The mystery of religious belief that we’re special

Back when most current religions were in their infancy, we thought we were the center of the universe. We had no idea what stars and planets really were, and in some cases, didn’t even realize the world was round. And that world? It was only a few thousand years old.

Now we know that we are one of trillions of planets, surrounding billions of stars in millions of galaxies. We know that the planet is billions of years old, dinosaurs ruled the planet for about 200 million years, and humans have only been around for a few hundred thousand.

So among the many questions I often ponder is how rational, intelligent people who still believe in these religions interpret this? Why did God create such an amazingly expansive universe and then stick us way out in the suburbs of some minor galaxy? Why did he wait trillions of years before creating the earth if it is where his chosen people were to live? Why did he allow dinosaurs to roam for the vast majority of the time on the earth before getting around to creating us in his own image?

Oh, I know that believers will find a way to rationalize this in the same way they can believe in some of the Bible 100% but 0% in the parts they don’t like, picking and choosing “ultimate truths” like options on a Chinese menu. Time means nothing to God; where he placed us is irrelevant, and so on. So why even create all this extra stuff to begin with?

I mean, if I wanted to play The Sims and create people, I could make an area for them all to live easily enough. Why would I then waste time creating 99.99999999999999999999999% space that these people will never use?

Often religious people will call atheists self-centered for not believing, but I have often wondered about someone who thinks that we are special in a universe that is vast and has existed for billions of years — how is that not self-centered?

The ability of people whose intellects I admire to rationalize all of this — well, that’s the biggest mystery of all.