Some Common Objections to the Existence of God
The Universe Created by Mere Chance
Some have speculated that the universe somehow came into being by mere chance from nothing. This is impossible, as we know, because potency is always unable to bring itself into act. In other words, something that already exists is necessary to bring something else into existence: in other words, from nothing comes nothing. However, if the impossible could happen and something could come from nothing, what type of universe would we expect to see.
A universe that occurred by chance could be expected to operate without laws, or without consistent laws, or with laws that would not have the intricate balance necessary to support matter and life. Events and things would appear, disappear, or move without predictability, cause, or rationality. However, when scientists look out at our universe, they marvel at the incredible order that they see.
Why couldn't a well-ordered universe come into existence by chance? The reason is that a well-ordered universe, such as ours, has been designed with finely tuned physical constants. If any of these constants were minutely different, not only would the universe be unable to support life, but the entire universe, itself, might not have stability.
For these constants to be so delicately balanced by chance is inconceivably slim. To conceptualize this, if everyone on the Earth had a lottery ticket, you would have a much greater chance of winning this lottery than for our universe to come into existence by mere chance.
However, the point is moot. As we know, something can not come from nothing.
Birth from a Multiverse
To explain the origins of our universe, some scientists have speculated that another universe such as a multiverse may have created our universe. One multiverse idea is that there is an original multiverse that continually spawning new universes. A second multiverse idea is that the multiverse is comprised of trillions of unique universes. There are a few problems with the multiverse idea. We'll start with the first multiverse concept.
MULTIVERSE SPAWNING OTHER UNIVERSES
The first problem with this idea is that there isn't any physical evidence from science to justify it. Consequently, it has much more in common with science fiction than true science. The second issue is that this idea doesn't solve our problem about what created the multiverse. In other words, this argument merely extends into another universe the problem of something coming from nothing. In the end, we must still return to the necessity of pure act and the Necessary Being.
This idea also has a problem with the Second Law of Thermodynamics that states that the entropy of a system only increases. This means that the universe, as a whole, continues to move from a state of usable matter and energy to unusable matter and energy: from order to disorder. Over time, any universe will continue towards a state of disorder at which point it will be almost totally without usable energy. At such a point, the dead multiverse would be unable to create new universes. Such a universe could never have usable energy into infinity.
MULTIVERSE OF TRILLIONS OF UNIVERSES
This idea is that we are part of a multiverse which is comprised of trillions of universes for every possible combination that could ever be created. According to this idea, we live in one of the very precious few that is both stable and supports life. This idea may have resulted from the fact that there's only an infinitesimally small probability of a finely tuned universe coming into existence by accident [if, of course, it were possible for something to occur by mere chance].
Just as before, the first problem with this idea is that there isn't any physical evidence from science to justify it. The second issue is that this idea doesn't solve our problem about what created the multiverse. If this multiverse actually extended into infinity into the past, our own universe would have died long ago. If the multiverse didn't, then something else must have brought it into existence?
This idea is interesting because it indicates that science might slowly be moving in the direction of Scholastic philosophy. Within Scholastic natural theology, there’s the notion that there’s one idea in the mind of God. Within this idea is the concept of everything that could every possibly exist. This is very similar to the multiverse idea except that the multiverse is comprised of universes of potency and act whereas the idea of God is only in potency [unless, of course, some things have been brought into existence.]
If you think a universe might actually be able to come from nothing, please scroll above to the title "Universe Created by Mere Chance."
Intelligent life Explained by Natural Selection Alone
NATURAL SELECTION REQUIRES ORDER
Some postulate that God doesn't exist and that intelligent life can be explained by natural selection alone. This idea is false because the opposite is true: Intelligent life is able to evolve and survive through natural selection only because an intelligent designer created a universe of incredible order, harmony, and predictability that allows natural selection to function. Since the answer to this objection may be more difficult to grasp in biological beings, we'll start our explanation with non-biological being.
As we know from science, there is great order and harmony in the universe. Atoms, molecules, stars, and galaxies operate in very predictable and ordered ways and not by chance or random occurrence. This order points to an intelligent being that designed the elements of the world to operate in a certain fashion.
The Scholastic philosophers call this Finality. This is true because a mindless designer [or no designer] would only be capable of designing a mindless universe. Our universe doesn't act in a mindless way; rather, it operates with great order and harmony that suggests design by a superior intellect.
Since this order and harmony is true of non-biological being, it's also true of biological beings because these beings are of the same universe and of the same designer. But mere chance, alone, can not explain this order because chance, by definition, is disorder.
When plant and animal life develop, even under the appearance of chance, it's only because the universe has been designed and directed with a certain order and harmony that the possibility of a chance variation can move towards order.
For example, in a mindless universe without order, a chance variation might help a biological being to survive in one second and then hurt it for the next 100 seconds. Why? Because for each subsequent second, the being would experience different surroundings from hot, to cold, to zero gravity, to intense radiation, to crushing gravity, etc. The chance variation of the being wouldn't help it to adapt and survive in such chaos.
But we live in a universe of order and harmony that indicates a designer of incredible intelligence. Within this order, most biological chance variations are either neutral or inhibit a being's survival. But those rare variations that help a being to survive, such as an animal whose fur turns from gray to black in a dark forest, does so because of the order, stability, and predictability of that forest. The ordered forest that supports natural selection didn't occur strictly by accident. Rather, the forest developed and evolved because there was an ordered framework that allowed natural selection to function.
