Why God? Why not just plain luck?

Posted on September 10, 2012 By

“Blind metaphysical necessity, which is certainly the same always and everywhere, could produce no variety of things. All that diversity of natural things which we find suited to different times and places could arise from nothing but the ideas and will of a Being, necessarily existing.”

Sir Isaac Newton, who is widely regarded to have been the greatest scientist of all time, as cited in Principia, which is perhaps the most important scientific work of all time.
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Former major league baseball player and manager Yogi Berra is perhaps even more famous for his wise sayings than for his baseball career: “If you come to a fork in the road, take it!,” and “Always go to other people’s funerals, or else they won’t come to yours,” and “Nobody goes there anymore…it’s too crowded.” And much like Yogi Berra’s sayings, atheistic explanations are often grounded in absurdities, although less obvious and less humorous.

One very prominent absurdity is the atheistic citation of pure chance or luck as an alternative explanation to God for such phenomena as the origin of life and the origin of our universe.

Sure—the atheist argument goes—the probability of such things occurring naturally is very low…but with enough time, and even a slight probability, what is there to prevent virtually anything from happening?! But this atheist reasoning makes some very grave oversights. First of all, bare probability and large amounts of time, alone, cannot accomplish anything, ever. Period.

Does this seem like too strong a statement? It is not. Probability and time can never accomplish anything without 1) a causal mechanism and 2) an underlying structure, or order.

As an illustration, consider the lottery: Even though the chance of a specific individual winning the lottery is incredibly small, many people have won lotteries in the past, and many more will win in the future.

What is necessary, then, for this bare probability of a lottery win to result in an actual lottery win? Much more than just time and chance. For one, in order to win the lottery, the causal mechanism of going to the store to buy lottery tickets on a regular basis is required. Without this causal mechanism, the probability of winning the lottery is exactly zero. As one lottery advertisement says, “You can’t win unless you play.”

Secondly, the structure of a lottery commission and a distribution network for lottery tickets (etc.) is necessary (not to mention the monetary system of the Dollar, Euro, etc.). In other words, for one to win the lottery, there must first be a lottery, and there must first be such a thing as money to win.

Without this structure, the probability of an individual winning the lottery is also exactly zero. In fancier language, the potential for a lottery win is embedded within the structure that exists in the lottery and the monetary system. The causal mechanism of purchasing lottery tickets allows this embedded structure to manifest itself in the form of a lottery win. Without this underlying structure, time and chance can produce nothing.

The fatal flaw with the atheistic argument that probability and time are an alternative explanation to God is that it assumes (and does not adequately explain) the existence of the structure and the causal mechanism…with the complex order contained therein.

University of Delaware physicist Stephen Barr discusses the topic of underlying order, or structure, in Modern Physics and Ancient Faith:

“The overlooked point is this: when examined carefully, scientific accounts of natural processes are never really about order emerging from mere chaos, or form emerging from mere formlessness. On the contrary, they are always about the unfolding of an order that was already implicit in the nature of things, although often in a secret or hidden way. When we see situations that appear haphazard, or things that appear amorphous, automatically or spontaneously ‘arranging themselves’ into orderly patterns, what we find in every case is that what appeared to be amorphous or haphazard actually already had a great deal of order built into it.”

“In fact, we shall learn something more: in every case where science explains order, it does so, in the final analysis, by appealing to a greater, more impressive, and more comprehensive underlying orderliness. And that is why, ultimately, scientific explanations do not allow us to escape from the Design Argument: for when the scientist has done his job there is not less order to explain but more.”

Regarding the question of the origin of life, what are the source of the structure (or order) and causal mechanism that allow the bare probability of life to eventually produce actual life? The theist answer to this question is simple: The structure is mind (God’s mind) and the causal mechanism is personal agency (God’s personal agency).

In everyday experience we often see this structure and causal mechanism pair manifested. Indeed, in the lottery example, it was the minds of the lottery officials that produced the structure and the personal agency of the person who went to the store to buy lottery tickets that allowed the bare probability of a lottery win to be manifested in the form of an actual lottery win.

But what does atheism propose as the source of the structure and the causal mechanism that allows the bare probability of life to result in actual life? Figuratively speaking, what is the source of the lottery that produces life, and who or what is making regular trips to the store to buy the tickets, according to atheism?

Figuratively speaking, what is the source of the lottery that produces life, and who or what is making regular trips to the store to buy the tickets, according to atheism?

Atheistic reasoning has a penchant for emphasizing natural mechanisms while simultaneously taking for granted or ignoring the need for an adequate structure, or order, upon which those mechanisms operate.

For example, as to the question of how an organism as complex as a human being could have evolved from a simple common ancestor (the first single celled organism), atheists frequently cite Darwinian evolution (which is entirely compatible with both theism in general and Christianity in particular, as I demonstrate in Why Evolution Cannot Be Used to Rationalize Atheism and Doesn’t Evolution Prove the Biblical Account of Creation to Be False?). Please note, however, that Darwinian evolution addresses the issue of the mechanism, but not the issue of the structure upon which this mechanism operates. What is the structure within which the potential for something as complex as a human being is embedded? In other words, what is the figurative lottery and monetary system that allows the potential for a human being to result in an actual human being?

One attempt at explaining this structure which atheists have proposed is that the potential for something as complex as a human being is embedded in the laws of physics and chemistry.

Hubert Yockey, a physicist and information theorist (who also worked on the Manhattan Project), responds to this proposal in Information Theory, Evolution and the Origin of Life, which is the leading text on the application of algorithmic information theory to the question of the origin of life (of which he is the lead author):

“The laws of physics and chemistry are much like the rules of a game such as football. The referees see to it that these laws are obeyed but that does not predict the winner of the Super Bowl. There is not enough information in the rules of the game to make that prediction. That is why we play the game. [Mathematician Gregory] Chaitin (1985, 1987a) has examined the laws of physics by actually programming them. He finds the information content amazingly small.”

“The reason that there are principles of biology that cannot be derived from the laws of physics and chemistry lies simply in the fact that the genetic information content of the genome for constructing even the simplest organisms is much larger than the information content of these laws.” (Yockey 1992).

Simply put, the laws of physics and chemistry do not have enough structure (in the form of informational content) embedded within them to eventually produce even the simplest living thing, let alone a human being. It would be just as absurd to declare that the laws of physics and chemistry could eventually produce life as it would be to declare that a society without a lottery or monetary system could eventually produce a lottery winner.

But we do not need to rely on the expert analysis of a top notch physicist and information theorist (or a famous mathematician like Gregory Chaitin) to appreciate what Yockey is driving at in his above statements. Any thinking person can administer their own “smell test,” as it were, to determine if physical and chemical laws are enough to explain the structure in which the phenomenon of life is based:

When playing a game of billiards, do the rules of the game, and the laws of physics which govern the motion of the balls, determine the events and outcome of the game? Certainly not. The personal agency of the players and the people who manufactured the balls and table provide most of the required structure and mechanism.

As I mentioned in God Is Real…Why Modern Physics Has Discredited Atheism, there have historically been two basic worldviews regarding the fundamental composition of reality. One worldview (in which atheism is grounded), known as materialism or naturalism, says that the fundamental composition of reality is mindless matter and/or energy. The other worldview (in which theism is grounded) says that the fundamental composition of reality is mind, and that everything we experience (including matter) is a manifestation of this mind.

So which of these two worldviews provides the best explanation for the structure and mechanism which is capable of producing something as complex as a human being? (On a side note, one is certainly free to compose their own unique worldview, but this does not do away with the need to provide explanation). The Nobel Prize-winning Harvard University biologist George Wald, despite being ideologically opposed to theism, was forced by the weight of the evidence to make the following admission in his address to the quantum biology symposium titled Life and Mind in the Universe (also cited in Why Life Could Not Have Emerged Without God):

“It has occurred to me lately—I must confess with some shock at first to my scientific sensibilities—that both questions [the origin of mind and the origin of life from nonliving matter] might be brought into some degree of congruence. This is with the assumption that mind, rather than emerging as a late outgrowth in the evolution of life, has existed always as the matrix, the source and condition of physical reality—the stuff of which physical reality is composed is mind-stuff. It is mind that has composed a physical universe that breeds life and so eventually evolves creatures that know and create: science-, art-, and technology-making animals.”

Wald’s above comments are eerily reflected by the physicist who won the Nobel Prize for the crucial scientific contribution of founding quantum physics, Max Planck (as cited in God Is Real… Why Modern Physics Has Discredited Atheism):

“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.”

Very few individuals have had a greater depth of logical insight into the fundamental composition of reality than Max Planck, or for that matter, 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.”

Once again, however, one does not need to rely on the analysis of prominent experts (such as Nobel Prize-winning physicists or biologists) to reach one’s own soundly reasoned conclusion. Each individual can decide for him or her self:

In regard to these questions, should we assign any value whatsoever to the opinions of atheist academics who insist upon materialist explanations (entirely for transparently ideological reasons), despite the fact that modern physics has discredited materialism as conclusively as the flat-earth theory? How can conscious, intelligent, and personal beings such as ourselves eventually emerge from a structure (or “matrix,” to adopt the term that both Wald and Planck use) that is not itself conscious, intelligent, and personal? Can the vast richness and wonder of human life and human experience (culture, art, music, love, joy, etc.) be somehow embedded in mindless matter? Does a reality fundamentally composed of mindless matter contain the necessary structure to eventually produce “science, art, and technology making animals,” to use Wald’s words? As Yogi Berra, in his great wisdom, put it: “You can observe a lot just by watching.”

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Additional citations relevant to this subject matter appear below:

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“Materialist philosophers argue that consciousness is a construct of matter. But Plato and almost all the great classical philosophers, East and West, suggest the opposite. Matter, at least as it appears to us, is a construct of consciousness.”

“…Consciousness is real and creative. It is not just a by-product of the world we perceive. Without consciousness, that world, the world we perceive, would not even exist. Another quantum physicist, John von Neumann, said, ‘All real things are contents of consciousness.’ This is about as far from materialism as you can get – and it is an interpretation of modern physics, not some weird religiously inspired theory.”

–Keith Ward, retired Professor of Philosophy at Kings College, London, and a member of the Council of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, as quoted in his book Is Religion Irrational?

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“…This sense of wonder leads most scientists to a Superior Being – der Alte, the Old One, as Einstein affectionately called the Deity – a Superior Intelligence, the Lord of all Creation and Natural Law.”

Abdus Salam, winner of the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work in electroweak theory. He is here quoted in his article entitled Science and Religion.

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“I have looked into most philosophical systems and I have seen that none will work without God.”

“Science is incompetent to reason upon the creation of matter itself out of nothing. We have reached the utmost limit of our thinking faculties when we have admitted that because matter cannot be eternal and self-existent it must have been created.”

Physicist and mathematician James Clerk Maxwell, who is credited with formulating classical electromagnetic theory and whose contributions to science are considered to be of the same magnitude as those of Einstein and Newton.

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“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.” (italics added)

–The knighted mathematician, physicist and astronomer Sir James Jeans as quoted in his book The Mysterious Universe.

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“For myself, faith begins with a realization that a supreme intelligence brought the universe into being and created man. It is not difficult for me to have this faith, for it is incontrovertible that where there is a plan there is intelligence—an orderly, unfolding universe testifies to the truth of the most majestic statement ever uttered—-’In the beginning God.’”

–Nobel Prize winning physicist Arthur Compton, discoverer of the Compton Effect.

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“Blind metaphysical necessity, which is certainly the same always and everywhere, could produce no variety of things. All that diversity of natural things which we find suited to different times and places could arise from nothing but the ideas and will of a Being, necessarily existing.”

Sir Isaac Newton, who is widely regarded to have been the greatest scientist of all time, as cited in Principia, which is perhaps the most important scientific work of all time.

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“Those who say that the study of science makes a man an atheist must be rather silly.”

“Something which is against natural laws seems to me rather out of the question because it would be a depressive idea about God. It would make God smaller than he must be assumed. When he stated that these laws hold, then they hold, and he wouldn’t make exceptions. This is too human an idea. Humans do such things, but not God.”

–Nobel Prize winning physicist Max Born, who was instrumental in the development of quantum mechanics.

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“I believe that the more thoroughly science is studied, the further does it take us from anything comparable to atheism.”

Lord William Kelvin, who was noted for his theoretical work on thermodynamics, the concept of absolute zero and the Kelvin temperature scale based upon it.

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“Why do people cling with such ferocity to belief in a mind-independent reality? It is surely because if there is no such reality, then ultimately (as far as we can know) mind alone exists. And if mind is not a product of real matter, but rather is the creator of the illusion of material reality (which has, in fact, despite the materialists, been known to be the case since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925), then a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism.” [“Solipsism” is defined as “the view or theory that the self is all that can be known to exist.”]

–Johns Hopkins University physicist Richard Conn Henry

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“Both religion and science require a belief in God. For believers, God is in the beginning, and for physicists He is at the end of all considerations… To the former He is the foundation, to the latter, the crown of the edifice of every generalized world view.”

“There can never be any real opposition between religion and science; for the one is the complement of the other.”

“I regard consciousness as fundamental. I regard matter as derivative from consciousness. We cannot get behind consciousness. Everything that we talk about, everything that we regard as existing, postulates consciousness.”

Max Planck, the Nobel Prize winning physicist considered to be the founder of quantum theory, and one of the most important physicists of the 20th century…indeed, of all time.

Religion and Natural Science (Lecture Given 1937) Scientific Autobiography and Other Papers,trans. F. Gaynor (New York, 1949), pp. 184

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“God is a mathematician of a very high order and He used advanced mathematics in constructing the universe.”

–Nobel Prize winning physicist Paul A. M. Dirac, who made crucial early contributions to both quantum mechanics and quantum electrodynamics.

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“In the history of science, ever since the famous trial of Galileo, it has repeatedly been claimed that scientific truth cannot be reconciled with the religious interpretation of the world. Although I am now convinced that scientific truth is unassailable in its own field, I have never found it possible to dismiss the content of religious thinking as simply part of an outmoded phase in the consciousness of mankind, a part we shall have to give up from now on. Thus in the course of my life I have repeatedly been compelled to ponder on the relationship of these two regions of thought, for I have never been able to doubt the reality of that to which they point.”

Werner Heisenberg, who was awarded the 1932 Nobel Prize in Physics for the creation of quantum mechanics (which is absolutely crucial to modern science).

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“Atoms are weird stuff, behaving like active agents rather than inert substances. They make unpredictable choices between alternative possibilities according to the laws of quantum mechanics. It appears that mind, as manifested by the capacity to make choices, is to some extent inherent in every atom. The universe is also weird, with its laws of nature that make it hospitable to the growth of mind. I do not make any clear distinction between mind and God. God is what mind becomes when it passes beyond the scale of our comprehension.”

–Princeton University quantum physicist Freeman Dyson, as quoted during his acceptance of the Templeton Prize in 2000.

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“…Discussing the creation of the universe in terms of time and space is like trying to discover the artist and the action of painting by going to the edge of the canvas. This brings us very near to those philosophical systems which regard the universe as a thought in the mind of its Creator, thereby reducing all discussion of material creation to futility.”

—The knighted physicist, mathematician, and astronomer Sir James Jeans as cited in his book Mysterious Universe.

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“I want to know how God created this world, I am not interested in this or that phenomenon, in the spectrum of this or that element. I want to know His thoughts, the rest are details.”

Albert Einstein

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“It is evident that an acquaintance with natural laws means no less than an acquaintance with the mind of God therein expressed.”

James Joule, propounder of  the first law of thermodynamics (on the conservation of energy).  Joule also made important contributions to the kinetic theory of gases. The unit of heat known as the “Joule” is named after him.

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“An equation for me has no meaning unless it expresses a thought of God.”

–Srinivasa Ramanujam, who is widely regarded to be one of the greatest mathematicians of all time (on a similar plane with such greats as Archimedes and Newton).

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“Is intelligent mind an ultimate and irreducible feature of reality? Indeed, is it the ultimate nature of reality? Or is mind and consciousness an unforeseen and unintended product of basically material processes of evolution?”

“If you look at the history of philosophy, it soon becomes clear that almost all the great classical philosophers took the first of these views. Plato, Aristotle, Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, Locke, Berkeley, Kant, Hegel—they all argued that the ultimate reality, often hidden under the appearances of the material world or time and space, is mind or spirit.”

–Keith Ward, retired Professor of Philosophy at Kings College, London, and a member of the Council of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, as quoted in his book Doubting Dawkins, Why There Almost Certainly is A God.

 


105 comments


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    skl says:

    Scott I would also like to emphasise that Richard Dawkins does not say and never has said he knows 100% how life began on the planet, unlike the one dimensional God worshipers. He is a professional scientist who has by default his mind open to all possibilities; however he obviously believes creation by aliens has more credibility than a God creating life.


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 43 ) says:

      Skl,

      No, Richard Dawkins does not say that he knows 100% how life began on the planet. But what he clearly does understand is that life was produced by a conscious and intelligent mind. This is why he cites “a higher intelligence from elsewhere in the universe” as the potential source for the origin of life from non-living matter. But, as I mention in my reply to your other comment, this just kicks the can down the road. We are then left with the question of how ALIEN life could have emerged from non-living matter when natural processes disorganize things rather than organize.

      Scott


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    skl says:

    Back to the simple luck thing, luck is random event that is simply not complicated as some believe. If millions of years pass the chances are a life of some kind must evolve into living cells and eventually after another 10 billion years we end up as we are today. No body had to buy a lotto ticket to be in it all living creatures won this lottery, it was just pure luck that all the elements that support life came together just like any event that happens randomly to you when you did not contribute to it. It is a fallacy to say that you contributed to your demise because you went to this place where you should have been safe when you were hit by an out of control truck. If this was an escaping mass murderer who was killed it may be just deserts for this terrible person however it is not the hand of God or some miracle as the religious righteous will claim.


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 43 ) says:

      Skl,

      No it was not just luck that caused life from non-life. This is patently absurd. Just as the chance of a person winning the lottery without there first being a lottery (and a monetary system) is exactly ZERO, the probability of life emerging from non-life without there first existing an underlying structure is exactly ZERO. In order for a person to win the lottery, THERE MUST FIRST BE A HIGHLY ORGANIZED UNDERLYING STRUCTURE KNOWN AS A LOTTERY AND MONETARY SYSTEM. And for life to emerge from non-living matter, there must first exist a highly organized underlying structure…a lottery of life, figuratively speaking.

      Below is a relevant copy and paste from my essay titled Riddles for Atheists:

      Alister McGrath, who was awarded a doctorate from Oxford University for his research in molecular biophysics, writes in Surprised by Meaning:

      “…This point is consistently overlooked in many accounts of evolution, which seem to treat physics and chemistry as essentially irrelevant background information to a discussion of evolution. Yet before life can begin, let alone evolve, this biological process requires the availability of a stable planet, irradiated by an energy source capable of chemical conversion and storage, and the existence of a diverse array of core chemical elements with certain fundamental properties. Biology has become so used to the existence and aggregation of highly organized attributes that they are seen primarily as core assumptions of evolutionary theory, rather than something that requires explanation in its own right. There is an implicit assumption that life would adapt to whatever hand of physical and chemical cards were dealt it. Yet this is untested and intrinsically questionable. The emergence of life cannot be studied in isolation from the environment that creates the conditions and provides the resources that make this possible.”

      Further, natural processes acting on lifeless matter do not organize. Rather they do they opposite…DISorganize. Please read my post titled Atheism’s Insurmountable Problem of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics (click on the preceding link) and read the debate I had with an atheist named DJ. If you have anything to add to this debate, please add to the comments section. An excerpt from that essay:

      Frank Turek and Norman Geisler make an excellent point in their book I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist. The Second Law of Thermodynamics poses an insurmountable problem for atheistic explanations of the origin of life from non-living matter:

      “…nature disorders, it doesn’t organize things (the fact that nature brings things toward disorder is another aspect of the Second Law of Thermodynamics). More time will make things worse for the Darwinist, not better. How so?”

      “Let’s suppose you throw red, white, and blue confetti out of an airplane 1,000 feet above your house. What’s the chance it’s going to form the American flag on your front lawn? Very low. Why? Because natural laws will mix up or randomize the confetti. You say, ‘Allow more time.’ Okay, let’s take the plane up to 10,000 feet to give natural laws more time to work on the confetti. Does this improve the probability that the flag will form on your lawn? No, more time actually makes the flag less likely because natural laws have longer to do what they do—disorder and randomize.”

      “How did life arise from nonliving chemicals, without intelligent intervention, when nonliving chemicals are susceptible to the Second Law? Darwinists have no answer, only faith.”

      These reasons, as well as others, help to explain why ultra-elite atheist biologists such as Francis Crick and Richard Dawkins have resorted to suggesting that life was BROUGHT TO EARTH BY ALIENS IN THEIR SPACESHIP, as I detail in Why Life Could Not Have Emerged Without God (click on the preceding link). Or you can click here to watch a video Richard Dawkins endorsing the aliens-brought-life-to-Earth-in-their-spaceship explanation for the origin of life from non-living matter. Click here to read about Francis Crick’s endorsement of the idea in his book titled Life Itself.

      Scott


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        skl says:

        Thank you Scott as your quote “Nature disorganises it doesn’t organise” is what I believe and this is why I disagree with your other contradictory statement. “THERE MUST FIRST BE A HIGHLY ORGANIZED UNDERLYING STRUCTURE KNOWN AS A LOTTERY AND MONETARY SYSTEM” as reasoning for life emerging from non-life. You have to understand that nothing is highly organised it is highly disorganised and this is exactly how randomness or disorder creates a chance happening or subject to what we can term good or bad luck.
        The red white and blue confetti idea is good and of course to build something like a flag from a 1000 or 10,000 feet from a drop is very low as you have said and this is due to the properties of a piece of paper. However because life’s building blocks are more than just bits of paper let’s give the paper a polar and bi-polar attraction of various strengths. Even with this single minor change you will have bits of paper combining with some and rejecting others and if you drop these pieces of paper from the plane hundreds of millions of times in their combined state each and every time this is still in a random disorganised state but because of the combinations joining other combinations some sort of patterns will appear to be forming. This may not immediately be the US flag, However I expect the flag represents the very beginning of life therefore the odds are if these randomly joined pieces of paper were collected in their combined state and dropped often enough over 10 billion years with favourable circumstances and environmental conditions we may get lucky and an image of the US flag with the paper pieces forming up with exactly the right attraction to the exactly right colours. If not the odds are it may happen within the next 10 billion years. Do you see that from the randomness and total disorganisation we do actually get some unpredictable and undependable order that could not be interpreted as an underlying structure but can easily be interpreted as luck?
        Call it what you will, even “patently absurd” but from this highly unorganised system we learn that nothing such as this amazing life could be created by a God who was actually created by man.


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          Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 43 ) says:

          Skl,

          Regarding “underlying structure,” the question ultimately boils down to the question of what is referred to in philosophy as “ultimate reality” or “prime reality.” Regarding this topic, Stepher C. Meyer (who holds a PhD in the history and philosophy of science from Cambridge University) writes (as I cite in God Is Real: Why Modern Physics Has Discredited Atheism):

          “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.”

          Because we are currently discussing biology, I will momentarily ignore the fact that atheism is grounded in materialism and the fact that modern physics has discredited materialism as conclusively as the flat-earth theory. I will also momentarily disregard the fact that modern physics strongly supports theism…as I discuss in the above mentioned essay, and as the video embedded in that essay discusses (you can click on the above link to read that essay and view that video).

          Regarding biology, if ultimate reality is mindless matter, then there is no way for lifeless matter to organize into living things. So if matter is the ultimate reality, OF COURSE there is no means of producing order from disorder. Atheism relies on mindless natural processes to organize non-living matter into living things, but natural processes do the VERY OPPOSITE of produce order from disorder. But if mind (read: the mind of God) is the ultimate reality, the OF COURSE there is a means to produce the necessary underlying structure.

          Here is how the Nobel Prize-winning Harvard University biologist George Wald put it in his address to the Quantum Biology Symposium titled Life and Mind in the Universe:

          “It has occurred to me lately—I must confess with some shock at first to my scientific sensibilities—that both questions [the origin of mind and the origin of life from nonliving matter] might be brought into some degree of congruence. This is with the assumption that mind, rather than emerging as a late outgrowth in the evolution of life, has existed always as the matrix, the source and condition of physical reality—the stuff of which physical reality is composed is mind-stuff. It is mind that has composed a physical universe that breeds life and so eventually evolves creatures that know and create: science-, art-, and technology-making animals.”

          Please note that if SPACE ALIENS were the source of mind that produced life from non-living matter (as suggested by ultra-elite atheist biologists such as Dawkins and Crick), then we are left with the question of how ALIEN LIFE could have been produced from non-living matter….especially when natural processes and long periods of time only make the problem WORSE, not better.

          And, as a Scientific American article titled Confronting Science’s Logical Limits puts it:

          “It has been estimated that a supercomputer applying plausible rules for protein folding would need 10 to the 127th power years to find the final folded form for even a very short sequence consisting of just 100 amino acids.”

          But protein folding is only the first step in creating life from lifeless chemicals. Further, random processes would need a heck of a lot longer to fold proteins than would a supercomputer programmed to do so even if they DID produce order from disorder. And please recall that the universe is only about 15 billion years old….nowhere near 10 to the 127th power years.

          Lastly, as I discuss in How Atheism Relies on Special Pleading, information science has conclusively shown that languages such as DNA (the language of life) can only be produced by a conscious and intelligent mind. This is because languages use substitutive, abstract, symbolic representation. Below is a copy and paste from the above mentioned essay:

          The arrangement of symbols (such as letters) according to a language is not something that can be accomplished, even in principle, by unintelligent chemical or physical processes. Werner Gitt is a former Director and Professor at the German Federal Institute of Physics and Technology (Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt, Braunschweig) and former head of the Department of Information Technology. In his book Without Excuse, he discusses the substitutive function of what he terms “Universal Information “(UI) as it relates to biology:

          “Universal Information is always an abstract representation of some other existing entity. Universal Information is never the item (object) or the fact (event, idea) itself but rather the coded symbols serve as a substitute for the entities that are being represented. Different languages often use different sets of symbols and usually different symbol sequences to represent the same material object or concept. Consider the following examples:”

          “-the words in a newspaper, consisting of a sequence of letters, substitute for an event that happened at an earlier time and in some other place,”

          “-the words in a novel, consisting of sequences of letters, substitute for characters and their actions,”

          “-the notes of a musical score substitute for music that will be played later on musical instruments,”

          “-the chemical formula for benzene substitutes for the toxic liquid that is kept in a flask in a chemistry laboratory,”

          “-the genetic codons (three-letter words) of the DNA molecule substitute for specific amino acids that are bonded together in a specific sequence to form a protein.”

          Scott


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    nick says:

    Rocks have already made the journey from Mars to Earth. It is something already documented to have happened. If you look at the moon you will get an idea of how. Craters. Countless meteorites have hit the moon over millions of years and it is no different with most other planets and bodies in the solar system. It was a huge meteorite that probably caused the extinction of the Dinosaurs on Earth.
    So, what happens is that a large impact will dislodge huge masses of material and rock from the surface of a planet and a big enough impact will hurl huge chunks of planetary material out into space. This material will float and fly around the solar system. We see examples of rocks/material passing or hitting the Earth all the time – meteors, meteorites, asteroids and comets.

    Big impacts on Mars have caused Mars surface rock to be blown out into space and have been recorded and documented to have landed here on Earth, so this is something that has already happened. Here’s a link.

    http://www.space.com/21235-mars-meteorite-big-auction.html

    There are several examples of Mars meteorites that have landed on Earth and if you look for more, you will find them through google.

    So, if life began on Mars many billions of years ago, it is possible that such an event could have dislodged rocks containing microbes at their centre. These stowaway life forms are then like plant seeds in a pod. When a big enough rock survives the journey to the surface of the Earth its living cargo has the chance to spread, should it have survived the journey.

    Now this is all highly improbable, which is why the theory of Panspermia is speculative, but it is possible and it is very interesting. As I said it’s like the spread of vegetation over huge oceans, via floating seeds – coconuts can do this.

    What’s interesting is that we definitely have examples of Mars rocks making the journey to Earth and what’s more interesting is that there is an argument to say that one of these Mars meteorites might have fossilized microbes in it. So did such a thing as Mars to Earth panpermia ever happen? I don’t know, but it’s certainly a very interesting thought.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allan_Hills_84001

    Above is a link to the “potential” Martian fossils. There are many other peer reviewed articles about this meteorite if you have concerns over Wikipedia as a source and I certainly highlight the word potential, as there is much debate as to whether they are fossils or not.

    Thoughts?


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      Nick,

      Sure, I don’t have any problem with panspermia, since it is not a question of where life originated, but rather HOW it originated. And, yes, it is highly speculative. The only issue I have with those who support panspermia is the underlying notion that life could arise naturally.

      Below is a copy and paste from this article about the problems with panspermia:

      1. Naturalistic Panspermia where life evolves on another planet, and naturally gets ejected off the planet and come to rest on earth.

      Naturalistic panspermia has gained popularity because some have recognized that life on earth appears very soon after the origin of conditions which would allow it to exist. Many scientists believed that if life had originated on earth it would have taken many hundreds of millions, or even billions of years to do so. Life appears perhaps less than 200 million after the origin of conditions at which life could exist. One scientist calls this period a geological “instant.” The great rapidity with which it arose made some speculate that the galaxy is teeming with the spores of life just waiting to find a fertile planet to grow and evolve. Among scientists, the notion that life arose naturally in an extraterrestrial environment and then naturally made its way to “seed earth” is not very widely accepted. However, this form of panspermia is more commonly accepted than forms 2 and 3, where intelligent extraterrestrial life played a role. Scientists apparently like to keep intelligent causation out of the picture.

      It is interesting to note that these ideas that the “universe is teeming with spores of life” stem from the notion that life could originate naturally in the first place. Though this has not been established, scientists typically simply assume that life arose naturally and then proceed to reason as follows. If the reasoning doesn’t seem to make sense, it is not because you are misunderstanding it. If it does make sense, read on:

      1. Life exists, therefore it must have arisen naturally.
      2. If it originated naturally, then the chemical origin of life must have not been highly improbable.
      3. If the natural chemical origin of life is not improbable, then it must be happening elsewhere.
      4. Therefore life must exist elsewhere in the universe and it is likely that it exists in a lot of places.

      This reasoning makes certain unstated assumptions. At the outset, this sort of reasoning assumes that if life exists, it must have arisen naturally. It then uses that assumption to justify that the notion life can arise naturally quite easily under favorable conditions. This reasoning puts the cart before the horse, for it has never been demonstrated that life can arise naturally given any set of conditions. If the implicit presupposition that life arose naturally is questioned and not taken for granted, then perhaps there is no reason to presume that life is common or exists nearly everywhere, via natural means, in the universe. This often-unstated reasoning–an assumption that life can arise naturally–underlies much of the popular scientific and pseudo-scientific talk among scientists that life exists in outer space. We must question the assumption that life can arise naturally and ask if life really can originate naturally before we can take naturalistic panspermia for granted.

      This style of reasoning also leads some to conclude that if intelligent life exists (as it does on earth) it must arise naturally, and easily, and has encouraged those who are fans of extra-terrestrial creators, who believe in “Directed Panspermia” (forms 2 and 3, discussed below) to affirm their faith in the existence of intelligent life elsewhere. But for naturalistic panspermia-ists (those who are “type 1”), they assume that the universe is filled with life because they assume it arose naturally in the first place.

      One location that has inspired hope in panspermia for some exobiologists (biologists who study extra-terrestrial life) is Jupiter’s moon, Europa, which appears to have ice-caps on its surface which they hope could be the cover for a sub-surface ocean. Never mind the fact that Europa is exceedingly colder than earth and we really have no direct evidence of its subsurface conditions, the fact that it could have liquid water has led some origin of life theorists to contend that life might exist on Europa. But again, the same reasoning has been employed here: Scientists assume life can evolve on earth in the presence of water, and therefore it could evolve elsewhere where conditions are appropriate (i.e. there is water). The truth is that we know very little about Europa, and it is possible that conditions there are totally inhospitable to any forms of life, much less to evolving life. However, if it is true that there is liquid water on Europa, then such a location faces the major obstacle that polymerization–a crucial step in the origin of life where complex proteins and other molecules must be created–cannot take place in an aqueous solution, like a giant subsurface ocean. The origin of life must be assumed to be possible, and difficulties ignored, for scientists to put their hope in such extraterrestrial bodies like Europa.

