Thursday, June 4, 2009

Atheists - Censorship & Irony

Life is so weird. For example, here I was, a mild mannered Christian, humbly presenting :-) my view of life, the universe and everything in a discussion with a flock of painfully thick atheists when, wonder of wonders my access to the dialogue was terminated. In fact, the whole discussion has disappeared from history. Ah me, I wipe a tear from my eye even as I relate to you this tragic tale.

Actually, this isn’t as odd as I make it seem. The high percentage of atheist blogs that require blogger approval before posting comments is really interesting. I guess the tolerance facade is just part of the hypocrisy that atheists live with day in and day out. “I tolerate everything except that which challenges my beliefs.”

Nevertheless, the discussion was doomed from the start. I think the blog’s owner wanted out of the discussion as soon as she saw how woefully inadequate her godless supporters turned out to be. Don’t get me wrong. They were as intense as killer bees. It’s just that all their stingers had been pulled out. They sounded lobotomised; neutered. I’ll give you an example. You may not believe this but one of the atheists, I’m serous now, one of the atheists is actually still flogging the Steady State model of the universe while lecturing ME on my lack of understanding of the Second Law of Thermodynamics. I know. It’s weird, but atheism, almost by definition must cope with huge amounts of irony.

I’ve had these discussions with atheists for long enough now to know that the Big Bang just renders atheists incoherent and incapable of putting together even a single line of logical thought. In another example of irony, atheists have painted themselves into a corner. On the one hand, atheists trumpet the value of science while, on the other hand, science itself is on the verge of proving the existence of Creator God beyond a reasonable doubt. I mean think about it! Science, atheist driven science at that (sorry, I snorted), has proven that:

Everything that began to exist came from absolutely Nothing - In an instant. Sweet!

Not only that but the means by which everything came into existence from absolutely nothing shows that whatever Caused this to happen had absolutely nothing to do with naturalism or materialism. The Cause was and had to be Supernatural, or outside of and transcendent to nature. But atheists, to a person, continue to a priori reject the Supernatural. Dear, dear, what’s an atheist to do?

Well, I’ll tell you what they do. They just keep saying, “I don’t know what brought the Universe into existence but it sure wasn’t God.” When asked, “Why?” the atheist says, (first ignoring the just stated prime evidence for a Supernatural Cause - what most people call God) “Because there isn’t any evidence for God. That’s why.” And when I said,
. Anything that begins to exist has a cause for its beginning,” The atheist response was, “I don’t know what you mean.”

. Everything that begins to exist has an explanation of its cause. “I don’t know what you mean.”

. Space and matter had a beginning. “I don’t know what you mean.”

. Matter cannot create itself. “I don’t know what you mean.”

. Matter cannot precede itself. “I don’t know what you mean.”

. Infinity does not exist in reality. “I don’t know what you mean.”

. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics validates the Singularity “I don’t know what you mean.”

. Background radiation validates the Singularity. “I don’t know what you mean.”

. The levels of entropy validates the Singularity. “I don’t know what you mean.”

. The expansion of the universe validates the Singularity. “I don’t know what you mean.”

. You can’t get everything from nothing by natural means. “I don’t know what you mean.”

. Inorganic and inanimate gases / chemicals cannot evolve. “I don’t know what you mean.”

. Life only comes from life. “I don’t know what you mean.”

. The Big Bang is the simplest explanation of the origin of our universe. “I don’t know what you mean.”

Truth be known, these atheists know exactly what I mean but they DON’T know how to respond since the only honest answer is, “I know that each of these premises point to Creator God, but I’m going to pretend they don’t, just like I have everyday since I became an atheist.”

I know it’s not good nor fair to make a point by using the most extreme example, but I’m going to do it anyhow. Here is where those atheists really dug a hole for themselves. The thickest of the bunch made the statement, “You don't even understand that the Big Bang theory is just one of many theories.”

What’s controversial about that, you might ask? Listen! I’m going to back up for just a bit.

The leader of the bunch said to me, “We (meaning she and her atheist hoard) look to reason, science and EVIDENCE, which you eschew in place of feelings, faith, and mindless belief” Oh really? She must not have noticed that not a single statement above had anything to do with Christianity and only came from scientific observation and inductive reasoning. Having said that, let’s take a look at this person’s multiple theories that he thinks competes against the Big Bang. Remember, atheists look only to reason, science and EVIDENCE,

Oscillating universe - What’s the evidence for it? - There isn’t any.

Baby universes - What’s the evidence for it? - There isn’t any.

