Why is it logical to invoke an uncreated universe with no intelligent design?


How can an atheist invoke an uncreated universe with no intelligent design and assert its logical consistency? Why is it logical?

By moving the goal post to aliens seeded earth from another universe, the question doesn’t disappear because reductio ad absurdum is the argument used against God’s existence and if both are possible then it becomes a belief whereas atheism's assert lack of belief in a god and affirming the consequence is not proof.

Theists will define their god and attribute qualities to their god such as intelligence, intentionality and inspiration.

Assume atheists did not invoke any of the following

  • argumentum ad ignorantiam
  • false dilemma/false dichotomy
  • petitio principii
  • non causa pro causa / post hoc ergo propter hoc / cum hoc ergo propter hoc
  • argumentum ad verecundiam
  • concensus gentium
  • affirming the consequent

What would be a logical explanation for an uncreated universe/multiverse?

I’m not asking if it can be true. I’m not asking how it can be true. I’m asking why is it logical that something uncreated ended up with earth containing organic intelligence.


Posted 2019-03-20T18:28:40.490

Reputation: 164

3Despite the work that clearly went into this question, it is still unclear to me what you want to know.. – Mark Andrews – 2019-03-20T19:17:34.267

2It is logically consistent because no apparent contradiction is derivable from it. I think you are using "logical" in "how is it logical" in the colloquial sense of something like "explained", but that has nothing to do with logical consistency. In philosophy, atheism actually asserts non-existence of god(s), just lack of belief is called agnosticism. Again, the colloquial usage is different. To your quest an atheist/agnostic can reply that postulating a god with properties designed to "explain" the universe is no better than postulating it directly, and, in fact, worse, by Occam's razor. – Conifold – 2019-03-20T19:42:01.290

1I made some edits. Please roll them back or further edit if I misrepresented your position. – Frank Hubeny – 2019-03-20T20:06:09.170

3this is a bit yawny trolly.. – Richard – 2019-03-20T20:14:10.217

@Mark Andrews, what I’m asking more plainly is this, why is it logical that we have organic intelligent life, from a chaotic, explosion that was undirected and random, originating from a microscopic beginning and yet our best instruments cannot ascertain with an degree of certainty the edge of this expansive explosion. How is there no derivable contradiction, apparent or otherwise? – Autodidact – 2019-03-20T20:15:20.133

Assume no aliens etc. The intelligence we and other creatures have developed over a long, long time. "A Bildungsroman of the Spirit", struggle, and I'm sure some happy accidents. – Gordon – 2019-03-20T20:21:04.713

1For the believer, I expect that Henri Poincare has the most to offer, dimensions, but I'm not good at math so I can't explain why. – Gordon – 2019-03-20T20:26:14.160

@Conifold, thank you for the response. If I may qualify my question further. Assuming create and sustain only model, how is there no apparent contradictions for intelligent organic life on earth without a first cause? >>And secondary causation given infinite time does not logically follow, in my estimation, no matter how many favorable accidents because some events are irreversible. You cannot unscramble an egg. You cannot unbake a cake and separate it back into their original ingredients. Also irreducible complexity demands a minimum quantity and quality/fine tuning. – Autodidact – 2019-03-20T20:42:22.923

1I am not sure how to derive a contradiction, perhaps you could present an argument. But it will need premises, just like the cosmological argument for the first cause, and one so inclined can simply reject them. Unscrambling an egg is not a logical impossibility, it is based on an empirical surmise, and those always have limited scope. At most, you can argue implausibility, not inconsistency, and one can argue the same about gods. "Irreducible complexity" is widely seen as a discredited concept, proposed examples turned out to be "reducible", but even it, at most, makes things unlikely. – Conifold – 2019-03-20T21:01:04.417

2@Autodidact In light of the comments and your responses, I recommend withdrawing the original question and resubmitting one that better describes what you want to know. – Mark Andrews – 2019-03-20T21:47:21.743

@Conifold I’ve pondered your statement a long while now and I was interested if you could expand further or maybe share a link to your reducible claim. Irreducible complexity" is widely seen as a discredited concept, proposed examples turned out to be "reducible" Thank you in advance. Having a background in microbiology and molecular biology I’m extremely curious what this reducible looks like and whether it’s purely theoretical or indeed has scientific experimentation to back it up. – Autodidact – 2019-04-25T02:31:55.307