      Even if life could originate naturally, there are many difficulties faced by a theory which states that life entered earth from outer-space. The trip through the upper atmosphere would be extremely harsh upon any life-form, and it is difficult to imagine how life could survive such high temperatures and extreme pressures upon entry to the earth, and then upon impact with the surface.

      Some have tried. Though it has been noted that the trip through space would subject any microorganisms to intense amounts of radiation from the sun (Chyba, C. and Sagan, C., 1988, Nature, 355, 125), others have countered that life could have been protected by being encased in a carbonaceous meteorite which would shield the life from cosmic rays (see Panspermia revisited by John Gribben for references). If this is the case, then microorganisms could be blasted out of a solar system during the “red giant” phase of a star to land on a planet far far away. (note the huge improbability, )

      The implication is that somehow this microorganism must land on a planet, perhaps in another solar system, suitable for life. Given the size of the universe and the vastness of space compared with the size of miniscule planets, the odds of a sun shooting out a meteorite in a random direction to land on any planetary body, much less one suitable for life, appear extraordinarily small. However, if the microorganisms entered into a proto-solar system, then the theory states that they could land on some newly formed planet accreting out of the proto-solar system cloud. This is what some have stated they believe happened on earth. The problem with this scenario is that most studies of whether or not any meaningful amounts of organic material could survive entry and impact on to the earth indicate that it would be impossible for any life under any condition to survive entry.

      According to Jeffrey Bada, director of the NASA Specialized Center of Research and Training (NSCORT) in Exobiology at Scripps Institution for Oceanography, a paper (SURVIVABILITY OF SMALL BIOMOLECULES DURING EXTRATERRESTRIAL DELIVERY: SIMULATION EXPERIMENTS ON AMINO ACID PYROLYSIS, Basiuk and Douda, Planetary Space Science 47:577- 584, 1999), found that most meteorites would simply get too hot and would destroy most amino acids and organic material during entry to the earth’s atmosphere. In this paper, the only possible way to get significant organic material to earth was through interplanetary dust particles (IDPs). Bada himself later heated IDP’s and found that during entry they can easily heat up to 1200 C, easily hot enough to destroy most organic material. Apparently the only amino acid that ever remained during Bada’s realistic simulations was glycine. Bada called this “bad news” if you are interested in originating life based upon material from outer-space. (See a report on Bada’s talk at UCSD on June 10, 2003 at http://www.arn.org/docs2/news/ucsdoriginoflife062003.htm.)

      Thus, assuming life can evolve elsewhere, the greatest obstacle to panspermia appears to be actually being aimed at a earth, and then getting the material on to earth through extreme heat in what might very well through an explosive and catastrophic impact that typically causes mass-extinctions, or through extreme heat caused by the entry of IDP’s. Panspermia must make a very long and improbable trip, and then take a lot of heat to work.


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    John Smith says:

    Why continue the divide between science and religion? Also, just a simple question. For those who support intelligent design, what are your opinions on panspermia?


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      John:

      Here is my opinion on panspermia (the theory that life originated when it came to Earth from space): As a theist, I don’t see any particular reason to object to the theory. However, it seems clear that the citation of panspermia by atheists to explain the origin of life from non-living matter illustrates how desperate they have become. Please note that atheists cite panspermia to explain HOW life emerged from non-living matter, even though panspermia only attempts to answer the question of WHERE life came from. Observe the absurdity of the following question/answer pair:

      Question: “How did life emerge from non-living matter?”

      Proposed atheist answer: “It came from space.”

      Answering the question of HOW life emerged from non-living matter with WHERE it could have come from is absurd. In Why Life Could Not Have Emerged Without God, I cite the former MIT physicist Gerald Schroeder:

      “…and then there is the uncontested reality that life started immediately on just-cooled earth and not after billions of years as had been once posited. Elso Barghoorn, while at Harvard University, discovered this fact that changed the entire emphasis in origin of life studies. Barghoorn discovered that the oldest rocks that can bear fossils already have fully formed fossils of one-celled life. And most amazingly, and yet by necessity, those first forms of life already had the ability to reproduce. Reproduction is not something that can gradually evolve. The first cell to survive had to have all the mechanisms for mitosis the first time around since all the attempts at life that came before (if there were other attempts) died without leaving any heritage simply because there was no succeeding generation prior to reproduction.” [the word “uncontested” italicized by me]

      Here we can see part of the reason why atheists have turned to measures as desperate as citing panspermia for the origin of life.


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        nick says:

        Hi there. I’m an agnostic. Atheists who suggest that panspermia is the answer to the question of how life originated would probably be wrong, but could be partly right.
        To suggest that the way in which life travelled to Earth is the answer to how it arose in the first place would probably be wrong.
        However, (without checking) I think that the idea of panspermia does not exclude the idea that life formed in space, as part of its argument.

        The theory exists that life could have arisen in space in some way – perhaps inside a comet or a cloud. There is evidence that the composition of comets and meteorites often comprises of all or much of the essential chemistry for life. Part of the theory of panspermia includes the idea that a form of abiogenesis may have occurred somewhere in space such as a cloud, rather than simply on a distant planet I think.

        If this is wrong and panspermia is just the description of how life was spread, then it is not the answer to the question of how it began.

        http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/08/070814093819.htm


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          Nick,

          As I think I said before, I don’t see any reason to object to the idea that life may have formed in space and come to earth since the real question is HOW life emerged from non-living matter. In other words, the important question is: What is it that causes the vast amount of specified complexity (the information content) present in living things. I discuss this subject in How atheism relies on special pleading. Natural processes cannot, even in principle, produce codes and languages…such as the code present in the DNA molecule of a living thing.

          You mention that comets and meteorites may comprise much of the essential chemistry for life. But the origin of life is not a question of chemistry (or physics), as I discuss in Why life could not have emerged without God. An relevant excerpt:

          Physicist Paul Davies makes clear the distinction between the medium (the physical aspect of the organism) and the message (the informational aspect of the organism), with regard to the origin of life, 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 [such as even the most simple organism]. 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 [or life emerging through unintelligent processes] 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.”

          Elsewhere, Davies writes:

          “Trying to make life by mixing chemicals in a test tube is like soldering switches and wires in an attempt to produce Windows 98. It won’t work because it addresses the problem at the wrong conceptual level.” [italics added]

          And regarding panspermia, even though I have no reason to object to it, I still think the theory has virtually no merit. Below is a copy and paste from an article at another website:

          Even if life could originate naturally, there are many difficulties faced by a theory which states that life entered earth from outer-space. The trip through the upper atmosphere would be extremely harsh upon any life-form, and it is difficult to imagine how life could survive such high temperatures and extreme pressures upon entry to the earth, and then upon impact with the surface.

          Some have tried. Though it has been noted that the trip through space would subject any microorganisms to intense amounts of radiation from the sun (Chyba, C. and Sagan, C., 1988, Nature, 355, 125), others have countered that life could have been protected by being encased in a carbonaceous meteorite which would shield the life from cosmic rays (see Panspermia revisited by John Gribben for references). If this is the case, then microorganisms could be blasted out of a solar system during the “red giant” phase of a star to land on a planet far far away. (note the huge improbability, )

          The implication is that somehow this microorganism must land on a planet, perhaps in another solar system, suitable for life. Given the size of the universe and the vastness of space compared with the size of miniscule planets, the odds of a sun shooting out a meteorite in a random direction to land on any planetary body, much less one suitable for life, appear extraordinarily small. However, if the microorganisms entered into a proto-solar system, then the theory states that they could land on some newly formed planet accreting out of the proto-solar system cloud. This is what some have stated they believe happened on earth. The problem with this scenario is that most studies of whether or not any meaningful amounts of organic material could survive entry and impact on to the earth indicate that it would be impossible for any life under any condition to survive entry.

          According to Jeffrey Bada, director of the NASA Specialized Center of Research and Training (NSCORT) in Exobiology at Scripps Institution for Oceanography, a paper (SURVIVABILITY OF SMALL BIOMOLECULES DURING EXTRATERRESTRIAL DELIVERY: SIMULATION EXPERIMENTS ON AMINO ACID PYROLYSIS, Basiuk and Douda, Planetary Space Science 47:577- 584, 1999), found that most meteorites would simply get too hot and would destroy most amino acids and organic material during entry to the earth’s atmosphere. In this paper, the only possible way to get significant organic material to earth was through interplanetary dust particles (IDPs). Bada himself later heated IDP’s and found that during entry they can easily heat up to 1200 C, easily hot enough to destroy most organic material. Apparently the only amino acid that ever remained during Bada’s realistic simulations was glycine. Bada called this “bad news” if you are interested in originating life based upon material from outer-space. (See a report on Bada’s talk at UCSD on June 10, 2003 at http://www.arn.org/docs2/news/ucsdoriginoflife062003.htm.)

          Thus, assuming life can evolve elsewhere, the greatest obstacle to panspermia appears to be actually being aimed at a earth, and then getting the material on to earth through extreme heat in what might very well through an explosive and catastrophic impact that typically causes mass-extinctions, or through extreme heat caused by the entry of IDP’s. Panspermia must make a very long and improbable trip, and then take a lot of heat to work.

          Scott


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            nick says:

            No doubt. Panspermia seems quite a difficult means to transport organisms around the universe, but it’s a very cool idea in my opinion. I’d like it if we could show that biology could migrate from place to place in such a way. I guess it’s a bit like tree seeds – coconuts travelling the oceans and taking root on distant continents. It might be improbable, but not impossible.

            In any case, atheists who suggest that panspermia is how life got started are probably wrong, unless panspermia includes the idea of a form of abiogenesis. You might disagree that abiogenesis is possible, but if it’s included in the theory of panspermia, then atheists are not just talking about how life moves around, but also how it may have started extra-terrestrially too. You might say that they’re wrong about it all, but they’re at least including a hypothesis of the origin of life in panspermia, not just the travelling part on its own.

            Of course, if panspermia is ‘just’ the travelling part, then anybody who says life started by panspermia is wrong…. because it’s just the travelling of life around the cosmos, not the origin. I suppose it depends what’s in the theory of panspermia. I’d probably agree with you though that really panspermia is about the migration not the origin, which leaves the question still unanswered. This wasn’t a rebuttal to your points about origins or anything, just a comment on panspermia, ‘cos I think it’s very interesting.

            A thought that does occur to me is that panspermia in the case of Earth doesn’t necessarily have to be an inter-solar system affair. It could have in fact happened within our solar system. I understand your position on the origins of life being divine.

            I wonder what you think of the following. Have you been following the progress of the Mars mission, ‘curiosity’? They’re looking for evidence that life favourable environments existed on Mars. I won’t dispute your ideas about the origins of life. Let’s say that they are divine. What about the idea that life began on Mars and actually travelled to Earth via panspermia? That’s not a huge stretch at all. We have space buggies on Mars. It’s basically round the corner (well not quite). Do you reckon that’s a possibility? I think that’s a very interesting thought. It’s not an idea that leaves us disputing who started life. It’s just an interesting thought. Maybe we’re all Martians. ;)

            Google, Allan Hills 84001. It might have even happened before with fossils. emphasis on ‘might’.


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              Nick,

              How would life get from Mars to Earth? Recall how extremely difficult it is to break something free of the gravitational pull of a planet. It took the advent of rocket technology to do that. How would life forms escape from the gravitational pull of Mars, and how would they survive the journey to Earth?

              And, as I mentioned before, how would they survive the extreme temperatures associated with entry into Earth’s atmosphere? Recall that most meteors burn up entirely before reaching the ground.

              Scott


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    RATIONAL DUDE says:

    This is neither the time nor the place for ad hominems, though I doubt any of us has used them.
    Whether anybody has or not, this will probably be seen as such an attack: After seeing Steph act more ruthlessly persistent than I used to be, I was originally going to avoid posting here, to avoid spending my free time trying to explain to this person why chance cannot explain anything by itself, until one of us dropped dead from old age (and I doubt it would be me, so no true victory in that).

    Firstly, I shall make my attempt to prove Scott’s thesis, through pure logic, rather than evidence.

    PART ONE: Causal Mechanism
    1) To have causal power, chance must possess actual being.
    2) Chance does not possess actual being; it is only a description of something else, which DOES have causal power.
    3) Therefore, chance does not have causal power.
    PART TWO: Underlying Structure
    1) For a random causal mechanism to be able to actualize something, it must be possible to actualize it.
    2) The structure of reality determines what is and is not possible.
    3) Therefore, there must be an underlying structure that allows for something to be actualized.

    Defense of the Premises
    Premise #1.1 is obviously true, I should think. Even if this premise is not self-evident, the atheist SHOULD accept this premise as true; otherwise, God could create the universe, despite not existing!
    Premise #1.2 is not self-evident. Otherwise, atheists probably would not attribute so much creative power to their god? Let’s define chance; from Webster: “4.a : the possibility of a particular outcome in an uncertain situation; also : the degree of likelihood of such an outcome” Okay, so chance is just possibility or probability. Possibility and probability are just descriptions of what reality could be like, so have no real being. Premise #1.2 is now proven correct.
    Premise #1.3 follows from 1.1 and 1.2.
    Premise #2.1 is self-evident. Steph, you don’t seriously believe that a six-sided die, with numerals 1 through 6 on the faces, could land a seven, do you?? It’s clearly impossible, the probability is ZERO.
    Premise #2.2 should be self-evident; the laws of physics are the underlying structure of the universe, and determine what is and is not possible.
    Premise #2.3, it may be objected, does not follow from the other premises. Nothingness lacks potential, and something is only possible if there is the potential to actualize it. This is why, in the history of the universe, nobody has found a seven that was the result of somebody throwing a handful of nothing. If there is nothing, there simply is no potential. We need an underlying structure, QED.

    We can see that by definition, chance cannot produce a causal mechanism, or an underlying structure. We also see that it is a mistake to argue that chance does not need these two things; it is just a description of the causal mechanism acting within the bounds of what is possible. This is why some things are impossible, like landing a Seven on a classical six-sided die. The underlying structure (the die) does not allow it, and the causal mechanism (the thrower) can only do what is allowed.
    It should become clear that one cannot claim that “nothing produced the universe,” as nothing does not possess real being (try telling Lawrence Krauss that for me). In fact, if nothing existed, there would still be nothing, as the structure of reality must be such that a universe is possible; if the underlying principle of reality is nothingness, then nothing is possible. There simply is no potential that can be actualized.

    Secondly, I shall attempt to prove that chance cannot produce certain phenomena that we see in the world.

    The Power of Chance
    1) Chance cannot cause events that are supposed to happen. Chance cannot produce structures that are supposed to carry out certain functions.
    2) Examples of purposeful structures abound in nature.
    3) Therefore, much of what is found in nature cannot be the product of chance.

    Premise One is a truism; if an event is supposed to happen, then it is not random. Likewise, if a structure is supposed to carry out certain functions, then it is not random; whatever is supposed to transpire or exist is the product of design.
    Premise Two is what atheists almost always question (some of them have actually challenged Premise One[!], or asserted that because the argument doesn’t convince [insert atheist here], then something is wrong with the argument, even if they don’t know what). Of purposeful events, I know of no natural event that I can prove is purposeful, though many, by intuition, seem inherently purposeful to me. Of purposeful structures, ribosomes, hearts, kidneys, HELLO! Biology assumes that the structures life depends on are purposeful. Evolutionary synthesis makes the assumption as well: natural selection wouldn’t function if there were no advantages to what is being selected, and to have an advantage requires the structure to be purposeful. There simply is no escape. But other structures can be seen as purposeful as well: stars, to produce the elements our planet, and our bodies, are made from; galaxies, so that these elements can coalesce into planets. Even the fundamental units of matter can be seen as purposeful: if atoms did not behave in certain ways, chemistry wouldn’t be possible, so that life is not possible. Premise Two simply cannot be rationally denied in a scientific world like this one.


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    Steph says:

    Scott, easier to write here.
    1. Again, READ WHAT I SAY FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE. I haven’t said chance exists in nothingness. That’s your statement, not mine. Why do you insist on chance? That’s a law relevant in somethingness, not nothingness.
    2a. Ok, the quote: “Originally, I asked you what it was that acts from outside of the open system of the earth to counteract the 2nd law of thermodynamics,” Obvious enough for you? Then the answer to what mechanism allows life is a different question. There is a difference between what causes life, and why the Earth is an open system.
    2b. And actually, I think you’ll find that you’re the one who is AGAIN ignoring everything I post. To copy and paste:
    You’ve once more ignored what I’ve said. The mechanism is all I need to say. If you’re going to ask where the mechanism came from, I can answer (Sunlight, for example, came from gravitational forces acting on certain elements after the Big Bang), so what your question comes down to is where the universe came from, WHICH IS SOMETHING ELSE I HAVE ALREADY ANSWERED. Please stop ignoring my responses constantly.
    The mechanism has been described. The source of the mechanism has been described. What more do you want?
    2c. Congress would still be congress even if they all dressed up as clowns and played with hula-hoops. It’s not objectively defined.
    Congratulations on ONCE MORE UTTERLY IGNORING EVERYTHING I SAY. OF COURSE WHAT I SAY MAKES NO SENSE IF YOU ASSUME THAT LAWS ARE SEPARATE TO MATTER. You seem surprised that our views aren’t the same. It’s all you’re showing.
    If matter had no law to state it exists, then it wouldn’t exist. What would define existence? That’s simple logic. Why does matter follow laws? BECAUSE IT HAS TO. MATTER AND LAWS ARE THE SAME THING. Of course, you won’t accept that, because you’ll ignore my repeated statements that laws have no immaterial, external existence, and ask why my view is not your view, while giving no basis whatsoever beyond “I’m right, you’re wrong.”
    3. A logical observation. Easy.
    4. If matter and the laws are the same, then it’s obvious that changing the laws would change something about the matter. There is no need whatsoever to involve some unknown, one-time-only something to describe laws.
    As I said, hypocritical. Why the laws exist is very different from if they do: using your reasoning, I’ve answered your question. And, if you read your own post, you’ve evaded the question.
    5. You again ignored part of my post, but never mind. It’s evidence of nothing. there have been thousands of gods, and a dozen are similar. What’s even vaguely surprising about that?
    6. YOU ARE ONCE MORE IGNORING EVERYTHING I SAY. It’s not circular reasoning: it’s Occam’s Razor. I’m not going to rely on some unproven claim as evidence of something explained perfectly well by existing knowledge. Cultural tendencies, bias and religion explain what you think are similarities: and the existence of contradictions that you just brush aside are evidence against. You didn’t respond to my analogy, I noticed. Mine is much more accurate than yours: they all claim to have met the same person, but none describe them the same way beyond a few very vague things, and then only some of the time.


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 33 ) says:

      1. OK, Steph. In a state of nothingness, there is no chance and there is no potential.

      On Sept 15th, you wrote: “You make the assumption chance will not provide a causal mechanism and underlying structure.”

      On Sept 25th, you wrote: “Why do you require a mechanism where chance works just fine?”

      By the way, can you cite a philosopher who says that something can come from nothing…or is it just you, Steph? I have cited David Hume (perhaps even the most important atheist philosopher of all time) who said: “…but allow me to tell you that I never asserted so absurd a proposition as that anything might arise without a cause.”

      But most importantly, your view that a universe can arise from nothingness is a view that cannot, even in principle, have any support from evidence. How could you possibly cite any evidence that the universe arose from nothingness? Would nothingness leave some sort of footprint that it created the universe? Would nothingness leave some sort of signature that it created the universe?

      The idea that universe arose from God has enormous support from evidence (all of which you, of course, reject). But your rejection of this evidence does not subtract form the fact that you cannot provide any evidence for a universe from nothingness. It also does not subtract from the fact that there is an enormous amount of evidence for divine creation that you must explain away (and reject a priori).

      2a. Obvious enough for me? The only thing that is obvious is that I asked you ONE question under the heading of 2a. The 2nd law of thermodynamics says that ordered things become LESS ordered over time. This is why dead bodies decay and why cars rust, etc… I asked you what it is that counteracts the 2nd law of thermodynamics so as to allow the increase in order such that life could emerge from non-life.

      2b. You write, “The mechanism is all I need to say.” So your explanation for why living things (the simplest of which is several orders of magnitude more complex than anything humans have ever produced) appeared immediately on just-cooled earth is “the mechanism.” Do I have that right? Will you please tell us something about “the mechanism”? You say that “the mechanism has been described.” Forgive me if I forgot where you described “the mechanism”. Could you please copy and paste your description of “the mechanism”? And this mechanism came from where? It was produced by nothingness when nothingness produced the universe?

      2c. Could you please cite a physicist who says “matter and laws are the same thing” or “matter follows laws because it has to”? You are out there on your own if you believe that matter and the laws that govern matter are the same thing. Please respond to my North Korea example that you have ignored. If you took the people who make up the U.S. Congress and had them work according to the laws of North Korea, would it still be the same congress? You stated that “the people in congress are the same as congress” in order to support your stance that matter is the same as the laws that govern matter.

      3. A logical observation? Please tell me what definition of “observation” you are using when you suggest that “There doesn’t need to be a mechanism in nothingness” is an observation and not a law. And please tell me what dictionary your definition comes from so we can look it up.

      4. Once again, please provide some sort of support for your stance that matter and the laws that govern matter are the same thing. A citation from a physicist…something. Is the law of inertia (“for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction”) really a piece of matter? Please explain.

      5. You suggest that the transhistorical and transcultural nature of the God of the Bible is “evidence of nothing”. You are going to respond to an argument with an assertion? Is that all you are going to respond with?

      And you will not produce any evidence that any of the deities you listed (god of war, etc.) are transcultural or transhistorical. My citation presented in Which God Is Real, once again:

      “No one has chronicled the belief of…primeval peoples in as much detail as [Wilhelm] Schmidt in his twelve-volume The Origin of the Idea of God. Schmidt points out that the African and Asiatic Pygmies believed in a supreme being. The same is true of the Bushmen in South Africa; the inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego in South America; the Aboriginies of Australia; the Samoyeds, Koryaks, and Eskimos of the Arctic; and major Native American tribes. The notion of a supreme being is truly global. The names most commonly given to the supreme being, says Schmidt, denote his ‘fatherhood, creative power and residence in the sky.’ The primeval peoples also highlight key attributes of the supreme being:

      1) Eternity, 2) Omniscience, 3) Beneficence, 4) Morality, 5) Omnipotence, 6) Creative power, 7) Giver of the moral code, 8) Author of moral rewards and punishments.”

      6. Please explain the commonalities that research has demonstrated that NDEs share, as presented in How To Evaluate A NDE Skeptic’s Materialist Explanations of the Phenomenon. They are listed under six headings.


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        Steph says:

        1. There is plenty of logical basis for the point, which I have given you. You have rejected it by no more than assertion.
        My first post was only pointing out a flaw in your belief, and the second quote was never applied to where the universe came from, it was applied to where the apparent design came from.
        THERE IS NO EVIDENCE FOR GOD. What you’ve said here is explained by science completely. You insist God and science aren’t competing explanations, but God is not needed where science has found the answer. Your only way to smuggle God into things is to concoct some absurd, meaningless question.
        2a. Again, READ MY POSTS. You’re insisting you only asked one question, but you didn’t. Regardless, I’ve answered them. There is a difference between asking where the energy comes from that prevents the Earth being a closed system (which demonstrates why the second law of thermodynamics isn’t relevant), and asking what specifically occurred on Earth.
        2b. The mechanisms for abiogenesis would take too long to go into. Look at the links I have already sent you, rather than ignoring absolutely everything I post in an effort to create a straw man. The source of them can be traced back to the origin of the universe, yes. Ridicule is not an argument.
        2c. Your analogy makes no sense as North Korea has no congress. If, though, they voted to create laws identical to North Korea’s (in the same way every other law is put in place), then why would it suddenly stop being congress?
        No scientists says it in my words, and my phrasing is wrong anyway as it acts as though they’re separate elements: it’s the only way I seem to have been able to make you listen to it. It is though the fundamental rule of science.
        3. To use Google for ten seconds, and find wikipedia, observation can be defined as ” the process of filtering sensory information through the thought process.” Thought based on sensory information: the universe exists, as we can sense, and then there are analogous things (punishment in a place of law, and lawlessness) which demonstrate it. Extend the point through the thought process.
        4. Make that law happen without matter. THIS IS FUNDAMENTAL.
        5. YOU ARE IGNORING EVERYTHING I SAY. READ MY POSTS FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE RATHER THAN SPEWING RUBBISH AGAIN AND AGAIN.
        a) NO DEITY IS TRANSHISTORICAL OR TRANSCULTURAL. YOU’RE MAKING UP THE TERMS AND APPLYING THEM TO YOUR GOD WITH NO REASON.
        b) THERE HAVE BEEN THOUSANDS OF GODS. WHAT IS SO SPECIAL ABOUT A DOZEN BEING SIMILAR?
        c) THE ONLY REASON YOU DON’T SEE WAR GODS ETC AS TRANSHISTORICAL OR TRANSCULTURAL IS THAT YOU ONLY ACCEPT THE TERM APPLIED TO YOUR GOD, AND YOU FOCUS ON THE DIFFERENCES OF GODS OF LOVE, AND THE SIMILARITIES OF YOUR GODS. IF YOU LOOK AT THINGS IN A VAGUELY REASONABLE WAY YOU’LL SEE THE PROBLEM.
        6. STOP IGNORING MY POSTS. I’m going to stop replying if you again ask something I’ve answered. READ WHAT I SAY RATHER THAN IGNORING IT.
        “Cultural tendencies, bias and religion explain what you think are similarities”
        The first and second are the same, are rare, and explained by the statement. The third means the same: just because their eyes don’t work doesn’t mean their brain doesn’t. Four and five are ridiculously far from similarities. Do you know how many different ways they can happen? Blatant contradictions: yes, contradictions. The sixth is absurd. Children are suggestible, especially at that age.


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          Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 33 ) says:

          1. Steph, you have a peculiar habit of making vague references to evidence and information that you have supposedly previously cited, and of emphatically accusing me of ignoring your arguments. You say, “There is plenty of logical basis for the point, which I have given you.” I am saying that there is not and that you have not previously provided any evidence. So if you have previously cited evidence, go ahead and copy and paste it…this is not difficult to do. Unless you do so, we have no choice but to assume that you are trying to create a smoke screen to cover up for your lack of an argument. This debate has gone on for a long time, so it is entirely reasonable for me to ask you to copy and paste any evidence you have cited in previous posts.

          Once again, how could there be, even in principle, any evidence that nothingness created the universe? Would nothingness leave some sort of footprint or signature?

          You emphatically write “THERE IS NO EVIDENCE FOR GOD”. But this, again, is a textbook example of trying to conceal a deficient argument behind a forceful assertion. I am going to suggest that 1) if the majority of astrophysicists/astronomers have reached theistic or deistic conclusions as a result of their research (as demonstrated in Is There A God? (What is the chance that our world is the result of chance?) and 2) if the majority of the most important contributors to modern physics have been compelled by their research to arrive at theistic/deistic conclusions (as demonstrated in God Is Real: Why Modern Physics Has Discredited Atheism), then the assertion “there is no evidence for God” falls flat on its face. It is true that expert opinion, by itself, is not sufficient as evidence. But I do not provide expert opinion without also citing the basis behind that expert opinion.

          So, again, your statement “THERE IS NO EVIDENCE FOR GOD” is an utterly transparent attempt to use a forceful assertion to distract attention from the deficiency of your argument.

          You write: “You insist God and science aren’t competing explanations, but God is not needed where science has found the answer. Your only way to smuggle God into things is to concoct some absurd, meaningless question.” In response to this sentiment, Edgar Andrews writes in Who Made God?

          “Of course, when we play chess, the laws determine the moves we can make but not the moves we do make. That is, the laws are not deterministic; they don’t impose a particular outcome for the game. In the same way, the laws of nature determine what is and what is not physically possible, but they do not determine what actually occurs within the multitude of available possibilities.

          In a very real sense, then, science consists in the search for the rules of cosmic chess — that’s what science is. But having discovered the laws of nature which constitute its own existence, science cannot then explain them. Put succinctly, science cannot explain itself. Why not? Because to do so it would have to explain natural law in terms of some other more fundamental principle that was not itself natural law — like God…”

          This, once again, Steph, is why you are committing a category error whenever you cite science as an alternate explanation for God. Science describes natural phenomena in terms of laws, but it does not provide any explanation as to where these laws come from or why they are obeyed. Science also does not explain what “chess moves,” by means of analogy, are made. Rather, science only describes the “rules of the game.” The same point is made in this essay. Below is a copied and pasted excerpt:

          Hubert Yockey, a physicist and information theorist (who also worked on the Manhattan Project), responds to this proposal in Information Theory, Evolution and the Origin of Life, which is the leading text on the application of algorithmic information theory to the question of the origin of life (of which he is the lead author):

          “The laws of physics and chemistry are much like the rules of a game such as football. The referees see to it that these laws are obeyed but that does not predict the winner of the Super Bowl. There is not enough information in the rules of the game to make that prediction. That is why we play the game. [Mathematician Gregory] Chaitin (1985, 1987a) has examined the laws of physics by actually programming them. He finds the information content amazingly small.

          The reason that there are principles of biology that cannot be derived from the laws of physics and chemistry lies simply in the fact that the genetic information content of the genome for constructing even the simplest organisms is much larger than the information content of these laws.” (Yockey 1992).

          This is why Yockey concludes that the origin of life is “unsolvable as a scientific problem,” as I cite him in Why Life Could Not Have Emerged Without God. Science can only describe things in terms of laws, but it cannot say where these laws came from, why they are obeyed, or what is done within the confines of these laws (“chess moves”).

          This is also why the top scientific minds make admissions such as the following:

          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 scientist 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, who is known for his “self-organization” theories regarding the origin of life, 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.”

          This is also why Richard Dawkins admits that he doesn’t know how life emerged in this video. And this is also why cream-of-the-crop atheist scientists have resorted to explanations for the origin of life as bizarre as the aliens-brought-life-to-earth-in-their-spaceship (“directed panspermia”) explanation, the life-came-to-earth-from-space-without-alien-assistance explanation (“panspermia”) and the piggback-ride-on-crystals explanation proposed by prominent atheist biologist Michael Ruse in this video.

          So, to summarize, you are committing an open-and-shut category error any time you cite science as an alternative explanation to God because science and God are not competing explanations for natural phenomena. Science, once again, does not really explain anything. Rather, it describes things in terms of laws. Edgar Andrews again:

          “…far from explaining everything, science actually ‘explains’ nothing. What science does is describe the world and its phenomenology in terms of its own specialized concepts and models — which provide immensely valuable insights but become increasingly non-intuitive as we dig ever deeper into the nature of physical reality.”

          “…The formula equates the gravitational force between two objects to the product of their masses multiplied by a universal constant (the ‘gravitational constant’) and divided by the square of the distance between them. But does the equation ‘explain’ why you don’t bump your head on the ceiling? Not really. It tells us there is a force that keeps your feet on the ground, but you knew that already. It also quantifies that force, allowing us to calculate its strength in any particular case, which is extremely useful. But it doesn’t tell us why there is such a force, why it follows an inverse square law, and why the ‘gravitational constant’ has the value that it does. The equation is a description of gravity rather than an explanation.”

          “…although scientific theories advance our understanding of the way things work in our universe, they seldom, if ever, trace our experiences and observations back to a priori concepts that need no further explanation. Indeed, in their search for unification they often lead us into profound and inexplicable mysteries — conceptual quagmires like ‘curved space-time’ from which there is no escape.”

          2a. Steph, I am going to insist that when you make a statement such as “I’ve answered them [questions]” instead of answering my questions, you are doing so to create a smoke screen in which to hide the deficiency of your arguments. If you’ve answered them, then go ahead and copy and paste. I have had to do quite a bit of copying and pasting, as you are well aware. I asked you what it is that counteracts the 2nd law of thermodynamics, not what causes the earth to be an open system. If you misunderstood, fine, I forgive you.

          2b. “The mechanisms of abiogenesis would take too long to go into”?? Why don’t you just give us a couple of bullet points, at least? Could it be because you don’t have a clue as to how life emerged from non-life…as is the case with even the most prominent scientific minds, including Richard Dawkins, as I demonstrate above?? Are you going to suggest that you know how life emerged even though the most prominent atheist biologists freely admit that they don’t have the faintest clue? Are you going to try to hide your ignorance behind a smoke screen by stating that “the mechanisms of abiogenesis would take too long to go into”? If the most prominent scientists admit that they don’t have the faintest clue as to how life emerged, then you owe us some explanation more substantive than “the mechanisms of abiogenesis would take too long to go into”!! Who do you think you are fooling?!