Multi verses - What’s the evidence for it? - There isn’t any.

The Cyclic Ekpyrotic Scenario - What’s the evidence for it? - There isn’t any.

The Chaotic Inflationary universe - What’s the evidence for it? - There isn’t any.

Brane-cosmology - What’s the evidence for it? - There isn’t any.

Inflationary multi-verse - What’s the evidence for it? - There isn’t any.

Bubble universes floating in a sea of false vacuum - What’s the evidence for it? - There isn’t any.

The many worlds hypothesis - What’s the evidence for it? - There isn’t any.

The black hole hypothesis - What’s the evidence for it? - There isn’t any.

Quantum gravity models - What’s the evidence for it? - There isn’t any.

Vacuum fluctuation models - What’s the evidence for it? - There isn’t any.

Imaginary time and imaginary space - What’s the evidence for it? - There isn’t any.

Space aliens brought life to earth - What’s the evidence for it? - There isn’t any.

Ah yes, atheists. The people who look only to reason, science and EVIDENCE, now forced to invent atheist origin of the universe mythologies. One last example.

The blog’s leader states that she lives by Hume’s Principle of Empirical Verifiability? You know, the one that says, There are ONLY two kinds of meaningful propositions:

1) Those that are true by definition, and

2) Those that are empirically verifiable

Yes, well, Hume’s Principle itself is not true by definition and neither is it empirically verifiable. Poor Hume. Poor atheists.

It was at this point that the post disappeared.

Oh and when America’s haemorrhoid Michael Newdow sues NASA for using government funds to launch space probes that bring back evidential support for the existence of Creator God? Don’t say I didn't warn you.

27 comments:

PersonalFailure said...

It's not just atheist blogs that have commenting policies- actually so does yours. No anonymous comments.

I tried not moderating comments. Then I found comments advocating violence against women,atheists and gays, extremely upsetting personal attacks on other commentors*, and spam.

I'm not supporting, even passively, threats of violence and anti immunization screeds. The internet is full of crazies and they're not taking over my blog.

*I have a commentor (whom I consider a friend) who is Native American. I started moderating after I found a comment labeling NAs as lazy, alcoholic godhating pagans who deserve everything they
got. Yeah, no more of that.

Jack Grey said...

Actually, if you're quoting me, my response was: "How do you mean?" This is a subtle distinction, but important. It's the difference between denying your question, and asking for enough additional details to give you a reasonable answer (if I have one, which I may not).

Also, I was originally responding to your rather strange list of propositions, which was written as if they were necessary prerequisites for an Atheist viewpoint. So, if you don't mind, I'll repeat my request here.

“Another example is that inanimate and inorganic gases / chemical evolved.” And now we’re back to my original problem with your list: the proposition has been shortened and simplified to the point where much of its meaning (let alone its context) is lost.

I suppose I could try to guess… but for the sake of clarity, can you give me an example of someone actually making that claim (or even some rough equivalent), in their own words? Preferably with a citation, so I can look at the context in which they were speaking?

(I actually did try a google search on the phrase, but all I found was bunch of Creationism and Christian sites claiming that Atheists believed this. I did not find any Atheists actually making this claim, at least not verbatim. Granted, I only looked through about four pages of results...)

Also… is this a list you compiled yourself, or are you pulling it from somewhere? If so, where?

Thanks,

Michael Mock

steve said...

Hi Makarios,

I guarantee I will never censor you from my blog. The reason my blog requires me to approve posts is because I'm too technologically naive to know how to turn that feature off.

Roland Hulme said...

Hi Makarios!

I've addressed your rather blithe dismissal of the big bang theory on my blog. I've linked back to yours, of course.

Cheers!

http://rolandhulme.blogspot.com/2009/06/why-big-bang-theory-works.html

Jack Grey said...

Seriously, I'd settle for a youtube video. Or, alternatively, we could back up and start with some simpler questions:

The list as you original posted it seemed to imply that all Atheists deny the propositions that you list. Was that actually your intention, or do you merely assert that some atheists deny these things?

Michael Mock

Makarios said...

If I meet one I'll let you know.

Jack Grey said...

Care to clarify? If you meet one what, you'll let whom know?

Better yet, if you *are* responding to me, would you kindly answer the question? It doesn't strike me as an especially difficult thing to answer.

Michael Mock

Makarios said...

"do you merely assert that some atheists deny these things?"

If I meet an atheist who agrees with the following statements I'll let you know.

