Sunday, April 20, 2008

Movie Review, Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed

With all the hype going on regarding Ben Stein's documentary "Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed" I was surprised there was such a small turn out, no more then 30 or so in the entire theater, when I saw it yesterday.

I'd done a great deal of reading about people calling it "propaganda" and so forth, and I must say I don't think any of the criticisms I heard regarding the movie were justified. Some claimed the movie provided different definitions of intelligent design, was grossly unfair, and so forth. However, the people who say such things are only justifying the overriding principle of the movie; that scientists and academics who think God might possibly have had a role in bringing the universe into existence are unfairly treated as illogical "ignorant or insane" (Richard Dawkins).

Thus I feel inclined to take a fair look at the movie, and in doing so I'll articulate my opinion on the controversy regarding it. According to the movie's definition, intelligent design is the theory that certain scientific phenomena are best explained by the existence of an intelligent designer. Now this is not a sectarian religious claim, for as a Christian I'm in agreement with Muslims, Jews, and people of other religions in regards to the fact that God (or a god) created the universe.

This is not Young Earth Creationism, for though I am a YEC (Young Earth Creationist), I consider the debate between myself and evolutionists as secondary to the question of whether or not God is the original cause of the universe's existence. Thus the movie does not attempt to disprove or discredit evolutionary theory (even YECs such as myself believe in some evolution), but deals with whether evolution can answer such questions as "where did we come from originally?

Essentially the answer is no, by the National Academy of Science's own definition science is the study of natural processes, causes, and effects. Whereas God is not a natural process, cause, or effect it is beyond science to make a verdict on this issue. This is not to say religion and science are enemies, nor is it to say that they don't over-lap, but there are certain mutually exclusive territories regarding religion and science.

What Ben Stein proposes is there are certain members of the scientific community who are taking evolution and using it to justify an atheistic world view, thus making science and religion enemies. I don't know how anyone can deny this fact when Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers admit to this openly on camera. However it becomes apparent that the claims of these people stem not from science, but from their contempt and disdain for anything God.

The heart of the issue is not Creation V. Evolution, the heart of the issue is can you be a rationally thinking person and believe in God? Any of my frequent readers will know that I answer that question with an emphatic YES! I do believe God created the universe and I don't believe science in any way contradicts the rationality of that belief, I believe that there is a place where science can't go further and based on what we've learned by it we must come to some conclusions.

So what is this place? This is where intelligent design comes in, now some say "that's not science", fine! Let me say then that it is a philosophy rooted in scientific evidence. Saying intelligent design isn't science in no way diminishes what it proposes, here's why.

The ultimate question, as we've mentioned, is not one regarding creation or evolution, it's one regarding the existence of God. And what Ben Stein does is asks point blank "where did we come from", "how did matter begin to exist in the first place" etc... These are questions asked point blank in the movie, and one man dodges it, but Richard Dawkins did answer. Dawkins says (paraphrased) that perhaps some advanced life form, that itself developed through evolutionary processes, seeded a living cell on the earth.

Ok, Dawkins big conclusion that every atheist in the world hails as scientific is we came from aliens. I should like to ask, how is that conclusion any more scientific then the hypothesis of God? I'd also like to ask what caused those aliens to exist?

You see what I'm saying? Science searches for facts, but this is something that science isn't able to approach. What I propose is the Kalam argument:
1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause
2. The universe began to exist
3. The universe has a cause (that must necessarily be uncaused and never began to exist but always was, this I say, is God).

My argument is rooted in science, in that it's easily proved everything that begins to exist has a cause, and that the universe began to exist. The logical conclusion is not "natural" and therefore not scientific, but it does not contradict science. I will happily pose this hypothesis against Dawkins aliens.

So I'll end with a challenge, prove me wrong. I'll debate anyone, anytime, anywhere, unashamedly. The hypothesis of God that so many atheists have tried to suppress falsely in the name of science is certainly no less logical then Dawkins aliens (that fall short in that they still need a cause).

God bless!
Joey

54 Comments:

Blogger FishHawk said...

Very well said!!!

Sun Apr 20, 01:31:00 PM 2008  
Blogger sweetswede said...

Thanks!

Sun Apr 20, 04:58:00 PM 2008  
Anonymous patrick said...

i've been meaning to see this movie, if only just to say "i've seen it." ... or maybe i'll wait for the rental

Tue Apr 22, 01:09:00 PM 2008  
Blogger sweetswede said...

It's definately worth seeing!

Tue Apr 22, 06:49:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Tim said...

Keep writing the good words. Have you watched Creation: Science Confirms the Bible is True by Jason Lisle? You need to and buy a few dozen copies to pass out to friends who see Expelled.

Wed Apr 23, 12:55:00 AM 2008  
Blogger sweetswede said...

Thanks Tim! I have not watched that, but I'll look for it.

God bless!

Fri Apr 25, 01:53:00 PM 2008  
Anonymous Thomas D said...

Dawkins never has believed in 'aliens' as the source of life on Earth, and didn't say that he did.

He was asked by the interviewer if there was any *hypothetical* situation, however unlikely, in which ID could possibly be true. The business with aliens is one example of how ID *might* be correct, however Dawkins didn't say that he believed it, or even that it was likely to be true.

The film-makers then misrepresented what he said and claimed he actually believed in aliens seeding life on Earth.

If all you see is the film, you don't see what the film-makers cut out or distorted.

Sat May 24, 11:43:00 AM 2008  
Blogger Lee said...

Hello sweetswede (Joey)

Just found your blog via Rian and your little debate.

This post interests me, especial the following comment

What I propose is the Kalam argument:
1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause
2. The universe began to exist
3. The universe has a cause (that must necessarily be uncaused and never began to exist but always was, this I say, is God).


Care to discuss the logic used here?

I am always interested in the ‘first cause’ argument because to me it fails horribly.

Lee

Wed May 28, 12:14:00 AM 2008  
Blogger sweetswede said...

Hi Thomas,
If they did edit/cut the movie like that than I think they owe Dawkins an apology. I'm not in a position to say if they did or did not.

Howdy Lee,
I'm not sure how to explain myself, as I'm unsure how you think the argument fails. I don't know of anybody successfully disputing the first point. The second point is normally what people question. But it seems to me the universe did begin at some definite point in time, as we have an expanding universe and it can therefore be traced backwards to a singular point in time, or at least several simultaneous points. I suppose this could be wrong, but like I said I'm not sure how you feel it falls short.

The third point often is disputed as well, typically people ask why must the cause be God? And it's a good question. Whereas I don't believe anything in matter, time, or space, can be infinite; and since I don't think the statistics support a sheer accident and therefore point to an intelligent being, I'd say the conclusion is logically God (now that doesn't get us to the God of the Bible, that's another issue). Of course this is somewhat simplified, but I think you get the main premise.

Thanks for your thoughts!

God bless!

P.S. -Not sure who Rian is, I probably only know them by their blogger name.

Wed May 28, 06:49:00 PM 2008  
Blogger FishHawk said...

Your reply unto Lee was most impressive, my dear Joey.

Thu May 29, 01:47:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Lee said...

Hi sweetswede (Joey)

How would you prefer I call you BTW?

Last thing first...

Not sure who Rian is, I probably only know them by their blogger name.

Well, Someone I know by the name of Rian has a link to this blog – but that isn’t important.

It could just a chance occurrence that I fell this way. Hope you don’t mind me dropping in and asking questions?

Not sure if you are interested in discussing the points you made here, but I am always interested in the ‘First Cause Argument’.

I’m no philosopher, though what little I have read, they don’t think highly of the argument – and neither do I.

I will outline my ‘objections’ a little more to give you something to challenge.

It seems this argument of the First Cause is steeped in a logical fallacy sometimes known as an argument from personal incredulity or the argument by lack of imagination (or sometimes better known as argumentum ad ignorantiam or argument from ignorance but this could sound insulting so I don’t like to use it on a first date)

It boils down to ‘I don’t know how this could happen, so it must be God’ – this just doesn’t follow in my book.

How could a God just come into being any more than a universe? Since a creator God has to be more complex than the universe He is said to have created (Assuming that God choose to create the universe), then it is far more likely that the universe itself just came into being rather than a God.
(And as you rightly said, this argument only leads you to deism and not the biblical God which is a whole different debate – which can be left for another time if you like)

Also, the First Cause argument goes against what little I know about the Big Bang and physics.

Lets break down the argument a little and offer some thoughts.

1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause

Since space and time are said to have begun at the Big Bang, how can you have a ‘before’ – without a ‘before’ how can you have a cause to the effect?
(How can we have something north of the North Pole? That's the problem)

Also, as you may know – cause and effect breaks down at the quantum level, this is known physics – since we know in some instances cause and effect breaks down within the known universe why are we so certain that this first premise is correct about something we know nothing about? We are not.

Also, every observation we have ever made within this universe tells us nothing about the beginning – so it is not even a statement based on observation, so to put it another way. How can this statement be shown to be true?

2. The universe began to exist

The evidence for the Big Bang is great. Yet this only tells us about this universe (which may or may not be the only one)

There is certainly no time in this universe when the universe didn’t exist – so you see this starts to hurt the head of most people, certainly mine

An Aside, it also interests me that some Christians will accept this evidence for the Big Bang when making this second point, but then later reject it to maintain more traditional biblical doctrine. (I am thinking of the more fundamental doctrines of creation of course)

3. The universe has a cause (that must necessarily be uncaused and never began to exist but always was, this I say, is God).

We don’t know what ‘caused’ the universe, or whether it needed one.

I like the idea of ‘nothing is unstable’ – an analogy being that you can balance a pencil on it’s tip, but this is unstable and given time will fall over.

An unstable nothing will become something.

Of course I’ve no evidence for this, but it does show I don’t need to jump to a conclusion of a god. A god that I have already said will be more unlikely than any natural explanation I can provide. (This is because to insert a god into the solution, you are increasing the complexity of the problem, not decreasing it.)

OK... I hope that gives you a better idea where I am coming from.

Makes sense?

Thanks

Lee

Thu May 29, 08:11:00 PM 2008  
Blogger sweetswede said...

Joey is fine, as it is my name and Sweetswede is just something I made up for a "blogger display name".

To be honest I rather enjoy it when people drop in and ask questions, this is a public blog and you are the public, so to speak.

It seems this argument of the First Cause is steeped in a logical fallacy sometimes known as an argument from personal incredulity or the argument by lack of imagination (or sometimes better known as argumentum ad ignorantiam or argument from ignorance but this could sound insulting so I don’t like to use it on a first date)

It boils down to ‘I don’t know how this could happen, so it must be God’ – this just doesn’t follow in my book.


Now this type of fallacy, also often referred to as the "God of gaps" (we fill in God whenever we don't have an answer) I don't think really applies here. To date I've heard of two explanations other than God. The first holds that matter is infinite, and the second holds that all matter sprang from absolute nothingness.

From a philosophical/mathematical perspective matter, time, and space can't be infinite. Infinity is a concept, not a physical thing. It doesn't actually mean anything when applied to the real world; and when we do apply it to physical matter we have contradictory results. For example, lets say I have an infinite number of dollars, and I give you all my even dollar bills (all my 10's, 20's, 50's, etc...), how many dollars do I still have? Well I'd still have infinity, and you'd now have infinity. However, I could also give you all but 1 billion dollars. So in the first case infinity minus infinity= infinity; in the second case infinity minus infinity = 1 billion, as you can see these results are contradictory.

Now the second option would involve matter springing from absolute nothingness. I've had people say that it is possible, citing such things as particles springing out of quantum vacuums; but a quantum vacuum is something, not absolutely nothing.

So you rightly ask how did God come about than? Well, A.W. Tozer, a prominent theologian in the 1900's, points out that God didn't begin to exist. God has always existed; to say God began to existed is to apply the traits of created beings to God who is not created.

Now I've just argued that we can't have an infinite number of past events, so would that not mean God could not have existed infinitely? Well, God is not matter, time, or space. God transcends matter, time, and space. God is eternal, He has not been sitting around for an infinite number of years or an infinite amount of time, time did not exist, God transcends and is not bound or constricted by time.

So this also eliminates the "God of gaps" problem, because as you stated God creates more questions than answers. I think if God were something mankind made up to propose answers than we'd understand God. However, we don't fully understand God. As, what I believe to be created beings, we don't understand the Creator who transcends what we experience naturally.


Since space and time are said to have begun at the Big Bang, how can you have a ‘before’ – without a ‘before’ how can you have a cause to the effect?
(How can we have something north of the North Pole? That's the problem)

Also, as you may know – cause and effect breaks down at the quantum level, this is known physics – since we know in some instances cause and effect breaks down within the known universe why are we so certain that this first premise is correct about something we know nothing about? We are not.

Also, every observation we have ever made within this universe tells us nothing about the beginning – so it is not even a statement based on observation, so to put it another way. How can this statement be shown to be true?


Well, assuming natural explanations, which science must by its definition do, we'd have to have an infinite number of events leading up to our universe (or an uncaused universe). I think I've covered that above.

From my perspective the "before" would be God. And I don't like phrasing it that way because it goes back to nearly applying physical traits to God.

Now in a way we can't prove that everything that begins to exist has a cause. However, if one asserts things can begin to exist uncaused one must provide the evidence for this. In a way it is impossible, because we have something (e.g.-earth, the universe, physical matter), and anything that begins to exist now is the result of natural processes, human invention, and so forth.

The evidence for the Big Bang is great. Yet this only tells us about this universe (which may or may not be the only one)

There is certainly no time in this universe when the universe didn’t exist – so you see this starts to hurt the head of most people, certainly mine

An Aside, it also interests me that some Christians will accept this evidence for the Big Bang when making this second point, but then later reject it to maintain more traditional biblical doctrine. (I am thinking of the more fundamental doctrines of creation of course)


I'm glad we can agree our heads begin to hurt at this point.

I agree the big bang only tells us about this universe. However, even if there is a universe-making machine that takes us back to an infinite number of past events leading up to this one. In a way it only pushes the initial beginning back one step further.

I'm a creationist and I don't feel at all threatened by the big bang, but I suppose in some ways I'm not a "traditional" creationist. I'm less interested in how God created the universe, and more interested in discussing whether or not He did in fact create it; from a philosophical and theological standpoint that is the primary question.


We don’t know what ‘caused’ the universe, or whether it needed one.

I like the idea of ‘nothing is unstable’ – an analogy being that you can balance a pencil on it’s tip, but this is unstable and given time will fall over.

