Monday, September 28, 2009

Atheist Stereotypes

There’s a story going round that atheists are intelligent, well educated and “brighter” than anyone else in the world. It’s gotten to the point that even atheists are starting to believe it. However, there is ample proof to show that that’s an unfair and inaccurate stereotype. Example One below:

Z's First Comment
"the universe exploded from a point that must have been infinitesimally small and dense."

Z's Second Comment
"Prior to the singularity, nothing existed, not space, time, matter, or energy - nothing."

I'm still waiting Z for you to tell me why those comments aren't contradictory.

Or, you can just say, "I was wrong. Everything came from nothing and:
. Since nothing, literally nothing natural or material existed, and
. Since I rule out anything supernatural, or outside of nature, and
. Since everything that begins to exist does so because of a cause
. That means that I believe that nothing caused everything to begin to exist."

Or you can even go by the ultimate proof that intelligent, knowledgeable atheists is a false and misleading stereotype and quote Richard Dawkins himself.

"Nothing EVOLVED into everything."

Priceless!

32 comments:

PersonalFailure said...

Every now and then, I point out to you that in quantum physics something appearing out of nothing happens all the time. Yet you continue to mock and revile all the people who accept this fact.

Makarios said...

Yes and every time you do that you are making a false statement.

The vacuum in which these particles appear is NOT NOTHING. It is a sea of fluctuating energy (Remember? Atheists believe that energy is something?) that is endowed with a rich structure and subject to physical laws. Such models do not involve a true origin ex nihilo.

This is Example Number Two that atheists are NOT, as a group, well educated, and knowledgeable and Bright, or at least more so than the average non atheist.

So what if atheists ignore this "fact"? I wish that I'd kept track of how many atheists have harangued me over my “not knowing” that the universe sprang from an infinitesimally small dot of matter. I mean c’mon, that’s just embarrassing for those who wish to maintain the atheist stereotype of you guys being Brights.

You can't get a bigger difference than the one between Something and Nothing. And an atheist, again according to the stereotype, should know that.

Makarios said...

Further to my point PF not being able to predict where an electron is going to appear is also not an example of something coming into being ex nihilo.

Z said...

This is great. It's amusing to have my intelligence called into question by someone who devotes his life to the observance of ancient fairy tales.

You seem resolute that something must not have come from nothing. So where did it come from? Something else? Where did that come from? And on and on: the problem of infinite regress.

It's no more illogical to think that something just came from nothing - and that's where the evidence points.

But what do I know? I just listen to people with advanced degrees who study these things. Since your ability to reason is apparently much greater than mine or Dawkins or PF's, what is your theory on how the universe began?

Carl said...

The problem with statistics is that they mean nothing to the individual :) Also, any real statistics on this matter are dubious at best.

That said, I don't think these are contradictory statements, but we may not have the full explanation for why not yet. Here's how I see what the second statement refers to. We've seen that space and time are not completely separate entities. If you warp one, you warp both. The conditions that we trace back to the "big bang" point show that things getting more and more dense. The gravitational effect of this on space-time would warp it immensely. If we're to say that all of the matter in the universe was in this one point, it could be that it warped space and time onto itself in this one point as well. The math here is quite a chore for me to try to wade through.

Unfortunately for Z's comment, warping time like this removes any intuitive sense of what "before" actually means. It's no longer a straight line where we can say that everything was created here, and there was a point before that. Time, in this context, just can't be said to work like that. But due to the nature of such high gravitational wells, information is lost once it crosses the event horizon. This means that if we could decipher a meaning for "before the big bang", we still would have no way of getting any information about it. Functionally, it was the "beginning", but we have to figure out what that means in a general sense.

And, I know that we have a very incomplete understanding of this. To me, that just means we need to learn more. To me, an infinitely old universe seems just as unlikely as a universe with a beginning. But I think we'll get a better and better picture as we go along.

JD Curtis said...

It's amusing to have my intelligence called into question by someone who devotes his life to the observance of ancient fairy tales.

Substance anyone? This is almost as amusing as those who think that lightning struck a pile of goop, thus giving rise to everything from bacteria to elephants. Hah!

But what do I know? I just listen to people with advanced degrees who study these things

At least you admit it.

Gorth Satana said...

Makarios said: "The vacuum in which these particles appear is NOT NOTHING"

The vacuum is not nothing?

I've seen people express this:

Nothing created Yahweh.
Yahweh created everything.
Therefore nothing created everything.

LOL.

Makarios said...

My theory - Z?

http://makarios-makarios.blogspot.com/2009/09/irrefutable-mmm-maybe-not.html
================

Carl - “I don't think these are contradictory statements”

So something Can Be and Can Not Be at the same time?
==============

“And, I know that we have a very incomplete understanding of this. That just means we need to learn more.”

