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No evidence for God’s existence, you say? A response to Larry Moran

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Despite my disagreements with Professor Larry Moran over the years, I respect him as a fair-minded, intelligent and generally sensible person. Recently, however, he said something which can only be described as rather silly. In a post titled, Evidence for the existence of god(s), he wrote:

I am always on the lookout for evidence that some sort of god actually exists. The reason I’m an atheist is because I’ve never seen any evidence that’s the least bit convincing. I keep asking for evidence but nobody ever supplies any.

Now, had Professor Moran merely remarked that he found the evidence for God’s existence less than compelling, or unsatisfactory, he would have had a leg to stand on. But he went much further: he declared it to be not in the least bit convincing, which can only mean that he sets its evidential value at zero. He then added: “I keep asking for evidence but nobody ever supplies any.” The only conclusion I can draw is that Professor Moran really thinks there is no evidence for God. This interpretation is confirmed by a remark he makes in another post, where he declares that “[s]o far, the scientific way of knowing has uncovered no evidence of anything that exists outside of the natural world” (emphasis mine – VJT), although he allows that science may discover evidence of the supernatural, “at some time in the future.”

In his recent post, Professor Moran then proceeds to enumerate ten items of evidence listed by Barry Arrington in a post titled, Astonishingly Stupid Things Atheists Say, before throwing the floor open for discussion. According to Larry Moran, none of the items below counts as evidence – let alone good evidence – for the existence of God, or a supernatural reality:

  • The fine tuning of the universe.
  • The moral sense.
  • The fact that a natural universe cannot logically have a natural cause.
  • The fact that there is something instead of nothing.
  • The overwhelming odds against the Darwinian story being true (estimated at 10^-1018 by atheist Eugene Koonin).
  • The irreducible complexity of biological systems.
  • The vast amounts of complex computer-like code stored in DNA.
  • The miracles that have been reported throughout history.
  • My subjective self-awareness.
  • The fact that we do not even have plausible speculations to account for the origin of life.

In this post, I won’t be saying much about arguments for God based on the moral sense and subjective self-awareness, because (a) in my experience, attempting to convince atheists of God’s existence on the basis of these arguments is a waste of time, and (b) the arguments need to be formulated very carefully in order for them to work. I”ll just say a little about these arguments, at the end.

That leaves eight arguments, which I’ll address in my own order. I”ll begin with the scientific arguments.

The fine-tuning of the universe (Argument 1)

I’ve written a lot on the fine-tuning argument, and my recent post, Professor Krauss Objects, explains why I think that the various scientific objections to the argument – including the multiverse hypothesis – all fail miserably. I’m not going to repeat myself here. But I will say that anyone who could read Dr. Robin Collins’ essay, essay entitled, The Teleological Argument: An Exploration of the Fine-Tuning of the Universe (in The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, edited by William Lane Craig and J. P. Moreland, 2009, Blackwell Publishing Ltd.), and say that there is no evidence for God is really being rather uncharitable.

I might also mention that the late Christopher Hitchens, who was a self-described anti-theist, had a healthy respect for the argument from fine-tuning. In a post titled, Fine Tuning the Multiverse Theory, Christian apologist Peter May narrates the story of an amicable discussion between the late Christopher Hitchens and pastor Douglas Wilson, after one of their debates:

Hitchens raised the question as to which was the strongest argument used against atheists and he had no difficulty in identifying it. “The fine-tuning argument we all agree is the most intriguing. It is not trivial – we all say that.” Here he is clearly speaking for his New Atheist friends. Hitchens is emphatic and repeats the point, “We all agree about that.

Christopher Hitchens considered the fine-tuning argument to be the best evidence for God, and he also regarded it as intriguing – even if he himself was not convinced by it. Professor Moran, on the other hand, thinks that the argument doesn’t even deserve to be called “evidence,” since he writes: “I keep asking for evidence but nobody ever supplies any.” I’ll let my readers judge whether Professor Moran is being unreasonably fussy, when it comes to what qualifies as “evidence.”

The origin of life (Arguments 5 and 10)

In his post, Barry Arrington refers to the work of evolutionary biologist Dr. Eugene Koonin, whose peer-reviewed article, The Cosmological Model of Eternal Inflation and the Transition from Chance to Biological Evolution in the History of Life, Biology Direct 2 (2007): 15, doi:10.1186/1745-6150-2-15, is available online. Using a “toy model” which makes some very generous assumptions, Dr. Koonin estimates that the odds of even a very basic life-form – a coupled replication-translation system – emerging in the observable universe are 1 in 1 followed by 1,018 zeroes. Dr. Koonin evades this difficulty by positing a multiverse – a “solution” which fails on no less than five grounds, which I discussed in detail in my recent post, Professor Krauss Objects.

Dr. Koonin’s paper passed a panel of four reviewers, including one from Harvard University, who wrote:

In this work, Eugene Koonin estimates the probability of arriving at a system capable of undergoing Darwinian evolution and comes to a cosmologically small number…;

The context of this article is framed by the current lack of a complete and plausible scenario for the origin of life. Koonin specifically addresses the front-runner model, that of the RNA-world, where self-replicating RNA molecules precede a translation system. He notes that in addition to the difficulties involved in achieving such a system is the paradox of attaining a translation system through Darwinian selection. That this is indeed a bona-fide paradox is appreciated by the fact that, without a shortage [of] effort, a plausible scenario for translation evolution has not been proposed to date. There have been other models for the origin of life, including the ground-breaking Lipid-world model advanced by Segrè, Lancet and colleagues (reviewed in EMBO Reports (2000), 1(3), 217–222), but despite much ingenuity and effort, it is fair to say that all origin of life models suffer from astoundingly low probabilities of actually occurring

…[F]uture work may show that starting from just a simple assembly of molecules, non-anthropic principles can account for each step along the rise to the threshold of Darwinian evolution. Based upon the new perspective afforded to us by Koonin this now appears unlikely. (Emphases mine – VJT.)

Think about that. A leading evolutionary biologist has calculated that the odds of even a very basic life-form – a coupled replication-translation system – emerging in the observable universe are 1 in 1 followed by 1,018 zeroes. To avoid the theistic implications of his argument, he posits a multiverse – a solution which, as I’ve argued, is shot through with holes. And Professor Moran thinks this doesn’t even constitute evidence for God’s existence, let alone proof? Frankly, I’m gobsmacked.

I’d also like to quote from an interview with Anthony Flew, who was arguably the leading philosophical atheist of the 20th century, and who converted to deism in 2004, when he was 81. Here’s a short excerpt from a 2004 interview between Flew and Christian philosopher Gary Habermas:

HABERMAS: … Which arguments for God’s existence did you find most persuasive?

FLEW: I think that the most impressive arguments for God’s existence are those that are supported by recent scientific discoveries. I’ve never been much impressed by the kalam cosmological argument, and I don’t think it has gotten any stronger recently. However, I think the argument to Intelligent Design is enormously stronger than it was when I first met it.

HABERMAS: So you like arguments such as those that proceed from big bang cosmology and fine tuning arguments?

FLEW: Yes…

HABERMAS: So of the major theistic arguments, such as the cosmological, teleological, moral, and ontological, the only really impressive ones that you take to be decisive are the scientific forms of teleology?

FLEW: Absolutely. It seems to me that Richard Dawkins constantly overlooks the fact that Darwin himself, in the fourteenth chapter of The Origin of Species, pointed out that his whole argument began with a being which already possessed reproductive powers. This is the creature the evolution of which a truly comprehensive theory of evolution must give some account. Darwin himself was well aware that he had not produced such an account. It now seems to me that the findings of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design.

Finally, I’d like to quote the testimony of Professor Richard Smalley (1943-2005), winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. Towards the end of his life, Dr. Richard Smalley became an Old Earth creationist, after reading the books “Origins of Life” and “Who Was Adam?”, written by Dr. Hugh Ross (an astrophysicist) and Dr. Fazale Rana (a biochemist). Dr. Smalley explained his change of heart as follows:

Evolution has just been dealt its death blow. After reading “Origins of Life”, with my background in chemistry and physics, it is clear evolution could not have occurred. The new book, “Who Was Adam?”, is the silver bullet that puts the evolutionary model to death. (Emphasis mine – VJT.)

“Puts the evolutionary model to death”?! These are pretty strong words for a Nobel scientist. And yet, despite this testimony from a Nobel Prize-winning chemist, Professor Moran thinks that there is no evidence for the existence of a supernatural Designer of life.

The irreducibility of biochemical systems (Argument 6)

I’d like to quote from ID advocate Casy Luskin’s article, Leading Biologists Marvel at the “Irreducible Complexity” of the Ribosome, but Prefer Evolution-of-the-Gaps over at Evolution News and Views. The article is about a roundtable symposium on the origin of life, entitled, “Life: What A Concept!”, which was held in 2008 and hosted by John Brockman. The participants included some very prominent people in the field of origin of life research and genomics, such as Freeman Dyson, J. Craig Venter, George Church, Robert Shapiro, Dimitar Sasselov, and Seth Lloyd. Here’s what George Church, Professor of Genetics at Harvard Medical School and Director of the Center for Computational Genetics, had to say about the complexity of the ribosome:

The ribosome, both looking at the past and at the future, is a very significant structure — it’s the most complicated thing that is present in all organisms. Craig does comparative genomics, and you find that almost the only thing that’s in common across all organisms is the ribosome. And it’s recognizable; it’s highly conserved. So the question is, how did that thing come to be? And if I were to be an intelligent design defender, that’s what I would focus on; how did the ribosome come to be?

Craig Venter then suggested that by sequencing the genomes of more organisms, scientists might be able to reconstruct a primitive precursor ribosome, but Church was doubtful:

But isn’t it the case that, if we take all the life forms we have so far, isn’t the minimum for the ribosome about 53 proteins and 3 polynucleotides? And hasn’t that kind of already reached a plateau where adding more genomes doesn’t reduce that number of proteins?

The conversation that ensued reveals the frustration of the participants, who are all convinced naturalists. Interestingly, the term “irreducible complexity” crops up:

VENTER: Below ribosomes, yes: you certainly can’t get below that. But you have to have self-replication.

