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Atheism and Nothing

Updated on April 16, 2015
Titen-Sxull profile image

Titen-Sxull writes articles on topics such as religion and skepticism - original poetry and short-stories - and film/tv/book/game reviews.

Introduction

One of the most popular ways to discredit an idea that you are opposed to or a viewpoint you disagree with is to smudge the truth when describing that stance in order to more easily knock it down. This fallacious act of deception is known as creating a strawman, because strawmen can be torn through while the real argument might take much more unpacking. Atheism, the disbelief or lack of belief in gods is one position that often attracts a lot of strawmen.

In this hub I want to talk about one of the most oft repeated misrepresentations of atheists, the idea that “Atheists believe in Nothing.”

the strawman in question
the strawman in question | Source

The Strawman Cometh

The main argument here is that while theists have an explanation for the origins of the Universe, and everything else, that atheists don't have an explanation. So, theists deduce, atheists must believe that it all magically came out of, well, nothing. After all before the Big Bang there was absolute nothing right? So, the theists say, atheists must have amazing amounts of faith to believe that the Universe could have come into existence on its own without the command of a powerful supernatural being.

Well let's unpack this man of straw and delve into the pathetic philosophy and poorly understood physics that the believers who pull this stunt are using.

Source

The Land Before the Big Bang

I'm no scientist but I do have a basic layman's understanding of the concepts we're dealing with when we talk about cosmic origins. In order to truly talk about such a subject in depth I'd probably have to have some kind of fancy degree and be able to solve mathematical equations that look more like hieroglyphs but a lack of understanding doesn't stop theists from having an opinion on the origins of the Universe. This is, of course, because they have a God of the Gaps to serve as an explanation.

Part of the problem here is that no one, even the most brilliant scientists on the planet, understands or knows what happened “prior” to the Big Bang. We have a Universe to observe and those observations tell us that the whole Universe was collapsed into a super-dense singularity about 14 billion years ago. Prior to the existence of this singularity we know nothing and from what I understand of science the idea of something being PRIOR or BEFORE the Big Bang doesn't even make sense within our understanding of time. Time and Space as we understand them came into existence at the Big Bang.

The greatest minds in the world work on this subject and are not certain of the ultimate origins of our Universe. Some say that in one form or another the Universe has always existed, or at least that SOMETHING has always existed, this seems backed up at least partially by the discovery that empty space is not actually empty but is alive with virtual particles popping in and out of detectable existence.

Some humility is needed when discussing these issues and there is nothing less humble than asserting that not only do you have an answer for the origins of the Universe that eludes scientists but submitting an unproven immaterial supernatural disembodied mind is the best explanation.

Those are galaxies, not stars
Those are galaxies, not stars

Stranger Danger

The Universe may be stranger than we can possibly imagine and as we press the boundaries of that understanding we may find our primitive animal logic and basic math skills woefully inadequate at grasping the complexity of the Cosmos. There may be a plateau beyond which our knowledge cannot go or there may simply be hurdles to overcome in fully realizing our species potential for discovery.

One of the things I've heard theists say about atheists is that we are cynical and lack imagination, that God and the things of God are outside of our experience and thus we dismiss them as delusions. This is not true of all atheists although there may be some closed-minded and short-sighted out there among the atheist “community” I for one am very open to the idea of there being higher intelligences, other worlds, alien lifeforms. While I do believe that all human gods tied to religions are fictional I do not rule out the idea of something being out there in the vast Cosmic ocean of galaxies.

I mentioned this is my hub God Given Knowledge when talking about Pastor Josh Feursteins laughable attempt at internet stardom by drawing a circle representing all the knowledge of the Cosmos, drawing a dot representing human knowledge and asking atheists if God might be out there in that vast circle. Of course a god might be out there but so too might many gods, so too might aliens. Feurstein's 100,000 dollar challenge is a ruse, not an admission of his own open-mindedness to what might be out there, he isn't ready to believe in all the possibilities that don't involve his particular God.

This brings to light the false open-mindedness of some theists and some Christians and, for that matter, conspiracy theorists and the credulous in general. Simply because it MIGHT be out there doesn't mean I should treat claims of it with credulity and doe-eyed stupidity. Wanting to believe in something means you should be more skeptical of it! This is a lesson I learned the hard way, by believing first with the same ignorant bliss but eventually having the intellectual honesty to go out and investigate and apply skepticism only to find that wrapping my ego around aliens, ghosts and bigfoot didn't make them real.

some believers claim atheists believe in magic, yet their explanation is a divine incantation commanding that light come into being without stars...
some believers claim atheists believe in magic, yet their explanation is a divine incantation commanding that light come into being without stars...

Nothing Don't Make No Sense

Theists act as though atheists MUST believe in magic, that the Universe, as complex and amazing as it is, must have accidentally or magically popped into existence out of absolute nothing. My biggest objection to this is a philosophical one and brings me back to my Intro to Philosophy course. One of the biggest questions in all of philosophy is Why is there SOMETHING rather than NOTHING?

To me this question is only valid if we can establish that NOTHING even describes a real state of affairs that can exist. For a believer the problem may seem obvious since, as I was taught, there was just God and then he created the Universe from nothing. In Christian theology the Universe is generally empty, God and his angels are off in “Heaven” which from what I was taught is not in our Universe but is another realm, another dimension of sorts. It seems to make sense that the Universe would start from nothing at all and someone or something would have to cause nothing to become something, that seems intuitive – but it also makes no damn sense.

In reality human beings have no experience with nothing in the actual sense of the word. Every single location in the Universe has something in it, space and time are full of things and, if scientists like Lawrence Krauss are to be believed even BEFORE our current Universe expanded at the Big Bang something may have existed.

Nothing is a concept, like perfection, it is used to describe the absence of things but Nothing isn't a real state of affairs (to steal from the Messianic Manic again). No thing is ever really perfect in life but the word perfect has meaning as a impossible standard for things to live up to, an ideal state of affairs. In the same way Nothing refers to the absolute absence of everything and anything. Is such a thing even possible? I submit that it is not and that the “problem of nothing” is not a problem for theists OR atheists because we have been asking the wrong questions.

Where did this all come from should be “in what form did all this exist in the past?” and why is there something rather than nothing should be, “is anything ever really created or destroyed?” Quite simply it seems to me that there is something rather than nothing because it is impossible and nonsensical for there to be nothing. Of course there is something, and nothing never was.

It is a logically sound thing indeed to conclude that the Universe in it's entirety is likely naturalistic. The supernatural has continually been proved wrong or irrelevant every time the natural world is studied. Deists once held that studying nature was how we could get a glimpse at the mind of God and yet time after time studying nature leaves a shrinking gap for believers to insert their God into.

Man once believed the sky was a dome called the Firmament, mentioned in the Bible numerous times, and the stars were set upon it.
Man once believed the sky was a dome called the Firmament, mentioned in the Bible numerous times, and the stars were set upon it.

Conclusion

It can become very frustrating when atheists and theists are merely talking past each other, misrepresenting each other and simply making fun of each other. While I don't think there is anything wrong with ridiculing beliefs (as long as we try our best not to ridicule the actual people) it is important that we try to represent those beliefs correctly if we want our point to get across.

The idea of nothing is just that, an idea, even the air around us is filled with air, dust particles, germs, even empty space isn't empty. We human beings have barely scratched the surface of our Universe and I think it is important to keep a truly open-mind. That doesn't mean being duped, indoctrinated or deceived even by those with sincere beliefs and good intentions, remember that wanting to believe it means we should be more skeptical.

There is nothing self-contradictory about naturalism and it does not require faith or credulity to hold to a naturalistic position. There is certainly no reason to invoke the supernatural to explain the natural especially without evidence to suggest that something supernatural even exists. And there is no shame in admitting when we do not know and in seeking real answers rather than accepting anything that comes along or makes us feel good.


Atheists don't believe in nothing, we simply do not believe in gods.

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    • rjbatty profile image

      rjbatty 19 months ago from Irvine

      Yes, but you'll have to admit that at some level the math is beyond our comprehension. We rely upon a kind of faith that geniuses in the small field of quantum physics are getting into a realm that surpasses the normal intellect. We put our faith into this small realm of geniuses. It's not the same as putting faith into a supernatural being because theories are constantly being cross-examined by other geniuses. But you have to admit that at some level your comprehension is left behind. For ordinary folk such as ourselves, you have to take stock of where science is going and leaving the average level of comprehension to the wayside. Science may ultimately be able to equate quantum physics with Newtonian physics but will we be smart enough to connect the dots? If we are unable to do so, how would we be able to counter the religious center? I just throw that out there as a thought experiment.

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
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      Titen-Sxull 19 months ago from back in the lab again

      Thanks for the comment.

      "I prefer science because it has a built-in capacity to continually correct itself with new information/discovery."

      I agree. Science also has the advantage of looking for objectively verifiable evidence with results that anyone can understand. Even the more obscure subjects like quantum physics can be learned about and understood and are based on observable phenomenon and actual evidence.

      The deeper you dig into religion the more you find excuses and bad arguments, science on the other hand has the math and the facts to back up its claims.

    • rjbatty profile image

      rjbatty 19 months ago from Irvine

      Wow, what a firestorm you created with this Hub. I'm really glad I didn't write it (although could have) because of all the comments.

      My two cents: Human beings are just not equipped to deal with astronomical numbers and certainly not concepts like infinity or the absence of space/time. We can't wrap our minds around it. For many it's easier just to believe in God. When science becomes highly abstract or theoretical, it's not much different than believing in something supernatural. Yes, there is actually a profound difference, but both avenues require a kind of "faith." Since we are unable to conceive/imagine such imponderables, you can pick your poison. I favor the scientific approach -- although at its limits it exceeds my comprehension. I prefer science because it has a built-in capacity to continually correct itself with new information/discovery. This seems like a more humility-driven approach to our universe than simply saying God is the answer to everything -- end of discussion.

