Christopher Hitchens on God’s Wastefulness

In his April 2009 debate with William Lane Craig (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0tYm41hb48o), Christopher Hitchens presented a long string of arguments which I regard as irrelevant to the question which those gentlemen were actually debating, which is whether or not God exists.  In this post I’ll discuss one example.  Following is a close paraphrase of what Hitchens said.

You are free to believe that this creator put himself to the trouble of creating all these species, 99.9% of all of which have become extinct – as we nearly did ourselves.

We are supposed to believe that all this mass extinction and death is the will of God – all done with us in view.  That’s solipsism.  [Solipsism: 1. The theory that only the self exists or can be proved to exist; or 2. Preoccupation with and indulgence of one’s feelings, desires, etc.; egoistic self-absorption.  (Dictionary.com.)]

The wastefulness, cruelty, and incompetence of it!  It doesn’t work for him.  Believe it if you can or if you like.

We’ve heard this argument before, from Darwin himself and ever since, so the question may deserve some consideration.

The existence of waste in nature is irrelevant to God’s existence or non-existence.  The question for debate was not whether a wasteful creator exists, but any creator.  Supposing, for the sake of the argument, that what Hitchens sees as waste is indeed waste, if the waste itself could not exist without God, then the fact of waste in nature would not diminish by one iota the probability that God exists.

And that is our case.  Given that anything at all exists – say, the universe, for example, with all its waste – then an eternal cause of the universe must also exist necessarily; for otherwise one must posit either an eternal universe (which we know is not the case), a universe that caused itself to exist (which is absurd), a universe which came into existence without a cause (which is implausible), or an infinite regress of prior finite causes (which is absurd).

Those four alternatives to theism are exhaustive: there are no other alternatives.  All of them being clearly false, theism must therefore be true – despite waste in nature (if that’s what it is).

Besides, as Craig points out elsewhere, a lack of economy would not be the same for a being who has infinite resources as it might be for Mr. Hitchens.

Finally, if God exists and was wasteful and Mr. Hitchens doesn’t understand why, then the fault is probably with Mr. Hitchens’ understanding and not with God, because, well, He’s God!  If He exists, He can be profligate if He wants to!

 

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