I recently had an exchange with a co-worker who is a fundamentalist Christian. She believes in the literal word of the Bible. Believes that the Earth was created by the Genesis account. Believes in Adam and Eve and Noah. Believes the Earth is less than 10,000 years old and so on.
Being a non-believer (of any faith), I tried engaging her in a friendly debate of logic and reasoning and realized we both “connect the dots” of reality in different ways. Regarding the origins of the universe she smiled and said: “Well, what else could it be?”
It struck me that she would say that. If she can’t fathom how a universe could create itself than it must be her God that did it. I kept thinking about this idea and reached this conclusion:
Imagine we lived 2,500 years ago and were walking about. Above us, dark clouds started to form and soon a lighting and thunderstorm were upon us. A believer in God might say: “God is angry!” after seeing the strikes of lightning and the heavy claps of thunder. “What else could it be?” Now, 2,500 years ago, collective humanity had no knowledge of what happens in our atmosphere when warm air and cool air mix. They had no way in their heads to understand the concept of electro-static discharge in the atmosphere. If one were to travel back in time and explain that to them, they still would not be able to wrap their heads around such an idea.
And yet, we know now that that is where lighting comes from. We can predict it. We can navigate airplanes through it. We can create lightning arresters on the top of high-rise office towers to take a charge instead of damaging other property. Certainly, no one any longer thinks it’s Zeus or Thor creating this.
Let’s look at a more modern example. Let’s look at bacterial infections and how microbiology began in Europe in the 17th Century. At that time, people used to believe that God was plaguing societies and communities because he was angry. At that time, what other reason could it have been? Collective humanity once again, pointed to the question: “What else could it be?” if not God.
But, we invented microscopes. We got a closer look. In the last 100 years we invented antibiotics and penicillins to ward off these infections and keep us healthy. And yet, if one were to go back 400 years and try to explain the concept that we had cells that make up our body and that these cells can get infected by bacterial strains and spread on a microscopic level, common man would not have had any grasp of what you were talking about. They would not have been able to concieve of such a world, the world of micro-biology, existing.
So, let’s return to the present.
Want to argue your God by saying that He had to be the one that created the universe? After all, “What else could it be?” Let’s be honest with ourselves, as collective humanity, and realize there are plenty of examples in our history of things we didn’t understand and, quite frankly, couldn’t understand at the time. Let’s admit that we are at that point now with regards to the cosmos and origins of life and the universe. We simply don’t know and it’s quite possible we can’t fathom the reality of how it all began yet.
And perhaps, a few hundred years in the future, modern man will chuckle a bit when thinking about how those of us in the 21st century couldn’t understand a piece of knowledge commonly understood in our future. Just the same way we chuckle at the idea that people really believed in Thor.
“What else could it be?” you ask? I don’t know. But, let’s stop blaming it on God and actually try to figure it out.
Bill O’Reilly addressing scientific ignorance:
Astrophysicist Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s beautiful response: