Jul
9

Why is there something rather than nothing?

By: Scott Youngren


somethingrathernothing

“Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on the earth.  And they have found that all this happened as a product of forces they cannot hope to discover….  That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.”

–Astronomer, physicist and founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute of Space Studies Robert Jastrow.

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The question posed by the title of this essay is by its very nature so nagging that it has no doubt crossed the mind of virtually every thinking person who ever lived. Forget about complex life forms for a moment: More fundamentally, how could any universe, even one devoid of life—but replete with matter and energy—exist at all?

Why isn’t there just nothingness?

Two basic answers to this question have been proposed. First there is the view—prominent throughout history and existent in most cultures—that the universe is the creation of an infinite intelligence (read: God).

The other proposed answer (endorsed by atheists) is that the natural world itself is eternal…without beginning, and therefore needs no further explanation. Something without a beginning (eternal) does not require a cause or an explanation because it has always been. This is sometimes referred to as the “static universe” theory.

But insights from physics which have emerged in the past few decades have put to rest any notions of a “static universe.” The nail-in-the-coffin of the static universe came with the emergence of the “Big Bang theory,” which now has virtually universal acceptance amongst physicists largely because it has been confirmed by increasing amounts of observational data. According to Big Bang cosmology, which appeared in the 1960’s, the universe (including space, time, energy, and matter) did have a definite beginning.

One can derive enormous entertainment value from observing the contorted mental gymnastics to which atheistic physicists have had to resort in order to avoid the obvious theistic implications of Big Bang cosmology (in addition to its clear similarities to the biblical account of creation).

One can derive enormous entertainment value from observing the contorted mental gymnastics to which atheistic physicists have had to resort in order to avoid the obvious theistic implications of Big Bang cosmology (in addition to its clear similarities to the biblical account of creation). Imperial College of London astrophysicist Christopher Isham, who is Britain’s leading quantum cosmologist, comments on the desperation displayed by atheist physicists trying to wriggle free of these theistic implications:

“Perhaps the best argument in favor of the thesis that the Big Bang supports theism is the obvious unease with which it is greeted by some atheist physicists. At times this has led to scientific ideas, such as continuous creation or an oscillating universe, being advanced with a tenacity which so exceeds their intrinsic worth that one can only suspect the operation of psychological forces lying very much deeper than the usual desire of a theorist to support his or her theory.”

And it was to some extent the result of observing these attempts to wriggle free of the inescapable theistic implications of the Big Bang that persuaded Antony Flew—who was arguably the world’s most prominent atheist—to accept the existence of God.

Antony Flew is a prominent philosopher (and former Oxford University Professor of Philosophy) who could –earlier in his career– be accurately characterized as the “frontman” for atheism as a philosophical cause. His paper entitled Theology and Falsification became the most widely reprinted philosophical tract of the last half century and constituted much of the intellectual foundation for modern atheism. His acceptance of the existence of God on rational grounds in 2004 was truly scandalous for atheists.

…And it was to some extent the result of observing these [atheist] attempts to wriggle free of the inescapable theistic implications of the Big Bang that persuaded Antony Flew—who was arguably the world’s most prominent atheist—to accept the existence of God.

In his book There Is A God:  How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind, Flew describes just how unpersuasive atheistic explanations for the Big Bang are. One such explanation, prominent among atheist physicists, is the idea of that the existence of multiple universes can be used to explain away the creation event. This stance states that the sudden emergence of our universe need not be interpreted as a creation event because ours is only one among many universes that have emerged spontaneously. It is not unreasonable to expect that a theory such as this, which is a modification to the Big Bang, might one day become widely accepted by scientists. However, the philosophical implications that atheists have attached to such a theory are highly suspect. To this point, Flew notes:

“The postulation of multiple universes…is a truly desperate alternative. If the existence of one universe requires an explanation, multiple universes require a much bigger explanation: the problem is increased by the factor of whatever the total number of universes is. It seems a little like the case of the schoolboy whose teacher doesn’t believe his dog ate his homework, so he replaces the first version with the story that a pack of dogs—too many to count—ate his homework.”

Flew was also persuaded by another philosopher, David Conway, that the philosophical underpinnings for citing multiple universe or oscillating universe theories, etc. as an explanation for the emergence of our universe are unsound. Conway achieved this end by critiquing the 18th century philosophy of David Hume. Flew cites Conway’s reasoning:

“Hume held that there is no cause of the existence of any series of physical beings beyond the sum of each member of the series. If there is a beginningless series of nonnecessary existent beings, then this is a sufficient cause for the universe as a whole.  Conway rejected this objection on the grounds that ‘the causal explanations of the parts of any such whole in terms of other parts cannot add up to a causal explanation of the whole, if the items mentioned as causes are items whose own existence stands in need of causal explanation.’ So, for example, consider a software virus capable of replicating itself on computers connected by a network. The fact that a million computers have been infected by the virus does not in itself explain the existence of the self-replicating virus.”

But one does not need an Oxford University philosopher to explain why theories such as that of multiple universes or an oscillating universe do nothing to explain away the existence of our universe, which is finely tuned for the emergence of life.*  Roy Abraham Varghese presents the issue in a very straight forward and accessible manner in his book Wonder of the World, A Journey From Modern Science to the Mind of God:

“Scientists have proposed elaborate probability models to explain why under some scenarios, improbable but nevertheless possible, the conditions for life would be possible in at least one universe. But that is not the point at issue here. Our question concerns the very laws that would make any universe possible.”

“…We are asking how these laws came to be. Has anyone devised an experiment where a law of nature springs into existence from anarchy?  A transition from chaos to intelligence is in principle impossible.”

Varghese’s above point illustrates how, even if proven to be true, theories such as those of the multiverse or oscillating universe do nothing to explain away the existence of a universe finely tuned to support life. Rather, such theories just kick the can down the road to avoid a question which is inconvenient to the atheist worldview. Furthermore, any such multiverse or oscillating universe is subject to the same fine tuning that atheist physicists are trying to explain away. Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, what is this universe generating mechanism that produces a vast array of different universes that each have a unique set of physical laws? Instead of God, should we assume that it is a Universe-O-Matic universe making machine?

It should be mentioned that the misuse of science to support cherished ideological stances such as atheism is a phenomenon of which the field of psychology is well aware. In the words of psychologist Charles Tart,

“Used incorrectly and inappropriately, science can be one of the best and most prestigious neurotic defense mechanisms available.  As [the great psychologist] Abraham Maslow beautifully put it [in The Psychology of Science]:  ‘Science, then, can be a defense.  It can be primarily a safety philosophy, a security system, a complicated way of avoiding anxiety and upsetting problems.  In the extreme instance it can be a way of avoiding life, a kind of self-cloistering.  It can become in the hands of some people, at least, a social institution with primarily defensive, conserving functions, ordering and stabilizing rather than discovering and renewing.’”

And the clear implication of a creation which is intrinsic to the widely accepted theory of the Big Bang poses an “upsetting problem” to atheists in the scientific community. Their use of atheistic interpretations of theories such as that of  “multiple universes” illustrate how they are using science as a “social institution with primarily defensive, conserving functions.”

*For a discussion of the finely tuned nature of our universe, please read the essay entitled, Is There A God? (What is the chance that our world is the result of chance) at this website.

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Read the following post to see what mathameticians and cosmologists say about the likelihood that the universe is eternal (thus doing away with the need for a creator).

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The following is an excerpt from the Wikipedia post for philosopher Mortimer J. Adler relevant to this subject matter:

…..we come to the conclusion that the cosmos, radically contingent in existence, would not exist at all were its existence not caused. A merely possible cosmos cannot be an uncaused cosmos. A cosmos that is radically contingent in existence, and needs a cause of that existence, needs a supernatural cause, one that exists and acts to exnihilate this merely possible cosmos, thus preventing the realization of what is always possible for merely a possible cosmos, namely, its absolute non-existence or reduction to nothingness.

Adler finishes by pointing out that the conclusion reached conforms to Ockham’s rule (the rule which states that we are justified in positing or asserting the real existence of unobserved or unobservable entities if-and only-if their real existence is indispensable for the explanation of observable phenomena) because we have found it necessary to posit the existence of God, the Supreme Being, in order to explain what needs to be explained-the actual existence here and now of a merely possible cosmos. The argument also appeals to the principle of sufficient reason.

Adler stressed that even with this conclusion, God‘s existence cannot be proven or demonstrated, but only established as true beyond a reasonable doubt. However, in a recent re-review of the argument, John Cramer concluded that recent developments in cosmology appear to converge with and support Adler’s argument, and that in light of such theories as the multiverse, the argument is no worse for the wear and may, indeed, now be judged somewhat more probable than it was originally.

173 thoughts on Why is there something rather than nothing?

  1. I’ve been reading these post and why does there have to be multiverses? I mean what are they exactly? is it where in one I would be rich and the other poor? and another one my son only has one leg,dresses like a Smurf who wheres a shitty daiper on his head? I mean come on, where would it end with a multiverse? I believe that is the most dumbest theory I’ve heard. The Big Bang? yes! God had to start some where didn’t he? but hey, who am I to say what someone should believe or shouldn’t. I’m still looking for answers. I really enjoy reading these it makes you think of the possibilities. everyone makes a good point but ultimitly isn’t our own choice what to believe? Eric.

  2. Nick:

    I think we are in agreement on most points here. Let’s break it down to the heart-of-the-matter and try to avoid breaking off onto tangents. The core issue at hand is the effect that the science has on the philosophical/religious views of the people (astronomers and physicists) who have the most intimate knowledge of that science. To that end, I will rehash a quote from one of my esssays…from astronomer Hugh Ross:

    Astronomers who do not draw theistic or deistic conclusions are becoming rare, and even the few dissenters hint that the tide is against them. Geoffrey Burbidge, of the University of California at San Diego, complains that his fellow astronomers are rushing off to join “The First Church of Christ of the Big Bang.”

    My post entitled “Some Quotes to Consider” has several quotes from scientists that express similar sentiments.

    That being said, making the statement, “atheism is dead because science has closed the book on it forever” would be far too bold an assertion. There are some people who will not be convinced that there is a God until they meet him face-to-face. Further, one can always propose another theory in an attempt to resurrect one’s ideological stance.

    Next question: Why do all the people, such as yourself, who post intelligent comments to my site seem to come from the U.K? I guess my fellow Americans are too busy watching reality TV shows like “Dancing With the Stars” and playing with their IPhones to engage intelligent subject matter. If it weren’t for the internet, I would be pretty starved for intelligent conversation.

    • You say that “astronomers who are theistically minded may well concur that new understandings of space and time do not rule out this as a possibility.” However, the quote I provided was not nearly as open ended or wishy-washy. Ross states categorically that “astronomers who do not draw theistic or deistic conclusions are becoming rare.” This includes those who might be theistically minded as well as those who are atheistically minded. Ross’ colleague Burbidge echoes this point with his sarcastic comment that his colleagues are “joining the First Church of Christ of the Big Bang.” This does not mean that they are merely “not ruling out the possibility,” it means that they are endorsing the probability.

      Here is another Albert Einstein quote I just added to the site: “I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon. I want to know his thoughts; the rest are details.” This cannot be described as an open ended or “open minded” comment. It is a categorical statement on the part of Einstein that he believed in God.

      Yes, I stronly endorse Flew’s book.

      • I have read further around your site and some of it makes interesting reading, but some of it I find sits a little less easily with me. I think that the content leads me to assume that you are a Christian, allthough I would be interested to know which denomination.

        I don’t neccessarily share all the specifically Christian theology and beliefs that you have written about, but as I said before I am not a God denier. I noticed that you have included excerpts and video from non-Christian authors, including the Creation theory from the Jewish physicist Gerald Schroeder, so hopefully we can still talk on reasonable terms. Allthough I would not call myself a Christian, I would probably be willing to accept the possibility of a God, Creator or force of nature of this sort.

        Some of this site seems to be quite inspirational and has some good messages. These are some of the qualities that I think can be good with faith. If people can be helped and find genuine support and positivity from faith, then surely it has to be good. On these terms I would encourage anyone to at least give proper hearing to some of the themes and morals that can come from faith.

        However, the picture for me is slightly confused at times. But then so too can real life be and perhaps the world of politics might be the best example of confusion in reality. I think that some of your scientific ideas in some of these essays can be the main source of my unease. If you have faith in Christianity, I would not really like to contend with your core views with that, allthough I do not share them myself. But I do find some of the science that you have used as problematic.

        You obviously seem to be someone of great articulation and intellect. You have tried to establish well reasoned and substantiated argument and your general approach has seemed to be very constructive, reasonable and civilised. So, for all of this I admire you and have therefore felt prepared to comment here.

        I watched the 8 part movie on the Cambrian explosion and Darwin’s Dillemma and also the short audio from Gerald Schroeder. Have you watched both of these movies? I find the Gerald schroeder audio more plausible and I would give him a hearing on the basis of his obviously very well respected record.

        However, my main source of unease comes from the Cambrian explosion movie. Do you believe that this is a plausible documentary? I think that you have used this and some other quotes and information to try and undermine Darwin’s theory of evolution. I am not sure if you genuinely believe what you had written there. My general feeling having read the evolution essay is that you could be a Creationist. One thing that I don’t believe is a true problem, is the theory of evolution. I don’t feel that undermining evolution is a credible argument.

        I must say that I feel that you can still reconcile Christianity with the theory of evolution. The Creation part of the Bible must surely be seen more metaphorically than literally. It still contains just as much value metaphorically surely? I think that trying to argue that evolution is false is not a good stance to take because of the overwhelming amount of evidence in its favour. The fact that we have evolution does not mean that there is no god.

        • Nick:

          I think if I had to summarize the main point that I am trying to make with regard to the theory of evolution, it would be that the theory is being exploited by atheists to make bold philosophical pronouncements (i.e. no God) that are clearly not warranted by the science. In no way do I think that the word “false” should be applied to the theory evolution. When it comes to scientific theories, the core issue is not simply whether they are true or false. Rather, the key question is, “What is the range of applicability?”

          For example, Issac Newton’s physics were not proven “false” by Einstein’s physics and quantum physics. Rather, it has been shown that Newton’s physics have a range of applicability that does not include the subatomic realm or the cosmic realm of black holes and quasars (or, in other words, the very small and the very big). Classical (or Newtonian) physics cannot account for why stars and planets are attracted to each other by gravity. It took Einstein’s physics to show that gravity results from a curvature of the space-time fabric…to cite one example.

          In a similar light, I contend that the question of the origin of life lies entirely outside of the scope (or “range of applicability”) of Darwin’s theory. Please read my post entitled, “If the evidence for God is so strong, why are so many smart people unconvinced?” You will find that the scientific community is well aware that trying to apply Darwin’s theory to account for the origin of the first occuring, simplest living thing (the first cell) from non-living matter is not appropriate. The gap in complexity is just too vast to be bridged by random processes. Please be sure to watch the video of Richard Dawkins, the author of The God Delusion, expressing his belief that life was brought to earth by aliens from outer space.

          This being said, is Darwin’s theory “false?” No…explaining the modifications that living things make in order to better adapt to their respective environments fits well within its range of applicability, and it has therefore been demonstrated to contain truth by merit of the observational data. But it is one of my key contentions that the range of applicability of Darwin’s theory has been stretched beyond its limits to suit ideological purposes.

          Do I feel that the Cambrian explosion movie is plausible? Here are some more links to the topic of the Cambrian Explosion. 1) PBS 2)about science

          That the actual event of the Cambrian Explosion occured does not appear to be in much dispute. Can you counteract this assertion?

          Please elaborate when you say that “certain things do not sit easy” with you. What in particular?

          Yes, you can reconcile Christianity with the theory of evolution. That is much of my point in my post about evolution. To your statement, “the fact that we have evolution does not mean that there is no God,” I will respond that I feel you are right on the money.

          I am a non-denominational protestant Christian.

          Scott

  3. To all you intellects in science,astronomy,psychology etc etc etc,the debate definitely proves
    you are well read and highly intellectual,but very good at basing your arguments on theories and what if’s.
    BUT! Where is God now. Or is that a theory.
    Sorry for the bluntness but it seems that you guys will mis-spell a word just so you can finish a crossword,or peel off strips to complete a rubic cube.
    Answer the basic questions,produce the evidence of the Creator.

  4. I thought I’d reply down here as the space seemed to be running oiut further up this post.

    I replied mainly with regard to the Cambrian explosion video, as it seemed to be rather awkward for me. It did not feel as though it fitted as well with the tone of this site as some other things that you have written about. I am pleased to hear you talking acceptably about evolution and that you would not call it false. I was not sure how you felt, but I was beginning to suspect.

    I don’t contend with the assertian that there was a Cambrian explosion of different phyla in the fossil record. This is not something that I had much prior knowledge of, but I watched the movie and did some research and reading about the subject following your link. It seems to be an extraordinary event, but the conclusions and assertions in the video basicly lead to a version of Intelligent design.

    I checked and researched the credentials and records of the people in the video and the majority seemed to have connections and history with intelligent design. The company that produced the movie seemed to be heavily implicated in the promotion of various intelligent design movements and I felt uneasy about the positive and assertive conclusions that seemed to be drawn. One or two of the scientists actually withdrew their comments following the release of the film. They said that their interviews had been misused and taken out of context to substantiate claims that they felt to be untrue.

    There also seemed to be an inclusion of someone who is a pronounced young Earth Creationist in there. The film was not wholely without factual basis, as it did at least give a true picture of the age of life on Earth and the Earth itself. How would a young Earther allow himself to talk on a film like this and how would a sensible film team of intellectuals allow a young Earther to talk supporting the views of the fossil record?

    The film made me feel uneasy because it tried to implicate that the Cambrian explosion was an instance of interference from God and a moment of intelligent design. I have said that there could be a God, but I don’t think that in this instance there is evidence for him interfering or Creating. Perhaps he created everything, but why would he need to begin interfering in evolution along the way? I would take the stance that he either created everything or he didn’t. He does not need to start interfering with evolution as this film implies. I don’t feel that this is a good place to look for proof of God.

    I like your ideas about the beginning of life. I think that I agree here. It is an unsolved mystery and is not neccessarily explainable through Darwin. Darwin explains the process once life has begun, but the instance of beginning is very mysterious. I have heard Dawkins talk about life arriving here from other planets before and I do not neccessarily see the problem with that. Again it is a possible process by which life on Earth arrived. But how did the extra terrestrial life begin? I believe that the universe could be awash with life of all kinds, so could very easily have arrived on Earth, perhaps bacteria on a nomadic meteor and been the way that our life began.

    I think the mystery of the beginning of life is not resolved by Darwin. Perhaps it will be or perhaps it is something else. Again I’m not sure that God interferes to begin life, in an intelligent design way. I would say that if he created the laws of physics and the universe, he did it so that life could arise within it by a process unknown to us as yet.

    • Nick:

      Here is what it all boils down to:

      Stephen C. Meyer, author of Signature in the Cell, holds a PhD in history and the philosophy of science from Cambridge University. He reveals in this book the following:

      “Since the time of the ancient Greeks, there have been two basic pictures of ulitmate reality among Western intellectuals, what Germans call a Weltanschauung, or worldview. According to one worldview, mind is the primary or ultimate reality. On this view, material reality either issues from a preexisting mind, or it is shaped by a preexistent intelligence, or both…This view of reality is often called idealism to indicate that ideas come first and matter comes later. Theism is the version of idealism that holds that God is the source of the ideas that gave rise to and shaped the material world.”

      “The opposite view holds that the physical universe or nature is the ultimate reality. In this view, either matter or energy (or both) are the things from which everything else comes. They are self-existent and do not need to be created or shaped by mind….In this view matter comes first, and conscious mind arrives on the scene much later and only then as a by-product of material processes and undirected evolutionary change. This worldview is called naturalism or materialism.

      No plausible third stance on this issue has ever been articulated. Everyone therefore needs to ask themself, “On which side of this debate do I fall?” Well…when Max Plank (the Nobel Prize physicist who founded quantum theory) is saying things like…

      “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”

      and Einstein is saying things like:

      “I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon. I want to know his thoughts; the rest are details.”

      …there can be no question on which side of this debate modern physics falls. This begs the question, if modern physics discredits materialism, why does mainstream biology embrace it?

      To this end, neurophysiologist Mario Beuregard points out in his book The Spiritual Brain:

      …biologists have been moving recently toward the hard-core materialism that characterized nineteenth-century physics, just as physicists have been forced by the weight of the evidence to move away from strictly mechanical models of the universe…[Harold J. Morowitz] comments, “It is as if the two disciplines were on fast-moving trains, going in the opposite directions and not noticing what is happening across the tracks.”

      Similarly, George Wald, a Nobel Laureate in medicine and physiology, summarized the issue well when he said:

      “When it comes to the origin of life there are only two possibilities: creation or spontaneous generation. There is no third way. Spontaneous generation was disproved one hundred years ago, but that leads us to only one other conclusion, that of supernatural creation. We cannot accept that on philosophical grounds; therefore, we choose to believe the impossible: that life arose spontaneously by chance!”

      The only plausible explanation for why mainstream biology embraces materialism (or naturalism), despite the fact that it is has been discredited by modern physics, is that materialism is crucial for maintaining an atheist worldview. Mainstream biologists cannot accept supernatural creation on “philosophical grounds” (a.k.a: ideology). As Oxford University and University of Massachusetts, Amherst professor of geosciences Lynn Margulis put it in The Altenburg 16: An Expose of the Evolution Industry:

      …people are always more loyal to their tribal group than to any abstract notion of ‘truth’ – scientists especially. If not they are unemployable. It is professional suicide to continually contradict one’s teachers or social leaders.”

      You state that several of the producers of the film are part of the Intelligent Design movement. Good for them. How would this in any way effect the facts or the substantive elements of the debate? One thing I have learned in my days is that name calling is what people will often resort to when there stance can no longer withstand debate. In other words, the people you seem to have found who label the the film producers “Intelligent Design movement members” are doing this because they need to distract attention from the fact that they do not have a logically sound rebuttal to the arguments produced in the video.

      Remember that many now mainstream scientific movements started out as fringe movements fighting the orthodoxy. Also remember that what is important is the facts and arguments at hand, not into what “tribal group” a person debating the issue falls.

      As far as “young earthers” in the video, I would need to see verification of that. That sounds like an unsubstantiated accusation made by somebody who is angry that their ideology is being effectively attacked. The more time someone spends on attacking the person presenting an argument rather than refuting the argument itself, the more that person tacitly acknowledges that their stance cannot withstand debate.

      Scott

  5. I would like to deal mainly with the Cambrian video, as it is that with which I found hardest to deal.

    If you google ‘Paul Nelson’ or check his wikipedia page you will find articles about him and his general views and beliefs and you will find that he is an advocate of a young Earth creationist view. He also appears in the film Darwin’s Dilemma giving extended comments and some naration. How on Earth can a man with a belief that the Earth began 6000 years ago, appear on a film talking about the Cambrian explosion which happened 530 million years ago. Surely, this fact alone calls in to question the credibility of this movie. If this is a scientifically organised film, at what point would reasonable scientists allow a young Earth creationist to appear to talk about the fossil record from the Cambrian?

    Further to this, James Valentine was another scientist who appears on the film. Since the films release he has sent out a disclaimer regarding his appearance in the movie. I will quote it here for you and you can double check it on google or through his website.

    What James Valentine Really Thinks About Evolution
    Dr. James Valentine, an evolutionary biologist and Professor Emeritus in the Department of Integrative Biology at the University of California at Berkeley, is featured in the intelligent design movie Darwin’s Dilemma.

    I wish to clarify my role in the new film Darwin’s Dilemma. When I was interviewed about a decade ago for the material used in this movie, I was unaware that this interview might appear in a film promoting intelligent design. My appearance should not be misconstrued as support for any creationist agenda.
    I support evolution.
    I disagree with the view that the best explanation for the Cambrian record is the action of an “intelligent designer” instantaneously creating phyla. Had the filmmakers bothered to read my book On the Origin of Phyla, they would have understood that I do not support a creationist interpretation of the Cambrian explosion or the fossil record. Scientific findings in many fields, including my own (paleobiology) as well as geology, geophysics, geochemistry, developmental biology, and systematics, have led to a synthesis of the events surrounding the Cambrian explosion that is in full accord with well-established evolutionary principles.
    When watching Darwin’s Dilemma, I ask viewers to note:
    • My interview statements do not criticize evolution
    • My interview statements do not promote creationism or intelligent design
    • Even though my interview is interspersed with several intelligent design advocates, I do not share their interpretation of the Cambrian record I would like viewers to know:
    • I think evolution is the best scientific interpretation of the fossil record
    • While the religious views of individuals should be respected, scientists also merit respect earned by generations of hard work in their fields
    Dr. James Valentine
    University of California, Berkeley

    You have said that people do not have a proper rebuttal and have resorted to name calling. Yet it is indeed so that Darwin’s Dilemma includes the views of a young Earth Creationist and was made largely by advocates of Intelligent Design, so this is not name calling but observation.

    In rebuttal to the claims made in the film are a host of discoveries, observations and scientific answers that do their best to account for the Cambrian Explosion. It would seem that the evidence supporting a Darwinian account of this event is actually plentiful and not scarce as this movie suggests.

    http://whyevolutionistrue.wordpress.com/2010/02/13/a-paleobiologists-response-to-darwins-dilemma/

    The above link takes you to a page discussing the themes and claims of the film. It features, at the top, a response from Oxford Palaeobiology Professor Martin Brasier to Darwin’s Dilemma. This is not an unsubstantiated rebuttal, but a strongly convincing one with inclusive fossil record evidence that was neglected in the film and a revelation that the phyla’s inception happened over a period which ranged from closer to 5 to 20 million years, even 40 to 60.

    Again my view here is not that this extinguishes God. These people are just trying to establish truth from the fossil record and evidence. There doesn’t appear to be any dilemma. Perhaps there still is a God, but how can we deny such overwhelming evidence that supports the process of evolution?

    • I have said it before why shouldn’t God exist if we have evolution? All we are doing with evolution is building a story or picture of the functions and mechanics of the universe. Why shouldn’t God exist outside of these systems, or as the creator?

    • Nick:

      A few replies:

      1) If anyone believes that the earth is 6000 years old, that person is a quack….open and shut.

      2) The accusation that a producer of the film is a young-earth creationist who believes the earth is 6000 years old is suspicious considering that the video acknowledges that the Cambrian period was 530 million years ago. Why would a person participate in producing a film that contradicts his views? Can you find statements that Nelson himself made supporting this view? If you can, this would seem to dismiss any notion that these allegations are a smear campaign. If you (or I) can’t, the smear campaign explanation remains probable.

      3) Remember that one of the key points in my “evolution” post is that the extreme polar positions on the evolution issue come from the polarizing effect of human ideology on both sides (evolutionist and creationist). In science, as in other disciplines and life in general, the truth often turns out to be a synthesis of opposing polar views. To get a better picuture of the intense and contentious ideology involved in this issue, I highly recommend you view Ben Stein’s movie Expelled. You will find alot of stuff on the internet attacking this documentary, but even if you reject all of the science it presents, there is one thing that cannot be denied. Namely, the documentary clearly exposes the fact that there is an intense campaign present in academia to supress any dissent from the extreme evolutionist polar view.

      To this end, I will rehash a quote from one of my posts by Oxford University and University of Massachussets Amherst professor of geosciences Lynn Margulis (from the book Altenburg 16):

      “…people are always more loyal to their tribal group than to any abstract notion of ‘truth’ – scientists especially. If not they are unemployable. It is professional suicide to continually contradict one’s teachers or social leaders.”

      4) The use of the label of “creationist” is highly suggestive of the intense ideology of the person applying that label. Nowhere in the video is any statement even remotely resembling “evolution is completely false” or “God created everything instantly without evolution playing any role” made. Further, the use of labels is highly suggestive that the person applying that label does not have a good rebuttal to the arguments. When someone doesn’t have a good reply to an opposing argument, the natural tendency is to start attacking the person making the argument rather than the argument itself. I do not endorse or reject the “intelligent design movement” because, frankly, I don’t care what views they support or who the heck they are. I care about the TRUTH. And “member of the intelligent design movement” is another label in lieu of a counter-argument to the views that the video presents. This again, is highly suggestive that the person or persons applying the label feel a substantial threat to their ideological stance.

      5) To clearly demonstrate that a person is really a “member of the intelligent design movement,” one would have to demonstrate that that person made comments actually supporting the “movement.” It is easy to slap a label on someone who has never endorsed such a “movement” because that person has endorsed views that in some way oppose the extreme evolutionist camp.

      6) Please note that, in your post, Valentine does not in any way recant any of the science that he presented in the video. Rather, he recants any notion that he might be providing any ideological support to any party that might oppose the extreme evolutionist party line. This reflects his need to not commit “professional suicide,” as Margulis put it.

      6) Frankly, I don’t care if the video was produced by Moe, Larry, and Curly. What I care about is the truth or lack thereof that the video presents. If you read the wikipedia post regarding the Cambrian Explosion, you will not find denial that the event actually happened. Rather, what you will find is attempts to explain the event from within the framework of the reigning paradigm. Below is a copied and pasted excerpt from that post that I feel is pertinent:

      “Despite the evidence that moderately complex animals (triploblastic bilaterians) existed before and possibly long before the start of the Cambrian, it seems that the pace of evolution was exceptionally fast in the early Cambrian. Possible explanations for this fall into three broad categories: environmental, developmental, and ecological changes. Any explanation must explain the timing and magnitude of the explosion.”

      Scott

      • Hi Scott,

        I think that you have some valid points of contention in this reply, but overall you seem to get carried away by the issues of Intelligent Design, Creationism and Young Earth creationism. These are perhaps issues, but not the all-encompassing basis of my critique of the video, nor the opinions of scientists who have looked at and tackled the issue. In my answer was a link to some evidential, empirical reasons why this films assertion is a farce.

        No-one is contending that there was not an explosion in the Cambrian – not wikipedia, not Darwin’s Dilemma, not the scientists, not me, not you.

        With major regards to your arguments regarding Paul Nelson, I will qoute his own words on his own views and I will also refer you to a book that he co-wrote regarding his views on Young Earth Creationism. His words I quote, (YEC= Young Earth Creationism)

        1. I became a fellow at Discovery in 1996, and published a chapter defending YEC with John Mark Reynolds (in the Zondervan volume Three Views on Creation and Evolution) in 1999. In fact, the submission of my chapter MS was delayed, much to the consternation of the Zondervan editors, because Discovery colleagues were urging me to drop out of the book. I’ve never made any effort to hide my YEC convictions, which are mainly theological in origin.

        To my knowledge, I’m the token (i.e., only) YEC among the Discovery fellows.

        2. I stopped using the pseudonym “Peter Gordon” as a 1st year graduate student (in 1985), because Kurt Wise advised me that using pseudonyms was bad practice for scientific dissenters. Nothing I wrote under that name, however, had anything to do with YEC in particular: I wrote book reviews (e.g., of Kitcher), articles on natural selection, and the like, but nothing about YEC. I adoped the pseudonym as an undergraduate because I had been graded punitively as a student for dissenting from neo-Darwinism, and wanted to protect myself while applying to graduate school.

        Feel free to put all of this up on your site, and tell Andy that I hope to see him at SDB next year, if he’s going.

        Best,

        Paul

        Here is a link to a book that he co-wrote and at the very top of the page are the words written, ‘Three views on Creation and Evolution. Young Earth Creationism Paul Nelson…’

        http://www.zondervan.com/Cultures/en-US/Product/ProductDetail.htm?ProdID=com.zondervan.9780310220176&QueryStringSite=Zondervan

        This book can also be found at Amazon.
        I believe that both of these posts will provide evidence that this person is, as you put it, a ‘quack’ and that there is no evidence of a smear campaign. Following this, I would level all of the points and questions that you made in point 2) back at the people who made the film, Paul Nelson and anyone trying to defend him.

        What does this say about the quality of the film makers and its content?

        The main assertion made in the film is that the events of the Cambrian could not have happened by evolutionary process. It seems to press home the hypothesis that because of the immense speed and miraculousness of the event, that there must have been or probably was some kind of divine intervention that caused this event.

        You say that all you want is the truth. So do I and so do the countless scientists that work on these kinds of issues world-wide.

        Valentine does not recant his views that were made in the film, because at no point does he argue in favour of intelligent design or a divine intervention that caused the Cambrian Explosion. He states very clearly how he believes that a darwinian account is in complete accordance with the events of the Cambrian. He also qoutes a book that he has written on the subject matter with scientific evidence and reason as to why he believes that Darwinism is the best way of understanding this event.

        Valentine is also very careful to do this in a very respectful way with regards to people’s beliefs. His last sentence very carefully issues respect for whatever beliefs people have and was attempting to make his views known purely on the basis of their scientific credentials.

        No reasoned scientific source that I have found has given any credence to the postulation that the Cambrian explosion was divine intervention. This is the main premise of this film and is the main reason that I find it disingenuous. Science in this instance is not trying to take away the possibility of a God again, it is saying that people like this are looking in the wrong places. The evidence shows that they are wrong and finally at the bottom here, I will provide some scientific evidence as to how the Cambrian can be accounted for by Darwin.

        The Tommotian Fossil records are a rich collection of animal remains fossilised from the period of 545-520 million years ago. These fossils represent some of the intermediate stages that apparently Paul Nelson believes do not exist. This whole section of the fossil record was purposefully neglected in the making of Darwin’s Dilemma and represents a massive backlog of animal development just prior to the Cambrian. Some 25 million years of evolutionary history skipped over or forgotten by whoever made Darwin’s Dilemma. (Imagine how many immensely large animals and mammals have evolved in the 65 million years since the extinction of the Dinosaurs. Is 25 million years long enough for some significant changes to have happened in the evolution of animals resulting in small crustacieans and trilobites?)

        I will quote the arguments of Martin Brasier below, as they are well substantiated scientific reasons for the development up to the Cambrian Explosion. Martin Brasier Oxford Professor of Palaeobiology.

        Darwin’s Dilemma

        The latest Intelligent Design film, called ‘Darwin’s Dilemma’, attempts to examine a problem that vexed poor Charles Darwin in 1859 – the puzzle of what we now call the ‘Cambrian explosion’. As an Oxford palaeontologist who has been working on this problem since 1966, I have been asked for my opinion on the veracity of its claims. Below are outlined some of what I take to be its more laughable misunderstandings.

        1. The film makes a familiar mistake. There is a misplaced fixation upon beasts of the Burgess Shale. So antiquated is this view that the screenplay for this film could have been written by teachers in 1954, or even by Mack Sennett at Keystone studios in 1912, just after the Burgess Shale biota was first reported by Walcott. It needs to be remembered that the Burgess Shale appears far too late in the fossil record to tell us much about emergence of animals. Modern data shows that the explosion of modern phyla was beginning by about 545 Ma ago, with forms like Cloudina and Sabellidites. Since the Burgess Shale is a mere 505 Ma old, this gives us palaeontologists some 40 million years to play with. What a gift!

        2. A rich fossil record of early animal remains has been discovered from near the end of the Ediacaran period at about 545 Ma to the appearance of calcified trilobites and echinoderms in the Chengjiang biota, some 520 Ma ago. This transitional period, variously known as the Tommotian or Fortunian Stage, contains examples of transitional forms. For example, Halkieria and Maikhanella are probable stem group ‘molluscs’ with multi-element shells; Eccentrotheca and Camenella are taken to be stem group ‘brachiopods’ with multi-element shells. Dozens of scientists have been writing about these materials in recent years. Some 20 million years of evolution has thereby been ignored. Or censored.

        3. The first great mass extinction took place about 520 million years ago, during the Botomian and Toyonian Stages – well before the Burgess Shale. A rich diversity of reef building animals disappeared forever. These included archaeocyathan sponges and many small shelly fossils. But there is no mention of this. Did the film producers suffer amnesia at this point in the story? Or did that great prankster – the Intelligent Designer – make some big mistakes? If so, why call Her intelligent?

        4. The film makes another common mistake. When Darwin referred to the need for many small steps in evolution, he did not say whether these steps had to be either fast or slow. Small steps can be made very quickly indeed – as with virus evolution today.

        5. The film appears to have been shot within the walls of Cambridge University UK, with interviews taking place in the Sedgwick Museum, or around colleges such as St John’s and King’s College. Some think they perceive some blue highlights around the faces here, suggesting blue-screen shots in which the Cambridge settings have been imposed later. Whether real or false, this gives to the film a wholly spurious authority; rhe impression of a forgery.

        For those interested, some of these evolutionary developments can be followed in my recent book on Darwin’s Dilemma, called Darwin’s Lost World (OUP, 2009), which takes the reader back from the Burgess Shale to the earliest multicellular organisms. Research into this fascinating interval remains wide open and is only just beginning. The Cambrian explosion was a real and entirely natural event, as was the wave of extinctions that followed. What a wonderful world!

        • I concede that sometimes science can be too attakcing of religious views and wish to express some sympathy with you, as I have found some of these issues very hard to tackle myself. However, in instances such as this, the evidence is overwhelming. For me the science is too strong on issues like this and becomes ever stronger each time claims like this are investigated. As I have said, perhaps what we are doing is building a mechanical picture of the universe. Why shouldn’t God have made the crucible that all these processes and alchemy are concocted in and grow from?

        • Nick:

          Good points, I respect you for your thorough examination of this subject matter. I found a better video on this subject matter that I have replaced it with. Thanks for your assistance, you have been a valuable resource in my strengthening the presentation of this website!!

          It is not wise for me to have a video up with questionable content. Forgive me for my last reply to you…I had not seen this one where you provided this data when I replied to you. Part of the problem of you and I communicating via comments is that I sometimes miss the comments that you post because the volume of comments is so great. I responded to you comment subsequent to this one without having read this one because I did not know it was there. Forgive me for what may be perceived as rudeness in my comment.

          Despite what could be characterized as questionable content of the previous video, the fact remains the same that the scientific community is struggling to explain this event. Please see the new video.

          Could this event be explained by intervention from a higher intelligence? Absolutely. Even prominent atheist biologists such as Richard Dawkins and Francis Crick acknowledge that a higher intelligence was involved in the origin of life (as I have demonstrated). They, however, suggest that the higher intelligence was aliens from outer space rather than God. You saw the Dawkins video, so now I recommend that you read the following article detailing Francis Crick’s support of “directed panspermia.”

          If a higher intelligence was involved in the origin of the first life, why couldn’t this intelligence have been involved in subsequent stages of the development of life? Why must we assume that either evolution or creation must be correct and the other false and that there can be no in between?

          Scott

          • I believe we have suffered the same result of missing each others comments again…..

            I have just left 2 comments relating to this further down the page. I think we have missed each other because, as you say, you probably have a volume of comments to reply to and also our comments seem to be a bit randomly scattered around this page.

            Thank you for this response. Please feel free to respond further below if you wish.

          • Scott,

            Selective posting and quotations: You keep referring to Dawkins’ “belief” in “directed paspermia. “Dawkins’ suggests this is as one possibility. The way you put it, it’s as if he denies all other possibilities. In no way is he saying this is the undeniable truth. None of us “know,” right?

            Like you said, it’s all philosphical, that is until science reveals (proves), not just hints towards, otherwise. All of your evidence is philosophical thus far in regards to creation and ongoing intervention? This argument then, it seems, will never end.

            What renowned people say or the experiences some have had is not evidence for god. Dawkins has many more, in fact quite profound, quotes. Why not use some of them?

            I’m reading your site, and am here so far. It seems there are only a couple of truly rational people contributing to these discussions. No convictions, just evaluating the “evidence” with an open mind, no persuasion driven by loyalty to science, religion, or any ideology…”just the facts, ma’am.”

            Danno

          • No, I don’t think that Dawkins denies all other possibilities. What I think his serious consideration of directed panspermia conveys was included in one of my posts. Below is a copy and paste of an excerpt:

            As the molecular biologist Michael Denton declares in his book Evolution: A Theory in Crisis:

            “Nothing illustrates more clearly just how intractable a problem the origin of life has become than the fact that world authorities can seriously toy with the idea of panspermia.”

            By endorsing directed panspermia, individuals such as Crick and Dawkins have done more than embarrass themselves, as Denton above insinuates: They have laid bare for all to see the perceptual filter steering their atheistic beliefs, which is religious in nature, as [psychologist M. Scott] Peck maintains.

            Dawkins talks a big game and puts on a facade of smug self-assurance. But when you look more deeply, it is readily apparent that, behind the pretense of scientific certainty, there lies nothing but a set of religious beliefs. No, it is not a religion that involves acknowledgement of a higher power or church attendence, but it is a religion nevertheless. How did life form from lifeless chemicals on an alien planet? Please give me a Dawkins quote that explains this.

            You say that, “What renowned people say or the experiences some have had is not evidence for god.” This is merely your attempt to modifiy the definition of “evidence” to suit your own purposes. Here is how the Oxford Dictionary defines evidence: “The available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.” What renouwned people say or the experiences many have had clearly fits withing this “available body of facts or information.”

            Here is your logic applied to a courtroom setting:

            Defense lawyer: “Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, multiple witnesses testify that they experienced my client shoot the deceased. This however, does not constitute ‘evidence.'”

            Defense lawyer: “Furthermore, multiple expert witnesses have testified that my client’s DNA is on the murder weapon and that the deceased’s blood is on his clothing. But this also is not ‘evidence’ that he commited the murder. Therefore, you must vote to acquit!”

            Attempting to restrict or modify the definition of “evidence” to suit your own views is highly suggestive that you are trying to casually dismiss this evidence because you do not have fact based, logically constructed rebuttals to, or explanations for, the conclusions and experiences that these individuals present.

            Go ahead, post some of Dawkins quotes….the guy is a joke.

            By the way, prior to Dawkins, the most prominent of atheists was Antony Flew (a philosopher from Oxford). He has since written a book called There Is A God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind.

            If you read my post entitled “What it all boils down to,” you will find a reply to your comment that “it’s all philosophical, that is until science reveals (proves), not just hints towards, otherwise.” Science is ultimately unqualifed to definitively answer the question of whether or not there is a God…it can only provide evidence.

            Scott

          • Here is how the Oxford Dictionary defines evidence:

            “The available body of facts (truths known; not reputably worthy people’s opinions) or information (news) indicating (from the eye of the evaluator) whether a belief (an opinion [a personal view] or conviction [being convinced]) or proposition (a plan or scheme proposed) is true (undeniable fact) or valid (sound; not inconsistent).”

            Agreed.

          • Please read this link to the wikipedia post for argument from authority. (Yes, I know, wikipedia can be a questionable source and at time sucks, but it is useful).

            The pertinent paragraph is this:

            “…On the other hand, arguments from authority are an important part of informal logic. Since we cannot have expert knowledge of many subjects, we often rely on the judgments of those who do. There is no fallacy involved in simply arguing that the assertion made by an authority is true. The fallacy only arises when it is claimed or implied that the authority is infallible in principle and can hence be exempted from criticism.”

            So, yes, it would be ridiculous to argue that something MUST be true just because an authority said so. But I do not in any way suggest that these authorities are “exempted from criticism.” You can, of course, provide criticism to the arguments of these authorities.

  6. I was wondering what your thinking was following my last statement about Darwin’s Dillemma. Did you have any reaction following this argument or further thoughts?

    I have noticed that some changes have been made to this site. Have you removed the evolution essay, or is it undergoing some temporary revision?

    I was wondering if this signifies some change of thinking with regards to the Cambrian Explosion and the evolution essay that you had posted, or if perhaps it didn’t and you are just reviewing the essay.

    • Nick:

      The “evolution” essay was crowded out of the front page of the site when I added the “what it all boils down to post.” There has been absolutely no change of thinking regarding the Cambrian Period and there is absolutely no reason to do so. I gave you a link to the wikipedia post about the topic. Did you read it? In the post, the authors do not attempt to deny that the “Cambrian Explosion” happened. Rather, they attempt to find an explanation for it that satisifies the dictates of the materialist paradigm. Below is a pertinent excperpt:

      “Despite the evidence that moderately complex animals (triploblastic bilaterians) existed before and possibly long before the start of the Cambrian, it seems that the pace of evolution was exceptionally fast in the early Cambrian. Possible explanations for this fall into three broad categories: environmental, developmental, and ecological changes. Any explanation must explain the timing and magnitude of the explosion.”

      You can find the “evolution” post by clicking on “articles” at the top of the main page of the website, and then going to page 4. I need to discuss with my website guy how to get more posts to appear on the main page of the website.

      I would like to remind you what it means when a person attacks the organizations that another person belongs to instead of attacking their arguments….it means that they don’t have a good counter-argument.

      • I have to say, that in the light of this website and your quest for fact based evidence and debate, I am surprised that you would still be convinced of a video regarding a literal divine intervention at the time of the Cambrian. I am curious as to the basis of your words,

        ‘I would like to remind you what it means when a person attacks the organizations that another person belongs to instead of attacking their arguments….it means that they don’t have a good counter-argument.’

        My last reply contained nothing but solid substantiated argument. Everything that you desired. Oxford Professors, Fossil Record Evidence, Books. 90% of my argument was based in evidencial science, but included in this critique was concern over the character Paul Nelson. This is where I believe that you think I am attacking you via name calling, rather than over the arguments. I apologise if you think that, but it was you who called young Earthers, ‘Quack’s’. The inclusion of a Young Earther in this video still amazes me. I read your wikipedia link and have read and considered whatever you have said and links you have posted respectfully and openmindedly.

        I must ask this for my own clarity of thought:

        Do you think that God intervened and is the reason for the Cambrian Explosion?

        (how do you envisage this process?)
        Many more phyla have arrived on Earth since then. Is God responsible each time this happens, or was it just the once at the Cambrian? I feel like perhaps if God exists then he could be behind creation and therefore everything.

        However, the process by which it takes place is Darwinism. We have SO MUCH evidence to support this process. This is how all of the other phyla since the Cambrian, that we are aware of have come to be and we have demonstrable evidence of how this occurred.

        My conclusion is that either you believe in a Darwinistic version of events at the Cambrian, but as a theist that God is ultimately responsible; or in fact you genuinely believe that a magical divine intervention happened at this time, that was not of Darwinistic nature and was a moment of divine intervention.

        If the second is so, I feel that perhaps all of the evidence in the world will not convince you otherwise from this single video. There is so much detailed scientific evidence that exists all over the web, at universities, museums, libraries, laboratories and in the fossil records globally.

        I have said, in every reply, that I do not neccessarily deny God. I have tried to be constructive and reasonable and not closed minded or attacking. There may be a creator that presides over everything, but the process by which Life has existed and evolved on Earth is Darwinism. I do not believe that there was a divine intervention at the Cambrian Explosion. However, I do think that life and the universe could potentially have deistic origins.

        You have posted a site in search of empirical fact based evidence, yet in this case, I am not sure if you have engaged sufficiently in the discussion of the science. The delivery of Darwin’s Dillemma is poor, as it neglects whole sections of the fossil record without giving them due consideration. This is not a fair hearing and in a court of law could be potentially crippling to a case. Rather, I feel you have taken offence over issues of less relevance.

        • I have replied down here, as it would not let me reply above…..

          Why is directed panspermia or panspermia such a rediculous idea?

          Dawkins and people who have entertained this as plausible, have not categorically stated that this was the origin of life. It is ‘amongst’ their possible theories of origins of life on Earth, it is not their sole and only explanation.

          If either of these is true, it does not explain the origins of life, it merely defers it to another place. Panspermia is not beyond the realms of possibility, I would even say it is quite a plausible hypothesis. Is it certain or definite? No. Is it possible? yes.

          We should not ridicule the idea of panspermia, but neither should we see it as a full explanation or answer to the question of the origins of biological life. If a nomadic meteor transported migrant cells to Earth from another place in the solar system or another part of the galaxy (or even further afield), we have not resolved the mystery of the origin of life. We have explained the origin of life on Earth, but how do we explain the origin of the nomadic biology that arrived here from elsewhere?

          We simply defer the question.

          In the proposed early years and creation of our planet, it is hypothesised that we were battered with impacts from space. Rocks and meteors and comets of all compositions were constantly hitting us, in a violent beginning to the Earth that we currently recognise. It is proposed that our moon was the biggest impact of the Earth’s infant years. This impact was so vast that that the Earth did not absorb the moon physically but the two remaining orbs were left indipendent. The Earth slowly continued its development with a much larger mass and gravity, and the moon being much smaller remained independent and developed as a sister object constrained by the gravity of the Earth.

          It is proposed that the Earth accumulated its water in the latter stages of this ealry bombardment from icey meteors that were slung in gravitationally from further parts of the galaxy. In these years of early bombardment and consistent violence from space (or even at a later stage), is it possible that something could have hit Earth containing some biology? Perhaps some ‘extremophiles’ capable of living on horendously impoverished islands of rock or ice travelling through space.

          I believe that such a theory is not obsurd or ridiculous at all. Is it certain? No. But possible? Absolutely.

          • You are confusing two different kinds of panspermia. “Directed panspermia” is the specific theory of panspermia that is proposed by such atheist biologists as Crick and Dawkins. The “directed” signifies that a higher intelligence (aliens) was involved. We can safely assume that these atheist biologists have rejected the form of panspermia that you are describing…otherwise they would not have gone the additional step of suggesting that aliens were involved. In other words, if they felt that life could have come to earth in such a way as you describe (without a higher intelligence involved), they would not have endorsed panspermia that is “directed.”

            My main point about Dawkins remains unchanged. He presents a facade of smug self-assurance that he has scientifically air-tight reasoning behind his belief that God does not exist. But when you dig a little (not much) deeper, you soon discover that his confidence is based on what amounts to nothing more than a set of beliefs that are best described as religious.

          • Scott, you accuse people who have a different view than you of the same thing you do throughout the site. You casually dismiss comments that don’t jive with your idea of creation by referring to others’ beliefs, not facts. You casually dismiss, in one way or another, information or reasoning that opposes your ideology. I urge you to study your opposition’s views, as I do, by taking in your posts and weighing them as one would.

            “I want to know how God created this world. I am not interested in this or that phenomenon. I want to know his thoughts; the rest are details.” – Albert Einstein

            This is not evidence. Why use it?

            …Persuasive arguments for the existence of god. Not evidence for god.

            A scientist that smudges the data in his favor is an ideologist, not one that merely suggests possibilities. A religious man that ignores the data is an extremist.

          • Danno:

            I am not casually dismissing anything. Read my posts, such as “What is the chance the world is the result of chance?,” and feel free to furnish a logically constructed, fact based, point-by-point rebuttal.

            Rather than “casually dismissing” Richard Dawkins’ claims, I have responded with such a rebuttal. Here are some key points:

            1) He (and other atheist biologists) claim that random processes created life, but he and other such prominent atheist biologists as Francis Crick concede that a higher intelligence must have been involved in the creation of life (aliens from outer space). Furthermore, biologists are not qualified to assess whether or not life could emerge from random processes…physicists and information theorists ARE. Which leads to my second point…..

            2) Physicists and information theorists dispute the idea that life could emerge by random processes. To this end, below is a copy and paste from a reply to another reader:

            Physicist Paul Davies writes in The Fifth Miracle:

            “The laws of physics, which determine what atoms react with what, and how, are algorithmically very simple; they themselves contain relatively little information. Consequently they cannot on their own be responsible for creating informational macromolecules. Contrary to the oft-repeated claim, then, life cannot be “written into” the laws of physics…Once this essential point is grasped, the real problem of biogenesis is clear. Since the heady success of molecular biology, most investigators have sought the secret of life in the physics and chemistry of molecules. But they will look in vain for conventional physics and chemistry to explain life, for that is the classic case of confusing the medium with the message.”

            Randomness processes cannot create life! Dr. Hubert Yockey is the leading author of the text in the field of applying algorithmic information theory to the origin of life. He is a physicist and information theorist who states in Information Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life that “the origin of life is unsolvable as a scientific problem.” Not just “as yet not solved”…unsolvable. So if you are waiting for science to explain how life may have occurred randomly, you will be waiting in vain.

            Mathemeticians, such as Roger Penrose from Oxford University make similar claims. Click on the link!

            What this does is eliminate all other plausible explanations (than the intervention of a pre-existing higher intelligence) for the origin of life. You can explore this subject matter in more detail by clicking here.

            Please provide a logically constructed, fact based, point-by-point rebuttal to the arguments here and in the “What is the chance?” article rather than attempting some ridiculous redefinition of the word “evidence.” You might start by furnishing a physicist or information theorist with equal or greater credentials who states that life CAN be the result of random processes.

            Scott

          • I appreciate your views from your last reply and your general opinion of Dawkins. I was trying to offer a little agreement with regards to his outlook. He is not infallible. However, with regards to your criticism of him and his musings on directed panspermia, I think that both sides are in a less than mature squabble here, rather than a real debate regarding the evidence.

            Professor Dawkins has not given his categorical universal endorsement to directed panspermia. He has voiced it as a possible cause for the origin of life on Earth, ‘amongst’ others. I think that this view was born of a rebuttal to the new movement called intelligent design that evolved from the legally defeated Creationist movement. The developing saga took a turn in the early 90’s when the intelligent design movement began to establish itself as a successor to the courtroom defeated Creationists. The intelligent designers were trying to assert that the visible, biological world that we inhabit was so complex, that we must infer some kind of intelligence as its designer.

            I believe that the specification was made that designers were not necessarily referring to God, (allthough they were) but that biology was so complex that it must have had a designer. In trying to make this distinction, the designers were playing a slightly facetious game with regards to their arguments and I believe that this is the point where Dawkins stepped in and offered the idea of directed panspermia. If the designer was not God, then who was it? Dawkins suggested the idea of little green men, in a perhaps, ironic answer to who could have been the designer, given the distinction made by the designers. However, this rebuttal was not wholely without credibility, as there is a small chance that such a thing occurred. We are talking something like 3.5 billion years ago.

            I think that the weight of thought from Biological Science, is that life began in the primordial waters of ancient Earth. I believe that were Professor Dawkins asked for his most favoured answer, that this would be it, amongst some other seemingly less probable possibilities.

            I have read all of the objections to panspermia on wikipedia and find myself to still be convinced of it as a possibility. I think that the first and last objections offer the biggest obstacles to its reality, allthough, there is nothing to say that there is not life on Venus or Mars as yet. With missions and rovers being sent to Mars to investigate, the possiblility remains and surely the discovery of cells or life on Mars would be the biggest discovery in human history. It is suspected that life could also exist in other parts of the solar system (Jupiter’s moon Europa).

            I beg to differ with regards to your statements about biologists being unqualified to answer questions of the origins of life. Of course they can have an influence in answering this question; by testing and research within the laboratory. I’m sure that this kind of research will not be fruitful this year or next, but the possibility is very real that we might gather some real insights as to the chances of abiogenesis being a credible idea.

            When it comes to such specific and complex fields, I don’t know how any of us can be so convinced of our own knowledge regarding its possibility. I, for one, have GCSE science as my highest achievement in the subject and would venture my opinion based only on the best findings of my own research and intuition. If the most senior, involved and experienced scientists of our society are still deeply involved in this kind of research and we have yet to obtain data and results as to whether abiogenesis is even plausible; how can we make statements of such certainty as to how life began?

            From some simple and less than scientific research, I have come across these molecules ‘ribozymes’. I have read that these could have a role in the origins of cells. They are simple molecules, that seem to have been produced in test tubes and are thought to be involved in some of the early stages of evolution of life on Earth. If we are already demonstrating some success in the replication of some of the conditions involved in abiogenesis, then what answers will we have (or not) in 10 or 20 years time?

            The results could show anything, but with shimmers of success in preliminary work already, what if we can demonstrate that the conception of life from inanimate chemistry and matter in a lab is perfectly possible?

            I have read your reference to H. Yockey who believes that this is an unsolvable puzzle. Perhaps so, but if we don’t try, we don’t succeed. He may be right, but I think I could find tenfold as many references from scientists that believe abiogenesis is a theory that is certainly worth investigating (even if proved false).

          • Nick:

            Please recall that it was not just H. Yockey who holds this view. I also cited Oxford mathemetician Roger Penrose (who reveals tha absolutely staggering, mind-numbing odds against abiogenesis) and physicist Paul Davies from the Fifth Miracle. Below is a crucial excerpt from this book:

            “Since the heady success of molecular biology, most investigators have sought the secret of life in the physics and chemistry of molecules. But they will look in vain for conventional physics and chemistry to explain life, for that is the classic case of confusing the medium with the message.”

            George Wald, a Nobel Laureate in medicine and physiology, summarized the issue well when he said:

            “When it comes to the origin of life there are only two possibilities: creation or spontaneous generation. There is no third way. Spontaneous generation was disproved one hundred years ago, but that leads us to only one other conclusion, that of supernatural creation. We cannot accept that on philosophical grounds; therefore, we choose to believe the impossible: that life arose spontaneously by chance!”

            Molecular biologist Michael Denton says in his book Evolution: A Theory in Crisis:

            “Nothing illustrates more clearly just how intractable a problem the origin of life has become than the fact that world authorities can seriously toy with the idea of panspermia.”

            What he clearly means by this is that scientists have tried, tried, and tried again to find a rational basis for abiogenesis, but have failed again and again. We can be confident that atheist biologists such as Dawkins and Crick would not have turned to something as ridiculous and quasi-religious as “directed panspermia” (which involves aliens from outer space) if their attempts to verify abiogenesis had not been thoroughly and repeatedly thwarted.

            It is no mystery why DNA co-discoverer Francis Crick desperately turned to “directed panspermia.” He said:

            “An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going.”

            To your last comment: “I think I could find tenfold as many references from scientists that believe abiogenesis is a theory that is certainly worth investigating,” I would reply that you probably could find some atheist scientists who will continue to desperately try to prove abiogenesis because of its immense ideological importance to atheism.

            As contemporary philosopher Thomas Nagel put it:

            “I want atheism to be true….It isn’t just that I don’t believe in God, and, naturally, hope that I’m right about my belief. It’s that I hope there is no God! I don’t want there to be a God; I don’t want the universe to be like that.”

            But continuing to attempt to prove something that has been demonstrated to be statistically impossible, these scienitsts are using science as a “prestigious neurotic defense mechanism” in the words of psychologist Charles Tart:

            Used incorrectly and inappropriately, science can be one of the best and most prestigious neurotic defense mechanisms available. As [the great psychologist] Abraham Maslow beautifully put it [in The Psychology of Science]: “Science, then, can be a defense. It can be primarily a safety philosophy, a security system, a complicated way of avoiding anxiety and upsetting problems. In the extreme instance it can be a way of avoiding life, a kind of self-cloistering. It can become in the hands of some people, at least, a social institution with primarily defensive, conserving functions, ordering and stabilizing rather than discovering and renewing.”

            By continuing to pursue this dead-end-road, some atheist scientists (if you really can find any…and I challenge you to do so) are using science for the “defensive” and “conserving functions” of protecting atheism from losing its rational basis. This comes at the expense of “discovering and renewing.”

            You say that from “some simple and less than scientific research, I have come across these molecules ‘ribozymes.’ I have read that these could have a role in the origins of cells.” Well, answering an argument with a suggestion is hardly conclusive. Please quote a scholarly source to back this up.

            I will finish by repeating my quote from Nobel Prize winning chemist Christian Anfinsen:

            To the question, “Many prominent scientists – including Darwin, Einstein, and Planck – have considered the concept of God very seriously. What are your thoughts on the concept of God and on the existence of God?”
            Christian Anfinsen replied: “I think only an idiot can be an atheist. We must admit that there exists an incomprehensible power or force with limitless foresight and knowledge that started the whole universe going in the first place.”

            I do not wish to call anyone an “idiot,” as Anfinsen did. Many atheists are very intelligent people. The problem is that they often apply this intelligence to the “defensive and conserving functions” of protecting their atheist beliefs rather than “discovering and renewing,” in the words of the great psychologist Abraham Maslow.

            Scott

          • Evolution is true, science is a religion, Christianity is a myth (albeit, the “real” one), the biblical account of creation is true, sunsets are beautiful, Dawkins is a joke, atheists sponsor genicide, god has no limits, evil is necessary. I’m cornfused (and I’ve read all the posts and quotes).

          • Philosophical assertions will always be made, no matter what. It is impossible to engage in science without a set of philosophical beliefs.

          • Hi scott, I sent a reply to your last post about origins but it has been sent further up the page again.

          • Nick,

            Your debate with Scott is extremely fascinating,interesting and impressive.What I find baffling is that with your wide knowledge and articulate debating skills that I think you use to
            demolish Scotts claims,you still think in the possibility that a god could be responsible for
            everything and anything we see,know,invisage,imagine etc etc.
            I would really really know your definition of god, and see if Scott’s definition is so different that you two maybe debating on different hemispheres.
            It baffles me because within my lifetime god has turned from creating Adam & Eve and giving Moses the Ten Commandments, and sitting between god the son and god the holy ghost,he has become a germ that may have crashed on earth on an asteroid.
            SO! What or Who is GOD!

          • Marvin, I am an agnostic and I’m not sure that my points demolish Scott’s claims.

            I don’t neccessarily have a definition of god. I’m not very convinced of a theistic understanding of god.

            However, do I believe that God could be responsible for everything?

            The answer is, ‘I don’t know’ or even ‘mabe’.

            Stand back and consider the title of this essay by Scott for a while. Read it, sit back and really think about it for a while.

            Try thinking about it from a perspective not influenced by Christianity, Islam or Judaism, not by Hinduism, Sikhism or Buddhism, but just objectively. Neglect, for a moment, all the ideas that you think you have about religion, Adam and Eve, Noah, Allah, Ganesh or the Holy Spirit. Try and answer this question objectively.

            Does this raise any new thoughts for you?

            The title of this essay may be one of the most poignant questions raised on this site.

            Physicists like Stephen Hawking say that the laws of physics could quite plausibly lead to the beginnings or existence of matter, time and space.

            But why do the laws of physics exist? Where did they come from?

            My answer to all of this is, ‘I don’t know’.

            My position is agnosticism and when I consider at length, questions of origins, I am baffled, confused and less certain than ever.

            Could there be something?

            There is certainly a whole lot that we don’t understand. I am doubtful often because of things that I have researched and studied. But one huge question remains and possibly always will. Why does anything exist?

          • You are a good man, Nick. You clearly maintain a strong effort to be objective and you do not try to distort anything in your favor.

          • Nick

            I was probably over enthuisastic in the word ” demolish” regarding Scott’s side of the debate.
            I apologise for my lack of vocabulary.
            What I am still baffled about is,that with all of knowledge and expertise in vocational life,
            you still consider yourself Agnostic.
            I hope not to use this site for a personal discussion,but in short the simple reason that I
            consider myself a total and utter non believer is;
            Being brought up as a staunch Catholic and with all the dogma in my head,wanting to be an altsr boy ,priest etc,I find on reaching my teens that all my religious teachings,God,Moses,the parting of the Red Sea,feeding 5000 people with a few fish,waking the dead,walking on water,rising up and flying off to heaven etc etc etc did not make any sense any more.So, suddenly from being taught that all these were true and literal(obviously by people ignorant,unread and superstiticious)I am told that certain things are metophorical and not literal, and that now,everything we see through out in space for billions of miles and even the Big Bang was the product of a Creator,same Creator but the goal posts have been moved so science and physics can now be used to justify the myth,lies,sins,and all invented stories of so called religions.Now if you cannot think and believe that man made god and not the reverse,then can any amount of knowledge ever find the truth?

          • Marvin, we share very similar backgrounds. I too was brought up a firm catholic. I was confirmed at sixteen but have been asking questions ever since then.

            I think about these issues and this topic often and it has had quite an affect on my life. I went to university to study philosophy in pursuit of greater understanding and some answers.

            Many intelligent men and women throughout history have believed in God or gods. This is not a new concept, allthough the understandings and hypotheses have changed throughout the millenia.

            I felt a great sense of loss of direction when I lost my faith and have felt that for many years.

            You say that you are baffled with my agnosticism. I would ask, ‘why’?

            The title of this website is not catholicism evidence, but ‘God Evidence’ and this is a subject about which I am certainly open to debate.

            My question to you Marvin is, how can you be sure that there is no God?

            I believe you find it difficult to reconcile your catholic beliefs with the world that you see.

            Try taking away all the thoughts that you have about catholicism. You are left with an understanding of the cosmos, probably consistent with the teachings of modern science and rationality.

            For this moment, it is important that you try to set aside your catholic ideas.

            Why does the cosmos exist?

            Allow me to say, that even some of the world’s most prominant atheists do not have a total understanding of the cosmos. Professor Dawkins and Hawking just cannot say why or how.

            I am not trying to say that there definately is a causal designer here, I am simply saying that even the world’s most towering intellects cannot offer us definitive answers.

            You cannot accept that catholicism makes sense. However, how about this?

            The world and the universe exists and everything within it works exactly as scientists such as Dawkins, Hawking, Newton and Darwin propose.

            Yet, not one of them can state with absolute certainty how or why it all exists. How can we write off the idea of God from this debate. Perhaps everything exists as they propose, yet there is a God as well. (Perhaps not.) Strip away all the ideas of catholicism, Islam and Hinduism.

            No complications. No religion or myth. Just the Universe as science describes and you see it.
            Why shouldn’t there be a Creator? Perhaps there is or perhaps not. Nobody can definitively say not.

            This idea represents a school of belief called ‘Deism’ Marvin.

            Google ‘Deism’ and have a look at some of the sites and definitions that come up.

            Marvin, I am not making a statement of belief or understanding here, but I feel this debate is far more open than people such as Dennett and Dawkins would have you believe.

            Deism is something that I may be open to. Look it up, return and tell me if you find this idea any more palatable.

          • (if you visit the link, read the questions and answers at the bottom of the page. they provide some clear and simple insights)

          • Nick

            WOW! I am more baffled! Extremely interesting and everything in Deism is in my psyche,
            instincts and outlook regarding the existence of the unbelievable beauty and wonder of not
            only our tiny planet but of the universe seen through science channels on tv.The only bugbear is the word GOD.”God-given reason” or the Creator of everything.To me,Deism is
            Atheism with a belief in God,even though He is considered a different God regarded by religions.So I get the impression that Thomas Paine,Albert Einstein and Deists have an unshakeable FEAR to discard the thought of a God,hence discarding the superstitions and divinity of His existence and replacing it with reason and logic.
            I believe that the fascinating beauty of the Grand Canyon was created by tectonics while others will give the credit to God.Why oh! why does one have to assume that there must be life on other planets before we find any proof that there is? Why do people believe in UFO’s
            before one lands in the middle in the middle of a city? Why must one cling on to the assumption of a Creator if not for the fear of dogma that cannot be removed because it has been so ingrained in our psyche?
            I would love to be a Deist without God.

          • I’m glad you find it an interesting idea. I understand your reaction to it.

            The thing is, belief in science is not neccessarily atheism. I see how you interpret Deism as ‘atheism with a belief in God’ and I understand how you get there. I think the point is though that it is not atheism. It is a scientific understanding of the world, exactly as you see in books, universities and TV documentaries. They believe in evolution, the cosmos and the Big Bang. It matches almost perfectly the atheist understanding of the mechanics of the universe.

            However, both sides draw different conclusions about how it all came to be. Deists believe in a God and atheists do not. On a very simplistic level this really is the only difference, with the two sides agreeing almost whole heartedly about everything else.

            Deists believe that the Grand Canyon was carved out, as you say, by geological process’s. I think it was actually carved out by the Colorado River, rather than plate techtonics.

            I understand your point of view. I waver very often myself, which is why I am currently an agnostic. But that is why I am so interested in this debate. You always learn something new and new ideas always have the potential to alter your perspective.

            I think that my overall ‘guess’ is that you understood religion only from a Catholic point of view. Things that disagreed with it were atheistic. Therefore the scientific world view was only atheistic. Well there are many world views and you would be surprised at how many there are that you or I have never even contemplated. For example, world renowned cosmologist ‘Roger Penrose’ believes that there is an order of some sort in the cosmos. He is not religious nor does he believe in God, but he thinks that there is something incomprehensible at work in the mechanics of the universe.

            We don’t always have to see things to have a knowledge of them, sometimes evidence or suspicion of invisible things at work can appear in data and maths. For example, how did we ever know that there is a magnetic field surrounding and protecting the Earth from solar winds?

            The answer is through accident, hypothesis, mathematics, science and testing. It is a similar story with many things. Anomolies show up in data that we find, inconsistencies and surprises. We can learn things, not through vision but through maths, algebra and theory.

            I say all of this because you ask, why do we have to believe in things before we can see them? Well, because sometimes we can have a very good understanding with no visual at all.

            You also say that some of the famous deists have an unshakeable fear of losing their dogma. I think that there could be an element of truth in this theory Marvin. I know I have felt similar things sometimes. However, you should equally note that Einstein is one of the greatest thinkers in human history. He was contemplating the very nature of reality, the origins of the cosmos and the reason for existence if there was one. He was a man of science and therefore his discourse had to be honest. If he was not honest in his hypotheses, then scientists would have exposed him as flawed or even a fraud.

            He thought that there may have been a creator because of the immense complexity in the mechanics of the universe. He may have been wrong, but I would treat with great respect his contemplations on the cosmos. I don’t think it is neccessarily fear of losing dogma that people cling to the idea of a Creator. There may be some truth to this, but it is also a conclusion that many non-religious people will come to and convert away from atheism.

            God does not neccessarily have to be the Christian God, nor does he have to be the God as described on the Deism site. But it is perfectly plausible that some sort of creative force is responsible for the universe.

            For me, actually, it is more scientific to be agnostic than atheistic, because we simply don’t know.

            What do you think?

            Also…. r u from UK? cos its daytime now and all the americans only ever post at like 4 oclock in the morning…..

          • Nick

            I have commented on your posting above,but it has found its way up this page somewhere.
            But on reflection I would like to add to it.
            My brainwashed Catholic was definitely responsible for my start to sanity which I regard as my “Revelation”.Since then it is not only Catholism but ALL dogma ridden religions are the
            reason for my rigid atheistic views.Now about the difference between Atheism and Deism.
            If the word “GOD” is used in a discriptive wayto explain anything and everything e.g.
            That if ever it was possible to prove that “EVERYTHING” was the result of a “FLUKE” and “CHANCE” then God would be the fluke or chance.In other words not matter what the result proved it would be GOD.I still tend to feel that the dogma in your psyche(given it is the size of an atom) tends to lean you towards a divine nature.
            I do not disrespect the intellect and knowledge of people like Einstein Nick,and would it not be interesting to know his views and theories with the tools that the modern scientists have now? I agree that the Agnostic is much more a scientist than an Atheist,could it be that the Atheist already has the answer that the Agnostic may never find because of that atom.
            Do you find it an egnima how any two people can have absolute conflicting views about anything?
            By the way .Yes I am just south east of London.

          • Hi Marvin. I found your other reply that got sent up the page.

