Michael Shermer, publisher of Skeptic magazine, is one of those people you read and then wonder, “How does anyone ever take him seriously?”

A prime example of what I’m referring to is an article for Big Questions Online in which Shermer considers the question, ” Why is there something rather than nothing? ” Out of ten possible answers given, guess which is the only one he considers to be untenable?

1. God

The theist’s answer to the question is that God existed before the universe and subsequently brought it into existence out of nothing (ex nihilo) in a single creation moment as described in Genesis. But the very conception of a creator existing before the universe and then creating it implies a time sequence. In both the Judeo-Christian tradition and the scientific worldview, time began when the universe came into existence, either through divine creation or the Big Bang. God, therefore, would have to exist outside of space and time, which means that as natural beings delimited by living in a finite universe, we cannot possibly know anything about such a supernatural entity. The theist’s answer is an untestable hypothesis.


How can Shermer, who has been a professional skeptic for almost twenty years, be so incompetent? A college freshman who has read a few anthologized excerpts from Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica could point out how Shermer completely misunderstands the relation between God and the universe.

What is not surprising, of course, is that Shermer seriously considers one of the dumbest possible answer to the question: The universe creates itself out of nothing. Shermer calls this auto-ex-nihilo. (As Dave Barry would say, I’m not making this up.) Perhaps someone should point out to Shermer that Aquinas has already explained why that’s not possible. Maybe we should take up a collection and buy him a copy of the Summa .

Sometimes I wonder whether we should ask God to give us a better class of atheists or whether we should thank him for the intellectually incompetent ones we have.

(Via: Stephen Windham)

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