I found the following 10 questions on the blog of Rob Robinson, a Christian apologist. Rob seems to think that I need to be able to provide answers to these questions in order to remain an atheist, or to be justified in being an atheist. I’d like to start by saying that my atheism is, for the most part, no contingent on any of these questions. Even if I cannot answer these questions it does not follow that God (specifically the Christian God) is the answer.
I’ll attempt to offer answers where I can, and try to direct you to reasonable scientific resources where I can. Before we start, I’d like to address a point he makes very early in his post:
The basic nature of the universe, earth, and human life, cannot be explained by any naturalistic process.
How did Robinson determine this? All I see here is an argument from ignorance. If science has not yet found a natural explanation for these things (I do reject the assertion that the Earth cannot be explained by natural processes, as we have a pretty good model for how solar systems form), this only means that there are gaps in our understanding of reality. There will always be something we don’t understand, and if you want to jam your God into these gaps then your God will simply become less and less useful as science finds answers to these mysteries. I’d also like to point out that we do not solve mysteries by appealing to even bigger mysteries. Not having natural answers doesn’t mean that supernatural answers are correct.
Now let’s get to the questions. I’m going to break this post into three parts, due to the size of the content, and so that I can address the points better, and so that we aren’t dealing with too many topics at once.
(1.) Since time, space, and matter did not exist before the universe began, where did these things come from to make the universe?
I’m not even sure your question is coherent. If time did not exist, how does the concept of “before” even make sense? If space did not exist, how does the concept of “where” make sense? I’ve written about the cosmological argument before, so you can read that if you want to know more about my position. My short answer is that I don’t believe that the universe “began to exist”, so the whole question is nonsense. Cosmological arguments aren’t terribly convincing.
(2.) Since there were no physical laws before the universe, what force controlled the universe to exact a specific outcome to allow for life? Gravity, electromagnetism, entropy, and the distribution of matter, all require precise control at the beginning or the universe would have collapsed back upon itself. If not God, and seeing that the laws of physics did not exist, what force acted upon these imperative forces to cause then to be set precisely where they needed to be to sustain life, 13.7 billion years later?
Again, I don’t know that the statement “there were no physical laws before the universe” is even a coherent statement. This is really more of the same as the previous question, and asks us to evaluate more cosmological quandaries.
I’d like to point out that I don’t know if your statement that “gravity, electromagnetism, entropy, and the distribution of matter, all require precise control at the beginning or the universe would have collapsed back upon itself” is actually true. Cosmic Inflation Theory explains some of this, but not all. No scientists will tell you that every mystery of the early universe has been solved, and even if we have no answer to these mysteries, appealing to an even bigger mystery does not help solve the problem. Instead of one problem you now have an even harder problem to solve.
(3.) The universe began with an extreme low state of entropy. Mathematical Physicists, Sir Roger Penrose said that the only possibility that this could have taken place is if an intelligence acted upon the expansion to cause a low state of entropy. Given the conditions that were present at the commencement of the universe, scientists would have expected a very high state of entropy. How is this possible if the universe evolved on its own?
I have to say that I think it’s really interesting that you claim that Roger Penrose, who is an atheist, thinks that the only possible answer is an intelligence. I strongly suspect that this is a quote mine, but since you’ve offered no sources, or even a quote for that matter, I can’t accept accept what you’ve stated.
I’m not a scientist, but if this is a puzzle it’s a puzzle for scientists to work out. Jumping up and down claiming “God caused this” is little more than an assertion, and one that isn’t justified yet. Again, even if it is the case the fact that we don’t understand something that is not evidence for any god(s), and is simply an argument from ignorance.
The first three questions haven’t been very interesting. The first two seem to make the assumption that there was something “before” the universe, which I can’t even say is a coherent concept. All of these questions, so far, would amount to a god of the gaps if you wanted to use them as arguments for any god.
To be continued…