            I like what you said about having a little more knowledge of different views. It is good to explore and discuss the subject matter, rather than to be positively certain of your own correctness on such a topic. Of course you are entitled to your own opinions and conclusions, but it is unwise to be so convinced that you hold all the answers when we have less real knowledge of issues such as origins, than we might have of what happens inside a black hole.

            It is healthy to explore subject matter with an open mind, because you will learn something. If you come to a discussion with a view simply to antagonise or disprove the oposing position, nothing will be learned as your only discourse really is to promote your own initial outlook.

            You asked if I am an astro-physicist and a psychologist Marvin. It was another user on the site who posted these claims, not myself. I actually questioned him and asked him to justify himself, but since I challenged his assertions, he has not returned or reposted on the site (that is not to say he was lying, he has just not returned).

            It would be of great interest to see what a more classical mind would make of the tools and understanding that we have in modern science. I think that to ask what the minds of Einstein and Newton would make of our modern understanding, would be one of the most asked hypothetical questions in science. It would be interesting, to see what Einstein would have made of everything, but don’t forget that Einstein was still with us untill 1955 – not so long ago.

            I have been an atheist on and off many times in recent years, but have often contemplated a very simple idea of God. An idea consistent with science. This idea of deism is another thing that I have come across since talking on this site. I think I have always thought about it, but was not aware of its existence as an established philosophical community. Since discovering it, I have found it thoroughly interesting reading and researching it, finding it so much closer to an understanding that I can work with. Might I say, that the link that I gave to you, was one of many slightly differeing ideas of deism. It is something that you can make sense of yourself, not something that is imposed. Of all the ideas that I have come across, this seems to be one of the most palatable.

            I see what you are saying about having a very small amount of dogma left in my psyche. Why is this a bad thing?

            You say that it is an enigma that people can have different ideas. It is very true that people have different ideas. What implications are you asserting here? I think you are saying that if there is a God, then why do people have different ideas? Is that correct?

            This is an interesting thought. What exactly concerns you about this?

            I’m a Londoner too. Interesting how people post on the net from all over the globe. You can be talkiing on a forum to people thousands of miles apart, without realising it. Only trouble is that often they will post back in the middle of the night!!

          • Nick

            The problem with my thinking,beliefs and dis-beliefs are only based on what I can pnly base on a personal revelation.It started with doubt,not knowledge and wisdom through reading like yourself and Scott.Not long ago I thought that I was the only person who felt the way I did,I did not even know of Atheism.Then by chance I heard of and purchased “It’s all in the mind” by Ludovic Kennedy,and as I was in the middle of reading something else,my partner decided to read it first and stated that it was as if she was reading a book that I could have written.I have read Thomas Paine and Dawkins, but obviously with my lack of knowledge of you guys I found it hard going.But with all my lack of knowing anything of the vastness of information out there I feel so content in myself in my naive but logical opinion of this mysterious enigma that we are all struggling with that all the suppositions,theories,quotes and explainations this very interesting site is throwing at me, cannot make me see things the way you guys see.Now sorry for this soppy sad story, but I have been observing your debate with Scott and Danno and his anger manager with great interest and I am learning an awful lot.
            I thank you for taking the time to respond to my little ego and from now I shall be reading and consuming the vast vast intellectual game of chess from the outside.I shall take my place in the audience.

            Regards

            Marvin

          • Fair enough Marvin, it’s a heavy going subject. I certainly can’t keep thinking about it all the time myself.

            You need a break to step back from it sometimes to evaluate, to catch a breath or to unwind.

            If you’re content, then that’s not a bad place to be. I find that in Britain, there is a strong atheist trend and I understand your point of view.

            However, it is always good to be aware that there are more sides to the debate. If this is an area that will interest you again in the future, then widening your perspectives will always help you understand a little better, even if you remain unconvinced by different ideas.

            Have you ever watched mastermind on BBC 2? You’ve said you like reading: I haven’t actually read this, but it caught my eye the other day. It’s a book by the guy that presents mastermind, so he’s probably got a brain cell or two.

            ‘In God We Doubt: Confessions of a Failed Atheist.’ – By John Humphrys.

            Perhaps you may find it interesting reading. He’s not sure about atheism either, a little like myself. I believe it will cover many of the thoughts that you have had, whilst it also explores areas on both sides of the debate. He was a Christian originally like you and I.

            Thanks for your replies.

            Nick

          • Gentlemen:

            I hate to bud into your conversation about Deism…but here it goes. Please recall my Patrick Glynn quote about NDEs: “the majority of researchers who have investigated the phenomenon, generally professionals with medical, psychological, or other scientific training—many of whom started out as skeptics—have concluded that these experiences are authentic.”

            Please also recall the quote from The Handbook of Near-Death Experiences , which summarizes the conclusions of 30 years of research in this field:

            NDErs often believe that they have survived because God willed it and had a divine purpose in bringing them back…They have experienced the love of God and been changed by it (Grosso 1981). Many have come face-to-face with a personal God with whom they continue to maintain a loving relationship.

            …for most the result appears to be a spiritual awakening. The NDE often brings with it a spiritual certainty and intense desire to conform one’s life to divine will. The new relationship with what is often a personal God becomes central to the NDErs’ lives.

            A personal God is not consistent with Deism. Because the evidence for the NDE phenomenon is so strong (I recommend the book Science and the Near-Death Experience by Chris Carter) you must include it in your analysis.

            Also, you must ask yourself: If God is impersonal, why aren’t we impersonal?

            Please also remember to make an honest self-assesment of your psychological reasons for wanting God to not exist (as I presented in my “If God is real, why are so many smart people unconvinced?” post.

            Scott

          • Scott, you have not budded in at all.

            It is interesting that you think that I want God not to exist. I am interested in greater understanding. I am not motivated by a desire to disprove God, in fact I would probably be much happier or more content if I believed that there was a God. I have been lead to ask questions by the evidence that I have been presented with in life.

            I find myself more at ease with the idea of some form of deism, because it would seem to accept more readily the ideas of science and rationality that I deem true. It is an intriguing concept that I had never really come across before as an established philosophy. I had always considered it in some way privately, but have only recently found some writings and musings about it as an established idea, online.

            I find this topic so interesting and at times I wish that I could settle my mind a little better. I used to be so at ease with my faith, but upon exploring and asking hard questions, I must say that I almost envy the contented.

            I think that we have found some areas of agreement on this site and that you have offered some reasonable challenges and questions. However, we reach slightly different conclusions about the idea of a God. You have quoted people of different faiths on this site and in particular Einstein, who it would seem, had a more deistic hypothesis about God. I think that this is closer to an idea that I could rationalise.

            It is an interesting site that you have set up here. Last year, I was considering attempting my own internet site, of a similar nature, to talk to people and try and understand things better. However, I think that my site would come from a slightly different angle. (not atheism or Theism/Deism – but agnosticism).

          • Nick:

            I am not suggesting that I think that you want God to not exist.

            You seem to be a genuine searcher for truth rather than a doctrinaire agnositic. What I am suggesting is that you be very careful not to let your concepts of God be influenced by your desires…such as the desire to be free of moral constraints. I am not saying this because it is particular or specific to you, but because everyone must be on guard for this.

            What in particular do you find about deism that is more compatible with science than theism?

            Since you wish to settle your mind on this subject, and because I know that you are very intellectually curious, I must highly recommend a couple books: New Proofs for the Existence of God by Robert J. Spitzer and Science and the Near-Death Experience by Chris Carter. Personally, I find nothing more stimulating than a book that fundamentally restructures my understanding of the world around me (a paradigm shifter).

            As I may have said before, when you look more in depth into the subject of NDEs, you begin to realize that they are much much more difficult to explain away than than is commonly thought. To rehash a quote from one of my posts:

            As Patrick Glynn notes in his book God: The Evidence, “the majority of researchers who have investigated the phenomenon, generally professionals with medical, psychological, or other scientific training—many of whom started out as skeptics—have concluded that these experiences are authentic.”

            And the majority of NDErs report interaction with a “personal God.”

            This subject matter is too deep and too nuanced to be thoroughly explored without further reading. My website was intended as a launch pad for further reading, not as a comprehensive source of information on the subject…as you probably already know.

          • In response to…

            January 14, 2011 at 6:58 am
            syoungren says: Philosophical assertions will always be made, no matter what. It is impossible to engage in science without a set of philosophical beliefs.

            danno says:

            Assertion: a positive statement or declaration, often without support or reason (dictionary.com)

            Does a lack of scientific explanations then warrant philosophical assertions (as explanations), in-lieu, as evidence?

          • OK….here is the evidence to back up the assertion: Atheist biologists such as Richard Dawkins assert that evolution demonstrates that there is no God. This is a philosophical assertion if there ever was one.

            Oxford Dictionary definition of science: “The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.”

            Oxford Dictionary definition of philosophy: “The study of the fundamental nature of knowledge, nature, and existence, esp. when considered as an academic discipline.”

            Studying “the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world” is a fundamentally different exercize altogether than discussing why it is that there even exists a physical and natural world in the first place. This is the domain of philosophy. When atheists such as Dawkins assert that science disproves God, they are making statements about “the fundamental nature of nature and existence”….philosphical assertions.

            Peter Medwar (an Oxford immunologist who won the Nobel prize for medicine) from his book The Limits of Science:

            “That there is indeed a limit upon science is made very likely by the existence of questions that science cannot answer, and that no conceivable advance of science would empower it to answer…I have in mind such questions as:

            How did everything begin?

            What are we all here for?

            Doctrinaire positivism–now something of a period piece–dismissed all such questions as nonquestions or pseudo-questions such as only simpletons ask and only charlatans profess to be able to answer.”

          • Hi Scott,

            in reply to:

            syoungren says:
            January 17, 2011 at 4:13 pm

            On your points about the origins of life, I retain great interest. You rightly say that scientists don’t know how it began. Yet, you propose that the cell is irreducibly complex (classic intelligent design argument). Science does not propose that the cell simply emerged from the rock. It hypothesises that the emergence of the cell followed a similar evolutionary path as does the rest of life on Earth. This is a ‘theory’, granted, but it suggests not magic, but an extremely slow genesis from simple chemical molecules, to clumps, to clusters, to replicating non-nuclei cellular structures and onward gradually from there to the first cell with a nucleus. This could have taken millions of years. Again, I grant you that this is theoretical, but you state with such certainty that the origin of life remains firmly outside the realms of Darwinian Theory. Yet, the idea I have just described sounds just as Darwinian as the rest of evolution.

            There are other theories, as we have already discussed, but I offer this in response to your remark that the origins of life lie completely outside of Darwinism. Perhaps they do, but my above description of abiogenesis would seem to fit right in, would it not?

            Thinking about the theory of abiogenesis;

            Is it ‘more’ or ‘less’ miraculous that life should be able to evolve or spring from inanimate lifeless matter, than having a divine kick-start?

            What objection really is abiogenesis to the idea of a creator?

          • Nick:

            The problem that I find with this hypothesis is that Darwinian evolution works upon the principle of natural selection. And natural selection says that organisms evolve because those with favorable mutations survive to pass on their genes. But this principle cannot be applied to non-living substances because the principle requires the survival of that which has favorable mutations and the non-survival of that which does not. Non-living substances cannot survive (or fail to survive)….so the principle cannot be applied.

            What objection really is abiogenesis to the idea of a creator? The only objection I have is the implication that life could have emerged from random, unintelligent processes. I suppose that a case could be made for the emegence of life in a “primodial soup” that did involve a higher intelligence. There is nothing unreasonable about this point that you make.

            Scott

          • You say you have evidence for the existence of god. I say, not enough to persuade the open-minded. I don’t claim to know the origin of life. But you do. Nick doesn’t, but you do, by deductive reasoning.

            Contradictions you’ve made: Evolution is true, science is a religion; Christianity is a myth, the biblical account of creation is true; atheists sponsor genocide, religion doesn’t kill…people do; god has no limits, evil is necessary. You’re all over the place. It’s confusing (and I’ve read all your posts and quotes).

          • Characterizing me as “all over the place” and alleging contradictions without demonstrating why they are contradictions…and without furnishing logical counter-arguments, is not a rebuttal. Rather, it is an attempt to casually dismiss things which are inconvenient to your ideology.

            Here you go, Danno: Why don’t you start by constructing a counter-argument to the famous psychologist Abraham Masolow’s view that science can become a religion. Go ahead, let’s see what you’ve got. When you are done, you can construct a counter-argument to the Oxford professors C.S. Lewis (and J.R.R. Tolkeins) argument that Christianity is true myth.

            It will need to be something more substantive than making allegations of “being all over the place” if you want to convince anyone.

          • Not dismissing anything. Explain the contradictions first.

            Counter to C.S. Lewis – because he says so doesn’t mean a thing to me. Not persuaded.

            “If ever a myth had become fact, had been incarnated, it would be just like this.” – C.S. Lewis >>> quite profound?…not really, not convinced.

            True myth = oxymoron

            Science cannot become a religion (it’s numbers, formulas, repeatable experiments, etc.). ScienTISTS can become religious in their convictions when “overstating what science can do…[it] undermines both [their] integrity and [their] believability.”

          • When you make assertions such as “true myth = oxymoron” and “science cannot become a religion,” you are going up against some very highly credentialed individuals. “True myth” is supported by an Oxford University professor who was an expert in myth (C.S. Lewis), as well as J.R.R. Tolkien (author of the Lord of the Rings, and the Hobbit). The statement that “science can become a religion” was made by the famous psychologist Abraham Maslow.

          • Woh! This got kicked way up there.

            In response to…

            syoungren says:
            January 18, 2011 at 11:11 pm

            So? Is that your argument? Because these reputable folks said so, it must be so?

            True myth IS, in fact, oxymoronic–the combination of contradictory terms. These guys should stick to the fantastic strory-telling and avoid philosphical assertions. “The Chronicles of Narnia” and “The Lord of the Rings” are unparalleled, legendary.

            Can’t find the Maslow quote. But, because these people say so, doesn’t make it so. Don’t say, “who are you to disagree with such reputable folks?”

          • Please remember that the website is called GodEvidence.com and not GodAbsoluteProof.com. 100% conclusive and final proof of the existence or non-existence of God is not attainable to human beings.

          • You have stated that evolution is true, although, you dismiss the big picture by selecting “a range of applicability” to appease otherwise unavoidable conflicts with intelligent design. It is science because it involves “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment.”

            Religion: “a set of beliefs (opinions) concerning the cause, nature, and purpose of the universe, esp. when considered as the creation of a superhuman agency or agencies, usually involving devotional and ritual observances, and often containing a moral code governing the conduct of human affairs.”

            Science, by definition, cannot become a religion. Scientists can be religious I suppose, making assertions to support their atheistic ‘or’ theistic beliefs; it would no longer be science.

            You have stated that Christianity is a myth, although, you say it is the real one because Lewis and Tolkien are the most reputably worthy experts on myth to state such a claim (opinions). A myth, by definition, is “an invented (imaginary) story.” You also selectively state that the biblical account of creation is true, yet admitted that some stories in the bible are literal, and others were meant to be metaphorical. Six days? I guess it’s possible that Genesis was meant to be metaphorical.

            You stated that atheists sponsor genocide (“State-sponsored atheism”), but also stated that religion doesn’t kill people…people (having possession of self/free will) kill people. Atheists are not without morals or sympathy for the sentient. Under your reasoning, only bad people (whether atheist or theist) kill people.

            You stated that god did not have to stick within a set of rules and/or parameters, but then explain how evil, pain, and suffering, disease, birth defects, and car accidents were necessary so that god could love. Isn’t that a rule and/or parameter?

          • Evolution may be science, but my citing “range of applicability” is not done to “appease otherwise unavoidable conflicts with intelligent design.” I cite “range of applicability” because evolution does not apply to the origin of life. Rather, evolution doesn’t start until the first self-replicating cell already exists….it assumes the pre-existence of the self-replicating cell.

            I am afraid that your definition of “religion” is too narrow. As this article discusses, there is a definite problem with dictionary definitions of “religion.”

            Here is the pertinent excerpt from that article:

            Many definitions focus too narrowly on only a few aspects of religion; they tend to exclude those religions that do not fit well. As Kile Jones wrote in his essay on defining religion:
            “It is apparent that religion can be seen as a theological, philosophical, anthropological, sociological, and psychological phenomenon of human kind. To limit religion to only one of these categories is to miss its multifaceted nature and lose out on the complete definition.” 1

            Science cannot become a religion by the overly restrictive definition of religion which you provide, but it can become a religion.

            You have chosen the definition of “myth” which best suits your purposes, so I will choose mine. One of the Oxford Dictionary definitions of “myth” is as follows:

            “A traditional story, esp. one concerning the early history of a people or explaining some natural or social phenomenon, any typically involving supernatural beings or events.”

            There is nothing “selective” about stating that some stories in the bible are literal, and others were meant to be metaphorical…it is just a statement of something that is widely accepted among biblical scholars.

            My claim with regard to atheism and mass-murder is that atheism is a worldview that makes killing people in large numbers much easier to rationalize. This is because atheism denies that humans have a soul or any transcendent value (or any value beyond being a survival machine).

            A worldview (whether theist or athiest) cannot itself kill people. But it can make people more or less prone to do so. People who kill in the name of a religion with a scripture that states “thou shalt not kill” are clearly perverting that religion. No such perversion is necessary with atheism.

            “Evil, pain, and suffering, disease, birth defects, and car accidents” were not necessary for God to love. Rather, free will and a creation allowed to be itself were necessary. Evil and suffering were the unfortunate side effects of our exercizing free will poorly.

          • Range of Applicability – You say evolution may have something to do with the form of man, but we don’t really know. Unless you know man is a great ape sharing the same common ancestor as the chimpanzee, then you are being selective as to how evolution applies. We in fact share the same common ancestor with plants, and a single-celled organism. These are known facts about evolution (i.e., it’s not a theory anymore). Evolution makes no claim on the origin, but does as follows: From the first self-replicating cell came all organisms alive today or since vanished. Would you agree to this?

            Science as a Religion – Science: The intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment. So then can one confirm or deny the supernatural by way of a systematic study through observation and experiment, or just make philosophical assertions based on a body of information indicative of the belief?

            A Real Myth – Myth: A traditional story explaining early history or phenomenon. Tradition of the scriptures was subject to differing opinions in books and articles and scribes altering context. History, as we all know, is subjective, written by the victors and rulers. Splitting the Red Sea, or healing the diseased with a single touch, is not natural phenomenon.

            Part-Literal/Part-Metaphorical Bible – Of course biblical scholars would agree; they’re all Christian. Apologists continue to excuse passages as metaphorical when the most accepted knowledge makes them hard to believe. They were all believed to be literal at one point, right? And are still by some?

            Atheists Kill – So, unless your beliefs include the written clause “no killing,” you lack the ability to control killing? Not believing in an afterlife does not mean you care less about the welfare of living things. I happen to believe that the human spirit (or soul) is real. And that so is the elephant’s. But when the machine stops, so does its essence. Atheists are not numb to other sentient beings. Cold-blooded murderers must be. Meat-eaters are, to a certain degree. Do you eat meat? I do.

            Evil Isn’t Necessary – You say evil, pain, and suffering, disease, birth defects, and car accidents were not necessary for God to love, but said it was necessary for god to give humans free will in order to love and have a relationship. That makes sense to me. But also, that it is the free will of humans that allows us to make some decisions that result in pain, suffering, disease, birth defects, and car accidents. Again, why didn’t god create a world without birth defects or murderers if he/she/it did not have to stick within a set of rules and/or parameters?

          • Range of Applicability — Below is a copy and paste of an excerpt I posted in a reply to Nick from the book The Galileo Connection:

            Asa Gray [a professor of natural history at Harvard during the 1800’s] stated that the true issue regarding design is not between creationism and Darwinism but between design and chance, purpose and no intention.

            …For twenty years Gray and Darwin corresponded concerning the relationship between Christian theism and natural selection. Despite their differences, they agreed that the theory of evolution itself deals only with efficient causes, the observable events of nature and their mechanism.

            …George Wright, a friend and collaborator of Gray for fourteen years, published many articles concerning the theory of evolution. He opposed the Baconian philosophy of science to which the Christian anti-Darwinians had wedded their theology. Wright showed that in a changing world modern science offers approximations and not certainties. The Christian Darwinians affirmed that evolutionary theory, with its implications of probability and development, was not only better science but also more in harmony with biblical theology than was the philosophical concept of fixity of species. They reaffirmed the age-old biblical conviction that God’s superintendence of his creation is immediate and continuous, not limited to any special creative acts or miracles.

            Please also recall, Danno, that Charles Darwin himself said “I deserve to be called a theist.” (The full quote is in the “quotes to consider” post).

            The key point to grasp here is that the conflict between evolution and Christian theism is not an intrinsic conflict. Rather, it is a perceived conflict that emerged when Christian theism became foolishly wedded (in the minds of some) to a view of science that insists on the fixity of species (or a “Baconian” concept of science). As Gerald Schroeder points out (as presented in my “evolution” essay), the bible is full of references to “nature behaving naturally.” Here, Schroeder and the Christian Darwinians point out that evolution is more biblical than “fixity of species.”

            If you want to get down to the heart-of-the-matter, the main question is this: Was higher intelligence involved in the origin of life (and perhaps the development and diversification of life)? As I have demonstrated, even highly prominent hard-core atheist biologists (such as Dawkins and Crick) acknowledge the likelihood that higher intelligence WAS involved. They just differ on the source of the higher intelligence….aliens from outer space, they hypothesize.

            Science as religion--

            Can science show that there exists a supernatural? Here is how it can: Before the Big Bang, there was no natural world. Not only was there no matter, but there was no time, no space, no energy….nothing. Therefore, it can be said that before the Big Bang, there was only supernatural.

            True myth–

            I don’t see how the subjective element of history adds anything to this discussion. If God uses myth to communicate truths which otherwise cannot be grasped, why would the subjective element in history subtract from this?

            Part literal / part metaphorical bible–

            Click here to read an article about the science behind Moses’ parting of the Red Sea. This video is also a good discription of the scientific explanation for how such an event could have happened.

            The key point here is that the bible was not written to teach science. It would be ridiculous for the bible to say “and God parted the Red Sea for Moses by using a strong wind occuring at an ideal topographical location” (as this CNN article discribes).

            No, not all biblical scholars are Christian. Many are Jewish. Besides, controversies are decided by the coherence of the arguments presented, not by the religious identities of the persons presenting the arguments.

            Atheists and killing–

            The point I am trying to make is that atheist philosophy makes it much easier to justify taking a human life…and this is why the communists and nazis were responsible for roughly half the people ever killed in all of human history. Which is easier to justify killing?: A “survival machine” with no greater purpose than to pass on his/her genes (as Dawkins’ states), or a being with an eternal soul that has a higher purpose here on earth? I will again refer you to the book From Darwin to Hitler by professor of modern european history Richard Weikart.

            Why is there evil?–

            My article entitled “If God is good, why do evil and suffering exist?” discusses this topic in detail. If you would like to argue against the specific points made in this article, I encourage you to do so. It seems that you have just repeated the question rather than trying to counteract the specific points of the essay.

          • just out of interest Scott….. you were talking about some understanding in the Biblical texts of evolution and mentioned Schroeder. I don’t neccessarily agree with everything that he says, but he is certainly an interesting character. I was not aware of him before you mentioned him.

            Have you checked his personal website? I recall reading one paragraph under myths that I found very interesting. Again, I’m not sure if I agree with everything that he says, but there was a very interesting little passage about Dinosaurs on his site. Remebering that Schroeder accepts the real length of geological time from our position in the universe. I would have to verify the claims that he makes about the Dinosaurs in that passage, but it was certainly an interesting thought.

          • Again, why didn’t god create a world without birth defects or murderers if he/she/it did not have to stick within a set of rules and/or parameters?

          • Hebrews 6:18 states, “So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us.” (NLT)

            The key phrase here is that “it is impossible for God to lie.” It is impossible for God to do anything that goes against His character. I suppose that constitutes a parameter. That certainly doesn’t invalidate Christianity in any way.

            God wants us to love him and it would not be legitimate love if he forced us to do so. For this reason he gave us free will. Scott has already explained this in his earlier posts.

          • In response to…

            Jason says:
            January 31, 2011 at 5:52 am

            How do birth defects, victims of murder, or the common cold, have anything to do with free will?

          • They don’t have anything to do with free will.

            Here is an excerpt from the “If God is good…” essay:

            …much of the time he (God) must step back and give the world “the gift of being itself,” whatever that may entail…good or bad, pleasant or painful. If God allowed for only the good and the pleasant, the world would not truly be a “creation allowed to be other than God” (as Polkinghorne put it).

  7. With regards to this idea of panspermia, if you were to offer an atheist the concession that this was the origin of life on Earth (regardless of whether you believe it was); the question of how life began, still remains.

    I think that overall, it is fair if you wish to challenge Dawkins on his convictions, because he is not an infallable resource of everything. He makes much sense, but some of the steps he takes are of philosophical nature and don’t carry with them the same weight that his research and biological work lends to many of his arguments. However, he is often or always very well reasoned.

    Panspermia, directed panspermia, abiogenesis or divine beginnings, ‘how did life begin’? If it begins on Earth or was transferred here via panspermia, the question remains just as large, whether Dawkins is right or not. For me personally, I am not so convinced by directed panspermia, but I do not think that undirected panspermia is too farfetched as to be rediculous.

    • ps… the comments on this page seem to have a mind of their own! My comments seem to be zapped to any random location of the page, even if I have replied right at the bottom!

    • Nick:

      As I said before, I think we can be confident that atheist biologists such as Dawkins and Crick (who have a much more intimate knowledge of the subject matter than you or I) would have endorsed undirected panspermia if they felt it were plausible…but they didn’t. It is very doubtful that they would have unecessarily added the “directed” to panspermia if they felt that panspermia could happen without higher intelligence involved. I recommend you view the wikipedia post for panspermia to see the list of objections.

      Besides, by discussing the plausibility of one form of panspermia or another, we are skipping over the core of the issue: how the first life emerged ANYWHERE….here or on some alien planet.

      To this end, I have copied and pasted part of my comment to another reader:

      Physicist Paul Davies writes in The Fifth Miracle:

      “The laws of physics, which determine what atoms react with what, and how, are algorithmically very simple; they themselves contain relatively little information. Consequently they cannot on their own be responsible for creating informational macromolecules. Contrary to the oft-repeated claim, then, life cannot be “written into” the laws of physics…Once this essential point is grasped, the real problem of biogenesis is clear. Since the heady success of molecular biology, most investigators have sought the secret of life in the physics and chemistry of molecules. But they will look in vain for conventional physics and chemistry to explain life, for that is the classic case of confusing the medium with the message.”

      Randomness processes cannot create life! Dr. Hubert Yockey is the leading author of the text in the field of applying algorithmic information theory to the origin of life. He is a physicist and information theorist who states in Information Theory, Evolution, and the Origin of Life that “the origin of life is unsolvable as a scientific problem.” Not just “as yet not solved”…unsolvable. So if you are waiting for science to explain how life may have occurred randomly, you will be waiting in vain.

      Scott

      • Just some thoughts…

        Is this the argument that Hydrogen, the most basic element, came from intelligent design? …’cause all other elements come from the collisions (fusion) between H and new elements to form heavier elements (see periodic table) during the implosion and ultimate death of a star (e.g., the unavoidable fate of our sun).

        The narrowest of the laws of physics, I believe, are intrinsic. In other words, the formation and process of matter and energy is what it is, because that’s the only way matter can make order (stabilize). The electron is attracted to the nucleus in a similar way the earth is attracted to the sun…

        Where matter came from, none of us know, or has it always just been there? Time and matter, endless. No beginning, no end (perhaps an intelligent designer made it that way, yet that would infer a beginning). Time and matter are infinitely large as they are infinitely small. A concept not easily grasped. Science today can show cosmic microwave background radiation indicative of our big bang. Imagine “another universe” (entirely outside of our view given today’s instruments) retracting while ours is expanding; makes sense given what we know about the laws of physics. Our ability to discover may simply end with our current understanding of the big bang theory, ’cause how are we going to see or extrapolate evidence of matter condensing to central point leading to our big bang?

        • Danno:

          Below is a copy and paste of a quote I posted in reply to another reader’s comment. It is from New Proofs for the Existence of God by Robert J. Spitzer (who was assisted by Dr. Stephen Barr of the Department of Physics and Astronomy at the University of Deleware):

          Prior to Einstein’s publication of the General Theory of Relativity, one could have thought that supernatural design was completely unnecessary because it was believed (in accordance with Newton’s postulates) that the universe existed for an infinite amount of time with an infinite amount of space and an infinite amount of interacting content. Therefore, there would have been an infinite number of “tries” [for randomness to produce an orderly universe] to bring about virtually any degree of complexity.

          Standard Big Bang cosmology totally changed these postulates, and reduced the total number of “tries” in the observable universe to a very finite number…..This comparatively small number of “total possible mass energy interactions in the universe for all time” revealed the extreme improbability of high degrees of complexity arising out of the universe by pure chance.

          If you wish to explore this subject matter in more depth, this book also states that “David Hilbert (the father of finite mathematics) has given new probative force and depth to the argument for the intrinsic finitude of past time (implying a timeless Creator) in his article On The Infinite. You may want to read this article.

          Hilbert, one of the greatest mathemeticians of the 20th century said, “The infinite [as in infinite past time] is nowhere to be found in reality. It neither exists in nature nor provides a legitimate basis for rational thought. The role that remains for the infinite…is solely that of an idea…”

          Scott

  8. I admire your tenacity and defence of your own views.

    In my last post and in many others, I have tried to show some balance and reason with respect to both sides. I think that some of your criticism stands up, because philosophical steps are sometimes made beyond the observational and provable steps.

    In my last post, allthough I was attempting to represent the views and postulations of science, I was careful not to suggest that anything has been resolved yet, nor to overstep the boundaries of my own qualification to talk on such a subject.

    You seem very pursuaded that the chances of abiogenesis are impossible, calling it a ‘dead-end-road’. I, at no point, state as a matter of fact that this is the definitive origin of life. This is the distinction that I have tried to make. My views are open. The science is young and the conclusions have yet to be made. I was careful to state that Yockey could be right and that I retain an open mind.

    This is a very tough topic because both sides are still in a state of speculation, without confirmation. I know that you have criticised my suggestion about ribozymes, saying that this is not a conclusive argument. I was not claiming to have conclusive evidence, I did say that the debate remains open and the science remains ongoing. I have tried to retain a healthy outlook with respect to this and if you reread my conclusion you will see that I have given opportunity to both sides.

    Perhaps it is true that the science has not yet uncovered this mystery. But, you seem to write it off with such confidence. Our understanding of science is still very immature, yet think of the runaway progress that has happened at a steadily increasing pace since the Rennaissance. In the last century, we have gone from horse and cart, to train, to automobile, to aeroplane, to Space Shuttle.

    I would ask you: We have not yet cured cancer, we have tried in vain for year’s – longer than we have researched abiogenesis. Is this a dead-end road too, should we cease our efforts?

    The question of abiogenesis is of weighty proportion. If something were to just hatch from the rock or water, this would seem unlikely. The science that is looking in to this question is postulating that this process took place over the course of millions of years – just as long or longer than the process of Darwinian evolution – in order to lay the foundations for a singular cell. Millions of years of process, chance and change just to result in a single cell. This is a similar outlook to the Darwinian model that results in all the miraculous variety of nature we see today.

    I must concede that, most often, my opinions and favour will come down with the side of science due to it’s requirement for demonstrable and repeatable proof. However, some realms, at least for now, are beyond the grasps of science and I would certainly not regard the possibility of a God as finished with. I will also concede that the mystery of the origins of life may go unsolved. Whilst science seems to make the most plausible attempts to grapple with this concept, we have no answer, so is it not possible that perhaps something incomprehesible is responsible for the conception of life?

    I am not sure what my answer is, but if I had to bet five pounds, I think that abiogenesis would just edge it, as there seems to already be some potentially intriguing and founded progress in the direction of this theory.

    • Nick:

      Thank you for your open-mindedness. I must respectfully point out that it is not merely me who thinks that abiogenesis is impossible. Rather, it is the physicists, information theorists, and mathemeticians who I quote.

      I must also respectfully point out that your analogy of searching for a cure for cancer has flaws. Cancer is the phenomenon being investigated. Research should never be stopped until a cure is found. But if one theory attempting to explain the phenomenon of cancer has reached a dead-end, it should be abandoned.

      You are confusing the phenomenon being investigated (life) with a specific theory of its origin (abiogenesis) used to explain that phenomenon.

      If abiogenesis is perceived in the scientific community as feasible, why does Dawkins state categorically in the video clip I provided that “nobody knows” how life emerged? He makes no endorsement of abiogenesis whatsoever. Francis Crick shuns abiogenesis in favor of “directed panspermia.” Why no endorsement of it in his writings?

      If you continue to favor abiogenesis despite the fact that is not seen as plausible by the scientific community, you are very bold to say the least. I will again ask you to provide scholarly citations supporting your assertion that “there seems to already be some potentially intriguing and founded progress in the direction of this theory.” You seem to be the only one supporting this stance. Do you consider your assesments to be more valuable than the physicists, information theorists, and mathemeticians that I cite?

      Let me elaborate upon what Yockey is saying in Information Theory, Evolution and the Origin of Life (which I recommend you read): The laws of physics are like the hard drive in a computer in the sense that they determine how much information storing capacity exists in the genome. Yockey says:

      “Chaitin (1985, 1987a) has examined the information content of the laws of physics by actually programming them. He finds the information content amazingly small….the genetic content of the genome for constructing even the simplest organisms is much larger than the information content of these laws.”

      This renders the emergence of life from random processes impossible by the laws of physics.

      Scott

      • Hi Scott,

        I am not sure where I am with this question of the origins of life. I have studied many things in my time and covered many of the topics and areas raised on this site. However, the origins of life is something that seems to be given less time in the classroom than many of the other topics here, for example cosmology, evolution and the problem of evil.

        This question seems to have less presence in the media and academia as well. That is not to say that no one is talking about or investigating it, but often when one hears debates or listens to arguments regarding such topics as religion and creation, this issue seems to receive less coverage for some reason.

        I find this particular issue to be fascinating and I think that otherwise convinced atheists should have some concepts as to it’s magnitude.

        I think that the general consensus within science, is that life emerged in a primordial soup of chemicals in ancient pools or waters on the Earth around 3.5 billion years ago. The method and process will one day be revealed in our evolving story of scientific understanding, but for the moment remains mysterious. I think that this is broadly the view that I would adhere to and have attempted to voice in my most recent comments. This is essentially, as I have understood it to be, a theory of abiogenesis.

        I find this topic of the origins of life to be fascinating and not necessarily something that I have considered at length before. I generally accept and believe in the idea of Darwinian evolution, but this question is a little bit beyond the currently tried and tested models. I think that the process of abiogenesis, actually follows the same model as Darwinism, but is unproven and theoretical at this stage.

        I would contest your assertions that abiogenesis is not seen as plausible by the scientific community. It is an unanswered question. Postulations may be made as to it’s likelihood and I would readily accept that many would be pessimistic about it, but that the general collection of hypotheses would be more mixed.

        I believe that if you watch any programme (on the origins of life) narrated by Sir David Attenborough you will hear a similar version of early events. He has done a recent documentary called ‘First Life’, which I watched by chance last year. This documentary covers many of the issues that we have been talking about and coincidently covers a period of biological history that includes events in the Cambrian. This programme has the best and most commended researchers and contributors. It is the sort of programming that has earnt Sir David a Knighthood as well as worldwide acclaim and reverence in the fields of biology and broadcasting.

