I’m thinking of starting a new series of posts, classed as BRIGGS YOU FOOL!, in which I cover emails of a certain genre I get.
Email from Anon, in which I add paragraphifications for easier screen reading, but otherwise change nothing:
I was surprised to see in your book, Everything you believe is wrong, that you erred in logic about the existence of a god.
You don’t seem to recognize that morality can have evolved, and any argument from logic (evil implies god, or otherwise) is not an argument from evidence. You state: “If there is no God, whatever argument advance along moral lines necessarily fails, because any such argument is just opinion. But, that would also be true if there were a God.”
After all, any argument about the existence of a God has no information about the characteristics of that God. In fact, we have no evidence to suggest that a God must be moral, or the base of morality.
However, if morality evolved (and some good evidence suggests that it did), then your arguments are also incorrect – morality isn’t “just” opinion (although it can be relative to the cultural situation in which it develops).
You also state: “don’t forget your existence is eternal” and that also has no evidence to back it up. Indeed, the evidence suggests that eternity is a faulty concept, and time, as we know it, began with the big bang. There may be some other kind of time we know nothing about, but the time that we know follows Einstein’s theory of relativity, and so in black holes, essentially stops relative to outside the black hole. And, as far as evidence goes, we die and rot, and therefore are not eternal.
I note that ALL of your arguments for the existence or non-existence of God fail your own rules about discovering which arguments are meaningful. I find it ironic, and interesting, that your entire book is refuting those things we believe while clarifying that the logic of those beliefs and where the evidence must be brought to support anything to determine whether it might be true. Yet, you ignore those same rules when talking about God.
Top note: do not buy the book, unless you really need a copy, for I am, even now, yea this very moment, working on a second edition.
Thanks, Anon, for reminding me of how wonderful my arguments in Believe are. But you forgot that I took pains to say that I would not undertake any argument in the book to prove the existence of God. I sufficed myself to say that if there is no God, there is no evil, and no good. Thus there is no morality. There is only opinion. Your only hope is that your will, and your muscles or your wiles, are stronger than the next guy’s.
Man can “evolve”, which is to say change, but the existence of change does not imply the “evolution” of morality. Your biology, your needs and desires, don’t mean squat in whatever stage of “evolution” they exist. However your biology may make you feel, or fool you into thinking this is right, that wrong, your suffering means nothing. The universe, if God does not exist, does not even not care. Nature does not, and cannot, reach the level of indifference. Because to be indifferent implies an intellect willing to judge, which implies a universal morality, which doesn’t exist if God doesn’t. Morality is just opinion, and opinion meaningless.
Not only that, but if God does not exist, then nothing of any kind matters. How could it? There would have to be something there, and something everlasting, and not just for the moment, that cares about how things turn out, and, in particular, how you turn out. If there is nothing but “blind” forces, then there is nothing that can see you, or see anything.
Of course, nothing cannot explain how there came to be something, and why the something is the way it is and why it is not some other way. So there has to be something.
If God exists, which I say he does, then we can indeed infer certain qualities about him. I don’t do this in the book, because I was not tackling questions about God and his existence and what follows from that, but many have done us this service. May I recommend Ed Feser’s The Last Superstition?
I agree with Anon that time began with change, and the big change seems to be the Big Bang, but I’m open to other theories and evidence about how the Way Things Are began.
Anon is also right that I did not give “evidence” that our existence is eternal. I took it as a premise and saw what followed from it. I did not mean Believe to be a book of theology in any grand sense, and said so within. But obviously I did not say so with sufficient assiduity. I will correct this in the second edition.
Subscribe or donate to support this site and its wholly independent host using credit card click here. Cash App: $WilliamMBriggs. For Zelle, use my email: email@example.com, and please include yours so I know who to thank.
imagine a pedagogue confuses explanation with reasoning and lets Einstein create time — ROTFL
My stalker asked a question about this post.
Above I say that if God does not exist, then nothing matters—no thing. Morality does not matter; there is no good, there is no evil. All is opinion, and opinion does not matter.
And Nature does not, and cannot, even reach the level of indifference. Because to be indifferent implies an intellect willing to judge, which implies a universal morality, which doesn’t exist if God doesn’t.
My stalker asks “Can you explain why your god causes, or can’t/doesn’t want to stop childhood cancer?” Note his clever lower-case ‘g’.
No, I can’t explain.
But I can say that those cancers mean zippo, nada, nothing, and less than nothing, if God does not exist.
The survival of any person, or even of the entire race, has no meaning, none whatsoever, if God does not exist. That you care about these things means nothing. It particularly does not mean that I have to care that you care.
How could anything matter? There would have to be something there, and something everlasting, and not just for the moment, that cares about how things turn out, and, in particular, how you turn out.
If there is nothing but “blind” forces, then there is nothing that can see you, or see anything.
This is known as the Problem of Evil. There is none, if God does not exist.
If there is nothing but “blind” forces, then there is nothing that can see you, or see anything.
This is known as the Problem of Evil. There is none, if God does not exist.
So this flimsy argument from compassion to disproves God’s existence fails in misery.
Some of this is repeat, because I posted it as a tweet.
Anon’s views are symptomatic of a disease I will call a “progressivopathy” that is caused by “progressivergic pathogens”. Such things as morality being founded upon the current views of society (as determined by a consensus of mind-reading experts wearing black robes). As in judges tearing up 800 years of precedent because “Society’s attitudes are changing”. Evil.
If a creator exists one of the many serious errors & mistakes is that from my point of view, as a conscious entity, all I can be sure of is that it’s possible for at least one conciousness to exist & anything the conciousness experiences could be entirely fictitious – not related to anything that exists in any reality.
Now we see why Nietzsche called Anglophone atheists “flatheads.” They do not reason beyond their desired conclusion. Hence, the title of his work, Beyond Good and Evil.
Our Host is enough of an Expert (God, I hope a missile isn’t headed my way) that I am not inclined to slap him before reading what he said. Even if I disagree with his words, I am inclined to try and figure out what his reference frame is and if his words are consistent to his reference frame.
I struggle with the conundrum of morality. My own definition is something along the lines of “if it helps keep everything from turning to chaos… Moral… If it is inclined to turn things into chaos, immoral”..
If the number of babies dying having been born to women who were vaccinated is higher than number of babies dying born to mothers who weren’t vaccinated, does the decrease in population increase the chance of chaos or decrease… These are conversations that need alcohol.. Probably too much alcohol…
Now define how to define when the right amount of alcohol is reached… When one of my buddies started demonstrating to me how quick his hands were, repeatedly, I put forward that that was TOO much alcohol..
John 9:1-12 is the answer.
@Brad, as a young man the question of the right amount of alcohol was easily defined in my peer group- never enough. Of course the vagaries of youth, combined with innocence, naivety and a mistaken sense of immortality all led to one result. A blinding hangover. As youth passes into manhood one begins to temper his alcohol consumption because work, family, faith begin to take precedence. Now, as an old man, I find a couple of beers is exactly the right amount of stimulation to begin an examination of the universe and its mysteries.
Let’s introduce some logic to this:
God, if He exists, does not operate in time or space. It is difficult for us to imagine such a situation and what it means. We thus, will refer to the time before our universe to describe the beginning of the universe when no such thing may exist or could exist.
There is no such thing as infinity in time and space. Why? If there was an infinite amount of time and space in some physical reality, then every possible physical thing must have existed. Explain why something physically possible could not have existed in an infinite time or space. Not only must it have existed but existed an infinite number of times. Which means that this conversation existed an infinite number of times before in an infinite number of variations and an infinite number of times. It’s absurd but logical.
If you disagree, explain why it didn’t happen.
Also, if the universe is infinite or there are an infinite number of universes, there must be an infinite number of God like entities. But we do not see any. (if you disagree explain why any level of intelligence would be limited given an infinite amount time. We are beginning to see what AI can do, why not an intelligence much greater than ours.)
We tend to apply our current physical world to the solution when whatever the cause of this world has no explanation that we can conceive of.
As far a childhood cancer, it and any bad thing one can think of that is possible is a necessary condition for a meaningful universe. If somehow the creator did not allow childhood cancer, there would then be some other condition or situation that would be a deal breaker for them.
So all the objections to God make no sense. Especially since there is no explanation for why anything exists, including Briggs.
I’ll bring a bit of logic to this as well. There is no “if God exists”, simply because we and the mutable, physical part of the universe we currently exist in does exist. Because it is mutable and thus contingent, a being that Is Being, and all actual, had to bring this part into existence. To do that, said Being must have an Intellect, a Will, and Power. We have these, too; but bounded. As far as childhood cancer goes, those are among the many accidents that are tragic; but not evil.
Matt’s post has to do with the free responsibility, the consequentiality, if you will, of human acts, and he rightly says, in effect, that without the free existence of an ordo, there is no way to characterize anything as ‘dis-ordered’ — let alone to propose that Anyone would care, one way or the other.
But in re the purported ‘proofs’ for the Thomist Deus Unus — that ‘God’ — as the source of that ordo: It couldn’t possibly be that some of the inherent, dare we say, nakedly unChristian, contradictions in the analogy of being were already correctly being identified in the Christian West by the beginning of the fourteenth century, and thus that Dr. Feser is just another in an endless line of smarter-than-the-average-bear midwit academics ‘naturally’ available to the end of time, normally to be discounted, often safely to be entirely ignored, but lauded in certain circles because he “brilliantly” and “counter-culturally” comes up with “the right answer.”
“Indeed, the evidence suggests that eternity is a faulty concept, and time, as we know it, began with the big bang.”
1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.
2 And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.
3 And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
4 And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.
5 And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And the evening and the morning were the first day.
6 And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.
7 And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so.
8 And God called the firmament Heaven. And the evening and the morning were the second day.
“You also state: “don’t forget your existence is eternal” and that also has no evidence to back it up. Indeed, the evidence suggests that eternity is a faulty concept, and time, as we know it, began with the big bang. ”
The above quote is From the article.
Why do not those who subscribe to the Big Bang theory, tell from whence came, that which existed, to cause the Big Bang???
It always was???
So, then Eternity always was, too.
And so, the Big Bang set in motion all of creation, including intelligence???
Back to what set off the Big Bang???
It is foolishness not to believe God. Believe Genesis. Believe God.
God bless, C-Marie
Your interlocutor sounds like the people I knew in college, and was in college- trying to prove the non-existence of God, only trying to disguise it as some other argument
I also struggle with defining precisely why certain acts are verboten, like killing a rival suitor for a mate, or throttling the guy at the other table in the restaurant who is loudly talking on his phone. It isn’t enough to say it is forbidden because society has made such acts forbidden and illegal and, thus, you don’t do these things to avoid punishment. By that standard, you kill the targets in such a way that no one ever knows you did it- there are no consequences if you believe there are none, and no one can put consequences on you- thus the morality of your actions are yours alone to judge.
Like Briggs, I, a long time ago, came to the conclusion that there has to be a standard that stands beyond our physical existence to give meaning to that existence and the acts we perform within it. I am not discomforted by the idea of my existence winking out into oblivion, but I think the idea that there is something beyond all of this is a needed thing in order for all of us to not become sociopaths.
To add a little levity to a serious conversation, consider this:
If Dr Ed Feser had a criminal record, he could be known as Edward “The Con” Feser.
There are exaggerations that are lies, and lies that are exaggerations, usually from the repertoire of opinionated experts; however there are also testimonies that look like that but are neither, try this one:
Given you see everything around you now is beautiful, then evidentially _____ is the most beautiful of all. Now, complete the sentence by filling _____ precisely & unique.
Briggs you fool! We all see through this cunning farce of yours as a cheap and easy attempt to fill this blog with easy shooting fish in a barrel content versus putting in the time and effort to write more serious, complex, thoughtful and erudite witty commentary that have come to characterize the standards of wmbriggs.com!
We don’t stand for this in our governments and our expert institutions, and we will won’t stand it from you! And more plotted graphs, we could always use more X/Y graphs to add more credibility and authenticity. That is how the man at the bank reassures me about my value, and I also invest a great deal in you!
You said “Man can “evolve”, which is to say change, but the existence of change does not imply the “evolution” of morality.” In fact, the evidence says that man DID evolve. And, man, along with several other social organisms, have traits that we call moral. These animals behave in “moral” ways and there are many published examples. So, morality can have biological significance and biological origins – might even be instinct, as with language (in humans). Your “opinion” about morals notwithstanding, but your claim that morality is impossible without a god is simply your opinion, or you define them that way, and in both cases, are not evidentiary arguments.
You also say, “if god does not exist, then nothing matters” but which is also an opinion or reification of what “to matter” means. I’m sure things matter to my dog, for example. And, when I observe parent animals defending their offspring, I see that something matters to them. When two horny adult male chimps fight over dominance, it is clear that something matters to them. Again, I would suggest that it is your opinion that without god nothing matters, or your definition of what “to matter” requires that a god exist, by definition.
You also state that “If God exists, which I say he does, then we can indeed infer certain qualities about him.” Again, I think that is a statement of opinion. There are so many possible definitions of “god” that it is impossible to choose which is best. After all, we’d have to have some way to measure the definition. But, if a god does exist, then humans existed (the first evidence of the genus Homo, which we can define as human) for over 2 million years before he apeared to have any influence in their lives. That’s just the evidence speaking. I don’t think there is any evidence of his existence, nor any way to infer qualities about him. After all, the different versions of god didn’t go away because god made them, they went away because the conqueror establishes their own religion.
So, again, I affirm that you are stating your opinions (beliefs) about morality, the meaning of “to matter,” and the existence of god, which, given the premise of your interesting book is that what you believe is wrong.
Another atheist seeking answers? You’ve come to the right place, Anon. Is there a God, and if so, is He righteous?
As I imperfectly mis-recall, Dr. Briggs in his wonderful book wrote something like, “Proof of the existence of God is trivial.” So we’re past that, right?
The good Doctor also provided you, for free, Saint Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Contra Gentiles (Summary Against Modern Thought). It’s still here; search SAMT. The case for His righteousness is made in spades, but it will take some effort on your part to wade through it.
What is righteousness, i.e. morality? It’s not a trick question; you already know the answer. You know the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, love and hate. Listen to your conscience.
Thank you, Dr. Weezil, for your ref. I also think the answer to Anon is found in John, Chapter 1:
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Thank you Uncle Mike!!
God bless, C-Marie
C-Marie asked: “Why do not those who subscribe to the Big Bang theory, tell from whence came, that which existed, to cause the Big Bang???”
Bill should know the answer to that question, but I’ll go ahead and answer it here. Remember, the big bang happened nearly 14 billion years ago. Time, as we know it, began with it. That may make no sense to you, but physicists that study time and the universe affirm that it is so. Perhaps there is some other kind of time, but time as we know it is neither constant nor eternal. And, the reason why physicists do not tell us from whence the big bang came, is because the big bang, in happening, eliminated all evidence for anything that might have come before.
A physicist would say, who knows, maybe something caused it, but we have no way of knowing. That means, there is simply no evidence to use (yet) to talk about that issue. Scientists are not uncomfortable with knowing that things might remain unknown.
Dating of the Universe is based on ignoring (among other things) the reproducible observations of Halton Arp, his reports are verboten.
Why should a reasoning descendant of hominids adhere to forbiddances?
From above …” …And, the reason why physicists do not tell us from whence the big bang came, is because the big bang, in happening, eliminated all evidence for anything that might have come before.”
And how is it known that the Big Bang eliminated all evidence for anything that might have come before it … since we are told that all began with the Big Bang …. which circles around to … from whence came the Big Bang?
The Truth is much simpler. All creation points to a creation created by an Intelligence Whose design is evident in every thing. God loves you!!
C-Marie said “And how is it known that the Big Bang eliminated all evidence for anything that might have come before it … since we are told that all began with the Big Bang …. which circles around to … from whence came the Big Bang?” Well, I’d have to say, evidence. Basically, what you are saying is that you are ignorant of the evidence, and think it’s a circular argument. At the same time, you have no problem with your own circular argument.
Indeed, all creation does NOT point to a creator. It all points to natural processes that can all be explained without the need for magic.
Chaerenon said: “Dating of the Universe is based on ignoring (among other things) the reproducible observations of Halton Arp, his reports are verboten.”
Well, he’s not forbidden and the reason why his views are not accepted on things like the redshift and quasars is because the accumulated evidence says he’s wrong. Redshift IS associated with distance, and quasars are associated with black holes. His ideas on these topics were published a while back and we’ve gotten the Hubble and Webb telescopes since then. Also, he is not forbidden and was even eulogized in the book “The Galileo of Palomar: essays in memory of Halton Arp.”
He was wrong because the evidence does not support his views.
Just as Mona Lisa can be explained by pigment chemistry, optical reflectance, brush shapes and strokes, and the properties of canvas. It all depends on the limits you place on what you’re trying to explain. You may measure and test every component and connection of a jet engine and never discover Frank Whittle.
Redshift and black holes, which by definition devour all radiation around them; has CNN show this in photos?
I wait for observation of quasar pairs, am in no hurry.
P.S. doi.org/10.1063/1.2189124 aka Crisis in Cosmology
Oh the agony of the atheist. He’s accidental, a product of random chance, soulless, here today gone tomorrow, without purpose, without direction, without any moral code except crude and temporary survival.
