Observations fit abiogenesis better than a designer God

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Richard Carrier in 2006

For our universe, observations are more consistent with naturalistic causes than a designer God.

"If there is no God that designed the universe and designed life, first it would mean that life is a chemical accident. It is a very improbable accident that is true. That means for something like that to happen, the universe has to be really old and really big. There's lots of chemistry sets practising and creating molecules before one of them will come up. It's like a lottery: the odds of winning are low but if you have a million people playing, one of them is going to win. So if you see a lottery win, you should expect there are millions of players. And that is the case here. The [universe we would expect] is vastly old and vastly huge. And look, that is the universe we see."

Richard Carrier[1]

The argument[edit]

  • Axiom: The observed universe is old and vast.
  • Axiom: Life exists.
  • Axiom: Abiogenesis, the origin of life from non-living material, occurring on a specific planet in a specific year is highly improbable.
  • If abiogenesis occurred, the universe almost certainly has to be old and vast in order that the improbable event has many independent chances of occurring.
  • Abiogenesis is consistent with the universe we observe.

We then make the argument from poor design:

  • Axiom: If he existed, a designer God would create a universe to support life
  • Axiom: If he existed, a designer God would use the minimum required material and time
  • Therefore, a designer God would only use the minimal material required to support life
  • A designer God is not consistent with the vast and old universe we observe.

And to conclude:

  • Therefore, Abiogenesis is a better fit to our observations than a designer God.
  • Therefore, a designer God does not exist

A variant of the argument substitutes evolution for abiogenesis. Evolution requires billions of years to develop diverse species, which is the approximate age of the Earth.

Counter arguments[edit]

All that time and material is necessary[edit]

Perhaps the universe is the ancient and vast by necessity. While it is unclear what the reason is, the burden to explain the vastness of the universe is not on the theist this time. However, if they deny a design would be parsimonious, they weaken the analogy used in the argument from design that God is like a (human) designer.

This view is similar to theistic evolution.


God may have created the universe to appear as if it has age. There is no obvious reason for God to do this and is rather deceptive.

Young-Earth creationism[edit]

Some apologists argue that scientists are mistaken and that the Earth is about 6000 years old. This still does not explain the vast size of the universe.

See also[edit]