This is the second in a series of bad arguments in support of a theistic god.
Argument: The universe exists, therefore God exists.
I will start by restating my premise for this series...that this is a deconstruction of some common arguments for a theistic god that intervenes in our world...a personal god that answers prayers...a god that has ostensibly revealed himself, his codes of conduct, and his dietary preferences. The theistic gods that have significant market share these days are 1) the god of Abraham [Judaism, Christianity, Islam] and 2) the gods of Hinduism. We smart apes claim to know something about these gods...their desires...their intents...their previous/current activity.
For this brief discussion, I will be using Christian/Abrahamic references...because, being in the U.S., it is what I am typically surrounded with. The examples and arguments, though, can be similarly applied to any theistic god.
FAILURE 1: The argument relies on the presupposition that it is only an intelligent creator that could have created "something from nothing". Certainly, the origin of the universe is probably the least well understood aspect of our cosmology...but saying that God did it is unambiguous hubris. By saying so; one ostensibly knows all the other possibilities of what preceded the Big Bang and has dismissed them in favor of their own God. The finest minds in the world are barely teasing the most preliminary flecks of understanding from the earliest moments of our universe. I suggest that our species will go extinct well before we have any compelling evidence as to what preceded the Big Bang.
The professionally curious scientists [i.e. Stenger, Hawking] have, at best, hypothesized various scenarios that, by their nature, are deeply unsatisfying and non-intuitive to the lay person...myself included. It's important to recognize, though, that their hypotheses are grounded in empirical understanding of the nature of matter. We have tested the non-intuitive idea that matter is another form of energy elegantly described in E=MC2 and successfully leveraged that to create nuclear bombs. Stenger and others have suggested that this duality and our observations would suggest that the net sum of our universe, even today, is zero. In effect; our universe is 'nothing' separated into its component parts. Of course that is a completely non-intuitive definition of 'nothing' for a lay person. We need to recognize, though, that non-intuitive does not mean non-true. Consider Einstein's idea that time was not constant and and varied with your rate of speed. We eventually proved it to be true and many of us rely on it daily by using GPS navigation.
This is classic god-of-the-gaps thinking. Just because we don't know what may have preceded the Big Bang is not evidence in support of God. It only means that the religious apologist and the theoretical physicist have nearer the same amount of evidence...and it is objectively wrong thinking to insert an explanation in the absence of evidence and wait to be disproved.
FAILURE 2: Such an argument only supports the idea of a deistic god...not a theistic God. This is a classic false dichotomy (the understanding of which seems totally lost of many many religious apologists). The range of options here is not No god or My God, but rather No god or Some god. The believer is still light-years away from demonstrating that their creation story is true while every other creation story is a myth.
I should say, too, that I do not concern myself with deistic explanations of the universe. For the most part, I only argue against theistic explanations because theism is what insinuates itself into public policy. The deist, I feel, is a much nearer to being an atheist, than a theist. (To pick nits: word deconstruction means that a deist IS an atheist) In matters of morality and policy, the deist (not claiming to know the mind of god) relies on the same introspective exercises that the atheist so well exploits. While I hold the position that deism is an invalid mode of thought; it cannot lead to the extremism and xenophobia that theism seems so well suited for.
Next time: The effectiveness of prayer.