. Anything that begins to exist has a cause for its beginning,”
. Everything that begins to exist has an explanation of its cause.
. Space and matter had a beginning.
. Matter cannot create itself.
. Matter cannot precede itself.
. Infinity does not exist in reality.
. The 2nd Law of Thermodynamics validates the Singularity
. Background radiation validates the Singularity.
. The levels of entropy validates the Singularity.
. The expansion of the universe validates the Singularity.
. You can’t get everything from nothing by natural means.
. Inorganic and inanimate gases / chemicals cannot evolve.
. Life only comes from life.
. The Big Bang is the simplest explanation of the origin of our universe.

Jack Grey said...

Thank you for clarifying. For a moment there, I really thought you were saying "If I ever meet an Atheist, I'll let you know." ...Which was a bit confusing, to say the least.

So, then: if I understand you - and feel free to correct me if I don't - you're saying that in your experience, no atheist agrees with all of those propositions.

In that case, it doesn't really matter that there are self-described Atheists who would agree with some of those propositions; such an assertion misses your point.

Are we good so far?

The Atheist Missionary said...

Makarios, first of all I agree wholeheartedly with your criticism of blogs censoring comments. Requiring approval for blog comments is bush league. If someone abuses their privileges, give them fair warning and block their access.

What I don't understand is why God has to be your default. If I can summarize what I understand you to be saying, it's that atheist/scientific explanations for the beginning of the universe are implausible and that there must have been an unnatural (i.e. supernatural) cause for the beginning. I will grant you that there is still much that we do not understand and, in fact, there may be much that is simply beyond our comprehension - perhaps like trying to explain NFL rules to an ant.

The upshot of my comment is that I really have no problem with you calling "God" your explanation for the beginning. I personally feel that it is an unsatisfactory explanation because it only raises the question of what created your God. However, are you questioning the fact that our universe originated with the Big Bang? Are you questionin the fact that the earth is approximately 13 billion years old (and not about 6000 as creationists would have us believe)? Are you questioning the fact (not the theory) of evolution?

I would like to know the constitution of your straw man before I chop it down at the knees.

Makarios said...

Ya Jack, we’re good. There’s no need for a dramatic build-up. You can just cut right to the chase.
===========
“What I don't understand is why God has to be your default.”

Because it has to be one or the other:
. Either matter is eternal or a

. Supernatural Creator is eternal OR

. If matter isn’t eternal (and it can’t be), then matter created itself (which it can’t do) SO

. Were left with a Supernatural Creator with is usually called God or in philosophy The Greatest Conceivable Being.

One of them has to be eternal. It can’t be Matter so . . .
=============
“I personally feel that it is an unsatisfactory explanation because it only raises the question of what created your God.”

But it DOESN’T raise that questioin!! Are you just messing with me head? I've heard this (forgive me) nonsensical statement so often I can’t tell if there is still a person on the planet who hasn’t figured this out or if I'm just getting the same person asking the same question over and over again.

Since it's ridiculous to propose that matter preexisted itself either physically or chronologically in order to create itself, all that we’re left with is:
. Matter is Eternal. Or
. A Creator is Eternal.

Since atheists have no problem with saying that SOMETHING is eternal, and since it cannot be Matter then it must be a supernatural Cause!!

Why can’t you see that? I think a vein in my forehead is sticking out. Sheesh! Existing outside of time, the Cause is timeless, or eternal. Existing outside of matter the Cause is immaterial or Spirit. Matter cannot be eternal but Spirit can.
===========
“However, are you questioning the fact that our universe originated with the Big Bang?”

No, I’m saying that it DID begin in a moment of time, the FIRST moment of time, in a Singularity, in a Big Bang Creation Event.
==========
“Are you questionin the fact that the earth is approximately 13 billion years old”

Well, I thought it was 14.5 but what's a billion years between friends?
=======
“Are you questioning the fact (not the theory) of evolution?”

No, this has nothing to do with abiogenesis. So chop away
===========

Jack Grey said...

There's no particular "chase" for me to cut to. I'm trying to trace out exactly what your list is intended to say (or imply), and why you think it's such a telling condemnation of Atheism. I'm sure this is intuitively clear to you; but then it's your list.

So, your current claim is that no atheist agrees with all your propositions. This seems a little bit disingenuous, since you have presented that list with an "atheists believe otherwise" attached to each separate line - both on the blog where I first encountered it, and even here on your own blog. Assuming that what you actually mean is what you just told me, that line-by-line presentation is either extremely sloppy or deliberately misleading.

Unfortunately, the only alternative I can see is that you really do mean that (some or all) Atheists believe that (some or all of) your propositions are false; in which case your answer to me - that you've never met an Atheist who agreed with all of them - looks like an attempt to "move the goalposts" retroactively.