      Once again, I'm glad I didn't write this, but I'm glad you did as it's a good piece, something that needed to be thrown out there. I just wouldn't have the stamina to deal with all the feedback.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 22 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      You may accept it as flattery but I actually just stated a fact. If you are, as you say, "an average Joe," the vast majority of people I know and have ever known, both personally and professionally must be well below average. They not only finished college but went well beyond and several are now college Professors, Drs. professionals in numerous academic positions. Quite frankly, I don't imagine a one of them being able to put forth the sound, realistic, sane, literate and profound arguments/statements you have presented in just this ONE thread.

      In addition, your patience, tolerance and courtesy despite the rampant & outlandish ignorance, is a clear testament to your solid character. People fortunate to know you personally must simply adore you. (BTW....I'm MUCH too old for this to be "flirting!".....just believe me. !)

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
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      Titen-Sxull 22 months ago from back in the lab again

      Thanks for the flattering comment, very much appreciated!

      I don't think I'm a genius. In many ways I see myself as an average-joe skeptic, especially in terms of education level (I never even finished college)... but I'm glad you find my writing so engaging :D

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 22 months ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      I only stopped by to comment on something JCL said, further up this thread....about Titen being a "brilliant young man."

      That is an understatement. He blows me away. I have a genius level IQ and it's very rare that being on someone's site, reading their work makes me feel like a mental midget. I can read his work and be mesmerized for hours afterwards. He's beyond brilliant.....

      I'm sorry Titen, here I am speaking of you as if you are not here! LOL. I suppose it's foolish of me to ask but have you always been aware of your incredible genius? Whatever you do for a living, I doubt anyone could ever pay you what your mind is worth.

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
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      Titen-Sxull 22 months ago from back in the lab again

      @Wild Bill

      Thank you for your comment Bill! I agree with you that religion and science do not need to be enemies. There were those in the early days of science that just saw it as a way of exploring and discovering truths about God's creation. If there is some higher power out there I hope He/She/It/They would want us to find our own way and make our own discoveries.

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      Wild Bill 22 months ago

      Titen,

      This was a very well written and insightful hub. While I am a Christian, I do not believe that we have even scratched the surface on what we know about the Universe. The idea that religion and science can negate each other out is ludicrous to me and hopefully all humans can continue to search for new discoveries. Keep up the good work. You are a great writer.

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 22 months ago from Tasmania

      Titen-Sxull, very apt choice of words. Thank you. One minute watching his YouTube was more than enough nonsense.

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
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      Titen-Sxull 22 months ago from back in the lab again

      Feuerstein seems to be an attention whore with a pea-brain and no imagination, which is ironic because in that video he asks atheists to open their minds and imagine that God might be out there. Of course he would NEVER open his mind to the possibilities of what might actually be out there and doesn't realize that all the supposed religious "knowledge" of his God is contained in the small dot that represents everything within the human sphere of knowledge.

    • adagio4639 profile image

      adagio4639 22 months ago from Brattleboro Vermont

      Titan: This diagram; " Pastor Josh Feursteins laughable attempt at internet stardom by drawing a circle representing all the knowledge of the Cosmos," that drawing a dot representing human knowledge and asking atheists if God might be out there in that vast circle? (I guess the Purple Unicorn might be out there too. But I don't really bother with either possibility). And he's offering $100,ooo, for doing what? His circle is absurd to begin with. First of all he has the universe as a contained "thing" reducing the Cosmos to a circle, and that within that contained thing, all knowledge of that contained thing exists. The universe is not contained. That implies that it's finite, and I don't see that as a real concept. I would ask him what's outside of that circle? It's like saying what's beyond space? Well...there's more space, and of course whatever knowledge exists in that space which is constantly expanding and occupying more space. There is no beyond space. It's like saying what came before time? It's a stupid question because the very word "before" implies time. There is no time before time. I'm not aware that the universe has limitations to it. I mean, is there some kind of wall that we'd run into at some supposed endpoint? He makes some kind of bizarre wager based on a ridiculous assumption. You'd have to buy into his pretzel logic to answer his question. He's one of those guys that thinks he's being very clever and probably sits' back saying to himself; "Nailed IT! Well, yeah, I'm convinced Fuerstein is an idiot so he nailed that much. What we have is the visible universe that we can trace back about 14 Billion years. But that's only the visible universe. What else is there we're just beginning to understand in terms of dark matter and dark energy. In my view, it's always been here. We mark time from the Big Bang forward, but that doesn't tell us the whole story and I'm constantly dazzled by the new information that we discover or theorize regarding the Cosmos.

    • Lucid Psyche profile image

      Lucid Psyche 2 years ago

      Interesting discussion ensuing my last comment. What I'm seeing is that a favored philosophical position can blithely overlook the practical aspects of real applied science when nothing more than pure speculation is offered to counter. That's okay with me. But there is more than blue sky speculation to base a sound philosophical position upon.

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 2 years ago from Tasmania

      Cake - Le Gateau - Walking Pace.... ok. that figures.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

      No it would be a cake walk.

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 2 years ago from Tasmania

      Would a walking pace at the piano be a Woogie?

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

      I stand corrected. I think Andante means at a walking pace? I was a Fine Arts major and also taught myself boogie piano.

    • adagio4639 profile image

      adagio4639 2 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont

      Adagio actually means slowly with feeling. I know what ostinato means. I was a music major.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

      Adagio

      religions are embracing even more as a result of such atrocities. If we try to stereotype entire groups based on a few bad examples it could well be a harbinger of bigotry or religious intolerance.

      Adagio means "at a walking pace" in music so we all need to tread carefully.

      Ostinato means a repitive rhythmic base line.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

      JCL

      welcome my ol nemisis! How I miss our former jousts! have taken a shine to your appreciation of Hinduism and see you in a different brighter light.

      The Bible is of a different structure: its focus is really on the NT even though there is a large OT attached. The OT is many things and filled with varying kinds of ancient literature but it is also genealogical proof of JC. It is an altogther different kind of scripture of another time and culture.

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 2 years ago from Tasmania

      @Oztinato "....so when studying religion look at the Inner Meaning and you will see great unity."

      Studying Hindu traditions and their deeper meanings will certainly get you closer to the Inner Meaning than playing around with Christianity - which tends to push the origin, reason and reckoning "out there" at God.

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
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      Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again

      " Its quite clear all religions are talking in essence about the same thing"

      If you spend any decent length of time debating and discussing religion with people I don't know how you can come to the conclusion that they are talking about the same thing.

      There are tens of thousands of denominations of Christianity alone, I've even been told that Catholics aren't even real Christians and neither are Mormons apparently. It is clear to anyone who has studied and debated religion for any length of time that these people are not talking about the same thing, that every individual concept of God and the supernatural is different.

      I mean the reason I left Christianity is because I read the Bible and it turned out the God I believed in wasn't the God depicted there even though I had been led to believe it was.

      So to reissue my challenge, can you give me actual examples, excluding New Age gobbledygook, where religions are coming together to show us atheists the real underlying fabric of reality that they were actually talking about the whole time?

    • adagio4639 profile image

      adagio4639 2 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont

      @Oztinato: "Only religion studies the eternal unchanging reality behind the changing universe."

      There's nothing to study there. Science advances knowledge. How does studying something that doesn't change, advance knowledge?

    • adagio4639 profile image

      adagio4639 2 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont

      @Oztinato "Religions are embracing more than at any other time."

      ??? In light of what we see going on today with the beheadings taking place, and the Charlie Hebdo incident, and the army of religious marauders called the Taliban, and ISIS, it's hard to take that statement seriously.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 2 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Oz, I would like to see you answer the question - "Can you give me any examples where religious people of all different faiths are arriving at the same answer and aren't merely pushing out New Age nonsense (Depak Chopra is a good example of pseudo-spirituality in this regard)?"

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

      Well I don't know how you jumped tracks. Its quite clear all religions are talking in essence about the same thing. Hinduism is a prime example of this understanding. Maybe you threw out the baby with the bath water.

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
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      Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again

      What are some good examples?

      Can you give me any examples where religious people of all different faiths are arriving at the same answer and aren't merely pushing out New Age nonsense (Depak Chopra is a good example of pseudo-spirituality in this regard)?

      I used to be a pantheistic spiritual nomad who believed in reincarnation and believed that all religions were talking about the same thing (the old Buddha and the elephant story). Now I believe the reason the answer is so different is because the whole God thing is made up. I'm currently working on a hub about how animism and agenticity can easily explain the origin of the earliest superstitions (nature worship) which only later evolved into the anthropomorphic deities with anthropocentric goals.

      Animism is almost an ancient form of science, as it helped them understand the seasons, navigation, etc.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

      Titen

      stop focusing on bad examples and look towards the majority of good. Allow religion to evolve like you allow science to evolve. Religions are embracing more than at any other time.

      Really study classic Hinduism for the answers to these apparent riddles.

      But remember this: words are limited constructions of a finite knowledge pool, so when studying religion look at the Inner Meaning and you will see great unity.

      OK grasshopper?

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
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      Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again

      Religion studies the eternal unchanging reality behind the Universe?

      And what truths has religion offered us that actually agree with the truths put forward by other religions? Last I checked all forms of religion and supernatural belief contradict one another, many literal wars have been fought over such supposed "unchanging realities". Theists accuse science of being the impermanent thing because it is flexible enough to become better as evidence improves, but really religion is the transient and impermanent one. The answers religion comes up with to explain the "unchanging reality" sure do change and vary with one another.

      So when is religion going to coalesce on a single answer Oz? When are the 30,000 Christian denominations, various Islamic groups, and New Age crystal nuts going to all come together under a unified theory of spirituality?

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

      As science is only concerned with a changing entropic universe, the "laws" it studies are all in a state of flux and could change by tomorrow! Hence atheist science truly is the study of "nothing", or what was true yesterday.

      Only religion studies the eternal unchanging reality behind the changing universe.

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
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      Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again

      I think the idea is that many reject the notion of an infinite or eternal Universe, cyclical or otherwise.

      We do not know yet whether wormholes might pour matter from other Universe's into our own, if that were the case enough matter and energy might be added to explain a big crunch big bang repetitive sequence (the idea that we are recycling parts from other Universes).

      We don't even know where matter comes from, it might be eternal or it might have sprung out of some quantum weirdness from the very fabric of reality (whatever that is).