          The only “explanation” that you have provided so far is a link to a couple of videos which provide, at most, a description, rather than an explanation, of the few things that are known regarding the origin of life.

          2c. My analogy makes no sense because North Korea has no congress?? Well, it does have a governing body known as the “Supreme People’s Assembly.” What difference does it make what governing body is called? If you took the people who make up the U.S. Congress and had them operate under the rules of the SPA, would it still be the same government? You have suggested that congress is the same as the people who make up congress in order to support your stance that the laws that govern matter are the same as matter itself.

          And once again, could you please cite a physicist who agrees with you that the laws of physics that govern matter are the same thing as matter itself? Can you give us something…anything to support this?! What does it matter if “no scientist says it in [your] words,” as you say? Cite for us a scientist who makes your point in his/her own words. Is the law that “objects at rest tend to stay at rest and objects in motion tend to stay in motion” really a piece of matter? Please, please explain!

          3. Ok, your definition of “observation” is “the process of filtering sensory information through the thought process.” I guess that works for me. Now please tell me what sensory information you have filtered through your thought processes in order to conclude that the statement “There doesn’t need to be a mechanism in nothingness” is an observation and not a law. How could you possibly have received any sensory information from a state of nothingness?!

          4. No, the law “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” will not “happen” without matter. But, in a similar light, the laws of congress will not cause anything to happen without congressmen and congresswomen. Does this mean that congress is the same thing as the laws of congress, to use your example?

          5. If I am ignoring something you say, then you need to repeat it. What is your rebuttal to what Don Richardson writes in his book Eternity In Their Hearts: Startling Evidence of Belief in the One True God in Hundreds of Cultures Throughout the World, as I cite in Which God Is Real? There are a lot more than a dozen cultures that have believed in a God with the following attributes:

          1) Eternity, 2) Omniscience, 3) Beneficence, 4) Morality, 5) Omnipotence, 6) Creative power, 7) Giver of the moral code, 8)Author of moral rewards and punishments.

          …which are the core attributes of the God of the Bible. Can you cite hundreds of cultures in which your “god of war” emerges?

          6. First of all, I cite several examples of NDEs that have occurred to atheists (in which they encountered God) in Why Death is Not the End. How can you explain these in terms of cultural bias?

          atheist NDE 1 , atheist NDE 2 , atheist NDE 3

          And these are just three examples…there are many more.

          Regarding the six points in my post How to Respond to An NDE Skeptics’ Materialist Explanations of the Phenomenon, you write that points 1 and 2 are “the same and rare.” And yet, Long states “approximately half of all NDEs have an OBE (out-of-body experience) that involves seeing or hearing earthly events. Usually the point of consciousness rises above the body.” Half of all NDEs is not rare.

          You write that “the third means the same.” Steph, the problem is that people who are born blind being able to see needs explanation because such people have no previous concept of what it means to see and have no memory of anything visual.

          You write that “four and five are ridiculously far from similarities.” You ask if I know how many different ways they can happen. Do you know how many different ways a visit to New York City can happen? Does the variety of experiences of New York City provide evidence that there is no New York City?

          And finally you write that “the sixth is absurd.” Once again, this is your penchant for trying to use assertion to substitute for argument.


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    Rod Carty says:

    “Life couldn’t exist if it wasn’t able to comprehend the world around it at all, it would die out in an instant.”

    By this logic even bacteria must be able to comprehend the world around them in order to live.

    “No, there are no laws in nothingness, but I HAVE NEVER EVER SAID THERE WAS A LAW SAYING SOMETHING WOULD COME FROM NOTHING. When have I ever made up such a law? There doesn’t need to be one. Neither must happen, either could happen.”

    There is the law of cause and effect. Anything that happens (the effect) must have a cause. If there was nothing before this universe came into being, what was it’s cause?

    “Your only basis for the other gods not being real is that they’re not your god. They’re just as transhistorical and transcultural, also appearing in cultures isolated from each other.”

    We can logically determine what the attributes would be of a true God, such as omnipotence, omniscience, etc. Only one God known to man meets those criteria both in descriptions of themselves and in their behavior – the God of the Bible.


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      Steph says:

      Bacteria do understand it to a degree, even if they’re not conscious.
      You’ve applied a law to nothing. That’s just wrong.
      You assume a ‘True God’ exists.


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        Sam says:

        Steph, how can bacteria understand anything if they are not conscious? Are you being serious?


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          Steph says:

          There is a gap between ‘understanding’ and ‘conscious understanding’. The word ‘understanding’ is used at a stretch, but the stretch is easily covered by the point you’re targeting.
          If you think about it, it’s obvious. How could something survive if it had no clue about what was around it?


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    Steph says:

    To Scott.
    1. What? The law is applied to potentiality and chance, not to nothingness. Potentiality and chance require a change in state: a change can’t happen if there’s no time, that’s nonsensical. Think about what you’re saying. Call it a law if you want, but I’m applying it to potentiality and chance, and not nothingness. It’s not even a law, it’s just the definition of the two things.
    2a. What acted on the Earth? Look up at the sky. Seriously? It’s basic scientific knowledge that pretty much all energy on Earth comes from the Sun.
    2b. We’d comprehend chaos just as easily. Life couldn’t exist if it wasn’t able to comprehend the world around it at all, it would die out in an instant.
    2c. Why do you divide natural laws from the things they act on? That’s pathetic. It doesn’t make any sense unless you’re twisting reality to support your own views. One cannot exist without the other. A law wouldn’t exist without something to act on, and matter can’t exist unless it’s governed by something, because at the very least there must be a law that says it exists.
    3. Putting both these together as you seem incapable of reading what I’ve said several times. yes, the lack of prevention in nothingness is behind the universe. No, there are no laws in nothingness, but I HAVE NEVER EVER SAID THERE WAS A LAW SAYING SOMETHING WOULD COME FROM NOTHING. When have I ever made up such a law? There doesn’t need to be one. Neither must happen, either could happen. That’s what a lack of laws means.
    4. Look at how hypocritical you’re being. You ask me why the laws exist, I answer, you say it’s not good enough because it doesn’t answer some ontological why which has no basis on reality whatsoever. When I ask the same question of theism, you can’t answer, and engage in rather obvious special pleading.
    5. Completely circular. Your only basis for the other gods not being real is that they’re not your god. They’re just as transhistorical and transcultural, also appearing in cultures isolated from each other.
    6. Actually look at what’s in NDEs rather than just what you hope is. They’re completely different. Some fly away from earth, some go to a void, some go straight to heaven, some go through some mixture of those, some meet God, some meet Jesus, some meet a messenger, some meet relatives, some are returned to their bodies, some are just dropped there… Add into all of that variation some clear cultural bias, and you have an answer.


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 33 ) says:

      1) You say “a change can’t happen if there’s no time, that’s nonsensical.” Fair enough, but your entire chain of logic is nonsensical…I am just trying to get you to see it:

      A) You say that a universe can come from a state of nothingness since there are no laws, and therefore no law of causation (which dictates that everything with a beginning requires a cause), in a state of nothingness.

      B) Since there are no laws in a state of nothingness, this also necessarily implies that the law which says that “change can’t happen if there’s no time” does not exist in a state of nothingness.

      C) Therefore, your view that nothingness doesn’t require chance and potentiality to create something is invalid because chance and potentiality do not require time to create something in a state of nothingness.

      In light of the new heights of absurdity that this discussion has reached, I would like to cite the atheist philosopher David Hume who admitted his regret for his one-time belief that something could emerge without a cause. Hume said, “…but allow me to tell you that I never asserted so absurd a proposition as that anything might arise without a cause.”

      2A) You write that, “It’s basic scientific knowledge that pretty much all energy on Earth comes from the Sun.” Well, of course it is. But my question was: What is it that acts from outside the (open) system of the earth so as to counteract the 2nd law of thermodynamics, thus allowing life to emerge from non-living matter? Is it the sunlight? If so, then why is it that one cannot place a decomposing dead animal in the sunlight and expect it to re-compose? Are you suggesting that sunlight was responsible for the creation of life from non-life? Please clarify. And please also recall my previous citation from MIT physicist Gerald Schreoder:

      “…and then there is the uncontested reality that life started immediately on just-cooled earth and not after billions of years as had been once posited. Elso Barghoorn, while at Harvard University, discovered this fact that changed the entire emphasis in origin of life studies. Barghoorn discovered that the oldest rocks that can bear fossils already have fully formed fossils of one-celled life. And most amazingly, and yet by necessity, those first forms of life already had the ability to reproduce. Reproduction is not something that can gradually evolve. The first cell to survive had to have all the mechanisms for mitosis the first time around since all the attempts at life that came before (if there were other attempts) died without leaving any heritage simply because there was no succeeding generation prior to reproduction.” [the word “uncontested” was italicized by me.]

      2B) You suggest that “We’d comprehend chaos just as easily.” But how could we even exist if the universe were truly chaotic? In order to comprehend, we’d need to first exist.

      2C) Why divide the natural laws from the things they act on? Please review this article which states, “There is no principle of physics that says physical laws or constants have to be the same everywhere and always.” The author also asks, “Why should we assume that a particular mass always exerts the same gravity, or that an atom always has the same mass anyway? After all, one of the most revelatory theories of modern physics, special relativity, showed that the length of a centimetre and the duration of a second can change depending on how fast you are moving.”

      A law of physics could, for example, be “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” at one time and place in the universe, and “for every action there is no reaction whatsoever” at another time and place in the universe.

      It is this consistency, this order which needs explanation…as Albert Einstein pointed out:

      “….a priori, one should expect a chaotic world, which cannot be grasped by the mind in any way… the kind of order created by Newton’s theory of gravitation, for example, is wholly different. Even if man proposes the axioms of the theory, the success of such a project presupposes a high degree of ordering of the objective world, and this could not be expected a priori. That is the `miracle’ which is being constantly reinforced as our knowledge expands.”

      Your worldview takes this ordering for granted. This amounts to an arbitrary assumption of orderliness, and thus illustrates a gaping hole in your explanatory framework. Norman Geisler and Frank Turek coin the term just-so storytelling in their book I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be An Atheist. The term applies here.

      3) Emphatically, you write, ” I HAVE NEVER EVER SAID THERE WAS A LAW SAYING SOMETHING WOULD COME FROM NOTHING.” Well, you never used those words, but you have clearly suggested that something can come from nothing. And “something can come from nothing” is a statement of natural law. If it is not a statement of natural law, then what is it? Please explain.

      4) You write, “Look at how hypocritical you’re being. You ask me why the laws exist, I answer, you say it’s not good enough because it doesn’t answer some ontological why which has no basis on reality whatsoever. When I ask the same question of theism, you can’t answer, and engage in rather obvious special pleading.”

      No, I asked you what the source of physical/natural laws is. You replied that “they are part of the universe.” But this would be like answering “it is part of the computer” if I asked you what the source of the information processing capability of a computer is. Laws that are part of the universe cannot come from the universe.

      My answer to the question of where physical/natural laws come from and why they are so consistent is that the physical/natural world is a manifestation of God’s consciousness…which is a view strongly supported by both the majority of the most important contributors to modern physics and the majority of the classical philosophers, as I demonstrate in God Is Real. Why modern physics has discredited atheism.

      So, I will again very poignantly ask you: What is your explanation as to why matter so consistently follows, where these laws come from, and why these laws are so consistent across time and space…so as to allow for an orderly, rather than chaotic, universe.

      5) You write: “Completely circular. Your only basis for the other gods not being real is that they’re not your god. They’re just as transhistorical and transcultural, also appearing in cultures isolated from each other.”

      No, actually, (part of) my basis for other gods not being real is that they are not transhistorical and transcultural. Here is my citation of Wilhelm Schmidt’s The Origin of the Idea of God as presented in The Christ Connection by Roy Abraham Varghese:

      “No one has chronicled the belief of…primeval peoples in as much detail as [Wilhelm] Schmidt in his twelve-volume The Origin of the Idea of God.  Schmidt points out that the African and Asiatic Pygmies believed in a supreme being.  The same is true of the Bushmen in South Africa; the inhabitants of Tierra del Fuego in South America; the Aboriginies of Australia; the Samoyeds, Koryaks, and Eskimos of the Arctic; and major Native American tribes.  The notion of a supreme being is truly global. The names most commonly given to the supreme being, says Schmidt, denote his ‘fatherhood, creative power and residence in the sky.’  The primeval peoples also highlight key attributes of the supreme being:
      1) Eternity,  2) Omniscience,   3) Beneficence,   4) Morality,   5) Omnipotence,   6) Creative power,   7) Giver of the moral code,   8)Author of moral rewards and punishments.”

      Now go ahead an provide me a citation which demonstrates that any of the gods you have cited (god of war, etc.) have a transcultural and transhistorical existence. You have responded with an assertion, but no basis to back up your assertion.

      6) You write: “They’re [NDEs] completely different. Some fly away from earth, some go to a void, some go straight to heaven, some go through some mixture of those, some meet God, some meet Jesus, some meet a messenger, some meet relatives, some are returned to their bodies, some are just dropped there…”

      Yes, not every NDE is exactly the same. But this does not detract in any way from the fact that they share remarkable consistencies. Why would one expect NDEs to be exactly the same?

      Please review my post titled How to Evaluate An NDE Skeptic’s Materialistic Explanations for the Phenomenon. Jeffrey Long M.D. highlights several of these remarkable consistencies. A couple of them are a) reunion with God, angels, Jesus, deceased loved ones b) life review


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        Steph says:

        1. What are you on about? If you’re taking a completely definition of change, then say so, but then you can’t call it change. Your argument seems to be along the same lines as complaining that space involves dimensions.
        2a. Because there needs to be a mechanism. I have given a mechanism for the origin of life. The number of worlds in even just our universe answer your argument from chance.
        2b. Ask the question of why we exist then, rather than trying to hide it behind another point. This is another argument from chance, answered by the multiverse.
        2c. You’re separating the laws from the universe. I have said before that they’re the same thing, respond to my statement rather than making empty assertions.
        3. There are no laws that say something will come from nothing, and no laws that say it won’t. You’re the one making up a law by making the absolute claim that it won’t happen.
        4. Oh please. You keep making that pathetic assertion about modern physics, I keep responding. Stop lying, stop ignoring everything I say, and think about what you’re asking. You’re also saying ‘it just is’ for why God created those laws, which you complain when I apparently say the same. Special pleading.
        The laws are part of the universe. You act as though there is a different answer: THERE IS NOT. When the universe began to exist, so did the laws. Same thing.
        Where did the computer’s processing ability come from? From parts of the computer. Where those parts came from is the same question as where the computer came from.
        5. Just google war deities, or gods of love. My comment keeps gettingde leted if I try to link. They appear in many places, and chance will easily account for their similarity.
        6. If NDEs are genuine experiences, then they should be the same. That’s basic logic. If they’re hallucinated, they’d be slightly similar because of preconceptions, and your confirmation bias takes care of the rest.


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          Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 33 ) says:

          1) The point is this: You have suggested that nothingness can produce something (like a universe) because there are no laws in a state of nothingness which would prevent nothingness from producing something. But if there are no laws in a state of nothingness, then there is no law in a state of nothingness which says that potentiality and chance require time. No laws means no laws. You suggest that I am “taking a completely different definition of change.” This is fair enough, but you are clearly using a completely different definition of causation. You are suggesting that nothingness can cause something to exist. Something being caused by nothing is way outside of any reasonable definition of “cause.”

          READERS, PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING DISCUSSION OF THE ORIGIN OF LIFE, BECAUSE THIS IS INSTRUCTIVE:

          2a) Originally, I asked you what it was that acts from outside of the open system of the earth to counteract the 2nd law of thermodynamics, so as to allow life to emerge from non-life. (The 2nd law of thermodynamics states that the measure of disorder in a system (entropy) will tend to increase over time. It is the reason that dead bodies decay and the reason that cars rust, etc..)

          On October 3, your reply was: What acted on the Earth? Look up at the sky. Seriously? It’s basic scientific knowledge that pretty much all energy on Earth comes from the Sun.

          On October 4, I replied: You say, “It’s basic scientific knowledge that pretty much all energy on Earth comes from the Sun.” Well, of course it is. But my question was: What is it that acts from outside the (open) system of the earth so as to counteract the 2nd law of thermodynamics, thus allowing life to emerge from non-living matter? Is it the sunlight? If so, then why is it that one cannot place a decomposing dead animal in the sunlight and expect it to re-compose? Are you suggesting that sunlight was responsible for the creation of life from non-life?

          On October 4, you responded: Because there needs to be a mechanism. I have given a mechanism for the origin of life. The number of worlds in even just our universe answer your argument from chance.

          So Steph, are you changing your argument? Are you dropping your argument that it is sunlight that counteracts the 2nd law of thermodynamics, thus allowing life to emerge from non-living matter? Or are you sticking to your guns? Is your new argument that other “worlds in even just our universe” counteracted the 2nd law of thermodynamics, so as to allow life to emerge from non-living matter? If so, could you clarify what you mean?

          WHAT IS YOUR ANSWER TO THE QUESTION OF WHAT IT IS THAT COUNTERACTS THE 2ND LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS, SO AS TO ALLOW LIFE TO EMERGE FROM NON-LIVING MATTER? PLEASE EXPLAIN! SUNLIGHT? “OTHER WORLDS IN…OUR UNIVERSE”? WHAT?

          2b) Ok, fine. I am asking you the question of why we exist. There is no hiding going on here. How did conscious, intelligent, and personal beings eventually emerge from an underlying structure which does not include consciousness, intelligence, and personhood? No multiverse explanations will work here because, early in the history of our universe, there was nothing material other than inert, lifeless matter.

          2c) The laws of the universe and the universe are the same thing? So the universe is comprised of nothing but laws? Isn’t there something else to the universe such as time, space, matter, etc?

          3) And you are the one making up a law by making the claim that something can come from nothing. What don’t you understand about this?

          READERS, PLEASE NOTE THE FOLLOWING DISCUSSION OF PHYSICAL/NATURAL LAWS, BECAUSE THIS IS INSTRUCTIVE:

          4) You suggest that I am making a “pathetic claim about modern physics” and that I am “lying and ignoring.” Considering that the majority of the most important contributors to modern physics are making the same claim (including names such as Einstein, Planck, Heisenberg, Born, Jeans, Maxwell, Compton, Dirac, Eddington, Schroedinger, Joule, Kelvin, Salam, Wigner, etc.), as I demonstrate in God Is Real: Why modern physics has discredited atheism, your assertion that my claim is “pathetic” and consists of lies is a very empty assertion.

          You are very transparently trying to use forceful rhetoric to distract attention from the deficiency of your argument. What is the specific reason that both the majority of the most important contributors to modern physics and the majority of the great classical philosophers got it wrong? What is is that makes their position on this issue “pathetic” and comprised of “lies”?

          When the universe came to exist, so did the laws? Fair enough, why would anyone disagree with that? But the question was this: What is your explanation as to why matter so consistently follows, where these laws come from, and why these laws are so consistent across time and space…so as to allow for an orderly, rather than chaotic, universe. Why is it not the case, for example, that, at one point in time and space, the law is “for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction,” and then at another point in time and space, the law is “for every action, there is no reaction whatsoever”? I will ONCE AGAIN copy and paste Albert Einstein’s comments:

          “….a priori, one should expect a chaotic world, which cannot be grasped by the mind in any way… the kind of order created by Newton’s theory of gravitation, for example, is wholly different. Even if man proposes the axioms of the theory, the success of such a project presupposes a high degree of ordering of the objective world, and this could not be expected a priori. That is the `miracle’ which is being constantly reinforced as our knowledge expands.”

          How can inert matter be compelled to do anything, much less follow a physical/natural law? What is the source of this “high degree of ordering of the objective world?”

          You write: Where did the computer’s processing ability come from? From parts of the computer. Where those parts came from is the same question as where the computer came from. OK, then the source of the physical/natural laws that govern our universe is the nothingness that you suggest produced our universe. How does the nothingness see to it that matter follows these laws so consistently? How can mindless matter be compelled to do anything, much less follow a law? Why are there laws rather than just chaos?

          You are glossing over the fact that these are legitimate questions. A phenomenon such as matter following physical/natural laws in an extremely consistent fashion demands an explanation. Who or what sees to it that these laws are followed? The universe? How does it do that? By using a “force,” as in Star Wars? You have the cart before the horse…matter is derivative from consciousness (God’s consciousness). This is what modern physics declares, whether you like it or not….as I demonstrate in God Is Real: Why modern physics has discredited atheism. A citation from that essay, once again (since repetition may be the only way to get through to you):

          The knighted mathematician, physicist and astronomer Sir James Jeans, put it in his book The Mysterious Universe:

          “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.” (italics added)

          And another citation, for the sake of repetition:

          Max Planck (the Nobel Prize winning physicist who founded quantum theory) says…

          “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.”

          5) A deity appearing in many places is not the same as a deity being transcultural and transhistorical. Please provide a citation demonstrating the transhistorical or transcultural existence of any of your deities.

          6) You write: If NDEs are genuine experiences, then they should be the same. If 2 people made separate visits to New York city, but had different experiences, could we deem their experiences to be not genuine? Clearly, their visits to New York would share many similarities which would confirm that they both visited New York, but we should expect for their experiences to have many differences as well.


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            Steph says:

            1. Chance is not applied to nothingness, as chance cannot exist outside of time. Saying that it can do is laughable. You’re working on the basis that time exists, and that there was a time when there was nothing, and a time where there was something. THERE IS NO TIME.
            2a. You did ask two questions. The first was why the Earth was not a closed system, the second was why life came about. I have answered both of those, read my comments and stop ignoring everything I say. The energy from outside the Earth (sunlight) prevents the Earth being a closed system, and the accounts of abiogenesis and the like that I have given you explain how life arose. They are two questions, the answers will not be the same.
            2b. If I was insisting there are no explanations for divine creation, then telling me to look up even the slightest thing about it would be valid.
            You’ve once more ignored what I’ve said. The mechanism is all I need to say. If you’re going to ask where the mechanism came from, I can answer (Sunlight, for example, came from gravitational forces acting on certain elements after the Big Bang), so what your question comes down to is where the universe came from, WHICH IS SOMETHING ELSE I HAVE ALREADY ANSWERED. Please stop ignoring my responses constantly.
            You can’t show that thought cannot be trusted by using thought. The conclusion has to be that thought can be trusted, otherwise you couldn’t reach the conclusion that it can’t be.
            2c. Again, you’re ignoring me. You treat laws like a separate element, and then try to shoehorn that into what I say, which is utterly absurd, and a mutilation of any logic. The people in congress are the same as congress. Being able to conceive of something doesn’t make it realistic. Read Harry Potter.
            Matter cannot exist without a law, because there must at least be a law to say it exists, and give it properties. Without properties, it wouldn’t exist. there is no reason to separate the two.
            3. Really? You do know that observation has more than the meaning ‘to see with my own eyes’?
            4. If laws are different, then the matter they act on will also be different. If pi was 3, then circles would be different. And it’s absurd to use a law of the universe to show that laws change.
            To apply the same argument to God, why did God decide to create the laws in this way? Bearing in mind evasion does not constitute an answer, even if you find it justified.
            5. The only difference between ‘core traits’ and ‘similarities’ is one you’ve made up. There are probably plenty between some of them. Unlike the person you’re quoting, I simply do not have time to go through the thousands of deities created by history, even the most obscure, and find a few dozen that are similar.
            6. Congratulations on again assuming your view is correct.
            If I went to a friend’s house, and left saying they had brown hair, a huge garden, and a pet dog, and one of my friends said they had blonde hair, a small garden, and a cat, and another friend said they had brown hair, live in a houseboat, and had ten cats… and so on, are you really going to be surprised that some say the same? And would you really think that they’d even been to where they say?


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              Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 33 ) says:

              1. If chance cannot exist outside of time, then chance cannot exist in a state of nothingness…since there is no time in a state of nothingness. And if there is no chance in a state of nothingness, then there is no chance that a universe can emerge from nothingness. Can’t you see the contradiction of stating that “chance cannot exist outside of time,” and yet declaring that chance can exist in a state of nothingness without time?!

              2a. No I very clearly did not ask two questions. Go ahead and tell me the date of the comment where I asked “why the Earth was not a closed system.” You won’t because you can’t, because I never asked this.

              You suggest that the accounts of abiogenesis that you gave explain how life arose. Yet you have ignored what I said in my last post regarding your “accounts of abiogenesis” videos, so I will YET AGAIN copy and paste in hopes that you will eventually respond:

              You linked me to two videos about “abiogenesis.” One of them featured Carl Sagan, in which he admitted, “Much remains to be explained about the origin of life, such as the origin of the genetic code.” As I said before, this is like saying, “Much remains to be explained about the computer, such as its ability to process information.” It is also like saying, “Much remains to be explained about the airplane, such as its ability to fly.”

              Without the genetic code, there is no such thing as life. You seem to brush this off as if it were an unimportant issue.

              The other video you linked me to, as I pointed out before, confuses describing the very few known aspects of the origin of life with explaining the origin of life. This is the same category error that I pointed out before. I will again copy and paste my citation from Edgar Andrews’ book Who Made God?:

              “…far from explaining everything, science actually ‘explains’ nothing. What science does is describe the world and its phenomenology in terms of its own specialized concepts and models — which provide immensely valuable insights but become increasingly non-intuitive as we dig ever deeper into the nature of physical reality.”

              “…The formula equates the gravitational force between two objects to the product of their masses multiplied by a universal constant (the ‘gravitational constant’) and divided by the square of the distance between them. But does the equation ‘explain’ why you don’t bump your head on the ceiling? Not really. It tells us there is a force that keeps your feet on the ground, but you knew that already. It also quantifies that force, allowing us to calculate its strength in any particular case, which is extremely useful. But it doesn’t tell us why there is such a force, why it follows an inverse square law, and why the ‘gravitational constant’ has the value that it does. The equation is a description of gravity rather than an explanation.”

              “…although scientific theories advance our understanding of the way things work in our universe, they seldom, if ever, trace our experiences and observations back to a priori concepts that need no further explanation. Indeed, in their search for unification they often lead us into profound and inexplicable mysteries — conceptual quagmires like ‘curved space-time’ from which there is no escape.”

              Whenever you cite scientific descriptions of the few known aspects of the origin of life as an explanation for the origin of life, you are committing the same old category error that atheists so often commit.

              Further, you have failed to respond to my post titled Why Life Could Not Have Emerged Without God.

              READERS, PLEASE CLOSELY OBSERVE THAT ANSWER THAT STEPH PROVIDES TO THE FOLLOWING QUESTION REGARDING THE ORIGIN OF LIFE, WHICH I HAVE POSED SEVERAL TIMES:

              STEPH: Regarding the origin of life, who or what caused the enormous increase in complexity that caused life to emerge from non-life (which was counter to the 2nd law of thermodynamics, which says that things become LESS complex over time, not more)? You have linked to a couple of videos which you suggest explain the origin of life. But, as Carl Sagan admits in one of your videos, “much remains to be explained about the origin of life, such as the origin of the genetic code.” Please note that the question of the origin of life basically IS the question of the origin of the genetic code (as I point out in Why Life Could Not Have Emerged Without God, which you have ignored).

              Please also, AGAIN, note the following citation from MIT physicist Gerald Schreoder:

              “…and then there is the uncontested reality that life started immediately on just-cooled earth and not after billions of years as had been once posited. Elso Barghoorn, while at Harvard University, discovered this fact that changed the entire emphasis in origin of life studies. Barghoorn discovered that the oldest rocks that can bear fossils already have fully formed fossils of one-celled life. And most amazingly, and yet by necessity, those first forms of life already had the ability to reproduce. Reproduction is not something that can gradually evolve. The first cell to survive had to have all the mechanisms for mitosis the first time around since all the attempts at life that came before (if there were other attempts) died without leaving any heritage simply because there was no succeeding generation prior to reproduction.” [the word “uncontested” was italicized by me.]

              STEPH: You have linked to a couple of videos, but when I ask you to provide any explanation whatsoever in your own words, you refuse to do so. So again I will ask you:

              WHO OR WHAT CAUSED THE FIRST SELF-REPLICATING MOLECULES (which are several orders of magnitude more complex than anything humans have ever made) TO EMERGE IMMEDIATELY ON THE JUST-COOLED EARTH? IF IT IS A “MECHANISM,” THEN PLEASE DESCRIBE THE MECHANISM IN YOUR OWN WORDS!!! AND WHEN YOU ARE DONE, PLEASE EXPLAIN WHERE THIS MECHANISM CAME FROM. LINKING TO VIDEOS, WHICH DESCRIBE (RATHER THAN EXPLAIN) THE FEW KNOWN DETAILS SURROUNDING THE ORIGIN OF LIFE, WILL NOT DO.

              READERS, PLEASE TAKE NOTE OF STEPH’S REPLY, BECAUSE THIS IS INSTRUCTIVE!!

              2c. The people in congress are the same as congress? What about the laws which govern how congress operates? If you took the people who make up congress and had them operate under the laws of North Korea or the former Soviet Union, would it still be the same congress? This is bizarre.

              Matter cannot exist without a law, “because there must at least be a law to say it exists”? If you say so. But then you are still left with the following questions: 1) What sees to it that matter follows laws? “The force,” as in Star Wars? 2) Why are there laws that dictate HOW MATTER BEHAVES? This is not a question of what there is “a law to say it [matter] exists”?

              And where did you get the idea that “matter cannot exist without a law, because there must be at least a law to say that it exists”? Can you provide any support for this assertion whatsoever? I will YET AGAIN copy and paste what Albert Einstein said about this issue:

              “….a priori, one should expect a chaotic world, which cannot be grasped by the mind in any way… the kind of order created by Newton’s theory of gravitation, for example, is wholly different. Even if man proposes the axioms of the theory, the success of such a project presupposes a high degree of ordering of the objective world, and this could not be expected a priori. That is the `miracle’ which is being constantly reinforced as our knowledge expands.”

              What is your explanation for this “high degree of objective ordering” that Einstein marveled at? Are you suggesting that the source of this ordering is physical/natural laws that “have to be” or “just are”? I don’t want to put words in your mouth so please explain.

              3. What definition of “observation” are you using? How can you say that the statement “there doesn’t need to be a mechanism in a state of nothingness” is an observation (instead of a law) if you did not make some sort of observation? If it was not an observation with your eyes, fine. Then what kind of observation was it?

              4. If the laws were different, then the matter that they act on would be different? Can you provide any support for this assertion whatsoever? Recall my above example of the people that make up the U.S. Congress operating under the laws that govern North Korea.

              Whenever you ask questions such as “why did God decide to create the laws in this way?,” you are trying to probe the mind of God, which is an absurd venture. Further, when you ask such a question you are changing the subject in order to divert attention away from the inadequacy of your explanations. WHY God would create laws in such a way is an entirely different question from IF God created laws.

              5. I don’t expect you to “go through the thousands of deities created by history.” I just expect you to provide SOME evidence that any of the deities you mention have a transcultural or transhistorical nature. Do you think that “there are probably plenty of similarities between them” will convince anyone? And if you did find some transhistorical and transcultural commonalities that various gods share, would this be evidence for or against such a God?

              6. You write: If I went to a friend’s house, and left saying they had brown hair, a huge garden, and a pet dog, and one of my friends said they had blonde hair, a small garden, and a cat, and another friend said they had brown hair, live in a houseboat, and had ten cats… and so on, are you really going to be surprised that some say the same? And would you really think that they’d even been to where they say?

              This is bizarre. Your argument starts from the assumption that NDEs do not agree with each other, and then reasons back to the conclusion that they must be hallucinations because they do not agree with each other. This is circular reasoning in its purest sense. But they clearly DO agree with each other, as demonstrated by the results of 30 years of research into the subject matter, which I have cited before:

              In 2005, IANDS released The Handbook of Near-Death Experiences to summarize 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.”

              How are you going to do away with this research? By saying that all NDEs must have exactly similar accounts? Again, if two people visited New York City, but had accounts of their visits that differed in certain respects, should we consider this to be evidence against the existence of New York City?


