Why God is not a valid explanation
Most people do not base their religious beliefs on scientific or logical reasoning. People generally believe because other people around them believe.
But these beliefs should still appear to be scientifically justified, otherwise the skeptic and scientific part of the human mind, which is possessed by everyone to some degree (more for some people and less for others), is not satisfied.
That is why most people try to provide evidence, or at least some ‘reason’ for their beliefs. As we mentioned so many times in the past, the evidence they provide is always flawed. But two of the arguments they provide are worth consideration, and these are usually the main reasons why most people think there is a God.
One of these is the ‘origin of the universe’ problem, and the other one is the ‘design argument’.
As we mentioned so many times in the past, the design argument is actually an illusion. It looks convincing to people since they have trouble explaining the origin of life and the complexity we observe in the world. But it is flawed, since it is based on a fallacy called ‘argument from ignorance’. This fallacy is reaching the conclusion that something doesn’t have a natural explanation when it cannot be explained satisfactorily based on what we know about the matter, or if that particular person cannot explain it himself/herself.
There are countless instances in science where something looked inexplicable first, but is explained later. Actually, the whole history of science can be considered a collection of such cases.
That is why if something is not currently understood, or if the person in question doesn’t understand it, this doesn’t necessarily mean there is no explanation for it.
Besides, a closer and more careful examination of the universe reveals that everything actually appears to be the result of random and unconscious events. The universe is full of deformed or inefficient structures which can be improved even with our current limited technology and our limited understanding of the universe. As a result, the universe has a lot more structures that look like the result of blind occurrences, rather than intelligent design. And science discovered that the structures that look designed, can be explained by unconscious processes.
All this indicates that there is no reason to think the universe is designed. In fact, an undesigned universe matches the observations better, hence it is a better explanation.
Besides, the design argument has another problem, which is the origin of the designer.
If the universe is so complex and ordered, and this implies design, then the designer who can design such a structure should be more complex and ordered, and this would also imply design if the same reasoning is followed. Concluding that the universe must have been designed, but the designer of the universe is not designed, is an obvious inconsistency. If it is possible to imagine that the designer of the universe can be undesigned, then it should be concluded by the same reasoning that the universe can be undesigned as well. If the universe has to be something that is designed, then it should be explained how the designer of such a universe is not designed. As you can see, there is an obvious fallacy here, and the design argument takes us nowhere.
And the ‘origin of the universe’ problem is another reason why people think there should be a God. If there is a universe, and if there is something rather than nothing, then there should be a factor that causes this they say, and they associate this factor with the God (or Allah) of their religion.
There are two problems here. One of them is assuming that the existence of the universe requires a factor that brings it into existence, and the other one is to associate this factor with the God of their religion.
I would like to draw attention to especially the second one. Suppose that you concluded that the universe needs to have a cause to bring it into existence, this doesn’t even necessarily mean that this cause needs to be a conscious and intelligent entity, let alone being the God of the Abrahamic religions. Having an assumption that this is the God (or Allah) that is mentioned in the Bible and Koran, and associating this cause with the mythology and the tradition of the society one lives in, is an obvious fallacy.
There are thousands of religions in the world (most people cannot even name 20-30 of them), and a majority of these religions do not have a belief system that even resembles the Abrahamic religions. Although most of them defines certain supernatural powers or factors, many of them do not have anything to do with the God (or Allah) of the Abrahamic religions, and there are religions with no Gods at all. Therefore, it should be obvious to the reader by now how biased people are when it comes to these matters, since they automatically embrace the methaphysical beliefs of the society they grew up in, even though metaphysical beliefs are highly diversified in the world.
All this aside, since the origin of the universe, and its cause (if there is one), is a serious philosophical problem, one needs to face this problem. Otherwise, it won’t be possible to prevent people from embracing their religion’s metaphysical explanations to answer this question.
Before talking about possible explanations of the origin of the universe without referring to God, we need to see why God is not a good explanation.
God (or Allah) is not a valid explanation, because it doesn’t solve the problem. Explaining an unknown with God is just covering up the problem. Believers love when they find something that they think science cannot explain, as if this supports their belief system. For example, only recently, I remember someone mentioning in the forum that “science cannot even explain why people have to sleep a certain number of hours a day”. One could find so many of these issues. This is just an example. But what these people overlook is the fact that regardless of whether science can explain the matter or not, whether their own explanation is even an explanation at all.
How satisfactory is it to say “God did this”? Or is it even an explanation? Claiming that God said “Let there be …”, and it happened, is just hiding the expression “I don’t know” in a word (God). I find it unbelievable to observe how believers can see this as an explanation and even claim this as a victory over scientific attempts to explain the same thing. I believe this is another indication of how biased they are.
