In my recent interview with PZ Myers
, when asked "Is atheism even something you think about, or is it merely part of having an informed knowledge of the universe and its workings?" he stated:
"Atheism is a natural conclusion of rational and scientific thinking."
Bingo! He hit the nail on the head, and I'll tell you why he is right.
When one starts to ask questions about the nature of things, the deeper one delves, the less evidence for a god there is. Where once we thought fire to be a magical manifestation of godly power, we now understand it to be a chemical process, observable, repeatable and able to be studied. Where once we thought people to be possessed by demons, we now know about epilepsy, mental illness and brain tumors. Observable, repeatable and able to be studied.
Where once we thought the earth to be flat, and the sun to be the chariot of the gods, we now know the earth is spherical, in orbit of the sun and in an outer spiral arm of the Milky Way galaxy.
In fact, almost everything we have supposed to be created and caused by god has fallen under the scrutiny of the scientific eye, and has proven to be natural, and able to be studied. Those areas of the ethereal, those areas which are unable to be studied, have proven to not exist. When you compare what we used to ascribe to god, to what people now ascribe to god, the list is diminishing rapidly, and this is the ongoing trend.
The ultimate defence of the existence of god is this: "The way things are is the way god made it," as if to say, in a blanket statement, that no matter what anyone says, god made it possible. But this is the ultimate straw-man. When grilled on this idea, that god is at the root of everything, and when asked for proof, the believer will simply repeat the above statement, in a different way. But unfortunately, when we find ourselves in a circular argument, there is no progress to be made, and the conversation must be abandoned.
When a person considers all there is to be considered, without bias toward a "belief", as long as that string of logic is allowed to follow through to its conclusion, the answer will always be "no god".
"But what about the big bang? Surely something had to create that right?" The modern theist falls on this defence as though it is an armour clad position, immune from criticism. The problem is, though, as humans and creators of "things", the only reason we think that "someone" had to create this is because we see god in our image. Even if you say "God cannot be understood by mortal man," you still imply that god is a "someone", an entity or a being. Douglas Adams very succinctly portrays this idea in this short parable:
"Imagine a puddle waking up one morning and thinking, 'This is an interesting world I find myself in, an interesting hole I find myself in, fits me rather neatly, doesn't it? In fact it fits me staggeringly well, must have been made to have me in it!'"
This also speaks volumes about our idea that the universe's creator had humans in mind when it created everything. This is such a human-centric idea that it makes me feel a bit ill that so many people hold to it. We now know that humans share a common ancestor with all the great apes. In fact we share a common ancestor with every living thing on Earth
. So to say that, simply because we are sentient beings, capable of civilization and culture, that the universe was "created" for us is so self centred, so shortsighted, and so self-aggrandizing as to make humans look very foolish. We are merely one of many possible outcomes of biological evolution. It sounds silly to say it, but, had things been different to the way they are, humans may not have evolved at all.
In addition to this, the idea that there was nothing before the big bang is surmised so well by Professor Lawrence Krauss. In my recent interview
with him he says:
"... it’s certainly possible that the laws of quantum mechanics caused literally space to suddenly come into being. And so there could have been nothing, there could have even been… And people might say “well and then there are laws of physics of course and those existed”, but it coudl be that even the laws of physics came into existence at the same time as space did. And what we know is that when we look at the universe, the total energy of the universe is zero, precisely consistent with a universe that came from nothing, and it’s kind of remarkable, it didn’t have to be that way."
Scientists don't invent the laws of the universe. They discover them and they work them out. A common misconception is that scientists make up laws that they then use to describe things, but it's the other way around. The laws come about by observing the universe, measuring how things act and react, then formulate laws based on what they have seen
. People have used this as a way to discredit science, saying that science can't make up its mind, that it keeps changing its laws and ideas. This only occurs because our tools and methods are being refined all the time, so that the scientists can make constant new discoveries, reevaluate prior stances, and correct oversights in the past.
If we never asked questions, we would never have advanced past caveman status. The questions and the answers they bring are step-by-step closing the gaps in our understanding where theists demand that God exists. If you are sure that god created the universe, I suggest you look a little deeper into the tomes of literature that the sciences offer. If you still have questions, keep looking, most of the answers can be found, and those not answerable with the information we have now, just wait a while, the sciences will be able to give answers soon enough. The more one knows, the more one tends to want to know. Don't just be satisfied with what you are first told, because the person telling you may not know the answer themselves, and might be just as blind to the truth as you. Once one looks deeply enough into empirical reality, one can only come to the conclusion that, not only is the universe without god possible
, it is actually quite probable.
And it is the nature of science that it changes. Due to its very nature, science is ever changing. Professor Krauss also said this in his interview with me:
"... it’s certainly true that we’re limited to what we can measure, and therefore we should always have some kind of skepticism, well we should always have skepticism in science, but also some kind of humility about knowing everything."
So it's okay to be skeptical, in fact it is necessary, just don't be so skeptical that you don't think anything is true, and on the other end of the scale, don't be so open minded that your brain falls out.