More and more I feel myself becoming one of those people to whom God’s existence is obvious (I’ll explain how that happened in another post). This has led me to spend quite a bit of time thinking about how I could have spent all of my life up until recently thinking it was so obvious that God *didn’t* exist.
I’ve managed to boil it down to a few broad categories of issues that made it seem obvious to me that the godless worldview was the most accurate description of life and the universe. Most of them are fairly uninteresting to me now since I see clearly what I was missing. But there is one that continues to be an intriguing question for me, and that I think is a big issue for many atheists and agnostics. A very inarticulate summary of the issue is this: “Why is there so much stuff that has nothing to do with us?”
The Judeo-Christian tradition teaches that humans are a large part of why God created the universe, and thousands of years ago I can see how that wouldn’t be hard to believe. But now that we have carbon dating and the Hubble telescope it’s hard not to be struck by the sheer quantity of life and matter that exists and has existed that has nothing to do with humans. This beautiful photo is of the Andromeda galaxy which is packed with billions of stars and is so far away from us that its light takes 2 million years to get to us. Even here on earth there was flourishing life tens of millions of years before humans came along.
The order and balance and elegance of the universe, to me, seems like something that was intended by a Great Engineer. Yet perfect order and balance usually go hand-in-hand with efficiency. And when you think of all this “stuff” that’s been going on for billions of years and continues to go on today that has (seemingly) absolutely nothing to do with us, it seems rather inefficient. (I suppose there’s no doctrine that says God can’t be inefficient if he wants to, but it doesn’t strike me as a quality the Perfect Being would have.)
If humans are a main reason that God created the universe, why bother having billions upon billions of other stars and planets floating around out there, the vast majority of which we’ll never know anything about? Why bother with trilobites and archaeocyaths and all the other now-extinct Cambrian life? Why not just create the earth, plop some humans on it and leave it at that?
I have my own theory about this (as does my husband, who has issued a standing invitation to all stars, nebulae and quasars to meet him on Jeopardy), but since so many of my commentors are great apologists, I want to hear your thoughts first.