My friend Dan Dana, an Atheist
author and proprietor of The Reason Revolution
website, is writing one of the fifteen articles to make up Pandeism: An Anthology
at the heart
of our Kickstarter effort
). And in writing his contribution, he has provided to me some questions, which I answer here:
1. “Who/what created the creator?” Or, did the creator not exist in time and space prior to creation? As I’m sure you agree, the tortured explanations given by theists to this question are unsatisfying.
This is one of the most common of questions -- if a Creator is to be posited, it indeed follows that this Creator must either
have itself come into existence through some spontaneous process which did not require a Creator, or
was itself intentionally created by an Ur-Creator, or
simply exists eternally without origin. Worse yet, such a Creator can't even know
which of these is the case, because it might have been manufactured by a greater being (or, more improbably, through some spontaneous process) complete with memories of an interminably long existence. Time, as it turns out, appears nonlinear. It may be that the last thing our Creator ever does in our Universe is return to the beginning of time to create it anew, and live a new Universe.
As to time -- this is one of the things we simply do not know; due to entropy
, we simply do not know if this can
be known, but if it can be known it all it will be our gifts of reason and discovery of physics which reveal all possible mechanics of our Creator coming to be. The thing about Pandeism
is, it is a probabilistic model. It examines our Universe and determines that it has characteristics consistent with intentional creation; and characteristics which would be necessary of a Creator to have undertaken an intentional Creation (power to create, intelligence to design a functional Creation, motivation to act). Some theists are fond of pointing out that their scripture
"is not a science book" -- and Pandeism doesn't even have a scripture to point to to make such an assertion. Absent invention of a time machine
of our own, we will never be able to answer certain questions -- what season of the year was it when life began evolving on Earth. We can only look at effects and adduce a range of possibilities, and that is all Pandeism attempts to do, applauding science as the means to narrow which in the range are more likely to be true.
(One last note about science -- people sometimes imagine that scientists generally and particle physicists especially speculate as to the existence of a certain particle, and then peer really hard through a microscope until they spot one, when in fact, what they do is extrapolate from the properties of the proposed particle what effects it would have in a specific medium. Though we've "discovered" the Higgs Boson
for example, we haven't actually exactly taken a picture of one; instead we've predicted what effect a particle having the characteristics of a Higgs Boson would have in a specific medium, and have confirmed such an effect exists; and this seems to be how we would confirm the existence of a Creator, by determining some effect which would flow from this being so, and measuring for this effect.)
2. “By what physical mechanism(s) did the creator manufacture the material universe?” Or, did the creator not exist prior to the creation/big-bang, at which time particle physics as we now know it begin to take form (ref Lawrence Krauss et al)?
Lawrence Krauss often speaks of (and even titled his book) A Universe From Nothing
. But when his discussion is plumbed in detail, he isn't really speaking of "nothing
," but of two very definite things, one being some set of laws of physics which would exist to act on anything which existed even if our Universe did not, and the other being an eternally bubbling quantum foam, a popping in and out of existence of particles. So apparently something
has to have existed prior to the Big Bang
(that something at the least being whatever set of conditions were required for a Big Bang to happen, instead of nothing at all continuing to happen for eternity. And there had to be some kind of "time
" operating on those quantum particles popping in and out of existence, even if they sort of brought their own time with them. But where was this quantum action occurring? Well, everywhere.
Now, we can state with confidence that the Big Bang happened, and that some specific set of conditions existed right when it happened in order for it to happen exactly as it did. And if a set of conditions existed, and it is possible for some mind to influence conditions specifically to cause
that set of conditions to exist, then the question of the mechanism becomes simply, "how did whatever came before our Universe line up that initial set of conditions to match what was necessary for our Universe to come forth thereby?" And again, this is a question to be answered by science. Simply put, Pandeism proposes that it is scientific discovery which will uncover whatever possible range of mechanisms may have been.
3. “Is/was the creator ‘supernatural’?” Or, are/were the principles of particle physics (the natural world) at work within the “entity” of the creator? Or, is/was the creator a non-material entity prior to creation of the universe? If the latter, in what sense did the creator “exist” prior to creation?
I have no reason to consider the Creator as a 'supernatural' entity of the Aladdin
's-genie sort, which can blink and cause any outcome, no matter how contrary to physics or reason. If it exists, it is bound by some laws -- of mathematics and logic, at least -- though not necessarily all the laws which govern our Universe. There are aspects of our Universe (the specific speed of light, the ratios of certain particle sizes) which scientists have debated could be different in alternate Universes, so the question really is, what characteristics must persist in any
Universe. And there we'll find what governs any Creator.