Intelligent Design

Miracles

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When asked if I believe in miracles I reply yes, and that I know of one for sure — on the grandest scale imaginable. What is a miracle? It is an event with no naturalistic explanation or cause. The event of the origin of the universe is, by definition, a miracle, since matter, energy, space and time (nature) did not exist to cause it. By definition, the universe had a super(beyond or outside of nature)natural cause.

Concerning the origin of the universe, I get frustrated that almost no one ever makes an obvious point when debating atheists who challenge, “Who designed the designer?” Matter, energy, space, and time came into existence at the birth of the universe. (Matter and energy are two manifestations of the same phenomenon, as are space and time. These are just two of Einstein’s great insights that are no longer disputed even amongst the most secular physicists.)

Language becomes difficult at this point, because one cannot reference a time before time began. “Before the origin of the universe” has no meaning, because “before” implies a point on the time line of the physical universe.

This simple logic leads to the following conclusion: The cause of the universe does not have, and cannot have, a cause. It has no past (or present, or future, all points on the time line of the physical universe), and therefore no history or point of origin. With this in mind, asking “Who designed the designed the designer?” is as pointless as asking, “Where is an airplane on the ground when it is in the air?”

After much reflection I finally realized that the best way to describe the cause of the universe is: the great I AM.

37 Replies to “Miracles

  1. 1
    tribune7 says:

    Well said, Gil

  2. 2
    GilDodgen says:

    Dear tribune7,

    As you know, I am a former militant Dawkins-style atheist. Fortunately, at one point in my life I realized that I could no longer conjure up enough irrational blind faith in the transparently absurd to remain so.

  3. 3
    bornagain77 says:

    Miracles
    by Walt Whitman
    Why, who makes much of a miracle? As to me, I know of nothing else but miracles, Whether I walk the streets of Manhattan, Or dart my sight over the roofs of houses toward the sky,
    Or wade with naked feet along the beach just in the edge of the water,
    Or stand under trees in the woods,
    Or talk by day with anyone I love, or sleep in the bed at night with anyone I love,
    Or sit at table at dinner with the rest, Or look at strangers opposite me riding in the car,
    Or watch honey bees busy around the hive of a summer forenoon, Or animals feeding in the fields,
    Or birds, or the wonderfulness of insects in the air,
    Or the wonderfulness of the sundown, or of stars shining so quiet and bright,
    Or the exquisite delicate thin curve of the new moon in spring;
    These with the rest, one and all, are to me miracles, The whole referring, yet each distinct and in its place.
    To me every hour of the light and dark is a miracle, Every cubic inch of space is a miracle, Every square yard of the surface of the earth is spread with the same, Every foot of the interior swarms with the same. To me the sea is a continual miracle, The fishes that swim–the rocks–the motion of the waves–the ships with the men in them, What stranger miracles are there?
    http://www.internal.org/Walt_Whitman/Miracles

    In the last line Walt Whitman asked what stranger miracles are there?

    For me, I found a far stranger miracle than the miracles swarming around us, in the fact that the creator of all these miracles around us is willing to have a real, tangible, personal relationship with each of us, through Christ, if we are willing. I can truly think there can be no greater miracle than to have a relationship with God and to be considered a part of the family of God in that I am now called a child of God, by none other than God Himself.

  4. 4
    Retroman says:

    You fail to see the upshot of your own argument. “Causation” is a concept that is only meaningful in this universe. Causation results from an inference made about a certain relationship between matter and time. So when none of these things existed, neither did causation.

    The “who designed the designer” argument is rightfully given in response to a theist who claims that the universe had to have a cause. But claiming that the universe had to have a cause is an illogical statement, because causation has no meaning before the universe came into being. It is not at all obvious that the universe required a cause.

    Hence your conclusion– “After much reflection I finally realized that the best way to describe the cause of the universe is: the great I AM”– does not follow.

    So it is indeed logically correct to ask who designed the designer to a theist who claims that the universe needed a cause. You try to perform a sleight of hand and claim that the universe needed a non-material, non-temporal cause, but the concept of causation relies on matter and time. If you are willing to divorce causation from matter and time, then you make yourself responsible for explaining the cause of your immaterial designer, or else you’re back to special pleading.

  5. 5
    tribune7 says:

    Fortunately, at one point in my life I realized that I could no longer conjure up enough irrational blind faith in the transparently absurd to remain so.

    Yup. Something to think about: a culture that believes there is no underlying purpose and that everything is by accident, is doomed, and the culture that holds that view is the loudest, most grasping, most violent, most materialist and most blatantly obvious culture in the West.

    There is another culture, however, that exists quietly but unashamedly along side it. Its members know there is a purpose to existence and suffering, and that God exists and is love and is good, and that His will will prevail.

    These are the meek. Take a guess as to who is going to inherit.

  6. 6
    Lenoxus says:

    It’s weird; normally this point is made against the Cosmological Argument — namely to say that it is nonsense to ask what caused the Universe, period. It’s interesting that it can be flipped around that way.

    Matter and energy are two manifestations of the same phenomenon, as are space and time. These are just two of Einstein’s great insights that are no longer disputed even amongst the most secular physicists.

    The word “even” here suggests that these facts were more readily accepted, or even anticipated, by theists. I have trouble imagining the facts in question causing trouble for either theism or atheism.

    After much reflection I finally realized that the best way to describe the cause of the universe is: the great I AM.

    And you didn’t do a half-bad job, Gil! 😉

  7. 7
    GilDodgen says:

    I have trouble imagining the facts in question causing trouble for either theism or atheism.

    I wasn’t clear enough here. The point is that just as space came into existence with the origin of the universe, so time must have. This provides a powerful argument in favor of an uncaused first cause, which is secularism-unfriendly. If time had a beginning then the cause of the universe has no past, so the designer could not have been designed.

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    Lenoxus you stated:

    “I have trouble imagining the facts in question causing trouble for either theism or atheism.”