      We just don't know and that is why I find it silly when theists invoke intelligent agencies and then act as if that is the only possible explanation to a question so unsettled that it might never be answered definitively. The premises of the Kalam argument, for example, rest solely upon the acceptance of the view of some cosmologists, namely that the Universe had an absolute beginning at the Big Bang. But modern cosmology does not support a creatio ex nihilo narrative in the sense people like William Lane Craig mean when they say nothing...

      But I digress, I'm rambling...

    • adagio4639 profile image

      adagio4639 2 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont

      Sounds like a reasonable explanation to me. It just strikes me that claiming that there isn't enough matter...in an infinite universe, is absurd on the face of it.

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 2 years ago from Tasmania

      Surely, based upon my explanation in a parallel discussion to this one, the Amount of Matter in the Universe is directly related to the Amount of Change that is happening..... exponential and infinite.

    • adagio4639 profile image

      adagio4639 2 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont

      @Lucid " Since the universe is continuing to expand and at an accelerating rate my assumption based on what I'm reading is that if there were enough matter in the universe to pull everything back together the data from NASA's space probe would have otherwise indicated."

      So...you're assuming this based on what you read regarding the expansion and its rate of expansion. Is there a math formula or logrhythm that supports this hypothesis. It seems like you're extrapolating this from how you interpret what you read. I just find it really hard to accept the idea that there isn't enough matter in the universe to compensate for gravity. How could you even begin to calculate the amount of matter in the universe? There couldn't be sufficient data to make that claim. It implies a finite universe. I don't think that's the case.

    • Lucid Psyche profile image

      Lucid Psyche 2 years ago

      Since the universe is continuing to expand and at an accelerating rate my assumption based on what I'm reading is that if there were enough matter in the universe to pull everything back together the data from NASA's space probe would have otherwise indicated.

      The amount of matter doesn't have to be determined it's the effect of the amount that's there.

    • adagio4639 profile image

      adagio4639 2 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont

      @Lucid: "Second, there is not enough matter in the universe to pull everything back together. This was confirmed in 2003 by Charles Bennett of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center."

      ??? That makes absolutely no sense to me. Not enough matter, in the universe?? How is it possible to determine the amount of matter contained in the universe let alone the amount it would take to repel gravity? That implies that they determined an end to it someplace. A Cosmic Wall and said, ok, that's where it ends, so now we can determine the amount of matter contained inside this structure. How can you determine the volume of a container without knowing it's dimensions? Are you sure you read Bennett correctly? And is his statement confirmed by other physicists and cosmologists. I'm neither, but from a layman's perspective, that doesn't make any sense to me.

    • Lucid Psyche profile image

      Lucid Psyche 2 years ago

      I'm not decrying the accomplishments of methodological naturalism but I am much less impressed when sound evidence is ignored just because it conflicts with the fundamental philosophy of Naturalism. A rapid explosion of technology doesn't equate with an understanding of the ultimate nature of experience.

      You mistake me if you think that I'm advocating any type of fundamentalism. Einstein was susceptible to human prejudices and so is Hawking. (and) It certainly goes without saying that there are any number of nutball religions that are self-contradictory and irrational. Being aware of the nature of our (and others) human proclivities helps to put them in perspective and provides us with a better chance of thinking beyond them rationally.

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
      Author

      Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again

      "I however extend the charge of fundamentalism to cover an obdurate predisposition toward philosophical Naturalism."

      I really can't see why, seeing as how the methodological naturalism that guides science has come up with the best answers we've ever had. which has led to a rapid explosion of technology and discovery. Whereas fundamentalism has never had the right answer to anything ever.

      You're comparing super-intelligent minds like Einstein and Hawking to people who think that a rainbow is evidence that God will never flood the Earth again and so we can ignore climate science about sea level rises and flooding.

      "I offer the possibility that the theist vs. atheist debate might be a tempest in a teapot grounded in definitions that in a universal context are meaningless."

      I have thought this many times. I've also thought that the concept of God is itself a worthless one because of how much baggage it carries with it, because Yahweh is a god, Zeus is a god, Quetzalcoatl is a god. At this point in human history there have been so many gods that are fictional that if we ever found evidence of a being that we might want to consider a god calling it one would be pointless. If Christians, for example, really believe the evidence supports their God why are they calling it God still? If I were their God i'd be insulted to be lumped in with all those fictional constructs, isn't God a jealous God?

    • Lucid Psyche profile image

      Lucid Psyche 2 years ago

      The problems with the cosmic rebound theory are significant. First, there is no evidence that the universe has been banging / expanding / contracting and doing it eternally. Second, there is not enough matter in the universe to pull everything back together. This was confirmed in 2003 by Charles Bennett of NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center. In fact the speed of expansion is increasing (as you later note). Third, the cosmic rebound theory contradicts The Second Law of Thermodynamics because the theory falsely assumes that no energy would be lost in each contraction and explosion. If the universe had been banging forever it would have already depleted it's available energy. I hope this helps explain why that theory has fallen out of favor.

      It seems to me that all speculative theories have to deal with the same problems. If there was no definite beginning, to this universe or any other model(s) which posit multiple (space, time, matter) universes then you have to account for an infinite amount of time. Not time extending into an infinite future, but rather an infinite past. You also have to think about the energy that could power a speculative system eternally, hence," ... researchers also say that their theory depends upon ‘dark energy’ ...". The key admission here is contained in your quote, "If our conjecture is correct, it transforms cosmology because the big bang isn’t the impenetrable barrier it once seemed,” Turok told PhysicsWeb. He admits that the theory needs more work to solve several important technical problems, but says “philosophically, the model is so appealing that I think it will be here to stay for some time.”

      The words I would highlight are, "conjecture" and "philosophically ... appealing".

      I have the same problems with fundamentalism that you do! I however extend the charge of fundamentalism to cover an obdurate predisposition toward philosophical Naturalism. Fundamentalism, is intellectually confining especially when valid evidence is ignored. I could offer an example but it doesn't suit the theme of this thread.

      I'm going to have some fun conjecturing. I offer the possibility that the theist vs. atheist debate might be a tempest in a teapot grounded in definitions that in a universal context are meaningless.

      Given my limited vantage, I think that science and fact is absolutely not a threat to a "theistic" philosophy ... no reconciliation necessary.

    • adagio4639 profile image

      adagio4639 2 years ago from Brattleboro Vermont

      Well done Titen. this was a really good Hub. I enjoyed reading every bit of it.

      I was always a fan of the bouncing, or Oscillating universe. The idea that the Big Bang was preceded by a Big Crunch of a previous universe that collapsed into a singularity of extreme density. Early advocates of a cyclic model thought that the universe must shrink into a singularity – a point of infinite density and temperature – before exploding in a new big bang. But this idea proved too difficult to explain, and most theorists rejected the concept of a cyclic universe. It seemed really plausible to me. Physicists couldn't stand the idea of the laws of physics would fall away. I guess they didn't like that. It means that the universe is something eternal and has always been there breathing in an out so to speak as a living thing. Much as we take a breath, we reach a point where we exhale only to take another breath. It seemed that the universe was doing the same thing. It expands to a point where it begins to collapse due to gravity returning to the original state where all laws of physics collapse, like a Black Hole where everything that is pulled in, can't escape. Even light cannot escape, finally reaching a point of singularity and exploding outward creating a new universe which then repeats the whole thing endlessly. Since the discovery of Black Holes, it then seemed that this process could be taking place all over the universe with Black Holes pulling all matter into a point of singularity and exploding outward into another universe. In that case we'd have Multi-verse's. I don't think that cosmologists buy that theory today, but it sure sounds plausible to me.

      Paul Steinhardt of Princeton University and Neil Turok of Cambridge University claim to have solved the problems that have plagued theories of a ‘bouncing’ universe since the 1930s. According to the pair, we are about 14 billion years into the current cycle of cosmic expansion. Now Steinhardt and Turok say that – according to ‘M-theory’ – the universe need not pass through a singularity between a big crunch and a big bang. Supported by most cosmologists, M-theory says that space–time has eleven dimensions, of which we perceive four: three in space and one in time. Our four-dimensional ‘brane’ – short for membrane – is moving among the remaining dimensions or branes, which are hidden at very small or very large length scales.

      The theory says that the matter we see in the universe is confined to our local brane and that matter also exists in other branes. Steinhardt and Turok believe that a big crunch/big bang occurs when two such branes collide. They say that the density of matter is perfectly finite during such a collision, and that a singularity only occurs in the sense that the dimension that separated these branes disappears briefly during the collision.

      The effect of gravity on matter in different branes could explain why galaxies behave as though they contain more matter than we can detect – a phenomenon that led to the concept of ‘dark matter’.

      The researchers also say that their theory depends upon ‘dark energy’, another concept that is not explained by the standard model. Dark energy is a kind of repulsive gravitation, which was proposed to explain recent observations that show the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate. In the new cyclic model, dark energy is needed to dilute entropy during periods of cosmic expansion.

      “If our conjecture is correct, it transforms cosmology because the big bang isn’t the impenetrable barrier it once seemed,” Turok told PhysicsWeb. He admits that the theory needs more work to solve several important technical problems, but says “philosophically, the model is so appealing that I think it will be here to stay for some time.”

      The biggest problem I have with theists is fundamentalism. They take the Bible literally rather then metaphorically. The Big Bang happened. We know that the universe is expanding, so that enables science to trace backwards in time to about 14 Billion years ago. When the God of the Bible says, "let their be light", it would be so simple to see that as a metaphor for the Big Bang. Six days to create the universe is crazy. But what does a "day" mean in cosmology? How many billions of years is a day when it comes to the universe? But no...the fundamentalist has to take all of this literally rather than metaphorically. They ignore the poetic value of the scriptures and assign a literal context to them.

      The Old Testament is filled with horror stories of blood and violence and rape and extermination. The New Testament is quite different, and the teachings of Jesus are really profound and it would be nice if Christianists would actually practice them. The philosophy of Jesus is worthy of respect and consideration. But...that's never enough for the Fundi. I find Fundamentalism to be the most dangerous aspect of all religions. Muslim, Jewish, Christian. Doesn't matter. They all resort to violence against anyone they consider an apostate.

