Space is Not Eternal

Jason Dulle

I engaged in a dialogue recently in which an individual argued that while matter had a beginning, space did not. Can such a thing as matterless space exist? Has there always been space, but existing as mere emptiness? People have been thinking about this issue for a long time. The reigning philosophical and scientific evidence points to the fact that space had to have had a beginning. On the scientific end this is witnessed in Big Bang cosmology. Big Bang cosmologists refer to the "point of singularity" as the point at which space, time, and matter began to exist. Philosophy makes a strong case as well. Seeing that philosophy works on deduction, its conclusions are even weightier than those of the hard sciences on this matter. For this reason I will elaborate on the philosophical argument for the temporality of space.

Space is finite (i.e. it has an end "out there" somewhere). That which is finite can never be eternal because the two are categorically opposed to one another. To say that space is eternal is to say that finity exists infinitely. That is patently absurd. By nature all finite things are contingent on something else; i.e. they require a cause. That which requires a cause must have a beginning. Who or what is the cause of space? God. If God causes space He must have done so at some particular point, thus requiring a beginning.

The only way to get out of this quandary is to say that space is part of God's essential nature, but this makes space a spiritual quality rather than a physical quality, turning God into a spatial being with limits (because space is not infinite). Since all finite things need a cause we would have to ask Who caused God? until we finally stumble on the First Cause which itself is infinite in presence. This will not work, so space must exist temporally. To deny this is to affirm a finite God, which is philosophically absurd.

One might ask Doesn't a being of substance--even spiritual substance--need space in which to dwell? The answer depends on the being under consideration. Finite spiritual substances such as angels do need a place to dwell. Why? Because they do not have the option of being nowhere (because they exist), nor the option of being everywhere (because they are not omnipresent). They must be somewhere at any given point, which requires space. It is for this reason that I believe angels must have been created subsequent to Genesis 1:1.

An infinite being does not run into this same problem. The spiritual substance of an infinite being could not be contained by space because an infinite being has infinite presence, and yet space is finite in nature. An infinite amount of substance cannot "fit" into a finite amount of space because the finite cannot contain the infinite. These are two opposing categories of existence. Indeed it would be a contradiction in thought to think of a being of infinite presence possessing that presence in a finite amount of space.

Furthermore, because an infinite existence/presence transcends measurability, the existence of measurable space (all space is measurable because all space is finite) is not necessary for that being to possess His existence/presence infinitely. Infinite existence/presence transcends the very bounds of space. Measurable space has no relationship to the quality of infinite presence and substance, and indeed cannot have any such relationship. The infinite nature of God's spiritual being, then, not only fails to necessitate that He have a location in which to dwell, but precludes the very idea itself.

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