Emily Thomas is an Assistant Professor of Philosophy at Durham University. She posted an argument for atheism – Does the Size of the Universe Prove God Doesn’t Exist?
She argues: God is human-oriented: human beings are like God, and he values us highly.
If God is human-oriented, wouldn’t you expect him to create a universe in which humans feature prominently? You’d expect humans to occupy most of the universe, existing across time. Yet that isn’t the kind of universe we live in. Humans are very small, and space, as Douglas Adams once put it, “is big, really really big”.
Clearly, there is a discrepancy between the kind of universe we would expect a human-oriented God to create, and the universe we live in. How can we explain it? Surely the simplest explanation is that God doesn’t exist. The spatial and temporal size of the universe gives us reason to be atheists.
And quotes Nicholas Everitt
The findings of modern science significantly reduce the probability that theism is true, because the universe is turning out to be very unlike the sort of universe which we would have expected, had theism been true.
The fatal flaw for both Thomas and Everitt is that they project their own subjective expectations without establishing why we are all supposed to think like them. I find their argument to be incredibly weak.
The age of our universe is tied to the immense size of our universe. What if we lived in a universe that was the size of our solar system? And what if it was 6000 years old? For me personally, this would not speak to the existence of God. It would create a haunting suspicion that our creator was some alien intelligence and we lived in some terrarium, perhaps as part of some experiment. But a universe as large and old as ours? Now that’s a different ballgame. An alien creator doesn’t strike me as reasonable there. The immense size and age of our universe speaks to the incredible power of its Creator. The heavens declare the glory of God. Of course, that would be my own subjective impression. But given the subjective nature of Thomas’s expectations, it is sufficient to cancel out her argument. End of story.
But we can walk the extra mile.
The immense size of our universe speaks to our value. How so? No matter where you look among the 300 sextillion stars, you will only find us in the tiniest fraction of it, on a small planet that is a drop in this ocean of space. Look everywhere else in the vast, immense universe and look as hard as you can. You will not find us. I’m not sure why Thomas confuses value with ubiquity, as I associate value with rarity.
Thomas gets the theology right – “human beings are like God, and he values us highly,” but hasn’t thought it through yet. It’s not that God values “humans,” as if we are His favorite species. It’s that he values us. Not because we are representatives of something called “human.” But because we are who we are.
Let’s remember that a “human” is an abstract conception – a word our brains use to try to categorize our reality. Yet you, and I, and everyone else around us, are not abstract creations. We are flesh and blood beings whose identity is shaped by our biology, choices, experiences, and history. To bring us into existence means all that is around us (time and space) must also be brought into existence. It’s a package deal.
Yet if we occupy such a tiny drop in this ocean of space, isn’t it silly and arrogant to think what happens in this tiny drop is special and significant? I don’t think so. That’s like arguing there is nothing special and significant about your spouse, child, or best friend because 107 billion other people have lived on this planet. How can you dare think your loved one is of such great value when 107 billion other people have lived on this planet and you never knew 99.9999999995% of them?
Because each of us is unique.
We know this because if our spouse, child, or best friend dies, we mourn largely for one reason – we miss them. They are irreplaceable. We can have another child or marry someone else, but they never truly replace our lost ones.
Earth, and what is on it, regardless of the size of the universe, is likewise unique. We are irreplaceable. In fact, the sheer size of the universe actually works to underscore that point, not undermine it.