      Maybe the theist could find a way to reconcile their beliefs with the facts and theories put forth by physicists and cosmologists to find room for both religion and science to co-exist, rather than seeing science as a threat to their belief systems. Probably not. But it would be a nice change.

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 2 years ago from Tasmania

      "....but it may turn out to be ...." is the conceptual position which absolute honesty requires of the scientist.

      Always, there is the potential for more information forthcoming that will change ones conclusion. This is the position which "believers" find most uncomfortable, I suspect. They strive to see things as absolute, final revelation, to clear up any and every doubt.

      This can lead to contradiction, as I see it: claiming to worship infinite, eternal "God," yet unable to allow for the nothingness of infinity. One the other hand, scientific enquiry can simply allow for the possibility of nothingness, even if it cannot be proven to be the case, meanwhile getting on with the business of living and further enquiry.

      In other words, being comfortable with hypothesis. Do you see what I am getting at?

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
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      Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again

      Way to cut my quote to make me look like I was calling reason itself into question. We know that science has trouble seeing beyond a singularity, assuming that our reason holds true beyond it may seem like a good assumption to make but it may turn out to be misguided.

    • Lucid Psyche profile image

      Lucid Psyche 2 years ago

      "We don't know whether our reasoning can be relied upon ..."

      If our reasoning can't be relied upon then there's no purpose in trying to think about anything or discuss anything. If we can't work from a starting point that's backed by logic and our best evidence then there's no way forward. Nothing, including Naturalism can be relied upon.

      I don't believe that. The straightforward facts of science buttressed by sound logic yield a result that is unacceptable to Naturalistic philosophy.

      That's the true bottom line.

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
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      Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again

      “Even though we can't see beyond the singularity of the Big Bang, we can reason beyond it”

      We don't know whether our reasoning can be relied upon beyond a singularity. We can make the attempt to reason beyond it but at the end of the day we don't know if logical axioms we use to reason things out even hold up beyond the singularity.

      “facts discovered under the auspices of methodological naturalism completely annihilate the fundamental assumptions of Naturalism itself”

      Again I don't see how they do. You yourself admitted that anything beyond the Universe, which you termed supernatural, could be brought under the umbrella of natural eventually. For me the word natural may as well be defined as “everything that exists within reality” or just reality itself. The issue at hand is the scope and breadth of reality, does it extend into this non-physical “realm”? If this First Cause is outside of our current understanding of reality I would say it makes more sense to broaden our understanding to include that First Cause within nature.

      “The current universe would have reached total entropy”

      We know that this current iteration of the Universe does not have an infinite past and the current scientific consensus is that its expansion will eventually slow and entropy will take over. Are you arguing that the multiverse must be subject to the Law of Thermodynamics?

      “It seems that logically our very existence is predicated upon the existence something that's non-physical and timeless”

      We don't really know that even if it seems that way, we certainly would know very little about what this cause is. It might be a whole series of non-living immaterial events, it might be the left-overs of some kind of non-physical Universe, we don't know. When we invoke the non-physical timeless spaceless first cause most ardent theists are quick to stick in their God of the gaps. While you seem to be arguing for a form of deism they are bringing with them millenia worth of religious baggage. I do not have any real problem with deism, though obviously I do disagree with the idea that laypersons can come to accurate conclusions about so strange a thing as the birth of the Cosmos through reason alone.

      “which we can reason from established science, must exist.”

      So the material realm is a subset of the immaterial realm? It still leaves us defining what is beyond the Universe in terms of what it is not, immaterial, spaceless, etc. Even if I entirely grant this where does it leave us? We still know very little about this first cause and I would argue that words like spaceless and timeless aren't even proper adjectives or attributes of this thing. I do think our reasoning breaks down on this question. If you feel confident in your answer that's fine but I for one prefer to wait and see what real scientists present. I do not think that methodological naturalism necessarily makes scientists beholden to a presuppositional philosophical naturalism so if there is good reason to come to the conclusions that you have scientists should also come to that conclusion some time in the future.

    • Lucid Psyche profile image

      Lucid Psyche 2 years ago

      Just an addendum to follow up on the discussion since I last posted.

      "The pre-Universe. See we can't see beyond the singularity of the Big Bang, this is why there's speculation about a multiverse, or a Universe that came before. We don't know what came "before" the Big Bang, we certainly don't know that it was nothing."

      Even though we can't see beyond the singularity of the Big Bang, we can reason beyond it. We can know that it had qualities that are not natural according to the currently held definition of Naturalism. That's why there's speculation about a multiverse. It's simply because the straightforward facts discovered under the auspices of methodological naturalism completely annihilate the fundamental assumptions of Naturalism itself. The strictures of Naturalism are absolute. They are not allowed to be incorrect. Something must be done! Hence the multiverse hypothesis (speculation) ... it's a hopeful delaying tactic. Here's the irony ... if it's true it doesn't change anything with regard to a necessary First Cause. Infinity in time, in a physical system(s) is subject to The Laws of Thermodynamics. With an infinite past, entropy is still an unavoidable consequence. The current universe would have reached total entropy. It seems that logically our very existence is predicated upon the existence something that's non-physical and timeless ... and sufficient to the inception of the physical universe in (energy /information).

      For the purposes of this discussion I would prefer to say that the physical realm is a subset of the non-physical realm, which we can reason from established science, must exist.

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
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      Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again

      "What else would you call not-the-universe?"

      The pre-Universe. See we can't see beyond the singularity of the Big Bang, this is why there's speculation about a multiverse, or a Universe that came before. We don't know what came "before" the Big Bang, we certainly don't know that it was nothing.

      "The Scriptures plainly inform us that God Almighty possesses a body as well as revealing that he is situated in the heavens."

      So now you're changing your argument entirely? Before you plainly told me that God does not have a physical body. Unless you're saying that he has a spiritual body, which I already explained is a meaningless statement because non-physical bodies are not visible (since we see only a small part of the EM spectrum) and do not fit the definition of being alive.

      Once more, here is the definition of life: the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.

      A changeless God cannot grow. God has no reproductive organs or capabilities to speak of. He isn't made of matter at all so can't be set apart from the inorganic matter. He has no biological functional ability and does not and CANNOT permanently die or suffer any loss.

      "It is the aggregation of all the attributes--behavioral , temperamental , emotional as well as mental--that represent a distinct individual"

      You haven't even gotten passed the Cosmological vague First Cause and you're invoking the Bible and a whole bunch of shit that you've neither established or given any reason to think is accurate.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

      "You call them a gnostic"

      A gnostic what?

      "Please establish that before the Universe there was absolutely nothing."

      What else would you call not-the-universe?

      "There are times when our intuitions about these things DO break down"

      Which is why there is no reason to arbitrarily assert that metaphysical principles are constrained to the natural universe.

      "God would still lack every other hallmark of personhood we know of."

      The Scriptures plainly inform us that God Almighty possesses a body as well as revealing that he is situated in the heavens. (cf. Matthew 6:9; John 4:24; 1 Corinthians 15:44) Put simply, he possesses corporealness and therefore locality.

      Understanding that, in fact, each and every heavenly spirit possesses corporealness makes it substantive when the Scriptures refer to God relative to his spirit creatures:

      "Micaiah then said: “Therefore, hear the word of Jehovah: I saw Jehovah sitting on his throne and all the army of the heavens standing by him, to his right and to his left." -1 Kings 22:19

      "“I kept watching until thrones were set in place and the Ancient of Days [Jehovah God] sat down. A stream of fire was flowing and going out from before him. A thousand thousands kept ministering to him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before him." -Daniel 9:9,10 (Bracket mine.)

      The Holy Bible additionally explains that our Creator bears a personal name , Jehovah , and even unveils his personality to us . It reveals that his most distinguished traits are love , justice , wisdom , together with power . ( Deuteronomy 32 :4 ; Job 12 :13 ; Isaiah 40 :26 ; 1 John 4 :8 ) The Scriptures informs us , likewise , that he is certainly merciful , kind , forgiving , big-hearted , as well as patient .

      Personality is the blend of traits or attributes that pattern an individual's unique persona . It is the aggregation of all the attributes--behavioral , temperamental , emotional as well as mental--that represent a distinct individual . It is the manifestation of individual values , hopes , aspirations , principles , and behaviors . In effect, personality is to a particular person as culture would be to a group .

      Seeing as personality is the quality or fact of being a person as distinguished from a particular thing or creature it follows that Jehovah God is absolutely a person .

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
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      Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again

      "for it brought matter , energy , space and time into existence entirely on its own"

      Even if I grant you your first cause you haven't established any of this all you would establish is that this First Cause caused the Universe to begin existing at the Big Bang. You haven't established that this God created the singularity and all the matter and energy that would go on to be the Universe ex nihilo.

      All we can establish is that the cause is sufficient to cause the Universe, that is not necessarily omnipotent, nor does the idea of power have any real meaning outside of time and space anyway.

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
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      Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again

      "But what do you call someone who claims God does not nor cannot exist?"

      You call them a gnostic, someone who claims to know whether or not a God exists is a gnostic. Atheism refers to belief, and gnosticism and agnosticism refer to knowledge.

      "“something will not originate from nothing” "

      Please establish that before the Universe there was absolutely nothing.

      "Accordingly, there is no reason to arbitrarily assert that metaphysical principles are constrained to the natural universe."

      There are times when our intuitions about these things DO break down, such as quantum entanglement and quantum superposition, the idea that the position of a particle can often only be described by a probability. Or photon wave-particle duality. Or the fact that empty space is not actually empty, the quantum vacuum can cause particles to come into existence SEEMINGLY from "nothing".

      "The one and only way that is feasible is if this timeless , transcendent , uncaused cause were at the same time a free agent – a being with free will who is able to operate of its own volition . Naturally we all know free will is the hallmark of personhood ."

      Even if I were to grant that "Free will" even exists in any meaningful sense God would still lack every other hallmark of personhood we know of: A mind that is emergent from a physical brain, a body, and any of the qualities that make something alive in any way shape or form. A disembodied mind can only be said to exist by special pleading. For some reason a MIND can break the rules of causality in a way that a non-living effect can't? Doesn't make a lick of sense.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

      "Omnipotence is not necessary"

      Except that this uncaused cause is without a doubt unimaginably powerful , if not omnipotent , for it brought matter , energy , space and time into existence entirely on its own .