CHURCH: But that’s what we need to do — otherwise they’ll call it irreducible complexity. If you say you can’t get below a ribosome, we’re in trouble, right? We have to find a ribosome that can do its trick with less than 53 proteins.

VENTER: In the RNA world, you didn’t need ribosomes.

CHURCH: But we need to construct that. Nobody has constructed a ribosome that works well without proteins.

VENTER: Yes.

SHAPIRO: I can only suggest that a ribosome forming spontaneously has about the same probability as an eye forming spontaneously.

CHURCH: It won’t form spontaneously; we’ll do it bit by bit.

SHAPIRO: Both are obviously products of long evolution of preexisting life through the process of trial and error.

CHURCH: But none of us has recreated that any.

SHAPIRO: There must have been much more primitive ways of putting together.

CHURCH: But prove it.

I think it’s fair to conclude that the irreducible complexity (as far as we can tell) of the ribsome constitutes powerful prima facie evidence for an Intelligent Creator of the first life.

The vast amounts of computer-like code stored in DNA (Argument 7)

Let me begin with a quote from agnostic Bill Gates. Nearly twenty years ago, he wrote:

Biological information is the most important information we can discover, because over the next several decades it will revolutionize medicine. Human DNA is like a computer program but far, far more advanced than any software ever created.
(Gates, The Road Ahead, Penguin: London, Revised, 1996 p. 228)

ID advocate Casey Luskin’s article, A Response to Dr. Dawkins’ “Information Challenge” (Part 1): Specified Complexity Is the Measure of Biological Complexity over at Evolution News and Views, contains a very interesting quote from New Atheist Professor Richard Dawkins:

… [t]he machine code of the genes is uncannily computer-like. Apart from differences in jargon, the pages of a molecular biology journal might be interchanged with those of a computer engineering journal.
(River Out of Eden: A Darwinian View of Life, pg. 17 (New York: Basic Books, 1995).)

Dawkins himself believes that processes of random mutation and unguided selection generated the information in genes. But is he right? I’d like to conclude with a quote from an article in a creationist journal by CSIRO botanist Alex Williams, titled, Astonishing DNA complexity demolishes neo-Darwinism (Journal of Creation 21(3) 2007). Some of the material in the article (including the ENCODE findings on junk DNA) remains hotly contested, but when I came across the article eight years ago, I was electrified by this passage:

The traditional understanding of DNA has recently been transformed beyond recognition. DNA does not, as we thought, carry a linear, one-dimensional, one-way, sequential code — like the lines of letters and words on this page… DNA information is overlapping – multi-layered and multi-dimensional; it reads both backwards and forwards… No human engineer has ever even imagined, let alone designed an information storage device anything like it. Moreover, the vast majority of its content is metainformation — information about how to use information. Meta-information cannot arise by chance because it only makes sense in context of the information it relates to.

Information that reads both backwards and forwards, and which is multi-layered and multi-dimensional? And meta-information too? As someone who worked for ten years as a computer programmer, I have to say that sounds like the work of an intelligent agent to me.

The argument from the total contingency of the cosmos (i.e. the modal cosmological argument, as opposed to the kalam cosmological argument) (Arguments 3 and 4)

In his original post, Barry Arrington cited as evidence for God the fact that fact that a natural universe cannot logically have a natural cause, as well as the fact that there is something instead of nothing.

Now, I imagine many atheists would have retorted, “Of course a natural universe doesn’t have a natural cause! That’s because it doesn’t have any cause! And as for why there is something rather than nothing, that’s just a brute fact. For anything that exists – God included – you could always ask why it exists.” But these objections miss the underlying point that Barry Arrington was making: the universe is totally contingent. Absolutely nothing about the universe has to be the way it is. The laws could have been different, the initial conditions could have been different, and the entities populating it could have been different. A totally contingent reality, such as our universe, cries out for an explanation.

For those readers who are looking for a good introduction to the argument from the contingency of the cosmos, I would recommend Professor Robert Koons’ Western Theism lecture notes (lectures 2 to 10, and especially lectures 6 to 10), as well as Professor Paul Herrick’s highly readable article, Job Opening: Creator of the Universe—A Reply to Keith Parsons (2009).

For those who think they know what’s wrong with the argument, I would recommend Thomist philosopher Edward Feser’s excellent blog post, So you think you understand the cosmological argument? (July 16, 2011). A few highlights:

1. The argument does NOT rest on the premise that “Everything has a cause.”

Lots of people – probably most people who have an opinion on the matter – think that the cosmological argument goes like this: Everything has a cause; so the universe has a cause; so God exists. They then have no trouble at all poking holes in it. If everything has a cause, then what caused God? …

Here’s the funny thing, though. People who attack this argument never tell you where they got it from. They never quote anyone defending it. There’s a reason for that. The reason is that none of the best-known proponents of the cosmological argument in the history of philosophy and theology ever gave this stupid argument. Not Plato, not Aristotle, not al-Ghazali, not Maimonides, not Aquinas, not Duns Scotus, not Leibniz, not Samuel Clarke, not Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, not Mortimer Adler, not William Lane Craig, not Richard Swinburne. And not anyone else either, as far as I know.

2. “What caused God?” is not a serious objection to the argument.

The cosmological argument in its historically most influential versions is not concerned to show that there is a cause of things which just happens not to have a cause. It is not interested in “brute facts” – if it were, then yes, positing the world as the ultimate brute fact might arguably be as defensible as taking God to be… What [the argument] seeks to show is that if there is to be an ultimate explanation of things, then there must be a cause of everything else which not only happens to exist, but which could not even in principle have failed to exist

So, to ask “What caused God?” really amounts to asking “What caused the thing that cannot in principle have had a cause?” … or “What imparted a sufficient reason for existence to that thing which has its sufficient reason for existence within itself and did not derive it from something else?” And none of these questions makes any sense.

3. “Why assume that the universe had a beginning?” is not a serious objection to the argument.

The main reason this is a bad objection …is that most versions of the cosmological argument do not even claim that the universe had a beginning. Aristotelian, Neo-Platonic, Thomistic, and Leibnizian cosmological arguments are all concerned to show that there must be an uncaused cause even if the universe has always existed.

4. “No one has given any reason to think that the First Cause is all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, etc.” is not a serious objection to the argument.

Aquinas in fact devotes hundreds of pages across various works to showing that a First Cause of things would have to be all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good, and so on and so forth. Other Scholastic writers and modern writers like Leibniz and Samuel Clarke also devote detailed argumentation to establishing that the First Cause would have to have the various divine attributes.

5. “The argument doesn’t prove that Christianity is true” is not a serious objection to the argument.

No one claims that the cosmological argument by itself suffices to show that Christianity is true, that Jesus of Nazareth was God Incarnate, etc. That’s not what it is intended to do.

6. “Science has shown such-and-such” is not a serious objection to (most versions of) the argument.

…[M]ost versions of the cosmological argument do not in any way depend on particular scientific claims. Rather, they start with extremely general considerations that any possible scientific theorizing must itself take for granted – for example, that there is any empirical world at all, or any world of any sort at all.

7. The argument is not a “God of the gaps” argument.

Since the point of the argument is precisely to explain (part of) what science itself must take for granted, it is not the sort of thing that could even in principle be overturned by scientific findings. For the same reason, it is not an attempt to plug some current “gap” in scientific knowledge…

The point is that the kind of criticism one might try to raise against [the argument] is simply not the kind that one might raise in the context of empirical science. It requires instead knowledge of metaphysics and philosophy more generally.

8. Hume and Kant did not have the last word on the argument. Neither has anyone else.

…I don’t think anyone who has studied the issue would deny that Elizabeth Anscombe presented a serious objection to Hume’s claim that something could conceivably come into existence without a cause. Nor is Anscombe by any means the only philosopher to have criticized Hume on this issue.

…Hume’s objection that the cosmological argument commits a fallacy of composition … assumes that the cosmological argument is concerned with explaining why the universe as a whole exists, and that is simply not true of all versions of the argument.

9. What “most philosophers” think about the argument is irrelevant.

The atheist philosopher of religion Quentin Smith maintains that “the great majority of naturalist philosophers have an unjustified belief that naturalism is true and an unjustified belief that theism (or supernaturalism) is false.” For their naturalism typically rests on nothing more than an ill-informed “hand waving dismissal of theism” which ignores “the erudite brilliance of theistic philosophizing today.” Thomists often emphasize that the argument of Aquinas’s On Being and Essence requires only the premise that something or other exists – a stone, a tree, a book, your left shoe, whatever.

Atheist Dan Linford, author of the blog article, How should one respond to the Argument from Contingency?, doesn’t think much of the sophomoric “Who made God?” objection, either:

This fails for a few different reasons.

First, we are talking about the argument from contingency. The argument from contingency argues that all of the contingent facts that there are require a non-contingent explanation. But any sort of non-contingent object that explains all of the contingent facts will not have an explanation for its existence beyond its non-contingency. It could not fail to exist.

Secondly, when we provide a scientific explanation E for some phenomenon x but we do not provide an explanation for E, often, this is not reason to reject E. For example, if we see a trail in a cloud chamber that curves a particular way in a magnetic field, an electron might be the best explanation of our observations, but it would be inappropriate to reject the electron-explanation if we were unable to answer what caused the electron. Likewise, if God is what explains the universe’s existence, yet we cannot explain God’s existence, this does not mean that we should reject theism.
Unfortunately, this last response has become quite popular since it was published in Dawkins’s God Delusion (it had previously appeared in Bertrand Russell’s Why I Am Not A Christian and in David Hume’s Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion). While it may be able to target some forms of the Cosmological Argument, it is not an appropriate response to the Argument from Contingency.

