I had intended to write a post on whales as products of Intelligent Design. But the whales will have to wait. In the space of just three hours, Professor Larry Moran has put up two remarkably silly posts. And in both cases, Professor Moran could have spared himself the embarrassment if he had done just a little more reading.
The first post, titled, Can theology produce true knowledge?, critiques Dr. Denis Alexander’s claim that there are other, equally valid, ways of knowing besides science. Professor Moran thinks this is flawed on three counts: first, natural theology is question-begging because “you have to assume the existence of a creator god before you would even think of interpreting the natural world as the produce of his creative mind”; second, “faith cannot be falsified as easily as scientific hypotheses and models,” since alleged falsifications can easily be rationalized away by reinterpreting the Bible in a metaphorical sense, and in any case, “much of what’s written in the Bible has been falsified” (especially with regard to human origins); and thirdly, religious experience does not count as a legitimate way of knowing, owing to the human capacity for self-delusion: you have to “prove to an outside observer that you are not deluded,” and the only way to do that is to “provide evidence that your god is real and that’s the scientific way of knowing.” Professor Moran concludes that Dr. Alexander has failed to make a case for “the ability of theology to produce true knowledge.” After this devastating triple refutation, Moran gleefully chortles:
You’re out, Dr. Alexander. This is a baseball analogy… You have lost your wicket. You are dismissed.
Perhaps someone should tell Professor Moran that there are no wickets in the game of baseball, and that the image which he has attached to the end of his post is not one of a batter being struck out in the game of baseball, but of a batsman being bowled out in the game of cricket.
This is what a strikeout looks like, Professor Moran:
(In the photo above, taken in 2006, Cincinnati Reds outfielder Adam Dunn strikes out swinging to Atlanta Braves pitcher John Smoltz. Braves’ catcher Brian McCann catches the pitch behind the plate. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.)
Why Professor Moran’s three strikes fail miserably
Let’s return to Professor Moran’s “three strikes” against Dr. Denis Alexander. What about Moran’s first strike: his claim that natural theology is question-begging, because it begins with the assumption that God exists? That would be news to St. Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274), the foremost theologian of the Catholic Church, who begins his article, Whether God exists? (Summa Theologica I, q.2, art.3) by marshaling two arguments against God’s existence – the argument from evil and Occam’s razor – before proceeding to argue that “the existence of God can be proved in five ways.” Don’t believe me? Go on, have a look:
Objection 1. It seems that God does not exist; because if one of two contraries be infinite, the other would be altogether destroyed. But the word “God” means that He is infinite goodness. If, therefore, God existed, there would be no evil discoverable; but there is evil in the world. Therefore God does not exist.
Objection 2. Further, it is superfluous to suppose that what can be accounted for by a few principles has been produced by many. But it seems that everything we see in the world can be accounted for by other principles, supposing God did not exist. For all natural things can be reduced to one principle which is nature; and all voluntary things can be reduced to one principle which is human reason, or will. Therefore there is no need to suppose God’s existence.
You can’t get a fairer statement of the case for atheism than that.
Now, I’m sure Professor Moran will respond that he doesn’t find Aquinas’ Five Ways convincing – although he really should peruse Ed Feser’s short and highly readable book, Aquinas: A Beginner’s Guide (Oneworld Publications, paperback, 2009) before venturing an opinion on the subject. Be that as it may, Moran is manifestly wrong in asserting that natural theology assumes the existence of God. It doesn’t: Aquinas’ Five Ways, for instance, merely assume the existence of change, causation, contingent states of affairs, grades of perfection, and things that tend to produce certain characteristic effects. (And in case Moran is interested, there are cogent contemporary arguments for God’s existence – see here, here and here.)
I think any fair-minded umpire would rule against Moran’s strike one, calling it a foul instead.
What of Moran’s second strike: that faith isn’t falsifiable in the same way as science is, because statements in the Bible which are contradicted by scientific discoveries can always be reinterpreted metaphorically? Wrong on two counts. First, Moran is assuming that Christianity is tied to the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy. It isn’t. You could believe in all of the doctrines of the Apostles’ Creed – and the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds as well, which are much more explicit about the Trinity – without believing in the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy. That was C.S. Lewis’s position, for instance.
What, then, is Christianity tied to? The most logical way to define Christianity is to look at the credal statements drawn up by the early Christians themselves – notably, the Apostles’ Creed, which, in its Old Roman form, is probably the oldest known statement of the Christian faith, dating back to before 200 A.D.. What the creed affirms is the following: that God created the universe (“heaven and earth”); that Jesus Christ was born of a virgin, named Mary; that He was crucified under Pontius Pilate, rose again on the third day, and ascended to be with His Heavenly Father; that He will return to judge the living and the dead; that in addition to the Father and the Son, there is a Holy Spirit; that there is a communion of saints in Heaven as well as a holy catholic church on earth; that sins can be forgiven; and that there will one day be a resurrection of the dead to everlasting life. Some of these statements are obviously falsifiable: if it turned out, for instance, that the universe had no beginning (and hence no Creator), or that the doctrine of the Virgin birth was a second-century addition to the Christian faith; or that no individual named Jesus of Nazareth, professing to be a king, was ever crucified under Pontius Pilate; or that such an individual was crucified, but his body was dug up next week by archaeologists in Palestine, then it would be curtains for Christianity. The early Christian Fathers thought likewise, which is why they went to such lengths to refute attacks on their faith by skeptics. And herein lies Moran’s second error: when he suggests that Christianity is immune to falsification because its teachings can always be reinterpreted metaphorically, he never asks himself the vital question: reinterpreted by whom? The Bible itself never asks us to believe in God, even if He didn’t create the universe; nor does it ask us to believe in Jesus Christ, even if He didn’t rise from the grave. The notion that religious faith ought to be unfalsifiable is a theological novelty, which seems to have arisen in Christian circles a mere 220 years ago, in the writings of Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834), who was heavily influenced by the philosopher Spinoza’s naturalistic critique of miracles. However, Schleiermacher’s position is a minority view among Christians to this day, and to his credit, Dr. Denis Alexander (the molecular biologist who is the object of Moran’s scorn) roundly rejects such a compromise view: for him, the discovery of Jesus’ bones in Palestine would falsify Christianity.
The Arnolfini Portrait, by Jan van Eyck (c. 1390-1441). Date: 1434. National Gallery, London. Image courtesy of Wikipedia.
So much for Professor Moran’s first two strikes. What of his third strike: his claim that you can’t know anything from religious experience unless you can “prove to an outside observer that you are not deluded”? What Moran’s argument implicitly assumes is that you can’t know something is true unless you can prove it to an unbiased outsider. But knowing and proving are very different things, and in the course of everyday life, there are many things that we can properly claim to know, even though we cannot prove them. We do not (and should not) need a scientist to tell us that someone whom we know very well is trustworthy, or that someone in our family loves us. These judgments that we make about particular individuals are intuitive rather than scientific: often we may be quite certain of them, even though we are unable to articulate the grounds for our certainty. Professor Moran might respond that our intuitive judgments about others are nevertheless empirically testable: for instance, the behavior of your spouse over the course of time can lend strong evidential support to the hypothesis that s/he loves you. But even if statements like “My spouse loves me” are testable, we typically come to believe in their truth long before we have subjected them to systematic testing. And we are right to do so.
Professor Moran could argue that at least an unbiased outsider can be satisfied by the evidence that my spouse exists: he can see her and talk to her, for instance. However, the situation is quite different when it comes to God: many people (including people who would like to believe in God) have never had an experience of Him, and therefore doubt or deny His existence. But what this argument illicitly assumes is that religious experience is uniformly accessible to everyone. Perhaps it isn’t; maybe it requires a certain aptitude on the part of the recipient. Just as some otherwise normal people are quite tone-deaf, it may be the case that some people are (through no particular fault of their own) deaf to the “still, small voice of God.” I can quite sympathize; in my entire life, I’ve had only a couple of experiences that I might describe as a sense of the presence of God, and I certainly haven’t heard any voices or seen any visions. But if other people are convinced that they have, then who am I to say that they have no right to be sure they’ve seen God until I can see what they claim to have seen? That would be extremely presumptuous of me. It could be that I’m just religiously tone-deaf – or very hard of hearing. Should I be wary of visionaries’ claims? Certainly – especially when different people claim to see different things. But that has no bearing on the question of whether these people’s experiences count as a valid source of knowledge – at least for them.
What’s wrong with Moran’s claim that science is the only way of knowing?
In his post, Can theology produce true knowledge?, Professor Moran concludes that “for the time being, science is the only proven way to arrive at true knowledge.” If he had taken the trouble to read Associate Professor Edward Feser’s short article in Public Discourse, Blinded by Scientism (March 9, 2010), he would have seen why this statement is simply ridiculous. Here’s how Feser (an ex-atheist) demolishes the view that all real knowledge is scientific knowledge (scientism):
Despite its adherents’ pose of rationality, scientism has a serious problem: it is either self-refuting or trivial. Take the first horn of this dilemma. The claim that scientism is true is not itself a scientific claim, not something that can be established using scientific methods. Indeed, that science is even a rational form of inquiry (let alone the only rational form of inquiry) is not something that can be established scientifically. For scientific inquiry itself rests on a number of philosophical assumptions: that there is an objective world external to the minds of scientists; that this world is governed by causal regularities; that the human intellect can uncover and accurately describe these regularities; and so forth. Since science presupposes these things, it cannot attempt to justify them without arguing in a circle. And if it cannot even establish that it is a reliable form of inquiry, it can hardly establish that it is the only reliable form. Both tasks would require “getting outside” science altogether and discovering from that extra-scientific vantage point that science conveys an accurate picture of reality—and in the case of scientism, that only science does so.
The rational investigation of the philosophical presuppositions of science has, naturally, traditionally been regarded as the province of philosophy. Nor is it these presuppositions alone that philosophy examines. There is also the question of how to interpret what science tells us about the world. For example, is the world fundamentally comprised of substances or events? What is it to be a “cause”? Is there only one kind? (Aristotle held that there are at least four.) What is the nature of the universals referred to in scientific laws — concepts like quark, electron, atom, and so on — and indeed in language in general? Do they exist over and above the particular things that instantiate them? Scientific findings can shed light on such metaphysical questions, but can never fully answer them. Yet if science must depend upon philosophy both to justify its presuppositions and to interpret its results, the falsity of scientism seems doubly assured. As the conservative philosopher John Kekes (himself a confirmed secularist like Derbyshire and MacDonald) concludes: “Hence philosophy, and not science, is a stronger candidate for being the very paradigm of rationality.”
Here we come to the second horn of the dilemma facing scientism. Its advocate may now insist: if philosophy has this status, it must really be a part of science, since (he continues to maintain, digging in his heels) all rational inquiry is scientific inquiry. The trouble now is that scientism becomes completely trivial, arbitrarily redefining “science” so that it includes anything that could be put forward as evidence against it. Worse, it makes scientism consistent with views that are supposed to be incompatible with it. For example, a line of thought deriving from Aristotle and developed with great sophistication by Thomas Aquinas holds that when we work out what it is for one thing to be the cause of another, we are inexorably led to the existence of an Uncaused Cause outside time and space which continually sustains the causal regularities studied by science, and apart from which they could not in principle exist even for a moment.
If “scientism” is defined so broadly that it includes (at least in principle) philosophical theology of this kind, then the view becomes completely vacuous. For the whole point of scientism — or so it would seem given the rhetoric of its loudest adherents — was supposed to be to provide a weapon by which fields of inquiry like theology might be dismissed as inherently unscientific and irrational.
(The bolding in the above passage is mine – VJT.)
Of course, it might turn out that biochemist Larry Moran has a crushing rejoinder to Edward Feser, who is a professional philosopher. And for that matter, pigs might fly. But I certainly wouldn’t bet on either proposition.
Why Moran’s critique of the fine-tuning argument fails
Professor Moran’s second silly post of February 8 is titled, Intelligent Design Creationism and the fine-tuning argument. Moran thinks that biochemist Michael Denton (who is a senior fellow at the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture) is “not a trustworthy source of information” when it comes to the fine-tuning argument. So who does he turn to instead? The late physicist Victor Stenger, author of God the Failed Hypothesis: How Science Shows That God Does Not Exist. Moran writes:
I have to trust an authority on this one. I choose to trust physicist Igor (sic) Stenger who has actually done an experiment to test the hypothesis of fine tuning.
I conclude that fine tuning is not a valid argument for the existence of gods.
Evidently Professor Moran has not read (or heard of) the devastating refutation of Victor Stenger’s “take-down” of the fine-tuning argument by cosmologist Dr. Luke Barnes, in a 2011 ARXIV paper titled, The Fine-Tuning of the Universe for Intelligent Life. For the benefit of readers who dislike mathematics, I’ve written a non-technical overview of Dr. Barnes’ paper, titled, Is fine-tuning a fallacy? (January 5, 2012). In his paper, Dr. Barnes takes care to avoid drawing any metaphysical conclusions from the fact of fine-tuning. He has no religious axe to grind. His main concern is simply to establish that the fine-tuning of the universe is real, contrary to the claims of Professor Stenger, who asserts that all of the alleged examples of fine-tuning in our universe can be explained without the need for a multiverse.
Not only has Professor Moran not heard of Dr. Luke Barnes, but he hasn’t even picked the best critique of the fine-tuning argument for the existence of God, which was made by physicist Dr. Sean Carroll in a debate with Dr. William Lane Craig. I’ve responded to Dr. Carroll in a post titled, Debunking the debunker: How Sean Carroll gets the fine-tuning argument wrong.
I might add that Professor Stenger’s denial of the very existence of fine-tuning puts him at odds with most experts in the field. Here is a list of prominent scientists (compiled by Dr. Barnes) who acknowledge the reality of fine-tuning:
Barrow, Carr, Carter, Davies, Hawkins,
Deutsch, Ellis, Greene, Guth, Harrison,
Hawking, Linde, Page, Penrose,
Polkinghorne, Rees, Sandage, Smolin,
Susskind, Tegmark, Tipler, Vilenkin,
Weinberg, Wheeler, Wilczek
Commenting on these scientists’ religious perspectives, Dr. Barnes remarks: “The list is a roughly equal mix of theist, non-theist and unknown.”
