Following my last post on Dr. Vince Vitale’s talk “Was the Universe Designed by God?” I have another objection to his claims.
When discussing the “big picture explanations for the universe,” and when asking the question, “How did this all get here?”, Vince lists three possible explanations:
- God created the universe.
- The entire universe popped into existence out of nothing without an explanation.
- The universe, or perhaps some series of universes, has always existed, extending infinitely back in time.
Vince claims that even the agnostic has to admit that at least one of these three options is true, and because of this, he says (see time stamp 3:29):
The conclusion, I think, is that we live in a miraculous world. I don’t think there’s any getting around that — whether you’re a theist, an atheist, or an agnostic… all we have are incredible alternatives. No one has the choice to believe only in the ordinary. We have not been left that option. I call this the ‘normality of the supernatural.’ (Emphasis mine)
Here, Vince is begging the question against naturalism. He’s assuming from the start that each of the three options are “miraculous,” and that each entail supernaturalism. When Vince makes this assumption, he’s unjustly ruling out the possibility of a natural explanation of the universe. This is simply a prejudice against naturalism.
I agree with Vince that whatever the real explanation for the universe turns out to be, it will be astonishing. If there is a multiverse, or an eternal quantum vacuum, or a God, all would be mind-blowing. But this is different than all being supernatural. To argue as Vince has is to be closed-minded and biased against naturalistic explanations.
The other side of that coin is when some atheists try to rule out the possibility of the supernatural from the start. They may say something like, “If we ever prove that a supernatural being or force exists, it will just become part of the natural world.” I disagree and think that’s just as prejudicial and biased as Vince’s claim. Here is why: we have an idea of what the “natural world” is: physical objects and forces that obey the laws of physics and chemistry, which includes solar systems and galaxies, all the way down to atoms and subatomic particles at the quantum level. So if we were ever to discover some ‘other’ forces or agents, like telekinesis, ghosts, or spell-casting witches, that fall outside of the standard regularities that we observe, we ought to place them in a separate ontological category than the natural. The same is true if we were to prove the existence of a theistic God. If such a being exists, it would not be part of the natural world, and would deserve its own “supernatural” label.