Was It Necessary For God to Create this Vast Universe, per Hugh Ross?

Some creationists, like Hugh Ross, claim God needed to create such a vast and old universe in order for the earth to exist with the right conditions to support human life as we know it. Here's my response from a recent post, singled out for discussion:

But this is an extremely lame argument. Why? Because Ross and other Christian theists believe God is omnipotent such that he created the laws of the universe in the first place! So if God is this omnipotent deity and if he created the laws of the universe in the first place, then he could’ve merely created a small planet containing human beings, and that's it. This is just obvious to me. But even if I grant them their point, it doesn’t even matter, for this same God is a miracle working God. Even if it was metaphysically impossible for God to create the earth as it is without a vast universe because he couldn't create nature's laws differently, then this says nothing at all against God performing perpetual miracles. If he is a miracle working God he could indeed have created a terrestrial biosphere that would sustain human life even if the laws of nature would not allow it. All it would take are a few perpetual miracles. As far as theists know, the laws of nature are themselves just perpetual miracles created by God anyway.

33 comments:

Jamie Steele said...

John,
Are you a scientist or do you just read a lot of books on science, because that was not a really good scientific answer.
Sorry, try again.

withinreason said...

what else would you expect from him? ;-)

klas_klazon said...

Mr. Loftus' answer is perfectly reasonable. Since it doesn't seem to be the case that it's logically necessary for a universe containing life to be as vast as our universe is, Hugh Ross's argument isn't a good one at all. As far as I know, theists beleive that their god can do anything that isn't illogical (i.e., he can't create square circles).

Jamie Steele said...

"doesn't seem to be the case that it's logically necessary for a universe containing life to be as vast as our universe is..."

Do you have "evidence" for this or are you "assuming" and "speculating".

paul01 said...

"Was It Necessary For God to Create this Vast Universe, per Hugh Ross?"

Only if materialism is true.

Jamie Steele said...

I "assume"

Max S said...

I am a theist and agree with Mr. Loftus that Dr. Ross' argument is weak. An omnipotent God could've made the laws of the universe such that they wouldn't require a long delay for the universe to be able to support human life. However, God may have had other reasons for making the laws of nature as they are now and for not resorting to "perpetual miracles" (an oxymoron?) Mr. Loftus speaks about. If this is established, then Ross' argument may have some merit.

Dr. Ross is a competent astrophysicist, but based on my limited reading of him he is not at his best when he ventures into philosophy, theology, or biology. Unsound arguments on either side of the debate are unproductive.

Max

John W. Loftus said...

Thanks Max. You said...God may have had other reasons for making the laws of nature as they are now...If this is established, then Ross' argument may have some merit.

How often must you retreat to what is merely possible to defend your faith? We're talking about what is probable here. Would you care to suggest any probable reasons why God did not create differently? I'm all ears. Keep in mind that the law of predation in the animal world admits to horrendus amounts of suffering. God could've created us all vegetarians and kept us that way. With regard to human beings he could've created us all one color of skin and kept us that way. He could've created us with better immune systems. He could even have created us such that amputeed limbs grow back in a few weeks or months and we would never know that it could be otherwise.

Now compare that with a good mother's love for her children. Go on. Do this. When you do you'll realize that a good mother's love is better, much better, than a perfectly good God's love for us as creatures in this ant farm.

Jason said...

How do these "Was it necessary for God to..." statements debunk Christianity?

Jamie Steele said...

John,
Where does this version of God come from?

Your comment read's like a Joel Osteen bestseller.

God is never characterized as a Diety whom exists for us.

He is sovereign and can do what he wants.

For example: John the Baptist was in prison and sent word to Jesus, asking if he was the Messiah.
Jesus answered by sending a message to John about all the things He was doing....
But he never got John out of prison.
As a matter of fact, John was beheaded.
The God you are talking about was in the Garden. Sin changed everything.
The probelm with evil is a straw man that has been burning by Atheist since Darwin.
John maybe you should call Joel Osteen and compare theology because you guys sound a lot alike.

"For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, 21 because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools,..." Romans 1

Scott said...