A better objection, argues Linford, is to ask the theist: “From whence did God’s reasons for creating the universe come?” If the reasons came from within God’s essence, then this means that God had no choice but to create, since God’s essence exists necessarily. But if they didn’t come from within God, then in creating the universe, God may have been acting freely, but He/She was also acting arbitrarily and capriciously. However, this objection has already been answered in Professor Paul Herrick’s highly readable article, Job Opening: Creator of the Universe—A Reply to Keith Parsons (2009):

…[W]e typically account for the free choices of others in terms of the reasons they have for their choices (along with their powers or capacities to implement those reasons), and that when we cite good reasons for a choice, along with adequate powers or capacities, we typically attain a rationally satisfying explanation for the choice, an explanation that makes sense of the choice and ends the questioning (with respect to the choice). Look and see for yourself: This is how we reach explanatory finality with respect to choices; this is how we make choices intelligible.

Now this is important: Unlike scientific explanations, which do cite sufficient conditions, notice that a personalistic explanation — an explanation of a choice — does not cite a causally sufficient condition for the choice. Common sense says that the fact that the father loves his children, that he knows how to make a sled, that he knows that a sled would be good for them, and so on, that does not in itself constitute a sufficient causal condition for his choice to build the sled; these factors do not completely cause him to build a sled, for (at least from the common-sense standpoint) we normally suppose that the father could have had those very same reasons and yet could have chosen not to act on them. Likewise, he could have had those same powers and could have chosen not to put them into effect. This is what we normally mean when we say that under the circumstances, he could have chosen otherwise. And this is why we normally suppose that the reasons and capacities of a chooser are not in themselves sufficient for the choice; we suppose that by themselves they do not guarantee that the choice actually gets made. Indeed, isn’t this why we give the father moral credit for making the choice — because he didn’t have to, that is, under the circumstances, he could have stayed inside to watch TV instead? Again, a personalistic explanation explains a choice not by citing a sufficient condition for the choice, but by making sense of the choice (by making the choice rationally intelligible), and it does this by making sense of the choice in terms of good reasons.

No evidence for God, you say? I can only ask: what is your alternative hypothesis?

Miracles (Argument 8)

Finally, we come to miracles. Because miracles are events that take place in the world, the investigation of miracles certainly falls within the purview of science.

The philosophical arguments against the possibility and/or credibility of miracles, have been dealt with by Dr. Timothy McGrew in his article, Miracles in The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, so I won’t waste time on them here.

Professor Moran will want to see good evidence of miracles, so I’ll confine myself to one case: the 17th century Italian saint, Joseph of Cupertino, who was seen levitating well above the ground and even flying for some distance through the air, on literally thousands of occasions, by believers and skeptics alike. The saint was the phenomenon of the 17th century. Those who are curious might like to have a look at his biography by D. Bernini (Vita Del Giuseppe da Copertino, 1752, Roma: Ludovico Tinassi and Girolamo Mainardi). The philosopher David Hume, who was notoriously skeptical of miracle claims, never even mentions St. Joseph of Cupertino in his writings. Funny, that.

The evidence for St. Joseph’s flights is handily summarized in an article, The flying saint (The Messenger of Saint Anthony, January 2003), by Renzo Allegri.

The earthly existence of Friar Joseph of Cupertino was rich in charismatic gifts. However, the phenomenon which attracted the most attention occurred during his disconcerting ecstasies. Chronicles recount, as we have already said, that he need only hear the name of Jesus, of the Virgin Mary, or of a saint before going into an ecstasy. He used to let out a wail and float in the air, remaining suspended between heaven and earth for hours. An inadmissible phenomenon for our modern mentality.

“To doubt is understandable,” Fr. Giulio Berettoni, rector of the Shrine of St. Joseph of Cupertino in Osimo tells me “but it isn’t justifiable. If we take a serious look at the saint’s life from a historical point of view, then we see that we cannot question his ecstasies. There are numerous witness accounts. They began to be documented in 1628, and this continued until Joseph’s death in 1663, i.e. for 35 years. In certain periods, the phenomenon is recorded to have taken place more than once a day. It has been calculated that Joseph’s ‘ecstatic flights’ took place at least 1,000 to 1,500 times in his lifetime, perhaps even more, and that they were witnessed by thousands of people. They were the phenomenon of the century. They were so sensational and so public that they attracted attention from curious people from all walks of life, Italians and foreigners, believers and unbelievers, simple folk, but also scholars, scientists, priests, bishops and cardinals. They continued to occur in every situation, in whatever church in which the saint prayed or celebrated Mass. It is impossible to doubt such a sensational and public phenomenon which repeated itself over time. It is also worth noting that these events occurred in the seventeenth century, the time of the Inquisition. Amazing events, miracles and healings were labelled magic and the protagonists ended up undergoing a trial by the civil and religious Inquisition. In fact, St. Joseph of Cupertino underwent this very fate because of his ecstasies. But he was subjected to various trials without ever being condemned; final proof that these are sensational events, but also real, extraordinary and concrete facts.” (Emphases mine – VJT.)

In view of the fact that miracle claims can be found in many different religions, it would be imprudent to cite St. Joseph’s levitations and flights in support of any one particular religion. But miracles like this, which could be prompted by St. Joseph’s hearing – the name of Jesus, of the Virgin Mary, or of a saint – certainly constitute evidence for God’s existence. Professor Moran may or may not be persuaded by such evidence, but evidence it certainly is. In the meantime, he might like to have a look at an article by Dr. Michael Grosso, entitled, Hume’s Syndrome: Irrational Resistance to the Paranormal (Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 22, No. 4, pp. 549–556, 2008).

Finally, I should mention the Resurrection of Jesus, of which former atheist Anthony Flew (who nevcer accepted Christianity) declared in 2004: “The evidence for the resurrection is better than for claimed miracles in any other religion. It’s outstandingly different in quality and quantity, I think, from
the evidence offered for the occurrence of most other supposedly miraculous events.” He then adds that he thinks this evidence can be discredited, since we lack “evidence from anyone who was in Jerusalem at the time, who witnessed one of the allegedly miraculous events, and recorded his or her testimony immediately after the occurrence of that allegedly miraculous event.” Nevertheless, even Flew acknowledges that there is evidence for this miraculous event – he just doesn’t happen to think it’s very powerful evidence.

The moral sense

Atheists are fond of claiming that we don’t need God in order to be moral, because we have an independent guide: the Golden Rule. But although the Golden Rile allows us to distinguish good from evil in most situations, it cannot define the meaning of good and evil. For the Rule itself can only bind us if there are certain things which are objectively good for us as human beings – for instance, food, knowledge and companionship. In the absence of objective goods, the Rule degenerates into a pathetic exhortation to respect people’s subjective preferences – which invites the obvious riposte, “Why should I?” There is no reason why I should respect an individual’s subjective preferences – after all, we don’t give cocaine to drug addicts. Natural law is the only sensible foundation on which an atheist can build morality. But such an ethic only works if we treat Nature Herself as normative. The Golden Rule, taken by itself, cannot tell me whether it is morally permissible for me to change my nature by transforming myself into, say, a hyper-intelligent, hyper-sentient cyborg who is nonetheless devoid of empathy (and hence no longer bound by the Golden Rule). Only if we take as a given the fact that this is God’s world, can we view our natural ends as ethically normative, and as objective goods which we tamper with at our peril. In other words, we need to foster belief in God in order to cultivate true respect for Nature.

My subjective self-awareness

The point I’d like to make here is that from a purely naturalistic standpoint, the behavior which promotes survival in humans and other animals could have evolved, regardless of whether they were sentient or not. Currently, there is no conclusive scientific evidence showing that any non-human animals are conscious – a point which is explicitly acknowledged by Marian Stamp Dawkins, Professor of Animal Behavior and Mary Snow Fellow in Biological Sciences, Somerville College, Oxford University. Marian Dawkins is herself sympathetic to the view that a large number of animals may be conscious. Nevertheless, she writes:

“[F]rom a scientific view, we understand so little about animal consciousness (and indeed our own consciousness) that to make the claim that we do understand it, and that we now know which animals experience emotions, may not be the best way to make the case for animal welfare. Anthropomorphism (seeing animals as just like humans) and anecdote were assuming a place in the study of animal consciousness that, it seemed to me, leaves the whole area very vulnerable to being completely demolished by logical argument…

It is, perhaps, not a comfortable conclusion to come to that the only scientific view of consciousness is that we don’t understand how it arises, nor do we know for certain which animals are conscious.
(Marian Stamp Dawkins, Professor of Animal Behavior and Mary Snow Fellow in Biological Sciences, Somerville College, Oxford University, writing in an online article entitled, Convincing the Unconvinced That Animal Welfare Matters, The Huffington Post, 8 June 2012.)

In her recently published book, Why Animals Matter: Animal consciousness, animal welfare, and human well-being (Oxford University Press, 2012), Professor Dawkins discusses the different issues relating to animal consciousness. Throughout the discussion, she maintains a skeptical outlook, because the scientific evidence is “indirect” (p. 111) and that “there is no proof either way about animal consciousness and that it does not serve animals well to claim that there is.” (p. 112). Summarizing the data surveyed, she writes:

The mystery of consciousness remains. The explanatory gap is as wide as ever and all the wanting in the world will not take us across it. Animals and plants can ‘want’ very effectively with never a hint of consciousness, as we can see with a tree wanting to grow in a particular direction. Preference tests, particularly those that provide evidence that animals are prepared to pay ‘costs’ to get what they want, are perhaps the closest we can get to what animals are feeling, but they are not a magic entry into consciousness. They do not solve the hard problem for us because everything that animals do when they make choices or show preferences or even ‘work’ to get what they want could be done without conscious experience at all. We have seen (Chapters 4 and 5) just how much we humans do unconsciously and how powerful our unconscious minds are in making decisions and even in having emotions. What is good enough for us may well be good enough for other species.