An unstable nothing will become something.

Of course I’ve no evidence for this, but it does show I don’t need to jump to a conclusion of a god. A god that I have already said will be more unlikely than any natural explanation I can provide. (This is because to insert a god into the solution, you are increasing the complexity of the problem, not decreasing it.)

OK... I hope that gives you a better idea where I am coming from.

Makes sense?


Given the alternatives I'm aware of I still think God is much more probable. The universe, and life, are much more complex than just a pencil falling over (it's a good analogy though). I can't hold that through a completely unguided process over 200 of the right elements randomly sprung together under precisely the right conditions, at precisely the right time, avoiding all the wrong materials, and made life. So honestly, though God does create some questions, I still hold He is more likely than a solely natural explanation (though I do realize, science must shoot for the natural explanation, I don't think that's necessarily the correct one).

What you said makes sense to me, though all that means is at worst we're just equally delusional.

God bless!
Joey

Fri May 30, 10:07:00 AM 2008  
Blogger sweetswede said...

Your reply unto Lee was most impressive, my dear Joey.

Thanks, hopefully he'll be equally impressed :)

Fri May 30, 12:28:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Lee said...

Hi Joey,

Glad you are happy for me to just drop by, and yes – I am impressed (or should that be grateful?) for your reply.

If I may dig into it a little and see where it takes us…
(Oh, I hope you do not mind the point-by-point reply, I like it because it means I do not miss anything you said and it places my reply in context. I know some people do not like it, but it keeps my words to a minimum but I waffle on enough even then)

Now this type of fallacy, also often referred to as the "God of gaps"

I see what happened here.

No, I still think the First Cause argument is an argument from personal incredulity but the conclusion of ‘God’ (where I tried to boil it down in my ‘first point’) could be seen as a God of the Gaps fallacy.

Anyway – it is not important which fallacy, I said I am not philosopher, but that fact that a logically fallacy (if not several) are being made.

The first holds that matter is infinite, and the second holds that all matter sprang from absolute nothingness.

Firstly (though not importantly), according to Einstein as you probably know – matter is energy (E=mc2 and all that) but this is just a ‘word’ thing.

OK – to your point.

I’m not a fan of infinites (as you reasoned later – infinity +1 is still infinity but maybe if I placed more thought into the problem it could make sense) but more to the point, I will place more money on the 2nd option – though ‘absolute’ doesn’t sound right.

Now the second option would involve matter springing from absolute nothingness.

And – this could not happen because…?

I've had people say that it is possible, citing such things as particles springing out of quantum vacuums; but a quantum vacuum is something, not absolutely nothing.

Oh I could quote you the same things then, but will save time now since you are aware of the points already.

I will say this though – within the universe we see particles coming into existence from the ‘quantum vacuum’ (which I like to call nothing) showing that cause and effect within this universe sometimes plays us some tricks.

This should be suggestive that we don’t know all there is to know about the universe - at least I cannot explain it, it is a little ‘uncertain’ it you pardon the bad physics joke – so to say ‘nothing cannot come from nothing’ is, as I said, an argument from ignorance.

So you rightly ask how did God come about than? Well, A.W. Tozer, a prominent theologian in the 1900's, points out that God didn't begin to exist. God has always existed;

I will pause you here…

Why can God always exist with this logic, but the universe (or multi-verse or whatever) cannot?

Seems a little bit like special pleading to me…

to say God began to existed is to apply the traits of created beings to God who is not created.

This is your unproven premise. God is always present – but the question I would always ask (as I have) is why is a complex God always present, and not a simple universe?

This is the problem you have tried to talk around, but not yet achieved convincing in my view.

Now I've just argued that we can't have an infinite number of past events,

I’ve never argued that – but I will point out that you have not shown you understand when happens with space and time at the point of the Big Bang.

Space and time come in at the Big Bang, asking about space and time before the Big Bang is like asking about what is north of the North Pole as I said in my last post.

Well, God is not matter, time, or space.

I think what you may be getting at is God is not physical? Is that correct?

If this is your argument, then I would ask how does an unphysical being interact with a physical?

God transcends matter, time, and space. God is eternal, He has not been sitting around for an infinite number of years or an infinite amount of time, time did not exist, God transcends and is not bound or constricted by time.

Eternal, but not infinite?

Sounds like a lot of words to try and move God outside the universe and away from physical enquiry, but if you do this, then how do you get God back into the universe to do anything? (As a theist would claim, not a deist)

So this also eliminates the "God of gaps" problem, because as you stated God creates more questions than answers.

No it doesn’t…

Why is this God that transcends matter, time and space AND has the power of thought to think it is a good idea to create a universe for mankind (which is you conclusion isn’t it) any more likely than a universe that ‘just is’? Or a universe that comes from nothing?

You have not explained How your God came into being, merely try to define a God that cannot be investigated and didn’t require a ‘cause’.

If God can be ‘uncaused’, why not the universe… the problem remains.

Also, at best, as I said before, your argument is for a deistic God – but you may have disproved your theistic God since you have given no means for this God to interact with the universe. You have moved your God so far into the unphysical that God can never interact with the universe once started.

A real problem for the theist don’t you think?

I think if God were something mankind made up to propose answers than we'd understand God.

Now that actually is a very good point… we may have to come back to this, since I feel God is a man-made invention/creation.

I think I could argue this position, but it takes us away from the first cause argument – so lets put this one on hold.

Well, assuming natural explanations, which science must by its definition do

The scientific method could test the claims of a theistic God – care to make some claims of the type of interactions, in the universe, that can and have been done by God?
(Though we would be moving away from the first cause argument, no problem to me)

we'd have to have an infinite number of events leading up to our universe (or an uncaused universe). I think I've covered that above

Yes you have, but this is your argument you are attacking not mine - I’ve not mention the infinite number of Gods, turtles or anything :)

Thought I could ask, “Who made God?” if that helps – but it isn’t the position I am arguing from.

From my perspective the "before" would be God. And I don't like phrasing it that way because it goes back to nearly applying physical traits to God.

Does this confirm that you think God has no physical traits and so is unphysical?

However, if one asserts things can begin to exist uncaused one must provide the evidence for this.

Behold…. The universe :)

(oh, and Quantum mechanics is rather suggestive that cause and effect should not be taken too literal at the ‘extremes’)

You also have to provide evidence for your God… fairs, fair

Hard evidence… not words. Not much of a wordsmith me.

In a way it is impossible, because we have something (e.g.-earth, the universe, physical matter), and anything that begins to exist now is the result of natural processes, human invention, and so forth.

Not proving A does not prove B… very important that.

I don’t claim to know all the answers, if I did you would be talking to someone with a Noble Prize or three.

I'm glad we can agree our heads begin to hurt at this point.

Yep… which is something to think about?

I agree the big bang only tells us about this universe. However, even if there is a universe-making machine that takes us back to an infinite number of past events leading up to this one.

Infinite number of pasts again… I’ve not mentioned anything like this have it?

There are a finite number of steps back to the Big Bang, but time and space start to behave funny the further back we go and quite frankly breaks the known physical laws at the start ( around 10-40odd seconds after the beginning – that 0. followed by 40-odd zeros seconds, I cannot remember precisely what a plank second is - sorry)…

This doesn’t mean the big bang will not have a natural explanation – science knows there are problems with the equations. Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity don’t mix – this would bring us back to the God of the Gaps wouldn’t it?

“I don’t know, but you don’t either” is the only statement I will make here :)

I'm a creationist and I don't feel at all threatened by the big bang, but I suppose in some ways I'm not a "traditional" creationist.

Well, anyone believing in God is a creationist in my book, but of course there are different ‘levels’ as we all know.

I will come back and ask you your actually position later if I may so I know where I am arguing.

I'm less interested in how God created the universe, and more interested in discussing whether or not He did in fact create it;

Now you have my head hurting…

Are you saying you are looking for evidence and reason for God creating the universe – rather than the how?

No problem, I certainly will not be providing any definite how’s…

Given the alternatives I'm aware of I still think God is much more probable.

Here we will disagree of course…

The odds of any event happening increases with the level of complexity?

Agree?

Invoke a god at any point, has to increase the complexity – by definition of a complex God.

The universe, and life, are much more complex than just a pencil falling over (it's a good analogy though).

Thanks, glad you like the analogy.

Life is a different question though; let’s just focus on the big bang for now which is closer to the first cause argument than life.

An ‘unstable nothing’ is a reasonable explanation is it not?

Simpler than a complex God choosing to start a universe I would say.

Remember also that once started, the Big Bang model is a pretty good explanation from there on in. No requirement for a God at all once after the Big Bang… apart from a few details like life starting :)

I can't hold that through a completely unguided process over 200 of the right elements randomly sprung together under precisely the right conditions, at precisely the right time, avoiding all the wrong materials, and made life.

Sorry - 200 of the right elements? Can you explain this number please?

If we are to talk about life, I need to know where you are coming from.

Oh, and what is your position on the theory of evolution – rather important that.

So honestly, though God does create some questions,

Thank you for conceding that God does create some questions… some theist’s don’t even do that.

I still hold He is more likely than a solely natural explanation (though I do realize, science must shoot for the natural explanation, I don't think that's necessarily the correct one).

You are right, I think that science can only ‘shoot’ for a natural explanation, but the scientific method could still investigate the supernatural if the claims were known.

What you said makes sense to me, though all that means is at worst we're just equally delusional.

I made sense? Wow…

Though at worst we are all brains in a jar… but that creates problems as well. Who made the jars?

Thanks for your reply – most go.

Lee

Sun Jun 01, 03:49:00 AM 2008  
Blogger Lee said...

Hi, just posting so I can get myself an e-mail update if and when you reply.

If you reply and don't hear from me, just drop me a line at my blog to remind me.

Always enjoy such conversations.

See ya

Lee

Mon Jun 02, 06:52:00 PM 2008  
Blogger sweetswede said...

If I may dig into it a little and see where it takes us…
(Oh, I hope you do not mind the point-by-point reply, I like it because it means I do not miss anything you said and it places my reply in context. I know some people do not like it, but it keeps my words to a minimum but I waffle on enough even then)


I like the point-by-point also.

No, I still think the First Cause argument is an argument from personal incredulity but the conclusion of ‘God’ (where I tried to boil it down in my ‘first point’) could be seen as a God of the Gaps fallacy.

Anyway – it is not important which fallacy, I said I am not philosopher, but that fact that a logically fallacy (if not several) are being made.


Ok. Well nothing can truly be "proved", depending on how strenuous the demand for evidence is. However, to say there is no God is also an argument from incredulity, simply from an opposite perspective.

In a strict scientific sense God can not be proved, nor can He be disproved. Thus it does lead into philosophy, but philosophy is, oftentimes, heavily rooted in science (or other types of empirical data).

Firstly (though not importantly), according to Einstein as you probably know – matter is energy (E=mc2 and all that) but this is just a ‘word’ thing.

OK – to your point.

I’m not a fan of infinites (as you reasoned later – infinity +1 is still infinity but maybe if I placed more thought into the problem it could make sense) but more to the point, I will place more money on the 2nd option – though ‘absolute’ doesn’t sound right.


That is correct (about matter).

Now the second option would involve matter springing from absolute nothingness.

And – this could not happen because…?
Oh I could quote you the same things then, but will save time now since you are aware of the points already.

I will say this though – within the universe we see particles coming into existence from the ‘quantum vacuum’ (which I like to call nothing) showing that cause and effect within this universe sometimes plays us some tricks.

This should be suggestive that we don’t know all there is to know about the universe - at least I cannot explain it, it is a little ‘uncertain’ it you pardon the bad physics joke – so to say ‘nothing cannot come from nothing’ is, as I said, an argument from ignorance.


I'll fully grant we don't understand the entire process. Physics is, in comparison to other things, relatively young.

The absolute nothingness I was referring to refers to exactly that, absolutely nothing. No matter, no energy (which as has been established, is matter), no time, nothing. It's a very difficult concept (at least for me) because all we know is something. We know based on our experience and we experience something, it is quite impossible to experience nothing. So in a way we have another scenario that is impossible to disprove, and as of yet has not been proved and can't be proved (if there's absolutely nothing who will be around to witness it?).

G.K. Chesterton says it is the chess player and logician, not the artist or musician, that goes crazy. In this sense he is right, in that we can't prove if a tree falls and there is nothing or no one around to hear it it makes a sound. We can't prove that it does not, but we can't prove it in the scientific sense. Now we know, based on experience, trees make sounds when they fall; but if we see a fallen tree with no witnesses to it's falling we can't empirically prove it made a sound when it fell.

I will pause you here…

Why can God always exist with this logic, but the universe (or multi-verse or whatever) cannot?

Seems a little bit like special pleading to me…


Well the universe can not because we know that would lead to inherent contradictions (traversing an infinite past to arrive at today). Aside from this we know the universe (or multi-verse as you said) is not static.

Now regarding God I believe this is where we come to separating deism and theism, in that we now must ask can we know God, and if we can what is He like? We'll deal with this more below.

This is your unproven premise. God is always present – but the question I would always ask (as I have) is why is a complex God always present, and not a simple universe?

This is the problem you have tried to talk around, but not yet achieved convincing in my view.


We're getting there...

I’ve never argued that – but I will point out that you have not shown you understand when happens with space and time at the point of the Big Bang.

Space and time come in at the Big Bang, asking about space and time before the Big Bang is like asking about what is north of the North Pole as I said in my last post.


I realize you never argued that, that is just something I wanted to address that is often brought up.

I agree with you, space and time do begin at the big bang. And it is precisely because of this we don't have a static universe, one that has always existed. Space and time and everything in our universe begin existing here. I agree we shouldn't, and can't, ask about space and time before this point. However, if this is the case than the atheist must uphold everything came from absolutely nothing. Quantum vacuums, string theory, etc... aren't nothing, those are something.

I think what you may be getting at is God is not physical? Is that correct?

If this is your argument, then I would ask how does an unphysical being interact with a physical?


Well, God may take physical form, as I believe we see in the person of Jesus Christ. However, God transcends our ideas of the physical, material, and so on. How the unphysical interacts with the physical is a good question. Truth be told I’m not entirely positive of the how. This same idea could be applied to many things, how do emotions (immaterial and essentially immeasurable) interact with our material bodies? How do thoughts interact with the physical? Now I realize there is a difference between emotions, thoughts, and God; however the idea of the immaterial interacting with the physical is not something foreign to us. Just because we may not yet fully grasp the whole thing doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen. People knew thoughts took place long before they knew about brainwaves.