Now, if Professor Moran thinks that Victor Stenger is a more trustworthy source than these eminent scientists, then he is entitled to his opinion; however, he cannot credibly claim to be listening to what the experts have to say.
Dr. Barnes’ conclusions at the end of his paper, The Fine-Tuning of the Universe for Intelligent Life, are well worth quoting:
We conclude that the universe is fine-tuned for the existence of life. Of all the ways that the laws of nature, constants of physics and initial conditions of the universe could have been, only a very small subset permits the existence of intelligent life. (p. 62)
It is not true that fine-tuning must eventually yield to the relentless march of science. Fine-tuning is not a typical scientific problem, that is, a phenomenon in our universe that cannot be explained by our current understanding of physical laws. It is not a gap. Rather, we are concerned with the physical laws themselves. In particular, the anthropic coincidences are not like, say, the coincidence between inertial mass and gravitational mass in Newtonian gravity, which is a coincidence between two seemingly independent physical quantities. Anthropic coincidences, on the other hand, involve a happy consonance between a physical quantity and the requirements of complex, embodied intelligent life. The anthropic coincidences are so arresting because we are accustomed to thinking of physical laws and initial conditions as being unconcerned with how things turn out. Physical laws are material and efficient causes, not final causes. There is, then, no reason to think that future progress in physics will render a life-permitting universe inevitable. When physics is finished, when the equation is written on the blackboard and fundamental physics has gone as deep as it can go, fine-tuning may remain, basic and irreducible. (p. 63)
Perhaps the most optimistic scenario is that we will eventually discover a simple, beautiful physical principle from which we can derive a unique physical theory, whose unique solution describes the universe as we know it, including the standard model, quantum gravity, and (dare we hope) the initial conditions of cosmology. While this has been the dream of physicists for centuries, there is not the slightest bit of evidence that this idea is true. It is almost certainly not true of our best hope for a theory of quantum gravity, string theory, which has “anthropic principle written all over it” (Schellekens, 2008). The beauty of its principles has not saved us from the complexity and contingency of the solutions to its equations. Beauty and simplicity are not necessity. (p.63)
At the end of his post, Professor Moran asks:
Can Intelligent Design Creationists refute the views of Stenger and other physicists or have they just convinced themselves that what they say to each other is true?
I hope that Professor Moran will have the grace to own that his critique of the fine-tuning argument was uninformed, and that Intelligent Design proponents have done their homework on this argument.
Professor Moran’s scientism lies tattered in shreds; his critique of the fine-tuning argument has been thoroughly eviscerated; and his “three strikes” against Dr. Denis Alexander turned out to be fouls. Would a retraction be out of the question, Professor?
150 Replies to “Larry Moran needs to do some more reading”
The point of my post on fine-tuning was to demonstrate that there are physicists and cosmologists who dispute the precise kind of fine-tuning that most creationists imagine. I picked Victor Stenger as my example because be writes clearly and concisely and because he has actually done some experiments to test his ideas.
Sure, there are other physicists who disagree with Stenger about the details of how much variation in the fundamental properties is allowed. That’s not the point.
The point is that if you are going to use fine-tuning as support for your belief in gods then you’d better make sure your facts are correct. In this case the facts (precise fine-tuning) are disputed by experts who know a lot more than Larry Moran or Vincent Torley [see Fine-tuned Universe].
I don’t know about you but I would be reluctant to base my beliefs on such shaky ground.
“I don’t know about you but I would be reluctant to base my beliefs on such shaky ground.”
So instead you base your beliefs on the solid rock of the multiverse? Or do you have some other materialist ad hoc explanation for the matter in the universe being fine tuned to 1 in 10^60?
Maybe the ‘fact’ of approximately 3000 mutations sufficient to evolve a whale from a land mammal is “true knowledge”. Certifiably falsifiable of course. Kind of like love, you just know it all is what it is just the way you think it. AND the holding of an academic position is a benefit for browbeating it into the students, the future true believers.
Just like the ‘fact’ of such a mammalian transition. Maybe one of those mutations was responsible for the retraction of the testicles AND the disappearance of teeth, AND the genesis of the gonad cooling system. “True knowledge” as revealed somewhere on the planet after a government grant to prove testicles and teeth can both be impacted by just one tiny gene.
The fine tuning of this Universe comes down to goddidit and/or multiverse – chance has been eliminated. “Blind Watchmaker” no longer an acceptable option sorry.
Real Science is figuring out how goddidit. Or as Einstein put it – trying to understand how the “Old One” didit.
Since you mention physicists, one should consider quantum mechanics, the most intensely tested area within the most rigorous discipline in the field of science.
A multitude of experiments in quantum mechanics now demonstrate convincingly that the fundamental nature of existence is mathematical information in the form of probability distributions.
Each probability distribution is termed a wavefunction, psi. “Solid matter” or electromagnetic waves do not physically exist apart from the collapse of a wavefunction, which happens when they are observed or measured.
The last known objections to Bell’s inequality were closed experimentally last fall.
This concept of the fundamental nature of existence is now widely, if reluctantly, accepted by physicists, although the implications continue to be hotly debated. For example, Vlatko Vedral is a Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford, and CQT (Centre for Quantum Technologies) at the National University of Singapore, and a Fellow of Wolfson College. As a recognized leader in the field of quantum mechanics, here’s how he recently described it:
Materialism is dead, not mostly dead. And it was Science that killed it. Everything scientific seems to be indicating that we are living in a simulation that’s not that much different than a massive computer game.
But my faith in the true God, the timeless, extra-dimensional God who revealed himself in human history through the Jews, and then through the life, teaching, and works of God’s manifestation to us on earth, Jesus . . . my faith does not depend on our immaterial reality or on current scientific thinking. It’s tied into things like peace and joy and meaning and hope and fulfillment and the lovingly guided evolution 😉 of who I was meant to be! I wouldn’t trade it for anything!
The point is never that science confirms the Bible through fine tuning, quantum mechanics, or whatever. It’s impossible because Science occupies a limited cognitive domain and is always in flux . . . what’s commonly accepted today, will certainly be considered incorrect and even quaint at some point in the future. And it’s not even certain that we humans are even capable of understanding ultimate science. We may only ever be able to approximate it through self-limiting models.
The Bible is not at odds with scientific inquiry. Conversely, simply having theories that approximate the laws of nature does not obviate the existence of God.
Something else is going on behind the curtain, Dr. Moran. So far, you’ve chosen not to know. But the way is open if you’re willing.
LM says “much of what’s written in the Bible has been falsified”
Not really. IE proponents only believe this to be true.
IE = Idiotic Evolution. That is the blind dumb and retarded type. I have created my own term, I hope it catches on.
I truly do not understand you. I don’t understand how you miss this.
I read this excerpt.
It can’t be put much clearer. What in the hell do you say in defense against this? Do you just not follow the argument? How can you argue against this impenetrable wall of precise logic? Why would any relatively smart, thinking person not understand the prose above and how it defeats scientism?
Like I said above, I just do not understand you.
I’m pretty sure Larry was aware of that, but was playing to the British origins of Alexander.
FWIW, you wouldn’t say “you have lost your wicket” (although “Canada have just lost their sixth wicket” is fine). Batsman are also “bowled”, not “bowled out”.
All of this pedantry reminds me of Dawkin’s review of one of Gould’s books, where he complains about Gould’s excessive use of baseball jargon.
Hi Bob O’H,
Thank you for your post. Although a batsman is usually said to be “out bowled” if his wicket is put down by a ball delivered by the bowler, the term “bowled out” is also used at cricket-rules.com/. Not that I can claim any expertise in the sport.
Hi Professor Moran,
Thank you for your post. In response to your argument: while the fine-tuning argument may not be a conclusive one, the existence of fine-tuning is currently supported by the weight of scientific opinion in the field, even if there are a few who disagree. There’s nothing wrong with holding a belief (e.g. a belief in God) provisionally, and being prepared to change your views if contrary evidence comes to light.
However, I should point out that I have many other reasons for believing in God:
(i) the sheer contingency of the cosmos, taken as a whole. It is composite (made of many parts) and its laws and initial conditions have an element of arbitrariness about them: why these laws, and why these conditions? Nothing about the cosmos seems to be necessary or self-explanatory, and it seems perfectly legitimate (both scientifically and philosophically) to ask what explains its existence;
(ii) the very notion of a law of Nature, which we are supposed to trust will hold in the future, makes no sense unless a law is some kind of prescription for how bodies should behave, rather than a mere description of how bodies actually behave. Prescriptions seem to imply the existence of a Cosmic Prescriber;
(iii) the fact that the laws of Nature are so mathematically elegant – a fact remarked on by many prominent physicists who are atheists, such as Steve Weinberg. We would expect a Mind to create beautiful laws, but in a mindless universe, this would be a very surprising discovery;
(iv) the fact that back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that the emergence of a self-replicating translation system is a fantastically improbable event (Koonin), coupled with the fact that the only plausible non-theistic hypothesis attempting to explain this fact (i.e. the multiverse) fails, since it paradoxically entails that our own universe is probably a computer simulation created by aliens (Davies);
(v) the fact that research by Douglas Axe (2010) appears to indicate that the emergence of even one long-chain protein is a vanishingly improbable event, which we would not expect to happen even once in the history of the observable universe;
(vi) the fact that philosophical and scientific attempts to explain the intentionality of our thoughts, as well as the origin of language, in naturalistic terms appear to run into intractable problems, which would be avoided if we view Mind as a fundamental and irreducible reality in the world; and
(vii) the existence of well-supported historical evidence for the occurrence of miracles.
For that reason, shooting down the fine-tuning argument would not cause me to abandon my belief in God, since it is supported on many levels.
I must admit that I am unable to understand the fine tuning argument.
If the universe were different from what it is, it is higly unlikley that we would be there. So what? Life is here, and that is all the proof we need. The how and why of that fact is disputable until the end of time but in the meantime we should enjoy what life has to offer while we can.
VJT: “Moran is assuming that Christianity is tied to the doctrine of Biblical inerrancy. It isn’t.”
Errancy/inerrancy is not the problem.
The problem is that sections of the Bible that are absolutely vital to Christianity have been shown to be wildly false.
As an example, there was no Garden of Eden, hence no Adam and Eve, hence no Original Sin, hence no reason for Jesus to die, hence no reason for Christianity.
And that’s just Genesis.
As an example, there was no Garden of Eden, hence no Adam and Eve, hence no Original Sin, hence no reason for Jesus to die, hence no reason for Christianity.
And that’s just Genesis.
Alas, MS, Darwin says that lots of imagination are needed to ‘fill in the gaps.’ It’s obvious you’re lacking in imagination.
The problem with the fine-tuning reality is this: the variables involved are not known to have any self-imposed constraints. They’re free to be anything they want to be.
Scientists don’t like that level of ‘arbitrariness.’
VJT: “(i) the sheer contingency of the cosmos, taken as a whole. It is composite (made of many parts) and its laws and initial conditions have an element of arbitrariness about them: why these laws, and why these conditions?”
This universe is made of many parts TODAY. At the Big Bang, it seems to have consisted of some energy crammed into a very, very tiny space. Some say a mere point, others say it was a Planck length in diameter. That’s about 10^-20 of the size of a proton. Too small to be composite. Protons, electrons, atoms, stars, planets, galaxies and everything else including you and me came into existence AFTER this universe was created. Ordinary materialistic laws account well for their production.
At the Big Bang, this universe was simple and had a very low information content. Remember that because if theistic philosophies don’t account for it, they are almost certainly false.
We know today that at high energies, the Electromagnetic force and the Weak atomic force merge into the Electro-Weak force. Murray Gell-Mann won a Nobel Prize for discovering this. It’s believed that by the time you get to Big Bang energy levels, the Strong nuclear force will also merge.
More importently, so far as we know, the exact energy level where the Electro-Weak force splits is random and therefore the strength of those two forces is random. The same is expected to be true of the Strong nuclear force. Therefore, the strengths of those forces are arbitrary because their creation was arbitrary. This is one of the reasons why each universe in the multiverse is expected to have arbitrarily randomized properties.
PaV, it’s not my imagination that the Earth is billions of years old and modern humans have been around for < 100,000 years.
Compare that with Genesis's 4004 BC date for the creation of the world and Adam and Eve. Didn't happen.
I’ve read the book of Genesis at least a hundred times and never saw this anywhere. Care to point chapter and verse? Or are you just another stupid Darwinist/atheist troll with bad reading comprehension?
MatSpirit, I agree that if there is NO sin there could not be an original sin.
But I believe there IS sin, and the first sin (original) was in disobedience.
There have been billions & billions of sins since that first one IMO sigh. I ask for forgiveness of my share. It is the right thing to do. Good thing to do.
The concept of original sin is just Catholic medieval nonsense.
Dr. Torley, your reasons (i) to (vii) constitute a classic Gish Gallop – a large group of short assertions, each of which requires a lengthy explanation to show why they’re wrong, with each explanation requiring an explanation of some scientific topic thats being ignored or misunderstood.
You’ve stated each of them many times, but I’ve never had the time to answer them before. I’m retired now and I’d like to discuss each point at length. If this is agreeable to you, please post your rebuttals to my post above, I’ll reply and when we’re satisfied we’ll go on to (ii). OK?
“As an example, there was no Garden of Eden, hence no Adam and Eve, hence no Original Sin, hence no reason for Jesus to die, hence no reason for Christianity.”
These have been empirically falsified?
What’s holding you up, troll?
PS. I just love these excrement-for-brains atheist trolls.
Apparently for some people, their opinion constitutes irrefutable proof that needs no further support.
So no amount of reason or scientific evidence can even scratch these massive bulwarks of blindness, and with those three words, even the towering intellect of an Einstein crumbles against such mental petrification, which apparently is nearly complete!
