One of the difficulties or challenges atheists have noted is how to explain the beginning of the universe. Whereas other systems of belief seem to account for this far more easily because their worldviews allow for a creator, atheism claims no creator exists and therefore cannot be responsible for creating the universe. However, cosmologists are well aware that the finite universe begun to exist at some point in the past, which leaves atheists having to explain what, in their own view, is an uncomfortable fact of reality.
Both philosophical and scientific reasoning seems to strongly suggest a finite beginning to the universe. Philosophical reasoning shows that it is not possible to have an infinite regress of past events, and this coupled with persuasive scientific evidence from cosmic expansion and the second law of thermodynamics demonstrates why big bang cosmology is the accepted scientific model today. The big bang is responsible for bring all things into existence, as cosmologist Paul Davies has noted,
“the big bang represents the creation event; the creation not only of all the matter and energy in the universe, but also of spacetime itself” (1).
The late scientist Stephen Hawking agreed that “almost everyone now believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the big bang” (2).
How have atheists attempted to explain this? One means of explanation is to believe that the universe never had a beginning but that it has rather existed eternally. According to some contemporary atheists, “Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created” (3). However, as many world argue, this view is problematic philosophically and scientifically. The majority of scientific experts do not accept an eternal universe because no such evidence in its favour has proven convincing to cosmologists. One commentator, Robin Schumacher, thus notes “atheism’s struggle,” which is “to explain how the universe is eternal when all scientific discovery shows it had a beginning” (4).
Atheists have probed at other explanations. Lewis Wolpert, for example, concedes that,
“there’s the whole problem of where the universe itself came from… How did that all happen? I haven’t got a clue” (5).
Many atheists are content with this view because it assists them in escaping the difficulty of having to explain a beginning to the universe by pushing the question into the background. It essentially puts a question that is rather uncomfortable out of view. Hawking himself explained that “Many people do not like the idea that time has a beginning, probably because it smacks of divine intervention” (6).
Many would agree with Hawking that because time (and the physical universe) had a beginning it requires an explanation, and that attempts to explain it will put one (perhaps uncomfortably) at the foot of a divine creator. Critics of atheism have also contended that to adopt a view such as Wolpert’s is to be intellectually lazy. The argument is that it simply refuses to adopt a position and explain how a specific position sits with one’s atheism. It’s far easier to sweep a difficulty under the rug, so to speak, than have to grapple with it.
However, some have tried to provide explanations which would allow for them to still be atheists, many of which have come under some serious criticism. The philosopher Daniel Dennett agrees that the universe had a beginning as well as a cause, but he argues that the cause of the universe is the universe itself (7). It’s not difficult to point out the problem with this explanation for it seems to say that the universe had to already exist in order to bring itself into existence. As such, it would have to exist before it existed, which doesn’t make sense. Further, if it already existed (which one could argue begs the question) then why would it have to create itself?
Many atheists tend to argue that the universe came into being from nothing, a view which has too reaped some criticism. The critic argues that things that do not exist themselvf cannot bring any other things into existence. Neither can a thing that does not exist bring itself into existence. A thing which does not exist has no creative power nor the essential properties to bring anything into existence. Philosopher William Lane Craig wryly criticizes the idea saying,
“suppose something could come into being from nothing. If that were the case then it is inexplicable why just anything and everything doesn’t pop into being out of nothing. But no-one here tonight is worried that while you’re listening to this debate a horse may have popped into being uncaused out of nothing in your living room, and is there defiling the carpet right now as we speak” (8)
Craig then compares this explanation to magic, suggesting that magic would actually be a superior explanation,
“To suggest that things could just pop into being uncaused out of nothing is literally worse than magic. It is to quit doing serious philosophy and appeal to magic… when the magician pulls a rabbit out of the hat, at least you have the magician” (9).
The late Stephen Hawking proposed the idea that the origin of the universe is explainable by the law of gravity. In the conclusion to his book he writes that,
“Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing” (10).
Critics, despite their respect for Hawking as a scientist, have criticized his views. They argue that natural laws are by definition descriptive in the way that they describe nature and how the physical world functions. However, they are powerless to bring anything into existence. Professor and philosopher of science John Lennox explains that “Laws themselves do not create anything, they are merely a description of what happens under certain conditions” (11).
An additional problem critics have noted with Hawking’s explanation is that it already assumes that something exists, namely gravity. As such, the explanation begs the question. When Hawking says “the universe can and will create itself from nothing” he doesn’t actually mean nothing in the sense of no thing which is the complete absence of space, time and matter. Instead according to him gravity already exists, and because gravity exists the universe can be brought into existence. As a result, Hawking hasn’t actually explained how the universe can come into existence from nothing.
Cosmologist Lawrence Krauss seems to commit the same error. According to Krauss not only can something arise out of nothing, but something will always arise out of nothing because physics tells us that nothingness is inherently unstable. The issue present here, an opponent of Krauss’s would note, is that he is no longer talking about nothing (in the sense of the absence of space, time, and matter) if characteristics such as “unstable” (or, in other cases, green, wide, or slow) are ascribed to it. True nothingness can have no ascribable characteristics, and thus Krauss hasn’t explained how space and time came from nothing, although he uses the word “nothing” in a fairly dishonest way.
A final explanation, somewhat more popular of late, is what one might term the quantum fluctuation hypothesis, which has been proposed by Peter Atkins. According to Atkins the quantum fluctuation hypothesis allows for space-time to generate “its own dust in the process of its own self-assembly” (12). As critics have responded, quantum fluctuation is not nothing in the absolute sense. Rather, it is a balanced array of fundamental forces with particular fluctuations occurring within this array. It also presupposes an existent space-time in which fluctuations can occur. Philosopher Keith Ward respond to the quantum fluctuation hypothesis,
“If time brought points into being, time must already have existed before the points. And if the points brought time into being, they must have existed before time. But to say that two things have each existed before the other is a simple contradiction. Since contradictions convey absolutely no information, the cosmic bootstrap turns out to be vacuous. Far from being an ultimate explanation, it says nothing at all” (13)
These primarily atheistic explanations for the beginning to the universe seeking to explain how it came into being are routinely and frequently employed by atheists today. Although credit is due to for attempting to explain a beginning to the universe on an atheistic worldview critics have noted how such explanations remain problematic on many fronts.
1. Davies, P. “Spacetime Singularities in Cosmology,” in The Study of Time III.
2. Hawking, S. 1996. The Nature of Space and Time. p. 20.
3. Humanist Manifesto I.
4. Schumacher, R. An Examination of Atheism’s Truth Claims.
5. Wolpert, L. 2007. The Hard Cell. p. 18.
6. Hawking, S. 1988. Brief History of Time. p. 46.
7. Dennett, D. 2006. Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon. p. 244.
8. YouTube. The Wit of Dr. Craig – Part 7 “A random horse from nowhere defiling your carpet.”
9. Craig, W. 2010. The Best of the Kalam Cosmological Argument. .
10. Hawking, S. The Grand Design. p. 180.
11. Lennox, J. 2010. As a scientist I’m certain Stephen Hawking is wrong. You can’t explain the universe without God.
12. Atkins, P. 1992. Creation Revisited. p. 143
13. Ward, K. 1996. God, Chance and Necessity. p. 49.
You really need to stay in your own sphere of expertise, as your arguments clearly demonstrate that you’re in over your head on this topic.
1) re: “Atheists, however, have traditionally believed that the universe never had a beginning but that it has existed eternally”. I guess that’s true if, by “traditionally” you mean centuries ago. Atheists have accepted the big bang theory for nearly 100 years. So atheism isn’t struggling to “explain how the universe is eternal when all scientific discovery shows it had a beginning”
2) You erroneously paint the origin of the universe as an atheist problem. It’s not – it’s a Physics problem. And science continues to work that problem, but you know what? It’s a hard problem. Give them some time. There are countless phenomena that science didn’t understand – until they did. Your whole argument is essentially a “god of the gaps” one. And if history is any predictor of the future, the number and sizes of the gaps that theists can attribute to their god(s) will continue to shrink day-by-day.
3) The Kalam Cosmological argument is fundamentally flawed, and has been thoroughly rebutted by folks who actually understand cosmology. You can Google it if you like.
4) On a related note, are you seriously debating Physics with Stephen Hawking? The mistake that you and other apologists consistently make is the assumption that the normal laws of causation in classical (i.e. Newtonian) Physics apply in all aspects of the universe. They don’t. They don’t apply in the realm of quantum Physics, and they don’t apply when you’re discussing the boundary conditions that existed at the moment of the big bang.
1 – Yes, and, as i quoted, religious humanists still regard the universe to be eternal. And yes it remains a struggle for atheists to explain.