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            Steph says:

            1. THE LAW IS NOT APPLIED TO NOTHINGNESS, as I’ve said again and again. The law is applied to chance. NOT TO NOTHING. Chance could exist, but then it wouldn’t be what we’d call chance for the simple fact it can exist outside of time. So, it wouldn’t be chance. You’ve ignored what I said again.
            On causation, what definition of cause are you using? I’m using ‘make something happen’. That’s what nothingness did.
            2a. You asked two different questions. Why do you expect both to have the same answer? The source of energy on Earth is the Sun (because we’re in an open system), which allows the mechanism on Earth to create life.
            2b. Look up abiogenesis and evolution. There you go. How did the combination of two non-intelligent, non-conscious, non-person gametes result in intelligence, consciousness and personhood? You’re working on the basis that they’re non-physical properties, which you only assert and do not prove.
            2c. You purposefully misrepresent my argument. Well done. Matter, space and time are the same as those laws. You’re doing it again: separating the, when there is no cause to.
            3. How am I making up a law? There is a vast difference between law and observation. If I was saying ‘In nothingness, something will appear’, that would be a law. I’m not, that’s only your straw man. I’m saying ‘In nothingness, nothing is there to prevent something appearing’. True, nothing is there to cause it, but that doesn’t matter because there doesn’t need to be a mechanism in nothingness.
            4. Einstein didn’t know about quantum theory (and rejected what he heard), and Schrodinger also found the idea absurd, and Wigner rejected your apparent proposition. That’s just what I know off the top of my head.
            Once more, YOU ARE IGNORING EVERYTHING I SAY. YOU SEPARATE THE LAWS FROM THE UNIVERSE: THEY ARE THE SAME THING. THE UNIVERSE WOULD NOT EXIST WITHOUT THEM BECAUSE THEY ARE PART OF IT. Once more, you’re still engaging in special pleading because you’d refuse to respond to the same argument applied to God.
            5. I’d much rather quote your own phrase: “A deity appearing in many places is not the same as a deity being transcultural and transhistorical.” You put it perfectly.
            6. If two people went to New York, and said contradictory facts about what it was like (such as the Empire State being underground), then what would you think? The only similarities are cultural.


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              Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 33 ) says:

              1. No, I haven’t ignored what you have said. You have applied chance to nothingness. With or without time, chance is chance. And chance is something, not nothing. You are using a lot of contorted mental gymnastics to redefine “nothing” in such a way that something can be smuggled in. By the way, can you cite any philosopher who agrees with your something-from-nothing views? I cited David Hume, who is one of the (if not the) most prominent atheist philosophers of all time. Hume, again, admitted his regret for his previous attempts to philosophize his way into something-from-nothing, when he said: “…but allow me to tell you that I never asserted so absurd a proposition as that anything might arise without a cause.”

              So my question is this: Is it just you, Steph, or can you cite someone other than yourself (such as a known philosopher) to help us understand your reasoning?

              “Make something happen” is a just fine definition of causation for our purposes.

              2a. No, I very definitely did not ask two questions. There is only one question that I have asked you repeatedly under the heading of 2a. I will copy and paste it yet again:

              What is it that acts from outside the (open) system of the earth so as to counteract the 2nd law of thermodynamics, thus allowing life to emerge from non-living matter?

              READERS, PLEASE TAKE NOTE OF THE FOLLOWING DISCUSSION REGARDING THE ORIGIN OF LIFE, BECAUSE THIS IS INSTRUCTIVE. I HAVE ASKED STEPH REPEATEDLY TO CITE WHAT IT IS THAT COUNTERACTS THE 2ND LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS, THUS ALLOWING THE INCREASE IN COMPLEXITY INVOLVED IN LIFE EMERGING FROM NON-LIFE. HE IS TRANSPARENTLY EVADING THE QUESTION:

              I am not looking for an energy source…although that is what you have provided. Counteracting the 2nd law of thermodynamics requires a lot more than an energy source. I will ask you once again: Is it sunlight that allows the 2nd law of thermodynamics to be counteracted? Is it sunlight that causes the increase in complexity involved in life emerging from non-life? If so, why is it that one cannot place a decomposing dead animal in the sunlight, and expect it to re-compose?

              And please, yet again, also recall my previous citation from MIT physicist Gerald Schreoder:

              “…and then there is the uncontested reality that life started immediately on just-cooled earth and not after billions of years as had been once posited. Elso Barghoorn, while at Harvard University, discovered this fact that changed the entire emphasis in origin of life studies. Barghoorn discovered that the oldest rocks that can bear fossils already have fully formed fossils of one-celled life. And most amazingly, and yet by necessity, those first forms of life already had the ability to reproduce. Reproduction is not something that can gradually evolve. The first cell to survive had to have all the mechanisms for mitosis the first time around since all the attempts at life that came before (if there were other attempts) died without leaving any heritage simply because there was no succeeding generation prior to reproduction.” [the word “uncontested” was italicized by me.]

              The 2nd law of thermodynamics dictates that things become less ordered over time. This is why cars rust and dead things decay, etc… Are you suggesting that it is sunlight that caused life to emerge from non-life on earth, in what amounted to a blink of an eye in geologic terms? Please also recall that the simplest living thing (the first self-replicating molecule) is several orders of magnitude more complex than anything humans have ever produced….supercomputers, the space shuttle, anything.

              WHAT IT YOUR REPLY? WHAT IS IT, STEPH????

              2b. Look up abiogenesis and evolution? Would it be an acceptable reply if I asked you to “look up divine creation”? Certainly not. Therefore, it is not acceptable for you to evade the question by asking me to look up information that supposedly supports your views.

              And more importantly, we have been over this before. You linked me to two videos about “abiogenesis.” One of them featured Carl Sagan, in which he admitted, “Much remains to be explained about the origin of life, such as the origin of the genetic code.” As I said before, this is like saying, “Much remains to be explained about the computer, such as its ability to process information.” It is also like saying, “Much remains to be explained about the airplane, such as its ability to fly.”

              Without the genetic code, there is no such thing as life. You seem to brush this off as if it were an unimportant issue.

              The other video you linked me to, as I pointed out before, confuses describing certain known aspects of the origin of life with explaining the origin of life. This is the same category error that I pointed out before. I will again copy and paste my citation from Edgar Andrews’ book Who Made God?:

              “…far from explaining everything, science actually ‘explains’ nothing. What science does is describe the world and its phenomenology in terms of its own specialized concepts and models — which provide immensely valuable insights but become increasingly non-intuitive as we dig ever deeper into the nature of physical reality.”

              “…The formula equates the gravitational force between two objects to the product of their masses multiplied by a universal constant (the ‘gravitational constant’) and divided by the square of the distance between them. But does the equation ‘explain’ why you don’t bump your head on the ceiling? Not really. It tells us there is a force that keeps your feet on the ground, but you knew that already. It also quantifies that force, allowing us to calculate its strength in any particular case, which is extremely useful. But it doesn’t tell us why there is such a force, why it follows an inverse square law, and why the ‘gravitational constant’ has the value that it does. The equation is a description of gravity rather than an explanation.”

              “…although scientific theories advance our understanding of the way things work in our universe, they seldom, if ever, trace our experiences and observations back to a priori concepts that need no further explanation. Indeed, in their search for unification they often lead us into profound and inexplicable mysteries — conceptual quagmires like ‘curved space-time’ from which there is no escape.”

              Whenever you cite scientific descriptions of aspects of the origin of life as an explanation for the origin of life, you are committing the same old category error that atheists so often commit.

              You suggest that I am “working on the basis that they’re [consciousness, intelligence, and personhood] are non-physical properties.” The famous geneticist and evolutionary biologist J.B.S. Haldane wrote:

              “If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.”

              2c. I am separating matter, space, and time from the laws that govern them? They are the same thing? This is bizarre. Are the laws that govern planetary motion the same thing as planetary motion? Are the laws that govern the United States of America the same thing as the United States of America? Laws are separate from matter, space, and time for the simple reason that we can conceive of different laws that govern matter, space, and time. For example, the law “for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction” could be changed to the law “for every action, there is no reaction whatsoever.” I will AGAIN copy and paste what I wrote before:

              Please review this article which states, “There is no principle of physics that says physical laws or constants have to be the same everywhere and always.” The author also asks, “Why should we assume that a particular mass always exerts the same gravity, or that an atom always has the same mass anyway? After all, one of the most revelatory theories of modern physics, special relativity, showed that the length of a centimetre and the duration of a second can change depending on how fast you are moving.”

              READERS, PLEASE NOTE BECAUSE THIS IS INSTRUCTIVE: I HAVE ASKED STEPH TO SUPPORT HER ASSERTION THAT MATTER, AND THE LAWS THAT GOVERN MATTER, ARE THE SAME THING (under heading 2c). HE CONTINUES TO MAKE THIS ASSERTION DESPITE THE ABOVE EVIDENCE TO THE CONTRARY THAT I HAVE PROVIDED (not to mention the simple fact that this is absurd).

              3. So, “There doesn’t need to be a mechanism in nothingness” is not a law, but an observation? When were you able to observe the state of nothingness from which you allege the universe emerged?!

              4. I separate the laws that govern the universe from the universe itself? Yes, of course I do. We know that the laws that govern the universe are not the same thing as the universe itself for the simple reason that the laws could be different. I will AGAIN copy and paste the same old excerpt:

              Please review this article which states, “There is no principle of physics that says physical laws or constants have to be the same everywhere and always.” The author also asks, “Why should we assume that a particular mass always exerts the same gravity, or that an atom always has the same mass anyway? After all, one of the most revelatory theories of modern physics, special relativity, showed that the length of a centimetre and the duration of a second can change depending on how fast you are moving.”

              I am engaging is special pleading because I’d refuse to respond to the same argument made for God? Go ahead, make the same argument as applied to God and I will respond.

              5. A deity appearing in many places is not the same thing as a deity which is transcultural and transhistorical for the simple reason that the deities you cite (God of war, etc.) share some similarities, but not the same core attributes. The core attributes of the God of the Bible, which are the same core attributes of the concept of God that have appeared in culture after culture, time and time again are:

              1) Eternity, 2) Omniscience, 3) Beneficence, 4) Morality, 5) Omnipotence, 6) Creative power, 7) Giver of the moral code, 8) Author of moral rewards and punishments.

              How many attributes does your “god of war,” for example, share with gods of war from other cultures? Can you cite enough cultures which believe in a god of war such that the phenomenon of a god of war is “truly global” (as the religious scholar Wilhelm Schmidt has demonstrated that the God sharing the above 8 core attributes is)?

              6. But you haven’t shown that any of the aspects of the NDE phenomenon are “contradictory,” only that they have differences from one another. And, yes, a bunch of people who visited New York City would quite possibly present facts about New York City that contradicted in some respects. In a court of law, if ten people gave similar eyewitness testimonies, and one person gave a contradictory eyewitness testimony, the jury or judge would tend to accept the testimony of the ten and disregard the testimony of the one contradictory account. Human perception and memory is not perfect. But human perception and memory become more reliable when multiple witnesses share the same experience.

              The simple fact remains that 30 years of research regarding the NDE phenomenon have concluded that there are certain recurring themes. Another copy and paste:

              In 2005, IANDS released The Handbook of Near-Death Experiences to summarize 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.”


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    Graceus says:

    Steph, I wasn’t able to reply under your last comment to me, but I replied again under that thread if you will take a look. Thanks.


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      Steph says:

      The multiverse is not behind a black hole. Where are you getting that information from? There’s always been speculation about what’s in a singularity, but no one to my knowledge has given it as the position of a multiverse. Besides, the multiverse is related to the physical world, as it’s a physical occurrence.
      1. If it rains where you are, it almost certainly rains elsewhere. You don’t need to go to that elsewhere to tell that: you can deduce it scientifically from the fact that there’s no difference between where you are, and that other place, that would prevent rain. The multiverse is the same thing. If one universe can come into being, then others can. It doesn’t explain the source of the universe, only the apparent design.
      2. The mechanism used to generate other universes IS THE SAME MECHANISM THAT GENERATED OURS. I have given my basis, respond to it, and don’t just shrug and say it’s false. the lack of any laws is the lack of any prevention.
      3. What do you think a multiverse is? This question makes no sense. A multiverse is a group of universes. A universe can come into being due to the lack of any prevention, so others can as well. This results in a multiverse. I have no idea what you’re talking about here.
      4. I’ve given my basis. Respond to it, rather than insisting I find someone else. I’m happy to go along with the idea that laws did exist, but then there are plenty of explanations.

      Finally, Roger Penrose is still just a mathematical physicist, while Victor Stenger is a particle physicist. Just because he can get some books published, doesn’t mean they’re accurate.
      You might also want to look at the background of your quotes there. There are so many more problems brought up, many more questions asked, and a strong scientific basis for materialism.


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        Graceus says:

        Steph, I obtained my information about black holes being associated with the multiverse from this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black-hole_cosmology. “In the version as originally proposed by Pathria and Good, and studied more recently by, among others, Nikodem Popławski, [4] the observable universe is the interior of a black hole existing as one of possibly many inside a larger universe, or multiverse.” Regardless of whether or not a singularity originated from the center of a black hole, the point behind all this is that we will never be able to see other universes, if they existed. Cosmologist Paul Davies gives his critique in _ A Brief History of the Multiverse_:

        “For a start, how is the existence of the other universes to be tested? To be sure, all cosmologists accept that there are some regions of the universe that lie beyond the reach of our telescopes, but somewhere on the slippery slope between that and the idea that there are an infinite number of universes, credibility reaches a limit. As one slips down that slope, more and more must be accepted on faith, and less and less is open to scientific verification. Extreme multiverse explanations are therefore reminiscent of theological discussions. Indeed, invoking an infinity of unseen universes to explain the unusual features of the one we do see is just as ad hoc as invoking an unseen Creator. The multiverse theory may be dressed up in scientific language, but in essence it requires the same leap of faith.”

        1). When you wrote “If it rains where you are, it almost certainly rains elsewhere. You don’t need to go to that elsewhere to tell that: you can deduce it scientifically from the fact that there’s no difference between where you are, and that other place, that would prevent rain. The multiverse is the same thing. If one universe can come into being, then others can. It doesn’t explain the source of the universe, only the apparent design” – is this in response to my first point where I asked for you to provide me with evidence for the actual existence of the multiverse, including sources? I don’t see it that you provided it.

        2). “the lack of any laws is the lack of any prevention.” This is quite absurd to use for the existence of the universe. Basically, if there are no laws preventing things from coming into existence, then there are no laws that also allow things to come into existence. So, on your view, the absence of any law means that anything can happen, such as creatures like a gigantic unicorn could have popped into being on its own instead of our universe. This is very bizarre. I mean, there are some people who do not believe in the stories in the Bible because some of the stories to them may seem outlandish, yet they are perfectly willing to believe that anything, such as a Flying Spaghetti Monster, could just pop into existence. I just don’t understand that. It seems as though people are willing to accept that anything is possible as long as it doesn’t involve God.

        However, if you want to claim that the absence of laws allows for anything to be a possibility, then you no longer have a reason to reject God as being the cause of the universe. Anything is possible on your view, so it is possible that God has always existed. Do you see that? That may be why atheist scholars do not want to go that route. Is this the view that you hold-in the absence of laws prior to the Big Bang, anything is possible, so it is also possible that God has always existed?

        3). Yes, I do know what a multiverse is. The Wikipedia definition of a Multiverse is “the hypothetical _set_ of multiple possible universes”, and universes like ours are called parallel universes”. And I see that you’re using the “lack of laws” means anything is possible argument again as the explanation for the origin of the multiverse as well. Remember, if you grant that anything is possible, that means it is also possible that God exists.

        4). For Point 4 I said that I didn’t think I’ve ever heard an atheist scholar say that the lack of physical laws/rules means anything can happen. As a matter of fact, I’ve heard the exact opposite from cosmologist Alexander Vilenkin. Regarding something coming from nothing and what came prior to the Big Bang, he writes in this article “In The Beginning Was The Beginning” in the _Tufts_Magazine_: “I say ‘nothing’ in quotations because the nothing that we were referring to here is the absence of matter, space and time. That is as close to nothing as you can get, but what is still required here is the laws of physics. So the laws of physics _should_ still_ be_ there_, and they are definitely not nothing.” Even though you are both for laws existing and not existing prior to the Big Bang, you would still need evidence that the laws existed prior to the BB, and we do not have evidence for that. We cannot see what happened subsequent to the Big Bang. Since there is absolutely no evidence for a multiverse, wouldn’t you say that you are resting your case on blind faith?

        5). With regards to your requirements for who you would accept as a scholar-is that your own personal requirement? Because there is more than one way to become an expert in quantum mechanics. If you look at Victor Stenger’s PhD, it is ONLY in physics. His research is what makes him a quantum physicist. Again, Roger Penrose has a PhD in mathematics; his research in QM makes him qualified to be an expert/scholar on QM. If you do not think that Roger Penrose is qualified to speak about QM, then you will also have to deny Pascual Jordan, also a mathematical physicist, who reformulated early quantum theory. I don’t think you realize how much math is embedded in QM or science in general, since scientists work with probabilities. Dr. Penrose’s peers didn’t dismiss his research because he was “only a mathematician”.

        6). You wrote “Just because he can get some books published, doesn’t mean they’re accurate.” Could you please tell me where he is inaccurate in his books? That’s quite an assertion there. You also wrote “You might also want to look at the background of your quotes there. There are so many more problems brought up, many more questions asked, and a strong scientific basis for materialism.” I know that both materialism and immaterialism have their problems, but what are the other criticisms of that theory besides it not meshing with a materialist worldview? I don’t know if you were aware of it, but the debate between monism and dualism is still going on. You said there were more problems, so I’d like to see what other criticisms there are besides the fact that it doesn’t go along with a materialistic worldview.

        I’m just curious of your acceptance of the possibility that outlandish things could pop into existence if there were no physical laws subsequent to the Big Bang, and I’m curious of your acceptance of the multiverse as being the cause of the universe. Your acceptance of these ideas do not seem like they are based upon evidence, but rather on faith, wouldn’t you say? If you have no problem accepting the possibility of outlandish things popping into existence prior to the Big Bang, what’s the problem with accepting the existence of God?


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          Steph says:

          Actually read what I wrote rather than projecting your own meaning onto it. the lack of laws is the source of the universe, and would result in a multiverse, rather than just one universe. If you can point to a place where I’ve actually said the multiverse is somehow the cause of the universe, then do so. I’ve only ever said they share the same cause: that cause being the lack of any prevention.
          Actually science is grounded on trying to disprove a hypothesis, and when that fails, concluding that it must be accurate. It relies on assuming that it’s false, just to see if that works. Regardless, I don’t need to offer specific problems. I’ve listed several flaws with God resulting from the initial laws (the most important being your assumption that God has no opposite as then God would be in essence killed). You need to provide a basis for accepting them.
          Again, you are separating laws from the universe. THAT IS WRONG. They came into existence at the big bang, because they were part of the universe produced by it. There were no laws before it, but when it occurred, laws were produced in our space and time as they are part of it: WE DO KNOW WHERE THE LAWS CAME FROM. THEY ARE PART OF THE UNIVERSE. STOP IGNORING THIS STATEMENT EVERY COMMENT. Also, basing an argument on the assumption that the Bible is right is completely flawed, and I’m fairly certain there are no verses that say God is timeless.
          That statement is ridicule, because it does not mount any case against what I say. You believe there’s someone who’s his own father; that’s perfectly true, but it is ridicule when expressed like that. Either mount a case against what I say, or concede that it is accurate.
          Transcendental things cannot exist, as they would prevent each other from existing by having different traits. If you think about what would come into being, that’s an incredibly simple conclusion to reach. Also, no, I haven’t shown that there’s no God, I’m not trying to: that’s an absurd aim. I’m showing that there is no reason whatsoever to think there is. Unless you’re engaging in blatant special pleading, then there is no reason to believe that there is a God.
          There is so much wrong with the end of your post. let me list:
          1. My argument does not allow for the existence of any transcendent being.
          2. I have provided a basis for each statement I make. You have rejected on purely assertion.
          3. People argue against God more than the easter bunny, because it’s ideas of God that inspire abominations.
          4. You might spontaneously combust soon. Do you care? There’s no reason to think that it’s the case, so you don’t act as though it is. That’s basic logic.
          5. I’ve never been trying to prove that God doesn’t exist. Where on earth are you getting that from?
          6. God isn’t always on my mind, only when I come from this site in an effort to point out the glaring problems and fallacies in the arguments made.
          7. I don’t worry about God, I worry about the people that follow a being with no basis, and use it to justify persecution and cruelty and ignorance.


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            Steph says:

            My argument’s being applied to a state of actual nothingness. If someone’s happy to take the leading scientific view that such a thing is only a concept and not a reality, then I’m glad to agree with them: but evidently Scott Youngren and the rest are unhappy with this, and insist on total nothingness. In this case, I make the case of why the universe would still come about.


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            nick says:

            You ask me to think about your position over laws. I didn’t say you were wrong, only that you seemed a little too assured. The quote of Hawking is not a conclusive or explicit explanation of his views and I only recalled on it from memory, his position may differ, or he may take your exact position over laws. However, it’s a point of discussion as to how and why the universe arose from nothing if that’s indeed what it did. At least some physicists assert that there is no such thing as “nothing”. Laurence Krauss for example rejects the idea of a “philosophical nothingness” that you have been referring to in your previous comments. The only concept of nothingness that he will agree exists is a physicists understanding of nothingness, which is a little different and has properties of its own, one of which is notably quantum fluctuations. You are making assertions that, whilst sensible, are not necessarily supported to the extent that I feel you have portrayed.
            The concepts being discussed here are abstract as well as contradictory, yet it seems that you almost assert the conclusive understanding.
            To your last comment: a) what are you suggesting? An eternal or infinite history of our universe is entirely possible. Did something occur before the Big Bang? It is my suspicion that the Big Bang may not be a unique event, but may be one of many in an ongoing universe. Perhaps we see only the results of the Big Bang that we inhabit rather than preceding ones or similar such events predating our Big Bang…
            and b) I will agree with you there.


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            Steph says:

            The statement that laws need something to act on is more than an assertion. think about it. What is a law with nothing to act on? As I’ve said before, they are part of the universe.
            I don’t know the detail of Hawking’s quote, so I can’t comment. Still, I fail to see the problem: you’re defeating my point by defeating the argument it’s applied against.
            My statement doesn’t rely on the big bang theory. It relies on a beginning to the universe, but that’s pretty much established. If you’re going to argue that the universe has existed forever then a) good luck and b) my argument is unneeded.


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            nick says:

            “…laws can’t exist without something to act on.”

            I’m not saying that your words outlining ‘laws’ are wrong Steph, merely that your description of their source being simultaneous with the beginning of the universe as being ‘knowledge’ goes too far. You assert that laws cannot exist without something to act on. This sounds like a sensible suggestion, but is it a proven fact, or merely an educated postulation? Hawking will take the view that time, space, matter and energy all came into existence simultaneously at the beginning. This is close to what you have suggested yourself, but included in it are not the laws of nature/physics. Hawking surmised in his most recent book co-authored with Leonard Mlodinow the following, “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.”

            So whilst this is merely a quote and may not represent the complexity and detail of his understanding in totality, it does suggest that he believes gravity at least was pre-existing. So my contention is not that you are wrong in your assertion that laws are inextricably linked to matter and appeared simultaneously at the beginning of the universe with time, space, energy and matter, but that you are wrong to describe the postulation as fact or knowledge.

            At the risk of pre-empting your response, I will qualify this by saying that I do not reject the Big Bang theory, but you seem to have described aspects of it a little inappropriately (imo). Yes we have some good postulations and theories over the origin of the universe, but concrete knowledge and affirmation of such things is a step too far. You say that I have not mounted a case against what you said, but I believe that I have mounted at least one already. The fact that there are credible alternative and academic theories to the Big Bang raises a question of the perceived knowledge that we may have of it. There are high profile dissenters from the traditional theory of the Big Bang and one notably problematic proposition to your claims about the laws would be an infinite past of the universe. You assert that the laws came to be at the beginning of the universe, but if there was no begininning and the singularity, or origin of our present day universal era, is merely a point on an infinite road, then what beginning point was there for the laws to have been created? Under such circumstances the question almost becomes unanswerable leaving the possibility that the laws may well have existed infinitely. My general point, is that we have a little less certainty over such distant and abstract events than you have ventured at times.


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            Steph says:

            I can’t reply directly to you, nick, so I hope you still read this.
            Aside from how I’m fairly sure Hawking now rejects the idea of a singularity, that doesn’t answer the question of where the singularity comes from: and that would be the source of the universe.
            Yes we do have support for that statement. Think about it. Aside from how you fail to mount any case against what I said, laws can’t exist without something to act on. Then you just need to think about what they are. Matter affects matter, and that’s governed by the laws: so obviously the laws are only the effects of matter and matter. Act as though it’s more if you really want to, but it’s a baseless idea.


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            nick says:

            “WE DO KNOW WHERE THE LAWS CAME FROM. THEY ARE PART OF THE UNIVERSE. STOP IGNORING THIS STATEMENT EVERY COMMENT.”

            Do we? Do you have support for such an affirmative statement? This is a proposal or an assertion rather than a statement of fact. Hawking speculates that, given the laws of nature, our universe expanded from a singularity. So which is it; did the universal laws come into existence with the beginning of the universe, did the universal laws predate the origin of the universe (as Stephen Hawking suggests), or is the universe infinite perhaps? The last possibility renders the original question and its answer to be virtually indiscernable. I’m not sure that you or anybody knows as you suggest…


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          Steph says:

          It should be obvious that I’m not using black hole cosmology. That really doesn’t seem to be a major theory.
          1. Then read my post again. I showed why a multiverse is a logical deduction. Either say what’s wrong with it, or stop making baseless statements.
          2. You assume God is possible, you assume God would be able to function in our universe, and assume God has no opposite. All baseless assertions.
          3. You might want to look up the definition of atheism. No one says 100% ‘God doesn’t exist.’
          4. Again, fine if you want to suggest laws being there, they explain everything perfectly as well. You’d just ask where the laws came from though, and in the interests of bypassing a debate where you’d be hypocritical in insisting God can be uncaused but laws cannot, I took on this viewpoint which works just as well.
          5. When discussing the interpretation of quantum physics, we must turn to a particle physicist. Guess what Victor Stenger is? Guess what Roger Penrose isn’t? this is a simple matter of expertise.
          6. You don’t seem to have read a single thing I’ve written. I HAVE NOT SUGGESTED THAT THE MULTIVERSE IS THE CAUSE OF THE UNIVERSE. FULL STOP. STOP SAYING THE SAME LIE. I HAVE ALSO EXPLAINED A SCIENTIFIC BASIS FOR MY POINT OF VIEW WHICH YOU HAVE RIDICULED BUT HAVE NOT MADE ANY CASE AGAINST.
          Either respond to my claims rather than making appeals to flawed authority or making empty assertions, or say nothing.


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            Graceus says:

            Hi, Steph. I’ll respond to what you wrote.

            “ I HAVE NOT SUGGESTED THAT THE MULTIVERSE IS THE CAUSE OF THE UNIVERSE. FULL STOP.” Well, that is confusing because I presented you with the Kalam Cosmological Argument, and you said, “All it shows is that there is a cause for the universe”, and then offered the multiverse as an alternative hypothesis to God, which to me acknowledges that there is a cause for the universe. What is even more confusing is then you turn around and say that there is no cause for the universe (based upon your reasoning that since there were no laws subsequent to the Big Bang), so, just one more time, will you clarify-which hypothesis do you propose? If you propose both the multiverse and that there were no laws prior to the Big Bang, then you are contradicting yourself. Your first answer acknowledges Premise 1 to the Kalam Cosmological Argument, and the latter answer attempts to refute Premise 1. So, please clarify which path you are taking.

            “You assume God is possible, you assume God would be able to function in our universe, and assume God has no opposite.” Did you know that anytime one offers a hypothesis, they do have to assume that the hypothesis is possible? Or how would one ever affirm a hypothesis, such as the law of gravity, to be true if they kept trying to deny their own hypothesis? Scientists work with the possibility that their hypothesis is true. To continue, there is no problem with God functioning in our universe. A bit of theology and knowledge of who God is will help you understand this, but I need a specific question as to what exactly is the problem with God, an omnipotent, immaterial, unembodied mind functioning in our universe.

            “Again, fine if you want to suggest laws being there, they explain everything perfectly as well. You’d just ask where the laws came from though, and in the interests of bypassing a debate where you’d be hypocritical in insisting God can be uncaused but laws cannot, I took on this viewpoint which works just as well.” I’m sorry, but you are very vague with your position. Either there are laws subsequent to the Big Bang, or there are no laws. Or why not say, “fine, if you want to suggest that God exists, that can explain everything perfectly as well”? It seems as though you will accept any explanation except for God. What is the difference with positing God as the cause of the universe and with you positing the (absence of) natural laws as the explanation of our universe? Well, we base our explanation on what we know. Before the Kalam Cosmological Argument was even thought up, Jews knew God as creator of the universe who is timeless. We see from the Bible that God revealed who He was when he said, “I AM who I AM”, and first century Jews knew that meant that God is timeless; the Bible has passages where characters in the Bible acknowledged God’s timelessness. If God is timeless, then that means that God is uncaused. Asking what caused God would be the same as asking “What caused the uncaused first cause?” Compare it to the laws of nature-we don’t _know_ what caused the laws of nature to come into existence, so based upon what we _know_ about God and the laws of nature, God is a better explanation because our answer is based upon what we know, and we don’t know the cause of the laws of nature.

            “I HAVE ALSO EXPLAINED A SCIENTIFIC BASIS FOR MY POINT OF VIEW WHICH YOU HAVE RIDICULED BUT HAVE NOT MADE ANY CASE AGAINST.” Steph, think about where your reasoning leads you. If you say that there are no laws subsequent to the Big Bang, and that _anything_ can happen, that means that Flying Spaghetti monsters could have popped into existence on its own, invisible pink unicorns or tooth fairies can pop into existence on its own. This is not ridicule, but this is the reality behind your own logic.

            “Either respond to my claims rather than making appeals to flawed authority or making empty assertions, or say nothing.” What is your claim? Your claim is that “God is not necessary”. 1). Even though one may think that God is not necessary, that does not mean that God does not exist. For example, let’s say that I found that my husband is not necessary for me to live a happy life. Does that mean he does not exist? No, it just means that he’s not necessary. So the claim is not a good one to make, anyways. 2). The argument you gave for God being unnecessary does not even disprove God’s existence, but by the same logic, makes God possible. Let me paraphrase what you said: There were no laws subsequent to the Big Bang, which makes it possible for the universe to pop into existence on its own. We can use that same argument for God’s existence, but change the conclusion: There were no laws subsequent to the Big Bang, which makes it possible for God to have always existed and cause the universe to come into existence. Your claim that God is unnecessary has not been proven by your own logic.

            May I kindly suggest that your disagreement is more volitional than anything? Certainly when you dismiss someone’s expertise based upon your own standards, offer a hypothesis that I could also use for the existence of God, then there is something more going on. Have you ever wondered why no one spends day after day arguing that fairies, Santa Claus, or invisible pink unicorns, or the Easter bunny do not exist? It’s probably because we _know_ that those things do not exist, but there must be a possibility that God exists. Indeed, you even say that atheism does not mean that people do not believe 100% that God does not exist, and your argument concedes the possibility that God does exist. So, if there is even the slightest possibility that God exists, then there should be some pause for the implications of that statement. Where does one go from here? You would keep trying to prove that God does not exist and ignore the implications. Don’t you realize that if God does not exist, then you don’t need to argue against God’s existence? Seeking the truth and urging others to seek the truth is neither inherently good nor morally obligatory on an atheistic/naturalistic worldview. There is just no moral obligation for you to encourage others to seek the truth, so you must be doing it to convince yourself that God does not exist. But here’s the thing about debates. It’s not the person who has the last word wins. It’s not the person who can object the loudest or fling accusations of logical fallacies who wins. The people who are going to judge this debate will be third party viewers, and they will judge it by the merits of our arguments.

            Indeed, for someone who does not believe that God exists, we know that He is on your mind every single. But I think that is a good thing because it shows me that you have developed a God-conscious, and you wouldn’t be worrying about God the same as you do not worry about fairies or flying spaghetti monsters if you didn’t think there was a chance that God exists. If you truly want to know more about God, since it seems as though you don’t have a well-rounded knowledge of Him, I’m open to answering your questions.


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        Sam says:

        1. Steph, by your reasoning, wouldn’t there have to be multiple multiverses? And then wouldn’t there have to be multiple multi-multiverses, etc.? These seems to lead to infinite regress. Ultimately, wouldn’t we have to say that regardless of how many multiple multiple ad infinitum universes there are, that there is just one reality? After all, regardless of the infinite number of multi-universes or multi-multiverses there are, they are all real, and hence part of “reality.” But if there is necessarily only one reality, then how can we speculate about what else it might consist of beyond what we’re able to determine? Maybe our local universe IS all of reality. Your argument doesn’t strike me as being sound.