1Even the Wikipedia article has multiple references. – Conifold – 2019-04-25T16:53:25.910

@Conifold. Yes but they didn’t prove that something is not irreducibly complex biologically rather they proved that a non biological mousetrap could be used for something else other than what it was intended for. They dismantled the analogy not the biology. Claiming that all the components for the flagellum were already present in nature. This is a problem in and of itself because nothing in cellular biology works without genetic coding for constructing the organelle. It’s not self-automated. Both the proteins and their instructions must evolve simultaneously. So essentially it was just theory – Autodidact – 2019-04-25T18:59:10.280

1"They" do not have to prove anything, it was for the defenders of irreducible complexity to prove that flagellum, etc., could not have evolved piecemeal. Not only did they fail to do so, but a mechanism was offered for such piecemeal development. Not that it matters, but "nothing in cellular biology works without genetic coding" is plainly false, mutations are not coded by definition, not to mention epigenetics. In any case, we will not resolve this issue in a comment thread, so it is pointless to discuss it here. You have your references. – Conifold – 2019-04-25T19:18:57.357

@Conifold I concur based on your response that it won’t be resolved in a comment thread. the fact that protein building is genome dependent is a fact, without the genome sequence and all the corresponding component preexisting there is no protein building. That is irreducible by definition. And a mutation in the genome despite being non viable the vast majority of the times is coded into the genome. A mutation on a protein is not coded, yes that is correct and that proves my point. Epigentics is environmentally dependent but it doesn’t produce new proteins it favors expression of existing ones – Autodidact – 2019-04-25T22:03:49.153

Are you familiar with McTaggart and the B theory of time, where time is treated in much the same way as space and there is no objective present, nor does anything come into or go out of existence (eternalism? From this perspective the whole notion of "cause and effect" as a basic metaphysical category becomes suspect, it becomes plausible that it's really just a way of talking about lawlike mathematical relationships between different 3D cross-sections of 4D spacetime.

– Hypnosifl – 2020-05-11T19:14:49.760

(cont.) For more on this point see this question and subsequent discussion--I posted some relevant links in the comments there as well.

– Hypnosifl – 2020-05-11T19:15:57.697



I will try to present some reasoning why an atheist might believe it is "logical that something uncreated ended up with earth containing organic intelligence."

Assume we have a creation event. That would be a first cause. What happens after that are called secondary causes. Here is Wikipedia's description of secondary causation:

Secondary Causation is the philosophical proposition that all material and corporeal objects, having been created by God with their own intrinsic potentialities, are subsequently empowered to evolve independently in accordance with natural law. Traditional Christians would slightly modify this injunction to allow for the occasional miracle as well as the exercise of free will. Deists who deny any divine interference past the creation event would only accept free will exceptions. That the physical universe is consequentially well-ordered, consistent, and knowable subject to human observation and reason, was a primary theme of Scholasticism and further molded into the philosophy of the Western Tradition by Augustine and later by Aquinas.

If the creation stops then the universe is on its own except for occasional miracles when the first cause intervenes. Note how Deists push out God's action by eliminating miracles.

Atheists can claim, based on a belief in secondary causation known through natural laws, that either the universe is eternal and doesn't need a first cause or if it did begin (such as believed with the big bang) the cause was some sort of randomness.

Just as the atheist denies a first cause a theist could deny secondary causation or reduce its significance. A complete denial of secondary causation is viewed as continuous creation or occasionalism.

Occasionalism is a philosophical theory about causation which says that created substances cannot be efficient causes of events. Instead, all events are taken to be caused directly by God....The theory states that the illusion of efficient causation between mundane events arises out of God's causing of one event after another.

So to go back to the original question:

I’m not asking if it can be true. I’m not asking how it can be true. I’m asking why is it logical that something uncreated ended up with earth containing organic intelligence.

When theists accept secondary causation (except for some miracles) they open the door logically for atheists to believe only in secondary causation. They make it possible to think in terms of only secondary causation. If God created the world at the big bang then everything after that (except for miracles) would be done by secondary causation including organic intelligence.