Eternal, but not infinite?

Sounds like a lot of words to try and move God outside the universe and away from physical enquiry, but if you do this, then how do you get God back into the universe to do anything? (As a theist would claim, not a deist)


As far as eternal but not infinite, in terms of time, yes. We’ve both agreed time began to exist; and as you’ve stated we can’t go north of the north pole as far as science is concerned (in this case, past the big bang). We both seem to agree that there are three options in this scenario, we either have God (or a god), we have an infinite universe, or we have a universe that came from absolutely nothing (quantum vacuums, unless infinite, only push the first cause back one step further).

It is here we have a fundamental difference in our understandings of God and the universe as well as their relationship to each other. I said we’d deal with the question of can we know God, and what is He like later, and here is where I hope to discuss that.

Saying there is a God, and that He transcends matter, time, space, etc… and He can’t directly be measured or tested (as science does with physical matter), how can we expect to know anything about Him? Would He not be very far removed from the universe, almost irrelevant?

As a Christian I assert there is a God, He is involved in the universe, and we can know Him and know about Him. The primary basis for this belief is the person of Jesus Christ. I believe God is revealed in Jesus Christ, who was God in human form; and I believe God is revealed in the Bible. I also believe God is revealed to individuals today, but that is another issue entirely in terms of theology.

If Jesus is who He said He is, and if He did what He said He would do, then I believe we have God stepping in and taking a very active role in His universe.

No it doesn’t…

Why is this God that transcends matter, time and space AND has the power of thought to think it is a good idea to create a universe for mankind (which is you conclusion isn’t it) any more likely than a universe that ‘just is’? Or a universe that comes from nothing?


I think I may have addressed this above, a universe that ‘just is’ would be infinite, which doesn’t apply very well to the physical world. The idea of the universe coming from absolutely nothing can’t be falsified, nor can it be proved; it is, in my opinion, a much greater “leap of faith” then believing in God is, but I think we’ll be able to discuss that more in depth later.

You have not explained How your God came into being, merely try to define a God that cannot be investigated and didn’t require a ‘cause’.

If God can be ‘uncaused’, why not the universe… the problem remains.

Also, at best, as I said before, your argument is for a deistic God – but you may have disproved your theistic God since you have given no means for this God to interact with the universe. You have moved your God so far into the unphysical that God can never interact with the universe once started.

A real problem for the theist don’t you think?


I haven’t explained how my God came into being, because I don’t believe He did. Why? Because I believe God, as revealed in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, is self-existent, eternal, transcendent, omniscient, omnipresent, sovereign, loving, just, and so on.

If there is a God, what kind of evidence should we expect? I think there’s honestly more than enough to have faith. The exquisite fine-tuning of the universe, the person of Jesus Christ and His resurrection, what I believe (though I’ve probably not convinced you of this) to be the necessity of God for anything to exist, etc… Honestly these are just a few things in a field of many.

Just because I don’t believe God is physical doesn’t make Him “unphysical” in the strictest sense, and by that I mean I think God can take a physical form, as He is sovereign and all-powerful.

Now that actually is a very good point… we may have to come back to this, since I feel God is a man-made invention/creation.

I think I could argue this position, but it takes us away from the first cause argument – so lets put this one on hold.


Will do, sometimes I get off on tangents.

The scientific method could test the claims of a theistic God – care to make some claims of the type of interactions, in the universe, that can and have been done by God?
(Though we would be moving away from the first cause argument, no problem to me)


How could the scientific methods test the claims of a theistic God? Truth be told I’m honestly unsure what you mean by that.

Yes you have, but this is your argument you are attacking not mine - I’ve not mention the infinite number of Gods, turtles or anything :)

Thought I could ask, “Who made God?” if that helps – but it isn’t the position I am arguing from.


Yes, I was simply trying to cover other possibilities outside of God, and I think the infinite universe possibility has been eliminated. I think I talked a little bit about God not being made above.

Does this confirm that you think God has no physical traits and so is unphysical?

Sort of, I commented on that a little bit earlier. But I think our words in and of themselves fail to adequately describe God, so I try to be very careful. Oftentimes people don’t argue against God, but they argue against an improper concept of God, making it almost a straw man. For example, it would do little good for someone to argue with me over whether my God is wood, as I don’t believe He is in the first place, so to prove He is not would not eliminate my God.

Behold…. The universe :)

(oh, and Quantum mechanics is rather suggestive that cause and effect should not be taken too literal at the ‘extremes’)

You also have to provide evidence for your God… fairs, fair

Hard evidence… not words. Not much of a wordsmith me.


Hard evidence, shoot, I thrive on sophistry (just kidding).
But seriously I could just as easily say the universe is evidence for God.

I agree, I do need to provide evidence for my God, as I’ve stated I think He’s primarily revealed in the person of Jesus Christ and in the Bible.

Not proving A does not prove B… very important that.

I don’t claim to know all the answers, if I did you would be talking to someone with a Noble Prize or three.


Very true. I think A and B have been discussed above, and will probably continue to be discussed for a little while.

I definitely don’t know all the answers, glad we agree on that.

Yep… which is something to think about?

Maybe after some sleep.

Infinite number of pasts again… I’ve not mentioned anything like this have it?

There are a finite number of steps back to the Big Bang, but time and space start to behave funny the further back we go and quite frankly breaks the known physical laws at the start ( around 10-40odd seconds after the beginning – that 0. followed by 40-odd zeros seconds, I cannot remember precisely what a plank second is - sorry)…

This doesn’t mean the big bang will not have a natural explanation – science knows there are problems with the equations. Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity don’t mix – this would bring us back to the God of the Gaps wouldn’t it?

“I don’t know, but you don’t either” is the only statement I will make here :)


No you haven’t proposed an infinite number of past events, that’s just one of the natural explanations.

I agree the big bang will have a natural explanation, but a natural explanation doesn’t eliminate God from the process.

As far as the God of gaps goes, I think scientists are just making up natural explanations until we have a better understanding of supernatural theories :) So I say we have a science of gaps.

Well, anyone believing in God is a creationist in my book, but of course there are different ‘levels’ as we all know.

I will come back and ask you your actually position later if I may so I know where I am arguing.


Well, I’d say everyone that believe in God believes in intelligent design; and creationism is a form of intelligent design, but theistic evolution could fall under intelligent design as well, and most creationists certainly don’t accept theistic evolutionists.

Now you have my head hurting…

Are you saying you are looking for evidence and reason for God creating the universe – rather than the how?

No problem, I certainly will not be providing any definite how’s…


I’m saying whether God created the earth in six literal days, or whether it was over a greater time period doesn’t change my belief that He did in fact create it.

Here we will disagree of course…

The odds of any event happening increases with the level of complexity?

Agree?

Invoke a god at any point, has to increase the complexity – by definition of a complex God.


Well normally say Kalam is too simple an argument, but I certainly believe in a complex God if that’s what you’re getting at.

Thanks, glad you like the analogy.

Life is a different question though; let’s just focus on the big bang for now which is closer to the first cause argument than life.

An ‘unstable nothing’ is a reasonable explanation is it not?

Simpler than a complex God choosing to start a universe I would say.

Remember also that once started, the Big Bang model is a pretty good explanation from there on in. No requirement for a God at all once after the Big Bang… apart from a few details like life starting :)


Ok. I don’t think an “unstable nothing” is a reasonable explanation, unless that unstable nothing is infinite, which I certainly don’t believe is reasonable. Just because an explanation is simpler doesn’t mean it’s right. I agree the big bang model is a pretty good one. I’d say the details are exactly what require God. Life is a pretty big detail, we wouldn’t be talking without it :)

Sorry - 200 of the right elements? Can you explain this number please?

If we are to talk about life, I need to know where you are coming from.

Oh, and what is your position on the theory of evolution – rather important that.


Yeah, most scientists estimate that when the first single cell organism came together it would have required at least 200+ elements. What I’m saying is it is highly statistically improbable this would have happened, all these ingredients hit at the right time in the right spot, avoiding things that would effect it negatively, without guidance.

I believe evolution explains some things, but that it, like any other theory, leaves questions. While I personally am a six day creationist, I don’t really care to argue the two, as neither of them have much bearing the more pressing philosophical issues.

Thank you for conceding that God does create some questions… some theist’s don’t even do that.
Any theist that doesn’t do that hasn’t truly encountered God :)

You are right, I think that science can only ‘shoot’ for a natural explanation, but the scientific method could still investigate the supernatural if the claims were known.

I’m not sure how science will do that, but I think we talked about that earlier.

I made sense? Wow…
Though at worst we are all brains in a jar… but that creates problems as well. Who made the jars?
Thanks for your reply – most go.


Yeah, I guess you’re right though, at worst we are brains in a jar (or to put our “worsts” together, delusional brains in a jar that only make sense to each other because of our equal delusion).

Anyway, I’m enjoying this.

God bless!
Joey

Mon Jun 02, 07:41:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Lee said...

Anyway, I’m enjoying this.

Me too... back later.

Lee

Tue Jun 03, 05:06:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Lee said...

Hi Joey,

Glad you are enjoying our discussions as well... and thanks for the detailed reply – it keeps me busy.

We have a different opinion of course, but it is good that we can talk about them.

Well nothing can truly be "proved", depending on how strenuous the demand for evidence is. However, to say there is no God is also an argument from incredulity, simply from an opposite perspective.

Which is why I have made no such argument :)

However, this does depend on how you define your God.

Nothing can be proved 100% - agreed, but in science (and philosophy I believe) specific ideas can be falsified. If you define your God, then we can see if He really exists :)

Thus it does lead into philosophy, but philosophy is, oftentimes, heavily rooted in science (or other types of empirical data).

I am not philosopher as I have said, Ockham’s razor is as close as I normally get (though I have been talking to a few rather clever philosophers chaps on various blogs lately, but they hurt my head with long words)

RE: E=mc2 - matter and energy
That is correct (about matter).

Could you maybe expand on this ‘about matter’ point – I don’t understand what you are trying to say. (Or is it not important and covered later?)

The absolute nothingness I was referring to refers to exactly that, absolutely nothing. No matter, no energy (which as has been established, is matter), no time, nothing.

So is it what you get when you removed everything from the universe?

Though the quantum vacuum just keeps popping into my head – why is this any different to what you are saying is impossible?

Yes our observations are within the universe, but if it is possible (and it is) within the universe why is it so hard to transpose this idea on the start of the universe?

Why is this impossible?

This comes back to my opening statement regarding the lack of imagination and the ‘first cause argument’ is merely an argument from ignorance

It's a very difficult concept (at least for me) because all we know is something. We know based on our experience and we experience something, it is quite impossible to experience nothing.

Experience maybe impossible and yes it is difficult maybe to understand, but to create mathematical models of nothing? These are possible aren’t they?

If you can model the universe with maths (which is what physics is all about really), then surely to get to nothing you just have to ‘remove’ some of the maths... (hey, I said it wasn’t easy – I’m not sure I am making any sense to myself at the moment. I need to build on some of my ideas up further I know – give me time)

But it does bring me back to the ‘unstable nothing’ idea – unproven, but possible.

Maybe the state where everything is in balance (i.e. so everything cancels out to be nothing) is just unstable and like the pencil balancing on its tip – it is going to fall.

G.K. Chesterton says it is the chess player and logician, not the artist or musician, that goes crazy.

I can buy that...

In this sense he is right, in that we can't prove if a tree falls and there is nothing or no one around to hear it it makes a sound.

Has any mechanism been suggested why a tree falling would behave differently when being observed to when it is not?

My hearing a sound does not affect the falling of the tree or the compression of the air which is later received by my ears long after the tree has actually fallen.

I suggest then that a tree falling without a person observing will have the same influence on the physical surroundings as if someone was present. The air will be compressed the same – ready for someone to interpret that sound or not.

Now, what is the sound of one hand clapping?

We can't prove that it does not, but we can't prove it in the scientific sense. Now we know, based on experience, trees make sounds when they fall; but if we see a fallen tree with no witnesses to it's falling we can't empirically prove it made a sound when it fell.

This is why I think science uses the falsification method rather than the inductive (and is another problem with the ‘first cause’ argument - at its core it is inductive reasoning isn’t it. Looking around us and forcing this onto the start of the universe with no reasoning why this should be so – how do you know you are right, anyway to test your idea or method of proving it false?)

RE: Why can God always exist with this logic, but the universe (or multi-verse or whatever) cannot?
Well the universe can not because we know that would lead to inherent contradictions (traversing an infinite past to arrive at today).

You have not shown why my explanations would require an infinite past (or events) to reach today. I have also said that time and space came into being at the Big Bang, so time before it just doesn’t make sense. You have agreed to this I think.

Aside from this we know the universe (or multi-verse as you said) is not static.

And? I have not made an argument for a static universe?

Now regarding God I believe this is where we come to separating deism and theism, in that we now must ask can we know God, and if we can what is He like? We'll deal with this more below.

Erm... interesting question and happy to investigate it once we are happy to park the ‘first cause’ argument.

I would also like to know how God ‘thought’ it would be a good idea to start the universe and chose a universe ‘fit’ for mankind over the billions of other possibilities.

This ‘thought’ implies a mind, a ‘decision making mechanism’ – I wonder where this came from?

Would you agree that a being that has the capability of thought is more unlikely to come about by chance compared to say, a lot of energy at the point of the Big Bang that followed a few simple laws?

Evolution has shown that a thinking brain likes mankind’s has taken billions of years to evolve and is anything but simple (and is very physical).

This is the problem by invoking God at the start of the universe (let alone thinking God still interacts with the universe which is another problem we will probably get to)

RE: ”we can't have an infinite number of past events”
I realize you never argued that, that is just something I wanted to address that is often brought up.

OK – if I start to argue about infinite number of past events tell me.

Though a problem you will have is getting a good understanding of time and what it actually means. There are a finite number of events back to the Big Bang from which space and time came out from.
(Though I should probably be clear that the Big Bang model is just that, a model that is the best explanation of the observations we see – it doesn’t answer ‘the first cause’ as you would put it, but it does explain nicely everything there after.

A bit like the theory of evolution doesn’t explain how life got started, but once it did, complex life forms from simple ones are explained nicely by the theory.)

However, if this is the case than the atheist must uphold everything came from absolutely nothing. Quantum vacuums, string theory, etc... aren't nothing, those are something.

