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Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor: Why need we pretend that the universe has no purpose?

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Responding to philosopher Joseph Carter on how we can pretend that the universe has purpose even though it doesn’t, at Evolution News & Views:

As I noted yesterday, materialist philosopher Joseph Carter wrote a fatuous essay for the New York Times philosophy forum The Stone in which he denies purpose in the universe and does an amusing dance around the implications that follow.

Carter claims (erroneously) that modern science has disproven teleology in nature:

The laws of physics are inherently mechanistic.

Except for quantum mechanics and relativity, which reveal space-time curving in gravitation, time slowing with velocity, light that travels with the same velocity irrespective of the velocity of its emitter or absorber, sinks of gravity so intense that neither light nor information can escape the undefined singularity at its core, the emergence of the entire universe from such a singularity, equivalence of energy and matter, potentiality collapsing to actuality at the atomic level, particles that are also waves, superposition of quantum states comprehensible only as alternate levels of reality, observer effects and quantum entanglement — “spooky action at a distance” in Einstein’s words.

Carter has confused “mathematical” with “mechanistic.” More.

Great physicists did not make that mistake. But lots of small people do.

See also: What great physicists have said about immateriality and consciousness


How naturalism rots science from the head down

7 Replies to “Neurosurgeon Michael Egnor: Why need we pretend that the universe has no purpose?

  1. 1
    john_a_designer says:

    The universe was created instantaneously, which means that everything the world would become was in some sense potentially seeded right at the beginning. There was no plan or purpose behind that?

    The purpose of an acorn is to become an oak tree. The purpose of a fertilized human egg is to become a person. If there is purpose there (with oak trees and human beings) isn’t there purpose for the universe as a whole?

    The universe did not just come into being for no reason. Who would be foolish enough to defend such a view?

  2. 2

    What amazes me is the certainty with which a/mats proclaim “no design” and “no purpose,” as if they know enough to make such a declaration. Agnosticism is, of course, a far more intelligent position than atheism or materialism.

  3. 3
    john_a_designer says:

    For the life of me, I don’t see how atheistic naturalists/materialists can explain how the universe was created instantaneously. For some reason they keep missing that “little fact.”

  4. 4

    Created instantaneously out of nothing. Not Lawrence Krauss’s quantum equilibrium version of nothing, but really nothing…as in NO THING.

    Also, created instantaneously with the potential to give rise to everything in the universe.

    It takes great faith to be an atheist.

  5. 5
    rvb8 says:

    j_a_d, @3,

    replace ‘atheist/materialist’ with ‘Christians’, and your short post makes just as much sense.

  6. 6
    ET says:

    replace ‘atheist/materialist’ with ‘Christians’, and your short post makes just as much sense.

    Only to the willfully ignorant, and here you are.

  7. 7
    john_a_designer says:

    The burden of proof is on those who believe that some mindless, purposeless process can “create” a planned and purposeful (teleological) process. Frankly, this is something our regular interlocutors consistently and persistently fail to do.

    Stating some key questions succinctly as possible will hopefully explain why I find atheistic naturalism/materialism not only unviable but incredible.

    How did the universe originate from absolute nothing?

    Why does the universe appear to be fine-tuned for life, including advanced intelligent life?

    How did life originate from non-life?

    How did chemistry “create”** code?

    How did a non-teleological process, like Darwinian evolution, “create” things that are clearly teleological?

    How did consciousness and mind originate from mindless matter and a mindless process?

    To answer any of these questions naturalistically, as far as I can see, requires the belief in what amounts to be a set of “naturalistic miracles.” How is a naturalistic miracle not an extraordinary claim?

    Footnote**: Does any kind of naturalistic evolutionary process actually create anything?

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