Besides, the problem is even worse than God not being an explanation. Because it is not even clear what these people mean by ‘God’. Even the believers themselves do not know what this concept of ‘God’ means. The only thing they can say about God is that it is an entity that is omnipotent, omniscient and eternal. But what is this ‘God’? How is it eternal? What does it look like? How can it create everything from nothingness? None of this is known. All they say about all these questions is that “we cannot know or understand any of it”. But, isn’t this hiding all these unanswered questions in a word that doesn’t really mean anything, and ignoring them? What is God in the first place, that it is an answer to the unanswered questions? It is not clear what they mean by God, they cannot even define God, but they think it is an answer to the ultimate questions. They insert a buffer concept, namely ‘God’ between the question to be answered and the statement ‘I don’t know’, and they pretend that they explained something, as if they can hide that they don’t know the answer. God is an empty word here. It is a neutral element that doesn’t have any effect, just like the zero in addition. It is better to by-pass this concept and directly reach the ‘I don’t know’, since this is what is being done when mentioning God anyway. If the answer to the question “What is the cause of the universe” is God, and the answer to “What is God” is “I don’t know”, then the answer to “What is the cause of the universe” is “I don’t know” here. Using an empty word such as God is not an answer.
All the paradoxes and logical problems caused by an omnipotent and omniscient being is another problem. The concept of God is not even something that can be comprehended by human mind. It is not something that can be made sense of. It is actually an absurd concept. Of course what we call illogical and absurd, they call ‘beyond logic and comprehension’ in an attempt to add mystery to it. Claiming something is ‘beyond logic and comprehension’ is actually same as saying it is ‘illogical and absurd’, but they are just trying to hide how absurd it is by changing the words they use to describe it.
All this should make it clear that God is not an explanation for anything.
But if God is not the answer, then how can the universe be understood without God? How can the question of the cause or the origin of the universe can be answered without the concept of God?
Science has some answers for some of these questions.
Science currently can explain how the stars and galaxies formed, how the heavy elements are created from hydrogen and helium in stars, how these elements are distributed to the universe by supernova explosions, and then gather together to form planets. And science can also explain what goes on on those planets, and how it is possible for life to form from self replicating complex molecules, and how it can evolve from single cell organisms to the complex plants and animals we see around today. Science can explain all this, not with 100% accuracy, but at least roughly.
There is no need for God or any other extra factor to explain any of this. The known laws of the universe is sufficient to explain this all.
The only remaining question is explaining how the universe itself and the matter that fills the universe came into existence, or if it always existed in one form or another, etc.
Cosmology has a lot of possible explanations (or maybe some of them should be considered speculations), on these issues. I am going to list some of the Godless universe ideas here. The first two are not popular ideas anymore, but I included them as well:
1. Steady State universe model
This is an old model that claims new matter is constantly being generated in the universe, but it lost its popularity now and left its place to a more popular Big Bang theory.
2. Oscillating universe
This is also not a popular model anymore. In this model, the universe begins with a Big Bang and ends with a Big Crunch. The Big Crunch causes another Big Bang and the cycle continues.
3. Stephen Hawkings’ Quantum Cosmology
This idea proposes that the universe is finite but boundless, just like the surface of a sphere. Since the spacetime is finite but boundless, there is no starting point. (Due to the warpage of spacetime).
4. Chaotic Inflation model
In this model, the universe entered a super inflation phase 10 to the -35 seconds after Big Bang. And this inflation causes another inflation, so more than one universe forms. Each universe creates other universes when they inflate, and they create their baby universes, etc. In this model, universes chaotically cause each other.
5. Quantum fluctuations in vacuum
It is known that there are quantum fluctuations in the vacuum. Particles constantly come into existence and then get annihilated.
According to this model, our universe is a quantum fluctuation that occurs in a parent universe. There are other quantum fluctuations as well, so there are other universes.
6. Unstability of vacuum energy
According to this idea, vacuum is a state where energy is unstable, and it has a tendency to create matter by spontaneous symmetry breaking, which is a known process in physics. Vacuum is a state that is ready to be broken into more stable matter and energy. In this model, since the vacuum is in a supersymmetrical structure, the breaking of this symmetry and the creation of more complex structures is almost inevitable. In this idea, the Big Bang doesn’t need to happen more than once. It may have happened only once.
7. String theory and the ‘Big Splat’
String theory, or what it turned into (M theory), is one of the most popular theories in modern physics and it is the major candidate to become the unified physics theory.
According to one explanation that originates from this theory, our universe is a 3 dimentional sub universe (4 dimentions with time) of a larger 11 dimentional universe. These pieces of the larger universe that has fewer dimensions are called ‘branes’ in this theory, and our universe is a ‘brane’.
