For and against a God

Today’s strongest argument FOR a God is perhaps the fact that there’s a universe at all. Why isn’t there nothing? ‘Nothing’ would surely be simpler and more likely. ‘Nothing’ calls for no explanation, whereas ‘something’ does!  And especially so because this ‘something’ we call the universe has given rise not only to material things, but also to the marvel of living things. And some of these have developed the so far inexplicable wonder of consciousness – and of a self-awareness which can also extend outwards, to take in the universe as a whole. I find it staggering to think about the human brain. It’s a little lump of tissue, full of chemicals and electric signals, which never sets foot outside its own little skull, and yet can attempt to explore the mysteries of the huge universe of which it’s only an infinitesimally tiny part!

And there’s more! Our scientists have found out that, for all this to be possible, around half-a-dozen values in the laws of physics had to be more or less just as they are. If any of them had been slightly different, there would have been no ‘us’, and no universe either as we now know it. The “big bang” would have been more like a damp squib! The fact that these values ‘are as they are’ could, of course, just be a stroke of luck in some great cosmic lottery, but the chances against that are (dare I say it) astronomical. Some scientists, to get round this problem, suggest that there must be an infinite number of universes. This would make sure that one of them, like Baby Bear’s porridge, would be “just right” for us. Not everyone, however, is convinced. Some reckon the universe has been carefully planned and finely tuned, and that some kind of God, even if not of the traditional sort, is as good an explanation as any other.

The strongest argument AGAINST a God is that there is so much harm and suffering in the world. It can be argued that this is mostly due to human evil – an ongoing story of war, genocide, poverty, hunger, oppression and abuse. But why would a God do nothing about this, and why would ‘he’ have created such destructive creatures as ourselves? “God gave us free will”, is the usual answer. That’s open to debate but, in any case, it wouldn’t explain the worldwide devastation, distress and death from natural disasters such as earthquakes, volcanic explosions, tsunamis, landslides and so on. And in the bigger scheme of things, the universe itself is a bit like a cosmic battlefield, full of asteroid strikes, exploding ‘supergiant’ stars, colliding galaxies, and vast ‘black holes’ sucking into themselves everything around them. Along with the searing heat, intense cold, deadly radiation and never-ending emptiness, it seems a very hostile and frighteningly unpredictable place!

Lots of things ‘as they are’ suggest to some people, a God who turns a blind eye rather than being all-loving ; who’s not fully in control rather than being all-powerful ; and who, instead of being ‘all-knowing’, tries to patch up unanticipated problems as ‘he’ blunders along. To such people, the most true-to-life image of the universe is that of the unbelievably ‘big bang’ out of which showers of cosmic ‘shrapnel’, otherwise known as stars and planets, are still expanding. And they see this as a dramatic but pointless pageant of fiery birth, fragile existence, and slowly lingering or suddenly violent death. It’s like a universe, to quote Shakespeare, “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing” – with no obvious connection to any kind of competent, caring, or believable God. Whether it comes to an end in another big bang, or in an icy cold whimper, it looks like nothing more than a vast ‘cosmic mistake’.

So what do you think? Does it seem to you that there’s a ‘God’ nor not? If there is, what sort of ‘God’ do you reckon he/she/it might credibly be?

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