And until we do, we’ll just rely on atheism of the gaps
==================

“To me, an infinitely old universe seems just as unlikely as a universe with a beginning.”

If you don’t mind ignoring science, you can believe whatever you want. If on the other hand what science says matters to you, then you must acknowledge that an infinitely old universe is physically and philosophically impossible while a universe with a beginning is exactly what happened.

Gorth Satana said...

"If you don’t mind ignoring science, you can believe whatever you want."

which is why people believe in gods?

Gorth Satana said...

and the Bible.

Z said...

So you're a first-causer. Good for you. You insist on a cause for the universe, but then you're happy to accept an eternal God who lacks any cause or beginning.

This argument has been soundly refuted for hundreds of years, but I think Bertrand Russell sums it up best:

"If everything must have a cause, then God must have a cause. If there can be anything without a cause, it may just as well be the world [or universe] as God, so that there cannot be any validity in that argument. It is exactly of the same nature as the Hindu's view, that the world rested upon an elephant and the elephant rested upon a tortoise; and when they said, "How about the tortoise?" the Indian said, "Suppose we change the subject.""

Makarios said...

"Nothing created Yahweh.
Yahweh created everything.
Therefore nothing created everything."

Sorry Gorth, I didn't mean to ignore you. If anything is LOL it's that atheists can't comprehend that asking:

"When did an eternal / infinite Being begin to exist," and

"What caused an eternal / infinite Being to begin to exist,"

are illogical and incoherent questions. They aren't even worthy of LOL's.

Example number three of the false stereotype.

Makarios said...

"You insist on a cause for the universe, but then you're happy to accept an eternal God who lacks any cause or beginning.”

Just look at a dictionary for what eternal and infinite means, ok? And then ask yourself, yet again, “What caused an eternal and infinite being to begin to exist.”

If I'm wrong about this false stereotype you should be able to see a huge problem with that question.
=============

"This argument has been soundly refuted for hundreds of years, but I think Bertrand Russell sums it up best:"

Bertrand Russell was an idiot who is at this very minute standing in hell knowing that he had plenty of evidence for Creator God but rejected it all the same.

Now listen carefully ok? Read it slowly if you must.

The phrase is NOT

“Everything must have a cause.”

Got that? The phrase is NOT

"Everything must have a cause."

The premise is, “Everything that BEGINS TO EXIST must have a cause.”

An example would be The Universe or you.

Can you not see the difference in these two statements? Is it really so hard that you just cannot get it?

The premise has NOT been refuted because it is a scientific reality. And in fact, that we consistently observe this to be true is critically important because scientific naturalists, you for example, demand that nothing can be believed without consistent observation and verification.

Every single attempt to promote alternatives to this premise have only reinforced its truth. Therefore, atheists have the highest motivation to accept this premise - Everything THAT BEGINS TO EXIST has a cause, an explanation of it's existence. Creator God did NOT begin to exist because Creator God is an eternal Being. (((Deep, deep Sigh)))

JD Curtis said...

Z, it is incumbent upon you to prove that God is like us, thus needing a beginning. We as Christians would say that God is decidedly NOT like us. As D James Kennedy put it "To say that God is a self-existing, eternal being is contrary to no laws of logic. Nothing is unreasonable or irrational about that, unless we must suppose that everything is a creature such as we are."

His Lordship said...

Mak, you are still going on with your fallacy of false choice. Give it a rest.

Not believing in your, huh, what's his name? Allah? -- you know, the god of the guy who tried to kill his son Isaac -- doesn't imply that we atheists believe that nothing created everything. So just give up on this alright?

I am scientifically oriented, yet I don't agree with every damn theory out there. Theories are theories. No one "believes" in them. Stop making generalities about atheists, and go kill some Philistines and stone some Sabbath desecrators like Yahweh commands you to, and try to explain your motive to the judge at your trial.

His Lordship said...

Siddharta Gautama (aka The Buddha) said : "Conjecture about [the origin, etc., of] the world is an unconjecturable that is not to be conjectured about, that would bring madness & vexation to anyone who conjectured about it."

Dang, maybe you should convert to Buddhism, and then maybe you wouldn't be so vexed about trying to explain the logic behind your eternal being that caused everything to come into existence. Why an eternal being? Why not an eternal Turtle? Would that make you feel better if the Turtle spoke Hebrew?

Gorth Satana said...

"I've seen people express this:

Nothing created Yahweh.
Yahweh created everything.
Therefore nothing created everything."

It's a demonstration of how your language (English) is unclear.

Think about the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem.
That inflationary models require physics other than inflation to describe the past boundary of the inflating region of spacetime.

The universe also exists among countless other universes with various different laws of physics

"It is said that there's no such thing as a free lunch. But the universe is the ultimate free lunch". — A. H. Guth

and on other subjects:
"Bertrand Russell was an idiot who is at this very minute standing in hell knowing that he had plenty of evidence for Creator God but rejected it all the same"
LOL! Prove it.