I think the question goes back a bit further. Did God need to create a physical universe at all?

Since the Bible claims there were angels that disobeyed God of their own free will, it appears that a physical universes isn't required at all to choose God.

By creating a physical universe, it appears that God painted himself into a corner. He must either explicitly arrange things so that specific outcomes will occur over a range of billions of years or he must intervene and cause specific outcomes using his omnipotent will.

For example, in creating the universe, God must have caused the post big bang distribution of matter to occur in just the right way so the earth and our sun would eventually form 13.7 billion years later. Essentially God, who is supposedly omnipotent, created an incredibly elaborate Rube Goldberg machine to eventual form our universe as it exists today, including the earth and our sun.

However, this same particular distribution of matter which formed the earth will also eventually cause all life to be scorched from it's surface less than a billion years from now. Three billion years from now, it will cause our galaxy will collide with it's nearest neighbor, the Andromeda galaxy. And seven billion years from now it will cause our planet to be vaporized when the sun expands beyond the orbit of Mars and becomes a red giant.

But, for the sake of argument, let's assume there was some reason why God had to create a physical universe. Would it need to be this vast to support human life? Again, I think we need to take a step back and ask are we human beings the reason for the existence of universe or is it vice versa?

If the universe was created to support human beings, it appears that humans must be the reason for the universe to exist. Otherwise, our current form is merely a consequence of the specific physical laws of our universe. Either way, the fact that we're having this conversation indicates our universe is one that obviously resulted in the formation of some kind of intelligent life.

However it's possible that some other universe may have resulted in some other form of life.

One could say we're a more than a bit biased about the form and shape of human beings as that's what we've been optimized to respond to from a genetic perspective. As such, humans instinctually and empathetically have an affinity for the human race. If this were not the case, I don't see how we could have survived his long.

Scott said...

He is sovereign and can do what he wants.

Actually, God makes statements in the Bible that limit his actions. For example, God cannot flood the world again (Genesis 8:21, 9:8-17). Of course, if this were to happen again, theists would probably claim it was a natural event and that God wasn't responsible this time around.

The God you are talking about was in the Garden. Sin changed everything.

So sin not only changed the animals, the earth, our universe and human beings, it changed God as well? And exactly were did this "sin" come from if God created everything from nothing?

John W. Loftus said...

Scott, I'm always looking for good bloggers. Care to join us at DC? Email me.

Jamie Steele said...

Scott,
It is obvious you know nothing about Christian Theology.

AndreLinoge said...

"Scott,
It is obvious you know nothing about Christian Theology."

I hear this so often from Xtians.

Look, if soooo many of us "infidels" don't understand Christian "theology", then maybe its because you Christians have done a lousy job communicating it. But...that begs the question as to why a "loving" God would trust you people to deliver his message (seeing as how you all can't even do that effectively.)

Scott said...

It is obvious you know nothing about Christian Theology.

I'm aware of what Christian Theology has to say on this issue. I just don't think it's provides a sufficient answer that holds up under scrutiny.

God used to walk among humans and speak to them. Then he retreated to the tops of mountains where he proclaimed "you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live." Now he's immaterial and does not exist as a physical entity.

What caused this change?

Jason said...

Did God need to create a physical universe at all?

Who cares? He did.

John W. Loftus said...

Jason, I've been reading your comments here and I think you're a bit obtuse. But in this case you are also callous.

Just think for one moment, okay? Don't just spit out what you were taught to believe, which is what you do. What did God lack before creation that made him want to create in the first place? Take a moment to truly reflect on that question. I'll repeat it again so you do. What did God lack before creation that made him want to create in the first place?

I know your answer. The answer is that God lacked nothing, as in NOTHING. So what reason would cause God to want to create anything? There was no lack, no want, and no need. That which causes a reasonable person to act is a lack, either his own or someone else's. And even given that he wanted to create something, anything, why did he create this particular world? These are significant questions if you'll take a moment to reflect on them rather than spitting out proof texts and the blind faith results of your prooftexting.

Your God is a God or reason. Everything he does is reasonable. Well then, what's his reason for creating something, anything?

