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Why Do I Need an Explanation for the Beginning of the Universe?

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Science tells us how our universe came into being. This is a pretty well established scientific fact. What is unknown is what happened before the Big Bang. Scientists posit various theories to answer this question, but, so far, the safest answer is “we don’t know.” Into this unknown step Evangelical Christians holding their inspired, inerrant, and infallible Bibles high, saying GOD DID IT! These followers of Jesus provide no evidence for this claim outside of failed philosophical arguments and quotations from the Christian Bible.

Recently, an Evangelical writer (whom I don’t have a link for) stated that the most important issue facing all of us is finding a satisfactory explanation for the beginning of the universe. I thought, at the time, really? I mean, really? I don’t know about you, but I rarely, if ever, think about the beginning of the universe. It’s just not on my radar. In fact, I simply don’t care.

My mind is filled with thoughts of Polly, our children, and their families, and how I am going to live out the last days of my life. I worry about our finances and how we are going to live after Polly retires in 2023. My declining health is never far from my mind. Just today, I had another extensive blood test done. My doctor and I are in the weeds now, looking for an explanation for some troubling symptoms I have. I will have the results in a few days. If everything is “normal,” then what? It is evident that I am not “normal,” so what is causing these symptoms?

When I am feeling up to it, my thoughts turn to my writing, politics, and sports. When I can get out of the house — which is not often, typically once or twice a week — I ask Polly to take me for a drive. Anywhere, it matters not. After my blood draw this afternoon, Polly took me for a ride northeast out of Bryan to West Unity, south to Lockport, over to Stryker where our youngest daughter lives, through Evansport, and then home. Not one time did my mind turn to the beginning of the universe. I thought about the church I pastored in West Unity and the furniture store which is closing there, owned by a former church member. As we drove through Evansport, I thought about the feral cats that used to roam the streets in droves. They are all gone, now. What happened to them? Polly and I chattered back and forth about the weather and the corn that stood in fields, ready to be harvested. It’s deer season in Ohio. Deer are running for their lives, hoping to not end up in a hunter’s freezer. We came upon a herd of deer along a gravel road south of West Unity, not far from where our oldest children once worked picking eggs. We stopped and watched them for a bit. As we neared Ney, we talked about painted houses, new homes, and junk-filled properties. Just two old people talking about nothing, but talking about everything, a ritual played out countless times over the past forty-six years.

Polly pulled into our driveway, turning the car around so she will be able to pull out on the highway in front of our home and go to work an hour later. Polly and Bethany quickly went into the house. There was Polly’s weak bladder to address, and sirloin steak to fry, complete with steamed broccoli. I stayed behind, sitting in the car with the door partially opened, breathing in the crisp, cold winter air. I pondered my existence, wondering how many more winter days lie ahead for me. Not one thought entered my mind about the beginning of the universe or the end of my existence.

I choose to embrace the present. I have no time (or energy) to think about philosophical or existential questions. I am not criticizing people who do, but I am at a place in life where all that matters to me is the here and now, not finding a satisfactory explanation for the beginning of the universe.

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Bruce Gerencser, 65, lives in rural Northwest Ohio with his wife of 44 years. He and his wife have six grown children and thirteen grandchildren. Bruce pastored Evangelical churches for twenty-five years in Ohio, Texas, and Michigan. Bruce left the ministry in 2005, and in 2008 he left Christianity. Bruce is now a humanist and an atheist.

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10 Comments

  1. Avatar
    Astreja

    It’s fascinating how obsessed some people are with the question “Where did the universe come from?” The individuals who are actually trying to find the answer are quietly labouring away at telescopes and supercomputers, while the faux physicists pretend they already know.

    And it’s hilarious when they shoehorn their favourite deity into the equation, blithely pissing away any pretense of understanding how logic works. (Pro tip, folks: You can’t claim that your god created the universe, then turn around and claim that the existence of the universe proves the existence of your god.)

    What’s wrong with just saying “I don’t know,” instead of making up some silly crap and pretending it’s some sort of “Gotcha!” to use against nonbelievers? Don’t you have something more pressing to do, like feeding the hungry and clothing the naked?

  2. Avatar
    BJW

    I’m interested in the beginning of the universe, but from a purely scientific viewpoint. Learning about such things, physics, and astronomy, are some of my favorite types of science. (I used to have a keen mind and be great at higher math. Calculus was actually a breeze for me! Those days are long gone, though.)

    But I accept there is no way to know if there is a Supreme deity, and science isn’t finding a god, but further explanations that remove the need for a god. Still, Bob and I watch Youtube science videos nearly every day.

    Rides in the country are great, too, Bruce!

  3. Avatar
    Merle Hertzler

    I have spent many years debating in the Christian Forums website under the name Doubtingmerle. It seemed like almost every debate eventually ended up with somebody demanding I explain how the universe began. I began to describe this phenomenon as doubtingmerle’s law: As an online discussion on Christian Forums grows longer (regardless of topic or scope), the probability of a question arising about the origin of the universe approaches 1. (e.g., https://www.christianforums.com/threads/how-can-molecules-think.8257208/page-4#post-76891477 ) Since this topic kept coming up, I wrote a more detailed response at https://mindsetfree.blog/dare-to-question/is-there-a-god/ .

  4. Avatar
    ObstacleChick

    The origins of the universe can be a fascinating topic, but it doesn’t impact my daily life. I like learning about it, and I love seeing photos of structures found by the James Webb Telescope. Beautiful and fascinating. But unless some religious nutjob is trying to force their particular concept of universe origins on people, I don’t care that much except from a “wow, that’s cool” standpoint. I like how the show Cosmos shows the known timeline of the universe as a 12 month calendar, and we’re a tiny dot on December 31st. We are insignificant, yet we can heap destruction onto our planet.

  5. Avatar
    Troy

    Sure, I’d like to know. If I had to hazard an educated guess, and assuming the universe is consistent on every level such that the very small is the model of the very large, I’d posit that the origin of the universe is very much like spontaneous particle creation. If you leave empty space to its own devices, particle-anti-particle pairs spontaneously appear and then annihilate themselves. Time is subjective, so denizens of such a pipsqueak and ephemeral universe could seem to exist for the vast eons. Sure it could be wrong (read: probably is). But at least it allows me to stop pondering the question long enough to breath in the wonders that are there to behold.

  6. Avatar
    Karen the rock whisperer

    The origin of the universe isn’t a philosophical or existential question, it’s a scientific question. Will humans ever manage to understand? Don’t know, though it would be extremely cool if we did. People who want to find excuses to declare that there must be some supernatural component try to make it something other than a scientific question. All the reasoning and arguing and what-iffing those people bring to bear in their conversations about it lack one essential element: DATA. (Also, their understanding of modern physics can usually be written on their thumbnail in large type. Which is true for me, too, but I’m not engaging in those conversations.)

    I write science fiction, and so part of just about every day of my life, I live for awhile in a headspace full of imaginary things. I try very hard to explain them in ways that make them seem real. They’re still not real.

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Bruce Gerencser