Where did the world come from? Different civilizations, cultures and religions have all told creation stories as humans have tried to answer this age-old question.
Today the question most often asked is whether, however the story is told, there is a supernatural, superhuman intelligence most people call God who created the universe.
There are many different ways to answer this question. For instance:
Yes, there must be a God who created the universe
Many people believe in God because we are here. However far back one pushes the chain of events, there is always the question: What or who caused that first event to happen? How did the universe come into existence in the first place? Even if you say “the big bang.” that doesn’t answer the question “what caused the big bang?”. If there was a Big Bang, was it God who made it happen that way? Many people believe it must have been.
Aristotle said that events have causes, an idea that seems quite logical to most of us. Believers say that if you carry this idea to its logical conclusion, it seems obvious that there must be a First Cause. For believers, that First Cause is God.
This doesn’t seem to be illogical. In fact, it seems quite rational. Why then, are there so many equally rational people who are not convinced that there is a God?
To say we don’t know the answer doesn’t prove there is a God
For non-believers, “we can’t think of any other explanation besides God” isn’t the same thing as saying “there must be a God.” It would be better, they think, to say instead that we don’t know the answers to all our questions. Perhaps, they say, it is the universe itself, not God, which is an infinitely unfolding mystery and has always existed.
Volcanoes and tsunamis, the rising and setting sun, the complexity of the human eye or a lucky escape from an accident have all been used as proof that there must be a God. But today these events seem perfectly natural, and can be explained without resorting to explanations involving miracles or supernatural powers.
If everyone had been satisfied with “god” as the answer to everything we don’t understand, they say, we would not have electricity in our houses, or cars on our roads. We wouldn’t even know that Earth revolves around the sun once a year. They worry that making God responsible for everything that happens is an excuse for not taking responsibility for ourselves.
What do you think?
Is it God or the universe itself which is infinite, beyond our present human understanding, an ineffable mystery?
Does the idea of God interfere with our being responsible for what we do? Does it interfere with our exploring and learning more about the world in which we live?
Or as we learn more about the universe, its beauty and complexity, can we learn more about how to care for it and about a God who made it?
Copyright © T. Herman Sissons, Ph.D.
This is the first in a series of Questions Beyond Science. For further details, see the post on this blog Request for your feedback dated 10/2/2010. To receive an email notification when a new post is added, click sign me up in the right hand column of this page.