There can be no reason for doing so, not even with an omniscient God, for an omniscient God must still act according to reason. Unless by his logic he can do what is illogical or by his reason he can do that which is unreasonable, there is no reason for God to have done so.

But that’s not all. Even if we grant that God wanted to create something, anything, why would he create this particular world? It is a huge mess.

But there’s still more. If God foreknew this world would become a mess when he had no reason to create anything in the first place, then why create this particular one?

But there’s more. Everlasting punishment. Consider what Ivan Karamazov, Fyodor Dostoyevsky’s character, said: “Tell me yourself—I challenge you: let’s assume that you were called upon to build the edifice of destiny so that men would finally be happy and would find peace and tranquility. If you knew that, in order to attain this, you would have to torture just one single creature, let’s say a little girl who beat her chest so desperately in the outhouse, and that on her unavenged tears you could build that edifice, would you agree to do it? Tell me and don’t lie!”

If there was no need to create anything, and if you foreknew people would suffer in this world and eventually do so for an eternity, would you create this particular world for your own glory, which is what Biblical theism asserts? Would you do so for YOUR OWN GLORY, especially when you already had all glory and there was no need to do so in the first place?

Only a sadistic egotistic ignorant monster would even consider it.

Scott said...

Who cares? He did.

Jason,

Out of curiosity, what do you do for a living?

No need to be specific. Just looking for a general indication.

Max S said...

John,

Thank you for responding to my comment. You ask why a loving God would create a world with carnivores, suffering, pain, decay. I'm troubled by these things just as you are. They aren't normal. They ought not be.

I agree that a loving God would want to reduce the suffering of his creatures as much as possible, but only in a manner and to the degree that doesn't interfere with other more important goals he has for the world. If painlessness and safety were God's only or the most ultimate concerns, then no doubt he could've created a much safer world, but probably not a totally safe world because of the inherent dangers of a physical world: you can fall off a cliff and die, you can accidentally drown, etc. (Although the creatures in the safer world would wonder why it isn't even more safe.)

What could be more important than preventing suffering, pain, and death, you might ask? Many theologians claim that one of God's top priorities (for whatever reason) was to create rational creatures who can (relatively) freely choose to love or despise their creator, which in turn requires that the creatures should have significantly free will. Free will entails the possibility of misusing it. According to the Bible, the first humans actualized this possibility, and God honored their choice by placing a temporary curse on the world. This curse brought a lot of pain and suffering. (I know you could criticize the idea of the curse or to insist that God could've made creatures who are free and always obey their creator. I don't want to veer too far off-topic by trying to deal with this.)

I'll turn the tables on you. By making the argument from evil to non-existence of a loving God you appeal to universal objective morality. If there is no God then morality is a subjective artificial construct created by a group of people, varying from group to group. Doesn't the fact that objective universal morality exists - as you seem to acknowledge – weaken your argument and provide a counter-argument, pointing to existence of God?

I won't pretend that this brief post is supposed to settle the problem of evil. Just some thoughts.

Max S

Evan said...

By making the argument from evil to non-existence of a loving God you appeal to universal objective morality. If there is no God then morality is a subjective artificial construct created by a group of people, varying from group to group.

This simply assumes facts not in evidence.

As for the idea that a universal objective morality proves monotheism, I would give you three plain objections.

First -- all morality is to one or another degree relative, dependent on circumstances. There is no action you can suggest that would not be considered appropriate by some monotheist under certain dire circumstances, either poor economic times, war time or in a natural or man-made disaster.

Additionally, if there were truly a universal objective morality agreed to by monotheists but not by atheists or polytheists, we should see widespread agreement on moral issues among monotheists and huge disagreement among atheists or polytheists who do not follow the moral code of a given deity. Yet this is not the case, the moral judgments of atheists, polytheists and monotheists are indistinguishable on standardized tests of moral thinking.

Finally, there are universal human values. To give two (of 400) examples, all cultures known to science value generosity, additionally all cultures find incest between a mother and her son taboo and disgusting.

The argument fails thrice therefore -- all moral codes fail at some point in extreme circumstances, monotheists have no objective difference in their moral judgments than others, and there are indeed some practices universally valued or reviled in all human societies.