And?

The problem would be what?

After all, you are still suggesting (at some fundamental level I think) that either that God came from nothing or was always present. (The same as me with the universe :)

Either way you have a problem. ‘Always present’ brings us to your ‘infinite past events’ after all – and we have to be consistent with our arguments.

“out of nothing” you object to, and is the position I am arguing for with regards to the universe.

At best you are making the same arguments as me, but you insert a God were I do not think it is necessary.

Off at a tangent a little, I think we can agree on this... the universe is here – we are here...

Now if you want to understand how this situation came to be, you could start to look around you and try and deduce from what you see some rules how the universe behaves and create some models to have you understand better what you see.

You could test these models; you could have your models make predictions about the universe that could be easily falsified. The more complex the predictions, the more numerous the predictions – the easier it would be to falsify this model IF it did NOT hold some truth about how the universe works... then, just maybe when you find a model that has not been falsified you could maybe think it is telling you something about the universe.

Or maybe you could just say “God did it”?

You see, one technique provides some explanatory power, the other provides just another unknown.

Erm... this could be a start of an interesting post, it is certainly off-topic – I think I will do just that over at my place and see what happens.

If you have any views on this last comment, lets take them up at my place on this new thread I created for it :)

Well, God may take physical form, as I believe we see in the person of Jesus Christ.

That’s another problem... Isn’t there some disagreement whether Jesus was physical, or unphysical, or the Son of God, or Is God...?

Will happily move into biblical talk later but I am trying to stay focussed for now as I said.

This same idea could be applied to many things, how do emotions (immaterial and essentially immeasurable) interact with our material bodies?

Are emotions not physical?

Emotions seem to be related very closely to the physical brain which can be affected by other physical forces - a hit on the head or drugs or disease.

If you want to claim emotions are unphysical, then I would like to know how.
(I am not claiming emotions such as love are very well understood by science, but an evolutionary explanation might help us better understand them)

Just because we may not yet fully grasp the whole thing doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen.

Indeed...

We both seem to agree that there are three options in this scenario, we either have God (or a god), we have an infinite universe, or we have a universe that came from absolutely nothing (quantum vacuums, unless infinite, only push the first cause back one step further).

I think this seems reasonable... though of course, there could have been many gods or many universes – but I think this just moves the problem back to an infinite number of turtles and all that.

Saying there is a God, and that He transcends matter, time, space, etc… and He can’t directly be measured or tested (as science does with physical matter), how can we expect to know anything about Him?

Good question, love to hear your answer to the question you asked.

Particularly the part where you said science cannot measure or test God directly – how about indirectly?

Maybe through the power of prayer perhaps or divine revelations?

Would He not be very far removed from the universe, almost irrelevant?

I’ve got my dollar in my pocket if I need to place a bet anytime soon :)

As a Christian I assert there is a God, He is involved in the universe, and we can know Him and know about Him.

The key word here is ‘assert’.

The primary basis for this belief is the person of Jesus Christ.

We are definitely getting off topic from the first cause argument... however, this could be interesting.

I had hoped the Bible, Christianity and Jesus would not be raised just yet, since if they are to be brought into a discussion they will need to be questioned objectively.

So, since you have raised the questions, I hope you do not mind the position I will be taking – that is of a sceptic – or that I will be questioning your points head-on.

Please, and this is the important bit, do not take any offence at my questions, they are merely raised to challenge what you have put forward (as a sceptic I should do) – they are not an attack on your person.

I believe God is revealed in Jesus Christ

How do you propose to show this to a sceptical ‘non-believer’ like myself?

who was God in human form;

This raises another question, why would God need to take on human form? - but go on...

and I believe God is revealed in the Bible.

So logically, I should now start to test the accuracy of the bible? Any evidence you want to provide on it’s accuracy BTW?

If Jesus is who He said He is, and if He did what He said He would do, then I believe we have God stepping in and taking a very active role in His universe.

I think we need another thread all about the accuracy of the bible and how much ‘faith’ we should have on it recording the true words and ideas of Jesus’ (assuming he existed)

I’m taking a little break now, and will be replying to your later comments soon.

All this talk about Jesus and the bible means I need to take a rest :)

Cheers

Lee

Tue Jun 03, 09:08:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Lee said...

Part II

a universe that ‘just is’ would be infinite, which doesn’t apply very well to the physical world.

This universe, the one we live in, had a finite beginning – the events from "now" back to "then" is best described by the Big Bang model. Do we agree to this?

‘outside’ the universe... no idea, but since your concept of time breaks down at the point of the Big Bang (and probably even if you think about time for a photon travelling at the speed of light which always hurts the brain) then I don’t see how you can argue with any confidence about ‘infinite time’ anyway.

What does infinite time mean to a photon? Explain this, and I might give your argument a little more thought.
(Hint: Relativity, clocks and the speed of light)

The idea of the universe coming from absolutely nothing can’t be falsified

I hope I never said I was talking science when I presented this idea? It was just that... an idea, not a scientific theory.

There are many other natural ideas about how the Big Bang could have come into being (some actually don’t require a Big Bang strangely enough.) Many make predictions that should/could be observable in this physical universe (though technically not possible yet – but this was the same for the Big Bang model and later to be discovered Cosmic Background Radiation)

I could dig out some links for you if you like – just don’t expect me to be able to explain what they are talking about :)

in my opinion, a much greater “leap of faith” then believing in God is, but I think we’ll be able to discuss that more in depth later.

Your idea is more complex (with a ‘thinking’ God) and therefore would require more faith in my book :)

Oh, and a lot more evidence...

Also, I do not hold onto the idea I presented; I’ll jump from idea to idea as they improve or merely just say “I don’t know”.

But let’s not forget, the first cause argument, to me, is only an argument for a deistic god anyway.

You are making greater claims than what this ‘first cause’ argument makes - the Christian theistic God.

I haven’t explained how my God came into being, because I don’t believe He did.

And there rests the double standard in this argument.

All the arguments you have made against my ideas are valid and need to be addressed, but you don’t seem to apply them with equal measure to your own.

Because I believe God, as revealed in the Bible and in Jesus Christ, is self-existent, eternal, transcendent, omniscient, omnipresent, sovereign, loving, just, and so on.

What about all-loving?

I think you will create yourself logical contradictions in trying to prove the whole of this claim of yours.

But we are again getting away from the first cause argument - so maybe we should admit this and jump to a new topic?

Your main argument seems to be not in the first cause argument but in the bible and what you believe it says.

If you want to turn the argument around and argue from the position of the bible – then no problem.

I’ll give it a go, but I’m no biblical scholar either and rather practical in my approach.

You have given me a definition of your Christian God, can you prove it?

If there is a God, what kind of evidence should we expect? I think there’s honestly more than enough to have faith.

Evidence for your biblical God remember, not just ‘any old God’.

The exquisite fine-tuning of the universe

Can you prove the universe is fined tuned? It could just well be a random mess that just so happens to be ideal for our kind of life.

Remembering, if the universe wasn’t ideal for our kind of life, we would not be here to question it :)

Oh, and however unlikely it might be that the universe is ‘fine-tuned’ for our kind of life, the idea of a God that is ideally fine-tuned to think about creating a universe perfectly fine-tuned for our kind of life is far more unlikely :)

You believe in one, but reject the other.

Oh, and this argument of yours seems to be the argument from design?

the person of Jesus Christ and His resurrection

Oh we could have a lot of fun discussing just this one line...

what I believe (though I’ve probably not convinced you of this) to be the necessity of God for anything to exist

You would have to prove to me that God is required before you convince me of this claim.

For starters, how would a universe look from the perspective of a talking monkey without a God?

Or indeed, where has this loving God been for the last 4 billion years or so when life was evolving in a ‘dog eat dog’ world.

Just because I don’t believe God is physical doesn’t make Him “unphysical” in the strictest sense, and by that I mean I think God can take a physical form, as He is sovereign and all-powerful.

We can question this point later... we have so many questions, we should really focus on just a couple at a time or our replies will take weeks to post and days to read.

How could the scientific methods test the claims of a theistic God? Truth be told I’m honestly unsure what you mean by that.

Easy... first make a claim that your theistic God can do which can be falsified :)

For example: Does God listen to prayer? Does God react to prayer and interacts in the universe based on these prayers?

A claim then that “God listens and reacts to prayer by interacting in the physical world” could be tested scientifically.
(I wonder why the better the scientific test, the worse the power of prayer appears... is this telling us anything?)

Another example could be if someone claims God has provided divine knowledge or revelation – any such specific claim could again be tested. The lack of such events in the world today (or indeed outside of the bible) is rather telling in my book

Another could be to provide a book or holy text that provides knowledge unavailable to the writers, but is surprising specific and accurate about it claims.

Do you know of any such book?

I think our words in and of themselves fail to adequately describe God, so I try to be very careful.

Fair enough – but I would then ask you why you think similar words can be used in the ‘first cause’ argument and expect them to be close to the truth or valid?

Remember my consistency point made earlier.

Oftentimes people don’t argue against God, but they argue against an improper concept of God, making it almost a straw man.

Oh yes, I know about the straw man argument... the trouble is, if the theist doesn’t define their God, how can the idea be tested? How can it be shown to have any meaning?

I have been in many debates when the theist provides little to argue against, so a few blind pot-shots are all we can do to try and ‘feel out’ their definition of God.

So the blame, sometimes, can be laid at both parties.

A common argument made against me is that I take the bible too literal when I am arguing against it, but I am learning.

For example, it would do little good for someone to argue with me over whether my God is wood, as I don’t believe He is in the first place, so to prove He is not would not eliminate my God.

This is why arguing against a strawman is a waste of time, and I try not to do it – but often fall into the trap when the details are not known well.

We are all guilty of the strawman sometimes, just look back at our discussion and you will notice I write a few times that you are arguing against a position I do not hold or am arguing for i.e. a straw man.

I don’t get offended by it; merely see it as the other person is trying to understand my position better (or arguing to a ‘wider audience’)

A bit of straw never hurt anyone :)

I could just as easily say the universe is evidence for God.

Yep... but I claimed it first :)

I provided it as evidence for my argument merely because it is common for a theist to present the same broad evidence. It is pretty meaningless.

Therefore, we need to be more specific.

Good scientific theories don’t just answer what has been observed, but what have not yet been observed. They tell you have to disprove them as well.

I agree, I do need to provide evidence for my God, as I’ve stated I think He’s primarily revealed in the person of Jesus Christ and in the Bible.

New topic... New topic!!!

Have we really killed the first cause argument – or come to some form of agreement that “I don’t know, and you don’t either”?

Now we really are moving into evidence for the theistic (and Christian) God.

I agree the big bang will have a natural explanation, but a natural explanation doesn’t eliminate God from the process.

Ooooh.... this sounds interesting.

Are you implying you can demonstrate the need for God within the physics equations?

I don’t remember seeing God in the equations the last I looked, but it was a long time ago.

As far as the God of gaps goes, I think scientists are just making up natural explanations until we have a better understanding of supernatural theories :) So I say we have a science of gaps.

“Atheism of the Gaps” perhaps?

But no, science by it very method ‘makes up’ natural explanations for the observable... this is what science does best.

However, and this is the important bit, the claims are very specific and falsifiable. If they are not, then they are just bad hypothesises and probably form part of Sci-Fi writing rather then science writing.

The key word I used above was ‘observable’ – no one has presented a requirement for the supernatural, how it would improve knowledge and not reduce it, and how it could be tested.

Well, I’d say everyone that believe in God believes in intelligent design; and creationism is a form of intelligent design, but theistic evolution could fall under intelligent design as well, and most creationists certainly don’t accept theistic evolutionists.

I won’t disagree with you, but I was talking about my position, and I was clear that there are levels.

“Normally” when I speak of ‘creationists’ I am talking about Young Earther’s – but I didn’t want to ‘pigeon hole’ you when you talked about the ‘creationist’ because it can mean many different things to different people.

The fact that this thread is about ID (originally until I side tracked it) I could assume that you hold this position, but since you are a Christian this cannot be quite right – but remember what we said about strawmen? I don’t want to assume anything really.

So... time to be straight up about it.

How would you describe yourself?

Young Earth Creationist?
Old Earth Creationist with ‘guided’ evolution?
Old Earth Creationist with no evolution?
ID-ist?
Other (Please define)

I think you have guessed my position by now :)

(Actually – I’ve just got to the point in your reply were you say you are a 6 day creationist... do you really mean 6 literal days? How do you measure this?)

I’m saying whether God created the earth in six literal days, or whether it was over a greater time period doesn’t change my belief that He did in fact create it.

Fair enough...

(Now this relates to my question above)

How do you think God created it? As outlined in Genesis (ignoring time scales ‘of course’) or via the accepted method described by physics (which I think is called the condensation theory)

My point being is the bible story merely a guide (a myth) or a precise detailed account of creation? If the account was shown wrong, what would it mean to you?

Again – I think you have answered this later, so maybe we should explore this topic further – certainly sounds interesting. What do you say?

Well normally say Kalam is too simple an argument, but I certainly believe in a complex God if that’s what you’re getting at.

Kalam?

OK, so you believe in the complex God... and I have already outlined my objections to this – you have a lot more explaining to do :)

Ok. I don’t think an “unstable nothing” is a reasonable explanation, unless that unstable nothing is infinite

You are placing a time constraint on something without time.

This doesn’t make sense – I hope you agree.
(I refer you also back to my photon question)

Just because an explanation is simpler doesn’t mean its right.

Oh, I agree to that... a simple explanation might not explain anything.

The ‘God solution’ is about as simple explanation as you can give to any problem – it answers nothing, and actually creates more questions (which is the whole point of my argument here, so of course I am not going to repeat them)

I agree the big bang model is a pretty good one. I’d say the details are exactly what require God.

Are you sure? My question would be why does an all-powerful God require the Big Bang and 13.5 billion years?
(How does this fit in with a 6 day creationist?)

Life is a pretty big detail, we wouldn’t be talking without it :)

Yep, and if it didn’t have a natural explanation we would not be talking :)

I just don’t know what the explanation is...

though the details don’t look like they require a complex God as a solution.

Rather 100 billion galaxies, each with 100 billion stars and several billion years to play with seems to do the trick for me.

Remember, I only need the simplest form of self-replicating chemistry to start, after that evolution kicks in :)

Yeah, most scientists estimate that when the first single cell organism came together it would have required at least 200+ elements.