I suppose I should also address the possibility that your list is meant to imply that denying these things are a necessary prerequisite for an Atheist viewpoint, regardless of whether Atheists realize this or will admit it. I hope that's not your intention, as that would be a huge Straw Man; it's very easy to tell other people they are foolish if you get to decide what they really think.

Michael Mock

Jack Grey said...

Upon re-reading that, I feel compelled to add that the last trick I mentioned - telling people what they (must) really think, and then showing how foolish it is to think that - is no less annoying when it's being used by Atheists (or other non-Christians) towards Christians.

Michael Mock

Makarios said...

“I'm trying to trace out exactly what your list is intended to say (or imply), and why you think it's such a telling condemnation of Atheism.”

My point, and why I think it’s such an ironic and telling statement about atheists is that each and every one of these statements have the backing of science. As far as observation and inductive and deductive reasoning are concerned, these statements are factually true. Nothing that we have observed would refute or invalidate these statements.

However, atheists, those who say they live by “science, reason and EVIDENCE” avoid these statements like the plague. Why? Only, ONLY because they point to a supernatural cause.

Now, are you simply trying to create an issue where none exists or do YOU know any atheist who would say these statements are true? Do you, in fact, believe they are true as far as observation and verification allows us to know truth?

Jack Grey said...

Makarios: "Now, are you simply trying to create an issue where none exists or do YOU know any atheist who would say these statements are true?"

No, and no.

That is, I'm not trying to create an issue where none exists. I simply don't find the list as persuasive as you do, and I don't find it anywhere near such an obvious condemnation of Atheism as you do.

On the other hand, off the top of my head, I don't know of any Atheists - or even agnostics/skeptics/freethinkers/etc. - who would agree with all the items on your list, as written.

I respectfully submit that has more to do with the list itself than it does with the Atheist (etc.) viewpoint.

"Do you, in fact, believe they are true as far as observation and verification allows us to know truth?"

Which brings us back to my original criticism of the list: I can't answer that question without knowing what, specifically, I'm agreeing to. With one or two possible exceptions (I'm thinking of the Big Bang = Simplest Explanation line), each of your propositions contains a host of details, context, and (possibly) arguments and assumptions, condensed into a single sentence. That doesn't make them simpler; it makes them more confusing, at least for me.

This is, more or less, the same thing I was griping at GMNightmare about over in the thread where I first saw your list. He was arguing that faith, by definition, equals indoctrination. His argument was basically a simple syllogism, but he was treating it as a single, self-evident statement - something true By Definition - and then mocking anyone who didn't immediately see and agree with it.

The items on your list are actually worse (not morally, just in terms of being difficult for an outsider to decipher) because they're compacting a huge amount of scientific information, study, thought, and other background into one-sentence line items.

So, I find myself asking "How do you mean?" or "In what sense?" in response.

But... even if someone were to agree with each proposition, they still wouldn't be compelled to acknowledge the existence of a Creator God.

Makarios said...

“I simply don't find the list as persuasive as you do, and I don't find it anywhere near such an obvious condemnation of Atheism as you do.”

Mmm, but if they are true from a scientific basis, it doesn’t really matter if you find them persuasive or not. Or are you simply saying, "Yes they’re true but there is a naturalistic explanation for them We just don't know it yet."

I’m not using these premises to condemn atheism. Rather I’m using them to show the hypocrisy of atheists who say, “Science, science, science, Oooops it’s pointing to Creator God - therefore no science."

Those like myself who propose an Intelligent Cause for intelligent life are open to natural phenomenon. In fact we allow our premises to be falsified. Atheists however are so closed-minded and dogmatic in their a priori rejection of anything that can't be detected by our senses that they make no allowances for being wrong about naturalism.
=============
“but he was treating it as a single, self-evident statement”

But Jack, when several hundred million years of experience has shown that “nothing begins to exist without a cause for it’s beginning,” or “Anything that begins to exist has an explanation for it’s beginning, either in the necessity of itself or in an external cause,” those statements become self-evident. Can they be proven beyond all doubt? Of course not. Can they be proven beyond reasonable doubt. Absolutely. They can and they are.
===============
So, I find myself asking "How do you mean?" or "In what sense?" in response.

