I am still at it, arguing over some deeper details on someone’s blog. Originally it was a post about Jordan Peterson that got me sucked in, but I have gone deeper into basic concepts on God now. The original post is here.
The Reason I am Unmoved
I tend to simplify things. The cosmological argument can be seen as an argument for physics not applying at the start of the expansion of the universe. There are a handful of plausible theories as to what happened during that time. None are more likely than the others, in my view. The descriptions I have seen of the religious argument don’t lead you to a sentient God, and just as well can lead you to science.
Going from those cosmological arguments to any arguments in favor of Christianity or a sentient god in general all break down for me. They either require special pleading or faith.
Because of these two things along with the fact that none of it can be tested or falsified, I find it personally completely unconvincing. I don’t believe we have a good understanding of the universe at all. With theories about dark matter and with the existence of black holes and quantum mechanics being complete mysteries in many ways it is clear to me that we are at the edge of our understanding to even rationally explain everything on the earth as we can discover.
I don’t have the expectation that we’ll ever have a theory of everything in physics. Maybe we will, maybe we won’t. I don’t think that is required for a practical understanding of the world that I need to interact with. I never think about the start of the world or how “everything” works.
The Thomist philosophy seems to be based on an older understanding of the world. It is one where the universe is one “thing.” I don’t think that is correct. The universe is a vacuum of nothingness. Matter is what we consider to be the “universe” normally. The question is, is the matter in the universe or the vacuum what we refer to when we say everything or universe?
Motion is all relative. If there is only one thing in the vacuum, by definition it cannot move. Once a second thing exists, movement is relative to the two things. Things naturally move towards each other, we observe this as gravity. It is very unclear what would happen if all matter came together at one point. There is no way to know where that matter came from or what rules apply to that point. Further, we don’t understand gravity at all without something like dark matter.
It is very clear, with our observations of gravity, that at some point the matter in the universe will stop expanding. All stars will die. Once that happens, the matter in the universe will come together. We don’t know what will happen when that occurs. We will be dead billions or trillions of years before that occurs. It isn’t a question I see as needing an answer.
All of that happens without the concept of God. It may be wrong. I don’t really care either way. Practically, it has no impact on me or the next 100 generations of my children.
Getting to the Christian God
I could not lay out a cogent argument for getting from the big bang to the Christian God. With the big bang theory and our understanding of the universe, I don’t see a need for a God that makes everything “move.” Thus, I don’t see a need for a deity. One may exist, but there is a logical way to see the world that doesn’t involve one.
Ockham’s Razor says to select the answer with the fewest assumptions. I suspect this is why you would select Thomism. Here’s my theory of how earth exists.
- Matter collapsed into a single point.
- We don’t understand what happens when matter is this condensed, but evidence shows that galaxies are moving outwards from “something” in the same direction.
- We’ll infer that a massive force repelled all matter away from this point.
- That massive force was something we can’t understand.
- The galaxy and earth are the result of matter being attracted to other matter.
- The laws of physics as we understand them are just how we understand the world.
- The world we know just “is.”
Here’s the Thomist version
- Nothing existed, and the deity created it.
- The deity sent everything hurtling in the same direction.
- This deity continues to make everything move and animate it.
- The world we know is created and controlled by this deity.
However, I don’t think you can stop there. I think you need to add a huge number of steps. The following are the problems I see.
- To show this deity exists without infinite regress or special pleading.
- Showing the old testament is accurate.
- Showing the new testament is accurate.
Once you include those, the “best guess” scientific view is much simpler than believing in the Christian God. It also has more we can observe to back it up.
Summing it Up
32% of the world’s population are Christian. It is a minority viewpoint. It becomes a majority viewpoint if you count all monotheistic religions together, but that calls into doubt 2 of the problems above with the old and new testament. Further, the groups that are recognized as Christian are so varied that many believe large portions of those followers will be suffering eternally due to their lack of grace and errors.
It isn’t the idea that a deity is a simpler explanation for the start of the universe that is the challenge. It is getting from there to the bible that is the problem.