Stand back and observe in awe! 😉
Mapou, Saturday, October 22, 4004 BC at 6 pm was calculated as the beginning of Creation by Irish Archbishop James Ussher back in the 17th century. He calculated it from various Biblical chronologies supplimented with some extra-Biblical research to fill in a few gaps. His dates were printed as notes in the original King James Bibles and took on some of the Bible’s authority from their juxtaposition. I’ve heard that geology students at Oxford or Cambridge celebrate that date as the beginning of their discipline.
Other dates calculated by Ussher’s contemporaries include 3929 BC, 3761 BC, 3952 BC (by the Venerable Bede), 3949 BC, 3992 BC and 4000 BC (by Isaac Newton). I’m sure none of them fool you.
Buffalo, the dates are > 1,000,000 percent off.
You’re a moron for believing the ramblings of some medieval priest. You are worse than those fundamentalist Christians you seem to hate so much. You are a despicable idiot. I detest people like you more than I despise fundamentalists.
Mapou, thank you for your opinion. Perhaps Dr. Torley can tell us if they also constitute knowledge.
Don’t thank me for anything, troll. I ain’t your friend.
I had thought not, what with us never having communicated with each other before and your first ever message to me calling me a stupid troll who doesn’t read well. But that was just an inference. Your last post tends to confirm that inference, but I’m not sure if it promotes it to the level of knowledge yet.
So from this big bang came the first atomic particles with the availability of stars made more complex atomic particles. These particles were able to group together to become all we see in the universe. Then by some unexplained process on this planet life formed which is made up of DNA and proteins all made up of the atomic particles originating from the big bang. These nucleic and amino acids have to become organized in such a way as to build all life’s diversity. Your hypothesis is that this was all a random accident?
Thank you for your posts. I am entirely agreeable to your proposal. I just want you to know that I wasn’t doing a Gish gallop. People often say that my responses are too lengthy, so I was trying to summarize, as briefly as possible, my multiple reasons for belief in God.
Let’s start with (i), as you proposed: my argument that since the universe is composite and internally complex, it must be contingent, requiring a cause to sustain it in being. Your reply, as I understand it, is that the complexity of the universe is merely apparent. At the moment of the Big Bang, the universe was compressed into a single point or a very tiny space, too small to be composite. Also, the four forces of Nature were unified at the very high temperatures that then obtained.
OK. Here’s my question for you. At the moment of the Big Bang, when the universe was one and undivided, was it also indivisible? If you answer “yes,” then how do you account for the obvious fact that its unity was subsequently fractured, as four different force emerged and the point (or very tiny region) turned into space-time? That which is indivisible cannot divide, by definition.
But if you answer “no,” then you are conceding that the universe, even at the moment of the Big Bang, was capable of being divided. And if it was capable of being divided, then it must have already had parts, or some kind of internal structure. So it wasn’t simple, after all.
I might add that even cosmologists would allow that the universe, at the moment of the Big Bang, had multiple fundamental physical properties (temperature, entropy, energy density, etc.) If it had multiple fundamental properties, then once again, I put it to you that it wasn’t absolutely simple. It may have been a lot simpler than it was now. But is was still composite to some degree, and therefore contingent, rendering its existence in need of an explanation.
A quick response to your claim that “sections of the bible that are absolutely vital to Christianity have been shown to be wildly false” – for example, “there was no Garden of Eden, hence no Adam and Eve, hence no Original Sin, hence no reason for Jesus to die, hence no reason for Christianity.”
Even if we assumed that science has disproved the existence of Adam and Eve (which it hasn’t yet – see here), it would still be possible to believe that the human race was descended from a tribe of individuals who appointed one man (Adam) as their leader, and who agreed to abide by his decision as to whether to accept or reject God’s commands. That being the case, Adam’s fall would have constituted the fall of the entire human race, and the Original Sin of Adam (and his assenting fellow humans) would have been passed on to all people of future generations: they suffered the terrible consequences of the human race’s collective “no” to God. Let me be clear that I don’t favor this scenario myself, but I think it’s still a tenable option: I wouldn’t rule it out as absolutely incompatible with Christian theology. I understand that the conservative Catholic theologian Germain Grisez proposed something like this view, several decades ago.
bill cole, your response touches on VJT’s point (iv) in Msg 10:
“(iv) the fact that back-of-the-envelope calculations suggest that the emergence of a self-replicating translation system is a fantastically improbable event (Koonin), coupled with the fact that the only plausible non-theistic hypothesis attempting to explain this fact (i.e. the multiverse) fails, since it paradoxically entails that our own universe is probably a computer simulation created by aliens (Davies)”
You’re right that the Big Bang made the sub-atomic particles and those combined to make hydrogen, deuterium, helium and a little lithium. This process is believed to have happened in the first 20 minutes after the BB, after which things had cooled down too much to make more. This is pretty non controversial today and in fact the close agreement between calculations and observations of element abundances was a major factor in the acceptance of the Big Bang.
Now as for how these particles were produced – the exact mechanism involved – that’s for the high energy physicists to answer, but the fact is that if you concentrate a lot of energy into a minute space (and that’s the Big Bang in spades), you will produce an array of sub atomic particles. That’s what atom smashers do every day.
Given atoms and gravity, stars, galaxies and assorted rubble will appear through pretty well understood means. Life is a little more complicated.
First of all, when talking about FIRST life, forget about DNA, proteins, nucleic acids and possibly RNA and amino acids. You can also forget about “translations” (Whatever they are), systems and that von Neumann stuff KF goes on about. Those are all way too complex for FIRST life.
When discussing FIRST life, think more of a short stringy polymer whose sole ability is to make copies of itself faster than the universe destroys it. Think short strings because long ones are too unlikely to form and polymers because they’re simple (atoms strung together), easily changed, can embed useful information in their sequences and because that’s what just about every molecule of every living thing is made of today.
As an example of what I’m getting at, think of several differently colored pop beads plugged together to make a string of beads. If each bead could latch on to another bead of the same color when Brownian motion slams it into its side and each new bead connected to the beads in front of it and behind it, the original string would have copied itself as soon as the new one split off.
This is what most scientists think of when they think “first life”. Something very simple, probably a polymer and maybe inside a bubble of some kind. It might have been individual atoms strung together, it might have been small molecules such as amino acids. We don’t have any fossils, so we don’t know. Whatever it’s made of, once you have one and it’s copying itself faster than nature breaks it, you have the two things you need to start life rolling:
(1) You have GAIN. If you put ONE of those self reproducers in an empty cup, along with whatever molecules they need to copy themselves, in a while you will have TWO of them! You have GAINED a molecule! In another while, both self reproducers will have copied themselves and now you will have FOUR molecules.
Call that the First Law of Life: If you have a self reproducer and conditions are right, you will soon get more of them. They will make their numbers increase.
(2) If one of the self reproducers changes and the change makes it copy itself faster, it’s numbers will increase faster than the original reproducer. All of its descendants will carry the new, faster reproducing change. You will have two different species of self reproducers growing in your cup. They may exist in harmony or the new ones may replace the old ones someday.
(3) If one of the self reproducers changes and the change makes it copy itself slower, it’s numbers will increase, but more slowly than the originals. Its proportion of the population will decrease. Eventually it will probably gets crowded out and the new change that causes slower reproduction will dissappear with it And of course, if the change stops the new organism from reproducing at all, it will disappear and take the lethal change with it. The other 17 billion originals will carry on.
This, of course, is ordinary Darwinian evolution. It’s powered by life’s ability to increase its numbers.
(2) and (3) constitute Darwin’s natural selection. They form a double ratchet that saves mutations that aid copying and get rid of mutations that hinder copying and they are powered by life’s gain – it’s ability to increase or decrease an organism’s numbers.
One of the biggest frustrations in beginning of life studies are the many people who hold up a modern organism, like an amoeba, and say, “Something this complex could never form spontaneously! Look at that DNA, those proteins, those enzymes, that multi layered cell wall!”
They’re right of course. Anything living today is the product of billions of years of evolution and has gained it’s information the hard way, bit by bit over the aeons. The odds against somehow acquiring the information needed to make an amoeba over night are beyond astronomical. Instead, when it comes to FIRST life, think “simple molecule that does only one thing – makes copies of itself”.
It’s two am. More on Koonen, the multiverse and Davies tomorrow.
The earth may well be billions of years old however by the method of detection you prefer (science) then the fossils themselves throw up a serious question about the age of the fossil record. Do we bin forensic science so you may have your cock sure swagger? Not very scientific if I may say.
If this was just a search for the truth then the best evidence (the fossils themselves) with our current level of observable scientific understanding should give you good reason to be more humble in your approach to the age of the fossil record and therefore your entire belief system. Luckily we all know that humility and truth searching are not the prime concern for IE proponents. Rhetoric and swagger are the means to an end.
A very good list of arguments!
Intellectually Prof Moran is a big disappointment, I’m forever hoping he has something reasonable to say and then he deflates my hope. I actually like him, narcissist and all.
The Garden of Eden and Adam and Eve are supernatural and fall outside of sciences own definition. Science cannot empirically rule these out. Science can say nothing about the supernatural except deny it. This paints one in a corner and for anyone to deny the possibility of something existing outside of the purview of methodological naturalism is irrational.
When it is all said and done we are all faced with this choice:
The God of creation or the god of BUC (blind unguided chance).
Thank you for your post. Your response to my argument (iv) misses the point of the argument. All your argument establishes is that simple self-reproducers that replicate very quickly are likely to evolve somewhere in the universe. But that’s not what my argument was about. It was about replication and translation systems ALL life on Earth today is dependent on such systems. Evolutionary biologist Eugene Koonin’s argument here (which I discuss in detail here) shows that even in a toy model that “assumes a deliberately inflated rate of RNA production, the probability that a coupled translation-replication emerges by chance in a single O-region [i.e. an observable universe such as our own] is P < 10-1018.” (And no, Koonin is not committing Hoyle’s fallacy.) Faced with such astronomical odds, Koonin takes refuge in the multiverse – a move which won’t work, for reasons I’ve explained here.
Likewise, the fact that some proteins are short in no way undermines Dr. Douglas Axe’s point that ALL life-forms today require at least some long-chain amino acid sequences, and that it isn’t possible to find one which folds up in order to do a useful biological task (i.e. a protein rather than a mere polypeptide) via an unguided search process, even if you have billions of years to search for it. If you want to argue that long, long ago, life’s proteins were very simple, that’s fine. But you still have to explain how we got the long-chain proteins we find today which are ubiquitous in living things. I discuss these points at further length in my post, The dirty dozen: Twelve fallacies evolutionists make when arguing about the origin of life. Hope that helps.
MatSpirit: Compare that with Genesis’s 4004 BC date for the creation of the world and Adam and Eve.
Ignorant or lying. Neither one is a good thing.
Interesting – Belief in all-knowing, punitive gods aided the growth of human societies, study says
“Empirical evidence that supernatural beliefs promote cooperation is mounting, but has tended to rely on qualitative, society-level or proxy measures of beliefs,” Johnson wrote. “Study participants have also typically been university students in developed nations, thus omitting the small-scale societies most relevant to the evolutionary problem at hand: how human groups achieved cooperation and made the transition from small to large societies in the first place.” http://www.latimes.com/science.....story.html
Max Born: “Those who say that the study of science makes a man an atheist, must be rather silly people”.
An honest scientist, a real scientist that is, can never answer the question, is there God?, in the negative. Being an honest intelligent person means you either answer ‘yes’ (if you have personally experienced a meeting with God) or ‘I don’t know’ (if you haven’t yet).
If these people want to live in their caricature 2D reality without a meaning or purpose, so be it. As St John of the Ladder said, pride of this calibre can be healed only by God Himself, not by a mortal or even by an Angel.
I would add to VJT’s points that the structure of the hydrogen bond (first element out of the big bang) from a random event being an exact force so that DNA can be easily transcribed and proteins be easily recycled seems hard to attribute to a random accident. Also atoms having so much flexibility to work together like transistors in a computer to create all the diversity in the universe including life.
Attached is Yonkey’s 1977 paper that backs up VJT’s points. I propose that this paper when well understood makes the emergence of all new specie’s difficult to describe with any cause involving a random search. I understand your hypothesis now, Thanks. I do, however, think it is very difficult to defend with scientific evidence at this point.
Larry Moran, “The point is that if you are going to use fine-tuning as support for your belief in gods then you’d better make sure your facts are correct.”
Dr. Moran, I really don’t get this. If I hold to a belief in “gods” and am wrong, so what? What the heck difference does it make.
Consider the case where there is “gods”,”gods” is actually one God, and he actually cares about what I believe. Now, if I don’t believe, this may be a major crisis. ‘Seems therefore, that clamouring to some hope based upon the speculation of a few scientists so that the “no gods” position can be maintained is truly the risky position. Therefore, sir, it is you who “better make sure your facts are correct.”
36@ Andre “Intellectually Prof Moran is a big disappointment, I’m forever hoping he has something reasonable to say and then he deflates my hope.”
He is laughable. It is funny how highly Professor Moran rates his bilge.
Mr Torley ripped LM’s post to shreds but LM will probably appeal to the village Atheists.
Fascinating question, and worthy of a Greek philosopher as well. 🙂
VJT, starting with (i), I have no problem with a contingent universe. It’s pretty well established that this one popped into existence about 14 billion years ago. The interesting question is what caused that.
If you think that the universe had any structure at all at the Big Bang, how did it survive being forced through a hole one Planck Length in diameter? A Planck length is 1/100 trillion trillionth of the diameter of a proton. It’s advertised as the smallest possible distance. Even space itself is supposed to be composed of independent Planck sized pieces according to some theories. I don’t think much would squeeze through that tiny hole intact.
Personally, I don’t think that any information beyond a little noise made it through the BB at all. This universe certainly contained very little information at Time=0. Instructions for making a handful of subatomic particles and a handful of laws of physics are about it. I’m betting that the laws formed spontaneously and are totally or at least partially random and therefore we exist in this universe at least partially through sheer luck.