    Let’s see, the atheists postulated a eternal material basis from which everything in the universe randomly emerged, and thus he is now left with absolutely no material framework to work with since all energy/material, time/space came into being at the big bang. Whereas the Theists has always maintained that all that which is visible was created by that which is invisible.

    1 Timothy 1:17
    Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.

    Colossians 1:16
    For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

    2 Corinthians 4:18
    So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.

    And exactly why doesn’t this cause concern for the atheists Lenoxus?

    You state it is nonsense to find out what is before the big bang. Unfortunately that only applies to the materialists-atheists who is looking for a material answer despite the fact there is no material left for him to look to. As for myself, I find I can readily draw several lines of scientific evidence from quantum mechanics, supporting the theistic position, showing the validity of John 1:1, i.e. Information, The Word, as the uncaused cause, and to further trouble the atheists for which you don’t think trouble is warranted.

  9. 9
    Lenoxus says:

    This provides a powerful argument in favor of an uncaused first cause, which is secularism-unfriendly.

    Well, sure, in the same sense that ethics is secularism-unfriendly — that is, solely in the repeated assertions of theists.

    Yes, obviously, the Universe either had an uncaused first cause, an infinite chain of prior causes, a self-cause, or some mixture of those. None of this calls for an Intelligent Cause any more than it calls for a Geometric Cause (the Prime Pentagon) or an Arboreal Cause (the Ultimate Ulmus).

    Anyway, you seem to have no trouble assuming that the Designer existed before time, and caused time (along with the rest of the Universe). I won’t comment on whether that is coherent in and of itself, but merely point out that it seems to contradict your central argument. If something-causing-the-Designer is nonsense because it would have to have occurred before time, then so is something-causing-time nonsense.

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    Lenoxus, philosophers have been prattling off high sounding rhetoric for ages. So instead of debating philosophy let’s see what the actual evidence warrants for the “uncaused cause” of the universe:

    Explaining Information Transfer in Quantum Teleportation: Armond Duwell †‡ University of Pittsburgh
    Excerpt: In contrast to a classical bit, the description of a qubit requires an infinite amount of information. The amount of information is infinite because two real numbers are required in the expansion of the state vector of a two state quantum system (Jozsa 1997, 1) — Concept 2. is used by Bennett, et al. Recall that they infer that since an infinite amount of information is required to specify a qubit, an infinite amount of information must be transferred to teleport. http://www.cas.umt.edu/phil/fa.....lPSA2K.pdf

    Thus the base definition of a photon is infinite information:

    As well, “pure transcendent information” is now shown to be “conserved”. (i.e. it is shown that all transcendent information which can possibly exist, for all possible physical events, past, present, and future, already must exist since transcendent information exercises dominion of energy which cannot be created or destroyed by any “material” means. i.e. First Law of Thermodynamics)

    Further note:

    Mass becomes infinite at the speed of light, thus mass will never go the speed of light. As well, distance in direction of travel will shrink to zero for mass at the speed of light (i.e. the mass would disappear from our sight if it could go the speed of light.). For us to hypothetically travel at the speed of light, in this universe, only gets us to first base as far as quantum teleportation is concerned. That is to say, traveling at the speed of light only gets us to the place where time, as we understand it, comes to complete stop for light, i.e. gets us to the eternal, “past and future folding into now”, framework/dimension of time. This higher dimension “eternal” inference for the time framework of light is warranted because light is not “frozen within time” yet it is shown that time, as we understand it, does not pass for light.

    “I’ve just developed a new theory of eternity.”
    Albert Einstein
    http://www.rd.com/your-america.....176-2.html

    “The laws of relativity have changed timeless existence from a theological claim to a physical reality. Light, you see, is outside of time, a fact of nature proven in thousands of experiments at hundreds of universities. I don’t pretend to know how tomorrow can exist simultaneously with today and yesterday. But at the speed of light they actually and rigorously do. Time does not pass.” – Richard Swenson

    Light and Quantum Entanglement Reflect Some Characteristics Of God – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4102182

    Also, hypothetically traveling at the speed of light in this universe would be instantaneous travel for the person going at the speed of light. This is because time does not pass for them, but, and this is a big but; this “timeless” travel is still not instantaneous and transcendent to our temporal framework/dimension of time, i.e. Speed of light travel, to our temporal frame of reference, is still not completely transcendent of our framework since light appears to take time to travel from our perspective. In information teleportation though the “time not passing”, eternal, framework is not only achieved in the speed of light framework/dimension, but also in our temporal framework/dimension. That is to say, the instantaneous teleportation/travel of information is instantaneous to both the temporal and speed of light frameworks/dimensions, not just the speed of light framework. Information teleportation/travel is not limited by time, nor space, in any way, shape or form, in any frame of reference, as light is seemingly limited to us. Thus “pure information” is shown to be timeless (eternal) and completely transcendent of all material frameworks/dimensions. Moreover, concluding from all lines of evidence we have now examined; transcendent, eternal, infinite information is indeed real and the framework in which It resides is the primary reality (highest dimension) that can exist, (in so far as our limited perception of a primary reality, highest dimension, can be discerned). Logic also dictates “a decision” must have been made, by the “transcendent, eternal, infinite information” from the primary timeless (eternal) reality It inhabits, in order to purposely create a temporal reality with highly specified, irreducible complex, parameters from a infinite set of possibilities in the proper sequential order. Thus this infinite transcendent information, which is the primary reality of our reality, is shown to be alive. The restriction imposed by our physical limitations of us ever accessing complete infinite information to our temporal framework/dimension does not detract, in any way, from the primacy and dominion of the infinite, eternal, transcendent, information framework/dimension that is now established by the quantum teleportation experiment as the primary reality of our reality. Of note: All of this evidence meshes extremely well with the theistic postulation of God being infinite and perfect in knowledge.

    further note:

    Leading atheist Richard Dawkins has called people who believe in God delusional. Yet, people who are delusional resolutely deny reality. Then the truth is that materialists, such as Richard Dawkins, are the ones who are delusional, in the purest sense of the word, since quantum mechanics has revealed, in no uncertain terms, that reality is a “consciousness centered” reality that precedes the 3 dimensional “material” reality in the first place. i.e. Quantum waves will not collapse, or “materialize”, to a “uncertain” 3-D state until a conscious observer is present. i.e. It is impossible for a 3 dimensional material reality to independently give rise to that which it is absolutely dependent on for its own reality in the first place. Consciousness must, of logical necessity, precede 3-D material reality.