In his pain and pointlessness, he lashes out at those who believe in God. He brands them terrorists, useless breeders, a drain on his wealth. He seeks to abort their babies, sterilize their children, euthanize their elders.
He wants to dictate what they eat, their shelters, their businesses, their schools, and ban their churches and synagogues. It’s all for the “good” of society, the nation, the planet, which the “scientific” atheist desires to “save”.
And what for? The typical atheist is a non-breeder, without progeny, often a sex deviant, “gender dysphoric”, with no stake in the future, a random chance organism of no value except to himself alone.
It’s agony upon agony. We feel your pain. We pray for you, for your immortal soul. No need to thank us. Why would you? There is no God anyway, according to you.
So tell me, soulless blip in the Universe, why do you even care what we think, or believe, or worship. It’s no skin off your nose. Why do you seek converts to your non-church of non-believers? We’re just random accidents, too. What difference does it make to you? What difference does anything make?
Could it be that you’re not so certain about your metaphysical condition after all?
But are the animals themselves doing the philosophical analysis and publishing and peer review?
Uh huh… And when the animals, also observed and published in detail do all the immoral things like murdering their prey, stealing others storage of food, cannabalism of their own kind, and sodomizing their inferiors to show who’s the top dog, where are the animal-priests, animal-philosophers and animal-moralists ascending upon Pride Rock before the gathered crowds like in the Lion King to deliver the 10 Commandments?
Let’s answer that. “To Matter” in this case first means imposing or adhering to laws and morality, even when it comes at personal cost to the participants. Unlike your dog and chimpanzee who are largely motivated by self-interest. Either for their direct survival or ensuring the survival of their offspring, or where there is mutual benefit. Sometimes, doing the right thing comes at great personal cost. Provide an example of this from the animal kingdom.
But we also go further – as “to matter” – also means whether it is of interest to study and publish and categorize and comprehend and understand it as a logical thing – as if there is an order or meaning to it. Absent God, it is random, accidental, and more important – SUBJECT TO CHANGE – and change to what? The personal selfish whims of the organisms, which again brings us right back to the first point, and who is obligated to follow it? That’s the question, ain’t it? Morality implies OBLIGATION. Absent God, who is obliged? Especially when it is not in their selfish interests to do so? And the very idea of ‘selfishness’ being “wrong” is just like, your opinion, man?
What is the morality of euthanasia? Where is the survival benefit? “Stop the pain, I want to get off”? Why not euthanasize? And if euthanize, why not genocide? Do the animals care about the extinction of their competition? You got a published paper where you conducted interviews with them?
Nope, what you have is an ad hoc base premise – d’uh… people came from particles – followed by highly imaginary layers of fictional extrapolation. But your story is full of holes, contradiction and missing pieces that fail to satisfy, and we don’t care for the lazy atheistic article of faith to just “wait for someday’s new evidence that may or may not be found. Trust me bro.”
We’ve tend to go with the definitions God Himself revealed from His own mouth.
Whooooaaahhh… horsey! Whooooaaaaaa!!!! We don’t just accept your little made-up numbers there. We start with the revelation that God has had a relationship with humans since their first day of existence on Earth.
Really? Well many of us also had interviews with the exact same evidence and it told us something very different. It’s all about knowing what are the right questions to ask based on what our a priori assumptions are.
Really? That’s your excuse? It doesn’t occur to you that atheistic naturalist scientism is just another conquering religion? Or do you limit the conquering to only that done by swords and horses very conveniently specific to certain eras of history? Well, I have very bad news for you… your various dogmas that you have revealed here are just another “different version” too! You’ve just taken God, kept His creative powers and acts, but also conducted a lobotomy on Him to remove the source of all logos, and transferred the remaining traits to a mysterious void of potential that conveniently exists for no reason until *BANG* *BOOM* *KA-ZOOM* *!!!EXPLOSION!!!* and all things magically sprang into existence began magically began ordering themselves in every multi-universe! But lucky us, ours has Captain America!
I don’t remember. Were you there? Otherwise, I have reason to suspect you’re making shit up… See, at least those guys who talk about God actually claim to have a source of observation.
How and what is this “time” thing to you? Do you actually think time is an actual malleable substance? Or is it just an abstraction humans made up as a tool to track changes of state?
Ah! EXPERTS say…! WoW!!!!!
BWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! Stop! STOP! I (wheeze) can’t take it anymore…!!!!
Listen to the Experts! They’ve reached their limit! Stop asking further questions!
But DON’T YOU DARE come to any conclusions that Scientists are VERY UNCOMFORTABLE with outside of their APPROVED OPINIONS (a.k.a. Religious Dogmatic Teachings)!
Well???? We’re waiting! Show us the evidence! Don’t just wave your hands in the air! And you bet we’ll be nothing the distinction between what is “evidence” and what are “a priori presupositions” and what is “interpretation” of the “evidence.”
Something just comes from Nothing for no reason! No Magic whatsoever involved! Demanding rational explanations is magic! Just free your mind! Stop thinking and you’ll realize this! I poured cream into my coffee this morning! What? You needed a Creator to make that scenario happen??? Not at all! My morning routine is an entirely natural process! Lookee me Ma! I’m doing Science!
Tell us more about this accumulated evidence and how it demonstrated that Arp is wrong.
Mmmm, yes… ASSOCIATED by the holy infallible word of Experts! And Quasars are ASSOCIATED with things never proven to exist, only assumed to exist, because that was what the mathematics made up on the chalkboard suggested based on made up thought-experiments (not actual experiments) to explain away actual evidence that demonstrated that the consensus of THE SCIENCE ™ was hilariously wrong, and the Catholic Church was right, on the immobility of the Earth from the results of interferometer experiments that failed to detect the Earth’s assumed locomotion through space! Even more awesome is that fact that as Hubble himself noted, Redshift was noted to be observed occuring in every direction he looked, suggesting that Earth was as the center of the entire universe that was red-shifting away from it! So even if Arp is wrong, THE SCIENCE ™ is still wrong.
Besides which Mr. James Roper here is running away from the fundamental question. WHAT IS THE CAUSE OF REDSHIFT? Redshift is an instrumental observation. We may associate it with distance, but that association is built upon AN ASSUMPTION. We are not there to actually see what is going on inside of the star. Remember folks, this thing we call “science” is all based on fanciful guesswork based on examining pindrops of light in the sky from very very far away, and no, the big fancy telescopes we have up there don’t actually bring us any closer to conducting a proper examination of things extraordinarily far away. The closest thing we have is the Sun. And we still don’t understand what it is!
What are stars? Are they bundles of wood burning in the sky? Are they balls of burning gas? Are they nuclear fusion reactors? Or are they as Arp and other researchers believe, electrical phenomena or transistors coming into contact with supercharged plasma throughout space? Depending on the answer, the exhibition of a measurement of red or blue shift can mean A VERY DIFFERENT THING! Which might mean that the ASSOCIATION with distance might be incorrect. Mr. James Roper claims that “Scientists are not uncomfortable with knowing that things might remain unknown”, but what he fails to understand regarding human bahavior is that they are VERY AFRAID that if we do come to KNOW what is UNKNOWN, this might be VERY DETRIMENTAL to their theories, and jeopardizing their theories could fundamentally shake their beliefs about reality, especially as it pertains to the questions involving God and religion.
Johnno’s reply to my message was mostly long and unsubstantiated, so I won’t bother to comment on every thing here. I will say that he simply assumes that biblical information is correct and anything that differs is incorrect. That, of course, is simply a circular argument.
I wonder where he gets the notion that scientists are afraid of anything? I know quite a few, and I am one, and I’ve never been afraid of the things he claims. And, when we don’t know something, it does not automatically mean that goddidit.
Oh, I will note that he doesn’t understand redshift either. And apparently doesn’t understand a lot of other stuff. For example, humans published the accounts of moral-type behaviors in animals.
Since we’ve wandered into evolution and “natural processes that can all be explained without the need for magic” . . .
The sound-bitey response is that the theory of evolution is also a religion, it just replaces an all-powerful creator with an all-powerful biological optimization. Admittedly that glosses over the fact that evolution is an ongoing field of scientific inquiry, a field that, at least on occasion, devises explanations, tests them, and rejects those that don’t fit the data. But this is a relatively small group, and most scientists, and all non-scientists, who consider evolution a proven fact are indeed operating on faith. The concept of making small DNA transcription mistakes over very long periods of time, where some small percentage of these mistakes results in an improved creature, is indeed a siren-song of satisfying explanatory simplicity. But without any meat on the bones, without the details of how this might actually happen in the face of astronomical odds, this is just another form of magical thinking.
Did humans pop into existence at a moment of creation, or did humans evolve from simpler organisms over eons? (Or something else?) I don’t know, but I believe that if humans did evolve, the evolutionary process was designed, and it appears to be a highly intelligent design. I believe this because of my hands-on practical experience with optimization algorithms. For optimization to achieve any sort of useful result, there must be a path from point A to point B in N-dimensional parameter space, with said path being defined by an objective function. The simplest optimization algorithms rely on a well-behaved smooth continuous objective function, and only work for the simplest sorts of problems.
More complex optimization algorithms have been developed in an attempt to work around the problems of getting stuck in local minima, and the problem of having to live with poorly performing objective functions for an even moderately complex problems. One of these optimization techniques is even known as “genetic optimization”, which attempts to mimic the way biological evolutionary optimization is believed to work. When this technique first started getting press, I decided to give it a try. At the time my brother, a computer engineer, bought the Eternity II puzzle to attempt a computer-assisted search, and I devised a genetic optimization search. It was a lot of fun, and I learned a lot, but it further pounded home the fact that the ‘magic’ in optimization does not lie in any optimization algorithm, but rather in the objective function. And workable objective functions for complex problems are incredibly hard to devise. The notion that “natural processes” can explain the optimization algorithm inherent in evolution strains credulity many orders of magnitude beyond my breaking point. I’ll need more detail.
One way around this objection is to believe in a many-worlds concept where each universe has it’s own set of constants and laws of physics and “natural processes”, and we just happen to live in the particular universe where biological evolutionary optimization actually works. But that would imply that the total number of universes is astronomically large. If you find some comfort in that belief, more power to you, but I’m not willing to call it science.
I see a long treatise by Milton Hathaway. Suggesting that evolution is unlikely. However, in the diatribe, he demonstrates that he doesn’t understand evolution. First, evolution is not goal-oriented, and he seems to think it is an optimizing process. It might be optimizing, but only locally, depending on the place and time, and consistency over time. And, the evidence does not suggest that evolution is a designed process. It took essentially 4 billion years for evolution to get to where it is today, and today we really cannot objectively say that any particular organism is any “better” than any other. After all, we’re all the consequences of all the ancestors who managed to reproduce and leave descendents.
I’m not sure why the many-universe theory entered into the discussion, because the only thing that suggests that is math, and no other evidence. Besides, they’re unknowable even in theory.
You are repeating an old Christian trope, which is what Nietzsche was talking about when he complained how deeply Christianity was embedded in Western culture and ridiculed Anglophone atheists as ‘flatheads,’
“[T]he natural order does not exist confusedly and without rational arrangement, and human reason should be listened to concerning those things it treats of. But when it completely fails, then the matter should be referred to God. Therefore, since we have not yet completely lost the use of our minds, let us return to reason.”
— Adelard of Bath, Quaestiones naturales
[They say] “We do not know how this is, but we know that God can do it.” You poor fools! God can make a cow out of a tree, but has He ever done so? Therefore show some reason why a thing is so, or cease to hold that it is so.”
— William of Conches, Dragmatikon
“In studying nature we have not to inquire how God the Creator may, as He freely wills, use His creatures to work miracles and thereby show forth His power; we have rather to inquire what Nature with its immanent causes can naturally bring to pass.”
–Albertus Magnus, De vegetabilibus et plantis
“Nature is nothing but the plan of some art, namely a divine one, put into things themselves, by which those things move towards a concrete end: as if the man who builds up a ship could give to the pieces of wood that they could move by themselves to produce the form of the ship.”
— Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on the Physics, II.8, lecture 14, no. 268
Have fun coasting on their fumes.
Of course it is, Its final cause is greater species fitness to a niche. Natural selection is a feedback loop that directs what would otherwise be random [hence usually fatal] genome changes. Remember, no mutation is beneficial except in the context of what the organism is trying to do — and that has some plasticity.
Johnno is always an interesting read even if he cannot conceive that an infinite power, intellect and will could create a Universe that didn’t have him at the center of it.
Our James G Roper seems to have a similar problem but he assumes that no power, no intellect and no will would inevitably create a Universe that he is the (scientistic) center of.
Funny that! Anyhow, both seem to assume that the observed “red shift” is caused by the “Doppler Effect” on light being emitted from objects speeding away from them, the farther away the faster they recede. It’s purely an assumption, mind you, that the “red shift” is caused by a “doppler effect” on light.
I’m more inclined to think that the red shift is only an indication of the “bigness” of the Universe. It’s often called the “tired light” hypothesis that suggests that light from distant objects looses energy as it bumps and weaves its way through an obstacle course of nearly empty space and in doing so it looses energy. Lower energy EMF shifts toward the red side of the spectrum while the “speed” remains constant according to the medium that it’s in.
But, don’t let the likes of me disturb wonderful notions about Earth being the center of the Universe from either the “Big Bang” (Everything from Nothing) scenario that started here (because everything else is interpreted to be speeding away from here) or the weird “I am the centre of the Universe” because some ancient idiom of observation seems to imply so.
Ye Olde Statistican said “You are repeating an old Christian trope,” and then he went on to repeat several old Christian tropes, thereby nullifying his point.
Ye Olde Statistican, in reply to my comment that “evolution is not goal-oriented” said “Of course it is, Its final cause is greater species fitness to a niche. Natural selection is a feedback loop that directs what would otherwise be random [hence usually fatal] genome changes.”
And thus, demonstrated that he doesn’t understand evolution or natural selection. To say “Its final cause is greater species fitness to a niche” is very confusing. First, that’s not a cause, it’s a result, and it’s incorrectly stated. There is no “final cause” or “final goal” to evolution. Over evolutionary time the environment changes, species come and go, and fitness is not a characteristic of a species, but rather the individuals that comprise it. Natural selection is not a “feedback loop” – that’s an incorrect analogy. And, genetic variation has been available since multicelled organisms evolved, and mutations, while they can be useful for introducing variation, are unnecessary because there is always a lot of genetic variation in almost all populations.
Fr Georges Lemaitre, who first formulated the theory, called it the Cosmic Egg. The Cosmic Egg is not nothing. It is the Cosmic Egg.
Lemaitre deduced his theory from Relativity. It is not a theory of Creation, as Lemaitre himself cautioned a too-enthusiastic Pope, but simply the transformation of matter from one form [the monoblock] to another form [scattered galaxies].Or as Grosseteste put it in the High Middle Ages, “light was the first form to come into matter.” It started as the merest pinpoint and expanded into all that exists today. [“Matter” in Grosseteste’s day did not mean what we mean, but rather ‘potency’ or ”yin,’ as the Chinese say.]
It was the atheist Fred Hoyle who derisively called it the “Big Bang,” because he thought the theory “too Christian.” Most scientists of that time were convinced that the universe was eternal and unchanging. “Universe” meant the Milky Way. Andromeda and the rest were “extra-galactic nebulae”. But Einstein, though he initially rejected the theory because of this belief later came to accept it. Hoyle never did, but became a personal friend of Lemaitre when they went on a road trip together.
Everything appears to be receding from Earth, but would also have the same seeming from any other point. Remember, as Witelo said in the Middle Ages, all motion is relative. If you painted spots on a balloon, then inflated the balloon, the spots would be seen as receding relative to any particular spot you choose. It would be more correct to say that galaxies are receding from one another because space is expanding between them.
Milton Hathaway said “The sound-bitey response is that the theory of evolution is also a religion, it just replaces an all-powerful creator with an all-powerful biological optimization.” And, of course, he said that incorrectly.
Nobody thinks evolution is an “all-powerful biological optimization” process. And, faith is not required to accept evolution – it has been observed happening. It has happened experimentally. And, evolutionary biologists recognize that evolution does not have to always work, nor will it produce perfection. Clearly we’ve got the Dunning–Kruger effect going here, where a person who does not study evolution opines on evolution.
David Marwick seems to think that a person who recognizes that there is no evidence for a creator of the universe must think they are the center of that same universe – which makes absolutely no sense. David also said, and I quote “It’s purely an assumption, mind you, that the “red shift” is caused by a “doppler effect” on light.” And that is purely wrong, mind you. The red shift in light has been experimentally tested and demonstrated. A quick search can find the studies.
In conclusion, no one is the center of the universe.
There is plenty of evidence for a creator of the universe but none points to the Abrahamic God per se. it is consistent with this God.
There is also lots of evidence supporting the proposition that Earth is a special place.
JerryR said “There is plenty of evidence for a creator of the universe but none points to the Abrahamic God per se. it is consistent with this God.
There is also lots of evidence supporting the proposition that Earth is a special place.”
I agree with Cristopher Hitchens, that anything that is affirmed without evidence can be dismissed without evidence. In other words, to make a claim, but then not back it up with any evidence is tantamount to saying nothing.
affirmed without evidence
But there are books worth of evidence.
There’s thousands of pages on the fine tuning
The Earth is probably the only planet that could appear naturally and have its characteristics. In the universe.
No problem providing specifics but attending a conference at moment.