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

      "You have failed over and over again to provide a good reason why it must be a personal being."

      Did you already forget? I taught you that if a cause is sufficient to yield it's effect then the effect also needs to be present . The pair are joined at the hip , so to speak ; you can't have one without the other .

      Permit me to borrow from an illustration to help make this sharper . “Suppose that the cause of water’s freezing is the temperature’s being below 0°C . If the temperature were below 0°C from eternity past , then any water that was around would be frozen from eternity . It would be impossible for the water to just begin to freeze a finite time ago . Once the cause is given , the effect must be given as well .” ( http://bit.ly/WQtgZY )

      The problem is , if we have indeed a timeless , transcendent cause how come the effect isn’t permanent as well ? Stated another way , if this timeless , transcendent cause in fact brought the universe into being , why hasn't the universe always been ? Just how can a cause be eternal yet its effect commence a finite time ago ? We are aware the universe is roughly about 13 .70 billion years old but as you see we've further deduced that whatsoever brought about the universe has to be transcendent as well as timeless .

      The one and only way that is feasible is if this timeless , transcendent , uncaused cause were at the same time a free agent – a being with free will who is able to operate of its own volition . Naturally we all know free will is the hallmark of personhood .

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

      "Atheism is not a truth claim"

      But what do you call someone who claims God does not nor cannot exist?

      "It might be that our intuitions about causation simply do not apply to an event like a Universe coming into existence"

      “Being never arises from nonbeing”, “something will not originate from nothing” are putative metaphysical principles, just like cause and effect, unhindered in their application. Hence, we certainly have excellent grounds , both abstractly as well as scientifically, for reasoning that whatsoever begins to exist has a cause.

      Accordingly, there is no reason to arbitrarily assert that metaphysical principles are constrained to the natural universe. Unless, of course, you have evidence which necessarily construes such principles as merely physical rather than metaphysical. Do you?

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 2 years ago from Tasmania

      No it's not, Oz. Any understanding about "God" is purely subjective on the part of the believer. Nothing specific can be verified about that "God," because you can only go on what the believer describes for him/her self.

      You have started from the presumption that "God" exists, but He/She only exists in your own mind.

      So - since your "God" does not exist in reality, He/She is Non-sense, not Common-sense.

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

      Lucid

      its much simpler. An understanding about God is very basic commonsense.

    • Lucid Psyche profile image

      Lucid Psyche 2 years ago

      Titen-Sxull: "All either of us can do, since we are not physicists actually researching this stuff, is speculate. Are you really going to argue that the Cosmological argument is not speculative? It is based upon basic intuition about causality applied to a singularity where our understanding of such things breaks down. It then posits that not only MUST there be something beyond time, space and causality but that our best bet for this is an unaccounted for disembodied mind that must somehow possess the ability to create AND fine tune the Universe. Now you may not go this far in your formulation of it, leaving it nebulous and undefined, which I appreciate, but most of the people who make this argument have a specific God they are aiming for. They are working backwards from their conclusion."

      Established science and correctly applied logic is not speculative. It is what we have to work with if a rational conclusion is to be reached. When that conclusion is not acceptable to an a priori philosophical perspective is when the evasive speculation begins.

      I could repeat myself again, but for what purpose? I doubt that anyone is ever convinced through argumentation alone. Your epiphany awaits you.

    • Lucid Psyche profile image

      Lucid Psyche 2 years ago

      Austinstar: "The above sentence re-worded:

      "God and god's laws that govern the structure and behavior of god did not exist prior to god and thus could not have caused itself to begin to exist."

      Really? Is that supposed to be equivalent to my statement using the commonly held definition of Naturalism? And ... how do you know? Are you following established science and correctly applied logic?

      Austinstar: "I really wish we could just get on with the science of the current universe as it doesn't even matter whether or not god or the big bang or something else entirely was responsible for us being in our current and future state."

      "There is no benefit in knowing how we all got here, it's up to us to make our lives as beneficial as possible."

      There's no benefit in being able to discover truth? If you don't value truth then what do you value? Is the ultimate truth of our own being something to be hidden from common knowledge by science itself? I already know the answer to these questions, they are for you to to answer for yourself.

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
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      Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again

      @Joe

      "If Atheism is true, the universe has no objective explanation of its existence."

      Atheism is not a truth claim, so atheism cannot be false, atheism is disbelief in gods. Your premise should be "If there is no God the Universe has no objective explanation of its existence" which appears to have a hidden fallacy of begging the question because it assumes its own conclusion (namely that only God can be an objective explanation of the Universe's existence). We also have no reason to assume that this premise is true, as I've said over and over again there MIGHT be a First Cause that is an inanimate set of conditions.

      There is no reason to assume that your conclusion is correct this early into an argument, except for in malformed terrible arguments working backwards from a forgone conclusion.

      It might be that our intuitions about causation simply do not apply to an event like a Universe coming into existence. Why you will not admit this is beyond me. None of us know that the Universe must have a cause and, unlike your premise, belief that it DOES have a cause does not default God into existence (or make atheism “false”).

      "If the universe has an objective explanation of its existence then atheism is false."

      See above.

      “Therefore, the space-time universe exists because of an external cause.”

      Conclusion: The Universe has a cause. This is really where the Cosmological argument reaches its limitations and that's being generous.

      "The external cause of the universe must necessarily be a beginningless, spaceless, immaterial, timeless, unchanging, omnipotent and personal being."

      You have failed over and over again to provide a good reason why it must be a personal being. We also do not know that it must be beginningless, as this assumes that an infinite chain of causes is absolutely impossible. You might be able to argue that this thing is an uncaused cause but that does not make it beginningless by default. Spaceless, immaterial, timeless I am happy to grant. Omnipotence is not necessary, the cause must simply be sufficient to cause the Universe to come into existence, whether ex nihilo or by acting upon some pre-existing "stuff".

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
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      Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again

      Okay, let's not forget it, what does that add to our discussion Oz?

    • Oztinato profile image

      Oztinato 2 years ago from Australia

      Lets never forget that Occam himself was a deeply religious monk like many early scientists.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

      "The existence of this supposed multiverse still cries out for an objective explanation."

      -"I fully agree."

      Which necessarily means Atheism must be false:

      (1) Everything that exists has an objective explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.

      (A) If Atheism is true, the universe has no objective explanation of its existence.

      (B) If the universe has an objective explanation of its existence then atheism is false.

      (2) The universe exists.

      (3) The space-time universe does not exist out of the necessity of it’s own nature for it did not exist until 13.70 billion years ago.

      (4) Therefore, the space-time universe exists because of an external cause.

      (5) The external cause of the universe must necessarily be a beginningless, spaceless, immaterial, timeless, unchanging, omnipotent and personal being.

      (6) A beginningless, spaceless, immaterial, timeless, unchanging, omnipotent and personal being is the definition of God.

      (7) Therefore, the objective explanation of the universe's existence is God.

      (8) Therefore, Atheism is false.

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
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      Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again

      Occam's razor is for getting rid of unnecessary assumptions, leaps in logic that aren't called for, not to get rid of complexity.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

      "An answer is not more likely based on its simplicity."

      Which is why you've never invoked Occam's Razor ... oh ... wait ...

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
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      Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again

      "does nothing to answer the question why there is anything instead of just nothing."

      This hub explains why the question itself is at fault for seeming unanswerable, because nothing is an impossible state of affairs, its an abstract idea not an actual description or at the very least is a state of affairs never before discovered or observed. There is NO evidence that nothing ever existed.

      "The existence of this supposed multiverse still cries out for an objective explanation."

      I fully agree. I personally do not subscribe to a multiverse theory, I was giving a possibility not arguing the multiverse is real.

      "Theism is by far more modest"

      Irrelevant. An answer is not more likely based on its simplicity. Especially something based upon false inference of agency and a gap in our understanding (argument from ignorance).

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

      "If there is, for example, a multiverse, I see no reason to say that its supernatural merely because it exists beyond what we currently define as nature."

      Even if veridical, your metaphysically extravagant Anthropic Philosophy, that is, "if the Universe contains an exhaustively random and infinite number of universes, then anything that can occur with non-vanishing probability will occur somewhere," does nothing to answer the question why there is anything instead of just nothing. It just punts it further down the line.

      The existence of this supposed multiverse still cries out for an objective explanation.

      To borrow from an illustration by Philosopher Richard Taylor, "Imagine you are walking through the woods on a hike and you come across a translucent ball lying on the forest floor. You would naturally wonder where that ball came from – what is the explanation of its existence? If your hiking buddy said to you, “Don’t worry about it – it just exists, inexplicably!,” you would think either that he was crazy or that he wanted you to keep on moving. But you wouldn’t take seriously the idea that this ball just exists without any explanation of its existence.

      Now suppose that the ball, instead of being the size of a basketball, were the size of an automobile. Merely increasing the size of the ball would not do anything to remove or satisfy the demand for an explanation of its existence, would it? Suppose it were the size of a house? Same problem! Suppose it were the size of a planet or a galaxy? Same problem! Suppose it were the size of the entire universe? Same problem! Merely increasing the size of the object does not do anything to remove or satisfy the demand for an explanation of its existence. And so I think it is very plausible to think that everything that exists has an explanation of why it exists." (http://bit.ly/Pm4s92)

      “If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.” -C.S. Lewis

      That is to say, when compared to the metaphysically extravagant Anthropic Philosophy, Theism is by far much more modest.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

      "There is no benefit in knowing how we all got here"

      Except you can't know who you are until you know where you came from.

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
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      Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again

      “If you want to venture into speculation then you have no argument from me”

      All either of us can do, since we are not physicists actually researching this stuff, is speculate. Are you really going to argue that the Cosmological argument is not speculative? It is based upon basic intuition about causality applied to a singularity where our understanding of such things breaks down. It then posits that not only MUST there be something beyond time, space and causality but that our best bet for this is an unaccounted for disembodied mind that must somehow possess the ability to create AND fine tune the Universe. Now you may not go this far in your formulation of it, leaving it nebulous and undefined, which I appreciate, but most of the people who make this argument have a specific God they are aiming for. They are working backwards from their conclusion.

