Perhaps they were Northerners. The locals would simply have substituted the word God with no embarrassment, or perhaps they were the last holdouts of Deism, the folks who seek God in nature and not in churches or scriptures. Who knows? But I hear this a lot. I'm even wondering whether our practically infinite universe is large enough to contain an ego of the size required to believe it had such significance in comparison to all there is or was or ever will be. I'm guessing none of them were astronomers or astrophysicists or even of sufficient awareness to question the idea that something of the nature of nature itself was sentient or of good intentions toward men -- men of good will or otherwise.
But say for the purposes of cynical condemnation, that the universe was a brain that somehow coalesced from a primal particle of infinite energy and infinitesimal size. What can be a brain like that be composed of? Given the speed of light, and make no mistake, the universe does give us the speed of light -- given an all-there-is, the extremities of which can never, ever be reached in an infinite amount of time, the allegedly sentient universe isn't old enough to have noticed us yet and never could be, even if somehow it were interested in our dining pleasure or our marital problems. That which we can see of the universe is 30 billion light years across, a combination of absolutely nothing and absolutely everything: violent on an unimaginable scale, both random and predictable and driven by principles we don't fully understand - but it can suggest to Shirley that she break up with Dylan or Cody or that I buy a new car. A sentient universe must need be speechless.
What a piece of work is man -- what quasi-demonic deity could match us for arrogance, for self-importance?