Thomas Pendergast Vladeck home

why i believe in god

i wanted to write this while listening to the blind watchmaker by richard dawkins. it might seem strange that i will use richard dawkins in the following argument, given that he is a prominent atheist. but i don’t think that there would be much disagreement between us, since the god i believe in is very much a different thing than the god he denounces. my god is this: something beyond our universe that gave rise to it.

dawkins, in the blind watchmaker, gives a great theory of complexity: those things that have a configuration that is staggeringly unlikely to have arisen by chance, things like people and cars relative to mountains and moons. he also gives a great inductive proof of darwinian evolution, showing the mechanism and how easily it could have arisen. i believe these two arguments are fantastic analogs for why i believe in god.

first, the complexity concept. dawkins eloquently divides the universe into things that could have come about by chance, and things that could not have come about by chance. humans, cars, etc. fall into the latter category, because their working configurations are so improbable. therefore, some non-random force must have given rise to it. in the case of all life, this force is darwinism. i am convinced by this.

but i would also argue that the universe itself is one of these complex things. the physical forces that govern the universe are utterly improbable in both their quantitative and qualitative configurations. the only conclusions are that it was designed to be so, or that there are many universes — perhaps infinitely many — and since we exist in this one, of course we observe forces that are consistent with our own existence. but either way, i believe we have arrived at god: either the force that designed our universe, our the medium in which many universes exist.

second, we foray into induction. dawkins’ proof of evolution is at heart an inductive proof: he convincingly shows why we would expect the mechanism to work, that it does work, and that it has worked. natural selection is essentially the inductive step — how we travel between generations. but for this to work you also have to be able to prove an initial condition. in darwinism’s case, this is easy enough. the conditions for the first replicating chemicals — life — were simple enough (in dawkins’ sense — sufficiently probable to have occurred on its own).

but this is not true for the universe as a whole. yes, we have the tools for the inductive steps: we can explain through physical laws — both known and as-yet undiscovered — why we observe what we observe, and how the universe has evolved since the big bang. but we cannot simply “grant” the initial condition. we know that the big bang happened, but we cannot explain how or why, and we have no context to say whether or not it was probable or improbable. in fact, words fail to describe it not happening, or “before” it happening (before is a word relating to the temporal dimension, which only came into existence at the big bang), or what was “outside” (outside refers to being in or out of a 3-or-less-dimensional subspace, something that also only came into existence at the big bang) the universe when it came into existence.

the big bang happened, and we’ll never know why. and the laws imbued in our universe have made it beautiful, and made the mathematical laws that gave rise to darwinism, which gave rise to us; all beautiful. that’s evidence enough for me.