    Dr. Quantum – Double Slit Experiment & Entanglement – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4096579/

    Wheeler’s Classic Delayed Choice Experiment:
    Excerpt: So it seems that time has nothing to do with effects of quantum mechanics. And, indeed, the original thought experiment was not based on any analysis of how particles evolve and behave over time – it was based on the mathematics. This is what the mathematics predicted for a result, and this is exactly the result obtained in the laboratory.
    http://www.bottomlayer.com/bot.....choice.htm

    Delayed choice quantum eraser
    http://onemorebrown.wordpress......um-eraser/

    of note; Consciousness must be INFORMED with local certainty to cause the wave to become a particle. We know from the Double Slit Experiment, with delayed erasure, that the simple fact of a detector being present is NOT sufficient to explain the wave collapse. If the detector results are erased after detection but before conscious analysis we see the wave form result instead of the particle result. This clearly establishes the centrality of consciousness to the whole experiment. i.e. The clear implication from the experiment is that consciousness is primary, and detection secondary, to the collapse of the wave function to a 3-D particle. Consciousness must precede 3-Dimensional material reality.

    John 1:1-3
    In the beginning, the Word existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. Through him all things were made, and apart from him nothing was made that has been made.

    etc.. etc..

  11. 11
    Nakashima says:

    Mr Dodgen,

    If time had a beginning then the cause of the universe has no past, so the designer could not have been designed.

    As Mr Leonoxus points out, you can’t use “cause” in a temporal sense about the universe and anything else, if time and the universe are co-extensive. The universe is an uncaused cause, itself.

  12. 12
    StephenB says:

    —-Lennoxus: “Yes, obviously, the Universe either had an uncaused first cause, an infinite chain of prior causes, a self-cause, or some mixture of those. None of this calls for an Intelligent Cause any more than it calls for a Geometric Cause (the Prime Pentagon) or an Arboreal Cause (the Ultimate Ulmus).”

    No. The first cause is the common source of all attributes, meaning that it must contain those attributes either “formally” [in the literal sense]or “eminently,” [in a higher of greater form]. Nothing can be in the effect that was not first present in the cause, and that certainly includes intelligence. This is the law of causality. Of course, as I point out regularly on this site, Darwinists, who think that something can come from nothing, that things can begin to exist without a cause, and that a thing can both be and not be, do not accept the reason’s first principles. If they did, they would not be Darwinists.

    That, by the way, is why I seldom discuss science with them. Why debate science, which is the search for causes, with someone who thinks that some things can exist without a cause? That would be like trying to track down a murder with someone who thinks that murder can exist without a murderer.

    —“Anyway, you seem to have no trouble assuming that the Designer existed before time, and caused time (along with the rest of the Universe). I won’t comment on whether that is coherent in and of itself, but merely point out that it seems to contradict your central argument. If something-causing-the-Designer is nonsense because it would have to have occurred before time, then so is something-causing-time nonsense.”

    You are confusing prior in time with logically prior. A designer that causes time must necessarily be independent and outside of time to cause it, which rules out the possibility of existing “before” time in a chronological sense. To say that nothing can cause the designer to exist is just another way of saying that the designer is self-existent, which is a necessary attribute of being a first cause.

  13. 13
    Lenoxus says:

    bornagain77: I assume, for the sake of fairness, you have also cross-checked the Vedas and the Quran to see which verses in those have been confirmed by science… or at least by “science”.

    StephenB:

    The first cause is the common source of all attributes, meaning that it must contain those attributes either “formally” [in the literal sense]or “eminently,” [in a higher of greater form]. Nothing can be in the effect that was not first present in the cause, and that certainly includes intelligence.

    But why is it intelligence, among what must be millions of things in “the effect”, that is said to particularly characterize the First Cause? Why not say that the First Cause was

    … a polyhedron?
    … an athlete?
    … the Epitome of Malice?
    … a tree without wood or leaves?
    … a flagellum?

    (Remember, that last one remains the main symbol of That Which Must Have Been Designed. By your argument that the First Cause was intelligent because intelligence cannot be explained by a material cause, one could also assert that the First Cause was some sort of flagellum. After all, if law-plus-chance can’t account for it, the flagellum must have always existed…)

    To say that nothing can cause the designer to exist is just another way of saying that the designer is self-existent, which is a necessary attribute of being a first cause.

    I personally agree that “Who designed the designer?” is, by itself, a poor atheist argument, but for a different reason than the OP: namely, that the Cosmological Argument solely deals with things with beginnings, and God is said to have no beginning.

    However, the OP seemed to be trying to argue against the logical possibility of a sequence of pre-universe Demiurges, on the basis that they would have to be created before time, and that (according to my interpretation of the OP) nothing which is not temporally prior can be logically prior. My point was simply that if the being that created our Universe could not have been created because this causation would have to have occurred before time, it logically follows that the being that created/caused our Universe could not have created/caused our Universe.

    I like Gil’s “plane on the ground in the air” way of phrasing it — it’s similar to my personal favorite way of discussing the Universe’s origin, which is that “Before the Universe” is like “North of the North Pole”.

  14. 14
    Lenoxus says:

    Oh, I seem to have lost a paragraph where I said that I have no problem with the distinction between logically prior and temporally prior; I was just observing that the OP seemed, for the sake of its argument, not to distinguish them.

  15. 15
    GilDodgen says:

    Dear Stephen,

    You are far more insightful and eloquent than I, and express my ideas far more effectively.

    I should point out that I have an undeniably valid excuse for my deficiencies. I was intellectually crippled for 43 years by an irrational blind faith in atheistic materialism. I’m 59 now, so I’ve only been capable of thinking rationally for the past 16 years. This has required a lot of catching up.