Jamie Steele said...

First -- all morality is to one or another degree relative, dependent on circumstances.

-murder is always wrong, adultery is always wrong, fornication is always wrong, drunkeness is always wrong, child molestation is always wrong, rape is always wrong, I could go on you know..

Finally, there are universal human values. To give two (of 400) examples, all cultures known to science value generosity, additionally all cultures find incest between a mother and her son taboo and disgusting.

-where does that come from Evan the Bible has a great answer and it answers the question very well..

You lose bad on this issue...

‘If a person doesn’t think there is a God to be accountable to, then—then what’s the point of trying to modify your behaviour to keep it within acceptable ranges? That’s how I thought anyway. I always believed the theory of evolution as truth, that we all just came from the slime. When we, when we died, you know, that was it, there is nothing…’
Jeffrey Dahmer, in an interview with Stone Phillips, Dateline NBC, Nov. 29, 1994.

Jason said...

John said: But in this case you are also callous. Just think for one moment, okay? Don't just spit out what you were taught to believe, which is what you do. What did God lack before creation that made him want to create in the first place? Take a moment to truly reflect on that question. I'll repeat it again so you do. What did God lack before creation that made him want to create in the first place?

How am I being callous, John? The question was: “Was It Necessary For God to Create this Vast Universe, per Hugh Ross?" God created the universe and that’s that. What’s there to discuss? Unnecessary or necessary can't be proven either way.

In answer to your question, how do you expect anyone to answer, or better yet, answer it correctly? No one was there before God created the universe. No one could ask God why He was doing what He was doing. 1 Cor 2:11 "For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God."

Quite frankly, I don’t think Christians care. We’re here, we’re alive, we’re living in this universe. Nothing changes that.

These are significant questions if you'll take a moment to reflect on them rather than spitting out proof texts and the blind faith results of your prooftexting.

That’s funny, speaking of proof texts, did you find any to prove women are eternally unforgiven because Eve spoke to a snake? I ask for evidence, for proof texts, the same you demand from Christians to support their theories, and you shut down a post to save a fellow atheist. Why the double standard, John?

Your God is a God or reason. Everything he does is reasonable. Well then, what's his reason for creating something, anything?

As you’ve already stated, for His pleasure.

But that’s not all. Even if we grant that God wanted to create something, anything, why would he create this particular world? It is a huge mess.

The “huge mess” is man’s own doing. Do you want proof texts?

But there’s still more. If God foreknew this world would become a mess when he had no reason to create anything in the first place, then why create this particular one?

Because God also knows the mess isn’t eternal. The corruption of man, etc. will eventually be done away with and the earth will be returned to its original splendour. It’s a dramatic story with a happy ending.

But there’s more. Everlasting punishment.

Everlasting punishment is death without hope of resurrection. What makes that so disgusting?

If there was no need to create anything, and if you foreknew people would suffer in this world and eventually do so for an eternity, would you create this particular world for your own glory, which is what Biblical theism asserts? Would you do so for YOUR OWN GLORY, especially when you already had all glory and there was no need to do so in the first place?

John, first of all, you’re spitting out what you were taught to believe. This is what you do when it comes to this kind of thing. Reflect on this: People won’t suffer for eternity – they’ll just be dead for eternity. Kind of like what atheists believe happens when someone dies. And in answer to your question, yes, if I was omnipotent, I would create something for my own glory. Wouldn't you?

goprairie said...

jamie steele: "murder is always wrong" then what about war?
"drunkenness is always wrong" so even in the confines of my own home where i am not operating a vehicle, it is wrong to over indulge in alcohol? i think your concept of absolute standards is shaky and your examples certainly are not very solid. and if you are trying to say that Christians are more ethical than atheists or that more atheists commit crimes or atrocities, you will be proven wrong in short time. morality and religion are not related, even tho religion tries to take credit for morality. it is just not so. atheists are as moral as those of any religion and maybe moreso if honesty in thinking is moral.

John W. Loftus said...

Jason said...I would create something for my own glory. Wouldn't you?

