Is the universe too big?

In a comment on an earlier post, I was asked if I am bothered by the size of the observable universe, that it makes God’s concern for mankind implausible.  As I understand it, the idea that an omnipotent God made a very large universe is not problematic, but the worry is that He seems to have singled out one particular species on one particular planet in an unreasonable way.  I should warn readers that I may be a bad person to address this issue.  Long exposure to large numbers had desensitized me to them, enough that it takes some effort for me to even grasp the issue.

Are humans tiny?  Well, the Planck length gives a smallest length scale of 10^{-35}m, and the cosmological constant is 10^{-122} Planck length{}^{-2}, giving a largest length scale of 10^{61} Planck lengths (latex 10^{26}$m, also about the distance to the cosmological horizon at the universe’s current age), so in log space human size (meters) is around the middle, a bit on the big size.  Could the universe have been much closer to our own scale while still being habitable to us?  To give the universe a finite size, we’re presumably talking about non-trivial topologies.  Stephen Barr takes up this question for (if I recall correctly) a closed, spatially S^3 universe, and finds that, no, the universe must be enormous or it would collapse long before we could have evolved.  I thought maybe this limit could be evaded for a flat (k=0) universe where I just identify x=-L with x=L (similarly for y, z) for a “modest” universe size L (a spatially T_3 universe).  But no, that kills perturbations at longer wavelengths, screws up structure formation unless I keep the universe huge.  So, it would seem that with the laws of nature we’ve got, God had to make the universe big to grow us naturally.  Of course, he didn’t have to grow us naturally.

My problem with this line of thinking, that mankind must be “big” in a theistic world, is deeper, though.  I simply don’t assume that humans, or intelligent life itself, is God’s primary concern in creating the universe.  Why must we believe that?  We are told that God loves us and has a plan for us.  God overlooks nothing, and He values each of His creatures to the exact degree that they are valuable.  As Jesus said, “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care.  And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.  So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”  Perhaps there are things more important even than us.  What if God’s main reason for creating man was to give his angels training as guardian angels before moving them up to more important things?

If a person thinks that importance correlates with size or mass, he should have no quarrel with theism itself.  Perhaps God was really mostly concerned with dark matter halos when He created the universe.  Suppose instead that you rebel against such thoughts, convinced that man, that thinking reed, is greater than such lifeless, mindless things.  If you are right, then God knows it, and He cares more about us than dark matter, supermassive black holes, or the interstellar medium.  After all, you were able to overlook mere size or mass to find a truer measure of importance, and if you can do it, surely God can do it.  In either case, it is your belief in the value rank of different creatures that causes you to believe what you do about what is important for God, not the belief in God itself.

4 Responses

  1. What if God’s main reason for creating man was to give his angels training as guardian angels before moving them up to more important things?

    Delightful.

  2. “And Thou Bethlehem Ephrata, art a little one among the thousands of Juda: out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be the ruler in Israel: and his going forth is from the beginning, from the days of eternity.”

    Given God’s penchant for choosing small and neglected things over the great and powerful, it would hardly seem inappropriate for the seat of the race whose flesh he took on to be mostly unremarkable as far as size and prominence go.

    “He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble.”

  3. ‘What if God’s main reason for creating man was to give his angels training as guardian angels before moving them up to more important things?’

    I find this slightly disturbing coming from a Catholic.

    We know this to be false (from exorcisms) because guardian angels were created PRECISELY to fulfill that role within the universe. At the moment the guarding angels were created they had to align their will towards their created purpose, this was their very own ‘test’, which presumably means your guardian angel’s first act was to chose you and love you. After the passing of the world, a new earth and a new heaven will come to pass where he will enjoy his God forever. Due to their angelic nature the had made their choice before you even existed. If there is such an angelic being who after being created refused to guard you, he is damned and another one took his seat in the order of grace.

    There are many many more angelic beings than there are creatures in the physical universe which is described as God’s footstool.

    Furthermore, we know the twofold importance/relevance of man in the universe:
    1. in the beginning God created man lesser than the least angel
    2. God the Son took on a human nature(!!!canIevenputenoughexclamationmarkshere!!!),
    this exhaled privilege was not even given to the angels, the most perfect and exalted creature in the universe is in fact — the Blessed Virgin Mary called also Queen of Angels whom they had seen and accepted as such before she existed. She is mankind’s solitary boast! And what a boast she is!

    Hence BVM’s M A G N I F I C A T.

  4. @Hrodgar
    “for the seat of the race whose flesh he took on to be mostly unremarkable as far as size and prominence go.”

    Bethlehem yes within the context of ancient Israel though Palestine itself is in the most relevant and important place because it serves as a pivot for the whole wide world and it is said (by approved seers) that the Godman shed His bloody sweat in the very cavern where Adam and Eve first went to weep for their Sin. The spot is thus very near the birthplace of mankind.

    It is also not unimportant which entity holds Palestine. By birthright it belongs to Catholic Rome — the rightful heir to the Holy Land.

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