  16. 16
    bornagain77 says:

    Lenoxus, and have you cross checked your atheistic materialism to Theism, within the scientific, to see which philosophy is true? I have!

    Materialism compared to Theism within science
    http://docs.google.com/Doc?doc....._5fwz42dg9

    Are you content to scoff in your smug overly confident, superior, manner, all the while being foundationally wrong in your grasp of reality?

    Romans 1:20
    For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.

    further notes:

    Proverbs 8:26-27
    While as yet He had not made the earth or the fields, or the primeval dust of the world. When He prepared the heavens, I was there, when He drew a circle on the face of the deep,

    This website has the complete working out of the math of Pi and e in the Bible, in the Hebrew and Greek languages for Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1:
    http://www.biblemaths.com/pag03_pie/

    Finely Tuned Big Bang, Elvis In The Multiverse, and the Schroedinger Equation – Granville Sewell – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4233012

    The universe is replete with transcendent information constants that have not varied one iota from the universes creation and have no material basis. In fact in direct contradiction to your materialistic philosophy they tell the material what to be and do. Though I will not bore you with the whole list I will show you one to drive the point home that transcendent information”, as postulated thousands of years ago in John 1:1, runs the show:

    Testing Creation Using the Proton to Electron Mass Ratio
    Excerpt: The bottom line is that the electron to proton mass ratio unquestionably joins the growing list of fundamental constants in physics demonstrated to be constant over the history of the universe.,,, For the first time, limits on the possible variability of the electron to proton mass ratio are low enough to constrain dark energy models that “invoke rolling scalar fields,” that is, some kind of cosmic quintessence. They also are low enough to eliminate a set of string theory models in physics. That is these limits are already helping astronomers to develop a more detailed picture of both the cosmic creation event and of the history of the universe. Such achievements have yielded, and will continue to yield, more evidence for the biblical model for the universe’s origin and development. http://www.reasons.org/Testing.....nMassRatio

    Now I haven’t look at all the so called holy books of the world, yet I do know the bible has the unique watermark of precisely fulfilled prophecy that should give even a hardened atheists like you severe pause: this one in particular,

    The Precisely Fulfilled Prophecy Of Israel Becoming A Nation In 1948 – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4041241

    Now I hope you will at least be fair with this evidence, but Lenoxus if not, I won’t loose any sleep if choose to continue to believe a lie. Sad, but I’ve done my best to help so I can do no more..

  17. 17
    StephenB says:

    Gil @13, I have never found even a hint of deficiency in your means of expression. Quite the contrary, your ability to explain science using metaphors and analogies is, for my part, unsurpassed.

  18. 18
    StephenB says:

    —lennoxus: “But why is it intelligence, among what must be millions of things in “the effect”, that is said to particularly characterize the First Cause? Why not say that the First Cause was
    … a polyhedron?
    … an athlete?
    … the Epitome of Malice?
    … a tree without wood or leaves?
    … a flagellum?”

    Do you really want to ask me why an continually-changing material entity cannot cannot serve as unchanging first cause?

    —“(Remember, that last one remains the main symbol of That Which Must Have Been Designed.”

    Don’t confuse the law of causality, which is a non-negotiable principle of rationality, with the inductive argument for intelligent design, which is a scienetific inference to the best explanation. The former is based on the certainly of logic; the latter is based on statistical probabilities. From a scientific perspective, nothing is a “must.”

    —“My point was simply that if the being that created our Universe could not have been created because this causation would have to have occurred before time, it logically follows that the being that created/caused our Universe could not have created/caused our Universe.”

    Yes, that is a very good point. On the other hand, Gils post acknowledges the same thing with this phrase:

    “Language becomes difficult at this point, because one cannot reference a time before time began. “Before the origin of the universe” has no meaning, because “before” implies a point on the time line of the physical universe.”

    So, it is evident that he was sensitive to the same point prior to anyone’s objection that a first cause cannot, strictly speaking, be said to be prior in time.

  19. 19
    Lenoxus says:

    bornagain77: I’m really, really sorry, but these days, I just can’t help but get smug when dealing with any view which holds any one religion or religious text to be truer than any other. Especially if I’m picking up a strong vibe that the believer in question thinks I will suffer after death for my non-belief. I find that particular view — which I absolutely admit I am groundlessly stuffing into your mouth — something worse than smug.

    So I’m just going to keep saying “Quran-Zohar-Book of Mormon” every time the Bible is quoted to me. As I see it, the only sensible position is to hold them as equal in validity, that is, that they’re all just books. And the really funny thing is that atheists like me keep getting told that believers in Biblical prophecy, etc, are all in the fringe, and True Religion is just a sort of spiritual pantheistic Deism.

    StephenB:

    Do you really want to ask me why an continually-changing material entity cannot cannot serve as unchanging first cause?

    Huh, lots of things are bundled into one here. First off, entities like polyhedra not “constantly-changing”. And I tried to anticipate that “material” point, which is why each of my examples apart from the flagellum are not material but abstract (or can be thought of abstractly). You see, the Great Tree Without Wood is a “tree” in the same sense that God is a “person” — in a totally abstract and basically-impossible-to-describe way. It is the Alpha and the Omega, and it is Such A Tree.

    Secondly, there is no particular reason for the first cause to be “unchanging”. Lots of philosophies, theologies and mythologies over the course of human history have in fact posited constantly-changing first causes, whether that cause is Chaos or Chi. It would seem to me that the first cause would at least have to be “fluid” enough (as opposed to truly unchanging) to cause at least one thing.

    So, it is evident that he was sensitive to the same point prior to anyone’s objection that a first cause cannot, strictly speaking, be said to be prior in time.

    Right — and I would agree also that by definition, a first cause is uncaused. However, I see nothing apart from Occam’s Razor ruling out the possibility of that first cause causing a finite series of proximate-cause designers, each causing the next in a way that is outside of time, and one of them causing the Universe. After all, if one cause can occur outside of time, so can many. I think, for the pure sake of argument, most would agree with that as a possibility (or does beyond-time have some sort of “cause limit”?).