2 – It is an atheist problem. It is not a physics problem. Science presupposes things exist to work. To look beyond the universe, you must look beyond physics. The beginning of the universe is a philosophical question, and one that is problematic for atheism
3 – I supposes I will just have to trust you…
4 – It is not a matter of academic status. You still have a problem of a beginning to solve.
I’m confused by your first comment
A) your specific reference to RELIGIOUS humanists. Is there a reason you singled them out? Are you claiming that all religious humanists believe in an eternal universe? Are you suggesting that they are somehow representative of all atheists?
2) The Physicists who have dedicated their lives to studying the universe and its origins will be dismayed to learn that they’ve been wasting their time – that all along, it was just a problem for philosophers to solve. Seriously, though, you should really study some Physics before you make statements like that.
And you continue to make the mistake of conflating science and atheism. Atheists as a group agree that we don’t yet understand why the Big Bang happened. But most of them recognize that this is a problem for science to answer. Atheists are comfortable with the fact that we don’t yet have all the answers, and don’t feel the need to leap to a “God of the gaps” conclusion. Science hasn’t yet explained what causes many diseases. Shall we conclude therefore, that demons are responsible?
4) It absolutely IS a matter of academic status, and it is either naïveté or arrogance or both, to believe otherwise.
Yes, it’s a problem that science would like to solve (just as we’d like to understand the causes for every disease), but as I’ve said before, it’s a really hard problem. Give them some time.
Richard, please stop being disingenuous here. Certainly the Big Bang is a scientific dilemma, but it is equally an atheistic dilemma. The atheistic claim is that there is no God (a=non theist=believer in god) and that all hat is exists through natural forces, whatever that force may be in a given situation (i.e. quantum physics, general relativity, etc.). The Big Bang presents an insurmountable problem to this stance, as Ll physics break down at the instance. There are no natural causes for nature, and to claim there could be for a finite system is begging the question by circular reasoning. This is most certainly an athiest problem. Science merely tells us what is. Athiesm goes further is stating what is not (god of the gaps argument). The two are distinctively separate, though one does attempt (and fails) to follow from the other.
It’s not the least bit disingenuous. You believe it to be so, only because you are trapped in your “God of the Gaps” thinking. The atheist is able to accept the fact that science hasn’t (yet) solved this problem. Hence there is no dilemma. BTW – it’s a hard problem; give them some time. Shall we also throw in the towel on curing any more diseases? After all, if they haven’t cured them by now, it must be impossible, right?
You then make the unsubstantiated claim (and one that is not supported by Physicists) that the Big Bang is an insurmountable problem for science. Are you a Physicist? Have you actually studied any Physics?
Finally, you overgeneralize on atheism, stating that “Athiesm goes further is stating what is not”. While there are some atheists (often referred to as “gnostic atheists”) who assert that there is no god. Most (including myself) fall into the category of “agnostic atheists”, who simply choose not to believe in the existence of god (any god), because there is no objective evidence for one. I likewise choose not to believe in leprechauns for the same reason, although I can’t prove that they don’t exist.
There is no “God of the Gaps thinking” in theism. The “God of the Gaps” rebuttal is an atheistic double fallacy (a straw man and a false dichotomy).
It’s a straw man because it paints theism as the belief in anthropomorphic gods directly controlling the weather or other natural phenomena. It’s a false dichotomy because, after straw-manning theism, it posits that it’s either Zeus (or another such anthropomorphic god) or atheism.
There simply is no God of the Gaps because atheists haven’t closed a single gap. When you replace Zeus with a mathematician God who runs natural phenomena through sophisticated mathematical algorithms, you haven’t closed a gap–you’ve made it wider.
And the irrational idea that the universe does not need a cause because quantum physics does not obey classical principles of causation is as desperate as it sounds. Quantum physics may be stochastic, but it’s not uncaused (see Strassler and other physicists) and STILL requires spacetime, energy, fields, and laws of quantum physics. To believe in a universe can pop into existence uncaused is to believe in magic.
It’s funny farm stuff.
a) Where did I posit theism as “the belief in anthropomorphic gods directly controlling the weather or other natural phenomena”?
b) You make the same error as the previous apologists, in wishing to paint this as an atheist problem (vs. a science one), when you say that “atheists haven’t closed a single gap”. Scientists have closed countless gaps. Theists once (and some still do) attribute earthquakes, the weather diseases, the motions of the sun, the moon, and the planets, the performance of their favorite sports teams, etc. to gods and/or demons. SCIENCE closed those gaps – not atheists. In fact for the cases I noted, the scientists happened to be theists.
c) I don’t even understand your comment that “When you replace Zeus with a mathematician God who runs natural phenomena through sophisticated mathematical algorithms…”. Are you trying to argue that natural laws DON’T exist?
d) Your declaration that “the irrational idea that the universe does not need a cause because quantum physics does not obey classical principles of causation is as desperate as it sounds” is FAR LESS desperate than your god of the gaps solution to the problem. You discuss quantum mechanics of the universe as it is TODAY (when you discuss the requirement for spacetime, energy, etc.). How the hell is that relevant to the behavior of quantum physics at the moment of the big bang? Once again, you make the arrogant assumption that you already know everything that can be known about the Physics of the big bang, and therefore can conclude that it could ONLY have occurred as a result of some external proximate cause.
a) when you say science has closed gaps, you imply that, since science has shown that natural processes are not caused by anthropomorphic gods, then theism is refuted. You are committing the Proving Too Much logical fallacy. Science has not shown that theism is false, only that anthropomorphic polytheism is probably false (scientific proof is a myth)
b) it is an atheist problem. Science has shown natural processes are the product of mathematical algorithms, which point to a mind. For atheism to be true, atheists would have to show that the mathematical and chemical algorithms governing the universe arose through purely unguided processes at every step. Since atheists haven’t even understood the magnitude of the problem, let alone addressed it, their god-of-the-gaps refusal is ludicrous since not a single gap has been closed.
c) Read it again. Perhaps you’ll understand. And when you do, you’ll see that atheism (or science) has closed no gap.
d) quantum physics cannot, in principle, have created spacetime because it depends on spacetime. The name “physics” itself means nature (aka spacetime), hence quantum nature (physics) cannot create nature. Nothing can create itself. That would be magic.
Once again, you have been weighed and found wanting.
a) I implied no such thing. I said science has closed gaps, not that it has closed ALL gaps. And I’ll freely admit that even if all natural phenomena are someday proven to have natural explanations, that still would not disprove the existence of a god. It would only prove that IF there is a god, it is not involved in the routine operation/behavior of the universe.
b) Science has NOT shown that natural processes are the product of mathematical algorithms. Rather it has shown (for everything it has explained thus far) that the behaviors can be described mathematically. Describing and controlling are two entirely different things.
Explaining the order of the universe is not (no matter how many times you say it) an atheist problem. That is the domain of science. PERIOD. To say that not a single gap has been closed is a blatant lie. As I’ve noted previously, gods and demons were once credited/blamed for the weather, disease, earthquakes, the motions of the planets, etc. because mankind once didn’t understand what caused them. Those beliefs absolutely WERE a resort to “god-of-the-gaps”, and those gaps HAVE been closed.
Your biggest problem is obviously that you don’t understand the simple reason many of us are atheists. It’s not complicated. There is ZERO objective evidence for the existence of a god (ANY god). Therefore we choose to disbelieve in such a fantastic being, for the same reason we disbelieve in Santa Claus and Leprechauns.
c) See b.
d) Please provide your Physics credentials.
a) science has closed no gaps. It has only shown that phenomena that some ancient people attributed to direct intervention by anthropomorphic gods are caused by mathematical algorithms (indirect intelligence). No gaps closed. A gap is only closed when a phenomenon can be fully explained through unguided processes at every step.
b) If the behaviors can be described mathematically but aren’t, then our minds see patterns where there are none, and it’s deceiving us, akin to pareidolia. If so, why trust our mind’s conclusions? If the behaviors can be described mathematically because they are indeed mathematical, atheism is doomed since math points to intelligence. Either way, atheism is dismissed.
c) See b.
d) Genetic fallacy on your part.
Once again, your arguments have been weighed and found wanting.
Re “science has closed no gaps. It has only shown that phenomena that some ancient people attributed to direct intervention by anthropomorphic gods are caused by mathematical algorithms (indirect intelligence). No gaps closed.” – You continue to repeat the silly claim that mathematical algorithms drive physical processes. As I said before, mathematics is used to DESCRIBE physical processes. It does not DRIVE the processes anymore than a menu drives a chef in cooking a meal. You’re obviously making that absurd claim because you think it suits your narrative (of somehow leading to the conclusion of an intelligence). Have you actually studied any real science?