That was a metaphysical decision made a priori. It was not a scientific finding. The four aitia are answers to questions of making X.
1. Material cause: What is X made of?
2. Formal cause: What makes it an X?
3. Efficient cause: What made X?
4. Final cause: What is X made for?
One has not understood X until it has been grasped from all four perspectives, For example, evolution:
1. Material Cause: A variety of differing individuals within a species capable of transmitting their differences
2. Formal Cause: The tendency of interbreeding population to reproduce itself in a stable manner and increase in numbers.
3. Efficient Cause: Natural selection by the environment which eliminates those variants which are less effective in reproducing their kind.
4. Final Cause: The flexibility of living things by which they are able to occupy new niches in the changing environment.
Results are proportionate to their causes. A generic cause like ‘natural selection’ cannot have a specific effect like ‘a particular species.’ But we do note that it does seem to toss up similar solutions to similar environmental challenges.
For example: since the appearance of seed-bearing plants, there has always been at least one group of critters to gnaw on the hard parts; and all possessed the same general body plan and dentition.
1. Tritylodonts. (A “mammal-like reptile.”)
2. Multituberculates (A “mammal-like mammal” lol)
3. True Rodents (The most recent iteration)
That is, round holes tend to select for roundish pegs.
Since your belief system forbids you to call final causes “causes,” let us fall fack on the original Greek, “telos.” There are three kinds of natural teloi:
1. Termination. The actualization of the potential simply comes to an end. For example, two chemicals react to form a compound, then reach equilibrium. Sodium and chlorine react to form salt, not thermite.
2. Perfection. The actualization of the potential reaches a point where the entity possesses all the attributes (perfections) proper to that entity. For example, an acorn matures into an oak tree and never matures into a muskrat. Any further changes would make it less apt for their job description and their Umwelt would have culled them.
3. Purpose. The actualization of the potential stems from the organism’s own behavior. For example, the lion chases the gazelle in order to eat. The bird gathers twigs and such in order to build a nest. It does not matter if bird or lion is aware of these purposes. Birds and lions may be hardwired, but they are not chasing gazelles or gathering twigs at random. Self-awareness is not a scientific concept in any case, being the ultimate in subjectivity.
Hope this helps.
God backs up His testimony. Believe Him.
God bless, C-Marie
Ye Olde Statistician gave us an overview of causes. However, that overview has absolutely nothing to do with biological processes and assumes quite a few things that were left out.
The only “cause” that we can clearly nail down would be the big bang. Everything came after it. The rest of the causes are too complicated to figure out because of the many things involved.
And, still, there is no final cause of evolution. That proposition was not supported by any evidence and a circuitous logic and teleological argument don’t get us there. And, saying “termination” rather than “end” for the first telos is confusing. After all, “end” in that context implies “end goal” but that is not implied by “termination,” without additional clarification, and the example used to clarify failed. In any case, Aristotle was wrong. So was Plato when he spoke of the “forms.” But, that’s not surprising, both of them were right about a lot of stuff and got us on the road to using logic and evidence on which to base our arguments.
And, birds and lions are no more hard-wired than we are. We, and they, do some things instinctively and some things by choice. It’s just a matter of degree.
Finally, the argument in no way refuted the point that there is no final goal to evolution. Clearly, that there is no goal is demonstrated by the fact that evolution, on earth, has been ongoing for a few billion years, and yet we still have millions of species and the speciation rate has not particularly shown any sign of slowing down.
Jerry R said: “there’s thousands of pages on fine-tuning” without noticing that there are millions of pages against it. He also said: “The Earth is probably the only planet that could appear naturally and have its characteristics. In the universe.” about which the claim is merely that, a claim. First, the probability is impossible to calculate, and second, we don’t yet know what is out there in the rest of the universe. It is just as “likely” that there are millions of planets with life, some with intelligent life. We simply don’t know and have no way of knowing (yet, maybe).
No one has explained the fine tuning. For two interpretations
See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UvAkcqoPGKk and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EE76nwimuT0
Remember anything infinite is out. Infinity would have the absurd conclusion that anything physically possible would not only happen but happen an infinite number of times. Including an infinite number of gods of infinite intelligence and infinite power.
As far as the fine tuning of Earth and this solar system that is widely known and it is unlikely another planet or solar system could exists with similar characteristics – the odds are so low for it.
James J. Roper, you come across as a thoughtful person with an opposing viewpoint, willing put time and effort into a discussion, which makes you a bit of a hot commodity these days, as you have no doubt noticed.
You stated “It is just as ‘likely’ that there are millions of planets with life, some with intelligent life. We simply don’t know and have no way of knowing (yet, maybe).”
Do you see the contradiction here? We have no way of knowing the odds of alien life, but yet you seem to treat it as a near-certainty here on Earth. That implies to me that you view the huge improbable leap as the first self-replicating molecules, and everything that follows is almost inevitable given enough time. Is there a basis for this? Could the universe be filled with self-replicating molecules, but devoid of life?
But back to my original comment, I seem to have failed in making my point in an understandable way. My point, essentially, is that evolution theory is missing explanations for how seemingly impossible details are not actually impossible. These missing details are of utmost interest to me, hinting at a much deeper understanding of some fundamental mysteries of life (and God’s creation, if you like). It seems like the acceptance of evolution theory as proven fact has largely killed intellectual curiosity about the missing details. The field seems rife with circular reasoning and logical fallacies. For example, statements like this are everywhere in evolution theory:
“It’s also worth mentioning that while these processes are statistically daunting over short timescales, the Earth is around 4.5 billion years old. Over such immense timescales, even highly improbable events can become practically inevitable.”
This logical fallacy no doubt has an official name, but I’ll just call it the “billions of years” fallacy. It’s a fallacy because only part of the assumptions are quantized, the billions of years part, but the “highly improbable” part is left to the imagination. Estimates of alien life elsewhere in the universe range from near-zero to near-unity, which leads me to conclude the probabilities are very poorly understood. The raw random combinatorial possibility of life is near zero, that’s not seriously debated. There is a very firm belief by many that the probability is much higher, but it can’t be quantized to less than many orders of magnitude of uncertainty. Do you see why I am skeptical about anyone asserting certainty of outcome here, when required intermediate processes are so uncertain?
Let me try an analogy to illustrate my thought process. Imagine a homicide, with overwhelming circumstantial evidence pointing to one individual as the perpetrator. There is means, motive and opportunity. The accused recently purchased an item of the type believed to be the missing murder weapon. The circumstantial evidence goes on and on like this in a seemingly endless string. At trial, the prosecution has hired a forensic expert to create an animation of how the murder weapon was used to kill the victim, since this is the weakest aspect of the evidence. I’m on the jury, and we have been instructed not to apply any personal technical expertise, but rather to only evaluate the evidence as presented. However, I judge the animation to violate the laws of physics in an important way, which means that I have not been presented with an explanation for how the murder actually occurred, and absent that explanation, I find myself unable to vote to convict due to lingering doubts. Does the erroneous animation prove that the accused didn’t commit the crime? No, of course not. If the accused actually committed the crime, another animation that doesn’t violate the laws of physics could be created (obviously), but the prosecutor failed to do so.
Of course, I wouldn’t be on the jury (do an Internet search for “engineers jury” for details as to why), and the jury very likely would convict based on the mountain of circumstantial evidence. Everyone will carry on with their lives, happy that justice was served, until perhaps only years later a new forensic technology comes along that challenges the prosecutor’s interpretation, and the convicted person manages to get a new hearing, and the conviction ultimately gets overturned.
Side note on the Dunning-Kruger effect – it seems pointless discussing it, since the DKE sufferer is clueless that they are one afflicted with it, and not the other person. Such discussions tend to resemble discussions about free will – if we’d only understand that we don’t have free will we would make better decisions. I realize you brought it up as part of an appeal-to-authority to win debate points. To be honest, I can’t imagine that any true DKE sufferer would stoop to spending any time in this forum. And, of course, even if I am a DKE sufferer, that doesn’t logically invalidate any of my points or validate any of yours; asserting that would be yet another logical fallacy. (The Genetic Fallacy, I think, which seems appropriate.)
Highly personal question: If buried in the details of evolution theory we some day find explanatory processes that seem far too unlikely to attribute to natural processes, how do you predict you would react? Awe? Or neutrally, that it indicates that more research is needed? Or go with the scientific consensus? Yeah, I know, what-if games are for children.
Tis inherent in the term “adapt,” which signifies “toward apt[itude].” You indicate in a later remark that you misunderstand telos. You seem to think that evolution having telos means there is some one particular kind of thing toward which it aims. That is absurd. If natural selection tends toward the “origin of species,” as many believe, one would expect a vast multiplicity of species, each ad-apted to its particular niche. A dogbear might lose its slashing teeth at one end of its range but keep them at the other end, and so become respectively bears in Europe and dogs in the Americas, be-cause the evolutionary “pressures” may differ in different environs. “Evolution” as a generic cause cannot point to dogs as a specific effect.
If there were no telos in nature, there could be no “scientific laws, since a scientific law just is a statement of telos. Cause A entails Effect B “always or for the most part” because there is something in A that “points to” B, and not to C, D, or E. So, sodium and chlorine react to form salt and not an armadillo because there is something in their forms [the number and arrangement of their parts] to “points to” the salt molecule as their telos.
Aristotle’s forms are very different from Plato’s [cf. http://alexanderpruss.com/papers/Forms.html%5D. Both were trying to answer questions we have forgotten were ever asked; viz., those of Parmenides. It is its form that gives a thing its powers. Both sodium and chlorine are comprised of the same matter: protons and electrons. (Neutrons appear to be a compound of a proton and an electron.) What makes one a metal and the other a gas is the number and arrangement of those parts; i.e., their forms.
Without formal causes, there are no “emergent” properties.
I grant you that the Aristotelian concept of “instinct” is far more supple than the simplistic “meat robot,” but I did not want to get too sidebarred. The higher animals do indeed learn and teach their young. But the estimative power of instinct is not the same as the deliberative power of volition. The sheep esteems the wolf an enemy and decides to flee. The shepherd may decide to stand and fight.
Why? You scared? Just humbly ask and I’ll be happy to elaborate and substantiate further! But be careful now… it could wind up being long, and we wouldn’t want you getting hurt having to read it all…
No, it is a rival position to your position where your assumed naturalist paradigm of particles turning into fish that then turn into people following an big space-time explosion from nothing for no willful reason is correct and anything that differs is incorrect.
See above, I got it from your indirect reply to me, where you are clearly strategically retreating from me upon your white horse while blowing your horn triumphantly to the neighbors, singing them a sonnet about how I can’t see you, and I also don’t understand horses, or where all the collections of horse-shit lined up behind your path came from.
Indeed, because you guys rejected goddidit as an foundational principle from the start. It’s built into the model! It’s your entire business proposition!
That’s just it, nobody does! You let me know once you’ve landed on a star and examined its core.
Of course humans published these accounts! It sure as heck weren’t the animals! But someone here seems to be of the persuasion that given enough time, that a significant amount of monkies on a significant number of typewriters will one day end up reproducing the works of Shakespeare! Or at least the lyrics to the song ‘Daydream Believer.’ He also expects us not to question where the monkies and typewriters came from in the first place… because apparently doing this demonstrates a “lack of understanding”… by which what Roper really means when he says this is that we lack his “religious faith and zealotry” that the monkies, typewriters, black holes and a lot of other stuff just happened whilst erasing all evidence of how it got there… And while Roper and his scientistic friends may not know a great many things behind all of these mysteries, they do automatically know that precisely 14KazillionsOfYearsDidIt!
We still have the likes of YOS trying to propose a version of “Evolution”, presumably to “justify” the Modernist (both secular (or cultural) and dogmatic (or ecclesiastical)) premise that everything is in an inexorable process of “becoming” what it was not but will be. Perhaps YOS is desperate to get a position in Ed Feser’s Ivory Tower… apparently assuming that the Holy Ghost (God of Surprises) is also “becoming” what He was not but will be by being “informed” by Man “Evolving” toward an unknown “Omega Point”.
Anyhow, the irrepressible ego of JJR claims that “a person who recognizes that there is no evidence for a creator of the universe must think they are the center of that same universe – which makes absolutely no sense.” Unless, of course, that person who “recognises” (claims) that there is no First or Final Cause for every contingent (or changeable) thing wants to claim that they are the ultimate arbiter “knowing good and evil” (or deciding what is good and true) independent of reality either physical or metaphysical.
All you galahs who like to claim to “be as God” and the arbiters of good and true need to come up with a reasonable (physical and philosophical) explanation of just how Nothing (or even an hypothetical, undefinable “Singularity”) could turn itself into an omniscient “you”.
Just consider this self-evident (commonsense) premise: “A thing that does not exist cannot cause itself to exist”.
I can conceive it, and have in fact lived under it’s assumption for a great many years since birth! However, I am obliged out of obedience to the Vicars of Christ and the Holy Inquisition and the condemnations against such “uncentralness” as being “formally heretical” to reject this revealed truth supported literally by the Consensus Tradition of the Fathers not to relegate what they defended to the level of mere “idioms.” Turns out that as much of a schmuck as I am, God still really really loves me and put me there, right in the middle of it all!
The Church got a lot of flack for stubbornly insisting upon it, but as it turns out the scientific data supports the Church. So, I don’t know what your excuse is, maybe people just like the idea of riding the Merry-Go-Round, but I understand that it can be uncomfortable to buck up against one of the great principles of our age, so ingrained in us like the legitimacy of American elections and the inevitability of Ukranian victory that we risk looking foolish in the eyes of our peers and our experts, even as these same peers and experts embrace transexuality as a fundamental reality that requires us to be subject to the new secular inquisitions and censure.
Jerry R said: “No one has explained the fine tuning. For two interpretations”
Fine-tuning is an illusion. People say it is unlikely that life happened here and give odds – but likelihood and odds cannot be calculated because we don’t have the appropriate information. But, even if the odds are vanishingly small, the universe is large and there are quite a few stars, and we don’t know if life formed and evolved elsewhere. So, the fine-tuning hypothesis cannot be tested.
Milton Hathaway had several comments, but we can start with this one: “Do you see the contradiction here? We have no way of knowing the odds of alien life, but yet you seem to treat it as a near-certainty here on Earth.”
Well, clearly, there is life here, and the oldest fossils are > 3 billion years old. So, life had to begin in the first billion years of the earth’s existence. Complex life was around in the Cambrian Era, over 500 million years ago. I don’t need to know HOW life started to know that it did. I might speculate, sitting around the campfire, looking into the night sky, but that’s all it is – speculation. We still have no way to calculate the odds, but recent research has shown that 1. meteors can have amino acids in them. 2. complex molecules can form spontaneously under the right circumstances. This article tells a bit about early life – https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-023-05936-6
There is no contradiction. Some things are supported by evidence, others are not. That life started is not in doubt. How it started is speculation.
He also said: “My point, essentially, is that evolution theory is missing explanations for how seemingly impossible details are not actually impossible.”
Unfortunately, I was unable to find one of those impossible details. While sure, some science has logical flaws and missing information, but that’s always been true. Science is a process. But, I really don’t know what flaws, circular arguments, and logical fallacies. If you had provided some examples, I could have attended to them.
And, the billions of years argument is not an “argument” but rather is an observation. Billions of years is a lot of time, and a lot of evolution can happen during that time. The evidence says it did. Today, we’ve seen examples of rapid changes in some populations, and so we can see that evolution can happen relatively quickly too. For example, if you look at the birds, which prior to the demise of the other dinosaurs were relatively unimportant. But, once the dinosaurs were gone, birds quickly (well, relatively quickly) radiated and many new species came and went, and we have many today. A fair amount of work has looked into bird evolution and a lot happened quickly. So, my stating “billions of years” was simply pointing out that evolution takes time, and time has been available.
Ye Olde Statistician said a lot! I won’t copy it all here, so check his message of yesterday at 20:38 (8:38 PM).
Basically it seems to all be about whether evolution is goal-oriented, and all the evolutionary biologists I know say it’s not. I’m one too. Evolution is not goal-oriented and here I’ll explain. First we must clearly understand natural selection. There are three required conditions for NS to happen. I’ll keep them brief.
1. Individuals of reproductive age must vary phenotypically (that means, shape, strength, beauty, anything that differs among individuals, in any life form).
2. At least some of that phenotypic variation must have a genetic basis. This is not obligatory, because we know that the environment can play a large role in how individuals grow.
3. Reproductive success, in some way, is due to the differences among phenotypes (1) that have a genetic basis (2).
When those three conditions hold, the gene frequencies of the offspring will change as a consequence of the differential reproductive success. THAT is natural selection. If conditions are relatively constant over longer time periods (generations), then evolution by natural selection will occur. Even if conditions change, but do so in some coherent way, the evolving populations can continually change as well.
So, no goal-orientation required. Natural selection is just what happens that fit conditions at the time. But, when we look BACK in time, we see what appears to be a gradual progression towards what we see today. That does not mean we can look FORWARD in time and see the same thing. Imagine, if you will, walking through fresh snow. You sort of know your way to your destination, but you zig-zag a bit here and there. Now, you stop before you get to a destination. Anybody looking backwards can see where you came from, but there is no looking forward to see where you’re going, because you didn’t leave a trail in front of yourself.
