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Can you rule out a natural cause for the origin of the universe?

October 9, 2013

A couple of days back I share a ‘One Minute Answer’ on ‘Does God exist?’

This stimulated a thoughtful atheist, Donovan, to comment via Twitter with this question: how do you rule out a natural event occurring from which the universe resulted?

Donovan has critiqued the causation part of my One Minute Answer where I claim that the origin of the universe requires an explanation – and a reasonable explanation is that it was created by God.

I think Donovan’s question is excellent. I answered it briefly via Twitter and I’ll expand slightly here. I made two comments:

1. I’m not sure how a natural event could result in everything being created. My understanding of the origin of the universe is that all matter, time and space began at the beginning. Hence I can’t see how a natural event could be the catalyst, for almost by definition, everything resulted from that beginning. A multiverse may solve this problem (if we can actually test for a multiverse – this is unclear) but the multiverse must be eternal for this to be satisfying, otherwise it begs the question who or what started the multiverse?. Hence my first comment to Donovan is that I don’t rule it out, I just don’t see how it could work.

2. My second comment was that at another level this is a category error. This is where we confuse mechanism and agency. Because I know how a thing works doesn’t mean I rule out an intelligent agent. For example, if I figure out the Facebook algorithms and work out how Facebook ‘works’ that doesn’t mean I eliminate Mark Zuckerberg. Hence even if a ‘natural’ explanation was found for the origin of the universe that doesn’t necessarily eliminate God.


From → Comment, Philosophy

  1. Item 1 above is an argument from ignorance – you can’t personally understand it so it must have been god who dunnit. You seem to be claiming that to you ‘magic’ is the better answer.

    Item 2 above: possibility is not probability. Even if it remains possible that there is a god or 70, that does not mean their existence is probable. The probability of whatever god you believe in existing is exactly as large as the probability that there are invisible huge purple frogs that follow us everywhere we go.

    We understand that natural forces caused the universe we know to look like it does. Before the singularity, we cannot yet say what happened. This just pushes the god of the gaps back to before the singularity and trashes an awful lot of doctrine and dogma loved and used by monotheists. For point 1 if one argues that god started the big bang, then that whole garden thing is a lie. If it’s a lie, there is no original sin, no need for human blood sacrifice, no need for a man god. Monotheists have to twist and turn quite a bit to justify their book in the face of scientific discovery.

  2. My thoughts mirror what myatheistlife said above. I will add a comment about this statement:

    “but the multiverse must be eternal for this to be satisfying”

    Do you see this as a problem? And if so, do you also see God being eternal as a problem? Why would one be a problem and not the other?

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