I was listening to a TED talk the other day on this topic by philosopher Jim Holt. In a detailed manner he described the puzzle of existence and explained why it cannot simply be “pushed back” one level by saying “big bang did it” or “the multiverse did it”, because the question is more fundamental than so: it is not just about why this or that happened but why anything happens, why there are whys.
As an atheist, he quickly also excludes God from the equation, saying that we then must explain what created God and that the universe is way to non-perfect and mediocre to have been created by an all-powerful, intelligent being.
What solution does Holt then himself have to the puzzle? I waited curiously to the end to hear it, but it was a bit of an anticlimax. Holt says that we can theoretically imagine three types of realities:
- Nothingness, which would be quite satisfying for an atheist in a way since it does not require a god to explain, but obviously this reality is not the one we are living in.
- Fullness, a perfect world either based on how “clean” or “smooth” it works or in a utopian sense, like the Biblical concept of Heaven. Both theists and atheists would agree that this universe is not Heaven.
- Mediocreness, which is something in between nothingness and fullness: both beauty and chaos, order and randomness. This is the reality we exist in, Holt argues.
Then, Holt says that we should not be very surprised that our mediocre reality exist because it is much more possible than both nothingness or fullness, when we think about all theoretical realities. Thus, the puzzle is solved.
Let me disagree.
The reality we witness does not (yet) contain fullness in the utopian sense, but when thinking about the amazing fine tuning of the universe and the insane improbability that our physical laws would allow atoms, stars and life to exist, our present reality does not become as “likely” as Holt seems to say. Furthermore, mediocreness is indeed less likely than both nothingness and fullness, and thus harder to explain. A reality of Fullness is, just like nothingness, more theoretically satisfying than random energy strings being there because of nothing.
From a Christian worldview, God is the eternal Fullness from which the universe has it origins, He is Existence with big E and the universe is a droplet out of His mind. Why our universe is not perfect and in need of redemption and a new Heaven, is what the Bible is all about. God will restore Fullness to the galaxy. He is the cause of the universe as well as its meaning, and all the millions of prophetic saints that have encountered Him deserve to be listened to. He cannot be ruled out of the equation; He made the equation.
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“The conscience, the conscience” Cromwell scoffs.
Sir Thomas turns and regards him coolly.
“The word is not familiar to you?” he asks.
“By God, too familiar!” the Master Secretary roars, “I am very used to hear it on the lips of criminals.”
“I am used to hear bad men misuse the name of God, yet God exists” More replies, as cool as ever. ~ ‘A Man for All Seasons’ by Robert Bolt
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