… The similarity between the behavioral responses of animals and humans to such drugs make it tempting to assume that because the behavior is similar, the conscious experiences must be similar too. Of course they may be, but there is no more ‘must’ about it than in the claim that animals ‘must’ consciously experience thirst before they drink or ‘must’ consciously experience hunger while they are searching for food. They may well do so, as we saw in Chapter 8. But there is no must about it. Animal bodies have evolved by natural selection to restore imbalances of food and water and to repair wounds and other kinds of damage. Neither food deprivation nor water deprivation, nor the symptoms of inflamed joints, are necessarily accompanied by any conscious experiences at all, although they may be. Just as our wounds heal up without any conscious intention on our part and we like certain foods without knowing why, so other animals, too, have a variety of mechanisms, for repairing and restoring their bodies to proper working order. Preference and choice and ‘what animals want’ are part of those mechanisms. They may well be accompanied by conscious experiences. But then again, they may not be. Once again, our path to finding out the answer is blocked by the implacable, infuriating obstacle known as the hard problem.” (pp. 171-174)

Professor Marian Dawkins concludes that since at the present time, scientists don’t know which (if any) animals are conscious, it is better for animal welfare advocates to refuse to commit themselves on the question of which animals are conscious: “… it is much, much better for animals if we remain skeptical and agnostic [about consciousness] … Militantly agnostic if necessary, because this keeps alive the possibility that a large number of species have some sort of conscious experiences … For all we know, many animals, not just the clever ones and not just the overtly emotional ones, also have conscious experiences.” (p. 177)

Viewed from a naturalistic perspective, the existence of consciousness is a surprising fact – one which we have no reason to expect. From a theistic perspective, on the other hand, it makes perfect sense: one would expect a personal Creator to make beings who were capable of knowing and loving their Creator, if He were going to make a world at all. Since each of us possesses not only awareness but also subjective self-awareness, we can apply apply Bayesian logic and deduce that the existence of God is highly probable, unless it can be shown that God’s existence has a very low a priori probability, in the first place. Now, if a skeptic wants to argue that, then they are welcome to do so, but in that case, the onus is on them to put forward a case against God.

Summary

In this post, we have looked at several lines of argument which point to the conclusion that God exists. Leading scientific and philosophical atheists have acknowledged that these arguments count as evidence, even if they remain unpersuaded by this evidence. I can only conclude that Professor Moran’s recent claim that there is absolutely no evidence for God or the supernatural flies in the face of what intelligent, open-minded atheists have to say on the subject. Professor Moran is obviously an intelligent man, but I wonder if he is as open-minded as he claims to be.

What do readers think? Is there any evidence for God?