  20. 20
    osteonectin says:

    Gil @ 13, StephenB @ 15:
    Don’t forget the remaining regulars Bornagain77, Jerry and Tribune7.

    Off topic: Where is KairosFocus?

  21. 21
    bornagain77 says:

    Lenoxus you state,
    “I’m really, really sorry, but these days, I just can’t help but get smug when dealing with any view which holds any one religion or religious text to be truer than any other. ,,,, Especially if I’m picking up a strong vibe that the believer in question thinks I will suffer after death for my non-belief.,,,”

    Well since this is a science site, let’s look at a study of foreign NDE’s (Near Death Experiences) to see if other foreign religions or “religious texts” help a person after this life, or if people in this culture may suffer for rejecting belief in the truth of Christ.

    Near-Death Experiences in Thailand – Todd Murphy:
    Excerpt:The Light seems to be absent in Thai NDEs. So is the profound positive affect found in so many Western NDEs. The most common affect in our collection is negative. Unlike the negative affect in so many Western NDEs (cf. Greyson & Bush, 1992), that found in Thai NDEs (in all but case #11) has two recognizable causes. The first is fear of ‘going’. The second is horror and fear of hell. It is worth noting that although half of our collection include seeing hell (cases 2,6,7,9,10) and being forced to witness horrific tortures, not one includes the NDEer having been subjected to these torments themselves. http://www.shaktitechnology.com/thaindes.htm

    A Comparative view of Tibetan and Western Near-Death Experiences by Lawrence Epstein University of Washington:
    Excerpt: Episode 5: The OBE systematically stresses the ‘das-log’s discomfiture, pain, disappointment, anger and disillusionment with others and with the moral worth of the world at large. The acquisition of a yid-lus and the ability to travel instantaneously are also found here.
    Episode 6: The ‘das-log, usually accompanied by a supernatural guide, tours bar-do, where he witnesses painful scenes and meets others known to him. They give him messages to take back.
    Episode 7: The ‘das-log witnesses trials in and tours hell. The crimes and punishments of others are explained to him. Tortured souls also ask him to take back messages to the living.
    http://www.case.edu/affil/tibe.....death.html

    etc.. etc..

    But what about the Near Death Experiences of hard core Atheists like yourself who live in a Judeo-Christian Culture you ask?

    Former Atheist Howard Storm’s Hellish NDE – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lF7AzxplsME

    Distressing Near-Death Experiences:
    The estimated incidence of distressing NDEs (dNDEs) for western cultures has ranged from 1% to 15% of all NDEs (Bonenfant, 2001).
    http://www.iands.org/nde_index.....ssing.html

    Dr Richard Kent M.D. speaks about his study of over 300 cases of near death experiences – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V_VcXLVvJVc

    etc.. etc..

    But you say you don’t believe in Near Death Experiences, or the soul, or the spirit, or life after death Lenoxus?

    The Day I Died – Part 4 of 6 – The NDE of Pam Reynolds – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4045560

    Blind Woman Can See During Near Death Experience – Pim Lommel – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/3994599/

    Kenneth Ring and Sharon Cooper (1997) conducted a study of 31 blind people, many of who reported vision during their NDEs. 21 of these people had had an NDE while the remaining 10 had had an out-of-body experience (OBE), but no NDE. It was found that in the NDE sample, about half had been blind from birth.
    http://findarticles.com/p/arti....._65076875/

    etc.. etc.. etc..

    You know Lenoxus, I’ve been through this stuff fairly thoroughly and find a consistent thread which is very disconcerting for atheists. As I said yesterday, I can’t make you be fair with the evidence, but at least I’ve done my part.

  22. 22
    Brent says:

    Lenoxus,

    How can you straight faced equate the Bible with, for example, the Book of Mormon, and still expect anyone to think you’ll give anything they say a fair intellectual shake before deciding whether it is right? It’s blatantly obvious you don’t care what anyone says, nor what the most basic research would clearly show, nor if logic and rationality are fully against your materialism and atheism.

    By the way, I’d just like to ask, are all books of equal import??? Of equal truth??? Really??? Wow!!! The miracle power of binding printed pages together and slapping a cover on them. Come on everyone, let’s write our own reality! We can change history! Yeah!

    I’ll shoot another arrow in the dark anyway . . .

    Your problem is obvious in post #11. You don’t care, again, for logic or rationality or plausibility. As long as you can imagine any scenario other than the most obvious, logical, rational, and plausible one that you really don’t want to be true, you think you are vindicating yourself and materialism and atheism.

  23. 23
    Seversky says:

    By pointing out that there are other religious texts apart from the Bible, Lenoxus is drawing attention to a fundamental question.

    Suppose an alien were to arrive on Earth and express an interest in learning about human culture. Before long, he would be confronted with religion. He might meet with representatives of the world’s faiths, each of whom would most likely try to convince him that theirs was the One True Faith. Each might impress him with their sincerity and fervor but how would he decide between them? Might he not conclude that the sheer number of such beliefs suggests that humans, possibly for good reasons, have a tendency to elevate myths to the status of religions over time?

    As for anything existing prior to the beginning of the Universe, assuming that time also began at that point, the concept is incoherent. The existence of time is entailed by the notion of priority. Sequences of events can only occur in time, indeed, that is how we recognize and measure time. If there is no time, nothing happens, not even God. To allow for something to precede our spacial and temporal Universe you would have to posit the existence of some sort of meta-time.

  24. 24
    Brent says:

    Concerning religions, Seversky, we are not aliens. We have access to and are, most of us, in possession of some degree of historical knowledge. But it was nice of you to bring in aliens to try to dismiss that pesky fact.

