Would God Create a Gigantic Universe?

November 20, 2013 | 6 comments

Some critics claim that if God existed, then the universe would not be 13.7 billion years old or be 93 billion light years across as it is currently. Hasn’t science shown that this immense universe was not created for us but that we are an inconsequential part of an uncreated universe?

The problem with this argument is that science can show us only the universe’s dimensions; it cannot reveal any meaning or lack of meaning inherent in those dimensions. In response to this argument, the believer can simply ask, “Why can’t God choose to create a magnificent and grand universe like ours?” The critic might respond that God wouldn’t use such an inefficient process like cosmic and biological evolution and would instead create life instantaneously.

Is efficiency the best?

But the inefficiency of creating a grand universe would be a problem only for a being that is limited in time and resources. For example, after I completed my graduate studies I drove across the country without stopping, because I didn’t have a lot of time or money to spare (especially after draining my student loans). But if I wasn’t starting a job for six months and had just received a large inheritance, I might have gone on a long, scenic trip instead.

In the same way, because God has unlimited time and resources (due to his being eternal and omnipotent), there is no difficulty in him making a grand cosmos for human beings. It’s not as if God loses track of us in the expansive universe he created. Moreover, the human brain is the most complex thing in the universe, so why not think that God made a grand universe for such brains to explore?

Moreover, how does the critic know with confidence that God would not create a world like ours? Suppose God made a very tiny universe with just our solar system in it. Would the typical atheist think, in contrast, that such a world proves God exists? He might just as plausibly argue that if God existed, surely he would have created something grander. A small and simple universe, he might argue, is precisely what we would expect if it simply popped into existence from nothing, without a cause. As C. S. Lewis put it, “We treat God as the policeman in the story treated the suspect; whatever he does will be used in evidence against him.”[i]

Finally, if God chose to create human life through the evolutionary process, then billions of years would be required for the process to culminate in the emergence of human beings. If the universe were static during that time, then it would collapse due to the strength of gravity. Only an expanding universe that eventually becomes billions of light-years in diameter would allow the universe to be life-permitting for the time that is required for intelligent life to evolve.

Is the center the best?

Other critics claim that Copernicus’s discovery that Earth revolves around the sun “de-throned” the special place human beings possessed at the center of a geocentric, God-created universe. However, the reason the earth resided at the center of the universe in the older geocentric model was not because it was special. It was because it was basically just heavy junk.

According to Aristotle’s view of the world, heavier materials such as Earth would fall closer to the center of the universe. Earth was considered the heaviest of the four elements followed by water, fire, and air.  It would make sense that our planet would form in the basin of the universe where all the dirt collected, while the more glorified stars made of light and fire would exist higher up in the universe.

 

In his commentary on Aristotle, St. Thomas Aquinas wrote, “[I]n the whole universe, just as the earth which is contained by all, being in the middle, is the most material and ignoble among bodies, so the outermost sphere is most formal and most noble.”[ii] Far from making human beings insignificant, later astronomical advances have liberated human beings from residing in the most “ignoble” spot of the universe.

So, in conclusion, the neither the location of human beings in the universe nor the size of the universe they inhabit constitutes proof that God did not create the universe.




[i] C.S. Lewis. Miracles. (HarperCollins, New York, 1996) 79.

[ii] Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Aristotle's 'On the Heavens,' Book II, Lecture 20, Section 485. It’s important to remember that the Church has never asserted that the physical descriptions of the universe provided by Aristotle or Aquinas were infallible and unchanging Church teachings.

 


Ever since he converted to Catholicism at the age of seventeen, Trent Horn has had a passion for explaining and defending the Faith. After earning a degree in history from Arizona State University, Trent traveled the country training pro-life advocates on college campuses to engage opponents in...