Getting back to Professor Moran for a moment, I read one of Professor Stenger’s books a few years ago and his point is that if you vary ALL of the constants, you find that a surprisingly large percentage of all the possible settings will provide long lived stars and chemistry complex enough to support life. Those universes wouldn’t be much like this one and we wouldn’t want to live in most of them, but some kind of life would be possible. The percentage was small, but much better than you would think from reading the religeous press.
I don’t worry about fine tuning arguments because a multiverse consisting of an infinite number of universes with randomly varying physics in each of them will take care of the problem and thats the way physics is trending.
Regarding Genesis, oh my! Jacking up Genesis and writing a new story under it may “solve” some problems, but replacing Genesis with a human story strips it of all authority.
At least your story isn’t quite as immoral as the original. In your story, the people at least get to vote on eating the fruit so at least the ones who voted “Yes” are guilty of rebellion. (But the “No” voters get punished too – mad morals again.)
In Genesis, nobody in subsequent generations even gets to vote, yet they’re punished anyway. Of course, in your story that’s true for subsequent generations too. Bad morals there.
Worse still, in Genesis (and I think in your story too, though you don’t specify), the “rebellion” is to learn the difference between good and evil! (Genesis 2:16,17)
Now compare either story to the null hypothesis: Several thousand years ago, a human (possibly named Adam) tried to figure out why a world supposedly run by a loving and all powerful God was filled with so much undeserved nastiness and decided to blame it all on a woman. That’s a very simple story that answers all of the important questions. That great Christian philosopher, William of Ockham, could shave by it.
By the way, did you know that collective punishments are outlawed by the Geneva convention? What does that say about God’s morals, as depicted in Genesis?
Matspirit says the laws started spontaneously…… haha hahahahahaha!!!!!
Here is an undeniable fact;
Every law has a lawmaker.
Matspirit says says it’s a multiverse…
1. Do you have proof for this alledged multiverse?
2. Do you understand the problem of a multiverse? If it is true then everything is true…. Batman, Ewoks, Jason and Jesus…. nothing is false and science is pointless.
Nowhere does the Bible say the universe started a few thousand years ago. If you have a biblical reference for such a wild and crazy statement please let us have it.
This is such a troll.
LOLOLOLOL! Haven’t ever heard of quantum mechanics, have you? Nothing has to squeeze “through” anything, let alone stretch what you incorrectly imagine is Planck distance.
Groundless speculation that’s scientifically equivalent to believing in the Easter bunny. Except that your term would be something like a trans-dimensional lagomorph of the spring equinox, which makes it sound less ludicrous.
The multiverse idea is pure mythology. It’s not observable, testable, or scientific.
These are Magical Universes that were spawned by other Magical Universes that might have appeared nested in a matrix of vibrational axes in five and a half dimensions that folded over onto themselves, while time oscillated randomly until a dominant vector established itself by means of strange attractors that compressed time into an ever-tightening double helix until it became a line.
Of course you don’t worry. The irreconcilable problems will solve themselves through pure faith that defies all logic, reason, or scientific process. Or as J.M. Barrie had Peter Pan warn, “The moment you doubt whether you can fly, you cease for ever to be able to do it.”
I gotta stop before I get any closer to your Schwarzschild radius.
VJT, Koonen is one of those people I mentioned in a previous message who hold up a MODERN organism and declare that, “The odds against this baby forming by chance are 1 in 10 to the 1018 against!”
To which, the proper answer is something like, “No kidding? Was that organism present four billion years ago? No? Well, what WAS present and what are the odds that IT formed randomly?”
Dr. Koonen is not involved in Origin Of Life studies, doesn’t seem to know jack about the subject and made a bit of a fool of himself. He committed Hoyles Fallacy by deciding against all evidence and expert knowledge in the OOL field that the first living thing was as complex as a 747 when everybody who actually works in the field and knows something about it thinks it’s complexity was closer to that of a dead leaf.
I used a short polymer (not a protein) in my example because I didn’t want to make the same mistake.
As for Dr Axe, I haven’t followed his work personally, but I’ve read the opinions of some biologists who have and they don’t seem to be impressed. He also seems to have made no impression on the rest of biology at all.
Andre, I hope to discuss the multiverse and the origins of physical laws with VJT soon so I’ll hold off discussing them now.
The Bible doesn’t give a date for Creation, but in message 24 I give dates calculated by several theologians and scholars that cluster around 4000 BC. Two of them, Venerable Bede and Archbishop Ussher are still revered today, four centuries later. Toss in Newton’s estimate of 4000 BC and I think you can be pretty sure that the Bible dates the Creation to circa 4000 BC.
bill cole: Thanks for the Yocky link, but its behind a $40 pay wall for me. What little I can glean from the abstract is not encouraging. I’ll look around for some articles from him though.
If the hydrogen bonds aren’t right for DNA, you won’t have DNA. If they’re not even good enough for simple life, that universe will be lifeless. If there are lots and lots more universes, the ones that get the hydrogen bond right will have life.
Querius, Whether it was forced through a hole, tunneled in, appeared in a puff of smoke, whatever – at the beginning of the Big Bang the universe seems to have been squeezed into a ball of Planck dimensions and I don’t think much survived that.
I think the BB was a low information event because we observe that the universe had very little information in it at the beginning. There were no stars, planets, galaxies, certainly no life forms, just pure blinding energy so hot it would incinerate any atoms present.
What kind of info would you need to duplicate our early universe? Some details on sub atomic particles and their properties, how gravity works, how photons are made and behave – what else? It’s only after sub atomic particles have formed from the original energy and atoms from the particles that gravity starts drawing them into stars etc and real complexity starts to develop.
I hope to be discussing multiverse with Dr. Torley later, so til then.
Why create the Universe if the aim was to fine tune a small speck (0.5 µm ) – which is what Earth is,when compared to the universe ?
“If there are lots and lots more universes, the ones that get the hydrogen bond right will have life.”
Pretty informative 😉
So Newton and some reverend worked it out to 6000 years, you think there is a multiverse neither of you are correct.
Do you actually understand the problem with a multiverse or do I have to repeat it to you?
If the multiverse is true, then everything is true and science is pointless…… Jesus is true, Darth Vader is true, Freddie is true, Ewoks are true, flying pink unicorns are true the FSM is true….. absolutely nothing is false….. That is the problem with the multiverse.
So you were there to witness this? I’m going to burst your bubble…… if we don’t even know what triggers lightning then how exactly do you know this?
Yes look it up, we don’t know what triggers lightning might as well be Thor or Zeus.
“Why create the Universe if the aim was to fine tune a small speck (0.5 µm ) – which is what Earth is,when compared to the universe?”
It reminds me of an old joke. A man lost his watch in the street at night. In order to try to find it, he came near a street light because there it was brighter than anywhere else and more convenient for him to search.
Do you think there must be a pragmatic purpose in creating a world? How are you measuring the pragmatic gain of creating a smaller universe? Is it a gain in terms of saved resources? What kind of resources? Energy? What if the source of the universe is not a material one?
Why do you think there must be a scientific answer to your question? Will you accept any other answer e.g. aesthetic or theological? Will you accept a possibility of there being no answer for a human being to ever know at all?
Why must earth be the only “fine tuned speck?”
Nobody knows how many of them exist.
Infinite multiverse is an interesting explanation and I think it is the only way to invoke chance. The problem is it also eliminates science as Andre said. I am sorry you did get free access to the Yockey paper as when studied you will understand the challenges of an explosion event yielding observers that can talk about it by a trial error and selection process.
MatSpirit @46 and 51,
I thought you wanted to critique my arguments for the existence of God. Instead I find you engaging in a polemic against the behavior of YHWH in Genesis. That’s a separate question entirely. One can believe in an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent Creator without identifying that Creator with the God of the Bible.
To answer your silliest questions first: under the tribal scenario that I was envisaging, all human beings then living would have assented to Adam’s decision. Of course, if there really was an original couple then that makes things a lot simpler. The exact nature of Adam’s sin has been debated for centuries, but on one sensible interpretation, the sin wasn’t simply learning the difference between good and evil; rather, Adam wanted to create his own moral standards and define good and evil on his own terms. In so doing, he deliberately eschewed the Divine protection that had preserved the human race from suffering and pain and made a declaration of human independence, telling God to nick off. Bad move. God reluctantly took him at his word and withdrew His special protection, leaving the entire human race vulnerable to starvation, predation and disease. That may sound unfair on future generations, who had nothing to do with Adam’s fateful decision, but to me it seems obvious that you can’t have half the human race running around enjoying supernatural protection from death and suffering while the other half is suffering from raging toothaches and dying off at the age of 30. We’re all one race, and whatever happens to us, we’re all in this together.
Anyway, enough about Adam. Even if the doctrine of the Fall doesn’t sound fair to you, that in no way rules out God.
You write that the multiverse will take care of the fine tuning problem. You are mistaken. Please see my post, Physicist Paul Davies’ killer argument against the multiverse (August 14, 2015).
You write that “some kind of life would be possible” if all the constants of our universe were changed, and not just a few, and you cite Victor Stenger. I’ve already cited Dr. Barnes’ paper in my OP, showing why Stenger’s denial of fine-tuning is ill-informed nonsense. In any case, Stenger’s argument overlooks the “fly-on-the-wall argument,” which I wrote about in my post, Debunking the debunker: How Sean Carroll gets the fine-tuning argument wrong (January 4, 2016):
The fact that nearly all universes within our immediate neighborhood are hostile to life is a fact that requires an explanation, just as we would demand an explanation if a tiny group of flies surrounded by a largish fly-free wall area were hit by a bullet. We’d be inclined to say they were hit deliberately, and we’d be right. Ditto for our universe.
You assert that Dr. Eugene Koonin (whose name you cannot even spell) doesn’t know diddly squat about the origin of life and you rashly assert that he commits Hoyle’s fallacy. Look, the guy is director of the Evolutionary Genomics Group at the National Center for Biotechnology Information in Bethesda, Maryland. He’s written a highly acclaimed book titled, The Logic of Chance: The Nature and Origin of Biological Evolution. Oh, and his 2007 paper,The cosmological model of eternal inflation and the transition from chance to biological evolution in the history of life, only had four peer reviewers, including a guy from Harvard. Don’t you think it’s a little strange that not one of them picked up on his paper containing Hoyle’s fallacy, while you, a non-scientist (I can tell from the way you write) managed to spot this defect in his logic instantly? Pull the other one.
Nowhere in his paper does Koonin say the first replcation translation system had to have evolved all at once from scratch. Rather the opposite. His point was that even if you wait billions of years, it isn’t going to happen, because you’d need orders of magnitude more time than that.
Finally, I am glad to see that you concede that the universe, which sprang into existence around 14 billion years ago, had a cause. You ask what it might have been. Please have a look at Dr. Robert Koons’ handy summary of the cosmological argument and scroll down to the section titled, “Closure,” where he argues that God must be unique, free from measurable attributes and beyond space and time.
I should have used the word “cause” not “source” in relation to the universe in my comment 59. Apologies.
MatSpirit @ 54,
The “squeezed into a little ball” is silly. The little ball IS THE ENTIRE UNIVERSE before inflation. There’s no “outside” for the little ball to squeeze through. The only distance available is within the ball, including Planck distance.
In other words, if you were there to observe it, you would have been inside the ball.
EugeneS @ 59
No, Not at all, but if you feel Earth is special, you need to justify (or atleast wonder) why the creator would make it inconsequential when compared to the Universe.
Imagine in a multiverse there is one with a God, Adam and Eve, the garden as well as fake ones, one with no laws and one where matspirit is a believer. Seems very irrational and why bother to study it.
The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause. More here:
Bacterial Slime Acts As Teensy Eyeball
That other great luminary of atheist apologetics, Neil De Grasse Tyson, has also been excelling himself, it seems :
nice link 🙂
The Earth is indeed special because it is life friendly. But I dont feel I have to justify anything. I am happy to live in the world I live. I am happy without putting heaven into my head, paraphrasing Chesterton. I know that multiverse is just a mental trick and an absurdity. If this is science, I dont care a bit about such science then.
According to what I have:
The theory of intelligent design holds that certain features of the universe and of living things are best explained by an intelligent cause, whereby the behavior of matter powers a coexisting trinity of systematically self-similar (in each other’s image, likeness) intelligent systems at the molecular, cellular and multicellular level
It might not be putting heaven into your mind but finally being eyeball to eyeball with cells is a very exciting systematically self-similar discovery, to experience.
Vjtorley, I gave Genesis and The Fall as an example of something that is utterly vital to the Christian religeon which has been scientifically disproven. You replied with a fantastic story, of your own human devising, in which God might have escaped moral culpability, but only for the living tribe members, not for children too young to vote or who didn’t even exist. While Googling “collective punishment” I discovered that it’s heinous enough to be banned by the Geneva Convention.
Now what DOES that say about God’s morals? You didn’t answer that. When you have, we can start on The Flood, where God ups his game by murdering every men, woman, child, and unborn foetus in the world (because they were irredemably bad – same excuse Hitler used for murdering the Jews. Sorry for going all Godwin, but we are talking about genocide in both cases.)
And if you surmount that hill, the next book in the Bible brings us The Exodus where God kills one child in every family in Egypt, including the families of all the peasants, people who had absolutely no way of change Pharoah’s mind and make him release the Israelis. But it turns out that Pharoah doesn’t control his own mind, either. Twice, he decides to let the Israeli’s go, but God hardens his mind both times so he keeps them. Why does God do this? To show off!
Now all three of these stories have been scientifically disproven. Genesis is dated much too early and the human race never went through a two person bottleneck. Or an eight person bottleneck during Noah’s Flood, which supposedly happened while the Egyptians were building the pyramids. (You’d think they’d notice they were all drowned.) Archeology shows no trace of a million plus strangers invading Israel, just some locals coming down from the hills. We can find the remains of Bedouin campfires in the desert, but no sign of a million plus invaders living there for 40 years.