And? That’s a tiny... and it would not surprise me if organic molecules of that size have not already been found - so I did a little Google search

Here’s a story talking finding just such organic molecules:-

http://www.rsc.org/chemistryworld/News/2007/May/11050701.asp

Oh, and here is a story about such compounds outside our solar system.

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080103132303.htm

OK... not conclusive, certainly not life – but interesting organic chemistry has been found outside Earth so what is demanded here by you doesn’t sound too crazy given the number I quoted in my previous comment above.

What I’m saying is it is highly statistically improbable this would have happened

This is an argument again from personal incredulity.

Can you explain to me why it would be impossible for such an occurrence to happen somewhere else in the universe?
(Indeed, I claim it has happened at least once - here on Earth)

all these ingredients hit at the right time in the right spot, avoiding things that would effect it negatively, without guidance.

Read the stories provided in the links above, then think about the true size of the universe... then tell me it is impossible :)

I believe evolution explains some things, but that it, like any other theory, leaves questions.

The theory explains the ‘fact’ of evolution observed in nature...

While I personally am a six day creationist, I don’t really care to argue the two, as neither of them have much bearing the more pressing philosophical issues.

Oh... I really am trying to get us all to run before we can walk.

So you don’t really think the Big Bang explains events that happened 13.5 billion years ago?

We maybe should have started on Genesis 1 and 2 and why they are wrong/right :)

OK... at last I got through your whole reply.

Lots of interesting stuff... lots of side issues/questions to explore.

As always... let’s see where the discussion takes us, if anywhere.

Do I need to talk further about the first cause argument and why I think it is flawed?

Thanks again for your time. Look forward to your reply.

Lee

Tue Jun 03, 11:39:00 PM 2008  
Blogger sweetswede said...

Look forward to your reply.

I'll try to respond to as much as I can before Saturday. After that I won't be able to get online for a week, I'll be off to instruct at my local Boys State program. So I do apologize if I leave pressing questions unanswered for a while.

Thu Jun 05, 08:34:00 AM 2008  
Blogger sweetswede said...

Glad you are enjoying our discussions as well... and thanks for the detailed reply – it keeps me busy.
We have a different opinion of course, but it is good that we can talk about them.


Indeed, I like what Voltaire is credited with saying; “I disagree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”.

Which is why I have made no such argument :)

However, this does depend on how you define your God.

Nothing can be proved 100% - agreed, but in science (and philosophy I believe) specific ideas can be falsified. If you define your God, then we can see if He really exists :)


Well most scientist I’ve talked to and read say God can’t be falsified, which is why they try to avoid Him (not say He doesn’t exist, just that He’s beyond the scope of science). But it seems this discussion is headed in another direction. How I define God is going to be addressed later (in one of many discussions that are springing up from this one).

I am not philosopher as I have said, Ockham’s razor is as close as I normally get (though I have been talking to a few rather clever philosophers chaps on various blogs lately, but they hurt my head with long words)

I’m not either, or at least not much of one, I know a little bit about philosophy. I sometimes like to say I’m of a certain philosophy just because it is a long word; I’m a phenomenalist (not really, but it sounds cool).

Could you maybe expand on this ‘about matter’ point – I don’t understand what you are trying to say. (Or is it not important and covered later?)

You had a paragraph after that in the first post explaining you held to the “2nd option” (in reference to the universe coming from nothing). I added “about matter” to clarify I wasn’t agreeing with the entire paragraph.

So is it what you get when you removed everything from the universe?

Though the quantum vacuum just keeps popping into my head – why is this any different to what you are saying is impossible?

Yes our observations are within the universe, but if it is possible (and it is) within the universe why is it so hard to transpose this idea on the start of the universe?

Why is this impossible?

This comes back to my opening statement regarding the lack of imagination and the ‘first cause argument’ is merely an argument from ignorance


I’ll try to be as clear as I can, but that’s not promising much :)

Yes, absolute nothingness is no physical matter, time, space, etc… Quantum vacuums though, have waves, energy, and so forth. They are not absolutely nothing. Thus if the quantum vacuum is what everything else (starting with the big bang) came from, than there is a requirement for these things to be infinite.

Experience maybe impossible and yes it is difficult maybe to understand, but to create mathematical models of nothing? These are possible aren’t they?

If you can model the universe with maths (which is what physics is all about really), then surely to get to nothing you just have to ‘remove’ some of the maths... (hey, I said it wasn’t easy – I’m not sure I am making any sense to myself at the moment. I need to build on some of my ideas up further I know – give me time)

But it does bring me back to the ‘unstable nothing’ idea – unproven, but possible.

Maybe the state where everything is in balance (i.e. so everything cancels out to be nothing) is just unstable and like the pencil balancing on its tip – it is going to fall.


Well I suppose. That brings into question whether 0 exists by itself or whether it is simply a lack of the existence of all matter (either way the result is the same, just two different means of getting there).

An unstable nothing is possible, but the probability seems to be where we disagree.

Has any mechanism been suggested why a tree falling would behave differently when being observed to when it is not?

My hearing a sound does not affect the falling of the tree or the compression of the air which is later received by my ears long after the tree has actually fallen.

I suggest then that a tree falling without a person observing will have the same influence on the physical surroundings as if someone was present. The air will be compressed the same – ready for someone to interpret that sound or not.

Now, what is the sound of one hand clapping?


Well, sort of. This gets into a big, somewhat pointless philosophy, but the idea is everything is just a perception in our own mind. That is, our minds are distorted to see and perceive and sense what we think should happen. For example when we say somebody’s name, our mind will distort things in order to make it seem like they are responding to us. One time arguing against this idea I said someone’s name, and asked why all our minds were equally distorted to believe the individual responded in exactly the same way, when in fact distortion like this would seem subjective so everyone should think the individual responded to me differently.

Now I think this line of reasoning is absurd, but I can’t disprove it.

This is why I think science uses the falsification method rather than the inductive (and is another problem with the ‘first cause’ argument - at its core it is inductive reasoning isn’t it. Looking around us and forcing this onto the start of the universe with no reasoning why this should be so – how do you know you are right, anyway to test your idea or method of proving it false?)

Well the first cause argument, by itself, is just an argument against atheism; as we’ve seen what it argues for is just “a god” and not something specific. I think Kalam (the 3 point cosmological argument I used in my original blog) can be falsified if one of the first two premises are falsified. I think the best shot at falsifying Christianity would be to falsify Jesus Christ. I’ve got a debate between myself and another blogger that should be finished within the next 2-3 weeks, and we deal with that topic rather extensively.

As to forcing why this should be so, I think we’ve discussed 3 possible theories (God, infinite matter, everything from nothing); and if we eliminate 2, we are only left with one option. In your case you’ve eliminated God and infinite matter; I’ve eliminated infinite matter and everything from nothing. As to why we come to these, I think we’ll continue to address in the following responses.

You have not shown why my explanations would require an infinite past (or events) to reach today. I have also said that time and space came into being at the Big Bang, so time before it just doesn’t make sense. You have agreed to this I think.

Yes, I agree time before the big bang makes no sense at all. However, as you’ve primarily referred to a quantum vacuum to support “everything from nothing”, that would require the energy, waves, etc… found in a quantum vacuum to either have always existed themselves (infinitely); or if it has a material cause, it would go back to traversing an infinite amount of past events.

And? I have not made an argument for a static universe?

No, a lot of these comments I’m trying to address what you bring out, and what the larger audience may be thinking.

Erm... interesting question and happy to investigate it once we are happy to park the ‘first cause’ argument.

I would also like to know how God ‘thought’ it would be a good idea to start the universe and chose a universe ‘fit’ for mankind over the billions of other possibilities.

This ‘thought’ implies a mind, a ‘decision making mechanism’ – I wonder where this came from?

Would you agree that a being that has the capability of thought is more unlikely to come about by chance compared to say, a lot of energy at the point of the Big Bang that followed a few simple laws?

Evolution has shown that a thinking brain likes mankind’s has taken billions of years to evolve and is anything but simple (and is very physical).

This is the problem by invoking God at the start of the universe (let alone thinking God still interacts with the universe which is another problem we will probably get to)


I’m not proposing God ever began. I’ve only argued that things that begin to exist must have a cause, and I don’t believe God began to exist. This is not a special pleading, because I don’t believe God is constrained by or composed of matter, time, or space. Truthfully God isn’t really “composed”, because that would require a beginning.

Does this mean God was around infinitely? I don’t think so, because prior to creation (e.g. –the big bang) time didn’t exist. The God revealed in the Bible transcends our time.

OK – if I start to argue about infinite number of past events tell me.

Will do.

Though a problem you will have is getting a good understanding of time and what it actually means. There are a finite number of events back to the Big Bang from which space and time came out from.
(Though I should probably be clear that the Big Bang model is just that, a model that is the best explanation of the observations we see – it doesn’t answer ‘the first cause’ as you would put it, but it does explain nicely everything there after.

A bit like the theory of evolution doesn’t explain how life got started, but once it did, complex life forms from simple ones are explained nicely by the theory.)


I don’t see a problem with any of those statements.

And?

The problem would be what?

After all, you are still suggesting (at some fundamental level I think) that either that God came from nothing or was always present. (The same as me with the universe :)

Either way you have a problem. ‘Always present’ brings us to your ‘infinite past events’ after all – and we have to be consistent with our arguments.

“out of nothing” you object to, and is the position I am arguing for with regards to the universe.

At best you are making the same arguments as me, but you insert a God were I do not think it is necessary.


The problem would be if quantum vacuums, string theory, and all that lead us to something then there is not a universe out of nothing, but physical matter (in some form) traversing an infinite number of past events.
I’m proposing God was always present. Not just that He was always present, but that He transcends time, He created time. An infinite number of past events doesn’t apply to eternality, because in eternity there is not time. An infinite number of past events doesn’t hinder God, because infinity is a concept that has no application in the physical world, and I’ve not asserted God as being “physical”, with the exception of Christ who was on earth in physical form for a finite number of years.

Off at a tangent a little, I think we can agree on this... the universe is here – we are here...

Certainly.

Now if you want to understand how this situation came to be, you could start to look around you and try and deduce from what you see some rules how the universe behaves and create some models to have you understand better what you see.

You could test these models; you could have your models make predictions about the universe that could be easily falsified. The more complex the predictions, the more numerous the predictions – the easier it would be to falsify this model IF it did NOT hold some truth about how the universe works... then, just maybe when you find a model that has not been falsified you could maybe think it is telling you something about the universe.


Why do we need other models? I don’t think that’s necessary. I’d agree science could falsify God if God was material and operated according to our rules and our assumptions, but God has not given us the option of putting Him into a box where we can manipulate and control Him, or at least know where He is.

Or maybe you could just say “God did it”?

You see, one technique provides some explanatory power, the other provides just another unknown.

Erm... this could be a start of an interesting post, it is certainly off-topic – I think I will do just that over at my place and see what happens.

If you have any views on this last comment, lets take them up at my place on this new thread I created for it :)


I’ll visit you over there once I get the chance (though it may take a while).

That’s another problem... Isn’t there some disagreement whether Jesus was physical, or unphysical, or the Son of God, or Is God...?

Will happily move into biblical talk later but I am trying to stay focussed for now as I said.


Not much disagreement about whether Jesus was physical, the disagreement normally comes in on “did Jesus resurrect physically or spiritually?”. I agree, I’ll try to stay focused, but this topic gets addressed in the debate I mentioned earlier.



Are emotions not physical?

Emotions seem to be related very closely to the physical brain which can be affected by other physical forces - a hit on the head or drugs or disease.

If you want to claim emotions are unphysical, then I would like to know how.
(I am not claiming emotions such as love are very well understood by science, but an evolutionary explanation might help us better understand them)


Well in a sense they are physical, in that there seem to be brain waves and brain activity as certain emotions take place; I guess the question is do the brainwaves cause the emotion or does the emotion cause the brainwaves? But even though there is a connection between brainwaves and emotions, we still can’t directly measure emotions.

I think this seems reasonable... though of course, there could have been many gods or many universes – but I think this just moves the problem back to an infinite number of turtles and all that.

Well when the turtles start taking our place on a cross I’ll start looking at them :)

Good question, love to hear your answer to the question you asked.

Particularly the part where you said science cannot measure or test God directly – how about indirectly?

Maybe through the power of prayer perhaps or divine revelations?


I don’t know if science can measure God indirectly; I do think we can deduce the necessity of God based on scientific observation.

We are definitely getting off topic from the first cause argument... however, this could be interesting.

I had hoped the Bible, Christianity and Jesus would not be raised just yet, since if they are to be brought into a discussion they will need to be questioned objectively.

So, since you have raised the questions, I hope you do not mind the position I will be taking – that is of a sceptic – or that I will be questioning your points head-on.

Please, and this is the important bit, do not take any offence at my questions, they are merely raised to challenge what you have put forward (as a sceptic I should do) – they are not an attack on your person.


In a way this is off-topic, but I believe the Bible is the answer for questions like “how do we know about God”.

I’m no stranger to people questioning the Bible, I’ve questioned the Bible. However, that debate I’ve mentioned may be a better place to carry on this discussion later on. I’m not very easily offended, head-on questions are how we get answers.

How do you propose to show this to a sceptical ‘non-believer’ like myself?

Well, since the Bible can be objectively questioned it would seem if I demonstrated it to be objectively true than that would give good reason to believe in it.

This raises another question, why would God need to take on human form? - but go on...

Because God is just, and when man committed unjust acts we were separated from God; but God loves us so He wanted to bring us back into relationship with Him. Being just, somebody had to be punished. Somebody had to pay the debt that we, as unjust humans, could not pay.

So logically, I should now start to test the accuracy of the bible? Any evidence you want to provide on it’s accuracy BTW?

I think below you propose we start another thread for this, which is not a bad idea.

I think we need another thread all about the accuracy of the bible and how much ‘faith’ we should have on it recording the true words and ideas of Jesus’ (assuming he existed)

I’m taking a little break now, and will be replying to your later comments soon.

All this talk about Jesus and the bible means I need to take a rest :)


Alright, I too must take a break (possibly for over a week, as I mentioned already; though working at Boys State isn’t really a break, it will be a break from the blogosphere).

At any rate, I’ve already mentioned I’ve got a debate going on, it’s titled “Do the Canonical Gospels Represent Historical Fact?”. I’m obviously arguing in the affirmative, once that’s done and I get it posted it may be the opportune place to deal with all this.