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          Steph says:

          I can’t reply directly to your latest comment, but you seem to have misunderstood what I’ve been saying. Assuming by ‘false vacuum’ you mean true nothingness (the source I’ve continually proposed), saying that there would be multiple false vacuums is an absurdity. It’s nothing. No space, no time, no laws. Nothing. If there’s more than one, then that means there has to be some kind of space, or some division, but that division is something, so we can’t be talking about nothing.


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          Steph says:

          ‘Multiple multiverses’ makes no sense whatsoever. ‘Multiverse’ means ‘multiple universes’. ‘Multiple multiple universes’ is nonsensical, it’s already covered by the first ‘multiple’.
          I won’t comment on how many realities there are, but a multiverse is something we’re able to determine. Our universe came into existence. Why wouldn’t others?


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            Sam says:

            You’re objecting to multiple multiverses on the same basis that I objected to the notion of multiple realities. Since a multiverse just IS a collection of all universes, there cannot be more than one of them.

            But I don’t think that works. In every multi-verse scenario, the set of universes always emerge from the same “stuff.” Either it’s a false vacuum in which universes spring, or it’s a situation where universes give birth to new universes, or something like that. If there is one false vacuum in which multiple univereses emerge, then by your reasoning, there would have to be multiple false vacuums in which universes emerge, which means there would have to be multiple multiverses. In the same way, if the universe-generating mechanism is a situation where universes give birth to other universes, then they are all connected and together are a complete set. By your reasoning, there would have to be multiple families of universes, in which case, there are multiple multiverses.


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    Sam says:

    Please allow me to be persnickety.

    CONTRADICTON ON HUME- Well Hume denies miracles, because miracles would go against the uniform laws of nature, BUT elsewhere he denies the uniformity of nature.

    Hume didn’t deny the uniformity of nature. What he denied was that the uniformity of nature could be proved since any attempt to prove it would require the use of circular reasoning.

    Well Hume just destroyed the very basis on which he tries to deny the possibility of miracles.

    Hume didn’t argue that miracles are impossible. Rather, he argued that it can never be rational to believe in miracles since they will always be less probable than the laws they violate. He does, however, say in one place on his chapter on Miracles that miracles are impossible, but he doesn’t given an argument with that as its conclusion.


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      Cornell says:

      “Hume didn’t deny the uniformity of nature. What he denied was that the uniformity of nature could be proved since any attempt to prove it would require the use of circular reasoning.”

      Right, and circular reasoning = logical fallacy

      It’s also called “begging the question” So if he wants to hold to something whilst admitting it’s circular reasoning, OK I’ll take that then. Either way, Hume fails

      http://www.fallacyfiles.org/begquest.html

      So I see no problem here, he also spoke heavily of the PROBLEM OF INDUCTION, as I linked before and Steph just completely ignored it.

      http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/induction-problem/

      You say “Hume didn’t argue that miracles are impossible.”

      You are wrong, and you actually show us why you are wrong

      “He does, however, say in one place on his chapter on Miracles that miracles are impossible, but he doesn’t given an argument with that as its conclusion.”

      So he says miracles are impossible, but on the other hand you admit that in one place on his chapter on Miracles, he says that miracles are impossible. Might as well just throw out the law of non-contradiction

      Well he doesn’t have to give an argument, the fact is he SAID IT. He obviously thinks people’s testimonies are worthless so he ‘poisons the well’ and hand waves at any attempt at a testimony regarding a miracle. So it is safe to say Hume denied miracles.

      ty


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        Sam says:

        So if he wants to hold to something whilst admitting it’s circular reasoning, OK I’ll take that then.

        I think you’re misunderstanding me. I didn’t say that Hume’s position was that the uniformity of nature was circular. What I said was that Hume’s position was that any argument for the uniformity of nature would be circular. So Hume wasn’t denying the uniformity of nature, as you said he was. Rather, he was just saying that it can’t be proved.

        You are wrong, and you actually show us why you are wrong

        Again, you misunderstood me. I did not deny that Hume thought miracles were impossible. What I denied was that Hume argued that miracles are impossible. What he argued was that it can never be rational to believe in miracles since no conceivable evidence for miracles could overcome the improbability against them from the laws of nature. Here merely asserted that miracles are impossible, but did not give any argument to that effect.


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    Cornell says:

    “Laws are a result of things affecting each other”

    Lastly I’m not even sure this follows? How, given naturalism do you know this?

    Perhaps the laws existed first and then nature came about, or perhaps nature existed and then the laws came about.

    This is the bootstrapping problem that I find to be a big problem on the side of naturalists.

    cf: Dr. Craig

    ‘It’s a metaphysical bootstrapping problem. It’s like Escher’s two hands that draw each other. On the one hand, the laws of nature are to account for the existence of the world. And, on the other, you don’t have a law unless you have a world for those laws to be laws *of*.

    Philosophically I don’t see how laws that govern something can be in place before something exists to govern.
    Gravity is simply a bending in the fabric of space-time around a massive object. The laws of gravity affect nothing until space-time and massive objects exist. Ultimately, neither Hawking nor anybody else can get away from the problem having to produce something from nothing. “Out of nothing, nothing comes.”

    As Lennox pointed out, if x creates y means you presuppose x in order to explain the existence of y, x creates x means you’re presupposing the existence of x to explain x, which is nonsense.

    In conclusion, I see problems all over the place and I’m going to have to say God’s existence is MUCH more probable than any theory that metaphysical naturalism puts out (Multiverse, string, supersting etc. If you have any other views, ie: Pan-Theism, Deism, Polytheism, Pan-Deism, let me know and we can discuss this.

    ty


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    Cornell says:

    *We need to remember that the natural laws set nothing in motion. *


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      Steph says:

      To your above post which I cannot respond directly to, it is a simple fact that there would be no laws before the universe. Proven beyond any reasonable doubt. if you want to be of the opinion that there were, then there are plenty of explanations. Whichever way you go, God is unneeded.
      I drew unmoved mover from ” the object does begin to move and plausibly requires a cause to set it in motion.”Slight differences in phrasing, but all arguments from the origin of the universe are the same thing.
      All cosmological arguments are grounded on some form of ‘if it begins, it had a cause’, ‘the universe began’, ‘the universe had a cause’, and the there’s a great big gap where any basis for thinking the cause is God should be.
      So, your definition of nothing isn’t nothing, but is in fact an axiom? Right. And there’s no simultaneous creation: there was only ever creation of one thing. Nature and natural laws are the same things.
      Can you explain the number seven without any reference to matter? Can you explain the law of non-contradiction without reference to matter? They’re the same thing. In the same way, if you have several items, there would be a number of them, even if you didn’t count it. Even without anyone around, a car cannot be both parked and not parked. They rely on matter to exist, and matter cannot exist without them. they’re the same thing.


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        Robertvroom says:

        The most current knowledge we have regarding cosmology shows that the Universe began to exist from absolute nothingness at a finite point in the past. In their article, “Inflationary Spacetimes are not Past-complete” (http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/gr-qc/pdf/0110/0110012v2.pdf), Arvind Borde (physicist out of Tufts University), Alan Guth (Working out of Tufts & MIT, and the developer of the Inflationary Universe Theory), and Alexander Vilenkin (Tufts University and the developer of the Quantum Creation Theory) state that “a cosmological model which is inflating – or just expanding sufficiently fast – must be incomplete in null and timelike past directions.” They show that according to our understanding of physics, any expanding universe or multiverse must have an absolute beginning. They make similar statements in other works as well. Guth is the person responsible for the statement that “The Universe is the ultimate free lunch,” meaning that everything came from nothing. This statement (any many similar) can be heard in these podcasts from Scientific American

        http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=stars-of-cosmology-part-1-09-02-18

        https://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=stars-of-cosmology-part-2-09-02-19

        Here are a few more interesting quotes:

        On page 176 of his book Many Worlds in One, Vilenkin states, “It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape: they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.”

        On page 181 he states, “P 180-181 The concept of a universe materializing out of nothing boggles the mind. What exactly is meant by “nothing”? If this “nothing” could tunnel into something, what could have caused the primary tunneling event? And what about energy conservation? But as I kept thinking about it, the idea appeared to make more and more sense. The initial state prior to the tunneling is a universe of vanishing radius, that is, no universe at all. There is no matter and no space in this very peculiar state. Also, there is no time.”

        On page 180 in his new book, The Grand Design, Hawking states, “Because there is a law like gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing in the manner described in chapter 6. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist. It is not necessary to invoke God to light the blue touch paper and set the universe going.”

        Notice that while the scientists listed above are atheists, they believe that the Universe had an absolute beginning from absolute nothingness. When discussing the beginning, it is important to note that we are not just talking about matter expanding into existing time and space, but are talking about the coming into existence of time, space and matter at a finite point in the past. If there is no creator, what caused the Universe (or Multiverse depending on your beliefs) to begin?

        The statement, “Everything that begins to exist has a cause.”, is confirmed in most every instance. If you see a ball in the woods, you assume that a cause or series of causes was responsible for it being there. Would you still assume a cause were needed if the ball were the size of a house? The size of a planet? The solar system? The Universe? At what point does it make sense to say that from this point on, causes are no longer required?

        There are people who argue that quantum mechanics is the exception to the rule that everything that begins to exist has a cause, but I do not think this is the case. There are a number of explanations for the observations of quantum mechanics, some of which are fully deterministic (De Broglie–Bohm theory for instance). If there are a few explanations for something, some which match our experience and others which go absolutely against our experience, we are rational to assume that a theory that matches our experience is more likely correct.

        Even if the traditional model is correct however, there is a massive problem with using quantum mechanics as an exception… The Universe is full of energy. Quantum fluctuations do not create from nothing, but from a churning sea of energy. Prior to the beginning of the Universe however, there was no time, space, energy… nothing. If there is absolutely nothing, can there be the probability of anything taking place? It seems to me that nothing cannot create something.

        If a creator does exist, is there anything that we can know about this being from the argument given above? Well, here are a few things…

        1) If a creator created time, space and matter, this creator is not composed of matter or limited by time and space.

        2) It is intelligent. Why? Because a non-intelligent force cannot decide to do something at a specific point. A chair sitting in place from eternity would need something external to act upon it before it could move. A person sitting in this chair from eternity can decide to stand up if he chooses. If there is an infinite cause and a finite effect, the cause must decide to produce the effect.

        3) If we accept that everything that begins to exist has a cause and this creator is the first cause, it must be eternal and uncaused.

        4) This creator must be incredibly powerful, since it created the Universe(s)

        5) This creator made the Universe with the expectation of life. The constants of the Universe (strength of gravity, the charge of protons/electrons, the strength of the strong nuclear force…) all need to be tuned to a very high degree of precision to allow for any form of life to exist, and this implies that the existence of life was intentional

        So using reason to point us at what a creator must look like if one exists, we get an intelligent, eternal, powerful creator of everything. Sound familiar? This of course instantly eliminates beliefs that think of God as an impersonal force, or as something that came to exist within the Universe from pre-existing stuff.


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          Steph says:

          I’ve agreed with every point there, in essence, but your final five points are mostly awful.
          1. This one’s ok.
          2. Utter rubbish. Makes no sense at all in a place where time doesn’t exist, and doesn’t actually say anything of any value.
          3. This one’s fine, but can apply to nothingness more than God.
          4. What? Even if there’s a creator, being able to create in nothing is not the same as being incredibly powerful. WHy give any other trait to it other than being able to create in nothing?
          5. Not in a multiverse, and you need to establish God before you can make any claim about desire.


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    Cornell says:

    @ Steph

    “There is a massive different between calling something an intriguing possibility, and seriously entertaining it. It’s an intriguing possibility that we all live in the Matrix in a universe which allows it to appear without a mind, it doesn’t mean it can be seriously considered.”

    Correct, and this actually hurts Non-Theism more than it hurts Theism as Theism gives a better solution to the reliability of our senses.

    “I also linked to a second video that provides an explanation for the origin of life, but you’re committing a classic God of the gaps argument, no matter how you might protest. just because God is a answer, does not mean God is the answer.”

    Punting to ‘nature of the gaps’ doesn’t help your argument against God’s existence. Saying Naturedidit, therefore ~ God, might work for you, but not for those who are interested in the truth.

    “Your theistic answers to those questions are no better. You state that God just decided to make those laws: I remove God from the equation as it’s completely unnecessary. You do not answer the question of why God exists, or why God would result in those laws. You also ignore everything I’ve said about a multiverse. And, yet again, you make the completely baseless claim that modern physics supports your laughable notion that matter is a result of mind, a statement I have questioned before, and your basis for which has been baseless quotes, empty assertion, and a bastardization of quantum physics.”

    ASking why God decided to create the natural laws is the same as asking why does a triangle have 3 sides. Asking ‘why God exists’ doesn’t make it any more probable that he doesn’t exist.

    We need to remember that natural laws not set nothing in motion. They don’t cause anything. There were no natural laws before the universe came into existence. If I look at a tennis ball, natural laws help us map the trajectory of the ball’s movement in the future, but they are powerless to move the ball, let alone bring it into existence.

    John Lennox: “a law presupposes an agent; for it is the mode according to which an agent proceeds: it implies a power; for it is of the order, according to which that power acts. Without this agent, without this power, which are both distinct from itself, the law does nothing, is nothing.” QED

    The mulitiverse doesn’t solve anything, it actually proposing more questions that need to be answered:

    Keith ward states While the Mulitverse hypothesis at first looks promising as an alternative to God. But it depends on making this insupportable assumption. We can look at a specific probability that can be assigned to every possible state of affairs, and thus that every possible state of affairs can be known and specified. Only if we could do that could we assign an EXACT probability to the existence of a particular universe, whether complex or simple. Only then could we compare the probability of God to the probability of a simple universe, or a complex universe, or the actual existence of all possible universes.

    But we would then have to know all possible combinations of laws and constants. Unfortunately, we have not the slightest idea of what that would be, or how many different sorts of basic forces and laws there might be in other universes. There is no way of calculating such probabilities. So we cannot say – in the abstract, and without any constraints posed by an existing universe – what the probability of any state existing, whether simple or complex, is.

    “This is simply not the case. if things affect each other, then there is an effect. If basically the same event occurs, basically the same thing will happen again. this must happen because of the existence of time”

    Ok, well that didn’t make much sense, but I have an idea of what you were trying to attempt there. I take it that you are unaware of the problem of induction?

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/induction-problem/

    David Hume long ago noted that induction is something that almost all humans assume as a working method, but that it is hard to defend on independent grounds. Induction is the idea that `the future will be like the past’.

    How would one defend this? On the grounds that in the past the law has worked? Again, Hume is invoking the law to support the law. This is obviously circular and something he knew was a problem.

    Hume famously argues: “just because the sun has been observed to rise in the morning for thousands of years, it does not mean that we can be sure that it will rise tomorrow. This is an example of the problem of induction, on the basis of past experience you cannot predict the future”.

    So it’s basically David Hume who comes into play here and he is telling you that your argument fails and that you should go back to the drawing board.

    ty


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      Steph says:

      Your entire post is grounded in the presupposition of God’s existence up until discussing why God wanted to create natural laws, which I only ever brought up to point out a problem with Scott Youngren’s asking of a similar question. Laws are a result of things affecting each other. I have never proposed them as the source of the universe.
      My point was only that, if time exists, if you relive the same moment, the same thing will happen (ignoring the possibility of interference as it isn’t relevant). That’s the point of time. If an event is identical to that moment, but happens at a later point in time, the only change has to be that which time creates. The only assumption made here is that x=x.
      So long as the Earth rotates, the Sun will rise. If the Earth stops rotating, that is a change in the situation, which my point permits, and is far from a contradiction.
      I fail to see any relevance with your statement about a multiverse. You seem to have gone from ‘we cannot calculate the probabilities’ to ‘it’s impossible’. We don’t need to know everything about something, to be able to tell that it can exist.


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        Cornell says:

        “Your entire post is grounded in the presupposition of God’s existence up until discussing why God wanted to create natural laws, which I only ever brought up to point out a problem with Scott Youngren’s asking of a similar question. Laws are a result of things affecting each other. I have never proposed them as the source of the universe.”

        Your entire post is grounded in the presupposition that NATUREDIDIT, so if you have good reasons to support this claim that philosophical naturalism is true, I’d like to hear it.

        “My point was only that, if time exists, if you relive the same moment, the same thing will happen (ignoring the possibility of interference as it isn’t relevant). That’s the point of time. If an event is identical to that moment, but happens at a later point in time, the only change has to be that which time creates. The only assumption made here is that x=x”

        That isn’t so difficult

        Cf: Dr. Craig

        “The key idea in having a beginning is past metrical finitude. Time may be said to begin to exist just in case for any non-zero, finite interval of time that one picks, there are only a finite number of congruent intervals earlier than it. Or, alternatively, time begins to exist just in case for some specified non-zero, finite interval of time, there are no congruent intervals earlier than it. On either explication beginning to exist does not entail having a beginning point.

        In affirming that the universe began to exist, the proponent of the kalam cosmological argument understands “begins to exist” in the following way, where “x” ranges over any entity and “t” ranges over times, whether instants or moments:

        A. x begins to exist at t iff x comes into being at t.

        B. x comes into being at t iff (i) x exists at t, and the actual world includes no state of affairs in which x exists timelessly, (ii) t is either the first time at which x exists or is separated from any t′< t at which x existed by an interval during which x does not exist, and (iii) x’s existing at t is a tensed fact.

        Ignoring nuances springing from considerations of tense and timelessness, the proponent of the cosmological argument could substitute a critics principle that “everything that has a first time of its existence has a cause” for the first premiss of the kalam cosmological argument so long as by “time” one does not mean merely an instant (a degenerate temporal interval of zero duration) but any moment (a positive, finite temporal interval) as well, such as a second or hour or day.

        So understood the principle seems eminently plausible.

        If there is a last instant at which some object is at rest, then when does it begin to move? The answer can only be that there is no first instant of its motion. Nonetheless, the object does begin to move and plausibly requires a cause to set it in motion. Similarly, if something begins to exist, it is plausible that it requires a cause to bring it into being whether or not there is a first instant at which it exists"

        QED

        "So long as the Earth rotates, the Sun will rise. If the Earth stops rotating, that is a change in the situation, which my point permits, and is far from a contradiction."

        That doesn't matter at all, what matters is the fact that we don't know if the sun will rise tommorow. There is no way to prove this on induction. So we can know take what we know from Hume and show his inconsistency regarding the uniformity of nature, hence this shows that violations in the laws of nature are possible.

        (With the aid of John Lennox)

        First off one needs to know the difference between ‘Miracles’ and ‘Supernatural Events’.

        Genuine miracles are supernatural events, but not supernatural events are miracles in the strict sense.

        ie: If God exists, then the origin of the universe and it’s laws, though a supernatural event should need be subsumed under the name of miracle.

        Miracles = events that are exceptions to recognized laws, so it follows then that it does not really make sense to think of the creation of the normal course of things, as a miracle.

        David Hume steps in:

        “A miracle is a violation of the laws of nature; and as a firm and unalterable experience has established these laws, the proof against a miracle, from the very nature of the fact, is as entire as any argument from experience can possibly be imagined. Why is it more than probable, that all men must die; that lead cannot, of itself, remain suspended in the air; that fire consumes wood, and is extinguished by water; unless it be, that these events are found agreeable to the laws of nature, and there is required a violation of these laws, or in other words, a miracle to prevent them? Nothing is esteemed a miracle, if it ever happen in the common course of nature. It is no miracle that a man, seemingly in good health, should die on a sudden: because such a kind of death, though more unusual than any other, has yet been frequently observed to happen. But it is a miracle, that a dead man should come to life; because that has never been observed in any age or country. There must, therefore, be a uniform experience against every miraculous event, otherwise the event would not merit that appellation”
        David Hume – ‘An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding’ L. A. Selby Bigge, ed. (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1902), pp. 114

        We will notice here that Hume uses two arguments that overlap:

        First Argument: The argument for the uniformity of nature

        A) Miracles are violations of the laws of nature
        B) These laws have been established by *firm and unalterable* experience
        C) In conclusion, the argument against miracles is as good as any argument from experience can be

        Second Argument: The Argument for the uniformity of experience

        A) Unusual, yet frequently observed, events are not miracles. ie: A healthy person suddenly dropping dead.
        B) A resurrection would be a miracle because it has never been observed anywhere at any time.
        C) There is uniform experience against every miraculous event; otherwise it would not be called miraculous

        CONTRADICTON ON HUME- Well Hume denies miracles, because miracles would go against the uniform laws of nature, BUT elsewhere he denies the uniformity of nature.

        Hume famously argues: “just because the sun has been observed to rise in the morning for thousands of years, it does not mean that we can be sure that it will rise tomorrow. This is an example of the problem of induction, on the basis of past experience you cannot predict the future”.

        Hume, D. An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding,

        Now suppose Hume is right and no dead man has ever risen up from the grave throughout all of Earth’s history up until this point, by his own reasoning he STILL cannot be sure that a dead man will not rise up tomorrow, so in conclusion he CANNOT rule out a miracle.

        Well Hume just destroyed the very basis on which he tries to deny the possibility of miracles. Now we could use this same argument backward in time, as forward.

        ie: Since no person has been observed to rise from the dead in the past 1,000 years, that doesn’t guarantee that there was no resurrection before that. Uniformity =/= absolute uniformity

        So in conclusion, if according to Hume we can infer no regularities it would impossible to speak about the laws of nature, let along the uniformity of nature with respect to those laws, and if nature is not uniform then using the uniformity of nature against miracles is completely absurd.

        "I fail to see any relevance with your statement about a multiverse. You seem to have gone from ‘we cannot calculate the probabilities’ to ‘it’s impossible’. We don’t need to know everything about something, to be able to tell that it can exist."

        Right of course I'm going to agree with that, as I don't know everything about God, but that doesn't mean I should state he doesn't exist. So this is where 'inference to the best explanation' comes into play. You'd have to show me that a mulitverse is more probable than improbable.


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          Steph says:

          My post is grounded in the justified viewpoint that we do not need to involve unproven things when known facts do the job fine.
          If you’re seriously trying to turn ‘unmoved mover’ into ‘God’, good luck with that. The cosmological arguments are all awful as they rely on the basis that God is the only thing that could possibly create the universe. if you can justify that claim (by which I mean justify, and not just show that it could be possible), then do so.
          So long as the laws of nature exist, then they will be relevant. Things like the creation of the universe did not take place inside those laws, so there is no reason to expect them to obey those laws. It’s like dropping a ball in space and being surprised when it doesn’t fall.
          If one universe can come into being, then others will, because the cause of one would not stop. The basis for a multiverse is as simple as that.
          Laws and matter are the same basic thing, separating them is baseless. There wasn’t a time when just one existed. Laws are a result of things affecting each other. When those things exist, laws do. There’s no delay.


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            Cornell says:

            “My post is grounded in the justified viewpoint that we do not need to involve unproven things when known facts do the job fine. If you’re seriously trying to turn ‘unmoved mover’ into ‘God’, good luck with that.”

            Unproven things? Such as a natural origin to the universe right?, it’s too bad it goes both ways and metaphysical naturalism doesn’t get a free pass here. You appear to think I’m embarrassed to ‘admit’ I cannot “prove” the existence of God. Sorry but I do find that really quite cute. I have absolutely no problem saying that. This is the point. Absolutely nothing can be proven 100% for certain. Can you prove to me that you exist? Of course not. If you think “proof” is the standard for rational belief then you are the one MILES away from the standard opinion without academia. And that ought to embarrass you. Also when the heck have I ever asserted I was using unmoved mover argument? Clearly you have no idea what you are talking about, as I wasn’t going that route and you are shooting blanks hoping something would stick.

            “The cosmological arguments are all awful as they rely on the basis that God is the only thing that could possibly create the universe. if you can justify that claim (by which I mean justify, and not just show that it could be possible), then do so.”

            Ok now let’s play a game, how about you tell me which cosmological argument I am using up above. Also what are the premises of the argument.

            “So long as the laws of nature exist, then they will be relevant. Things like the creation of the universe did not take place inside those laws, so there is no reason to expect them to obey those laws. It’s like dropping a ball in space and being surprised when it doesn’t fall.”

            One of the leading proponents of the causal argument argues for simultaneous causation instead of prior causation [exactly for that reason that there would have been no prior]. Causation does not need to be prior since it can be simultaneous. There being no prior does not discount that there was a beginning. Neither does it dodge the axiom that ‘out of nothing, nothing comes’.

            Causation was a serious philosophical issue millennia before the scientific enterprise came along so it’s not a merely inductive phenomenon. In fact, David Hume bring into question whether it is an inductive issue at all!! This is where looking at Aristotelean causation is important. He makes it clear that some metaphysical causation is necessary to find

            “If one universe can come into being, then others will, because the cause of one would not stop. The basis for a multiverse is as simple as that.
            Laws and matter are the same basic thing, separating them is baseless. There wasn’t a time when just one existed. Laws are a result of things affecting each other. When those things exist, laws do. There’s no delay.”

            Laws and matter are the same thing? LOLWUT? Ok, what exactly is matter? Is the number 7 matter? Is the law of non-contradiction made of matter? explain


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    Steph says:

    You believe there’s a guy who’s his own father. Technically true so far as the trinity goes, but expressing it like that is nothing other than ridicule. Context is key. Richard Dawkins never supported directed panspermia, he only remarked that it was an interesting idea. I don’t know about the context of the others you’ve mentioned, but you’re still only looking at some possible explanations. I have suggested two to you so far, and you have no responded to either.
    Summarizing the link would be a waste of time. You are fully capable of clicking a hyperlink and watching a video. I understand it, and I’m not wasting my time explaining each detail when nothing you have done so far leads me to believe you’ll do anything other than ignore it.
    If you want an example of circular reasoning, look at your basis for God being behind the origin of life.
    Yes, natural laws are part of the universe, they come from it. The laws are simply matter in action. You ask the question ‘why are there laws?’ as though it’s significant. Why wouldn’t there be laws in a universe? When things affect one another, then there must be something that governs the effect, otherwise it wouldn’t exist.
    You read what Andrei Linde said. It is completely circular. His only argument against a recording device being the observer, is that it’s not a mind.
    I disagree with Owen Gingerich, obviously, but I have never said his quote is invalid because he is a theist. I have said only that there is no reason to take it as valid, and have other reasons to take it as being invalid, which are separate to him. The analogy you have failed to respond to is: “If a known fraudster approached you with an offer of money, would you believe them, or reject them? Would that be a genetic fallacy?”
    I HAVE RESPONDED TO EACH OF THOSE QUOTES. READ MY COMMENTS FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE AND STOP IGNORING EVERYTHING I SAY.
    1. SCIENCE STILL EXISTS IN A UNIVERSE, EVEN IF IT IS ONE OF MANY.
    2. THE SOURCE OF EVERY UNIVERSE IS THE SAME THING. NO MORE EXPLANATION IS NEEDED: IT IS THE SAME EXPLANATION. I HAVE SAID THIS AGAIN AND AGAIN, STOP IGNORING IT.


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 33 ) says:

      Dawkins said that directed panspermia “an intriguing possibility.” I am not suggesting that Dawkins “believes” that life came to earth when it was brought here by space aliens who designed it in their laboratory. Rather, the mere fact that he seriously entertains this as a possibility demonstrates the intensity of his ideological bias against God. And I have more bad news regarding Richard Dawkins: Click here to see how Dawkins made the statement in a debate, “a serious case could be made for a deistic God.” So there is no reason to think that Dawkins views are logically based. Rather, it is clear that they are primarilyideologically based. Think about it, why would someone rant so intensely against the concept of God, and then admit that “a serious case could be made for a deistic God”?

      I watched your video regarding the origin of life which features Carl Sagan. (That is the one you wanted me to watch, isn’t it?) And I have to say that this video does perhaps an even better job of demonstrating the primarily ideological, rather than logical, origin of atheist belief. Sagan says “there’s still a great deal to be understood about the origin of life, including the origin of the genetic code.” Well, since a living thing is an information processing entity, the genetic code is the most important thing that needs explanation. His statement, adopted to explaining the origin of the computer would be something to the effect of: “There’s still a great deal to be understood about the origin of the computer, including how it is able to process information.” Further, the Miller-Urey experiments only address the origin of the raw materials for life. Trying to cite the Miller-Urey experiments as providing explanation for the origin of life would be like citing scientific explanations for the origin of silicon and plastic as providing explanation for the origin of computers.

      But all of this discussion about the lack of current scientific explanations is completely beside the point…tangential. The most important point is the category error that you and other atheists commit when you confuse descriptions of the origin of life with explanations for the origin of life. I discuss this topic in The God of the Gaps: Why God and Science are Not Competing Explanations. But I will elaborate by citing Edgar Andrew’s book Who Made God?

      “…far from explaining everything, science actually ‘explains’ nothing. What science does is describe the world and its phenomenology in terms of its own specialized concepts and models — which provide immensely valuable insights but become increasingly non-intuitive as we dig ever deeper into the nature of physical reality.”

      “The formula equates the gravitational force between two objects to the product of their masses multiplied by a universal constant (the ‘gravitational constant’) and divided by the square of the distance between them. But does the equation ‘explain’ why you don’t bump your head on the ceiling? Not really. It tells us there is a force that keeps your feet on the ground, but you knew that already. It also quantifies that force, allowing us to calculate its strength in any particular case, which is extremely useful. But it doesn’t tell us why there is such a force, why it follows an inverse square law, and why the ‘gravitational constant’ has the value that it does. The equation is a description of gravity rather than an explanation.”

      “But although scientific theories advance our understanding of the way things work in our universe, they seldom, if ever, trace our experiences and observations back to a priori concepts that need no further explanation. Indeed, in their search for unification they often lead us into profound and inexplicable mysteries — conceptual quagmires like ‘curved space-time’ from which there is no escape.”

      So, to restate the main point I presented in The God of the Gaps… atheists are committing a category error in which they confuse science and ontology any time they try to cite science as an alternative to God. Theism and atheism are competing ontological explanations, they are not competing scientific explanations.

      …Which brings us to a discussion of ontology: Albert Einstein famously said:

      “You find it strange that I consider the comprehensibility of the world (to the extent that we are authorized to speak of such a comprehensibility) as a miracle or as an eternal mystery. Well, a priori, one should expect a chaotic world, which cannot be grasped by the mind in any way… the kind of order created by Newton’s theory of gravitation, for example, is wholly different. Even if man proposes the axioms of the theory, the success of such a project presupposes a high degree of ordering of the objective world, and this could not be expected a priori. That is the `miracle’ which is being constantly reinforced as our knowledge expands.”

      Please note that the miracle of the comprehensibility of the universe is reinforced, rather than diminished “as our knowledge expands,” according to Einstein.

      So my questions for you are 1) What is the source of the “high degree of ordering of the objective world,” as Einstein put it? and 2) Why is the universe comprehensible?

      Please note that it would be pointless to suggest that future scientific discoveries will explain these questions. In the words of the Cambridge University physicist John Polkinghorne: “Science does not explain the mathematical intelligibility of the physical world, for it is part of science’s founding faith that this is so.”

      You write, “Yes, natural laws are part of the universe, they come from it. The laws are simply matter in action. You ask the question ‘why are there laws?’ as though it’s significant. Why wouldn’t there be laws in a universe? When things affect one another, then there must be something that governs the effect, otherwise it wouldn’t exist.”

      What I am looking for here is an explanation of what the “something” is “that governs the effect,” to use your words. Yes, the question of “why are there laws?” is extremely significant, because, as Einstein put it “a priori, one should expect a chaotic world.” In other words, there is no reason to expect, a priori, that matter should consistently follow physical laws. For example, why is it not the case that when I bounce my ball one time, it comes back up, and then the next time I bounce my ball (in exactly the same manner), it doesn’t bounce sideways, but at a 90 degree angle to the floor?

      I don’t want to put any words in your mouth, but your explanations for 1) why there are physical laws and 2) why it is that matter so consistently follows physical laws seem to be something to the effect of 1)they just are and 2)it just does, respectively. If this is your stance, then please note that these are not explanations, but rather arbitrary assumptions which illustrate gaping holes in your explanatory framework. I will copy and paste again the theistic answers to the two above questions:

      God is the source of natural/physical laws and mindless matter follows these laws because matter is a manifestation of the mind of God. As Robert Boyle, the founder of modern chemistry, put it: “The nature of this or that body is but the law of God prescribed to it [and] to speak properly, a law [is] but a notional rule of acting according to the declared will of a superior.” [italics added] Boyle also put it another way. He said, “God [is] the author of the universe, and the free establisher of the laws of motion.”

