There are two goals I wish to achieve in this response. Firstly, I want to show in several points as to why the argument in the meme is not a good one. I take the meme to be arguing that belief in God, as well as human conflict over whose got the one true God, is silly since we appear so insignificant in comparison to the physical universe in which we find ourselves. Secondly, we shall end off with a brief appeal to the person who shared the meme. I was informed that this atheist meme was shared by someone on Facebook.
Why the Argument is a Bad One.
My first impression is that this is rather ironic coming from atheists. Atheists put much effort into their attempts to rid the world of belief in God and religion. They put just as much value, time and effort into their own worldview that religious people put into theirs. So why hold to a double standard? If we really live on such an insignificant planet (which somehow does an intellectual leap to our existence being pointless and insignificant) as they assert we do then their views are just as pointless. In effect they aren’t really saying anything at all that’s worth considering on their own worldview from which they make the claim.
Secondly, the implied conclusion that God does not exist, or that belief in God is just silly due to our cosmic insignificance, does not follow. What about the other theistic arguments that I’ve presented, or other Christians have presented, that the most studied atheists have time and time again failed to answer? This would include, though not limited to, the Kalam cosmological argument, the argument from miracles, and Jesus’ resurrection of which I’ve defended. Belief in God is thus still rational even in the face of our tininess in the cosmic scale of things.
Thirdly, why can’t God make a universe such as the one we find ourselves in? Is there some sort of assumption on the part of this atheist that for us to be valuable in the eyes of God the universe has to be human-proportionate in such a way as to show that? I don’t think so. If God is incomprehensible himself then why shouldn’t we expect the universe to reflect that in some way? After all, according to Christian theology creation glorifies the incomprehensible God (Col. 1:16; Psalm 66:4; Rev. 5:13), demonstrates his power (1 Chronicles 29:11; Rev. 4:11), and was deliberately crafted in such a way (Genesis 1:1; John 1:3; Hebrews 11:3; Rev. 10:6). What this demonstrates is that the size of the universe and its incomprehensible nature is a deliberate act, and displays the power and glory of the God who created it.
Fourthly, for intelligent life to even exist the universe has to be the size it is. I find philosopher William Lane Craig quite informative here; Craig brings in cosmologists and physicists John Barrow and Frank Tipler. Barrow and Tipler in their book The Anthropic Cosmological Principle emphasize that the size and age of the universe are just what we should expect to observe. Craig explains, “For the carbon that makes up our bodies was synthesized in the interior of stars and then distributed throughout the universe via supernovae. It takes aeons for galaxies of stars to form and even more time for the carbon requisite for life to be spread abroad to become the foundation of biological life. No other element could substitute for carbon in this role. So the universe must be as old as it is for life to exist and, hence, as big as it is, since the universe is in a state of cosmic expansion since its inception in the Big Bang 13.7 billion years ago. So the size and age of the universe are just what one ought to expect given the fine-tuning of the initial conditions of the universe, which, many have argued, is best explained through design” (1).
Fifthly, man’s worth is not dependent on the size of the universe. In fact, one single human being is worth more than the entire physical universe put together according to Christian theology. Physical things like dust, radiation, dark energy, matter, and so on do not possess intrinsic worth as human beings do. God, the incomprehensible creator, is able to endow what he so chooses within his universe with intrinsic value. So why couldn’t God have chosen to endow mankind with such worth?
Sixth, our cosmic tininess demonstrates the love of God and how far he would go to redeem us. When we look at the universe and the creator behind it we are struck as to why such an incomprehensible creator would take it upon himself to become a tiny human being in Jesus of Nazareth. God, via his own volition, chose to do so and I think that says a lot. We can also be confident that God really did reveal himself in Jesus since we have persuasive evidence for the resurrection of Jesus as an act of God in history. Craig captures this well, “I have come to the view that the seeming triviality of man, far from supporting atheism, as Frank Zindler alleged in our debate at Willow Creek, [the size of the universe] only serves to magnify God’s amazing love and condescension and to underscore the Christian doctrine of man as the imago dei (image of God)” (2).
Finally, I would like to make an appeal to the person who shared this. I feel like she may have shared this meme with minimal thought, or comprehension, of the consequences of the atheistic worldview that it promotes. Firstly, if one alleges that human existence is pointless, as atheists do (especially the ones who at least try to live consistently with their atheism), then it should be reflected in the life they live. That means the things we take for granted like our moral experience (which is our belief that some acts are intrinsically evil as opposed to good; like rape for example) should be thrown out of the window. But I am absolutely certain that the person who shared the meme will be quick to claim rape, torture, or abusing puppies, are moral atrocities. But if so then she is attaching value to our human existence that she has evidently chosen to undermine in her agreement with the message of the meme. She would also need to do dispose of human value and human purpose in life. If the meme is correct in that we are so insignificant in the cosmic scale of things then it logically follows that we have no objective meaning in life. Sure, we could create subjective meaning but that would just be an illusion where we are essentially creating meaning where none exists. We wouldn’t have to create meaning if it really existed in the first place. However, the person who shared this meme clearly believes she has meaning and purpose; in fact, she believes that she has made a meaningful act by promoting her agreement with the meme. But how does that exist on a worldview that has precisely done away with objective meaning? Essentially her opinion is worth no more than anyone else’s in a universe that cares nothing for her, or my, existence.
Thus my appeal is twofold. Firstly, one should try to be cognizant of the radical consequences of adopting an atheistic worldview that undermines overwhelming human experience that we are meaningful creatures driven by purpose, and that we know certain acts are morally evil as opposed to good. Secondly, I’ve shown in several points as to why the conclusion to the meme, namely that belief in God is silly due to our cosmic tininess, just does not logically follow. Anyone can represent anything they want within a meme but that doesn’t make what they present a good argument, and it’s good arguments that really matter at the end of the day.
1. Craig, W. Does the Vastness of the Universe Support Naturalism? Available.
2. Craig, W. Man’s Worth and the Size of the Universe. Available.