This is part of a series of posts answering Michael Egnor’s eight questions for atheists. I am taking the questions out of order, as suits my fancy, but you can see all questions and my responses here.
I can default to the standard atheist response to this question and reply that the probability of regularity in nature, conditional on my own existence as a living conscious creature is one, but I’d like to go into a little more detail on why I believe that is true.
Go ahead. Try to imagine a universe devoid of natural law. It probably looks something like this:
Irregularity and/or lack of natural law is the number one hallmark of bad fantasy and science fiction. When magic can do anything, when there are not predictable costs for actions taken/energy expended, plot and pacing falls apart. There’s no rational way for people to judge the consequence of their actions in a world of constant flux. It’s hard to imagine any sense of causality or induction in such a world, and given this deficiency, hard to imagine any possibility of moral action or will at all.
A world without natural law or regularity seems much more likely to require a creator than the world we live in. Even a world of smaller scale irregularities (miracles, smitings, etc) would be fairly persuasive evidence for an External Actor, if not a benevolent God. You don’t have to scale up all the way to full-on roiling maelstrom to imagine God(s) that undermine nature’s regularity; the supernatural interventions of the Greek pantheon fit the bill, and would require unnatural explanations.
As it stands, our orderly universe might or might not be subject to the whims of a God, but no God is necessary.
P.S. This post is dedicated to all my friends who have signed up for NaNoWriMo this year. Happy writing, and make sure the worlds you create follow the rule of Nature as an arms race.