Thu Jun 05, 09:33:00 AM 2008  
Blogger Lee said...

Hi Joey,

I'll try to respond to as much as I can before Saturday. After that I won't be able to get online for a week, I'll be off to instruct at my local Boys State program. So I do apologize if I leave pressing questions unanswered for a while.
...
Alright, I too must take a break (possibly for over a week, as I mentioned already; though working at Boys State isn’t really a break, it will be a break from the blogosphere).


Well, you’ve given me a lot to think about again.

Enjoy the ‘break’, it will give me time to respond in full anyway – I was getting a little ‘overwhelmed’.

Indeed, I like what Voltaire is credited with saying; “I disagree with what you say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it”.

I hate to agree with a Frenchman... but he’s right.

At any rate, I’ve already mentioned I’ve got a debate going on, it’s titled “Do the Canonical Gospels Represent Historical Fact?”. I’m obviously arguing in the affirmative, once that’s done and I get it posted it may be the opportune place to deal with all this.

I’ve noticed the debate on a blog (which is how I found your blog), got it printed off to read on the train but there is a lot to read.

See ya

Lee

Mon Jun 09, 04:50:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Lee said...

Hi Joey,

Let’s see if I can keep it ‘short’ in replying to your points because we have made so many of them.

I still think the argument for the ‘first cause’ is logically flawed – and well, that’s it really.

How about that for short?

You want more? OK... since it is you :)

Well most scientist I’ve talked to and read say God can’t be falsified, which is why they try to avoid Him (not say He doesn’t exist, just that He’s beyond the scope of science).

I’ll point you back to my original comment – ‘specific ideas’ i.e. claims about God.

These can be tested and falsified I think.

If you say that the interactions from God cannot be tested and falsified in anyway (i.e. outside the realm of science) then I would ask you how you truly know that God interacts in anyway in the universe?

Can you see the problem?

If ‘science’ cannot test the interactions from God, then you also have no way of knowing - Your theistic God might as well not exist.

But it seems this discussion is headed in another direction

I need a good captain, because I drift all over the place with my comments/replies – enough to make anyone ‘sea sick’.

I know a little bit about philosophy. I sometimes like to say I’m of a certain philosophy just because it is a long word; I’m a phenomenalist (not really, but it sounds cool).

And I’ve no idea what that means so that must be a good philosophy then.

Yes, absolute nothingness is no physical matter, time, space, etc… Quantum vacuums though, have waves, energy, and so forth. They are not absolutely nothing. Thus if the quantum vacuum is what everything else (starting with the big bang) came from, than there is a requirement for these things to be infinite.

And you claim nothing can come from nothing based on what evidence or logic?

This is still an inductive argument – you logically have no way of showing this to be true, so in fact you have just re-stated your original premise that ‘everything that begins needs a cause’.

But like me try and explain myself again why I introduced the idea of the quantum vacuum and ‘virtual’ particles

I use the quantum mechanics as an example where ‘cause and effect’ can and does break down in the known universe, where ‘virtual’ particles interact with ‘real’ particles, where particles come into and out of existence all the time. (It’s weird stuff I admit.)

The thing is the argument of the ‘first cause’ relies on the premise that everything that begins needs a cause, and well, at the quantum level this isn’t the case (even if you like to say the universe is the cause, it does help you since I am only giving an example of where your premise fails in the real universe today – Oh, the inserting ‘begins’ in this premise is special pleading, since you remove this requirement for God without justification i.e. special pleading)

To justify my example further, the events just after the Big Bang are certainly within the realm of quantum mechanics and since ‘cause and effect’ is ‘screwed’ at this point, why not just a smallest of seconds before?

How/why do you think the idea/logic of ‘cause and effect’ is true on the macro-level in the universe today holds beyond the point where physics says the universe will be behaving at the quantum level?

I just cannot see how you can logically justify your position.

This premise has been shown to be false.

I’ve not shown that something can come from nothing, but I shown (I hope) you have no logic to suggest why this cannot be the case.

This brings me back to your argument of ignorance – you just don’t know.

Well I suppose. That brings into question whether 0 exists by itself or whether it is simply a lack of the existence of all matter (either way the result is the same, just two different means of getting there).

Isn’t it great thinking on the extreme?

I’m just trying to suggest that the beginning of the universe might be modelled using mathematics – I never said either of us would understand it.

Maybe the maths has not been invented yet that describes this condition, to me that isn’t important. History is on my side, so I will remain ‘hopeful’ – physics is always inventing new mathematics to model the universe better. The invention of the number zero and calculus are just a copy of ‘simple’ examples.

If mankind never solves this problem, then no problems – the universe is still here, but I still see no need to invent a god just because I cannot understand a problem.

An unstable nothing is possible, but the probability seems to be where we disagree.

It is hard to compare probabilities really – unless someone can calculate the probability of a thinking and decision making God?

This reminded me of a quote, I think it was Einstein who asked the question ‘Did god have a choice to create the universe?’ (lowercase god since I think it is clear Einstein didn’t believe in the theistic God)

The point being, did god have a decision to make, or did the universe just have to happen? – An ‘unstable nothing’ is one possible solution (which says very little really I know, but it gives us something to talk about).

No God required, so to insert a god into the solution you will have to start to justify and proving some aspects of god. I think this is fair.

This gets into a big, somewhat pointless philosophy

Let’s park it then for the moment – I think I was merely responding to a question. Neither of us are big on philosophy it seems (though they do come up with the best questions).

Well the first cause argument, by itself, is just an argument against atheism;

Didn’t see that coming - but I suppose I should have been on my guard.

I did say I felt it was an argument for deism only, but not in the point you are responding to – there I was talking about induction.

Better keep my guard up :)

Your wording also threw me... an ‘argument against atheism’? Is there also an argument against a-fairyism that I should be aware of?

as we’ve seen what it argues for is just “a god” and not something specific.

Agreed.

I think Kalam (the 3 point cosmological argument I used in my original blog) can be falsified if one of the first two premises are falsified.

Yep... I think I have tried to ‘put the boot in’ all 3 points.

Does this ‘wrap up’ our discussion on the first cause?

Have I shown it is a weak argument for deism, and not an argument at all for theism?

Or have I just convinced myself?

Still, loads more to talk about though…

I think the best shot at falsifying Christianity would be to falsify Jesus Christ.

And this could be a thread all on its own.

Short answer – I don’t need to falsify Christianity in just the same way I don’t need to falsify Zeus, Woden, the fairies at the bottom of the garden and the 1001 other gods and religions you also don’t follow.

What I will try and do however is falsify any claim you care to make about your theistic God (how modest is that?) and this includes Jesus Christ.

If nothing else, it will be fun trying.

I’ve got a debate between myself and another blogger that should be finished within the next 2-3 weeks, and we deal with that topic rather extensively.

I’ve still not had the chance to read it all yet, but I come at these debates from a different angle anyway. More fundamental I like to think.

As to forcing why this should be so, I think we’ve discussed 3 possible theories (God, infinite matter, everything from nothing);

But let’s be careful not to get trapped into our ‘limited imaginations’ – this brings me back to my early point about ‘ignorance’.

and if we eliminate 2, we are only left with one option.

We really have to be careful now – we are assuming one of the opinions is correct and can be summarised with primitive English?

But apart from that, let’s go on...

In your case you’ve eliminated God and infinite matter;

Actually this isn’t actually fair – what I have tried to do is show the ‘first cause’ argument is logically flawed and so any conclusions from it do not follow i.e. a god

That is all

‘Infinite matter’ makes no sense to me what so ever – I assume you are talking about existence rather than quantity? As I have said, time causes a problem here since space-time in this universe is said to have come into existence AT the Big Bang.

We are back at our ignorance again – certainly mine, so I cannot eliminate a universe has ‘always been’ but it would take some serious wrapping of the mind (I think you made an argument against a infinite universe because it require an infinite amount of time to come to now, but without time as a reference, that would not make any sense... if this was your argument against it, it doesn’t follow)

Oh, I should repeat that I hope you don’t mine me using the phrase ‘ignorance’ it is not meant to be insulting to you or me, merely a statement of fact – we are ignorant when we don’t know the answers, that is all. For all I know you have PhD’s falling out of your ears, it still would make you ignorant about the start of the universe (unless you are hiding something :)

I am aware that if you are not used to this style of writing it could be taken the wrong way – hope not


I’ve eliminated infinite matter and everything from nothing.

As discussed, your elimination is flawed as it is based on your ignorance about both solutions – so you cannot choose God even IF there were indeed only these 3 options as you outlined.

Yes, I agree time before the big bang makes no sense at all.

That brings option 2 (‘infinite matter’) back into play BTW

However, as you’ve primarily referred to a quantum vacuum to support “everything from nothing”,

I have merely shown this as reasons why your logic that ‘cause and event’ is always valid is flawed. I need do nothing more.

However, I admit I have also used it to take it one more (unprovable?) step and suggested that it hinted that energy can come from nothing in extreme situations giving the possibility that option 3 (something from nothing) is at least possible, theoretically.

that would require the energy, waves, etc… found in a quantum vacuum to either have always existed themselves (infinitely);

Please define ‘infinitely’ without any reference to time - you just said it did not make sense to talk about time before the Big Bang.

RE: “I have not made an argument for a static universe? “

No, a lot of these comments I’m trying to address what you bring out, and what the larger audience may be thinking.

Oh, that makes sense then... I just didn’t know anyone else was reading this :)

For the record then, I don’t know how you can have a static universe – not with any movement in it anyway. Gravity will muck you up. So I would need a definition of this ‘static universe’, but since neither of us is arguing from this position it could be a little pointless.

RE: ”I would also like to know how God ‘thought’ it would be a good idea to start the universe and chose a universe ‘fit’ for mankind over the billions of other possibilities. “

I’m not proposing God ever began. I’ve only argued that things that begin to exist must have a cause, and I don’t believe God began to exist.

Your logic is not consistent then is it? You are merely bending words – you are stating that everything that ‘begin to exist have a cause’ yet Quantum mechanics breaks this premise – ‘cause and effect’ break down.

Then (and yes, to repeat myself, this is special pleading on your part) you claim that ‘God never began’... how do you know this?

This is not a special pleading, because I don’t believe God is constrained by or composed of matter, time, or space. Truthfully God isn’t really “composed”, because that would require a beginning.

Yes it is special pleading for the very reason you explain it isn’t.

Does this mean God was around infinitely? I don’t think so, because prior to creation (e.g. –the big bang) time didn’t exist. The God revealed in the Bible transcends our time.

Please be consistent – you are now arguing for the possibility of an ‘infinite matter’ opinion here, since before the Big Bang, no time :)

So you have not logically shown the only opinion is God using your own reasoning.

RE: The Big Bang model and the theory of evolution.

I don’t see a problem with any of those statements.

Interesting... but you said you were a creationist? I’m getting confused again.

The problem would be if quantum vacuums, string theory, and all that lead us to something then there is not a universe out of nothing, but physical matter (in some form) traversing an infinite number of past events.

I will have to call ‘time’... (A simple joke and a reminder)

Please re-read what I have said – I have not mentioned an infinite number of past events because without time it doesn’t make any sense to me.

You have agreed to this, but not taken onboard what it means to your argument it seems. Any further comment here then will be repeating what I have said earlier in this reply.

If you want me to expand, just tell me where.

I’m proposing God was always present.

And as I have said, I can do the same with the ‘universe’ I will just say time came into being at the Big Bang. What is wrong with this? (See above)

Not just that He was always present, but that He transcends time, He created time. An infinite number of past events doesn’t apply to eternality, because in eternity there is not time. An infinite number of past events doesn’t hinder God, because infinity is a concept that has no application in the physical world

My previous (and simpler) argument still holds using your logic.

...and I’ve not asserted God as being “physical”, with the exception of Christ who was on earth in physical form for a finite number of years.

This will be another question we can get onto... Jesus Christ would be a long topic as you know.

Why do we need other models? I don’t think that’s necessary.

It is how the scientific method works... think about how something could work, model it – test it.

Why do we need other models? Do you know one that works which you can either prove positive or is falsifiable and yet to be falsified?

I’d agree science could falsify God if God was material and operated according to our rules and our assumptions

This comes back to the modelling.

Provide a model of God – what He can and cannot do, and how He interacts with the universe, then tell me how this model could be shown false, then we can test this model of God.

If the model works – great, if it fails it should be rejected and never spoken of again :)

So I am no more suggesting we can test God directly, then I say we can test for the electron. What we can do for both the electron and God is create a model how it behaves in this universe.

If you cannot do that, then what you have is a whole lot of nothing. The bible writers seem to know this, and hence wrote claims about God. These claims form part of a model :)

I just want you to tell me what it is, so I do not create a strawman.

We can start simple if you like, how about the power of prayer?

but God has not given us the option of putting Him into a box where we can manipulate and control Him, or at least know where He is.

So you don’t ‘know’ God then? You know nothing about God, His ideas, wishes or desires?

A deist could argue from this position, but not sure how a theist can justify this position.

As I said before – we don’t manipulate or control the universe, but we can do plenty of tests :)

I’ll visit you over there once I get the chance (though it may take a while).

It isn’t a ‘hot bed’ of debate and discussions at the moment so no rush. I think I have written more over here then on my own blog.

Not much disagreement about whether Jesus was physical, the disagreement normally comes in on “did Jesus resurrect physically or spiritually?”. I agree, I’ll try to stay focused, but this topic gets addressed in the debate I mentioned earlier.

Probably best to leave it in your other debate – it isn’t an area I know much about but I did think there was debate who (or what) Jesus was.

God becoming physical after all does raise a lot of questions... like why did He do it, what did God expect to learn for the first 30 years on Earth before He was to be crucified etc etc etc?

Another time, another thread :)

Well in a sense they are physical, in that there seem to be brain waves and brain activity as certain emotions take place; I guess the question is do the brainwaves cause the emotion or does the emotion cause the brainwaves? But even though there is a connection between brainwaves and emotions, we still can’t directly measure emotions.

Did I mention measuring emotions or characterising them? I cannot remember – no matter.

Well when the turtles start taking our place on a cross I’ll start looking at them :)

He he...

I don’t know if science can measure God indirectly;

I think you are wrong as I have said above :)

I do think we can deduce the necessity of God based on scientific observation.