In short, here you have three stories in the Bible, one of them utterly foundational for Christianity, all disproven scientifically. So much for theology producing true knowledge. Larry Moran is right!
I see that KairosFocus has started a thread on whether Dan Barker is right about God being the most unpleasant character in all fiction. I haven’t had a chance to read Barker’s book or KF’s post yet, but I vote “Yes!” on both unpleasant and fiction.
That last message was sent prematurely. Sorry for any typos that slipped through. I do want to mention this before I go on to the multiverse:
VJT: “That may sound unfair on future generations, who had nothing to do with Adam’s fateful decision, but to me it seems obvious that you can’t have half the human race running around enjoying supernatural protection from death and suffering while the other half is suffering from raging toothaches and dying off at the age of 30. We’re all one race, and whatever happens to us, we’re all in this together.”
Are you serious here? I thought you said God wants to be discovered scientifically. If believers really were being supernaturally protected from disease and death while non believers were getting sick and dying, that would be unambiguous and impossible to ignore scientific evidence for the existence of God. Think of people testing the efficacy of prayer, except that these “experiments” are much clearer and the results favor God.
Re Paul Davies “killer argument against the multiverse”: Davies proposes a multiverse where some universe develops computers that can run programs that simulate universes, complete with intelligent denizens. No argument here. He further states that these emulated universes could be made to operate with “laws” that differ from the laws in the “real” universe. Again, no argument here.
He then springs his “aha!” argument: The people living in those false universes could study their false laws of physics and conclude that a multiverse was possible, but they would be wrong because their laws are fake! Cue the angels singing “Hallelujah”.
Except … the real people living in real universes wouldn’t know a thing about this. Their universes would not disappear in a puff of logic, their (real) multiverse would continue to spawn (real) universes and the only thing this situation would prove is that some emulated people can be wrong. Maybe real people too. No argument here.
Re Dr. KoonIn: Sorry about the misspelling, but it was very early in the am.
Going solely on what you’ve quoted from him, well …
Do you remember the story about the boy who cried, “Wolf”? He kept shouting, “Wolf!”, and people kept running out to save him, but there never was a wolf. Eventually they pegged his cries as unreliable and not worth investigating and stopped responding to his cries. When a real wolf did finally come along, he shouted, “Wolf!” and nobody came to his aid and he got eaten.
For ID, big numbers are your cry of “Wolf!” “10^40”, “10^57”, “10^60”, “10^120”, “10^123”, “10 ^ 1024!”, “10^(10^123)”, “Numbers so big you could write one down every second for the life of the universe!”, “This is a number so big that if you converted every atom in the universe into paper, there still wouldn’t be enough room to right it down!”, “Big numeric wolves that are gonna eat your evolution alive!”
You’ve been shouting, “Big Numbers” for as long as there has been ID and they have NEVER, EVER proven out. GAHHH! Let the wolves have them all.
If Koonin or anybody else wants to impress me (or anybody else who’s been following ID for a few years), let him first describe what first life looked like (in detail!) and then let him describe every other step in subsequent life until it gets up to the point he’s calculating probabilities for (an accurately reproducing organism with decoding routines built in or whatever it was exactly he specified).
THEN, after he’s given us that amount of detail, he will be in a position to make probability estimates that are accurate enough to be worth examining seriously. Until then, he joins Dembski and the long line of number flingers who have made a laughing stock out of ID.
Good news about Boltzmann Brains.
At last, I can deliver some good news: You can stop worrying about Boltzmann Brains.
For onlookers who don’t know what a Boltzmann Brain is, Ludwig Boltzmann was one of the greatest physicists of the 19th century. He once speculated that perhaps the reason we find the universe to be in a highly improbable organized, non-equilibrium state is because such states occur randomly and we can only exist to see them when the universe is in such a state. The rest of the time, the universe is too chaotic for “highly tuned” creatures like us to exist, so we never see the chaotic and disorganized universe.
Others soon pointed out that a single human brain was much simpler than a whole universe complete with stars, planets and millions of people, each with a human brain. Therefore, a single human brain was much more likely to pop into existence than an entire universe, complete with stars, planets and millions of people, each containing a human brain.
That pretty much scotched his theory.
However, today we know that this universe did not pop into existence, fully formed with stars, planets and millions of brain bearing humans. Instead, it appeared at the Big Bang and it was simpler than dirt. No stars, no planets, no humans bearing brains, just some energy and, at most, a few laws and everything else came into being through the operation of those laws.
Compared to that, a brain is staggeringly complex and consequently enormously less likely than a Big Bang. Hence, you will see uncountably more Big Bangs than Boltzmann Brains. So stop worrying about them screwing up your cosmology.
Once again, we can see that MatSpirit @72-76 is under the impression that his opinion constitutes irrefutable proof needing no further support.
The logic in those trolls is at the same level as, “Now that Dr. Mary Schweitzer has proven that dinosaurs only recently became extinct, it’s clearly a fact that dinosaurs didn’t die millions of years ago, and that they lived at the same time as humans.”
We also are treated to the amazing assertion that the big bang was “simpler than dirt.” Wow. Amazing!
Then, there’s the stunning theological argument that God couldn’t exist because he supposedly did all these things that *I MYSELF* consider evil, and *I MYSELF* can’t imagine any way that this could be fair. And God has to be fair by MY STANDARDS or it just wouldn’t be fair, and how could God know what people would do ahead of time, because I don’t know, so how could God know. And besides it’s not fair.
I got news for you. Everybody dies in the end. Then comes the judgment for eternity.
I can just imagine a little first-born Egyptian boy being told by God, “I know you died very young, but I know for certain that you would have turned out to be a loving, godly man. Welcome to eternal life, peace, and overflowing joy!”
Meanwhile, you’re hissing and spitting in a corner about it not being fair. It would be a pity.
I’m not arguing that God can’t exist if he did those nasty things, I’m pointing that if He DOES exist and what’s in the Bible is true, then He’s done a lot of thinges that are obviously nasty. So obvious that they’ve made their way into the Geneva Convention.
If you think the Big Bang was complex, please tell us a little about it. What were some complex, high information things about the Big Bang?
As for your comments on the little first born Egyptian boy – wow.
EugeneS @ 70
I too feel happy to be living in the world I am in and I feel I am way more special than anyone else, but when I compare the universe with my world, I am under no illusion that our Planet is special. I mean, who would doubt that a speck is not significant when compared to a volume of 4×10^80 cubic meters of observable universe?
As for Multiverse,given a better alternative (an omnipotent omniscient being is definitely a far more complicated alternate hypothesis to explain), I will stop ruminating about multiverse.
Bottleneck assumptions depend on what was present at the beginning. We do not have empirical evidence of the bottlenecks, only assumptions. We now know the mitochondrial clock varies.
“I mean, who would doubt that a speck is not significant when compared to a volume of 4×10^80 cubic meters of observable universe?”
It all depends what the criteria are. Being life-friendly does make it special, in my opinion. It does not matter how it compares in terms of cubic meters. That small a ratio may well be statistically significant.
MatSpirit @ 78,
Ok, a reasonable response and an honest question deserve one in return.
The Geneva Convention
The Geneva Convention attempts to impose rules onto the obscenity called war. It’s widely ignored, but provides a sense of respectability to this human institution. Supposedly, it limits the inhuman behavior between combatants, but its enforcement is generally limited to the victors, giving them the right to charge the vanquished with violations for which they will be respectably tried, found guilty of course, and then hanged.
Behavior between humans is restricted. According to the Bible, only the one true God who knows everything, past, present, and future, and who has an IQ of a billion or more, is allowed to take vengeance, to make final judgments, and to allow blessings and curses on people. In fact, God warns us in the scriptures not to attempt to make sense of all events. God says that he makes rain fall both on the just and the unjust for his purposes. Nevertheless, according to a description in Revelation, God created some beings “covered with eyes” (a symbol for enhanced perception) who apparently continually announce their judgment of all God’s actions.
The founders of the United States depended on God to provide final justice, in that they intended to establish a legal system in which you are innocent until PROVEN guilty. They indicated their willingness to let a hundred perpetrators go free in order to avoid convicting a single innocent person. That this principle has now been violated repeatedly in the U.S. is simply a reflection on the loss of trust in God.
The Big Bang
There’s a lot of discussion within the physics community about the conservation of information, a topic Stephen Hawking engaged in with respect to whether black holes can destroy information.
So, if the big bang was as “simple as dirt,” where did all the complexity that’s challenging some of the best and brightest minds on earth come from? How was it inserted if it wasn’t present from the beginning?
Experiments in quantum electrodynamics have repeatedly confirmed that the fundamental nature of existence is not matter or energy, but information.
Our conscious interaction within the matrix can collapse wavefunctions (called psi) into matter. Apparently, we exist in a mathematical matrix of information that’s quite probably a simulation.
The Little Egyptian Boy
If we’re indeed in a simulation, there’s a mind behind it, and if there’s a mind, there’s a purpose, and if there’s a purpose, there’s an outcome and judgment. God promised us that he would make sure that justice tempered with mercy (that he provided for us) would prevail, or as is written in the scriptures that God will “dry every tear.”
You are trying to discount a long set of arguments by generalizing them. The fact that the genome is mathematically a sequence is a fact and yes is sequential space is exceeding large. When you say NEVER for an argument you are again generalizing and will likely be wrong.
Read “The Privileged Planet”- it is all in that book what makes the earth so special.
Aargh! I’ve lost two replies to Samsung tablet software. Here’s something I wrote locally and saved. I’m going to bed early tonight.
In the OP, Feser says science has a serious problem: It is either self refuting or trivial because it assumes:
(1) There is an objective external world.
(2) That this external world is governed by causal regularities.
(3) That the human intellect can uncover and accurately describe these regularities
(4) And more.
Then he says that since science presupposes these things, it cannot attempt to justify them without arguing in a circle. And if it cannot establish that it’s a reliable form of inquiry, it can hardly establish that it is the only reliable form.
Actually, science takes provisional assumptions like “an external world exists” and tests them by observing them in as many ways as possible and as accurately as possible. When appropriate, it manipulates this hypothesized external world, taking care to control the manipulations as much as possible, and observes the results. It compares the results with each other and with the results from other observers and if the results hang together and describe the hypothesized outer world accurately, they conclude that the external world exists and tell everybody else about it so they can use this verified hypothesis in their own work (and also submit it to more tests).
If their results don’t match their hypothesis, they change the hypothesis or give it up.
Religion doesn’t acquire knowledge that way and neither does anything else.
I’d like to address some of your comments on falsification.
You claim that the Bible has been falsified on three specific points: Adam and Eve, Noah’s Flood and the Exodus. You should be aware of Lakatos’ critique of Popper’s naive falsificationism. Briefly, Lakatos argues that “falsification of a high-level scientific theory is never brought about by an isolated observation or set of observations.” Rather, such theories are falsified due to “the research programmes associated with them gradually grinding to a halt, with the result that an ever-widening gap opens up between the facts to be explained, and the research programmes themselves” (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, art. Karl Popper).
When it comes to falsifying a sacred text, you have to make sure you know what it’s saying in the first place (which assumes you know how to read it properly), and you have to be aware of the background assumptions you’re making in your falsification.
With Adam and Eve, Noah’s Flood and the Exodus, we have what look like narratives claiming to be historical. I think it’s fair to say that they’re not just poetry, and within the Bible itself, the key facts associated with these episodes are treated as historical. Jesus, for instance, referred to Adam and Eve (Mark 10:6-8) Noah and the Flood (Matthew 24:37) and the Exodus (John 3:14, 6:32). It doesn’t follow, however, that each and every detail recorded in these narratives is intended to be literal. The stories of Adam and Eve and Noah and the Flood had literary parallels in the ancient Middle East. Perhaps the author of Genesis was drawing upon these stories, which were popularly accepted as “folk history,” but putting a theological slant on them – e.g. it wasn’t Marduk who formed the heavens and the earth, but YHWH. It’s difficult to tell, with books written over 2,500 years ago, exactly what the author was intending to assert.
In any case, your attempted falsifications are pretty miserable. You claim that science has falsified Adam and Eve, but that only follows if you make uniformitarian assumptions. As Dr. Lydia McGrew points out in her article, No, Virginia, Science Hasn’t Debunked Adam, scientific estimates of ancient human population sizes “assume that nothing was going on in the relevant millions of years but inheritance and mutation” – which is precisely what a Christian who believed in Adam and Eve would deny. Moreover, there are independent reasons for believing that if God were going to create the human race from an original couple, He would endow them with extra genetic diversity, so avoid the harmful effects of inbreeding. Hence, Adam may have been a genetic chimera. That may sound bizarre to you, but it makes perfect sense, within its own framework.
Re the Flood: you should be aware that there are different sets of numbers given in the Hebrew and Greek versions of the Old Testament. The Hebrew version suggests a date of 2,348 B.C. or thereabouts, if we assume no gaps in the genealogies; the Septuagint gives a date of around 3,228 B.C., if there are no gaps. Biblical genealogy is not as straightforward as it seems, and even The Catholic Encyclopedia argues that the Flood need not have been geographically universal, although it still argues for an eight-person bottleneck, while noting: “As there is nothing in the teaching of the Bible preventing us from assigning the Flood to a much earlier date than has usually been done, the difficulties urged on the part of science against the anthropological universality of the Flood may be easily evaded.” The last time the human race was confined to a small geographic region was over 100,000 years ago.
Personally, I’m open to the idea of a more recent global catastrophe (perhaps a sudden rise in sea levels around the end of the Younger Dryas, 11,700 years ago, that may have been triggered by a cometary impact), which killed off a large percentage (say 80%) of people living in coastal areas around the world, and which one family (headed by Noah) received special warning of (although there would have been other scattered survivors). Although 2 Peter 2:5, 3:6 says that the Flood destroyed the ancient world, it doesn’t follow from this description that there were no survivors whatsoever, apart from Noah and his family.
