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Monday, July 07, 2008

Why Did God Make Such a Big Empty Universe?

One of the odder (more odd?) objections to theism I've seen goes like this: If the universe were really designed by an intelligent being, why would it have left so much empty space? Why focus all the important stuff on one planet, and have an unbelievable amount of relatively eventless space otherwise?

I don't know how well other faiths can handle this question, but it seems pretty simple for Christians. I can think of three good reasons:

(1) It is more beautiful. When we made science fair projects, they kept stressing to us that empty space (in the space you had for your project on the big table) was an important part of your presentation, or something like that. The point was, don't clutter up the display with superfluous stuff. Everything should be geared to getting across your point to the observer.

(2) It gives us a sense of awe. Gets us to think of ourselves as tiny specks in the presence of God's majesty, but at the same time we don't despise ourselves because we get the sense we're very special and important.

(3) It is very useful to humans. Not only are the stars and other objects in the night sky useful for navigation, agriculture, and timekeeping in general, but astronomy was also a very obvious way for God to get people to learn physics.

The more I think of it, the more I am grateful and amazed at such a cool flourish in the margins that God added to what would have been a very complicated solar system.

3 comments:

  1. Q: Why Did God Make Such a Big Empty Universe?
    A: Leave room for Gene's ego.

    By the way, I don't think we really know how empty it is/isn't. Did you know that by 1800, it was pretty much the universal Christian belief that there was life on other planets. IThe Church had first contradicted Aristotle on this point in 1277.)

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  2. Nah, I didn't realize that! But we all know that the Church couldn't stand a heliocentric model of the solar system... (j/k)

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