So give me an example. When I say, Everything that begins to exist has an explanation of it’s existence,” what is being left out? What is it about that, that you don’t understand? Can you point me to some exceptions, even one?
=============
“But... even if someone were to agree with each proposition, they still wouldn't be compelled to acknowledge the existence of a Creator God”

Obviously! When I person has made a prior commitment to the non existence of the supernatural, that person cannot under any circumstances allow the supernatural to become part of the solution. It’s profoundly unscientific as it refuses to go where the evidence leads, but atheists do exactly that.

Jack Grey said...

I'm going to try to continue a little bit at a time. Otherwise, we're both going to be responding to huuuuge blocks of text in very short order.

You asked me about what I thought was being left out once before. I used this answer:

To pick a single example: “Non life cannot produce life.” That is more or less true, in the classical sense. Dung does not produce flowers; rotting food does not produce maggots. However, there are plenty of microorganisms which straddle the line between animate and inanimate, in that they do some of the things that we associate with being “alive” and don’t do other things which we also think of as part of the basic definition of “living”. Last time I checked, scientific thinking suggested that life did arise by natural processes, though the mechanism is not currently understood. That could be taken as a belief that life came from non-life, in a sense. Even granting that, though, there’s a big difference between saying that life can come from non-life, and hypothesizing that there were some chemical processes which occurred naturally and caused some complex systems which became sort-of-alive things which eventually developed into more complex things that were actually alive as we understand the term.

You responded by saying:
“Last time I checked, scientific thinking suggested that life did arise by natural processes though the mechanism is not currently understood.”

No actually, science cannot and would not say that because that would violate the scientific method of knowing.


(...At which point everyone else piled on, so I never came back to answer you. I hadn't really meant to set off that sort of dogpile, and couldn't see any way to continue the conversation there.)

In my understanding, however, the scientific method of knowing can and must propose such things. Science is a method for the study of the natural world. At one point, as far as we can tell, life did not exist on this world. At a later point, it did. Therefore, in some fashion, life must have come from non-life; the only question is how.

Makarios: "So give me an example. When I say, 'Everything that begins to exist has an explanation of its existence,' what is being left out? What is it about that, that you don’t understand? Can you point me to some exceptions, even one?"

All right. You have two very similar propositions in this list: "Anything that begins to exist has a cause for its beginning," and "Everything that begins to exist has an explanation of its cause." Leaving aside the question of whether these are scientific or philosophical assertions, I'll agree with you that these are true, or true enough, for most people's day to day lives.

However, I'm not sure that they're at all true, even generally speaking, once you get down to the level of quantum physics. (I'm sure that they're not true, either - this is well outside of any area where I can really claim expertise.) More to the point, the fact that they are true within the context of our universe - where time, space, and causality are in operation - does not necessarily mean that they can be extended to make assertions about the origin of the universe.

You made some other points that I'd like to address, but - again - I'd prefer to examine this one bit at a time.

Michael Mock

Makarios said...

“No actually, science cannot and would not say that because that would violate the scientific method of knowing.”

I meant that within the context of making a statement that is known to be true because of observation, inductive reasoning and there being no knowing exceptions in the last hundred million years, give or take - like the statements in my list.

Of course atheistic science must propose a natural cause for life because atheistic science a priori rejects any other possibilities. But that isn’t science. That’s a world-view looking for evidence to support itself.
==========

“However, I'm not sure that they're at all true, even generally speaking, once you get down to the level of quantum physics.”

Yes but even in QM something does not appear out of nothing. Many people have proposed that not being able to predict where a particle will appear is the same as coming into being out of nothing but clearly it isn’t.

Neither are sub-atomic events uncaused. Particles do not come into being out of nothing. They arise as spontaneous fluctuations of the energy contained in the sub-atomic vacuum. But a vacuum is not nothing. It is a sea of fluctuating energy endowed with a rich structure and subject to physical laws.

Jack Grey said...

I'm going to take your word for the QM bits; as I said, my knowledge of that field is very general and quite limited.

"Of course atheistic science must propose a natural cause for life because atheistic science a priori rejects any other possibilities. But that isn’t science. That’s a world-view looking for evidence to support itself."

With the usual caveats ("to the best of my understanding", etc.)...

I don't think you can meaningfully distinguish between "atheistic science" and "true science".

Science is a specific methodology for the study of the natural world. God is, by definition, supernatural. That places Him firmly outside the realm of scientific study.

As a result, science is necessarily atheistic. All it looks at is the way the world works. Any explanations it proposes for natural events must be natural explanations.

That's not to say that you can't look at the way(s) the world works, and say: "That clearly indicates the existence of an eternal, all-powerful Creator." It's just that the moment you do that, you've moved out of science and into philosophy.