Come now, Johnno, the Galileo controversy was almost exclusively manufactured by the Protestants and ‘Masons. The impudent and arrogant Galileo fouled the “science” paradigm by claiming all sorts of unjustifiable claims including his assertion that his “discoveries” would turn all of philosophy and theology on its head. He further “endeared” himself to his erstwhile personal friend, the reigning pontiff, by writing a fiction alluding that any opposition to his prognostications was by veritable “simpletons”, the present popey fellow being a thinly disguised central character.
I understand that it was the venerable St Robert Bellarmine who was the head of the Inquisition at the time who, perhaps concerned and dismayed by Galileo’s arrogance, wrote in one of his reports that if the Copernican vision of the cosmos could be verified (Galileo made everyone suspicious by his ego antics) then we’d just have to revise some interpretations of Scripture. No big deal… been done before.
Curiously, at the very time Galileo was making a fool of himself (and reasonable observation) in Rome, the Jesuits in China were proposing the Copernican version of the Cosmos to the Chinese observers who had hundreds of years of observations mapped and recorded. To their great credit the Chinese astronomers pulled out their charts and WALLAH! their charts matched the Copernican model.
Don’t be taken in by clever-dicks portraying George Floyd as a present day Galileo, there are “influencers” with occult loyalties producing the narrative.
“Sola Scriptura” that implies that anyone at all can tell God what it means is an absolute nonsense. Reason and Faith must be congruent because they come from the same Mind. If there is an apparent contradiction it’s because our understanding of one or the other, or both, is wrong.
“ Fine-tuning is an illusion”
What a great fatuous answer. You don’t have an answer so you claim the other rationale is an illusion. That means it is correct.
The universe is definitely fine tuned. Otherwise nothing would exists. The reasons are given. It is also further fine tuned to permit life. This means life could be ubiquitous but there are other facts that make complex life incredibly unlikely.
No one said that our solar system was the only possibility. Only that this possibility is incredibly small. And it is incredibly small with all sorts of characteristics that have to be rare.
No one said complex life is not some place else in the universe. Only that if it was, it too would be incredibly unlikely since it too would need almost perfect circumstances just as our planet and solar system.
So why do these incredibly unlikely circumstances exist? The response is we do not have the information. But we do have enough to know that the odds are incredibly small and all the galaxies, stars and all the solar systems that do exist is not enough to overcome the rarity of what is necessary.
Yes, there are a lot of planets but there are not enough if any of the right type to deal with the probability issue. My guess is that you haven’t a clue of what is necessary and are just making assertions. Otherwise we would see completely different responses.
Your response reveals that you do not have anything. I have read what the so called best experts have said and they have nothing either. All they say is it happened and don’t believe a creator did it. So because they don’t believe it, they just assert it didn’t happen by a creator. They have no theory how it could happen.
They have no theory why existence just popped out of nothing at the Big Bang. Why? They don’t know. So there is no alternative explanation to a creator. They just assert it cannot be that when it would explain everything. Wishful thinking is not an answer.
Jerry R didn’t seem to like my assertion that “fine-tuning is an illusion.” His entire argument can be surmised from this statement: “They have no theory why existence just popped out of nothing at the Big Bang.”
He apparently thinks that if you happen to HAVE an explanation, any explanation, then that is better than not having one. But, an explanation that can’t be explained isn’t an explanation. I have no problem with recognizing that nobody knows (yet) exactly how the big bang “started.” I put that in quotation marks because time, as we know it, began with the big bang. So, at least the time we know didn’t happen so there would be no “before.” Sure, that’s a conundrum, and I leave it at that. I don’t even require a theory, when there is no evidence to support it. I am fine with recognizing that calling every thing fine-tuned is a leap of faith in that AN explanation is better than NO explanation (to those that accept it). However, there is no way to determine whether the universe is fine-tuned. Remember the book “Everything you believe is wrong”? Well, this is one of those things that statistics cannot resolve – fine-tuning. All it is is a bunch of dubious probabilities about certain things happening, and multiplying those small probabilities together to get an even smaller probability and then concluding that the probability of it happening this way without “tuning” is simply too small to have happened. But, none of the small probabilities are known with any certainty, and so, GIGO!
“ His entire argument can be surmised from this statement”
Sorry, that’s not all or the main part of the fine tuning argument. It’s certainly part of the argument. It’s like icing on the cake. Why do you distort it. There can only be one reason for the distortion.
The universe is fine tuned just for existence stars, planets etc. nothing to do with life. It is also fine tuned even further in certain places to support complex life. I suggest you watch/listen to examples.
So there is no counter argument to the fine tuning. Or reason for it to be so that is pure natural. No one has ever provided one and certainly nothing you provided comes close.
Given that, a likely explanation is a creator. No other explanation has the remotest of a likely explanation. None of the top physicists has ever give one except that they don’t like it.
Correction: Everything material is changing. Flowers bloom, kittens mature, mountains are uplifted or eroded. Parmenides objected that since everything comes from its contrary — an apple cannot become red unless it is not-red to begin with — and the contrary of existence is non-existence, no thing can come into existence because “from nothing comes nothing.” Hence, motion/change was an illusion. Aristotle answered him noting that reality had two aspects: the actually real (act) and the really possible (potency). Heisenberg, for example, suggested that subatomic particles were more like Aristotelian potentials than actual particles. (Alas, most people still imagine them as wee bee-bees ‘orbiting’ a nucleus.)
a) The Holy Ghost is not a god of surprises, as if she were a separate entity from the Father and the Word, although I understand there are some modernist sects that may hold differently. In English “ghost” is “gust,” a/k/a the exhalation of breath.
b) God is not “becoming” because He is Pure Act, hence, not material. Unlike material entities, which are compounds of potencies and actualities, God is simple containing no potencie. He told Moses once that “I AM who AM.”
On this matter I choose to follow the likes of Augustine and Aquinas rather than Bill and Ted’s Excellent Bible Shack.
“Evolution” comes from e volare, ‘to fly out of.’ It originally referred to unrolling a scroll, and implies that whatever the result of an evolution, it was implicit ‘in the scroll’ beforehand. [That may be why Darwin eschewed the word.] Evolutions clearly take place: Modern English is descended from Saxon but is very different. Plant breeders and husbandmen routinely apply it. The suite of species that exists today differs from that of a few million years ago. Either new species ‘poof’ into existence or they unroll from the potencies in prior species. Dogs did not poof into existence, but were unrolled from wolves.
The Darwinistas go awry by supposing that natural selection is the sole material efficient cause of an evolution, even though Darwin himself, by the sixth edition of Origen had added several other material causes like sexual selection [and even a kind word for Lamarckism!] Moderns, thanks to the friar Gregor Mendel, have added the likes of genetics and genetic drift to the mix, and molecular biologists even more.
There are evolutions that do not come about by natural selection; that is, by the gradual accumulation of small changes over time. Gradualism and Incrementalism were metaphysical choices made a priori, like Mechanization. These are so well embedded in thought that Late Moderns oft mistake them for facts proven by ‘evolution’ rather than prior assumptions. Yet, evolutions may be rapid, massive, and targeted, thanks to ‘natural genetic engineering’ [cf. Shapiro]. For example, some bacteria suddenly acquired multiple immunities to specific drugs, not because of differential survival of immune strains, but by horizontal tranfer of transposons at the molecular level.
Similarly, while it is true to say “speed of recession causes redshift,” it is not correct to say “redshift is caused by speed of recession.” There might be other causes of redshift in addition to the speed of recession, just as there are different causes of evolitions than Darwinian natural selection, and different causes of motion than gravity/mechanics. The consideration of additional or even alternative hypotheses lies at the heart of science [cf. Galileo, Feynman].
JerryR continues to claim “The universe is fine tuned just for existence stars, planets etc. nothing to do with life. It is also fine tuned even further in certain places to support complex life. I suggest you watch/listen to examples.”
But, what IS the meaning of fine-tuned? If it is to justify saying that a tuner had to make it this way, then no. If it is merely to say that things work, therefore it’s fine-tuned, then it’s asuperfluous proposition. Regardless, we need an independent, clearly worded and explained, definition of what a fine-tuned universe might be, and what would be an alternative.
Of course! They were taught so by revered teachers. But that there is no telos to the process was a metaphysical decision made beforehand not a conclusion from the science. Perhaps, they use the term ‘goal-oriented’ in an idiosyncratic manner.
Evolution is not ‘aimed at’ [say] gray squirrels as a goal. ‘Evolution’ is generic and ‘gray squirrel’ is specific. A generic cause does not imply a specific effect.
Natural selection does not operate at random. It selects for survivability, ‘toward aptness’ in a niche. The niche can be seen as akin to an attractor in the physics of dynamic systems, in which the system proceeds toward the equilibrium manifold. If the niche changes, the evolution will veer off in a new direction, but that doesn’t mean it has no direction.
Evolution after evolution results in the same goal: adaptation. Similar niches will oft whittle similar species, whether that be a tritylodont or a rodent.
At the micro level, telos may come into play from the organism itself. Whether a trait is advantageous or not depends on what the organism is trying to do. If a finch makes its living cracking seeds, a strong sharp beak will be advantageos and a long, thin one not. But the struggle for survival [another telos!] means that a bird born fortuitously with a long thin beak may try this, that, or another thing to get nourishment and wind up sipping necrar from flowers. If the trait is hereditable, a new species of finch is on its way, even if it is in all other respects still identical to her sisters. The new niche of nectar sipping may begin winnowing and culling for other traits copacetic for the job of nectar-sipping.
It’s like footprints crossing a snowfield. The specific path may not be predictable, but the walker is going somewhere.
“Come now, Johnno, the Galileo controversy was almost exclusively manufactured by the Protestants and ‘Masons. The impudent and arrogant Galileo fouled the “science” paradigm by claiming all sorts of unjustifiable claims including his assertion that his “discoveries” would turn all of philosophy and theology on its head. He further “endeared” himself to his erstwhile personal friend, the reigning pontiff, by writing a fiction alluding that any opposition to his prognostications was by veritable “simpletons”, the present popey fellow being a thinly disguised central character.”
— Nope. Read the decrees against Galileo for yourself. In the strongest language with the full weight of authority of the Papal Office, the propositions that the Sun does not move and that the Earth moves through space and rotates are specifically defined and condemned as heresy. The prottys didn’t do it. And in fact you’d even find agreement by some of them with the Church, the prots weren’t all a monolith. Galileo may have been an arrogant boob, but eventually even he came around to accepting his error humbly and the final days of his life see him defending the decrees against his hypotheses. Besides which, the story didn’t start with Galileo. The Church already issued warnings and condemnations against Copernicus, but he was already dead long before, so there was no formal trial. The most the Church allowed was permission to study the matter strictly hypothetically just as one could invent any coordinate system with and body is space at the center as an aid in mathematical measurements.—
Oh, St. Bellarmine said A LOT MORE than that!
First, he was not so much concerned with Galileo’s character, but specifically with the propositions at hand. I.e. – the claim that the Sun does not move. And the claim that the Earth moves in a course around the Sun. And the claim that the Earth rotates. The biggest issue Bellarmine faced was the fact that Infallible Church Councils and Popes made it an Article of Faith BINDING on all Catholics that no one could interpret Scripture in a manner at direct odds with the Concensus of the Church Fathers – that is – the EARLIEST sources of Christian teaching by men close to the age or directly knew The Apostles.
This was PRECISELY related to combating the errors of the Protestants and their Sola Scriptural nonsense and false accusations levelled at the Church about distorting the Scriptures. The Church could point to the earliest Christian authorities on topics of Scripture and other non-scriptural topics and demonstrate that it was the Protestants who were wrong. So it was infallibly declared that whenever the Father’s were of overwhelming consensus on any interpretation of Scripture, then their consensus was likely of direct Apostolic teaching, and therefore infallible, and no Catholic could suggest otherwise in contradiction to them.
On the topic of Geocentrism, they were unanimous. You will find no writing that supports anything other than that the Earth does not move and that the Sun and Moon move around it. This was known since Joshua commanded both to halt in their course and said nothing of respect to the Earth, and geocentrism has been the official interpretation since ancient Israel right down to the earliest Christians. If you posit to claim Joshua was only speaking visually symbolically, then you are at odds with the Traditions of the Jews and the Church Fathers, who insisted you were wrong, precisely because they were aware of other schools from Egypt to the certain Greeks who claimed the Sun was at the center and the Earth naturally going around it. Heliocentric didn’t only start existing in Copernicus’ day.
So Bellarmine understood that if anyone wanted to make an exception and claim that the Fathers were wrong about interpreting Scripture grocentrically, then that means they could also be wrong about other things and Hey Presto! the entirety of Christianity was now in doubt and open to interpretation without any consistent source, and if you thought the Protestants were bad, just wait until THE SCIENCE ™ came around!
So Bellarmine did not give a flip about scientific arguments. The Church’s condemnations against Copernicus and Galileo were not made on scientific grounds, but upon THE FAITH and TRADITION (all caps) itself!
Yes, Bellarmine entertained the idea of heliocentrism being true just for the initial sake of argument, by which he followed up warning would mean that the Church would have to then he forced to adopt a stance that they therefore could not understand what the Scriptures or the Father’s meant on this issue rather than say that the Scripture or Fathers were wrong. But of course this was not intellectually possible. Bellarmine then followed up by saying that this was why he believed heliocentrism was false. Which is why he then condemned Galileo, and that condemnation was continued to be reissued as the Church’s position, right up to the 1900s, and even to the moment of John Paul II, who thought he’d rectify it, but discovered he couldn’t, so a speech was issued by his underling where they brought up the secular consensus of Relativity where nobody knows which system could be true, but like whatever… let’s all get along.
So no. This topic concerns all the marbles and balls on the table. Either the Tradition of the Church means something, or it is erroneous and the Protestants and all other heretics have a point. Caving on this one means caving to them all.
And the Jesuits were forced to stop once it was formally ruled against. But word had to get around and there was no internet back then. But what does China’s heliocentric views matter? Heliocentrism has been a common idea know since ancient Egypt, whose cheif deity was the Sun God Amon Ra, the Greek Pythagorean schools, and Copernicus had an interest in the occult and paganism and fancied Apollo, which may have played a part in inspiring him. The Father’s if the Church were aware of the opinions of the pagan world. Even when the Geocentric Greeks poo poo’ed Christianity because they held the Earth to be special by its centrality when according to the Greeks the gods occupied the skies, making the Earth the universe’s ‘anus’ , so why would any god incarnate and come down to this filthy place, and to die noless, rather than bring up heliocentrism as the known alternative, so that the Earth and mankind could also be where the gods resided, the Earth’s centrality was defended as being at the center of God’s creation because He valued it, and hense created it first as per Genesis before the other heavenly bodies, made to go around it in servitude. To depart from this was to deny the faith.
I certainly am not, as explained above. Galileo was wrong. His attitude got him lying on the ground where other contemporaries who thought like him, notably amongst the Jesuits, did not.
Rather the actual narrative is that heliocentrists today are much like Democrat voters, who are guillable about scientific matters, obey Galilean Experts and know nothing about actual American history and why many things are the way they are. Like Galelio, they want REVOLUTION, and twirling rotating tranny queens, and because of equity, every one gets to identify as the center… except the white guy… that would imply supremacy of some kind, like the Church tried to do for human beings on Earth, denying that there might be other illegal aliens out there who might want to immigrate here for a better life and social welfare.
Yes, which is why you ought to carefully read St. Robert Bellarmine’s arguments and the definitions and condemnations that the Holy Inquisition laid down under the full infallible authority of Councils and the Pope – aka – telling you what The HOLY SPIRIT wants the Scriptures to mean.
The good news for you is that modern science supports the Church, so it was always the Chinese that needed to correct their charts. Interestingly enough, it is noted that even the present day Chinese under the commies seem more willing to be critical of the West’s THE SCIENCE ™
on such areas of cosmology and various dogmas that our friend Roper here subscribes to, than the supposedly free democratic peoples. A curious thing.
My apologies for the above odd formating and multiple posts… Briggs’s comment thingy was giving me Internal Server Error messages requiring me to respond in that way by breaking up what should’ve all been one post, and sometimes getting rid of html formatting.
I suspect that Briggs has enemies that are doing this. AI enemy saboteurs!
Ye Olde Statistician said: “Of course! They were taught so by revered teachers.”
Now I don’t know where you talk to evolutionary biologists, but you seem to have a mistaken impression. The ones I’m talking about tend to be iconoclasts, trying to find new ways to look at things, testing whether natural selection or epigenetics or some other mechanism might be important, looking for exceptions to rules, and new ways to make experiments in nature. Nobody I know “revered” their “teachers” so much that they wouldn’t prove them wrong in a nanosecond. I think he is just being judgemental without information.
He also said: “Natural selection does not operate at random. It selects for survivability, ‘toward aptness’ in a niche.” and so I see that he didn’t read my explanation of natural selection. It’s circular, by the way, to say natural selection selects for survivability. Natural selection is a process, in which reproductive success is fundamental. Of course it is not random, and no evolutionary biologist would say that it was – lay people often make that mistake. Nonetheless, to say “toward aptness” is antiquated and researchers no long think or talk that way.
I was unable to determine what the point of the rest of the comments were, if not to try to convince that evolution is goal-oriented. I was not convinced. Indeed, I explained evolution and it’s easy to see that it is not.
Except for natural telos, of course.
