“Daddy, how did our house get made?”

The little girl asked looking up from her father’s lap; he smiled back at her.

“Well sweetheart, our house was built by a builder; he made it for us.”

She silently pondered that for a moment.

“So how did he make our house?”

                                                         

So, whilst flicking through some videos on youtube t’other day I came across one called something like ‘a question for atheists.’ Now there are plenty of these out there that all ask a very similar question: how can you explain the universe’s existence if not through God?

This line of thought is by no means new: The universe came into being, there must be some explanation for its doing so and the only possible explanation (that allegedly needs no further explanation) is that God created it.

Just how good an explanation is ‘God done it’ though?

The puzzle behind the universe’s existence is something like this : ‘If we accept that there was nothing before the universe, then how did something come from nothing?’ How exactly is the puzzle removed by saying that God did it? If God did create the universe then presumably he created something from nothing; so the question remains: how did God do that? It’s no less puzzling, to me at least, that God can make something from nothing than that something can come from nothing in any other way. In effect ‘God done it’ misses the point of the question.

Now of course, some people are just going to say: look, God isn’t like me or you, he can do whatever he wants, and he is all powerful yadda yadda yadda; fine, but that doesn’t explain how something came from nothing, it just asserts that it did and that God did it. That’s just not a very good explanation for how something came from nothing: it tells us nothing about the process, about the mechanics of the whole episode. The puzzle remains (and has the added complexity of explaining where God is supposed to have come from, or why its alright that he just always existed outside of creation).

Just like the little girls puzzle about how her house came to be there, our puzzle with the universe looks like its a question of how it all began, not who started it all off. Like a magic trick, which magician it was that performed the trick for you is relatively useless information in explaining how the trick was done.

I sometimes wonder if I’m maybe missing something from these sorts of lines of argument, or how anyone can find them satisfying explanations. Let me know if you have any thoughts… Pip pip

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