Wednesday, October 13, 2010

God Can't Exist: The Vastness Argument

I've heard a lot of arguments why the Abrahamic god Yahweh can't exist, but here's one I thought of the other day. I'll call it the Vastness Argument Refuting God. I'm sure this isn't original, so maybe my faithful readers can point me to some earlier discussions.

Here is the proof:
  • God made the universe, and then made humans to give it meaning.
  • The earth is one star in the Milky Way galaxy
  • Typical galaxies contain 1011 to 1012 stars
  • There are approximately 1011 to 1012 galaxies
  • There are thus about 1022 to 1024 stars in the universe.
  • Therefore, our sun represents 0.000000000000000000001% of the stars in the universe.
What an incredible waste! Imagine you hired an engineer and said, "Build me a bridge over this river," and you came back after a while and found that the engineer had built ten bridges. "You jerk, what the heck are you doing?" "I built a bridge, didn't I?" he'd reply. Well, yes, but you wouldn't say he was much of an engineer. But we're not talking about ten bridges ... if we found ten Earths around the universe that would only have reduced God's wastefulness down to 0.00000000000000000001%.

So if the Judeo-Christian-Muslim understanding of creation is correct, what are we to make of it? I can only find three possibilities:
  1. God is an incredibly bad designer who had to waste 100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 solar systems just to get one right; or
  2. God made zillions of civilizations and Earth/humans were not all that important to God; or
  3. It's all a big trick, and God placed a bunch of photons in the sky, headed our way, to make it look like there are other stars out there, but it's a fake-out.
Or the fourth possibility, which is that there is no God, and scientists have a pretty good handle on why the galaxies formed and how we came into being.

The Abrahamic god Yahweh can't possibly exist. The vastness of the universe compared to the size of Earth is ludicrous. Anyone who thinks otherwise is suffering from serious innumeracy.


  1. I can tell you what their response would be: We don't know God's purpose for the Universe. At least, that's the answer I got when I asked the question.

  2. TBBFrog - Ahh, the good ol' "Ignorance is Bliss" meme combined with the "Anti-Rationalism" meme, each of which (from our shameless commerce division) is covered in a whole section of my book. Every time there's a hard question, Duck!

  3. But the Earth isn't a star, it's a planet. I like the illustration of the vastness of our universe, but the details could be refined a bit.

  4. Unfortunately, your proof falls apart, all you're doing is arguing against a particular vision of "God", you're not really arguing against "God" itself. For all we know, as you pointed out in #2, this supposed "God" created billions of planets just like ours as different experiments, to see which one does best. Certainly, that invalidates the Christian and the Jewish and the Muslim views of "God", but that doesn't necessarily invalidate the existence of some sort of "God" out there somewhere.

    Of course, there's no evidence that any of this is actually true, it's all blind speculation and therefore, no rational person should believe any of it. I'm just pointing out that it's really impossible to invalidate the existence of something for which there's no evidence for in the first place.

  5. Cephus – I was arguing about a particular vision of God, the Abrahamic Yahweh, the one everyone calls "God" or "Allah." My point is that this particular version of God makes no sense.

    Perhaps the word "proof" is too strong. It's actually just point out the utter absurdity of this particular version of the god-meme.

    The Deist version of God doesn't fall to this argument. In fact, although I'm an atheist, I have many close friends who are Deists, and I respect their beliefs. My complaint is with people who believe things that are absurd on the face of it.

  6. The apologists will keep making up excuses for their particular desert deity.
    Sometimes it astounds me how many mental gymnastics the faithful go through in order keep believing in Yahweh the psychotic volcano/desert god.
    I suppose deists are stuck with the concept of infinite regress.

  7. Well said, Hector!

  8. No, Graig, you don't understand! You see, Yahweh was just showing off when he created such a vast universe.

    "Look what I can do! If I can do all this, surely I'm worthy of worship. Aren't I? WORSHIP ME DAGNAMIT!"

    And we all know how insecure Yahweh is: Commandment One (and-or Two depending on your favourite flavour).

  9. As a pagan, I'm convinced of the lab team effort of the divine, in which there is a group of beings that keep our part of space running efficiently, not matter how much certain humans might want to tear it up. I know, Craig, what difference does it make if there is one deity or many? It's not an argument of one way or the other, but as vast as space is, all I'm saying that, if Yahweh does exist, there is no way his faithful will ever admit that he had some help, especially from his mother and sisters.