Comments
Here's a nice series of talks on this topic that RDFish and others might enjoy Finding God through Faith and Reason http://www.ewtn.com/vondemand/audio/file_index.asp?SeriesId=7132&pgnu=1 Silver Asiatic
RDFish
The concepts of creation and causality are equally dependent upon the concept of time in order to make sense.
Pure nonsense. Creation and causality bring time into existence. How can they depend on the very thing they give rise to?
But since that eminently obvious point violates ancient religious dogma that was authored millennia before the concept of “spacetime” was ever understood, StephenB predictably denied it, bizarrely claiming that the concept of time is NOT necessary for the concept of creation or causality, while still holding that time IS necessary for the concept of conservation.
As indicated above, time is not necessary for causality. Once time begins, though, it is a different story. Time is certainly necessary for the concept of conservation since the loss of matter/energy can only occur in time and over time.
Never mind, say the devout, that we do not observe causality as a logical relation but only as a temporal relation!
Tell that to the atheists who had a fit when they found out that the Big Bang was the likely cause of the physical universe. Someone might think that God created it. (Hide the kids). The Big Bang certainly did not precede the universe in time since there was no time "before" the universe.
Never mind that if A causes B then A must in fact precede B – otherwise, if B preceded A, we would conclude that B causes A!
Notice that RD doesn't tell us whether he means A must precede B logically or A must precede B chronologically.
Never mind that if neither A nor B existed in time, there would be no sense at all to say that A caused B OR that B caused A!
I guess RD doesn't know that even an eternal universe would require a cause. A "first mover" would be needed to keep it sustained and moving. As I say so often, RD does not understand causation. StephenB
Well, another fascinating debate with new insights into the religious mind! StephenB tried a number of different arguments in order to warp reality to his ideological preconceptions. The most outlandish and humorous misconception was that a law of physics could only have been violated in the past if somebody had already written down the law! Lest he try to wiggle out of this childish delusion and pretend he never said it, here's the quote:
SB @238: However, it is also obvious that the “law” cannot be violated by the introduction of mass/energy since the “law” as a human construct did not come into existence until much latter.
What a howler! He finally settled on arguing that no conservation law could have been broken because the concept of conservation requires the concept of time in order to make sense, and time did not exist at the moment of the Big Bang. I agreed with this, and then pointed out the obvious: The concepts of creation and causality are equally dependent upon the concept of time in order to make sense. But since that eminently obvious point violates ancient religious dogma that was authored millennia before the concept of "spacetime" was ever understood, StephenB predictably denied it, bizarrely claiming that the concept of time is NOT necessary for the concept of creation or causality, while still holding that time IS necessary for the concept of conservation. Never mind, say the devout, that we do not observe causality as a logical relation but only as a temporal relation! Never mind that if A causes B then A must in fact precede B - otherwise, if B preceded A, we would conclude that B causes A! Never mind that if neither A nor B existed in time, there would be no sense at all to say that A caused B OR that B caused A! It's a running comedy here, as usual. Thanks for the laughs and the new insights into the motivated reasoning that carries true believers to ever-more-creative delusions in the effort to reconcile their ancient beliefs with modern scientific knowledge. I leave you now to shake your fists and stomp your feet at the infidels. Cheers, RDFish/AIGuy RDFish
RDFish: Causality requires that event A at time T1 causes event B at time T2 StephenB: No, it does not. You are ignorant about causality. This is one of your problems. Let's be sure to keep an eye on this to see if RDFish ever addresses this gross ignorance. Cheers, Mung/Mung Mung
SB That was a good explantion - thanks. I haven't had the stamina to read through the whole debate so I missed those particular arguments. In the end, the question of God's existence is not about trying to score points. It's not a matter of indifference. Pascal's wager is appropriate here. Silver Asiatic
Silver Asiatic
Exactly. The LOC is based on a number of assumptions – the first of which is that a universe exists. The LOC cannot extend to a state before the origin of the universe, so it obviously cannot be violated by the creation of the universe (before which there was no LOC).
Yes, absolutely. Of Course, with RD, you cannot use common sense language, because he is always searching for a semantic excuse to avoid what is obvious. So you have to say "prior" (logically) to the creation of the universe (as opposed to "before") since "before" suggest prior in time, and there was no time prior to the universe. At that point, he tries to say that causality is dependent on time, so you have to explain that time could not have come to exist in the absence of the causal conditions that brought it about. Then the fun really starts when he claims that time, space, matter didn't need to be caused. It's quite an exercise in remedial education, especially for someone who resists the information and ignores correctives. StephenB
From my debates with Atheists i have shaped the opinion that Atheists don't care much about Science but instead using it to disprove God but Science doesn't agree with the Atheistic view. Atheism is the belief that you are a random cosmic mistake that Nothingness spewed but Science doesn't work with Randomness Nothingness and Luck but with Determinism, the only claim a Theist makes is that this chain of events lead to a Creator because the Universe began and only Consciousness can precede the Material World, even the Atheists look at the world with their own immaterial spaceless and timeless consciousness. The funny part is that after the discoveries about the Fine Tuning atheists deny even realism and say that the values of the constants are subjective and not objective for their existence, Atheists then will contradict themselves again and will say that they can't see God and they believe what they see when their reality is based on subjective constants and therefor they don't have something objective to compare objective reality with subjective reality.. JimFit
SB
The LOC says that matter/energy cannot be created or destroyed over time or infused into an isolated system. It does not say that matter/energy cannot be created from nothing.
Exactly. The LOC is based on a number of assumptions - the first of which is that a universe exists. The LOC cannot extend to a state before the origin of the universe, so it obviously cannot be violated by the creation of the universe (before which there was no LOC). RDFish is on record defending the notion that "the universe is surrounded by nothing" and that science can model this. I then pointed out to him that nobody knows what nothing is, and I showed him where physicists openly admit that they cannot explain "nothingness". But this hasn't stopped him from pretending that he has an understanding of this. He implies that a universe can emerge from nothing - again, not knowing what nothing is. He also implies that all one needs to do is read books on cosmology and all of this will become clear. I will say this - it appears that RDFish amuses himself with this game of selective skepticism. One of the goals for him is to prove that he is smarter than everyone else. But sadly, atheism only destroys that pretense because all rationality and human knowledge itself is based on faith. So, it's a question of what and where to put one's faith in. It's clearly illogical to state (correctly) that it is not possible, in principle, for empirical science to arrive at an understanding of the origin of the universe, and then imply (incorrectly) that empiricism is the only reliable means we have of coming to such understanding. It's the same illogic to claim that scientific laws (like LOC) would apply in a state prior to the existence of the universe - since there is no way for science to measure anything about that particular state. To 'win' the game, by RDFish's standards, one has to assert that nothing can be known about the origin of the universe, and therefore nothing about the existence of God. It follows, then, we cannot know the purpose and meaning of human life. This is as much a faith-based concept as any religious belief is - in fact, moreso because there is more evidence that theistic belief is grounded in truth. We know that empirical science cannot explain the whole of reality -- and we know that through means of knowledge other than what empirical science can provide. Silver Asiatic
SB: The LOC says that matter/energy cannot be created or destroyed over time or infused into an isolated system. It does not say that matter/energy cannot be created from nothing. RDFish
If that is now your argument (your third try), then I am very happy to leave it at that.
It has always been my argument.
You interpret the LOC to say that mass/energy can indeed be created, and I disagree. That’s very clear now, and I find the outcome very excellent.
As I have made clear, creating mass/energy from nothing cannot possibly violate the LOC. Now that you finally understand that Law in its proper context, you know that I was right. There is nothing left to disagree about, and you should acknowledge the point.
You also believe that causality does not require the concept of temporal ordering. You think it makes sense to say that A caused B even if B comes before A in time, or if B happens at the same time as A, or if there is not even any time at all and these events don’t occur in any order at all. I have very happy to disagree about this point as well.
This false notion is tied to your other error. Did it ever occur to you that time, the very thing that you think is required for causality, could not have come into existence in the absence of the causal conditions necessary to bring it about?
I think we’ve taken this as far we can go. It has, as usual, been educational for me in the sense of learning about motivated reasoning: How people can and will argue anything at all, no matter how outlandish – in order to preserve their preexisting beliefs – in your case, your religious beliefs.
Remarkable. Even at the end, you cannot come to terms with your error. Sometimes, you just have to bite the bullet. This is one of those times. StephenB
Hi StephenB,
The LOC says that matter/energy cannot be created or destroyed over time or infused into an isolated system. It does not say that matter/energy cannot be created from nothing.
Yes, it does. If that is now your argument (your third try), then I am very happy to leave it at that. You interpret the LOC to say that mass/energy can indeed be created, and I disagree. That's very clear now, and I find the outcome very excellent. You also believe that the physical laws we construct now cannot be said to have been violated in the past, because the law had not yet been articulated before humans existed. I am very happy (and amused) and agree to disagree about this point as well. You also believe that causality does not require the concept of temporal ordering. You think it makes sense to say that A caused B even if B comes before A in time, or if B happens at the same time as A, or if there is not even any time at all and these events don't occur in any order at all. I have very happy to disagree about this point as well. I think we've taken this as far we can go. It has, as usual, been educational for me in the sense of learning about motivated reasoning: How people can and will argue anything at all, no matter how outlandish - in order to preserve their preexisting beliefs - in your case, your religious beliefs. Cheers, RDFish/AIGuy RDFish
RDFish
Causality requires that event A at time T1 causes event B at time T2,
No, it does not. You are ignorant about causality. This is one of your problems. From now on, I am going to pick the low hanging fruit and correct one small point at a time. That way I don't have to write ten pages to correct all your other errors. So don't assume that I accept all the other nonsense that you spouted @239. StephenB
RD @239, You wasted a lot of space to make one irrational argument. The LOC says that matter/energy cannot be created or destroyed over time or infused into an isolated system. It does not say that matter/energy cannot be created from nothing. To create matter/energy from nothing is not to create matter/energy over time or infuse it into isolated system. It is on that occasion that time and the isolated system are brought into existence. If there is no isolated system, there is no mass/energy. If there is no time, there is no loss of mass/energy. Why are these simple points so difficult for you to comprehend? Everyone else gets it. Indeed, no one in history has ever made the same error that you are making. You are all alone. Why not join the community of rational people? Summon up the emotional maturity to accept your refutation gracefully. StephenB
Hi StephenB,
I have not changed my argument in the slightest, but I have elaborated on it when necessary.
Well, actually you have. At first you said:
What makes you think that there was a law of conservation to be violated when mass/energy was created? Are you suggesting that the law of conservation is eternal? If not, where would it come from if not a creator?
Clearly your argument at that time was that the Creator had not yet put the LOC into effect when the universe was created, so there was no violation of the law involved when mass/energy was created. Like people putting cocaine into Coca-Cola before congress outlawed the drug - there was no violation because the law hadn't been passed yet. This is a very different sort of law than a physical law, as I've been trying to explain to you for days. Now you are arguing something entirely different, which is that since time didn't exist before the universe, the LOC (which you agree requires time in order to make sense) could not be applicable.
Since then, I have decided to use the word “principle” to convey the first idea and “law” to convey the second idea, which is why I was offended when you said there is no such thing as a principle in nature.
You have failed to ever explain your definitions, as usual, which causes unending confusion. I have provided perfectly clear definitions, which you ignored. You do all you can to foster confusion and obfuscation, for obvious reasons. Here are my definitions once again: 1) Regularity In Nature Some physically realized pattern among physical entities. The entities would include mass/energy and forces. Examples of patterns would be how these things move in time and space, how they persist, disappear, transform, or correlate their properties. Regularities are things that happen in nature, not descriptions of things that happen in nature. Therefore, regularities in nature cannot meaningfully be said to be “violated”; only physical laws can be violated. 2) Physical Law A rule, typically written as a (set of) mathematical equations, that describes some regularity in nature. These rules are devised by human beings, and once they have been hypothesized, they are tested by the scientific community. These tests look for situations in which the predictions of the law do not match our observations. These situations may be in the present (in a laboratory, for example), or in the past (investigating the birth of a star, for example, or the Big Bang). Often laws that have been perfectly confirmed in ordinary circumstances – even for centuries – are found to be violated under extraordinary circumstances; Newton’s laws are perfect examples of this. I believe that your use of "principle", which you have never defined, aligns with what I have been calling "regularity".
