It just is.

I recently spent some time wondering where it all came from. And by ‘all’, I mean the stars, the planets and the whole gigantic amazing universe. It really is a vast place. And an incredible place.

The Milky Way, our home galaxy, weighs around 1.5 trillion solar masses but we don’t know what it’s made of. I mean we know it’s dark matter but we don’t know what that is. It can boggle your brain in its size and beauty.

HT: Kottke

Some people think the world isn’t real or at least not for us but for the sake of argument let’s assume it’s real.

The question then is how did the universe begin? Most people would assume that science has this one nailed down. The Big Bang right? Not so fast. Firstly cosmologists and physicists don’t all agree on how they think the universe began some think more Big Bounce than Big Bang. Secondly, some scientists don’t think it had a beginning at all.

In the entire universe the two greatest scientific mysteries are first of all the origin of the universe itself.  And second of all the origin of intelligence. 

Michio Kaku

And, as of now, science has no answers to either question. It has, like everyone else, theories. It has possible explanations but it does not have definitive answers and you shouldn’t believe anyone who says it does. So it is not at all an unreasonable question to ask, ‘why is there something rather than nothing?’

There are, as far as I can tell, three possible explanations for the existence of the universe and each one is simply a brute fact. Each one is eventually a shrug of the shoulders and saying, ‘it just is’ or ‘because’. Here are the three possibilities.

  1. Pure chance. We don’t know why the universe exists. It just does. Not many people are happy with this explanation (which is interesting all by itself) because as humans we are rarely satisfied with ‘I don’t know’.
  2. The multiverse. Naturalistic scientists love this one. They are all signed up members of the multiverse. This universe is just one of an infinite number of possible bubble universes that have come into existence over an infinite amount of time. But I’m not sure they’ve thought this one through.
  3. A god or gods of some sort.

At the end of the day with each answer you just end up saying ‘because’. Who created God? No one. How did the multiverse begin? It just did. Why are the laws of physics such that life can exists? They just are. And to differing degrees each one is a statement of faith and belief.

I can wonder if God really exists and there are certainly questions that can stop me in my tracks and make me wonder. Life, death and the universe in many ways is a mystery and my belief in God doesn’t always change that as much as I might like.

Chance just seems a cop out and the more I read about the multiverse the more it actually strengthened my belief in the existence of God. If there is an infinite amount of time and an infinite amount of universes then it is possible there is a universe full of unicorns which sounds ridiculous. Or in one universe there is a being or beings that have worked out how not to die, how to travel between multiverses and store all the information they gather. This would make them to all intents and purposes eternal, omniscient and omnipresent in a dimension that is beyond both space and time. They might not necessarily be omnipotent but they’d be pretty darn close. From my perspective we’d call a being like that ‘god’. Or the multiverse is bunk and but it’s a very plausible sounding way of avoiding option 3.

Perhaps the biggest question for the multiverse is, “Is this science?”  It is highly improbable that we could ever do any measurements of another universe; it is inaccessible to us.  Cosmologists themselves debate whether the multiverse is in the realm of science. Some argue that using the multiverse as an explanation would weaken the very nature of scientific reasoning, since it cannot be tested directly.

The multiverse as a theory, it seems to me, came about because cosmologists were struck by the fact that the universe seems in many ways fine tuned for life. As in the conditions that are required for life to exist in just once place are so great that it’s hard to understand how that could be without positing a creator.

The incredible numbers that get thrown around when it comes to the probabilities of there being even one planet with life on is also the reason I think even in a universe as beyond comprehension large as this one, it’s probably just us. This idea then that sometimes incredibly unlikely things happen, like one in a trillion, trillion unlikely and then I think well that sounds like a miracle to me.

When you listen to cosmologists who argue against theism sooner or later you’ll hear the multiverse or they’ll bring in other arguments about how their idea of God wouldn’t have revealed himself in the way theists think there god has. I can understand that but it’s definitely a diversionary tactic from the main point – how did we get here?

By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.

Hebrews 11:3

In one sense both the atheist and the theist cosmologist agree with the second half of this verse. For the atheist the invisible ‘laws of physics’ function as the commands of ‘god’ but in both cases that something invisible ‘created’ what is seen.

Yet by faith I think the stars are a reason to believe. If you’re interested here is my talk and slides on the subject.

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