Re: “A gap is only closed when a phenomenon can be fully explained through unguided processes at every step.” – And now you’ve lowered the bar even further. You’re now claiming essentially that science knows nothing about a topic unless it knows EVERYTHING about a topic. Your argument would lead to the ridiculous conclusion that since we don’t know EVERYTHING about how gravity works, that we really haven’t closed any gaps as to why things fall to earth, Oof on our understanding of the orbit of the planets and their moons, etc.
Moreover you have apparently missed the enormous irony of one taking that position, while arguing for the existence of a god who we know almost NOTHING about. By your own bizarre “logic”, your “god” hypothesis explains nothing, since there are SO MANY questions about the nature of god, etc. And while you used the qualifier of “unguided”, which was obviously intended to give you a “Get out of jail free” card, I won’t accept that sort of special privilege for theism. We play by the same rules, or not at all. So what’s it going to be? Do both theism and atheism get partial credit for closing gaps or does neither? The ONLY rule that makes any rational sense is that both get partial credit for gaps closed, but regardless of which answer you choose, theism fails miserably by comparison.
Re: “If the behaviors can be described mathematically but aren’t, then our minds see patterns where there are none, and it’s deceiving us, akin to pareidolia. If so, why trust our mind’s conclusions? If the behaviors can be described mathematically because they are indeed mathematical, atheism is doomed since math points to intelligence. Either way, atheism is dismissed.” Your error here is your false claim that mathematics implies intelligence. It does not. All mathematics requires is that things behave in some consistent manner. Physical processes do so, because they are bound by physical laws. Have you actually studied any real science?
d) re : “Genetic fallacy on your part” – I don’t think you understand what a Genetic Fallacy is. But you made unsupported assertions as to details of what Quantum Physics can and cannot do. As such, it’s fair to question whether you are qualified to make such assertions. But better yet, please provide a detailed analysis in support of your claim.
But the fact is, that you can’t do that, because you’re attempting to describe Quantum Physics in a domain (at the instant of the Big Bang), in which we don’t yet know a lot. You’re in relatively uncharted waters, and it’s more than a little presumptuous for you to make declarations like that.
An attempt to weigh your arguments was made, but they were just a lot of hot air.
And again, if natural processes can be described mathematically but aren’t, then our brains are seeing patterns that aren’t there. How can we then trust our mind’s judgments?
In the atheistic worldview, you are already starting out with a brain that evolved over 3.8 billion years of asexual and sexual incest. https://www.livescience.com/2226-incest-taboo-nature.html
That’s strike one.
Then the same brain evolved for survival, not truth. https://www.quora.com/Is-atheism-somewhat-irrational/answer/Francesco-Scinico-1
That’s strike two.
If then the brain sees mathematical patterns where there are none, it’s three strikes, and it’s out.
As for the gaps, no, I did not say science does not know anything about a topic unless it knows everything about that topic. That’s not even close to what I said. The reason you misunderstood what I said may be related to the three strikes above against the reliability of your brain.
What I did actually say is that some ancient people–but not all and not all the time; see the Hebrews–attributed unexplained natural phenomena to the direct action of anthropomorphic gods. Those were gaps. Scientists (overwhelmingly theistic scientists throughout history, I might add) have shown that natural phenomena are better explained through mathematical algorithms (e.g. Earth’s atmosphere is a fluid and its behavior is better described by the Navier-Stokes equations rather than Zeus or Odin acting in fits of fury). Science has most definitely not shown that such phenomena arose through purely unguided processes (which would themselves require an explanation), and some of these natural properties did not even have the time to arise through unguided means since they were operational at the time of the Big Bang (chemical, physical parameters/laws and physical constants). They literally had no time to “evolve” or “emerge” since the Big Bang marks the very beginning of spacetime.
This is why science has closed no gaps. A gap (natural phenomenon attributed to the action of a god or intelligent being) is only closed (for an atheist) when that natural phenomenon is fully explained through purely unguided processes, where intelligence is not involved at any stage of the process. If you replace Zeus with a mathematical intelligence (see Tegmark’s and Livio’s books about our mathematical universe), you have closed no gap. You’ve only replaced one type of intelligence with another. And the Hebrews had already told you this over 3000 years ago.
Science has closed no gaps. Saying it has only confirms your Proving Too Much fallacy.
Theistic scientists have known this all along. They gave us methodological naturalism, the search for natural causes to natural events within this universe, advanced by theistic scientists like Kepler, Galileo, Descartes, Pascal, Leibniz, Newton, Linnaeus, Faraday, Mendel, Pasteur, et al., in order to elevate God above the muck of nature.
Your point about the irony of us knowing almost nothing about God is, of course, completely irrelevant. We need not know everything, or even much, about the entity that created our universe in order for us to know that our universe is the product of intelligence. That is utterly ridiculous. In fact, we don’t do that when we hypothesize the multiverse, the eternal universe, or the bouncy universe. Atheists only do that when it comes to intelligent creation as a cop-out, and only because they are irrationally biased against it and they start raising all kinds of ill-applied objections to it.
And yes, mathematics does require intelligence. If you beg to differ, please show how rocks solve mathematical equations. Your claim that “physical processes behave in some consistent manner because they are bound by physical laws” is meaningless. I thought you atheists believed that the laws of nature are merely descriptive, not prescriptive? If the laws are merely descriptive (and they are), how can they **make** things behave in a consistent manner? They can’t. They are just descriptors. So, what does? What actually **does make** the 10^82 atoms in the universe do what they do in real time? Since the laws are merely descriptive? Have you thought about that?
Again, quantum physics cannot create spacetime because it presupposes spacetime. That’s why it’s called physics (Greek for “nature”). It can’t create nature since it’s part of nature. Saying QM can create the universe is Krauss’s argument in his hyper-silly book A Universe from Nothing, which has been mocked–and rightly so–even by his fellow atheists. See David Albert’s mocking review in the New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/25/books/review/a-universe-from-nothing-by-lawrence-m-krauss.html
In conclusion, our universe either exists necessarily or contingently. IF contingently, it’s either the product of chance or design. Considering that even atheist or agnostic thinkers recognize the appearance of design in our universe (https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2007/jun/26/spaceexploration.comment), design is most definitely a valid hypothesis for the origin of the universe.
To say otherwise, it’s a sign of an irrational ignoramus committing a textbook example of a confirmation bias fallacy.
Please explain your “if natural processes can be described mathematically by aren’t”. Aren’t what?
How is evolution over 3.8 billion years a strike? Bad call, ump.
To say that the brain evolved for survival, not truth makes the flawed assumption that knowledge (of truth) doesn’t facilitate survival. That simply doesn’t make sense. ANOTHER bad call!
There’s no question that the human brain is very good at finding patterns, and that almost certainly has an evolutionary benefit. That it does so even where no true pattern exists, does not negate the overall benefit. AND YET ANOTHER bad call!
As for your remarks on the reliability of my brain – are you capable of having a civil and respectful conversation? If not, we’re done.
Why do you believe that natural laws and physical parameters needed to evolve?
And you follow by making references to. “Mathematical Intelligence “. Why are you ascribing intelligence to mathematics. Mathematics exists independently of any intelligence. (1+1=2, whether or not any species is aware of that fact). And some direct evidence that mathematics is universal, lies in the fact that in spite of numerous cultural differences around the world, mathematics is common. The various mathematical operators, and functions, how they operate, etc is consistent worldwide. If mathematics was just a product of intelligence (like language), that wouldn’t be the case.
So based on the flaws in your assumptions, your conclusions are worthless.
I didn’t say the laws are descriptive. You kept referring to mathematical algorithms. I said that THOSE were descriptive of the laws, and the natural processes. I’m not aware of any scientists who believe that natural laws are merely descriptive.
You still haven’t presented any substantive support for your claims about Quantum Physics. Poking fun at the work of a single theoretical Physicist proves nothing.
As for your closing remarks, I’ve already said that I can’t rule out the possibility of some creator as a first cause for the Big Bang. But, given that there is zero objective evidence for a god (ANY god) that hypothesis is no more useful than one which claimed the Big Bang is just the result of a cosmic tortoise farting, some 14 billion years ago. What experiments do you have planned, to provide supporting evidence for your hypothesis?
It always amuses me when atheists such as yourself love to tear completely logical statements apart and, having no credible arguments, answers or rational explanations of your own, seek to replace them with absolutely nothing of any consequence at all!
Odd that you should express such amusement, while offering not even the slightest real rebuttal. You claim that I have no credible arguments, yet you are either unwilling or unable to provide a counterargument.
Easy. The rebuttals and counterarguments are already set out quite plainly in James’ excellent article above – no need to add anything.
No, they are not. He made arguments, I posted rebuttals. Any debater, when faced with a counter-argument, will NOT just repeat himself, which is effectively what you are doing as an attempted proxy for James. A six year old child would do that, but an adult will only do that if they have no meaningful response.
