Intelligent Design

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?

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

  1. 1
    Andre says:

    For the atheist it is not about evidence or proof. Even if we could zoom in to read an inscription on a protein that read “Made by God 3 Billion BC” they would still shrug it off. The truth is that the idea of God is nauseating to atheists because they just can’t accept that all this is not about them. I know I’ve been there.

  2. 2
    timothya says:

    Andre says:

    “For the atheist it is not about evidence or proof. Even if we could zoom in to read an inscription on a protein that read “Made by God 3 Billion BC” they would still shrug it off.”

    Do you have any evidence that such an inscription exists anywhere in any protein?

  3. 3
    Jim Smith says:

    To some people, God means the god of the bible. So someone who believes in ID can consider himself an atheist if he doesn’t believe the bible. You have to debate the interpretation of the data, is the best explanation of the origin of life ID or not? Is the fine tuning of the universe to support life best explained by an transcendent creator? Whether you want to call that creator or designer God is ultimately a personal choice.

  4. 4
    BatGuano says:

    Atheists are tiresome.

  5. 5
    kairosfocus says:

    TA: Do you recognise what interwoven, multiple layer encoding indicates? As in, crossword puzzle on steroids? (Let’s say, when I first learned of early data compression tricks used by folks working with early micro processors and v limited memory, I was fervently thankful for more capable RAM such as 4 bit by 2 k devices like the 2114!) What it means to have digitally coded algorithms and associated read and execute machinery in the heart of cell-based, metabolic self replicating life forms? Just, functionally specific complex organisation and associated information given the implication of multiple proper, correctly interacting and arranged parts to achieve function? KF

  6. 6
    kairosfocus says:

    JS, Try Sir Fred Hoyle. KF

    AS, I suggest you take a moment here:

    http://nicenesystheol.blogspot.....#u2_morals

    KF

  7. 7
    kairosfocus says:

    WJT:

    Another thought provoking article.

    I think we need for people to think clearly about being.

    For instance, non-being (a true nothing) has no causal powers, there’s nought there to have powers!

    So if ever there were utterly nothing, that would forever obtain.

    There is something so there always must be something, something independent of other things for its existence as it is the root of that.

    A necessary being, in short.

    The real discussion is which candidate best fills the bill.

    KF

    PS: I suggest those perplexed concerning Jesus cf here, which includes a vid for those inclined that way, to view rather than read.

  8. 8
    chris haynes says:

    No Evidence?
    None?

    How about John 2:1-12, Jesus turning water into wine.
    Top shelf wine.

    Incredible, not just a college grad, but a Professor, that is so ignorant he doesn’t know that the account of a witness is…..evidence.

    What school does this guy teach at?
    The parents should sue.

  9. 9
    Piotr says:

    Well, even today there are people capable not only of walking on water and levitating, but even of taking selfies of themselves while levitating! In every case there is a crowd of eyewitnesses taking photos and filming the miracle. That’s far harder documentary evidence than we have for Giuseppe da Copertino’s extatic flights!

    Walking on water
    Levitation

  10. 10
    Joe says:

    LoL! I am sure Piotr believes that…

  11. 11
    Axel says:

    Since the late, preeminent atheist-apologist, Professor Anthony Flew, remarked that the fine-tuning of the universe was what finally convinced him of deism, Hitchens was playing safe, rather than ‘pushing the boat out’, as was his ever so slightly bombastic and customary wont.

    Indeed, with his third-class degree, Hitchens could hardly be viewed as a peer of Flew in his understanding of philosophy. He was a minion of the atheist media, whenever Dawkins was unavailable. Or else a supplement, good for ‘midship ballast’, if not for the higher reaches.

  12. 12
    kairosfocus says:

    Piotr, miracles are real enough, whatever trickeries some may play at. My being here is as a result of miraculous guidance to the doctor who saved my life. I have known people healed of various diseases. And much more, especially seeing dramatic life transformations that are testimonies of redeeming grace . . . but then, there are literally millions of cases in point. As to levitation, apart from noting that the 1,000+ case in front of many eyewitnesses was within living memory and fresh record of Hume’s day . . . rendering his dismissive arguments highly dubious, let’s just say, I have observed that (in a semi-public situation), eyeball mark I; but in a context where the bigger miracle was suppressing a spectacle by forces up to no good then driving them out. Powers to do extraordinary things are not proof of goodness of said powers. One needs to look at orchards and quality of fruit. KF

  13. 13
    Curly Howard says:

    For every life saved by a doctor, there are thousands who cannot be brought back. For every person healed of what was determined to be a terminal disease, there are thousands who remain sick. For every life transformation that brings someone back from the brink, there are thousands who go over the edge. For every miracle baby, there are thousands of mothers unable to conceive or babies born with deformity.
    It would be nice if god could spend less time performing the miracle of levitation, and pay more attention to the unnecessary suffering we see on this planet.

  14. 14
    kairosfocus says:

    CH, I suggest that God is not normally spectacular [hence my speaking of a particular case I personally witnessed alongside others as I just did . . . ], and the work of transforming hearts (a real challenge, given human freedom) and reforming cultures that led to doing much good should not be underestimated or brushed aside — we reap many benefits of that today though too often it is now slighted or written out of our history books and classes. Beyond, I suggest you may find this helpful on the problem of evils, as a 101. KF

  15. 15
    Curly Howard says:

    God is not normally spectacular?
    What is god, then?

  16. 16
    kairosfocus says:

    CH, God does not have to show off to draw attention, but there are more than adequate signs for us to see enough. Try 98 here and 178. KF

    PS: As for understanding what God is, this discussion may help, at least to appreciate what ethical theists are thinking:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....eat-being/

  17. 17
    Quest says:

    Vjtorley,

    This is an excellent, excellent review… congratulations…!!!

    Maybe… next time perhaps… you should ask ALL THE SCEPTICS what evidence would satisfy their desires for evidence of God’s existence… I personally think you may find it a bit surprising…

  18. 18
    Curly Howard says:

    I’m not asking god to show off.
    Apparently you and I have different definitions of “adequate.”
    For every “miracle” there are still thousands of people begging and praying for a miracle of their own. Odds are a few will actually get what they wish for, but oh how quickly we forget those that don’t.

  19. 19
    Barry Arrington says:

    Suppose God were the cosmic vending machine you seem to think he is supposed to be: “Put your prayer token in the slot and pick up your miracle at the bottom.” Easy peezey; slick and breezy.

    Now go back and think long and hard about the implications of such a god for free will. And when you’ve thought long enough and hard enough, you will have your answer.

  20. 20
    Curly Howard says:

    But then why does god answer, let’s say, 1% of prayers, Barry?

  21. 21
    kairosfocus says:

    CH, UD is not about this particular subject, butprayer is not magic — the attempt to manipulate powers to one’s advantage, it is about in the end relationship. And, miracles no 1 and 2 are not particularly spectacular but pivotal. First God hears and answers sincere prayer. Second he reaches out to us relationally and positively transformationally. There are literally dozens of millions alive right now who experience these two miracles. And indeed miracle no 3 is directly connected. There are other miracles that serve as signs that help a community move towards the same focal issue in 1 and 2. Beyond this, things go off into theology, which is not appropriate to UD and a major side of its audience, so I simply suggest that there is more to the matter than you have seen. KF

  22. 22
    Curly Howard says:

    That’s odd, because I see people (ba77) post about prayer, out of body experiences, an other nonsense pretty regularly.
    Anyways, maybe there is more than I have seen, or maybe it’s just wishful thinking on your part. Maybe you only pay attention to the miracles that do occur, and ignore (or aren’t even aware of) those that never do.

  23. 23
    bornagain77 says:

    Curly, if I may suggest, I suggest you read Metaxas’s book ‘Miracles’. I believe it is still on the NYTimes bestseller list (it was up to number 12 two weeks ago):

    http://www.amazon.com/dp/05259.....qu55fz6r_e

    In it, he has a chapter that honestly deals with the issue of ‘unanswered prayers’

    I believe he touches on that issue in this interview:

    Interview – Author Eric Metaxas Talks About “Miracles”
    https://soundcloud.com/freefallaudio/author-eric-metaxas-talks-about-miracles

    of related note

    Buckshot: Eric Metaxas Interview
    https://soundcloud.com/buck-sexton/buck-shot-eric-matesx-interview

  24. 24
    kairosfocus says:

    CH, I have given my view, and my reason in outline. Beyond, you have been invited to look at much more central matters. KF

  25. 25
    rvb8 says:

    Then of course we must also bare in mind the diminution of god from the, ‘part the ocean oh Lord’, to the ‘please clear my bald patch’, or ‘cure my cancer’. The fact that people pray for the ease of these melodies is perfectly normal (all power to them), but do they fully understand how they have hijacked god and made him into some bumbling folk hero? (perhaps that’s why we invented him, who knows).

    None of the evidences here presented are anything more than efforts at wishing it were so, to coin a popular rebuke often used here, “Just so Stories”: ‘oh look at the rainbow; god. oh look at my baby; miracle, god. oh look at the cell; complex, god.’

    Fine Tuning? This is the so called stamp of god, the evidence left by him to lead us to his realm and everlasting peace, into the arms of the joyful saviour where we will fish with the eternal ‘fisher of men’ in heavenly bliss for all eternity: No thank you, 5 minutes with News, Barry and sidekicks vjtorley, BA77, and co, and I will ask god if he could place me in his equally non-existant alternative fantasy.

  26. 26
    rwz46 says:

    I have on my computer a small book entitled “Can God Heal Teeth”? The book is about the ministry of Rev Willard Fuller and it is written by NASA scientist Dr. Daniel Fry. The book describes the testimonies of many people who have had their teeth filled with gold, silver. porcelain or just natural dental material. There are many accounts of people looking on and watching in real time these miracles taking place by looking in mouths of the folks being healed including dentists and dental technicians. The fact that the book was written by a NASA scientist adds weight to these testimonies. The book may be obtained by doing a search for the title of the book or, by going to the website http://www.willardfuller.com/lsf.html.

  27. 27
    Silver Asiatic says:

    in heavenly bliss for all eternity: No thank you

    I always find it strange when someone says they don’t want perfect happiness for all eternity. Usually it is followed with the idea: “if XYZ was part of it, I wouldn’t be happy”.

    Ok, you’ll have perfect happiness and you won’t be happy?

    In any case, what better thing than eternal bliss could someone want you to have?

  28. 28
    StephenB says:

    Atheists are a strange lot:

    One claims that tricks and optical illusions are miracles, another says that the rarity of miracles indicates the non-existence of miracles, another thinks that God should replace the dentist, (and another insists that he would prefer to spend eternity in an unhappy state**).

    **….”and I will ask god if he could place me in his equally non-existant alternative fantasy..”

    Be of good cheer. If you continue to make that request, you will likely get your wish.

  29. 29
    niwrad says:

    Atheists, instead of asking if God exists, would do better to ask if themselves exist.

    There is only God. Atheists are God Who, for fun, plays the game of denying Himself.

  30. 30
    Silver Asiatic says:

    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.

  31. 31
    RDFish says:

    Hi VJTorley,

    I think your arguments fail for all the usual reasons. Just to start with:

    1. If one can posit that there is a god that created the universe and was necessary, never began to exist, and thus had no cause, then one can just as reasonably (and more parsimoniously) posit that the universe itself (or the precursor of the universe, if you’d rather) had these qualities. You simply claim that this universe is contingent and that God is not, but one could just as well claim the universe is necessary. Just defining a god that is necessary doesn’t make it so – that’s the problem with these sort of armchair arguments – they try and prove things by playing with definitions rather than observable facts.

    2. Just because some philosophers have argued (with hundreds of pages!) that any “first cause” must have various qualities of the Christian conception of God (omnibenevolence, etc) does not actually prove that any “first cause” had those qualities. I find those arguments to be extreme examples of motivated reasoning, and thus completely unconvincing. I do find references in the theologies of many religions (including Christianity) to the notion that God is unknowable and beyond our comprehension. Whether this is true ultimately can be debated, but I think it is perfectly clear that this is the case currently. If the first cause is unknowable and beyond our comprehension, it means we shouldn’t go on to describe it as though we know something about it. If there was a religion that consistently accepted that the ultimate reason for the universe existing – and existing as it does – is unknowable, then I would join that religion 🙂

    3. The cosmological argument assumes we understand causality, and we don’t, as is made clear not just by Hume but by modern physics. Virtual particles begin to exist apparently without cause, for example.

    4. The argument induces that all things that begin to exist are caused – it doesn’t deduce that principle. And inductions break down under special circumstance, which of course would include the creation of the universe. (Think: For each place that exists on Earth, there is a location to the North of it…. except that one place of course).

    5. On one hand you hold that What “most philosophers” think about the argument is irrelevant.… yet on the other (in #4) you argue that so many philosophers have written that the first cause must have divine attributes that one cannot seriously doubt it. Another example of motivated reasoning – it’s so strong that you blatantly contradict yourself in the space of this one post.

    I could go on, but I think that’s enough 🙂

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  32. 32
    Axel says:

    ‘oh look at the rainbow; god. oh look at my baby; miracle, god. oh look at the cell; complex, god.’

    rvb8, if you don’t find astonishing beauty in nature and the breath-taking complexity of even microscopic beings – about which some of us only learn on this forum – miraculous, you must be among the most unfortunate of people.

    I’ve had some unusual religious experiences, but the ones that ‘knock my sock off’ when I think of them, are the briefest and, prima facie, least significant: just beautiful to such an exquisite point that I end up unsure of how much of it was to do with the senses and how much to do with the feeling of intense love which accompanied and suffused the breath-takingly beautiful sight – a radiant, if otherwise undifferentiated, canvas, like a modern artist might paint – and call, ‘absence’! Except there’s usually some hint of tiny purple or mauve specks against a white background.

    Once, the walls of my hall turned transparent for a couple of seconds, when I was on my way to the bathroom during the night. The cream colour of the walls and the hall light made them seem golden. Again it was accompanied by that intense feeling of great beauty and love.

    I wondered whether it might have been an angelic visit (they’re pure spirits of great power) or my late wife saying hello, with newly-invested powers of her own).

  33. 33
    Barry Arrington says:

    Red Fish

    “. . .but one could just as well claim the universe is necessary.”

    This comment demonstrates that you do not have a firm grasp on the difference between “necessary” and “contingent.” Can you point to any particular “thing” in the universe that is other than contingent? Of course not. Then why would you say that the universe, which is simply a collection of contingent things, could possibly be considered necessary.

  34. 34
    Silver Asiatic says:

    RDF

    You simply claim that this universe is contingent and that God is not, but one could just as well claim the universe is necessary

    The universe is contingent because it changes.

    I do find references in the theologies of many religions (including Christianity) to the notion that God is unknowable and beyond our comprehension …I think it is perfectly clear that this is the case currently. If the first cause is unknowable and beyond our comprehension, it means we shouldn’t go on to describe it as though we know something about it.

    You just described something that you know about God. You described one of the attributes of God – and thus we know something about God. God is beyond our comprehension. We can compare God with things that are very knowable and note the difference.

    In doing this, we can see that the idea that God is unknowable is consistent with the idea that we can know something about God. “Unknowable” or “beyond our comprehension” refers to the impossibility of finite, contingent beings to Fully comprehend what God is.

    But we know that God cannot be created by anything since that is contingency and an infinite regress of creations.

    The fact that something exists has to be explained by either having received existence, or by being existence.

    If it received existence, then it is contingent – and had a beginning.

    If it is existence then it is uncaused and necessary.

  35. 35
    Mung says:

    Who is Larry Moran and why should anyone care what he thinks?

    LM: There is no evidence for God, a god, or gods.

    M: What would count as evidence for God , a god, or gods, and why, and what would cont as evidence against God or a god, or gods, and why?

    LM: Uh… I really never thought about that.

  36. 36
    Mung says:

    RDFish will next provide his evidence for the case that the universe just magically popped into existence from nothing at all. Or not.

  37. 37
    RDFish says:

    Hi Barry,

    This comment demonstrates that you do not have a firm grasp on the difference between “necessary” and “contingent.”

    No, you are wrong about that too.

    Can you point to any particular “thing” in the universe that is other than contingent?

    We have no way of knowing, of course! I think perhaps it’s you who hasn’t quite understood the concept. As far as you or I can tell, it could be the case that nothing is contingent. Just because things in our experience change, begin to exist, and cease to exist, does not mean that they might have been different. Prove otherwise!

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  38. 38
    RDFish says:

    Hi Silver Asiatic,

    The universe is contingent because it changes.

    Just because something changes doesn’t mean it did not necessarily have to change.

    You just described something that you know about God.

    No, you’re quite wrong about that too.

    First, you need to tell me what you mean by “God” before I can say anything at all. I can’t say if “God is knowable” until you tell me what “God” is.

    Second, what I said is that if there is a first cause of the universe (and of course there may be no such thing), then it is presently beyond our comprehension so we can say nothing about it. AGAIN: That is not saying something about the first cause; it is saying nothing about the first cause.

    In doing this, we can see that the idea that God is unknowable is consistent with the idea that we can know something about God.

    This is the sort of logic I have grown to expect from folks here at UD 🙂

    “Unknowable” or “beyond our comprehension” refers to the impossibility of finite, contingent beings to Fully comprehend what God is.

    Now you have changed your tune again! Which is it – beyond our comprehension, or beyond our ability to fully comprehend? Hmmmmm.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  39. 39
    kairosfocus says:

    RDF,

    First, contingency of being implies dependency on external enabling factors or circumstances (think on the fire example).

    Second a world of contingenr beings calls forth a necessary causal root, so the discussion is about that root.

    Third, parsimony is a recommendation for economy of thought and not a proper criterion of truth or warrant.

    Finally, we have empirical observational experience of just one cosmos, which is based on matter-energy in space-time undergoing change processes. Processes that since the 1920’s and esp. the 1960’s, we have had strong reason to understand trace to a finitely remote beginning at a singularity, c 10 – 20 BYA. (That loose number is projectable from various astronomical data, starting with patterns of HR curves for clusters, red shift, etc.)

    The contingency of the observed cosmos is well established.

    It is not about to go away.

    And, this happens to be the only credibly observed cosmos to date; never mind multiverse speculations.

    So, by direct extension the contingency of matter and of energy forms linked to that is also well grounded.

    Exponentiate all by the strong pattern of fine tuning that sets the observed cosmos at a deeply isolated operating point. So, even through a multiverse model, we face contingency requiring necessary being as causal root. Linked to this, locally deeply isolated fine tuning points to as best explanation design.

    It is exactly not what we would reasonably expect on a multiverse blind needle in haystack search. Indeed, a Boltzmann brain popping up would be on argument a more likely outcome than what we have.

    So, we have reason to accept that we live in a contingent cosmos that began c 13.7 BYA, and shows strong signs of being designed for C-chemistry, aqueous medium cell based life.

    Mix in testimony of conscience and on pain of general delusion, we see ourselves under moral government. E.g. just today by my fav Merchant Princess’ shop (a former student) a little girl was with Mom by a cash register and dropped a small stuffed toy, a lady standing by picked it up and to interact, pretended it was hers. “Mine!” from the mouth of that little girl.

    We have a little more constraint acting on what is to be explained than lab coat clad materialists and fellow travellers are wont to admit.

    These cumulatively demand more than what a mere continuation to the past of our observed cosmos to some subcosmos matrix would admit.

    And BTW, at this point — never mind the lab coats — you have slipped across the border into philosophy.

    All serious options and key facts of life (such as mindedness and being under the generally acknowledged government of OUGHT) sit at the table as of right, not sufferance.

    We need a designer and maker of a cosmos and the IS who grounds OUGHT.

    And, the candidate root cause to beat is the inherently good Creator God, a necessary and maximally great being . . . the root of reality.

    KF

    PS: That God would be unfathomable to the finite and fallible is not exactly news. Let’s hear Isaiah, 2700+ years ago:

    Isa 55:6 “Seek the Lord while he may be found;
    call upon him while he is near;
    7 let the wicked forsake his way,
    and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
    let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
    8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
    9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts . . .

    Your contempt is unwarranted. We may know some things of God but we may not exhaust him in our attempts to understand. And that zone of knowledge includes that astonishing point.

  40. 40
    RDFish says:

    Hi KF,
    Everything you say is complete nonsense, and none of it ever responds to a single point I make.
    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  41. 41
    kairosfocus says:

    RDF, That you would label and dismiss — and what that dismissal includes by direct implication — speaks inadvertent volumes on the actual balance on the merits. KF

  42. 42
    rvb8 says:

    And cue Axel with an absurd post about invisible walls. Of course it was your spiritual wife making a pit stop, of course the walls turned transparent, and of course this was a gift from god to you to prove his existance.

    I have no problem with any of your beliefs Axel, just don’t expect me, the scientific community, rational people anywhere at any time, or just plain ordinary well adjusted people to believe it.

    It was your brain chemically producing a pleasant hallucination to calm your physical body to sleep, and obtain the necessary neural ease to face the upcomming day; but you twist that into anything you wish, if that wish helps you and comforts you: Kind of like what religion does, isn’t it?

  43. 43
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: So humble a source as wiki on Occam [admittedly, citing SEP], is instructive at 101 level:

    >> Occam’s razor (also written as Ockham’s razor and in Latin lex parsimoniae) is a problem-solving principle devised by William of Ockham (c. 1287–1347), who was an English Franciscan friar and scholastic philosopher and theologian. The principle states that among competing hypotheses, the one with the fewest assumptions should be selected. Other, more complicated solutions may ultimately prove correct, but—in the absence of certainty—the fewer assumptions that are made, the better.

    The application of the principle can be used to shift the burden of proof in a discussion. However, Alan Baker, who suggests this in the online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, is careful to point out that his suggestion should not be taken generally, but only as it applies in a particular context, that is: philosophers who argue in opposition to metaphysical theories that involve allegedly “superfluous ontological apparatus”.[a] Baker then notices that principles, including Occam’s razor, are often expressed in a way that is not clear regarding which facet of “simplicity” — parsimony or elegance — is being referred to, and that in a hypothetical formulation the facets of simplicity may work in different directions: a simpler description may refer to a more complex hypothesis, and a more complex description may refer to a simpler hypothesis.[b]

    Solomonoff’s theory of inductive inference is a mathematically formalized Occam’s razor:[2][3][4][5][6][7] Shorter computable theories have more weight when calculating the probability of the next observation, using all computable theories which perfectly describe previous observations.

    In science, Occam’s razor is used as a heuristic (discovery tool) to guide scientists in the development of theoretical models rather than as an arbiter between published models.[8][9] In the scientific method, Occam’s razor is not considered an irrefutable principle of logic or a scientific result; the preference for simplicity in the scientific method is based on the falsifiability criterion. For each accepted explanation of a phenomenon, there is always an infinite number of possible and more complex alternatives, because one can always burden failing explanations with ad hoc hypothesis to prevent them from being falsified; therefore, simpler theories are preferable to more complex ones because they are better testable and falsifiable. >>

    One slice of the “nonsense” RDF wishes to brush aside.

    KF

  44. 44
    Querius says:

    No one seems to have noticed, but Curly Howard made a pretty convincing argument in 14 against the existence of medical “doctors” and what’s popularly called “medicine” or “miracle cures.”

    Besides, with a clear profit motive, one can easily suspect a conspiracy of drug companies . . .

    Regarding Fr. Joseph, maybe he suffered a mutation that filled all his body cavities with hydrogen. In that case, all the eyewitness accounts would instantly become completely plausible, since either a naturalistic explanation or evolution has been proposed. 😉

    -Q

  45. 45
    kairosfocus says:

    RDF, I note to you that there comes a point where mere objection shades off into manifest intransigence and patent hostility, leading to breakdown of dialogue possibilities. I suggest to you that you may wish to reconsider your attitudes and projections above in that light. In the meanwhile, onwards I will speak to the general matters connected to your attempts to derail and dismiss, rather than embarking on the fruitless task of attempted dialogue. However, at points where things go well beyond the pale, I may address you directly by way of corrective remark. Likewise, if I see clear signs of a better tone and attitude. G’day, KF

  46. 46
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: On Occam’s Razor vs first principles of reason:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....reasoning/

    KF

  47. 47
    Axel says:

    Pardon me, rvb8 – I couldn’t help laughing at your post. Not maliciously. I mean what you say makes perfect sense, from your viewpoint.

    ———————
    @RDFish

    ‘Now you have changed your tune again! Which is it – beyond our comprehension, or beyond our ability to fully comprehend? Hmmmmm.’ – RD

    You are being very dense, RD, in your admonishing the Silver Fox so unthinkingly.

    The common sense inference to draw from the text, in the CONTEXT, is that mere reference to ‘comprehension’ signifies precisely ‘full comprehension’.

    I know what an ‘equals’ sign is, even in advanced mathematics, also a ‘plus’ sign.. and a ‘minus’ sign.. and er.. that sort of thing. But I can honestly say I don’t understand ‘advanced mathematics’, while fairly confident that my grasp of English hasn’t betrayed me.

  48. 48
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Querius @ 46

    Good point. 🙂 I guess eyewitnesses hallucinate all the time also. ???

  49. 49
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Axel @ 49

    Which is it – beyond our comprehension, or beyond our ability to fully comprehend? Hmmmmm.’ – RD

    You are being very dense, RD, in your admonishing the Silver Fox so unthinkingly.

    Agreed. RD is being very dense here. There are degrees of knowability or comprehension.

  50. 50
    Silver Asiatic says:

    RDFish

    Just because something changes doesn’t mean it did not necessarily have to change.

    If something changes, it is not immutable.

    If something changes, it loses something and gains something.

    If something changes, it once was in one state and then is another.

    If something changes, it is contingent – dependent and must be explained by something else.

    The universe changes and is therefore contingent. It is not self-explained.

    what I said is that if there is a first cause of the universe (and of course there may be no such thing), then it is presently beyond our comprehension so we can say nothing about it. AGAIN: That is not saying something about the first cause; it is saying nothing about the first cause.

    I guess we’ll have to disagree here.
    There’s quite a lot you can say about the first cause.
    As you already said, ‘it’s beyond our comprehension’. You reached that conclusion for some reason – based on what you know about a first cause. Some causes we can fully understand, but a first cause we cannot comprehend fully. Plus, of course, a first cause cannot have a beginning and is therefore timeless and infinite. An infinitely extended being cannot move from one place to another.
    Additionally, we know that a first cause cannot be contingent upon any other causes.
    A first cause must possess in itself what is required to give existence or start a sequence of events. It can’t depend on some prior cause to allow it to act.

    You’ve said that there is nothing we can know about the first cause. I disagree with this, so I guess we can’t go much farther.

  51. 51
    Evolve says:

    I object to Vinent Torley’s claims.

    An evidence is something that rules out competing explanations or makes them unlikely.
    As I have explained several times before in reply to Barry’s posts, NONE of what you’ve listed fulfil that criteria and therefore do not count as evidence for God.

    ///The fine-tuning of the universe (Argument 1)///-

    Flawed flawed flawed. The physical parameters could have assumed any of countless values to produce any of countless possible universes with countless possible outcomes. This universe is just one outcome. Life is a mere consequence of how the universe ended up being, i.e life is fine-tuned to the universe and not the opposite.

    ///The origin of life (Arguments 5 and 10) 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///

    The odds of Vincent Torley emerging – his parents had to meet, each of their parents had to meet, each of their parents had to meet, each of their parents had to meet…I can go back for innumerable generations and the odds of Torley emerging falls to virtually nothing. 1 followed by countless zeroes! Now, in each of those unions, one in 50 million sperm cells had to fuse with the right egg cell. That takes Torley’s existence to beyond improbable. Yet Torley is here and we know that all this happened by sheer chance. It’s downright idiotic to say that since an event in highly improbable, no event can ever happen.

    ///The irreducibility of biochemical systems (Argument 6)///

    Only for theists. There’s no such thing called an irreducibly complex system in mainstream biology.
    IC assumes that a function must be performed and the tool required to execute that function must be present as a whole for it to occur.
    No, there’s no function that absolutely must be performed. For e.g.: Bacterial flagella. Bacteria didn’t require a flagella right from the word go. There are many bacterial strains that survive today without any flagella. Components of the flagella have homologs in other systems, which suggests that different components from different pathways ended up together by mutation and chance to produce a new organ, the flagella, which conferred some advantage on the host cell so that it got selected and passed on to subsequent generations.

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

    DNA is a chemical molecule that reacts with other molecules and its environment to produce other chemical products – the sum of which we call life. Computer code does none of this. It’s not even a reacting chemical to begin with.

    ///The argument from the total contingency of the cosmos. A totally contingent reality, such as our universe, cries out for an explanation.///

    Of course the universe cries out for an explanation, but why God? What if it’s some other cause you don’t yet understand?

    ///Miracles (Argument 8) the 17th century Italian saint, Joseph of Cupertino, who was seen levitating///

    Curiously, such miracles always happened several centuries ago and never happen now! No atheist is going to believe someone’s word that some saint flew 400 years ago. Show it to us here today.

    ///The moral sense. the Golden Rile allows us to distinguish good from evil in most situations, it cannot define the meaning of good and evil///

    There’s no need to define good and evil. Moral sense EVOLVED. Just like with other traits in evolution, any behaviour that increases the odds of survival will automatically get selected for. Human ancestors developed increasingly larger brains and cognitive capacity, formed complex societies and developed culture. if human ancestors in those societies behaved in particular ways that increased the odds of the population’s survival – bingo those behavioural traits get selected for and you have a moral sense evolving.

    ///My subjective self-awareness///

    Silly. Several tests have shown that many other animals have consciousness and self-awareness.
    http://aeon.co/magazine/psycho.....ciousness/

    There was even a Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness by neuroscientists recently:

    “The absence of a neocortex does not appear to preclude an organism from experiencing affective states. Convergent evidence indicates that non-human animals have the neuroanatomical, neurochemical, and neurophysiological substrates of conscious states along with the capacity to exhibit intentional behaviors. Consequently, the weight of evidence indicates that humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness. Non-human animals, including all mammals and birds, and many other creatures, including octopuses, also possess these neurological substrates.”

    http://fcmconference.org/img/C.....usness.pdf

  52. 52
    Axel says:

    @Silver fox

    I know, Silver. My apologies. It was rude of me really to interject.

  53. 53
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Axel – not at all! It was a very welcome and insightful interjection. 🙂

  54. 54
    kairosfocus says:

    Ev,

    Consider carefully, this from John Leslie:

    One striking thing about the fine tuning is that a force strength or a particle mass often appears to require accurate tuning for several reasons at once. Look at electromagnetism. Electromagnetism seems to require tuning for there to be any clear-cut distinction between matter and radiation; for stars to burn neither too fast nor too slowly for life’s requirements; for protons to be stable; for complex chemistry to be possible; for chemical changes not to be extremely sluggish; and for carbon synthesis inside stars (carbon being quite probably crucial to life). Universes all obeying the same fundamental laws could still differ in the strengths of their physical forces, as was explained earlier, and random variations in electromagnetism from universe to universe might then ensure that it took on any particular strength sooner or later. Yet how could they possibly account for the fact that the same one strength satisfied many potentially conflicting requirements, each of them a requirement for impressively accurate tuning? [Our Place in the Cosmos, 1998 (courtesy Wayback Machine).]

    Then, this:

    . . . the need for such explanations does not depend on any estimate of how many universes would be observer-permitting, out of the entire field of possible universes. Claiming that our universe is ‘fine tuned for observers’, we base our claim on how life’s evolution would apparently have been rendered utterly impossible by comparatively minor alterations in physical force strengths, elementary particle masses and so forth. There is no need for us to ask whether very great alterations in these affairs would have rendered it fully possible once more, let alone whether physical worlds conforming to very different laws could have been observer-permitting without being in any way fine tuned. Here it can be useful to think of a fly on a wall, surrounded by an empty region. A bullet hits the fly Two explanations suggest themselves. Perhaps many bullets are hitting the wall or perhaps a marksman fired the bullet. There is no need to ask whether distant areas of the wall, or other quite different walls, are covered with flies so that more or less any bullet striking there would have hit one. The important point is that the local area contains just the one fly.

    KF

    KF

  55. 55
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Evolve

    Of course the universe cries out for an explanation, but why God? What if it’s some other cause you don’t yet understand?

    Lacking any other explanation – why not God?

  56. 56
    RDFish says:

    Hi KF,

    I’m not being hostile. There are plenty of folks here who respond to my arguments and I have civil debates with them. I’m just pointing out that (1) You also reply to me, but you never respond to a single thing I say, and (2) Your posts don’t make any sense. This could be because you have trouble articulating your ideas in English, or because your ideas are innately incoherent, or both.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  57. 57
    RDFish says:

    Hi Axel,

    You are being very dense, RD, in your admonishing the Silver Fox so unthinkingly.

    Hardly. If something is unknowable, then so it is. Saying it is unknowable doesn’t mean we know something about it – that’s just silly. But it’s worse than that for the theist, of course, because we don’t even know if there exists something that the theist calls “God” that is unknowable!

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  58. 58
    RDFish says:

    Hi Silver Asiatic,

    The universe changes and is therefore contingent.

    Imagine a perfectly deterministic universe, where each event follows necessarily from the next. Events in that universe are not contingent, even though that universe is not static. I hope that helps you understand now.

    There’s quite a lot you can say about the first cause.

    Yes of course – religious folks say these things all the time. My point was different, though: My point was that there is nothing you know about a first cause – whether or not such a thing exists in the first place.

    As you already said, ‘it’s beyond our comprehension’. You reached that conclusion for some reason – based on what you know about a first cause.

    You’re having a good deal of trouble with this. My comment was NOT based on what I know about a first cause. On the contrary, my comment is based on what we do NOT know. We know nothing about a first cause, and moreover, we do not even know if there is such a thing.

    Oh, and by the way – I listed a whole set of objections to these arguments, and nobody (including you) have even attempted to rebut them.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  59. 59
    kairosfocus says:

    RDF, all you just did was to repeat yourself equally fallaciously (recall, 42 above to 41 above, highlighting key terms: “Everything you say [–> note this tense] is complete nonsense . . . “) — I’ll bet you have not bothered to check either my onward OP on Occam and first principles of reason (including the fire example on contingent being) or the outline on astronomical matters that backs up what I have pointed out above [much less say Robin Collins here and Luke Barnes here] . . . IDiots can only be ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked, one infers. At this point, I have taken enough time to go through point by point exchanges to know that if you do not acknowledge that there is at least some sense in what has already been put on the table (even with disagreements), further attempts to discuss with someone of such a hostile mindset will be futile. You have put your hostile closed ideologised mindset on display and either you walk it back or accept that you have — again as I recall — taken a plain step too far beyond the pale of reasonable discussion. KF

  60. 60
    RDFish says:

    Hi KF,

    IDiots can only be ignorant, stupid, insane or wicked, one infers.

    Is that what you infer? I certainly disagree. Questions discussed here involving the origin of life, the origin of the universe, free will, the existence of gods, and so on – these are difficult issues that have been pondered by the best minds in history!

    So no, I’m not talking about ID proponents in general; I’m talking about you in particular. It seems to me that you are unable to read and understand what people say and then respond to them coherently. The things you write are invariably unrelated to the topic at hand, and articulated in a style that is weirdly baroque and largely unintelligible.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  61. 61
    Axel says:

    Hi, RD,

    No. You still don’t get it. I can know the score of a sports match of any kind at half-time, and after being told after the match, who’d won, still ask what the score was, without specifying ‘full-time.
    ———–
    ‘But it’s worse than that for the theist, of course, because we don’t even know if there exists something that the theist calls “God” that is unknowable!’

    Your second point quoted, immediately above, is just an elliptical kind of ‘holy roller’ outburst of praise for your own secular-fundamentalist religion. I have the same trouble with Calvinist types who proudly boast that they’re saved – no matter what they do in the future. Though, on reflection, a better parallel would be that funky, unfalsifiable, old-time Evolution.

  62. 62
    kairosfocus says:

    RDF, you now descend into personalities. Where, there is specific history going back years to underscore my inference of hostility that refused to actually check substance before jumping to conclusions. As to my point that an underlying contempt is showing is underscored by the set of links I made sure to just now add. If everything I say is complete nonsense (presumably, starting with discussing possible vs impossible and contingent vs necessary being and pointing to the big bang consensus as evidence of our observed cosmos being contingent . . . ), it seems I am in fairly good company. Good night. KF

  63. 63
    Joe says:

    RDFish:

    It seems to me that you are unable to read and understand what people say and then respond to them coherently.

    The IRONY!

  64. 64
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: I will speak briefly to the accusation of failure to comprehend and respond relevantly. Let’s roll the tape:

    RDF, 39, to BA:

    >>[BA:] Can you point to any particular “thing” in the universe that is other than contingent?

    {RDF:} We have no way of knowing, of course! [–> note the dismissal of a basis of warrant for knowledge on contingency, part of a far wider problem with fundamental reasoning RDF has demonstrated in and around UD for some years] I think perhaps it’s you who hasn’t quite understood the concept. [–> note the implication that contingency needs to be clarified and that in the context of the observed cosmos] As far as you or I can tell, it could be the case that nothing is contingent. [–> inviting correction by correctly identifying what contingency of being is] Just because things in our experience change, begin to exist, and cease to exist, does not mean that they might have been different [–> inviting more of the same by way of trying to twist what contingency of being means into pretzels] . Prove [–> as in, show per evidence and warrant] otherwise!>>

    KF, 41, responding to this error by specifically clarifying what contingency speaks to, in the context of the observed cosmos:

    >> First, contingency of being implies dependency on external enabling factors or circumstances (think on the fire example). [–> for more cf current post in deeper response here, which uses the fire tetrahedron to show how contingency of being indicates dependence on external enabling on/off causal factors, leading to how things begin, are sustained in existence and cease; or using possible worlds talk, that for a contingent being c there is a possible world PW1 where it is, and another PW2, where it does not due to one of those factors being off. So for instance I switch on the gas flow and strike a spark to light up a stove burner, then adjust and turn off by closing off the flow of fuel. Thus we see how c begins, is sustained and ceases based on those enabling factors. Where, years ago, this same example of a fire as paradigm contingent being was discussed in RDF’s presence and that of others. ]

    Second a world of contingenr beings calls forth a necessary causal root, so the discussion is about that root.

    Third, parsimony is a recommendation for economy of thought and not a proper criterion of truth or warrant.

    Finally, we have empirical observational experience of just one cosmos, which is based on matter-energy in space-time undergoing change processes. Processes that since the 1920?s and esp. the 1960’s, we have had strong reason to understand trace to a finitely remote beginning at a singularity, c 10 – 20 BYA. (That loose number is projectable from various astronomical data, starting with patterns of HR curves for clusters, red shift, etc.)

    The contingency of the observed cosmos is well established.

    It is not about to go away.

    And, this happens to be the only credibly observed cosmos to date; never mind multiverse speculations.

    So, by direct extension the contingency of matter and of energy forms linked to that is also well grounded.

    Exponentiate all by the strong pattern of fine tuning that sets the observed cosmos at a deeply isolated operating point. So, even through a multiverse model, we face contingency requiring necessary being as causal root. Linked to this, locally deeply isolated fine tuning points to as best explanation design.

    It is exactly not what we would reasonably expect on a multiverse blind needle in haystack search. Indeed, a Boltzmann brain popping up would be on argument a more likely outcome than what we have.

    So, we have reason to accept that we live in a contingent cosmos that began c 13.7 BYA, and shows strong signs of being designed for C-chemistry, aqueous medium cell based life . . . >>

    RDF, 42:

    >> Everything you say is complete nonsense, and none of it ever responds to a single point I make.>>

    The tape speaks for itself, and not in RDF’s favour. He has committed the error of red herrings led off to strawman caricatures then soaked in ad hominems and set alight to cloud, confuse, poison and polarise the atmosphere.