The way around that would be to present a theism that limits secondary causation or entirely eliminates it in some form of occasionalism.

Wikipedia contributors. "Occasionalism." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 9 Sep. 2018. Web. 20 Mar. 2019.

Wikipedia contributors. "Secondary causation." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 8 Apr. 2018. Web. 20 Mar. 2019.

Frank Hubeny

Posted 2019-03-20T18:28:40.490

Reputation: 18 742

Thank @Frank Hubeny for your response and the edit to the question. If I may: My qualifier given your response is that secondary causation implies a Big Bang theistic model and not a Genesis 1-2 young earth no gap occasionalism model and while former opens secondary causation to atheist by Big Bang theist, the latter doesn’t by Creation Young Earth theists. What is the logic other than Darwinian theists for a first causation by atheists? – Autodidact – 2019-03-20T20:29:38.993

@Autodidact Occasionalism would fit either the Genesis 1-2 Young Earth Model or the Big Bang/Darwinian Theistic model because God can create as He will. Having too much secondary causation would likely limit theism to a Big Bang model with God intervening through miracles or in other ways "sustaining" creation. But the theist doesn't have to give up all secondary causation. An alternative to a continuous creation is a create and sustain reality. – Frank Hubeny – 2019-03-20T20:39:01.847

I suppose it would @ FrankHubeny. I guess I would go with a create and sustain reality. And I understand why you were contrasting but I’m essentially interested in the atheist explanation and why there is no apparent contradiction to start with a first cause, then randomness, accidents and time, secondary causation and end up with organic intelligence. Time and randomness does not allow for irreducible complexity. – Autodidact – 2019-03-20T20:53:31.817

A star to be formed requires, gravity, heat and matter, but in order to have gravity you must have a hot core and to have a hot core you must have gravity. That is affirming the consequent and circular reasoning. (I’m simplifying star birth but you understand, I trust) – Autodidact – 2019-03-20T20:53:37.823

@Autodidact The create and sustain way allows for human freedom. I don't think the atheist position replacing the first cause with randomness works, that is, I don't find it convincing. Saying something is random is not an explanation. However, that would be one of the paradoxes (or contradictions) when accepting only secondary causation. – Frank Hubeny – 2019-03-20T21:08:03.727

@Autodidact your concern about star formation is Physics rather than Philosophy. Here is one answer: https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/61399 Every particle with mass produces gravity, whether hot or cold.

– Foo Bar – 2019-03-22T18:55:31.100

@FooBar thank you for the link, the principle question is not about stars and while I have alluded to star formation and over simplified it, mass attracting mass has never been demonstrated. It is an accepted scientific theory(fact) that has never been demonstrated, and 8 km into the earth’s crust does not demonstrate a molten core It is far more reasonable to believe there is no space beyond the atmosphere than to believe that mass attracts mass. But this is not the purpose of my question. Philosophy inevitably touches upon the sciences. And theology is the queen of them all. – Autodidact – 2019-03-22T20:52:11.277


@Autodidact your claims about gravity are simply false. Gravity of small masses has been demonstrated numerous times, from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cavendish_experiment through https://www.space.com/42863-nasa-osiris-rex-orbit-asteroid-bennu.html But I suspect that you and I are speaking different languages (theology vs science) and we will never come to agreement on the facts of the matter.

– Foo Bar – 2019-03-23T00:18:03.890

@FooBar this is not pertaining to my question. If you wish to believe you are correct, then I’ll concede. If you accept a challenge then know that the cavendish experiment was not produced in space mimicking earth in space but on earth, that’s a major flaw. Also the assumption that his balls translate to earth’s properties. Besides his math involves the reification fallacy, and affirming the consequent fallacy. Very convenient. Einstein took out the Newtonian gravity model which Cavendish relies on. The Osiris link is an appeal to authority. We don’t agree because I question everything – Autodidact – 2019-03-23T01:54:58.207


What is a universe ?

Word "universe" is a very loaded word, i.e. it does have different meanings in physics, mathematics, and of course in different philosophical schools. For example, it could symbolize totality of everything that exists, it could be just one of many worlds in multiverse (another ambiguous word), or it could be just a representation of existence in our mind ("Everybody lives in his own universe").

