Lump It, Lump It All Together

I have just read an argument that argues, well, “universe therefore god.” The argument lumps together the universe as if it were a single object and argues that god is the “simplest” being able to create it. (A being with infinite powers is oh, so, simpler than a being with any sort of limited powers, don’t you know. That there are no examples of such beings to point to is irrelevant.)

Philosophers acknowledge that the universe, as we know it now, is a logical extension of the universe we knew a second ago and that the transition from “then” to “now” doesn’t require any gods being involved. By lumping the universe together as a single object, however, they mask the enormity of what it is they are doing.

If what the universe is now is a logical extension of what it was a second ago, that is the Earth moves in its orbit, the Moon it its, and the Sun in the Milky way, and the Milky Way in the Universe, all ticking along with no help from any god or gods, then there are, roughly 50,000,000 billion such seconds in which one followed the other and nothing was needed other than a recognition of the laws of physics to determine the next and the next, etc.

If we track back this trail of stages in which the universe unfolded step by step according to measurable, understandable laws with no miracles needed, we get to the last second before the Big Bang.

After 50,000,000 billion steps in which one thing followed the next according to the observable laws of physics, it is at this point that the theists jump in and say “Gotcha! It had to be our god that caused the Big Bang!”

What the heck? Hello? Whatever the cause of the Big Bang was (if indeed there was a cause), why is a god with the powers claimed for the Christian god needed? To trigger the Big Band does the trigger need to be “all good?” I think not. Does the Big Bang trigger need to be all-knowing? Possibly but not necessarily. Does the Big Bang trigger need to be all-powerful? Not necessarily, whatever was there at the time may have been so unstable that a butterfly’s fart might have set it off.

Why was their god, specifically, needed at that point? <cricket, cricket, cricket> Oh, God of the Gaps again, eh?

Let me offer another possibility. A common element on this planet is uranium. The most stable isotope of this element is U-238. It isn’t really stable, it is radioactive with a half-life of 4.5 billion years. What this means is every 4.5 billion years half of all U-238 atoms radioactively decay into other elements. But half of the atoms do and half do not. After 4.5 billion years more, half of the atoms that remained after the first 4.5 billion years (one quarter of the original number) pop off radioactively and an equal number do not. After another 4.5 billion years, only about one eight of the original atoms are left. Unfortunately we have run out of time . . . literally. Three half-life periods for U-238 roughly equals the age of the universe. (Don’t worry, more U-238 is synthesized when stars go supernovae, so we won’t run out.)

My point is after an amount of time roughly equal to the age of the universe, a large number of U-238 atoms have decomposed. A smaller number have not. What is the difference between those that pop off and those that don’t? Answer: we do not know. But surely there is a reason why some do and some don’t, no? If you believe this, you will have to explain why you think there is a reason, because the greatest minds to ever have studied this problem haven’t come up with such a reason.

So, whatever existed just prior to the Big Bang, whatever it is, how long did it wait before exploding? Was it a short time? Was it billions of years? How would you tell, since time doesn’t yet exist as we know it? All of the U-238 atoms will decompose radioactively eventually? So, why is this any different than whatever existed just prior to the Big Bang? Why does it need a god to explain it?

I suggest that the person making the argument needs a god to explain it because they very much need a god to exist. Why is completely beyond me, but the desperate logic of the philosophers trying to prove our long, long passed human ancestors were right in describing a fantastic being with supernatural powers, and just this god, none of the other fantastic beings (elves, dragons, dwarves, Bigfoot, the Loch Ness monster, oh, and all of the thousands of other gods, etc.) are included. I suggest that it is human ego that is at the fore here. Can you imagine how grateful believers would be if some philosopher proved the existence of their god? That philosopher probably couldn’t pay for a meal or a drink for the rest of their life. Babies would be named after them. Babies of the other sex would be named after them. Mothers would offer their daughters for them to impregnate (or vice versa if they were female). Rock star baby. Immortal!

But still, the arguments are lame in the extreme. Only professional philosophers are courteous when dismantling their arguments, and that is only out of professional politeness.



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