    KF

  65. 65
    Cross says:

    Evolve @ 53

    “///The origin of life (Arguments 5 and 10) 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///

    The odds of Vincent Torley emerging – his parents had to meet, each of their parents had to meet, each of their parents had to meet, each of their parents had to meet…I can go back for innumerable generations and the odds of Torley emerging falls to virtually nothing. 1 followed by countless zeroes! Now, in each of those unions, one in 50 million sperm cells had to fuse with the right egg cell. That takes Torley’s existence to beyond improbable. Yet Torley is here and we know that all this happened by sheer chance. It’s downright idiotic to say that since an event in highly improbable, no event can ever happen.”

    Are you seriously suggesting this is a valid comparison? If this is your best argument, it’s a desperate one.

    Cheers

  66. 66
  67. 67
    kairosfocus says:

    PS: Let’s have some fun with more “complete nonsense” in good company by citing from WK clipping WLC on Boltzmann Brains:

    >>Incredible as it may sound, today the principal–almost the only–alternative to a Cosmic Designer to explain the incomprehensibly precise fine tuning of nature’s constants and fundamental quantities is the postulate of a World Ensemble of (a preferably infinite number of) randomly ordered universes. By thus multiplying one’s probabilistic resources, one ensures that by chance alone somewhere in this infinite ensemble finely tuned universes like ours will appear.

    Now comes the key move: since observers can exist only in worlds fine-tuned for their existence, OF COURSE we observe our world to be fine-tuned! The worlds which aren’t finely tuned have no observers in them and so cannot be observed! Hence, our observing the universe to be fine-tuned for our existence is no surprise: if it weren’t, we wouldn’t be here to be surprised. So this explanation of fine tuning relies on (i) the hypothesis of a World Ensemble and (ii) an observer self-selection effect.

    Now apart from objections to (i) of a direct sort, this alternative faces a very formidable objection to (ii), namely, if we were just a random member of a World Ensemble, then we ought to be observing a very different universe. Roger Penrose has calculated that the odds of our solar system’s forming instantaneously through the random collision of particles is incomprehensibly more probable that the universe’s being fine-tuned, as it is. So if we were a random member of a World Ensemble, we should be observing a patch of order no larger than our solar system in a sea of chaos. Worlds like that are simply incomprehensibly more plentiful in the World Ensemble than worlds like ours and so ought to be observed by us if we were but a random member of such an ensemble.

    Here’s where the Boltzmann Brains come into the picture. In order to be observable the patch of order needn’t be even as large as the solar system. The most probable observable world would be one in which a single brain fluctuates into existence out of the quantum vacuum and observes its otherwise empty world. The idea isn’t that the brain is the whole universe, but just a patch of order in the midst of disorder. Don’t worry that the brain couldn’t persist long: it just has to exist long enough to have an observation, and the improbability of the quantum fluctuations necessary for it to exist that long will be trivial in comparison to the improbability of fine tuning.

    In other words, the observer self-selection effect is explanatorily vacuous. It does not suffice to show that only finely tuned worlds are observable. As Robin Collins has noted, what needs to be explained is not just intelligent life, but embodied, interactive, intelligent agents like ourselves. Appeal to an observer self-selection effect accomplishes nothing because there is no reason whatever to think that most observable worlds are worlds in which that kind of observer exists. Indeed, the opposite appears to be true: most observable worlds will be Boltzmann Brain worlds. >>

  68. 68
    kairosfocus says:

    PPS: More good company in complete utter nonsense on fine tuning and multiverses:

    http://crossexamined.org/god-or-multiverse/

    Let’s do some clipping:

    >> Fine-tuning is not a synonym for design but is rather a technical term in physics that refers to a narrow range for suitable values among possibilities. All else being equal, if theory A requires fine-tuning and theory B doesn’t, then theory B is deemed to be more likely to be true because it doesn’t rely on assumptions for narrow constraints for the values of one or more parameters. There are other contexts where fine-tuning is discussed with respect to various hypotheses having nothing to do with life, but I defend this fine-tuning claim:

    “In the set of possible physical laws, parameters and initial conditions, the subset that permits rational conscious life is very small.”

    The universe is said to be finely-tuned for life if most possible ways for setting up physics would have resulted in no intelligent life anywhere in the universe. My claim is close to that defined by Luke Barnes[2] in his important review article. I use the term “rational conscious life” rather than “the evolution of intelligent life” because the fine-tuning claim can be evaluated independently of biological evolution. My wording also reflects Christian expectations that God wanted creatures in His image – rational, conscious creatures with whom He could have a relationship.

    It’s important to note that my fine-tuning claim deals with the fundamental physics of the universe required before any biological evolution could get started. I personally happen to be skeptical of the all-encompassing claims about naturalistic macroevolution but even if it explains the full diversity of life that is irrelevant to my fine-tuning claim. For example, a universe without one type of fine-tuning would have lasted only a few hours and never cooled below 9000K. Thus, it is unreasonable to expect such a universe to have contained life – much less intelligent life. Physicists writing fine-tuning articles routinely make claims about life being impossible without certain finely-tuned parameters or initial conditions. Craig Hogan, for example, is very explicit, stating that “changing the quark masses even a small amount has drastic consequences [for] which no amount of Darwinian selection can compensate.” Alan Lightman of MIT clarifies the nature of the fine-tuning: “if these fundamental parameters were much different from what they are, it is not only human beings that would not exist but no life of any kind would exist.” No biological evolution can start until you have the first living cell and the vast majority of ways to setup the physics never allow life to get started . . . .

    If we have an enormous number of other universes and if they have widely varying laws, then perhaps sufficient probabilistic resources exist for life to emerge in some universe. We need to carefully evaluate how well the multiverse serves as a potential explanation for fine-tuning. Here are some potential challenges to a multiverse explanation of the fine-tuning:

    – No empirical evidence exists for any universe other than our own

    – We need vast numbers of other universes to overcome horrendous odds against a life-permitting universe – probably more than 10100 (which is more than the number of subatomic particles in our observable universe)

    – A universe generating mechanism might itself require fine-tuning to generate so many universes

    o This is certainly true for the most popular multiverse theory – eternal inflation.

    ? Sean Carroll admits[4] that “inflation only occurs in a negligibly small fraction of cosmological histories, less than 10-66,000,000.”

    o Also, other assumptions are required for eternal inflation – as Vilenkin admits: “The most likely thing to pop out of the [quantum vacuum] is a tiny Planck-sized universe, which would not tunnel, but would instantly recollapse and disappear. Tunneling to a larger size has a small probability and therefore requires a large number of trials. It appears to be consistent only with the Everett interpretation.” This Everett or many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics is one of a dozen or so interpretations and many physicists are skeptical of this interpretation because it entails that parallel universes are spawned at every quantum event.

    – The new universes would need to have different physical constants

    o There are many theoretical reasons for thinking constants might vary but we have no clear evidence that fundamental constants have ever been more than trivially different in different parts of our observable universe. Without new physics in each universe, our odds for life wouldn’t be helped – it’d be like buying a million lottery tickets with the same set of numbers for each ticket!

    – The constants would need to vary extremely widely

    o The degree of variety in possible values for the constants may not be sufficient unless a particular version of string theory is true. Some string theorists think that perhaps there are as many as 10500 different possible values for the constants. This variance would be more than sufficient. Polchinski, however, is one of many string theorists who disagree with this proposal – “there is no reason to expect … a large number of variations in the constants of physics.[5]”

    ? A significant minority segment of the physics community is highly skeptical of any version of String Theory because it thus far has no clear empirical confirmation and a history of failed predictions.

    – It is fallacious to view the fine-tuning itself as evidence for a multiverse since the existence of other universes doesn’t make it any more likely that our universe supports life. [–> Try Boltzmann’s brains here . . . ] We need independent [–> empirical, observational . . . or this is phil wearing a lab coat, as I commented in what RDF called complete nonsense . . .] evidence for the multiverse hypothesis before it becomes a viable candidate explanation of the fine-tuning. MIT philosopher of science Roger White shows this using Bayesian logic and summarizes: “the fact that our universe is fine-tuned gives us no further reason to suppose that there are universes other than ours.” . . . >>

  69. 69
    kairosfocus says:

    Joe, the conclusion is obvious, we are all utter stark staring IDiotic madmen who know nothing, understand less and cannot make any sense! And as for citing that old prophet on how God is unfathomable by the finite, fallible, morally struggling, too often blinded and ill-willed . . . KF

  70. 70
    kairosfocus says:

    Joe,

    One last clip from Hainline before turning off for the night, on Occam:

    >> Some physicists have rightly pointed out that a multiverse by itself is not necessarily a violation of Occam’s razor since it could arise from a simple law-like mechanism for generating universes. [–> which would itself be an ultra-fine tuned superlaw, displacing fine tuning up one level . . . ] The key issue though is that for the multiverse to be an adequate explanation for the fine-tuning it requires the conjunction of several hypotheses for which we lack any empirical evidence:

    A universe-generating mechanism that generates a plethora of universes
    That this mechanism doesn’t itself require fine-tuning
    The many-worlds interpretation of quantum physics
    The ability to widely vary constants in those universes. If you think that it’s a foregone conclusion that String Theory/M-Theory[8] will come to the rescue in this area, you should watch this video clip by Oxford physicist Roger Penrose where he exclaims that “it’s not even a theory … it’s a collection of hopes”.

    Occam’s razor therefore does seem to favor design over the multiverse. When one accounts for the extensive problems in affirming premise 2 and how these multiverse theories make predictions incompatible with our universe, the hypothesis that God designed the physics of the universe to bring about life is more plausible. That so many physicists appeal to the multiverse to explain away the design implications of fine-tuning testifies to the power of this argument! >>

    KF

  71. 71
    Me_Think says:

    KF,

    the hypothesis that God designed the physics of the universe to bring about life is more plausible. That so many physicists appeal to the multiverse to explain away the design implications of fine-tuning testifies to the power of this argument!

    God created universe is a philosophical argument. How do you define God scientifically? If you want to argue scientifically, you have to explain the mechanism by which God created the universe, what omniscient means in terms of energy or field (how info can be transmitted so the being knows everything) and what omnipotent is in terms of energy , field or some other new Physics concept, so ‘God’ is a far more complicated hypothesis than whatever is being proposed by cosmologists.

  72. 72
    RDFish says:

    Hi KF,

    Justy for the record, I wasn’t talking about your personality, I was talking about your inability to mount a relevant argument, and the weird way you write. Good night 🙂

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  73. 73
    Mung says:

    Hi RDFish,
    Everything you say is complete nonsense, and none of it ever responds to a single point I make.
    Cheers

  74. 74
    Mung says:

    class RDFish < ClownFish
    end

  75. 75
    Mung says:

    Hi RDFish,

    Just for the record, you ignore posts by KF. Don’t even bother to read them. Right? This is the same RDFish isn’t it?

  76. 76
    kairosfocus says:

    Re RDF: Having been specifically and definitively corrected on record at 66 by rolling the tape, RDF continues to insistently speak in disregard to truth hoping to profit by falsehood being perceived as truth. That tells us all we need to know. Game over. KF

  77. 77
    kairosfocus says:

    MT,

    Pardon, but how do you define God scientifically first and foremost reflects an underlying problem, scientism.

    “Science” does not define and delimit significant or credible knowledge, indeed Lewontin’s error of trying to get hoi polloi to imagine that Science is “the only begetter” of truth is an epistemological — thus philosophical — claim dressed up in a lab coat. It is self refuting as a direct consequence.

    Instead, we should appreciate that science lives in a context of foundational themes that are philosophical, including discussion of how scientific knowledge claims are warranted and what sort of entities are possibly or actually real.

    If you wish to reasonably understand “God and other minds” — of course including our own — then epistemology, logic and ontological issues will inevitably lurk. The solution is then to find a reasonable basis for reasoning, warranting, knowledge and understanding in their own right; not on the arbitrary constraint that what is said must be acceptable to a priori materialists and their fellow travellers.

    The fine tuning of physics issue is a case in origins science where since the 1920’s and 50’s astonishing findings have forced some major re-thinking. Let me cite Nobel-equivalent prizeholder and lifelong agnostic, Sir Fred Hoyle:

    From 1953 onward, Willy Fowler and I have always been intrigued by the remarkable relation of the 7.65 MeV energy level in the nucleus of 12 C to the 7.12 MeV level in 16 O. If you wanted to produce carbon and oxygen in roughly equal quantities by stellar nucleosynthesis, these are the two levels you would have to fix, and your fixing would have to be just where these levels are actually found to be. Another put-up job? . . . I am inclined to think so. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has “monkeyed” with the physics as well as the chemistry and biology, and there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature.[F. Hoyle, Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 20 (1982): 16.]

    In short (and there is much more out there), fine tuning of physics definitely puts on the table for serious discussion that our cosmos is designed and made by an extra-cosmic agent.

    We may then look at the ways in which we may understand being vs non-being, possibility vs impossibility and contingency vs necessity. In so doing we will realise that a genuine nothing — non-being — can have no causal powers. So if ever there were an utter nothing, nothing would forever obtain. So, if things now are, something always was, a being independent by its nature of external enabling on/off factors; a necessary being.

    Bring to bear various other factors such as how we find ourselves under moral government (do you have real rights and proper expectations to be treated fairly and justly in that light?) then we can see a powerful philosophical profile of God as a serious candidate to be that root of being: an inherently good creator, a necessary and maximally great being.

    Cf recent background discussion, here:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....eat-being/

    KF

  78. 78
    Silver Asiatic says:

    RDFish

    Imagine a perfectly deterministic universe,

    Determined by what?

    where each event follows necessarily from the next.

    What made this necessary?

    Events in that universe are not contingent, even though that universe is not static. I hope that helps you understand now.

    A sequence of events is contingent upon a beginning point, some sort of power to enable the first event, conditions to sustain repeated events, boundaries to make events possible — among other things.

    Events in your universe are contingent – they don’t explain themselves. They cannot exist without other things existing. Nothing can be determined unless there is some kind of ‘determinator’ in place already. The universe is contingent upon that, among many other things.

    A first cause is non-contingent because nothing preceeds it, and it depends on nothing else to act or exist.

  79. 79
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Me_Think

    God created universe is a philosophical argument.

    That’s right – and for good reason.

    How do you define God scientifically?

    That’s a philosophical question.

    If you want to argue scientifically, you have to explain the mechanism by which God created the universe,

    True, but we’d soon realize that’s a non-sequitur. You can’t explain the origin of the physical universe by citing a physical mechanism. The mechanism itself would remain unexplained.

    The only source for an origin of the universe could be a non-physical agent and a non-physical ‘mechanism’. Physical science is useless in this kind of analysis.

    What non-physical ‘mechanism’ could be used?

    One possiblity is what we call an ‘idea’. That’s something non-physical. Can an idea create things? We know that ideas can move things, or motivate a person to create things — but we don’t have any experience of how something physical could be created by a non-physical mechanism.

    But then again, we’re trying to explain the origin of physical mechanisms themselves. We can’t reference other physical mechanisms to do that.

  80. 80
    kairosfocus says:

    Re RDF: Sometimes, it is necessary to underscore a record. Here, it seems, now that the tape showing just why I responded here (and in an OP) by defining contingency of being as a corrective has been rolled and pointed to . . . poof goes RDF from this thread with no reasonable resolution of personality-laced rhetoric. Let’s see if he will return to clear up the poisoning triggered by unjustified accusations and dismissals above. KF

  81. 81
    RDFish says:

    Hi Silver Asiatic,

    RDF: Imagine a perfectly deterministic universe,
    SA: Determined by what?…What made this necessary?

    Determined by nothing – just like you say God is determined by nothing. You declare that there is a god that is necessary and uncaused, but fail to see that one may as well eliminate that superfluous hypothesis and simply assume that the universe is necessary and uncaused.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  82. 82
    RDFish says:

    Hi KF,

    Other people make arguments here, and even though I disagree with them, they often are relevant to the topic at hand, and I can engage them in some back-and-forth debate. In contrast, you talk about “correcting” people, point them to your offsite ramblings, use the most bizarre and baroque writing I’ve ever seen, and what you write makes no sense. Nothing personal – I’m just explaining why I don’t debate with you.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  83. 83
    Silver Asiatic says:

    RDFish

    Determined by nothing – just like you say God is determined by nothing. You declare that there is a god that is necessary and uncaused, but fail to see that one may as well eliminate that superfluous hypothesis and simply assume that the universe is necessary and uncaused.

    It’s not a declaration that there is an uncaused cause or that existence comes from a source or that an observed sequence of events had a beginning. Those are all logical outcomes.
    To declare that a contingent universe is non-contingent or self-explained is not logical.
    The universe possesses characteristics that come from somewhere else. It cannot be “determined by nothing”.
    That which is the source of being, the source of “determinations” and is non-contingent on anything else is what we call God.
    If you want to call the universe God, that’s different. But we see limits and contingency in the universe, so again there’s a conflict of logic. The universe cannot be God – and you can’t just declare it to be that.

  84. 84
    kairosfocus says:

    RDF, At 66 above, I laid out exactly how relevant my remarks were to what you had tried to use to dismiss BA. Several times above, I have seen you insistently speak in disregard to truth hoping to profit by slanders and personalities — it looks like because you have no proper answer on merits but hope to feed fever swamp talking points and appeal to hostile attitudes. You therefore now stand exposed as acting untruthfully and in defiance of duties of care. Game over. KF

    PS: On track record I should expect you to willfully ignore this corrective and proceed to drum on out with a falsehood. I can only hope you have enough in you to falsify that expectation then make right the falsehoods you have repeated above in teeth of correction. I am not holding my breath.

  85. 85
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    Determined by nothing – just like you say God is determined by nothing. You declare that there is a god that is necessary and uncaused, but fail to see that one may as well eliminate that superfluous hypothesis and simply assume that the universe is necessary and uncaused.

    Now RD, you know better than that (I hope).

    First, the finite universe is contingent.

    Second, the uncaused cause is not an assumption or a hypothesis. It is a logical conclusion based on an observation.

  86. 86
    RDFish says:

    Hi Silver Asiatic,

    To declare that a contingent universe is non-contingent or self-explained is not logical.
    The universe possesses characteristics that come from somewhere else. It cannot be “determined by nothing”.

    You are assuming the universe is contingent. Just because you say it is contingent and not-self explained doesn’t make it so. I could just as well say that this “God” you talk about is contingent and not self-explained.

    Again: If you can declare that there is some conscious being that created the universe, and that this being is necessary and uncaused, then I can declare that the universe itself is necessary and uncaused. But none of this explains anything, of course – it’s just playing with words, not finding actual evidence that some explanation is true.

    If you want to call the universe God, that’s different.

    I don’t want to call anything “God”, because I think it just causes a lot of confusion. I don’t actually think people know what they mean, exactly, when they talk about “God” – they have in mind some vague version of a human being with super-powers, or something, but we can’t even imagine what it means for something to exist outside of spacetime, for example. And of course different people mean different things by the word “God”.

    But we see limits and contingency in the universe, so again there’s a conflict of logic.

    No, we see nothing of the sort. There is no logical or empirical way to determine that determinism is false, or that the universe is contingent, or that some conscious being exists outside of the universe.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  87. 87
    RDFish says:

    Hi KF,

    I enjoy hearing other people’s views and exchanging relevant arguments. With you, however, it just isn’t possible. I think it might be a language problem – is English your native language? Again, I don’t mean to be hostile – I’m just pointing out why you (along with some others like Mung and Joe) are not able to debate here.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  88. 88
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    Please see my post @88. How do you propose to show the universe is not necessary, or that there is a conscious being outside of the universe that is necessary?

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  89. 89
    Box says:

    A question to RDFish:

    do you view the universe as one thing or rather a collection of things?

  90. 90
    RDFish says:

    Hi Box –

    do you view the universe as one thing or rather a collection of things?

