Basic Christianity 03 – Religious vs Materialist

When it comes to where the universe comes from, the world is primarily broken into two camps, the Religious View, and the Materialist View.

While I wrote every word, this talk is outright stolen from “Mere Christianity” by CS Lewis, one of my personal heroes and a definitive work on the basics of Christianity. You would be wiser to read him than to listen to me. Warning for future videos, I literally have this book memorized, so it’s not uncommon for me to accidentally use his words!


In our last video, we asked the big question, “Why is there something instead of nothing?” That is, “Why is there a universe?” It makes more sense that there should never have been anything at all, but since it’s here, shouldn’t there be a reason Why and How it came to be?”

Wherever there have been thinking people, they have been thinking about this question, and for the most part, the answers they come up with fall into two groups of people. First, there is the group of people who believe in what I will call the “Religious View”, and a second a group we will call the “Materialist View”.

Think of it this way. We are all in some big black globe, and some of us are saying, “There must be something outside this globe!” and some of us say, “There is only this, why believe what you can’t see?”

The “Religious View” is this, that the universe came to be through some “power” or “being” outside the universe, for whatever reason it wanted, to create it. The key idea here is that this “power” or “being” is not a part of the universe, and has a kind of reality that is different from our own.

Very often I have spoken to Atheists, and they have misunderstood exactly what the “Religious View” is. They think believers of this view believe in some kind of “creature god”, a physical God with a long beard who lives in clouds and likes to make up rules for it’s toys. This is nothing like what the “Religious View” believes. The “Religious View” believes God is something more like the principle of existence itself. That’s a little confusing, I know, just remember they are not talking about a physical being in the universe, but rather the singular, non-physical being outside the universe.

The “Materialist View” believes that the universe simply “IS”, and always has been. There is no explanation, only the reality that matter and energy have always just been here, and by chance and time, things came to be as they are.

Think of this as a cosmic pool table, where all the balls keep knocking into each other forever until what we have now is just the result of this infinite “knocking about.” It’s not the pool balls that are the point, I think both views can accept the universe could randomly put us where we are now. The “Materialist View” isn’t about the pool balls, it’s about the TABLE. There has always been a table, the universe and it’s rules and laws have just always been there. There is no explanation, just the reality that we see actually exists.

It’s important to understand these two points:

First, neither of these are new ideas. No matter where you look in history, both of these views will be found. The religious view is not old fashioned and neither is the Materialist view. Both are ancient, and both are current. This has been the divide for as long as people have been thinking at all.

Second, these two views are badly named, as this is not a division between Atheist and Theists. There are some religions that believe in the “Religious View”, and some that believe something very like the “Materialist View”.

Personally, like the goat in our last video, saying the universe is just there and I shouldn’t be surprised just is not logical for me. I love science, and what I love most is how science tries to explain how things came to be what they are, and how they work. To say everything was just “here” seems to me to be against all reason. Wait, but don’t science and religion contradict each other? More on that question in our next video.

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