Your meaningless “rebuttals” are not worthy of a response.
In other words, you’ve got nothing.
I love your responses Richard, you singlehandedly tackled all of them and gave them rational counterarguments for atheism. They forget that atheism isn’t a worldview, it is simply lacking a belief in a deity, as such it is the null hypothesis, reject all claims until enough evidence has been provided. Agnostic atheists do not claim that there are not gods (that’s the gnostic atheists) and the burden of proof is on religion to give us evidence that god exists since they’re making the claim that he does.
My above comment was directed at Richard Prendergast, not James!
Seriously Richard, you are the one that shows dire ignorance of how science and rational thought works. Dr. Craig has a very long article with over 50 academic references showing how solid and irrefutable the KCA actually is (as well as a series of ~50 lectures refuting every one of the scientifically ignorant fallacies of atheists that would tear other fields of science apart if they were applied consistently):
1) Atheism in the past depend on the claim of the eternal universe and claimed it was a rational justification of this. Science falsified this calim as well as many others of ancient atheism. Rationally, atheism should have been abandoned just like spontaneous generation was when its major claim was falsified. What atheists have done in recent times is just shifting goal posts and reversing their claims and trying to pervert a universe with a beginning into somehow supporting atheism when it absolutely cannot. Why? Because in 100% of cases where something has a beginning and we know it’s origin, there was a creator of some kind. Thus the only valid inference that can be made if we show the universe had a beginning is that it too had a Creator.
2) The origin of the universe IS a HUGE atheist problem and it’s precisely because of this that some atheist scientists rejected it for decades, using every excuse imaginable. Materialist claims are the most refuted, debunked and falsified claims in the entire history of science. The more time is given, the more they are refuted, Eternal universe, spontaneous generation, vestigial organs, dozens of versions of universal common descent have all been debunked by science and abandoned by EVERYONE and so many other claims of materialism have followed this pattern of having a short heyday and then being debunked by science
There is no God of the gaps in the KCA. It’s a solid scientific inference. I have taught the philosophy of science to university students, so I know something about this area. Atheism has a materialism of the gaps problem..that continually gets refuted by science with time and the gaps keep getting bigger and bigger for atheism.
3) The Kalam Cosmological argument is fundamentally flawed.
No it isn’t. It never has been. It’s only lied about by really ignorant people or liars. Take your pick.
4) Do you know the history of science..or even about Hawking? No scientist is infallible and Hawking has reversed himself from time to time. Almost every step forward in science went against famous respected thinkers in science.
You are simply wrong about the origin of the universe. Even atheist scientists like Vilenkin agree that all the evidence we have points to a universe with a beginning. And you can’t just willy nilly ignore the foundational principles and practices of science because of your preconceived and predetermined notions of materialism. Doing such shows that you like all atheists willfully pursue ignorance and science denial instead of scientific facts.
Dr. Craig has lectured extensively on relativity by the way. He’s wayyyyy more informed than you are about it (and more informed than I am too since I regretfully was not able to take a class in physics in school due to my family moving and schools not having the same schedules and other reasons).
Basically, the notions of atheism are ALL based on the science denying a priori fallacy of methodological naturalism that predetermines that all answers must be materialistic and sets aside science willy nilly whenever it’s problematic for atheism. I’ve seen this done literally 1000s of times with my own eyes.
Bryan – so you’ve taught the Philosophy of Science. Lemme guess – it’s at a Christian University. And I’m also willing to bet that you have little or no science education – just like Dr Craig. You noted that you’ve never studied Physics, yet you pretend to understand Physics better than Hawking. The two of you have the gall to lecture scientists on the nature and philosophy of science. The fact that either of you considers yourself to be qualified to lecture on anything related to science is a testimony only to your foolish arrogance. That foolishness is also evident when you make the positively silly claim that scientists set aside science willy-nilly, and that they deny science. What you claim to have seen 1000’s of times with your own eyes is just evidence of your own failings -to understand and/or accept the science.
You refer to “scientifically ignorant fallacies of atheists that would tear other fields of science apart if they were applied consistently”. Again, you’re only showing your ignorance. Craig, a non-scientist (actually anti-science) claims to know more about all those fields of science, than do the many thousands of people who have devoted their lives to their study, and who have a proven track record (based on many decades of enormous scientific and technological progress). He is an arrogant fool for making such claims, and you are a fool for believing them.
And your claims as to the supposed failure of materialism are also unequivocally false.
A) whether the universe is eternal or finite has no bearing on materialism. You leap to your “God of the gaps” conclusion for the same reason that your ancestors believed that the motion of the planets was divinely controlled, and that diseases were the work of demons. Materialism disproved both of those quaint notions. The fact that science hasn’t yet answered the question as to why the Big Bang happened, doesn’t mean it had supernatural causes. It’s just because it’s a hard problem. Give them some time.
B) the only people who have abandoned the acceptance of common descent (and the existence of vestigial organs) are extremist Christian science deniers, such as yourself and Craig. So I’m trying to figure out whether you made your claims out of ignorance, or if you are willfully lying.
I already noted the fatal flaw with Kalam (that you’ve chosen to repeat yet again), which is the erroneous assumption that Newtonian Physics and classical notions of causality applied at the moment of the Big Bang. If you had studied Physics, you’d understand this. I get why Creationists are so in love with Kalam. It sounds compelling to the uneducated mind.
Atheism depends on one thing, and one thing only – the fact that there is precisely zero objective evidence for the existence of God (any God).
You want to reject all of modern science – fine. Pack up your computer, refrain from using any modern modes of travel, forego any and all medical treatment, etc., since none of those things would exist, were it not for the science you reject. Stick to spreading your propaganda and your mythology to your gullible students, and you can all be blissfully happy in your ignorance.
“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.” – Confucius
Craig “anti-science”? Why? Because he doesn’t agree with your unscientific atheism? I love the way materialists think they are the only one’s who “understand” science.
No, it’s actually people who have studied science that understand science. Craig has not. You apparently have not. I love the way Christian apologists think they know more about science than those who have spent their lifetimes studying it.
If “science” is right in that we are simply the product of mindless, unguided, randomly-produced natural processes, over many millions of years, then it has given us strong reason to doubt the reliability of human cognitive faculties and therefore inevitably to cast doubt on the validity of any belief, or so-called “truth”, that it may produce – including it’s own inbred atheism.
Similarly, modern humanism is the faith that through science alone humankind can know the “truth” and so be “free”. But if the evolutionists’ theory of random mutation and natural selection is true this is impossible. The human mind is simply the product of, and merely serves, evolutionary success – not truth.
Atheism, together with neo-Darwinian evolution, ultimately undermines the validity of the very rationality and logical reasoning that is needed not only for science but for any thinking whatsoever.
You make the classic error of describing evolution as a purely random process. Mutations are random, but Natural Selection is NOT. Natural selection depends on the competitive advantage provided by certain traits, and a competitive disadvantage to others. So your argument suggests that there is no competitive advantage to having an ability to separate fact from fiction. Such an argument is just plain silly on its face.
Of course there is an advantage by having the ability to separate fact from fiction – but what has that to do with natural selection? Are you suggesting it has a “mind” and the ability to “choose”?
Regarding random mutations, these have never been proved in the lab to produce anything at all beneficial.to an organism, and inevitably simply result in impairment,deformity or death.
Glad to note you did not disagree with my comment that according to Darwinian doctrine the human mind is simply the product of, and merely serves, evolutionary success – not truth.
Your question “but what has that to do with natural selection?” really just demonstrates your lack of understanding of natural selection. No I’m not suggesting that natural selection has a mind, or in any conscious sense, an ability to choose. Natural selection (as the name implies) DOES result in the selection of favorable traits over unfavorable traits. Simply put, one with a favorable trait has a better chance at surviving and reproducing, than one without that trait. The one that survives will propagate that trait to its offspring, spreading it (in time) throughout the population, as natural selection continues to offer that same advantage.
As for your claim that random mutations “have never been proved in the lab to produce anything at all beneficial.to an organism, and inevitably simply result in impairment,deformity or death”, I’m not sure why you singled out “the lab”. Mutations happen in the real world, and the lab is really not the best place to evaluate whether mutations are helpful or harmful to survival. But countless mutations have been shown to be beneficial in the domain of plant and animal breeding (which is really the science of artificial selection). Some random mutations make a crop more hardy, or improve the flavor or yield, etc. They may result in a rose with a particularly appealing color. Likewise with animals, they may make a chicken bigger, a horse faster, or a better dog (for whatever purpose the the dog is being bred). When the breeders recognize a desirable variation in their population, they selectively breed that individual. So whereas natural selection improves that individual’s odds, artificial selection improves its odds of passing on the trait to a near-certainty.