Your explanation was a quite straightforward view of your metaphysics. There is no telos in nature [hence, no laws of science] and you interpret everything in terms of that belief. Unquestioned assumptions are the hardest to deal with. We often mistake them for conclusions.
A niche cannot possibly select for ineptness; it culls such organisms. But what happens when the inept members of a population are culled? The survivors are in general more apt. Hence, natural selection necessarily aims at adaptation.
I don’t think you understand telos [hence, your use of the term “goal oriented”]. Perhaps you believe that a generic cause like natural selection ‘points toward’ a specific effect like better eyesight or fleeter running. There are likely niches that would whittle such things, but in general what makes a population more apt can be most anything. A protruding wrist bone on a panda, for example.
No, Bellarmine wrote that if there were a proof that the earth had a dual motion, then the Church would have to admit she had not understood those passages. She had done so before. But, he wrote, no such demonstration has been shown me; and he did not expect there would ever be one. (Detection of solar aberration was a century in the future, and detection of Coriolis and parallax later than that.) Meanwhile, there was no problem teaching the model as a mathematical device — a ‘hypothesis’ in the language of the day –just with teaching it as physical fact in the absence of a determination. Remember, astronomy then was considered a specialized branch of mathematics, not of physics.
Also, on another comment, when the Jesuits brought the telescope to China, they did not use it to teach the Copernican model. Rather, they taught the Tychonic model (which, as it happens, was computationally identical to Copernicus). Chinese astronomy back then — daitong — was purely arithmetical. They did not have a geometric model at all. Euclid gobsmacked them.
Phew! All you bods (YOS and Modernist cronies) who would like to make God into some kind of voodoo magician lurking in the sky constantly “tweaking” His Creation by “Evolution” as if He didn’t know “in the beginning” just how it is to work in a consistent and intelligible fashion. If it were not consistent and intelligible then Scripture and Christian Dogma could not proclaim that: “If anyone shall say that the existence of God cannot be known by the light of natural reason alone let him be anathema.” (In colloquial terms anathema means “you are dead wrong and not one of us”).
I rather like St Gus’s advice on how to interpret Scripture which I paraphrase as: Scripture means exactly what it says except when it obviously doesn’t (as in Parables and some idiomatic explanations of observed phenomenons). Revelation is not always a Divine dictation, sometimes the messenger is given a view of things and is left to describe it in terms comprehendible in his time, language and idiom.
In that, I am also very sympathetic to St Gus’s version of the Creation timeline; i.e. why would an infinite power, intellect and will muck about for a whole week to do what He could do in an instant? Answer, to make it more intelligible to us stuck in time (the sequence of events, also an Augustinian proposal that makes profound sense to me). This is getting too “confronting” for some of you galahs who like to imagine that Everything is still “Becoming” out of Nothing for no purpose other than a physical convenience.
As I have said before, I have been engaged in farming my whole life and I come from a long line of farmers and we know from our multigenerational experience and the experience of thousands of farmers all over the world that you cannot, no matter how hard your “selection pressure” is you cannot turn a sheep into an elephant or a moss into a mango. All we can do is to eliminate some characteristics of the kind in the fond hope that by doing so some latent, or hidden, characteristic will be revealed. Even in the celebrated “Evolved” resistance to pathogens (or chemicals) all that happens is that the few that have the genome to cope with the pestilence (out of what used to be called “junk DNA”) survive the pestilence and become dominant in the population (of the same organism); nothing new is created, but something is eliminated from what was already the kind.
This is already getting too long. I’ll have to come back to JJ Roper’s implied assertion that Nothing will always turn itself into Everything and Johnno’s implied papalatry (papa, i.e. father; latria, i.e. worship) tomorrow.
Ye Olde Statistician wrote, condescendingly: “Your explanation was a quite straightforward view of your metaphysics. There is no telos in nature [hence, no laws of science] and you interpret everything in terms of that belief. Unquestioned assumptions are the hardest to deal with. We often mistake them for conclusions.”
The “hence no laws of nature” is merely an unquestioned assumption, because there is no requirement of telos for laws of science. Which then moots the point you tried to make with unquestioned assumptions being the hardest to deal with. YOU may mistake them for conclusions, I do not.
You also don’t really understand niche theory. A “niche” is a characteristic of the species, not a thing in and of itself. That is, you cannot go out in nature and “look” for a niche, and then find the organism that fits it. You must look at what an organism does to discover the niche. At any rate, a niche does not cull. And, as I said in my trail analogy, you cannot see the path in front of you. In nature, there is no goal, there is no final solution, there is just continuing. Natural selection is a blind, optimizing (at the moment) process. It’s not a blief-system that tells me that, it’s the research I’ve done, but mostly research that many others have done that shows us that.
Telos is the end of a goal-oriented process, an ultimate end, if you will. Evolution is not goal-oriented and you’ve done nothing to demonstrate that it is goal-oriented.
Johnno stated the suprisingly opaque comment that: “The good news for you is that modern science supports the Church, so it was always the Chinese that needed to correct their charts. Interestingly enough, it is noted that even the present day Chinese under the commies seem more willing to be critical of the West’s THE SCIENCE ™
on such areas of cosmology and various dogmas that our friend Roper here subscribes to, than the supposedly free democratic peoples.”
I’m baffled – I think that’s a very obtuse insult, but it makes no sense. I’ve never stated a single subscription to any particular or general dogma. I’ve only taken the stance that evidence is the only thing that decides the (likely) truth of something, and which can be contingent on all the other associated evidence.
So, Johnno, if you want to insult, please be more transparent.
God does not exist in time. Granted, doctrine proclaims creatio continuo but that is from our point of view. God comprehends His creation all at once (cf. ST PtI.1 Q14 art 9 respondeo) so from His POV creation is a sort of Minkowski 4-space. God can only be a voodoo magician lurking and tweaking if you imagine Him contained in time and space.
You mean where he writes, “It is therefore, causally that Scripture has said that earth brought forth the crops and trees, in the sense that it received the power of bringing them forth. In the earth from the beginning, in what I might call the roots of time, God created what was to be in times to come.
De Genesi ad literam, Book V Ch. 4:11
Or where he writes: “In the case of a narrative of events, the question arises as
to whether everything must be taken according to the figurative sense only, or whether it must be expounded and defended also as a faithful record of what happened. No Christian will dare say that the narrative must not be taken in a figurative sense.” — De Genesi I
He would not. God is not in space-time. The seven-day account seems to be as Bellarmine thought, an introductory poem written by Ezra the Scribe to reinforce the Sabbath-rest. [Just look at its structure!]
Ex nihilo, nihil fit.
N o. Why would you think you could? A leaf buds from its branch, not from another leaf. But a mouflon may turn into a sheep through the intelligent design of domestication and breeding, and an Eritherium may turn into an elephant through many intermediate stages and side branches [e.g. mammoths]. Any two successor species are likely to be much alike, as a man today is like the man he was yesterday; but at some point, the ancestor and the descendant are distinct enough that humans give them different names.
That is precisely what molecular biologists say did not happen. It was a lateral transfer of transposons, not Darwinian natural selection.
No, it;s a deduction from the nature of causation. We say that A is a cause of B if A results in B “always or for the most part” and not in C, D, or something else. If you drop a heavy body from the Tower of Pisa, it will fall toward the center of gravity. The cause is thought to be the bending of space caused by the presence of mass — the earth. There is something in mass that points to accelerated fall. If there were no telos to gravitation, falling objects might fly off to the empyrean or dance the Texas two-step. Similarly, there is something in the skin of apples that ‘points toward’ redness; viz., anthocyanin. When activated by light in the 3,600 to 4,500 Å range it absorbs the near-ultraviolet, violet, blue and green regions of the spectrum, thus reflecting red. The apple will not ripen into polka dots or an armadillo. Lawful behavior requires a telos.
A bald assertion because it really is an a priori assumption. There is no requirement in Universal Gravitation or Coulomb’s law or Boyle’s law, et al. for the passage of time. That does not mean time does not exist. Equilibrium manifolds over the state space are well known in the hard sciences. Even in planetary orbits, Belusov reactions, and the like, which do not have a final rest state, the telos lies in the oscillation itself.
That is a very teleological statement. We grant that what constitutes the niche depends on what the organism is trying to do. But this crypto-Lamarckian striving is toward an end; viz., survival.
Yes, so you keep asserting.
Provided you are broadly understanding of ‘end.’ [‘Goal’ and ‘orient’ can imply intention, and that may not apply.) Recall that there are several kinds of ‘ends’: termination, perfection, and intention are three. Oscillation might constitute a fourth.
I have been having conversations with people who profess they do not believe there is a creator or enough evidence to say there is for almost 30 years. They themselves, never present any evidence for their position. It is usually an emotional commitment to something that they can not justify.
One tactic is they almost always distort what those who believe there is a creator are saying. When they themselves provide nothing but usually ad hominems. An imperfect analogy but which comes close is that you didn’t dot all your “i’s” so your reasons are baseless. Somehow this justifies their position.
That is what is happening here. A person says one thing and the response is not reflective on what was said but some dreamt up interpretation of what was said to dismiss the comment.
When that is done, the responder somehow thinks that they do not have to support their position at all. Mainly because they don’t have anything to present. Otherwise they would do so. People always present evidence and logic when it supports their position. They may use derogatory remarks but don’t have too. This applies here on Briggs’s site as with most discussions anywhere especially on the internet when everyone is nameless.
JerrryR said: “I have been having conversations with people who profess they do not believe there is a creator or enough evidence to say there is for almost 30 years. They themselves, never present any evidence for their position.”
Just an observation – there is never any evidence for the absence of something. Well, except for the lack of evidence. So, it’s not surprising nobody can provide evidence for the lack of existence of something. Similarly, I’ve noticed that nobody has evidence for the presence of a creator, and even those that think there is one, also don’t provide evidence for the characteristics of that creator. Some words written years ago clearly are not evidence, after all, they have no trouble discounting all other kinds of creators other than the one they believe in. It is unfortunate that such emotion gets wrapped up in these discussions, but I think the cause is the inability of either side to refute the other, with evidence.
In other words, if you wanted to do an experiment to test either of those two positions, what would it be?
Again, an immediate distortion.
It’s hard to provide evidence for the absence of something. Yes, that is true. But that is not what is being asked. What is being asked is evidence for the origin of our universe? Did it happen naturally or was it the result of an action by an intelligence? Is there a third possibility? I’ve never seen any other possibility presented.
But there is no evidence for a natural origin of the universe. That would be a start, providing some, But no one ever had a natural rational for how such a thing happened. So what is one to do? The binary choice provided above leads to acceptance of an intelligent action.
There is plenty of evidence for the uniqueness of our universe which has been presented. So the question becomes: “What could have caused this extraordinary fine tuned universe?”
The answer is nothing natural. The odds are too much against it. But what about some form of intelligence? Yes, it’s possible if the intelligence is enormous and powerful enough. So that’s possible. So we have a possible explanation vs no other possible explanation. So, take your pick. Something that could explain it vs. no possible way.
That’s what the current choices are. So what’s the response to this situation?
So what is the next attack against a creator? We don’t know anything about this entity. We cannot tell which of the many creators that people have envisioned is the right one. We cannot do an experiment to test for the creator. All bogus, because each objection assumes there is a creator so these objections are an admission there is one. Otherwise, there would be an explanation for the fine tuned universe which there isn’t. Remember, only two possible choices.
So we have an admission that there is a creator. It’s just we don’t know too much about this creator. That is where we are. I have seen this approach before and it always comes down to trying to discredit Christianity and not pushing atheism per se. Because the latter has no basis.
But is all we know about the creator is that it exists? There are other sources and there is logic. That is where the discussion should go next. Now that our primary critic has admitted there is a creator.
JerryR said: “What is being asked is evidence for the origin of our universe? Did it happen naturally or was it the result of an action by an intelligence? Is there a third possibility? I’ve never seen any other possibility presented.”
It was almost 14 billion years ago, for which there is a lot of evidence. The big bang (or whatever initiated it) by nature left no evidence. So, the point is the same. There is no evidence for any particular theory of what made the big bang happen. Again, absence of evidence tells us nothing. In science, we just suspend judgement until we find evidence.
And for this claim of his: “There is plenty of evidence for the uniqueness of our universe which has been presented. So the question becomes: “What could have caused this extraordinary fine tuned universe?””
No, there isn’t. There is no evidence whatsoever, because we have no alternative universes with which to compare. So, the “odds: of any particular universe or uniqueness cannot be estimated. Sure, we can make up ad hoc ideas, like, if 1/137 was anything else, there would be no universe (and all similar arguments). So, what ARE the tests to support the hypothesis that the universe is fine-tuned? Objective, alternatives, that can be tested?
Is it obvious that if a thing doesn’t matter to God eternally then it doesn’t matter at all? I think an atheist would say childhood cancer matters to him, and even though that mattering will end no later than his death, it still counts. In other words, the something that cares how things turn out is him.
I also wonder if calling (theoretically) evolved morality “opinion” is right. The price of corn wasn’t handed down by God, but it’s not my opinion. Similarly, my evolved taste for high-calorie food may be a subjective preference, but it is not my opinion – I actually do like ice cream. Couldn’t the morality of, say, not committing murder be like this? A norm that emerged because it has some advantageous properties for survival, and then hard-wired itself into our largely heritable suite of behaviors?
To steal a page from your book (which I enjoyed, by the way), I’m not saying this is how it is. I’m suggesting you may not be playing fair.
PS Where is this email address?? “Briggs you fool!” takes up 16 of my allotted Twitter characters before I even get around to explaining where you’ve gone wrong.
What I find interesting in all this is the complete disingenuous of the answers. For example,
“No, there isn’t. There is no evidence whatsoever, because we have no alternative universes with which to compare. So, the “odds: of any particular universe or uniqueness cannot be estimated. Sure, we can make up ad hoc ideas, like, if 1/137 was anything else, there would be no universe (and all similar arguments). So, what ARE the tests to support the hypothesis that the universe is fine-tuned? Objective, alternatives, that can be tested?”
Of course we have evidence and lots of it. You have been given the fine tuning parameters and their specific values. There is no evidence or logic that these parameters could not have large differences let alone minutely small differences which would lead to nothing but chaos. If you were being credible, you would admit that. Changes that are so small as to require thousands of zeros after the decimal point before a non destroying change could take place is hardly a lack of evidence.
Or else there must be evidence that the parameters are hard wired by necessity. Nothing like that has ever been produced. What would cause the parameters to be just so as to ensure galaxies, stars and planets and the exacting nature of the elements.
You are also asking to test for something that is not possible. So the objection to this universe being unusual is that there are no alternatives to test this conclusion against. It is the physicists who have proposed that the changes would be destroying and nothing could exist if they happened. I suggest you take it up with them. (Nothing says that the creator of the universe could not have created another one or many of them but this creator would be limited by the parameters necessary for them to have a function. The parameters of the current universe could not be varied by much and still be functional in any way we understand. )
This is an admission that because there is no test of this universe vs. another it actually points to it having designer. The odds that the physiological constants are so constrained has one of two answers, they happened naturally and this is the one that made it through or some intelligence directed it. There is no third possibility.
The first possibility requires some force that generates universes. Then we are left with the origin of this force. No serious person believes there is some uncaused unintelligent force. That leads to too many absurdities. So we are left with an intelligence causing the universe. This a layer of logic on top of the science that has been generated. The science points to the fine tuning. Logic tells us it must have be directed by an intelligence.
An observation: if our universe were the only one, there would be no possibility of a test. Tests in the physical world are limited to those things that can be observed. So the assertion we must have tests to be sure is at best fatuous. No serious person would suggest it.
nobody has evidence for the presence of a creator
Except for creation.
don’t provide evidence for the characteristics of that creator.
Except for uniqueness, eternal, omnipotent, and crap like that.
Or do you mean ‘evidence’ in the way that measuring the properties of a jet engine will demonstrate the existence of Frank Whittle?
Why is it that you would trust the experiment? the experimenters?? the data going in?? the data going out???
God and His Word are absolutely trustworthy and are wholly worthy of our trust.
God bless, C-Marie
“Is it obvious that if a thing doesn’t matter to God eternally then it doesn’t matter at all?”
Who says it doesn’t matter to God? Certainly not God. Only people who have no idea of what a meaningful world would require. For God to create a meaningful world, He had to design it in a way that no one could be sure if He existed or not. So there has to be some shortcomings or tradeoffs for many to doubt that He exists. One way this is done is to provide some negative experiences in this world. Everyone experiences negative situations, some more than others. Another way is less than absolute proof that He exists.
The Christian perspective is that this world is only a way to a more perfect one. So for the child with cancer, it may be extremely unpleasant but necessary for others to go through this life with purpose. I happen to know of a seven year old who died from a long hard existence with a brain tumor in her brief life. But if this child and any other like her is given automatic access to the better world, then there is nothing lost for that child. But their experience is necessary for others like yourself to question what is actually happening. We cannot have a meaningful world without imperfections in order to question the origin of these imperfections.
The atheist does not feel any more sympathetic to that child than anyone who believes in God. In fact the atheist feels a lot less for that child because the atheist says this is all there is while the one who believes in God, knows the child has a future in a better life.
As a perspective for negative things in this life, if childhood cancer or adult cancer could be cured and eliminated, then the objections would be on something else less horrific including the obvious thing that everyone must die eventually. There would always be objections to something undesirable. It is a necessity.
“Who says it doesn’t matter to God? Certainly not God.”