I don’t understand what you mean here sorry. The ‘necessity of God’? This would not be taking us into the God of the Gaps would it – I cannot answer how non-life became life so it has to be God? - Surely not...

OK... I will take a pause here – lunch time and the next section of your reply moves into Christianity and the bible more so I need a different hat :)

Cheers

Lee

Tue Jun 10, 07:31:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Lee said...

Hello again,

In a way this is off-topic, but I believe the Bible is the answer for questions like “how do we know about God”.

Fair enough – I can challenge this if required.

I’ll start with:-

How literally should we take the bible, and how do we decide how to interpret it? How do I determine what to take literally, and what to take to be a parable?

If science/reason/evidence shows the bible is in ‘error’ are you prepared to re-interpret the bible or just accept the bible writers were in error i.e. the flat Earth that is suggested in the bible? (I am also thinking of course about the theory of evolution and the Big Bang model but I will keep it simple for now)

You mentioned that you are a 6 day creationist, but I don’t actually know what that means – it sounds like you take a more ‘fundamental’ approach to reading the bible, if so, does this reject the findings of science?

If it does you will have a lot of convincing to do – I don’t throw away 400 years of science and learning that quickly. In fact, I see no reason to :)

I’m no stranger to people questioning the Bible, I’ve questioned the Bible. However, that debate I’ve mentioned may be a better place to carry on this discussion later on. I’m not very easily offended, head-on questions are how we get answers.

Phew... glad you are not easily offended, some theists don’t like being challenged on faith and their god.

I always try and be polite, but I have a recent example where I challenge prayer where the theist thought I was being rude and mean – it was just a simple misunderstanding on my part because, having never believed, I don’t natural see the power of prayer or any problems is testing it by, for example, not praying.

Well, since the Bible can be objectively questioned it would seem if I demonstrated it to be objectively true than that would give good reason to believe in it.

This could be interesting, but I am no bible scholar so we will have to keep it simple.

If you can show the bible is true on important matters (i.e. miracles or divine knowledge) then I would be interested. It would be a good step forward.

However, I most say that although I am no bible scholar, neither am I ignorant of it (maybe just my interpretation of course) so I do feel I have reasons why I don’t believe the bible is inspired by God.

RE: ”This raises another question, why would God need to take on human form? - but go on...”

Because God is just, and when man committed unjust acts we were separated from God; but God loves us so He wanted to bring us back into relationship with Him. Being just, somebody had to be punished. Somebody had to pay the debt that we, as unjust humans, could not pay.

Nope – you have not addressed my problems, I obviously didn’t explain myself enough.

What you wrote was an explanation that makes sense to a believer, but not to me.

What ‘unjust acts’ (this raises the question of Original Sin – what is it?)
Why did God need to kill himself in human form to forgive us?
And why did God need to be born to Mary, why couldn’t God just come down in adult form? It would save a lot of time AND stop a lot of 2 year boys being killed if you believe the bible...
Oh, and why did God wait for around 13.5 billion years to show Himself?

I think below you propose we start another thread for this, which is not a bad idea.

It would make sense... keeping us focused on a topic.

Once the ‘first cause’ argument is finally put to bed... we can test the bible. Though I will say I have been spending a bit of time ‘blogging’ to a theist who has a rather ‘general’ view of the bible so forgive me if I am off-target for a bit.

Cheers

Lee

Tue Jun 10, 10:26:00 PM 2008  
Blogger sweetswede said...

I hate to agree with a Frenchman... but he’s right.

I'm not so keen on the French either :)

I'm afraid I'm just too busy lately to respond appropriately.

As far as the first cause discussion goes, I'm sure we could both go on arguing our side for ages; but at this point it seems to me we're (at least I'm) starting to go in circles. If you're interested in reading and discussing with individuals more qualified than myself you can visit www.reasonablefaith.org You may have to create an account to see a lot of the articles and join the discussion boards, but the account is free.

Actually nearly everything we've been discussing is dealt with, at least in part, on that website.

As far as the more specific claims about God, objectively looking at the Bible, examining the life if Christ; I think it may be best to postpone some of those discussions and start them in new thread entirely. Honestly the way these comment boxes are formatted agitates me (having to scroll up, copy and paste, or copy the entire thing and work from there); maybe in these coming discussions we'll just have blogs responding to each other, rather than cramming it all into these comments.

Truly sorry I can't respond more fully at this time.

God bless!
Joey

Tue Jun 17, 05:19:00 AM 2008  
Blogger Lee said...

Hi Joey,

Thanks for getting back to me… hope you enjoyed the break.

I’m really busy myself at the moment, so will be brief.

Just to say, yeah – we have probably been around the first cause argument loop a few times now, so best to agree to disagree and not repeat ourselves too often.

I will try and check out the link you gave because I am still trying to ‘square the circle’ of Christian faith. I cannot understand it, so I like to explore more.

As for further discussions… why not, just give me a few days to finish off all the work I have to do.

Back soon.

Lee

Wed Jun 18, 03:31:00 AM 2008  
Blogger Havok said...

As regards the Kalam argument, Sweetswede recommends reasonablefaith, which is the website of William Lane Craig, who is credited with reviving the Kalam Cosmological argument.

If you visit infidels.org, you can find some arguments against WLC's conception of Kalam, which basically show that, while WLC's Kalam may be acceptible to a believer who already accepts the conclusion, it does not constitute proof to someone sceptical of those claims.
Specifically the following address WLC:
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/adolf_grunbaum/comments.html
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/graham_oppy/davies.html
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/graham_oppy/reply.html

Hopefully on reading these, Sweetswede, you'll see what Lee means when he states that the first cause arguments are flawed and do not constitute proof of the existence of a god, let alone the god of Christianity

Tue Jul 15, 05:25:00 AM 2008  
Blogger Lee said...

Hi Havok,

Thanks for the links. I thought this thread was over and was about to write a summary on my blog (when this will happen - no idea)

I'll take a read of the links, they will probably say it better than I ever could.

Cheers

Lee

Wed Jul 16, 06:35:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Havok said...

No problem Lee.
I'll try to track down WLC's response to various theories which dispense with a singularity (such as quantum gravity etc) which is an interesting read, though he refuses to acknowledge that the the standard big bang model could be flawed, even though it breaks down (and doesn't reconcile gravity and QM - two big indicators that we don't know enough to comment).

Basically, it seemed as if your conversation with Joey was one of certainty from him, and questioning from you, and when it comes to actual knowledge of the beginning of the universe (and hence, the first cause, or lack thereof), we simply do not know, which makes Kalam and Joeys insistence that there must be a cause somewhat unjustified as far as I can tell :-)

Wed Jul 16, 07:20:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Havok said...

Here's a lot of articles from William Lane Craig on the existence of a god, which contain some rejoinders to the previously mentioned links to infidels:
http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/menus/existence.html

And here, accessible from the above link, is the article I mentioned, concerning singularity-less beginnings:
http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/ultimatequestion.html

Needless to say, I can't see where WLC justifies his premises of a personal interventionist god anywhere in that last article.

Wed Jul 16, 07:26:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Lee said...

Hi Havok,

Thanks again for the links…

I’ve listened to many a debate from WLC and when he starts to talk about the first cause and the big bang he seems to be coming from a position of ignorance.

As you suggested, the standard big bang model is flawed – until science gets a unifying theory of QM and gravity how can it be complete?

At best then he can only attack a strawman – a version he knows about (and it is usually a dated one and probably wrong – hence the strawman).

However since WLC picks and chooses his scholars when talking about the bible – why should we be surprised?

Also, is it just me, or does WLC have objections about the theory of evolution?

If so, there seems to be an inconsistency in his argument. On one hand accepting the Big Bang 13.5 Billion years ago, and on the other rejecting the theory of evolution. Very strange… seems rather dishonest.

However it is hard to tell though because WLC is a good debater and is very ‘slippery’ when questioned on the point. Don’t suppose you have found any comment from him on your travels?

Basically, it seemed as if your conversation with Joey was one of certainty from him, and questioning from you,

It’s the difference between the certainty of faith and the known uncertainty in science.

You can never be 100% certain in science – if you see 1 million white swans, it does not mean the next swan you see will not be black.

The first cause argument is an inductive argument – it fails like a claim which says all swans are white.

If you are interested (Joey included) I have just ‘summarised’ my understanding of the first cause argument and how it fails over at my blog.

http://strawmen-cometh.blogspot.com/2008/07/
first-cause-argument-continues.html

I later hope to summarise this debate and Joey’s objections... in time.

Lee

Thu Jul 17, 06:57:00 PM 2008  
Blogger sweetswede said...

Wow, I really have got to check older blog posts to see if people have continued commenting on them. I suppose I can agree that Kalam is just an argument and does not necessarily constitute "evidence" so to speak.

I've read several places where WLC explains why there is a personal interventionist God, but there's not much point in arguing that as long as the original premises of Kalam are still debated.

Thanks for your continued interest in this Havok and Lee,

God bless!
Joey

Sat Aug 02, 06:57:00 AM 2008  
Blogger Havok said...

Well, Kalam is a logical argument whose premises have not been justified, and whose conclusion therefore shouldn't be accepted.

I've not read everything of WLC's (and I agree with Lee - he is a slippery character), but his assertion of a personal interventionist god seems to stem from his assertion that a choice was required of this god, though as far as I can tell, this remains an assertion and he doesn't justify it anywhere (happy to be pointed at material where he claims to however).

Sat Aug 02, 07:13:00 AM 2008  
Blogger sweetswede said...

I've never met him personally, I don't know as if I'd call him "slippery"; but in all honesty most good debaters are "slippery". That's why we never get anywhere in our debates, we actually address stuff (or at least try to) head on.

Craig's article here might address what you're looking for: http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5321

Sat Aug 02, 10:29:00 AM 2008  
Blogger sweetswede said...

Oh, I'm sorry that URL didn't paste properly; here it is again:

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/
News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5321

God bless!
Joey

Sun Aug 03, 10:56:00 AM 2008  
Blogger Lee said...

Wow, I really have got to check older blog posts to see if people have continued commenting on them

Yeah - sometimes I talk about the same subject for months... :)

Lee

Mon Aug 04, 08:37:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Lee said...

Wow, I really have got to check older blog posts to see if people have continued commenting on them

Yeah - sometimes I talk about the same subject for months... :)


Lee

Mon Aug 04, 08:37:00 PM 2008  
Blogger Samuel said...

There's like a million comments so I'll keep this short.

When I saw Expelled, I was moved. I thought it was great. Then I did some fact checking. It turns out that Stein was pretty flexible with the truth in this movie.... do a quick google search for criticisms or inaccuracies in the movie and it will put things in context.

Let me know if you find the same stuff I found - namely that all the persecution in academia shown in the movie was blown out of proportion and taken out of context.

Sun Dec 27, 09:37:00 PM 2009  
Blogger sweetswede said...

Samuel,

I've heard various things. Including the proposition that the movie producers changed the title of the movie thus causing confusion for people like Richard Dawkins who thought the documentary would be something else entirely.

I've also heard that with people like Richard Sternberg the question was not about a pro-ID article, but the process by which that article was published in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

Even with those types of things I think the over-all premise of the movie is correct. People like Richard Dawkins and P.Z. Myers demonstrate a sort of atheistic fundamentalism. If I say an atheist is wrong I'm labeled as an intolerant bigot; if Christopher Hitchens says a person of faith is delusional he's commended as a great thinker.

God bless!
Joey

Mon Dec 28, 07:51:00 AM 2009  
Blogger Lee said...

Hi Joey,

It has been a while, hope all is well and you had a good Christmas.

I noticed a couple of replies in my e-mail from this thread so thought I would pop over.

I've heard various things. Including the proposition that the movie producers changed the title of the movie thus causing confusion for people like Richard Dawkins who thought the documentary would be something else entirely.

I have heard this also, but does it really matter?

Even with those types of things I think the over-all premise of the movie is correct.

Can you please state what you understand this to be?

Could it be:

“ID is not science, we know it, you know, but we will cry and cry to the politicians until we are sick since we cannot provide evidence for our claim, or any experiment that will falsify our ideas – oh, and place pictures of Hitler next to scientists who accept evolution because we do not have an argument”?

Surely not?

People like Richard Dawkins and P.Z. Myers demonstrate a sort of atheistic fundamentalism.

Can you define what you mean by “atheistic fundamentalism” – we might agree, but you have only stated a label without a description.

If I say an atheist is wrong I'm labeled as an intolerant bigot

Rubbish... if someone is wrong, they are wrong – you are free to state this.

So tell me, when you have told me many times that I am wrong, when did I ever call you an “intolerant bigot”?

if Christopher Hitchens says a person of faith is delusional he's commended as a great thinker.

Hitchens is a bit of an idiot at times who thinks he is smarting than he really is – we atheist love him though for who he is

Lee

Tue Dec 29, 12:42:00 AM 2009  
Blogger Samuel said...

"Hitchens is a bit of an idiot at times who thinks he is smarting than he really is – we atheist love him though for who he is"

Kirk Cameron's secret father who abandoned him at birth? That would explain a lot...

Tue Dec 29, 02:44:00 AM 2009  
Blogger sweetswede said...

Hey Lee,

Glad you stopped by, I did have a great Christmas, thank you. Hope all is well with you and the family.

I think the over-all premise of the movie is that in Western society people increasingly hold to the view that atheism and science go hand in hand, and any view not in alignment with this one is disregarded as some type of religious extremism. To illustrate, I believe it was Sam Harris who said "the fact that 40% of American scientists believe in God means that 60% of American scientists aren't doing their job". Keep in mind that refers to evolutionists like Francis Collins and Francisco Ayala who have made tremendous contributions to science (Ayala has published several hundred peer-reviewed articles).

By atheistic fundamentalism I mean this: Atheism is "irrational, intolerant, allied to racism, tribalism, and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry."

Now before you get angry let me tell you the catch. Those are not my words, they are Christopher Hitchens', and they are in reference to religion. I could just have easily said those were the words of Fred Phelps (pastor of Westboro Baptist Church) in relation to atheism, but they're not. See the similarities here? By atheistic fundamentalism I mean atheism that is just a close-minded as religious fundamentalism just from an opposite perspective.


So tell me, when you have told me many times that I am wrong, when did I ever call you an “intolerant bigot”?


Never, and you are to be commended for it. You've always been open to discussion and very civil. Unfortunately that's not the mainstream position. Just read some comments on youtube or something. You'll quickly see what I mean (don't get me wrong, my side is just a guilty of this too, and it's just as wrong).