      Or as James Joule, the propounder of the first law of thermodynamics, for whom the thermal unit of the “Joule” was named, put it: “It is evident that an acquaintance with natural laws means no less than an acquaintance with the mind of God therein expressed.”

      Or as the knighted mathematician, physicist and astronomer Sir James Jeans, put it in his book The Mysterious Universe:

      “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.” (italics added)

      In short, if the material universe is in actuality a manifestation of consciousness, as both theism and 1) the majority of the most important contributors to modern physics and 2) almost all of the classical philosophers declare (as demonstrated in God Is Real: Why Modern Physics Has Discredited Atheism), then it is immediately clear why matter so consistently follows physical laws. A couple citations from that essay:

      “Is intelligent mind an ultimate and irreducible feature of reality? Indeed, is it the ultimate nature of reality? Or is mind and consciousness an unforeseen and unintended product of basically material processes of evolution?

      If you look at the history of philosophy, it soon becomes clear that almost all the great classical philosophers took the first of these views. Plato, Aristotle, Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, Locke, Berkeley, Kant, Hegel—they all argued that the ultimate reality, often hidden under the appearances of the material world or time and space, is mind or spirit.”

      –Keith Ward, retired Professor of Philosophy at Kings College, London, and a member of the Council of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, as quoted in his book Doubting Dawkins, Why There Almost Certainly is A God.
      ————
      “…This sense of wonder leads most scientists to a Superior Being – der Alte, the Old One, as Einstein affectionately called the Deity – a Superior Intelligence, the Lord of all Creation and Natural Law.”

      Abdus Salam, winner of the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics for his work in electroweak theory.  He is here quoted in his article entitled Science and Religion.
      ————
      “I have looked into most philosophical systems and I have seen that none will work without God.”

      “Science is incompetent to reason upon the creation of matter itself out of nothing.  We have reached the utmost limit of our thinking faculties when we have admitted that because matter cannot be eternal and self-existent it must have been created.”

      –Physicist and mathematician James Clerk Maxwell, who is credited with formulating classical electromagnetic theory and whose contributions to science are considered to be of the same magnitude as those of Einstein and Newton.
      ————-
      But, back to ahteism: What are the atheist answers to the questions of 1) Why there are physical laws and 2) Why it is that matter so consistently follows physical laws and 3) Why it is that the universe is comprehensible (or “mathematically intelligible” as Polinghorne put it)?

      Can you answer these questions with something more substantive than what amounts to the answers of 1) they just are 2) it just does and 3) it just is, respectively? Please again note that such answers do not provide explanation, but rather provide arbitrary assumption in place of explanation.

      Regarding Owen Gingerich, you are again committing an open-and-shut ad hominem by suggesting that he is “a known fraudster.” Is this is if fact what you are suggesting? The Harvard University research professor of astronomy and the history of science, who is also the senior astronomer at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, is “a known fraudster”? I don’t want to put words in your mouth, so please clarify.

      You say that you have responded to my quotes regarding the multiverse. Can you please restate your responses, since this has gotten to be a long discussion?

      Lastly, you say that “the source of every universe is that same thing.” Once again, this has gotten to be a very long discussion, so rather than making me dig through your comments, could you please restate what you feel is “the source for every universe”? Is nothingness this source? I don’t recall.


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        Steph says:

        There is a massive different between calling something an intriguing possibility, and seriously entertaining it. It’s an intriguing possibility that we all live in the Matrix in a universe which allows it to appear without a mind, it doesn’t mean it can be seriously considered. Same with deism: it’s possible to make a case for a deistic God (like you really are), but that doesn’t mean it’s the only explanation. Twisting the facts to support what you want them to say, rather than what they actually say, won’t change the universe.
        I also linked to a second video that provides an explanation for the origin of life, but you’re committing a classic God of the gaps argument, no matter how you might protest. just because God is a answer, does not mean God is the answer. You’ve made the same error repeatedly. I HAVE RESPONDED TO YOUR SO-CALLED ‘CATEGORY ERROR’ BEFORE. READ MY POSTS AND STOP MAKING THE SAME REFUTED CLAIMS AGAIN AND AGAIN.
        Your theistic answers to those questions are no better. You state that God just decided to make those laws: I remove God from the equation as it’s completely unnecessary. You do not answer the question of why God exists, or why God would result in those laws. You also ignore everything I’ve said about a multiverse. And, yet again, you make the completely baseless claim that modern physics supports your laughable notion that matter is a result of mind, a statement I have questioned before, and your basis for which has been baseless quotes, empty assertion, and a bastardization of quantum physics.
        The question you’re asking still means nothing because you act as thought it could be otherwise. This is simply not the case. if things affect each other, then there is an effect. If basically the same event occurs, basically the same thing will happen again. this must happen because of the existence of time. Thinking about it also shows that the same thing would happen at different moments. If I’m unclear, never mind. Instead, present the basis for your statement that matter could interact chaotically, and present the basis for your implied statement that is is beyond unlikely, and instead completely impossible for order to exist without a mind. Otherwise a multiverse is an answer.
        I have never called Owen Gingerich a known fraudster, I would suggest you look up the definition of ‘analogy’. I was criticizing how you call ‘genetic fallacy!’ whenever the source of a quote is mentioned, even when the source is important.
        I summarized my responses to your quotes in the previous message.
        Yes, nothingness, if you want to call it that. The absence of any laws is the absence of any prevention.


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          Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 33 ) says:

          Steph,

          Since this discussion has gone on so long, it has gotten disorganized, so I would like to do some tidying up. Instead of responding to several of my questions, you have either 1) overlooked them or 2) stated that you have already responded to them, or 3) stated that my argument has been “debunked.”

          Another possibility is that I overlooked them or misunderstood them, so perhaps some of the responsibility lies with me. But whoever is at fault, I am requesting that you answer the following questions so that we can have your positions clearly stated and accumulated in one place. Copying and pasting whenever possible should save you time. I apologize in advance if any of my below questions in any way misrepresent your views. I do not want to make any “straw man” arguments, so wherever I misrepresent your views, please correct me.

          Please respond to the following questions with your answers placed next to the corresponding number:

          1) You have stated that the universe came from nothingness.

          I replied that nothingness cannot cause anything to exist or to happen.

          You replied that this law of causation would not apply in a state nothingness because laws such as this would not exist in a state of nothingness.

          I replied that this is a reasonably valid point, but that for nothingness to produce something (or cause something to happen) would require chance and potentiality, and that chance and potentiality are something, not nothing.

          You replied (unless I misunderstand you) that chance and potentiality are nothing, not something. Is this correct? Please clarify.

          2) You have stated that it is not necessary to invoke God in the explanation for the origin of life because scientific explanations will do just fine.

          I responded that you are committing a category error by suggesting that God and science are competing explanations for natural phenomena such as the origin of life. The reason that this is a category error, I pointed out, is that whenever you cite a natural mechanism to explain a natural phenomenon, you are left with providing an explanation for where natural mechanisms come from. You are confusing a description of natural phenomena with an explanation for natural phenomena. (I have watched both of the videos that you linked to, and they provide descriptions of the aspects of the origin of life that are understood by current science). I discuss this topic in The God of the Gaps: Why God and Science are Not Competing Explanations. But I will elaborate by citing Edgar Andrew’s book Who Made God?:

          “…far from explaining everything, science actually ‘explains’ nothing. What science does is describe the world and its phenomenology in terms of its own specialized concepts and models — which provide immensely valuable insights but become increasingly non-intuitive as we dig ever deeper into the nature of physical reality.”

          “The formula equates the gravitational force between two objects to the product of their masses multiplied by a universal constant (the ‘gravitational constant’) and divided by the square of the distance between them. But does the equation ‘explain’ why you don’t bump your head on the ceiling? Not really. It tells us there is a force that keeps your feet on the ground, but you knew that already. It also quantifies that force, allowing us to calculate its strength in any particular case, which is extremely useful. But it doesn’t tell us why there is such a force, why it follows an inverse square law, and why the ‘gravitational constant’ has the value that it does. The equation is a description of gravity rather than an explanation.”

          “…although scientific theories advance our understanding of the way things work in our universe, they seldom, if ever, trace our experiences and observations back to a priori concepts that need no further explanation. Indeed, in their search for unification they often lead us into profound and inexplicable mysteries — conceptual quagmires like ‘curved space-time’ from which there is no escape.”

          So, to restate the main point I presented in The God of the Gaps… atheists are committing a category error in which they confuse science and ontology any time they try to cite science as an alternative to God. Theism and atheism are competing ontological explanations, they are not competing scientific explanations. Science describes things but provides no ultimate explanations for things.

          …Which brings us to a discussion of ontology: Albert Einstein famously said:

          “You find it strange that I consider the comprehensibility of the world (to the extent that we are authorized to speak of such a comprehensibility) as a miracle or as an eternal mystery. Well, a priori, one should expect a chaotic world, which cannot be grasped by the mind in any way… the kind of order created by Newton’s theory of gravitation, for example, is wholly different. Even if man proposes the axioms of the theory, the success of such a project presupposes a high degree of ordering of the objective world, and this could not be expected a priori. That is the `miracle’ which is being constantly reinforced as our knowledge expands.”

          Please note that the miracle of the comprehensibility of the universe is reinforced, rather than diminished “as our knowledge expands,” according to Einstein.

          So my questions for you under the heading of #2 are:

          A) What is the source of the “high degree of ordering of the objective world,” as Einstein put it?

          B) Why is the universe comprehensible?

          C) What is the source of natural mechanisms that, as you allege, produce such natural phenomena as the origin of life from non-living matter?

          3) You have cited “chance and multiple universes” as an explanation for why our universe is exquisitely fine tuned for the origin of life.

          I replied by with the following citations:

          The esteemed former Cambridge University astrophysicist John Polkinghorne notes in Questions of Truth:

          “Answering an argument by a suggestion is hardly conclusive. One problem is that we don’t just need a hundred other universes, or even a billion, but an utterly immense number—some string theorists suggest that there are up to 10 to the 500th power other universes. If you are allowed to posit 10 to the 500th power other universes to explain away otherwise inconvenient observations, you can “explain away” anything, and science becomes impossible.”[italics added]

          Further, as Oxford University professor of philosophy Antony Flew facetiously observes in There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind:

          “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 that case of a 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.”

          MORE UNIVERSES REQUIRE MORE EXPLANATION, NOT LESS.

          So the questions under the heading of #3 are as follows:

          A) What is your reply to Polkinghorne and Flew’s above points?

          B) What is producing these multiple universes? Nothingness?

          4) I asked you where physical/natural laws come from and why it is that inert matter so consistently follows these physical/natural laws. I provided the theistic answers to these questions, which I will copy and paste below:

          God is the source of natural/physical laws and mindless matter follows these laws because matter is a manifestation of the mind of God. As Robert Boyle, the founder of modern chemistry, put it: “The nature of this or that body is but the law of God prescribed to it [and] to speak properly, a law [is] but a notional rule of acting according to the declared will of a superior.” [italics added] Boyle also put it another way. He said, “God [is] the author of the universe, and the free establisher of the laws of motion.”

          Or as James Joule, the propounder of the first law of thermodynamics, for whom the thermal unit of the “Joule” was named, put it: “It is evident that an acquaintance with natural laws means no less than an acquaintance with the mind of God therein expressed.”

          Or as the knighted mathematician, physicist and astronomer Sir James Jeans, put it in his book The Mysterious Universe:

          “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.” (italics added)

          In short, if the material universe is in actuality a manifestation of consciousness, as both theism and 1) the majority of the most important contributors to modern physics and 2) almost all of the classical philosophers declare (as demonstrated in God Is Real: Why Modern Physics Has Discredited Atheism), then it is immediately clear why matter so consistently follows physical laws. A couple citations from that essay:

          “Is intelligent mind an ultimate and irreducible feature of reality? Indeed, is it the ultimate nature of reality? Or is mind and consciousness an unforeseen and unintended product of basically material processes of evolution?

          If you look at the history of philosophy, it soon becomes clear that almost all the great classical philosophers took the first of these views. Plato, Aristotle, Anselm, Aquinas, Descartes, Leibniz, Spinoza, Locke, Berkeley, Kant, Hegel—they all argued that the ultimate reality, often hidden under the appearances of the material world or time and space, is mind or spirit.”

          –Keith Ward, retired Professor of Philosophy at Kings College, London, and a member of the Council of the Royal Institute of Philosophy, as quoted in his book Doubting Dawkins, Why There Almost Certainly is A God.

          So the questions to answer under the heading of #4 are:

          A) Where do physical/natural laws come from?

          B) Why is it that inert matter so consistently follows such physical/natural laws? Why, instead, is there not “a chaotic world” (as Einstein put it) in which inert matter follows no physical/natural laws?

          I am not aware of any atheist answers to questions 4A and 4B that amount to anything more substantive than they just are and it just does, respectively. Can you provide?

          5) Question #5 relates to a topic that I have not asked you to address before, but that I will ask you to address now:

          The concept of God that is presented in the Bible is an utterly transcultural and transhistorical concept of God, as I point out in Which God is Real?

          If the God described in the Bible is not real, then why has this concept of God emerged in culture after culture, throughout history? The vast majority of people in the history or the world have been theists of one brand or the other. What is it that has led so many people believe in a God that you believe is not real?

          6) Question #6 also is a new question.

          In Has Anyone Met God and Returned to Tell About It? I point out the following:

          In 2005, IANDS (the International Association for Near-Death Studies) released The Handbook of Near-Death Experiences to summarize the conclusions of 30 years of research into the field of near-death experiences.  Some of the revelations featured in this book (which appear below) should come as a wake-up call to those inclined to doubt the existence of the Deity:

          “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.”

          So, the question for #6 is: What is responsible for this phenomenon of people repeatedly encountering God during NDEs?

          Please read the essay and watch the videos when you get a chance.
          ———-
          Steph, please organize your answers using the numerical and alphabetical layout that I have provided (1, 2A, 2B, etc.). This organizational structure will keep things more clear and tidy and will facilitate further discussion.


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            Steph says:

            1. I replied that potentiality isn’t needed in a situation before time, because it requires time to exist. It’s the same sort of case with chance. It isn’t a matter of how likely it is for something to happen, because that acts as though it hasn’t. In no time, it would have. You’re applying things that are only ever relevant in somethingness, to nothingness.
            2.
            a. Chance, and matter affecting matter.
            b. Why wouldn’t it be? Phrasing it as a question doesn’t give that statement anything other than a question mark.
            c. The universe, obviously. They’re part of the universe.
            3.
            a. THE SOURCE OF EVERY UNIVERSE IS THE SAME THING. NO MORE EXPLANATION IS NEEDED: IT IS THE SAME EXPLANATION.
            b. The lack of prevention in nothingness.
            4.
            a/b. They’re part of the universe. yes, that’s the only answer you’re getting. Why did God create them? He just did? It’s the same answer you’re complaining about. Phrasing something as a question doesn’t mean it has an answer.
            5. What has lead so many people to believe in gods of war, gods of the sky, gods of water, gods of the afterlife, and gods of love? Same answer. Some copied each other, some just liked the idea.
            6. Hallucinations and dreams. I’m not an expert on this area, but I’m capable of researching, and it soon becomes clear that the times people suffer NDEs are textbook examples of the times people would have hallucinations. Don’t even get me started on how many contradictions there are.


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              Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 33 ) says:

              1) I don’t know where you are coming up with the idea that potentiality and chance require time to exist. The interesting thing is that the statement “potentiality and chance require time to exist” would be a law (that you apparently created yourself). Please note that you said that there would be no laws in a state of nothingness, and so this would necessarily include the law that “potentiality and chance require time to exist.” You have very clearly contradicted yourself by trying to apply a law to a state of nothingness.

              I’m sorry to use your own words against your argument, but “you’re applying things that are only ever relevant in somethingness, to nothingness.”

              2) A) So the source of the “high degree of ordering of the objective world” that Einstein referred to is the result of “chance, and matter affecting matter.” How do you get past the 2nd law of thermodynamics, which says that the measure of disorder in a system tends to increase over time? How did a universe without life eventually give way to life if the 2nd law of thermodynamics prevents this ordering from happening? The 2nd law of thermodynamics is the reason that dead bodies decompose (thus becoming less ordered) and the reason that cars rust, etc..

              I have debated many atheists before who argue that since the earth is an open system, the 2nd law of thermodynamics does not apply. This is a valid enough point: If, in an open system, something from outside of the system intervenes, then the measure of order can increase instead of decrease…thus counteracting the 2nd law of thermodynamics. But if you want to argue this, then what is it that acts from outside of the system (of the earth) to cause the ordering that produced life from non-living inert matter?

              In your reply, please consider the following point from MIT physicist Gerald Schreoder:

              “…and then there is the uncontested reality that life started immediately on just-cooled earth and not after billions of years as had been once posited. Elso Barghoorn, while at Harvard University, discovered this fact that changed the entire emphasis in origin of life studies. Barghoorn discovered that the oldest rocks that can bear fossils already have fully formed fossils of one-celled life. And most amazingly, and yet by necessity, those first forms of life already had the ability to reproduce. Reproduction is not something that can gradually evolve. The first cell to survive had to have all the mechanisms for mitosis the first time around since all the attempts at life that came before (if there were other attempts) died without leaving any heritage simply because there was no succeeding generation prior to reproduction.” [the word “uncontested” was italicized by me.]

              B) Why wouldn’t the universe be comprehensible? I will again copy and paste Albert Einstein’s statement:

              “You find it strange that I consider the comprehensibility of the world (to the extent that we are authorized to speak of such a comprehensibility) as a miracle or as an eternal mystery. Well, a priori, one should expect a chaotic world, which cannot be grasped by the mind in any way… the kind of order created by Newton’s theory of gravitation, for example, is wholly different. Even if man proposes the axioms of the theory, the success of such a project presupposes a high degree of ordering of the objective world, and this could not be expected a priori. That is the `miracle’ which is being constantly reinforced as our knowledge expands.”

              What is the source of “the high degree of ordering of the objective world” that Einstein marveled at? Are you suggesting that an ordered world (which would allow the world to be comprehensible), rather than a disordered world, should for some reason be expected a priori? If so, what would be this reason?

              C) So it is the universe that is the source of natural mechanisms? How does the universe enforce natural mechanisms? Please recall that natural mechanisms must be governed by physical/natural laws? What is it that causes inert matter to follow physical/natural laws so consistently thus producing a “high degree of ordering of the objective world” rather than a “chaotic world which cannot be grasped by the mind in any way,” which, as Einstein (and simple logic) suggest, should be expected a priori?

              3) A) You say that the “source of every universe is the same thing.” OK, fine. Just please tell us what this “something” is! Is it the nothingness?

              B) You say that there is a “lack of prevention in nothingness” that produces multiple universes. But by saying that there is a “lack of prevention in nothingness,” you are making a statement of law (that you apparently made up yourself). However, you have repeatedly stated that there would be no laws in a state of nothingness. Both “nothing can produce something” and “nothing can produce nothing” are laws. Neither, by your reasoning, would be present in a state of nothingness.

              4A/B) Ok, fine..physical/natural laws are “part of the universe.” Obviously. But that is not the issue. The issue is why it is that matter so consistently follows physical/natural laws. What causes matter to behave in such an ordered fashion rather than in a chaotic fashion (as Einstein suggested we should expect a priori)? Is there a “force,” as in Star Wars, that guides matter to behave in very specific and predictable ways?

              You say, “There part of the universe. Yes, that’s the only answer you’re getting.” The reason that this is the only answer I am getting from you is that atheism cannot provide an explanation. Rather, atheism must make an arbitrary assumption that matter follows such laws because it just does.

              Lastly, you ask why God would create physical/natural laws. But this is a totally different question from the questions of 1) where physical/natural laws come from and 2) why it is that matter so consistently follows such laws. You are trying to dodge the question by changing the subject.

              And asking a question such as “Why would God create physical/natural laws?” would be an attempt to probe the mind of God. Trying to probe the mind of God would be an absurd endeavor.

              5) The gods you reference (god of war, god of love, etc.) are not transcultural and transhistorical concepts of God. Therefore we have every reason to expect that such gods are cultural constructs. But the God of the Bible is a transcultural and transhistorical God, as I demonstrate in Which God Is Real?. Since the following 8 attributes are attached to the supreme being in a huge variety of cultures that are isolated from one another by time and distance, a supreme being with these attributes cannot be deemed a cultural construct:

              1) Eternity, 2) Omniscience, 3) Beneficence, 4) Morality, 5) Omnipotence, 6) Creative power, 7) Giver of the moral code, 8)Author of moral rewards and punishments

              6) NDE’s are hallucinations? The problem with this idea is that the content of hallucinations is rarely if ever the same. One person may hallucinate and the content of his/her hallucination may include meeting a purple leprechaun who takes him on a journey to Never-Never land. But another person’s hallucination (or the same person on a different occasion) is not likely to have the same content. And it would be unheard of for tens of thousands of people to take a hallucinogenic drug and consistently report a similar journey to Never-Never land with a similar purple leprechaun. In short, hallucinations do not have consistency of content. But NDEs DO have consistency of content. A copy and paste from Has Anyone Met God and Returned to Tell About It?:

              In 2005, IANDS released The Handbook of Near-Death Experiences to summarize the conclusions of 30 years of research in this field.  Some of the revelations featured in this book (which appear below) should come as a wake-up call to those inclined to doubt the existence of the Deity:

              “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.”


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    Steph says:

    You have a bizarre definition of a religious belief. I am not supposing any god or supernatural agency. Call it a faith if you must, but it’s incredibly different to any religious faith or belief. It matches knowledge and logic: as you said, there is no science of nothingness. the laws and rules we’re used to simply would not apply. To apply them (as you do to argue against it), is an absurdity. there can be no potentiality, because potentiality requires time. That doesn’t mean nothing would come of nothing.
    Richard Dawkins still doesn’t say that it’s a plausible hypothesis. it’s an interesting enough idea, and does explain how life arose on Earth: but does not explain the origin of life, which is the answer we’re seeking. if you look at the whole video, he says as much. See context, rather than a tiny clip, edited by those with the desire to discredit him. If I started spewing Bible quotes, you’d ask for as much.
    You keep saying that there is no reality independent of mind, YOU HAVE NOT SHOWN IT. Quantum physics DOES NOT show that. How on earth do you reach that conclusion? As you say to me, paraphrased, stop the assertions and give a basis for your view.
    Scientific revolutions are incredibly different to Fred Hoyle’s bloody-mindedness. He rejected things that were as good as proven, for no good reason. When it comes to quoting a theist, bias is relevant if their quote is about God. Owen Gingerich did not reach the conclusion because of the argument that he’s putting forward, he reached it due to being born into it. This does not invalidate his point, but it means there is also no reason to take it as true.


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 33 ) says:

      You have a bizarre definition of a religious belief. I am not supposing any god or supernatural agency. Call it a faith if you must, but it’s incredibly different to any religious faith or belief. It matches knowledge and logic: as you said, there is no science of nothingness. the laws and rules we’re used to simply would not apply. To apply them (as you do to argue against it), is an absurdity. there can be no potentiality, because potentiality requires time. That doesn’t mean nothing would come of nothing.

      Actually, as I demonstrate in my post titled Doesn’t Religion Cause Killing?, the term “religion” is extremely slippery. A citation from religious scholar William T. Cavanaugh, as presented in that essay:

      “What would be necessary to prove the claim that religion has caused more violence than any other institutional force over the course of human history?  One would first need a concept of religion that would be at least theoretically separable from other institutional forces over the course of human history. …The problem is that there was no category of religion separable from such political institutions until the modern era, and then it was primarily in the West.  What meaning could we give to either the claim that Roman religion is to blame for the imperialist violence of ancient Rome, or the claim that it is Roman politics and not Roman religion that is to blame?  Either claim would be nonsensical, because there was no neat division between religion and politics.”

      “It is not simply that religion and politics were jumbled together until the modern West got them properly sorted out.  As Wilfred Cantwell Smith showed in his landmark book, The Meaning and End of Religion, religion as a discrete category of human activity separable from culture, politics, and other areas of life is an invention of the modern West.”

      “…The first conclusion is that there is no trans-historical or trans-cultural concept of religion.  Religion has a history, and what counts as religion and what does not in any given context depends on different configurations of power and authority.  The second conclusion is that the attempt to say that there is a trans-historical and trans-cultural concept of religion that is separable from secular phenomena is itself part of a particular configuration of power, that of the modern, liberal nation-state as it is developed in the West.”

      So, if you don’t think that the term “religion” can apply to your belief system, then I don’t really have any solid basis for disagreeing with that. But equally true is the fact that the term “religion” cannot be applied to Christianity in any meaningful way…this is merely a cultural construct because there is no transcultural or transhistorical way to separate “religion” from “secular” phenomena.

      Richard Dawkins still doesn’t say that it’s a plausible hypothesis. it’s an interesting enough idea, and does explain how life arose on Earth: but does not explain the origin of life, which is the answer we’re seeking. if you look at the whole video, he says as much. See context, rather than a tiny clip, edited by those with the desire to discredit him. If I started spewing Bible quotes, you’d ask for as much.

      Here are Dawkins’ words from that video: “It could be that at some earlier time somewhere in the universe a civilization evolved by probably some Darwinian means to a very very high level of technology and designed a form of life that they seeded onto perhaps this planet. Now that is a possibility, and an intriguing possibility…and I suppose its possible that you might find evidence for that if you look at the details of biochemistry and molecular biology. You might find a signature of some sort of designer….”

      So there you go…Richard Dawkins has endorsed the plausibility of the hypothesis that aliens created life in their laboratory and brought it to earth (“seeded” it) in some sort of spaceship. Open-and-shut. End of story. Period. This is also very strong evidence that he realizes “higher intelligence” must have been involved in the creation of life…he just thinks this “higher intelligence” might be space aliens.

      If I have taken this out of context, then please place his statements back into what you consider to be the correct context. The suggestion that a person has taken a comment out of context, while simultaneously failing to re-insert that comment back into what you feel is the correct context, is an utterly meaningless suggestion.

      Further, how do explain the other highly prominent atheist biologists who have endorsed this view? I am going to copy and paste my comments from a previous reply since you have failed to respond (I will subtract the part about Dawkins since that is covered above):

      Prominent atheists such as Francis Crick and the British chemist Leslie Orgel have endorsed the hypothesis that life may have been brought to earth by aliens in their spaceship. This hypothesis is known as “directed panspermia.” Click here to read about Crick and Orgel endorsing the idea.

      Other atheists have skipped over the aliens and suggested that life came to earth from space without the help of aliens. This view is known as “panspermia” (drop the “directed”). Supporters of this hypothesis include atheists such as the Cambridge University mathematician and astronomer Fred Hoyle, and Chandra Wickramasinghe, the director of the Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology.

      The prominent atheist biologist Michael Ruse thinks that the origin of life can be explained by a piggyback ride on crystals. Click here to see Ruse endorse this hypothesis that, according to him, is popular among atheists.

      Which of these hypotheses, if any, do you lean towards? Most of the atheists that I have asked seem to lean towards the life-came-to-earth-from-space-without-alien-assistance view (panspermia).

      You keep saying that there is no reality independent of mind, YOU HAVE NOT SHOWN IT. Quantum physics DOES NOT show that. How on earth do you reach that conclusion? As you say to me, paraphrased, stop the assertions and give a basis for your view.

      I will copy and paste, again:

      Here is how University of California, Berkeley physicist Henry Stapp puts it in his book Mindful Universe:

      “…According to contemporary orthodox basic physical theory, but contrary to many claims made in the philosophy of mind, the physical domain is not causally closed.  [italics are his] A causally open physical description of the mind-brain obviously cannot completely account for the mind-brain as a whole.”

      “In short, already the orthodox version of quantum mechanics, unlike classical mechanics, is not about a physical world detached from experiences; detached from minds.”

      Princeton University quantum physicist Freeman Dyson echoes Stapp’s above comments:

      “Atoms are weird stuff, behaving like active agents rather than inert substances.  They make unpredictable choices between alternative possibilities according to the laws of quantum mechanics.  It appears that mind, as manifested by the capacity to make choices, is to some extent inherent in every atom.  The universe is also weird, with its laws of nature that make it hospitable to the growth of mind.  I do not make any clear distinction between mind and God.  God is what mind becomes when it passes beyond the scale of our comprehension.”

      Steph, here is how I interpret Stapp’s comment that “the orthodox version of quantum mechanics, unlike classical mechanics, is not about a physical world detached from experiences; detached from minds” and Dyson’s comment that “mind, as manifested by the capacity to make choices, is to some extent inherent in every atom”:

      There is no physical world detached from minds and mind is inherent in every atom. (As if there were really any interpretation necessary). How do you interpret these statements?!

      Further, how do you explain away the fact that the majority of the most important contributors to modern physics (Einstein, Planck, Heisenberg, Born, Jeans, Maxwell, Compton, Dirac, Eddington, Schroedinger, Joule, Kelvin, Salam, Wigner, etc.) are in agreement…as illustrated in God Is Real. Why modern physics has discredited atheism? If I cited these experts in absence of the reasoning behind their conclusions, you could argue that I was making an “appeal to authority…a fallacy”. But since I have provided the reasoning behind such conclusions, no such fallacy has been committed. For example, when the Nobel Prize winning physicist Eugene Wigner said:

      “When the province of physical theory was extended to encompass microscopic phenomena, through the creation of quantum mechanics, the concept of consciousness came to the fore again; it was not possible to formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to the consciousness.”

      …he was not merely expressing his opinion that he thinks consciousness might be involved in quantum mechanics. Rather, he was making a statement of fact regarding his research. He could not formulate the laws of quantum mechanics in a fully consistent way without reference to the consciousness. This is a statement of fact, not mere expert opinion.

      Scientific revolutions are incredibly different to Fred Hoyle’s bloody-mindedness. He rejected things that were as good as proven, for no good reason. When it comes to quoting a theist, bias is relevant if their quote is about God. Owen Gingerich did not reach the conclusion because of the argument that he’s putting forward, he reached it due to being born into it. This does not invalidate his point, but it means there is also no reason to take it as true.

      Your comments about Hoyle are ad hominem. You are trying to discredit an argument by ignoring the argument and trying to discredit the person making the argument instead. You say, “When it comes to quoting a theist, bias is relevant if their quote is about God.” OK, does the same, then, not apply to atheists? Can I not therefore say, “When it comes to quoting an atheist, bias is relevant if their quote is about God”?

      Your statements regarding Gingerich, again, commit the genetic fallacy. You have merely restated your view without responding to what I said about the genetic fallacy. The history of how a person came to believe something has absolutely no bearing whatsoever on the validity of that belief. Does the fact that American children are taught by their parents and schools (from a young age) that all people have certain inalienable rights somehow show that people do not have certain inalienable rights?


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        Steph says:

        I have put his comments into context, I suggest you read my comment again. He remarked that it was an interesting hypothesis, but still did not answer the question of where life came from, as the aliens must have come from somewhere. Attempting to ridicule his view is juvenile, and wrong. And again, only pointing out the more unusual options does not constitute anything other than a sign of your own bias and unwillingness to reason. I have linked you to a scientific explanation of the origin of life, which you have ignored. Here’s another, as my website.
        You still have NOT PROVEN A THING. You have making basic assertions, from quotes from people who you’d disregard on any other issue. Those are far from a majority, and Einstein rejected quantum physics, for one. I don’t know about every single one of them, but it still doesn’t show anything other than their view. To quote Victor Stenger, who is actually an expert on the area, unlike Francis Crick who is not a physicist, let alone a quantum physicist:

        “Quantum mechanics is called on further to argue that the cosmic field, like Newton’s aether, couples to the human mind itself. In Robert Lanza’s view, that field is the universal mind of all humanity — living, dead, and unborn. Ironically, this seemingly profound association between quantum and mind is an artifact, the consequence of unfortunate language used by Bohr, Heisenberg, and the others who originally formulated quantum mechanics. In describing the necessary interaction between the observer and what is being observed, and how the state of a system is determined by the act of its measurement, they inadvertently left the impression that human consciousness enters the picture to cause that state come into being. This led many who did not understand the physics, but liked the sound of the words used to describe it, to infer a fundamental human role in what was previously a universe that seemed to have need for neither gods nor humanity.

