Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Infinite God or Infinite Universe?

Many people believe that God created the Universe. But who created God? The standard religious response seems to be: “Oh, no, that question is neither valid nor necessary. God is both eternal and has supernatural powers [i.e., powers that transcend natural law]. And anyway, our universe (containing us humans) is so wonderful that God must have have created it”.

In the field of cosmology, models are being considered in which the whole world (i.e., everything) has existed forever. In one such model, our little Universe is but one of many (maybe an infinite number) of similar entities. These universes are created all the time as little bubbles, produced by a “Big Bang” and then expanding rapidly, just like our universe. Like all scientific theories, these models are governed by natural laws [although in many cases these laws are still poorly understood.]

So, which should I choose: a God of infinite duration and supernatural powers; or a whole world (including our universe as maybe just a tiny part) that has existed forever? Well, each model is pretty dramatic, since one of them may ultimately account for everything we know about our universe, plus a whole lot that we will probably never know about other possible universes. The existence of multiple (perhaps an infinite number of) universes explains why our universe contains living beings- we live in one of the very small fraction of universes with physical laws consistent with life. So we wonderful human beings could well be the outcome of a completely random process of universe production!

Is it any more “amazing” to think that the clock of the entire world may have been been ticking for all eternity, than to believe in a God who has been around for the same duration, and employed his supernatural powers to created our universe? To my mind, neither model wins the “amazing” contest. But what greatly decreases the “amazing” quotient of either model is that, to our present knowledge, our universe(s) is a singular event. So I would ask: “amazing compared to what?”

Being a scientific rationalist (and also by Occam’s Razor), I would choose the universe of infinite existence over a creator of infinite duration and power. Of course, the whole shebang may be not be infinite, and may be composed only of our universe, starting with the Big Bang, and preceded by “nothing”. Then how did the Big Bang happen? Again, I believe that physical laws govern that singular occurrence, although sadly, we may never know these laws.

So, as I discussed in a previous post (“The God Assumption…”), there seems to be no need whatsoever to hypothesize the existence of a god(s).


unclekimmy said...

All extremely well-argued. And incontrovertible in its reasoning. But to this head-in-the-clouds church-goer, the idea of giving up on a god who might ultimately bring me home to a nice berth in the beyond is hard to give up. The truth that it ain't necessarily so is cold comfort...

Thank god (or something else) for fantasies that make the night seem not so long, not so deep. And thank god (or something else) for men of science and reason (like our faithful Devout Atheist) who keep us thinking.

Devout Atheist said...


Thanks for your eloquent and kind comment on my post. I also occasionally think it would be nice if I could manage to believe in that cozy berth up there, instead of the cold reality of our indifferent universe.