On your final note – I want to be careful of semantics (especially when you’re paraphrasing me). Yes, according to the theory of Natural Selection (i.e. “Darwinian doctrine”), the human mind is the product of evolution, and therefore serves the goal of evolutionary success. But to say that it doesn’t serve truth, could be interpreted in multiple ways. Are you trying to imply that the effects (the ability to discern truth) are not real benefits? If so, I strongly disagree. A simple analogy is that of birds’ wings. Darwinian theory would argue that the development and evolution of those wings gave birds a competitive advantage, but no rational person would argue that the wings don’t “serve” the ability to fly.
So if you’re simply using the word “serve” in the context of achieving objectives, I would agree that there is no evolutionary objective for truth, any more than there is an evolutionary objective for flight. However, the ability to fly has been proven to be a useful adaptation in a wide variety of mammals, insects, and of course birds (as well as dinosaurs). Likewise, the human brain has proven to be a useful adaptation – including its ability to distinguish fact from fiction.
Only your very last statement is worthy of a response – the brain’s “ability to distinguish fact from fiction”. Would you care to explain how this remarkable ability, that requires an intelligent conscious “mind” capable of rational thought and logical reasoning, could possibly have just blindly “evolved” from purely material chemical substances and unguided processes? (And don’t just say “given enough time anything can happen” – that won’t work!)
Sure. Nearly every animal has a brain. Some brains are bigger than others. A bigger brain is useful for all sorts of things, such as solving problems (e.g. how do I reach that food, etc.). Therefore a larger brain can be an evolutionary advantage. Therefore individuals with larger brains may have a greater chance at survival/reproduction than those with smaller brains. At some point, the larger brain enabled the initial use of tools (another evolutionary advantage). And this further favored those with larger, more sophisticated brains, as did the advent of more complex communications, etc.
You miss my point. Of course most creatures have a brain. My question concerns consciousness, intelligent thought processes, and logical reasoning. How do you explain these faculties in the light of a purely material, physical brain – are “you” just your brain (with no free will of your own) or do “you”, and your mind, actually exist apart from your brain and can therefore use it to freely decide on your actions and control your behaviour? How is it that you are conscious of your own “self”, and your surroundings, when all the substances that your body consists of are just mindless chemical molecules?
The short answer is that there’s no evidence that the mind exists apart from the brain. One only needs to look at the wide variety of brain diseases, defects, and injuries that impair mental functioning. To presume that the mind of someone who has severe brain damage, for example, is somehow still intact (in spite of the obvious measurable loss in functioning), simply defies all logic.
As for how consciousness works, well that’s obviously a hard problem, and is still being studied.
Lol. You know absolutely nothing about me whatsoever, yet you judge me according to your own narrow definitions. In fact, you have just confirmed what I said; materialists do think they are the only ones who understand science. Have you spent your lifetime studying science, Richard? What branch of scientific discovery are you engaged in? Not asking to be facetious, just genuinely curious.
Glad you got a kick out of my reply. No, I have not spent my life studying science, but I have enormous respect for those who do.
In my case, I have a B.S. In Physics, and an M.S. in Engineering. You implied that my conclusion about you was false, while not bothering to provide any information as to your own scientific credentials.
Richard, “Craig is anti-science, fool, etc…”
Ad hominem fallacy
A. There is no God of the Gaps. See my other comment. We haven’t closed a single gap. You’ve only closed a gap when you can show how the mathematical algorithms that control the behavior of natural phenomena (e.g. how the algorithm controlling the weather, as described by the Navier-Stokes equations) arose through purely unintelligent processes.
B. Darwinian common descent from LUCA is possibly the most ridiculous idea in the history of mankind after the idea that God does not exist. And Darwinian common descent presupposes abiogenesis (unexplained), genetic code (unexplained), universe (unexplained), fine-tuning (unexplained) and laws of nature (unexplained). We have an utterly ridiculous idea hanging on completely unexplained scaffolding.
The contemptuous attitude of an utterly irrational atheist making fun of theists for defending the rational principle of causation while proposing magic as an alternative (universe popped into existence uncaused) is laughable. It is you who should stop using your computer since it may disappear and reappear at any moment without any explanation.
A. Yeah, I’ve already responded to your denial from your other post.
B. Sorry you find science to be ridiculous. You should study some real science (not from AIG).
Evolution doesn’t presuppose abiogenesis. Evolution is silent on how life originated on Earth. That’s a different problem. Hell – maybe a creator DID cause the big bang, ultimately resulting in a trillion-trillion stars in the universe, and THEN created a single-celled life form on just one tiny planet in this vast cosmos. I’m not betting on that, though… for starters, nobody has EVER produced an iota of objective evidence for the existence of god (ANY god).
Genetic code: Not sure of your point there. If you’re talking about how it originated, that’s just a rehash of the question of how life originated.
Fine-tuning: that’s a B.S. argument invented by creationists. It’s been rebutted many times. Here’s one example: http://www.strongatheism.net/library/against/problems_of_fine_tuning/
Laws of Nature (unexplained) is one of the silliest creationist arguments ever. They argue that since we don’t understand why the laws of nature are what they are, that this somehow is a major problem for a naturalistic explanation of the universe. Their solution – God of the gaps. But they don’t bother to explain how this god came to exist, why it exists, why it is the way it is, why it created the universe, etc. Christian theologians don’t even agree with each other on the nature of their god, let alone with all the others who worship some 5000 gods around the world.
So the only significant “unexplained scaffolding” really is “what caused the big bang”, and “how did life originate on Earth”. As I’ve noted, these are hard problems. History is full of examples of natural phenomena that were not understood… until one day they were.
I’ll ignore your final ranting paragraph, as it added nothing to the debate.
I’m always amused when an atheist dismisses the actual origin of life as if it had NOTHING to do with evolution itself. It has EVERYTHING to do with it, as the “creator” of the very first viable lifeform must have instigated the complex mechanics of the whole “evolutionary process”, incorporated the original DNA code, and also installed the remarkable ability for it to replicate itself, otherwise it would have soon ceased to exist and so-called “evolution” would have been impossible.
Surely even an atheist can understand that, even if the identity, nature or origin of the actual “creator” is disputed.
Hi, though I have just come across this website and post randomly, I just read this entire argument, and I fully support what Richard is saying above. Though I haven’t responded before, I had to at least reply to this last comment. The actual origin of life does not have to do with evolution itself, so your argument here does not seem to make any sense. Evolution is the process of development and diversification of early lifeforms to current living organisms. Knowing what the “creator” is will not change the process of evolution. And who says that the first viable lifeform had to have all of the first molecules and building blocks for DNA and replication? In the early beginnings of the Earth, science has theorized that the early toxic environment and the primordial compounds within that environment gave rise to the first simple chemical reactions that produced biomolecules – essential for DNA to replicate, and therefore the “evolutionary process” as a whole. What I’m trying to get at here is that science is still unsure of what the first lifeform is, though is gaining more proof/evidence on the origins of the universe and the development of DNA, but from the earliest microogranisms that we know of, evolution definitely exists and happens – the first viable lifeform is not needed to prove that, and while the firs
When you propose an account of reality (atheism), you need to provide a plausible account for everything without intelligence at any stage.
You need to provide a rational, scientifically plausible account for unintelligent processes to build a universe immediately governed by precise laws, a base-4 digital genetic code that can compile life forms from inorganic matter, abiogenesis, reproduction, life diversification consciousness.
If the account of reality cannot provide a comprehensive, rationally coherent, plausible account of all the above, it is dismissed.
Atheism cannot provide any of that, and moreover, it’s logically self-refuting. Therefore, it is dismissed.
Re: “When you propose an account of reality (atheism), you need to provide a plausible account for everything without intelligence at any stage.”…
There you go again. Sorry, but but that’s just not how science (or ANY domain of knowledge) works. I called you on this once before, on
a) Your implication that we know nothing until we know everything. You denied that you were arguing that, but the implication of your position is undeniable.
b) Your granting of special dispensation for Creationism, of NOT needing to have all the answers (unlike your made-up rules for science).
The fact is, that in EVERY domain of knowledge, we learn things bit-by-bit. And a failure to have a complete answer does not invalidate the knowledge that is attained at every stage.
Have you actually studied any real science?
The problem is not science. It’s atheism.
Science has shown that certain phenomena that some or most ancient people attributed to the direct agency of anthropomorphic gods can be explained through mathematical, chemical, or physical algorithms. Science builds workable models based on the interpretation of the evidence.
Science does not (and cannot) prove that such models are true (i.e. scientific proof is a myth: https://www.forbes.com/sites/startswithabang/2017/11/22/scientific-proof-is-a-myth/). Certain explanations are chosen over others because they explain the data more simply, or more elegantly than others.
