Is the Size of the Universe Evidence for Atheism?

by David Glass and Graham Veale

A Critique of the “Argument from Scale”

An unusual, yet popular, objection to Christian theism is that the sheer size of the universe is evidence against God’s existence. On the face of it, this seems like an odd objection. Surely the larger the universe, the greater the power of its creator? The objector, however, takes aim at Judaeo-Christian theism. Specifically, the scale of the universe is supposed to conflict with the Judaeo-Christian teaching that God created the universe  for human beings.

The critic might also be criticising the argument from fine-tuning: that various features of the universe are ‘just right’ for the existence of stars, galaxies and life itself; had they been slightly different the human race could not exist. If the universe was finely-tuned to produce life and humans, why is so much of it lifeless?

So, ex-apologist John Loftus argues:

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So what makes me think the size of the universe leads to atheism? [It is] damaging when it comes to an omnipotent God who supposedly created the universe for the specific purpose of gaining the affections of people on this lone planet of ours. If this is what he desired (for some irrational egotistical reason) he could have simply created us on a flat disk in a much smaller universe like the one the ancients believed existed.

Two counter-objections immediately spring to mind. First, it is true that the universe might seem to be an incredibly inefficient machine for making humans and animals; after all, it seems to waste a lot of space and time in the process. But an artist rarely paints with a single goal; a painting might aim to be beautiful, truthful, thought-provoking and many other things besides…

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Is the Size of the Universe Evidence for Atheism? – Saints and Sceptics


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