Makarios said...

so vexed about trying to explain the logic behind your eternal being that caused everything to come into existence."

The only troubling part about explaining a very simple concept is that atheists are proving themselves impervious to understanding simple concepts. Stereotype failure number, what, 100?
---------------

Why an eternal being? Why not an eternal Turtle?"

Ah yes, when all else fails return to default - stupid.

His Lordship said...

Ah yes, when all else fails return to default - stupid.

You do it well, bravo.

Carl said...

"So something Can Be and Can Not Be at the same time?"
I was just gearing up for my position that we're getting lost in semantics. Trying to assign the temporal relationship "before" doesn't necssarily have a clear meaning in big bang like situations.

"And until we do, we’ll just rely on atheism of the gaps"
I see what you did there :) No, for most atheists it's not a 100% certainty. Not having an explanation doesn't give them a reason to explain things divinely. The atheists that I know see lack of belief as the starting point, and invoking god to explain has historically been premature.

"If you don’t mind ignoring science, you can believe whatever you want. If on the other hand what science says matters to you, then you must acknowledge that an infinitely old universe is physically and philosophically impossible while a universe with a beginning is exactly what happened."

I don't think science has anything to say on that subject right now. We have evidence that there was some sort of big bang event, but details are hard to get. But the nature of that event was such that it might as well have meant that time started exactly then fromour point of view. But that doesn't preclude the possibility of an endless (and beginningless) series of big bangs and big crunches. Or something else entirely. I don't claim to know.

Philosophically, I see no problem positing an infinte universe, if you are going to do so for god. You called god an eternal being. Why can't I call the universe eternal and be just as justified?

JD Curtis said...

Why an eternal being? Why not an eternal Turtle?

Because if ever there was ever any evidence offered concerning this turtle of yours than it must have been very bad evidence and thus is not in consideration any more. Next question.
Like talking to children sometimes, ain't it Mak?

feeno said...

Trying saying "eternal turtle" 3 times as fast as you can.

Peace, feeno

Makarios said...

Ah feeno - you're a hoot brother. Thank you.

“No, for most atheists it's not a 100% certainty.”

You may as well. You don’t consider any other possibility. I do, you know. If there was a natural cause found for the big bang I would not say, it’s got to be God. I’m saying what I’m saying for the same reason that Anthony Flew switched sides. I’m going where the evidence points. Atheists can't or won't refuse to do that.
===============

“and invoking god to explain has historically been premature.”

You’re right of course. I don’t think I’ve every heard it phrased as nicely as that :-)
====================

But that doesn't preclude the possibility of an endless (and beginningless) series of big bangs and big crunches."

Well, yes it does, Carl, both scientifically (Borde-Guth-Vilenkin Theorem) and philosophically (there is no such thing as the physically infinite).
=============

“You called god an eternal being. Why can't I call the universe eternal and be just as justified?”

Because matter cannot be infinite. This is not an opinion. It’s a fact. If you are not familiar with Hilbert’s Hotel and other contradictions of the material infinite, you might find it helpful to google it.

Gorth Satana said...

The Borde-Guth-Vilenkin Theorem doesn't say what I think you think it says.

Carl said...

"You may as well. You don’t consider any other possibility. I do, you know. If there was a natural cause found for the big bang I would not say, it’s got to be God. I’m saying what I’m saying for the same reason that Anthony Flew switched sides. I’m going where the evidence points. Atheists can't or won't refuse to do that."

This tends to be the sticking point between the two sides. One side says there's evidence that is convincing, the other says there's not. One side says "You won't consider the possibility", the other side says "I considered it and found it lacking." To me, it's like this: I would love to reserve all judgement until every piece of evidence is in and I can view them as a whole. But this will not happen in my lifetime, and rather than be perpetually undecided, I've picked a side. Everyone has picked a side, and to pretend that it doesn't affect how you see new things is absurd. I can't speak for others, but I still think I'm open, yet unconvinced.
====================

"Well, yes it does, Carl, both scientifically (Borde-Guth-Vilenkin Theorem) and philosophically (there is no such thing as the physically infinite)."

That's an interesting theorem, and I have not encountered it before. One thing that I immediately notice, though, is that it is taken somewhat out of context by some. The paper itself only says that inflationary physics is not sufficient to explain a past-complete universe, and that if there were to be such a theory, it would require new physics. There are missing pieces to a lot of physics, and seemingly incompatible theories for different situations (very fast, very small, very big, etc). While it's definitely something to watch, we have to be careful how much trust we put in brand new theories (for both sides of the argument, admittedly).