        Here is a link to the site:

        http://firstlifeseries.com/

        If you wish to discover more articles with regard to all of these issues, there are so many links to universities, resources, professors and publishers on the site.

        It is this sort of evidence that sways my intuition on issues such as abiogenesis and the Cambrian. The world wide proclaimance that is given to such programmes and the wide endorsement that is given to intelectuals such as Attenborough gives them such authority to speak on such issues. They are subject to the most rigorous assessment from academia and require the utmost in transparency or else they would not acquisition such stature.

        To be fair there is not so much about abiogenesis on this particular documentary, but as I have said, I think that the first scene establishes the idea that life began in an ancient chemical soup, in a warm pond or perhaps near to a hydrothermal vent.

        I have found this topic so interesting because actually, you rightly say, that biologists and scientists just don’t know exactly how life began. I would also say that the suggestion of events that spauned life on such documentaries do not state the process as a matter of fact.

        How did life begin? I really don’t know. I think that it may have been some form of abiogenesis as suggested by some biologists, but would I say to you now that I believe this with such conviction that I could not be swayed? I think that ultimately, the evidence will sway my thinking.

        I have just read an article that suggests that perhaps the circumstances could be right for life to have been concieved in clouds of dust in space and then transported by panspermia. I believe that there are more theories, that neither of us has considered. This begins to sound more like conjecture, but to any skeptical atheist or intellectual, I would ask, ‘what is your answer?’

        I think that I would probably stick with my idea that it may have been abiogenesis in an ancient pool of water. One thing that I will note with regards to panspermia, is that with this theory, the unlikely event of the conception of life only has to happen once somewhere in the universe and it could then spread in all directions – almost like a virus.

        Here is a link to an article that describes some research with regards to this immense question: (some of the work I referred to in my previous comment)

        http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/03/060327083737.htm

        Nick

        • Nick:

          I have no doubt that modern biology will continue to search for materialist explanations for the origin of life (that involve only unintelligent, random causes). But as I point out in my “what it all boils down to” post, and elsewhere, modern physics suggests that modern biology has the cart in front of the horse. The material world (and life) originated from consciousness, not vice versa.

          Have I proven this? Certainly not. Ultimately intuition must play a role in the side that one takes. The arguments I make in the various posts are meant to be considered seperately and together as a whole.

          I am still curious as to what your response is to my posts entitled “Has anyone met God and returned to tell about it?” and “When I die, is that it?” The NDE phenomenon is much like the origin of life phenomenon in the sense that people who view the world through a materialist (or “naturalist”) lens have struggled to explain it.

          You may want to start by viewing the BBC documentary entitled “the Day I Died,” to which I provide a link.

          Scott

          • If you believe that evolution is true (e.g., humans et al. evolved from single-celled organisms), then mind is a result of matter. If you believe that matter is a result of mind, then you don’t believe that evolution is true.

            Am I missing something? Selective interjection beyond creation?

          • Evolution plays some role in the development of organisms. To what extent evolution plays a role and how is still unknown by science. The process of gradual evolution and diversification that Darwin predicted has been completely contradicted by the fossil record. Did you view the video I provided about the fossil record?

            Just because evolution happened to some extent or another does not mean that only random, unintelligent processes were involved. In fact, science really has no idea how the first life emerged. Evolution starts with the first self-replicating cell (which is a dizzyingly complicated organism). Evolution does not even address the subject matter of how the first life emerged from non-living matter.

            I demonstrated in my “doesn’t evolution…” essay that even prominent atheist biologists such as Richard Dawkins and Francis Crick realize that a higher intelligence was involved in the creation of the first living organisms. They just differ on the source of this higher intelligence….it may have been aliens from outer space, they theorize.

            Modern physics believes that matter emerged from mind, but you don’t see physicists rejecting evolution outright. There is no contradiction beteween evolution occuring and a higher inteligence being involved in that evolution.

          • “To what extent evolution plays a role and how is still unknown by science.” – you

            False, read “The Greatest Show on Earth” by Dawkins. No claim for origin, just the indisputable facts that define the process called evolution in all its Darwinian splendor – me

            Regarding the Cambrian explosion, Nick covers the flaws in your selectively-directed video.

            If you believe in evolution (e.g., humans evolved from single-celled organisms), the mind is a result of matter. If you believe matter is the result of mind, then you don’t believe in evolution.

  9. Philosophy is a perfectly rational and warranted step in the fields beyond (and in) empirical scientific explanation. Philosophy is actually the parent subject of modern science and lays the foundations for all modern schools of thought. If you look at how modern science was first conceived and its earliest establishments, you will see that some of the first buildings, classrooms and research centres were actually called centres for the philosophy of nature or natural philosophy. Such establishments were set up in medieval Europe, ironically by the Church, around the 12th and 13th century in order to investigate the natural world. These places were set up with the original intent to understand and strengthen the teachings of the Bible.

  10. Nick

    Yes I am just south-east of London.
    I did get it wrong about the Grand Canyon,I think tectonics was due to the Colorado River
    changing directions.Again, very interesting.I now see that you do not commit yourself to Atheism(wisely) because it would mean one would be convinced about one’s views and opinions about anything, not to mention an immotive debate as this.I can now understand that the more well-read and knowledgeable one is, the more likely it would be to understand different ideals
    and beliefs,where as I have a definite and rigid opinion of these matters which makes me feel
    comfortable and content(honest)with my own ideals right or wrong.
    Thanks for the discussion Nick,very stimulating.
    One more thing.I think you mentioned that you are a physisist and psychologist,then do you
    find it a fascinating enigma how people can have absolute opposite views on things.I do.

  11. What is a God? How many are there and how do know? If god(s) is to exist, (S)he must be outside of matter. (S)he must be big enough to creat an infinte universe or small enough to manipulate the molecular world. Is (S)he big or is (S)he small or it transformable.
    Tell me about your experience with G(g)od(s) or (G)god(des).
    We can clone sheep now. Even though it was not a overhelming success, are we getting closer to been (G)god(s) or (G)god(des)?

    • God is the transcendent, infinitely intelligent cause of the physical and natural world. There is only the need for one such cause.

      “Big” and “small” are concepts which apply to phenomena within the physical and natural world, not to the transcendent cause of the physical and natural world.

      Cloning sheep does not get us any closer to being God because it brings us no closer to being the infinitely intelligent, supernatural cause of the physical and natural world.

      • Our knowledge are expanding, but we can never reach infinite knowledge since we are stuck in this planet earth which is a mear dot in the infinite universe and we will never know how many life forms are out there. In another million years, the sun will burnout and all life on earth is going to die before any life form can reach infinite knowledge. Sad to say all things have a time clock.
        I don’t think matter can be created. Matter exist on it’s own. Judging by your answer, (G)god(s) is outside of matter. You are still under the assumption a transcendent cause is needed for the physical world, but you cannot answer if (G)god(s) is infinitely big or infinitely small. “God is the transcendent, infinitely intelligent cause…?” This is what it all boils down to. There is either an infinitely intelligent cause or there is no infinitely intelligent cause. As long we can not answer all the questions of the origin of the universe, the answer is always (G)god(s). I know we will never find all the answer but we will continue to search for answer but you will continue to sit on your answer.

        I love everybody to engage in this exercise. Put all the theories you’ve learned aside and observe the world and how it is functioning, then apply those theories and see which one explain reality the best.

  12. There seems to be confusion here about the concept of causality. This whole argument about God (given various names- ‘supreme mind’ etc) being the ultimate reality, and therefore not subjection to the normal laws of causation, rests on the assumption that the universe itself is causal.

    But I don’t think it is. The universe isn’t just another ‘thing,’ like a bike or a computer.

    The reason that we consider causality to be true of everything is because we observe that everything in the universe is causal. But it’s fallacious to then presume that the universe itself is causal.

    As a real-world example, we observe that within the human body, cells reproduce by dividing (meiosis?) But it would clearly be absurd to then claim that the human person himself reproduces by meiosis.

    In short, why should the universe follow exactly the laws of everything in the universe. I contend that, whatever scientists say, they actually know nothing about anything except that which is in the universe. The universe as a whole is, as it were, outside of their area of expertise.

    • Anything with a beginning must be the result of causation. As I demonstrate in my post entitled “Isn’t the universe eternal? (Thus doing away with the need for a creator),” the universe definitely had a beginning. Everything that begins to exist must have a cause.

      For the universe to be an “unconditioned reality,” or existent without cause, it must have existed eternally. But this is clearly not the case. Before the beginning of the universe, not only was there no matter, but there was no space, no time, no energy, nothing. Such things as space and time cannot be self-caused, so they must have originated from a cause that is outside of the natural world…or “supernatural”.

      • But once again- sorry to reinstate the point- I’m just not convinced this phraseology even makes sense. You’ve acknowledged that the Big Bang is the ‘beginning’ of time. It just doesn’t make sense to talk of ‘before’ the Big Bang, because there was no before, just as there is nothing outside, and the universe didn’t expand ‘into’ anything.

        The universe, as I understand, is just a convenient word for everything that we can assess, observe, and apply rules to according to the limited ability of our senses. Anything ‘outside’ the universe (can anything be outside?) is utterly beyond our evaluative experience. If it did follow rules, it would not follow rules as we know them

        By the way, I am sure you are aware that my opinion is not original. It comes from Hume, followed by Russell. It’s the idea of the universe as a ‘brute fact.’ I am sure you are aware of the Russell/Copleston debate from which this phrase originates.

        • Robert Spitzer states in New Proofs for the Existence of God:

          …developments [in astrophysics] reflect the universe’s intrinsic parameters, which were not recognized by Newton and the modern philosophers who were heavily dependent upon him (e.g. Hume, Kant, Nietzsche, etc). Prior to Einstein’s publication of the General Theory of Relativity, one could have thought that supernatural design was completely uneccesary because it was believed (in accordance with Newton’s postulates) that the universe existed for an infinite amount of time with an infiinite amount of space and an infinite amount of interacting content.

          And here is the Bertrand Russell’s argument that I believe you are alluding to: Russell says…

          “Who made me?” cannot be answered, since it immediately suggests the further question “Who made God?” That very simple sentence showed me, as I still think, the fallacy in the argument of the First Cause. If everything must have a cause, then God must have a cause. If there can be anything without a cause, it may just as well be the world as God, so there cannot be any validity in that argument.”

          Note, as in the case of Hume, Russell’s argument rests on the discredited notion that the universe did not have a beginning. All things with a beginning have a cause. God exists outside of time and does not have a cause. The same cannot be said of the universe. Russell was as heavily dependent on the now scientifically out-of-date cosmology of Newton as Hume was.

          His arguments rest on the assumption that “everything must have a cause.” But something that exists outside of time need not have a cause.

          Spitzer comments:


          Russell believes that “First Cause arguments” are based on the assumption that “everything must have a cause.” If any metaphysician seriously assumed this, then he would be liable to Russell’s judgement that his argument is (stupidly) open to the question, “What caused God?” Fortunately, I can attest that very few metaphysicians in history were stupid enough to argue Russell’s “universality of causation,” making his rendition of “First Cause arguments” a straw man.

          In short, Russell’s arguments are flawed because metaphysicians do not make the assumption that “everything must have a cause”….only Russell does.

          Further, Russell and Hume’s arguments do not address the assertions made by modern physicists that reality is grounded in consciousness. See my God Is Real…Why modern physics has discredited atheism post. Their arguments are rooted in a materialistic worldview, which has been discredited by modern physics.

          Your statement that it doesn’t make sense to talk of “before” the Big Bang is valid comment about a linguistic nuance, but how does this have any bearing on the existence of God?

          How does your comment about the definition of the universe shed light on this topic?

  13. Scott: According to the Big Bang theory, which appeared in the 1960’s, the universe (including space, time, energy, and matter) did have a definite beginning.

    Terry: The Big Bang Theory does not claim it was the beginning of the universe. It does not account for what was before the BB. It is inconclusive at best and completely of base at worst. It is not even known that it actually happened that is why it is called a theory. There are other theories as well, just not as well accepted by the scientific community (yet). It only claims what happened after the beginning of the expansion, not before the expansion. The claim the the BB was the beginning of time and space is at best a WAG. I don’t buy it any more than I buy your god theory. I have no faith in quantum mechanics, the big bang or multiverses. None of these have been concluded. They are however more likely than your imaginary friend. I give zero, zip, nana credibility to a man made invisible creature.

    Here are others more qualified than I that question or deny the Big Bang Theory:
    http://bigbangneverhappened.org/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-standard_cosmology
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyclic_Universe

    The wonders of the natural universe are clearly more numerous than the scientist, the philosopher or even the theist can comprehend. The scientist, the philosopher and the theist all claim the universe had to have a beginning and yet here it is without a shred of evidence that there was ever a supernatural event (magic) to create it. How it got here or if it was always here is pure speculation. I put my money on it always existing in one form or another but that is just my opinion. Life is just a byproduct of the natural universe. Has life always existed in the universe? No one knows. Has Life in the universe ever been nonexistent at any time? No one knows. Has life in the universe regenerated it self many time over and over in the universe? No one knows. If anyone tells you they have the true answers to these questions they are flat out lying to you. The theist comes to mind here.

    • OK, have it your way. I will start with the assumption that the Big Bang was NOT the beginning of the universe. Who knows, such a theory as that of multiple universes or an oscillating universe may one day become the scientific orthodoxy.

      But whether or not the Big Bang was the very beginning is not relevant to the question of the existence of God. What IS relevant to this question is whether or not there was a beginning at some point. Atheism rests upon the assumption that the universe (or the multiverse or oscillating universe, etc. in which our universe might be situated) is eternally existent and therefore does not require a cause. Atheist philosophers from David Hume to Bertrand Russell have therefore relied on the assumption that the universe is eternal.

      BUT THERE IS A PROBLEM. An eternal universe (or multiverse, oscillating universe, etc.) is impossible by the laws of mathematics and physics. Please read my post entitled “Isn’t the universe eternal? (Therefore doing away with the need for a creator.)” for more detail. You can click on the link in the previous sentence or go to the “snippets” section to read it.

      I also discuss this topic in my essay entitled “Why is there something rather than nothing?” Please read and respond.

      When you state, “Life is just a byproduct of the natural universe,” you are making a statement of what amounts to your religious faith. Your statement is another one of the “just is” assumptions that underlie the atheist faith. Atheists often assert that their views are based upon facts while theists views are based upon “magical thinking.” But such “just is” leaps of faith are every bit as prone (or more prone) to the allegation of “magical thinking” as a belief in an infinite intelligence (God).

      I would submit that they are much more vulnerable to the allegation of “magical thinking” for the following reason: We are intelligent beings and therefore it is safer to assume that we arose from an intelligent source than an unintelligent (or random) source. Saying that intelligent beings emerged randomly takes a much greater leap of faith.

      At this point, the atheist will almost certainly invoke natural selection. To this, I say, “fine, have it your way…. I will start my argument from the assumption that we arose randomly through natural selection.” The question then becomes, why is it that there are laws of nature that allow for natural selection? Natural selection is a mechanism that can only work within a structure. How did this structure come to exist?

      To these questions, the atheist is stuck with providing more faith-based “just is” explanations.

      Everyone must decide for them self whether they believe these natural laws and structures came to existence from an intelligent or unintelligent (random) cause. The only way to argue the latter is to invoke typical atheist “just is” explanations.

      • Scott: What IS relevant to this question is whether or not there was a beginning at some point.

        Terry: Agreed. Now if we only had some evidence of this alleged beginning we could claim there was one, but we don’t.

        Scott: An eternal universe (or multiverse, oscillating universe, etc.) is impossible by the laws of mathematics and physics.

        Terry: I am inclined to “believe” there is more to the natural universe than mathematics or physics takes into account. UNLESS you are suggesting mathematics and physics has all the answers. Last I heard mathematics and physics were still evolving.

        Scott: When you state, “Life is just a byproduct of the natural universe,” you are making a statement of what amounts to your religious faith.

        Terry: This is the problem with “cult think”. It believes everything has to do with faith or belief. This simply isn’t the case. Now, it is true, I don’t know how life started or if it started or if it has always been a part of the eternal universe but here is what we do know. We know the universe does exist. We don’t have anything to support that it “began” other than some unconfirmed man made concepts and theories.

        We do know that in order to start the natural from nothing there would have to be some kind of supernatural event. e.g. God, The FSM or perhaps a supernatural event of an unintelligent nature. The problem with a supernatural event is we have nothing to support it. The WAG’s and imaginary made up concepts from past theists are not evidence. They are hearsay. So I am left with conclusions based on what we do know.

        If I stick to the observable facts the way science does it would work something like this. First of all I can’t use the supernatural because it is unsupported and not observable. We don’t have any evidence to support the supernatural. So the only choice I have is to rule out the supernatural. If I rule out a supernatural event the only thing left is the natural universe has always existed in one form or another. Clearly in a way we don’t understand but there are many things we don’t understand and have the answers for. The fact that there is life in the universe tells me that life is, in fact, a natural byproduct of the natural universe. As an atheist I can’t just make things up and then believe what I made up is true the way theists do.

        Note: The natural universe creating itself would be a supernatural event so that isn’t an option.

        The big problem with the theist claim is that the supernatural event that supposedly created the natural universe is also alive and intelligent. If there was a supernatural event (a first cause) why would it be intelligent or alive? If I was all powerful and could create the natural universe I would have done a much better job. It would have been more of a simple, friendly and loving universe. The universe would be fixed and static. Not one with gigantic rocks, planets and stars crashing into each other in an uncontrollable chaotic nature. I would truly love my pets and take care of them and nurture them. Not kill them off and throw them into an eternal pit of fire.

        There are unseen forces in the universe like gravity for example but there is nothing to suggest that gravity is alive or intelligent and it would make no sense to pray to the god of gravity. I assure you that gravity will not respond to your prayers anymore than your imaginary friend does. In fact, there are some nutjobs out there that do believe gravity is god. Like this nutjob: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8slGZ9XszmA This is just a small example of what a theistic society can do to the human mind.

        I mean, if you want to make up some kind of wild story about how the natural universe began at least make it reasonably believable. How about the Great Energy Burst or I know, how about the Big Bang. Adding life and intelligence to it only makes it that much more absurd and unbelievable.

        The scientist says: “In the beginning there was nothing, only the singularity.”
        The theist says: “In the beginning there was nothing, only god.”

        Neither theist nor science can explain where god or the singularity came from.

        So until a theist or scientist can produce some supernatural evidence to support their supernatural claim this is the best we have to work with. If you actually care about truth and facts you will stop spreading these ridiculous rumors about the supernatural.

        The “fact” is we don’t know. The “fact” is we will likely never know. What is wrong with that? Why do you feel a need to make up absurd creatures to explain it? And where does this silly urge to worship something or someone come from?

        Scott: At this point, the atheist will almost certainly invoke natural selection.

        Terry: I don’t know anything about natural selection but here we are. No gods required.

        • Terry: Agreed. Now if we only had some evidence of this alleged beginning we could claim there was one, but we don’t.

          Scott: ATTENTION READERS…THIS IS INSTRUCTIVE. This is a recurring theme among atheists. They feel that if they state “there is no evidence” frequently enough and/or forcefully enough, it will become true. Terry has done nothing to respond to the VAST evidence for a supernatural beginning as presented in my essay entitled “Is there a God? (What is the chance our world is the result of chance?)”

          For example, Terry (the moderator of an atheist website) has posted no reply whatsoever to the anthropic fine tuning evidence presented in the essay. The evidence is so strong that, as one astrophysicist put it (as presented in the essay),….”Astronomers who do not draw theistic or deistic conclusions are becoming rare, and even the few dissenters hint that the tide is against them. Geoffrey Burbidge, of the University of California at San Diego, complains that his fellow astronomers are rushing off to join “’The First Church of Christ of the Big Bang.’” Or as the astronomer, physicist and founder of NASAs Goddard Institute for Space Studies Robert Jastrow put it:

          “Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on the earth. And they have found that all this happened as a product of forces they cannot hope to discover…. That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.” [italics mine]

          But what is Terry’s reply to this evidence? He continues to assert that, “there is no evidence.” If I asserted that “the ocean is made of maple syrup, not water,” would my assertion eventually become true because I repeated the assertion often enough and/or forcefully enough? Certainly not, and at some point I would be obliged to examine evidence that the ocean is made up of mostly water, if I expected people to take me seriously.

          Terry also supplies no reasoning whatsoever as to why we should accept his analysis as more rationally sound than that of the vast majority of astronomers/astrophysicists.

          Terry: I am inclined to “believe” there is more to the natural universe than mathematics or physics takes into account. UNLESS you are suggesting mathematics and physics has all the answers. Last I heard mathematics and physics were still evolving.

          Scott: OK, well, once again, this is what amounts to your religious faith. You basically have a religious faith that there is some explanation out there somewhere that can vindicate your views. This is an interesting stance for someone who asserts that their stance is “logical” (i.e. “ChurchofLogic.com”). Our understanding of physics continues to evolve but the eternal universe is never coming back, just like the flat earth is never coming back.

          Terry: This is the problem with “cult think”. It believes everything has to do with faith or belief. This simply isn’t the case. Now, it is true, I don’t know how life started or if it started or if it has always been a part of the eternal universe but here is what we do know. We know the universe does exist. We don’t have anything to support that it “began” other than some unconfirmed man made concepts and theories.

          Scott: This is another remarkable assertion for someone with a website called ChurchofLogic.com. You assert that “we don’t have anything to support that it ‘began’ other than some unconfirmed man made concepts and theories.” The fact that there was a beginning is undeniable by mathematics and physics. Please again review my post entitled, “Isn’t the universe eternal? (Thus doing away with the need for a creator).” The laws of mathematics and physics are not “man made concepts and theories.” For example, two plus two will always equal four regardless of what concepts and theories people entertain.

          Once again, you state “we don’t have anything to support,” even though you have failed to respond to the vast evidence presented in my essays.

          Lets apply your logic to a courtroom scene:

          Prosecuting attorney: “The defendant was caught with the murder weapon in his hand and the victim’s blood all over his clothing.”

          Defense lawyer: “There is no evidence.”

          Prosecuting attorney: “Multiple witnesses observed the defendant shoot the victim.”

          Defense lawyer: “That’s not evidence, there is no evidence.”

          How good of a job is this defense lawyer doing?

          Terry: First of all I can’t use the supernatural because it is unsupported and not observable. We don’t have any evidence to support the supernatural.

          Scott: If the natural universe (or multiverse, oscillating universe, etc.) had a beginning, it had a cause. This the law of causation, without which, science would be impossible. And since the law of causation dictates that something cannot cause itself, the cause of the natural universe cannot be natural. It must by necessity be supernatural. Terry, please respond to the fact that the majority of astronomers have come to same conclusion. Please also respond to the Oxford University philosopher Anthony Flew’s arguments as I present them in my essays.

          Terry: The big problem with the theist claim is that the supernatural event that supposedly created the natural universe is also alive and intelligent. If there was a supernatural event (a first cause) why would it be intelligent or alive? If I was all powerful and could create the natural universe I would have done a much better job. It would have been more of a simple, friendly and loving universe. The universe would be fixed and static. Not one with gigantic rocks, planets and stars crashing into each other in an uncontrollable chaotic nature. I would truly love my pets and take care of them and nurture them. Not kill them off and throw them into an eternal pit of fire.

          Scott: So you feel that your view of how the universe should carry particular significance? I have already responded to your objections in my post entitled “If God is good, why do evil and suffering exist?” Please read and respond with any rebuttals you may have.

          Terry: I don’t know anything about natural selection but here we are. No gods required.

          Scott: This is an excellent example of the “it just is” beliefs that underlie the atheist faith. It is amazing to me that you characterize your views as logical and fact based, but when it comes down to it, you fall back on such “it just is” leaps of faith as “but here we are.” How is the view that the universe and life “just are” (without any intelligence involved) more rational than the view that intelligence must have been involved in creating unimaginably complex things such as the universe and life? If there was no intelligence involved, why isn’t the universe just a pile of inert, motionless, dead matter?

          • Scotts Courtroom:

            Lets apply your logic to a courtroom scene:

            Prosecuting attorney: “The defendant was caught with the murder weapon in his hand and the victim’s blood all over his clothing.”

            Defense lawyer: “There is no evidence.”

            Prosecuting attorney: “Multiple witnesses observed the defendant shoot the victim.”

            Defense lawyer: “That’s not evidence, there is no evidence.”

            How good of a job is this defense lawyer doing?

            Terry: The defense attorney is doing a great job if the prosecuting attorney didn’t actually produce any murder weapon, clothing or witnesses to support his comments. It is like you trying to convince people with opinions and hearsay. Oh! and of course your own personal feelings. Still waiting for the “observable evidence”. This would be a great time for you to produce it. One tiny little thing would work.

          • Scott: Terry also supplies no reasoning whatsoever as to why we should accept his analysis as more rationally sound than that of the vast majority of astronomers/astrophysicists.

            Terry: That one is simple. I am not suggesting anything that requires an invisible supernatural creature from another dimension that has sex with human females as a solution. And that is what makes my analysis more rationally sound than that of the vast majority of astronomers/astrophysicists.

          • Scott: For example, Terry (the moderator of an atheist website) has posted no reply whatsoever to the anthropic fine tuning evidence presented in the essay.

            Terry: Fine tuning of the universe? Let’s see, we are on a big rock, traveling recklessly through space, out of control. Headed for an inevitable destructive end. This requires an Intelligent Designer? LOL

            The universe is in a constant state of change. There isn’t a single molecule that is fixed/static or in a state of rest. The universe is in a pure state of chaos.

            ———————————————-

            The ‘Big Bang’ Argument for the Existence of God
            Theodore Schick Jr.

            [http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/theodore_schick/bigbang.html]

            *** snippet ***
            We would be justified in believing that an inexplicable event is the work of god only if we were justified in believing that a natural explanation of it would never be found. But we can never be justified in believing that, because we can’t predict what the future will bring. We can’t rule out the possibility that a natural explanation will be found, no matter how incredible the event. When faced with an inexplicable event, it is always more rational to look for a natural cause than to attribute it to something supernatural. Appealing to the supernatural does not increase our understanding. It simply masks the fact that we do not yet understand.

            What’s more, any supposed miracle could be the result of a superadvanced technology rather than a supernatural being. Arthur C. Clarke once said that any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. So the seemingly inexplicable events that many attribute to god could simply be the work of advanced aliens. Erik von Däniken argues as much in his book Chariots of the Gods, where he claims that the wheel that Ezekiel saw in the sky was really a UFO. Explanations that appeal to advanced aliens are actually superior to explanations that appeal to supernatural beings because they are simpler and more conservative — they do not postulate any nonphysical substances and they do not presuppose the falsity of any natural laws. If astronomers feel the need to join a church, they would do better to join the First Church of Space Aliens than the First Church of Christ of the Big Bang.

  14. Terry: “If the universe had a beginning it would mean that at one point in time (wait, time didn’t exist yet) there would of had to be nothing.”

    Scott: Nothingness cannot exist at a point in time because when you have time, you don’t really have nothingness. Time issomething as opposed to nothing.

    Terry: My point exactly. Time has always existed so there could have never been “nothing”. The thing about time is it requires three parts to exist. Past, Present and Future. To claim that time had a beginning would mean at some point it did not have a past. How could time not have a past when it is a requirement for time to exist?

    • Terry: To claim that time had a beginning would mean at some point it did not have a past.

      Scott: Ok, Terry, well it is you against the evidence. Click here to read what physicist Stephen Hawking has to say about the subject. Some pertinent excerpts:

      “This argument about whether or not the universe had a beginning, persisted into the 19th and 20th centuries. It was conducted mainly on the basis of theology and philosophy, with little consideration of observational evidence. This may have been reasonable, given the notoriously unreliable character of cosmological observations, until fairly recently. The cosmologist, Sir Arthur Eddington, once said, ‘Don’t worry if your theory doesn’t agree with the observations, because they are probably wrong.’ But if your theory disagrees with the Second Law of Thermodynamics, it is in bad trouble. In fact, the theory that the universe has existed forever is in serious difficulty with the Second Law of Thermodynamics. The Second Law, states that disorder always increases with time. Like the argument about human progress, it indicates that there must have been a beginning. Otherwise, the universe would be in a state of complete disorder by now, and everything would be at the same temperature. In an infinite and everlasting universe, every line of sight would end on the surface of a star. This would mean that the night sky would have been as bright as the surface of the Sun. The only way of avoiding this problem would be if, for some reason, the stars did not shine before a certain time.”

      “The conclusion of this lecture is that the universe has not existed forever. Rather, the universe, and time itself, had a beginning in the Big Bang, about 15 billion years ago.”

      But I’ll tell you what, Terry: I will play the game on your turf. You want an infinitely old universe? YOU GOT IT! I will start with the assumption that the universe is infinitely old, or if not, that there are an infinite number of universes that predate our universe (in a multiverse or oscillating universe, etc. scenario).

      Even with an infinitely old universe (or an infinite number of universes), how does this allow for the emergence of a universe finely tuned for the existence of life?….as described in my essay entitled “Is there a God? (What is the chance that our world is the result of chance?)

      Recall that bare probabilities are causally inert and require a causal mechanism to produce any result. For example, take the statement, “If a person, hypothetically, were to live forever, that person would eventually win the lottery.” This statement is false because no matter how long a person lives, they will not win the lottery unless they actually play the lottery. Going to the convenience store on a regular basis to buy lottery tickets is the causal mechanism that enables the bare probability of of a lottery win to result in an actual lottery win.

      In a universe that is truly devoid of an intelligent and conscious foundation, how is it that these causal mechanisms that enabled the probability a finely tuned universe came to be? The only reply that an atheist can provide is another “it just is” leap-of-faith upon which the atheist belief system is constructed.

      Furthermore, in the scenario of an infinitely old universe, the existence of the “lottery” (or the structure by which bare probabilities and causal mechanisms can interact) needs an explanation.

      Therefore, the idea that an infinitely old universe (or infinite number of universes) explains the existence of a finely tuned universe is every bit as absurd as the idea that living long enough will by itself guarantee a person a lottery win.

  15. Scott: how does this allow for the emergence of a universe finely tuned for the existence of life?….

    Terry: What finely tuned universe are you talking about? Certainly not the one we live in.

    We don’t exist because the universe is finely tuned, we exist because the universe happens to be in a temporary state that is suitable for life to exist on this planet (and probably others). It works like this. There is no supernatural. God is supernatural so god doesn’t exist. You can call it anything you want. Allah, Zeus, God or the Big Bang but the result is the same. it would require a supernatural event to get something out of nothing. There is no supernatural so the only other option is the universe has always existed.

    You can try to add quantum mechanics to the mix but it doesn’t change anything unless quantum mechanics is some kind of supernatural force. Besides quantum mechanics makes a real mess out of our so called “laws of physics” now doesn’t it? Perhaps the laws of physics are not such great laws after all. We know very little of our universe. All we know is from some observations of a very insignificantly small sampling of it. I am sure if we knew everything there is to know about the natural universe we would understand how the universe has managed to be in existence forever without any imaginary magical puppet masters tugging on the supernatural strings of creation.

    • We don’t live in a finely tuned universe? You can go ahead and believe that, but your belief would be completely at odds with modern astrophysics and cosmology, as I demonstrate in my essay titled Is There A God? What Is the Chance That Our World is the Result of Chance? Click on the preceding link.

      You assert that “we exist because the universe happens to be in a temporary state that is suitable for life to exist on this planet (and probably others).” Please respond to my post (in the “snippets” section) titled OK, I want numbers. What is the probability the universe is the result of chance? You can click on the preceding link.

      So your assertion that “the universe happens to be in a temporary state that is suitable for life to exist on this planet,” apparently means that you believe that this 1 in 10 to the power of 10, to the power of 123 chance is what brought us into existence. As Penrose points out (as revealed in the post), this is a number so large that there are not even that many particles in the universe.

      Further, even if this 1 in 10 to the power or 10 to the power of 123 chance “just happened to be,” we are still left with the need for an explanation for why it is that there even exists any probability whatsoever for the existence of our universe. The existence of this probability itself needs an explanation.

      And please recall what I mentioned before about bare probabilities being causally inert and that, therefore, an eternal universe would do nothing to explain our existence. You may recall the illustration that I gave, but just in case not, I will repeat it below.

      Take the statement, “If a person could hypothetically live forever, that person would eventually win the lottery.” We know this statement is false, because no matter how long a person lives (even forever), that person will never win the lottery unless he or she actually plays the lottery. Going to the store to buy lottery tickets on a regular basis is the causal mechanism that would allow the bare probability of a lottery win to result in an actual lottery win. And in a universe without any intelligent agency, there are no causal mechanisms.

      In other words, you need to explain what the causal mechanism is that would allow for the universe to “happen to be in a temporary state that is suitable for life to exist.” What causal mechanism allowed the 1 in 10 to the power of 10 to the power of 123 bare probability of life to result in actual life? I eagerly await your reply.

      Lastly, you assert that the universe “managed to be in existence forever.” However, as I have demonstrated in my post titled Isn’t the universe eternal? (Thus doing away with the need for a creator), the idea of an eternal universe is completely contradictory to the laws of mathematics and the conclusions of modern physics. This would include Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity and standard Big Bang Cosmology, etc., etc.

      Astrophysicist Robert Jastrow (the founder of NASAs Goddard Institute for Space Studies):

      “The lingering decline predicted by astronomers for the end of the world differs from the explosive conditions they have calculated for its birth, but the impact is the same: modern science denies an eternal existence to the Universe, either in the past or in the future.”

  16. Scott: I want numbers. What is the probability the universe is the result of chance?

    Terry: Chance doesn’t play a role in an eternal universe does it? The chance of the universe existing in an eternal universe would be 100%.

    Scott: You may recall the illustration that I gave, but just in case not, I will repeat it below.

    Terry: Comparing lottery ticket to the universe? Very funny.

    Scott: What causal mechanism allowed the 1 in 10 to the power of 10 to the power of 123 bare probability of life to result in actual life? I eagerly await your reply.

    Terry: If you took some organic molecules and mixed them with the right chemicals you would get life. Life is organic molecules animated by a chemical process. The universe is in a constant state of change (chaos). In an infinite universe this condition would present itself an unlimited amount of times. Life has always existed in the universe. We are but a temporary sampling of the wide variety of life forms possible. All one need do is look around to see how diverse life is. On occasion planets like earth temporarily have the right conditions for complex life like ours to exist. We weren’t always on this planet. Earlier conditions didn’t have enough oxygen in the atmosphere to allow complex life to exist. Less complex life was all that prevailed. Plants, bacteria, etc. As conditions changed here so did the complexity of the life forms. No gods required.
    [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IloAv9RXcGY&feature=related] (Part 1 of 5 parts).

    Scott: Astrophysicist Robert Jastrow ….blah, blah, blah.

    Terry: I see you are still trying to use other peoples opinions as some kind of evidence for your imaginary friend. LOL. Are you suggesting that Astrophysicist Robert Jastrow is a believer in the supernatural? If he is, that would certainly account for his “OPINION” wouldn’t it? Theists have to believe in the supernatural or they would have to admit their imaginary friend doesn’t exist.

    If a supernatural god exists, that means the supernatural exists. If the supernatural exists, where are all the vampires, werewolves and leprechauns? Besides, the universe couldn’t survive if the supernatural existed. Destructive supernatural forces would destroy it as fast as creative supernatural forces created it. That is the thing about the supernatural. It can do anything. There are no limits. The universe has limits so we know there is nothing supernatural about it’s existence.

    • Terry: Chance doesn’t play a role in an eternal universe.

