In my previous article “Komolgorov Complexity…” I presented one atheist scenario to explain the origin of the universe:
Atheist scenario: A universe exists as a result of springing into existence uncaused out of nothing.
This really bothered Adam Hazzard. At first he accused me of presenting this as the atheist position, which I didn’t. I explicitly stated that it was one atheist position. And I pointed out that many atheists have presented this as a hypothesis for the origin of the universe. Adam was not satisfied. He retorted: “Surely you’re aware of the difference between “could have” and “did”? Surely you’re aware of the difference between speculation and a claim of knowledge?” Atheists don’t really believe this is the case, apparently. They’re just speculating.
In fact, there’s a real problem with the way Adam is arguing. Let’s consider an analogy. Imagine that Trish tells her friend Jen that she’s considering hiring Mr. Jones as her new gardener. And Jen replies:
“I don’t know about that. What if Mr. Jones is a serial killer?”
Jen could mean that in a speculative, half-joking way along the lines of “What would things be like if that were true?” Trish chuckles, joins Jen in the speculation for a while … and then later that day she calls Mr. Jones’ references and sets up an interview.
Or Jen could mean that in a serious way, in a way intended to preclude the real possibility of hiring Mr. Jones. If she means it in that way then we’re not talking light hearted speculation any more. Rather, we’re talking serious evidential claims that could seriously affect a man’s career. And Jen better be prepared to defend them. She can say “I was just speculating!” in the first scenario but not the second.
Now let’s shift to discussion of the origin of the universe. Here our dialogue partner will be Robert Hayes. He begins by observing:
“If the singularity of the “Big Bang” was a quantum fluctuation, we have before us a plausible scenario for the creation of the universe in vacuo.”
Further down the page Hayes concludes:
“Since coherent, observationally plausible theories can account for design in both the physical and biological domains, science offers no reason to invoke the extra metaphysical baggage some would lay upon us with “God” hypotheses.” (“The “Purpose” of Chance in Light of the Physical Basis of Evolution,” in Origin and Evolution of the Universe: Evidence for Design?, ed. John M. Robson (McGill Queen’s University Press, 1987), 24.)
Hayes clearly is not offering a light hearted “what if” speculation along the lines of “What would the moon taste like if it were made of green cheese?” Rather, he’s offering a serious proposal which is, so he thinks, of sufficient merit to preclude the appeal to agency as a viable cause of the universe’s origin. And that means that Hayes better be prepared to defend his proposal. He can’t escape that obligation by saying he doesn’t really believe it, or he’s not sure of it, or he was just speculating. If he thinks it is of sufficient merit to warrant precluding design, he has to defend it.