It is precisely this definition that differentiates between various forms of atheism and theism . You already mentioned yourself that atheist consider universe to be uncreated (which is logical, because creation would require creator) . It is entirely possible to imagine universe as something that doesn't have beginning in time, and even does not exist in time, with time being just a function of our mind (Kant). Or to imagine our universe (which has time) as just a part of bigger multiverse, one of possible worlds .

Now we come to the problem of intelligent life. If you limit yourself to a narrow definition of universe as described in current physics ( Big Bang theory, universe has beginning and probably an end) question arises of sapient life's probability in such confined universe. Limited universe does favor idea of creator, but only if you consider it as only universe. With introduction of idea that there could be many possible universes (and that they actually do exist "somewhere" ) intelligent life is not a rare event, but certainty . After all, in all possible worlds, there are few with intelligent life. Those without - well we do not know about them because there is no intelligent life in them :)

Note that cause-effect relation (something that is mostly considered for granted in human reasoning) does not need to be taken as precondition for existence of the universe. Or in other words, there could be worlds without classical arrow of time, which do not have "first cause" as described in classical philosophy.


Posted 2019-03-20T18:28:40.490

Reputation: 1 082


How can a creationist invoke a created universe and assert its logical consistency, given that almost nothing (as measured by volume or mass [1]) inside the universe was created by intelligence? It's only a tiny fraction of things in the human world, the rest is created by intelligence-free, unconscious mechanisms. Even the only known intelligence inside animal brains is created by intelligence-free mechanisms. See neuroscience for details on how.

Note that this applies to the universe at every stage in human history. It applies to all parts of the universe that were previously unknown, or "outside" the universe as it was defined in a previous time.

At no stage in history has the universe outside the minds of humans been verified to be created by conscious intelligence. Be it the Nile Valley, the European continent, the earth, the solar system, or the Milky Way galaxy. How is creationism logically valid if every time humans have expanded the visible "universe" we have access to, it turns out that the same or similar intelligence-free fundamental laws and processes are what's doing the creating?

Doesn't creationism commit a special pleading fallacy by asserting the entire universe MUST be different from what occurs inside it AND ignores the history of how each time the universe has expanded, the old parts were found to be created by intelligence-free mechanisms? Doesn't creationism commit a 2nd special pleading fallacy by asserting the entire universe works the same as the infinitesimal fraction of the universe that humans are responsible for?

Science proves simple parts with simple rules can combine into very complex systems (i.e. intelligence simply isn't needed to create complex, magnificent results) so the creationist argument from complexity/amazement isn't logical or consistent with empirical observation, whereas atheism is logically consistent with all known evidence, and all definitions (i.e. sizes) of the universe.

"Theists will define their god and attribute qualities to their god such as intelligence, intentionality and inspiration."

The only known cause of these attributes is intelligence-free processes, mechanisms and laws inside the universe. See neuroscience for details. It is not logical to violate the parsimony principle, i.e. assume there is some other mode of existence or way to have these qualities. Every new assumption without empirical evidence doubles the chance the conclusion is wrong. Theism adds hundreds, thousands, perhaps millions of philosophical assumptions, making it both logically invalid and probabilistically impossible.

"What would be a logical explanation for an uncreated universe/multiverse?"

As emotionally unsatisfactory as it is (because it says the "creator" is not, in any way like us), the logical explanation for an "uncreated" universe created by intelligence-free mechanisms is what science continually tells us: that astounding, complex structures can be created with only simple intelligence-free rules and without intention, from simple parts interacting in 4D space-time, 2 more dimensions that is required for the leap from simple dynamical systems to complex chaotic systems.

[1] Let's assume everything inside the livable part of earth was created by humans. Divide that thin spherical shell volume by the total volume of universe. Rough guess, it's about 10^(-100), yet this minuscule fraction is what creationism demands is somehow inverted for the case of the universe itself, based simply on the way humans work and subjective, unreliable human emotion of amazement (mostly due to ignorance). Creationism really is an inversion of logic and all known evidence.


Posted 2019-03-20T18:28:40.490

Reputation: 91