Regarding the Exodus: your whole argument hinges on the assumption that the Bible says 2,000,000 Israelites left Egypt. It doesn’t say that; indeed, it implies the contrary. For example, Numbers 3:43 the number of first-born Israelite males of all ages as being only 22,273. The term used for “thousand” in Exodus can simply mean “clan.” For archaeological and literary evidence supporting the Exodus, see here and here.
In short: your attempts at biblical falsification presuppose a naturalistic worldview and fail to take into account that the author wasn’t narrating events like a modern historian. Since he wrote over 2,500 years ago, it’s hard for us to determine exactly what his intentions were.
I’d like to briefly comment on your use of the Geneva Convention to assess God’s moral character.
The Geneva Convention is a set of treaties that apply only in times of armed conflict, and that seek to protect people who are not (or are no longer) taking part in hostilities. Treaties, by definition, cover only those parties that sign them. They are for regulating the conduct of people, vis-a-vis other people. God doesn’t fall into that category. His relationship to us is more like that of an author to the characters in his book, or a video game creator to the characters in his game – the key difference being that in God’s game (unlike our own games), the characters possess libertarian free will, including the power to defy their Maker. To say that an author of a story is bound by the same moral conventions that bind the characters in that story, in their dealings with one another, is comically absurd.
Killing the first-born of the Egyptians may not sound very nice, but if they were struck down by God, then they probably died instantly and painlessly. And as other readers have pointed out, there is nothing to stop God from recompensing them for the loss of life with the promise of immortality.
In your discussion of physicist Paul Davies’ killer argument against the multiverse, you omit a key premise of Davies’ argument: since simulated universes are much cheaper to make than the real thing, the number of fake universes would proliferate and vastly outnumber the real ones. What follows from that? Since we have no way of telling if the universe we’re living in is a real one or a fake and since the fakes far outnumber the real ones, it would be rational to conclude that the one we’re living in is a fake, and that the laws of our universe are also fake – which in turn undermines the whole argument that fundamental physics generates multiple universes, causing the reasoning to collapse in circularity.
I also listed five other arguments against the multiverse in the post I referenced (see also here for more details on these arguments):
Re the “Boltzmann brains” argument, you attempt to refute it with the following argument: “a brain is staggeringly complex and consequently enormously less likely than a Big Bang. Hence, you will see uncountably more Big Bangs than Boltzmann Brains.” But that’s irrelevant to the argument. As cosmologist Luke Barnes points out, the real problem is that “for every observer who really is a carbon-based life form who evolved on a planet orbiting a star in a galaxy, there are vastly more for whom this is all a passing dream, the few, fleeting fancies of a phantom fluctuation.” Hence we would expect biological life-forms like ourselves to be vastly outnumbered by “Boltzmann brains.” However, since Boltzmann brains do not require a fine-tuned universe, the multiverse fails to explain why our universe is fine-tuned for biological life.
Finally, even if the “Boltzmann brains” argument could be refuted, there are still four additional arguments against the universe that you haven’t refuted.
Re Eugene Koonin, you write:
You’re asking me to believe in abiogenesis simply because it hasn’t been mathematically proved to be impossible, in a rigorous fashion. You’ve got to be kidding me. Do you know of any other scientific theory that gets accorded this kind of special treatment?
You’d need a computer simulation bigger than our universe in order to go through all possible pathways that its constituent particles might have gone through, and show that none of them leads to life as we know it today (which incorporates replication-translation systems). By your criteria, abiogenesis is unfalsifiable.
If a back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that the molecules required for the evolution of a replication-translation system are far beyond the reach of chance, by many orders of magnitude, then that’s a strong prima facie reason for at least provisionally accepting that modern-day life-forms were intelligently designed. Could this conclusion be wrong? Sure. But it’s rational to follow the evidence wherever it leads.
Finally, you ask why God doesn’t reveal Himself through scientific experiments that show prayer works. Short answer: even if He did, a skeptic might still argue that the miracle was not the work of God, but some alien prankster. With fine-tuning, on the other hand, that could only be the work of some Intelligence outside our universe. And if the multiverse (assuming it existed) had to be fine-tuned too, as Dr. Robin Collins has argued in his online essay, “The Teleological Argument,” then the Intelligence in question also has to be outside space-time and beyond the laws of physics – in other words, transcendent.
vjtorley @ 86,
Nicely stated. However, I noticed that your link to No, Virginia, Science Hasn’t Debunked Adam is broken.
A couple of comments . . .
Flood stories seem to occur worldwide, even in non-coastal areas. Here’s a nice compilation:
The Wiseman Hypothesis proposes that the toledoths used in Genesis have the same usage as in the cuneiform tablets found in Babylonia. If true, this indicates multiple patriarchal authors on clay tablets who signed their names [i]after[/i] each section (Nature, Adam, Noah, etc.). Additional support come from “catch phrases” in the text between successive tablets. Also, tablets had a typical size range, and the text for each section would fit on them. Beginning with the story of Joseph, the pattern ends, perhaps because the narrative continued on papyrus.
Suppose you live in closed box that you cannot see out of.
Inside you do all kinds of testing and conclude nothing exists outside the box. One day you find written on the wall that something exists outside the box, signed by someone that actually was outside the box.
Do you disregard because you yourself has not been outside the box? Do you take the writers word for it?
Hi VJT. “You’re asking me to believe in abiogenesis simply because it hasn’t been mathematically proved to be impossible, in a rigorous fashion. You’ve got to be kidding me.”
You misunderstand the argument. Professor Koonin obviously believes that life exists today and that it hasn’talways existed. Furthermore, he seems to believe that at some point between fhe first super simple living thing and present day life features came into being too quickly for evolution to have produced them.
Fine. What were the DNA sequences in the living things that came between First Life and today’s life? (Since First Life didn’t use DNA he’d also need to tell us how life acquired DNA.)
Once Professor Koonin provides that information (and gets it out from behind that $40.00 paywall), we will be in a position to evaluate his argument Until then, it’s just another Big Numbers! / Wolf! Style argument.
You might feel that providing that amount of information is impossible, but ID fans demand it of science all the time.
Speaking of under specified arguments, there’s an even worse type that comes up. You can see an example in 82 where Querious tells us that God has a justification for His actions, but He is just too gosh darned mighty and intelligent for us to understand it.
Can you imagine a mass murderer in the dock, accused of killing the oldest boy in, say, every family in Helsinki, with the evidence of his crimes being overwhelmingly convincing and his telling the Judge, “Your honor, I freely admit I killed every one of those kids, but I was perfectly justified in murdering them. However, you and everybody else in this court are too stupid and ignorant to understand the explanation so just let me go.”
Would you give ANY credence to that non – explanation?
)$&&@?! I had a message replying to #86 2/3 written, I go to another tab to look up a number in Exodus and I come back and everything I wrote is gone. I no longer trust my tablet.
Ok, from memory and on an older tablet: Lakatos argues that a high level scientific theory (such as evolution) cannot be falsified by a single experiment (as the Big Numbers / Wolf! arguments try to do.). Rather such theories are falsified by the research programs devoted to them (such as the Old Testament is From God theory and ID theory) grinding to a halt (as those did in the 19th century). No argument from me on this.
Then you essentially go for the Null Hypothesis and argue that a man wrote the stories. Again, no argument from me.
Then you bring up Dr. Lydia McGrew who begins her paper with a caution that she’s a layman in biology. Good on her for that. She also provides a link to a post by Paul McBride, a PhD candidate in evolutionary biology and thus not a layman. Good again. But then she mentions favorably “Science and Human Origins”, Ann Gauger and Casey Luskin! I wonder if she thinks Casey left a good paying job at the Discovery Institute to further his education? Do you?
Anyhow, McBride’s paper looks like a good one, McGrew, Science and Origins, Gauger and Luskin have no credibility, so I recommend McBride.
Exodus 12:37 says, “And the children of Israel journeyed from Ramses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand on foot that were men, besides children.” I get 2,000,000 by doubling the number of men to get 1,200,000 men and women and the children will easily bring the number up to 2,000,000. I don’t know why Numbers says 22,273. Maybe a man came up with that figure. The important Point is that we can find the campfires of individual Beduin families living in the desert, but there is no sign of the entire Israeli nation living there for 40 years, whether their numbers were 20 thousand or 2 million.
I think the null hypothesis is much more likely.
From #88 Assume fake universes vastly outnumber the real ones. It would be rational for someone living in one of the fakes to assume it was a fake. He would therefore not be able to tell if real universes generate multiple universes.
The real universes, meanwhile, would know nothing of his plight and would happily continue generating new universes.
Important takeaway: Nothing in a fake universe will affect anything in any real universe except the one that spawned it.
More important conclusion: Our theories can always be wrong, often in ways we never expected.
Most important conclusion: never the less, we struggle on and darn, but this universe certainly looks like it was manufactured by some not particularly intelligent process about 14 billion years ago.
I have one other criticism of Davies’ theory. He thinks the fake (from now on “digital”) universes would greatly outnumber the real ones. I’m not so sure.
(1) All the multiverse theories I’ve heard of assume the laws and other properties of each universe are going to be partly or completely random and therefore the vast, vast majority of all universes will be chaotic, lifeless messes. See any discussion of fine tuning for details.
(2) That means the vast, vast majority of all universes will contain no intelligent creatures capable of creating digital universes, but they may be very well able to produce more natural universes.
(3) Davie’s assumes that digital universes are much cheaper to produce than real ones. Actually, simulating a universe would require a lot of digital resources and those cost money, take up space, and consume power. They’ll get cheaper and there are ways you can reduce the resources used, but you’re always going to need a lot of them for each universe and you’re going to have to pay for them. It’s impossible to estimate how many digital universes might be built, but looking at video games today might give an idea.
(4) under some multiverse theories, making a new universe might be cheap. It may not take much energy to create a universe. Some physicists think the process is free.
Some wild cards to consider: Multiverse theories that allow unending production of new universes effectively introduce real infinity to the equations, often with unexpected results.
MatSpirit @ 92 snarked,
You just can’t or won’t break free from a caricature of God as a very old man, a capricious, murderous idiot with a big white beard, sitting on a chair in the clouds.
This might come as a shock, but God is not a human. God is not bound by time. God exists in the past, the present, and the future simultaneously. God creates life and he can take it away. At any time. For his own purposes. And he doesn’t have to answer to you or any court.
But you call the court into session and you are the righteous judge, lawyer, and jury rolled into one. All things are revealed to you, and God is on trial. He is charged with building a house and then (gasp) tearing it down, creating life in a test tube and then (gasp) flushing it away.
“In my opinion,” you argue, “there is no defense against such travesty!”
“Guilty,” you cry! “Who gave you the right to tear down the house you built or flush away the life you created?”
With smug satisfaction you have found fault with God. And since God is no longer perfect by your standards, you reason, then he cannot possibly judge you by his standards. “It wouldn’t be fair, you reason.”
But it doesn’t work like that. Because God is not a man, and he can tear down what he made. He also made a way out for you.
Querious, I’m taking God AND HIS ACTIONS as they are reported in the Bible. I’m pointing out that THE THINGS GOD DOES, as reported in the Bible, are grossly immoral.
The Bible isn’t talking about building a house and tearing it down, it tells us God personaly KILLED the oldest boy in every family in Egypt. (Ex 12:29 And it came to pass, that at midnight the Lord smote all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh that sat on his throne unto the firstborn of the captive that was in the dungeon; and all the firstborn of cattle.)
God kills the oldest son of Pharoah, of every peasant, of every prisoner in the dungeon and their cattle too!
Your “defense” of this is to say that God doesn’t have to answer to any court. Well, neither did Stalin, Hitler or Pol Pot. Will you defend them too?
Christians say that atheists have no grounds for their morality. Atheists read the Bible, see the foundation of Christian morality and shudder.
VJT: “If a back-of-the-envelope calculation suggests that the molecules required for the evolution of a replication-translation system are far beyond the reach of chance, by many orders of magnitude, then that’s a strong prima facie reason for at least provisionally accepting that modern-day life-forms were intelligently designed.”
Really? If I give you a back of the envelope calculation showing Christ was an ordinary human who just wanted Jews to be better Jews because the world was ending soon, would you at least provisionally accept that he was just a human and get a better religion?
I’m betting that you would want a good long look at those calculations and all the factors that went into them.
Ditto. Show me the steps primitive life took to a DNA based reproductive system and show ne which step contains a jump too great for evolution to bridge.
VJT: “Finally, you ask why God doesn’t reveal Himself through scientific experiments that show prayer works. Short answer: even if He did, a skeptic might still argue that the miracle was not the work of God, but some alien prankster. With fine-tuning, on the other hand, that could only be the work of some Intelligence outside our universe.”
Such as an alien prankster in another universe. Or a multiverse containing a huge number of universes with randomized physics. Or any other of a hundred reasons that are more likely than the Judeo/Christian/Muslim God.
Why do you insist God must jump through such a high hoop to prove his existance? Lady Gaga didn’t and I’ll bet you believe she exists. Ditto for Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, Tamerlan Tsarnaev and gravitational attraction.
None of them fine tuned anything, so why do do you believe they exist or existed?
If God wants us to believe in Him, let Him show Himself. If He’s shy, He can appear as a pillar of cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night. If a pillar of cloud appeared over the Capital and started to issue commands, most atheists would start believing immediately.
If He doesn’t want to do that, then just tipping the survival rate for those patients who are prayed for by ten percent would give us pause. In fact, I’d be down on my knees praying right now. Ten percent is nothing to sneeze at. But prayer is clinically proven to make no difference.
Apparently, your tiny brain still cannot conceive of God as anything but a human being!
God created life and he can take it away. In fact, everybody and everything dies in the end. So why aren’t you complaining about the *horrible immorality* of Nature and Evolution where baby ducks get eaten by crocodiles?
Nevertheless, you seem to cling to a concept of absolute good and evil.
1. Aren’t you basing this belief on some absolute Moral Law?
2. Where there’s an absolute Moral Law, there’s a Moral Lawgiver. If on the other hand Moral Law is the result of consensus, then you could theoretically find yourself in a society where betrayal and murder is a positive attribute such as was the case with the Sawi people of New Guinea. What right do you have in assuming the position of Ultimate Lawgiver and Judge over the Sawi people?
