Book: Return of the God Hypothesis

2021 May 19

Steven Meyer’s book Return of the God Hypothesis is about naturalistic vs theistic ultimate origins with arguments from cosmology and biology. It is very well written, well-reasoned and thorough. It ably counters the best competing ideas.

The question posed by this book is “What actually caused life, the universe, and its fine tuning to arise?” The book argues that the best explanation is a transcendent purposive creative intelligence.

The problem of the existence of the universe

This regards the question of a first cause. Our best evidence is that the universe had a beginning, an initialization of both time and matter. Since all naturalistic mechanisms require mechanistic causes, what could cause the universe? "Before" the universe there was nothing (not even time), and so there would be nothing that could be a natural cause.

The universe needs an uncaused cause, a cause that was itself not caused and that transcends the universe. (Otherwise there would have to be an infinite regress of causes, and that could not be possible.)

The problem of fine tuning

This is the observation that our universe is not just any universe, but it is a universe that is hyper-exponentially adjusted from the beginning to be conducive for sustaining life. It could not have come to that tuning after time, but had to be instantiated with that tuning at very beginning.

These tuning values are complex and they fulfill specifications. Their values are so hyper-unlikely that they cannot be an accident. By all human experience, objects which fulfill complex specifications come only from a mind. A transcendent intelligence could be the creative cause for the universe.

The problem of the existence of life

This is a question about the source of information - the information that is used to make the engines of living cells. The first living cell required a vast complete set of this information at the very beginning. Everything we know about chemistry, physics and probabilities tells us that natural processes work against producing this information. The situation is not just about an undiscovered natural mechanism that produces information; the situation instead is overwhelming certainty from many perspectives that this information is naturalistically impossible in this universe.

However, we know from uniform and repeated experience that intelligence is a source for this kind of information; it also is the only known source.

Other Universe Problems

For the universe problem the multiverse has been suggested as a solution, but it is not a solution because it only delays the reckoning of the naturalistic cause.

Another suggestion (Hawking) is that since the laws of physics exist, or alternatively, since equations describing physics and the universe exist, they explain “why there is something rather than nothing”. However, this is only confusion and a category error because equations are descriptive but have no causal agency. And on what would these equations be recorded before the existence of matter?

In the weird world of quantum theory, all possibilities exist at varying levels of possibilities. This is described by a formula called a wave function. All possibilities exist until an observation is made, and then the wave function collapses into a single state.

Similarly, theorists have proposed equations that describe all the possible universes. Since those equations exist, it is proposed that all the conceivable universes must also exist. This is suggested to solve the problem of our universe existing and the problem of fine-tuning of our universe (because all possibilities will occur).

However, this also would mean that we are infinitely most likely (literally so) to exist in a non-rational and unpredictable universe. In such a case we could not trust our senses, and we could not expect that our world has laws. This naturalistic solution thus completely undermines the believability and reliability of science. In an effort to avoid a hypothesis with a single rational god, naturalistic theorists have instead created a model where irrationality and unpredictability are expected. They have massively violated Ockham’s razor (by creating infinite world entities) and undercut their own enterprise.

And so.

The argument for a transcendent, purposive, creative, intelligent agent as the source of the universe and life is a positive argument based on known causes now in operation. The naturalistic counter-arguments all have serious defects - they don't stand up. By the standard scientific method of multiple competing hypotheses, the agent explanation is the best scientific hypothesis.

For a time, thinkers seemed to have explained away the god hypothesis. Recent discoveries, however, have shown those arguments to have been entirely inadequate. The god hypothesis is now more than ever the best explanation for our existence and for life.

You should read the book!

2021-05-19 updated 2022-12-26   © 2023 Larry Grove