Ask Ethan (Siegel) - Did God Create the Universe?

Great answer to the “Did God Create the Universe” question by Ethan Siegel. (Ask Ethan: Did God Create The Universe?)

It’s important to recognize that within this Universe, these three classes of questions should be dealt with in fundamentally different ways.

  1. You can ask a question whose answer is not only knowable, but already known.
  2. You can ask a question whose answer seems to be knowable if we had enough information, and that information exists in our Universe, even if we don’t have it yet.
  3. You can ask a question whose answer is not knowable, even if we were to obtain every quantum bit of information available in the entire Universe.

What I would say to someone who says that “God made us,” then, depends on which category their assertion falls into. If you’re asking a question whose answer is both knowable and very well known from a scientific perspective, that’s absolutely the worst intellectual place to argue for the existence of a deity who actively intervenes in our Universe. That’s, unfortunately, where many religions go awry, using dogma where scientific investigation is necessary.

Given the laws of nature and our overarching scientific theories that explain our physical Universe, the only way to argue for a God on those grounds is to find an event that defied those rules, and instead required some sort of divine intervention to explain. Every time such an assertion has ever been made and put to the test, the results have always been 100% consistent with explanations that rely on the physical alone. Faith is not a good substitute for situations where scientific knowledge is both necessary and available.

Science cannot prove the existence of God, but it cannot disprove God either; it can only disprove the notion of a specific, poorly conceived God. If you claim that your God lives in the clouds, you can disprove that God by simply observing the clouds. If you claim that God lives in our Universe, you can disprove that God by observing the entire Universe. But if your God exists in an extra dimension, before cosmic inflation, or outside of space and time altogether, neither proof nor disproof is possible.

In a fundamental way, it is purely a matter of what your faith is. All we can control, at the end of the day, is how we treat one another. Do we welcome those who believe different things than we do into our hearts, communities, and lives? Or do we shun, exclude, and “other” them?

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