        If Bohr and Heisenberg had spoken of measurements made by inanimate instruments rather than “observers,” perhaps this strained relationship between quantum and mind would not have been drawn. For, nothing in quantum mechanics requires human involvement.”

        My comments on Fred Hoyle indicate a reputation for holding incorrect views, and a bias toward that end. Owen Gingerich’s quote relies on the presupposition that there is a God: if there is not, his bias would come in to play regardless. I would suggest you look up what a genetic fallacy actually is: the rejection of an argument, not an assertion, because of a dislike of a person, and not a critique of their trustworthiness. If a known fraudster approached you with an offer of money, would you believe them, or reject them? Would that be a genetic fallacy?
        To respond to your statement at the end of your post, indicating that I’m saying it must be false, just because he’d said it, I would again suggest YOU ACTUALLY READ WHAT I SAY AND STOP CONSTRUCTING STRAW MEN.
        ” This does not invalidate his point, but it means there is also no reason to take it as true.”


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          Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 33 ) says:

          But there is no ridicule here…the aliens-brought-life-to-earth-in-their-spaceship hypothesis is something that Dawkins calls, “a possibility, and an intriguing possibility.” If I had made this up, you could argue that I was using ridicule. But, as out in space as it is, I am not making this stuff up! He actually calls it “an intriguing possibility,” which amounts to an open-and-shut endorsement.

          No, Dawkins did not answer the question of where life came from…you are correct. Rather, he admitted that he does not know and that “nor does anybody.” And I must also mention that merely linking to an explanation for the origin of life will not do. You must at least summarize the explanation in addition to linking to it. Otherwise, we have no idea if you really understand the explanation that you are linking to.

          Sorry I missed your video which you say has a “scientific explanation for the origin of life,” before. Near the end of the video, the narrator says something to the effect of, “If natural processes can explain the origin of life, then we don’t need to invoke God.” I am so glad that you linked me to this video, because it is instructive to the viewers of this debate. Here is a crucial point:

          When one cites a natural process as an alternative to God, one is committing what is known in philosophy as a “category error.” (I discuss this topic in my essay titled God of the Gaps, Why God and Science Are Not Competing Explanations).

          The simplest way to see why the citing of natural processes/mechanisms as an alternative to God commits a category error is this: Citing a natural process/mechanism as an explanation for a natural phenomenon leaves us with the question of where natural processes/mechanisms come from. A small excerpt from that essay which cites Oxford University mathematician John Lennox:

          When Sir Isaac Newton discovered the universal law of gravitation he did not say, ‘I have discovered a mechanism that accounts for planetary motion, therefore there is no agent God who designed it.’ Quite the opposite: precisely because he understood how it worked, he was moved to increased admiration for the God who had designed it that way.”

          Similarly, Johannes Kepler said that, by discovering the laws of planetary motion, he was “thinking God’s thoughts after him.” He did not say, “I discovered the laws of planetary motion, therefore we no longer need to invoke God to explain the motion of the planets.”

          In more simple terms, citing natural mechanisms as an alternative to God confuses describing a natural phenomenon with explaining it. Where do natural processes come from?! I am very very curious to hear your reply.

          This article replies to your Victor Stenger citation with comments from Stanford University physicist Andrei Linde:

          “The universe and the observer exist as a pair,” Linde says. “You can say that the universe is there only when there is an observer who can say, Yes, I see the universe there. These small words— it looks like it was here— for practical purposes it may not matter much, but for me as a human being, I do not know any sense in which I could claim that the universe is here in the absence of observers. We are together, the universe and us. The moment you say that the universe exists without any observers, I cannot make any sense out of that. I cannot imagine a consistent theory of everything that ignores consciousness. A recording device cannot play the role of an observer, because who will read what is written on this recording device? In order for us to see that something happens, and say to one another that something happens, you need to have a universe, you need to have a recording device, and you need to have us. It’s not enough for the information to be stored somewhere, completely inaccessible to anybody. It’s necessary for somebody to look at it. You need an observer who looks at the universe. In the absence of observers, our universe is dead.”

          Somehow the outspoken atheist Victor Stenger failed to realize that “measurements made by inanimate instruments rather than ‘observers'” require an observer to read the measurements produced by the instruments!

          Here is how wikipedia defines “genetic fallacy”: The genetic fallacy is a fallacy of irrelevance where a conclusion is suggested based solely on something or someone’s origin rather than its current meaning or context. You cited Gingerich’s origin when you wrote, “Owen Gingerich did not reach the conclusion because of the argument that he’s putting forward, he reached it due to being born into it.” Apparently you believe that Gingerich’s conclusions are invalid because he was born into a family of theists. This is the genetic fallacy, open and shut.

          And your further attacks on Fred Hoyle are, I will remind you yet again, a textbook example of an ad hominem argument: You are trying to discredit the person rather than the position the person holds.

          If I am making straw man arguments, you must specify what they are. Vague allusions to straw man arguments are of no use. Specifically which arguments of mine are straw man arguments?

          Lastly, you write “Here’s another as my website.” I am not sure what you mean. Are you linking to something about abiogenesis? If so, I don’t see the link.


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            Steph says:

            Again, CONTEXT. I have repeatedly explained he context, you take it out of that for the sole purpose of ridiculing atheists.
            I’m not summarizing the link because it would take too long. It explains how the origin of life came about without a deity, using scientific facts and basic logic. There are no theories on how life came about, but there are plenty of hypotheses.
            The video does comment on God. At what point in the process did God enter into it? If you argue that God was responsible for the mechanisms, then you’re making an argument from the origin of the universe, and not the origin of life, and to pretend otherwise would be dishonest. The mechanisms come from the universe, and there is no need for God to create the universe, as you seem to have conceded.
            Be clear. Are you saying that the act of looking at the instruments changes what the instruments say, even if it was recorded before anyone looked at it? That is absurd, and it still does not provide any evidence for your view because it is based entirely on your view. As Stenger said, it is explained without some strange fusion of telekinesis and time travel.
            Again< I AM NOT SAYING THAT OWEN GINGERICH'S CONCLUSION IS INVALID. I have said that in EVERY POST I HAVE MADE SO FAR. If you want an example of one of your many straw men, there you go. I am saying that the presence of an obvious bias shows we cannot take it as true. I have already dealt with the position he holds repeatedly (chance and a multiverse), which you seem to have ignored. You brought him up as no more than an appeal to authority, and I have shown why that authority is flawed. You also fail to respond to my analogy.
            I don't know if it's possible to put links in comments, so each link I make is in the 'website' field at the top of the message. Click on my name in my previous posts to see them.


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              Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 33 ) says:

              Here’s the point: In virtually whatever CONTEXT you put the aliens-brought-life-to-earth-in-their-spaceship hypothesis (“directed panspermia”), or life-came-to-earth-without-alien-assistance hypothesis (“panspermia” without the “directed”) or the piggyback-ride-on-crystals explanation for the origin of life (as endorsed by prominent atheist biologist Michael Ruse), the result is the same…utter ridiculousness. The only conceivable CONTEXT in which these explanations would not be utterly ridiculous would be if these people were joking. But they clearly were not joking, and the people endorsing these hypotheses are the atheist cream-of-the-crop…they don’t come more elite than Richard Dawkins, Francis Crick, Fred Hoyle, Chandra Wickaramsinghe, etc. Can you tell me another context in which these explanations would not be ridiculous? If so, you must specifically describe what that context is rather than making vague references to a different context. Perhaps Francis Crick endorsed directed panspermia while moonlighting as a stand-up comedian, and I failed to mention that he wasn’t serious because it was part of his comedy routine. Is this how I took his endorsement of directed panspermia out of context? Please explain.

              And once again, this is not ridicule because I am not making this stuff up! These ultra-elite atheist academics actually endorse these hypotheses!

              You say that “you are not summarizing the link because it would take to long.” An excerpt from Come, Let Us Reason that pertains to your statement:

              “Einstein famously noted that you can be brilliant, but if you can’t explain it in a simple way, your brilliance isn’t worth much, and you don’t really understand a subject until you can explain it in a simple way. Simple doesn’t mean shallow or superficial. Simple means clear.”

              This is what I mean when I say that I think the reason you can’t summarize the link (which explains how life emerged without God) is that you don’t really understand it. Can you prove me wrong? Let ‘er rip!

              When you ask the question, “At what point in the process did God enter into it?,” you are committing circular reasoning. The point is that God did not enter the process, God is the whole process. As Oxford University mathematician John Lennox puts it (and as I cite in The God of the Gaps: Why God and Science Are Not Competing Explanations), it is not “the God of the gaps,” but rather, “the God of the whole show.” If the natural world is just a manifestation of God’s consciousness, as theism suggests, then God does not enter the process…he IS the process.

              By citing abiogenesis theories as an alternative to God (if that is indeed what you are doing), you are committing what is known as a category error in philosophical terms. To see why this is the case, consider the following:

              If your theories are 100% correct, and life really did emerge as the result of physical and natural laws (which drive natural mechanisms), then you have provided a scientific description for how life emerged. But this would still leave you with the need to provide an ontological explanation of 1) Where physical/natural laws come from, and 2) Why it is that mindless matter can be compelled to do anything, much less follow a physical/natural law.

              What are your answers to the two above questions? You say that natural mechanisms “come from the universe.” However, natural mechanisms are part of the universe…they originated when the universe originated. Did you mean that the natural mechanisms come from nothingness, just like the universe? And once again, why is that inert matter can be compelled to do anything, much less follow a natural law? What is the atheistic answer to these questions!?

              The theistic answer to these two questions are simple: God is the source of natural/physical laws and mindless matter follows these laws because matter is a manifestation of the mind of God. As Robert Boyle, the founder of modern chemistry, put it: “The nature of this or that body is but the law of God prescribed to it [and] to speak properly, a law [is] but a notional rule of acting according to the declared will of a superior.” [italics added] Boyle also put it another way. He said, “God [is] the author of the universe, and the free establisher of the laws of motion.”

              Or as James Joule, the propounder of the first law of thermodynamics, for whom the thermal unit of the “Joule” was named, put it: “It is evident that an acquaintance with natural laws means no less than an acquaintance with the mind of God therein expressed.”

              Or as the knighted mathematician, physicist and astronomer Sir James Jeans, put it in his book The Mysterious Universe:

              “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.” (italics added)

              How did you come to the conclusion that I have conceded that “there is no need for God to create the universe”? This is strange.

              You write, “Are you saying that the act of looking at the instruments changes what the instruments say, even if it was recorded before anyone looked at it? That is absurd, and it still does not provide any evidence for your view because it is based entirely on your view. As Stenger said, it is explained without some strange fusion of telekinesis and time travel.”

              No, I am saying, in the words of physicist Andrei Linde, “the universe and the observer exist as a pair.” Without observers, there is no universe. The universe is a manifestation of consciousness. Measuring devices are a part of the universe, and so are themselves manifestations of consciousness. Reading a recording device requires consciousness. Recording devices don’t “say” anything until a conscious entity reads them. There is no telekenesis or time travel involved. Review again what Linde said:

              “The universe and the observer exist as a pair,” Linde says. “You can say that the universe is there only when there is an observer who can say, Yes, I see the universe there. These small words— it looks like it was here— for practical purposes it may not matter much, but for me as a human being, I do not know any sense in which I could claim that the universe is here in the absence of observers. We are together, the universe and us. The moment you say that the universe exists without any observers, I cannot make any sense out of that. I cannot imagine a consistent theory of everything that ignores consciousness. A recording device cannot play the role of an observer, because who will read what is written on this recording device? In order for us to see that something happens, and say to one another that something happens, you need to have a universe, you need to have a recording device, and you need to have us. It’s not enough for the information to be stored somewhere, completely inaccessible to anybody. It’s necessary for somebody to look at it. You need an observer who looks at the universe. In the absence of observers, our universe is dead.”

              You suggest that you “are not saying that Gingerich’s conclusion is invalid.” But he comes to theistic conclusions, and you are an atheist…of course you are saying his conclusions are invalid. Please explain. Further, I asked you before, buy you did not reply: You suggest that Gingerich’s theism makes his views regarding the existence of God biased. But, then, could I not argue that Stenger’s atheism makes his views regarding God’s existence biased?

              You suggest that I have ignored the “chance and multiverse” explanation. Here is my reply to the “chance and multiverse” explanation:

              The esteemed former Cambridge University astrophysicist John Polkinghorne notes in Questions of Truth:

              “Answering an argument by a suggestion is hardly conclusive. One problem is that we don’t just need a hundred other universes, or even a billion, but an utterly immense number—some string theorists suggest that there are up to 10 to the 500th power other universes. If you are allowed to posit 10 to the 500th power other universes to explain away otherwise inconvenient observations, you can “explain away” anything, and science becomes impossible.”[italics added]

              Further, as Oxford University professor of philosophy Antony Flew facetiously observes in There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind:

              “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 that case of a 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.”

              MORE UNIVERSES REQUIRE MORE EXPLANATION, NOT LESS.

              What analogy did I fail to respond to? Sorry, I participate in a lot of online debates, so I may have missed it.


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      Graceus says:

      Hi, Steph. I was reading through the comments, and yours caught my eye. You made this statement: “I HAVE NEVER SUGGESTED CHANCE AS AN EXPLANATION FOR THE UNIVERSE”, but then in one of your first comments, you wrote “You make the assumption chance will not provide a causal mechanism and underlying structure”. Are you not taking the position that chance _will_ provide a causal mechanism and underlying structure for the origin of the universe? If not, then why would you make such a statement?

      The comments are long, and I’m trying to figure out your position. Is this right-you believe that since there are no natural laws prior to the Big Bang, and because of that, the universe can just pop into existence? So, do you believe that prior to the Big Bang anything is possible without natural laws, such as flying spaghetti monsters or unicorns popping into existence? Would you say it takes faith to believe in that?

      Also, I’m curious as to your distinction of your beliefs and Christian beliefs. Obviously, you believe in naturalism and not supernaturalism, so that is a positive belief. You write “Call it a faith if you must, but it’s incredibly different to any religious faith or belief. It matches knowledge and logic”. I’m not sure how it’s any different when religious belief in Christianity is also based on knowledge and logic. An example is the Kalam Cosmological Argument which is a logical argument that contains evidence within the premise (the evidence being that the universe has a beginning to its existence). From there, we use inference to the best explanation. So, would you say that you have faith in naturalism, even though you cannot prove that the universe popped into existence on its own? Or that you have faith that anything but God caused the existence of the universe?


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        Steph says:

        If I remember correctly, I was pointing out a problem in the post itself, rather an accurately expressing my own views on the matter. I think it seems fairly clear that nothingness, being more than just the lack of a law which means something will come from it, is also a lack of a law saying nothing will come from it. It takes no faith to conclude that the lack of rules means anything could happen.
        Always be wary of throwing around terms like ‘positive belief’, because anything is positive from the right perspective. Naturalism is the lack of belief in the supernatural, so it should be classified as a negative belief, unless evidence for supernaturalism becomes explicit. That hasn’t happened, so it doesn’t matter.
        The Kalam Cosmological argument does not logically prove God. When expressed, the conclusion is that the universe had a cause, not that the cause was God. I see no reason to say that it’s God when existing knowledge and logic (the lack of any rules before the universe) explains it without the need of it.


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          Graceus says:

          Hi, Steph. You wrote that “Naturalism is the lack of belief in the supernatural”. That is a curious definition which I haven’t seen in any dictionary, but maybe you can tell me where you got your definition. I can believe that atheism is a lack of belief in God, since in Greek “a” means “without” or “not”, but naturalism is not the same as “asupernatural”. So, since it is indeed a positive belief, and you are arguing for naturalism, then you would share in the burden of proof.

          You are correct when you say that the Kalam Cosmological Argument only proves that there is a cause for the existence of the universe. The next step is to determine what is the best explanation for the evidence. This is called abductive reasoning which uses logic and evidence to figure out the best explanation for a set of facts and then argues that some hypothesis is the best explanation of these facts. AR is still used today in many, many disciplines in science, history, etc. One example is the law of gravity came about by using abductive reasoning. Since the cause of the origin goes beyond what we can see, it should be known that whatever hypothesis we come up with will not be able to be verified empirically, but philosophically.
          The God hypothesis is just one explanation for the cause of the universe. The evidence is what gives us reason to believe that it is the BEST explanation. I would argue that the only reasonable explanations are supernatural, and it is a much simpler explanation that God, who is defined as omnipotent, timeless, and personal, could have caused the universe to come into existence. God is not pre-supposed, but God is inferred from the evidence, so one cannot bring up that this is begging the question or special pleading. (If you would like more info on how I infer God, I can post it later, but this response is long already).

          I am curious about this comment from you: “A lack of a law saying nothing will come from it. It takes no faith to conclude that the lack of rules means anything could happen.” Where is the justification for this? I don’t think I’ve ever heard an atheist scholar say that the lack of physical laws/rules means anything can happen. I may be wrong, but I would like to see your source for it.

          So, you have provided the option that the universe came about on its own out of nothing (invoking that in the absence of natural laws prior to the Big Bang, anything is possible), although you did not provide any justification for that or provide justification from any scholar showing how that is possible. But it seems as though you also believe in the multiverse as another possible explanation as the cause of the universe. There are a couple of problems with that. 1). The biggest problem is that it cannot be verified nor falsified since it is to be found inside or on the other side of a black hole, and there is absolutely no evidence for it. Brian Greene states in _The_Elegant_Universe_ that “No one knows if these ideas are right or wrong, and certainly they currently lie on the outskirts of mainstream science” (p. 366). So, what they are doing is meta-science. 2). If the multiverse hypothesis is to be a plausible hypothesis, then we should know what the mechanism is that could cause a multiverse to generate other universes. 3). And, as the others have commented, the multiverse poses even more questions. The multiverse would also need an explanation for its origin, and all the other parallel universes would need explanations; this just pushes the questions further, so the multiverse is not a simpler explanation than God, who is by definition timeless, omnipotent, and personal, and created the universe with His mind, so the multiverse actually violates Occam’s Razor here.

          I noticed that you had asked someone else the question “Where did God come from?” God is by definition timeless, meaning that he has always existed. So God is a plausible hypothesis for the KCA.

          I also want to comment on a quote that you gave by Victor Stenger. I will address this part: “This led many who did not understand the physics, but liked the sound of the words used to describe it, to infer a fundamental human role in what was previously a universe that seemed to have need for neither gods nor humanity.
          If Bohr and Heisenberg had spoken of measurements made by inanimate instruments rather than “observers,” perhaps this strained relationship between quantum and mind would not have been drawn. For, nothing in quantum mechanics requires human involvement.”

          Roger Penrose, proposed the “Consciousness causes collapse (of quantum wave function) theory”, and he is also a physicist, so I would argue that he understands physics very well. Roger argues for consciousness, and it does not have to be human since Christians believe God is an unembodied mind, and God is not human. So, when Victor makes the assertion that nothing in WM requires human involvement, he is probably thinking of the beginning of the universe where QM existed and man had not come into being yet, but we would argue that a different consciousness was present-God’s.


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            Graceus says:

            “To establish something that does, you must first prove that it exists. your burden, not mine.”

            Well, ‘proof’ means “Evidence or _argument_ establishing or helping establish a fact or truth of a statement.”

            That is what we’re doing when we posit _arguments_ for the existence of God, thus my presentation of the Kalam Cosmological Argument, and at the conclusion, we inference the best explanation; this is similar to how the law of gravity was discovered. They inference the best explanation for why objects fall to the ground; Newton proposed a hypothesis that everything attracts everything. In the same way, I posit God as the cause of the universe and you posited two things: 1). the absence of laws will make the universe pop into existence on its own or 2). the multiverse.

            “No scientist deals with this specific topic because it’s pointless. It is perfectly logical though.”

            Science is the study of the _physical_world. So, if you meant that no scientist deal with God, then that is because God is not physical, but immaterial and He cannot be put under a microscope to be studied. It’s interesting that we do have scientists who make claims about God; and what they are doing is philosophy, and not science. Robert Griffiths, physicist and winner of the Heinemann Prize said, “If we need an atheist for a debate, we go to the philosophy department. The physics department isn’t much use.” What he is alluding to is that when atheists argue that God does not exist, what they are doing is indeed philosophy. If they want to do just science, then they should stick with science and not even mention God, but many atheist scientists cannot resist and bring philosophy into it. I agree with you that it is perfectly logical, and what you and I are doing when we discuss God’s existence is we’re philosophizing.
            .
            Again, since there is absolutely no evidence for the existence of a multiverse (you can show me a source that shows the evidence if you disagree otherwise), then what these scientists are doing is not pure science. It is meta science or metaphysics as the quote I posted before implies “No one knows if these ideas (of the multiverse) are right or wrong, and certainly they currently lie on the outskirts of mainstream science.”

            “The multiverse is no more complex than this: I have explained the source of it (the same as the source of one universe, this is not a hard concept to grasp, and it is a logical continuation rather than a baseless assumption.”

            I’m sorry, I did not see anything in your comments of the source of the multiverse, and frankly, I find it impossible to show the source for the multiverse when the multiverse hasn’t even been established as existing. We can’t verify or falsify the multiverse since it supposedly is behind or in a black hole, so how can one even come up with the cause of the multiverse or even know if it existed eternally? It does seem like a baseless assumption to me, especially since there is no evidence, but if as you say you provided the explanation for the source of the multiverse already (and not just your opinion or appeal to authority), it would be easy for you to just cut and paste, but I have not seen it in your comments. So, if you can show me that the multiverse does not violate Ockham’s Razor, and that it is a much simpler explanation, then I might believe that the universe is more plausible and answer than God. But there are still 3 problems that I mentioned in my previous comment that you would have to overcome to show me that, and the burden of proof lies with you for claiming that the multiverse caused the universe to come into existence, making an unnecessary choice.

            “ If something caused the universe, let’s look at what we know (no laws): which explains everything just fine. Why involve something completely new?”

            I had asked you for your justification for the idea that since there are no laws, then a universe can pop into existence on its own. As I said before, I don’t think I’ve ever heard an atheist scholar say that the lack of physical laws/rules means anything can happen. So, I may be wrong, but I would still like to see your source; however even if they did say that the absence of natural laws can cause a universe to pop into existence, it hasn’t been proven . The idea of God creating the universe is not something new at all, but we see throughout history, man has worshipped God as the creator of the universe .

            “Victor Stenger justifies what he says, and is an expert at quantum and particle physics. Roger Penrose is not a quantum physicist at all, and still does not make good arguments.” 1. Victor Stenger has a PhD in physics, but his research is in QM (Quantum Mechanics). Similarly, Roger Penrose’s research has also been in QM, so there is more than one way to become an expert in QM. Roger Penrose also has published at least 2 books on QM by the Oxford University Press on quantum, and if they are publishing non-fiction, they would not be publishing anything on QM unless it was by an expert, so you cannot reject Roger Penrose as being an expert on QM. 2. Victor Stenger only rejects that humans are involved in causing quantum wave function to collapse and does not reject the consciousness, but we should look at why other people criticize “Consciousness Causes Collapse” theory. 3. Yes, there are criticism to the “Consciousness causes collapse” theory, but they are not what you think. The two criticisms from this Wikipedia link regarding QM (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quantum_mind%E2%80%93body_problem) are as follows: “To many scientists, this interpretation fails a priori to compete with other interpretations of quantum mechanics because ‘consciousness causes collapse’ relies upon a dualistic philosophy of mind (in particular, a radical interactionism), which is INCONCSISTENT WITH THE MATERIALIST MONISM _PRESUPPOSED_ BY MANY PHYSICISTS[16]” and “It has been argued that [consciousness causes collapse] does not allow sensible discussion of Big Bang cosmology or biological evolution, at least ON THE ASSUMPTION OF AN _ATHEISTIC_ UNIVERSE.”

            Notice the reasons for the problems is because it is “inconsistent with the _matieralist_ monism” and “does not allow for sensible discussion…on assumption of an _atheistic_ universe.” So the problems listed do not have to do with science, but philosophical or metaphysical reasons.

            Allow me to summarize the claims that you need to justify (copy and paste if you already have is fine):
            1). I would like for you to provide me with evidence for the actual existence of the multiverse, and please show your source.
            2). If the multiverse hypothesis is to be a plausible hypothesis, then we should know what the mechanism is that could cause a multiverse to generate other universes. What is the mechanism that was used to generate other universes?
            3). What is the explanation for the existence of a multiverse? Is there even one? I really just see this as infinite regress; the multiverse would need an explanation, whatever caused the multiverse to come into existence would need an explanation, that would need an explanation, and so on, which violates Ockham’s Razor. Please provide the explanation for the multiverse.
            4). As I said before, I don’t think I’ve ever heard an atheist scholar say that the lack of physical laws/rules means anything can happen. So, I may be wrong, but I would still like to see your source.

            Thanks!


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            Steph says:

            Naturalism is ‘nothing operates beyond the universe’. To establish something that does, you must first prove that it exists. your burden, not mine.
            No scientist deals with this specific topic because it’s pointless. It is perfectly logical though. if you have any flaw to point out, please do so. I’ve given my basis, and my evidence. The multiverse is no more complex than this: I have explained the source of it (the same as the source of one universe, this is not a hard concept to grasp), and it is a logical continuation rather than a baseless assumption. If something caused the universe, let’s look at what we know (no laws): which explains everything just fine. Why involve something completely new?
            Victor Stenger justifies what he says, and is an expert at quantum and particle physics. Roger Penrose is not a quantum physicist at all, and still does not make good arguments.


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    Steph says:

    A position has a burden of proof if it is making an absolute statement: that is ‘something can happen’ and ‘something won’t happen’. If you want to argue that you see no reason to think that it could happen, then that’s fine, but there is a massive gap between that and ‘something won’t happen’. My basis for this argument is just the one fact that there is no law against it. There is no law either way: that is what nothingness means. This should not be hard to understand. There does not need to be a mechanism, because they exist and are relevant only in somethingness. In nothingness, the rules are completely different. There are none. Something exists, because something could, because there is no law that states something couldn’t, in nothingness.
    Do you know the reason the multiverse was brought into this argument? Arguments from unlikelihood like you just delivered. I can’t give the specifics of how life came about because I’m not a biologist. Ask a biologist that question, rather than a creationist or layperson.
    The first quote was the first quote you used: Dyson. He somehow makes equivalent ‘atoms are unpredictable’ and ‘atoms have minds and make choices’. Plain assertion. As for ‘no explanation as to where those universes come from’, I HAVE EXPLAINED THAT. The same source as ours.
    Why do you insist that nothingness must work like somethingness? The lack of any law, by definition, means that anything could happen.
    I HAVE ANSWERED THOSE ARTICLES REPEATEDLY. STOP QUOTING THEM.
    Next, an appeal to authority: a fallacy.
    Why do you require a mechanism where chance works just fine?


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 33 ) says:

      You write, “Something exists, because something could” and later you say, “In nothingness, the rules are completely different,” and lastly you say “Why do you require a mechanism where chance works just fine?”

      You have failed to notice that “because something could” is a reference to a potentiality. So I have to ask you, is a potentiality something, or is it nothing?

      And when you say “chance works fine,” you are stating that the universe emerged as a result of chance. So I have to ask you, is chance something, or is it nothing?

      How can chance and potential exist in a state of nothingness? You referenced your unique definition of nothingness in a previous reply. Does your definition of nothingness attempt to smuggle chance and potential into nothingness?

      Are you changing your tune here? Since we began this debate, you have been asserting that nothingness produced the universe…and now you are saying that chance and potential produced the universe.

      You say that I should ask a biologist how life came about. Well here is what some of the most prominent biologists (and physicists) say (as presented in my essay titled Why Life Could Not Have Emerged Without God):

      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 scientist 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, who is known for his “self-organization” theories regarding the origin of life, 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.”

      And here is what Charles Darwin said in his autobiography:

      “[Reason tells me of the] extreme difficulty or rather impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capability of looking far backwards and far into futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity.  When thus reflecting I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist.”

      Please note that the case for divine creation of life does not rest on the lack of current scientific explanations. The lack of current scientific explanations is just a side note. Read the essay!

      But please also note that this has not stopped atheists from trying to explain the origin of life without reference to God. Prominent atheist such as Francis Crick and the British chemist Leslie Orgel (as well as Richard Dawkins) have endorsed the hypothesis that life may have been brought to earth by aliens in their spaceship. This hypothesis is known as “directed panspermia.” Click here to see Richard Dawkins expressing his view that this is a plausible hypothesis.

      Other atheists have skipped over the aliens and suggested that life came to earth from space without the help of aliens. This view is known as “panspermia” (drop the “directed”). Supporters of this hypothesis include atheists such as the Cambridge University mathematician and astronomer Fred Hoyle, and Chandra Wickramasinghe, the director of the Buckingham Centre for Astrobiology.

      The prominent atheist biologist Michael Ruse thinks that the origin of life can be explained by a piggyback ride on crystals. Click here to see Ruse endorse this hypothesis that, according to him, is popular among atheists.

      Which of these hypotheses, if any, do you lean towards? Most of the atheists that I have asked seem to lean towards the life-came-to-earth-from-space-without-alien-assistance view (panspermia).

      No, Dyson is not making an assertion. Modern physics has shown that material things cannot have “a complete, absolute independent reality in themselves” because mater cannot exist independent of an observer. There is no reality independent of mind. I demonstrate this in my essay titled God Is Real. Why Modern Physics Has Discredited Atheism.

      You say that the multiple universes come from “the same source as ours.” And that source is nothingness? Right? If it is another source, please specify.

      What “appeal to authority” have I made? Tell me, is the following statement “an appeal to authority: a fallacy”:

      SURGEON GENERAL WARNING: Smoking causes heart disease, lung cancer, and may complicate pregnancy.

      Well, what do you think? Is it “an appeal to authority: a fallacy”?


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        Steph says:

        Potentiality is nothing: it can hardly even be called potential. If you think about it, it’s clear enough: there can be no laws in nothing. Nothing that says something must arise, and nothing that says it mustn’t.
        I HAVE NEVER SUGGESTED CHANCE AS AN EXPLANATION FOR THE UNIVERSE. Seriously, think about what you’re typing. Multiple universes, chance dictates that plenty would be suitable for life.
        Are you really still using that Richard Dawkins video? I’d say most people know its actual source. It cuts off immediately before he states that he doesn’t hold the belief, as it wouldn’t explain where the alien life came from. Pointing only at the more bizarre opinions doesn’t mean there are no other opinions. I’ve given myself a website for this message that links to a brief overview, made twenty years ago. Biology has come further since then.
        In what way, shape or form does that essay demonstrate that matter requires mind? You start off with several quotes that are no more than assertion, and link to an example of the observer effect on the quantum level which still doesn’t show anything like that.
        It’s an appeal to authority if you give no more than a quote from an expert at one thing, on a different topic. Fred Hoyle was notorious for taking on views opposed to the scientific consensus, and Owen Gingerich is a theist and I think was raised as one, so would naturally say the universe looked as if it was designed.


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          Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 33 ) says:

          Potentiality is nothing: it can hardly even be called potential. If you think about it, it’s clear enough: there can be no laws in nothing. Nothing that says something must arise, and nothing that says it mustn’t.

          Well, apparently your definition of “nothing” actually includes something….namely, potentiality. This is an open-and-shut equivocation. Further, I must point out that, since there is no such thing as a science of nothingness, your view that nothing can produce something is a religious belief, not a scientific stance.

          I HAVE NEVER SUGGESTED CHANCE AS AN EXPLANATION FOR THE UNIVERSE. Seriously, think about what you’re typing. Multiple universes, chance dictates that plenty would be suitable for life.

          I guess I misunderstood you when you wrote, “Why do you require a mechanism where chance works just fine?”

          One of the key points of this essay is that there is no such thing as chance in the absence of a mechanism. What is your reply to this? That chance can work without a mechanism in a state of nothingness? If that were the case, then your definition of “nothingness” would have to include chance as well as potentiality…more equivocation. But I do not want to put any words in your mouth, so please explain.

          Are you really still using that Richard Dawkins video? I’d say most people know its actual source. It cuts off immediately before he states that he doesn’t hold the belief, as it wouldn’t explain where the alien life came from. Pointing only at the more bizarre opinions doesn’t mean there are no other opinions. I’ve given myself a website for this message that links to a brief overview, made twenty years ago. Biology has come further since then.