3. If YOU aren’t claiming to be the Ultimate Lawgiver, then who determines absolute good and evil? If you say society, then go back to 2. Rinse and repeat.
MatSpirit @ 98,
No, you wouldn’t. And there you go again just making up “facts” to suit your opinion.
Are you on your knees? Of course not.
Boltzmann Brains redux: Boltzmann hypothesized that the universe as we see it today might have appeared in an instant as a fluctuation in an otherwise chaotic universe.
This would be extremely unlikely because the information on the exact position and velocity (and lots more) of every atom, photon and whatnot of every star, planet and dust mote in the universe, along with every atom etc in every living organism would have to be produced at the same time. That’s a staggering amount of information.
Boltzmann’s contemporaries pointed out that it would be much simpler, and thus more likely, if that fluctuation merely produced a single thinking brain because then you’d just have to specify the location, velocity and whatnot of the atoms in that brain and you could forget about the atoms in stars, planets, etc. It would still take a monstrously huge amount of information to produce that brain, but it would be still be insignificant compared to the amount of information you’d need to specify the entire universe.
Consequently, you would expect uncountable gazillions of Boltzmann Brains to appear out of the chaos before you’d see a single universe appear.
But today we know that the universe did not appear, fully formed, in an instant. Instead, about 14 billion years ago an indeterminate ammout of pure energy came into existence, along with a few laws and forces. We also have good reason to believe that some of the exact strengths of some of the forces were randomly selected and maybe all of them and the laws too.
Those low information laws and forces, especially gravity, then produced the stars and planets and evolution produced the information for all life slowly, a bit at a time through the ordinary workings of physical laws.
We no longer worry about the information needed to specify a brain or a universe with a brain because we know the information for those was produced after the Big Bang by ordinary physical laws.
This means that we’ll see an uncountably high number of Big Bangs appear before we see the first Boltzmann Brain and a much much larger number of Boltzmann Brains appear before we get our first universe.
You say that a Boltzmann Brain isn’t fine tuned, but that’s wrong. The position and velocity of every atom in that brain has to be exactly right or you get a few kilos of mush.
You couldn’t even write down the number of bits you’d have to specify if the entire universe was paper.
Querious, Alzheimers is taking my mother’s mind away, bit by bit. If I thought that prayer would give even a ten percent chance of healing her, I sure as hell WOULD be on my knees every day, praying for her recovery.
But we know that it won’t work. Even the religeous know it won’t work. They’ve stopped doing any kind of tests that night provide a trustworthy estimate of the effectiveness of prayer because they know perfectly well what the answer is going to be.
If you disagree, try getting ANY religeous organization to pay for more tests.
Hi, vjtorley. I notice in 62 you included this:
“The argument does not focus on the (unimaginably large) totality of all possible universes; instead, it is concerned only with those in our immediate neighborhood, which differ only slightly from our own: perhaps one or two parameters are altered, while the other parameters continue to be held at the values which obtain in this universe. The point is that if we confine ourselves to the possible universes within our neighborhood, it turns out that the number of changes in physical parameters which are fatal to life vastly outnumbers the changes that can be made which are compatible with life.”
What would you say is the ratio of livable to fatal universes? One in a hundred? One in a thousand? A million? A trillion? A gazillion? A Wolf! number?
Every multiverse theory I’m aware of says that there are an infinite number of universes in existence, past and present.
ANY number, no matter how small, divided into infinity gives infinity.
The Multiverse adds an actual infinity to the equations. That makes math do surprising things.
Hi, vjtorley. Getting back to the five other arguments against the multiverse:
“first, it merely shifts the fine-tuning problem up one level, as a multiverse capable of generating even one life-supporting universe would still need to be fine-tuned;”
Not really. Properties of the new universes are expected to be randomized. You just spew out a huge number of new randomized universes and the Law of Big Numbers will assure a few of them will be suitable for life. Precision is not only not needed, it would probably screw things up by preventing the wide range of universes necessary to get one that supports life.
(And if the number of all universes is infinite and any proportion of them are life supporting then there are an infinite number of life supporting universes.)
Second the multiverse hypothesis implies that a substantial proportion of universes were intelligently designed.
Could you please remind me why this is so? You may have explained it, but there’s a hundred messages to search through. Or is from that Davies’? If so, I’ve covered it above.
Third: Boltzmann Brains. Covered above.
Fourth: our universe should be much smaller. Is that the Boltzmann Brain again? I see that William Lane Craig argues that in “On Guard: Defending Your Faith With Reason and Precision”, “Second Scientific Argument: The Beginning of the Universe” If so, covered above.
Fifth: Elegant physics and math. Hardly convincing. I think the laws and math are elegant because they’re simple.
I probably missed some challenges, but its late. Please remind me if I did.
MatSpirit @ 102,
You said that you’d be on your knees at a 10% positive influence. I quoted you 1,200 scientific studies that did far more than that. But you broke your promise even as your mother suffers from Alzheimer’s. Try an experiment. Read the Bible. Pray for her seriously every day. Ask God to halt or reverse this horrible disease.
Are you willing to try for your mom’s sake? I’m just taking you at YOUR word.
You quoted me statistics on church attendence and religion leading to longer life. Mom’s a great believer and church attender. But the subject was prayer, which has been tested and failed.
Anything that gets you out of the house and meeting with others regularly will add to longevity. We’re social animals and we don’t do well alone. Joining a bowling league, taking a class or joining the Lions club works as well as going to church.
To get a few clues here, if you’re a homeless refugee your life will be shortened by years – and you won’t be going to church. If you’ve been bed-ridden for a decade your life expectancy is going to be shortened and you won’t go to church. If you live alone and spend all your time reading your Bible, nobody will see you fall with a heart attack and call an ambulance.
Do you think Mr. Koenig knows all this? Then why doesn’t he mention it? Ignorance or dishonesty? Since he’s probably religious, I’m betting the former. After all, if you find some facts that support your religeous beliefs, why investigate them further?
You’ve been informed of about twelve hundred (1,200) scientific studies from top tier universities on the remarkable effect of prayer . . .
and you can’t be bothered to pray for your own mom because, contrary to over a thousand scientific studies, you’ve decided all by yourself with all scientific evidence to the contrary that prayer doesn’t work?
Oh. My. Gosh.
I think you’ve just demonstrated to everyone what kind of person you are! You were given a ton of scientific evidence, (and I bet you haven’t even looked at one of them let alone a dozen). You promised that if the evidence of even a 10% effect were presented to you, you’d be on your knees.
Querious, if you’re going to recommend a book, please read it first to see if it actually says what you think it does. You can sample it here:
Good luck finding 1200 studies on the efficacy of prayer in this book. There’re a very few mentions of studies on the affects of prayer on the non-prayer – nothing to get excited about. One of the studies appears to have had the patient listen to a prayer on a CD – while under anaesthesia.
All I could find in the table of contents, the bits the web site lets me read and doing searches is the stuff I’ve been telling you about: live clean, have all the friends you can get, keep in frequent touch with them, get out of the house and be seen regularly, keep a positive attitude – thats the kind of stuff that helps keep you alive and healthy.
It works if you do it via religion, as in this book, and it works just as well if you do it by secular means, although you wouldn’t know it by reading “Handbook of Religion and Health.”
By the way, did you see the price of that thing? $155.99 for the e-book! For an academic publication! There’s a button if you want to but a paper version. I didn’t press it.
As far as I’m concerned that is a ridiculous expectation. Part of a straw-man argument. You even have a gender picked out for an entity in the image and likeness of all in creation, including female.
You sure have a dim view of what reasonable people believe. Not that I am saying all coming from UD is reasonable, if that were true then I would not need to be here right now.
Why am I not surprised that you’re now fabricating what I wrote? The only book I recommended was the Bible, along with some prayer for your mother.
I’m sure if you were honestly concerned about your mother, you might follow up with a few of the actual studies, which would provide you with the scientific evidence amassed from over a thousand studies.
You said a 10% difference would have you on your knees. However, apparently you instead prefer to find fault with the compilation.
Sorry, but you have no credibility. Locate a few of the actual studies, and do what you promised to do.
Querious Msg 110: “Why am I not surprised that you’re now fabricating what I wrote? The only book I recommended was the Bible, along with some prayer for your mother.”
Querious Msg 100: “Traditional religious beliefs have a variety of effects on personal health, says Koenig, senior author of the Handbook of Religion and Health, a new release that documents nearly 1,200 studies done on the effects of prayer on health.”
Except I didn’t write the passage, it was a quotation. There are over a thousand scientific studies verifying the effectiveness of prayer that you can pick from, but maybe you don’t care that much about scientific studies or your mom. Too bad.
Why don’t you try a scientific experiment of your own? Read the Bible and pray for your mom for maybe 20 minutes a day. Keep a diary. Start with one of the Gospels, such as John.
You know, you see it coming, you know what the reply is going to be, but when it actually comes you’re still disgusted.
You only quoted it. Well, what else can you say? Certainly not, “I was wrong.”
Re your assertion that God doesn’t heal Alzheimer’s, please see here: http://www1.cbn.com/doctors-am.....y-dementia
You might like to have a look at this article, too, especially the last paragraph: http://www.ltlmagazine.com/art.....are-part-2
I’ve presented evidence for the supernatural in two previous posts, where I discussed the levitations of St. Joseph of Cupertino, which were witnessed by thousands, on no less than 1,500 occasions, over a period of decades:
Now this is stunningly laughable–even for UD.
Please see this post of mine, which quotes from the relevant section of Koonin’s paper. The logic is not hard to follow:
I’m pretty sure that David Copperfield has performed for longer and witnessed by more people!
MatSpirit casts doubt on the Exodus:
For the umpteenth time, MatSpirit, “six hundred thousand” is a mistranslation. Dr. Bryant Wood writes:
Re your point that “we can find the campfires of individual Bedouin families living in the desert, but there is no sign of the entire Israeli nation living there for 40 years,” I have to ask: what percentage of the Arabian desert has been dug up? Close to zero. It’s like looking for a needle in a haystack – especially if the original population of the Israelites was closer to 20,000 than 2 million.
You haven’t read my posts, have you? Go and take a look. If David Copperfield could duplicate St. Joseph of Cupertino’s feats using 17th century technology than I’d be mighty impressed.
It is up to the ID movement to scientifically explain how any “jump too great for evolution to bridge” was accomplished and how it can be tested, so stay on the offensive. Your being willing to stay on the defensive makes it easy to grind you down with arguments that change the subject away from having to themselves scientifically explain the process involved.
I actually did read the part of the post about St. Joseph of Cupertino’s feats.
And I also read your suggestion that evidence is evidence– even if weak. For what it is worth, I think that David Copperfield’s performance is better evidence for the existence of the supernatural than the description of the floating monk.
And I find it amusing to no end that there is this suggestion that the christian god has nothing better to do than to suspend gravity a couple of times a day to make a monk fly every time he heard the names Jesus, Mary, or those of any number of saints. But surely there are some very serious and smart theologians that will explain why this makes perfect sense.
Querius @ 90,
I’ve fixed the link to Lydia McGrew’s article, No, Virginia, Science hasn’t debunked Adam. MatSpirit attempts to refute the article by engaging in two ad himinem attacks, noting that Dr. McGrew isn’t a biologist, and that she links to the work of Dr. Ann Gauger, whom he dismisses as having no credibility. Dr. Ann Gauger is a zoologist with a B.S. in biology from MIT and a 1989 Ph.D. from the University of Washington, where she studied cell adhesion molecules involved in Drosophila embryogenesis. As a post-doctoral fellow at Harvard she cloned and characterized the Drosophila kinesin light chain. Her research has been published in Nature, Development, and the Journal of Biological Chemistry. I think Dr. Gauger’s record speaks for itself.
The Flying Nun – America’s Sweetheart?
Some fictional story themes have a way of lasting through time. People who do not know that the “Flying Nun” was a fictional TV character could be persuaded to believe it’s a real story.
Re #124: And millions witnessed it, too.
What you’ve forgotten, MatSpirit, is that some infinities are bigger than others. The number of real numbers is larger than the number of integers, even though both are infinite.
If the number of fake universes containing minds with simulated experiences is larger than the number of real universes containing minds, then it’s rational to believe that you’re living in a fake universe. That was the point of physicist Paul Davies’ reductio ad absurdum argument against the multiverse.
You object that the creation of a fake universe would require a lot of computing resources. Please see Simon Bostrom’s original paper on the subject here. Here’s an excerpt:
Yes! It seems hard to argue against so many eye-witnesses.
I also recall this common and perhaps ancient money making illusion that only requires a sturdy pole with a seat coming out from the side, or from the top through the arm:
Amazing street performer!! Must see to believe!
From the description VJT provided the flying monk stayed in the same spot in the air for hours at a time, as do these performers. Even these days they are still popular with the public, and have thousands of witnesses who will agree that they were indeed somehow floating in the air.
I found a clip from the documentary where I first learned about the levitation trick:
Secret of levitation in India:
St. Joseph of Cupertino and others are mentioned here:
BBC – Secret of Levitation 2-6 Video
vjtorely @ 123,
Thanks for fixing the link.
For the detractors here, it appears that no amount of evidence can prevail against their unsupported assertions and profound ignorance.
Both Jesus of Nazareth and Leonardo da Vinci were accused by the dominant church authorities of their times of practicing black magic.
Virtually all major discoveries are met with hostility.
The difference between scientists who follow the data even when in opposition to the majority, and those who merely want to confirm their preconceptions and prejudices is aptly illustrated here:
That such behavior persists is lavishly illustrated in the previous posts.
Hi Gary Gaulin,
I found Joe Nickell’s attempted debunking of St. Joseph of Cupertino’s levitations utterly unconvincing. Nickell suggests that St. Joseph may have been exceptionally agile. What this overlooks is that he had the ability to stay up in the air for literally hours on end. And unlike the street performer you linked to, he wasn’t holding onto anything either. He had no stick in his hand. There were thousands of people who witnessed his levitations and gave sworn testimonies, so there can be no reasonable doubt as to the facts.