Answering Atheism
Today’s popular champions of atheism are often called New Atheists, because they don’t just deny God’s existence (as the old atheists did)—they consider it their duty to scorn and ridicule religious belief. But there’s nothing really “new” about their arguments. They’re the same basic objections to theism that mankind has wrestled with for centuries. We don’t need new answers for this aggressive modern strain of unbelief: We need a new approach. In Answering Atheism, Trent Horn responds to that need with a fresh and useful resource for the God debate, combining a thorough refutation of atheist claims with a skillfully constructed case for theism based on reason and common sense. Just as important, he advocates a charitable approach that respects atheists’ sincerity and good will—making this book suitable not just for believers but for skeptics and seekers too.

Comments by Catholic.com Members

#1  Tom McNally - Gilbert, Arizona

Universe means all of everything without end. It is infinite. A finite number cannot be applied to an infinite domain. If you can say 93 billion light years, I can say 93 billion light years and one. How can we call the universe immense as if it were a known quantity? Science cannot put a finite number on infinity. For thousands of years they have tried. They can only speculate. It is an unknown like God. Amen.

November 20, 2013 at 7:43 pm PST
#2  Mark Jeffords - Ceres, California

Hi Trent. Thank You for the blog post!

I'm what what your position is on theistic evolution? I'm still unsure after reading this article.

Do you believe Adam were created immediately and miraculously by God, Adam from the slime of the earth and Eve from his rib? Or do you believe God used an evolutionary process to create human beings and the Genesis account is only symbolic?

I'm Catholic and I have recently switched my position on theistic evolution, that's why I ask.

Thank You

November 20, 2013 at 10:48 pm PST
#3  Matthew Anziulewicz - Roanoke, Virginia

If you think God created us by evolution, then He established certain conditions for it to occur. Our Solar system has to be safe from all the gamma ray bursts at the center of the galaxy, our planet has to be in the habital zone, the earth needs an iron core for it's magnetic field, a large moon for tides and a stable axis, and lots of other things necessary for life.

If you look at a clock, the hands in their particular position tell you the time. It is all the complex gears in the clockworks that put them in that position.

The universe is just the clockworks that position our planet where it needs to be.

November 21, 2013 at 10:11 am PST
#4  J D - Young America, Minnesota

Absolutely God can, and in my opinion did- create the universe.

If we look at the old creed (sorry I'm not a regular these days)

We believe in one God
The father almighty
The creator of haven and earth
of all things, seen and unseen.

The 4th line itself... allows the possibility.

Even in todays Creed:
of all things- visible and invisible

Some of us were also touched about this topic in a certain way, but we cannot say much more about it- because it would be considered blasphemy within the Church. So I will simply- leave it at that. With the notion, no it was not a church related experience.

Its very much so- quite possible.

God is beyond human understanding
And so can be his world, his universe- if that is what he wishes.

As to the evolutionist theory. I won't say too much.

But do we 'really' believe God would force an animal to become human- against their will?

As human beings regardless of theist belief- whether judiast, catholic, christian, etc... the concept of evolution itself- is inhumane in the same sense- that it is inhumane to treat animals poorly, be them dogs or horses or other ones.

November 21, 2013 at 9:59 pm PST
#5  Mark Jeffords - Ceres, California

The Catechism of the Catholic Church in p.327 says...

"The profession of faith of the Fourth Lateran Council affirms that God “from the beginning of time made at once (simul) out of nothing both orders of creatures, the spiritual and the corporeal, that is, the angelic and the earthly, and then (deinde) the human creature, who as it were shares in both orders, being composed of spirit and body.”"

When I read the words "at once" and "out of nothing", that seems to exclude the possibility of theistic evolution, not to mention statements from papal encyclicals such as "Arcanum" by Pope LEO XIII in 1880 where the Holy Father says:

"We record what is to all known, and cannot be doubted by any, that God, on the sixth day of creation, having made man from the slime of the earth, and having breathed into his face the breath of life, gave him a companion, whom He miraculously took from the side of Adam when he was locked in sleep. God thus, in His most far-reaching foresight, decreed that this husband and wife should be the natural beginning of the human race..."

What do you guys think?

November 24, 2013 at 1:27 pm PST
#6  Henry Ashley - Alton, Illinois

People trying to prove that God does not exist are indeed wasting their time. They may as well try to prove that leprechauns or unicorns do not exist.

December 10, 2013 at 10:56 pm PST

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