  10. so, in this argument against God you are trying to say that because we are so small compared to the whole universe that God simply can't exist? I believe that God made the universe so big because God expects us to grow and venture out. after a while, Earth will not be able to hold our growing population and the moon and maybe Mars will not be enough. even if the universe was nothing more then the sun and earth people will still find any reason to not believe in God. its like how a child will be confined at there house and not aloud to travel alone, until they are old enough. or in your bridge example, what may seem like a waist at that time will be there for a reason later, after a while the two areas around the bridge will become very popular to the point that the one bridge will not be enough and the rest will go into play. another thing is that you cant expect God to follow the standards we set for ourselves over our existence. personally, i have a great deal of pity for "good" atheist because now-a-days its so easy to not believe in God and being atheist is not enough alone to go to hell. this is the first thing i read on your blog and as of now i cant tell if your good or bad, but your blog title has me suspect the ladder.

  11. Isaac -- see what I wrote to Cephus. You are making the same mistake in your first sentence. Your theory about the huge universe is amusing but not interesting.

    And save your pity, please. It would be silly except that it's insulting. If you think that "bad" is defined as people who don't agree with your particular theology, they you're an example of why I wrote my book and why I do this blog.

  12. I'm catholic, sorry for not clarifying. also, if you want to talk insulting, you seem to make a sport of it in a lot of your posts. maybe i should clarify my position on what i see in "bad" "good" atheist. when i say bad, i mean the kinds of people who are overbearing, dismissive and disrespectful. you cant tell me that when im talking religion with friends, then some guy i dont even know comes up and says to me "there is no God", that he is not a jackass for doing so. there's no point in doing so, this is obviously not an attempt to convert, only to be disrespectful. when i say good atheist, i mean people who believe there is no God but hate what they believe, who really hope that they are wrong. and you cant tell me that on your death bed, you are going to be looking forward to this nothingness that you believe is waiting for us. and try to not put word in my mouth, thats one thing i hate most about dismissive atheist. do you think that because im catholic, that im some kind of gay hating, creationist believer, whatever the stereotype. i havent read your book, but if its anything like the God delusion, then it will have a lot assumptions and words being shoved in a religious person mouth, not saying that Dawkins did a bad job, but that he didnt do any research on what we actually believe.

  13. Isaac -- I didn't "come up to you" and say there's no God. This is my blog, and this is what I do.

    Why on Earth do you think that an atheist who hopes he/she is wrong is a "good" atheist? That's just weird. You're assuming that God is a positive force in the world. Most atheists see God and religion as neutral at best, and terribly destructive at worst. If we could lose God altogether, the world would be a far better place.

    As to death, you should read some good atheist literature. Atheists are far more likely to accept death with grace than religious people are. That's just a statistical fact. Did it bother you before you were born that you weren't alive? Well, when you're dead it won't bother you either.

    The goal is to make your life here on Earth worthwhile and productive. Too many Christians use the afterlife as an excuse to avoid their responsibilities to themselves here in this life. I wrote about this extensively in my book, so I won't repeat it here, even though I suspect you won't be reading it.

    And no, I don't make any assumptions about your political views. So far I've only responded to things you actually wrote.

  14. ok, first off, i was giving an example of what happened to me a while ago. looking back, i didnt put it in proper context. the whole thing i believe about the "good" and "Bad" atheist is what i believe, from my point of view since i believe in God my view would make sense to me. but since you dont believe in God then from your point of view, i seem like a jackass, as do you to me. that view on death is a pretty good point, but i really dont see why anyone would not mind that, just my opinion. Do you honestly believe that religious people dont live productive live? i mean come on, what possible reasons could your book give for that? we believe that, to avoid responsibilities is a sin. i will try to read your book, because i like to hear the opposition. i try real hard to show respect towards other views on religion, but man is that hard. but of course i rarely get any respect from atheist

  15. The reason I know Yahweh can't exist is because the knowledge of Noah's flood (and all the biblical history leading up to the flood) did not travel with early men. If the bible were true then native Polynesians and Australian Aboriginals and South American tribes men etc etc would know of Noah. Interesting how biblical history remained in the area of its happening until white men took the bible to the rest of the world. If we all really were the descendants of Noah then every culture on earth would would have always of known the story...and could trace their own history back to Noah. The fact that the knowledge of Noah (and Yahweh himself for that matter) was only known to a small group of superstitious desert dwellers is enough evidence to show it's a fictional creation.

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