Burning Bosom

Theology, History, Culture, Politics & Life from a LDS (Mormon) Perspective

The Improbability of God’s Existence

Posted by Andrew on December 19, 2007

Recent photographs taken from the Hubble telescope give us views of the universe that mankind has previously never seen.  You can see the photographs here.  These new cosmic perspectives raise old questions about what may be beyond the view of mankind’s most powerful observational instruments.

When I look at the Hubble telescope photos, I feel like I’m beginning to get an idea of what the Apostle Paul meant when he said that “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Cor. 2:9.)  However, I have a dyed-in-wool atheist friend who argues strenuously that the whole idea of a God existing somewhere out there in the universe is just too improbable.

To a certain extent, I can understand his arguments.  If I had not been raised in a believing household, my outlook on God would almost certainly be different than it is today.  And even the strongest believers have to wrestle with tough questions.  Questions like: how is it that we can believe in a God who apparently chooses not to intervene in serious matters, (like preventing children from being kidnapped, raped, tortured, and murdered), but who at the same time cares so deeply about the most trivial details of our lives that he will intervene to help us score better on a spelling test, win a football game, or bless our refreshments to nourish and strengthen our bodies?

But at the end of the day, arguments that it is too improbable for God to exist do not convince me.  Even if a believer discounts and ignores the spiritual experiences he believes he’s had, the fact remains that in a universe as apparently infinite as ours, even extremely improbable things can and do exist.

Take the Earth, for example.  The Earth’s very existence is so extremely improbable when you stop and think about it.  So improbable that even with our most powerful observational instruments, we can’t find another planet like ours anywhere in the universe.  What are the odds of finding a planet that is just the right distance from a star that is just the right size and brightness, which is tilted on its vertical axis at just the right angle, held in balance by the gravitational pull of a moon that is just the right size and just the right distance from that planet, so as to allow for the existence of water and life?  And by the way, because the moon and sun are just the right sizes and just the right distances from each other, another extremely improbable phenomenon–total solar eclipses–can be observed from our extremely improbable planet.  These extremely rare total solar eclipses have enabled mankind to make numerous scientific discoveries.

 The fact is that in a universe as seemingly infinite as ours, things that have only a 1 in 1,000,000,000,000,0000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 chance of existing can and do exist.

So is the existence of God improbable?  For the sake of argument, let’s just say God’s existence is improbable.  Extremely improbable.

As extremely improbable as the Earth’s existence.

As extremely improbable as the fact that you and I exist at all.

And yet we do.

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3 Responses to “The Improbability of God’s Existence”

  1. Exactly. Those who argue against God have never have never come up with a rational explanation for so many things. Take the kidney. The cells in the kidney filter gallons of blood a day, secrete hormones that regulate blood pressure, bone growth and remodeling, red blood cell production and manage the balance of salts, fluids and proteins in our body. Any break down in this function can be lethal. How did such a perfect arrangement of cells form on its own? What parallel model exists?
    Anyone who argues against God because they got a hang nail, or Uncle bob had a heart attack, or a young mother died during delivery doesn’t understand some fundamental truths about existence which can all be explained by the garden of eden allegory. For the ultra-sceptic, I would recommend CS Lewis The Problem of Pain for an excellent discussion of why God doesn’t intervene every time something bad could happen.

  2. Richard Knecht said

    Love your thoughts. Please see the November issue of National Geographic for an article which updates data from Hubble. There are quotes from the author and scientists which I found rather insightful…like the evidence that the universe is expanding faster than all known laws and models project that it should. It argues that in violating this fundamental known law of gravity, that we may find “evidence” soon of the existence of those 4th or 5th or 12th dimensions…in other words, beyond space and time. Seems to me, this is where we may actually “find God”, in understanding these dimensions.

    Keep up the good work!

  3. Andrew said

    Richard, thanks for the tip on the November National Geographic. Will have to check it out. 4th, 5th, or 12 dimensions?! Even the thought of it makes my head spin. But helps me better understand why St. Paul said: “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God.” (1 Cor. 1:18-19.)

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