    Secondly, it would be just as rational for one to conclude that there must be one religion that was true out of the many. Why? Because men aren’t very good at making stuff up out of nothing—not even stories. When we have something to work with, however, we can rearrange it and do all sorts of fancy and creative stuff. Seriously! Think about it. I find it strange that when we create, for example sci-fi characters we cannot come up with anything that isn’t like something else. We jumble the parts, add some, subtract some . . . but we can still see an animal’s feature here, a human’s there, etc.

    The only things it seems to me that men create that are “unique” are so basic that we’d hardly be wise to take much pride in it. I suppose that abstract art is about as creative as man gets, but then the piece takes on the meaning and “shapes” that the viewer places in it, rather than gets from it.

    Christianity stands far above any other religion when it comes to historical accuracy—being validated by secular history and archeology, and being internally consistent.

  25. 25
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky,
    Special relativity shows that time, as we understand it, does not pass for light. Yet light moves to our frame of reference. i.e. it is not frozen within time as you presuppose it should from your reasoning. Reasoning further one is forced to conclude that light must exist in a higher dimension of time, a “eternal” dimension, in which our framework of time is but a subset.

  26. 26
    bornagain77 says:

    Seversky,
    As well it should be noted that the Bible is the only holy book in the world that has God working outside of space and time:

    The Scientific Evidence For The Big Bang – Michael Strauss PhD. – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4323668

    All the other holy books of the world have theirs gods working within space and time:

    As well it is simply astonishing how correct the Bible is on its cosmology thousands of years before we discovered evidence that they were true postulations: None less than Fred Hoyle recognized this fact:

    Hugh Ross PhD. – Transcendent Origin Of The Universe – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/4347185

    You probably will twist this evidence to whatever you can so as to avoid the direct implication of God, but the plain fact is atheistic materialism, which is your philosophy, was utterly, and completely wrong in its predictions, and should thus be relegated to the trash heap with the rest of the false religions of the world that made similar absurd postulations for origin of reality.

  27. 27
    GilDodgen says:

    Lenoxus: My point was simply that if the being that created our Universe could not have been created because this causation would have to have occurred before time, it logically follows that the being that created/caused our Universe could not have created/caused our Universe.

    You missed the point entirely. My assertion is not that causation could not have “occurred before” time began, but that something with no past does not begin to exist, and therefore must not be caused or designed. The universe has a past, and began to exist.

    Here is what I said, “The cause of the universe does not have, and cannot have, a cause. It has no past (or present, or future, all points on the time line of the physical universe), and therefore no history or point of origin.”

  28. 28
    StephenB says:

    —Lennoxus: “Secondly, there is no particular reason for the first cause to be “unchanging”.

    I will zero in on this error since it seems to be informing all the others. A thing cannot change itself, meaning something on the outside must change it. Example: If your coffee or tea is changing from tepid to hot, the flame on the stove must do the changing because it is the entity that contains the actual heat. Coffee cannot change itself from cold to hot. In fact, nothing at all can change itself. In keeping with that point, if the first cause could change, it would only be because something else was changing it, which means it would no longer be a first cause.

  29. 29
    StephenB says:

    —“Don’t forget the remaining regulars Bornagain77, Jerry and Tribune7.”

    I didn’t forget them. Both are indispensable. I was responding to a particular comment from one blogger.

  30. 30
    StephenB says:

    —Lennoxus: “Why not say that the First Cause was
    … a polyhedron?

    …… the Epitome of Malice?
    … a tree without wood or leaves?

    If you define a polyhedron [you didn’t define it] as a solid, then it obviously contains matter, which means that it is always changing and cannot be a first cause. If you define it as a concept, then it does not have in it the power of being.

    A tree without wood or leaves is not a tree. Words mean things.

    The epitome of Malice cannot be a first cause because malice is a bent toward evil, which, by definition, is a privation of the good–it has no substance of its own. Disease, which is an evil, for example, is a privation of a good, namely health. An attempt to make something deficient can hardly be the first source of all things.

    What is so disturbing about the idea of a Creator that would prompt you to make these kinds of stretches?

  31. 31
    StephenB says:

    —Lennoxus: “As for anything existing prior to the beginning of the Universe, assuming that time also began at that point, the concept is incoherent. The existence of time is entailed by the notion of priority. Sequences of events can only occur in time, indeed, that is how we recognize and measure time. If there is no time, nothing happens, not even God. To allow for something to precede our spacial and temporal Universe you would have to posit the existence of some sort of meta-time.”

    The universe did not begin IN time, but WITH time, which is another way of saying that to be prior in a causal sense is not necessarily to be prior in a chronological sense.
    If there was a point in time at which God created the universe, then God himself could not be timeless because he would have to have been waiting in time to execute the act. Points of time do not exist in a timeless state. God is eternal. There is no past, present, and future for God, nor can there be for any other concept of a first cause. Prior to creation, there were no intervals of time at all.

  32. 32
    Aleta says:

    StephenB: “A thing cannot change itself, meaning something on the outside must change it.”

    So what causes God to act? Or is God an exception to this rule?

  33. 33
    Nakashima says:

    If there was a point in time at which God created the universe, then God himself could not be timeless because he would have to have been waiting in time to execute the act. Points of time do not exist in a timeless state.

    There is also the possibility that another time-like dimension exists, and that God is infinite with respect to that dimension.

  34. 34
    Lenoxus says:

    bornagain77: I certainly acept NDEs. They are perhaps the most fascinating mind state I can think of. Weirdly, the very evidence you cite seems to bolster, not harm, the case that no religion is truer than any other when it comes to “afterlife” experiences. Instead, people have different religious experiences based on whichever culture they lived in. What is your point when you say:

    But what about the Near Death Experiences of hard core Atheists like yourself who live in a Judeo-Christian Culture you ask?

    Are you saying that since some atheists in Judeo-Christian cultures have Judeo-Christian NDEs — in contrast to other cultures, who have different NDEs — that’s solid evidence for Judeo-Christianity? It seems to me that if Christianity were and always had been the One True Faith, than all NDEs would be Christian, including those of people who had never before heard of Jesus. When European explorers first reached the Americas, why did they not encounter already-Christian cultures, built out of prophetic dreams?