According to this theory, Big Bang is just one brane colliding with another in the larger universe. According to calculations, this type of a brane collision can create the amount of energy that is observed in Big Bang. And these collisions can happen countless times in the larger universe. So this model also has the idea of other universes.
8. Quantum Loop Gravity Theory and the ‘Big Bounce’
According to this theory, just like the matter being modeled as discrete structures (atoms and molecules), the space and time should also be modeled by discrete units. So in this view, there are such things as ‘minimum possible distance’ and ‘shortest possible time interval’. According to this theory, when space and time are analyzed using discrete units, gravity becomes repulsive rather than attractive in very short distances. It is thought that this might explain Big Bang.
According to the cosmological theory that originates from quantum loop gravity, we shouldn’t talk about Big Bang, but we should talk about Big Bounce, since this process will repeat constantly in this model.
9. Uncaused universe
In quantum physics, it is known that there are quantum fluctuations in vacuum. So, uncaused things can happen in the quantum world. So maybe, we should change our way of thinking, what we call causality, which is something that limits our understanding and forces us to consider everything in terms or cause and effect. Maybe no cause is needed to explain the existence of the universe. This is also a possibility.
10. Timeless universe
This is also a view similar to the one above.
Famous physicist Barbour created a timeless physics. In his theory, time is not a parameter in his equations. Time is an illusion according to Barbour. This view, since it also changes the way we comprehend causality, also changes the nature of the problem. Similar to the uncaused universe explanation, this theory also eliminates the need for a cause to the universe.
11. Multiverse theory
According to this theory, we do not live in a universe, but we live in a multiverse that consists of so many universes. Our universe is not the only possible one, but one of the countless many. In this theory, there are degrees (levels) of multiverses. Quantum universes that is a result of the quantum theory creates one of the multiverse levels. The area beyond the observable limits of our universe (which is callled the ‘hubble volume’) creates the first level of multiverse. There are other universes similar to ours beyond the hubble volume. These universes in the first level of multiverse have the same natural laws, but different initial conditions. Countless number of first degree multiverses create the second degree multiverse. In the second degree multiverse, natural laws can also change from one ‘first degree multiverse’ to another. The third degree multiverse is the multiverses created by possible quantum universes. In the third degree multiverse, both the initial conditions, and the laws of nature can change, just like the second degree. And on top of all these degrees of multiverses, there is also a fourth degree of multiverses, which consists of multiverses with alternative mathematical structures. With that, all the parameters that can limit possibilities are addressed, and there is no limiting factor that might require an explanation such as God or something else.
As a matter of fact, these second degree multiverses is an idea that is created from the chaotic inflation model that is mentioned above. Many of the ideas above are related to one another, and these are not all necessarily distinct ideas. (For example, there are other universes in string theory as well).
But the common denominator in all these ideas, is that none of them requires a concept of God or something similar.
Hence, godless universe models are possible, and usually this type of models are seen in cosmology.
If you also consider the ideas that offer a conscious or intelligent factor(s) as the cause of Big Bang or the universe (which wouldn’t necessarily be similar to the God of the Abrahamic religions), you would see that many more alternative explanations can also be produced. One of the most interesting one of these possibilities is the idea that in the far future, the current intelligence in the universe will evolve and advance to a degree that can travel back in time and cause the beginning of the universe. In a similar idea, the collective intelligence of a civilization in a different universe creates an artificial Big Bang that creates our universe. These are all speculations that have an ‘intelligent designer’ idea in them. The reason to mention them is to show that intelligent designer doesn’t necessarily mean the God of the Abrahamic religions.
But since the observations such as randomness and unnecessary redundancies in the universe doesn’t fit the intelligent designer speculations, explaining everything by statistical necessities caused by abundance of possibilities is a more preferred viewpoint, and usually this type of approaches are seen in cosmology.
When we look at the universe, we do not see an intelligent designer that is responsible for everything. What we see is countless possibilities and infinite varieties of things, and statistical possibilities that necessitate the existence of subunits with various conditions to come together to form everything we see around us. Therefore, the conclusion that these observations support, or the conclusion that we should draw from these observations is the fact that it is more realistic to explain the universe with random and unconscious processes, rather than something like God.
If there was consciousness behind all this, it is thought that the observations should be different. Consciousness and intelligence creates conditions that are more suitable to the purpose, eliminating the redundancies and inefficiencies. But we see a lot of these redundancies and inefficiencies in nature and in the universe. If we spend some effort, we can all see how a lot of things should have been different in nature, if they were consciously designed. Designs in nature usually indicate a blind design, or a lack of design.
That is why the type of atheist models and approaches I mentioned above are more successful in explaining what we see in the universe, and that is why cosmology and science usually comes up with this type of approaches.