The context here is Brigg’s statement that if there be no God then no thing matters.
Did it happen naturally or was it the result of an action by an intelligence?
Why do you suppose those are mutually exclusive? Hamlet was the result of an intelligence, yet also happened naturally via ink, paper, quill, stage props, etc. And there is no evidence in the play for the existence of Shakespeare.
The big bang… by nature left no evidence.
Cosmic microwave background radiation.
Of course, what is meant by ‘evidence’? It is not the same as ‘proof’ or restricted to ’empirical’ evidence. Empirical evidence for the existence of the universe is circular reasoning; i.e., ‘begging the question.’ To present empirical evidence, you must assume a priori that the universe exists. (A logical fallacy does not mean the conclusion is false, only that it is illogical.)
No science can prove [modern sense] its own assumptions. Physics assumes the physical universe exists, so cannot prove it. For that, you must go beyond physics, lit. ‘meta-physics.’ The same goes for things like ‘change’/’motion’, ‘energy’, ‘life,’ et al. Physics can tell us per example how one form of energy is transformed to another, such as light to heat. But it does not address energy as such.
Another difficulty is what Galileo called negotiatio intellectus, “the work of the intellect.” After first abstracting a propter quid (we’d say ‘theory’) from the concrete quia (we’d say ‘facts’), one must consider all other reasonable theories that might account for the same facts. As Duhem, and later Quine, demonstrated, science is underdetermined. That is, through any finite collection of facts one may draw innumerable theories. For example, the facts of relativity may be accounted for by Einstein’s theory or by Milne’s theory. The last time I checked with my cosmologist friend, there was no experimental way to distinguish between them. Similarly, the facts of quantum mechanics can be accounted for by at least four “interpretations”: Bohr’s Copenhagen,” Bohm’s “standing wave,” Everett’s “many worlds,” or Cramer’s “transactional.”
That is why when the facts ‘falsified’ heliocentrism, Darwin’s evolution, or Maxwell’s electromagnetism, they weren’t. Popper is a dangerous bride. In each case, there were additional assumptions, and it was one of these that had been falsified, not the main theory.
JerryR said: “What I find interesting in all this is the complete disingenuous of the answers.”
And then he goes on to be disingenuous in his. Oh the irony. I was being perfectly honest and serious in my answers, and you didn’t refute anything I said. You’re basically saying that the number 1 (or any particular number) is proof of something, and it ain’t. Clearly, there is some communication issue here – you say something is proof but can’t prove it, and I say it’s not proof nor evidence (and many physicists agree). So, the discussion seems to be a continuous reiteration of evidence/not evidence.
Not a very fruitful conversation.
JerryR also said: “An observation: if our universe were the only one, there would be no possibility of a test. Tests in the physical world are limited to those things that can be observed. So the assertion we must have tests to be sure is at best fatuous. No serious person would suggest it.”
I must be too subtle, because that was my point, not my suggestion. There is no way to test the hypothesis that the universe is fine-tuned. I maintain that there is no evidence to suggest it either, unless simply being and having descriptions of nature that include unique and small numbers is defined as evidence. Since we cannot test the idea, we have to realize that THAT isn’t evidence either.
While all the “arguments” around here seem to be concentrated on facsimile gnats, various speculations or computer generated models, the large, smelly, camel is routinely swallowed by all the protagonists of a variety of “Evolution” assumptions; that camel being the self-evident premise that Nothing cannot turn itself into Anything.
Our JJR is confidently asserting that Nothing is relentlessly turning itself into Everything by a completely speculative “power” of random chance with no (first or final) cause. Most of us reasonably sane types acknowledge a cause and effect relationship for what we do (like working to achieve some material good) or for what happens (we even bust our brains to try and find some reasonable cause of earthquakes and cyclones). None of that pedestrian stuff applies to the supremely wise materialist who says that because he does not want there to be any Cause or Purpose that he must acknowledge then there is none… stuff that doesn’t happen did happen if you just project the impossibility far enough away and claim that it did happen because it might have happened.
At least 50 years ago I read an introduction to a “science” textbook by Julian Huxley who calmly stated that the chance of even one simple protein forming by chance is practically impossible but he went on assert: “Yet it has happened because here we are!” “Science” can explain everything these days.
I just hafta call out Johnno and YOS again for implying that there is no such thing as a consistent, intelligible, Natural Order but that all of Creation is arbitrary, and in an incomprehensible flux caused by a fickle Allah who doesn’t really know what he’s doing. If there’s no primordial Natural Order (some metaphysical thing we call “order” which cannot create itself) then there cannot be what we call miracles (the suspension of, or defiance of the known natural processes) if everything that happens is an arbitrary “miracle” like the apparent movement of the planets, for example, then it is so because it is convenient to some prejudice.
We must have Faith AND Reason. Either one without the other devolves into fickle superstition that cannot acknowledge either the reality of metaphysics (transcendentals like life, truth and will) or the physical reality of a comprehensible, consistent natural order.
Ye Olde Statistician wrote that creation is evidence of a creator, but that is a circular argument. If the evidence says the universe began with the big bang, then there is no evidence of a creator. And the lack of evidence of anything prior to the big bang also does not suggest a creator. And looking around at nature also does not suggest a creator – and it’s not even the most parsimonious explanation (Occam’s Razor).
He also said “Except for uniqueness, eternal, omnipotent, and crap like that” without explaining how those characters come from the lack of evidence. And, he basically repeated the no watch without a watchmaker argument, but they still do not suggest any particular characteristic. I find it interesting that these leaps of faith are required without any evidence that an independent observer could recognize as evidence.
David Marwick said: “Our JJR is confidently asserting that Nothing is relentlessly turning itself into Everything by a completely speculative “power” of random chance with no (first or final) cause.”
And that shows that he completely misunderstood anything I’ve said about evolution (perhaps anything). I never said, nor implied, that nothing relentlessly turns itself in everything, and nor have I suggest that random chance is important. That comment misconstrues the argument.
Cause and effect is not the issue. Not knowing what “caused” the big bang is not a problem, either. The big bang is the first cause we have evidence for, and everything else simply followed. We have life on the planet because we have a sun and are at the right distance to have water in it’s three main phases. And so on.
I notice that Dave didn’t really refute anything I said, he just used the “everybody knows” argument.
It cannot be because ‘evidence’ is not an ‘argument.’ Nor is evidence a ‘proof’ in the modern sense of ‘a conclusive result.’ evidentia in classical Latin meant “distinction, vivid presentation, clearness” in rhetoric, from stem of Latin evidens “obvious, apparent.” Thus, evidences are indications. A given set of facts may indicate a ‘collapse of the wave function’ or it may indicate a ‘standing wave.’ Science is underdetermined, so evidences are never conclusive. We instead say ‘the weight of the evidence’ or ‘the evidence is [not] persuasive.’
If the evidence says the Mona Lisa began with the big brush stroke, then there is no evidence of an artist. The brush [and the paints] explain everything about the painting.
Again with the metaphysics! Ockham’s Razor [it actually goes back to Aristotle] says in modern terms, “don;t have too many terms in your model, or you won’t understand your model.” It is an epistemological principle, not an ontological one. The physical world, Ockham continued, could be as complex as God wished. I’m not sure that it just is! is philosophically more parsimonious than goddidit. At least goddidit puts the terminus as quem outside the material universe while itjustIS puts it inside the universe.
Oh, dear. It took Thomas Aquinas several volumes to do that, and you want it in a blog comment? That’s like asking for all of Euclid in a single theorem. Your prior plaint, to which I was commenting, was even those that think there is one [a creator], also don’t provide evidence for the characteristics of that creator, which is a factual error on your part, inasmuch as many have provided evidences over the centuries. I was just reminding you that the so-called “Divine Attributes” have been deduced in some detail.
It was more like the the no effect without a cause argument. Be careful about discarding causality because natural science gets tossed out with it. A watch is an artifact. Its parts have no instrinsic tendency to come together, The final cause must be imposed from the outside by art [original sense]. The parts of natural bodies do not come together as individual components. We do not find beaks awaiting assembly onto a head, or feathers ready to attach to a wing. Rather, for natural bodies, we find the parts grow in an ‘organic’ fashion. [‘Natural’ means ‘by birth’] That is, their final cause is contained within themselves, as when material comes together by the gravity inherent in mass to form planets and such or when kittens mature into cats.
If nature is an art, as Aquinas wrote, it is a divine art, since God endowed physical bodies with immanent powers, like gravity or cell differentiation. The medieval Christians called that “secondary causation,” a key concept that was discounted in the House of Submission and unknown in the Middle Kingdom.
We have been discussing four or maybe more very complex phenomena. These are the universe, our solar system and planet, life (mainly complex life) and major changes in complex life or evolution. The last has many sub phenomena. They all however, exist in very narrow ways.
None have an explanation for their origin other than each exists. No one can explain why they exist or how they came to be. There is no science or test that explains any of them. Each is studied to understand their characteristics. Science analyzes their parts to see how they work but comes up empty to explain how each came to be. In other words there is no natural way to explain how each could exist.
So we are left with a conundrum. Ignore their origin or speculate on the most likely explanation for their existence. So we hypothesize a super intelligent entity with immense power and the choice comes down to this super powerful being that could explain everything or it just happened. The latter has no current support for a process on how it could have happened physically or logically.
So the dichotomy of choices are 1) an entity with immense intelligence and power or 2) it somehow happened but we haven’t a clue how it did.
I have to wonder why, just after I’ve written a brilliant and entertaining response, when I hit the “Post Comment” button, I get a server error, and then the back button does not take me back to the previous page. I think it’s a conspiracy! This time I’ll copy it all so that I can paste it back if it happens again (this is the third or fourth time it’s happened).
Ye Olde Statistician wrote, pedantically, “It cannot be because ‘evidence’ is not an ‘argument.’ Nor is evidence a ‘proof’ in the modern sense of ‘a conclusive result.’ evidentia in classical Latin meant “distinction, vivid presentation, clearness” in rhetoric, from stem of Latin evidens “obvious, apparent.”
But, clearly, the argument was not “evidence,” but rather the argument was “creation is evidence of a creator” and THAT is certainly circular.
Next, he said: “If the evidence says the Mona Lisa began with the big brush stroke, then there is no evidence of an artist.” In fact, there IS evidence of AN artist, just no artist in particular, and no evidence of any characteristics of that artist.
Continuing the pedantry, he said: “Ockham’s Razor [it actually goes back to Aristotle] says in modern terms, “don;t have too many terms in your model, or you won’t understand your model.” But, if we look up the term, we can find this: “In philosophy, Occam’s razor (also spelled Ockham’s razor or Ocham’s razor; Latin: novacula Occami) is the problem-solving principle that recommends searching for explanations constructed with the smallest possible set of elements.” (I can be pedantic too!). So, it’s not about not understanding your model, but about using the simplest model possible.
So, if we take the big bang hypothesis, we end up not knowing, nor speculating about, what might have been the cause of the BB (so, there is one element, the BB). However, if we use the God hypothesis, it seems we come up with several elements: 1. Goddidit, 2. God is omniscient, 3. God is omnipotent, 4. God is omnipresent, 5. God is a being, but not of matter, 6. God is outside of time, 7. God is ‘and crap like that’. So, with the BB hypothesis, we say we don’t know about what might have come “before” (while knowing that time as we know it began with the BB), and we don’t worry about it. But, with the God hypothesis, we get all kinds of stuff out of it and which are required to make any sense. Clearly, novacula Occami suggests that BB is the simpler of the two.
And good old Tom Aquinas, while a great man in his day, was working with Medieval knowledge – he still believed that the earth was the center of the universe. And, just like Anselm, their arguments for the characteristics of their particular version of god were teleological.
As for first cause, I think modern scientists simply accept that we don’t have the information yet, and go on from their. Knowing the first cause is totally unnecessary for understanding subsequent cause and effect. We don’t need to understand the big bang to calculate planetary orbits today. We don’t need to understand abiogenesis to study and understand evolution today. We don’t need to know about the Seven Years War to study the war in Afghanistan. Saying goddidit merely provides the illusion of understanding something, because nobody knows HOW it would have been done. And, there is no link between having “didit” and any particular characteristics of the “doer” – other than what people speculated on in the last 3000 years. Well after the earth formed over 4 billion years ago.
JerryR says a few things, but let’s start here: “None have an explanation for their origin other than each exists.”
I’m not sure I can decipher what Jerry is trying to say. Astonomers understand the “evolution” of the solar system. It’s pretty well thought out and explained. Of course, it happened billions of years ago so a test of their hypothesis is complicated. So, let’s narrow it down and say we don’t know what caused the Big Bang, and we’re not sure how abiogenesis came about. So, there are 2 major details of which we’re basically ignorant. Scientists simply accept that. But, we don’t NEED to KNOW those things to study the details of what came after, either for cosmologists or for evolutionary biologists.
Jerry concludes “In other words there is no natural way to explain how each could exist.” and because he really wants to know how each could exist, he concludes goddidit. Ok, Jerry isn’t a scientist. Most scientists I know would change what he said to “there is no way YET to explain each naturally.” And we then conclude that we just don’t know, and we accept not knowing. We accept it because we know that saying goddidit doesn’t really explain anything. We’d still not know how.
Jerry concludes: “So the dichotomy of choices are 1) an entity with immense intelligence and power or 2) it somehow happened but we haven’t a clue how it did.”
You know, there are two kinds of people in the world. Those that divide people into two kinds of people and those who don’t. Jerry wants there to be two kinds of “explanations” so he can have an explanation. But, there could be many more that he hasn’t thought of.
2. We don’t know how it happened
But, it turns out that 2 has many options, while 1 doesn’t. There might be many different kinds of ways that the universe came to be, and physicists still debate some of them. But, it turns out that we don’t yet know. That’s my conclusion – that there is an explanation, but we don’t know it yet. And I’m fine with that.
We have been talking about several things. One of them is that our solar system and planet is somehow different or possibly a unique combination. I am well aware of how solar systems come about but this does not explain the peculiar combination of Earth and our solar system.
So I will be a little bit clearer. The Earth and our solar system have unusual characteristics. The combination may be unique in the universe. So the question is how did this particular combination appear? If one wants to understand just what these combinations are read about the “rare earth” and “privileged planet” thesis. It turns out there are other characteristics such as the size and mass of the earth and the type of gasses that are located near the surface.
“there are 2 major details of which we’re basically ignorant”
No as I said there are 4 or maybe more. There is the origin of the universe, the origin of our particular planet/solar system combination, the origin of life and origin of major changes in life forms which is generally called evolution. There is no theory for any of these origins. Only speculation.
Scientists are welcome to continue to explore but they mislead when they deny the complexity and the difficulty to explain each. The average person does not know how little science knows of each.
Then there is this
‘Jerry isn’t a scientist. Most scientists I know would change what he said to “there is no way YET to explain each naturally.” ‘
What has this to do with anything? Answer, nothing. I know of no criteria that scientists have that make them special for interpreting anything scientific unless it has to do with a particular niche of their profession. My experience with scientists are that they are generally unqualified to comment authoritatively on anything outside their particular narrow domain. So let’s dismiss this nonsensical comment.
By the way I was in a PhD program and was ABD and had courses in the Philosophy of Science including designing research programs. Probably as much as any PhD in science has had. I stopped to start my own business with two other people.
Then more irrelevant comments:
“You know, there are two kinds of people in the world. Those that divide people into two kinds of people and those who don’t. Jerry wants there to be two kinds of “explanations” so he can have an explanation. But, there could be many more that he hasn’t thought of.”
Why don’t you try to provide a third type of explanation? Why is the dichotomy not valid. What other explanation is there besides it happened naturally which leaves room for almost an infinite number of possible explanations and an intelligence which covers non natural explanations. So the dichotomy is actually natural vs non natural.
I take from the lack of substance in all your comments and the use of ad hominems that you have nothing. If you had any substance, you would provide it. Instead we get criticism of minutiae.
Humor is often difficult to notice in written messages. I thought the “two kinds of people” joke was a good indicator that humor was included. At the same time, it did sum up Jerry’s suggestion reasonably well. I have NEVER given an ad hominem in this forum, and if it looks like it, then someone has made a mistake (either the person reading it, or I didn’t write clearly enough – in both cases, I ask that we assume that we’re all friendly here).
Basically, I see it that Jerry wants to use the “goddidit” explanation for all the things about which we just don’t have the evidence. He seems to want to be able to explain things rather than accept that they may be inexplicable. That was the point of the failed attempt at humor (just as writing this way might be another failed attempt, but I’m working on it!).
All I am affirming is that BOTH of those “explanations” are void of evidence that can satisfy everybody. there are several hypotheses about how the earth-moon system formed, how the rings of Saturn formed, why they are disappearing, and why Saturn has so many moons, but all of them left no smoking gun. While some might be more consistent with someone’s pet theory, we can’t test them. But, there are millions of things that occur every day whose cause is impossible to ascertain. Just being impossible to ascertain is not support for the goddidit hypothesis.
I only brought up scientists to point out that those IN the field of interest (cosmology, say, or evolution) rarely accept the goddidit hypothesis. So, I was talking about specialists in the field of interest, and I agree with Jerry that outside their specialties, scientists are often (but not always) no better at some other field than your average lay person. Just to make it clear, I was always talking about both the science and the scientists in the same field in my comments.
You wrote ‘pedantically’ like it was a bad thing.