Science, by definition, cannot even prove whether our universe is the product of intelligence or not because science can only study our spacetime and its laws. Thus when atheists ask for scientific proof of the existence of God, they commit a triple mistake:
1. a category mistake (science cannot study what’s beyond spacetime);
2. request for proof when science cannot provide any
3. fallacy of scientism (scientific evidence is the only acceptable type of evidence, which is self-refuting)
Having established what science can and cannot do, we can then show that the problem is not with science or with having all the answers. The problem is with the atheistic claim that there is no evidence for intelligence behind our universe and all in it, when the evidence (but not proof) is, in fact, undeniable, from the exquisite precision of the initial expansion of the universe, to its governing mathematical, chemical, physical laws and constants to the supremely sophisticated base-4 digital genetic code (which is literally code, it’s not just an analogy). All the evidence from science, from logic, from philosophy, from reason, points to intelligence behind our universe.
When an atheist denies the existence of such creative intelligence, the problem is not science. It’s the atheist’s model, the atheist’s account of reality.
While you’re correct that science doesn’t prove theories in an absolute sense, many theories have been so successfully tested, for so long, that they are considered to be proven for all intents and purposes. Evolution is viewed as a fact (within all relevant branches of science), for example, even though we’re still learning about the mechanisms of evolution.
And your claims that atheists err when asking for proof of a god, are being far too strict. I for one, normally don’t ask for PROOF of a god. I ask for a substantial body of objective evidence. Neither you nor any other theist has ever offered an ounce of objective evidence. So I am an atheist, not because I’m convinced that there’s no god, but rather because I’ve seen no objective evidence for one, let alone compelling evidence. So for the same reason that I choose to disbelieve in Santa Claus, I choose to disbelieve in gods.
And to be fair, it’s commonly the theists who demand that atheists prove that there is NO god. Apparently you’re ok with those demands, even though the burden of proof should always lie with those who make the claims. If someone claimed that there really IS a Santa Claus, no rational adult would accept a demand to prove them wrong. Instead, we would all expect the Santa believer to provide compelling evidence in support of his belief.
So hopefully we can move off your fixation on the proof vs. evidence issue,
So you then make the false assertion that the evidence for god is undeniable. But EVERY ONE of your listed examples is a collossal failure in that regard. None of them require a god. They just require a few natural laws and basic forces. Though In one case, (“the exquisite precision of the initial expansion of the universe”), I can’t say that I even understand what you’re talking about. In what way was that cosmic explosion precise?
Have you actually studied any real science?
Why do you call atheism an “account of reality”? Disregarding that, how can you ask for a plausible account at every single stage? Science doesn’t know the answer to everything, its still figuring out. As I said earlier, there are the beginnings of proof to the creation of DNA, but it is still in the process of finding more evidence and being proven. The evidence so far does suggest a rational, scientifically plausible account, because science is being used to prove it! DNA, or the genetic code, did not randomly just create life forms from inorganic matter – it was a long process for life to form, one that is only starting to be understood by the scientific community. How can you expect an entire, detailed account of how everything occurred right away? It is ridiculous to ask that. In ancient times, people didn’t have scientific accounts for everything that happened, yet science proved concepts over time that were alien to those ancient people. Like them, the reason you believe in God seems to be that since you don’t know everything in the world, you just chalk it all up to God’s work. You say that my “account of reality” does not have a “rationally coherent” account and as such is dismissed. Is your belief in God “rationally coherent” or even make logical sense with absolutely no evidence? I say this not to mock your belief in God, but show that it is blind faith, and as such has no logic involved. Atheism is in no way logically self-refuting. For some reason, you seem to constantly conflate science and atheism, and confusingly call it an account of reality. Atheism is simply lack of belief in God. God has neither been proven nor disproven, nor can it ever be because there is no actual proof of it – that is the logic of atheism. Another thing, why do you think that the genetic code is “digital”? I was extremely confused by that statement because it doesn’t make any sense – i have never heard of a digital DNA, and I am wondering if you know how the genetic code works? Last thing, the universe is not governed by laws, laws explain how the universe works – it isn’t an unflinching regulation and science, through discovery, formulates new laws to explain further how the world works – which is how the beginning of the universe and its development can be proven over time.
I don’t expect a detailed account of every step. I expect a plausible account.
This universe and everything in it is the product of necessity, chance, or design. Atheists exclude design (which is, by and large, the best explanation of the three); therefore, they must provide plausible evidence of either necessity or chance.
No prominent scientist or philosopher proposes necessity, so it must be chance. Since chance behind the universe, its laws, genetic code, life and all is an extraordinary claim (to say the least), we need extraordinary evidence of how purely unguided processes can create universes and life.
Science doesn’t look for the “best” explanation, as in just because the idea of “design” is appealing doesn’t mean it is correct, and in fact the evidence found so far does suggest chance as the most logical explanation. And you’re right, we do need evidence, evidence very hard to acquire. However, that doesn’t mean that evidence cannot be acquired, which is why I keep bringing up the point that science has just gotten the beginnings of proof, and as more discoveries and knowledge are learned over time, scientific evidence can explain what happened in the development of the universe. So technically, your last comment is right, but science takes time and evidence, but at the end is fact and truth. Scientists want to find out the real reasons behind the origins of the universe, so they don’t just settle for what is the “best explanation”, if that explanation doesn’t really prove anything.
Science builds models to interpret the collected data. They select the models that best (or most simply, elegantly) can interpret the data. So, yes, science selects the “best” models.
It’s true that just because the universe appears designed necessarily means it is designed. However, it also happens that it is indeed the best explanation of the three. No, chance is most definitely not the most logical explanation. In fact, it’s the most illogical explanation of the three based on what we do know.
The exquisitely precise expansion of the initial universe (precision of one part in 10^24), the extraordinarily low state of initial entropy, the mathematical nature of the laws of nature, the sophistication of the base-4 digital genetic code tha compiles life forms are definitely evidence for design, not for chance.
Before those elegant scientific models were formulated, scientific models were first created with the intention of accurately describing scientific phenomenon. Those models were later revised to be more elegant once more discoveries were made. As of now, we do not know much about the origins of the universe, therefore science must first strive to create models that accurately describe what happened in the beginning, which is what scientists are working on right now. So, as of now, figuring out the “best” model is not a priority, but finding a logical, accurate one is. How is design the most logical explanation? the idea of intelligent design has no scientific hypotheses or any empirical evidence to support its claims, so it is definitely not logical. Based on what we know right now, there was no actual reason for the universe to begin, therefore the idea of chance makes sense. However, we don’t know why the universe even began, so arguing that point as of now is unreasonable. The scientific evidence you gave, while true, is not evidence for the idea of design. Just because the initial processes of the earth were complex doesn’t mean intelligent design had a role in it – chance is what caused the primordial molecules to generate a chemical reaction resulting in the building blocks for DNA – there is no philosophical reason for it. Once again, genetic codes are not digital, why do you think that?
Design is the most logical explanation because the other two options (necessity and chance) don’t cut it.
No major philosopher or scientists (correctly) proposes that our universe exists necessarily. There is nothing necessary about our universe needing to exist, or for its parameters and physical constants to be what they are. In fact, the very fact that scientists are contemplating the possibility of a multiverse, each one with different laws of nature, confirms the contingent nature of our universe.
As for chance, that’s not really an explanation, and it most definitely does not comport with the evidence at hand about the exquisite fine-tuning of the universe or the sophistication of the base-4 digital code that compiles life forms from inorganic matter.
Design is not only the most logical explanation. It’s the only logical explanation.
Chance does not stand a chance. This is not an opinion. It’s a fact. Whoever contemplates chance as a viable hypothesis is deluding himself or herself.
You dismiss chance via handwaving, summarily declaring that it’s not an explanation. Is that all you’ve got?
As for your fine-tuning argument, that’s been debunked many times over. Surely you’re aware of that. But even if that weren’t true, your claims don’t hold water. It’s entirely possible and reasonable that if the universe originated by chance, that it would still behave in an orderly and predictable manner. All it takes is a few natural laws and basic forces (intrinsic to that universe). There’s simply no reason to presume otherwise, just as one could imagine a designed universe in which there were no consistent natural laws.
And since you are obviously fond of making unsupported declarations, I suppose I can play that game…. Design is a fool’s illusion, born of intellectual laziness and wishful thinking. That’s not an opinion. It’s a fact. Anyone who believes in design as the answer to our origins is deluded.
See my other comment. It answers this one and your other one.
See your other comment? You’ve had numerous comments in this thread. Which one? I’ve read all of them at one time or another, and don’t recall seeing ANY that disqualified chance.
The long one from this weekend.