      “as I know there is no scientific evidence that one can get around the Laws of Thermodynamics just to preserve the sanctity of any particular ideology.”

      You're applying the Law of Thermodynamics to a rapid expansion of time, space and energy that had previously been collapsed into a singularity. The Universe TRENDS toward entropy, it does not have to start from entropy. Unless what you're doing is a version of “the Universe can't come from nothing” but replacing it with “Order cannot come from chaos”.

      “The natural universe and the natural laws that govern the structure and behavior of the natural universe did not exist prior to the Big Bang and thus could not have caused themselves to begin to exist.”

      But no one can know that there were NO descriptive laws at all the Big Bang and the expansion of our Universe, merely that you don't want to call them natural. It is one thing to say that the laws of nature as we understand them today could not have functioned the way they do now but another thing entirely to say that the pre-Universe (whatever you want call it) had no descriptive properties (laws) to the way “things” behaved.

      If there is, for example, a multiverse, I see no reason to say that its supernatural merely because it exists beyond what we currently define as nature.

      “The First Cause cannot be "natural" and must therefore be "supernatural" “

      It feels like we're going in circles again. I could just as easily claim that this cause MUST BE unnatural because it ALSO fits the definition for that word. My problem for the word supernatural is in the first definition you offered, the mention of it invokes ideas of God and other superstitious baggage that is unnecessary.

      Unnatural – 1. contrary to the ordinary course of nature; abnormal. 2.not existing in nature; artificial.

      “I need not anthropomorphize that cause or for that matter call it "God".”

      Than why believe in it at all? Why even bother when science may find the answer any day now and that answer may be bizarre and counter-intuitive to everything you've just laid out to get to your First Cause? For example the theories of Lawrence Krauss and Stephen Hawking that a Universe can emerge from “nothing”. Or the idea that the actual energy of the Universe is zero, it cancels itself out.

      The answer has not been found, so exercises like the Cosmological argument seem pointless to me.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 2 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      "The natural universe and the natural laws that govern the structure and behavior of the natural universe did not exist prior to the Big Bang and thus could not have caused themselves to begin to exist."

      The above sentence re-worded:

      "God and god's laws that govern the structure and behavior of god did not exist prior to god and thus could not have caused itself to begin to exist."

      I really wish we could just get on with the science of the current universe as it doesn't even matter whether or not god or the big bang or something else entirely was responsible for us being in our current and future state.

      There is no benefit in knowing how we all got here, it's up to us to make our lives as beneficial as possible.

    • Lucid Psyche profile image

      Lucid Psyche 2 years ago

      Titen-Sxull: "Thermodynamics only applies to closed systems, meaning that the whole of the Universe, if we assume it is a closed system (and it may not be) would trend toward entropy. But this does not mean that complexity and order cannot emerge. Saying that systems inevitably trend toward entropy does not mean they cannot become orderly in the first place."

      I'm confining my reasoning to established science and correctly applied logic. If you want to venture into speculation then you have no argument from me. Insofar as I know there is no scientific evidence that one can get around the Laws of Thermodynamics just to preserve the sanctity of any particular ideology.

      "The farthest you got was establishing that a First Cause, if there was one, was outside of nature and thus unnatural (you used the term supernatural). You haven't disproved Naturalism, you've shown that if your First Cause holds it must be unnatural, beyond nature. I see no reason why when we become aware of something that is beyond the Universe we know, be it another Universe, a First Cause, etc, why we wouldn't alter the definition of what is natural to include it. "

      Lets define Naturalism: "In philosophy, naturalism is the "idea or belief that only natural (as opposed to supernatural or spiritual) laws and forces operate in the world."[1] Adherents of naturalism (i.e., naturalists) assert that natural laws are the rules that govern the structure and behavior of the natural universe, that the changing universe at every stage is a product of these laws.[2]

      The natural universe and the natural laws that govern the structure and behavior of the natural universe did not exist prior to the Big Bang and thus could not have caused themselves to begin to exist. The universe began to exist thus it required a cause according to The Principle of Causality, that cause could not have been natural as defined by Naturalists.

      Now let's define "supernatural" according to the commonly accepted definition.

      1. of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe; especially : of or relating to God or a god, demigod, spirit, or devil

      2

      a : departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature

      b : attributed to an invisible agent (as a ghost or spirit)

      The part of this definition I would highlight is, " of or relating to an order of existence beyond the visible observable universe" and "departing from what is usual or normal especially so as to appear to transcend the laws of nature"

      In a reasonable discussion one should be able to rely on the continuity of commonly held definitions. I can stand by my claim that if all are held to the standard of established science, correctly applied logic, and commonly held definitions ... The First Cause cannot be "natural" and must therefore be "supernatural". Naturalism as defined, and according to scientific discovery made under the auspices of methodological naturalism itself is self annihilating.

      "why we wouldn't alter the definition of what is natural to include (it)"

      I feel confident that we will, but science itself will have to evolve to expand it's definition of what is "natural".

      "But that's the thing, they don't need an agency. See this is why its a God of the gaps and why the Cosmological argument, even if I grant the premises to you, does not get anyone to God. Why must this cause be a living being? And not only a living being but one which violates not only everything to be alive but can also SOMEHOW create a Universe (presumably ex nihilo). You see if I posit a set of conditions that is sufficient to cause the Universes as my first cause I don't need to invoke the supernatural, I don't need to invoke something like a disembodied mind that can magically will things into existence ."

      I'm not invoking anything other than the minimum requirement of a First Cause sufficient to the existence of the universe. I need not anthropomorphize that cause or for that matter call it "God". If it has the qualities that some attribute to God that's beyond the scope of my argument. That has to do with belief and it may or may not be adequately justifiable ... not for me to say.

      This is a good thread and I appreciate the opportunity to explain where I'm coming from, having had an atheistic YouTube channel for years, I know that vitriol follows from disagreement even before someone's position can be clearly defined. HubPages has been a cut above.

      Good luck. Unless there's more, bye for now.

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
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      Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again

      "what causes them to to continue to operate given the Laws of Thermodynamics which tend to entropy and disorder?"

      Thermodynamics only applies to closed systems, meaning that the whole of the Universe, if we assume it is a closed system (and it may not be) would trend toward entropy. But this does not mean that complexity and order cannot emerge. Saying that systems inevitably trend toward entropy does not mean they cannot become orderly in the first place.

      "We already know that Naturalism is obsolete given the direct evidence of the Big Bang."

      The farthest you got was establishing that a First Cause, if there was one, was outside of nature and thus unnatural (you used the term supernatural). You haven't disproved Naturalism, you've shown that if your First Cause holds it must be unnatural, beyond nature. I see no reason why when we become aware of something that is beyond the Universe we know, be it another Universe, a First Cause, etc, why we wouldn't alter the definition of what is natural to include it. One thing is for sure we wouldn't want to bring in the idea of the supernatural with all its baggage.

      "are vastly improbable unless they were established by an intelligent agency."

      But that's the thing, they don't need an agency. See this is why its a God of the gaps and why the Cosmological argument, even if I grant the premises to you, does not get anyone to God. Why must this cause be a living being? And not only a living being but one which violates not only everything to be alive but can also SOMEHOW create a Universe (presumably ex nihilo). You see if I posit a set of conditions that is sufficient to cause the Universes as my first cause I don't need to invoke the supernatural, I don't need to invoke something like a disembodied mind that can magically will things into existence .

      I appreciate that you're putting a lot more thought into this than most theists, backhanded compliment though that may be, but I don't see any spectacular move of logic that gets you from this vague First Cause to a disembodied mind. There is no reason to think a mind can be disembodied OR affect the Universe and I've seen no good argument establishing such a thing.

      "I'm not arguing for a monotheistic God either"

      You are arguing that this First Cause is supernatural and is intelligent. So for all you know this First Cause could be a team of engineers from another Universe, it could be aliens, it could be Doctor Who's TARDIS exploding that creates the Universe. Correctly applied logic, in terms of the Cosmological argument, might lead to a vague First Cause (if we accept all the premises which I am happy to do for sake of argument) but it leads no farther.

    • Lucid Psyche profile image

      Lucid Psyche 2 years ago

      Titen-sxull: "I can just as easily posit that the constants are the way they are because the pre-existing set of conditions that caused the Universe could not have created any other kind of Universe, or we could just say we got the Universe we got, how fortunate for us, it's not implausible for things proceeded by the necessary conditions for them occur might occur. We know that nature (reality might be a better word) has guided systems, such as natural selection, where natural parameters determine the outcome, it may seem to us in hindsight that this outcome is preordained but that desire for agency and meaning is not necessary. Again I do not know or pretend to know the origins of the cosmos and do not have the scientific knowledge to even take a good guess, but I see no reason to infer agency, or posit a God of the gaps."

      I'm not positing a "God of the gaps". I've gone no further than correctly applied logic requires. Anything which begins to exist requires a cause. As we've already established that cause must be timeless, spaceless, and immaterial. As for the cosmological constants, your "pre-existing conditions" are vastly improbable unless they were established by an intelligent agency.

      "We know that nature (reality might be a better word) has guided systems, such as natural selection, where natural parameters determine the outcome, ...".

      That's a loaded statement. Note your use of the word "guided" and "natural" How were those parameters established, what causes them to to continue to operate given the Laws of Thermodynamics which tend to entropy and disorder?

      We already know that Naturalism is obsolete given the direct evidence of the Big Bang. Why continue to base assumptions on Naturalistic causes?

      I'm not arguing for a monotheistic God either ... I'm just pointing out that any reasoning based on false assumptions cannot be trusted.

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
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      Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again

      I have no further questions.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

      "My question stands. What other possible kind of evidence could we use to determine that a living thing can exist without it having any of the characteristics we see in currently living things?"

      Asked and answered. Next question :)

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

      @Jonny

      "All the argument in this world cannot convince a non-believer of the existence of a god."