          I never suggested that he holds the belief that aliens brought life to earth in their spaceship. I am only calling attention to the fact that he considers this to be a plausible hypothesis. There is a difference between believing something, on one hand, and considering something to be a plausible hypothesis, on the other. It is the mere fact that he considers this to be a plausible hypothesis which demonstrates that he has religious ideas regarding the origin of life, but no scientific explanations. The same goes for atheists who entertain the hypothesis that life came to earth from space without alien intervention….and atheists who think life originated by a piggyback ride on crystals.

          You assert that “biology has come further since then.” I am very extremely curious to hear what advances in biology have happened. Please also note that the video of Dawkins endorsing the plausibility of the aliens-brought-life-to-earth-in-their-spaceship hypothesis is only about 4 years old. Apparently, these advances must have happened in the last 4 years, not the last 20.

          In what way, shape or form does that essay demonstrate that matter requires mind? You start off with several quotes that are no more than assertion, and link to an example of the observer effect on the quantum level which still doesn’t show anything like that.

          Allow me to elaborate on the essay titled God Is Real…Why modern physics has discredited atheism.

          Here is how U.C. Berkeley physicist Henry Stapp puts it in his book Mindful Universe:

          “…According to contemporary orthodox basic physical theory, but contrary to many claims made in the philosophy of mind, the physical domain is not causally closed. [italics are his] A causally open physical description of the mind-brain obviously cannot completely account for the mind-brain as a whole.”

          “In short, already the orthodox version of quantum mechanics, unlike classical mechanics, is not about a physical world detached from experiences; detached from minds.”

          THERE IS NO REALITY INDEPENDENT OF MIND.

          You say that the citations that I provide from the most important contributors to modern physics (Einstein, Planck, Heisenberg, Born, Jeans, Maxwell, Compton, Dirac, Eddington, Schroedinger, Joule, Kelvin, Salam, Wigner, etc.) regarding God and the lack of any reality independent of mind are “nothing more than assertions.” But the simple fact is that quantum physics has demonstrated this.

          It’s an appeal to authority if you give no more than a quote from an expert at one thing, on a different topic. Fred Hoyle was notorious for taking on views opposed to the scientific consensus, and Owen Gingerich is a theist and I think was raised as one, so would naturally say the universe looked as if it was designed.

          Where do I give “no more than a quote from an expert at one thing, on a different topic”? Not sure what you mean.

          Fred Hoyle was notorious for taking views opposite to the scientific consensus? Yeah, and so was Einstein, Copernicus, Darwin, etc. In fact, revolutions in science can only happen when a reigning paradigm is replaced with a new one.

          Gingerich was a theist. OK, fine. So the only the views of people who agree with you are valid? Do I have this right? How convincing would I be to third party viewers of this conversation if I said that the views of atheists should be discarded because they are atheists? And when you say “I think [he] was raised as [a theist]” you are committing what is known as the genetic fallacy.

          This fallacy occurs when one asserts that the origin of a belief has relevance to its validity. A belief is not made valid or invalid because of how a person came to accept it. For example, most people in this country are taught by their parents and schools that all people have certain inalienable rights. Does the fact that people are taught this belief from a young age have any bearing whatsoever on its validity?


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    Steph says:

    Skimming over the ad hominems, we’re left with things you could easily work out if you put a moment’s thought into it. the definition of nothing relevant to before the universe? No space, no time, no matter, no mind, no natural mechanisms or laws… Nothing.
    I was never responding to your article, and I notice you’ve neglected to respond to what I said, but the answer is also easy. Atheism commands nothing, theism commands plenty. As I did say, and as you ignored, you demonstrate that philosophies are abominable. Nothing more. Atheism is not a philosophy. It can be correlated with certain philosophies, but it is not one in itself.
    Now you might want to consider how any argument should work. I don’t need to show that you’re wrong: you need to show that you’re right. I can offer countless internally consistent models (as I’m doing right now, whether or not you can believe it), it does not mean they’re all right. For example, this is all a virtual reality experienced by people in a universe with different physical laws. Internally consistent, now prove it wrong. Or do you accept that it’s ridiculous to require have every internally consistent model demand to be shown to be unjustified?
    To conclude, I have given the definition of nothing above, and it’s one that should have been obvious, especially from my previous post where I specifically mentioned how the law of cause and effect cannot be applied to it. YOU ARE THE ONE THAT BROUGHT UP THE LAW OF CAUSATION. I have never made ANY claim that can be construed as saying you suggest the universe comes from nothing. WHEN have I said anything like that? If you’ve finished with pathetic straw men, let’s look at your words.
    “How do I claim to know that nothing come from nothingness? The law of causation (without which science would be impossible) dictates that everything with a beginning requires a cause. So if something came from nothingness, then the cause of that something would have to be nothing”
    You apply the law of causation, a natural law, to nothingness. I have repeatedly criticized this: in nothingness, this law would not exist. As I made explicit in my previous post, I have been criticizing this. Not some weird interpretation of your claim of God. It is not a ‘strange suggestion’. You explicitly stated it.
    My definition of nothing, as should have been clear from my previous post where I specified ‘no time and no such law’, and clarified further in this reply, is a state of no matter, no energy, no space, no time, and no laws as they exist in somethingness.


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 33 ) says:

      Steph,

      It is meaningless to throw around terms such as “ad hominems” unless you actually apply that terminology. In other words, you must point out specifically where I commit an ad hominem, rather than just making vague allusions to me doing so. If you don’t actually apply the term to specific examples, it is just going to make third party viewers of this conversation think that you are throwing around fancy sounding terminology in order to look credible.

      So I will lead by example and give an example of where YOU commit an ad hominem: You accused me of being “monumentally hypocritical” in an earlier reply. This is an attempt to discredit an argument by trying to discredit the person making the argument rather than the argument itself, which is what is meant by the term “ad hominem.”

      In an earlier reply, you tried to accuse me of a “circular argument,” but then you failed to describe in a point-by-point fashion how my argument is circular. So, here, again, you are throwing around terminology without applying it. If you cannot actually apply the terminology that you use, you are just throwing around terminology aimlessly.

      OK, your definition of nothingness is: “No space, no time, no matter, no mind, no natural mechanisms or laws… Nothing.”

      And in an earlier post, you said:

      “In a state of nothingness, the need for a causal mechanism and underlying structure, needed in a state of somethingness, cannot be presupposed. To win the lottery, there must first be a lottery, but only because winning requires somethingness. In a state of nothingness, you can’t assume that.”

      So here are my questions:

      1) Where did the universe come from? I believe it came from an eternally existing God. You clearly do not believe that. From your statement that I have copied and pasted above, I presumed that you were implying that the universe came from nothingness. You said that, “In a state of nothingness, the need for a causal mechanism and underlying structure…cannot be presupposed.” This clearly seems to imply that you think something (the universe) can come from nothing. If I was overly presumptuous in this assumption, and you do not believe that the universe was produced by nothingness, then what produced the universe? What did you really mean by your statements if I misinterpreted them?

      2) What are your specific, point-by-point, fact based, logically constructed rebuttals to the case that I make for divinely created universe in my posts titled God Is Real (What It All Boils Down To), Is There A God (What is the chance that our world is the result of chance), and OK…I want numbers. What is the probability that our universe is the result of chance? You characterize my argument as producing an “internally consistent model” without further reasoning or evidence. But I have produced large amounts of reasoning and evidence. The three essays that I mentioned above are just the beginning. Go ahead and respond with logically constructed, fact-based, point-by-point rebuttals.

      3) I apologize that I misunderstood what you meant about me “applying the law of causation to nothingness.” This a valid point. In a state of nothingness, there would be no laws such as the law of causation. I just misunderstood what you were talking about. But even considering this very valid point, how is it that nothingness can produce something like a universe? Or do you not really believe this? If you do not, then what produced the universe? Please explain.


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        Steph says:

        It is not an ad hominem when my text specifically applied it to your statement. As for circular argument, I have repeatedly explained that: you justify the unlikelihood of God being the source of the universe (complexity of any intelligent mind, the ability to create, the desire to…), with the statement that God is the ultimate reality, and so is the source of the universe.
        1. It comes from what we’d call nothing, yes, but nothing like what the word is applied to normally. If you think about it, what would prevent this being the case?
        2. If you can point to what reasoning is actually present in those articles, I’ll respond. The unlikelihood is explained by luck and a multiverse, your objection to which is unfounded. You also do not show anything in those articles except the possibility that a mind could be responsible. This is not needed. It is not reasoning or evidence when all those articles show is that your model is internally consistent.
        3. How could nothing not produce the universe? You can’t think of nothingness as you’d think of somethingness. To do so is absurd. There are no laws to prevent it occurring. If you have any objections, state them, but they must not require laws or mechanisms as exist in somethingness.


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          Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 33 ) says:

          Steph, you made a general reference to “ad hominems” that was not applied to any of my specific statements. This is throwing terminology around in order to sound credible.

          I don’t just state that God is the ultimate reality…I don’t just assume it. Rather, I make a logically constructed case for it in my essays God Is Real…Why Modern Physics Has Discredited Atheism and The Ultimate Cart Before the Horse: Why Atheism Is Illogical and Is There A God? (What is the chance that our world is the result of chance)? and OK…I Want Numbers. What Is the Probability That Our World Is the Result of Chance?, etc.

          1) The universe could come from nothing? What would prevent this from being the case? Simple, nothingness can’t cause anything to exist or to happen. There is no science of nothingness. When you say that the universe “comes from what we’d call nothing, yes, but nothing like what the word is applied to normally,” you are making an attempt to do away with the explanatory failures of your worldview by engaging in semantic maneuvering or equivocation. In other words, trying to redefine “nothing” in a manner that actually includes something is an attempt to manipulate a definition in order to make your worldview more credible.

          2) Here is some of the reasoning present in these articles that I would like for you to respond to:

          The simplest explanation of why modern physics has done away with materialism/naturalism is this:  Material things cannot have “a complete, absolute independent reality in themselves” because, as modern physics has demonstrated, the material world cannot exist independent from consciousness (mind).  There is no reality independent of mind.  Quantum physicist Freeman Dyson puts it succinctly:

          “Atoms are weird stuff, behaving like active agents rather than inert substances.  They make unpredictable choices between alternative possibilities according to the laws of quantum mechanics.  It appears that mind, as manifested by the capacity to make choices, is to some extent inherent in every atom.  The universe is also weird, with its laws of nature that make it hospitable to the growth of mind.  I do not make any clear distinction between mind and God.  God is what mind becomes when it passes beyond the scale of our comprehension.”

          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, that further elucidates the above points:

          “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.”

          Regarding your “multiverse” explanation the esteemed former Cambridge University astrophysicist John Polkinghorne notes in Questions of Truth:

          “Answering an argument by a suggestion is hardly conclusive.  One problem is that we don’t just need a hundred other universes, or even a billion, but an utterly immense number—some string theorists suggest that there are up to 10 to the 500th power other universes.  If you are allowed to posit 10 to the 500th power other universes to explain away otherwise inconvenient observations, you can “explain away” anything, and science becomes impossible.”

          Further, as Oxford University professor of philosophy Antony Flew facetiously observes in There Is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind:

          “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 that case of a 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.”

          MULTIPLE UNIVERSES REQUIRE MORE EXPLANATION, NOT LESS.

          3) How could nothing not produce the universe? If nothing produced the universe, why would it (nothing) stop at that? Why don’t we see nothing producing cars and houses and animals? If there are no laws to prevent nothingness from producing something, then why don’t we routinely see such such things just popping into existence as we walk down the street? Again, why would nothingness produce the universe and then just stop at that? Is there a chance that nothing might produce a brand new Ferrari in my garage? I certainly hope so.


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            Steph says:

            If you want assertion devoid of any substance, look at your justification for nothing not being responsible for the universe. You do not give any basis for your viewpoint, just general, unsupported statements. Why do you think that, and how do you claim to know it? Are you applying scientific laws to nothing? I’m not the one including something in nothing.
            The first quote is again plain assertion, making a seeming similarity somehow into equivalence. The second relies on applying a scientific law to nothing, which I have just called you out for doing, and which you admitted was a valid point, so why are you bringing it up?
            You clearly have no understanding of what a multiverse is. A multiverse comes from the same source as our universe, and science is still relevant as it would exist in them. If you walk into a house, and see two parents and a child, before hearing a noise upstairs, do you assume that one of the parents is telekinetic, or that there’s a burglar, or that they had another child?
            Finally, easy. BECAUSE WE ARE NOT IN NOTHING. How can you ask a question like that? We exist surrounded by particles, space, time, laws, waves… Your question ‘why would nothing produce the universe and then just stop at that?’ also answers your question about the multiverse perfectly. Think before asking a question. Call this an ad hominem if you want, but the answers to your questions were and are ridiculously clear. You answered it yourself.


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              Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 33 ) says:

              If you want assertion devoid of any substance, look at your justification for nothing not being responsible for the universe. You do not give any basis for your viewpoint, just general, unsupported statements. Why do you think that, and how do you claim to know it? Are you applying scientific laws to nothing? I’m not the one including something in nothing.

              I am going to go ahead and assert that it is the idea that nothing CAN produce a universe that has the burden of proof. Every third party viewer of this conversation will have to decide that for themselves. Can you give some sort of explanation for HOW nothingness produced the universe? Can you provide any explanation that amounts to something more substantive than it just did? And once nothingness produced the universe, how did it eventually produce life from non-living matter? I am curious to hear your reply. And then, once nothingness produced life from non-life, how did it eventually produce conscious, intelligent, personal beings such as ourselves? I am curious to hear your reply.

              The first quote is again plain assertion, making a seeming similarity somehow into equivalence. The second relies on applying a scientific law to nothing, which I have just called you out for doing, and which you admitted was a valid point, so why are you bringing it up?

              Please elaborate on what you mean by “making a seeming similarity somehow into equivalence.” If you are in fact making this statement with regards to the Polkinghorne citation, then please explain how this is just an assertion. He is making a logical argument: Since there is no way to scientifically observe other universes or measure how many other universes there may be, citing multiple universes (especially with no explanation as to where those universes came from) is an open-and-shut example of trying to sweep a difficult question under the rug by referencing unobservable and unmeasurable hypothetical phenomena.

              Since we agree that scientific laws cannot apply to nothing, then please explain to me how nothingness produced a universe. If nothingness did not use physical/natural laws to produce the universe, what mechanism did it use? No mechanism whatsoever?

              You clearly have no understanding of what a multiverse is. A multiverse comes from the same source as our universe, and science is still relevant as it would exist in them. If you walk into a house, and see two parents and a child, before hearing a noise upstairs, do you assume that one of the parents is telekinetic, or that there’s a burglar, or that they had another child?

              If a multiverse comes from the same source as our universe, then what is that source that produces universes? Nothingness? What mechanism does nothingness use to produce universes?

              Please read my essays titled Is There A God? What is the chance that our universe is the result of chance? and OK…I want numbers. What is the probability that our universe is the result of chance? and then respond with your explanation as to why our universe is so extremely fine tuned to produce life.

              Where did the following individuals go wrong when they came to their below referenced conclusions?:

              “A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.”

              –Cambridge University astrophysicist and mathematician Fred Hoyle
              .
              “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.”

              –Former Harvard University Research Professor of Astronomy and the History of Science Owen Gingerich, who is also the senior astronomer at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory.  Gingerich is here reflecting on Fred Hoyle’s above comment.

              When nothingness produced our universe, why did it produce a universe so extremely fine-tuned to produce life? And once again, what mechanism does nothingness use to produce universes? What mechanism did nothingness use to provide such extreme specificity? We agree that it cannot be physical/natural laws, so what mechanism was it?


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    Steph says:

    Your basis for no natural mechanism being responsible for the universe is that it wouldn’t exist in nothingness, and to show that, you apply what is essentially a natural mechanism to nothingness? Really?
    You might also want to look up ‘false analogy’.
    Monumentally hypocritical, not a monumental hypocrite. Hypocritical is a valid adjective in this circumstances as you’re still engaging in special pleading. Even if I grant that an eternal mind exists, it’s massively unlikely that it would desire, much less be able to achieve, all you claim it can. How do I know this? Well, look at every mind we know of. Are there different rules for God? Or different rules in the state of things before the universe? You’ve either admitted that you’re just as ‘ideologically and emotionally driven’ as you say I am, or you’ve made my point for me.


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 33 ) says:

      “Essentially a natural mechanism to nothingness”? Please explain. I am not suggesting that nothingness created the universe. That appears to be your view (unless I misunderstand you). Rather, I am suggesting that an eternally existing mind created the universe (God).

      You have labeled my analogy “false” but you have not made a logical case for why it is false. Therefore, you have made an assertion, nothing more. I challenge you to clearly articulate, in a calmly logical fashion, why the World War 2 illustration that I provided does not apply to your view that something can come from nothing.

      Once again, your use of strident and emotional rhetoric such as “monumentally hypocritical” and “you may want to look up ‘false analogy'” is highly suggestive that you hold your atheist views for emotional and ideological reasons. If you held your atheist views for coldly logical reasons, you would not need to engage in such angry rhetoric. Just think about it…if we were debating whether Honda or Toyota was a better brand of car, would you be using such terminology as “monumental hypocrite” and making provocative statements such as “you may want to look up…”? No, you would stick to the facts and keep your emotions out of it.

      This is what I mean when I say that atheism is most often ideologically driven, as I describe in If the Evidence for God Is So Strong, Why Are So Many Smart People Unconvinced?

      You say that it is “massively unlikely that it [an eternal mind] would desire, much less be able to achieve, all you claim.” But how would you be able to make an assessment of what an eternal mind would want or what it could it achieve?

      Yes, I would definitely say that there are different rules for God since God is the ultimate reality and we are not. Since God makes the rules, there is no need to discuss whether there were different rules before the universe existed.


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        Steph says:

        I never suggested you said nothing created the universe, only that you apply a natural mechanism to it, in order to show that no natural mechanism would be present. I hope I don’t need to show you the problem with that.
        The analogy is false because it uses a different definition of nothing and takes place in somethingness rather than nothingness.
        I can hold onto my views for coldly logical reasons while experiencing emotion myself. I’ve heard this exact argument before, and convinced multiple users that it doesn’t work, and know of many who have done the same. Forgive me for getting frustrated. There is also a monumental difference between two cars and two worldviews. Look at your religion from an outside perspective. If it wasn’t true, you’d find all that it has done to be abominable.
        Look at the end of your post. You say that there are different rules for God: what is your basis for that statement? That God is the ultimate reality? What is your basis for that? Your argument is plainly circular.


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          Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 33 ) says:

          I’m sorry but I just don’t know what you mean when you say that I “apply a natural mechanism to it, in order to show that no natural mechanism would be present.” Because the natural world (a.k.a. the universe) had a definite beginning, whatever caused the universe cannot be a natural mechanism. A natural mechanism would be part of the natural world, and since it is the natural world’s beginning that we are trying to explain, a natural mechanism cannot be cited as the cause for the natural world.

          In a similar light, internal combustion is a mechanism by which a car works, but we cannot cite internal combustion as having caused a car to exist. The automotive mechanism of internal combustion (explosions of gas vapor driving pistons inside of metal cylinders) came into existence with the automobile itself.

          You cite “a different definition of ‘nothing.'” What definition of “nothing” are you using and what dictionary does it come from? Or are you using a definition that is not in any dictionary because it is your own personal definition? I am very interested to hear your definition of “nothing.”

          You say that my World War 2 illustration does not apply because it takes place in somethingness. So are you suggesting that events can be caused to happen in a state of nothingness that cannot be caused to happen in a state of somethingness? What is causing these events to happen? The nothingness?!

          Regarding your “abominable” statement please click here to read my post titled Doesn’t Religion Cause Killing? As this post demonstrates, it is atheism that is abominable.

          What is the basis for my statement that there are different rules for God? Well, if God created the universe, then he clearly wouldn’t be governed by the rules that govern the universe…because those rules would have been created by him, and didn’t exist until he created them.

          What is my basis for suggesting that God is the ultimate reality? Read my posts titled God Is Real (What It All Boils Down To) (click here) and The Ultimate Cart-Before-the-Horse (Why Atheism Is Illogical) (click here).

          Please explain why my argument is circular. It is one thing to claim that it is, and is another thing entirely to demonstrate that it is.

          So I will demonstrate how your argument is circular: 1) You start from the assumption that the only thing that could cause the universe to exist is a natural mechanism (even though any mechanism that existed before the natural world existed would not be a part of the natural world, and therefore not a natural mechanism).
          2) From this assumption you reason that if God created the universe, he must be a natural mechanism.
          3) You then conclude that I must be “applying a natural mechanism to it [the creation of the universe].”


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            Steph says:

            Your opening paragraph makes my point. Read what you said about why a non-mind mechanism could not be behind the universe earlier. You apply just such a mechanism to reach that conclusion.
            I’m using the definition of nothing that is actually relevant for the beginning of the universe, rather than the type to explain the absence of an event. Next, it’s not a matter of what causes an event, but rather, what prevents it from occurring in a state of somethingness. The answer to that is obvious, the somethingness.
            Your post does not demonstrate that atheism is abominable, only that certain philosophies are. You also assume I’m referring to murder: I’m not. Nightmares and genuine mental damage caused by fear of hell, censorship, any number of personal tragedies multiplied, discrimination against homosexuals, women, other religions… Forget whatever justification you have for them in your religion. Outside of it, it’s abominable.
            Look at how you justified God: you assume that God created the universe, justify the lack of rules by making him the ultimate reality, and justify that by saying it was God who created the universe. At best you’ve offered an internally consistent model, but that isn’t anywhere near a justified one.
            I have said absolutely nothing that can even be vaguely construed to result in your final circular argument. Please actually think about what I write rather than finding a ridiculous straw man. I have never called God a natural mechanism: I was clearly talking about your application of the law of cause and effect to a state of nothingness, with no time and such law. That’s your justification for something other than a mind to be the cause: the application of a natural mechanism to where you’ve said no natural mechanism can be applied.


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              Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 33 ) says:

              You have completely lost me. What “non-mind mechanism” am I citing? Considering that I believe that the mind of God is, ultimately, the only “mechanism” (if that term is even appropriate), how could I be citing a “non-mind mechanism”? You keep saying that I am citing a non-mind mechanism, but won’t say what that non-mind mechanism that I am citing is. How can I reply if you won’t tell me what non-mind mechanism I am allegedly citing?

              You have ignored or evaded my request for you to produce your definition of “nothing.”

              You say that your definition of “nothing” is relevant to the beginning of the universe, but then you fail to produce that definition. I am very extremely curious to hear what your definition of “nothing” is.

              And, perhaps most importantly, how could there really be a definition of “nothing” that differs substantively from any other definition? The answer is that only definitions of “nothing” that smuggle something back in can differ substantively.

              I am confident that any third party viewer of this discussion can see the semantic maneuvering that you are trying to perform in order to escape the flaws in your worldview.

              My post titled Doesn’t Religion Cause Killing demonstrates that a certain philosophy is abominable…and that philosophy is atheism.

              You cite “fear of hell, censorship, any number of personal tragedies, discrimination against homosexuals, women, other religions” as results of “religion.” But you completely gloss over the points made in Doesn’t Religion Cause Killing about how there is no clear definition of what religion is and that there is no way to establish a “concept of religion that would be at least theoretically separable from other institutional forces over the course of human history,” in the words of Cavanaugh, as I cite in the essay.

              And, most importantly, even if you could come up with a concept of religion that is at least theoretically separable from other institutions, how could any “religion” be more abominable than atheism, when you consider that atheism played a crucial role in the largest killing sprees in all of history (which, in the case of the communists, resulted in the deaths of over 100 million people)?

              When you write, “At best you’ve offered an internally consistent model, but that isn’t anywhere near a justified one,” you make an assertion but you do not furnish an actual argument. Assertions cannot substitute for arguments, no matter how you slice it. If my model is unjustified, go ahead and demonstrate that it is not.

              You write that I “assume that God created the universe” and then “justify the lack or rules by making him the ultimate reality.” But you use the term “assume” while simultaneously glossing over the logically constructed, fact-based arguments for the existence (and ultimate reality status) of God that I produce in essays such as this one.

              Let’s take your rebuttals one essay at a time. What is your rebuttal to this essay?! Since you have stated that your argument hinges on a different definition of “nothing,” you must actually produce this definition of “nothing” in order to construct an actual rebuttal. So far, you have just made a vague allusion to your definition being “relevant for the beginning of the universe,” but you have evaded the question. WHAT IS YOUR DEFINITION OF “NOTHING”? I am extremely curious to hear your reply.

              You say that you “were clearly talking about [my] application of the law of cause and effect to a state of nothingness, with no time and no such law.” But only you are suggesting that there was a state of nothingness. I am only responding to your suggestion that the universe came from nothingness. How could you think that I believe that the universe came from nothingness when it is clear that I believe that the universe came from God?

              Just to recap: I believe that the universe came from the mind of God and you apparently believe that the universe came from nothingness. So to suggest that I am “applying the law of cause and effect to a state of nothingness” is a very strange suggestion.

              And you again allege that my argument is circular but you don’t make an actual case for it being circular.

              Here is my case for your argument being circular.

              1) You begin with the assumption that there is no God and that the universe therefore came from nothingness. [Definition of “nothingness” still pending].

              2) From here, you reason that any description of the beginning of the universe (such as mine) must begin in a state of nothingness.

              3) Therefore, you reason, my views regarding the beginning of the universe “apply the law of cause and effect to a state of nothingness.”

              4) You conclude that my argument fails and that therefore, there is no God and that the universe came from nothingness.

              Steph, this is a textbook example of a circular argument. Go ahead and make a point-by-point description of how my argument is circular.


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    Steph says:

    You make the assumption chance will not provide a causal mechanism and underlying structure.
    The scale is infinite. Even the most unlikely of things will occur on that scale. You could roll a die and end up getting the digits of pi, even those greater than six. The complete lack of any mechanism and structure makes it absurd to make any statements about what is or isn’t possible there.
    Speaking of unlikelihood though, what are the chances that there’s a mind that existed in such a place, devoid of causal mechanism or structure, that not also had the ability to create the universe and wield unimaginable power over it, but also had the inclination to do so?


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 33 ) says:

      I make the assumption that chance will not provide a causal mechanism and underlying structure? Yes, I do. Chance cannot provide a causal mechanism and underlying structure because because chance needs a causal mechanism and underlying structure upon which to work. There is no such thing as chance working on nothingness, only chance working on an underlying structure. In a state of nothingness, there is no such thing as chance. Did you forget?

      Whatever the scale is (infinite or finite), there is no such thing as chance working without an underlying structure or orderliness. Back to the example in the essay, if there were no such thing as money or a lottery, the chance of a person winning the lottery is exactly zero. For there to be any chance for someone to win the lottery, there must first be a lottery, and there must first be such a thing as money to win.

      I don’t know what you mean by “the chances that there’s a mind that existed in such a place,” because I don’t know what “place” you are talking about. But if you are talking about the chance that there is an eternally existing mind, I wrote an essay about that titled God Is Real (What It All Boils Down To). Click here to read.


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        Steph says:

        In a state of nothingness, the need for a causal mechanism and underlying structure, needed in a state of somethingness, cannot be presupposed. To win the lottery, there must first be a lottery, but only because winning requires somethingness. In a state of nothingness, you can’t assume that.
        You are being monumentally hypocritical to make ‘mind’ synonymous with ‘intelligent, powerful, wants to create. and is capable of doing so’, while refusing to see how unlikely those traits would be.


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          Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 33 ) says:

          Well, here is what can be presupposed about a state of nothingness…what we CAN assume about a state of nothingness: Nothing can come from nothingness. In other words, nothingness cannot produce anything or cause anything to happen, or else it would not be nothingness.

          As I have said to other atheist commenters at this site, the use of strident rhetoric (such as “monumentally hypocritical”) betrays the emotional involvement that you have in this topic. If you were atheist for purely logical reasons (rather than for emotional and ideological reasons), you would not lash out in such a manner.

          Further, how can one possibly apply the term “hypocritical” in a context that does not even reference issues of morality? In other words, hypocrisy refers to not practicing what one preaches (morally speaking). Since I am not making any moral pronouncements in this essay, how could you really apply the term “hypocritical”? This is puzzling.

          I have made a case for the mind of God being intelligent, powerful, and creative. Please read and respond, for example, to my posts titled Why Life Could Not Have Emerged Without God and Has Anyone Met God and Returned to Tell About It and God Is Real (What It All Boils Down To) and The Ultimate Cart-Before-the-Horse (Why Atheism is Illogical).


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            Steph says:

            How do you claim to know that nothing can come from nothingness?
            Speculate about my motives however much you want, the name for that fallacy is ‘ad hominem’. Bringing it up shows you don’t care about the argument, only about scoring cheap points.
            Hypocrisy is the practise of putting forward one belief while violating it yourself: you say that the chance of a natural something resulting in our universe is highly unlikely, and so dismiss it, when ignoring, as I said, how unlikely it is that any intelligent mind would also be omniscient, capable of creating, and wanting to create, and wanting to create life. Even if your articles pointed to God, they don’t explain any of this.


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              Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 33 ) says:

              How do I claim to know that nothing come from nothingness? The law of causation (without which science would be impossible) dictates that everything with a beginning requires a cause. So if something came from nothingness, then the cause of that something would have to be nothing. But nothing can’t cause anything to exist or to happen. If nothing could cause something to happen or to exist, then it would have a mechanism for doing so…in which case it wouldn’t really be nothingness.

              The following is an excerpt from the book Come Let Us Reason by William Lane Craig, which highlights the absurdity of the idea that nothingness can cause something to happen or to exist:

              Imagine the following dialogue between two people discussing the Second World War:

              Person 1: “Nothing stopped the German advance from sweeping across Belgium.”

              Person 2: “Oh, that’s good. I’m glad they were stopped.”

              Person 1: “But they weren’t stopped!”

              Person 2: “But you said that nothing stopped them.”

              Person 1: “That’s right.”

              Person 2: “So they were stopped.”

              Person 1: “No, nothing stopped them.”

              Person 2: “That’s what I said. They were stopped, and it was nothing which stopped them.”

              Person 1: “No, no, I meant they weren’t stopped by anything.”

              Person 2: “Well, why didn’t you say so in the first place?”

              My suggestion that you are ideologically and emotionally driven was addressed towards your strident rhetoric (“monumental hypocrite”), not towards your argument. “Ad hominem” refers to an attempt to discredit an argument by discrediting the person presenting the argument. But because I was addressing your rhetoric (and not your argument) with that suggestion, you are misapplying the term “ad hominem.”

              If you use strident, emotionally charged rhetoric in a discussion which should be conducted in a calm, emotionally neutral, rational manner…I will have to call it out rather than overlooking it.

              The issues of whether “any intelligent mind would also be omniscient, capable of creating, and wanting to create, and wanting to create life” are beyond the scope of this website. The question of whether or not God exists is the question towards which this website is primarily addressed. Further, asking such questions would be attempting to probe the mind of God, which would be like a mouse trying to probe the mind of Albert Einstein.


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    Irina says:

    There is no logical basis for God existence no matter how you put it. The only basis for its existence is fear of death, unhappy life and desperate need to believe in life after death.


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      Scott Youngren ( User Karma: 33 ) says:

      Do you have anything to back those assertions up with?


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      Brian Pierson says:

      Nice argument from ignorance.


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    GerryD says:

    One objection to fine-tuning I got the other day was:
    “This argument assumes the current configuration of constants is extremely unlikely and that every possible permutation of the constants is equally probable. There is no basis for this assertion whatsoever.”

    To me this is just a variation on the “brute fact” hypothesis which basically says why must u assume the universe could be any different than it is? I am not a math’ physicist so I like to consult those who should know, in trying to assign a probability to the fine-tuning of all the known constants of nature. Oxford physicist Roger Penrose concluded “such a task would be impossible, since the necessary digits would be greater than the number of elementary particles in the universe.This level of precision completely dwarfs human intellectually guided technology and innovation.”


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    GerryD says:

    Hi Scott,
    Dr Hugh Ross has an anaology for the probability of our universe arising by chance. He says that if a coin was tossed 200times and came down heads 200x then a chance explanation could be that in some possible world eventually such an outcome is likely. This would only be an outcome that a closeminded sceptic would accept if he didnt want to look at a more logical explanation.
    The truth seeking observer however, would not want to bet on the 201st spin. He would demand to examine the coin suspecting that someone has interfered with the coin so that the outcome was not due to chance but was inevitable.
    All the atheists I debate still want to claim “there is zero evidence for God” despite the scientific consensus that says chance is the least supportable argument.

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