[…] Failed Atheist Explanations for a Beginning to the Universe. | James Bishop’s Theology & Apologetics: https://jamesbishopblog.wordpress.com/2016/09/23/failed-atheist-explanations-for-a-beginning-to-the-… […]
Interesting. So far on my blog, I’ve only went into defending God and Christianoty on history so far, and thus I may alike yourself start engaging with it on these scientific arguments.
First, although it can be reasonably argued that our local universe began to exist, it is unclear that the cosmos began to exist.
Second, even if there is no multiverse, it is unclear to me why atheists should have a problem with it. That would depend upon what theory of time you subscribe to (most physicists are eternalists) and also ones humility. It is OK to “not know” what happened at the beginning of the universe. If there was such a start in the first place. So…. no, I don’t think the Big Bang causes atheism any problems at all. But I agree that theists think it does
If it is OK for atheists to “not know” or care what happened “at the beginning of the universe” then presumably it is also OK “not to know” where life itself came from, or how the first living cell came into being, or what consciousness is, or how human intelligence arose, etc., etc.
It follows therefore that it is obviously quite OK (and, indeed, necessary) for atheists to remain, and be quite content, in a state of complete ignorance and disinterest in such fundamental topics – after all, they could not possibly consider the only rational answer, could they?
I didn’t say we don’t care. I said we have to accept the fact that we don’t know everything. In that regard, Christians are no different. They worship an all-knowing god, while they themselves remain blissfully ignorant on myriad topics. But science strives (successfully) to learn more each day, and we are optimistic that we will one day understand why the Big Bang happened, and how life originated on our planet. On the other hand, Christians haven’t added to the core of their theology (i.e. the Bible) for 2000 years, yet happily accept that stagnation.
Of course Christians have not added to the core of their theology – there is no need to.
The Bible correctly states how the Universe, and all life, originally came about and so far science, in spite of enormous advances, has not been able to disprove its plain statements, or come anywhere near formulating a feasible, credible and rational alternative.
Hopefully it won’t take another 2000 years for “science” to catch up!
You REALLY need to study some real science.
But your “atheistic and materialistic version” of real science doesn’t have the answers!
My version does.
Thousands of religions have the answers. They can’t all be right, though they CAN all be wrong.
There’s nothing rational about choosing a religion/philosophy/etc. just because it offers answers (which is nothing more than acting on wishful thinking).
I think that is what is the whole problem with your argument. Real science doesn’t have to have all of the answers – it tries to solve problems and figure out how things work, and it finds answers along the way – many things have yet to be proven, but science is on the way to doing that. I feel like a major concept you do not understand is that science doesn’t know everything but it figures out how things work – if some things have not yet been figured out, it is okay. Also, the fact that you think science can have “versions” doesn’t make sense at all. Science is fact and truth and can be proven, it is not believed in; thinking that different people can have different “versions” of it is ignorant. Also theories themselves don’t have the answers, but they have evidence and proof, just not yet enough to solve the problem – which again doesn’t mean the problem cannot be solved just because it does not have an answer right now. Wanting to have an answer for everything, then not having every answer to everything in the, does not disprove “real” science.
[…] https://jamesbishopblog.com/2016/09/23/failed-atheist-explanations-for-a-beginning-to-the-universe/ […]
[…] Because contingent objects possess no causal power to create themselves from nothing, a logically defeating position some skeptics take to avoid the Kalam’s conclusion. As a result it seems that the “Who […]
Why do atheists firmly believe that their imaginary god called “blind chance” can create anything, including an entire Universe with its billions of galaxies and, if given long enough, all manner of lifeforms (as well as life itself, of course) on our own tiny planet – which was also apparently created by this same “god” of theirs?
Have atheists any proof or evidence at all that their “god” actually created ANY of these things? Of course not! Blind faith is all they need for their belief – intelligence is most definitely not required.
Chance is not a god. It’s just statistics. And chance is not imaginary. Don’t believe me? Go flip a coin a thousand times. You’ll see that it comes up about 500 times each as heads and tails. In nuclear Physics, radioactive isotopes spontaneously (i.e. by chance) decay at very predictable rates, defined by their half-lives)…. CHANCE!
As for the billions of galaxies, all that took was a few basic forces (the Electromagnetic Force, the Nuclear Force, and Gravity) acting on the subatomic particles created in the Big Bang. That’s just Pyhsics, and it’s all very well understood.
As for life on this planet … well as you noted, we’re just one tiny planet, orbiting a fairly ordinary star. But that star is one of about a trillion trillion stars in the universe. So even if we were to agree that the probability of life originating on any given planet is small, with a trillion trillion stars out there, the sheer number of planets makes the likelihood very high that life will form on at least one of them. We happen to be on one of the planets that won the cosmic lottery. Conservative Christians believe, however that their god created a trillion trillion stars, but decided to put life on ONLY one tiny planet orbiting just one of those trillion trillion stars. Furthermore, those stars just APPEAR to be billions of light years away. They’re really just 6000 (or less) light years away, but god has tricked us into thinking otherwise.
At least you have proved beyond all doubt that you do indeed idolise an all-powerful god called “chance” even though you won’t admit to blindly following it and shouting its praises from the rooftops. So, as well as being unintentionally behind the orderly creation of the Universe, and unintelligently formulating all the precise laws of nature and science, it seems that your god of “chance” also somehow managed – by a purely random process – to invent the 4 basic forces too!
Is there anything this incredible god of yours cannot do? It must be wonderfully reassuring to know that your answer to everything that remains unproven by science is that your god, otherwise known as “chance-of-the gaps”, did it – and without needing any proof or evidence whatsoever!
It’s not really surprising then that “chance” – being totally devoid of intelligence, logic, or rationality – appeals to so many atheists. It saves them having to think.
Now that’s just stupid. I don’t idolize anything, let alone “chance”. I didn’t praise it, I just tried to explain it to someone who believes it’s imaginary.
Why do you believe that the basic forces needed to be invented? Why would they not just be an intrinsic property of the universe. It’s ironic that you have this enormous mental block when it comes to these simple forces (which we KNOW exist), but have no qualms whatsoever accepting that an unimaginably complex and powerful being exists – in spite of having not one iota of objective evidence for it.
And we don’t rely on the explanation of chance without requiring proof. First of all, I didn’t assert that chance is responsible for the big bang. I only said it was a possibility. Second, there are many thousands of Physicists who devote their lives to answering some of these questions – looking at actual observable evidence, to understand the Physics of the big bang.
It’s also ironic that you accuse atheists of not thinking, when they rely on science and the scientific method (which is ALL ABOUT following a rational approach to attaining knowledge). Meanwhile your approach is to simply say, “A 2000+ year old book, written by primitive men, told me so.” In psychological terms, your accusations are known as Projection.
You believe that the Universe, and everything else for that matter, was created by chance. You have absolutely no proof, of course, so your belief is entirely a matter of faith – just like hundreds of other man-made religions around the world. Whether you like it or not you have simply replaced the real God with your own version – so much for calling yourself an atheist!
You see, the thing is, statistics doesn’t do anything. The statistics of coin flipping presupposes an (intelligent) agent performing an action (flipping) over an object (the coin). In other words, you need intelligent agency and something (STEM = spacetime, energy, matter).
Chance cannot have created the universe (aka nature, cosmos, STEM) because it’s only a stochastic mechanism that presupposes programming anyway, thus again, an agent (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stochastic_programming).
Chance could, in theory, do stuff *within* nature, but there is no evidence whatsoever that it can build our genetic code, life from inorganic matter, sexual reproduction, consciousness. One could venture to say that the probabilities of chance assembling even one of the above is higher than the number of seconds in the universe since the Big Bang, and thus impossible, but for sure the probabilities of chance assembling all the above (genetic code, life, reproduction, consciousness) are so fantastically low to defy reason. Anyone believing chance can (and did) do all that believes it not on grounds of evidence (since there is none, as I pointed out in a previous comment) but purely for psychological reasons (dislike for God, brainwashing by the secular humanistic educational system, faith in scientism, religion-science conflict thesis fallacy, all the above).
As for the few forces of nature being able to build universes and all within them, I’ve already pointed out in a previous comment that this belief is ludicrous.
First of all, virtually everyone, including atheists, agrees that the laws of nature are merely descriptive, and thus unable to create anything. They merely describe what’s going on. Even if they were prescriptive, we would have purely immaterial, timeless laws able to create universes. They are basically God by another name.
Again, atheism is intellectually absurd. It’s blind faith in chance, which does not stand a chance.
Very well said, Francesco. Wish I had your linguistic ability!
You’re just getting more and more ridiculous. The fact that coin tosses are (typically) performed by a human does not negate the random nature of the outcome. And You conveniently ignored my second example (radioactive decay), that has no intelligent agent involved, but is random nonetheless. Your grudging statement that “Chance could, in theory, do stuff *within* nature” is an enormous understatement.
