Why the Universe?

Mankind has always asked “Why?”.  Why indeed?  Through one simple three-letter word we have asked questions of the stars, unearthed secrets of our planet, harnessed the power of nature, developed technology, and explored the deepest depths of the oceans.  The word “WHY” has fueled the engine of human exploration, discovery, and advancement for thousands of years.  We know almost all there is to know about our planet and are well-versed in the workings of the universe (though our knowledge be vastly incomplete), but one “why” has eluded us since the dawn of time.  Why does the universe exist?

I’m sure you’ve heard a story of someone in college who, when asked on their biology final the simple question, “Why” wrote “Because” and received full marks.  Whilst that answer might have sufficed for the purposes of the freshman Biology course it is a supremely inadequate answer.  It is an extremely disappointing answer to say the least.  We learn of this answer’s disappointment from a very early age.  When a child asks why he can’t have ice cream for dinner the parent responds, “Because.”  “Why?” asks the child.  “Because I’m your father and I said so”  in order to avoid having to embark upon a futile dissertation on why ice cream is not healthy and dinner is.  However, the child is always disappointed because their question was not adequately answered (in their mind).

As humans we are driven and we feel compelled to understand the nature of things around us.  Why does the sun move across the sky?  Why does the moon go through phases?  Why does everything stick to the surface of the Earth instead of floating away into space?  Why does it get cold in the winter and hot in the summer?  Through the simple word “why” we have developed science which is nothing more than the art of asking “why?”  We are curious beings and a cop-out answer of “because” simply won’t suffice.  We seek the truth and nothing less.

The science of seeking the answer to why the universe exists is known as Cosmology.  The popular belief among today’s cosmologists seems to be that the universe exists because of a cosmic dice game.  Conditions for the universe existing are just right because the dice fell the correct way.  On a traditional die there are six outcomes so the die is a cube.  In the case of the universe, the dice used would have so many sides that it would almost be spherical with the probability of the current outcome being rolled is almost infinitely small.  This has led to the exploration of a theory of the multiverse.  Are there more than one universes?  Are there an infinite amount of universes existing simultaneously?  If so then that would greatly increase the chances of our universe being the way it is more realistic.  Are we really just the result of chance?  Is the complexity of our bodies, the planet, the stars, and galaxies really just by accident and random?  If so, then the universe is a dreadfully bleak and meaningless object.  My life has no purpose and neither does yours.  The Milky Way galaxy is here, but it could not have been here, or there, or anywhere at all.  If the power to exist is derived from the sums of all its parts probabilities of existing then it would seem that we’re just multiplying by 1/∞.

Just a game of dice? Who’s playing? Credit: G.E. Ely

We all know you can’t divide by infinity.  It could be true that the probability of anything existing is the sum of all it’s parts existing, but for this to be possible you would need a finite probability for each component.  One way of rationalizing this would be to assume that the universe was created on purpose.  There are simply way to many components that influence the existence of any one object that to quantify them would always create a denominator so large, the resulting probability is infinitely small.  So for me, chance is out right.  There has to be some purpose and order to it all.

I am neither a cosmologist nor a scientist.  I am simply a layman who is taking what he sees and using it to make sense of the world.  As John Milton says in Paradise Lost, “We see things not as they are, but as we are.”  It is impossible for us to make truly objective conclusions about anything because we always see things and approach things based on personal opinion, experiences, and perceptions.  The trouble with the cosmic dice game explanation of the universe is that those scientists have always had a perception of the universe being random and chaotic and harsh and will see only the evidence that supports their perceptions.  If only there was a source of knowledge that came from outside a human mind not subjected to false perception or bias then we could accept that as pure truth.  Could this be the same external force that exists outside of human knowledge and mathematics that created the universe on purpose?  Could there be a designer who’s knowledge and power caused all things to be?  My belief tells me that there indeed is.  There is a Creator who exists outside of human existence in whom all creation finds its source.

Apart from my personal beliefs, the notion of a creator is not as completely crazy as it sounds.  If you think about how marvelously fine-tuned the universe is and how everything works together in complete harmony it seems almost ridiculous to think that the order of the universe evolved from chaos by chance.  If say, the gravitational constant was less than it is stars would not be able to hold their elements inside where more complex and heavier elements are created there would be nothing in the universe except hydrogen and helium and nothing worth note could have formed from those lightest of elements.  Similarly, if the gravitational constant were larger then even the smallest of stars would explode into supernovae and black holes would ravage much of the known universe.  Planets would almost never form and galaxies would look very different.  Just in the case of gravity alone there seems to be evidence that a creator fine-tuned the knobs and locked them in place to the perfect setting.

This could easily turn into a 5,000 word essay but I will conclude here.  I believe there is simply too much detail and evidence of fine-tuning to believe that it all happened as a result of chance.  There has to be some kind of intelligence behind it.  The mathematical laws of the universe suggest this.  Math is beautiful and it binds the universe together.  Could we even have math to explain something that is infinitely random?  We study probability but balk at the thought of infinity.  So what if infinite probability is not even a part of the equation?  What if the probability was 1?  That certainly seems possible if there is a creator.