasonable, the conclusion logically follows:

 “Therefore, miracles are possible.”

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