    I think your question has to do with how we conceptualize things rather than the things themselves. For example, is a chair one thing or a collection of things? Even a mind can be considered to be a unary entity or a collection of perceptions, representations, and so on.

    The way I conceptualize “universe” is that it refers to everything that exists.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  91. 91
    Silver Asiatic says:

    RDFish

    There is no logical or empirical way to determine that … the universe is contingent …

    The term contingent, or non-contingent, when used in reference to God or origins means dependency (or non-dependency).

    The reason we know the universe is contingent is because it is affected by change – through time. It is shaped by various forces and is dependent on the existence of those forces along with matter and energy. It occupies space and is therefore dependent and defined-by that space (that which is not the universe).

    These are all contingent aspects of the universe. It cannot exist by itself — other existing things are required to explain it.

    So, yes, it’s illogical to call something non-contingent, when it is in fact, dependent on other things for its existence.

    I don’t want to call anything “God”, because I think it just causes a lot of confusion. I don’t actually think people know what they mean, exactly, when they talk about “God” – they have in mind some vague version of a human being with super-powers, or something, but we can’t even imagine what it means for something to exist outside of spacetime, for example. And of course different people mean different things by the word “God”.

    What do you mean by the word “God”?

    There’s a wealth of theological and philosophical literature that explains what God is — yes, there’s some variety in the explanation but there’s also a lot of agreement in significant aspects.

  92. 92
    StephenB says:

    Hi RD

    You ask,

    How do you propose to show the universe is not necessary, or that there is a conscious being outside of the universe that is necessary?

    You know the drill. Since the universe began to exist, it is obviously not necessary; either a personal or impersonal force had to bring it into existence. An impersonal force cannot decide to create, since the capacity to decide is a personal attribute. Thus, a person brought the universe into existence.

  93. 93
    Box says:

    RDFish,

    Box: do you view the universe as one thing or rather a collection of things?

    RDFish: The way I conceptualize “universe” is that it refers to everything that exists.

    Okay, so one thing or a collection of things?

  94. 94
    RDFish says:

    Hi Silver Asiatic,

    The reason we know the universe is contingent is because it is affected by change – through time. It is shaped by various forces and is dependent on the existence of those forces along with matter and energy.

    Again, you are mistaking one particular metaphysical view for something known to be true. For all we know, everything that happens is completely immutable, fully determined, unaffectable by anything.

    It occupies space and is therefore dependent and defined-by that space (that which is not the universe).

    Well, no, this is not our scientific understanding at all. The universe does not occupy space – the universe is space (and time). It does not occupy anything. This is just modern physics, and is not controversial.

    These are all contingent aspects of the universe. It cannot exist by itself — other existing things are required to explain it.

    It’s interesting that you think saying these things constitute an argument, when in fact you are simply restating your conclusion over and over. How do you know the universe cannot exist by itself?

    What do you mean by the word “God”?

    I don’t mean anything by that term at all – again, I don’t think it has a clear meaning for anyone, and that different people mean different things by it. When people talk about a god I usually try to clarify it by referring to something I do know, which is conscious awareness as we human beings experience it. When you say “God”, you are talking about something that is not human, and does not exist within spacetime, but is conscious – right?

    It seems to me that if this is what you mean, it’s unlikely that anything like that exists, since we have a wealth of evidence that conscious awareness depends critically upon brain function, and it seems improbable that anything like a brain existed before the universe did.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  95. 95
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    Since the universe began to exist, it is obviously not necessary; either a personal or impersonal force had to bring it into existence.

    Sorry but nobody knows what – if anything – caused the observable universe to exist. You can declare that the Big Bang was the first and only beginning to the one and only spacetime manifold, but that’s a religious belief, like multiverses or MWI and so on. Nobody really knows.

    An impersonal force cannot decide to create, since the capacity to decide is a personal attribute.

    Sorry but nobody knows if libertarian free will exists, so invoking it to explain the universe doesn’t really get you anywhere.

    Thus, a person brought the universe into existence.

    I find it hard to swallow that something with conscious awareness could exist without a brain. But you are welcome to your own metaphysical beliefs of course – just don’t mistake them for logical proofs or scientific results.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  96. 96
    RDFish says:

    Hi Box,
    I’ve responded to your question and asked you another for clarification. If you’d like to discuss this, you’ll need to answer the questions I ask in addition to asking your own.
    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  97. 97
    Box says:

    RDFish: I’ve responded to your question and asked you another for clarification. If you’d like to discuss this, you’ll need to answer the questions I ask in addition to asking your own.

    You haven’t answered my question “do you view the universe as one thing or rather a collection of things?”) two times in a row; in #91 and #95.
    Do you insist that I answer your question first? No problem.

    RDFish: (…) is a chair one thing or a collection of things?

    I hold that a chair is a collection of things – particles.
    Now are you ready to answer my question?

  98. 98
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    Sorry but nobody knows what – if anything – caused the observable universe to exist.

    We know that something caused it to exist because everything that begins to exist requires a cause. I understand that you reject the principle causality, but there it is.

    You can declare that the Big Bang was the first and only beginning to the one and only spacetime manifold, but that’s a religious belief, like multiverses or MWI and so on. Nobody really knows.

    The Big Bang is a scientific, not a religious explanation.

    But you are welcome to your own metaphysical beliefs of course – just don’t mistake them for logical proofs or scientific results.

    Once you acknowledge the principle of causation, which of course you do not, a first cause becomes a logical requirement. Don’t allow your metaphysical beliefs to cloud your judgment. Also, don’t confuse a scientific argument (Big Bang) with a philosophical argument (effects require causes).

  99. 99
    RDFish says:

    Hi Box,

    I hold that a chair is a collection of things – particles.
    Now are you ready to answer my question?

    Again, you can reasonably consider a chair to be a single thing, or you can consider it to be something assembled from pieces, in turn made of molecules, then atoms, then protons and electrons, then quarks and then perhaps even more fundamental units (such as the spinions, orbitons, and chargons that have recently been found to comprise electrons, previously considered “fundamental”). I’d say the same thing is true of anything – including the universe. Hope that helps 🙂

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  100. 100
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    We know that something caused it to exist because everything that begins to exist requires a cause. I understand that you reject the principle causality, but there it is.

    There is nothing in either logic nor the laws of physics that requires all things that begin to exist to have causes. What causes, for example, a single radioactive atom to decay (and form new particles)? There is no cause identified for this event. Likewise, the formation of virtual particles: A particular pair of virtual particles pops into existence at some random time, and as far as physics can tell, without any cause at all.

    Don’t allow your metaphysical beliefs to cloud your judgment.

    My metaphysical beliefs, as you should know by now, are constrained by sufficient warrant: I do not believe that we should pretend we have logically and/or empirically justified solutions to these longstanding philosophical problems just because we don’t like the feeling of not knowing.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  101. 101
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    There is nothing in either logic nor the laws of physics that requires all things that begin to exist to have causes.

    That makes things easy. I don’t think it is possible to have a rational discussion with someone who believes that effects can occur without causes.

    Judge: “You were the only person in the room. Someone placed those stab wounds in that poor man’s back.”

    Defendent: Not necessarily, your honor. Some stab wounds can appear without a cause.”

  102. 102
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    That makes things easy. I don’t think it is possible to have a rational discussion with someone who believes that effects can occur without causes.

    Judge: “You were the only person in the room. Someone placed those stab wounds in that poor man’s back.”

    Defendent: Not necessarily, your honor. Some stab wounds can appear without a cause.”

    Ah, now I see your confusion: You are suffering from hasty generalization.

    We invariably identify causes for effects in our ordinary existence – that is, circumstances where things are neither too large (like a galaxy) nor too small (like an electron) nor too fast (like a photon) nor too massive (like a black hole) and so on. What we’ve found, however, is that when we extend our investigations into these extraordinary realms, the things we find utterly obvious and common-sense – things like time, space, simultaneity, locality, causality and even realism – break down.

    Again: The generalizations (inductions) we make about our ordinary world that seem so rock-solid do not apply when we look at things in extraordinary circumstances – at very different scales of size, masses, relative velocities and so on. If you don’t understand this, I would recommend any number of books that explain modern physics (relativity and quantum theory) at a non-technical level.

    Once you understand this, you will see that the moment the universe began is very clearly an extraordinary circumstance, and the generalizations we make from our ordinary world here on Earth don’t apply.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  103. 103
    Mung says:

    RDFish:

    Hi KF,

    I enjoy hearing other people’s views and exchanging relevant arguments.

    Liar.

    With you, however, it just isn’t possible. I think it might be a language problem – is English your native language?

    Liar.

    Again, I don’t mean to be hostile

    Liar.

    I’m just pointing out why you (along with some others like Mung and Joe) are not able to debate here.

    Liar.

    Pathetic.

  104. 104
    Mung says:

    RDFish chooses to not engage me in “debate” because I continually expose his lies.

    The irony consists in the denial by RDFish of any objective reason for refusing to engage in “debate” with me, KF, or Joe.

    His excuses are entirely Subjective. Self-serving. Cowardly.

  105. 105
    Mung says:

    RDFish is an admitted subjectivist. Beware his constant attempts to introduce some objectivist judgement. He continually seeks to employ the very thing he would attempt to deny to those with whom he disagrees. Sad. Pathetic. But nonetheless, True.

  106. 106
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    We invariably identify causes for effects in our ordinary existence – that is, circumstances where things are neither too large (like a galaxy) nor too small (like an electron) nor too fast (like a photon) nor too massive (like a black hole) and so on. What we’ve found, however, is that when we extend our investigations into these extraordinary realms, the things we find utterly obvious and common-sense – things like time, space, simultaneity, locality, causality and even realism – break down.

    Yes, RD, we’ve got it. If the effect is too big, it doesn’t need a cause; If it is too small, it also doesn’t need a cause. If it is just the right size, then maybe, if you approve, it needs a cause. Can you understand why some of us think that your world view is a bit irrational?

    Again: The generalizations (inductions) we make about our ordinary world that seem so rock-solid do not apply when we look at things in extraordinary circumstances – at very different scales of size, masses, relative velocities and so on. If you don’t understand this, I would recommend any number of books that explain modern physics (relativity and quantum theory) at a non-technical level.

    Apparently, you didn’t know that physics is based on causality and not the other way around. Or, did you labor under the illusion that scientific discoveries determine the principle of causality? Didn’t you know that it was through the principle of causality that we make scientific discoveries, including the discovery of the same quantum theory that you are appealing to. Really, RD, you are living in the twilight zone. I recommend that you stop reading the books you have been reading and acquaint yourself with better authors.

    Once you understand this, you will see that the moment the universe began is very clearly an extraordinary circumstance, and the generalizations we make from our ordinary world here on Earth don’t apply.

    So, now your standard for causality is that it applies to “ordinary” events? Quantum events are ordinary events. Are they caused by virtue of being ordinary? Oh wait, you think they are uncaused, like “wetness,” and “universes,”

    What about the origin of life or the origin of information? Were those events uncaused by virtue of being extraordinary events? Or, were they not extraordinary enough? Please fine tune your standard so that we can all understand.

    What about a horse that appears in your living room? Do you think it must be caused? That would be an extraordinary event, so I guess you think it would be uncaused?

  107. 107
    Mung says:

    Uncaused is the natural state of affairs.

    The appearance of RDFish here at UD is proof.

  108. 108
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N, Re RDF: I again draw attention to 66 above, which shows the root problems with his rhetorical tactic of “You no writa da Inglish good” which he hopes to use to evade addressing issues. However, it is now buried in a stream of comments so it helps to clip:

    ________________

    >> Let’s roll the tape:

    RDF, 39, to BA [35]:

    >>[BA, 35:] Can you point to any particular “thing” in the universe that is other than contingent?

    {RDF, 39:} We have no way of knowing, of course! [–> note the dismissal of a basis of warrant for knowledge on contingency, part of a far wider problem with fundamental reasoning RDF has demonstrated in and around UD for some years] I think perhaps it’s you who hasn’t quite understood the concept. [–> note the implication that contingency needs to be clarified and that in the context of the observed cosmos] As far as you or I can tell, it could be the case that nothing is contingent. [–> inviting correction by correctly identifying what contingency of being is] Just because things in our experience change, begin to exist, and cease to exist, does not mean that they might have been different [–> inviting more of the same by way of trying to twist what contingency of being means into pretzels] . Prove [–> as in, show per evidence and warrant] otherwise!>>

    KF, 41, responding to this error by specifically clarifying what contingency speaks to, in the context of the observed cosmos:

    >> First, contingency of being implies dependency on external enabling factors or circumstances (think on the fire example). [–> for more cf current post in deeper response here, which uses the fire tetrahedron to show how contingency of being indicates dependence on external enabling on/off causal factors, leading to how things begin, are sustained in existence and cease; or using possible worlds talk, that for a contingent being c there is a possible world PW1 where it is, and another PW2, where it does not due to one of those factors being off. So for instance I switch on the gas flow and strike a spark to light up a stove burner, then adjust and turn off by closing off the flow of fuel. Thus we see how c begins, is sustained and ceases based on those enabling factors. Where, years ago, this same example of a fire as paradigm contingent being was discussed in RDF’s presence and that of others. ]

    Second a world of contingent beings calls forth a necessary causal root, so the discussion is about that root.

    Third, parsimony is a recommendation for economy of thought and not a proper criterion of truth or warrant.

    Finally, we have empirical observational experience of just one cosmos, which is based on matter-energy in space-time undergoing change processes. Processes that since the 1920’s and esp. the 1960?s, we have had strong reason to understand trace to a finitely remote beginning at a singularity, c 10 – 20 BYA. (That loose number is projectable from various astronomical data, starting with patterns of HR curves for clusters, red shift, etc.)

    The contingency of the observed cosmos is well established.

    It is not about to go away.

    And, this happens to be the only credibly observed cosmos to date; never mind multiverse speculations.

    So, by direct extension the contingency of matter and of energy forms linked to that is also well grounded.

    Exponentiate all by the strong pattern of fine tuning that sets the observed cosmos at a deeply isolated operating point. So, even through a multiverse model, we face contingency requiring necessary being as causal root. Linked to this, locally deeply isolated fine tuning points to as best explanation design.

    It is exactly not what we would reasonably expect on a multiverse blind needle in haystack search. Indeed, a Boltzmann brain popping up would be on argument a more likely outcome than what we have.

    So, we have reason to accept that we live in a contingent cosmos that began c 13.7 BYA, and shows strong signs of being designed for C-chemistry, aqueous medium cell based life . . . >>

    RDF, 42:

    >> Everything you say is complete nonsense, and none of it ever responds to a single point I make.>>

    The tape speaks for itself, and not in RDF’s favour. He has committed the error of red herrings led off to strawman caricatures then soaked in ad hominems and set alight to cloud, confuse, poison and polarise the atmosphere. >>
    ________________

    Thus stands exposed RDF’s personality-laced false statement at 42 which has become the basis for a drumbeat of false accusations that he now spreads to others.

    The resort to such agit-prop stunts demonstrates one thing: he has no answer on the merits and is therefore taking flimsy excuses to attack the man and evade addressing the issue. Which, sadly, goes to character.

    It is high time that RDF did better.

    KF

  109. 109
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    Yes, RD, we’ve got it. If the effect is too big, it doesn’t need a cause; If it is too small, it also doesn’t need a cause. If it is just the right size, then maybe, if you approve, it needs a cause.

    It isn’t my approval, but rather the laws of physics, that are relevant here.

    Can you understand why some of us think that your world view is a bit irrational?

    Yes: I would say the reason would be that you are not aquainted with modern physics.

    Apparently, you didn’t know that physics is based on causality and not the other way around.

    You might have at least tried to search for a few references before you revealed your ignorance. Here are some academic references to how the laws of physics are at odds with our classical notions of causality that I found in just a few seconds of searching:

    http://www.oxfordhandbooks.com.....739-e-0034
    http://www.nature.com/ncomms/j.....s2076.html
    http://arxiv.org/abs/1401.0167
    http://phys.org/news/2012-10-quantum-causal.html

    Really, RD, you are living in the twilight zone. I recommend that you stop reading the books you have been reading and acquaint yourself with better authors.

    StephenB, I’ve mentioned this before, but it still amazes me: I’m not saying anything here that ba77 hasn’t posted zillions of times. He is actually familiar with how modern physics violates our classical understanding of causality, temporal ordering, locality, and realism (but he draws harebrained conclusions from unjustified philosophical extrapolations therefrom). You, on the other hand, apparently have no familiarity at all with the results of physics in the last 100+ years.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  110. 110
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: While there is indeed confusion and debate, in fact once we understand that necessary causal factors are just that . . . causal factors . . . it is readily, almost trivially, apparent that ignorance of sufficient factors to determine an outcome or to even set up a stochastic pattern or probability distribution of outcomes does not imply events that are a-causal. And, there is no strict requirement that a cause be present before an effect begins; only, that it be present when an effect occurs. For instance, no radioactive nucleus, no possibility of alpha decay (e.g. for a Schrodinger’s cat- in- a- box thought exercise) but so soon as a sufficient population of atoms is present, decays will be detectable (the cat thought exercise pivots on a low enough population that decays are fairly rare, but in fact as a rule of thumb, I would expect about 15 decays/minute from a typical GM counter just sitting there and tuned to the plateau zone, as background . . . the implication is, very heavy shielding etc). Likewise — and this is historically important — the photoemissive photo-electric EFFECT is just that; an effect rooted in the impact of causal factors, including a surface, light at or below a certain threshold. And so forth. Indeed, routinely, physicists investigate causal factors in setting up quantum-related experiments in which circumstances of interest are set up and manipulated to see responses of systems. KF

    PS: On wider matters of Quantum Theory and laws of thought, it may be helpful to see here, from the UD WACs:

    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....-outdated/

  111. 111
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    You might have at least tried to search for a few references before you revealed your ignorance.

    Oh please, RD. You are revealing your own ignorance if you don’t know that there are at least ten different interpretations of quantum events. Each one of them is based on empirical evidence and can be justified mathematically.

    The real task is to interpret quantum events in a rational way. Philosophers of science, who are the only ones qualified to speak about causality, typically argue that the Copenhagen interpretation (or any model that posits acausality) is incoherent.

    Meanwhile, you are dodging all my questions:

    [a] How do the laws of physics support your proposition that the universe may have been uncaused?

    [b] If, as you clearly believe, the universe may have just “poofed” into existence, then it follows that causality is not prior to that event. If causality is not prior to that event, then when did causality become a reality? (You have been running away from this question for weeks).

    [c] Is it possible that the origin of life was uncaused? Yes or no.

    [d] Is it possible that the origin of information was uncaused? Yes or no.

    [e] Is it possible for a horse to appear in your living room uncaused? Yes or no.

    (f) Is it possible for a brick wall to appear uncaused in front of your moving automobile. Yes or no.

    (g) Can you provide any rational justification for your claim that the universe may not be contingent?

  112. 112
    Silver Asiatic says:

    RDFish

    How do you know the universe cannot exist by itself?

    The universe is the sum of various parts and elements which all exist together to form a composite. The universe cannot exist by itself because it is not a thing that is itself. It is a thing which is many other things put together. By its nature it is contingent on many things and not self-explained. It is explained by the sum of other contingent things – matter, energy and the particular results of matter and forces that caused planets and stars, etc.

    Planets and stars cannot exist by themselves – they require other things to exist. Therefore the universe cannot exist by itself.

    We distinguish space from non-space. We distinguish one place from another. Unless you’re saying that the universe is infinite and has no boundaries, the universe is contingent on the non-universe in order to have definition and exist.

    I don’t mean anything by that term [God] at all

    Then how can you say that God is beyond our comprehension?

  113. 113
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    Oh please, RD. You are revealing your own ignorance if you don’t know that there are at least ten different interpretations of quantum events. Each one of them is based on empirical evidence and can be justified mathematically.

    What you are speaking about is the measurement problem, and your point is exactly the point I’ve been arguing against ba77 here! He has chosen one particular interpretation – one that hardly any living physicist believes – and decided it is true, and also that it proves the existence of God somehow. So thank you for pointing out his error there.