      Nonsense:

      "My work as a biochemist involved studying the design of certain molecules found in ocean-dwelling cyanobacteria, which are microorganisms that don’t depend on other living things for food. Some researchers think that these organisms were the first living things on our planet. Using energy from sunlight, the microbes use an extremely complex chemical process, which is still not fully understood, to convert water and carbon dioxide into food. I was also amazed at how cyanobacteria can harvest light with incredible efficiency.

      I thought about engineers trying to imitate the marvelous mechanisms found in living things, and I came to the conclusion that life must have been designed by God. But my faith was not based solely on what I studied in science. It was also based on a careful study of the Bible.

      One of the many things that convinced me was the detailed fulfillment of Bible prophecies. For example, centuries in advance Isaiah described in abundant detail the death and burial of Jesus. We know this prophecy was written before Jesus’ death because the Isaiah Scroll, found at Qumran, was copied about a hundred years before Jesus was born.

      That prophecy says: “He will make his burial place even with the wicked ones, and with the rich class in his death.” (Isaiah 53:9, 12) Remarkably, Jesus was executed with criminals but was buried in the tomb of a wealthy family. This is just one example of the many fulfilled prophecies that convinced me that the Bible is inspired of God. (2 Timothy 3:16) In time, I became one of Jehovah’s Witnesses." -Dr. Davey Loos, former atheist (http://bit.ly/16DSMSi)

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
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      Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again

      Joe, I have warned you before numerous times about copying and pasting your walls of text from elsewhere into our discussions. Said comment has been deleted.

      My question stands. What other possible kind of evidence could we use to determine that a living thing can exist without it having any of the characteristics we see in currently living things? Remember that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, so if your answer is that we can prove such a being by mere logic alone that had better be the most sound most irrefutable logic in history.

      But I have shown in numerous hubs that the Cosmological argument is a massive failure in the establishing the sort of God you and most other believers claim ti does and that even if successful, proves only a vague deism or even suggests a set of unguided (non-living) conditions that make up the First Cause.

      At the very least you would need rational justification for believing that:

      A disembodied (or non-physical) living mind is possible and plausible.

      A living being that is changeless, spaceless, timeless and immaterial is possible and plausible.

      That this being has some mechanism for affecting change ex nihilo

      So far most of what you argued is the result of arguing backward from your conclusion that God must be the explanation and trying to fit your argument around that. It is a god of the gaps and not at all persuasive except to those who already believe, I highly doubt you converted to being a Witness solely because of Kalam.

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 2 years ago from Tasmania

      Joseph, your theory sounds confusing and like it's objective is to lure another individual into the Jehovah's Witness Web of Deceit.

      Are you willing to admit this your sole objective? Or is not the done thing for members of your organisation to admit the honest truth?

      All the argument in this world cannot convince a non-believer of the existence of a god, nor a believer of the non-existence.

      However, the desire for human power and control over others, not necssarily to the others' benefit, is very obvious and evident.

      What really is your objective??

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
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      Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again

      "Science is both omniscient and infallible"

      What is your point here?

      What other kind of evidence could there possibly be that could establish the possible existence of immaterial life?

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

      "without actual scientific evidence"

      Because, as we all know, Science is both omniscient and infallible ...

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
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      Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again

      It's your burden of proof to show that God even exists and has the characteristics necessary to create the Universe. You made up the idea that God can be outside and beyond all rules of logic and reasoning just because you need him to have those attributes so he can create the Universe, that constitutes special pleading.

      Essentially what you are saying here is "if God was not sufficient to create the Universe than how did he create it?" This is another fallacy, begging the question, you have assumed the conclusion that God must have all the characteristics needed to create the Universe before even showing a God exists at all.

      I have explained that it is not coherent, without actual scientific evidence, to say that a living being can exist in a timeless, spaceless and immaterial state. I have explained that each of this God's "necessary" characteristics given by believers (power, knowledge, benevolence) make no sense without the Universe. You have, essentially, argued that God gets to break all these rules just because you say so and if not than how did he create the Universe?

      He didn't.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

      False charge of fallacy.

      If God did not possess the potential for all of those traits, how did he create the universe with all of it's distinctive characteristics?

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
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      Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again

      "since he unquestionably possessed the"

      Special pleading. Amounts to, God can break all the rules and be whatever and do whatever because I say so. Your argument may as well be "look God just exists okay, so what if it doesn't make sense"

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

      "Because it makes it necessary for a Universe to exist for him to have any of these characteristics."

      Says you but that certainly isn't the case since he unquestionably possessed the potential for all of those traits.

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
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      Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again

      Because it makes it necessary for a Universe to exist for him to have any of these characteristics. In other words God would be contingent upon the Universe.

      This clearly squashes the classical concept of the monotheistic God as a nonsensical contradiction.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

      "my argument about power, knowledge and benevolence not being coherent characteristics for a timeless, spaceless, immaterial being without a Universe to grant those characteristics meaning."

      You're not making sense. How does this make God's existence implausible?

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 2 years ago from Tasmania

      Ignoratio elenchi - logical fallacy? Or did you mean "red herring, " Joe?

      I suppose an imaginary god could not be mistaken for a red herring, because such a god would be without colour, without form, without a need to swim in water.

      So, yes, very fallacious I agree.

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
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      Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again

      Joe, I'm not going to repeat my entire argument yet AGAIN for your amusement. You have not shown any reason to think that a mind could exist outside of time and space. Or a reason to change our fundamental definition of what it means to be alive.

      You have dodged around the idea of God having a physical body with lame ass excuses about God showing a false image to those he appeared to in visions in the Bible.

      You have yet to offer any coherent rebuttal to my argument about power, knowledge and benevolence not being coherent characteristics for a timeless, spaceless, immaterial being without a Universe to grant those characteristics meaning.

      In other words I have shown you numerous ways over the months that we've conversed that the Cosmological argument is flawed and that the God concept it supports is highly implausible if not so self-contradictory as to be meaningless.

      You have repeatedly misidentified fallacies, accused me of ones I did not commit and demand that I prove things I already proved.

      Do you have anything of substance to add or not?

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

      @Titen

      And just how did I fail to prove it possibly true or believable?

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
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      Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again

      "I think that you concede that the First Cause is timeless, spaceless, and immaterial."

      I am happy to do so for sake of argument. I do have my problems with the idea of applying our intuitions about causality to something as complex as the start of a Universe.

      "There are over 100+ extremely narrowly defined constants that strongly point to an intelligence having defined them."

      I don't think they do and more tellingly most of the scientists who study this topic don't either.

      "in fact if it had expanded at a rate one millionth more slowly than it did the universe would have collapsed back on itself before any stars had formed."

      In what way does positing a mind, a being outside of time and space, help us explain the constants being the way they are? We still do not have a mechanism by which this mind created everything presumably ex nihilo. There is no precedent for a mind being able to even affect creatio ex materia without a physical form, let alone something as unprecedented and counter-intuitive as a creation out of absolute nothing. Perhaps if your cosmic designer were some nerd playing with a super computer creating a simulated Universe but that is far from the God of "classical monotheism".

      I can just as easily posit that the constants are the way they are because the pre-existing set of conditions that caused the Universe could not have created any other kind of Universe, or we could just say we got the Universe we got, how fortunate for us, it's not implausible for things proceeded by the necessary conditions for them occur might occur. We know that nature (reality might be a better word) has guided systems, such as natural selection, where natural parameters determine the outcome, it may seem to us in hindsight that this outcome is preordained but that desire for agency and meaning is not necessary. Again I do not know or pretend to know the origins of the cosmos and do not have the scientific knowledge to even take a good guess, but I see no reason to infer agency, or posit a God of the gaps.

      "I could go into more detail (later) but I don't think that it would change anything."

      Unless you have a better argument than the Teleological and Cosmological I suspect not.

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
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      Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again

      I didn't say I proved your idea false.

      I said you had failed to prove it plausible.

      What's the name for the fallacy where someone shifts the burden of proof Joe? Because you've done it so many times my head is starting to spin.

      Try again.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

      @Jonny

      Ignoratio elenchi. You evaluate an argument based on the body of facts and information presented, not its provenance. Try again.

    • Austinstar profile image

      Austinstar 2 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

      Oh dear, I didn't realize that Lucid is the new reigning authority of quantum mechanics and held the absolute definition of the amount of matter in the universe! Where can I buy your books?

      "That for me is the same as saying that there was 0 chance of the universe forming with the conditions necessary for life without intelligent intervention."

      Strangely enough, the universe DID form under its own conditions. And you are only guessing that it contains: "There are only 10 to the 70 atoms in the universe." Wow, where did you come up with that definitive number?

    • Lucid Psyche profile image

      Lucid Psyche 2 years ago

      Titen-Sxull: "And why should we not simply think that there was an immaterial, timeless and spaceless set of conditions which gave rise to the Universe? This is why I said adding that it must be a mind violates Occam's razor not to mention violating every definition of what it means to be alive. I do not think the parameters of this Universe were "precisely fine-tuned" either, ..."

      Firstly Occam's Razor is not a Principle of logic. It's merely a guideline to avoid over complicating something that need not be over complicated. I think that you concede that the First Cause is timeless, spaceless, and immaterial. The sticking point is do we have evidence of intelligence?

      There are over 100+ extremely narrowly defined constants that strongly point to an intelligence having defined them.

      Take the expansion of the universe as one example ... in fact if it had expanded at a rate one millionth more slowly than it did the universe would have collapsed back on itself before any stars had formed. The probability that this and other constants would exist for any planet in the universe by chance assuming there are 10 to the 22 planets in the universe is 10 to the 138. There are only 10 to the 70 atoms in the universe. That for me is the same as saying that there was 0 chance of the universe forming with the conditions necessary for life without intelligent intervention.

      Sorry for the quick typing. I could go into more detail (later) but I don't think that it would change anything.

    • jonnycomelately profile image

      Alan 2 years ago from Tasmania

      If you persist in quoting from William Lane Craig, Joseph, please allow me to quote from Richard Dawkins: "\

      "Don't feel embarrassed if you've never heard of William Lane Craig. He parades himself as a philosopher, but none of the professors of philosophy whom I consulted had heard his name either."

      The above quote is copied and pasted from the following Website: http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/oct/...