Of course not, if there was no reason to do so. Remember God already had all glory, so what more could he have? And given the mess of this world I'd say creating it has brought him much dishonor.

I know your type, so I don't plan on beating my head against the wall with you here. Keep in mind what our comment policy says (which is directly linked towhen you make a comment):

We will respond to the posts we choose to respond to if we have the time. But please don’t assume that because we didn't respond to a post it means anything at all...When it comes to posts we disagree with, don't assume that if we haven’t responded we won’t, or if we don’t respond that we can’t, or if we can’t respond that our opponents are right.

Cheers.

Shygetz said...

jamie steele said: John,
Are you a scientist or do you just read a lot of books on science, because that was not a really good scientific answer.
Sorry, try again.


It is a philosophical question, not a scientific one (what would a 3O god do?) If John had tried to give a scientific answer to such a non-scientific question, he would have been rightly corrected by both sides. Sorry, jamie, try again.

Do you have "evidence" for this or are you "assuming" and "speculating".

No assumption or speculation required. Is your God omnipotent or not? If so, then He could make whatever life He wanted in a universe of whatever size He wanted, by definition.

John,
Where does this version of God come from...He is sovereign and can do what he wants.


Then He cannot be considered omnibenevolent (at least, not while maintaining any definition of "omnibenevolent"). Yet again, the PoE remains unmolested.

Scott,
It is obvious you know nothing about Christian Theology.


You write as though Christian Theology is a monolithic construct. WHICH Christian theology do you claim Scott is ignorant of?

murder is always wrong...

God commanded the murder of non-combatant Amalekites (1 Samuel 15)

drunkeness is always wrong...

When the Jews celebrate Purim, as they have since ancient times, they are encouraged to get quite toasty. In fact, many rabbinical authorities (first written in mid-11th century, but probably existing orally for much, much longer) state that the person should get so drunk that, essentially, he can't add.

fornication is always wrong...child molestation is always wrong, rape is always wrong...

Lot offered to let the gang rape his daughters, and was counted as the only righteous man in Sodom.

where does that come from Evan the Bible has a great answer and it answers the question very well..

You lose bad on this issue...


Ah, premature self-proclamations of total victory. Does that mean we can expect a "withdrawl with honor" coming from you soon? Ah, a boy can dream...

‘If a person doesn’t think there is a God to be accountable to, then—then what’s the point of trying to modify your behaviour to keep it within acceptable ranges?'

Says the man spending the rest of his life in prison. Makes you wonder about his ability to do cost/benefit analyses even without the confounding factor of an ineffable god.

jason said: How do these "Was it necessary for God to..." statements debunk Christianity?

By providing circumstantial evidence that the state of the universe is probably incompatible with the characteristics of the evangelical Christian God. Seriously, couldn't you figure that one out for yourself, jason?

God created the universe and that’s that. What’s there to discuss? Unnecessary or necessary can't be proven either way.

Facts not in evidence, jason. Outside of formal systems, nothing is ever proven; we attempt to show that the world appears inconsistent with the Christian God. In this case, the universe contains many unnecessary characteristics that put it at odds with God's stated goals, making its creation an irrational act for God.

In answer to your question, how do you expect anyone to answer, or better yet, answer it correctly? No one was there before God created the universe. No one could ask God why He was doing what He was doing. 1 Cor 2:11 "For who knows a person's thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God."

And yet you, and many others like you, claim to know quite a bit about who God is, what He thinks, what He wants, etc. So, in other words, God is ineffable. Except for when it is useful for you to eff him, in which case he is quite effable. Well, eff you--I don't buy that kind of special pleading or revealed knowledge.

Quite frankly, I don’t think Christians care. We’re here, we’re alive, we’re living in this universe. Nothing changes that.

That's funny; Christians have always promised ME answers to the big questions that science can't yet approach. Now you're telling me the answer is "Don't care." Really cuts into the appeal, don't you think?

As you’ve already stated, for His pleasure.

Your God creates suffering for His pleasure? Wow, that's some effing you're doing there Jason. Keep it up and you'll make atheists of them all!

The “huge mess” is man’s own doing.