In any case, my argument has always been that the principle of conservation in nature cannot be violated if it doesn’t exist.
You are still unbelievably confused. As I have explained many times, regularities (what you are now calling "principles") cannot be "violated" - only Laws can be violated. One of Newton's laws was F=MA. When it was found that MA did not exactly equal F under extraordinary conditions, it was a violation of Newton's law - it wasn't a violation of mass or acceleration or energy.
Again, I am here using the word “principle” to convey the idea of mass/energy conservation in nature, as opposed to the idea of “law,” which we agree is a human construct.
Fine, we can agree on this terminology. What I defined as "regularity" you now call "principle.
However, it is also obvious that the “law” cannot be violated by the introduction of mass/energy since the “law” as a human construct did not come into existence until much latter.
This is a ridiculous confusion on your part that I have explained many times over. Humans can devise their Laws at any time, and then they proceed to test them against situations both in the past and in the present. It makes no sense at all to ask of the law existed before humans existed, since - as we've already agreed - laws are constructed by humans! We come up with laws, and then we try to see if in the past any physical events violated these laws or not. It is completely insane to imagine that the Law of Conservation of Mass/Energy wasn't violated at the Big Bang because we didn't invent the modern version of that law until the 20th Century! You are still thinking of Physical Laws the way you think of Legal Laws - as though they are enacted or put into effect at a specific point in time! A physical law is not that kind of law! It is descriptive rather than prescriptive! How can I make this painfully obvious point clear to you?
So neither the law nor the principle of conservation can be violated by the introduction of mass/energy.
Principles/regularities are not the type of thing that can be violated. What happens in nature happens, and the laws that human beings construct have no effect on how the natural world works. The Law of Conservation can be violated, however, and would be violated by any creation or destruction of energy at any point in time, no matter when it happened, and no matter when the Law was authored by human beings.
(Recall our discussion, which I have not included to save space, that time is inseparable from the law of conservation i. e. matter/energy cannot be created or destroyed over time or in time).
I believe we agree that it makes no sense to say mass/energy was or was not conserved if time does not exist. I hope we also agree that it makes no sense to say that mass/energy cannot be created or destroyed if time does not exist, for the very same reason.
When mass/energy comes into existence, time comes into existence.(Your comments about change, which I have not included to save space, are also accepted as true.) Time and change are inseparable.
OK good, we agree that no change can occur if time does not occur. Changes include things like creation, destruction, transformation, causality, and motion, and none of these concepts makes sense without the concept of temporal ordering. Therefore, none of things can be said to have happened before time itself came to exist; moreover, it makes no sense to say anything happened before time came to exist, because the concepts of before and of something happening also both require the concept of time.
If creation was a kind of change, you would be absolutely right. In truth, though, creation is the introduction of change, just as it is the introduction of time, matter, and space.
I think this is completely nonsense, but a very good example of motivated thinking. You readily agree that the notion of conservation entails temporal ordering, because we can't say the amount of mass/energy changed from time T1 to time T2 if there is no such thing as time. You accept this because your ideology requires to you to deny that the creation of the universe violated conservation. However, your ideology requires you to deny that creation is impossible without the concept of time, and so... your ideology trumps your reason. Creation and destruction is just another example of change - both of these things change the amount of mass/energy. In fact, the only way the total amount of energy could change is if energy is created or destroyed. Since we agree that change is impossible without time, you are logically bound to conclude that creation and destruction is impossible with time.
Change, like all those other factors, was brought into existence.
This tortured apologetic just won't work for you, I'm afraid. If change was brought into existence, then the amount of mass/energy was changed (from none to a whole lot), which then violates conservation. Want your cake and to eat it too? Sorry.
Prior to the big bang, (not prior in time, but logically prior)...
The events we study in physics occur in spacetime, not in some conceptual realm of logic. Causality requires that event A at time T1 causes event B at time T2, not that some logical formula be written down somewhere that says "A->B". We are talking about things occuring in the physical universe, not in logical forumlae. When we talk about physical concepts like motion, conservation, causality, before/after relations, transformation, and so on - each and every one of them requires the concept of time. You try mightily to pick the concepts you want to reject and the ones you want to preserve, but there is no foundation for your selection. Rather, there is only the motivated thinking you engage in to sustain your religious beliefs. Cheers, RDFish/AIGuy RDFish
RDFish
Let us take a moment to review how you have quietly but completely changed your argument here.
I have not changed my argument in the slightest, but I have elaborated on it when necessary.
At the start of our debate, you were insisting that the reason the LOC was not violated was because a creator had not yet put the LOC into effect.
In the beginning, I thought that the distinction between law as a principle in nature and law as a human construct would be evident in the context in which the word was used. In most cases, I don't have to fuss over the difference since most people know the difference between subjective perceptions and objective reality. Since then, I have decided to use the word "principle" to convey the first idea and "law" to convey the second idea, which is why I was offended when you said there is no such thing as a principle in nature. In any case, my argument has always been that the principle of conservation in nature cannot be violated if it doesn't exist. (While I would also argue that a creator is required to bring that principle into existence, that point is not really essential to the present argument, namely, that mass/energy must (somehow) come to exist before the principle of mass/energy conservation can be violated). Again, I am here using the word "principle" to convey the idea of mass/energy conservation in nature, as opposed to the idea of "law," which we agree is a human construct. However, it is also obvious that the "law" cannot be violated by the introduction of mass/energy since the "law" as a human construct did not come into existence until much latter. So neither the law nor the principle of conservation can be violated by the introduction of mass/energy. (Recall our discussion, which I have not included to save space, that time is inseparable from the law of conservation i. e. matter/energy cannot be created or destroyed over time or in time).
I trust that even though you haven’t conceded that argument was terminally confused, you now see (after my distinction between physical regularities and physical laws) that it was.
On the contrary, I have emphasized that distinction as often and as strenuously as you have. Indeed, the problem all along has been that when I begin to discuss those regularities, that is, the "principle," you revert back to your talking points about the "laws that humans make up," leaving me with the impression that you are unwilling to discuss the regularities in themselves. That seems to be changing, which is a good thing.
Your new argument hinges on the claim that time did not exist at the birth of the universe.
It is not a new argument. It is another way of expressing the old argument. When mass/energy comes into existence, time comes into existence.(Your comments about change, which I have not included to save space, are also accepted as true.) Time and change are inseparable.
I accept this, and that it implies that there could not have been a change in mass/energy, and so the LOC was not violated.
Correct. It is impossible to violate the LOC by introducing time, mass/energy, space, or an isolated system.
You must also accept, however, that without time it makes no sense to say anything was created, since like “conservation”, “creation” does not make sense if nothing can change from one point in time to the next.
This is actually a very substantive comment (not correct, but substantive) and it is well worth discussing. I wish you had brought it up much earlier. It is the very thing we should have been tugging away at all along. If creation was a kind of change, you would be absolutely right. In truth, though, creation is the introduction of change, just as it is the introduction of time, matter, and space. On the occasion that the universe came into existence (or, for me, on the occasion it was created) we didn't go from change 1 to change 2, we went from no change or 0 change to change 1. Change, like all those other factors, was brought into existence. Prior to the big bang, (not prior in time, but logically prior) there is no such thing as change. So, although the principle (and the law) of conservation is tied to time/change, the creation of time/change, which is also the introduction of time/change, is not. This is why the introduction of matter/energy, which is also the introduction of change, time, and the principle of matter/energy conservation, can violate neither the principle or the law of conservation.
But this new approach of yours simply points out what I have been saying all along: The beginning of the universe is – to say the least! – an extraordinary event,and our ordinary concepts of time, space, conservation, change, creation and causality do not seem to apply. There goes your argument from First Cause.
It is not a new approach. It is a further elaboration of the old approach. Our subjective concepts of time, space, or conservation, and how they develop over time, is distinct from the objective fact that change and time now exist and once did not exist. It is the latter point that points to an antecedent cause, which, when we follow the logic, points to a first cause. StephenB
Hi StephenB,
Rather than wade through all your hysterical distractions, I will, one last time, subject your unreasonable claim to a reasoned analysis.
Considering my "distractions" were calling you out for your outrageous strawmen, I am more than happy you've decided to give that up and return to the topic at hand! I'm always ready for a serious discussion when you are.
The law of conservation of energy does not simply say that matter/energy cannot be destroyed. To leave it there is to misrepresent it egregiously. According to LOC, the total energy of an isolated system remains constant and it is conserved over time. That is the part you are leaving out. Accordingly, energy can neither be created or destroyed over time and exists as an element of an isolated system
Your pretense that I have "egregiously misrepresented" conservation laws is laughable of course - the wording of this law varies from source to source and many make no mention of time at all - see this one from NYU: In a closed system, i.e., a system that isolated from its surroundings, the total energy of the system is conserved.. That reference comes immediately after the Wiki reference you probably looked up. Is the physics department at NYU also egregiously misrepresenting the law of conservation? No, and neither did I. So you've immediately gone back to your silly insults and accusations - you just can't help yourself. Let go of your fear, StephenB, and concentrate on the issues, and this will be a much better experience for both of us. Let's proceed, shall we?
It is clear, therefore, that, according to that same law, mass/energy is inseparable from the isolated system, which conserves it, and from time, which tests it.
The LOC would obviously be violated if mass/energy instantaneously appeared in a closed system. And it doesn't really make sense to say, as you do, that "time tests it". Time doesn't test anything - scientists do. I think what you mean is that it would take some amount of time for someone to test whether or not mass/energy has appeared where it previously did not exist. While that doesn't appear relevant either, there is some important point that you are skirting around here. Without time, it isn't clear what it means to say that something was created or destroyed. These concepts require a change, and the concept of change does inherentely imply temporal ordering: For mass/energy to be created means that at time T1 there is no mass/energy, but at a later time T2 there is. So it isn't at all clear that mass/energy could be said to have been created at the instant of the Big Bang. And as I have said all along, many times, the LOC would ONLY be violated IF mass/energy was created.
If there is no time, there is no opportunity to test the claim that energy can be created or destroyed. Mass/energy cannot exist apart from time and apart from the isolated system that is said to contain it.
Again, it's not the time required to make some test, but rather that the concept of time is required to talk about change - in this case creating or destroying mass/energy. So I would agree with you that we can't say that mass/energy was created at the instant of the Big Bang, and therefore we can't say that the LOC was violated at that point in time.
In the context of the law, therefore, to create mass/energy is to also create time and an isolated system.
Well no, this isn't correct at all. First, time is not necessary to the concept of mass/energy - only to a change in mass/energy. But secondly, as we just saw, it does not make sense to talk about any sort of change - any creation or destruction - when time does not exist. So, again, it makes no sense to say that mass/energy was created and the LOC was violated at the instant of the Big Bang. Nothing can be created or destroyed unless there is some change over time.
Mass/energy exists in time and as an element of an isolated system. To say that creating mass/energy violates the law of conservation, therefore, is to also say that creating time and an isolated system violates the law of conservation, which is insane.
Let us take a moment to review how you have quietly but completely changed your argument here. At the start of our debate, you were insisting that the reason the LOC was not violated was because a creator had not yet put the LOC into effect. I trust that even though you haven't conceded that argument was terminally confused, you now see (after my distinction between physical regularities and physical laws) that it was. Your new argument hinges on the claim that time did not exist at the birth of the universe. I accept this, and that it implies that there could not have been a change in mass/energy, and so the LOC was not violated. You must also accept, however, that without time it makes no sense to say anything was created, since like "conservation", "creation" does not make sense if nothing can change from one point in time to the next. So I'm afraid that your new approach isn't going to fit your beliefs any better than your original approach. At least we've gotten beyond this confusion between regularities in nature and the laws that human beings invent to describe them. But this new approach of yours simply points out what I have been saying all along: The beginning of the universe is - to say the least! - an extraordinary event, and our ordinary concepts of time, space, conservation, change, creation and causality do not seem to apply. There goes your argument from First Cause. Cheers, RDFish/AIGuy RDFish