That cuts both ways, of course. Science can no more disprove the existence of God than it can prove the existence of God. At most, it can provide circumstantial evidence that can be incorporated into other, non-scientific arguments.

(This is why I have a problem with the Creation Versus Evolution Debate. It's presented as an obvious, irreconcileable conflict of views, when in fact the two views are only sort of barely even addressing the same subject. The worst that the theory of evolution can do to disprove the existence of God is that it can point out that the story told in the book of Genesis is either factually incorrect or ::dramatic gasp!:: metaphorical. ...So what?)

So let's go back to "Life cannot come from non-life". Let us suppose, hypothetically, that fifty years from now, scientists have not only mapped out a process whereby life might have begun - "naturally", as it were - but they have also looked at the odds of that occurring, compared them to the opportunities it had to occur, and concluded that under those circumstances life is quite likely to arise from non-life. Suppose further that there are solid, widely-accepted mathematical proofs that the universe actually is caught in an unending cycle of expansion and contraction; that matter is, effectively, eternal. Would that convince you that there is no God?

I'm going to go out on a limb here, and guess that your answer would be something like this: "No, of course not." And the thing is, I don't have a problem with that. Becausing understanding the natural processes involved doesn't necessarily mean that God didn't do it; it simply explains how He went about it.

And that's all science does.

Michael Mock

Makarios said...

"I don't think you can meaningfully distinguish between "atheistic science" and "true science"."

Well, according to the latest study that I've seen, from last year I believe, 49% of scientists believe that there is a supernatural power guiding the universe. How about "good science" and "bad science"? Good science is when people only go as far as the evidence will allow - something that agnostics do. While bad science is people like Richard Dawkins who makes many, many statements that a pure speculation which he sells as fact.
=============
"God is, by definition, supernatural. That places Him firmly outside the realm of scientific study."

The way I look at it is saying that the Creator of the laws of physics is outside the realm of science is like talking about the general theory of relativity and saying it has nothing to do with Einstein.
===========
"Would that convince you that there is no God?"

Ya, that would pretty much wrap it up, although there are a number of questions about the life of Jesus that I would need taken care of as well.
============
"And that's all science does."

That's all that science should do :-)

Jack Grey said...

Makarios: The way I look at it is saying that the Creator of the laws of physics is outside the realm of science is like talking about the general theory of relativity and saying it has nothing to do with Einstein.

Yes, and if The Universe/The Laws of Physics/Life Itself were created by an external Creator - basically, if God interacts physically with the world - then "supernatural" is not a valid descriptor for Him. At that point, we're talking about a part of nature, and we need a different word.

Even then, there are still some valid reasons for science (not scientists, just science) to remain atheistic. The scientific method is, in essence, all about confirming ideas through reproducible experiments. What experiment, or even series of experiments, could possibly address the existence of an all-powerful creator? How do you test something that, more or less by definition, has no limits? How do you measure something that exists outside of time?

I can't see any meaningful way to do it; so I think that God must necessarily remain outside the field of scientific study.

And, from a practical standpoint, it doesn't really matter if the laws of physics are consistent because that's their nature, or if they're consistent because God keeps them that way. As long they are consistent, we can make experiments, test ideas, and draw conclusions.

I was looking for a way to bring that back around to my original topic - your list - but either I'm too far afield, or I just haven't had enough coffee yet. So... later for that.

Makarios said...

“if God interacts physically with the world - then "supernatural" is not a valid descriptor for Him. At that point, we're talking about a part of nature, and we need a different word.”

Doesn't the analogy of the painting and an artist fit here? Just because an artist changes the colour of this, and rearranges the texture of that, that doesn’t make the artist a physical part of the painting.
=========
“How do you measure something that exists outside of time?”

I know what you mean, but I don’t think that science has to be the way it is. Remember, when modern science first began, it was almost exclusively made up of theologians who learned ABOUT God by studing the things He had created. I mean, think about it. Allow for a second the possibility of a Creator. Just from observing Creation we can know that the Creator is:

Self-existent - does not need a cause not anything to sustain Himself

Eternal - either matter is eternal or the Creator is eternal

Timeless, not bound by time

Spirit, existing outside of and prior to material

Existing outside of and prior to space, time and matter He is without limits

Unimaginably powerful creating the entire universe out of nothing

Personal - He chose to convert a state of nothingness into the time-space-material universe. The immaterial does not make choices.

Supremely intelligent - Designed a universe with ~ 100 exquisitely finely tuned constants and quantities that were PUT IN prior to Planck time.