    As it is, I personally wouldn’t be all too surprised to see Jesus on my deathbed — he’s a major figure in our culture, like Elvis, so he’s naturally floating in my subconscious. And in an intensely Christian culture, atheists are repeatedly told about hellfire, so of course a few of them are going to “experience” it when all their subconscious fears of it bubble to the surface during the mind-altering state that is an NDE.

    I’ve been through this stuff fairly thoroughly and find a consistent thread which is very disconcerting for atheists.

    If you are taking NDEs as “consistent”, I can’t help but disagree. They do have some interesting consistent features, such as a deep night-terror-like dread, the white light, and out-of-body experiences. However — apart from the possible dualistic interpretation of all psychological experience — NDEs pose no more problem to atheism/materialism than dreams do.

    Brent:

    How can you straight faced equate the Bible with, for example, the Book of Mormon, and still expect anyone to think you’ll give anything they say a fair intellectual shake before deciding whether it is right?

    How can you, with a straight face, dismiss what is a holy book for millions of people around the world? How do you know Moroni didn’t speak to Joseph Smith? Well, I certainly don’t know, but I’m fairly convinced that no, he did not. I am similarly convinced regarding the possible divine inspiration of the Bible.

    By the way, I’d just like to ask, are all books of equal import??? Of equal truth??? Really??? Wow!!! The miracle power of binding printed pages together and slapping a cover on them. Come on everyone, let’s write our own reality! We can change history! Yeah!

    This is where dichotamous thinking can get silly. Just because I think that no book is in any sense “divinely inspired” does not mean I’m forced to give all books (or all ideas) equal weight. Lots of books, including most of the “holy” texts I know, contain morsels of truth and wisdom. But no book is The Pathway to Trvth. And absolutely nothing is true “because” it’s in a book (apart from truths directly pertaining to the content of a book, of course).

    Again, on what grounds do you blithely dismiss the Book of Mormon? (It’s another testament of Jesus Christ, after all — it says so on the cover.) I feel like whatever grounds those are, they’re the same as mine; however, they could be quite different. (For example, perhaps you reject other faiths solely because your god and your holy text denounces them; if you were not a Christian, you would accept all other holy books as true.)

    Secondly, it would be just as rational for one to conclude that there must be one religion that was true out of the many. Why? Because men aren’t very good at making stuff up out of nothing—not even stories. When we have something to work with, however, we can rearrange it and do all sorts of fancy and creative stuff.

    Hey, this is a neat argument; I’ve never heard it before. Apparently, religion is just the sort of thing that people aren’t very capable of making up, because it doesn’t obviously derive from pre-existing observable phenomena.

    Of course, nearly all atheists would agree that religion very much does appear to derive from psychological and social observations. Consider how often people personify their cars, for example. Where did they get that? Where could it have come from? Well, one possibility is that cars really do have personalities, but the more reasonable possibilities are that there is something to our psychology, or our culture, or our biology which causes us to do this. Similarly, it’s not that difficult to imagine a culture personifying some natural phenomenon, such as thunderstorms, and making the personification either more intense or more abstract over time.

    StephenB:

    A thing cannot change itself, meaning something on the outside must change it. Example: If your coffee or tea is changing from tepid to hot, the flame on the stove must do the changing because it is the entity that contains the actual heat. Coffee cannot change itself from cold to hot. In fact, nothing at all can change itself. In keeping with that point, if the first cause could change, it would only be because something else was changing it, which means it would no longer be a first cause.

    Interesting take on the Prime Mover argument. Where does it put free will, however? Also, surely God can “change”; otherwise, he’d never do anything whatsoever, apart from “be the first cause”.

    If you define it as a concept, then it does not have in it the power of being.

    Sure it does. If it exists, it has the “power of being”. Unless only conscious entities have that “power”, in which case the conclusion has been bundled up as a premise. Why can only a conscious entity, with the “power of being”, be the first cause?

    A tree without wood or leaves is not a tree. Words mean things.

    What about a person without a body or brain? If that’s logically possible and coherent, than so is a tree that has been stripped of all merely-physical manifestations of treeness.

    What about a tree that is actually three trees?

    The epitome of Malice cannot be a first cause because malice is a bent toward evil, which, by definition, is a privation of the good–it has no substance of its own. Disease, which is an evil, for example, is a privation of a good, namely health.

    What exactly is pain — that is, nocireception — a privation of? As I see it, much, but not all, evil is privative. Death may be the absence of life, but grieving, one of its effects, is a presence more than it is an absence of something.

    An attempt to make something deficient can hardly be the first source of all things.

    Surely it is logically coherent for a universe to be caused by a being who intends for maximal evil. “Evil is a lack” does not cut it here. I mean, yes, a Creator bent on death and suffering would have to make some number of life forms in the first place, and life is arguably “good”. But that only prevents the logical possibility of an infinitely evil Creator, not a maximally evil one.

    All I’m doing here, of course, is turning the standard theme of theodicies — that an all-loving God is obligated to create a universe with the amount of seemingly-unjust suffering as ours has — on its head. It’s not original to me.)

  35. 35
    bornagain77 says:

    Lenoxus:
    And to what foundation do you make your appeal of validity to your claims for the “non-realness/dreamlike” aspect of NDE’s save for your hyper-skepticism. If I chose your route of establishing credence for a fact I could just as well say you are but a figment of my imagination, and simply deny any evidence you presented. Yet I did not chose your unreasonable route but chose to stay within the bounds of the scientific method by citing NDE studies of completely foreign cultures with no foundational knowledge of Christ, in which the Being of Bright Light was never witnessed but, horribly, instead, terrible scenes of hell that could have come straight from a southern Baptist pulpit, though the culture had never been exposed to biblical descriptions of hell? Why is this Lenoxus? I also referenced the double-slit delayed erasure experiment in which it is proven that consciousness must precede 3-D material reality. Yet it seems this repeatable experiment is of no importance to you. Why is this Lenoxus? I showed you a study that consistently showed blind people, many blind since birth, that could see during their NDE. This is exactly the result we would expect from Theistic premises, and completely contrary to you materialistic atheism. Why did this study not interest you? I could cite several more lines of empirical evidence, all of them consistent with the Theistic worldview of a soul for man, yet it appears you are not concerned for the science of this matter in the least but are most happily content to maintain your atheism no matter what deception of imagination you have to throw up as a smoke screen in order to avoid the obvious. And it is just not in this area that you are completely off the mark of science, In your rationale, if it can be called rational, for denying the argument for God from first cause, of Gil and StephenB, you state these as ludicrous smoke screens to possible solutions:

    Why not say that the First Cause was
    … a polyhedron?
    … an athlete?
    … the Epitome of Malice?
    … a tree without wood or leaves?
    … a flagellum?”

