I saw this review of an apologetics book that was published earlier this year, and while I’m totally unenthusiastic about the book itself, its title — also the title of this post — got me thinking about a question I often struggle to convey to theists. I don’t think this is a guaranteed “gotcha” type of question, but it’s definitely one worth thinking about, and one that (to me, as an atheist) says a lot about how we ought to construct and develop our beliefs.
Suppose for a moment that you knew nothing about the universe as it exists. All you know, we’ll assume, is that a god (the one you believe in, or if you don’t, pick one for an example) exists. What do you expect the universe to look like? Why do you expect that? Let’s further assume that Earth exists, and that humans live on it. What do you expect life to be like for humans, in this universe where your god exists?
Now repeat the process, but this time suppose that no gods exist. What would the universe look like then, and why? If there is an Earth and human civilizations on it, what do you predict the human experience to be like?
Of course, whatever side you’re on, that’s the one you’ll likely describe as looking just like the world we live in — no matter how much I try to caveat in a totally blank slate. But I do wonder what religious people think the world would look like without their god/s, especially since so much is well-explained as it is by science alone. And I think religious folks could benefit from hearing what atheists would expect the world to be like with their god existing, because our expectations are generally based on the implications of widely-held beliefs or even specific claims made in scripture. If their god’s existence doesn’t imply those things after all, then … what exactly are we talking about in the first place?