Upon rejecting Christianity, I did not automatically jump to an atheistic conclusion. I still held to some fundamental idea of God, however ambiguous it might have been. A benign father figure or creator of sorts. It just wasn’t time to throw the baby out with the bath water. Which, by the way, is something I’ve always wanted to do. A baby is a fragile and vulnerable thing, a precious and joyous gift of life. I still want to throw one at a bullseye. You simply haven’t lived til you’ve seen a baby hurtling at 70 mph.
Though it wouldn’t be long before I realized that an all-powerful and loving, personal God could ill be squared with the Problem of Evil. As Epicurus wisely put it: “Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able? Then he is not omnipotent. Is he able, but not willing? Then he is malevolent. Is he both able and willing? Then whence cometh evil? Is he neither able nor willing? Then why call him God?”
Of course, the Problem of Evil can seemingly be defused by appealing to Free Will. However, many sources of suffering are due to entirely natural causes. Among them: hurricanes, tornadoes, earthquakes, disease, famine, butt worms, etc. With the possible exception of butt worms, the others cannot be so easily dismissed. Unless one wishes to argue that tectonic plates have desire.
Oh, but how quickly I forget: “God works in mysterious ways.” Why, of course he does. Funny how those “mysterious ways” are completely indistinguishable from God sitting around with his thumb in his butt.
So, with a personal God out of the question, what was left? Well, the very existence of the universe still needed some explaining. If nothing else, it seemed to me that there had to be a creator, something or someone who set all this in motion. And so I arrived at Deism: belief in a supreme being who created the world but does not intervene in it. Somewhat akin to what a few of our Founding Fathers believed, e.g., Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine. As Paine once famously wrote, “It is the duty of every true Deist to vindicate the moral justice of God against the evils of the Bible.” And here you thought they were all fundamentalist Christians.
After all, I had enough familiarity with science to know that our universe began some 13.8 billion years ago at the Big Bang. But, what caused it? How does this much something come from nothing? It almost had to be the divine act of a supreme being, a creation ex nihilo (out of nothing).
As it turns out, this is exactly the type of thing that Christian philosopher William Lane Craig argues, i.e., The Kalam Cosmological Argument for the Existence of God. How ’bout them apples? Not only does it have a cool sounding name, but, heck, if you can’t trust a Christian philosopher, who can ya trust? They’re all so goddamn genuine! Couldn’t fake a smile if they had to!
So, that pretty well settles it. When you arrive at the limits of your knowledge, when there just doesn’t seem to be an explanation in sight, simply invoke God, and, presto! Tis explained! YeeeahNO. This is what philosophers call an Argument from Ignorance. By settling for an answer that is essentially steeped in magic, you haven’t really answered anything. In fact, you’ve only kicked the can down the road, explaining one mystery by invoking another: God.
Okay, so back to the drawing board. Philosophical faux pas or not, how could the universe have emerged from nothing? There almost had to be something from which everything else came. Nothing couldn’t possibly produce anything! That would be a logical absurdity!
Unless the nothing of physics is actually… wait for it… wait for it some more… oh, God, this is so close to happening… unless the nothing of physics is actually still… something.
Here’s the lowdown on “nothing,” according to Dr. Sten Odenwald of NASA:
When physicists say ‘nothing’ they are being playful with the English language, because we often think of the vacuum as being ’empty’ or ‘nothing’ when in fact physicists know full well that the vacuum is far from empty. The primordial ‘state’ at the Big Bang was far from being the kind of ‘nothingness’ you might have in mind. We don’t have a full mathematical theory for describing this ‘state’ yet, but it was probably ‘multidimensional’, it was probably a superposition of many different ‘fields’, and these fields, or whatever they were, were undergoing ‘quantum fluctuations’. Space and time were not the things we know them to be today because our world is a lot colder than the way it started out. Nothingness was not nothing, but it was not anything like the kinds of ‘somethings’ we know about today.
And there you have it. Our universe was indeed spawned from a strange and curious void. An underlying field of existence, or substratum, that has probably always been, and forever will be. This is scientifically supported by the First Law of Thermodynamics (mass-energy is neither created nor destroyed), which itself is confirmed by the net energy of the universe as a whole (all positive, material energy minus all negative, gravitational energy equals zero). Thus, there was no violation of conservation laws between the zero-state energy of the primordial void and now. Follow me?
What’s more, according to recent findings in quantum physics, our universe may cycle through an endless series of Big Bangs, essentially rebirthing itself from within every so many billion years. Precise measurements of what is known as the Higgs boson particle have revealed an inherent vacuum instability, suggesting that the universe is eternally in flux. Bottom line: the universe was never in need of a creator. In one form or another, it has probably always existed.
All in all, a personal God seems wildly improbable, given the Problem of Evil. And science renders the God of Deism without any explanatory utility. So much for attempting to find God at the ass end of space. But don’t hold your breath waiting for Christian apologists to fairly and accurately portray science before their flock. They come from a long line of deception and delusion. One that’s lasted at least 2,000 years.