    Now I’ve laid out some of the empirics for this already, but let me be as clear as possible for you:

    The first cause we are looking for must be transcendent of space/time and must, at the very least, demonstrate dominion of matter/energy. The only known entity that has demonstrated both transcendence of space/time as well as dominion of matter/energy is the entity of transcendent information that we have witnessed in Quantum Mechanic experiments. Therefore transcendent information is the only known entity with causal power sufficient to generate the “effect” of the Big Bang, we are seeking solution to, in all its highly specified order. If you were consistent in your science you would at least admit this obvious fact and would try to maintain your materialistic atheism by saying the transcendent information that created this universe was ‘not alive”, but alas the empirics have already failed you on that route as well.
    Thus of what point is it to argue with someone who gives any imagination he may conjure in his mind as much weight as that that is proven to be true? It is certainly of no value to me!

  36. 36
    Aleta says:

    I see Lenoxus in 33 has made some good points about this “first cause” issue. I like his points, and will be interested if anyone responds.

  37. 37
    Lenoxus says:

    bornagain77:

    NDE studies of completely foreign cultures with no foundational knowledge of Christ, in which the Being of Bright Light was never witnessed but, horribly, instead, terrible scenes of hell that could have come straight from a southern Baptist pulpit, though the culture had never been exposed to biblical descriptions of hell?

    I know it sounds like I’m trying to have it both ways here, and maybe I am, but… if persons who “had never been exposed to biblical descriptions of hell” go there anyway, as a result of their nonbelief… that’s very strong evidence against a loving God. While perhaps the occasional pagan is truly evil enough to deserve a “Baptist” hell, I would assert that most of them are virtuous. So why didn’t a single one witness Jesus or St. Peter?

    And why do so many of them instead describe visions that correspond to their religions, such as talking to Yama, the Tibetan lord of death? Here is an atheist take on NDEs, which I believe to be very thorough. One of my favorite parts from it deals with the NDEs of the Kaliai, some of which depict the afterlife as an industrialized city whose inhabitants perform building and factory work, in keeping with that people’s cargo beliefs.

    As for witnessing hellfire, Christianity did not in fact develop the concept of an afterlife of firey punishment, so it’s not really that incredible for what we might call “pre-Christians” to witness such a thing.

    As for the blind NDEs, that one is absolutely fascinating. Of course, confirming whether a blind person actually experienced vision is difficult, but apart from that, I really have no great answer. I’m reminded of one of my favorite passages of Mark.

    He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Jesus sent him home, saying, “Don’t go into the village.”

    When it comes to NDEs, I have to ask… does there exist a real dimension in which people frequently fly, fall, or find themselves forced to take tests for which they haven’t studied, while naked or in their underwear? Yes, it may sound absurd, but people do in fact visit such a dimension regularly. Do dreams constitute evidence for such a dimension… or are you, with your hyper-skepticism, going to consider it more plausible that they are ultimately hallucinatory (albeit very interesting hallucinations)?

    While still on the subject of NDEs, I feel I should correct something I said earlier: it looks like a sense of dread is not a common feature of them, but rather a sense of peacefulness and being loved, although some cases do indeed involve terror. What I was thinking of was a different feature interestingly common to many NDEs, which is an unpleasant buzzing noise. No idea what that’s about.

    Anyway, as for all the quantum mysticism… all I can say is, hey, if the supernatural has predictable quantum effects, that’s great! It means it can be empirically studied. (Although some would argue that it is no longer supernatural in that case.) But the really amazing thing about quantum physics is that most of its established discoveries so far, such as particle-wave duality and Heisenberg uncertainty, were not anticipated by anybody: not scientists, not mathematicians, not New Agers, and certainly not the Bible or theologians.

    Yes, the Bible contains passages which are vague enough that one could argue that they predict quantum mechanics. So does Nostradamus and your horoscope. If anyone actually manages to use theology or mysticism to predict the behavior of subatomic particles, not just make vague pronouncements about how we’re All One in the Mind of the Alpha, and we are Five in the Soul of the Omega, well, that will be the day. 🙂

    The only known entity that has demonstrated both transcendence of space/time as well as dominion of matter/energy is the entity of transcendent information that we have witnessed in Quantum Mechanic experiments.

    This is the sort of vagueness I’m talking about. Why can’t I assert that “the entity of transcendent information” is an Idea, or a Tree, or the set of rational numbers? What’s wrong with Pythagoreanism, apart from the lack of evidence for it?

    If you were consistent in your science you would at least admit this obvious fact and would try to maintain your materialistic atheism by saying the transcendent information that created this universe was ‘not alive”, but alas the empirics have already failed you on that route as well.

    But God, even if he exists, is, scientifically speaking, not alive — he’s not an organism! He’s only “alive” in a poetic sense. IDers keep saying “life only comes from life”, but this forces them to awkwardly define deities as “alive”. So yeah, whatever caused the universe, be it a brute fact, a deity, a superstring, or an equation, was probably not “alive”. It would be pretty neat if it were, though! (Imagine if our own distant descendants manage to cause another universe? Or imagine if, via time travel, they manage to cause this one?)

    But there I go conjuring things again, instead of accepting the Proven Truth. Whoops.

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