    In contrast, there is the hard science that is confirmed by experiment – ba77 has provided hundreds of links to these results, and I just gave you four that I found in a few seconds – that strongly suggest what I have been explaining to you: There is no interpretation of these results that is compatible with our classical notions of causality, locality, simultaneity and temporal ordering, and realism.

    Did you bother to read the links I gave you? How about the one in Nature that definitively states that certain phenomena violate causal ordering? Or you just don’t want to know?

    The real task is to interpret quantum events in a rational way. Philosophers of science, who are the only ones qualified to speak about causality, typically argue that the Copenhagen interpretation (or any model that posits acausality) is incoherent.

    Again, this is not about the interpretation of the measurement problem – the collapse of the waveform, etc. This has nothing to do with the Copenhagen interpretation. Rather, I am pointing out that the results of experiments (like variations of the quantum eraser) that do not admit any interpretation that adheres to our classical notions of causality.

    And by the way, even if there was controversy about the violation of causality in QM, that would still undermine your position that causation is a logical truism OR an empirically established fact!

    Meanwhile, you are dodging all my questions:

    I never dodge your questions 🙂

    [a] How do the laws of physics support your proposition that the universe may have been uncaused?

    Because other events appear to be uncaused (such as radioactive decay, virtual particle creation, etc).

    [b] If, as you clearly believe, the universe may have just “poofed” into existence,…

    What I clearly believe – and I don’t think I could have made this any clearer – is that nobody knows how the universe came to exist.

    …then it follows that causality is not prior to that event. If causality is not prior to that event, then when did causality become a reality?

    Causality is a principle that we use to understand the world – not some physical force or particle that emerged at some time or “became a reality”. What the evidence suggests is that the way we consider causality holds in classical realms (not too large or small or fast or massive) but not in quantum or relativistic realms. I know you don’t like this fact, but there it is.

    [c] Is it possible that the origin of life was uncaused? Yes or no.

    Since life exists in the classical realm I would say there were causal antecedents for the origin of life (although ba77 likes to point out all of the quantum phenomena that have implications in the macro world).

    [d] Is it possible that the origin of information was uncaused? Yes or no.

    I don’t understand this question, sorry.

    [e] Is it possible for a horse to appear in your living room uncaused? Yes or no.

    As I’ve tried to explain to you several times now, classical causality holds reliably in the classical realm – that is, again, situations where we are not dealing with things that are too massive, or too small, or with too much relative velocity where we have to use relativistic and/or quantum physics to understand it. A horse in a living room is clearly in the classical realm, and so we can be certain that horses will not appear spontaneously.

    (f) Is it possible for a brick wall to appear uncaused in front of your moving automobile. Yes or no.

    See (e) – same point. Note however, that just like the 2nd law of thermodynamics, these statements are statistical in nature. We all know that an egg will not reassemble once broken because of the 2nd law, but it is only because it is (astronomically) too improbable for it to happen. Same with quantum physics: The laws that explain the foundation of physical reality are statistical in nature.

    (g) Can you provide any rational justification for your claim that the universe may not be contingent?

    I just did. For all we know, the universe may be uncaused and necessary.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  114. 114
    RDFish says:

    Hi Siver Asiatic,

    The universe is the sum of various parts and elements which all exist together to form a composite. The universe cannot exist by itself because it is not a thing that is itself. It is a thing which is many other things put together. By its nature it is contingent on many things and not self-explained. It is explained by the sum of other contingent things – matter, energy and the particular results of matter and forces that caused planets and stars, etc.

    I think you’ve muddled up the difference between “explanation” and “composition” here.

    Planets and stars cannot exist by themselves – they require other things to exist. Therefore the universe cannot exist by itself.

    I think all you are saying is that there are lots of different things in the universe. I agree there is mass/energy and various forces. I don’t see why this implies that the universe is not necessary.

    We distinguish space from non-space.

    I don’t understand this sentence.

    We distinguish one place from another. Unless you’re saying that the universe is infinite and has no boundaries, the universe is contingent on the non-universe in order to have definition and exist.

    I think you are still confused about the concept of space. The universe does not exist in space. There is no such thing as the non-universe.

    RDF: I don’t mean anything by that term [God] at all
    SA: Then how can you say that God is beyond our comprehension?

    I’ve never said that. What I said was that the first cause of the universe, if such a thing exists, is beyond our comprehension. If what you mean by “God” is “first cause of the universe”, then yes, “God” refers to something that nobody understands, and may well be as far beyond our comprehension as the laws of quantum physics are beyond the comprehension of a mouse.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  115. 115
    Box says:

    RDFish: I find it hard to swallow that something with conscious awareness could exist without a brain.

    Because consciousness absolutely must have a material cause, at least according to RDFish. BTW “hard to swallow” is an understatement: RDFish absolutely refuses to even consider another possibility.
    Therefor it’s very striking that RDFish has no problem whatsoever ‘swallowing’ that the entire universe came into existence without a cause.

  116. 116
    RDFish says:

    Hi Box,

    Because consciousness absolutely must have a material cause, at least according to RDFish.

    Don’t put words into my mouth – I’ve never said that.

    BTW “hard to swallow” is an understatement: RDFish absolutely refuses to even consider another possibility.

    This is also untrue. I have always consistently held that consciousness is mysterious, and that we have no understanding of how it arises, whether it is causal, and so on. What the evidence does suggest however is that it appears to be critically dependent upon certain neural processes.

    Therefor it’s very striking that RDFish has no problem whatsoever ‘swallowing’ that the entire universe came into existence without a cause.

    And once again you mischaracterize my position, which is that nobody knows how the universe came into existence.

    It’s a lot more interesting if you try to debate against what I think rather than just making up both sides of the argument yourself, Box.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  117. 117
    Silver Asiatic says:

    RDFish

    I think all you are saying is that there are lots of different things in the universe. I agree there is mass/energy and various forces. I don’t see why this implies that the universe is not necessary.

    The universe cannot be non-contingent or self-explanatory if its existence is dependent upon other things.

    “This balloon is necessary – it explains itself and is non-contingent”.

    Not correct. The balloon is dependent the material it is made from and the shape that it was designed to be to hold air, etc. Without the material and shape the balloon does not exist. So, the balloon is contingent on its material, shape and design.

    The universe is dependent on the things that comprise the universe. Without those things, there is no universe. So, the universe is a contingent thing. It does not explain itself – it is explained by what it contains. It could and does contain different things all the time – so these things change what the universe is from minute to minute. If something else defines what the universe is, then we cannot say that the universe is non-contingent.

    A non-contingent thing has an existence that is independent of anything else. It explains itself and is uncaused by anything else. It is not dependent on what it contains. Everything else is dependent on it – since it is the ultimate cause of all things.

    The universe cannot be non-contingent because it is dependent on other things to define it.

    There is no such thing as the non-universe.

    The only way this could be true is if the universe was infinite, eternal and unlimited by boundaries of any kind.

    Do you believe the universe is infinite, eternal and without any boundaries?

    If what you mean by “God” is “first cause of the universe”, then yes, “God” refers to something that nobody understands, and may well be as far beyond our comprehension as the laws of quantum physics are beyond the comprehension of a mouse …

    Wouldn’t you need to know something about the first cause to determine if it exists or not?

    For example, could you evaluate arguments for and against the idea that there could be only one first cause and not many?

  118. 118
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    Because other events appear to be uncaused (such as radioactive decay, virtual particle creation, etc).

    Earlier, you stated that the origin of the universe was an “extraordinary event,” and on those grounds may have been uncaused. Now you are saying that it may have been uncaused because it is just like many other quantum events, which occur daily. So, which is it? Was it an ordinary or extraordinary event?

    Causality is a principle that we use to understand the world – not some physical force or particle that emerged at some time or “became a reality”

    Are you saying that causality does not reflect the activity of the real world and exists only in the mind of the investigator? Are you saying that causality began to exist only when scientists and philosophers started asking questions about it? There seems to be much confusion here.

    A horse in a living room is clearly in the classical realm, and so we can be certain that horses will not appear spontaneously.”

    The question is this: Is it possible that a horse could appear in your living room without reason or cause? You seem to be saying no, but you are not being very clear.

    ….it is only because it is (astronomically) too improbable for it to happen. Same with quantum physics: The laws that explain the foundation of physical reality are statistical in nature.

    So you are saying that it is improbable, but definitely possible, for a brick wall to appear in front of your moving automobile without a reason or cause? Is it the same with the horse in your living room? You think it is highly improbable, but definitely possible, that it may appear without a reason or cause. Is that your final answer?

  119. 119
    RDFish says:

    Hi Box,

    The universe cannot be non-contingent or self-explanatory if its existence is dependent upon other things.

    I won’t argue that, but I don’t understand why you think the universe is dependent upon other things just because it contains different things.

    The balloon is dependent the material it is made from and the shape that it was designed to be to hold air, etc. Without the material and shape the balloon does not exist. So, the balloon is contingent on its material, shape and design. The universe is dependent on the things that comprise the universe. Without those things, there is no universe. So, the universe is a contingent thing.

    Here you seem to be alluding to the concept of conservation: You are saying that the mass/energy of the universe had to come from somewhere, just as the rubber from the balloon had to come from somewhere.

    It’s true that we have a number of important scientific laws identifying various conserved quantities such as mass/energy, linear and angular momentum, electric charge, etc. These are things that have never been observed to be be either created or destroyed. So where did they come from?

    Now, either the stuff in the unvierse has always existed, or it began to exist, right? If it always existed, we have no need to hypothesize something that created it. If it began to exist, then conservation has obviously been violated at some point, and hypothesizing a god (a conscious being) that could create mass/energy, charge, momentum, etc. out of nothing doesn’t obviate that problem, since that too would represent a violation of conservation.

    RDF: There is no such thing as the non-universe.
    SA: The only way this could be true is if the universe was infinite, eternal and unlimited by boundaries of any kind. Do you believe the universe is infinite, eternal and without any boundaries?

    No, the universe may be without boundaries but still not be infinite. If you don’t understand how this could be, you need to read an introduction to cosmology. But until you do, consider this: The surface of the Earth is finite, as there are only so many square miles of surface area. But it doesn’t have any boundaries – there is no edge of the Earth. Analogously, the volume of the universe can be finite, but have no boundaries – no edge of the universe, and nothing beyond the universe .

    Wouldn’t you need to know something about the first cause to determine if it exists or not?

    I’m thinking of “cause” as we do in the ordinary sense. It is not clear that anything caused the universe in that sense.

    For example, could you evaluate arguments for and against the idea that there could be only one first cause and not many?

    I don’t think there is anything to argue here, since nobody really has a scientific theory for how the universe came to exist.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  120. 120
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    Earlier, you stated that the origin of the universe was an “extraordinary event,” and on those grounds may have been uncaused. Now you are saying that it may have been uncaused because it is just like many other quantum events, which occur daily. So, which is it? Was it an ordinary or extraordinary event?

    What I mean by “extraordinary” is that it is outside of our “ordinary” realm of experience – hence extraordinary. Quantum events are extraordinary in this sense, because they are far removed from our ordinary experience, since they are so small, and they behave in ways that are very much foreign to the way we understand things (time, space, location, movement, and so on). Very massive things like black holes are also extraordinary, and behave in ways that contradict our normal experience. Likewise when things move with relative velocities approaching lightspeed. So in this sense of “extraordinary”, the birth of the universe would clearly be extraordinary.

    Are you saying that causality does not reflect the activity of the real world and exists only in the mind of the investigator?

    I think causality is hard to understand, but it doesn’t have the same sort of existence as mass/energy or gravitation. And causality as we understand it from our ordinary experience does appear to be violated in the extraordinary realms that I’ve discussed and cited.

    Are you saying that causality began to exist only when scientists and philosophers started asking questions about it? There seems to be much confusion here.

    I agree that it’s confusing. Hume of course denied any sort of existence to causality; Kant attempted to rehabilitate it, but there is still no general agreement on who was correct.

    That is exactly why it is futile to argue for the existence of (your conception of) God by relying on the sort of causality we induce from our everyday experience.

    RDF: A horse in a living room is clearly in the classical realm, and so we can be certain that horses will not appear spontaneously.”
    SB: The question is this: Is it possible that a horse could appear in your living room without reason or cause? You seem to be saying no, but you are not being very clear.

    I answered as clearly as I could without over-simplifying. Could a broken egg be put in a blender and reassemble into a whole egg? Of course no reasonable person would expect this to ever happen, and it is safe to say we could run this experiment for countless millenia and never observe it to happen. But the laws of physics (e.g. 2nd Law of TD) do not actually prohbit such a thing – they simply tell us that it is astronomically improbable. Same with quantum physics – they are probabilistic in nature, and so they do not actually say various things are impossible, but only wildly improbable.

    So you are saying that it is improbable, but definitely possible, for a brick wall to appear in front of your moving automobile without a reason or cause? Is it the same with the horse in your living room? You think it is highly improbable, but definitely possible, that it may appear without a reason or cause. Is that your final answer?

    These are not my opinions – they are uncontroversial results of the most successful and precisely confirmed scientific theory of all time (quantum theory). Now, there are some things that physics does say is impossible – violation of conservation laws, for example, so if the appearing horse required a violation of mass/energy conservation it would be impossible. But there are no physical laws that preclude pre-existing matter/energy from being spontaneously configured into outlandishly improbable states.

    A textbook example of this is the car on one side of a hill suddenly disappearing and reappearing on the other side without driving over the top. This is something that would seem to violate the laws of physics. Yet this very phenomenon is easily observed in the quantum realm with tiny particles instead of macro objects like cars, and so there is a finite (but practically zero) probability that it could happen to actual cars as well.

    Finally, if you would like to point out that the creation of the mass/energy in the universe violates conservations laws – of course that is correct. It means even our notion of conserved quantities break down at the extraordinary circumstance of the beginning of spacetime. And of course, positing some conscious being who could violate the conservation laws doesn’t somehow remedy that.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  121. 121
    CHartsil says:

    I thought ID had nothing to do with god or religion…

  122. 122
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    I agree that it’s confusing. Hume of course denied any sort of existence to causality; Kant attempted to rehabilitate it, but there is still no general agreement on who was correct.

    I am well aware of the historical record. I am asking you to disclose your position. Does causality exist as a real power in nature or is it solely a mental phenomenon?

    These are not my opinions – they are uncontroversial results of the most successful and precisely confirmed scientific theory of all time (quantum theory).

    Is it your position that it is both possible and highly improbable that a horse can appear in your living room without a cause?

    But there are no physical laws that preclude pre-existing matter/energy from being spontaneously configured into outlandishly improbable states.

    There seems to be a disconnect here. First, you say that a universe could, in principle, spontaneously appear even in the absence of pre-existent matter. Now you are saying that some things can spontaneously appear as long as they are configurations of pre-existent matter. Which is your position?

    A textbook example of this is the car on one side of a hill suddenly disappearing and reappearing on the other side without driving over the top. This is something that would seem to violate the laws of physics. Yet this very phenomenon is easily observed in the quantum realm with tiny particles instead of macro objects like cars, and so there is a finite (but practically zero) probability that it could happen to actual cars as well.

    First you say causality can be suspended for universes and quantum events, and now you are saying that, in principle, causality can be suspended for anything at all. Which is your position?

    Finally, if you would like to point out that the creation of the mass/energy in the universe violates conservations laws – of course that is correct.

    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?

  123. 123
    Silver Asiatic says:

    RDF

    The surface of the Earth is finite, as there are only so many square miles of surface area. But it doesn’t have any boundaries – there is no edge of the Earth.

    The edge of the earth is where we distinguish earth from non-earth.

    You’ve said that there is nothing beyond the universe – thus a distinction between the universe and nothing.

  124. 124
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    I am asking you to disclose your position. Does causality exist as a real power in nature or is it solely a mental phenomenon?

    I think that like all the rest of our concepts (time, space, temporal order, locality, physical laws, etc) causality is something that makes sense only within certain realms of experience, and once we extend our investigation beyond those limits, the concept becomes meaningless.

    RDF: These are not my opinions – they are uncontroversial results of the most successful and precisely confirmed scientific theory of all time (quantum theory).
    SB: Is it your position that it is both possible and highly improbable that a horse can appear in your living room without a cause?

    These are not my opinions – they are uncontroversial results of the most successful and precisely confirmed scientific theory of all time (quantum theory).

    There seems to be a disconnect here. First, you say that a universe could, in principle, spontaneously appear even in the absence of pre-existent matter.

    Nope, not what I said. I explained to you that our conception of causality appears to be violated in phenomena in extraordinary circumstance, and that the birth of spacetime would be an extraordinary circumstance. I never ventured any guess about where mass/energy may have come from.

    Now you are saying that some things can spontaneously appear as long as they are configurations of pre-existent matter.

    For the third time: Quantum effects – like things spontaneously appearing – do not happen in the classical world, but not because they are prohibited by physical laws; rather, they do not happen because they are too improbable.

    First you say causality can be suspended for universes and quantum events,

    Nope, never said causality can be “suspended”, nor have I offered a theory about causality and the origin of the universe. I did explain to you that classical causality did not appear to apply to certain quantum phenomena, and I also said that the birth of spacetime would be an extraordinary realm where our conception of causality may not apply.

    … and now you are saying that, in principle, causality can be suspended for anything at all.

    When did I ever say that? What I said was this:

    A textbook example of this is the car on one side of a hill suddenly disappearing and reappearing on the other side without driving over the top. This is something that would seem to violate the laws of physics. Yet this very phenomenon is easily observed in the quantum realm with tiny particles instead of macro objects like cars, and so there is a finite (but practically zero) probability that it could happen to actual cars as well.

    What makes you think that there was a law of conservation to be violated when mass/energy was created?

    Right – exactly. In other words, the law of conservation would be violated by the creation of mass/energy, so if mass/energy was created at the birth of the universe, that law was violated (in other words, there was no such law in effect).

    Are you suggesting that the law of conservation is eternal?

    Perhaps mass/energy has always existed, or perhaps there is something that allows a temporary violation of conservation, analogous to the way virtual particles violate conservation but only within the limits of Heisenberg uncertainty.

    If not, where would it come from if not a creator?

    What is a “creator”? How can a creator create the law of conservation?

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  125. 125
    RDFish says:

    Hi Silver Asiatic,

    The edge of the earth is where we distinguish earth from non-earth.

    No, you misunderstand. A “surface” is two dimensional. If the Earth was flat then there would be edges to the Earth’s surface, but there are no edges to the Earth’s surface because the Earth is a sphere. So the surface of the Earth is not infinite, but neither does it have edges – there is nothing beyond the surface of the Earth in two dimensions. This is an analogy to help you understand how the universe can be finite but without boundaries. In the case of the universe, it exists in four dimensions rather than two, so it is difficult for us to conceptualize.

    You’ve said that there is nothing beyond the universe – thus a distinction between the universe and nothing.

    🙂
    No, when I say “there is nothing beyond the universe”, I do not mean “there is something beyond the universe that I refer to as ‘nothing'”. Rather, I mean just what I said: There is nothing beyond the universe. People unfamiliar with cosmosology imagine a universe with boundaries that exists in some larger space, like a balloon floating within a room. But universe does not exist within space – it is space itself (and time). There is no room that the balloon floats within – there is just the balloon and nothing else, not even space.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  126. 126
    kairosfocus says:

    Re RDF, 115:

    The other shoe drops, on attempted dismissal of causality:

    [SB, 113:] [a] How do the laws of physics support your proposition that the universe may have been uncaused?

    [RDF, 115:] Because other events appear to be uncaused (such as radioactive decay, virtual particle creation, etc).

    Of course RDF (who has seriously mischaracterised and falsely accused the undersigned) refuses to read what appears under my handle. This is for record.

    It is simple to note that absent a radioactive atom — or more properly a population of same — there will be no radioactive decay. That is, we identify a necessary . . . enabling, on/off . . . causal factor.

