Wednesday, September 18, 2013

I Believe In a Creator

I believe that the universe we live in was created: that there is a creator.  While I cannot prove that to anyone, it does make more sense to me than any alternative I have heard of, and I suspect that I have heard of most of them, especially those put forward from the scientific community.

As far as I know that is little opposition any more to the idea that the universe we live in began at some point in the past.  All of the evidence points to a time where our universe did not exist.  Although that is not entirely accurate, since time, as we know it, is bound to the universe.  So if there is no universe, there is no time, meaning there was not a time before the universe.  None-the-less, I will use that expression because it is difficult to talk about possible causes of the universe without talking about time before the universe.

While there are certainly some exceptions, most people do accept that the universe is real, and that it, as well as ourselves, are not just illusions.  If the universe is real, and it had a starting point, then it seems reasonable to believe that it was caused; that it did not just come into existence all on its own, although there are some who do hold to that.  In addition, that part of the universe that we can observe gives every appearance of being one that Goldilocks would like, "just right for life".

Most of the discussion I see concerning the creation, the beginning of the universe, concerns the question 'how'.  What caused it and how did it unfold.  And while I find the discussion interesting and thought provoking, the one I am more curious about is the more philosophical one of 'why'.  Just why did a Goldilocks universe come into existence.

An Intelligent Creator

Probably the most popular explanation for creation of a universe seemly designed for life, is that there was an intelligent creator who somehow brought the universe into existence.  Within this umbrella you will find a wide variety of folks, from those who accept the Big Bang and following cosmic evolution as well as Darwinian evolution, to those who believe that the creator made things just like they are now, or at least pretty close.

There are two primary arguments raised concerning an intelligent creator.  The first is where that creator came from.  If everything that exists requires a cause, then what is the cause of the creator.  Advocates of a creator can respond with "He just is", but that is not really very satisfying.

The other objection is that there is no scientific evidence that points to an intelligent creator.  And while that is true, it is also an objection to every other explanation for creation.  It is likely that, regardless the trigger for creation, it is outside the ability of science to observe.  And while it is true that a universe seemingly designed for life can point towards an intelligent purposeful creator, there are other explanations offered for this oddity.

For me at least, the biggest advantage of an intelligent creator for the universe is that it can offer a more satisfying explanation for the 'why' question.  Although it may be hard to provide a definitive answer for the why of creation, based on the creation itself; that there is a creator tells me that there was likely a purpose in creation.  And that in turn tells me that there is likely a purpose for my own life, beyond what I chose to assign to it.

A Multiverse

An alternative to having a creator is what is commonly called a multiverse.  There are any number of variations to this idea, but basically it advocates that the universe we are in is actually only a small part of a larger physical reality.  And contained within the multiverse, are a multitude of island universes, ours being one of them.  And generally the thought is that each of this multitude of universes end up with different operating parameters.  Some are too hard, some too soft, and some just right for life.  In this scenario, our universe was not designed for life, but rather just won the lottery.  And there are a potential infinite number of other universes that exist, but are barren.

While this alternative does provide an answer for why our universe is just right for life, the two objections raised for a creator apply just as much to all of the variety of solutions under this umbrella.  There is no answer to where the multiverse came from.  And there is no scientific evidence to support a multiverse.

In addition, this alternative offers no attempt at an answer to 'why'.  The existence of the universe has no purpose, nor do I have any purpose beyond what I, or some other person, assign to myself.  For me, this is the greatest weakness of any explanation for creation apart from a creator; we have no real reason for being.

Self Created

I have just finished reading Cosmic Jackpot by Paul Davies and have encountered what is to me a new and novel approach to creation.  I just barely followed this scenario, mostly because it requires a better understanding of quantum mechanics than I have, but it really comes down to a quirk of the quantum world that seems to indicate our looking at something in the quantum world has an impact on its prior activity; so watching it changes its past.  And from that is built the theory that intelligent life today, in observing the universe, is actually responsible for its creation.

Now I must admit that this whole thing seems crazy to me, but I do respect the one who was suggesting it as a possibility.  And it is dealing with an area that I am mostly ignorant of, although know that it does have some particular characteristics, so I am trying to keep an open mind about it, not dismissing it just because I don't understand it.  But given that, I am pretty skeptical about it.

The positive thing about this proposal is that it allows the universe to be self created, after a fashion, and thus dealing with the need for something outside the universe to create it, along with the question of where that creator came from.  And it also has the benefit of explaining why the universe is just right for life, since it was life that created it.

What it fails to do however is provide an answer to the 'why' question.  Someone smarter than me may have an answer to that, but the whole circular nature of this proposal is too confusing to me to be able to provide a satisfactory answer to that.

Occam's Razor

In logic and in science, Occam's Razor is often used to judge between competing hypothesis.  It simply states that given two hypothesis that provide equal explanation, the one that makes the fewest assumptions is generally the preferred hypothesis, although that is no guarantee that it is the correct one.

Above are three competing hypothesis for how the universe came to be.  The third, a self created universe, is too complex for me to be able to evaluate its assumptions and so I am going to ignore it.  But the other two are pretty common and easy to understand.

One of these assumes an intelligent creator.  The other assumes a multiverse.  Additionally, it assumes that that multiverse has spawned an infinite number of universes.  And it assumes that each of these infinite universes have a unique set of operating parameters, with one of them, ours, being just right for life.  While I have no doubt that advocates of the multiverse will spin this differently, from my perspective at least, Occam's Razor would seem to favor a creator over a multiverse scenario.

Conclusion

As expressed at the beginning, I do believe that the universe had an intelligent creator, one who created the universe for a specific purpose.  While I cannot answer all the questions that are asked about the origin of that creator, it does explain to me why the universe is habitable for life.  And, more importantly, it allows me to believe that my life has a bigger purpose than just what I chose to give to myself.  And since believing in a creator or a multiverse are both an act of faith, I choose to believe in the one that gives purpose to my life.  And, more significantly for me, some of my life's experiences are easier to explain given a creator who has an interest in me.

From my perspective, the real allure in an eternal, universe spawning, multiverse is that it provides an alternative to a creator, an alternative that allows us to assign whatever purpose to our lives that we want.  And with no externally provided purpose, there is no accountability to the purpose giver.

Before concluding this, let me acknowledge that this discussion has only been dealing with the existence of an intelligent creator for the universe, and not with the deity(s) proclaimed by any specific religion.  This is really only a first step that does nothing beyond expressing why I believe there is a creator rather than the alternative.

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