      More can be read there to discredit the said Preacher.

      The to-and-fro of argument is too much for me personally to follow, but maybe I am not the only one.

      Is there really any point in arguing about an imagined super-being?

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

      "No living being ever observed or ever even postulated by science as somehow plausible has even one of the characteristics of this God."

      Argumentum ad ignorantiam. That's not how rational thought works. Ideas and beliefs are proven false based on positive evidence of their falsehood not by rhetoric, tautologies, nor by the intelligentsia. Try again.

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
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      Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again

      "This reductionistic perspective is glaringly misguided for a succession of mental events by itself is sufficient to establish relations of before"

      Stop talking like you're William Lane Craig's puppet.

      A series of mental events requires the passage of time. The function of a mind, biological or otherwise, is not magic, it's electrical signals.

      "of any kind of material occurrence"

      Thoughts are generally a material occurrence and it would take an awful lot of evidence to prove that thoughts can exist without a material mind. And as I have explained, ad nauseam you have given no reason to amend the definition of life to include beings without physical bodies, outside of time and space. No living being ever observed or ever even postulated by science as somehow plausible has even one of the characteristics of this God.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

      "What meaning does eternity have in a timeless pre-Universe state of "existence"."

      This conclusion obtains if and only if we equate the perception of time with analytical measures of time . This reductionistic perspective is glaringly misguided for a succession of mental events by itself is sufficient to establish relations of before and afterwards , entirely devoid of any kind of material occurrence . Which means that there could be a point in time in which God Almighty fashioned the original cosmological singularity , regardless of whether that instance is not in material time .

      "Even if God is timeless sans creation, His creating the universe can be simultaneous with the cosmic singularity. Such an appeal to metaphysics is not illicit because Hawking makes the metaphysical claim that God cannot create the universe because the singularity is not in physical time. In any case, even if we do accept this reductionistic move, all that follows is that God did not create the universe at a time. We can still say that God’s creating the universe was coincident with the singularity (that is, they occur together at the boundary of spacetime), and by creating the singularity God created the universe."

      http://bit.ly/1nCfYye

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
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      Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again

      "Just how can a cause be eternal yet its effect commence a finite time ago ?"

      I can't be sure but I think you are confusing the word timeless and the word eternal here. Even if we assume, for sake of argument, that you have shown there is a timless, spaceless first cause I fail to see how calling it by default eternal has any meaning or is logically sound.

      "If the temperature were below 0°C from eternity past , then any water that was around would be frozen from eternity"

      But I didn't say my hypothetical set of conditions were eternal and I also never said they were changeless. They may have changed the moment that time began moving and set the "foundations" of the Universe so-to-speak.

      At the end of the day though we don't know.. What meaning does eternity have in a timeless pre-Universe state of "existence". What can we even say about existence beyond the singularity, what can we even say about causality? This is why i prefer to let people with advanced degrees tackle problems this weird that often have counter-intuitive results.

      So your invocation of a mind is based on the assumption that this First Cause and I would argue is based on special pleading that a mind can even exist in such a state.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

      "And why should we not simply think that there was an immaterial, timeless and spaceless set of conditions which gave rise to the Universe?"

      Because if a cause is sufficient to yield it's effect then the effect also needs to be present . The pair are joined at the hip , so to speak ; you can't have one without the other .

      Permit me to borrow from an illustration to help make this sharper . “Suppose that the cause of water’s freezing is the temperature’s being below 0°C . If the temperature were below 0°C from eternity past , then any water that was around would be frozen from eternity . It would be impossible for the water to just begin to freeze a finite time ago . Once the cause is given , the effect must be given as well .” ( http://bit.ly/WQtgZY )

      The problem is , if we have indeed a timeless , transcendent cause how come the effect isn’t permanent as well ? Stated another way , if this timeless , transcendent cause in fact brought the universe into being , why hasn't the universe always been ? Just how can a cause be eternal yet its effect commence a finite time ago ? We are aware the universe is roughly about 13 .70 billion years old but as you see we've further deduced that whatsoever brought about the universe has to be transcendent as well as timeless .

      The one and only way that is feasible is if this timeless , transcendent , uncaused cause were at the same time a free agent – a being with free will who is able to operate of its own volition . Naturally we all know free will is the hallmark of personhood .

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
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      Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again

      "Immaterial, non-physical, timeless, spaceless and sufficient"

      And why should we not simply think that there was an immaterial, timeless and spaceless set of conditions which gave rise to the Universe? This is why I said adding that it must be a mind violates Occam's razor not to mention violating every definition of what it means to be alive. I do not think the parameters of this Universe were "precisely fine-tuned" either, unless you think they were fine-tuned for the creation of empty barren planets and trillions of galaxies most of which is empty space and very little of which is traditional matter.

      We're also left defining things by what they are not (ie immaterial) as with the example of natural vs supernatural I don't think its wise to act as if the term immaterial, timeless or spaceless requires we invoke anything altogether as spooky as a disembodied mind. I don't hear many legitimate scientists invoking such things, they continue to search for the answer whatever that may be. Of course we can speculate all we want and we can even look at the Universe and work backward to God as the Cosmological argument does, its conclusion a forgone one.

      I have a hub in which I break down why the typical creatio ex nihilo Cosmological argument does not work, namely because without a Universe the characteristics of God, such as power, knowledge, benevolence, etc do not make any sense. If we remove the Universe and look at God, alone in the nothingness, he has no meaningful characteristics.

      Power - time must exist in which to exert power, and something must exist to exert it upon.

      Knowledge - something must exist to be known about or experienced for knowledge to have any meaning (and of course time is needed for thought processes)

      Benevolence - more than one moral agent is needed for benevolence to have any meaning.

      Life - Life is defined by complex organic chemistry and the ability to change and reproduce, that is what sets it apart from the inanimate. We would have to entirely amend the definition to include this disembodied mind.

      Of course you can posit a being without these characteristic but then it would no longer be "sufficient" to fine-tune or spark the Universe. It seems to me that without some serious special pleading it makes no sense to call the First Cause a living being or a mind. What we have is a persistent mystery, the question of Cosmic origins is a big one, but there is no need for this God of the gaps.

    • Lucid Psyche profile image

      Lucid Psyche 2 years ago

      Titen-Sxull: "All of the arguments for God that I have ever heard have been flawed in one way or another and the one you present here is no different. There is something beyond the confines of our Universe - insert God of the gaps, add a few references to science, shaken not stirred."

      I refer you to this part of your dialogue, "Logical arguments are not evidence, no matter how deductively sound you believe your logic is. It seems to me that it sets up a false dichotomy, that anything which is unnatural or not part of our current natural universe, must be the supernatural."

      If we can't define our terms, then no rational discussion is possible. Let me approach it from this angle. There was nothing physical to give rise to the physical ... (time, space, and matter). The First Cause was non-physical if you concede the definition of Physicalism. "Physicalism is the thesis that everything is physical, or as contemporary philosophers sometimes put it, that everything supervenes on the physical."

      The First Cause was also not natural if you concede the definition of Naturalism. "a philosophical viewpoint according to which everything arises from natural properties and causes, and supernatural or spiritual explanations are excluded or discounted."

      The First Cause was immaterial if you concede the definition of Materialism. "the doctrine that nothing exists except matter and its movements and modifications."

      Another difficulty may arise from how you personally define "God". I will only go so far as science and logic will take me. Immaterial, non-physical, timeless, spaceless and sufficient to the existence of the universe whose initial parameters were precisely fine tuned.

      " A disembodied all powerful mind violates Occam's razor to an obscene degree."

      Does it really? It seems to match the minimal requirements for existence.

    • Titen-Sxull profile image
      Author

      Titen-Sxull 2 years ago from back in the lab again

      "That is to say, you're conflating Antichristendom with genuine Christianity:"

      You are committing a No True Scotsman fallacy. You may see the ancients who committed atrocities as counterfeits, you might see the harmful religious people of today as counterfeits, but they believe they are/were sincere and were/are clearly motivated by religious convictions.

    • Joseph O Polanco profile image

      Joseph O Polanco 2 years ago

      "We could also talk about the psychology of belief and the odd paradox that after the relatively peaceful teachings of Jesus his followers went on to be monsters and tyrants in his name (after the Romans took over the faith) and God did nothing to correct the course of Christianity."

      What you've done is no different than claiming counterfeit money is no different than genuine legal tender. That is to say, you're conflating Antichristendom with genuine Christianity:

      “They refuse any form of violence and without rebelling put up with the many trials inflicted on them because of their beliefs . . . How different the world would be if we all woke up one morning firmly decided not to take up arms again, whatever the cost or the reason, just like Jehovah’s Witnesses!” - “Andare Alle Genti”

      “[Jehovah’s Witnesses are] well known as very nice, kind, and meek people who are very easy to deal with, never put any pressure on other people and always seek peace in their relationship with others . . . There are no bribe-takers, drunkards or drug addicts among them, and the reason is very simple: They just try to be guided by their Bible-based convictions in everything they do or say. If all the people in the world at least tried to live according to the Bible the way Jehovah’s Witnesses do, our cruel world would be absolutely different.” - The Moscow Times

      “I am not a Witness. But I am a witness to the fact that the Witnesses witness to efficiency and proper behaviour. . . . If they were the only people in the world, we would not at night have to bolt our doors shut and put on the burglar alarm.” - Journal de Montréal in Canada

      “If all the religious denominations were like Jehovah’s witnesses, we would have no murders, burglaries, delinquencies, prisoners and atomic bombs. Doors would not be locked day in and day out.” - Dr. Nnamdi Azikiwe, Former Governor-General of Nigeria

      “I have come to the conclusion that if Jehovah’s Witnesses were the only ones living on the earth, wars would cease to exist, and the only duties of the policemen would be to control traffic and to issue passports.” - “Gyűrű”

      “Suffice it to say that if all the world lived by the creed of the Jehovah Witnesses there would be an end of bloodshed and hatred, and love would reign as king!”- “The Sacramento Union”

      “The work of Jehovah’s Witnesses is the revival and re-establishment of the primitive Christianity practised by Jesus and his disciples . . . All are brothers.” - “The Encyclopedia Canadiana”