Sunday, February 22, 2015

Something from Nothing?

Many modern Christian apologists delight in attacking atheists for their supposed belief that the universe was created “out of nothing,” presumably in reference to the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe. I’ve always felt this was a very off means of attack, however, for the following reasons:

  1. First of all, Christian theology itself has long taught that God created the entire universe ex nihilo (literally, “out of nothing”). So, apparently, creating something out of nothing is only a ridiculous idea if God didn’t do it. That’s very helpful if you are then going to define God as basically “that being who is the only being who can create something out of nothing.” You can then argue that (a) the universe was created out of nothing, (b) only something we will arbitrarily call “God” can create something out of nothing because we say so, therefore (c) “God” exists.
  2. Second, this whole line of attack completely misrepresents what science actually says about the origin of the universe. The so-called “Big Bang” theory does not actually state that the universe was created “out of nothing.” Instead, it claims that the entirety of the universe was once condensed into an infinitesimally small point billions of years ago and that it expanded from that point. There are various competing theories as to how the universe came to be condensed into a tiny point in the first place and what caused it to expand (including the theory of a cyclic universe that constantly expands and then contracts over and over again, the theory that our universe branched off of another existing universe, etc.), but none of these theories claim that the universe suddenly appeared out of nowhere. Which is to say that there is nothing whatsoever in the current scientific understanding of the origin of the universe that requires the existence of some sort of “being” who can create things out of nothing.
  3. For centuries, even thousands of years, Christians have believed that the Earth and entire universe was created sometime in the last 10,000 years. Many modern “intellectual” or “sophisticated” Christians today acknowledge the scientific evidence and discoveries that show the Earth is actually around 4 billion years old and that the universe far older than that, although there are still plenty of fundamentalist Christians who think the whole universe was created some 6,000 years ago. What I find hilarious is that these modern Christian apologists are willing to chuck out the literal words of the Bible and accept what science has to say about the age and origin of the universe, but then want to take what science says and somehow use it to support what the Bible says about God creating the universe. Creating the universe in six days? Well, that just an allegory. But the bit about God doing it? That’s literally true!

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