      Scott: You have very conveniently ignored my post titled Isn’t the Universe Eternal, which demonstrates that an eternal universe is impossible by the laws of mathematics, and according to modern physics (including Einstein’s general relativity, standard Big Bang cosmology, the BVG theorem, etc). Believing in something that isn’t even mathematically possible is something you would not expect from someone who runs a website called “Church of Logic.”

      Terry: Comparing lottery ticket to the universe? Very funny.

      Scott: Don’t confuse mere characterizations of arguments (“funny”) with rationally constructed, fact based rebuttals.

      Terry: If you took some organic molecules and mixed them with the right chemicals, you would get life.

      Scott: Is this why prominent atheists such as the biologists Richard Dawkins, Francis Crick, and Chandra Wickaramsinghe, as well as the atheist physicist Fred Hoyle endorse the hypothesis (known as “directed panspermia”) which states that life was created by aliens and brought here to earth in their space ship? Click here to see Richard Dawkins endorsing the hypothesis in an interview and click here to see an article describing Francis Crick’s endorsement of the hypothesis in his book Life Itself.

      Terry, let’s do some review here of just what life is. One scientist, Franklin M. Harold, describes the simplest living organism:

      “A single-cell is a high-tech factory, complete with artificial languages and their decoding systems, memory banks for information storage and retrieval, elegant control systems regulating the automated assembly of parts and components, error fail-safe and proof-reading devices utilized for quality control, assembly processes involving the principle of prefabrication and modular construction … [and] a capacity not equaled in any of our own most advanced machines, for it would be capable of replicating its entire structure within a matter of a few hours.”

      The most simple living organism is far more complex than any machine mankind has ever made (super-computer, space shuttle, whatever). So I will ask you, Terry: Do you think that the above complexity can be explained by taking some organic molecules and mixing them with the right chemicals?

      You do? OK, fine. Now please explain for us why it is that such jaw-dropping complexity is embedded in these organic molecules and “right chemicals.” In other words, if the universe is just mindless, inert matter existing eternally (which, by the way, I have demonstrated is impossible by the laws of mathematics and physics) then where did this complexity come from?

      You assert that “on occasion planets like earth temporarily have the right conditions for complex life like ours to exist.” The specific occasion is one occasion in 10 to the power of 10 to the power of 123 occasions, as I discuss in my post titled OK, I want numbers in the “snippets” section. And you still have not explained what the causal mechanism is that would allow for this bare probability for the emergence of life to result in the actual emergence of life. Rather, you have very conveniently ignored the question that I asked you in my previous post and have asserted that “life has always existed in the universe.”

      What you have given us here, Terry, is a near perfect example of the just-so storytelling that is so very characteristic of the atheist belief system. Life “just is” (or “life has always existed in the universe,” to use your words). Some quotes relevant to this subject matter:

      Francis Crick, the Nobel Laureate well known as the co-discoverer of the DNA double-helix, has stated in his book Life Itself:

      “An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going.”

      Similarly, physicist and information theorist Hubert Yockey, who is the leading author of the text on the application of information theory to the origin of life, writes in the Journal of Theoretical Biology:

      “Since science does not have the faintest idea how life on earth originated….it would be honest to confess this to other scientists, to grantors, and to the public at large. Prominent scientists speaking ex cathedra, should refrain from polarizing the minds of students and young productive scientists with statements that are based solely on beliefs.”

      Theoretical physicist Paul Davies made the same point in his book The Fifth Miracle:

      “Many investigators feel uneasy about stating in public that the origin of life is a mystery, even though behind closed doors they freely admit that they are baffled.”

      Even prominent theoretical biologist (and atheist) Stuart Kauffman admits:

      “Anyone who tells you that he or she knows how life started on the earth some 3.45 billion years ago is a fool or a knave. Nobody knows.”

      Terry: I see you are still trying to use other people’s opinions as some kind of evidence for your imaginary friend. LOL. Are you suggesting that astrophysicist Robert Jastrow is a believer in the supernatural?

      Scott: I don’t need to suggest that Jastrow believes in the supernatural…he states it categorically. Below is something else he said:

      “Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on the earth. And they have found that all this happened as a product of forces they cannot hope to discover…. That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.”

      And Jastrow is far from alone. Nobel Prize winning physicist Arno Penzias said:

      “Astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing, and delicately balanced to provide exactly the conditions required to support life. In the absence of an absurdly improbable accident, the observations of modern science seem to suggest an underlying, one might say, supernatural plan.”

      The knighted astrophysicist Sir Arthur Eddington said:

      “The beginning seems to present insuperable difficulties unless we agree to look on it as frankly supernatural.”

      Yes, Terry, these are the “OPINIONS” of these astrophysicists. And these are much much more informed opinions than your opinion that the universe has existed eternally…which is impossible by the laws of mathematics and physics.

      You ask “if the supernatural exists, where are all the vampires, werewolves and leprechauns?” Well, Terry, we don’t have any evidence for the existence of such things, but we have an enormous amount of evidence for the existence of God. You state that “the universe couldn’t survive if the supernatural existed. Destructive supernatural forces would destroy it as fast as creative supernatural forces created it. That is the thing about the supernatural. It can do anything. There are no limits. The universe has limits so we know there is nothing supernatural about it’s existence.” What is your basis for these assertions? Do you have a comprehensive understanding of the supernatural? Please elaborate upon your reasoning that “the universe has limits so we know there is nothing supernatural about it’s existence.” How do the limitations of the universe in any way reflect upon it’s supernatural origins? Your reasoning here eludes me.

  17. Scott: Well, Terry, we don’t have any evidence for the existence of such things, but we have an enormous amount of evidence for the existence of God.

    Terry: What evidence of god? There is not a single thing on your whole website that is evidence of any god(s). Opinions and beliefs are not evidence. We have exactly the same amount of evidence for god as we do vampires, werewolves and leprechauns. (None, Zero, Zip, Nada). We have no evidence for the supernatural at all.

    Scott: What is your basis for these assertions? Do you have a comprehensive understanding of the supernatural? Please elaborate upon your reasoning that “the universe has limits so we know there is nothing supernatural about it’s existence.” How do the limitations of the universe in any way reflect upon it’s supernatural origins? Your reasoning here eludes me.

    Terry: Of course it eludes you. You are stuck in fantasy land where logic and reasoning is blocked by faith. This is how a religious cult conditions the mind to accept that which is unacceptable like raising the dead and sticks that turn into snakes.

    Lets look at the supernatural. What it is. (This is my logic and reasoning so you will not likely find much, if any, in any dictionary or encyclopedia) Just because it is not in the dictionary does not make me wrong. Right?

    Supernatural: That which is not natural. That which exists outside of the natural boundaries of the natural universe. There is natural and there is supernatural. That exhausts all possibilities. There is no middle ground. The supernatural either exists or it doesn’t. Again there are no other possibilities.

    If the natural didn’t exist and your imaginary friend did exist, your imaginary friend is supernatural. Vampires are supernatural. They are living dead. This is outside of the natural laws of the universe. Nothing living in the universe that ever died has ever come back from the dead by any natural means. This is not to say that someday we won’t be able to reanimated dead things. We are working on unraveling the chemical process that animates life and perhaps someday we will. This of course would not create vampires or zombies. It would just restore the natural life that once existed. No living dead.

    If you want to show support for the supernatural you will need to produce supernatural evidence. Not opinions and beliefs.

    Scientists don’t have the answers to the beginning of the universe because there was no beginning and sadly most of them “believe” that there must have been. I am in agreement with you that “IF” the universe had a beginning there would have had to be some kind of supernatural god involved. It is the “ONLY” way to get something from nothing (magic). Where is your supernatural evidence? It is not on your website.

    • Readers, please take note because this is instructive! Recall that, in my essay titled If the evidence for God is so strong, why are so many smart people unconvinced?, I cite the psychologist Scott Peck who states that atheism results from a “psychologically self-imposed set of blinders which prevents them [atheists] from turning their attention to the realm of the spirit.”

      The above comment was made by Terry S., who runs an atheist website called “Church of Logic.” Terry asserts: “What evidence of God? There is not a single thing on your whole website that is evidence of any god(s).” Yet, despite this, Terry’s replies to the points made in my essay titled Is there a God? What is the chance that our world is the result of chance? is to deem the points in this essay as “nothing but opinions.” Further, Terry continues to cling to the notion of an eternally existing universe (so as to ostensibly do away with the need for a Creator) despite the fact that an eternal universe is impossible by the laws of mathematics and physics (as I have demonstrated in my “snippet” titled Isn’t the universe eternal?)

      His only attempt to rebut this is to assert “I ‘believe’ the universe is much larger and more complex than science has the ability to observe. I don’t know this for sure, that is why I call it a belief.” This preceding quote from Terry needs particular emphasis for those still inclined to believe that theism is merely “faith based” and that atheism is “logic based.” Terry is very plainly stating his faith that the laws of mathematics and physics are wrong with regard to the beginning of the universe.

      Further, Terry’s reply to the anthropic fine tuning evidence in my Is there a God? essay, and the other essays at this site, is to assert that there “is no evidence.” This is a clear example of what Peck meant by “a psychologically self-imposed set of blinders.” The evidence that I detail in this essay has convinced the majority of astronomers/astrophysicists, but Terry merely asserts that no such evidence exists.

      This gives new meaning to the metaphorical idiom about ignoring the “elephant in the room.”

  18. Scott: Yes, Terry, these are the “OPINIONS” of these astrophysicists. And these are much much more informed opinions than your opinion that the universe has existed eternally…which is impossible by the laws of mathematics and physics.

    Terry: Opinions are meaningless. Mine are not opinions. I present facts. Show me where I am wrong. Not with someone else’s opinions but with facts and you will have my undivided attention. Show me how the supernatural exists. I should think the true nature of the universe transcends mans silly little laws of mathematics and physics. Science does not claim their theories to be facts. They change with new information. Only theists are unchanging in their misbeliefs. In spite of the mountain of evidence against their faith. This is why there are so many cults. You not only argue against the atheist, you argue against the other theists who’s faith differs from yours. What makes your god real and Allah not real. There is the same amount of evidence for both (none).

    • Terry, you say that “opinions are meaningless.” Therefore, it is your opinion that opinions are meaningless. Think about that for a while.

      You suggest that you present facts instead of opinions. But you continue to defend an eternally existing universe even though this is impossible by the laws of mathematics and physics (as I detail in my post titled Isn’t the Universe Eternal?, in the snippets section).

      You ask me to show you how the supernatural exists, so here it goes: The natural universe exists, but not eternally…it had a clear beginning about 15 billion years ago. According to the law of causation (without which science would be impossible), everything with a beginning requires a cause. Because nothing can cause itself, the natural universe requires a cause outside of nature. A cause outside of nature is a supernatural cause. Physicist George Stanciu and philosopher Robert Augros, from their book The New Story of Science:

      “In the New Story of science the whole universe–including matter, energy, space, and time–is a one-time event and had a definite beginning. But something must have always existed; for if ever absolutely nothing existed, then nothing would exist now, since nothing comes from nothing. The material universe cannot be the thing that always existed because matter had a beginning. It is 12 to 20 billion years old. This means that whatever has always existed is non-material. The only non-material reality seems to be mind. If mind is what has always existed, then matter must have been brought into existence by a mind that always was. This points to an intelligent, eternal being who created all things. Such a being is what we mean by the term God.”

      Max Planck, the Nobel Prize winning physicist who founded quantum theory (making him one of the greatest physicists of the 20th century, indeed of all time) said:

      “As a man who has devoted his whole life to the most clear headed science, to the study of matter, I can tell you as a result of my research about atoms this much: There is no matter as such. All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force which brings the particle of an atom to vibration and holds this most minute solar system of the atom together. We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent mind. This mind is the matrix of all matter.”

      Please describe for us just what this “mountain of evidence” is against theism.

      Regarding your comment that I “argue against theists who’s faith differs from [mine],” please note that there has been a remarkable consistency among theists from an enormous number of cultures about the God’s most important attributes. I detail this point in my essay titled Why Christianity?

  19. I will try to dumb it down for you so you might understand.

    Pure simple basic logic:

    If a is equal to b and b is equal to c then a is equal to c.
    (Values) A=god, b=supernatural, c=don’t exist.

    God(A) is Supernatural(B)
    The Supernatural(B) doesn’t exist(C)
    Therefore, God(A) doesn’t exist(C)

    Also written: G=S and S=D then G=D

    FACT: To get something from nothing would require a supernatural event (magic).
    FACT: For the universe to begin there would have to be a supernatural event.
    FACT: The supernatural doesn’t exist.
    FACT: We know the supernatural doesn’t exist because there are no supernatural creatures (vampires, werewolves, leprechauns, etc).
    FACT: The Universe has always existed (Even if it was only a singularity smaller than a golf ball).

    I don’t know how to make it any easier than that. These are not opinions they are facts.

    Without something to support the supernatural (magic). You don’t have squat. No matter how many opinions, beliefs and mathematical equations you throw around. It is clear that all you need is a theory and you believe it to be fact. Sounds exactly like something a theist would do. Theist logic: “If the bible is fact the big bang theory must be fact”. “If the math guy said it, it must be true”.

    Where does science say the Big Bang was the beginning of the universe? They say the expansion was the beginning of time/space matter. They do not say where the singularity came from or what was before that.

    Have you ever gotten a math problem wrong? I have. It happens all the time. Yes, even to well known mathematicians, physicists and even Einstein.

    The Scientific Method: Here are the facts What conclusion can we draw from them?
    The Theist Method: Here is the conclusion. What facts can we fabricate to support it?

    By using unproven scientific theories and other peoples opinions you are trying to fabricate facts to support your conclusion.

    Was Einstein Wrong?
    If the Europeans are right, Einstein was not just wrong but almost clueless. The implications could be huge. Particles that move faster than light are essentially moving backwards in time, which could make the phrase cause and effect obsolete.
    http://www.time.com/time/health/article/0,8599,2094665,00.html

    • Terry,

      There is just no doubt about it, when a person starts resorting to insults, it is a sure-fire sign that he is loosing his logical footing. People with logically sound arguments don’t need insults (i.e. “I will try to dumb this down so you might understand”).

      The argument here is based upon illogical presuppositions. You assert, “We know the supernatural doesn’t exist because there are no supernatural creatures (vampires, werewolves, leprechauns, etc).” So, basically, you are arguing that because certain creatures that are purported to supernaturally exist by some individuals do not if fact exist, there can be no supernatural.

      Recall that the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot are creatures that are purported, by some individuals, to exist as natural phenomena. The Loch Ness Monster is purported to be a non-extinct dinosaur and Bigfoot is purported to be some previously undiscovered primate.

      Can it be logically reasoned that because the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot (purported natural phenomena) do not exist, therefore the natural world does not exist?

      Also, you equate the supernatural with “magic.” But “magic” is the use of the supernatural to influence the natural by creatures (people) existing in the natural world. It is not the supernatural itself. The suggestion that people can use the supernatural to influence the natural is a suggestion that has nothing to do with theism. You confuse terminology.

      Next, you ask, “Where does science say the Big Bang was the beginning of the universe? They say the expansion was the beginning of time/space matter.” Are you suggesting that there is something to the universe besides time, space, and matter? If so, what?

      So you suggest that the Big Bang is an unproven scientific theory? Even physicist (and outspoken atheist) Victor Stenger admits “the universe exploded out of nothingness.”

      Next, you suggest that, “By using unproven scientific theories and other peoples opinions you are trying to fabricate facts to support your conclusion.” Well, if this is true, then apparently I am just a small player in a much bigger conspiracy. Apparently the majority of those in astronomy / astrophysics are part of the conspiracy. Please recall my essay titled Is there a God? What is the chance that our world is the result of chance? As astrophysicist Hugh Ross puts it:

      Astronomers who do not draw theistic or deistic conclusions are becoming rare, and even the few dissenters hint that the tide is against them. Geoffrey Burbidge, of the University of California at San Diego, complains that his fellow astronomers are rushing off to join “The First Church of Christ of the Big Bang.”

      Might the “phrase ’cause and effect’ be obsolete,” as you suggest? Does this mean that you are denying the law of causation?

      Lastly, you suggest that I believe that the laws of mathematics dictate that an eternal universe is impossible just “because the math man says so.”

      In other words, you are suggesting that I am relying exclusively on the opinions of mathematicians to demonstrate my point. However, this is not the case. The laws of mathematics that make an eternally existing universe impossible are actually quite accessible to non-mathematicians. Below is an excerpt from The Case for the Creator by Lee Strobel and features an interview he conducted with William Lane Craig:

      “Let’s use an example involving marbles,” he said. “Imagine I had an infinite number of marbles in my possession, and that I wanted to give you some. In fact, suppose I wanted to give you an infinite number of marbles. One way I could do that would be to give you the entire pile of marbles. In that case I would have zero marbles left for myself.”

      “However, another way to do it would be to give you all of the odd numbered marbles. Then I would still have an infinity left over for myself, and you would have an infinity too. You’d have just as many as I would–and, in fact, each of us would have just as many as I originally had before we divided into odd and even! Or another approach would be for me to give you all of the marbles numbered four and higher. That way, you would have an infinity of marbles, but I would only have three marbles left.”

      “What these illustrations demonstrate is that the notion of an actual infinite number of things leads to contradictory results. In the first case in which I gave you all the marbles, infinity minus infinity is zero; in the second case in which I gave you all the odd-numbered marbles, infinity minus infinity is infinity; and in the third case in which I gave you all the marbles numbered four and greater, infinity minus infinity is three. In each case, we have subtracted the identical number from the identical number, but we have come up with nonidentical results.”

      “For that reason, mathematicians are forbidden from doing subtraction and division in transfinite arithmetic, because this would lead to contradictions. You see, the idea of an actual infinity is just conceptual; it exists only in our minds.”

      And that, Terry, is why David Hilbert (among the greatest mathematicians of the 20th century) said:

      “The infinite [as in infinite past time] is nowhere to be found in reality. It neither exists in nature nor provides a legitimate basis for rational thought. The role that remains for the infinite…is solely that of an idea.”

      Many other contemporary mathematicians (such as mathematicians Frankel, Rotman, Kneebone, Zermelo, and Robinson) draw the same conclusion. Mathematicians Rotman and Kneebone state in The Theory of Sets and Transfinite Numbers:

      “The conception of an infinite sequence of choices (or any other acts)…is a mathematical fiction—an idealization of what is imaginable only in finite cases.”

      So, no, Terry, I am not just taking the “math man’s” word for it…logic which is easily accessible to non-mathematicians demonstrates that an eternally existing universe is impossible.

      • Just to butt in, do you not find this new data from CERN hugely interesting even if it is proved false?

        It wouldn’t be Terry denying the law of causation, it would be the data from a multi billion dollar experiment!

        Terry, I heard about this finding from CERN and quite frankly it is an astounding thing. What will it do to philosophy, physics and the law of causation if the effect can come before the cause? It is potentially the biggest discovery in physics to date. (I think that this data was only released this month so it is a revelation)

        ‘Does this mean that you are denying the law of causation?’

        This is the wrong question. It would not be Terry questioning the law of causation, it would be the data from a multi billion dollar testable experiment.

        The question is, ‘Is this new data from CERN correct or faulty somehow?’ I think that the consensus is that it must be wrong, but so far no-one can find how it is mistaken!

        This could be huge.

        • Nick,

          Could you provide a link to the CERN data that you mention? Even before I have read the data, I have to ask how any data, even in principle, could invalidate the law of causation.

          Scott

          • It is complicated, I’ll let you read this rather than try to explain anything. It is crazy. Neutrino’s have been recorded travelling between Switzerland and Italy and have been turning up early – ie. faster than the speed of light.

            I am not making any statements here, I am merely relaying the information. If correct, it provides more questions than answers.

            http://public.web.cern.ch/public/en/About/About-en.html

            http://cdsweb.cern.ch/record/1386041/

            http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2011/09/110923-neutrinos-speed-of-light-particles-cern-physics-einstein-science

            http://public.web.cern.ch/public/en/LHC/LHC-en.html

          • Would you have any reaction to this new data? What if it turns out to be correct? The law of causation would be throww in to disaray and we would be left with the possibility of things being able to cause themselves. We would be left with paradox’s and confusion (which exists already). It could be a blow to cosmological arguments. Ultimately the cosmological argument would probably still exist, but aspects of it would suffer blows and what would happen to theory of origins (Big Bang) if we can see faster than light particles? Would it create new dates and timescales for the Big Bang? (newer or older?) Will it cause the failure of the Big Bang altogether?

            ‘IF TRUE’ this is very big news. Do you have a reaction to what has been found at CERN? I am only asking hypothetically, because this data is still under investigation. But importantly this is investigation from the global community, not from a fringe group of rogues, so this question is of real credibility.

      • Scott: There is just no doubt about it, when a person starts resorting to insults, it is a sure-fire sign that he is loosing his logical footing.

        Terry: Not at all. When someone displays a low intelligent level it is a courtesy to speak at a level they can understand. Not being able to tell the difference between fantasy and reality is a clear indication of intellectual impairment or a mental infection. It may seem a bit disrespectful to some but then I don’t have much, if any, respect for those who can’t think for themselves and defend the mindless blathering’s of a religious cult. Respect is earned. If I didn’t have some clear evidence of your diminished mental condition it would be considered an insult, but I do.

        Scott: So, basically, you are arguing that because certain creatures that are purported to supernaturally exist by some individuals do not if fact exist, there can be no supernatural.

        Terry: No, I am saying if the supernatural existed other supernatural creatures, places and events would also exist. They don’t so the supernatural doesn’t exist.

        Scott: Can it be logically reasoned that because the Loch Ness Monster and Bigfoot (purported natural phenomena) do not exist, therefore the natural world does not exist?

        Terry: The difference is obvious even to a 10 year old. Even if Bigfoot and Nessie don’t exist we have a whole universe of other natural creatures, places and events to support the natural. Without vampires, werewolves or leprechauns or some other creatures, places or events you have nothing to support the supernatural.

        Scott: You confuse terminology.

        Terry: No confusion on my part. Getting something from nothing is magic. The result of a magic trick would be a supernatural event.

        Scott: Are you suggesting that there is something to the universe besides time, space, and matter? If so, what?

        Terry: The singularity that contained time/space and matter as pointed out to you in my previous post. You know, that little thing that science claims expanded into the entire universe. There must also be nothing. Nothing must exist. The singularity had to be surrounded by nothing. They claim the universe is expanding. It must be expanding into something. I am told that something is nothing.

        • So, apparently, Terry, you believe that belief in the supernatural is a sign of “low intelligent level” and an inability to “tell the difference between fantasy and reality” that is a “clear indication of intellectual impairment or mental infection.”

          Well, below are a few other believers in the supernatural who also, by your analysis, show “low intelligent level” and “intellectual impairment or mental infection.”

          1) Albert Einstein, who said:

          “Everyone who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe–a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.”

          “In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what really makes me angry is that they quote me for the support of such views.”

          2) The Nobel Prize winning astrophysicist Arno Penzias, who said:

          “Astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing, and delicately balanced to provide exactly the conditions required to support life. In the absence of an absurdly improbable accident, the observations of modern science seem to suggest an underlying, one might say, supernatural plan.”

          3) –Sir Nevill Mott, recipient of the 1977 Nobel Prize in Physics for his research on the magnetic and electrical properties of noncrystalline semiconductors, who said:

          “I believe in God, who can respond to prayers, to whom we can give trust and without whom life on this earth would be without meaning (a tale told by an idiot). I believe that God has revealed Himself to us in many ways and through many men and women, and that for us here in the West the clearest revelation is through Jesus and those that have followed him.”

          4) –Astronomer Allan Sandage, winner of the Crawford Prize in astronomy (which is equivalent to the Nobel Prize). Sandage is considered to be one of the founders of modern astronomy and the greatest living cosmologist. He said:

          “I find it quite improbable that such order came out of chaos. There has to be some organizing principle. God to me is a mystery but is the explanation for the miracle of existence, why there is something instead of nothing.”

          5) Many, many others…as detailed in my post titled Some quotes to consider…if you think science leads to atheism.

          Terry, since you consider yourself to be more intelligent than Einstein and these top-notch astrophysicists (etc.), would it be to much to to infer that you consider yourself to be the most intelligent person that ever lived? If you are the most intelligent person that ever lived, and you make people like Einstein look like someone with “intellectual impairment” in comparison, perhaps you should alert the news media. And if you decide to do so, would you please carbon copy me in the emails? You may want to start with some of the larger news outlets such as CNN and BBC.

          You should probably mention in your emails that your views of the supernatural are “facts” and that these eminent individuals’ views of the supernatural are “just opinions.”

          You assert., “Even if Bigfoot and Nessie don’t exist we have a whole universe of other natural creatures, places and events to support the natural. Without vampires, werewolves or leprechauns or some other creatures, places or events you have nothing to support the supernatural.” So you are going to continue to insist that the existence of the supernatural hinges on the existence of a few purported supernatural creatures?

          And when I ask what there is in the universe other than time, space and matter, you reply, “the singularity that contained time/space and matter.”

          A little review is in order here, Terry. The American Heritage Dictionary defines “singularity” (with regard to astrophysics) as follows:

          “A point in space-time at which gravitational forces cause matter to have infinite density and infinitesimal volume, and space and time to become infinitely distorted.”

          So, apparently, you believe that a “point in space-time” is something other than space and time (or matter). Do I have that right?

          Lastly, you state that “getting something from nothing is magic.” In response to this, I must point out that it is only the atheist who truly believes that the universe is the result of something emerging from nothing (and thereby violating the Law of Causation). Theists believe that the universe was caused by God.

          • Scott: Many, many others…as detailed in my post titled Some quotes to consider…if you think science leads to atheism.

            Terry: Yes, this mental infection is common and has been seen in others, like Einstein and other astrophysicists. All this means is that you are not unique. I have no idea how my observations may or may not have been viewed by Einstein but what is clear it that they go right over your head. Thus the need to try and bring it down a notch or two for your benefit.

            Scott: would it be to much to to infer that you consider yourself to be the most intelligent person that ever lived?

            Terry: I can’t rule it out. After you are completely deprogrammed from your religious cult we will discuss that possibility in greater detail. It would depend on how you define intelligent? Astrophysicists are more educated about physics but that doesn’t make them intelligent now does it? It makes them educated. Two different things. Anyone can be educated unless they have severe mental disorders. Belief in something that doesn’t exist is not a severe mental condition but it says volumes about someone’s intelligence. In fact, I am willing to guess that you “believe” all these opinions on your site amount to some kind of evidence, don’t you? Reality check: It doesn’t. It is all hearsay. Not even allowable in a court of law as evidence. Truth be told, I wish you did have some kind of evidence. Heaven sounds like a fairly pleasant place to be if you don’t mind being a mental zombie slave to some kind of invisible creature. Kind of like being on the best possible happy drug you could take for all of eternity. Without any bad side effects. Of course you would no longer actually be yourself. The human mind could not exist forever without going completely insane. Who knows, maybe insane is a happy place.

            Scott: perhaps you should alert the news media.

            Terry: I posting it on YouTube for all the news media to see. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e3gf5hZ1j1E

            Scott: So you are going to continue to insist that the existence of the supernatural hinges on the existence of a few purported supernatural creatures?

            Terry: Yup. If vampires, werewolves and leprechauns are supernatural creatures, they would exist if the supernatural existed. These are all well documented supernatural creatures. So, if the supernatural exists, where are the vampires, werewolves and leprechauns? Of course it doesn’t have to be vampires, werewolves or leprechauns. It could be any other supernatural creature, place or event. Do you have any evidence for any of these? Of course not. Why? Because the supernatural doesn’t exist. Repeat after me very slowly. Theeerrre issss nooooo suuupeeernaaaatttuuurrraaal.

            Scott: The American Heritage Dictionary defines “singularity” (with regard to astrophysics) as follows: Blah, Blah, Blah.

            Terry: Gravitational theory predicts that under the extreme conditions that prevailed in the early universe, space and time may have been so distorted that there existed a boundary, or “singularity,” at which the distortion of space-time was infinite, and therefore through which space and time cannot have continued. ……Paul Davies (a theoretical physicist and professor of natural philosophy at the University of Adelaide). That singularity. Not the dictionary singularity that defines a black hole.

            Scott: Theists believe that the universe was caused by God.

            Terry: Theists believe their imaginary invisible friend was a supernatural magician who conjured up everything from nothing. Theists: In the beginning there was nothing. Only god. He magically created everything. I’ve always wondered. You know god so well. Tell me, does god poop? I only ask because if he created everything he must have created hemorrhoids. Wouldn’t that make god evil, heartless and uncaring? And don’t try to tell me there is something good about hemorrhoids.

          • Terry:

            I watched your above YouTube video. A comment posted by a viewer hit the nail on the head. He (or she) said:


            Your logic disproves neither of these possibilities. It asserts, but fails to demonstrate.
            

            It is immediately obvious, and thoroughly transparent, to anyone viewing your YouTube video that you confuse presuppositions with conclusions.

            What is also thoroughly obvious is that you use forceful and repetitious assertions to cover up the holes in your logic. For example, you assert, “The supernatural doesn’t exist. Repeat after me very slowly. Theeerrre issss nooooo suuupeeernaaaatttuuurrraaal.” We already know what you believe. Restating your beliefs in a forceful manner does nothing to bolster your argument. If I said, “Oh yes there is a supernatural, OHHH YESSSS THERE IS! OH YES THERE IS!” ….would you be more convinced? Somehow I doubt it.

            You say, “if the supernatural exists, where are the vampires, werewolves and leprechauns? Of course it doesn’t have to be vampires, werewolves or leprechauns. It could be any other supernatural creature, place or event. Do you have any evidence for any of these?” First of all, I have to point out that you make heavy use of absurd caricature in order to convey your points. At no point has any theist at this website endorsed belief in vampires, werewolves, leprechauns, etc. You use caricatures of theist arguments in order to evade having to respond to actual theist arguments.

            And here is the first ACTUAL theist argument that you need to respond to: The anthropic fine tuning data, as presented in my essay titled Is there a God? What is the chance that our world is the result of chance? If my recollection serves me right, your reply to the anthropic fine tuning data is to assert that the 1 in 10, to the power of 10, to the power of 123 chance that a universe capable of supporting life “just happened” to transpire. We are just very, very, very (repeated 10 to the power of 10 to the power of 123 times) lucky that a universe capable of supporting human life just happened to randomly appear.

            OK, fine, this universe with the exactly necessary conditions occurred randomly. But even if this absurdly improbable event “just happened” to transpire, we are still left with a problem. Bare probabilities are causally inert.

            For example, if you flip two coins, the probability of both landing on “heads” is 1 in 4. But for the bare probability of two coins to land on heads to result in two coins actually landing on heads, something had to happen. Specifically, an agent (in this case a person) had to pick up the coins and flip them. The person picking up the coins and flipping them is the causal mechanism that allowed the bare probability of two heads to result in an actual result of two heads.

            So I will ask you again Terry: What is the causal mechanism that allowed the 1 in 10 to the power of 10 to the power of 123 bare probability of a universe capable of supporting life to result in the actual result of a universe capable of supporting life? Bare probabilities alone are causally inert.

            Lastly, you say, “Gravitational theory predicts that under the extreme conditions that prevailed in the early universe, space and time may have been so distorted that there existed a boundary, or ‘singularity,’ at which the distortion of space-time was infinite, and therefore through which space and time cannot have continued. ……Paul Davies (a theoretical physicist and professor of natural philosophy at the University of Adelaide). That singularity. Not the dictionary singularity that defines a black hole.”

            How does the existence of a singularity contribute anything to this debate? (The dictionary definition OR your definition). Where did this singularity come from? What is the causal mechanism that allowed it to produce a universe capable of supporting life?

            I’m glad you mentioned the physicist Paul Davies. Below is something that he said in his book God and the New Physics:

            “It may seem bizarre, but in my opinion science offers a surer path to God than religion.”

            Davies also said:

            “There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all. . . It seems as though somebody has fine tuned nature’s numbers to make the Universe. . . The impression of design is overwhelming.”

            Apparently, the physicist that you cite regarding the singularity suffers from the same “intellectual impairment” that you believe afflicted Albert Einstein and the other physicists that I mentioned in my previous comment.

            READERS PLEASE NOTE: In his above comment, Terry (the owner of an atheist website called “Church of Logic”) asserts that Albert Einstein (and several other top-notch physicists) suffer(ed) from a “mental infection.” In a preceding comment, he also applies terminology such as “intellectual impairment” to anyone (such as Einstein and several other top-notch physicists) who believe in the supernatural.

            Readers will note that this is entirely consistent with the concept of “a kind of tunnel vision, a psychologically self-imposed set of blinders which prevents them from turning their attention to the realm of the spirit,” as the psychologist Scott Peck put it (as cited in my essay titled If the evidence for God is so strong, why are so many smart people unconvinced?)

            As I detail in that essay, this “psychologically imposed set of blinders” is caused by the “repugnance” felt by many persons to the concept of God.

            The key point that readers need to take away from this discussion is this: Atheism is heavy on pretense but free of actually persuasive arguments. Underneath the smug intellectual facade put forth by atheists lies a hollow shell of theoretical abstractions and “just-so” leaps-of-faith. For further exploration of this key point, I recommend the book The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions by the mathematician and molecular biologist David Berlinski.

            Please also read my post titled If the evidence for God is so strong, why are so many smart people unconvinced? to explore this topic more thoroughly.

  20. Scott: I watched your above YouTube video. A comment posted by a viewer hit the nail on the head. He (or she) said:

    Terry: Using someone else’s opinions again?

    Scott: It is immediately obvious, and thoroughly transparent, to anyone viewing your YouTube video that you confuse presuppositions with conclusions.

    Terry: Which one is a presupposition? That god is supernatural or That the supernatural doesn’t exist? Both are absolute truth. Without anything to support the supernatural I guess that is how the record stands.

    Scott: What is also thoroughly obvious is that you use forceful and repetitious assertions to cover up the holes in your logic. For example, you assert, “The supernatural doesn’t exist. Repeat after me very slowly. Theeerrre issss nooooo suuupeeernaaaatttuuurrraaal.” We already know what you believe. Restating your beliefs in a forceful manner does nothing to bolster your argument.

    Terry: LOL. That has nothing to do with the forceful and repetitious assertions to cover up any holes in my logic. It is a deprogramming technique I am trying out. How effective it will be is yet to be determined. Are you deprogrammed yet? Are you an atheist now?

    Scott: You say, “if the supernatural exists, where are the vampires, werewolves and leprechauns? Of course it doesn’t have to be vampires, werewolves or leprechauns. It could be any other supernatural creature, place or event. Do you have any evidence for any of these?” At no point has any theist at this website endorsed belief in vampires, werewolves, leprechauns, etc.

    Terry: You say that theists don’t endorse any belief in vampires. Why not? How is it any different from belief in your supernatural sky daddy? Who says you get to pick and choose what supernatural creatures exist and which ones don’t? You don’t have any supporting evidence for the supernatural. Vampires or anything else supernatural. That is because the supernatural doesn’t exist. Try it again, repeat after me very slowly.Theeerrre issss nooooo suuupeeernaaaatttuuurrraaal.

    Scott: You use caricatures of theist arguments in order to evade having to respond to actual theist arguments.

    Terry: What caricatures? There is nothing exaggerated in any of my comments. What actual theist arguments? There isn’t a valid theist argument on your whole website. Just people opinions with no supporting evidence to back them up. Point out just one valid theist argument from your website. Better yet, use the entire internet and find me one single valid argument to support your imaginary friend that isn’t someone’s opinion, belief or hearsay.

    Scott: First of all, I have to point out that you make heavy use of absurd caricature in order to convey your points.

