I have been sorely provoked, but glad to have been so, by my old e-pal, Deogolwulf, to discuss this' God business' which I do so, of course, with all the authority of your average fifth former! You can follow the opening shots of this campaign here and in the comments section. Necessarily, given the nature of that particular post we started our conversation somewhere in the middle of the controversy that I call 'the God business'. Here I want - dread words! - to go back to basics.
To begin with I intend to avoid the use of the word 'God' which has religious overtones that tend to obscure rather than enlighten any discussion. Instead I prefer to use the term 'Prime Mover'(PM) which is more neutral. As I understand it, one of the very first reasons for posturing the existence of a PM is the idea that before there was nothing and afterward there was something and a PM is the only answer because something cannot be produced from nothing and so a PM is required. That is entirely logical but only if you accept the premise for which there is no proof. For example, it fails to explain who or what created the PM in the first place . . . and then who created the creator of the PM and then, hey-ho, we are off into an infinite regression.
As I understand it, speaking as man who failed 'O'-level maths, physics and chemistry, it all began with a bang in which two entities, twins really, were 'created', or appeared, matter and energy. The matter, atoms of hydrogen and helium with virtually no mass, were hurled outwards, but, and this I always think is significant, they did not explode with perfect synchronisation, there were very slight but significant variations which were critical because that helped to bring about collisions and fusions between the particles at which point their increased mass resulted in increased gravitational forces which helped meld more and more of them together. The question which arises in my mind is, assuming the PM exists, did it intend to have those slight imperfections or was it an accident? I have a vision of a PM muttering, "Oh, fuck it! That wasn't perfection, let's sod off to another plane of potential existence and try again" and meanwhile our sad, imperfect, old universe was left to get on with it. This leads, naturally, to the question of intentionality on the part of the PM. Did it build-in imperfections and did it know where those imperfections would lead, or was it all one big roll of the dice?
All of that, or even some variations on that, I am prepared to accept as a hypothesis to explain the notion of a PM, but is it exclusive to other hypotheses? For example, returning to infinity, a notion treated with great caution and some distrust by ancient Christian thinkers, it is a possibility that nothing was created because everything exists, always has existed and will continue to exist - even though the form changes constantly and forever. Thus, as one scientific theory postulated (although I seem to remember that it has gone slightly out of favour recently) our universe will one day fall back on itself and everything will be collapsed into a black hole before it explodes yet again, and thus does "the wheel of fire" keep turning forever and ever, amen!
Now, I find the idea of an infinity of existence, or perhaps, existences, as cautiously acceptable as the notion of a PM. As theories they both share some strengths and some weaknesses but neither of them is entirely satisfactory. In other words, I am not prepared to accept that a PM is necessary to explain existence. However, as my conversation with Deogolwulf is concerned with religious explanations of existence I will set aside infinity for now and concentrate on the nature of the Prime Mover. However, the sun is shining and I must take advantage of it to do some gardening so I will continue this dreary monologue this afternoon.