As for yogic flying, take a look at this video and you’ll see why it’s nothing of the sort: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NHwhGUo90jw
I’m sorry, but you’ll have to do better than that.
Hi vjtorley, welcome back. I’ll answer your questions in order:
114: Your patient, his wife, his congregation and doubtless many others prayed for him and he didn’t get any better. Then they changed his nutrition and he was cured. Sounds like prayer failed.
The nun story says that one in two people suffer from Alzheimers if they live long enough. So did one out of two nuns. No cures despite a lot of prayers. The last paragraph thanks the nuns for their cooperation. I thank them too.
115: I read your original St. Cupertino messages with great … interest. So he was seen levitating 1500 times? That reminds me of the 500 people who saw Jesus alive after death – except that turns out to be some unidentified person telling Paul that 500 unidentified people saw Jesus at some unidentified location at some unidentified time doing something undescribed. Not very authorative.
As for the church, it seems they responded to these allegedly widely witnessed miracles by putting the poor man under virtual house arrest and forbidding him to have contact with people. If the miracles were genuine, you’d expect a little more enthusiasm from the Church.
But of course, we have signed documents from people who swear to the truth of all this levitation. We also have signed statements from Volkswagon that their diesels pass all emission tests. VW has a pretty good reputation. I’ll bet that most of their people are basically honest. So it seems that even well respected institutions run by basically honest people can occasionally produce outright self serving lies. What a surprise.
117: Let’s save this for another message.
119: On the “mistranslation” of “eleph”: I checked several different Bible translations at biblegateway.com. They all say six hundred thousand. Apparently none of them are aware of any translation problems.
Your Dr. Wood indicates it was a large number – “Finally the word became a technical term for a military unit of considerable size”. That sounds like a thousand to me, but say it’s only 500. That’s still a million Israelis entering the country. Any archeological signs of them? Apparently not. Dr. Wood says, “…the urban population in the highlands where the Israelites settled remained approximately the same as it was prior to the Conquest…”
As Dr. Woods says, “The number of Israelites who left Egypt at the time of the Exodus is a vexed problem.”
How much of the Arabian desert has been dug up? Enough to find individual Bedouin campfires from the period. But no sign of a tribe of even 20,000. Somewhere in the Books of Moses, there are some rather explicit orders for how to live in the wilderness. It includes instructions on placing the privies. Imagine 20,000 people digging up the ground for their privies every day for 40 tears. That would be hard to miss. Especially since they would be concentrated around the few oasis. Wonder where they are.
Vjtorley in 123: “MatSpirit attempts to refute the article by engaging in two ad himinem attacks, noting that Dr. McGrew isn’t a biologist, and that she links to the work of Dr. Ann Gauger, whom he dismisses as having no credibility.
Dr. McGrew tells us herself that she’s not a biologist. Please dont blame me for passign it on. Dr. Gauger has no credibility. She lost it when she left science and hired on to the Discovery Institute. Now her job is to refute evolution.
In this case she does that by plucking a single paper from the field (one writen by a Christian, incidently), nit picking it to death, and using tortured logic to ‘prove’ that all the variations we see today might have come from just two parents …
… four to six million years ago, when the ancestors of modern humans first split from the chimps!
Our ancestors weren’t humans back then, just another tribe of chimps. But who cares anyway when Adam and Eve are dated to circa 4000 BC?
What a train wreck! But I do congratulate Dr. McGrew for linking to a real authority.
Vjtorley: “What you’ve forgotten, MatSpirit, is that some infinities are bigger than others. The number of real numbers is larger than the number of integers, even though both are infinite.”
Yes, Aleph null and all that. I don’t see your point here.
As for the fake universe argument, we’ve all been idiots, you, me and Davies.
Suppose there is no multiverse. Suppose there’s just this one universe, the one we live in.
Now suppose somebody builds a fake universe. That means a person can’t be sure if he’s living in a fake universe or the real one.
Think René Descartes lying unconscious while an evil demon feeds him sensations of a fake universe.
How about Muslim levitation? In the time period we are discussing just about all mainstream religions were reporting such miracles, witnessed by too many people to not be true.
And apparently Buddhists still levitate on a regular basis:
Levitation (siddhi/occult ability)
Where levitation is used to indicate religious truth then the most modern evidence greatly favors Buddhists, and from other religions.
So do you believe or disbelieve the levitation demonstrated in the video? Was it real or fake?
No one can levitate against 9.8 m/sec force. Either the levitations are illusion or the reporting is false. No amount of meditation or trance can reduce body’s density and no anti-gravity force can be concentrated in an area to lift a body. If you believe diamagnetic force would have lifted the saints,remember 40 Tesla magnetic force is required to lift a body, which is 1.25*10^6 times Earth’s magnetic field.
Nice camera work, eh? lol.
I would need more evidence than the camera work. Anyone want to volunteer to go there to set up a portable enclosure with sensors all around it?
GaryGaulin @ 138,
Don’t try to promote unscientific thinking. You know very well that it is fake.
No one can levitate against 9.8 m/sec force. Either the levitations are illusion or the reporting is false. No amount of meditation or trance can reduce body’s density and no anti-gravity force can be concentrated in an area to lift a body. If you believe diamagnetic force would have lifted the saints,remember 40 Tesla magnetic force is required to lift a body, which is 1.25*10^6 times Earth’s magnetic field.
Well Me_Think, I did not double check your calculations but yes I would say that the science indicates that it’s an illusion. That though does not explain how it works. Your theory?
It is obviously a variation of fork lift trick with, may be, a simple wooden platform being operated with levers by some hapless junior monk sitting behind the curtain – notice the shake of the platform when the monk starts levitatation. Note that the robe obscures the platform. If the levitation was real, they would have four cameras – front, back and both sides recording the Monk levitating. It is clever of the monk to have all those lamps to prevent the camera from circling around him. He obviously is street smart!
Maybe this man knows?
man levitates on americas got talent
Me_Think @ 136:
“No one can levitate against 9.8 m/sec force.”
Well, no one without super intelligence and super scientific knowledge can raise himself from the dead, which is far more difficult than mere levitation, that is, if we believe the written witnesses of the Judaeo-Christian scripture.
Slick intelligent people were not initially chosen to spread the fact that people were willing to stake their lives on such mystical experiences of mind-blowing proportions. Except for one disciple, all ran, and disowned Jesus. But after seeing the impossible, a dead raised himself from the dead, they must have realised what a constrained ittle life this is in contrast to such mysteries. Indeed, at Pentecost, the point was, the disciples were more or less uneducated people, yet understanding every language. Without a doubt, the basis of the Judaeo-Christian religion is the mystical experience: historically based from Sinai.
The choice: a God-Man who believes he created in six days and died to redeem the effects of two creatures that infect us. Or, a theoretical unprovable brainless explosion; an undirected, uncoordinated cosmic firework display, lit in no space-time, triggered by chance, which explosively created all physical laws and cosmic order.
From which, brainless blind copying errors, in cell form, arose from dead matter, generated from dust/minerals and a touch of lightning, having the illusion of the appearance of design. That first life form, in turn, had to ‘levitate’ or ‘lever’ itself into another life form requiring a mate and requiring more informational effort than the prior life form had: a form of none mystical Darwinian ‘levitation’ by common descent design: a mirage of the wizard of Downe UK; Darwin.
Darwinism is full of bells, whistles, and slight of hands. It can pull a new bone or date out of the evolutionist hat every time it needs to do so. That is not science; it is a pseudo-science containing a core fundamental belief, the unprovable: common descent from nothing.
Fact, no one has ever seen one life structure evolving into another unique life form by theoretical common descent.
Fact, after the resurrection and at the ascension, a number of people witnessed a new evolution, still with the limits of the original design in the image of God; a dual life form that is able to function in the dimension of the spirit and the physical; physical time and eternal time, and levitate into apparent ‘nothing.’
“No one can levitate against 9.8 m/sec force.” Not unless the creator of those laws suspends them locally.
Thankfully the Theory of Intelligent Design only needs to complement Genesis. It’s then for Christians, Muslims, Jews and others who find Genesis inspiring.
Iffy miracles that came after the origin of Adam & Eve are beyond what the theory is premised for. It’s best to leave these issues up to respective theologians. Going past that point has a way of making many enemies much like Galileo did, by trying to be in charge of religion too.
In my opinion Charles Darwin’s “evolution by natural selection” theory is easily enough antiquated. But it does not help to repeat what we already read hundreds of times and I within reason already agree with.
It is very counter productive to present levitation and similar religious miracles as scientific evidence for how intelligent cause works. You only need to follow the scientific evidence that exists in biology from self-similar levels of multicellular, cellular, molecular genetic intelligence, which is powered by the repeatable (as per at least computer science “deterministic”) behavior of matter that does not need to suspend its own behavioral laws to create intelligent life throughout the universe. You have to start where science allows, go from there.
GaryGaulin @ 142
This trick is quite common. It is variation of this with some modification.The guy had a hip harness which is apparent by the way he walks off the stage.The collapse of support stick would have been by a lever hidden in the ‘stick’.
From Msg 117:
Show me the steps primitive life took to a DNA based reproductive system and show me which step contains a jump too great for evolution to bridge.
(vjt) Please see this post of mine, which quotes from the relevant section of Koonin’s paper. The logic is not hard to follow:
It’s just as I suspected. Koonin believes that life has to start out with a highly complex and accurate reproduction system, one using molecules made of hundreds of atoms. He believes this system must have assembled itself randomly and because of its complexity, he thinks such self assembly is so rare that it would never happen in this universe, so you need a multiverse containing a huge number of universes before one of them is likely to randomly assemble it. You hear this idea all the time from the YEC and ID camps and nowhere else that i know of until Dr. Koonin came along.
Everybody else in the Origin Of Life field thinks life started as a much smaller molecule and then gradually evolved the modern RNA + DNA system a few bits at a time.
This would explain why Dr. Koonin’s book and paper were so widely ignored. Honestly, every reference to Koonin I’ve ever seen comes from the YEC-ID camp. It made no impression whatsoever on the OOL community that I know of.
mw @ 143
First off, there was no explosion (Big Bang is inflation). Secondly,there are hundreds of religions with thousands of God.All have their own story of how universe and human race was created by their God . The stories don’t match. Do you realize that an omnipotent and omniscient God(s) is far more complicated hypothesis to explain than simple evolution?
That’s a wrong notion. The entire Earth’s mass hardly affects space-time curvature. There is no way to change the curvature locally. Have a gander at Einstein Field equation and tell me how you can modify the stress energy tensor (other terms are constants) to affect gravity locally. The creator has to change something there, but there is nothing which can be changed there to affect gravity locally.
To change the gravity (not locally) from 9.8 m/sec to say 3.9 m/sec, about 3.6×10^24 Kg of Earth has to be gutted out!
((6.67*10^-11)* 2.38002*10^24)/(6.38*10^6)^2, so the Earth has to be relieved off 5.98*10^24 - 2.38002*10^24 Kg= 3.59998*10^24 Kg. Of course, over 40 Tesla magnetic force can be created locally to lift human body by diamagnetism. Forget the heat generated from such large magnetism, in the vicinity of such miracle, you will see all kinds of creatures from frogs to lizards to insects – all charred due to heat – floating along with the saint/human. It would be a revolting sight.
Thanks Me_Think for your reply.
“Of course, over 40 Tesla magnetic force can be created locally to lift human body by diamagnetism. Forget the heat generated from such large magnetism, in the vicinity of such miracle, you will see all kinds of creatures from frogs to lizards to insects – all charred due to heat – floating along with the saint/human. It would be a revolting sight.”
Impressive figures; equally, a person materialising through a closed upper room would be impressive.
However, in relation to “charred due to heat.”
In England, Doreen Irvine, at the time, queen black witch, (apparently we have covens in England) reported in her book, she could levitate, and walk through six-foot high flames, in the middle Lucifer materialised. “My ability to levitate four or five feet was very real. It was not a hoax. Demons aided me.” At much cost, she later became a Christian. (From Witchcraft to Christ, p. 99)
“A revolting sight” indeed; Satan levitating in flame.!
Clearly, if we believe such, then occult forces can also manipulate gravitational time-space effects. Perhaps we may like to join a coven and draw a pentacle or two in order to test her claims! But that is ill-advised, to say the least.
However, I feel your impressive equations, may have an underlying purpose; to discredit the resurrection and the ascension believed by many.
Jesus locally altered physical laws by demonstrating an unknown intelligent power: a super science. However, at that moment in history, Jesus was God in the flesh: he said he was “I am” hence equal to Yahweh in essence: the main reason for the crucifixion.
As for your correcting my figure of speech “fireworks” as an expression for what happened at some theoretical Big Bang, do you have a spare cosmos to test the Big Bang while knowing full well the Big Bang as a light time travel problem of its own, and that Guthe’s model is an add-on to make the theory work.
As for you saying evolutionism is more believable than creation in six days. Well, the God-Man believed it, and reportedly, he really did some impressive things beyond the scope of ordinary theory and science.
I would agree, yes, creation in six days really does look foolish. If it really is foolish, Jesus died believing a silly thing, in fact, a silly God for having the power and intelligence to see today from all eternity, but then did not have the guts to say he created by evolution in according with consensus theory.
However, the impetus for the Judaeo-Christians scriptures always, always, starts with a localised or individual mystical experience of some description: a single supernatural event, given by an intelligent power.
There are super intelligent patterns at work.
I think you are right, or at least darn close.
It seems like the more you see him walk around with the stick/cane the easier it becomes to (during the performance) miss that somewhat obvious clue.
Matspirit says says it’s a multiverse…
1. Do you have proof for this alledged multiverse?
2. Do you understand the problem of a multiverse? If it is true then everything is true…. Batman, Ewoks, Jason and Jesus…. nothing is false and science is pointless.
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