"Hitchens is a bit of an idiot at times who thinks he is smarting than he really is – we atheist love him though for who he is"

Kirk Cameron's secret father who abandoned him at birth? That would explain a lot...


Bahahahahahaha!

God bless!
Joey

Tue Dec 29, 08:17:00 AM 2009  
Blogger Lee said...

Hi Joey,

I think the over-all premise of the movie is that in Western society people increasingly hold to the view that atheism and science go hand in hand

And you think otherwise?

Tell me, at what point does science ever postulate a god in any of its equations?

I will give you a clue – not only does science never postulate a god, it cannot since to do so would be introducing a supernatural element that ‘fixes all’ and answers nothing.

“God did it” does not answer any scientific question.

So atheism that does not postulate any gods and science that cannot postulate any gods seem to be pretty good bed fellows.

If this then is the premise of the film – what actually is the argument against it?

To illustrate, I believe it was Sam Harris who said "the fact that 40% of American scientists believe in God means that 60% of American scientists aren't doing their job".

My position (as you now might have noticed) is that God and science do not go together.

This is not to say a religious believer cannot do science, just that they might not be consistent.

Keep in mind that refers to evolutionists like Francis Collins

A fine example of departmentalism – the logic and reason he uses for his science is not the same he uses for his God.

I thought once about buying his book, but made the ‘mistake’ of reading a chapter in the bookstore. I was very disappointed.

Oh, and Francis Collins accepts the theory of evolution BTW

Tue Dec 29, 04:03:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Lee said...

and Francisco Ayala who have made tremendous contributions to science (Ayala has published several hundred peer-reviewed articles).

Do not forget Ken Millar... another religious scientist who rejects ID and accepts the theory of evolution in all its glory.

Sorry, I do not know the name Ayala though I am sure he is a ‘great scientist’.

My point is for both Ken and Francis, if you read their own words about evolution and science – the demand for evidence though experimentation – then listen to what they accept for their religion... it is amazing :-)

They are not being consistent – it is one rule for one, another rule for another.

I chose to be as consistent as I possibly can.

By atheistic fundamentalism I mean this: Atheism is "irrational, intolerant, allied to racism, tribalism, and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry."

Can you name an example today who fits this description?

Richard Dawkins or PZ? I do not think so, maybe you should back up your claims with some examples.

Now before you get angry let me tell you the catch. Those are not my words, they are Christopher Hitchens', and they are in reference to religion.

I do not get angry about words, I am all for the freedom of speech – I will merely ask you to back up your claims.

So let me get this straight... your definition of atheist fundamentalism is in fact the same as Christopher Hitchens on religious fundamentalism?

OK, shall we both write a list of names that fall into each of these descriptions?

I would really like to see yours on the atheist front...

I could just have easily said those were the words of Fred Phelps

There is one name for my religious fundamentalist :-)

How is your list doing?

See the similarities here?

Actually no... firstly you have not provided any names/examples that fall into your atheist fundamentalist group.

Do you know any atheist that campaigns at the funerals of gay soldiers?

Secondly, you have not argued how a non belief in gods could lead to “irrational, intolerant, allied to racism, tribalism, and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry.”

Until then, you have nothing.

Tue Dec 29, 04:03:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Lee said...

By atheistic fundamentalism I mean atheism that is just a close-minded as religious fundamentalism just from an opposite perspective.

Ah, now we are onto something... this isn’t the same claim as before. In fact, completely different.

Now, you have suggested that ‘atheism’ is close-minded. I consider myself an atheist, so care to explain how I am closed minded to new ideas? (Oh, and to be clear – I take no offence if your belief is that I am closed minded, I am happy to discuss it. Do not pull your punches)

Now it is true I do not accept new ideas without evidence for them (or at least, I take them tentatively) – so does this make me close minded?

For example – there could be aliens visiting us today from another star system, I just have not seen the evidence that would convince me of it. Am I closed minded to aliens, certainly not – I would love Luke Skywalker to pop down for a visit.

Unfortunately that's not the mainstream position.

We could debate this, but I will not fall into the trap of the “no true Scotsman” fallacy.

Yes there are people out there who call themselves atheists and I would not like to know them(I was going to use strong language there to describe them, but I will not for now)

I do not know if this makes them any more ‘mainstream’ than myself.

Tell you what... I am going to an atheist convention in a couple of months being held in Melbourne. I will judge them and report back on my findings.

Just read some comments on youtube or something. You'll quickly see what I mean

Teenagers who want to be rebellious?

There are idiots everywhere... and a lot of them are on youtube – both religious and atheist alike.

It would be like going to a football match in England with 60,000 other people – then see 10 people having a fight outside a pub and saying “Look, all football fans are hooligans”

It just does not follow...

(don't get me wrong, my side is just a guilty of this too, and it's just as wrong).

Agree.

Have to go – take care.

Lee

Tue Dec 29, 04:03:00 PM 2009  
Blogger sweetswede said...

And you think otherwise?

Tell me, at what point does science ever postulate a god in any of its equations?

I will give you a clue – not only does science never postulate a god, it cannot since to do so would be introducing a supernatural element that ‘fixes all’ and answers nothing.

“God did it” does not answer any scientific question.

So atheism that does not postulate any gods and science that cannot postulate any gods seem to be pretty good bed fellows.

If this then is the premise of the film – what actually is the argument against it?


Science does not postulate a god. But I fail to see how it logically follows that because science reveals truth in regards to the physical world that on that basis God does not exist.

My position (as you now might have noticed) is that God and science do not go together.

This is not to say a religious believer cannot do science, just that they might not be consistent.


I think there's an underlying assumption here that before we can know something we must have a standard for what we know.

Philosophically this is the problem of criterion: Do we have standards of knowledge through which we know everything or do we just know certain things and on that basis develop standards of knowledge? Or do we really not know anything at all?

Now the methodist (philosophical, not the denomination) says "we have standards, and apply those standards to determine what we know." The reason I'm not a methodist is this leads us to having to traverse an infinite number of standards to qualify each subsequent set of standards. A methodist can't assume we "just know" these standards because then the methodist would be a particularist.

As you may have imagined, I'm a particularist. And my position is that there are certain things we just know. Sometimes we don't know how we know stuff, and we may not even be conscious that we know it, but we do in fact know certain things.

For example, I know the White House exists. I know directly beside the White House is the Department of the Treasury. How do I know this? Aside from having been there myself there is also the uniform testimony of everyone else that has visited that area of Washington D.C.

Now the true skeptic (and it seems that you are in fact a methodist and not a skeptic) says we can't know anything. And the skeptic asks the particularist: "How do you know that you know the White House exists." At which point as a particularist I will say: "Mr. Skeptic, how do YOU KNOW that's a legitimate question?" Obviously the skeptic makes the same assumption as the particularist, that there are certain things we just know.

How do I know my senses aren't deceiving me and just projecting a White House where in fact there is none? I just know. Scientists "just know" certain things as well. They also "just know" our senses and mental reasoning is valid. In fact, they must assume it to be able to even apply the standard of science.

And this is where, at a fundamental level, I think naturalism is flawed. It assumes things must meet a certain standard in order for us to know them; but it does so on a very shaky basis as I've shown above.

So as a particularist I can say we know certain things through the scientific method. But I'm not going to become a methodist and say "we know this method and nothing else".

It seems to me, Lee, that you're saying "we have scientific knowledge and nothing else". When in fact we must know our senses are reliable before we can trust any method we develop for knowing things. I realize it's well and good to say "our senses help us survive" but here you're coming to a conclusion based on the very method we're attempting to justify.

Wed Dec 30, 09:34:00 AM 2009  
Blogger sweetswede said...

Now I have to go apply for a passport, but I want to address one thing first.

So let me get this straight... your definition of atheist fundamentalism is in fact the same as Christopher Hitchens on religious fundamentalism?

NO! I think that's a horrible definition, but that's why I used it. The point I was trying to make is that when a guy like Fred Phelps says something like that he's just written off; but when a guy like Hitchens says that, it's justified.

See, you actually seemed to believe, at least for a moment, that I defined atheistic fundamentalism that way. When in fact I took those words from an atheist to demonstrate the rhetoric being used is exactly the same as that of religious fundamentalist only from an opposite perspective.

Anyway, I must go now.

God bless!
Joey

Wed Dec 30, 09:35:00 AM 2009  
Blogger Havok said...

Sweetswede: Science does not postulate a god. But I fail to see how it logically follows that because science reveals truth in regards to the physical world that on that basis God does not exist.
True, scientific knowledge doesn't deductively demonstrate Yahweh (or any other deity/deities) definitively don't exist. Scientific knowledge (and intersubjective empiricism in general) do show that any specific conception of an interventionist deity is ludicrously improbably, however - many claims made concerning your god are empirical in nature, and are therefore open to scientific investigation. So far any such investigation has come up empty handed, which strongly implies the non-existence of your deity.
The strongest conception of a deity I think you can support given current knowledge is a deistic god, though they don't seem to be particularly popular (nor relevant).

Wed Dec 30, 02:22:00 PM 2009  
Blogger sweetswede said...

Many claims made concerning your god are empirical in nature, and are therefore open to scientific investigation. So far any such investigation has come up empty handed, which strongly implies the non-existence of your deity.

Hi Havok, thanks for stopping in. It's been a while.

I could think of plenty empirical claims concerning my God that have fared quite well. For one:

"But be sure you do not eat the blood, because the blood is the life, and you must not eat the life with the meat." -Deuteronomy 12:23, NIV

Now without getting bogged down with Jewish Ceremonial Law, we do have the assertion in that verse that life is in the blood. And of course that's true, and it's empirically verifiable as such. If you lose too much blood, you will die. If pH levels vary too severely from the norm, you could die. There are very many ways, in fact, that life is in the blood.

But I'm sure it's not these types of claims you were talking about.

God bless!
Joey

Thu Dec 31, 07:36:00 AM 2009  
Blogger Samuel said...

"I could think of plenty empirical claims concerning my God that have fared quite well. For one:

"But be sure you do not eat the blood, because the blood is the life, and you must not eat the life with the meat." -Deuteronomy 12:23, NIV"

That's not about God. That's about the human anatomy. Pagan myths make similar claims - does that validate them also?

Thu Dec 31, 12:41:00 PM 2009  
Blogger Lee said...

"But be sure you do not eat the blood, because the blood is the life, and you must not eat the life with the meat." -Deuteronomy 12:23, NIV

This statement is nothing more than a simple observation...

How about “breath is life – Zeus be praised”

Are you now a believer of Zeus?

Nonsense.

Tell me something I do not know.

The bible has had 2,000 years to tell me about the rings around Saturn, moons around Mars, the red spot on Jupiter etc etc

The bible was/is silent.

No wisdom in the bible that has not been guessed/worked out by man without the aid of any gods.

Am I wrong? Please tell me and help me out with some quotes

"In the Beginning..." is the best a Christian ever told me to date. Shame it goes down hill from there.

Happy New Year

Lee

Thu Dec 31, 03:27:00 PM 2009  
Blogger sweetswede said...

That's not about God. That's about the human anatomy. Pagan myths make similar claims - does that validate them also?

No, that doesn't validate them. I never said it did. I never claimed it validates my position. I was just pointing out that a claim like this made in a religious text fares quite well empirically, contrary to what Havok had said.

And there's more significance to this then human anatomy. Keep in mind as a Christian my belief is that the possibility of spiritual life was purchased with blood. But that's a theological issue that I don't imagine you all would be too interested in.

No wisdom in the bible that has not been guessed/worked out by man without the aid of any gods.

Am I wrong? Please tell me and help me out with some quotes

"In the Beginning..." is the best a Christian ever told me to date. Shame it goes down hill from there.

Happy New Year


Happy New Year to you too!

Granted, claims like that one (and similar claims like the Proverb about the nose bleeding if you hit it) are not typically what's considered "the wisdom" of Christianity. But take it in context of my reply to Havok. I wasn't claiming that this claim proves my position, only that it brings into question his assertion that claims by/about God don't fare well empirically.

Now regarding wisdom:
"The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding." -Proverbs 9:10, NIV

I think we probably have different perceptions of wisdom. I don't think scientific knowledge is the same thing as wisdom. After all, a robot can recite facts but is not really "wise".

The wisdom Christianity claims to offer isn't about the number of planets in our solar system. It's about God and His relationship to man.

Now this assumes God exists which is typically the very question we spend our time addressing. But the basic idea is like this:
God creates man, man rejects God, God gives man a second chance.

Last thing, Lee, how do you address the problem of criterion? It seems you're still assuming science is the criteria by which we know everything that we know, but as I've attempted to show knowledge comes before criteria, not the other way around.

God bless!
Joey

Fri Jan 01, 07:54:00 AM 2010  
Blogger Havok said...

Sweetswede: I was just pointing out that a claim like this made in a religious text fares quite well empirically, contrary to what Havok had said.
I wasn't talking about claims made in a religious text, I was talking about claims made about your god, specifically empirical claims. These typically fail, as does the point you were trying to make.

Sweeteswede: The wisdom Christianity claims to offer isn't about the number of planets in our solar system. It's about God and His relationship to man.
And the existence of your god is an empirical question, as is the relationship you claim to have with it/him.
These empirical questions have consistently failed to be answered in the positive, and your deity has been pushed further and further away from "reality" as it were.

Wed Jan 06, 06:16:00 PM 2010  
Blogger sweetswede said...

Havok,
I wasn't talking about claims made in a religious text, I was talking about claims made about your god, specifically empirical claims. These typically fail, as does the point you were trying to make.

I may have misunderstood your point, and thus my point may have been off-topic, but the point itself does not fail (unless you want to deny that blood is essential to life).

And the existence of your god is an empirical question, as is the relationship you claim to have with it/him.
These empirical questions have consistently failed to be answered in the positive, and your deity has been pushed further and further away from "reality" as it were.


Last I checked there are still arguments being put forth in peer-reviewed philosophical journals in favor of God's existence, and there are still debates taking place between scholars, and even at the popular level (like the blogosphere) we're still discussing this very question. You're rather preemptively closing the case here.

Not only that, but you are doing it with the assumption that standards come before knowledge and you will only accept as legitimate knowledge what meets your naturalist standard. Until you take on the problem of criterion (which I explained above, along with my position on it) this is a rather glaring assumption.

God bless!
Sweetswede

Thu Jan 07, 12:43:00 PM 2010  

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