    We know as well that atoms face inner forces of instability and that radioactive decay is in effect a stabilising effect of those forces. Yes, there is a stochastic process reflecting in randomness and probabilities; that is not unusual. But the coming into existence of such a population of atoms with such a stochastic process is itself a proper case of an effect — typically tracing to what happens in and around big enough stars. (We do start out with mostly H and He.)

    Thus, radioactive decay shows itself to be subject to causal roots.

    As to virtual particles, this is generally held to be rooted in an underlying energy base in space and matter. Where it is also generally subject to the constraint of the Einstein energy-time uncertainty relationship:

    delta-E * delta-t is at least h-bar/2.

    Such, again implies underlying causes that constrain possibilities.

    Overall, the implication is, we are here dealing with a breakdown of right reason tied to rejection of its first principles and to a scientism that fails to understand the dependence of both physics and mathematics on said first principles.

    Sawing off the branch on which we all must sit is not a wise move.

    So, we are now back to the error of trying to pop a whole cosmos out of a non-existent hat.

    KF

  127. 127
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: On nothingness vs necessary being and root cause of the cosmos.

    Let us stipulate what nothing truly means. Not primordial matter-energy in some state such as a quantum foam in a pre-existent space-time matrix.

    Patently, such would be some-thing, something.

    Nothing, proper is just that: non-being.

    Which, having no properties cannot cause or constrain anything.

    If ever there were an utter nothing, tthat would forever obtain.

    But we live in a cosmos, so there never was an utter nothing.

    There always was something, pointing to the root: a necessary being causally adequate to account for an orderly, organised, fine tuned cosmos fitted for C-chemistry, cell based, aqueous medium life.

    A designer.

    Sitting at the root of reality, adequate to cause a cosmos and a necessary being. (One having no dependence on external on/off factors so that if possible a serious candidate to be such will be present in all possible worlds. That is we see the need for a necessary being at the root of reality and that a designer and maker of the cosmos is a serious candidate. A candidate that fills the bill to be God. And whoever above was talking about ID and God needs to understand the distinction between design in the world of life that in principle needs no more than an advanced molecular nanotech lab, and origin of the cosmos by a designer able to monkey with physics such that the very elements and their critical chemical properties are put-up jobs. And I here deliberately use the language of the distinguished astrophysicist, lifelong agnostic and Nobel-equivalent prize holder Sir Fred Hoyle, who went on to infer that there are no blind forces of consequence in our world.)

    But then we see objectors perfectly willing to burn down first principles of reason and dress up in the quantum theory lab coat to do it.

    And of course such irrationality must pretend that rationality is nonsensical. Which readily — but sadly — explains recent rhetoric: you no writa da inglish good so I ignore your evidence and reasoning, pretending you don’t exist.

    (That’s move 2 on that little bit of rhetoric; to which the astute reader will respond by seeing that a classical dirty rhetorical tactic — try Wilson’s The Arte of Rhetorique — has long been to studiously ignore what one has no answer to if one thinks one can get away with it. The proper answer to that is to draw attention to what is being rhetorically suppressed. And shoot at the messenger does not change the objective state of facts and reasoning, or the balance of a matter on the merits. Which should drive our reasoning.)

    KF

  128. 128
    Silver Asiatic says:

    RDFish

    There is no room that the balloon floats within – there is just the balloon and nothing else, not even space.

    I understand what you’re trying to say, but it’s inexplicable. We define the earth by its boundaries. As I said, earth and non-earth. A thing is finite because it has boundaries or limits. A finite universe is contingent. The universe does not explain why it has this finite limitation verses that.

    Science cannot model or explain something that “has nothing outside of it”. It’s a paradox and similar to some of the examples you’ve given about quantum effects.

    These things are incomprehensible – beyond our comprehension. But for some reason you’re able to accept them while you’re not able to discuss the existince of a first cause, for similar reasons.

    It seems inconsistent to me.

  129. 129
    StephenB says:

    Hi RD

    I think that like all the rest of our concepts (time, space, temporal order, locality, physical laws, etc) causality is something that makes sense only within certain realms of experience, and once we extend our investigation beyond those limits, the concept becomes meaningless.

    Do you think that causality is a real power in nature, or do you think that is only a mental concept? This is an important question that we cannot just gloss over. What is your position?

    I explained to you that our conception of causality appears to be violated in phenomena in extraordinary circumstance, and that the birth of spacetime would be an extraordinary circumstance. I never ventured any guess about where mass/energy may have come from.

    Well, that is not really what I am getting at. Is it your position that if a horse suddenly appeared in your living room without a cause (something you believe is unlikely, but possible) it could only occur if pre-existent matter was being configured (or re-configured)? Or, could it also occur even if no pre-existent matter was involved, in other words, from nothing at all?

    For the third time: Quantum effects – like things spontaneously appearing – do not happen in the classical world, but not because they are prohibited by physical laws; rather, they do not happen because they are too improbable.

    What is the probability that a horse could appear in your living room without a cause?

    Right – exactly. In other words, the law of conservation would be violated by the creation of mass/energy, so if mass/energy was created at the birth of the universe, that law was violated (in other words, there was no such law in effect).

    I don’t understand your comment. How can a non-existent law be violated? The law of conservation could only be violated if it pre-existed the birth of the universe. If it came with the material universe, then it is subject to being violated only after matter came into existence. Do you have any evidence to support the idea that the law of conservation preceded the existence of time/space/matter?

    What is a creator?

    For our purposes, it is an intelligent agent with a free will capable of producing a universe and all its laws, including the law of conservation. Note that I am not “assuming” the existence of libertarian free will. I am drawing the logical conclusion that only someone with a free will can decide to create.

  130. 130
    RDFish says:

    Hi Silver Asiatic,

    RDF: There is no room that the balloon floats within – there is just the balloon and nothing else, not even space.
    SA: I understand what you’re trying to say, but it’s inexplicable.

    Yes, I agree – in a sense we cannot imagine it, but general relativity (the theory that defines what we know about these things) has been experimentally confirmed very well.

    We define the earth by its boundaries. As I said, earth and non-earth.

    Yes, we naturally understand that Earth is a 3 dimensional sphere within 3 dimensional space, and the 2 dimensional surface of the Earth forms its boundary.

    A thing is finite because it has boundaries or limits.

    Well, no – it has a finite measure, but not necessarily a boundary. Again, think of the finite 2 dimensional surface of the Earth that has no boundaries: You can begin walking anywhere on Earth and walk as far as you’d like in any direction and never reach a boundary, ever, even though the surface of the Earth is finite. The same is true of 3-dimensional space (actually considered a 4-dimensional spacetime manifold in relativity theory): You can fly in a spaceship as long as you’d like in any direction and never reach a boundary, ever, even though the volume and radius of the universe is finite.

    A finite universe is contingent.

    I disagree.

    The universe does not explain why it has this finite limitation verses that.

    The universe is thought to be finite because it started as a single point (singularity) and has expanded over a finite period of time.

    Science cannot model or explain something that “has nothing outside of it”.

    No, you’re wrong about that: The equations of general relativity are exactly what models the universe, and in those models, there is nothing outside of the 4-dimensional universe – just like there is nothing outside of the surface of the Earth in 2 dimensions.

    It’s a paradox and similar to some of the examples you’ve given about quantum effects. These things are incomprehensible – beyond our comprehension.

    There is a sense in which we cannot understand the laws of quantum physics and relativity, and there is a sense in which we understand them perfectly and precisely. We cannot intuitively understand modern physics – we can’t picture 4 dimensional manifolds in our mind’s eye, and we cannot understand what a quantum waveform actually is (it is thought of as a “wave of probability”, which we obviously can’t visualize). However, the mathematical descriptions in these theories explain and predict phenomenon of the very small and the very large with perfect precision, and they are never wrong, even when the predictions are of things we would never imagine to be true (quantum tunnelling, gravitational lensing, and so on).

    But for some reason you’re able to accept them while you’re not able to discuss the existince of a first cause, for similar reasons.

    Not true at all: The reason I believe that the descriptions of modern physics are true is because they make specific predictions that are thoroughly confirmed by experiement, and because they explain a wide range of phenomena with a small number of very specific laws and assumptions. Saying that a “first cause” accounts for the universe has none of these qualities – it really doesn’t mean anything at all. And once you start with divine attributes, including the conscious awareness of some being that exists outside of the universe, it’s all just so much poetry, and has nothing to do with logic or science at all.

    Don’t get me wrong, please: I think there is beauty and comfort in religious imagery and beliefs, and would never judge anyone for believing in any conception of God they find appealing. I only object to those who pretend that their own particular religious views are somehow proven true by science and logic.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  131. 131
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    Do you think that causality is a real power in nature, or do you think that is only a mental concept? This is an important question that we cannot just gloss over. What is your position?

    I certainly don’t think causality is a “power” in a scientific sense, no – it is not a force, nor is it energy. Ontologically, I would say it has the same status as a concept like temporal order – not a power or a force or a thing, but something in nature that we experience.

    What do you think causality is?

    Is it your position that if a horse suddenly appeared in your living room without a cause (something you believe is unlikely, but possible) it could only occur if pre-existent matter was being configured (or re-configured)?

    Such a thing is more unlikely than a broken egg spontaneously reforming into perfect egg in a blender – so unlikely that if I ever observed it, the only rational response would be to doubt my observation or my own sanity. As for your exact question, I would say that a violation of mass/energy conservation is prohibited by absolute physical law, while broken eggs reforming and horses moving from one place to another without traversing the intermediate space are prohibited by probabilistic laws. But even the absolute conservation laws (and other absolute laws, such as the Pauli exclusion principle or the Heisenberg uncertainty principle) may break down under extreme, extra-ordinary circumstances.

    What is the probability that a horse could appear in your living room without a cause?

    Are you asking for some probability calculation? Haha – above my pay grade, I’m afraid. If you’re curious, read about deBroglie wavelengths. It turns out that the wave-particle duality that is responsible for a lot of weirdness at the quantum level applies to macroscopic objects too, and it was deBroglie who hypothesized this in the early 20th century. It has been experimentally confirmed many times, with objects as massive as large molecules. But the effects start to statistically cancel out at greater masses, which is why we do not observe horses (or even fleas) appearing in living rooms.

    RDF: Right – exactly. In other words, the law of conservation would be violated by the creation of mass/energy, so if mass/energy was created at the birth of the universe, that law was violated (in other words, there was no such law in effect).
    SB: I don’t understand your comment. How can a non-existent law be violated?

    Physical laws are not like legal laws 🙂

    When a physical law is violated, it means that some regularity that has been reliably observed within certain realms (of mass, size, velocity, charge, etc) fails to hold in other realms. So there was a law that light always travels in a straight line in empty space, and this was found to be invariably true… until we started looking at how light travelled in empty space near a very massive object, and found that law no longer held in that situation.

    The law of conservation could only be violated if it pre-existed the birth of the universe. If it came with the material universe, then it is subject to being violated only after matter came into existence. Do you have any evidence to support the idea that the law of conservation preceded the existence of time/space/matter?

    Your question doesn’t make sense: It doesn’t mean anything to say mass/energy is conserved if there is no mass/energy. It’s like saying there is no such thing as the Loch Ness monster, but it always enjoys tea at noon.

    RDF: What is a creator?
    SB: For our purposes, it is an intelligent agent with a free will capable of producing a universe and all its laws, including the law of conservation.

    Well that’s fine then. When you come up with some way to demonstrate that such a thing exists, existed, or could even exist in principle, let me know.

    I am drawing the logical conclusion that only someone with a free will can decide to create.

    And yet again you claim that your conclusions derive from “logic” – but logic tells us nothing about free will, or conscious beings that have no brains, or something that exists outside of spacetime.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  132. 132
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    I certainly don’t think causality is a “power” in a scientific sense, no – it is not a force, nor is it energy. Ontologically, I would say it has the same status as a concept like temporal order – not a power or a force or a thing, but something in nature that we experience.

    Let me ask it another way. Do you think that a cause has the power to produce an effect, or do you think it is merely a mental concept?

    What do you think causality is?

    I think a cause is the power of a person or thing to produce an effect. It is not just an idea, concept, or perception. I gather you disagree, but you have not yet disclosed your opinion on the matter. What is a cause? Is it a power or a mental concept? You appear to be saying that it is a mental concept. Is that right?

    SB: The law of conservation could only be violated if it pre-existed the birth of the universe. If it came with the material universe, then it is subject to being violated only after matter came into existence. Do you have any evidence to support the idea that the law of conservation preceded the existence of time/space/matter?

    Your question doesn’t make sense:

    It makes perfect sense. It is your claim that creating mass/energy from nothing violates the law of conservation. If the law of conservation doesn’t precede the existence of mass/energy, then it is impossible to violate it by creating mass/energy from nothing. You can only violate a law that already exists.

    What is a creator?

    SB: For our purposes, it is an intelligent agent with a free will capable of producing a universe and all its laws, including the law of conservation.

    Well that’s fine then. When you come up with some way to demonstrate that such a thing exists, existed, or could even exist in principle, let me know.

    You didn’t ask me to demonstrate the existence of a Creator. You asked me to define a creator. Reread you question. You do understand the difference between an argument and a definition, right? If you want me to argue for a Creator, I can certainly do that.
    SB: I am drawing the logical conclusion that only someone with a free will can decide to create.

    And yet again you claim that your conclusions derive from “logic” – but logic tells us nothing about free will, or conscious beings that have no brains, or something that exists outside of spacetime.

    I don’t know why you are struggling with this very simple point. Only an intelligent agent with free will can decide to create. Free will is a logical requirement for decision making, and decision making is a logical requirement for creating.

  133. 133
    RDFish says:

    Hi Silver Asiatic,

    RDF: There is no room that the balloon floats within – there is just the balloon and nothing else, not even space.
    SA: I understand what you’re trying to say, but it’s inexplicable.

    Yes, I agree – in a sense we cannot imagine it, but general relativity (the theory that defines what we know about these things) has been experimentally confirmed very well.

    We define the earth by its boundaries. As I said, earth and non-earth.

    Yes, we naturally understand that Earth is a 3 dimensional sphere within 3 dimensional space, and the 2 dimensional surface of the Earth forms its boundary.

    A thing is finite because it has boundaries or limits.

    Well, no – it has a finite measure, but not necessary a boundary. Again, think of the finite 2 dimensional surface of the Earth that has no boundaries: You can begin walking anywhere on Earth and walk as far as you’d like in any direction and never reach a boundary, ever. The same is true of 3-dimensional space (actually considered a 4-dimensional spacetime manifold in relativity theory): You can fly in a spaceship as long as you’d like in any direction and never reach a boundary, ever.

    A finite universe is contingent.

    I disagree.

    The universe does not explain why it has this finite limitation verses that.

    The universe is thought to be finite because it started as a single point (singularity) and has expanded over a finite period of time.

    Science cannot model or explain something that “has nothing outside of it”.

    No, you’re wrong about that: The equations of general relativity are exactly what models the universe, and in those models, there is nothing outside of the 4-dimensional universe – just like there is nothing outside of the surface of the Earth in 2 dimensions.

    It’s a paradox and similar to some of the examples you’ve given about quantum effects. These things are incomprehensible – beyond our comprehension.

    There is a sense in which we cannot understand the laws of quantum physics and relativity, and there is a sense in which we understand them perfectly and precisely. We cannot intuitively understand modern physics – we can’t picture 4 dimensional manifolds in our mind’s eye, and we cannot understand what a quantum waveform actually is (it is thought of as a “wave of probability”, which we obviously can’t visualize). However, the mathematical descriptions in these theories explain and predict phenomenon of the very small and the very large with perfect precision, and they are never wrong, even when the predictions are of things we would never imagine to be true (quantum tunnelling, gravitational lensing, and so on).

    But for some reason you’re able to accept them while you’re not able to discuss the existince of a first cause, for similar reasons.

    Not true at all: The reason I believe that the descriptions of modern physics are true is because they make specific predictions that are thoroughly confirmed by experiement, and because they explain a wide range of phenomena with a small number of very specific laws and assumptions. Saying that a “first cause” accounts for the universe has none of these qualities – it really doesn’t mean anything at all. And once you start with divine attributes, including the conscious awareness of some being that exists outside of the universe, it’s all just so much poetry, and has nothing to do with logic or science at all.

    Don’t get me wrong, please: I think there is beauty and comfort in religious imagery and beliefs, and would never judge anyone for believing in any conception of God they find appealing. I only object to those who pretend that their own particular religious views are somehow proven true by science and logic.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  134. 134
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    Let me ask it another way. Do you think that a cause has the power to produce an effect,

    This is true merely by definition: What we mean by calling something a “cause” is that it is reliably followed by some “effect”. This means, for example, electricity has the power to generate heat, and gravity has the power to hold us on the Earth, but it does not mean that “causality” per se is some sort of power.

    I think a cause is the power of a person or thing to produce an effect. It is not just an idea, concept, or perception. I gather you disagree, but you have not yet disclosed your opinion on the matter.

    I’ve given you my full thoughts on the matter.

    It is your claim that creating mass/energy from nothing violates the law of conservation. If the law of conservation doesn’t precede the existence of mass/energy, then it is impossible to violate it by creating mass/energy from nothing. You can only violate a law that already exists.

    This is pretty interesting, actually.

    Here are two definitions of “law” from the dictionary:

    noun: law
    1. the system of rules that a particular country or community recognizes as regulating the actions of its members and may enforce by the imposition of penalties.
    “they were taken to court for breaking the law”
    2. a statement of fact, deduced from observation, to the effect that a particular natural or scientific phenomenon always occurs if certain conditions are present.
    “the second law of thermodynamics”

    Now, here is what you are doing: You are mistaking physical laws (definition #2) for legal rules (definition #1), as though they were drawn up by some celestial lawyer who can decide if and when the law should be enacted, enforced, suspended, rescinded and so on. That may be your religious understanding of physical law, but it is unscientific.

    In science, physical laws are not rules that somebody decides to enact, but rather descriptions of what we infer from our observations of the world. Physical laws are descriptions of the regularities we observe among mass and energy and time and space and forces and so on. If we find an exception to one of these regularities, then we say the law is violated. It doesn’t mean somebody’s intent was disregarded, or that something happened that shouldn’t have happened. All it means is that the regularity that we ourselves have induced did not hold under certain conditions.

    If mass/energy was created at some point, such as the Big Bang, then the regularity that we normally observe and call a law, viz that mass/energy is never created nor destroyed – did not hold at that point. That’s all that is meant by “conservation is violated”. When you say that the law wasn’t violated because it didn’t exist at the time, it makes no sense, because it isn’t a matter of somebody deciding when the law should apply, but rather a matter of us discovering when the law holds and when (if) it doesn’t.

    You didn’t ask me to demonstrate the existence of a Creator. You asked me to define a creator. Reread you question. You do understand the difference between an argument and a definition, right?

    Uh, you gave me your definition, which I asked for, and I told you that was fine, now you can let me know when you have any reason to believe such a thing exists. 🙂

    I don’t know why you are struggling with this very simple point. Only an intelligent agent with free will can decide to create.

    It is truly amazing that you think that the most difficult and profound questions that have occupied the brightest minds for millenia without ever approaching consensus should be characterized as simple points.

    I don’t think that libertarian free will is a coherent concept, and in this belief I am joined by a large number of scholars and great thinkers – and I am also contradicted by other scholars and great thinkers. It is indicative of a lack of sophistication for you to imagine your particular understanding of this and similar philosophical problems are simple and obvious. If you continue to study these issues, rather than uncritically accept whatever solutions you’ve been exposed to thus far, you may at some point gain the wisdom to realize you know far less than you think you do.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  135. 135
    StephenB says:

    SB: It is your claim that creating mass/energy from nothing violates the law of conservation. If the law of conservation doesn’t precede the existence of mass/energy, then it is impossible to violate it by creating mass/energy from nothing. You can only violate a law that already exists.

