The Original Christian Cosmos

by Richard Carrier

 

A Christian might still balk and ask, "Well, what other universe could God have made?" The answer is easy: the very universe early Christians like Paul actually believed they lived in.

In other words, a universe with no evidence of such a vast age or of natural evolution, a universe that contained instead abundant evidence that it was created all at once just thousands of years ago. A universe that wasn't so enormous and that had no other star systems or galaxies, but was instead a single cosmos of seven planetary bodies and a sphere full of star lights that all revolve around an Earth at the center of God's creation--because that Earth is the center of God's love and attention.

 

A complete cosmos whose marvelously intricate motions had no other explanation than God's will, rather than a solar system whose intricate motions are entirely the inevitable outcome of fixed and blind forces.

A universe comprised of five basic elements, not over ninety elements, each in turn constructed from a dizzying array of subatomic particles.

A universe governed by God's law, not a thoroughly amoral physics.

A universe inhabited by animals and spirits whose activity could be confirmed everywhere, and who lived in and descended from outer space--which was not a vacuum, but literally the ethereal heavens, the hospitable home of countless of God's most marvelous creatures (both above and below the Moon)--a place Paul believed human beings could live and had actually visited without harm.

  

That is, indeed, exactly the universe we would expect if Christianity were true--which is why Christianity was contrived as it was, when it was. The first Christians truly believed the universe was exactly as Christian theism predicted it to be, and took that as confirmation of their theory. Lo and behold, they were wrong--about almost every single detail! Paul truly believed that the perfect order of the heavens, the apparent design of human and animal bodies, and the perfect march of the seasons had no other explanation than intelligent design, and in fact he believed in God largely because of this, and condemned unbelievers precisely because they rejected this evidence. But it turns out none of this evidence really existed. Christians have long abandoned their belief that the perfect order of the heavens can only be explained by God, since they now know it is entirely explained by physics and requires no intelligent meddling or design. And a great many Christians have abandoned their belief that the apparent design of human and animal bodies can only be explained by God, since they now know it is entirely explicable by natural evolution.

 

All the evidence we now have in hand only compounds Paul's error. For what we know today is exactly the opposite of what Paul would have expected. It is exactly the opposite of what his Christian theory predicted. Paul certainly would have told you that God would never use billions of years of meandering and disastrously catastrophic trial and error to figure out how to make a human. God would just make humans. And Paul certainly believed that is exactly what God did, and surely expected the evidence would prove it. But the evidence has not. It has, in fact, proved exactly the opposite. Likewise, Paul naturally believed God simply spoke a word, and Earth existed. One more word, and the stars existed. That's exactly what the Christian theory predicts. But that isn't what happened.

 

Again, Christians can fabricate excuses for why God did things differently--but that's all just ad hoc. Like Christianity, none of these excuses have been demonstrated to be true. It is even doubtful such excuses would be compatible with Christianity. As noted earlier, God can do essentially anything, so what he does is pretty much limited only by what he wants to do. Christianity says he wants us to be good and set things right, which entails that God wants us to know what is good and how to set things right. Christianity says God wants to do what is good, and his choices are guided by his love of love and his hatred of hatred--therefore anything he designed would be the good and admirable product of a loving being. There is no way to "define away" these conclusions. If any of these conclusions are false, Christianity is false. But these conclusions entail that certain things would be true about our universe that are in fact not true.

The existence of a divine creator driven by a mission to save humankind, for example, entails that his creation would serve exactly that end, better than any other. And that means he would not design the universe to look exactly like it would have to look if God did not exist. Instead, if I wanted people to know which church was teaching the right way to salvation, I would lead the way for them by protecting all such churches with mysterious energy fields so they would be invulnerable to harm, and its preachers alone would be able to work miracles day after day, such as regenerating lost limbs, raising the dead, or calming storms. The bibles of this church would glow in the dark so they could always be read and would be indestructible--immune to any attempt to mark, burn, or tear them, or change what they said. Indeed, I would regard it as my moral obligation to do things like this, so my children would not be in the dark about who I was and what I was about, so they would be able to find out for sure what was truly good for them.

 

So, too, the Christian God would design a universe with moral goals built in. For example, if I were to make a universe, and cared how the people in it felt--whether they suffered or were happy--I would make it a law of nature that the more good a person really was, the more invulnerable they would be to harm or illness, and the more evil, the weaker and more ill. Nature would be governed by survival of the kindest, not survival of the fittest. Obviously, such a law would not be possible unless the universe "knew" what good and evil was, and cared about the one flourishing rather than the other. And unlike mere survival, which does its own choosing through the callous mechanism of death, if the very laws of the universe served a highly abstract good instead, that would be inconceivable without a higher mind capable of grasping and caring about all these deep abstract principles--as we know humans do, and the universe does not. So a physical law like this would indeed provide good evidence the universe was created by a loving God.

 

But, lo and behold, that is not the universe we live in. Even if a God made this universe, it could not be the Christian God because no God who wanted us to know the truth would conceal it by making a universe that looked exactly like a universe with no God in it. The simple fact is that Christianity does not predict our universe, but a completely different one. Atheism, however, predicts exactly the kind of universe we find ourselves in. So the nature of the universe is another failed prediction, confirming our previous conclusion that Christianity is false.

 

[Reference: Why I Am Not a Christian.. by Richard Carrier]

Tags: Christian, Cosmos, Original, The

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