You're right. Damn Dr. Doom and his dastardly tsunami machine! Whatever did those poor Indonesian children ever do to you?!? Curse you, Doom, curse you!

Oh wait, that was a comic book...are comic books part of the canon now?

Because God also knows the mess isn’t eternal. The corruption of man, etc. will eventually be done away with and the earth will be returned to its original splendour. It’s a dramatic story with a happy ending.

And one that is completely unnecessary and uncharacteristic for a 3O God. Oh, right, your God does it all for shits and giggles (and to glorify Himself in front of, um, Himself). My bad.

Everlasting punishment is death without hope of resurrection. What makes that so disgusting?

Yet another example of "WHICH Christian theology". So there's no lake of fire, no eternal torment, etc.? How much of the Bible did you have to make into a VERY streched metaphor to pull that one off? I imagine you and several other commenters here are going to have to take this one outside.

John, first of all, you’re spitting out what you were taught to believe.

I don't presume to speak for John, but I have had no atheist teachers, no atheist indoctrination, etc. The culture in which I live is really not set up to do that--there are no atheist churches (no matter what the Baptists would have us believe about the Episcopalians), no atheist synagogues (ditto the Orthodox in re the Reformed), etc. I have been indoctrinated in empiricism, but that does not equate to atheism--unless you claim it does, which I would welcome as an admission that you understand the idea of burden of proof and the null hypothesis.

And in answer to your question, yes, if I was omnipotent, I would create something for my own glory. Wouldn't you?

Nope. Add that to the list of differences between you and me.

Jason said...

John said: Of course not, if there was no reason to do so. Remember God already had all glory, so what more could he have?

Fortunately, there was a reason to do so: God created man to glorify and honour Him. Two things that don't work very well if you're the only one out there.

And given the mess of this world I'd say creating it has brought him much dishonor.

The mess is caused by mankind, John. We're the ones who are dishonoured.

I know your type, so I don't plan on beating my head against the wall with you here. Keep in mind what our comment policy says (which is directly linked towhen you make a comment):

I’m well acquainted with the defensive, duck-and-run posturing going on here as well as the double-standard when it comes to proof text. Your type is easy to spot ;)

Evan said...

Jason,

You say The mess is caused by mankind, John. We're the ones who are dishonoured.

I'd really appreciate knowing the depths of your theology on this one question, because I know the variation on this theme is quite great. I'd like your particular take on exactly what action caused the mess, when it took place, and why it is mankind's fault.

richdurrant said...

God created man to glorify and honour Him. Two things that don't work very well if you're the only one out there.

I don't know if you realize, Jason, but to me this doesn't really sound like a very convincing reason for god to create anything. Unless this God is selfish. He looks at himself and decides one day that he doesn't have enough glory or honor, so he thinks he just needs to create us to add more to himself? Where does that leave us? Oh that's right saved by Gods grace. But saved to what purpose? where does this saving lead us to in the next life?

Jason said...

Evan said: I'd really appreciate knowing the depths of your theology on this one question, because I know the variation on this theme is quite great. I'd like your particular take on exactly what action caused the mess, when it took place, and why it is mankind's fault.

The depths of my theology is limited to what the Bible says about it. Romans 5:12 "Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:"

Jason said...

Richdurrant said: He looks at himself and decides one day that he doesn't have enough glory or honor, so he thinks he just needs to create us to add more to himself?

Sounds about right.

Where does that leave us? Oh that's right saved by Gods grace. But saved to what purpose? where does this saving lead us to in the next life?

Saved to eternal life. As for where it leads us, to a world where all sorrow and dying will be done away with. Sounds good to me :)

Evan said...

"Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned:"

Who was that man? Where did he live? Why is his problem my problem?

richdurrant said...

Sounds about right.

So your saying that God lacks glory? and lacks honor? Because it only makes sense if he is lacking in something that he needs to create to add more to him.Or do you not believe that God has all glory?

Saved to eternal life. As for where it leads us, to a world where all sorrow and dying will be done away with. Sounds good to me :)

It's not that it doesn't sound good, my question is what will we be doing on that world, besides living forever without sorrow? What purpose does our salvation serve us in the world to come?