    RDFish

    Now, here is what you are doing: You are mistaking physical laws (definition #2) for legal rules (definition #1), as though they were drawn up by some celestial lawyer who can decide if and when the law should be enacted, enforced, suspended, rescinded and so on. That may be your religious understanding of physical law, but it is unscientific.

    No, you are incorrect. I said or implied nothing about a celestial lawyer in this context. This is a real waste of time. Please stop doing that.

    In science, physical laws are not rules that somebody decides to enact, but rather descriptions of what we infer from our observations of the world. Physical laws are descriptions of the regularities we observe among mass and energy and time and space and forces and so on…….(and on and on)

    I know the meaning of physical laws, thank you very much. This is another waste of time. We are discussing the law of conservation, the law that you depend on to answer every question even when it doesn’t relate to the question.

    It is your claim that creating mass/energy from nothing violates the law of conservation. I am asking how that could even be possible. If the law of conservation doesn’t precede the existence of mass/energy, then it is impossible to violate it by creating mass/energy from nothing. You can only violate a law that already exists. Are you saying, therefore, that the law of conservation preceded the birth of the universe?

    If mass/energy was created at some point, such as the Big Bang, then the regularity that we normally observe and call a law, viz that mass/energy is never created nor destroyed – did not hold at that point. That’s all that is meant by “conservation is violated”

    What makes you think there was any such thing as a law of conservation prior to the big bang? Again, you are assuming that the law of conservation preceded the birth of the universe. Why are you assuming that? Do you have any evidence to support that view?

    When you say that the law wasn’t violated because it didn’t exist at the time, it makes no sense, because it isn’t a matter of somebody deciding when the law should apply, but rather a matter of us discovering when the law holds and when (if) it doesn’t.

    It has nothing whatever to do with anyone’s decision and everything to do with whether or not there was any pre-existent law of conservation at the birth of the universe. You are confusing my definition of a creator (which you asked for in another context) with our discussion on the law of conservation. Please stop doing that.

    SB: I don’t know why you are struggling with this very simple point. Only an intelligent agent with free will can decide to create.

    It is truly amazing that you think that the most difficult and profound questions that have occupied the brightest minds for millenia without ever approaching consensus should be characterized as simple points.

    It is truly amazing that you cannot follow the argument. Without the power of free will, one cannot decide; without the power to decide, one cannot create. You really do need to ask yourself if your ideology is preventing you from thinking clearly on this matter.

    It is indicative of a lack of sophistication for you to imagine your particular understanding of this and similar philosophical problems are simple and obvious. If you continue to study these issues, rather than uncritically accept whatever solutions you’ve been exposed to thus far, you may at some point gain the wisdom to realize you know far less than you think you

    I have every reason to believe that I have studied these issues much more carefully than you have. You labor under the misconception that making things more complex than they need to be is a sign of sophistication. That isn’t the case. The real task is to wade through the complexity in order to arrive at a rational conclusion. It appears that you wallow in complexity for its own sake, especially when you deny something as obvious as the fact that willing is inextricably tied to creating.

  136. 136
    Silver Asiatic says:

    RDFish

    Well, no – it has a finite measure, but not necessary a boundary. Again, think of the finite 2 dimensional surface of the Earth that has no boundaries: You can begin walking anywhere on Earth and walk as far as you’d like in any direction and never reach a boundary, ever.

    The measure of a finite thing is what determines the boundary. The surface of the earth is finite and has boundaries. Not only the boundaries from that which is non-earth, but the limit of the earth’s size itself is a boundary. It is only so big and not bigger. I could say “my kitchen floor has no boundaries”, and to prove it, I could take one step forward and one step back for an infinite amount of time. That’s the analogy with walking around the earth. The walk is a measure – eventually, you’re measuring the same space you already measured.

    You can fly in a spaceship as long as you’d like in any direction and never reach a boundary, ever.

    If you flew for an infinite period of time in a finite space, you’d eventually cover every square inch more than once. That’s a boundary. That’s why it’s not infinite. It means it has a specific shape and size. That means the universe is contingent.

    The universe is thought to be finite because it started as a single point (singularity) and has expanded over a finite period of time.

    In that scenario universe is dependent on:

    – a beginning
    – whatever was in that singularity
    – its movement and expansion over time
    – the elements that comprise the universe

    This is what it means to be contingent. It is not self-explained or independent. The universe is explained by the singularity and conditions that made the universe possible.

    like there is nothing outside of the surface of the Earth in 2 dimensions.

    To say that there is nothing outside the earth, however, is false.

    I only object to those who pretend that their own particular religious views are somehow proven true by science and logic.

    Science cannot prove itself to be true or false. That kind of validation is entirely dependent on non-science, metaphysics.

    In the same way, science cannot explain its own origin and is therefore the wrong tool to use in order to evaluate something like a first cause.

    That’s simple logic.

    A first cause is necessary as an explanation of a sequence of events.
    The universe is a sequence of events.
    Therefore there is a first cause of that sequence.

  137. 137
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    What we mean by calling something a “cause” is that it is reliably followed by some “effect”. This means, for example, electricity has the power to generate heat, and gravity has the power to hold us on the Earth, but it does not mean that “causality” per se is some sort of power.

    You defined cause as a “concept.” A concept does not have the capacity to generate heat, but a power does. So, I ask you again. Is cause a “concept,” which clearly cannot produce an effect, or is it a power, which can produce an effect.

  138. 138
    StephenB says:

    Silver Asiatic

    Science cannot prove itself to be true or false. That kind of validation is entirely dependent on non-science, metaphysics. In the same way, science cannot explain its own origin and is therefore the wrong tool to use in order to evaluate something like a first cause.

    Right. Science is powerless to comment on the existence of a first cause.

    That’s simple logic.

    Indeed, it is.

    A first cause is necessary as an explanation of a sequence of events.
    The universe is a sequence of events.
    Therefore there is a first cause of that sequence.

    Precisely. The logic is inescapable.

    Here is the way Peter Kreeft puts it:

    “If there is no first cause, then the universe is like a railroad train moving without an engine. Each car’s motion is explained proximately by the motion of the car in front of it: the caboose moves because the boxcar pulls it, the boxcar moves because the cattle car pulls it, et cetera. But there is no engine to pull the first car and the whole train. That would be impossible, of course. But that is what the universe is like if there is no first cause: impossible.”

  139. 139
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    SB: It is your claim that creating mass/energy from nothing violates the law of conservation. If the law of conservation doesn’t precede the existence of mass/energy, then it is impossible to violate it by creating mass/energy from nothing. You can only violate a law that already exists.

    What you are saying is that there are two scenarios:
    1) The conservation law was in effect when mass/energy was created, and so the law was violated.
    2) The conservation law was not in effect when mass/energy was created, and so the law was not violated.

    This is both hilarious and instructive. You are, despite your denial, treating the law of conservation like it was a rule that can be followed or disobeyed, rather than a generalization about how the world works.

    Don’t you see that if mass/energy is created or destroyed in some situation, then simply by definition that means that it is not being conserved? That is simply what “conserved” means – that it can’t be created or destroyed. It makes no sense to say that mass/energy was not conserved but it didn’t “violate the law” because the law “didn’t exist”.

    To say it another way, the following two statements are perfectly synonymous – they mean exactly the same thing:
    A) Mass/energy was created or destroyed
    B) Mass/energy conservation was violated

    Do you see now? It makes no sense to say that mass/energy was created/destroyed but the law of conservation was not violated, because what that is simply what it means to say that mass/energy was created or destroyed.

    I hope we can put this one to rest here – I don’t think I can make this more clear than I already have.
    I must say this has been very revealing about your mindset and the way you understand “natural law”!

    Without the power of free will, one cannot decide; without the power to decide, one cannot create.

    So you say. The opposing point of view is that free will does not exist. Prove you’re right. Since you’ve declared that this is so simple and obvious, you should have the proof at the ready: Simply provide a way that demonstrates our choices are free and not determined by antecedent events. You’ll be famous!

    You defined cause as a “concept.” A concept does not have the capacity to generate heat, but a power does.

    The word “power” has a scientific definition: It is the rate of doing work, in units of energy consumed per unit time. If one applies electrical current to a heating element, the is the electrical energy that causes the heat, not the “causality”. If one hits a billiard ball with a cue, it is the kinetic energy in the cue that causes the ball to move, not “causality”.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  140. 140
    RDFish says:

    Hi Silver Asiatic,

    Not only the boundaries from that which is non-earth…

    I’ve explained this several times now. There is nothing past the boundary of the Earth’s surface, because the Earth’s surface had no boundaries. The reason this is true is because of the geometry of the Earth’s surface. If the Earth’s surface was a plane instead of a sphere, then it would have boundaries, and you could reach the boundary of the Earth’s surface, and there would be something beyond the edge of the Earth’s surface. But there just isn’t, because of the geometry of the Earth.

    There is nothing past the boundary of the universe, because the universe had no boundaries. The reason this is true is because of the geometry of the universe (which is actually determined by the mass the universe contains – but that is very complicated, and you need to understand general relativity theory to see why). If the universe had a different geometry, then it would have boundaries, and you could reach the boundary of the universe, and there would be something beyond the edge of the universe. But there just isn’t, because of the geometry of the universe.

    Apparently you don’t wish to acknowledge this, so let’s move on.

    It means it has a specific shape and size. That means the universe is contingent.

    If all you mean by “contingent” is that it has a specific shape and size, then we can agree that the universe is contingent. But that is not all you mean. You also mean that it is dependent upon something else. But the property of being dependent is not tied to having a specific size and shape; something could have some particular size and shape and still be necessary.

    – a beginning
    – whatever was in that singularity
    – its movement and expansion over time
    – the elements that comprise the universe
    This is what it means to be contingent.

    I thought it was “having a specific shape and size”? Perhaps you need to provide a single definition for “contingent” so we can know what we’re talking about.

    It is not self-explained or independent. The universe is explained by the singularity and conditions that made the universe possible.

    You are just separating the singularity from the universe, instead of treating the singularity as the universe in its initial state.

    What I am arguing is that one could just treat the singularity – everything that it consists of, every property that it has – as being necessary, not dependent upon anything else. You have provided no reason why this is any less justified than positing some conscious being that is necessary and proceeds to create this singularity. Why not just start with the singularity instead?

    Science cannot prove itself to be true or false. That kind of validation is entirely dependent on non-science, metaphysics.

    We agree that epistemology is outside of science.

    In the same way, science cannot explain its own origin and is therefore the wrong tool to use in order to evaluate something like a first cause.

    If you are saying that science cannot yet explain how the universe began, then we agree about that too.

    We have no empirically justified beliefs regarding how the universe came to exist. There are many different creation stories that people have made up, but we cannot determine if any of them are true.

    That’s simple logic.

    No, not really – it’s just a fact about our knowledge of the world.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  141. 141
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    What you are saying is that there are two scenarios:
    1) The conservation law was in effect when mass/energy was created, and so the law was violated.
    2) The conservation law was not in effect when mass/energy was created, and so the law was not violated.

    This is both hilarious and instructive.

    It is obvious and irrefutable.

    You are, despite your denial, treating the law of conservation like it was a rule that can be followed or disobeyed, rather than a generalization about how the world works.

    No, I am responding to your false claim that this same rule is violated when matter is created. The law of conservation can only be violated after it comes into existence. I am amazed that you cannot understand this.

    Do you see now? It makes no sense to say that mass/energy was created/destroyed but the law of conservation was not violated, because what that is simply what it means to say that mass/energy was created or destroyed.

    It must be that you ideology is driving your confusion. Either that, or you are having some kind of mental block. The law applies to an isolated system that exists. It doesn’t apply to an isolated system that does not exist and no such system existed prior to the beginning of the universe.

    I hope we can put this one to rest here – I don’t think I can make this more clear than I already have.
    I must say this has been very revealing about your mindset and the way you understand “natural law”!

    It has been revealing all right, but not in the way you had hoped.

    SB: Without the power of free will, one cannot decide; without the power to decide, one cannot create.

    So you say. The opposing point of view is that free will does not exist. Prove you’re right.

    Again, you are confused. I am not trying to prove that free will exists. Stop and think for a moment.

    If the universe was created (that is a hypothetical), then it is obvious that it was willed into creation. To create is to actively and purposefully bring something into existence. It is not logically possible to create anything without free will.

    By contrast, If the universe “poofed” into existence without a casue, as you believe, then it was not created and free will is not indicated.

    So, I am not arguing (at the moment) that free will exists. I am stating an obvious fact: If the universe was created, the existence of free will is a logical requirement.

  142. 142
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    RDF: Don’t you see that if mass/energy is created or destroyed in some situation, then simply by definition that means that it is not being conserved?
    SB: If the “situation” is that the law doesn’t exist, then it can’t be violated. If the situation is that the law does exist, then it can be violated.

    A law of nature is a description of a regularity observed in nature.
    A “situation” is what is actually happening in nature.
    The conservation law says that there is no situation in which mass/energy is created.
    If we find that mass/energy was created in some situation, then our conservation law was wrong, because there was some situation in which mass/energy did hold.

    Most of our scientific laws have turned out this way. One of Newton’s laws said that force = mass x acceleration in all situations. Einstein found situations in which this was not true, so Newton’s law was violated. Now, did Newton’s law “exist” in nature at any time? No – it was just Newton’s generalization that he thought would always hold, and it didn’t.

    Here’s the part you skipped again, and it shows why you are wrong:
    A) Mass/energy was created or destroyed
    B) Mass/energy conservation was violated
    These two sentences mean the exact same thing. Therefore, if (A) is true then (B) is true. B cannot be false if A is true.

    Ok, so how do you reply, Stephen? If those two sentences do not mean the exact same thing, then tell us what the difference in meaning is. And if they do mean the exact same thing (and of course they do, as any check of what “mass/energy conservation” means will tell you), then how can one of them be true and the other one be false (it can’t).

    It must be that you ideology is driving your confusion. Either that, or you are having some kind of mental block.

    A) Mass/energy was created or destroyed
    B) Mass/energy conservation was violated
    These two sentences mean the exact same thing.
    You are the one who is confused, of course. I would say it was your religious beliefs making you assume that God decides which natural laws are in effect at what time – perhaps so He can suspend various laws when He performs miracles?

    The law applies to an isolated system that exists. It doesn’t apply to an isolated system that does not exist and no such system existed prior to the beginning of the universe.

    If you are saying that mass/energy conservation doesn’t apply to situations where there is no mass/energy, then of course we agree, as I’ve explained previously. And if mass/energy is created, then conservation is violated – by definition.

    If the universe was created (that is a hypothetical), then it is obvious that it was willed into creation.

    Talk about begging the question! This is only obvious to theists. It is not obvious (or even reasonable) to people who do not already believe in a conscious being that exists outside of spacetime, or something like that.

    To create is to actively and purposefully bring something into existence. It is not logically possible to create anything without free will.

    If this is how you define “create”, then obviously nobody can show any reason to believe that the universe was created.

    By contrast, If the universe “poofed” into existence without a casue, as you believe, …

    You really should stop lying about my beliefs. How many times need I tell you that my position is that nobody knows how the universe came to exist?

    …then it was not created and free will is not indicated.

    The universe may have been caused or not caused. My guess is that the concept of causality doesn’t make sense in that situation, just like the concept of speed doesn’t make sense faster than the speed of light. If it was caused, then we have no idea what it was caused by. You can say it was created by some conscious being, but you have no evidence that this was the case.

    So, I am not arguing (at the moment) that free will exists. I am stating an obvious fact: If the universe was created, the existence of free will is a logical requirement.

    You’ve defined the word “created” to make that sentence true, so it is trivially true – a tautology. You can’t discover the nature of reality – or win debates – just by making up definitions for words.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  143. 143
    Box says:

    RDFish: A law of nature is a description of a regularity observed in nature.

    Is there ‘nature’ prior to the coming into existence of the universe?

  144. 144
    Silver Asiatic says:

    StephenB @ 140

    Thanks – and great quote by Peter Kreeft. That’s very clear.

  145. 145
    RDFish says:

    Hi Box,

    Is there ‘nature’ prior to the coming into existence of the universe?

    I think it is obvious that nobody knows anything about what was “prior” to the existence of the universe, nor even if it makes sense to talk about anything prior to it, since it seems that both space and time began at the big bang.
    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  146. 146
    RDFish says:

    Hi Silver Asiatic,

    I’m afraid that Kreeft’s analogy to a locomotive is 100 years out of date, and anything but clear. We’ve learned a great deal about physics since the revolution at the beginning of the 20th century. Our common sense notions of space, time, temporal order, simultaneity, locality, realism and causality have all been upended by empirically confirmed discoveries over the past century. Religious imagery was authored when we had very little understanding of the world, and is out of date. Kreeft’s locomotive needs to be replaced with matter waves, singularities, quantum uncertainty, wave-particle duality, non-local interactions, spontaneous causeless creation of virtual particles, and other non-intuitive phenomena that rule what happens in extraordinary situations like black holes, speeding photons, or the singularity at the beginning of our universe.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  147. 147
    Silver Asiatic says:

    RDFish

    There is nothing past the boundary of the Earth’s surface,

    We’re using terminology differently. I understand that cosmologists use the term ‘boundary’ to speak of a specific thing, like an ‘edge’. But I’m using the term in the sense of ‘limit’. So, it would not be correct to say that ‘there is nothing past the limit of the Earth’s surface’. That’s the nature of a finite thing versus something infinite. There is a limit in the one case.

    If all you mean by “contingent” is that it has a specific shape and size, then we can agree that the universe is contingent.

    No, I explained what I meant by contingent several times. You could look up the meaning of the term if you’d like. But I’m just using a standard definition: “dependent for existence on something”. As I’ve said many times, a non-contingent thing explains itself. That’s why it is necessary. It alone is necessary for anything else to exist. A first cause is non-contingent because it ‘is not dependent on any other causes or things’.

    But that is not all you mean. You also mean that it is dependent upon something else. But the property of being dependent is not tied to having a specific size and shape; something could have some particular size and shape and still be necessary.

    If the universe has a specific size or shape, then it is dependent upon those factors to be what it is. It does not explain itself. It does not cause its own existence. To do that, it would have to exist before the universe existed. The universe could potentially be other sizes and shapes. What the universe is, therefore, is dependent on its specific size and shape – that needs to be explained.

    Perhaps you need to provide a single definition for “contingent” so we can know what we’re talking about.

    Ok, I’m talking about the difference between a necessary being and a contingent being. What I mean by contingent is that it is dependent or conditional on something else for its existence. A contingent being cannot be necessary because it could be something else – it is subject to a beginning and to change. It is subject to various possibilities, one of which is that it is destroyed and does not exist.

    By contingent being I mean a being that is dependent on something else for its existence – so the explanation for its existence comes from something else. The reason for its existence is not contained by the thing itself. It is contingent (dependent, conditional) upon other things.

    What I am arguing is that one could just treat the singularity – everything that it consists of, every property that it has – as being necessary, not dependent upon anything else.

    For the singularity to be what it was, it was dependent on certain things. If it was the beginning of the universe, then something preceded the beginning.

    You have provided no reason why this is any less justified than positing some conscious being that is necessary and proceeds to create this singularity. Why not just start with the singularity instead?

    You could start with the singularity, but the singularity possesses certain characteristics to various degrees, more or less. You could just say “that’s the way it is” but that does not explain why the singularity had certain properties to various degrees, or how old it is and why the big bang occurred at a certain moment (if the singularity was infinite then the big bang would have occurred an infinte amount of time ago — with an infinite expansion of the universe, etc.)

    A better explanation is that there is a necessary being that possesses existence and is non-contingent. That way, properties and degrees of existence are not received by anything else. That being is existence itself, and therefore is the first cause of all the rest of the sequence of causes.

    We have no empirically justified beliefs regarding how the universe came to exist.

    Empiricism requires a physical universe. Therefore it cannot be the right tool to use in order to understand the origin (that which preceded) the physical universe.

  148. 148
    Box says:

    RDFish,
    Assuming that both space and time began at the big bang, as you pointed out, is it reasonable to assume that ‘nature’ and ‘natural law’ also began at the big bang?

