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Could God Have Made the Big Bang? (On Theistic Counterfactuals)

  • Duncan Macintosh (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 01 April 2010

That the universe began in a big bang is often believed by theists to confirm divine creation ex nihilo. But Quentin Smith claims that it means God must not exist. For if he does, there is an earliest state E of the universe. God made E. E is ensured either to contain animate creatures or to lead to an animate state. For God would know that an animate universe is better than an inanimate one, and that even a minimally morally good being would be obliged to create one if he could. And God, being at least minimally mor-ally good, and all-powerful, would be able and inclined to ensure the existence of one (p. 53). But science says that E is inanimate since the big bang singularity (E) involves the life-hostile conditions of infinite temperature, curvature and density; also that it is inherently unpredictable and lawless so that there is no guarantee it will emit particles that will evolve into an animate state. Thus £ is not ensured to lead to an animate state (p. 53), and thus God could not have made E. So, God does not exist (p. 54). Smith: “There are countless logically possible initial states of the universe that lead by a natural and law-like evolution to animate states and if God had created the universe he would have selected one of these” (p. 58).

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Quentin Smith , “Atheism, Theism and Big Bang Cosmology,” Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 69 (1991): 4866.

Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 68 [1990]: 2243)

Jonathan Bennett , “Counterfactuals and Possible Worlds,” Canadian Journal of Philosophy, 4 (1974): 381402;

Wayne Davies , “Indicative and Subjunctive Conditionals,” Philosophical Review, 88 (1979): 544–64.

Frank Jackson , “On Assertion and Indicative Conditionals,” Philosophical Review, 88 (1979): 565ff.

Theism and Big Bang Cosmology,” Australasian Journal of Philosophy, 69 (1991): 492503,

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Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review / Revue canadienne de philosophie
  • ISSN: 0012-2173
  • EISSN: 1759-0949
  • URL: /core/journals/dialogue-canadian-philosophical-review-revue-canadienne-de-philosophie
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