No morethan art is evidence for an artisan.
Make up your mind. Is it begging the question or not?
So? You claimed there was no evidence of “a” creator. I simply poinyed out that there was. I never said it was a complete demonstration.
Cut-and-paste is not being pedantic. A little further reading in Ockham might reveal the reason why he “scraped the parchment” with his razor. That Late Moderns use the principle for “problem-solving” does not mean that was why Friar William invoked Aristotle’s ‘Principle of Parsimony.’
Sigh. But why would you use the simplest model? Why would, for example, Newton express his law with only two masses when real-world planetary motions involve many mutually attracting bodies?
Flag on the play. Fr. Lemaitre developed the theory from the mathematics of relativity theory, which are generally regarded as involving a lot of stuff. You are stripping one idea down to its [originally derogatory] label, while regarding the divine attributes as somehow additional factors.
But God is not a scientific hypothesis; He is a metaphysical conclusion. He is not a cause in competition with other causes any more than a carpenter is in competition with a hammer.
You seem to forget that the Big Bang [which technically is not a ‘thing’ but an ‘event’] also has attributes: 1. the BB just happened. 2. the NN was a mathematical singularity. 3. the BB was superdense. 4. the BB was ‘hot’ 5. the BB included ‘inflation’ etc. etc.
So what? He did not use that empirical fact in demonstrating the existence of God. [He did use the ‘settled science’ as an illustrative example; but he also noted more than once that “the theory of eccentrics and epicycles is considered as established, because thereby the sensible appearances of the heavenly movements can be explained; not, however, as if this proof were sufficient, forasmuch as some other theory might explain them.” –Summa theologica, I, q.32, a.1, ad. 2
Anselm’s proof was ontological. Aquinas rejected it. His “fifth way” began with natural telos [aka, lawfulness of nature] and concluded to a divinity, but the other four did not.
I don’t think you understand what primary causation is. It is a necessary conclusion from the per se ordering of efficient causes. [Note that it does not follow from causes ordered per accidens.]
Correct. That is what the medievals concluded.
No, that requires additional thought and a whole string of syllogisms. Besides, Aquinas started not with ‘didit’ but with the actualization of potentials [or the per se ordering of efficient causes, or the contingency of material being, …] and concluded to God. (Actually, he concluded to something divine, but he went on from there.
Actually, God has told us all, that He created all creation, so no worries there, unless one refuses His revelation of Himself.
God bless, C-Marie
And, it all boils down to, for those who are avoiding admitting that the Living God is, by way of many mental and emotional processes, that the ultimate situation which has been always present, can no longer be swept under the rug.
And, that situation is, that We are sinners, and we need to be saved by the Grace of Salvation obtained by Our Lord Jesus Christ, through His Life, Sufferings, Death on the Cross, and Resurrection from the dead, Who is the only Begotten Son of God.
There is no other Name by which we can be saved. So choose, to be with the Living God forever in Heaven, or without Him forever.
God bless, C-Marie
Folks, your detractor claims for his s-c-i-e-n-t-i-s-t-s “we don’t need to know” and yet writes around it What It Is Not. Good luck with that.
What do we know?
The universe is very fine tuned. Maybe it is best to state the obvious. What fine tuned means is that if any of the fundamental characteristics of the universe were off by an extremely small number then there would be no universe as we know it, meaning no stars, no planets or essentially nothing but dust. For the extreme cases, if some of these numbers were different by one in a thousand zeros after the decimal place the universe wouldn’t exist as we know. Other numbers are larger but still very very small.
I am not talking about fine tuned for life here but just fine tuned for galaxies, stars and planets. Life has many other fine tuned characteristics that are necessary.
There is no current explanation for why such a universe should exist at all but especially one with these extremely precise relationships.
Remember there cannot be anything infinite such as a multiverse to explain this because that leads to absurdities. So we are left with finite time and space and an incredibly precise set of parameters.
Next, the Big Bang represents a finite time and space model that fits all the findings that science has so far discovered.
Given our finite universe there are also some other unusual characteristics that defy explanation. These characteristics are conducive to life. These are the attributes of our solar system and planet. Which indicate that our solar system and planet combination may be extremely rare in the universe if not the only one. This is not saying that it is the only one but that if there are others they would have to be exceedingly rare too.
Then there is the appearance of life on our planet. How it arose is a mystery and current science has little or no idea how it could. Lots of speculation but that is all it is. There is some thought that it could be created in a lab some day and that may give us a hint how it could happen naturally. But still nothing.
It is thought that life as we know it could exist in a lot of environments and many places in our solar system and on other solar systems. It exists in some very harsh environments on our planet. But there is a huge difference between basic life of single molecule entities and complex life requiring very restrictive environments. Our planet can support complex life, but it is thought that there are not too many other environments if any that could.
Then there is change of life forms over time or what most people associate with the term “evolution.” That evolution happened is not controversial. What is controversial is how it happened. No one knows how it happened but there is lots of speculation and that is all it is. No proof of anything except for very minor changes in species over time. For that there is lots of good evidence and we have a science that deals with this called genetics.
But for major changes there is nothing. Minor changes found in genetics are extrapolated to major changes over time without any evidence that it did happen or could happen. Again a mystery and science has very little if anything to explain these findings.
The latter, evolution of complex life and especially consciousness, is in the dark ages. The conventional wisdom is that all is well known or that science is close to explaining how these changes or origins of new systems arose.
But that is a lie!
(The phenomenon of AI has been all over the news lately and one of the speculations is could these computer algorithms develop consciousness.)
Science is in the proverbial dark on the origin of the universe, the origin of our specific solar system and planet, the origin of life, the origin of complex life and the origin of consciousness. Any assertion to the contrary is nonsense. Yes, they should keep researching this but they are currently no where.
This is in an environment in which science has made extraordinary strides in understanding our our world works. So in some ways science has made incredible advances while in other areas which are studied just as much, they are still at ground zero.
Why is this not acknowledged? The conventional wisdom is otherwise but the conventional wisdom is anything but the truth.
A good author to read about all this is Eric Metaxas who has written several books but two that deal with this are “Miracles” from 2015 and “Is Atheism Dead?” from 2021. I personally read “Miracles” several years ago and found the facts interesting.
I have just started “Is Atheism Dead?” and it has even more facts. For example, it has a detailed history of the discovery of the “Big Bang.” The first chapter alone is worth the price of the book.
Just to reiterate on a related area: no one is saying there is a proof for a creator. I certainly do not believe there is and have never seen one. I actually say there is no such proof and that is probably by design. What I do say is that the concept of a “creator” would explain all the mysteries on which science has gotten no where.
So anyone who disputes that the possibility of creator is true, is committing the fallacy of “Begging the Question” which essentially says that one eliminates a possible conclusion without any proof. They are saying that they assume a creator cannot exist. And for that they have no proof. What I am saying is that a creator is very likely. But nowhere is that an absolute conclusion. And as I have said this is probably by design because a conclusive proof of a specific creator would make life meaningless.
JerryR said: “The universe is very fine tuned. Maybe it is best to state the obvious. What fine tuned means is that if any of the fundamental characteristics of the universe were off by an extremely small number then there would be no universe as we know it, meaning no stars, no planets or essentially nothing but dust.”
Not even dust, but that is a circular argument anyway. After all, having fundamental constants is a requirement for any kind of structure. The fact that there is structure to the universe is not proof that anything fine-tuned it. First, you can circularly define “fine-tuned” to mean that someone fine-tuned it, but that’s not required. Second, if you define “fine-tuned” to mean that physical constants must be constant and certain values simply means you defined our universe to be “fine-tuned.” But, what are alternative hypotheses? One is simply that only universes with compatible constants can exist, and the fact that we exist simply shows that we’re in that kind of universe.
And, there are many physicists that do dispute that the universe is fine-tuned. A good place to start reading is this report (which has a link to the full document): https://www.templeton.org/discoveries/fine-tuning
It’s quite possible that in our universe, ALL the constants are correlated – that is, once there is one constant, all the other constants have to take the values they have, similar to crystalization. Once the universe started coalescing after the big bang, as particles formed, the first constants did too, and subsequently, the other constants simply fell in line.
Regardless, it’s STILL theoretical, and not universally accepted among any particular group of scientists. So, you are claiming that it’s a resolved issue, but it’s not. And, even if it were, it doesn’t suggest a “tuner”! As with the analogy of a crystal, it may just be the “way things work.” And remember, the lack of an explanation is not evidence for anything.
This all reads like the debates with the New Atheists 10-15 years ago. A lot of hand waving about “evidence” by which one side means empirical evidence and ONLY empirical evidence! Metaphysics and formal logic need not apply.
“Metaphysics!” they snort, “Do us a favour!” So two ships that pass in the night. However the disconnect often renders these things pointless. If anyone wants a laugh on the size of the disconnect I will recommend them to Terry Eagletons review of Richard Dawkins book in The London Review of Books. Eagleton, a Marxist and an atheist, pretty much destroys the sola empirical stuff. The first two thirds of the critique is very funny. The last third where he allows his own prejudices to take over is less so.
Why do you constantly mis-state what I say and use logical fallacies? They just make my comments more compelling.
“Regardless, it’s STILL theoretical, and not universally accepted among any particular group of scientists. So, you are claiming that it’s a resolved issue, but it’s not. .”
I did not say it was a resolved issue. I just stated facts which you do not deny.
“And, even if it were, it doesn’t suggest a “tuner”! ””
It most certainly does suggest a tuner. To say that is does not suggest a tuner which is what your comment is saying, one would have to have proof that there was no tuner. Which no one has proof. A logical fallacy.
“As with the analogy of a crystal, it may just be the “way things work.”
Yes, that could be true but even then it does not rule out “fine tuning.” If all the parameters are correlated, that does not rule that there had to fine tuning for this correlation to exist. Another logical fallacy.
“And remember, the lack of an explanation is not evidence for anything”
Never said it was. But it leaves open other possibilities that could explain the phenomena for which there is no evidence. That’s how science works. Another logical fallacy.
Briggs would have a field day with the several logic fallacies in the comments.
But, I thank you for making my case. The lack of any alternatives and the use of logical fallacies provides more credence for an explanation that could possibly explain the findings.
JerryR said: “Why do you constantly mis-state what I say and use logical fallacies?” I’m pretty sure I’m not doing that, but if I were, I would think you would take my words item by item and demonstrate what you claim.
Next he said: “It most certainly does suggest a tuner.” to which I can reply, no, it doesn’t. After all, the Big Bang could have resulted in this “tuning.” In any case, it’s not clearly demonstrated that the universe is “tuned.” After all, just like breaking symmetry that came after the big bang, these “numbers” might just be the ones that worked. We don’t know if there are other places where other big bangs happened that didn’t coalesce in the same way. I reckon what I’m saying is that there is simply no way to either confirm, test, prove, experimentally examine or otherwise find out if it is truly tuned. There is just so much we don’t know. So, claiming it is tuned, and then using that to justify anything else is, well, opinion.
And, you “opine” that I wrote some logical fallacies, but you didn’t explain them. For example, the following:
“And remember, the lack of an explanation is not evidence for anything”
To which you replied: “Never said it was. But it leaves open other possibilities that could explain the phenomena for which there is no evidence. That’s how science works. Another logical fallacy.”
My first statement was that YOU had the logical fallacy of suggesting that the lack of an explanation IS evidence for YOUR explanation. That was MY point. Then, you act like I had the fallacy, but I was the one pointing it out, not making the mistake. So, it looks to me like YOU are the one misinterpreting and using logical fallacies.
The LACK of evidence doesn’t do anything, much less “leave open” something. It is uninformative.
So, our finite intelligence, ( Intelligence has been defined in many ways: the capacity for abstraction, logic, understanding, self-awareness, learning, emotional knowledge, reasoning, planning, creativity, critical thinking, and problem-solving …. from wikipedia) in the end game, our finite intelligence is trying to comprehend, prove, understand, the Infinite Intelligence which Intelligence many refuse to acknowledge even exists, which Intelligence can only be comprehended, proved, understood, through revelation by the Infinite Intelligence to our finite intelligence.
This Infinite Intelligence … God Himself … has placed within each person the desire to know Him and to be His own. We have all had, and some are still having, our turn at being our own little god. When the Revelation. the Awakening comes, that God alone is God, it is then that we are responsible to enter into Him Who is Lord and God of all that lives.
Receive Jesus Christ as your Lord, and Saviour, and God. Receive God our Father’s fathering you and loving you. Receive the Holy Spirit’s leading and guiding you.
God bless, C-Marie
Plantagenet said: “Metaphysics and formal logic need not apply.” And seems to think that all scientists are of the same mind. Not so. However, Protagoras, in Plato’s Theatetus, mistakenly said: “Man is the measure of all things: of things which are, that they are, and of things which are not, that they are not.” And that is the same problem with metaphysics. Every person cannot be the measure of all things, but, they can each have different metaphysical perceptions of the universe. And, as for formal logic, most scientists use it regularly in some form to determine their research programs. So, I am at a loss for exactly what Plantagenet was trying to say.
I was really hoping for an example or something useful, but it appears to simply be his biased opinion.
Correlation? Correlation? How in the world would correlation mean there is no “tuning”? Causation would be a better suggestion. Granted, all of it just kicks the can down the road — why are X and Y correlated? Why does A cause B? — but the whole fine-tuning foo-foo strikes me as bogus. Like painting a bull’s eye around the arrow and then marveling at how accurate the bowman was. If the sundry constants were not copacetic, we would not be here to wonder at them.
For a Thomistic view of the argument, see here: https://thomism.wordpress.com/2010/10/27/the-ugliness-of-a-finely-tuned-universe/
Fine tuning arguments play on one of the great blind-spots of modern thinkers- the muddling of logical and real possibility. — James Chastek
Sure, kick the can! Going back to my “trail in the new snow” analogy, we can imagine that we can’t see where the trail might go in the future because there’s no evidence. So, let’s say we walk back along the trail to see where we came from. Well, we know where we came from, we’re the ones that did the walking. But, we can follow our own trail and see what appears to be a coherent, logical path back towards our beginning. Only, we discover that an avalanche came along and wiped out the entire beginning of our trail. It was a huge avalanche, and there is just no way to go back along it to find any indication of where we started, or how. That’s analogous to the big bang. We can only go so far, and then there’s no more information from which to draw conclusions. The way I see it is that this applies to the “fine-tune.”
I get the feeling that people don’t like “not knowing” and so they will accept an explanation that appears to explain, at least to them, so they can say they know. But, we’re reminded, everything you believe is wrong. Personally, I don’t believe in the beginning of the big bang.
Can anyone spot the quantifier shift? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?
And, as for formal logic… Mr Plantagenet was asking what for you constituted “evidence.” (I had asked earlier, but answer came there none.) IOW, would you accept formal logic as evidence, or do you insist on only “empirical” evidence. (And do you see that the latter is the logical fallacy of ‘begging the question”?)
Consider too the irony of derogating metaphysics on the one hand but appealing to Ockham’s Razor on the other.
I was not denigrating formal logic – it has its place. It’s just not the arbiter of what is true. But, even Protagoras did not get to the Sun being the center of our solar system on logic. And: https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg22029411-200-the-edge-of-reason-when-logic-fails-us/
As for what constitutes “evidence” – I’ll go with a dictionary definition. For example: b: something that furnishes proof… Although, that’s almost circular… Basically, evidence is something that you can (in theory) show to another and they will agree with you. If two people do not agree on what evidence is, then they certainly won’t agree on what evidence furnishes proof of.
Occam’s Razor, while metaphysical, is merely a rule of thumb. Every rule of thumb is metaphysical in some way.
And, ” Listen then, Jacob! listen to Me, thou Israel to whom My call was sent. I am still the same; before all and at the end of all, I AM. My hand fashioned the heavens; my fingers measured the span of earth; it is My command holds them in place. ”
Isaiah 48: 12-13.
God bless, Claudia-MARIE
This “discussion” is quite as tiresome as the “logic” of a group of adolescent girls proposing the relative merits of their choice of colour in their nail polish.
Logic is not just any fatuous justification of a point of view, or even the correlation of one idea with another. Logic is the scientific rules based in the “Law of Non Contradiction” which ensures consistent and coherent reasoning from secure “commonsense”, self evident, premises to a proposed conclusion… which has given rise to what’s called a “scientific method”. Most broadly, the scientific method can be stated as: 1, something is seen to happen, or be; 2, the question “why is it so”; 3, proposed ideas (hypotheses) to be tested for veracity by being compared to certainly known premises, other observations, experiment etc.; 4, a preliminary guess (hypothesis) that passes the testing is then called a theory which means that it is a possible, or even likely, explanation for the observed phenomenon(s); 5, if it can be demonstrated that there are no, and can be no, exceptions to the theory then it’s accepted as a “law” of physics or some such.
All the physical sciences are but sub branches of the queen of sciences which we call “philosophy” (philo-sophia; the love of wisdom; the willingness to spend ones self to find the right answer) and as such are all subject to the rules of logic. Anyone who gets their assumed premises from the modern Scribes (media and fashionable academia) and Pharisees (the notorious, the rich and powerful) are psychologically and intellectually incapable of seeing outside the box.
