Atheism’s Challenge in a 21st Century Cosmology

Posted: January 25, 2013 in Creation
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The last 25 years have been hard for the atheistic worldview, in my opinion. Not on the biological front so much as from the cosmological perspective. Also note that I say the “atheistic worldview” not the atheist personally. For most atheists I’ve known, their position – regardless the claim – is one held by faith rather than reason as much as most Christians. This is sad, since if you actually study history, theology and science, Christianity is a most reasonable position.

The Cosmological finding of the last quarter century certainly lend, at best, a great deal of credence to a theistic worldview and the Judeo-Christian one in particular. At worst there is a marked convergence between some of the cosmological tenants of atheism and Christianity that should provide pause for the atheist. That’s what I want to think about here.

First of all, we’re finding many hundreds of planets now on stars from tens to thousands of light years distance. So we are not only looking at nearby systems, we are also looking at recent history. In fact, with every new discovery, the news outlets are very quick to tout how a new “earth like” or “possibly live supporting” planet has been found. This is invariably a gross overstatement. For the most part, these planets have only one potential trait — they exist within what is called the star’s “habitable zone.” In layman’s terms, this is the distance window where the planet wouldn’t be cooked or frozen and the conditions would allow liquid water to exist. Not that the planetary conditions are suitable for liquid water, just that the stellar condition would permit it. In other words, the more we find of other planets, the more unique the Earth appears. Of course, the atheist does have the legitimate response that we just haven’t looked at enough planets.

Those discoveries are relatively minor though, against my main thoughts – convergence. This is being driven largely through our increasing knowledge of the nature of the cosmos; particularly multlverse theory. If you stick with a Big Bang cosmology, it’s extremely difficult to avoid God. I believe that’s been part of the drive behind theorization into a multiverse. However, that too has problems for the atheistic position.

First, the more we have learned about the multiverse, the more it seems that we find ourselves looking at a discrete origin to creation. In other words both theist and atheist would have to agree to some form of Cause. Also, since we are talking multiverse, that Cause is almost by definition transcendent. This causal substrate, as I understand, would also be omnipresent. Next, whether there is a quantum foam or a divine will behind that Cause, it is inherently creative. Finally, whether by relativity or divine intent there is the reality of predestination. Based on the precepts of relativity future, present and past are coexistent the same as they would for a pre-existent God that is outside of time. Hey, and as a bonus, it would also follow that the Cause is unique.

So, what do we have? A transcendent, omnipresent, unique Cause that is inherently creative. Further, its creation and all that’s in it are predestined, though it would appear that there is some meaningful exercise of free will. Is this sounding familiar if you happen to be a Christian?

At this point the only significant difference between the theist and atheist is this: Intent. In the theist’s worldview, the universe is driven by a cognizant intent. In the atheist’s all is random.

So which makes more sense? While it’s admittedly only a sample of 1 (i.e. humans), creativity is associated with a living intellect. When you have a theistic model that presents the attributes of that deity and our subsequent knowledge of reality reveals all the elements of that model, how is it logical to determine that one missing attribute cannot exist? Especially when what we know that at least some of those elements are associated with intellect? To me it is more an act of faith to reject that final step to a divine presence. Conversely, I would argue that it is distinctly reasonable to determine that there must be a God. Moreover, a God that looks very like the God described in the Bible.

And you may notice that I am not starting from a Biblical basis. I’m a starting from the perspective of natural revelation. What David calls “The heavens declare the glory of God.” For the modern atheist, remember, the Bible is not his starting point but the beauty of God’s natural revelation. Yes, you do need special revelation for salvation, but it is by general revelation that all are held judged. Paul notes this well in the first chapter of Romans.

I used to say, “Give me the Big Bang and you cannot avoid the existence of a God. Give me that God and you cannot avoid the God of the Bible.” Now I have to include the multiverse right there with the Big Bang as one of the great signposts to God. I think the real purpose of this, though is less evangelism and more strengthening the faith of the believer. Especially the young adult believer that is challenged daily in our universities.

As always, you comments are welcome.

  1. Agree with points made about the multiverse theory and the quantum foam still pointing to a cause. I wish all sides could examine recent discoveries in light of solid scientific and philosophical principles. Then I think many would see that your thesis is likely supported. Also good point about creativity being associated with human intellect, that surely comes from somewhere.

    Slight clarification regarding past, present, future being coexistent: I think that is true if relativity theory is seen through a Minkowski 4-D spacetime interpretation which most scientists seem to accept. This leads to a B theory of time of all points being equally real. But I know some, like Christian philosopher/apologist William Lane Craig, believe in a tensed A theory of time where events come into and out of being, and it could still be compatible with the physics of Einstein’s original theory (seeing Minkowski’s as just mathematical interpretation only). Either way, there would still be intent behind the cause.

    Hope I haven’t confused, I need to re-familiarize myself on some of these issues, it has been a while, so thanks for stimulating my thinking. 🙂

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