Reading Time: 4 minutes By NASA, ESA, and C. Robert O’Dell (Vanderbilt University) ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Well, it depends what kind of Christian you are as to how you interpret what happened in the creation of this here universe. The young earth creationist will, of course, believe that the world that we live on and the universe that we live in are only 6000 or so years old. The old earth creationist, on the other hand, will subscribe to a narrative that aligns for more closely to the naturalist’s: that the universe is some 13.8 billion years old. The big difference, though, is that the old earth creationist believes that God is responsible for the creation of the universe. It is with the old earth creationist that I want to pick a fight with, today.

This post will be predominantly about probability. I will, admittedly, be describing intuitive probabilities to that which I am going to propose.

On the old earth creationist account, God created the universe and appeared to wait some quite vast amounta of time before creating life. Indeed, it seems that life didn’t start until anywhere between 2.5 and 3.9 billion years ago. However, it’s really human life that we need to concern ourselves with. And human life only started a relatively short time ago, a stone’s throw away. So let’s just say that God waited 13.8 billion years after creating the universe before creating humans or allowing them to evolve.

Why the wait?

We have two hypotheses that possibly explain the data. Firstly, God created the universe and waited, for some reason, for humanity to evolve (either unkowningly or by design). Alternatively, God didn’t create the universe and life came to exist naturally and evolved from a common ancestor over a long period of time.

The question is, which explanation is the most probable? Of course, using Bayesian analysis, it depends on what you plug into the background data. But all things remaining equal, let’s look at which hypothesis has the best explanatory power. Accepting evolution, here, is not up for debate. I’m not talking about young earth creationists and their entirely egregious science denial. In this situation, both the naturalist and the old earth creationist accept evolution over time to explain the diversification of life on Earth. Admittedly, many theories abound as to how life first started – abiogenesis. These theories are pretty exciting and lie at the cutting edge of biological and chemical science. There is nothing about the development of life on Earth that appears impossible or beyond the ken of humanity in understanding, even if some of the details are presently up for debate.

God creating life in the universe, on the other hand, seems to require some large amount of ad hoc rationalisation. You see, that 13.8 billion years, or even 10 billion years, needs some kind of explanation. The best one that Christians generally offer is that time is completely irrelevant to God. I can kind of understand that, I suppose. What is more difficult to understand is how a God outside of time can create time, causally, and then somehow remain outside of time. Thinkers such as William Lane Craig admit that God enters time upon creation of space-time and the universe. This scenario can create its own problems. God certainly doesn’t appear timeless and eternal in this scenario.

God is a supposedly perfect being and so has no need, really, of doing anything. God has no needs… God would never have had any needs because he is and always has been maximally perfect. One could claim that he would enjoy seeing life develop and emerge and evolve. However, he would have no need for seeing such beauty and indeed God, if he has divine foreknowledge, would have experiential knowledge of those counterfactuals anyway. In fact, this is an argument against God creating at all since he would appear to have perfect foreknowledge of all counterfactuals to the point that he would not need to create at all since he can just imagine and experience any given scenario. There appears to be no added value from an actualisation of any particular world. But, cogito ergo sum.

If God really wanted us to exist, as humanity, in order to have union with sentient human life, then there appears no decent reason as to why he would have waited all that time. Young earth creationism is, thus, far more intuitively plausible (evidence notwithstanding). The only other really only viable option is that God is trying to set up the universe so it most probably looks like God, himself, doesn’t exist. It’s a bit like proposing that Satan has sneakily positioned all the fossils that act as evidence for evolution; an option preferred by some young earth creationists. This looks more like a very deceitful God, not the sort of God who Christians generally propose. It would be a little unfair to condemn nonbelievers if God is making a universe that most probably looks like he doesn’t exist!

In conclusion, then, I am perplexed as to why God waited 13.8 billion years (or designed it so) before allowing humans to involved. It seems far more intuitively probable that God doesn’t exist and this universe has evolved (physically, chemically and biologically) naturalistically.

Please grab a copy of my book Did God Create the Universe from Nothing? that deals with the most famous argument pertaining to God’s creation of the universe: the Kalam Cosmological Argument:

Stay in touch! Like A Tippling Philosopher on Facebook:

Avatar photo

Jonathan MS Pearce

A TIPPLING PHILOSOPHER Jonathan MS Pearce is a philosopher, author, columnist, and public speaker with an interest in writing about almost anything, from skepticism to science, politics, and morality,...