The Explanatory Power of God

A common atheist argument is that God doesn’t explain anything.

“Why is the universe here?”

“God”

“Why is God there?”

“He’s just there”

“Why can’t the universe just be there?”

“God just being there makes a lot more sense than the universe just being there.”

I’ve had this exact conversation with a few people. Of course I always used to agree that an unexplained God made more sense than an unexplained universe. But why did I think this?

One reason I agreed with this is because I thought that the universe began to exist (in time), and therefore a timeless God made more sense. This isn’t a very good point, however, because the universe contains time within itself; it does not begin “in” time. Therefore it is not any more weird for the universe to timelessly exist, than for God to timelessly exist.

Another reason I thought this is because the universe contains intelligence, apparent “design” and complexity. Since I accept all the evolutionary arguments, I am not talking about the design of living things and biological systems, but the seeming “design” of the entire underlying structure of nature. Surely this demands an explanation. But if God is merely a big fat hypothetical piece of “intelligence, design and complexity,” then how does positing the existence of God explain why intelligence, design and complexity exist in the first place? It’s begging the question.

Do I think the universe needs an explanation? Yes. I don’t think it’s OK to argue that it is “just there.” However, while positing God does seem to satisfy some emotional and psychological needs of ours, it doesn’t seem to satisfy our need for an explanation. It just stops us from asking the question.

Does anyone disagree with this? If so, on what grounds?

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