RDFish: I think you are one of the most intelligent ID proponents I’ve talked to here. Isn't that sweet. But what about all those other intelligent ID proponents here who RDFish refuses to talk to? Mung
RDFish, Rather than wade through all your hysterical distractions, I will, one last time, subject your unreasonable claim to a reasoned analysis.
IF in fact mass/energy was created at the Big Bang (rather than having existed eternally), THEN the law of mass/energy conservation would have been violated.
The law of conservation of energy does not simply say that matter/energy cannot be destroyed. To leave it there is to misrepresent it egregiously. According to LOC, the total energy of an isolated system remains constant and it is conserved over time. That is the part you are leaving out. Accordingly, energy can neither be created or destroyed over time and exists as an element of an isolated system It is clear, therefore, that, according to that same law, mass/energy is inseparable from the isolated system, which conserves it, and from time, which tests it. If there is no time, there is no opportunity to test the claim that energy can be created or destroyed. Mass/energy cannot exist apart from time and apart from the isolated system that is said to contain it. In the context of the law, therefore, to create mass/energy is to also create time and an isolated system. Mass/energy exists in time and as an element of an isolated system. To say that creating mass/energy violates the law of conservation, therefore, is to also say that creating time and an isolated system violates the law of conservation, which is insane. Obviously, we would have no law of mass/energy conservation unless mass/energy, time, and the isolated system (and of course space) had been brought into existence at the big bang. The law of conservation, therefore, cannot possibly conflict with the creation of mass/energy because, again, that law does not say simply that matter/energy cannot be created or destroyed. It says that matter/energy cannot be destroyed over time, which necessarily means after time came into existence. That means, of course, that the Law of conservation can only be violated after time came into existence. It cannot be violated as time came into existence, that is, on the occasion of its having been created or brought into existence. That is why no other human being, living or dead, agrees with your cockamamie notion that creating matter/energy would violate the law of conservation. Now go ahead and say something crazy in response. StephenB
Hi StephenB,
I am challenging your general notion that the law of conservation is necessarily a law about what “cannot happen” and that is must be understood that way. On the contrary, the law of conservation is really about what will happen: The isolated system “will remain constant.”
No, it says that the amount of mass/energy in an isolated system will remain constant. Another way to say the exact same thing is to say this amount cannot change. Another way to say the exact same thing is to say the exact same thing is to say mass/energy can't be created or destroyed. It is beyond ridiculous to play with words this way. According to conservation law, mass/energy can't be created or destroyed, and therefore the total amount of mass/energy remains constant.
SB: RDFish, who thinks that causality submits to his personal preferences and operates only when he wants it to operate. RDF: This is just an obvious and extremely stupid lie on your part. Never have I said anything of the sort... SB: On the contrary, you pick and choose when and where causality will be in play.
You fail to provide any quote where I say this, because you can't, because I didn't say it, and you just lie about it anyway. Again, isn't there something in your objective morality that condemns lying?
The name for it is “selective causality.” If you don’t want causality to apply to the beginning of the universe, then, for you, it doesn’t apply to the beginning of the universe. If you don’t want the universe to have a first cause, then, for you, no first cause is needed. If you don’t want causality to be a law, then it isn’t a law. Its called subjectivism.
Instead of debating these issues, you waste all of our time building stupid strawmen. Instead of quoting what I write and responding, you just make things up out of your head and pretend that is my position. I take this as a concession that you cannot actually respond to my arguments.
There is NO EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE that causality ever breaks down in any context.
The implications of EPR-type experiments for causality is certainly a matter of ongoing research, but there is abundant evidence that our classical notions of causality - that is, those that entail realism, locality, and temporal order - are indeed violated by them. I've never once claimed that we have any empirical evidence that all possible conceptions of causality are incompatible with these experiments. Nor have I maintained that we can empirically determine that mass/energy was actually created in the Big Bang, thus violating mass/energy conservation. As always, I'm the one pointing out that these issues are controversial and that we've gone beyond all we know when we attempt to describe how the universe got started. You want to preserve causality - which in our commonsense understanding requires realism, locality, and temporal ordering - to an event where time itself did not precede the event! You blithely claim that your theory shows something (a person?) must have caused the universe to begin anyway, although you have no scientific evidence to support the argument.
RDF: Just another lie from you: I never say that scientists just make things up of course! ...Scientists do not just make things up – hypothesis is only the first step of what they do.... scientists make up (hypothesize) laws and then test them continuously to see if the law they made up accurately predicts what we observe in different situations. SB: [no response - you just reiterate my point that laws must be tested. so yeah, you just lie about what I say]
Oh please, your whole theme on this thread has been about how creating conservation violates conservation.
Oh good grief you are so confused... and once again dishonest. I think the phrase "creating conservation" is utterly nonsensical, so no, I have never said this. My theme in this thread is that you cannot take classical physics and apply them to the Big Bang and come up with an argument that God created the universe! That argument was invented before we understood that our commonsense understanding of realism, locality, causality and temporal ordering does not apply to extraordinary physical events - like the beginning of space/time!
Meanwhile, as usual, you are running away from the central question.
In psychology, this is called "projection". I never run away from any questions - I answer all of them. You just make up ridiculous strawmen and lie about what I say.
The question is about the principle (or regularity, if you like) in nature that we refer to as a law, the one that prevents matter and energy from being created or destroyed.
I for one am tired of talking past each other. If you are serious about debating this question, let us please agree on the terms: 1) Regularity In Nature Some physically realized pattern among physical entities. The entities would include mass/energy and forces. Examples of patterns would be how these things move in time and space, how they persist, disappear, transform, or correlate their properties. Regularities are things that happen in nature, not descriptions of things that happen in nature. Therefore, regularities in nature cannot meaningfully be said to be "violated"; only physical laws can be violated. 2) Physical Law A rule, typically written as a (set of) mathematical equations, that describes some regularity in nature. These rules are devised by human beings, and once they have been hypothesized, they are tested by the scientific community. These tests look for situations in which the predictions of the law do not match our observations. These situations may be in the present (in a laboratory, for example), or in the past (investigating the birth of a star, for example, or the Big Bang). Often laws that have been perfectly confirmed in ordinary circumstances - even for centuries - are found to be violated under extraordinary circumstances; Newton's laws are perfect examples of this. If you disagree with something I've said in these two definitions, don't go any further. You have been fighting against these simple points all along - are you ready to accept them now?
Did that principle exist in the absence of the mass/energy that is being regulated?
I do not know if by "principle" you mean "Regularity in Nature" or "Physical Law", as defined above. But here it is, perfectly clearly, using the definitions I've just provided: Any regularity concerning mass/energy cannot logically occur if no mass/energy has ever been created. Any law that human beings come up with can be tested against any situation, past or present. When we test the law of mass/energy conservation against the Big Bang, we see that IF in fact mass/energy was created at the Big Bang (rather than having existed eternally), THEN the law of mass/energy conservation would have been violated. Cheers, RDFish/AIGuy RDFish
Hi Box, Thank you for graciously conceding our debate. To recap: You were under the impression that the Law of Mass/energy Conservation was a law that God passed to determine how the universe would behave. You imagined that there has only been one of these laws, and that it has never been violated. Now I hope you understand that human beings have authored a number of different versions of conservation laws of mass, energy, and other quantities, but many of those versions of the law have already been falsified. The most recent version of a law of mass/energy conservation may - as you yourself pointed out! - be violated in various ways because of universal explanation. And finally, I trust we now agree that if we apply the most recent version of the Law of Mass/Energy Conservation to the Big Bang, and we also assume that mass/energy was in fact created at the moment of the Big Bang (and was not already existent), then the Law of Mass/energy Conservation was violated. Thanks for the debate! Cheers, RDFish/AIGuy RDFish
Hi JimFit,
RDF: Your fallacy (logical error) is called the fallacy of the undistributed middle. JF: No, we are talking about chemicals here, until you find me an H 2O different from an H 2O you can’t claim this fallacy.
Yes, I see your point. I think you are one of the most intelligent ID proponents I've talked to here. Thank you for your insights. I assume that your well-honed logical arguments support your belief in God - the Christian God, right? - and that He created the universe, right? Fascinating! Cheers, RDFish/AIGuy RDFish
Yes, I was pointing out an error in your logic when you said “If thoughts are material then everything around us are thoughts.”. Your argument formalized is this, which is an invalid syllogism: 1) Thoughts are material 2) Everything around us is material 3) Therefore, everything around us are thoughts. Your fallacy (logical error) is called the fallacy of the undistributed middle.
No, we are talking about chemicals here, until you find me an H 2O different from an H 2O you can't claim this fallacy.
Rather than try to learn about this fascinating and complex area from people on internet forums, I suggest you buy a book on introductory philosophy, including philosophy of mind. Good luck!
What fascinating idea? This is the dumbest idea i have ever heard, if brain produces thoughts we wouldn't be able to be aware of them. Again watch this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBsI_ay8K70 JimFit
RDFish
You have mistaken my comment regarding limitive laws for a comment on ALL laws,
I am challenging your general notion that the law of conservation is necessarily a law about what "cannot happen" and that is must be understood that way. On the contrary, the law of conservation is really about what will happen: The isolated system "will remain constant." It is also to say that matter/energy "can change form." To say that matter/energy "cannot be destroyed" is the negative reciprocal expression of the same point. So it is not reasonable to define the law exclusively in negative terms. SB: RDFish, who thinks that causality submits to his personal preferences and operates only when he wants it to operate.
This is just an obvious and extremely stupid lie on your part. Never have I said anything of the sort, quite obviously, yet you simply lie about it because (as always) you have lost this debate many times over. This is always the pattern of our debates. Why doesn’t your objective Christian morality prevent you from being so dishonest?
On the contrary, you pick and choose when and where causality will be in play. The name for it is "selective causality." If you don't want causality to apply to the beginning of the universe, then, for you, it doesn't apply to the beginning of the universe. If you don't want the universe to have a first cause, then, for you, no first cause is needed. If you don't want causality to be a law, then it isn't a law. Its called subjectivism. RDFish thinks the universe could have come into existence without a cause.
Yes that is correct of course. And if StephenB would stop lying about what I am saying, we could actually debate this central issue. Just as conservation laws break down under extraordinary circumstances, so does locality, realism, temporal order, and – yes – causality. These conclusions come with a huge amount of empirical evidence – that dear ba77 has flooded this forum with regularly!
Here we go again. Selective causality. There is NO EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE that causality ever breaks down in any context. Empirical evidence does not inform the law of causality, the law of causality informs empirical evidence. (Please don't send me to a website that misinterprets the evidence to fit the subjectivist world view. We have been down that road before.) And I explained to you that scientists don’t just “make things up.”
Just another lie from you: I never say that scientists just make things up of course!
You said that laws
"are things that human beings make up to try and explain and predict what happens in the world. They are not something in nature that was created by God – they are just ideas from human beings.
Laws are not simply "made up" or "invented" to explain and predict. Physical laws are conclusions in the form of a coherent summary based on experiments and observations that become accepted by the scientific community. It’s not just something that is “made up” or “invented.” The word “law,” after all, was chosen for a reason, indicating something that admits of no exceptions. SB: Can you cite another human being, living or dead, that agrees with your incredible claim that creating the law of conservation would violate the law of conservation?
This doesn’t even make sense, and of course you are completely lying by saying I said anything of the sort. Go ahead – show where I said this…. tick tock tick tock… oops, you can’t because you are lying. And wrong about this too.