Purposeful - Virtually infinite life forms

Absolutely moral - Unchangeable, objective morality by which all behaviours and thoughts are measured.

All of these and more can be found out about Creator God using only scientific observation. These findings make Him consistent with the Creator God of the Bible but they were discovered without using the Bible to find out anything about Him.
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"And, from a practical standpoint, it doesn't really matter if the laws of physics are consistent because that's their nature, or if they're consistent because God keeps them that way. As long they are consistent, we can make experiments, test ideas, and draw conclusions."

Do you know what the constants and quantities that dictate the existence of our universe have in common? Nothing! Nothing that is except each and every one of them is required to be exactly as it is for there to be life on this planet. How could "nothing," NOTHING bring about everything with 100 perfect constants IN PLACE within less than 1 10,000, 000,000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000 0000000000,00000000 of a second, by accident?
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If the definition of a miracle is an extraordinary highly unusual event the takes place outside of the laws of physics, then the Singularity, the Big Bang, the Creation event is a working definition of a miracle.

Jack Grey said...

Makarios: "Doesn't the analogy of the painting and an artist fit here? Just because an artist changes the colour of this, and rearranges the texture of that, that doesn’t make the artist a physical part of the painting.
"

I think that's a valid metaphor for the relationship between Creator and Creation that you seem to endorse. But (to stretch the metaphor a bit) if you're a tiny dot of paint on the canvas and can't perceive the painter at all, then all you really know for sure is that the painting exists.

This is why the Watchmaker God analogy doesn't really work for me. If you're walking in the desert and find a watch in the sand, you're not going to assume that it just happened... but the scenario already implies a basis for comparison: a watch in the desert looks nothing like the sand, rock formations, and occasional plants around it. Plus, most people already have experience with manufactured items, and find them easy enough to distinguish from natural objects. If the person finding the watch has absolutely no prior exposure to manufacture, metalworking, etc. then they might very well assume that it's just a strikingly unusual rock.

Makarios: "I know what you mean, but I don’t think that science has to be the way it is."

That's interesting. How would you change it? Perhaps more importantly, how would you change it and have it still be science?

Makarios: "Just from observing Creation we can know that the Creator is..."

I'm not sure that's true, let alone as self-evident as it seems to you.

I could make a pretty decent argument - and I'm sure you've heard some variation of it before - that based strictly on observation, it's intuitively clear that God likes watching things suffer.

Makarios: "Eternal - either matter is eternal or the Creator is eternal."

Actually, if those are the only two choices, the first one is actually simpler (and by scientific principles, therefore more likely to be right). Also, it's a quite-well-established scientific principle that matter is neither created nor destroyed. So I'm not at all sure how that argues for the existence of a creator.

Makarios: "Nothing that is except each and every one of them is required to be exactly as it is for there to be life on this planet."

...Sort of. Do you know what the odds of a universe coming into existence that's able to support human life? 1:1. We know of one universe, and it supports human life.

Seriously. It's like asking how likely it is that other planets have intelligent life: we don't have enough data to answer. We can have a rousing conversation about how to make the calculation once we have some data, or about what kind of data we need to have, but without real numbers to plug in, it's an empty equation - all variables, and therefore insoluble.

I'm in a hurry, so I apologize in advance if this comes out brief or critical.

Michael Mock

Makarios said...

“I think that's a valid metaphor for the relationship between Creator and Creation that you seem to endorse. But (to stretch the metaphor a bit) if you're a tiny dot of paint on the canvas and can't perceive the painter at all, then all you really know for sure is that the painting exists.”

I’m certainly NOT suggesting that we can’t perceive our Painter. When talking about our ability to perceive our Creator, Jesus said, “If you have seen Me, you have seen Creator God.” I believe in God in part because of the historicity of Jesus and His presence in my life.
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“This is why the Watchmaker God analogy doesn't really work for me.”

The point is, when you find something that was designed, you can know that intelligence was behind it.
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“That's interesting. How would you change it? Perhaps more importantly, how would you change it and have it still be science?”

Well, real science, true science, good science is observing evidence and searching for causes. Beginning with a conclusion, as atheists do is hardly good science.
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“I could make a pretty decent argument - and I'm sure you've heard some variation of it before -that based strictly on observation, it's intuitively clear that God likes watching things suffer.”

I didn’t say that's ALL that you could tell from observing. The problem with your last statement is that it’s judging motives and that's a notoriously risky thing to do. Remember, whatever we may think of how God is running the show, He came to earth an lived under His own rules, even to the point of being tortured to death.
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“So I'm not at all sure how that argues for the existence of a creator.”