Anyhow, there seem to be a bunch of sycophants who rely on fashionable conjectures as the premises for their assumptions that remote “time” (the Einsteinian notion of which assumes that it is some “stuff” that can be stretched, compressed, bent, twisted, turned in on itself like a “Klein Bottle” or a Materialist with his head up his own arse thinking that all the secrets of the Universe are contained therein). For all those that rely on the Scribes and Pharisees for their “wisdom” check out this bod and his mate from “down under” who compare and contrast fashionable opinions with observable data and/or right reason.
Oddly, that was how the ancient Greeks propounded ‘heliocentrism.’ 1. Fire is a nobler element than Earth. 2. The center is a nobler position than the edge. 3. Therefore, the Sun, being Fire, lies in the center. Alas, all the empirical evidence was against it.(*) Aristotle commented on them: “In all this they are not seeking for theories and causes to account for observed facts, but rather forcing their observations and trying to accommodate them to certain theories and opinions of their own.” — On the heavens II.13.293a
(*)empirical evidence. No steady east headwind. An arrow shot straight up falls straight down, not to the west. No parallax observed among the fixed stars. Etc. etc. Today, of course, we have answers to these objections, but don’t suppose geomobility was easy to establish. Try it yourself. No hindsight. No notion of metaphysical concepts like inertia, mass, etc. You have eyeballs and armillaries. Go. I’ll wait here.
That’s why it took 120 years after Copernicus to establish geomobility as fact.
The Razor is a principle [from princeps, first], not a proposition. It is no more susceptible of proof than Euclid’s Fifth Postulate or the Continuum Hypothesis.
The three great realms of knowledge — Physics, Mathematics, and Metaphysics — establish their truths in distinct ways: induction from facts, deductions from principles, and deductions from facts. Not all truths are facts, not all evidences are proofs. Evidences must be weighed, facts must be constructed. Poincare noted that a science is no more a body of facts than a house is a pile of bricks. They must be put together, and how the facts [material cause] are assembled [formal cause] constitutes the science [final cause].
I am further along in Metaxas’s book, “Is Atheism Dead?”
I highly recommend it for those looking for scientific evidence of a creator. It is very complete and very readable. So far I have read about 50 separate fine tuning examples.
In the fine tuning of Earth, Metaxas starts with a story of how Cristopher Hitchens was asked in a taxi by someone in the front seat, what is the best argument from the other side. He immediately said they all agree (other atheists) that the fine tuning argument is the strongest. Here is the video
Essentially the response by atheists is to just deny the fine tuning exists.
About two years ago Ross Douthat published an opinion piece in the New York Times about faith. The replies were fast and nearly all were negative. The interesting thing is that in all the replies there was zero comments providing evidence for atheism. They were mostly vitriol.
In other words I could not find a logical argument in any of these comments with evidence on why atheism is valid let alone preferred. The NY Times supposedly has an educated readership. But they are clueless on why they believe as they do.
That is similar to what has happened in this thread and similar threads I have seen on this topic over the years. This confirms Hans Rosling’s claim that the most educated are the least knowledgeable about the world.
JerryR commented: “The interesting thing is that in all the replies there was zero comments providing evidence for atheism.” I reckon he forgot that I already pointed out that you can’t find evidence for the absence of something, other than, well, the absence of evidence. It turns out that there is no evidence for a god either. I suppose if we simply eliminate books that make claims, or say that books are human and biased by the authors, then we can only use evidence found in the universe. So, there is no evidence for the existence or absence of any particular god.
Regarding the book “Is Atheism Dead” I tried to find a review, and here’s a contrasting one – “This is a dreadful book. It is a truly awful, intolerant, mean-hearted, mendacious grab-bag of outworn Christian apologetics, dubious claims of scientific support for theism, a tendentious review of the discoveries made in Biblical archeology over the past two centuries, virulent attacks on well-known atheists, and an utterly dishonest section suggesting among other things that science is rooted in Christian thought and that most great scientists were Christians. The book is badly conceived, poorly thought out, raggedly organized, and in the end is a soggy pastiche of half-truths, outright lies and sneering vituperation.” This review goes on to detail exactly what the reviewer thought was wrong with the book. Even theists had bad things to say about it. We should always look to the negative reviews to understand the most. Just like fact-checking, we need to avoid confirmation bias.
It turns out that the entire fine-tuned argument is one of “it is too incredible to have happened naturally” – the fallacy of incredulity. That is not evidence, nor is it a proof. It’s an opinion. Also, while Cristopher Hitchins was a good thinker, he was not an astrophysicist or scientist in any field, and so his opinions on “fine-tuning” are also opinions.
Unless you can objectively define “fine-tuning” then the argument is moot. As far as I can tell, the non-objective definition is “Fine-tuning is when there are too many physical constants that have precise values and which if changed a small amount would have not resulted in this universe, and so that’s just too unlikely.” But that is not an objective definition, and it ignores what we know about symmetry breaking in the early universe.
If we’re recommending books, I’d recommend “The Order of Time” by Carlo Rovelli, and “The Bonobo and the Atheist: In Search of Humanism Among the Primates” by Frans de Waal. Both of these books are written by well-known and respected scientists in their fields. If anybody really wants to understand different perspectives, these provide a good start.
By “evidence,” you seem to intend metrical properties of a physical body. Like the fellow who only allows the use of hammers and so sees nails everywhere he looks, devotees of science, noting its excellence in addressing the metrical properties of physical bodies, tend to see scientific problems in all sorts of non-scientific contexts. There cannot for example be empirical evidence for the irrationality of pi or for the existence of an objective universe. That would be as fruitless as Horatio and Ophelia discovering evidence of Shakespeare . Shakespeare is not inside the play.
However, some evidences that support [not “prove conclusively”] the idea that God exists can be adumbrated:
a) There is change in the world.
b) Our present universe had a beginning in time.
c) The universe is rationally ordered “by number, weight, and measure” [and thus can be reasonably understood by numbering, weighing, and measuring things.]
c*) There are scientific laws.
Though I am sure you realize that any finite set of facts always has multiple explanations that account for them. But you would not want to hold theology to a standard that natural science does not meet.
At the risk of being charged with feeding pearls to pigs I propose this fairly comprehensive criticism of the whole “Evolution” gnosis… including the “theological” kind. Some of the language is a bit quaint but I suppose that’s because it’s translated from the Brazilian kind of Portuguese.
Ye Olde Statistician said: “By “evidence,” you seem to intend metrical properties of a physical body.” But, I’m pretty sure I said that evidence is something that two or more objective and unbiased people agree on as evidence. Then he follows with an “post hoc ergo propter hoc” argument, and of course, that is a fallacy. Follows it all with “theology to a standard that natural science does not meet”! If only I had an example, I might be able to figure out what that last thing might be to a statistician.
As far as I can tell, no argument or evidence of anything was laid out.
David Marwick gave us a link to a poorly translated text that basically tries to overwhelm the reader with details, none of which proves any particular point. I don’t know where to start, so I’ll find something that doesn’t include debates we’ve already had here. I tried to find the original in Portuguese, so it would be easier to read, but alas, unsuccessfully.
I tried, I really did, to find something worth repeating from that 20 year old document, but it was just too big with too many mistakes. And the translation was terrible as well. So, unless David wishes to pick any particular point, instead of the Gish Gallopping the entire text, I’ll leave it at that.
Would that include a logical chain of reasoning?
a) a logical fallacy does not imply an incorrect conclusion.
b) logical positivism was the basis of natural science for centuries. Collect a bunch of facts and assemble them into a theory. If the theory deductively predicts further evidences not used in constructing the theory and these are confirmed as facts, that is additional confirmation of T; IOW T–>E; E is true; therefore T is true. This is called “asserting the consequent.”
No finite set of evidences can ever establish a general theory [cf Hume] because there is always more than one explanation for the same set of evidences. Thus, my ‘scientific proof of God’ was something of a jest. No philosopher has ever advanced or defended such a proof. Those who try to find God in ‘the gaps’ are playing a mug;s game. God does not lie in the unknown, but the known; He does not appear in ‘improbabilities’or apparent exceptions to natural laws, but in the natural laws themselves. The laws of evolution, to the extent that they are scientific laws at all, are better evidences for God than alleged exceptions.
Cf. ‘logical positivism’ above. Carnap tried to salvage positivism as follows. 1. Every theory T entails multiple evidences [which is why one must be cautious when embracing Popper], E1, E2,…,En. 2. Evidences E1, E2,…,Ek are confirmed. 3. Therefore, T is true with probability k/n.
The weakness of Carnap’s argument is obvious. But in spirit, it is similar to Mach’s defense of induction.
The disconnect may be because natural science and metaphysics move in opposite directions, which I will attempt to illustrate.
That’s because your definition of evidence was circular (evidence is … evidence) and would in any case requires that you be ‘objective and unbiased,’ which I doubt. I claim only that evidences may support [or deny] an idea, not that they proof it conclusively. There is always more than one explanation for what the medievals called evidentia naturalis. For example, the lawful behavior of physical bodies may well be because God has a rational nature; but it may also be because itjustIS.
Ye Olde said: “That’s because your definition of evidence was circular (evidence is … evidence) and would in any case requires that you be ‘objective and unbiased,’ which I doubt.” And, you might doubt my objectivity, but if you reread both of our texts, you will find that I’m much more objective.
However, my definition of evidence was not circular, but rather was: “…. evidence is something that two or more objective and unbiased people agree on as evidence.”
And so, my assertion that no argument was laid out remains correct.
Let’s see how that works when applied elsewhere:
…. a species is something that two or more objective and unbiased people agree on as a species.
…. a proton is something that two or more objective and unbiased people agree on as a proton.
…. a function space is something that two or more objective and unbiased people agree on as a function space.
To be well-defined, a term must be specified by something other than itself. In a court of law, evidence includes the testimonies of witnesses. Would you regard testimony as evidence? Evidence for a mathematical theorem consists of a logical argument. Would you consider a logical argument to be evidence?
Yes, I haven’t made one, except for the joke applying scientific reasoning/logical positivism to the question.
A “function space” is like a word, has a definition, and doesn’t require two people to agree on what it is. A particular “function space” might be provable through a mathematical proof. A mathematical proof is true if all the premises are true, and until someone disproves it.
Species and protons are defined things, not evidence until a question has been thought up that they might be evidence for the solution to the question. If the question is, how old is the earth, then neither a species nor a proton is evidence for resolving that question. Whether something is “evidence” is meaningless without some kind of question that it could be evidence for answering that question.
Testimony is problematic. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/do-the-eyes-have-it/
“Unless you can objectively define “fine-tuning” then the argument is moot. ”
This is silly question to ask when the concept has been discussed in detail in several books and articles and has been recognized as a major factor in disputing a naturalized rationale for the universe. The term fine tuning itself is a common term and has many dictionary definitions. But here is my definition relevant to the universe and Earth.
Essentially fine-tuning in terms of the universe and our solar system/Earth means that if x => y and small changes in x => not y, then x is said to be fine-tuned in terms of y. The smaller the change in x required to lead to not y, the more fine tuned the characteristic is.
In addition to a y that is the universe full of galaxies, solar systems and planets, one of the y’s that is used to judge fine tuning is complex life and whether small changes in various x’s negate complex life.
So for some physiological constants x1, x2 x3 etc such that x1, x2 x3 etc => y1 (for example, a functional universe of galaxies, stars and planets) and a small change in any of x1, x2 x3 etc does not lead to y1 and creates a non-functional universe, then fine tuning is said to exist relative to the type of universe. As I said there are other outcomes besides a functional universe vs a non functional universe. The most common is whether complex life could exists in the universe formed. Some of the changes in the x’s that lead to non y1 are incredibly small
Repeating – There are two common types of fine tuning, one that deals with the universe per se and whether it is conducive to complex life. There is also one that deals with specifics of our planet and solar system and whether it is conducive to complex life.
In terms of the universe, there are characteristics of parameters that deal with its formation but there are others that deal with the consequences of its formation in terms of its elements and basic compounds that affect complex life. For example, in the latter there are the peculiar characteristics of water and light from our sun.
In terms of our solar system, some x’s are the size/mass of the sun and Earth, the composition of Earth’s physical make up, its position in the solar system, the other planets in the solar system, its plate tectonics, its magnetic field, the moon, the nature of the Sun’s light are to name a few.
Metaxas’ book, “Is Atheism Dead” deals with a wide range of fine tuning examples.
There are other sources but Metaxas’s book is a good one because it is very readable.
James, I didn’t come down in the last shower. By the time of that 20 year old document I had already been shaken out of the complacency that a whole youth and adolescence of emotive brainwashing could engender. It was in the ’70’s that I began to realise that most of the fashionable opinions relentlessly pushed in school and media were without realistic foundation or reasonable justification. Since then I have been exposed to every variety of “modern enlightenment” protagonists who, without exception, rely on some airy-fairy claim to the “authority” of “consensus” such as “everyone knows”; so don’t confuse me with facts that are inconvenient to the prevalent “group think”.
Almost everyone intuitively knows that to step outside of the arbitrary parameters of the “norms” of autonomous relativism will make one a target for some kind of assassination.
Anyhow, since you cannot read a fairly comprehensive criticism of the basis of contemporary relativism because it’s “too long” and some of the translation is amusingly idiomatic, perhaps you would find a less intellectually taxing video of “empirical evidence” for the tenets of Apostolic Christianity even more infuriating.
I am aware of well over 100 inexplicably incorrupt bodies and body parts currently extant; several images inexplicably in mediums such as stone and various cloths; innumerable inexplicable cures from injuries, deficiencies and disease; several inexplicable instances of bread and wine turning into human heart muscle and blood; many instances of uneducated nobodies delivering remarkably consistent warnings and theology; several inexplicable instances of what’s called Stigmata; and it goes on and on with many things that might be called fortuitous coincidences.
If you claim that “evidence” is something that two or more agree is “true” then feast your incredulity on this:
Yair, I know that anything that does not support your superstitious Materialism and Relativism will not be accepted as “evidence”. Not my problem, I think I’ve done my bit and as the wisest Guy said, if they reject the Way, the Truth and the Life shake the dust off your feet and go elsewhere.
David Marwick suggests that my problem with his link was that it was too long, but in fact, it was too long with all the same old nonsensical arguments. As I perused the “manuscript” I quickly saw that it did not contain evidence nor proofs but rather had the same “logical” arguments of many – just all joined into one large, yet erroneous, compendium. And, why is it that of all the purported miracles out there, none has stood up to scrutiny? It’s convenient that none happen where and when they could be checked, and reminds me of all the videos of UFOs. And, why do they so often happen to Australians or are in the Australian news?
And, the allusion to age and maturity seems to suggest that I’m only slightly older than David. Which is irrelevant anyway.
A “function space” is like a word, has a definition,
Yet, ‘evidence,’ unique in the English language, requires two like-minded people to agree? Courts of law must deal with evidences daily. You may be thinking of ‘admissible evidence,’ or even ‘credible evidence’ rather than evidence as such.
Perhaps you are less familiar with mathematics than with biology. It is necessary, but not sufficient that the premises be true. A proof must also follow valid syllogisms. Until then, it is a ‘conjecture.’ But the point is that not all truths require your sort of evidence.
<blockquote<Testimony is problematic.
That’s why law courts never convict anyone. ‘Problematic’ evidence is still evidence. Remember, ‘evidence’ is not ‘proof’ [modern sense]. I do not have a large hadron collider in my basement [trust me], so I must accept findings from CERN as the testimony of scientists. [And recall that few are the Grants given to replicate results — unless those results ran contrary to the granting agency. Not all testimony is ‘problematical.’ Sure the DNA lab may have cross-contaminated samples; but that’s why we cross-examine witnesses. See Jan Vansina, Oral Tradition as History for criteria when testimony is reliable. [Exert here: http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/aasc/classweb/spring07/aas105/oraltradition_4.pdf
Yet, ‘evidence,’ unique in the English language, requires two like-minded people to agree? Courts of law must deal with evidences daily. You may be thinking of ‘admissible evidence,’ or even ‘credible evidence’ rather than evidence as such.
Perhaps you are less familiar with mathematics than with biology. It is necessary, but not sufficient that the premises be true. A proof must also follow valid syllogisms. Until then, it is a ‘conjecture.’ But the point is that not all truths require your sort of evidence.
<blockquote<Testimony is problematic.
That’s why law courts never convict anyone. ‘Problematic’ evidence is still evidence. Remember, ‘evidence’ is not ‘proof’ [modern sense]. I do not have a large hadron collider in my basement [trust me], so I must accept findings from CERN as the testimony of scientists. [And recall that few are the Grants given to replicate results — unless those results ran contrary to the granting agency. Not all testimony is ‘problematical.’ Sure the DNA lab may have cross-contaminated samples; but that’s why we cross-examine witnesses. See Jan Vansina, Oral Tradition as History for criteria when testimony is reliable. [Exert here: http://www.sscnet.ucla.edu/aasc/classweb/spring07/aas105/oraltradition_4.pdf
Re: evidence, testimony
Two people are sitting on the edge of the village of thatched huts. They want to learn each other’s language. The anthropologist points to a stone and the native speaks: a leftover from the last campaign to the quarry, lying there to see if youngsters fall for the poor quality. Then the anthropologist points to a tree and the native speaks: pension fund of the grandmothers. Now the native also wants to suggest, he speaks and gestures: intergenerational education to validate, adapt and expand the knowledge of the ancestors — and the ignorantly convinced acadæmic notes: sacrificial ritual, death cult? male gestures.