The rest of your post is s typical unsupported creationist argument against a natural origin of life, claiming that the odds of it happening by chance are so low as to make it effectively impossible. But I’m reminded of the similar creationist argument against evolution, which similarly claims that it cannnot have happened randomly. And they’re right, but they’ve drawn the wrong conclusions.
As I’ve noted before, evolution is NOT driven solely by random processes. Mutations are random, but Natural Selection is VERY non-random. Prior to Darwin, though, while scientists knew the fact of evolution, nobody understood how random mutations could cause the progressive increase in the complexity of life. Darwin provided the key, though creationists STILL reject it – all because it doesn’t fit with what primitive men wrote, thousands of years ago.
And they summarily reject the possibility of a natural origin for life on Earth, assuming that every step in the process must have been totally random if it was a natural process. That’s a totally unnecessary and unrealistic restriction. For example, the formation of simple proteins is just Chemistry, driven by normal chemical reactions. When mixed, certain substances WILL react – predictably, not randomly, due to the basic physical forces. While that comes nowhere close to explaining the later steps in the formation of life, there’s simply no basis for declaring that there are no possible nonrandom steps in the process.
One of us has been making ridiculous claims from the beginning, but I can assure you it’s not me.
The coin tosses can be performed by an intelligent agent or by a machine, but it makes no difference because the coin-tossing machine would need to be programmed by an intelligent agent to flip the coin (and it also requires energy to do so, so a closed system like the universe is out of luck). Stochastic programming of a machine generating random events does nothing to further the cause of atheism. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stochastic_programming
Radioactive decay follows exactly the same principles. Think about what’s needed in order for radioactive decay to happen;
– First, you need chemical elements (formed at the time of the Big Bang, so no time to “evolve’ or “emerge”)
– Second, you need the laws governing the interaction of these elements (also immediately operative at the Big Bang, so no time to “evolve” or “emerge”)
– Third, radioactive decay might not have classically deterministic causes, but that does not mean it takes place without a causal nexus. The stochastic nature of the individual atom’s decay is still constrained by the laws of physics, and that’s why uranium atoms consistently decay into lead, and that’s why we can calculate the expected decay of collections of atoms. Otherwise, radiometric dating would be impossible.
The same goes for evolution. Whether one believes in Darwinian evolution from LUCA (last universal common ancestor) or environmental adaptation within originally created kinds, there is no doubt that natural selection takes place, but selection (like the SQL SELECT statement) is not random; it’s teleological. It has a purpose; the purpose of selecting what aids survival. The problem is that teleology, purpose are disallowed in atheism since they scream “intelligent agency” and, for some reason (sarcasm), “no intelligence is allowed” in atheism. Why would natural selection select what’s best for survival? Where does this “natural selection” come from? Why does it select for survival instead of death? Chemicals, molecules, enzymes, proteins are all dumb machines; they have no agency, they are not alive, they have no purpose, no teleology. Why would they then “select” survival over doing nothing at all (which costs less energy, by the way)?
Finally, we don’t summarily reject the possibility of a natural origin of life. There is simply no evidence for it, and the probabilities are so fantastically low that believing it happened by chance is a psychological choice not based on evidence, and it also has the prerequisite of the genetic code, which also has zero evidence of a purely natural origin. You should also note that “natural” does not necessarily mean “unintelligent,” as the Creator could have set up a stochastic mechanism for the origin of both genetic code and life, but let’s not even go there. This belief that we should give chance a chance is also a far cry from your original assertion that “there’s not an ounce of evidence for God.” As we have seen, the evidence for God from the exquisite precision of the original expansion of the universe to its extraordinarily low state of initial entropy, to its being immediately governed by the laws of nature to the incredibly sophisticated digital genetic code, to the origin of life, reproduction, consciousness, the evidence for design and intelligence is so overwhelming that it can only be rejected a priori, based on logical fallacies like scientism, science-religion conflict thesis, strawman interpretations of theism, secular humanistic indoctrination, etc.
I considered noting that coin tosses could be performed by machines, but I knew you’d just make the argument that machines require a designer. So I passed up that argument to point out that it doesn’t matter who/what tosses the coin. IT’S STILL RANDOM.
As for nuclear decay, it’s a minor point, but the radioactive isotopes weren’t produced in the Big Bang, but rather much later, by the supernovae of stars.
You’ve picked at the question of time needed for laws to evolve or emerge, but I don’t understand where you’re getting that from. Why do you believe they would have to do so, vs. just being an intrinsic part of the Universe itself?
And yes, radioactive decay follows the laws of Physics, but that doesn’t change the fact that it’s random. Like a coin toss, the statistics are predictable, but the individual samples (I.e. when a particular atom will spontaneously decays is not.
Your comments on Natural Selection, and in particular, your question as to why does it select for survival, merely show that you haven’t even taken the time to think about it. So please take a moment now. The whole process of Natural Selection operates through the survival mechanism. Favorable genes increase the odds of the individual’s survival and reproduction. Unfavorable (or less favorable) genes decrease the odds. But to be clear, it’s really not the individual’s survival that matters. It’s the survival and propagation of the gene. So in many cases, the gene just aids in reproductive success, such as by helping find or win a mate. And simply put, if the gene doesn’t propagate, it will (by definition) be selected out. If you understood this, you wouldn’t have asked why it doesn’t select for death, or be talking about purpose
You then refer (again) to the “exquisite precision of the original expansion of the universe”. I don’t know why you believe it was exquisitely precise. Please explain that. It expanded in a predictable manner, in accordance with the laws of Physics. The initially low state of entropy …. also Physics. Being initially governed by laws of nature …. already discussed. And frankly, if it hadn’t been so, I’m absolutely certain that you would have used THAT as another argument for a god.
I’ve already talked about the genetic code. You just keep repeating your soapbox speech, without responding to my points on it.
Random does not mean unguided or unintelligent. It requires stochastic programming. We humans (intelligent agents) do it, too. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stochastic_programming
When push comes to shove, that’s what atheism retreats to; the laws are just an intrinsic part of the universe. Atheists are fond of saying “God provides zero explanatory power,” when they themselves say “the laws are just intrinsic to the universe,” which has exactly zero explanatory power. It’s like saying that a box of Legos explodes into the exact shape shown on its box (similar to the sudden, superluminal expansion of the universe into a state of fantastically low entropy), and instead of explaining this fantastic event, they just say the pieces coming together is “just an intrinsic part of what they are.” It’s magic. And that’s what atheism really is all about; the magical belief that unintelligent, unprogrammed, unguided events magically come together, perform actions, and build stuff. http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/10/magic-versus-metaphysics.html
The whole process of radioactive decay is pre-programmed. Unintelligent stuff doesn’t do anything unless it’s preprogrammed to do so.
You haven’t grasped the power of my question. Why the survival mechanism? Where does it come from? Why does natural selection select for survival instead of death (which requires less energy)? How does it select for survival? All these processes involve unintelligent chemicals devoid of any agency. Whatever they do, they do it only because they have been preprogrammed to do so. Without programming, nothing happens to stuff. Stuff has no agency. Scientists know this. Cosmologist Joel Primack once asked physicist Neil Turok the same question, “What is it that makes the electron continue to follow the laws?”
Understand the force of the question. Electrons are not intelligent agents. They only do what they are programmed to do. And the physical laws that govern the behavior of electrons were operative at the instant of the Big Bang. Who or what programmed them?
Let me tell you how exquisite it was, in the words of astrophysicist Ethan Siegel:
“As it turns out, we live almost in the Goldilocks case, with just a tiny bit of dark energy thrown in the mix, making the expansion rate just slightly larger, and meaning that eventually all the matter that isn’t gravitationally bound together already will be driven apart into the abyss of deep space.
What’s remarkable is that the amount of fine-tuning that needed to occur so that the Universe’s expansion rate and matter-and-energy density matched so well so that we didn’t either recollapse immediately or fail to form even the basic building-blocks of matter is something like one part in 10^24, which is kind of like taking two human beings, counting the number of electrons in them, and finding that they’re identical to within one electron. In fact, if we went back to a time when the Universe was just one nanosecond old (since the Big Bang), we can quantify how finely-tuned the density and the expansion rate needed to be.
A pretty unlikely story, if you ask me!”
That’s t=0. The same level of fine-tuning is noted in the result of that expansion (Brian Greene, The Fabric of the Cosmos), which, according to probabilistic considerations, should have resulted in infinite entropy and instead resulted in incredibly low enropy (the Big Bang produced order, not disorder) and in a universe immediately governed by physical and chemical laws, and physical constants, which are also exquisitely precise. In fact, one of them, the cosmological constant, is also incredibly fine-tuned.
Click to access CosmoConstant15.pdf
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