Oh please, your whole theme on this thread has been about how creating conservation violates conservation. I am asking you if you can find another human being, living or dead, that agrees with your position.. Meanwhile, as usual, you are running away from the central question. The question is about the principle (or regularity, if you like) in nature that we refer to as a law, the one that prevents matter and energy from being created or destroyed. Did that principle exist in the absence of the mass/energy that is being regulated? (Please do not say something silly such as "there are no principles in nature.)" StephenB
StephenB, Silver Asiatic, JimFit and others, you have all done a more than adequate job exposing RDFish as an illogical, unreflective, boorish and last but not least unresponsive troll who has in fact nothing to say.
RDFish: GOOD GRIEF, you haven’t listened to a single thing I’ve said.
Well I did, but there is simply nothing there. Box
Hi JimFit,
RDFish you said above porcupines are animals, then all animals are porcupines.
Yes, I was pointing out an error in your logic when you said "If thoughts are material then everything around us are thoughts.". Your argument formalized is this, which is an invalid syllogism: 1) Thoughts are material 2) Everything around us is material 3) Therefore, everything around us are thoughts. Your fallacy (logical error) is called the fallacy of the undistributed middle.
But here we are talking about simple chemicals, it is like saying that water from water has a difference, again if we replicate the electrochemical reactions of our brains in the lab that means that we have sparkled a thought?
Rather than try to learn about this fascinating and complex area from people on internet forums, I suggest you buy a book on introductory philosophy, including philosophy of mind. Good luck! Cheers, RDFish/AIGuy RDFish
Hi StephenB, Here is our exchange:
RDF: Conservation laws are limitive laws – like the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, or the Pauli exclusion principle. They describe things that can NOT happen, not what MUST happen. SB: So you think that the law of gravity is about what “cannot happen” or “must not happen?”
You have mistaken my comment regarding limitive laws for a comment on ALL laws, and try to ridicule me by asking if the Law of Gravity is also about what "cannot happen".
I was responding to your screwball notion that a physical law “describes the fact that we never have, under any circumstances, observed such a phenomenon.”
You were responding directly to my quote, just as it is printed on this very page. I actually think you simply misread my statement in your haste and desperation to find something I've said in error. Now you are pretending that you were responding to a comment I made many posts ago - typical of you. But even so you are wrong: Limitive laws like the ones I mentioned are very definitely about things we have never, under any circumstance, observed. So you are wrong about this. Here, however, you are simply lying:
RDFish, who thinks that causality submits to his personal preferences and operates only when he wants it to operate.
This is just an obvious and extremely stupid lie on your part. Never have I said anything of the sort, quite obviously, yet you simply lie about it because (as always) you have lost this debate many times over. This is always the pattern of our debates. Why doesn't your objective Christian morality prevent you from being so dishonest?
A physical law cannot be defined as something that “cannot happen”
How wrong can you possibly be? Here are the three limitive laws that I explicitly told you about, since you obviously have never heard of them: Conservation of Mass/Energy: The creation or destruction of mass/energy cannot happen. Heisenberg Uncertainty: Measurements of complementary quantum properties with an uncertainty product less than (Planck's constant)/2 cannot happen. Pauli Exclusion: Two identical fermions occupying the same quantum state simultaneously cannot happen. These are laws that talk about what cannot happen. So you are wrong about this too.
If you think it applies to the law of conservation, that’s fine.
This is truly pathetic. I did not invent the law of conservation. Conservation laws have evolved over thousands of years. Galileo made up some versions of conservation laws, as did Leibniz and Newton. Following Relativity Theory at the start of the 20th century the modern version of mass/energy conservation was formulated. All of these conservation laws state what CANNOT happen, not what MUST happen. So you are wrong about that too. Until the most recent formulations of these laws, all of them have been observed to be VIOLATED under certain conditions. So you are wrong about that too. These conditions have NOTHING to do with my personal preferences. So you are wrong about that too. These conditions are extraordinary in terms of high energies, high relative velocities, large masses, and so on - not ORDINARY conditions of our everyday experience. So you are wrong about that too.
RDFish thinks the universe could have come into existence without a cause.
Yes that is correct of course. And if StephenB would stop lying about what I am saying, we could actually debate this central issue. Just as conservation laws break down under extraordinary circumstances, so does locality, realism, temporal order, and - yes - causality. These conclusions come with a huge amount of empirical evidence - that dear ba77 has flooded this forum with regularly!
And I explained to you that scientists don’t just “make things up.”
Just another lie from you: I never say that scientists just make things up of course! Again, it's all right here on this page, and you can't change it. You can't show me where I say this because I never did. Over and over and over again I have explained that scientists make up (hypothesize) laws and then test them continuously to see if the law they made up accurately predicts what we observe in different situations. And these laws - like Newton's laws - are often found to eventually be violated under extraordinary circumstances. Scientists do not just make things up - hypothesis is only the first step of what they do. So you are wrong about this too.
Can you cite another human being, living or dead, that agrees with your incredible claim that creating the law of conservation would violate the law of conservation?
This doesn't even make sense, and of course you are completely lying by saying I said anything of the sort. Go ahead - show where I said this.... tick tock tick tock... oops, you can't because you are lying. And wrong about this too. I have just recounted a short history of various scientists who have proposed different versions of conservation laws, and how each law has been eventually observed to be violated - even perhaps the modern version of mass/energy conservation (as Box pointed out!!) So you are wrong about this too. You have been wrong about every single issue we've discussed here. Oh, and you constantly lie about what I say. Cheers, RDFish/AIGuy RDFish
RDFish
If you understood this, you would not ask if a “law” could exist before the universe began.
Oh please. The question is about the principle (or regularity, if you like) in nature that we refer to as a law, the one that prevents matter and energy from being created or destroyed. Did that principle exist in the absence of the mass/energy that is being regulated? (Please do not say something stupid like "there are no principles in nature"). StephenB
RDFish you said above
porcupines are animals, then all animals are porcupines.
But here we are talking about simple chemicals, it is like saying that water from water has a difference, again if we replicate the electrochemical reactions of our brains in the lab that means that we have sparkled a thought? JimFit
Box
Now, we have arrived at the next question: can there be in existence a physical law – which is (in your own words) induced from observation and descriptive – if physical entities to which the law pertains do not exist?
RDFish
Instead of attempting to back me into a corner with your Socratic questions, please save us both some time and just say what you think and we can debate it.
RDF carries on as if several people had not already tried to have a rational debate with him. At this point, it would save a lot more time if RDF would simply answer the question. Of course, he will not. StephenB
RDFish
ok, here is a perfect illustration of you completely going off the rails. I clearly explain to you that conservation laws are limitive laws, then I give you two other example of limitive laws, and then I explain to you what a limitive law is. Your response is to tell me that I think the law of gravity is a limitive law. Well, StephenB, I don’t think that, but it was either stunningly stupid of you or utterly dishonest of you to misrepresent my point so blatantly. Don’t you understand that people can read what I said right here on this page, and so they know I was explicitly talking about laws that are limitive?
You have the darndest time facing up to your errors. I was responding to your screwball notion that a physical law "describes the fact that we never have, under any circumstances, observed such a phenomenon.” Those are your words. If you don't like eating them, don't write them.
Uh yes, you have correctly stated Newton’s law here. For you to imagine that is a limitive law, like the conservation laws or the uncertainty or exclusion principles is simply ignorant. For you to accuse me of thinking that is shamefully dishonest.
Except that I don't think Newton's Law is a limitive law and never said so. Each time I refute you, you grow more irritable.
Every person reading this page can see for themselves how you, in your desperation to prove me wrong about something, patently makes something up that I would never say! Again, in case you missed it: The Law of Universal Gravitation is not a limitive law. Conservation laws are limitive laws.
Every person reading this page can immediately discover your error--and your capacity to go on and on after it has been exposed. A physical law cannot be defined as something that "cannot happen" since that characterization obviously does not apply to most laws. If you think it applies to the law of conservation, that's fine. Definitions are not about exceptions, they are about norms.
Ok, I see. You aren’t even trying any more. Once again you realize you haven’t gotten one single point right, so you’ve just given up the pretense of trying to debate, and now you are just making things up, one after another, that are absurd strawmen. Sorry but every reader of this page can see I never say any of these things of course – you’re just ranting now.
Again, this one is easy. RDFish thinks the universe could have come into existence without a cause. If any reader has a question about this, I invite them to consult with RD. I am not making it up. I am prepared to provide plenty of evidence. .
I’ve explained to you over and over again that the history of physics is a record of people making up laws that work in some situations, but then are found to be violated in other situations. I gave you examples, such as Newton’s laws, which are violated in all sorts of situations. But you just ignore all of these points – even though they completely undermine everything you say. You just pretend that I haven’t said them… and then, hysterically, accuse me of dodging points! Not very Christian of you, I must say.
And I explained to you that scientists don't just "make things up." Physical laws are conclusions in the form of a summary based on experiments and observations that become accepted by the scientific community. It’s not just something that is “made up” or “invented.” The word “law,” after all, was chosen for a reason, indicating something that admits of no exceptions. Why don't you save all of us a lot of time, RD. Can you cite another human being, living or dead, that agrees with your incredible claim that creating the law of conservation would violate the law of conservation? Does it not occur to you that if you are totally alone in your thoughts, you might be in error? This is a serious question. You ought to think about it. StephenB
Hi StephenB,
RDF: Huh? Conservation laws are limitive laws – like the Heisenberg uncertainty principle, or the Pauli exclusion principle. They describe things that can NOT happen, not what MUST happen. SB: So you think that the law of gravity is about what “cannot happen” or “must not happen?”
Ok, here is a perfect illustration of you completely going off the rails. I clearly explain to you that conservation laws are limitive laws, then I give you two other example of limitive laws, and then I explain to you what a limitive law is. Your response is to tell me that I think the law of gravity is a limitive law. Well, StephenB, I don't think that, but it was either stunningly stupid of you or utterly dishonest of you to misrepresent my point so blatantly. Don't you understand that people can read what I said right here on this page, and so they know I was explicitly talking about laws that are limitive?
Interesting.
If what you say is interesting, it would only be in a clinical sense.
“Newton’s law of universal gravitation states that any two bodies in the universe attract each other with a force that is directly proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them.”
Uh yes, you have correctly stated Newton's law here. For you to imagine that is a limitive law, like the conservation laws or the uncertainty or exclusion principles is simply ignorant. For you to accuse me of thinking that is shamefully dishonest. Oh, and just to remind you yet again: Newton's Law of Universal Gravitation has been observed to be violated countless times.
It doesn’t seem like that law is about what cannot happen or what must not happen. It would appear that it is about what must happen. (Stay tune for RD’s latest claim that he has been misunderstood or misrepresented.)
Every person reading this page can see for themselves how you, in your desperation to prove me wrong about something, patently makes something up that I would never say! Again, in case you missed it: The Law of Universal Gravitation is not a limitive law. Conservation laws are limitive laws.
A good example would be RDFish, who thinks that causality submits to his personal preferences and operates only when he wants it to operate. Hence, for RDFish, causality need not apply to the universe.
Ok, I see. You aren't even trying any more. Once again you realize you haven't gotten one single point right, so you've just given up the pretense of trying to debate, and now you are just making things up, one after another, that are absurd strawmen. Sorry but every reader of this page can see I never say any of these things of course - you're just ranting now.
RDF: Let’s give it a try: I hereby decree the law “What goes down must come up”. Testing it now… hey, it doesn’t seem to work!?! Objectivism must be true after all! Hahahahahahahahahaha SB: You seem to be imploding.
No, actually I was laughing at you for thinking that when somebody thinks up a law of physics, it determines how the physical word will actually behave. That is also stunningly stupid. In reality, the physical word behaves just as it does, and we humans invent laws in order to try and predict and explain what we observe. I know I'm wasting my time trying to explain this to you, but perhaps somebody is just joining our conversation.
It’s not just something that is “made up” or “invented.” The word “law,” after all, was chosen for a reason, indicating something that admits of no exceptions.
I've explained to you over and over again that the history of physics is a record of people making up laws that work in some situations, but then are found to be violated in other situations. I gave you examples, such as Newton's laws, which are violated in all sorts of situations. But you just ignore all of these points - even though they completely undermine everything you say. You just pretend that I haven't said them... and then, hysterically, accuse me of dodging points! Not very Christian of you, I must say. Cheers, RDFish/AIGuy RDFish
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