It's like the run-around that we've had with quantum physics. Everyone got very excited by Bell's Theorem, which showed that any theory of local hidden variables was not consistent with quantum mechanical predictions. So everyone thought, "Wow, the universe really is random at heart". But then there were things like the Bohm interpretation of QM that did explain it deterministically. It wasn't inconsistent with Bell's theorem because it is causal but not local.

=============

"Because matter cannot be infinite. This is not an opinion. It’s a fact. If you are not familiar with Hilbert’s Hotel and other contradictions of the material infinite, you might find it helpful to google it."

William Lane Craig has mentioned both the BGV theorem and Hilbert's Hotel in his arguments. However, we're dealing with different cases of infinity. There may not be infinite matter in the universe - no theory that I know of claims this. It may be extremely large, but doesn't have to be infinite. The infinity I mean is infinite in time, and the first law of thermodynamics has a lot to say about that. (Though I always felt like thermodynamics was less rigorous than other physics. It's like chemistry posing as physics...)

Also, the Hilbert's Hotel paradox deals only with countably infinite sets (or a countably infinite number of countably infinite sets). This may or may not apply to our discussion, where matter may be on an uncountably infinite basis. Infinity is a tricky thing, and in no case is it intuitive. We're quite ill-equipped to ponder the infinite.

Gorth Satana said...

Here's a copy of Borde-Guth-Vilenkin's work.

http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/gr-qc/pdf/0110/0110012v2.pdf

You'll notice - if you actually fucking reading it - that it implies that space-time is locally finite.

To say that it "preclude(s) the possibility of an endless (and beginningless) series of big bangs and big crunches." is to show a complete misunderstanding of the work.

Vilenkin has often been quotemined when speaking of a osmic beginning but read the next paragraph of the quote.

Why do you think Guth refered to the universe as "the ultimate free lunch"?

Gorth Satana said...

And by locally finite, the other universes might have different physics.
So read the paper.
(If my english is unclear, it's not my first language.)

Makarios said...

"the other universes might have different physics."

Other universes?

Makarios said...

Carl - Doesn't the fact that we say the universe is 14.5 billion years old (give or take) mean that we actually DO understand time, at least enough to function, and actually do believe that it is not theoretical or subjective?

Carl said...

"Doesn't the fact that we say the universe is 14.5 billion years old (give or take) mean that we actually DO understand time, at least enough to function, and actually do believe that it is not theoretical or subjective?"

I see this as a problem with language more than anything. I don't mean to imply that time is theoretical. Weird theories of infinite universes that are each just a "snapshot" of a moment in time are fanciful guesses at best for me. And it depends on what you mean by subjective. Time can behave subjectively, as verified results of relativity show. But relativity is insufficient on a quantum scale, so there isn't a good theory that explains it when we're dealing with the high energy and small scale present 14.5 billion years ago.

When I say that the universe is 14.5 billion years old, to me this is relative to the big bang event. If all matter were scrunched down that small, the event horizon would have encompassed everything, and there would be no "looking back" past it. Such is the nature of the forces involved as we understand them. It would have been like a big reset-button from our point of view.

And I'm probably guilty of some misinterpretation along the way too. I try to sniff it out, but it's a slippery subject. To talk of big bangs leading to big crunches leading to more big bangs, it seems like we're looking at the universe from an outside point of view with a linear timeline that we can mark off each big event. But time doesn't work like this. Time is so intimately involved in the warping of space, it's hard to get a picture in your head of what a big crunch would do to time. It wouldn't be a linear timeline anymore, and that doesn't fit well in our heads.

JD Curtis said...

Carl, I dont mean toconfuse you re:time or anything. Just check this out concerning the age of the Earth sometime whenever you get a chance and let me know what you think. You too Gorth. Link

Carl said...

JD:
The article seems to be disagreeing with that theory. I also disagree, for some similar and some different reasons. I agree that it's mostly just a reformulation of day-age theory, and that a lot of his choices of numbers are seemingly arbitrary and hand-picked to suit his own needs. The choice of day-lengths that he uses doesn't fit the math either. Time-dilation, if that is what we're using, wouldn't follow the exponential pattern he chooses (4,2,1,.5,.25,...).

However, my larger problem with these kinds of interpretations is that the order is still inconsistent with what we see. For example, Genesis has water, earth, grass and herbs created before the sun, moon, and stars. This is not at all what the evidence shows, which would put the stars first, then sun then moon, earth, and so forth. Also, modern evolutionary theory would say that plants on land (day 3) came later than sea creatures (day 5), and that birds (day 5) came later than insects and mammals (day 6). All of this considered, I think that trying to salvage the discrepancies between the two ideas doesn't do either of them any credit. It twists creationism without justification, and it demands concessions from evolution that aren't supported by evidence. It doesn't surprise me that AiG disagrees with him too.

This is just my first impression. Did you have something specific you were wanting my opinion on?