Friday, March 27, 2009

A discussion begun elsewhere

The Stranger Said:

"What evidence do you find to be the strongest in favor of atheism? Note, NOT what evidence you find strongest against Christianity. I want to find out why you think you have the strongest position not why you think ours is weak."

I replied:

"Well, I'll keep Occam's razor out of it, because I'm sure you won't accept that. However, as is, I see that currently, in the last few centuries the human understanding of the universe has expanded so greatly that I find it implausible that a deity exists. It doesn't matter what deity. We know to an approximate the age of the earth, and how life evolved on the planet exempting abiogenesis, and that I expect we'll have an answer to in my lifetime.

Our science in general has stremlined, and works very well, and none of it requires the assumption of a god to be true. Even the big bang doesn't require deity.

If nothing as best we can reason requires a deity, the most reasonable conclusion is that there is none. Do I have "proof" of no deity? No, of course not. Its unfalsifiable. The same could be said of the Invisible pink Unicorn, or Russell's teapot."

The Stranger Wrote Again:

"Thanks for the information, I really appreciate your candor (as well as your calm manner). Let's view the evidence then. You say that the universe is aptly described by the laws of science so I'll use some laws to prove to you, scientifically, that the existence of God is necessary given our current understanding of the laws.

Before I do so, I'd like to make sure you understand that I'm not against you but for you. And also, as my Rhetoric professor said, "He convinced against his will, is of the same opinion still." I'm not trying to convince you, but to persuade you. This entails more than logic but I'll start with logic and go from there.

1. If the universe is truly essential then it has been in existence since eternity past.

2. If the universe has been in existence since eternity past then it has been expending energy constantly.

3. If the first and second law of thermodynamics are true (For reference: First law; matter cannot be created nor destroyed. Second law: In a closed system energy loses heat) then the universe has been a closed system losing heat for this entire time.

4. If the universe were infinitely full of energy then there would be no void of space, only an infinite amount of energy in every particle.

5. The universe has finite energy within an infinite period of time.Therefore, the universe must either be finite or the universe must be getting energy from an infinite source.

Second proof.

1. If the universe is then contingent on an infinite source then this infinite source must influence the universe in more than as a battery.

2. The universe has within it intelligent creatures.

3. There is no recorded instance of non-intelligence provoking intelligence.Therefore, the infinite source is not merely actively sustaining the universe but is also intelligent itself.I look forward to your response."

I replied:

Note: If you wish to continue this, please come over to my blog . While i appreciate having a gracious host not censoring things, my site is unmoderated, so messages require no approval.

First you make a poor assumption that the universe is essential. We know it had a beginning, therefore whether it is "essential" or not is up to debate.

You have also fallaciously concluded that the universe has infinite energy in order to make your second "proof". Most reputable cosmologists believe the universe will have an end at some point in the very distant future. As a paraphrase, although not a cosmologist, Christopher Hitchens put it quite succinctly with "nothing is the next big thing."

You also make the fallacious conclusion that "There is no recorded instance of non-intelligence provoking intelligence." This is patently false. Clearly mutation and natural selection can provoke intelligence within a species and these processes are not proven to be guided by any higher intelligence.

You're making alot of assertions, and what you need is actual evidence. Beyond that, you cannot prove that such a thing would be a deity. Even were it eternal and intelligent, that doesn't make it an individual or individuals. But then, its not possible to prove it isn't an individual, but I will err on the side of Occam here. A natural process is simpler and does not require an explanation that scientists can never possibly know the answer to. That said you will always come back to "who created the creator?" And saying its eternal is a cop out assertion without evidence of what the creator is, let alone how it exists. "

We'll see if it continues.


  1. Not that I really am qualified to speak to the science here, though I suspect Stranger isn't either, those "if . . . then" statements are making me suspicious. Generally, when people do that, they are making a baseless assertion, or twisting a valid one, and then forcing you to accept it by requiring an answer to the second assertion based on the first assertion.

    Anyway, good look. At least he's polite.

  2. good luck. who knows what i was thinking there.

  3. We'll see. I'm honestly not expecting he'll be following up. There's too many assertions in his reasoning that make it likely that I will be labelled stubborn or unreasonable as is what usually happens in these faux science discussions.

  4. I like being polite, ^_^. Yes, I am no scientist. I put it into conditional statements because it's easy to see and follow the logic. I enjoyed your criticism of my argument, I'd like to point out that in my intelligence proof I used the word "recorded". The theory known as macro-evolution cannot be recorded (as it theorizes about what may have led to our current state) as it can only be attributed strength by interpretation of archeological findings and gene research (although gene research is tending to prove genetics to be both incredibly complicated, sophisticated, and unusually similar across vastly different species and a general genetic decline rather than gain). What has been recorded is mothers giving birth to babies, cows to calves, and etc.

    Ok, so the universe had a beginning a finite length of time in the past. You mentioned you like the current version of the Big Bang theory, for reference I'll quote an article on the subject,

    "According to the standard theory, our universe sprang into existence as "singularity" around 13.7 billion years ago. What is a "singularity" and where does it come from? Well, to be honest, we don't know for sure. Singularities are zones which defy our current understanding of physics. They are thought to exist at the core of "black holes." Black holes are areas of intense gravitational pressure. The pressure is thought to be so intense that finite matter is actually squished into infinite density (a mathematical concept which truly boggles the mind). These zones of infinite density are called "singularities." Our universe is thought to have begun as an infinitesimally small, infinitely hot, infinitely dense, something - a singularity. Where did it come from? We don't know. Why did it appear? We don't know." --

    So, by this definition, the universe expanded from a super dense, and indescribable, mass called a singularity. All of space was confined in the singularity and the singularity had at one point not been in existence. Is this a fair definition and understanding of your position on the formation of the universe?

    If so, this position affirms the finite universe horn of my dilemma. The universe is thus contingent for its creation on something else. There appears to me to be only three possible explanations, 1. The universe appeared randomly from either an infinite and unintelligent source which by its natural functions "overflowed" or a crazed god who does nonsensical things like create universes (I discount the third option under #1, which is the universe appeared of itself). 2. The universe appeared intentionally of which there is only one option, that being a not so crazy God.

    I'll stop here for now just to make sure I'm understanding your position correctly. Thanks for talking with me! I'm enjoying this very much already.


  5. You make a few leaps of logic and a false trilemma in your reasoning.

    You have to understand that "we don't know" does not mean we will never know. To fill that gap with a deity would be to give up. We are still looking for answers, and someday we may have them.

    AS for singularity, you reach a problem of first cause. I do recommend reading because it explains why first cause is unnecessary from a scientific standpoint far better than I could summarize. But suffice it to say this also solves your false trilemma with another option. Spontaneous generation of the universe without cause which you have discounted without good rationale.

    Other options include multiple deities, a non-deity being, or yes, a crazy deity as well. Your options are a poor approximation of possibilities, but I will once again take a slash with Occam's razor and say the most likely is the simplest. No personified creator.

  6. Addendum: if you don't want to believe in the evolution of our species you've stepped out of the argument and making this about the Christian God, which you specifically asked me not to do, so I would please ask you to do the same, or I will not continue to do so.

  7. Addendum to Addendum: if you reply, I regret i will be away most of the weekend and may not reply myself until Monday.