    Terry: Your god concept is absurd. It takes some heavy duty conditioning to get people to believe this nonsense. How can you say it is rational to believe in an invisible supernatural creature from some other dimension that has sex with human women and keep a straight face. It cracks me up every time I think about it. It’s way to funny to be taken seriously. So tell us. Do you “know” this creature exists or do you just “believe” it does? If you don’t know, why would you put so much effort into trying to convince others that it does? Simply to increase the ranks of your religious cult or do you profit from this cult? Could that be your motivation? If you know it exists you must have some real evidence to support it. I know that god doesn’t exist and I have presented my logical evidence for all the world to see. Where is your logical evidence?

    Scott: And here is the first ACTUAL theist argument that you need to respond to: The anthropic fine tuning data, as presented in my essay titled Is there a God? What is the chance that our world is the result of chance? If my recollection serves me right, your reply to the anthropic fine tuning data is to assert that the 1 in 10, to the power of 10, to the power of 123 chance that a universe capable of supporting life “just happened” to transpire. We are just very, very, very (repeated 10 to the power of 10 to the power of 123 times) lucky that a universe capable of supporting human life just happened to randomly appear.

    Terry: The world is the result of gravity pulling space debris into a pile. We call that a planet. The chance that it reached or could reach a point where it was capable of supporting life is 100%. Here we are. This of course is a very temporary condition. The universe is not fixed. Any real intelligent god would have created a fixed universe for his pets. I would have done a much better job if I was a god.

    Scott: So I will ask you again Terry: What is the causal mechanism that allowed the 1 in 10 to the power of 10 to the power of 123 bare probability of a universe capable of supporting life to result in the actual result of a universe capable of supporting life? Bare probabilities alone are causally inert.

    Terry: An eternal universe in a constant state of change will produce anything that it is capable of producing, not only once but an unlimited amount of times. This includes life forms.

    Scott: Lastly, you say, “Gravitational theory predicts that under the extreme conditions that prevailed in the early universe, space and time may have been so distorted that there existed a boundary, or ‘singularity,’ at which the distortion of space-time was infinite, and therefore through which space and time cannot have continued. ……Paul Davies (a theoretical physicist and professor of natural philosophy at the University of Adelaide). That singularity. Not the dictionary singularity that defines a black hole.” How does the existence of a singularity contribute anything to this debate? (The dictionary definition OR your definition). Where did this singularity come from? What is the causal mechanism that allowed it to produce a universe capable of supporting life?

    Terry: That isn’t my definition of a singularity, that is Paul Davies definition. It means the Big Bang wasn’t the beginning of the universe as we know it. It means the singularity existed prior to the expansion. Science has no way to determine where the singularity came from. There is no way to observe anything prior to the expansion. That does not mean there wasn’t anything before the expansion. The singularity didn’t just appear out of nothing. Maybe the singularity always existed. It is an alternative possibility. One that doesn’t require a supernatural event or a supernatural god. Personally I believe the universe is in a state of perpetual motion. I believe this singularity is one many such singularities that power this perpetual motion machine we call the universe. I don’t believe the universe is expanding. The theist and the scientist both deal with the unknown. The difference is the scientist is capable of change and the theist is not so easily changed. I know because I used to be theist. It took me years of searching for the truth before I was able to deprogram myself from the Jesus cult. As you can see I was completely successful. I no longer put any faith in the absurd things theists believe in. I have regained my sanity.

    Scott: I’m glad you mentioned the physicist Paul Davies. Below is something that he said in his book God and the New Physics: “It may seem bizarre, but in my opinion science offers a surer path to God than religion.” Davies also said: “There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all. . . It seems as though somebody has fine tuned nature’s numbers to make the Universe. . . The impression of design is overwhelming.”

    Terry: The impression of design is overwhelming doesn’t mean it is real. It looks to me like some people are easily overwhelmed.

    Scott: Apparently, the physicist that you cite regarding the singularity suffers from the same “intellectual impairment” that you believe afflicted Albert Einstein and the other physicists that I mentioned in my previous comment.

    Terry: It appears he did suffer the same infliction. Or they are all closet atheists who wish to protect themselves from the prejudices of the cult masses. It is not uncommon in a theistic society to have people who can’t think it through, to fall back on what they have been told, as if it were somehow true. This happens when people are conditioned from birth to believe in “anything” no matter how ridiculous.

    Scott: READERS PLEASE NOTE: In his above comment, Terry (the owner of an atheist website called “Church of Logic”) asserts that Albert Einstein (and several other top-notch physicists) suffer(ed) from a “mental infection.” In a preceding comment, he also applies terminology such as “intellectual impairment” to anyone (such as Einstein and several other top-notch physicists) who believe in the supernatural.

    Terry: Yup. No argument from me here. It is a mental infection caused by a religious cult.

    Scott: Readers will note that this is entirely consistent with the concept of “a kind of tunnel vision, a psychologically self-imposed set of blinders which prevents them from turning their attention to the realm of the spirit,” as the psychologist Scott Peck put it (as cited in my essay titled If the evidence for God is so strong, why are so many smart people unconvinced?) As I detail in that essay, this “psychologically imposed set of blinders” is caused by the “repugnance” felt by many persons to the concept of God.

    Terry: LOL. Are you a psychologist now? Psychologically, philosophy, theology, metaphysics, supernatural. Nothing real here folks. Just a lot of conjecture with nothing to support it. All smoke and mirrors. There is no feeling of “repugnance” for something that doesn’t exist. I have no feeling at all for your imaginary friends. How many imaginary friends do you have now? Lets see: father, son, holy ghost and satan. That is four. That does not include all of the angels, demons and supernatural places like heaven and hell. It doesn’t include all of the supernatural events like walking on water, raising the dead or talking snakes. The results of this mental infection are clear to me. This is how a religious cult conditions people to believe in “anything” no matter how absurd. I don’t care what people belief. What I do care about are the lies and deceptions that are used to promote these fantasies as reality. Scotts entire website is a testament to this evil misguided process.

    Scott: Please also read my post titled If the evidence for God is so strong, why are so many smart people unconvinced? to explore this topic more thoroughly.

    Terry: Your silly little essays don’t mean squat without anything to support them. Still haven’t produced anything except Opinions, Beliefs and Hearsay. In thousands of years the theists have provided nothing but his/her own beliefs in things that a rational person should be laughing at. Any atheist knows better than to fall for these deceptions. Of course those of you have been indoctrinated into a religious cult may agree with Scott. As long as you are from the same cult. Even if all the people in the world believed in this nonsense it would still not be truth. There just wouldn’t be any atheists to set the record straight.

      • This article and this article describe the insurmountable problems faced by the oscillating universe theory.

        OK, Terry….you don’t like the idea that the Big Bang is the beginning of the universe? You prefer the idea of an oscillating universe (as presented in your link)? YOU WANT IT, YOU’VE GOT IT! (I’m feeling generous today). I will ignore (for the purposes of debate) the insurmountable problems that this theory faces (such as violating the 2nd law of thermodynamics).

        The question then becomes: How did a universe with oscillating properties come to be? What causes the oscillating to happen? As this PBS article puts it:

        “The idea that Bangs follow Crunches in a never-ending cycle is known as an oscillating universe. Though no theory has been developed to explain how this could ever happen, it has a certain philosophical appeal to people who like the idea of a universe without end.”

        Astrophysicist Christopher Isham’s says it best:

        “Perhaps the best argument in favor of the thesis that the Big Bang supports theism is the obvious unease with which it is greeted by some atheist physicists. At times this has led to scientific ideas, such as continuous creation or an oscillating universe, being advanced with a tenacity which so exceeds their intrinsic worth that one can only suspect the operation of psychological forces lying very much deeper than the usual desire of a theorist to support his or her theory.”

        And for a final question for you to ponder, Terry: How is it that a universe finely tuned for life (as described in my essay titled Is there a God? What is the chance our world is the result of chance?) came to be in this oscillating universe?

        Roy Abraham Varghese comments:

        “Scientists have proposed elaborate probability models to explain why under some scenarios, improbable but nevertheless possible, the conditions for life would be possible in at least one universe. But that is not the point at issue here. Our question concerns the very laws that would make any universe possible.”

        “…We are asking how these laws came to be. Has anyone devised an experiment where a law of nature springs into existence from anarchy? A transition from chaos to intelligence is in principle impossible.”

        Can you answer any of these questions without resorting to one of the “just so” or “it just is” statements that are so very characteristic of the atheist belief system?

        • Scott: Can you answer any of these questions without resorting to one of the “just so” or “it just is” statements that are so very characteristic of the atheist belief system?

          Terry: There was no first cause. There was no “in the beginning”. There was no “came to be”. As pointed out in my YouTube video “Logical Proof God Don’t Exist”. In order for the universe to begin there would have to have been a supernatural event. There is no supernatural. The universe couldn’t exist if the supernatural did.

          As a theist you have no problem claiming there was no “first cause” for your imaginary supernatural friend that you have absolutely no evidence for but you have trouble accepting that there was no “first cause” for the universe that is “Huge” beyond comprehension. A place with immeasurable amounts of energy that we have undeniable evidence for. A place we have barely scratched the surface of understanding.

          Something had to have always existed because you can’t get something from nothing. What do you think is more reasonable? Your invisible magical friend that there is “NO” evidence for or the Universe that we know exists? The choice is clear. Your man made supernatural creature from some other dimension that has sex with human women is ridiculous. You don’t have to be a scientist to know that god(s) don’t exist. It is self evident.

          • FYI: There is no atheist belief system but you wouldn’t understand that because you are not an atheist. All theists have belief systems so they “believe” everyone does. What is an “atheist belief system”. Can you describe this belief system to me?

          • The belief system of most atheists is rooted in the naturalist / materialist worldview (as described in my essay What it all boils down to).

            Below is an excerpt from that essay (which cites Stephen C. Meyer, who holds a PhD in the history and philosophy of science from Cambridge University):

            …The opposite view holds that the physical universe or nature is the ultimate reality. In this view, either matter or energy (or both) are the things from which everything else comes. They are self-existent and do not need to be created or shaped by mind….In this view matter comes first, and conscious mind arrives on the scene much later and only then as a by-product of material processes and undirected evolutionary change. This worldview is called naturalism or materialism.

            Atheists hold fast to the naturalist / materialist worldview even though its premises have been completely discredited by modern physics.

    • Terry,

      I have copied and pasted your last (huge) comment below and inserted my commentary in bold.

      Scott: I watched your above YouTube video. A comment posted by a viewer hit the nail on the head. He (or she) said:

      Terry: Using someone else’s opinions again?

      If opinions are meaningless, doesn’t that apply to your opinions as well, Terry? Why are you sharing your opinions with us if opinions are meaningless? You seem to confuse your opinions with “facts.” Your opinion that the supernatural does not exist is a “fact” in your mind. Why then is it not a “fact” to people such as Albert Einstein? Oh yeah, he suffered from an “intellectual impairment” or a “mental infection.” Do I have that right?

      Scott: It is immediately obvious, and thoroughly transparent, to anyone viewing your YouTube video that you confuse presuppositions with conclusions.

      Terry: Which one is a presupposition? That god is supernatural or That the supernatural doesn’t exist? Both are absolute truth. Without anything to support the supernatural I guess that is how the record stands.

      The belief that the supernatural doesn’t exist is the presupposition for which you provide no logical basis. You continue to assert that there is no supernatural while simultaneously ignoring the evidence for the supernatural that I present. The universe had a beginning because a universe without a beginning is impossible by the laws of mathematics and physics (as I demonstrate in my essay titled Isn’t the Universe Eternal?, in the “snippets” section). The law of causality (without which science would be impossible) dictates that anything with a beginning requires a cause. Nothing can cause itself. Therefore the natural universe requires a supernatural cause.

      This is why astrophysicist Hugh Ross, a former post-doctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology observes (in his book The Creator and the Cosmos: How the Greatest Scientific Discoveries of the Century Reveal God) that:

      “Astronomers who do not draw theistic or deistic conclusions are becoming rare, and even the few dissenters hint that the tide is against them. Geoffrey Burbidge, of the University of California at San Diego, complains that his fellow astronomers are rushing off to join “’The First Church of Christ of the Big Bang.’”

      Let me guess, Terry, the theistic conclusions of most astronomers/astrophysicists are “just opinions” in your view. If you were diagnosed with cancer, would you ignore your doctor’s treatment advice as “just opinions”? If you were accused of a murder, would you ignore the advice of an experienced defense attorney as “just opinions”?

      But for the purpose of debate, let’s assume that the universe IS eternal. Ok, fine. How did a mindless universe produce intelligent beings? What was the causal mechanism that caused the 1 in 10 to the power of 10 to the power of 123 chance of a universe capable of supporting life to occur? (As I detail in my essay titled OK, I want numbers in the “snippets” section). The chance of getting two “heads” if you flip two coins is 1 in 4. But there is no chance whatsoever of two coins flipping and producing two heads without the causal mechanisms of manufacturing the coins and then flipping them. Both processes require a causal agent, which is in this case a person.

      Scott: What is also thoroughly obvious is that you use forceful and repetitious assertions to cover up the holes in your logic. For example, you assert, “The supernatural doesn’t exist. Repeat after me very slowly. Theeerrre issss nooooo suuupeeernaaaatttuuurrraaal.” We already know what you believe. Restating your beliefs in a forceful manner does nothing to bolster your argument.

      Terry: LOL. That has nothing to do with the forceful and repetitious assertions to cover up any holes in my logic. It is a deprogramming technique I am trying out. How effective it will be is yet to be determined. Are you deprogrammed yet? Are you an atheist now?

      I won’t dignify that with a response.

      Scott: You say, “if the supernatural exists, where are the vampires, werewolves and leprechauns? Of course it doesn’t have to be vampires, werewolves or leprechauns. It could be any other supernatural creature, place or event. Do you have any evidence for any of these?” At no point has any theist at this website endorsed belief in vampires, werewolves, leprechauns, etc.

      Terry: You say that theists don’t endorse any belief in vampires. Why not? How is it any different from belief in your supernatural sky daddy? Who says you get to pick and choose what supernatural creatures exist and which ones don’t? You don’t have any supporting evidence for the supernatural. Vampires or anything else supernatural. That is because the supernatural doesn’t exist. Try it again, repeat after me very slowly.Theeerrre issss nooooo suuupeeernaaaatttuuurrraaal.

      Once again, Terry, you rely on unsupported presupposition (“there is no supernatural”) and caricature (“sky daddy”). Don’t confuse this with a rationally constructed, fact based argument. You also rely on the repetition of the assertion that “you don’t have any supporting evidence” while simultaneously ignoring the evidence that I provide. What is your reply, for starters, to the evidence presented in my Is there a God? What is the chance that our world is the result of chance? essay?

      I will make it easier for you by giving you some of the anthropic fine tuning evidence piece by piece. Here are the first few pieces (as they appear in I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist by Norman Geisler).

      Anthropic constant #1) The oxygen level on earth. On earth, oxygen comprises 21 percent of the atmosphere. That precise figure is an anthropic constant that makes life on earth possible. If oxygen were 25 percent, fires would erupt spontaneously, if it were 15 percent, human beings would suffocate.

      Anthropic constant #2) Atmospheric transparency. If the atmosphere were less transparent, not enough solar radiation would reach the earth’s surface. If it were more transparent, we would be bombarded with far too much solar radiation.

      Anthropic constant #3) Moon-earth gravitational interaction. If the interaction were greater than it is, tidal effects on the oceans, atmosphere, and rotational period would be too severe. If it were less, orbital changes would cause climactic instabilities. In either event, life on earth would be impossible.

      Scott: You use caricatures of theist arguments in order to evade having to respond to actual theist arguments.

      Terry: What caricatures? There is nothing exaggerated in any of my comments. What actual theist arguments? There isn’t a valid theist argument on your whole website. Just people opinions with no supporting evidence to back them up. Point out just one valid theist argument from your website. Better yet, use the entire internet and find me one single valid argument to support your imaginary friend that isn’t someone’s opinion, belief or hearsay.

      Caricatures such as “imaginary friend” and “sky daddy.”

      The anthropic fine tuning data is the first piece of evidence that you are being asked to respond to (but which you refuse to respond to). Instead, you ignore the evidence presented to you and make the repetitious assertion that there is “no supporting evidence.” This is entirely consistent with the concept of a “psychologically self-imposed set of blinders” that the psychologist Scott Peck refers to with regard to atheists.

      The large number of “anthropic constants” such as those that appear above are just a few pieces of the supporting evidence that has caused the majority of astronomers / astrophysicists to reach theistic or deistic conclusions. Former Harvard University Research Professor of Astronomy and the History of Science, Owen Gingerich, for example, says, “Fred Hoyle and I differ on lots of questions, but on this we agree: a common sense and satisfying interpretation of our world suggests the designing hand of a superintelligence.”

      Scott: First of all, I have to point out that you make heavy use of absurd caricature in order to convey your points.

      Terry: Your god concept is absurd. It takes some heavy duty conditioning to get people to believe this nonsense. How can you say it is rational to believe in an invisible supernatural creature from some other dimension that has sex with human women and keep a straight face. It cracks me up every time I think about it. It’s way to funny to be taken seriously. So tell us. Do you “know” this creature exists or do you just “believe” it does? If you don’t know, why would you put so much effort into trying to convince others that it does? Simply to increase the ranks of your religious cult or do you profit from this cult? Could that be your motivation? If you know it exists you must have some real evidence to support it. I know that god doesn’t exist and I have presented my logical evidence for all the world to see. Where is your logical evidence?

      This, Terry, is your typical caricature-and-strident-rhetoric-instead-of-a-logically-based-argument tactic that you so often employ. And yet again, you use your empty tactic of repeating the empty assertion that there is no evidence while simultaneously ignoring the evidence presented to you.

      Scott: And here is the first ACTUAL theist argument that you need to respond to: The anthropic fine tuning data, as presented in my essay titled Is there a God? What is the chance that our world is the result of chance? If my recollection serves me right, your reply to the anthropic fine tuning data is to assert that the 1 in 10, to the power of 10, to the power of 123 chance that a universe capable of supporting life “just happened” to transpire. We are just very, very, very (repeated 10 to the power of 10 to the power of 123 times) lucky that a universe capable of supporting human life just happened to randomly appear.

      Terry: The world is the result of gravity pulling space debris into a pile. We call that a planet. The chance that it reached or could reach a point where it was capable of supporting life is 100%. Here we are. This of course is a very temporary condition. The universe is not fixed. Any real intelligent god would have created a fixed universe for his pets. I would have done a much better job if I was a god.

      ATTENTION READERS! Above is a great example of the just-so storytelling that is so very characteristic of the atheist belief system. When asked for an explanation for the appearance of a universe finely tuned for life (despite the absurd improbability), Terry (who runs an atheist website called Church of Logic) replies with “here we are.” In other words, this absurdly improbable universe “just is.” Does anyone else see any enormous leaps of faith here?

      This atheist reply to the anthropic fine tuning data is actually very typical. The philosopher John Leslie responds to this atheist line of reasoning as follows:

      “Suppose you are dragged before a firing squad consisting of 100 marksmen. You hear the command to fire and the crashing roar of the rifles. You then realize you are still alive, and that not a single bullet found its mark. How are you to react to this rather unlikely event?”

      “….We could state the following: ‘Of course you do not observe that you are dead, because if you were dead, you would not be able to observe that fact!’ However, this does not stop you from being amazed and surprised by the fact that you did survive against overwhelming odds. Moreover, you would try to deduce the reason for this unlikely event, which was too improbable to happen by chance. Surely, the best explanation is that there was some plan among the marksmen to miss you on purpose. In other words, you are probably alive for a very definite reason, not because of some random, unlikely, freak accident.”

      “So we should conclude the same with the cosmos. It is natural for us to ask why we escaped the firing squad. Because it is so unlikely that this amazing universe with its precariously balanced constants could have come about by sheer accident, it is likely that there was some purpose in mind, before or during its creation. And the mind in question belongs to God.”

      It should be noted that the prominent atheist biologist Richard Dawkins accepts Leslie’s reasoning, and therefore instead clings to multiple universe theories to explain away God. This is despite the fact that the existence of multiple universes also require an explanation.

      Scott: So I will ask you again Terry: What is the causal mechanism that allowed the 1 in 10 to the power of 10 to the power of 123 bare probability of a universe capable of supporting life to result in the actual result of a universe capable of supporting life? Bare probabilities alone are causally inert.

      Terry: An eternal universe in a constant state of change will produce anything that it is capable of producing, not only once but an unlimited amount of times. This includes life forms.

      OK, Terry, what is the causal mechanism that allows a universe to be “capable of producing” something? The probability of tossing two coins and coming up with two heads is 1 in 4. But for the 1 in 4 bare probability of this to occur, the causal mechanisms of manufacturing the coins, and then tossing them, must first occur. Both causal mechanisms require causal agents (people in this case). What are the causal mechanisms that allow a universe to produce something? What are they, Terry? Here, you are engaging in more of the just-so storytelling that is so very characteristic of the atheist faith.

      Scott: Lastly, you say, “Gravitational theory predicts that under the extreme conditions that prevailed in the early universe, space and time may have been so distorted that there existed a boundary, or ‘singularity,’ at which the distortion of space-time was infinite, and therefore through which space and time cannot have continued. ……Paul Davies (a theoretical physicist and professor of natural philosophy at the University of Adelaide). That singularity. Not the dictionary singularity that defines a black hole.” How does the existence of a singularity contribute anything to this debate? (The dictionary definition OR your definition). Where did this singularity come from? What is the causal mechanism that allowed it to produce a universe capable of supporting life?

      Terry: That isn’t my definition of a singularity, that is Paul Davies definition. It means the Big Bang wasn’t the beginning of the universe as we know it. It means the singularity existed prior to the expansion. Science has no way to determine where the singularity came from. There is no way to observe anything prior to the expansion. That does not mean there wasn’t anything before the expansion. The singularity didn’t just appear out of nothing. Maybe the singularity always existed. It is an alternative possibility. One that doesn’t require a supernatural event or a supernatural god. Personally I believe the universe is in a state of perpetual motion. I believe this singularity is one many such singularities that power this perpetual motion machine we call the universe. I don’t believe the universe is expanding. The theist and the scientist both deal with the unknown. The difference is the scientist is capable of change and the theist is not so easily changed. I know because I used to be theist. It took me years of searching for the truth before I was able to deprogram myself from the Jesus cult. As you can see I was completely successful. I no longer put any faith in the absurd things theists believe in. I have regained my sanity.

      OK, what is your definition of the singularity? If it is not a point in the space/time fabric, as modern astrophysics defines it, what is it? What is the Terry definition?

      You believe in perpetual motion? As this post describes, perpetual motion violates the 2nd law of thermodynamics. But I will ignore this for the moment and just ask you how this perpetual motion machine got started? Would it be the case that it “just-is”?

      Scott: I’m glad you mentioned the physicist Paul Davies. Below is something that he said in his book God and the New Physics: “It may seem bizarre, but in my opinion science offers a surer path to God than religion.” Davies also said: “There is for me powerful evidence that there is something going on behind it all. . . It seems as though somebody has fine tuned nature’s numbers to make the Universe. . . The impression of design is overwhelming.”

      Terry: The impression of design is overwhelming doesn’t mean it is real. It looks to me like some people are easily overwhelmed.

      Scott: Apparently, the physicist that you cite regarding the singularity suffers from the same “intellectual impairment” that you believe afflicted Albert Einstein and the other physicists that I mentioned in my previous comment.

      Terry: It appears he did suffer the same infliction. Or they are all closet atheists who wish to protect themselves from the prejudices of the cult masses. It is not uncommon in a theistic society to have people who can’t think it through, to fall back on what they have been told, as if it were somehow true. This happens when people are conditioned from birth to believe in “anything” no matter how ridiculous.

      Terry, I will let third party readers weigh your argument (about Einstein and all of the other physicists who believe in God and the supernatural suffering from “intellectual impairment” and “mental affliction”) for themselves.

      Scott: READERS PLEASE NOTE: In his above comment, Terry (the owner of an atheist website called “Church of Logic”) asserts that Albert Einstein (and several other top-notch physicists) suffer(ed) from a “mental infection.” In a preceding comment, he also applies terminology such as “intellectual impairment” to anyone (such as Einstein and several other top-notch physicists) who believe in the supernatural.

      Terry: Yup. No argument from me here. It is a mental infection caused by a religious cult.

      Wow! I have nothing else to say here. As a lawyer says at the end of a trial, “I rest my case.”

      Scott: Readers will note that this is entirely consistent with the concept of “a kind of tunnel vision, a psychologically self-imposed set of blinders which prevents them from turning their attention to the realm of the spirit,” as the psychologist Scott Peck put it (as cited in my essay titled If the evidence for God is so strong, why are so many smart people unconvinced?) As I detail in that essay, this “psychologically imposed set of blinders” is caused by the “repugnance” felt by many persons to the concept of God.

      Terry: LOL. Are you a psychologist now? Psychologically, philosophy, theology, metaphysics, supernatural. Nothing real here folks. Just a lot of conjecture with nothing to support it. All smoke and mirrors. There is no feeling of “repugnance” for something that doesn’t exist. I have no feeling at all for your imaginary friends. How many imaginary friends do you have now? Lets see: father, son, holy ghost and satan. That is four. That does not include all of the angels, demons and supernatural places like heaven and hell. It doesn’t include all of the supernatural events like walking on water, raising the dead or talking snakes. The results of this mental infection are clear to me. This is how a religious cult conditions people to believe in “anything” no matter how absurd. I don’t care what people belief. What I do care about are the lies and deceptions that are used to promote these fantasies as reality. Scotts entire website is a testament to this evil misguided process.

      No, I am not a psychologist, but Scott Peck (the person who makes this statement) IS a psychologist. There is no feeling of repugnance on your part? Then why all of the strident rhetoric and insults? The absurd beliefs here are yours. You apparently believe in an eternal universe that “just-is” despite the fact that this is impossible by the laws of mathematics and physics (as I demonstrate in my post titled Isn’t the universe eternal? in the “snippets” section).

      Evil, Terry? If the universe is just mindless matter and energy, how can there be such a thing as evil? Declaring something to be “evil” is a value judgement. Mindless matter and energy have no values. How did the random interaction of mindless matter and energy allow a person with a mind to emerge who is then able to make a value judgement?

      Scott: Please also read my post titled If the evidence for God is so strong, why are so many smart people unconvinced? to explore this topic more thoroughly.

      Terry: Your silly little essays don’t mean squat without anything to support them. Still haven’t produced anything except Opinions, Beliefs and Hearsay. In thousands of years the theists have provided nothing but his/her own beliefs in things that a rational person should be laughing at. Any atheist knows better than to fall for these deceptions. Of course those of you have been indoctrinated into a religious cult may agree with Scott. As long as you are from the same cult. Even if all the people in the world believed in this nonsense it would still not be truth. There just wouldn’t be any atheists to set the record straight.

      When you want to stop repeating your assertion that there is no evidence, while simultaneously ignoring the evidence presented, please let me know. You demonstrate the all-too-common atheist belief that repeating something false frequently enough and forcefully enough will make it true. If I said, “The moon is made of cheese” frequently enough and forcefully enough, would it become true?

      • Scott: If opinions are meaningless, doesn’t that apply to your opinions as well, Terry? Why are you sharing your opinions with us if opinions are meaningless? You seem to confuse your opinions with “facts.” Your opinion that the supernatural does not exist is a “fact” in your mind. Why then is it not a “fact” to people such as Albert Einstein? Oh yeah, he suffered from an “intellectual impairment” or a “mental infection.” Do I have that right?

        Terry: The supernatural doesn’t exist is a fact. Why would Albert Einstein waste any time on the supernatural. He was a scientist. The supernatural is all about cartoons and invisible gods and walking dead. The supernatural is not of interest to science. The supernatural fits clearly into the metaphysics department of nonsense. You say theists don’t believe in vampires and werewolves but you have no trouble believing in ghosts, devils and demons plus a whole host of other supernatural things. There is no difference. By any other name, the supernatural is still the supernatural.

        Scott: The belief that the supernatural doesn’t exist is the presupposition for which you provide no logical basis.

        Terry: Why would I need a logical basis for something that is illogical? It is the the theist that claims the supernatural exists. A claim they have yet to come up with a single shred of evidence for. Opinions are not evidence. Say it real slow with me. Opppiinions aaaarreee nnnoottt eeeviiideeenccceee.

        Scott: You continue to assert that there is no supernatural while simultaneously ignoring the evidence for the supernatural that I present.

        Terry: What evidence. I have asked you to point out one piece of evidence and you have failed to do so. Just one piece from your whole website. No wait, it was from the whole internet.

        Scott: The universe had a beginning because a universe without a beginning is impossible by the laws of mathematics and physics (as I demonstrate in my essay titled Isn’t the Universe Eternal?, in the “snippets” section).

        Terry: The thing about mathamatics and physics is they change. The thing about religious claims is they don’t change.

        Scott: The law of causality (without which science would be impossible) dictates that anything with a beginning requires a cause. Nothing can cause itself. Therefore the natural universe requires a supernatural cause.

        Terry: Lets, for arguments sake, say there was a “first cause”. That there was a beginning to the natural universe. We would have no way of knowing what that cause was. To create an imaginary creature of omni-intelligence to fill the gap doesn’t warrant any consideration what-so-ever without anything to support it.

        Scott: Let me guess, Terry, the theistic conclusions of most astronomers/astrophysicists are “just opinions” in your view.

        Terry: With nothing to support their conclusions that is correct. Opinions, WAGs.

        Scott: If you were diagnosed with cancer, would you ignore your doctor’s treatment advice as “just opinions”? If you were accused of a murder, would you ignore the advice of an experienced defense attorney as “just opinions”?

        Terry: We have been down this road before. We don’t go to see doctors for opinions. We go to doctors for their medical knowledge. If all doctors had were opinions, no one would go to them. This is not to say they don’t have any opinions but if they give you one they will (or should) inform you it is “only” an opinion.

        Scott: But for the purpose of debate, let’s assume that the universe IS eternal. Ok, fine. How did a mindless universe produce intelligent beings? What was the causal mechanism that caused the 1 in 10 to the power of 10 to the power of 123 chance of a universe capable of supporting life to occur? (As I detail in my essay titled OK, I want numbers in the “snippets” section). The chance of getting two “heads” if you flip two coins is 1 in 4. But there is no chance whatsoever of two coins flipping and producing two heads without the causal mechanisms of manufacturing the coins and then flipping them. Both processes require a causal agent, which is in this case a person.

        Terry: How about this? “I don’t know”. Me not knowing doesn’t mean the universe wasn’t eternal. I wasn’t there observing the evolution of life through out all of eternity but I don’t have to create an imaginary intelligent creature to fill the gap. That is the problem with the theist. They can’t admit they just don’t know everything.

        Scott: I won’t dignify that with a response.

        Terry: Why? Are you an expert on religious cult deprogramming techniques? Are you saying you don’t have someone else’s opinion to respond with?

        Scott: Anthropic constant #1) Blah, Blah, Blah. Anthropic constant #2) Blah, Blah, Blah. Anthropic constant #3) Blah, Blah, Blah.

        Terry: You try to make it sound as if these conditions are fixed in place by your sky daddy just for little ole us. That is what the writers of the bible thought wasn’t it. They had no idea that the universe was in a constant state of change where every single molecule was in motion. So it appeared to them that earth was a perfectly fine tuned kennel for gods little pets. We know better now, don’t we?

        Scott: The anthropic fine tuning data is the first piece of evidence that you are being asked to respond to (but which you refuse to respond to).

        Terry: ONE MORE TIME: There is no fine tuning. We have only been on this rock for about 200,000 years. We will soon be extinct in terms of the cosmic clock. If not by our own self destruction then by some cosmic natural event like the meteor that killed off the dinosaurs. Even if we are here another 200,000–300,000 years (unlikely but possible) we will have only existed for about five hundred thousand years total. On the cosmic clock, the second hand may have just clicked once in 500,000 years.

        Scott: This, Terry, is your typical caricature-and-strident-rhetoric-instead-of-a-logically-based-argument tactic that you so often employ.

        Terry: It is still an improvement over your opinion-based tactics.

        Scott: And yet again, you use your empty tactic of repeating the empty assertion that there is no evidence while simultaneously ignoring the evidence presented to you.

        Terry: ONE MORE TIME: Opppiinions aaaarreee nnnoottt eeeviiideeenccceee.

        Scott: ATTENTION READERS! Above is a great example of the just-so storytelling that is so very characteristic of the atheist belief system. When asked for an explanation for the appearance of a universe finely tuned for life (despite the absurd improbability)

        Terry: LOL. And your explanation is “god did it”. Theist’s are the all time leaders in “just-so story telling”. They call them bible stories.

        Scott: Terry (who runs an atheist website called Church of Logic) replies with “here we are.” In other words, this absurdly improbable universe “just is.” Does anyone else see any enormous leaps of faith here?

        Terry: How is stating “Here we are” a leap of faith? Go look in a mirror and see if you exist.

        Scott: “Suppose you are dragged before a firing squad consisting of 100 marksmen. You hear the command to fire and the crashing roar of the rifles. You then realize you are still alive, and that not a single bullet found its mark. How are you to react to this rather unlikely event?”

        Scott: “….We could state the following: ‘Of course you do not observe that you are dead, because if you were dead, you would not be able to observe that fact!’ However, this does not stop you from being amazed and surprised by the fact that you did survive against overwhelming odds. Moreover, you would try to deduce the reason for this unlikely event, which was too improbable to happen by chance. Surely, the best explanation is that there was some plan among the marksmen to miss you on purpose. In other words, you are probably alive for a very definite reason, not because of some random, unlikely, freak accident.”

        Terry: This is not unlikely, this is impossible. It couldn’t happen. There is a big difference between overwhelming odds and impossible. You clearly can’t tell the difference. That is why it is so easy for you to believe in your impossible imaginary friend. It took many years of conditioning for you to accept your god as a possibility and even more to accept it as a reality. Just for the record. Beating all odds does sometime happen. That is why they are considered odds. If it was impossible there would be no odds. A 1 in 10 to the power of 10 to the power of 123 chance is still a chance isn’t it?

        Scott: “So we should conclude the same with the cosmos. It is natural for us to ask why we escaped the firing squad. Because it is so unlikely that this amazing universe with its precariously balanced constants could have come about by sheer accident, it is likely that there was some purpose in mind, before or during its creation. And the mind in question belongs to God.”

        Terry: What precariously balanced constants? There are no constants. That is what made it possible. Constant change over eternity takes all of the odds out of the equation.

        Scott: You believe in perpetual motion?

        Terry: Yup, if the universe is eternal it is in a state of perpetual motion. That is the only option.

        Scott: But I will ignore this for the moment and just ask you how this perpetual motion machine got started? Would it be the case that it “just-is”?

        Terry: Again you “assume” it started. For the record. “Just is” or “don’t know” are still an improvement over “god did it”.

        Scott: READERS PLEASE NOTE: In his above comment, Terry (the owner of an atheist website called “Church of Logic”) asserts that Albert Einstein (and several other top-notch physicists) suffer(ed) from a “mental infection.” In a preceding comment, he also applies terminology such as “intellectual impairment” to anyone (such as Einstein and several other top-notch physicists) who believe in the supernatural.

        Terry: Thanks for promoting my website. I do appreciate it. Really, I am not kidding. No joke.

        Scott: Wow! I have nothing else to say here. As a lawyer says at the end of a trial, “I rest my case.”

        Terry: LOL. You don’t have a case to rest.

        Scott: You apparently believe in an eternal universe that “just-is”.