Quite simple actually:
1) Matter did not always exist. That's a scientifically confirmed fact. I agree that once it came into existence matter can only change form.

2) Matter cannot be eternal. - It’s impossible to traverse the infinite.

3) There cannot be an infinite regress of cause. - There had to be a beginning

Those three points make Creator God not just the obvious choice but the only choice. The ONLY reason that atheists won’t accept the conclusion as it stands is because atheists reject the existence of the Supernatural NOT AFTER examining the evidence but BEFORE examining the evidence > BAD SCIENCE.
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“Seriously. It's like asking how likely it is that other planets have intelligent life: we don't have enough data to answer.”

That doesn’t stop Richard Dawkins and some people who comment on this topic from saying things like, “There are a billion planets with life evolving on them even as we speak.”

Actually the odds of A PLANET existing is one to one. The odds of a LIFE SUPPORTING planet existing is unimaginably remote. If you want, I can put it in writing for you but it would be a fairly long reply.
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Jack Grey said...

Makarios: "I’m certainly NOT suggesting that we can’t perceive our Painter. ... I believe in God in part because of the historicity of Jesus and His presence in my life."

I am suggesting that we cannot perceive a Creator - at least, not in an objectively verifiable fashion. And, while I'd rather not argue the point, I am not entirely convinced of the historicity of Jesus (though I'm not at all convinced that he was pure myth, either).

This is not an attempt to avoid the evidence, by the way; it's just that I think we've both heard the evidence and the arguments before, and rehashing them is unlikely to get us anywhere new.

Makarios: "Those three points make Creator God not just the obvious choice but the only choice."

Given those assumptions, yes - some sort of external creator would be the obvious conclusion. However, as I understand it - and my knowledge may well be incomplete or out of date - there actually are other (theories which at least some portion of scientists acknowledge as) viable possibilities. Roland Hulme lays out one such scenario earlier in his link earlier in this thread, and - last time I checked - it was neither fully proven nor completely discredited.

Makarios: That doesn’t stop Richard Dawkins and some people who comment on this topic from saying things like, “There are a billion planets with life evolving on them even as we speak.”

No, I'm sure it doesn't. (I'm not actually acquainted with Dawkin's work; I know who he is, but I've never read his material or listened to him speak.) And, yes, I agree: that's not a scientific assertion. In fact, it's a cr*p argument.

But.. even if his unscientific guess eventually proves to be correct, so what? Would that prove that God didn't create life? Or, instead, that He likes variety?

Makarios: "The odds of a LIFE SUPPORTING planet existing is unimaginably remote."

Unless you have access to a lot more data than I do, that's an unsupportable assertion. There are only a few planets that are close enough for us to make a reasonable determination about whether they have life on them. Of those, only the Earth actually has life.

To make the calculation, we need to know how many planets there are, and how many of them support life. At present, (as far as I know) we don't have the capacity to observe objects at those distances closely enough to gather that data.

What are the odds of a life-supporting planet existing? We know it's possible, because we live on one. Other than that... we just don't know.

Makarios: "The ONLY reason that atheists won’t accept the conclusion as it stands is because atheists reject the existence of the Supernatural NOT AFTER examining the evidence but BEFORE examining the evidence."

That problem is hardly unique to Atheists, though saying so is only obliquely relevant here.

What really troubles me about this is that it's, well, prejudice. You're assuming, a priori, that the only way someone can reach the conclusion that there is no God is to ignore the evidence (deliberately or otherwise).

The Atheists I know will tell you that they reached the conclusion that there is no God by following the evidence - a long, difficult, and painful process for many of them. When you say things like that, you accuse them of intellectual dishonesty; you're calling them liars.

That's not to say that there aren't intellectually dishonest (or, for that matter, seriously misguided) Atheists out there. Nor do I mean to deny the existence of confirmation bias - having reached their conclusion, Atheists (or believers, for that matter) are generally going to expect any further evidence to support it. Nor, for that matter, will I deny that there are Atheists out there whose conclusions are based on incomplete or incorrect evidence; there probably are.

But to say what you just said is uncharitable (at best; possibly cruel), arrogant, and in my experience simply wrong.

Michael Mock

Jack Grey said...

Listen, I'm going to go do some follow-up reading on the Big Bang and the Origin of Life and see if I can't catch up with the current information on the topic. (My science reading is at least a decade out of date.) Thanks for an interesting conversation/exploration.

Michael Mock

Makarios said...

That's a really good idea. Thanks for stopping by.