Consequently, the order accruing from natural selection can be the result of mere chance but only as predetermined and foreseen as a consequence of what had been designed into the universe by the Absolute Being. Chance, by itself, does not flourish.
What type of intellect created this grand order? The Scholastic philosophers state that it couldn't be an intellect like ours that merely comprehends intelligible being. Rather, it must be an intellect of a much higher order. They determined that this Absolute Being must be thought, itself -- self-subsisting intellection.
DID DARWIN KILL GOD? -- THE MOST ELEGANT SOLUTION
Some people hold an assumption that Darwinian natural selection infers that God doesn't exist. We speculate that this interesting but illogical perception may have resulted from a false dichotomy set up by the bitter, long-standing feud between pseudo-science atheists and Protestant Fundamentalist. Regardless of its origin, this perception is rooted in ignorance. Let us explain. . .
We wish to start by saying that God is beyond our ability to fully comprehend because of our finite nature and his infinitely perfect nature. Therefore, we can’t say what God might do from a philosophical perspective. However, we can speculate with the most elegant solution. An elegant solution is a term used by scientists to refer to an equation or idea that is a simple expression that governs a large amount of data or phenomena.
If God wanted to create a universe to have life, he would have created it to bring forth life through its very design. This is the most elegant solution. In other words, if God wanted a universe with life within it, he likely would have created a universe that creates life on its own without the need for divine intervention.
WAS DARWIN RIGHT?
Of course, notwithstanding what we just wrote, God is not constrained to using an anthropomorphic, most elegant solution. Science doesn’t yet have a clear understanding of how intelligent life developed on the Earth. Some scientists have partially pieced together what they think may have been the development. At the heart of this debate is what is called the “Cambrian Explosion.” This refers to a period in geologic history where new life forms and species suddenly appeared without a good link in the geologic record from known predecessors.
Darwinian natural selection has been proven to be true regarding small changes within a species. However, there appears to be some question whether this mechanism can function to successfully create new species. The gap in the fossil record gives further credence that more advanced life may not have been caused soley by natural selection.
While natural selection might very well be the cause of advanced life on the planet, we fear that many in the science community have a "circle the wagons" approach concerning new ideas or ideas that challenge the status-quo. For the purposes of stimulating more vigorous debate and greater research, we recommend the following book on this topic.
Darwin’s Doubt by Stephen Meyer, Ph.D.
Quantum Mechanics -- Is the World Logical?
Some say that the universe isn't actually logical and; therefore, we don't have to use logic in philosophy [or science] to speak of God, the universe, its origins, and cause/effect. This strain of thought denies the foundational identity of mathematics and classical philosophy that "one is one" (e.g. 1 = 1) or "a thing is equal to what it is" and, interestingly, often cites quantum mechanics to justify its position.
There's a tremendous amount of misinformation in the public domain about quantum mechanics. The main allegation is that quantum mechanics describes a universe that's random and not ordered. While there are still mysteries at the quantum level that haven't yet been explained such as non-locality (a.k.a. Einstein's "spooky action at a distance") and the duality of light as both a particle and a wave, allegations of true randomness are based on ignorance.
Much of the confusion pertains to the binary nature of particle spin; or measuring equipment that interferes with particles under test; or a romantic misunderstanding of the meaning of terms such as "collapse of the wave function" or "non-locality." To be sure, there are weird things at the quantum level that haven't yet been fully understood, but none of this lack of understanding actually means that the universe is illogical or random.
Rather, this only suggests that science has much more to learn about the universe. In fact, the issue of non-locality, despite its weirdness, actually suggests a universe that is much more interconnected and ordered than previously thought.
None of this should be any surprise. The quantum world is exactly the same world as the classical world described by Newtonian physics. If the quantum world were actually illogical and random, this illogic would translate into what we observe at the macro level. But as we know, the classical world of physics demonstrates remarkable order and predictability. This means that the average and overall workings at the quantum level are also remarkably well ordered and predictable. In short, a person can not cite quantum mechanics as evidence that the universe is illogical or purely random.
For modern society to rely so much on logic and science and then for some people to abandon it when speaking of the Great Issues of Life speaks to the weakness of this idea. The denial of the principle of identity and the rejection of logic is not grounded in the reality around us or in the way how we live our lives. The greatest minds of science of the past did not accept apparent contradictions but went on to learn why such scenarios weren't contradictions at all.
If you wish to learn quantum mechanics, we recommend a course by the father of string theory, Dr. Leonard Susskind, Ph.D. of Stanford University. He's written the book "Quantum Mechanics: The theoretical Minimum" with an accompanying on-line lecture series. The subject is difficult and highly abstract. Nevertheless, we highly recommend it for those who already have a math and science background. The following button will take you to his lecture series on YouTube.
Banner Photo is from Casey Horner.
Photo (Omega Nebula M17) in the mere chance section is from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Photos (Mystic Mountain) (Cave Nebula) in the multiverse section are from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Photo (fern) in the natural selection section is by Pandu Ior from Unsplash.com.
Photo (monarch butterfly) in the natural selection section is by Kathy Servian from Unsplash.com
Photo (dandelion) in the natural selection section is by Aaron Burden from Unsplash.com
Photo (Bose-Einstein Condensate Graph) in the quantum mechanics section is from NASA/JPL-Caltech.
Photo (Two Slit Electron Interference Pattern) in the quantum mechanics section is by Alexandre Gondran. Photo converted to jpg and size reduced. License is located at https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:3_trajectories_guided_by_the_wave_function.png.