        Terry: I believe in an eternal universe because that is what the evidence points to.

        Scott: Evil, Terry? If the universe is just mindless matter and energy, how can there be such a thing as evil?

        Terry: In the big picture there is no evil. There are only preferences.

        Scott: Declaring something to be “evil” is a value judgement. Mindless matter and energy have no values. How did the random interaction of mindless matter and energy allow a person with a mind to emerge who is then able to make a value judgement?

        Terry: Maybe someday science will be able to explain it to you. I am sure they are working on it. Maybe we will never know but what we do know is “god did it” doesn’t work.

        Scott: When you want to stop repeating your assertion that there is no evidence, while simultaneously ignoring the evidence presented, please let me know.

        Terry: When you produce some evidence I will stop repeating that there is no evidence. Let’s hear it one more time: Opppiinions aaaarreee nnnoottt eeeviiideeenccceee.

      • Scott: If I said, “The moon is made of cheese” frequently enough and forcefully enough, would it become true?

        No, and saying “god exists” frequently enough and forcefully enough doesn’t make it true either.

        • Fair enough, but I back my assertions up with evidence….evidence that you don’t seem particularly inclined to respond to. Moreover, you have not provided any sort of coherent reasoning to support your assertion that the supernatural doesn’t exist. You assert that because vampires, werewolves and the like don’t exist, therefore the supernatural doesn’t exist. Try to pass that one by an actual philosopher, such as a philosophy professor at a college or university. Your assertion is a clear example of non sequitur (or “does not follow”). Whether or not certain specific alleged supernatural creatures exist is an entirely different question than whether the supernatural itself exists.

          What evidence is there for God (and the supernatural)? Below are just a few pieces:

          1) The anthropic fine tuning data as presented in my essay titled Is there a God? What is the chance our world is the result of chance? Remind me: What was your reply to the anthropic fine tuning data? To assert that it is meaningless? Refresh my memory.

          I do recall that you asserted that the top-notch physicists mentioned in the essay (including Albert Einstein) are “intellectually impaired” and suffer from a “mental infection” (if I recall your words correctly).

          2) The origin of genetic information, as presented in my essay titled Why life could not have emerged without God.

          3) The NDE data as presented in my essay titled Has anyone met God and returned to tell about it?

          • To be fair Terry, why not send off your assertion about the supernatural to a university? Send it to the philosophy department or science department of any university and see if the reply returned agrees with your asssertion. Even Dawkins, the most hardened atheist considers himself a 6.9 on his 1 – 7 scale of belief. You may believe yourself to be a 7, but at the very max of the scientifically, philosophically and logically based argument, a 6.9 is as far as we can go because we simply don’t know and we have experience of the universe only stretching as far as the furthest light we can see. You can believe yourself to be a 7, but the demonstrable logical argument stops at 6.9.

            ‘I dip a large glass in the ocean and then withdraw it. There are no fish in the glass, therefore I can conclude that there are no fish in the ocean.’

            This is representative of the certainty that you claim. The Earth is not comparible in size even to this glass in the ocean when considering its size relative to the universe. We know only so little of the universe as a whole.

            Send your claim to a university. I would be interested to hear what the response is.

  21. I can’t say I have ever heard it stated that way but he is correct. Without matter there is no life. Without life there is no consciousness. We call it brain matter and electro-chemical impulses and we are a byproduct of the eternal natural universe. Judging from the multitude of life forms on this planet over billions of years, it is unlikely that intelligent life similar to ours is common in the universe and I fail to see any belief system in this. This doesn’t mean we are the most evolved but that is a definite possibility taking all things into consideration.

  22. Scott: Fair enough, but I back my assertions up with evidence….

    Terry: You have no evidence. Opinions are not evidence.

    Scott: evidence that you don’t seem particularly inclined to respond to. Moreover, you have not provided any sort of coherent reasoning to support your assertion that the supernatural doesn’t exist.

    Terry: It is self evident. Supernatural: No Rules, Anything Goes, No Limits, Miracles, Magic. Like when cartoons get squashed by a big anvil and pop back into shape. The Universe couldn’t exist without the rules it has. There could not be a supernatural universe.

    Scott: You assert that because vampires, werewolves and the like don’t exist, therefore the supernatural doesn’t exist. Try to pass that one by an actual philosopher, such as a philosophy professor at a college or university.

    Terry: Philosophy is not science. Philosophy is more opinions. Philosophy is not evidence.

    Scott: Your assertion is a clear example of non sequitur (or “does not follow”). Whether or not certain specific alleged supernatural creatures exist is an entirely different question than whether the supernatural itself exists.

    Terry: If the supernatural doesn’t exist there can be no supernatural creatures. If the supernatural does exist there would be supernatural creatures, where are they? Besides the ones man has created that we could never consider to be real like Vampires, Werewolves, Roger Rabbit and God(s).

    Scott: What evidence is there for God (and the supernatural)? Below are just a few pieces:

    Scott: 1) The anthropic fine tuning data as presented in my essay titled Is there a God? What is the chance our world is the result of chance? Remind me: What was your reply to the anthropic fine tuning data? To assert that it is meaningless? Refresh my memory.

    Terry: There is no fine tuning. We are on a sinking ship. We are on a big rock, traveling recklessly through space, out of control. Headed for an inevitable destructive end. Not a very good kennel for a god to keep his pets in, is it. Neil deGrasse Tyson DESTROYS intelligent design: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ISg6j7BF02Q

    Scott: I do recall that you asserted that the top-notch physicists mentioned in the essay (including Albert Einstein) are “intellectually impaired” and suffer from a “mental infection” (if I recall your words correctly).

    Terry: Einstein was infected with the same religious cult as most people are, just a different flavor. We live in a theistic society. It is unavoidable but religious cults destroy progress. Who knows where his insight could have taken us without theism holding him back. Creationists End Civilization: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BbLDKLQYrg8&NR=1

    Scott: 2) The origin of genetic information, as presented in my essay titled Why life could not have emerged without God.

    Terry: This is one of your biggest assumptions. We know there was no life on this planet when it was first forming so life did emerge here. No god(s) required.

  23. nick: To be fair Terry, why not send off your assertion about the supernatural to a university? Send it to the philosophy department or science department of any university and see if the reply returned agrees with your asssertion.

    Philosophy is not evidence. Philosophers are a dime a dozen.

    nick: Even Dawkins, the most hardened atheist considers himself a 6.9 on his 1 – 7 scale of belief.

    Terry: I agree with 99% of what Richard Dawkins has to say but his scale is a joke. I have emailed him about it but he has not responded. Richard Dawkins is an agnostic, not an atheist. Apparently Richard Dawkins “believes” it is impossible to know wheter there is a god.
    ag·nos·tic (g-nstk)
    n.
    1.
    a. One who believes that it is impossible to know whether there is a God.
    http://www.thefreedictionary.com/agnostic

    nick: You may believe yourself to be a 7, but at the very max of the scientifically, philosophically and logically based argument, a 6.9 is as far as we can go because we simply don’t know and we have experience of the universe only stretching as far as the furthest light we can see. You can believe yourself to be a 7, but the demonstrable logical argument stops at 6.9.

    Terry: Your entitled to believe whatever you want. The problem is, if something is “Impossible” we need look no further to find the truth of it. God is “Impossible” same as the Flying Spaghetti Monster and Roger Rabbit. I am a 7.

    nick: ‘I dip a large glass in the ocean and then withdraw it. There are no fish in the glass, therefore I can conclude that there are no fish in the ocean.’ This is representative of the certainty that you claim. The Earth is not comparible in size even to this glass in the ocean when considering its size relative to the universe. We know only so little of the universe as a whole.

    Terry: This is a very poorly constructed comparison. Fish are possible, your imaginary friend is not.

    Send your claim to a university. I would be interested to hear what the response is.

    Which University would you suggest?

    • Terry, I wonder what you think my claim is. Are you saying that I am a theist? This seems to be a recurring theme with you.

      You fail to ask proper questions, do proper investigation and learn exactly who and what you are dealing with.

      If you read the wording of my comment, I did not say that you cannot be a 7. You can be a 7 and it is an acceptable position to hold if you wish, although I would not. What I said was, the argument of certainty and logic that you claim only stretches as far as 6.9 at the most. There is an important difference.

      ‘God is impossible.’ This is your claim. Many atheists make this claim, but all who are free thinkers or people of logic and reason say this with some ounce of humility. Even the most hardened atheists such as Dawkins or Hitchens concede, that we know so little and there is a small possibility.

      You make unfounded claims of such certainty, which is forgivable but you are so hostile in your approach and your skills of investigation and logic do not resemble those of the leader of a school of logical thought.

      As the founder of the church of logic, I challenge you to demonstrate using good reason, the two audacious claims you make beyond doubt, that I would have no other option but to become a 7 myself.

      Your 2 claims being, ‘The universe is categorically eternal.’ & ‘There is categorically no God.’

      Talking of universities, why not send off these claims to your old faculty? I’m assuming that you are a graduate in theoretical physics, astronomy or perhaps philosophy. Although on second thoughts, it’s probably not in philosophy since, ‘philosophers are a dime a dozen’, although you take it upon yourself to head a group of logical thinkers. I’m guessing that philosophy is not the basis of your church since this would be a wasteful pursuit, so perhaps it is the articles in the bubbles above the pictures in marvel comics?

      Superman is definately not true, therefore God can’t exist either.

      • nick: Terry, I wonder what you think my claim is. Are you saying that I am a theist?

        Terry: If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck.

        nick: You fail to ask proper questions, do proper investigation and learn exactly who and what you are dealing with.

        Terry: Who put you in charge of the proper question and investigation department? I did ask all the proper question than I went in search of the answers. I found them. I do know with absolute 100% certainty that god(s) do not exist. Your inability to think it through is not my fault. To claim it “can’t” be known with 100% certainty is exactly what you are accusing me of. According to your line of thinking there is at least a slight chance I do. Practice what you preach.

        nick: If you read the wording of my comment, I did not say that you cannot be a 7. You can be a 7 and it is an acceptable position to hold if you wish, although I would not. What I said was, the argument of certainty and logic that you claim only stretches as far as 6.9 at the most.

        Terry: In your belief system that may be true. You say that as if it were gospel.

        nick: ‘God is impossible.’ This is your claim.

        Terry: My claim is the “supernatural is impossible”. Therefore it is not limited to god(s). It also includes any other supernatural creature, place or event.

        nick: Many atheists make this claim, but all who are free thinkers or people of logic and reason say this with some ounce of humility.

        Terry: What does humility have to do with it? The first thing a religious cult tries to infect people with is humility. It makes them more susceptible and pliable to there will.

        nick: Even the most hardened atheists such as Dawkins or Hitchens concede, that we know so little and there is a small possibility.

        Terry: I’m not Dawkins or Hitchens. How is there a small possibility that a god, “made by man”, that has “supernatural powers” possible? Do you really “believe” that? In fact, it is way too far from possible to be taken seriously.

        nick: You make unfounded claims of such certainty, which is forgivable but you are so hostile in your approach and your skills of investigation and logic do not resemble those of the leader of a school of logical thought.

        Terry: “hostile in my approach”? What ever that means. LOL. The only unfounded claim here is that “I can’t know with 100% certainty that there is no god(s)”.

        nick: As the founder of the church of logic, I challenge you to demonstrate using good reason, the two audacious claims you make beyond doubt, that I would have no other option but to become a 7 myself.

        Terry: I did. We live in a natural universe, not a supernatural universe. If we lived in a supernatural universe there would be at least a trace of supernatural evidence. There is none. What part about that can’t you comprehend?

        nick: Your 2 claims being, ‘The universe is categorically eternal.’ & ‘There is categorically no God.’

        Terry: There categorically is no supernatural. The eternal universe and no god(s) follows from that single fact.

        nick: Talking of universities, why not send off these claims to your old faculty? I’m assuming that you are a graduate in theoretical physics, astronomy or perhaps philosophy.

        Terry: I am an atheist, not a scientist. One does not need to be a rocket scientist to know the supernatural doesn’t exist.

        nick: Although on second thoughts, it’s probably not in philosophy since, ‘philosophers are a dime a dozen’, although you take it upon yourself to head a group of logical thinkers. I’m guessing that philosophy is not the basis of your church since this would be a wasteful pursuit

        Terry: That’s why I didn’t call it the “church of philosophy”. Do you think philosophy and logic are the same thing?

        nick: Superman is definately not true, therefore God can’t exist either.

        Terry: Are you saying superman is possible? The problem is, we live in a theistic society that conditions people from birth to believe the impossible is possible. It infects everybody to some degree. Some more than others. The proper way to look at that is: If god can exist than so can superman, the Flying Spaghetti Monster and all the other Supernatural creatures man has created or can possibly imagine. (There are none because the supernatural doesn’t exist). We do not live in a supernatural universe.

        • Terry, this infantile response method in which you copy and paste each sentence and respond individually is not very readable, or particularly adult.

          Why can’t you construct a coherant flowing response to the issues raised?

          My opinion of your critical thinking ability has been lowered further in this reply. ‘If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck’. Then it must be a duck right? You haven’t answered the question, nor have you demonstrated any attempt to find out. Is this how you usually uncover greater understanding? The scientific process in action; don’t ask, don’t research, take a stab. What are assumptions the mother of Terry?

          Your church of logic, does it have a roof? Does it have much more than a few poorly assembled scrawlings of ill considered musing from yourself on a website?

          I looked at the contents and selected various pages with little more than a couple of sentences on some. There is a page of names infected by religion which consisted of several columns for many names and had roughly 7 that you had included. It appears as though you have just listed a few random famous religious people off the top of your head including the Pope and the Dalai Llama. Not only is this page offensive, but it is pitifully poorly assembled.

          Forgive me, I sidetrack.

          There was an incoherent pair of sentences preceding the phrase, ‘practice what you preach’. What do I need to practice and what are you accusing me of preaching?

          ‘“hostile in my approach”? What ever that means. LOL.’ Well said Terry. What a reasonable and well considered response to an observable and attempted constructive criticism of your general discourse.

          Please repeat and convince me of the claims of certainty that you make about the supernatural ‘and’ the eternal universe. I have issued a challenge and your well reasoned response was that you had already done it. Why would I issue a challenge if I was satisfied with your previous efforts? What you’re saying is that I should already be convinced of your claims.

          Overall with regards to your final statements, I am not asking or expecting you to be a scientist or philosopher Terry, I am asking you to demonstrate clarity of thought, reason, critical thinking, perhaps some humility and at least respect for the system that you claim to uphold, logic, as well as others who you encounter.

          Is logic the same as philosophy? Yes, actually. Logic is a necessity in the field of philosophy, it is a component of the other. As the head of the church of logic, I would assume that you were well versed in the definitions of logic, philosophy and reason. Logic is also a fundamental in the field of mathematics as well as science. It is a widespread tool and mechanism that is essential in many disciplines. Why would you need philosophy eh Terry? It only incorporates the field of logic within its very definition, as well as the efforts to critique, explore and enhance various human pursuits such as politics, morality, crime and puishment, the environment, science, arts, theology, religion and sociology. It is only the foundation of modern rationality and the father to modern science. A wasteful pursuit surely.

          We live in a natural universe Terry as you say. Could you tell me what, if anything, is outside of this universe? You have total understanding and certainty, so I would like to know. Supernatural events cannot happen in this universe as you say. What happens outside this universe, if anything? Can supernatural events happen outside of our universe? If your answer is that nothing exists outside of this universe, could you please demonstrate this to me.

          • Nick: Terry, this infantile response method in which you copy and paste each sentence and respond individually is not very readable, or particularly adult.

            Terry: Your not happy unless you are trying to put something down you don’t like or don’t understand are you? Is this a feeble attempt to make you look better or is this an attempt to bolster your own lack of self esteem?

            Nick: Why can’t you construct a coherant flowing response to the issues raised?

            Terry: Why can’t you ask a coherent question.

            Nick: My opinion of your critical thinking ability has been lowered further in this reply.

            Terry: Oh No!!! I’m devastated. I won’t sleep a wink for years now. How will I ever survive?

            Nick: Your church of logic, does it have a roof? Does it have much more than a few poorly assembled scrawlings of ill considered musing from yourself on a website? I looked at the contents and selected various pages with little more than a couple of sentences on some. There is a page of names infected by religion which consisted of several columns for many names and had roughly 7 that you had included. It appears as though you have just listed a few random famous religious people off the top of your head including the Pope and the Dalai Llama. Not only is this page offensive, but it is pitifully poorly assembled.

            Terry: Still trying to make yourself feel important? Trust me, your not. I don’t give a rip what you think of my website. You opinions don’t mean squat.

            Nick: There was an incoherent pair of sentences preceding the phrase, ‘practice what you preach’. What do I need to practice and what are you accusing me of preaching?

            You claim I can’t know 100% the supernatural doesn’t exist. You claim you know 100% I don’t know the supernatural doesn’t exist. Practice what you preach.

            Nick: ‘“hostile in my approach”? What ever that means. LOL.’ Well said Terry. What a reasonable and well considered response to an observable and attempted constructive criticism of your general discourse.

            Terry: Constructive criticism is an oxymoron, and cannot exist. People like you use these false comments in a feeble attempt to hide your hostility. It is also a statement that suggest you know more than me or that you are right and I am wrong. Here is some constructive criticism for you: Go suck an egg.

            Nick: Please repeat and convince me of the claims of certainty that you make about the supernatural ‘and’ the eternal universe. I have issued a challenge and your well reasoned response was that you had already done it. Why would I issue a challenge if I was satisfied with your previous efforts? What you’re saying is that I should already be convinced of your claims.

            Terry: First of all, I don’t care if you can understand it or not. Maybe I am not explaining it in a manner you can understand or maybe you are just incapable of understanding it. I don’t really give a rip. I only give you the information. What you do with it is up to you. Now it is up to you to think it through, if you can, based on available information. If I can’t articulate it to your satisfaction then I suggest you try Google. The truth is there but it will require you to “Think”. Throwing your religious beliefs at me repeatedly is senseless and ineffective.

            Nick: Overall with regards to your final statements, I am not asking or expecting you to be a scientist or philosopher Terry, I am asking you to demonstrate clarity of thought, reason, critical thinking, perhaps some humility and at least respect for the system that you claim to uphold, logic, as well as others who you encounter.

            Terry: Again with the humility and respect? Stick to the issues at hand. I am not the least bit interested in your emotional issues.

            Nick: As the head of the church of logic, I would assume that you were well versed in the definitions of logic.

            The question here isn’t whether my logic is accurate. My logic is about as basic as it can get. If A=B and B=C then A=C. The real question is whether the premise is true or false. If the supernatural doesn’t exist the premise is true. If the supernatural does exist the premise is false. If you want to claim the supernatural exists you will need to support your claim.

            Nick: We live in a natural universe Terry as you say. Could you tell me what, if anything, is outside of this universe? You have total understanding and certainty, so I would like to know. Supernatural events cannot happen in this universe as you say. What happens outside this universe, if anything? Can supernatural events happen outside of our universe? If your answer is that nothing exists outside of this universe, could you please demonstrate this to me.

            Terry: The universe is defined as everything that exists. Asking what exists outside of the universe is meaningless.

          • Terry, let’s assume I retract any inflammatory remarks I made. You got my back up by making assumptions and I feel as though you were demonstrating just as inflammatory sentiments to people on this site, which I feel was unwarranted and you have done so again in this reply.

            You have done nothing but react and respond to anything you found offensive.

            What I was after was some substance to back up some of your claims, assertions and understanding of logic. You have given little in this reply and what you have given remains unsupported.

            ‘You claim you know 100% I don’t know the supernatural doesn’t exist. Practice what you preach.’

            800 years ago scientists knew the Earth was flat. Humility is a virtue in science, it’s not a religious thing.

            ‘Throwing your religious beliefs at me repeatedly is senseless and ineffective.’

            This sentence sums up in a nutshell why I think you have not demonstrated the logic and consideration you claim to uphold. You make accusations and assumptions, but you do not know what views I hold. You assume that my responses are those of an offended theist. My responses are those of someone who has taken offence by the discourse of a person of logic. I am not religious Terry. I try to think about the world and understand it. I am an agnostic if anything.

            ‘First of all, I don’t care if you can understand it or not.’ These are your words with regards to my questions. Terry you are trying to rid the world of religion and make the world a better place. How are you going to do this if you don’t care whether people can understand what you mean? Even if this comment is specifically for me alone, how are you going to change people’s minds like this? This is why I questioned your discourse.

  24. nick: Terry, let’s assume I retract any inflammatory remarks I made.

    Terry: That would be a good thing.

    nick: You got my back up by making assumptions and I feel as though you were demonstrating just as inflammatory sentiments to people on this site, which I feel was unwarranted and you have done so again in this reply.

    Terry: You mean what you perceive to be assumptions. Did you ever once take into consideration that I could be right? Did you ever once try to think them thru or did you just give me your knee jerk response to your “belief” that I can’t possibly know something 100%?

    nick: You have done nothing but react and respond to anything you found offensive.

    Terry: I don’t find things offensive. That would be an emotional response. There is nothing a theist can say to me that I find offensive. I used to be a theist. They are the victims here. I respond to things the theist says that I know to be wrong, illogical and irrational. That includes but is not limited to anything of a supernatural nature.

    nick: What I was after was some substance to back up some of your claims, assertions and understanding of logic. You have given little in this reply and what you have given remains unsupported.

    Terry: I have given you the information. It is up to you to think it thru. You haven’t even tried yet.

    nick: 800 years ago scientists knew the Earth was flat.

    Terry: Not everyone “knew” the world was flat 800 years ago. It was never considered a scientific fact although it was a popular belief. Today we know 100% the earth is not flat. So to claim something can’t be known 100% is pure felgercarb.

    nick: Humility is a virtue in science, it’s not a religious thing.

    Terry: Humility is an emotion and has nothing to do with science. Humility is a theist tool to lure people into faith based religious cults. Theism preys on emotions, science does not. At least science is not supposed to.

    nick: ‘Throwing your religious beliefs at me repeatedly is senseless and ineffective.’

    nick: This sentence sums up in a nutshell why I think you have not demonstrated the logic and consideration you claim to uphold. You make accusations and assumptions, but you do not know what views I hold.

    Terry: Of course I do. You presented yourself to me by defending the theist concepts. This makes you a theist. You can call yourself anything you want. That does not mean that is what you are. I could call my self a rocket scientist but I have never worked on a rocket in my life. I could call my self a brain surgeon but I have never performed any brain surgery.

    nick: You assume that my responses are those of an offended theist.

    Terry: Nope, see above.

    nick: My responses are those of someone who has taken offence by the discourse of a person of logic.

    Terry: Are you a master logistician? I’m not. I got an A in my logic class in college but that doesn’t make me an expert. I don’t need to be an expert in logic when I am dealing with basic logic any more than I need to be a master chef to scramble an egg.

    nick: I am not religious Terry.

    Terry: Your certainly not an atheist.

    nick: I try to think about the world and understand it. I am an agnostic if anything.

    Terry: As an agnostic you don’t know or don’t care if god exists or not. If nobody knew or could know, as you persist, we would all be agnostic. We would have no need for any further definitions.

    nick: ‘First of all, I don’t care if you can understand it or not.’ These are your words with regards to my questions.

    Terry: Those are my word in regard to your comments about my website, my method of posting and your general opinion of me and my information. Also your inability to think things thru. In all of our conversations you have only said one thing: “I can’t know that god/supernatural doesn’t exist”. That is your claim. This is a theist concept. The theists claim we can’t know their invisible friend is not real. Science already “knows” their invisible friend is not real. This is why science doesn’t waste it’s time trying to make that determination. God and the supernatural are not science or scientific. There is no branch of science that tries to prove god or the supernatural exists or doesn’t exist.

    nick: Terry you are trying to rid the world of religion and make the world a better place. How are you going to do this if you don’t care whether people can understand what you mean?

    Terry: It isn’t necessarily my intent to get people to understand what I mean. It would be great if they did but some will and some never will. All I can do is present the facts. It is up to the individual to use the information I give them. They can accept it , reject it and even jump all over my shit and tell me I can’t be right, like you did. I am working on a way to articulate it all so everyone can understand it easier. This is not so simple a task. As humans, we do not communicate very well with each other. Even under the best of circumstances. When you made your comments about my website you didn’t take into consideration that the website is a new site. An incomplete draft. Many things on the links are just notes to myself. I have a professional writer working on one of them as we speak. The “supernatural” link. How well it will be articulated is yet to be seen and is always open to more tweaks as I find better and more efficient ways to present the information. In other words, I’m working on it. I am putting forth some effort to deprogram these folks from their religious cults. That is why I am here having this conversation with Scott. I find myself spending more time fending off self proclaimed atheist like you. If you don’t accept god as a viable answer to life’s unanswered questions, you should be helping me, not defending the theists misguided beliefs.

    nick: Even if this comment is specifically for me alone, how are you going to change people’s minds like this?

    Terry: Belief is a funny thing. It is not something we choose. I didn’t choose to believe in god when I was a theist. It was thrust upon me by a theistic society long before I was able to make any logical decisions for myself. It took several years of thinking, researching and understanding to deprogram myself from my religious cult. I was also agnostic for a period of time when I didn’t know for sure. An agnostic is actually a confused theist. The agnostic is someone who finds the concept of god irrational but can’t let go of the theistic training they have received all of their life. They really do believe that it is impossible to know one way or the other so they carry their theistic baggage around with them. Yes, you are an agnostic but how many times have you called yourself an atheist? I’m not stupid enough to think I can change what people believe. All I can do is supply the correct information so they can at least have a fighting chance to find the truth.

    • Terry, I appreciate this response and I will respond in full later. In the meantime, I would just like to illustrate some assumptions that you have demonstrably made. I was not making a knee jerk reaction. It was a considered reaction in response to some of your assertions, although I may have become over-frustrated as a result.

      ‘Terry: You mean what you perceive to be assumptions. Did you ever once take into consideration that I could be right? Did you ever once try to think them thru or did you just give me your knee jerk response to your “belief” that I can’t possibly know something 100%?’

      Of course I considered it. I look at all sides and try to consider them in as much depth as I can.

      Here are some assumptions that you have made:

      ‘I have given you the information. It is up to you to think it thru. You haven’t even tried yet.’

      I have a BA in philosophy (which includes extended study of and entire modules of logic), have studied this subject for most of my life, have high & middle school philosophy and science exams, was raised a Christian, continue to think through and explore this debate in as much depth as I can, by reading, discussing, thinking, watching and learning. I might ‘guess’ that I have considered this at greater length than you have.

      About the question of my views/understanding – ‘Terry: Of course I do. You presented yourself to me by defending the theist concepts. This makes you a theist.’

      I am not a theist. You did not ask. You assumed and chategorized me. Ultimately this chategorization was wrong. I am an agnostic.

      ‘Science already “knows” their invisible friend is not real.’

      No it does not. It does not claim to. There are many theistic scientists, including Miller, Conway Morris, Newton and many more. There are deistic scientists, such as Einstein. There are many agnostic scientists, including Michio Kaku (internationally renowned theoretical physicist). Even the atheists don’t claim certainty, including Dawkins, Krauss, Penrose, Gould and Freud.

      From a previous post. ‘If the supernatural does exist there would be supernatural creatures, where are they?’

      Why would there have to be supernatural creatures at all? The supernatural could very well exist independently of any werewolves, vampires or ghosts. It is not, all or nothing. This is a false dichotomy.

      Finally (although there are others) and I think very or most importantly, ‘Humility is an emotion and has nothing to do with science.’ – Terry

      “Modern science has been a voyage into the unknown, with a lesson in humility waiting at every stop. Many passengers would rather have stayed home.” – Carl Sagan (American Astrophysicist)

      “We find that the statements of science are not of what is true and what is not true, but statements of what is known with different degrees of certainty: “It is very much more likely that so and so is true than that it is not true.” – Richard Feynman (American Theoretical Physicist)

      “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton (English Mathematician and Physicist, “father of the modern science”, 1642-1727)

      “The universe is not only more complex than we think, it’s more complex than we can think.” – J. B. S. Haldane (British genetecist and evolutionary biologist)

      “To become truly great, one has to stand with people, not above them.” – Charles de Montesquieu (French Philosopher, 1689-1755)

      “The more I read, the more I meditate; and the more I acquire, the more I am enabled to affirm that I know nothing” – Voltaire (French Enlightenment Philosopher)

      “Humility makes great men twice honorable” – Benjamin Franklin quotes (American Statesman, Scientist, Philosopher, Printer, Writer and Inventor. 1706-1790)

      “…it is always advisable to perceive clearly our ignorance.” – Charles Darwin (English Naturalist, founder of modern evolutionary theory 1809-1882)

      There are so many more examples, but here’s a good one:

      “The other thing that should be characteristic of science. A humility. A recognition that we don’t understand everything.” – Lawrence Krauss (American theoretical physicist)

      You can see him say these very words in his talk, ‘A Universe from Nothing’, in the below link.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ImvlS8PLIo

      He says these words just after 50 minutes on the clock if you would like to check. I would recommend that you watch the entire talk, as I’m sure you will find it fascinating.

      • I watched the whole video. A couple of things that helped clarify some stuff I was unsure about but the big problem I have with his comment about getting a universe from nothing is his description of nothing. He refers to empty space. Empty space is not nothing. I am told that time and space are made of “something”. That is how they are affected by gravity (not sure I buy into that concept though). So if there is already something we are not getting something from nothing. To me, nothing means nothing. No space, no vacuum, no time, no quantum mechanics, no science, no god. Just plain nothing.

        It is actually quite difficult to wrap your head around “nothing”. The only way I can even envision nothing is after death or before birth. A dreamless sleep would also qualify but that isn’t really nothing either. Even as we sleep we seem to have some awareness of the passing of time.

        • I’m glad you watched it. I didn’t say it had all the answers, or that I necessarily agree with the idea of everything from nothing, or disagree. What I said was that it was hugely interesting and on this I think we can agree.

          I’m not making claims of knowledge about the origins Terry. I’m inclined to think that an eternal universe is just as sensible as a universe from nothing. It is hugely difficult.

          Upon listening to one of the frontline physicists investigating this biggest of mysteries, how do you feel about my comments on humility? I was not saying that we know nothing, I was saying that we know far from everything.

          You have come away trying to understand and fathom this concept of ‘nothing’ and as you say it is hugely difficult to wrap your head around. I am hearing in your closing sentence, something closer resembling questioning, rather than this 100% certainty that you talked of before.

          • My 100% certainty pertains to the supernatural. That hasn’t changed. There was nothing in the video to show me the universe isn’t eternal.

            In order for us to use the supernatural in the equation there has to be something to support the supernatural. It has to be observable. There isn’t anything. So we have to take the supernatural out of the equation. It would take a supernatural event to get something from nothing. With the supernatural out of the equation the universe had to have always existed.

            Only evidence for the supernatural could change this equation. To support the supernatural would require supernatural evidence. Only then can we add it into the equation.

          • I didn’t mention the supernatural. I said humility. Humility in science. My previous point simply pointed out that science has humility, where you had previously claimed that this was nothing to do with science. What do you make of this now?

  25. What do you mean by humility? How are you defining humility? Humility requires someone to be humble. It is not a science thing. It could be a scientist thing depending on the scientist. It is an emotion and has nothing to do with the facts of science.

    • I mean what anyone means by humility. The act of being humble. The admission of falability. The acceptance that one could be wrong, or that one does not know everything. Any standard understanding that you can think of for humility.

      Humility is not an emotion, although perhaps it can be as well, it is a ‘disposition’.

      You state here again wrongly how humility is not to do with the facts of science and that it is an emotion. Humility has little to do with hard born out and earned facts within science, although it still plays a role. However, humility is very much a part of the process of investigation and understanding within science. There are so many things we don’t understand. There are so many things we are working on and humility is essential in our investigation here. One of the biggest places this is demonstrable is the understanding of origins and theoretical physics. One example of our a need for humility might be in our understanding of light speed. 3 months ago, light speed was the ultimate and fastest anything could travel within our universe. Now we are investigating neatrino’s that may surpass this supposed ultimate barrier. If there was no humility in science, this result would have been dismissed, since we ‘KNOW’ that nothing can travel faster than light. In fact we would probably never have investigated these events in the first place since we ‘KNOW’ that nothing surpasses light speed.

      Humility enables us to realise that we have more to discover, that we don’t know everything and that our understandings are always subject to change should the evidence demand. Those scientists, who say they ‘KNOW’ everything are no longer scientists. Why bother carrying out anymore research, they know everything? It is a humility that keeps science open and inquisitive and healthy.

      I have listed quotes from some of the biggest and most famous names in science and philosophy; Darwin, Newton, Sagan, Feynman, Voltaire, Franklyn, yet you stand by your previous assertion.

      You heard Krauss talk of humility in a talk recorded in 2009 hosted by Richard Dawkins. For an atheist, I don’t know if there is a better fitting example I can give to show you how humility is a part of the scientific approach.

      In my previous post, I illustrated some of the assumtions that you have made. I am not talking about the supernatural, so let’s leave that aside and just decide whether there is any truth to the corrections I observed. Just with reference to those demonstrated and incorrect assumptions, do you make any concessions or admissions of assumption without certainty?

  26. You keep trying to add emotions to science. It doesn’t work. I think maybe you confuse yourself with this line of thinking. All the humility in the world doesn’t change the speed of light or how gravity works. I don’t doubt that there are many scientist with varying degrees of humility but that does change the truth nor is it a requirement to be a scientist. Throwing opinions from other people at me like “Scott the theist” does only shows your theistic tendencies. You claim to be a philosopher. I believe you. Philosophy is just theism without a deity. We are the number one species in the universe. We are as good as it gets. There is nothing greater than us. What do we have to be humble about? Get with the program, show a little pride in what we are. Pride is a good thing when it is justified. What theists have is false pride so they spread their false hopes. You know what they say: “Misery loves company”.

    humility:
    [noun modesty, diffidence, meekness, submissiveness, servility, self-abasement, humbleness, lowliness, unpretentiousness, lack of pride a deep sense of humility]

    Humility is the kind of thing that slows the thinking process, lowers your self esteem and makes you more easily susceptible to theistic rubbish. Do you enjoy being humiliated?

    Wiki says:
    [Humility (adjectival form: humble) is the quality of being modest, and respectful.]

    I disagree. Modest yes, Respectful no. Respect is earned, not just automatically given.

    I realize and agree there are a lot of things about the universe we don’t know or understand. There are many unanswered questions. God just isn’t one of them.

    • Terry, with reference to your comments on philosophy, you are either demonstrating ignorance or distain. I can’t help but feel it is the first, perhaps backed up a little by the second.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Philosophy#Main_theories

      Please read this article from wikipedia or some of it. Read the definition of philosophy at the top and tell me how this fits with the understanding you have portrayed in this post and others. Please peruse and read through this brief outline of some of the endeavours of philosophy.

      I would imagine that the extensive sections on rationalism and empiricism, skepticism and pragmatism might interest you.

      Note how towards the top of the page, under the major branches of philosophy appears the topic that you put your name to, ‘LOGIC’. This subject or area of thought is one of the most profound and important parts of philosophy. Please read the short definition.

      Consider the fact that you present yourself as an upholder of logic. Now consider the statement you made about philosophy. If you wish to be a philosopher then you are, ‘a theist without a deity’ to quote yourself.

      Logic is a major branch within the field of philosophy. You wish to proclaim yourself as logical. If you wish to be a person of logic, then by definition you seek to be a philosopher. Yet you seem to wish to criticise philosophy, blissfully unaware that you use a philosophical fundamental to do so.

      This is why I criticise your approach. You make grand claims, but your understanding and critical thinking is not showing you to be a good representitive of logic. The ill informed will not see their claims respected, because the evidence of the lack of understanding shines through.

  27. ‘I realize and agree there are a lot of things about the universe we don’t know or understand. There are many unanswered questions.’

    This is humility. There it is. In this sentence you demonstrate humility Terry. This is almost all I mean when I talk of it.

    I am not adding emotions to science.

    Have you ever heard of a word having more than one meaning, or perhaps more than two? Humility in the sense that you are visualising it, might be the way it is preached by a medieval monk, where you should walk around in a habit, lowering and cowering yourself. First of all, this would not be an emotion, this would be a manner of behaviour, an approach. Secondly, if humility can be expressed as an emotion, then this is not what I mean. I am not equating emotion with science.

    Humility, as I have described it, as it is defined and as it is used in science, is an approach or an attitude. An emotion is a feeling such as happiness or sadness. An attitude, in the manner I have described is not an emotion or an emotive state, it is an approach. When I say humility, I do not mean total humility, unwavering fear in the face of knowledge, humbleness before any attempted understanding. I mean that there is much that we don’t know and those of us with reason will have this small ounce of humility when we discuss the nature of the universe. Notice that I am not talking about God here at any point. I am talking about the way even the greatest minds will approach science.

    ‘Philosophy is just theism without a deity.’

    I’ll try to keep my cool. You consider yourself to be a man of logic and run a website upholding logic. How can you say this without feeling embarassed? Philosophy, is a mechanism, it is a pursuit. It is a means by which we can understand explore and evaluate the world. It deals with religion, but in no way shape or form does it do this exclusively or even predominantly.

    It explores the endeavours of society and humanity such as politics, such as science, such as sociology, such as art, such as morality, such as literature and history and psychology. Yes it certainly does engage and deal with religion, God, the universe and origins, but not exclusively.

    Explain to me how we come by philosophers such as Bertrand Russell, David Hume, A.C Grayling, Daniel Dennett, Karl Marx, Jean Paul Sartre, Friedrich Nietzsche. So you are aware, these are amongst the most famous atheists in history as well as household names. Philosophy is the medium, it is the mechanism by which we seek to understand. It is every bit as independent and self critical as science. In fact philosophy is the source of modern science.

    Once again, there has not been an ounce of contrition or even the evidence of review of the assumptions that you made. So we are clear, I am not talking about the supernatural. Remember I am an agnostic not a theist. I am not trying to convince you of God. I am criticising your approach and application of the logic you claim to uphold. I ask you again:

    ‘Just with reference to those demonstrated and incorrect assumptions I illustrated, do you make any concessions or admissions of assumption without certainty?’

  28. Your argument is built on a false dichotomy: there need not be only 2 valid answers for why our universe exists (it always existed or god did it). Just because we cannot fully explain its origin doesn’t mean we have to accept an unsubstantiated alternative that a god created everything.

    You also assert that “something without a beginning (eternal) does not require a cause or an explanation because it has always been.” How did you reach this conclusion? We have no scientific experience with anything permanent to have any basis for such a claim.

    • I am not suggesting that there can only be 2 valid answers for why the universe exists. Rather, I am saying that historically, these have been the two explanations. Providing the 2 historically prominent explanations and then demonstrating that one is invalid does not constitute a false dichotomy.

      If you would like to provide a third explanation, that would be great. But when the theistic explanation is very strongly supported by modern cosmology, as I demonstrate in my essay titled “Is There A God? (What is the chance that our world is the result of chance?)”, and also by modern physics, as I demonstrate in “What It All Boils Down To”…what would be the need for another explanation? Answer: To support the cherished ideological/religious stance known as atheism.

      How did I reach the conclusion that “something without beginning (eternal) does not require a cause”? With simple logic that philosophers, both theistic and atheistic, agree with. Just ask yourself…What would be the logical necessity for something eternal to have a cause? Can you describe for me what this logical necessity would be?

      We have no scientific experience with anything permanent (eternal) to have any basis for such a claim? Of course we don’t, nor could we ever because an eternally existing entity would be entirely beyond the reach of the scientific method. Both atheists and theists must engage in extra-scientific and therefore philosophical/religious reasoning in order to reach their respective philospohical/religious stances. I delve into this topic in detail in my essay titled “I Believe In Science! Why Do I Need Religion?!” And I also demonstrate in this essay (as well as others, such as “Who Is Playing Make Believe? (Theists or atheists)”) that the religious/philosphical reasoning that serves as a framework for atheism is logically unsupportable.

      • You may not think it’s a false dichotomy, but that’s how you appear to arrive at your conclusion…

        1. Either A or B must be true.
        2. A is not true.
        3. Therefore B is true.

        In your essay, it reads more like this:

        1. Most people have either said that A or B are true.
        2. A seems to be untrue, although I have no real proof
        3. Therefore B is probably true.

        You draw comparisons between your god assertion and the alternate, which appear to fit into the above structure. You have provided no reason to believe there’s not another possibility, or that such a possibility wouldn’t be more reasonable than a god creator.

        I’m not positively asserting a multiverse theory, so I don’t feel a responsibility to put forth or prove a 3rd option. It’s merely sufficient to say that there are other possibilities that make god an unnecessary default.

        Even so, I did present a category of possibilities: namely that a permanent, UNintelligent process could have created the universe as we know it. Here’s another: that matter simply began existing with no external cause. I know the latter is a popular straw man for creationists, but it’s no more outlandish than an eternal, omnipotent creator.

        We have no scientific reason to think a permanent, intelligent force could create matter anymore than a non-intelligent force could. Furthermore, we have no reason to believe that something permanent CAN exist. That doesn’t mean that it can’t, but that it goes outside anything observable and is a meaningless assertion

        • Once again, the essay does not suggest that there cannot be a third option. Rather, it asserts that there have been two main explanations for the origin of the universe and that one of them has been ruled out by modern cosmology. In fact, the essay mentions third (and fourth, etc.) explanations such as the “multiple universe” and “oscillating universe” theories and then discounts them.

          Atheism has relied upon the “static universe” view for hundreds of years, but since this view has been eliminated by modern physics, atheists have been scrambling to come up with new explanations for the origin of the universe. The essay is not trying to assert that the elimination of the atheistic “static universe” stance by itself proves the existence of God. Rather, it is merely intending to demonstrate that atheism has found itself without a sound cosmological basis since the “static universe” view was eliminated and that modern cosmology strongly supports theism. The strong support for theism provided by modern cosmology is discussed in more depth in Is There A God? (What is the chance that our world is the result of chance?).

          Your accusation of a false dichotomy would only apply to an argument such as the following: “There are two explanations for the origin of the universe, and since one has been eliminated, the other one must be true.” But this is not the assertion that I am making…and I have presented some of the additional explanations (multiple universes, oscillating universe, etc.) and then discussed why they do not work. Did you not read the whole essay?

          The key contention of this essay is that atheism has found the rug pulled out from underneath it in terms of its cosmological rationale and that atheism is therefore struggling to find a new cosmological basis.

          And you have provided us with a couple excellent examples of this desperate scrambling to re-establish a cosmological basis for atheism. You suggest that perhaps “matter simply began existing with no external cause.” But this is clearly a desperate explanation since the law of causation (without which science would be impossible) dictates that everything with a beginning requires a cause. The atheist philosopher David Hume tried to do away with the law of causation but then latter admitted that this was a huge mistake.

          Your other explanation is that an “UNintelligent process could have created the universe as we know it.” But for this to be a truly valid counter-explanation to theism, it must have SOME evidence behind it in order to demonstrate that it is not mere speculation. You cannot just spin out any old yarn and call it a valid counter-explanation unless you provide some sort of evidentiary basis. Furthermore, even if you did provide some evidence, you would then need to explain where this unintelligent mechanism came from in order to avoid indulging in “it just is” storytelling.

          Here is some of the evidentiary basis for theism:

          1) Modern physics has demonstrated that consciousness is fundamental and that matter is derivative from consciousness. I discuss this topic in detail in my essay titled What It All Boils Down To and I provide additional philosophical support for this conclusion in The Ultimate Cart-Before-the-Horse (Why atheism is illogical).

          2) Three decades of research into near-death experiences have shown an encounter with God to be a common thread of the experiences. I discuss this topic in Has Anyone Met God and Returned to Tell About It?. Atheistic attempts to explain away these encounters with God away have been completely inadequate.

          3) The origin of life from non-living matter clearly did involve intelligence, as I discuss in Why Life Could Not Have Emerged Without God. This essay describes how atheists have become so desperate to explain away the clear involvement of intelligence in the origin of life that they have resulted to such explanations as aliens bringing life to earth in a spaceship and life emerging through a piggyback ride on crystals.

          4) The account of the origin of the universe given by modern cosmology is remarkably consistent with the biblical account of the origin of the universe, as I demonstrate in my essay titled Is There A God? (What is the chance that our world is the result of chance?) and my essay titled Doesn’t Evolution Prove the Biblical Account of Creation to Be False?.

          You suggest that “we have no scientific reason to think a permanent, intelligent force could create matter any more than a non-intellgent force could.” Yet the above lines of evidence demonstrate this to be false. Can you provide any logical basis to support your view that perhaps “matter simply began existing with no external cause,” so as to differentiate your view from mere speculation? I will remind you again that you cannot just spin out any old yarn and call it a valid couter-explanation, because valid counter-explanations require their own evidentiary basis. This is especially the case when you consider that the yarn that you spin out conflicts with the law of causation (without which science would be impossible).

          Physicist George Stanciu and philosopher Robert Augros provide an excellent nutshell explanation of why theism is the best explanation in their book The New Story of Science:

          “In the New Story of science the whole universe–including matter, energy, space, and time–is a one-time event and had a definite beginning.  But something must have always existed; for if ever absolutely nothing existed, then nothing would exist now, since nothing comes from nothing.  The material universe cannot be the thing that always existed because matter had a beginning.  It is 12 to 20 billion years old.  This means that whatever has always existed is non-material.  The only non-material reality seems to be mind.  If mind is what has always existed, then matter must have been brought into existence by a mind that always was.  This points to an intelligent, eternal being who created all things.  Such a being is what we mean by the term God.”

  29. “Modern physics has demonstrated that consciousness is fundamental and that matter is derivative from consciousness.”

    Incorrect. Your “What it all boils down to” essay doesn’t appear to give a true argument for duality; instead, you play tricks with a series of quotes to make it sound like that argument has been answered by the brightest minds of the past century, when in fact science is steadily moving us away from that concept. I don’t really have the time or desire to go through an exhaustive rebuttal of that claim, but you don’t even come close to demonstrating that consciousness is separate from matter, let alone that matter can be CREATED by consciousness. We have observed matter/energy being MODIFIED by conscious beings, but never created. We also have no evidence that consciousness is separate from the material world.

    Your assertion that “atheism has relied upon the ‘static’ universe for hundreds of years” makes it sound like you’re confused about the nature of science and atheism (and how they’re related). Atheism is not a positive assertion of a specific notion of creation, but rather a rejection of the supernatural. Science is an approach to investigating the observable world that relies on evidence. So instead of saying “god did it”, scientists (and atheists) default to assuming there is a natural explanation.

    Rather than spend a bunch of time trying to explain further, it might be more efficient to link this video – a great explanation by Caltech physicist Sean Carroll:

    • You assert that my What It All Boils Down To essay “doesn’t appear to give a true argument for duality; instead, you play tricks with a series of quotes…” Please describe for me exactly what tricks I am playing and where I play them so that we know you are not merely trying to avoid responding to an argument that you know you CANNOT respond to. Note that rational discourse becomes impossible if one party can merely assert that unspecified “tricks” are being played as a rebuttal to an argument. How well would atheists respond, and how convincing would it be, if a Christian asserted that atheism is supported only by “tricks,” without specifying what those tricks are and where they are committed? Not well.

      Further, please elaborate on how “science is steadily moving us away from that concept.” Please note that this is another assertion that could be applied as a defense to any argument, and that rational discourse would be impossible if such a defense were acceptable. Imagine, for example, if a defense attorney could argue that the DNA evidence against his client should not be accepted in court because “science is steadily moving us away from that concept,” without providing any substantiation for that claim.

      You seem to be confusing an assertion, one hand, with an logically constructed argument, on the other. You make numerous assertions which you do not substantiate. For example, you assert that I “don’t even come close to demonstrating that consciousness is separate from matter.” And yet, you fail to notice that this is a conclusion of modern physics… a conclusion which I substantiate with an example of the research (the double slit experiment) that has lead the majority of the most important contributors to modern physics to reach this conclusion. Well of course it has not convinced you, because you clearly have a rigid ideological commitment to atheism, and therefore no amount of evidence will convince you.

      Yes, you are correct: Atheism is a rejection of the supernatural and science is an approach to investigating the observable world that relies on evidence. And yes, atheists (and scientists who are atheist) default to assuming that there is a natural explanation for everything…and because it is an assumption, rather than a logically based conclusion, atheism must be correctly labeled as a religious/philosophical view rather than a scientific stance. But religious/philosophical views must be substantiated in order to hold any validity. I provide substantiation for the theistic religious/philosophical view, so please provide substantiation for the atheistic religious/philosophical view.

      So please respond to the evidence that I provided in the essays that I mentioned in my last reply. And please substantiate your assertions with evidentiary support.

      Next, please note that modern physics does not assert that matter is “CREATED” by consciousness. Rather, it asserts that matter does not really exist but is an illusion and that consciousness is the fundamental and irreducible property.

      And lastly, you have not replied to the evidence presented in the other essays I mentioned (other than What It All Boils Down To).

  30. Please describe for me exactly what tricks I am playing and where I play them so that we know you are not merely trying to avoid responding to an argument that you know you CANNOT respond to.

    You frame the discussion as an choice between only 2 options using a quote from an Intelligent Design advocate. While Mr. Meyer barely avoids a false dichotomy, you lead the reader to see only 2 options: an infinitely intelligent god or naturalism (when it really should be supernaturalism vs. naturalism). Then you walk through a weak series of outdated quotes to build an edifice for people to think that physicists agree that consciousness exists outside nature. You take 5 quotes from prominent physicists to make the claim: “there can be no question on which side of this debate modern physics falls.”

    There are a couple of problems there. First, your quotes are all from physicists who do NOT actually represent “modern” physics. Most of them died before 1960 (Einstein 1955, Planck 1947, Eddington 1944, Sir Jeans 1946 and Wigner 1995).

    Second, a series of quotes does not make an argument… I could do the same thing:

    “The quantum theory of gravity has opened up a new possibility, in which there would be no boundary to space-time and so there would be no need to specify the behavior at the boundary. There would be no singularities at which the laws of science broke down and no edge of space-time at which one would have to appeal to God or some new law to set the boundary conditions for space-time. One could say: ‘The boundary condition of the universe is that it has no boundary.’ The universe would be completely self-contained and not affected by anything outside itself. It would neither be created nor destroyed. It would just BE.”

    Steven Hawking, 1988

    “The argument is finished. The debate is over. We’ve come to a conclusion: naturalism has won. If you go to any university physics department, listen to the talks they give or the papers they write, go to any biology department, go to any neuroscience department, any philosophy department – people who’s professional job it is to explain the world, to come up with explanatory frameworks that match what we see – no one mentions god. There is never an appeal to a supernatural realm by people who’s job it is to explain what happens in the world. Everyone knows that the naturalist explanations are the ones that work.”

    Sean Carroll, 2012

    The dual slit experiment is indeed interesting and may lead one to SPECULATE about the possibility consciousness is related to our observation of QM phenomena, but it’s pure speculation, not an actual determination of the experiment. We note that observation is what changes the behavior of small particles, not necessarily observation from a conscious observer. Even if it were, it would be another great leap to believe that consciousness was a prerequisite for our world. And beyond that, it’s an even greater leap to assume infinite intelligence. You go from possibility to foregone conclusion without a whiff of evidence.

    I understand how you COULD still believe in a higher power based on the weirdness of QM or the big bang, but that doesn’t NECESSITATE a god, let alone the one in which you believe. Throughout history, we have consistently seen natural explanations for the way our world works. There’s no need to insert god where we don’t currently have all the answers.

    • I frame the argument as a choice between only 2 options and I use an intelligent design advocate? You are free to present any third options. Once again, it has historically been a debate between two specific worldviews…I am in no way suggesting that there cannot be a third worldview. You are free to mention any third worldview that you like. But you don’t. Rather, you openly endorse the naturalist worldview (which is one of the 2 worldviews that Meyer mentions) with your citations of Hawking and Carroll. In doing so, you just bolster Meyer’s argument that there are 2 primary worldviews.

      Can we disregard everything that Meyer says because he is an intelligent design advocate? That is a very convenient way to casually discard any argument that you either cannot or do not want to engage with. How many points would I score with third party observers of this debate if I suggested that we can disregard what Hawking and Carroll say merely because they are atheists?! Disregarding what a person says a priori merely because they adhere to a different worldview makes rational discourse impossible.

      My argument is nothing but a series of quotes?! Attempting to casually disregard an argument because of one of the formats in which the argument is presented (quotation format) rather than responding to the argument itself is very highly suggestive that you CANNOT respond to the argument. Please note that the quotation format is used in the vast majority of scholarly articles. In On the Origin of Species, for example, Darwin cites Aristotle and the earlier Greek philosopher Empedocles. How convincing would I be if I said that we can disregard the portion of Darwin’s argument that cites these two men because he utilized the quotation format?! Your argument is both incoherent and bizarre.

      Citing the dates at which various physicists died is another convenient way to casually discard an argument that you either cannot or do not want to respond to (because you know that you cannot do so convincingly). So is quibbling about how new something has to be in order to be declared “modern.” If you have some science newer than quantum physics (Max Planck) or quantum mechanics (Werner Heisenberg) that you think does away with God, please go ahead and provide it. Please also read my essay titled Who Is Playing Make-Believe? (Atheists or theists) where I respond to the ARGUMENTS that such atheist physicists as Hawking and Lawrence Krauss present, rather than the FORMATS in which they present their arguments.

      And to lead by example, I will respond to the ARGUMENT that Sean Carroll presents in the quotation above rather than objecting to the FORMAT in which you present your atheistic argument (quotation): First of all, Carroll commits the logical fallacy of argument form authority by suggesting that the proportion of scholars who do not reference God is some sort of evidence against God. There is a world of difference between science doing away with God on one hand, and scientists doing away with God, on the other. Citing the number of people who support a worldview, rather than citing the reasons that worldview is likely to be correct is yet another way to avoid providing rational support for ones view. Further, Carroll’s claim that the majority of scientists have scientific reasons to dismiss God is patently false, as I demonstrate in such essays as Is There A God (What is the chance that our world is the result of chance?) and Why Life Could Not Have Emerged Without God.

      You suggest that the Big Bang and modern physics do not “NECESSITATE” a God and that “throughout history, we have consistently seen natural explanations for the way our world works”. But the Big Bang and modern physics clearly do NECESSITATE some sort of explanation. You are free to present any counter-explanation that you wish, but keep in mind that any counter-explanation must have its own evidentiary basis to truly be a counter-explanation. “It could have happened [in such and such a way]” by itself does not constitute a counter-explanation. Further, God is not intended to be an counter-explanation for natural phenomena. Rather, God is intended as an explanation for why their is a “nature” for us to investigate in the first place. Every time that a scientist comes up with a natural mechanism to explain a natural phenomenon, we are left with the unanswered question of where that natural mechanism came from. God is an ontological or meta-scientific explanation for why there even exists a natural world to investigate, and God is an explanation as to where natural mechanisms come from. What is your meta-scientific (ontological) explanation for why there even exists a natural world (and natural phenomena) to investigate? Would it be the case that the natural world “just is” and that these highly sophisticated natural mechanisms “just are”? This is the most frequent atheist explantation.

      You suggest that, “The dual slit experiment is indeed interesting and may lead one to SPECULATE about the possibility consciousness is related to our observation of QM phenomena, but it’s pure speculation, not an actual determination of the experiment”. First of all, I must point out that this is one place in my essay where I do not use the quotation format, but actually cite the research itself. You conveniently disregard this in order to frame my argument as nothing but “a weak series of outdated quotes.” Secondly, that consciousness is fundamental (and that matter is derivative from consciousness) is a research conclusion that stems from such research as the double slit experiment, not mere speculation. The matter-as-fundamental stance (materialism) is gone and is not coming back, much as the flat Earth stance is gone and is not coming back.

  31. 1. I didn’t actually discount Meyer’s statement — I simply identified him as an intelligent design advocate. Sorry!

    2. You don’t understand what I’m saying about a false dichotomy… The more appropriate dichotomy (presented by Meyer) is naturalism vs. supernaturalism, not naturalism vs. a personal god who interacts with the world. You don’t explicitly state the latter dichotomy, but it’s implied (especially when taking the entirety of your website). More on the false dichotomy below…

    3. I’m not arguing that use of quotations is invalid, only that it doesn’t constitute an argument. If I’m completely missing your point, feel free to spell it out. I still don’t see how and why you come to the conclusion that we must accept supernatural answers. To me, it looks like you’re using the personal assessments of a few physicists as representation of the entirety of modern physics.

    You follow those quotes with the statement that “there can be no question on which side of this debate modern physics falls.” That’s where I find your use of quotes disingenuous. You are hardly representing “modern physics” when you reference scientists who died before modern physics completed the Standard Model of particle physics, discovered quarks or began developing unifying theories like String Theory. The Hawking and Carroll quotes weren’t intended to prove naturalism, but to counter your assertion that modern physics has eliminated naturalism. There are thousands of scientists who would disagree with your assertion on where physics falls on the subject of naturalism.

    Which brings me back to the false dichotomy. I was trying to say that the supernaturalism of Einstein and other scientists might be very different from the one you posit:

    “Scientific research is based on the idea that everything that takes place is determined by laws of Nature, and therefore this holds for the action of people. For this reason, a research scientist will hardly be inclined to believe that events could be influenced by a prayer, i.e. by a wish addressed to a Supernatural Being.” Einstein, 1936

    “I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal God is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth. I prefer an attitude of humility corresponding to the weakness of our intellectual understanding of nature and of our own being.” Einstein, 1949

    “My position concerning God is that of an agnostic. I am convinced that a vivid consciousness of the primary importance of moral principles for the betterment and ennoblement of life does not need the idea of a law-giver, especially a law-giver who works on the basis of reward and punishment.” Einstein, 1950

    4. We don’t need to insert god where there are unknowns. You’ve made a couple of statements that seem to misrepresent naturalism:

    But the Big Bang and modern physics clearly do NECESSITATE some sort of explanation. You are free to present any counter-explanation that you wish, but keep in mind that any counter-explanation must have its own evidentiary basis to truly be a counter-explanation.

    Naturalism doesn’t mean that we must have explanations for everything right now. It seems like you’re saying that we either need to believe in the supernatural or provide an evidence-based alternative right now. That’s simply the God of the gaps). Just because we don’t currently have a full scientific explanation for the big bang doesn’t mean that god must have started it.

    5. I did respond to your link to the dual-slit experiment… You ignored my point that the experiment doesn’t remotely prove a pre-existing or permanent universal consciousness (let alone one of infinite intelligence), but simply demonstrates that observation impacts measurement of small particles. This is a far cry from a requisite permanent consciousness.

    • 1)Then what was your point of identifying him as an intelligent design advocate? This is not clear.

      2) No, the dichotomy that Meyer lays out is very explicit and is not merely naturalism vs. supernaturalism. Did you not read it? I will copy and paste it below:

      “Since the time of the ancient Greeks, there have been two basic pictures of ultimate reality among Western intellectuals, what Germans call a Weltanschauung, or worldview. According to one worldview, mind is the primary or ultimate reality. On this view, material reality either issues from a preexisting mind, or it is shaped by a preexistent intelligence, or both…This view of reality is often called idealism to indicate that ideas come first and matter comes later. Theism is the version of idealism that holds that God is the source of the ideas that gave rise to and shaped the material world.

      The opposite view holds that the physical universe or nature is the ultimate reality. In this view, either matter or energy (or both) are the things from which everything else comes. They are self-existent and do not need to be created or shaped by mind….In this view matter comes first, and conscious mind arrives on the scene much later and only then as a by-product of material processes and undirected evolutionary change. This worldview is called naturalism or materialism.”

      If you would just read the Meyer citation above, you would see that it is clearly not merely a dichotomy between naturalism and supernaturalism. Rather, it is a dichotomy between a mind-first universe, on one hand, and a matter-first universe, on the other hand. How you distilled it to merely naturalism vs. supernaturalism is very unclear. Meyer holds a PhD in the history and philosophy of science from Cambridge University, so he is qualified to make this statement. If you would like to counteract his statement, it would be valuable if you could cite a similarly credentialed expert.

      3) I am using the personal assessments of a few physicists? A copy and paste from the knighted physicist and astronomer Sir James Hopwood Jeans (as it appears in the essay):

      “There is a wide measure of agreement which, on the physical side of science approaches almost unanimity, that the stream of knowledge is heading towards a non-mechanical reality; the universe begins to look more like a great thought than a great machine. Mind no longer appears as an accidental intruder into the realm of matter. We are beginning to suspect that we ought rather to hail mind as the creator and governor of the realm of matter.”

      I have bolded the three words above that are most pertinent. Secondly, I DO provide some of the reasoning behind these physicists’ assessments. In the essay, I mention that physicist George Stanciu and philosopher Robert Augros provide an excellent nutshell explanation of why the naturalist/materialist worldview is no longer scientifically or philosophically supportable in their book The New Story of Science. Sure, I could have merely paraphrased the book so as to avoid using the quotation format, but Augros and Stanciu write so clearly and lucidly, I could never do their wording any justice. Here, again, is some of the reasoning behind the assessment that mind is fundamental and pre-existent and that matter is a manifestation of mind:

      “In the New Story of science the whole universe–including matter, energy, space, and time–is a one-time event and had a definite beginning. But something must have always existed; for if ever absolutely nothing existed, then nothing would exist now, since nothing comes from nothing. The material universe cannot be the thing that always existed because matter had a beginning. It is 12 to 20 billion years old. This means that whatever has always existed is non-material. The only non-material reality seems to be mind. If mind is what has always existed, then matter must have been brought into existence by a mind that always was. This points to an intelligent, eternal being who created all things. Such a being is what we mean by the term God.”

      Further, I link to the article titled The Mental Universe by Johns Hopkins University physicist Richard Conn Henry (click here) to provide the reader to access to a better understanding of the reasoning behind the physicists’ assessment. A copy and paste of some excerpts from that article:

      “In place of ‘underlying stuff’ there have been serious attempts to preserve a material world — but they produce no new physics, and serve only to preserve an illusion. Scientists have sadly left it to non- physicist Frayn to note the Emperor’s lack of clothes: “it seems to me that the view which [Murray] Gell-Mann favours, and which involves what he calls alternative ‘histories’ or ‘narratives’, is precisely as anthropocentric as Bohr’s, since histories and narratives are not freestanding elements of the Universe, but human constructs, as subjective and as restricted in their viewpoint as the act of observation.”

      “…Physicists shy from the truth because the truth is so alien to everyday physics. A common way to evade the mental Universe is to invoke ‘decoherence’ — the notion that ‘the physical environment’ is sufficient to create reality, independent of the human mind. Yet the idea that any irreversible act of amplification is necessary to collapse the wave function is known to be wrong: in ‘Renninger-type’ experiments, the wave function is collapsed simply by your human mind seeing nothing. The Universe is entirely mental”. [italics added by me]

      You see, as Henry above describes, scientists with an ideological opposition to the “mental universe” have tried but failed to escape it. This is some of the REASONING behind the assessment of the physicists’ who support the mental universe. My argument does not merely consist of the personal assessments of a few physicists. Click here to read another excellent (and similar) article by Henry on the subject (From Nature Magazine, 2004).

      Moreover, my essay titled The Ultimate Cart-Before-the-Horse (Why atheism is illogical) provides additional philosophical reasoning to support the mind-first model of the universe. This is further reasoning that does not just rely on the “personal assessment of a few physicists,” as you put it.

      There are thousands of scientists who would disagree with my assertion on where modern physics falls on the subject of naturalism? Perhaps, but you are left with the responsibility of providing some of the reasoning behind that disagreement so that we can determine if this disagreement is truly a logically arrived at conclusion…or merely an ideological presupposition. Scientists, like all other human beings have both ideologically based and logically based views. I delve into this topic in my essay titled If the evidence for God is so strong, why are so many smart people unconvinced?

      If you do not provide this reasoning, so that it can be subjected to logical scrutiny, we will be left with no choice but to assume that you do not provide it because you know that it cannot withstand logical scrutiny. Merely saying that “there are thousands of scientists that support my views,” without citing the reasoning behind that support, commits the logical fallacy of argument from authority.

      Speaking of “false dichotomies,” your naturalism vs. supernaturalism dichotomy is a false dichotomy. If the universe is mental, as modern physics declares, then everything (material and non-material) is a manifestation of consciousness, and there can be no distinction between natural and supernatural. The natural vs. supernatural dichotomy is only necessary if we start by assuming that naturalism is true. It is naturalism that assumes that there is a physical world to be distinguished form mental events.

      You cite several of Einstein’s personal religious views. However, in order to distinguish between his religious beliefs (or ideological presuppositions), on one hand, and his scientific conclusions on the other, it necessary to provide some of the REASONING behind the statements made by Einstein that you provide. What is Einstein’s REASONING behind his assessment that God is not personal? Moreover, what special qualification does a physicist have to declare that God is not personal? Such a conclusion lies outside of the scope of physics.

      Lastly, Einstein was very explicit that he DID believe in God. You are correct that he did not believe in a personal God, but he very clearly did believe in God. He said, “I believe in Spinoza’s God.” He also said, “In view of such harmony in the cosmos which I, with my limited human mind, am able to recognize, there are yet people who say there is no God. But what really makes me angry is that they quote me for the support of such views.” Because you quote Einstein to support your atheistic views, you would be one of the people who made Einstein angry.

      4) You say, “It seems like you’re saying that we either need to believe in the supernatural or provide an evidence-based alternative right now. That’s simply the God of the gaps). Just because we don’t currently have a full scientific explanation for the big bang doesn’t mean that god must have started it.”

      But, once again, the natural vs. supernatural dichotomy that you lay out is a false dichotomy which is only necessary if one starts with the ideological presupposition that naturalism is true. If the universe is a manifestation of consciousness, as modern physics declares, then there are no explanatory gaps to bridge. These explanatory gaps only emerge if you start with the presupposition that the universe is fundamentally material and evolved from mindless matter to eventually produce consciousness (in human minds) through natural laws and mechanisms that “just are” (exist without a lawgiver) and are yet-to-be-discovered. Your reasoning is therefore entirely circular.

      Lastly, you are using yet-to-be-discovered-unintelligent-mechanisms-of-the-gaps reasoning. Even if we start with the assumption that naturalism is true, and that therefore there are explanatory gaps, why would it logically follow that the bridge for these gaps are unintelligent and pre-existent rather than intelligent and pre-existent?

      5) I did not cite the double slit experiment as stand-alone evidence for the mental universe. Rather, I intended it as an example of the research that has led physicists to the conclusion that the universe mental (a manifestation of consciousness).

  32. Yo Scott! Been reading this site for awhile, reading this very debate, and thought, “wow, this Terry guy must be one conceited SOB. I mean, he never seemed to listen to what you said, and the thing about using insults to dumb it down for you really showed it. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a self-righteous person. Someone oughta teach him some respect!

    • Grayson:

      Acutally, Terry is only one of many atheists that I have debated who use insults and strident rhetoric (instead of logically based arguments). And it might surprise you to learn that I actually LOVE IT when they do this? Why? (You might ask).

      I love it when they do this because I know that any intelligent third party viewer of the debate knows that insults and rhetoric are a crutch that a person must resort to when they know that their views cannot stand up on their own with logic. As I pointed out in my essay Why Calling Theism “Primitive Superstition” Shows Primitive Understanding, Albert Einstein did not need to resort to insults and strident rhetoric when discussing his Theory of Relativity with his critics, because he knew that his theory was logically sound.

      Much as a nervous tick made by a poker player is a “tell” that he is holding weak hand, the use of insults and rhetoric by an atheist is a “tell” that he has a weak argument that cannot stand up with logic and reason.

      I discuss the emotional and ideological (as opposed to logical) basis for atheist belief in my essay titled If the Evidence for God Is So Strong, Why Are So Many People Unconvinced? You may want to read this essay and listen to the audio titled The Psychology of Atheism by psychologist Paul Vitz, that I link to at the bottom of the essay.

      Scott

  33. Even if the universe were eternal, it could be God’s creature.
    There is more than just the In Fieri causation you are proposing here, where things are brought into existence, and then can continue to exist by themselves from then on. There is also In Esse causation, where some state of affairs requires something external to sustain its existence.

    “Why is there a sustained act of existence?” The best answer, I think, is: “Because there is a being the existence of which is part of its nature, so that it is logically impossible for this being not to exist. Every other thing derives its existence from this being.”
    If a person asked why the universe cannot exist because existence is part of its nature, the answer is two-fold: “Firstly,” I say, “That is to advocate pantheism. You are acknowledging that atheism is false. Secondly, the universe is composed of entirely of things which can fail to exist.” I take a slight pause so the other person can reflect on this. Then I say, “Because the entire set can fail to exist, the universe can fail to exist, because it is the set of these things.”

    The only way to avoid this line of argument is to assert that existence is not a predicate, like Emmanuel Kant did, and then from that, assert that nothing can have existence as part of its very nature. However, this position is stipulated, while its contrary is logically proven.

    Proof that Existence, Even if not a Predicate, can be part of a Thing’s Nature:
    P.1) Whatever a thing has, is either given to it, or is part of its nature.
    P.2) Whatever a being receives, it either gives to itself, or it receives from another.
    #1) A being cannot give itself existence (This entails a logical contradiction).

    Reductio Proof of (#1)
    R.1) Suppose that a being can give itself existence.
    R.2) To give itself existence, this being must have causal power.
    R.3) To possess causal power, this being must exist.
    R.4) A being cannot give itself what it already has.
    C.1) (R.2 & R.3) Therefore, in order to give itself existence, this being must exist.
    C.2) (C.2 & R.4) Therefore, a being cannot give itself existence.
    What we supposed is false, and a being cannot give itself existence.

    #2) The First Cause cannot receive its existence from another (This also entails a logical contradiction).
    C) The First Cause has existence because existence is part of its nature.

    There simply is no escape for an atheist who respects logic.

    • Rational Dude:

      This is another great piece of incisive logic. I am assuming that you have some sort of background in philosophy.

      For the first couple years that I ran this website, it felt like I was all alone fighting back a tide of angry atheists. But my workload has been much relieved thanks to the high caliber contributions from commenters such as you. Your contributions are greatly valued. Keep up the good work.

      Scott

      • Hey Scott my man, have you been expecting a reply from me? Sorry!
        Now that’s outta the way, I got some stuff to say:

        Khorne: Chaos god of war, anger, violence, bloodshed; found in Games Workshop’s Warhammer Fantasy and Warhammer 40,000. that’s where the joke about Kyle came from.

        Second: a little humor:
        DEBATES ON THIS WEBSITE AND THE INTERNET IN GENERAL:
        Scott: I have evidence for God

        Opponent: No you don’t!
        Scott: Why don’t I?

        Opponent: Because it isn’t physical, it isn’t fitting to my opinion, and it definitely isn’t PHYSICAL!

        Scott: Well..

        Opponent: YEAH, WELL, Y’KNOW WHAT, F**K YOU!!

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