  149. 149
    RDFish says:

    Hi Silver Asiatic,

    I understand that cosmologists use the term ‘boundary’ to speak of a specific thing, like an ‘edge’. But I’m using the term in the sense of ‘limit’.

    From all the other things you said about what is beyond the universe, etc., I would say that you came to this realization recently, but in any case we now agree that something can be finite with or without physical boundaries, and that “finite” means “limited”.

    But I’m just using a standard definition: “dependent for existence on something”.

    Ok, that’s clear. I was confused because you said things like

    – a beginning
    – whatever was in that singularity
    – its movement and expansion over time
    – the elements that comprise the universe
    This is what it means to be contingent.

    If the universe has a specific size or shape, then it is dependent upon those factors to be what it is.

    I have been different shapes and sizes in my life, but always the same person. All sorts of things change size and shape and not identity of course. I really don’t know what you mean by this.

    It does not explain itself. It does not cause its own existence. To do that, it would have to exist before the universe existed.

    I don’t think either one of us is clear about the requirements for self-explanation. My point is that if you can claim that there is a god that is necessary and self-explanatory, then I can claim that the universe itself has these properties, eliminating the need for your superfluous hypothesis.

    The universe could potentially be other sizes and shapes.

    You don’t know that. Just because you can imagine something doesn’t mean it is possible. Perhaps there was only one way for the universe to form. Alternatively, if you claim that God could not potentially be different, I could just as easily deny that: God might have been the sort of thing that was incapable of creating universes, for example. That would make God contingent too.

    What the universe is, therefore, is dependent on its specific size and shape – that needs to be explained.

    We would love to explain how the universe came to exist, and why it is the way it is. Unfortunately, nobody knows.

    RDF: What I am arguing is that one could just treat the singularity – everything that it consists of, every property that it has – as being necessary, not dependent upon anything else.
    SA: For the singularity to be what it was, it was dependent on certain things.

    How do you know that? Why could it not be eternal? Or why could it not appear spontaneously?

    RDF: You have provided no reason why this is any less justified than positing some conscious being that is necessary and proceeds to create this singularity. Why not just start with the singularity instead?
    SA: You could start with the singularity, but the singularity possesses certain characteristics to various degrees, more or less. You could just say “that’s the way it is” but that does not explain why the singularity had certain properties to various degrees, or how old it is and why the big bang occurred at a certain moment (if the singularity was infinite then the big bang would have occurred an infinte amount of time ago — with an infinite expansion of the universe, etc.)

    First, we see things that happen at certain moments without any reason at all – beta-decay of a radioactive nucleus, for example, or the spontaneous creation of virtual particles. Second, how do you know that the properties of the universe could have been different?

    A better explanation is that there is a necessary being that possesses existence and is non-contingent. That way, properties and degrees of existence are not received by anything else. That being is existence itself, and therefore is the first cause of all the rest of the sequence of causes.

    I don’t know what it means to be “existence itself”, since nothing in our experience is that. Secondly, if you assert that the universe could have been different, then whatever it is you are referring to could have been different too (for example, maybe it wouldn’t want to create a universe).

    We have no empirically justified beliefs regarding how the universe came to exist.

    Empiricism requires a physical universe. Therefore it cannot be the right tool to use in order to understand the origin (that which preceded) the physical universe.

    I actually agree with this entirely. None of our concepts from the word we inhabit likely apply – including time and causality.

    In the end, this sort of speculation is like playing tennis without a net. It seems eminently clear that nobody has any idea at all about why the universe exists as it does, or what “preceded” it – and what it could possibly even mean for something to precede time itself.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  150. 150
    RDFish says:

    Hi Box,

    Assuming that both space and time began at the big bang, as you pointed out, is it reasonable to assume that ‘nature’ and ‘natural law’ also began at the big bang?

    Depends what you mean by “nature” and “natural law” I suppose. Definition please?

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  151. 151
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    If you are saying that mass/energy conservation doesn’t apply to situations where there is no mass/energy, then of course we agree,

    ……..

    Now reread the words you just wrote (which are repetitions of my words, but that’s OK)…”Mass/energy conservation doesn’t apply to situations where there is no mass/energy.”

    Now follow along very carefully. There was no mass/energy prior to the origin of matter/energy.

    Since there was no mass/energy prior to the origin of the matter/energy, there was no law of conservation prior to the origin of matter/energy.

    Since there was no law of conservation prior to the origin of matter/energy, there was no law of conservation to be violated prior to the origin of matter/energy.

    Since there was no law of conservation to be violated prior to the existence of matter/energy, it would be impossible to violate the law of conservation prior to the origin of matter/energy.

    Since it is impossible to violate the law of conservation of matter/energy prior to the origin of matter/energy, it would only be possible to violate the law of conservation after matter/energy began to exist.

    Since it is only possible to violate the law of conservation after matter/energy began to exist, it is not possible to violate the law of conservation by creating mass/energy.

    Do you understand now?

  152. 152
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    Now reread the words you just wrote (which are repetitions of my words, but that’s OK)…”Mass/energy conservation doesn’t apply to situations where there is no mass/energy.”

    Huh? Where did you say that?

    You said conservation wasn’t violated if mass/energy was created because the law didn’t exist yet.
    I said conservation can’t be violated if no mass/energy exists because the concept of conservation obviously does not apply in that situation.

    I’m correct, and you’re confused.

    There was no mass/energy prior to the origin of matter/energy.

    We can’t actually say anything was prior to the origin of mass/energy, because it appears that time itself began at the same event.

    Since there was no mass/energy prior to the origin of the matter/energy, there was no law of conservation prior to the origin of matter/energy.

    You keep talking about the law existing at one time or another, and I have explained over and over that this is nonsense. The law is an induction that human scientists made in the 19th century, Stephen!!! It makes no sense to ask of the law existed before then, or if it “exists” at all. You can only ask if the law was violated or not, not if the law itself existed! This is your problem – you are reifying the “law” as though it was something that was brought into existence, when in fact it is nothing but a description of a regularity in nature that was noticed by human beings! It is the regularity that exists in nature, not the law per se!

    Since there was no law of conservation to be violated prior to the existence of matter/energy,…

    No, it’s not that there wasn’t a law – it was that the law of conservation did not apply, because it makes no sense to conserve what doesn’t exist! But if mass/energy was created at some point, that would be – BY DEFINITION – a violation of conservation.

    You keep dodging this question, because you can’t answer it without admitting you’re wrong. Please answer it or concede:

    Here’s the part you skipped again, and it shows why you are wrong:
    A) Mass/energy was created or destroyed
    B) Mass/energy conservation was violated
    These two sentences mean the exact same thing. Therefore, if (A) is true then (B) is true. B cannot be false if A is true.

    Ok, so how do you reply, Stephen? If those two sentences do not mean the exact same thing, then tell us what the difference in meaning is. And if they do mean the exact same thing (and of course they do, as any check of what “mass/energy conservation” means will tell you), then how can one of them be true and the other one be false (it can’t).

    Come on, don’t dodge this for the third time.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  153. 153
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    SB: There was no mass/energy prior to the origin of matter/energy.

    RDFish

    We can’t actually say anything was prior to the origin of mass/energy, because it appears that time itself began at the same event.

    Reread my statement: There was no mass/energy “prior” to the origin of matter/energy. I didn’t say “prior in time.” I said “prior,” Do you know the difference between logically prior and chronologically prior? Do you understand that being logically prior has nothing at all to do with time? It isn’t as if this is the first time I have explained this to you.

    If you don’t understand that there was no mass/energy prior to the origin of mass/energy, then there is truly something wrong with your mind. Either that, or you will say and do anything in a futile attempt to avoid refutation.

    ———————————————————-

    It is the regularity that exists in nature, not the law per se!

    Don’t tell it to me. Tell it to yourself. Does the regularity really exist in nature, as you are saying now, or is it a “concept,” as you claimed a moment earlier:

    I said conservation can’t be violated if no mass/energy exists because the concept of conservation obviously does not apply in that situation.

    Do you understand that your conception of a law is a different thing than its manifestation and activity in nature? I don’t think you do.

    Your irrational subjectivism is causing you to make the silliest mistakes. Just trust me on this one: Matter and energy did not exist prior to the existence matter and energy. If you can just get your head around that simple fact (and admit it) I can take you through the remaining steps. Otherwise, you will continue to sink in intellectual quicksand.

    —————————————————–

    But if mass/energy was created at some point, that would be – BY DEFINITION – a violation of conservation.

    Good heavens, you really are struggling aren’t you? No, RD, it would not be a violation. The definition of the law of conservation only applies when matter/energy exists.

    You keep dodging this question, because you can’t answer it without admitting you’re wrong. Please answer it or concede:

    You are becoming delusional. I have explained to you at least five times that the definition of the law of conservation is irrelevant in any situation where matter/energy does not exist. There is no law of conservation if there is no matter/energy to conserve. Get it?

  154. 154
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    Here’s the part you skipped again, and it shows why you are wrong:
    A) Mass/energy was created or destroyed
    B) Mass/energy conservation was violated
    These two sentences mean the exact same thing. Therefore, if (A) is true then (B) is true. B cannot be false if A is true.

    I didn’t skip it, RD. You are using the wrong tense with the word “was.” The law of conservation does not say mass/energy “was not” created, which would be stupid beyond belief. Let me explain your confusion.

    You think that since the law states that matter/energy cannot now be created or destroyed it is also committed to the idea that matter/energy could never have been created. That doesn’t follow at all. If that was the case, then the law of conservation would rule out big bang cosmology.

    Do you understand that matter/energy did not always exist (or so says the science)? Do you understand that if matter had not been created or brought into existence, there would be no law of conservation or no matter to conserve? Do you understand that the law of conservation is totally dependent on the fact that matter was, in fact, brought into existence? Do you understand that if there is no matter/energy, there can be no law to regulate matter energy? Do you understand that to say that a system is isolated is not to say that an isolated system cannot be created?

  155. 155
    Silver Asiatic says:

    RDFish

    …in any case we now agree that something can be finite with or without physical boundaries, and that “finite” means “limited”.

    We don’t agree on the point. If a thing is finite, it is limited. If it is limited, it is contingent on that which it is limited by. The universe is finite (as you said), therefore it is contingent.

    I have been different shapes and sizes in my life, but always the same person. All sorts of things change size and shape and not identity of course. I really don’t know what you mean by this.

    Your identity is not a good example because you are self-aware that you are a person. There’s no way to empirically prove that you are a ‘self’. But with the universe we’re talking about a continuum.

    If a thing changes it size and shape, some reason must be given for that. Something is changing it. The thing is contingent on whatever changed its size and shape. Additionally, if a thing can change its size and shape, it has the potential to no longer be what it is. Over an infinite amount of time, the sun would change its size and shape and no longer be the sun. This is impermanence – so the sun cannot be a necessary being, something else is necessary for the sun to be the sun (the conditions in the universe now that make it the sun).

    With the universe, if it changes size, shape or even what it is comprised of, these are all contingent factors.
    What is the universe? How do we describe it? If we describe it by what it is today, that would be different than what it will be in a million years. So, its identity actually changes. Something has to explain this. If the universe could change (given an infinite amount of time) to become something else (or disappear), then it would no longer exist. A non-contingent entity would not have any dependencies on its own existence, thus it is self-existing and self-explaining. It is necessary and cannot disappear.

    My point is that if you can claim that there is a god that is necessary and self-explanatory, then I can claim that the universe itself has these properties, eliminating the need for your superfluous hypothesis.

    Sure, you can claim that the universe explains itself, is non-contingent and necessary. But then you have to show it. As I said, I can claim my balloon is self-explanatory, but then someone observes that the balloon is dependent on material, physical forces and it’s shape and capabilities. The balloon does not explain itself.
    The universe is the same. It is dependent on other things to be what it is.
    A sad example, like the World Trade Towers in New York. They were one size and shape, now they are another. You could say “they still have the same identity”. But they’re rubble now – they don’t exist.
    Or something like Lake Manly in Nevada. At one time it was a lake. It had an identity. Now, however, it evaporated and it doesn’t exist. So, it could not have been a self-explained being. It was contingent.

    Just because you can imagine something doesn’t mean it is possible. Perhaps there was only one way for the universe to form.

    The fact that the universe ‘formed’ means that it once was one thing, and now it is another. True, we could say “every single thing on earth and in the universe today had to be exactly the way it is today”. There’s no way to falsify that. But I’m appealing to a generally understood notion that it’s possible that various factors could have been different. That’s how we understand fine-tuning arguments and how we look at probabilities.

    So, if the universe formed, it once was one size and shape, and then another. If the universe was smaller, where did the space come from for it to expand? If there was nothing beyond the univese, then the universe could not expand – since it would require more space to expand. If the universe ‘expanded into nothingness’ – or converted nothing to space from the singularity until now, then the ‘nothing’ had the capability of making space for the universe. Thus, the nothing wasn’t nothing. It had capabilities.
    If the universe got bigger, then it was capable of getting bigger. If the univese changes shape and size, what possible shapes and sizes could it have? What determines that? Whatever it is are conditions upon which the universe is dependent.

    Alternatively, if you claim that God could not potentially be different, I could just as easily deny that: God might have been the sort of thing that was incapable of creating universes, for example. That would make God contingent too.

    Right, but then we’d have two unexplained things and not just one. We’d have a universe which would not be explained by God, and we’d have God with limited powers – and it would be unexplained why God had those limits. What caused God to be contingent on that limitation?

    If our answers are merely, “that’s the way it is” – yes, that could be, but it’s more explanatory to say that God possesses all the powers to create the universe, and the universe is contingent on the conditions that God created.

    Yes, God remains unexplained, but that’s the nature of the first cause. It contains the source of everything that follows.

    Why could it not be eternal? Or why could it not appear spontaneously?

    It could be eternal or appear spontaneously. But if it was eternal, then the universe would not be moving towards a future state. The future state would have already arrived.

    First, we see things that happen at certain moments without any reason at all – beta-decay of a radioactive nucleus, for example, or the spontaneous creation of virtual particles.

    Yes, but those things are dependent on certain conditions. Those conditions have to exist before whatever thing happens.

    Second, how do you know that the properties of the universe could have been different?

    As above, we could say “everything is exactly the way it had to be”, but when we see change and movement, we project the future and look at possibilities. We then imagine we can do the same with the past.
    The universe could have had only one possible set of properties – the properties it actually has.
    However, this argument seems less reasonable if the properties of the universe change over time, for various reasons.
    We could say “the universe could only have this finite number of stars that it has today”. But we know that stars go supernova and are lost, so it’s not reasonable to suggest that the universe has to be what it is today.

    I don’t know what it means to be “existence itself”, since nothing in our experience is that.

    We understand things that exist and things that go out of existence. So, if we explain that the universe came from a source of existence that is Being in its fullest degree (without flaw or loss of any kind), then that’s an explanation of the various kinds of being we observe.

    Secondly, if you assert that the universe could have been different, then whatever it is you are referring to could have been different too (for example, maybe it wouldn’t want to create a universe).

    Yes, but as above – then we’d have to explain why that source had that limit. The source would then be contingent on something else and we’d have a continued regress of causes. To stop an infinite regress, a source for the universe is the first cause, not dependent on any other, which has all the power and being (fullness of both) to create a universe.

    In the end, this sort of speculation is like playing tennis without a net. It seems eminently clear that nobody has any idea at all about why the universe exists as it does, or what “preceded” it – and what it could possibly even mean for something to precede time itself.

    I kind of agree, but I just don’t think it’s as absolute as you present it. I don’t think it’s true that we have no idea at all. There are several arguments that can give good support for the existence of God and others that show why a godless universe is unreasonable.

    Just because we can’t use empirical science to arrive at answers doesn’t mean we can’t use other tools.

    In fact, I think the significant questions you raise about the accuracy and value of science’s ability to truly describe reality, tell us that science alone is not sufficient for an understanding even of what goes on within the universe- much less for the origin of it.

  156. 156
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    RDF: Here’s the part you skipped again, and it shows why you are wrong:
    A) Mass/energy was created or destroyed
    B) Mass/energy conservation was violated
    These two sentences mean the exact same thing. Therefore, if (A) is true then (B) is true. B cannot be false if A is true.

    SB: I didn’t skip it, RD. You are using the wrong tense with the word “was.”

    Hahahahahaha! That is truly hysterical, even for you. Clintonesque, one might say.
    Here you go:

    A) Mass/energy is created or destroyed
    B) Mass/energy conservation is violated
    These two sentences mean the exact same thing. Therefore, if (A) is true then (B) is true. B cannot be false if A is true.

    All right, StephenB, let me try yet again (one of the reasons I debate here is to learn new ways of breaking through entrenched problems that people have in their thinking).

    My point all along has been that the concepts we use to understand nature – time, space, matter, energy, forces, laws, causality, temporal ordering, locality, realism, and so on – apply in ordinary situations; physicists call this the “classical” realm. When we venture beyond that realm into situations where things are very extraordinary – very large, very small, very energetic, very fast, very massive, or even a situation where there is no time or space or mass or energy at all – these concepts may no longer make sense, and no longer explain and predict what we observe.

    You have rejected this point, ridiculing it by saying that what I consider extraordinary is actually ordinary, or that these concepts break down only because I don’t approve of them, and so on.

    You then attempted (who knows why) to deny that if mass/energy was created, that would represent a violation of what we cann mass/energy conservation. That conservation would be violated by the creation of mass/energy is true simply by virtue of what “mass/energy conservation” means, however, you steadfastly refuse to acknowledge this, pretending instead that the creation of mass/energy could occur at the beginning of the unvierse but still not be considered a violation of conservation, because the law was not enacted yet (!). For example, you say:

    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?

    Since God had not yet written this law into the celestial Law Book, you claim, the creation of mass/energy should not be considered a violation of the law. This gave a terrific insight into your bizarre view of how science works, and I attempted to help you see your error.

    Now, you have evolved on the matter and have learned to rephrase your objection significantly:

    I have explained to you at least five times that the definition of the law of conservation is irrelevant in any situation where matter/energy does not exist.

    This of course is obviously true – if there is no mass/energy, then it can’t be conserved. What you still fail to understand is that the moment mass/energy is created, it represents a violation of mass/energy conservation – by virtue of the definition of “mass/energy conservation”, whether or not the Creator has “put the law into effect”.

    If you feel like you can’t give in on this point, let’s let it drop – the fair reader here will realize that your notion of a physical law not existing until a Creator decides to enact it is an extremely unscientific concept, and I’m fine with letting it go at that.

    What remains is the important point: Just as you realize that mass/energy conservation – one of the most fundamental laws of physics – does not apply in the extraordinary circumstance mass/energy existed, causality may not apply in the extraordinary circumstance before time existed. Although you refuse to admit it, there are already a number of extraordinary situations where causality as we understand it does not appear to apply – in various quantum phenomena.

    All of this demonstrates that your attempt to prove the existence of a divine First Cause by trying to apply classical notions of causality to a situation where it does not apply is futile.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  157. 157
    RDFish says:

    Hi Silver Asiatic,

    If a thing is finite, it is limited. If it is limited, it is contingent on that which it is limited by. The universe is finite (as you said), therefore it is contingent.

    We disagree. You are using “limit” as a transitive verb – something must limit something else. In contrast, I consider something’s finiteness to be simply a property of the thing itself.

    There’s no way to empirically prove that you are a ‘self’.

    Wow, we do indeed agree on that !

    If a thing changes it size and shape, some reason must be given for that. Something is changing it.

    Again I disagree – it could simply be the things nature to change size and shape, and not require anything else to mold it.

    With the universe, if it changes size, shape or even what it is comprised of, these are all contingent factors.

    Again I disagree. The universe changes size because of what it is, not because somebody is doing something to it.

    What is the universe? How do we describe it? If we describe it by what it is today, that would be different than what it will be in a million years. So, its identity actually changes.

    Well, this is just an old philosophical problem of identity. If you replace a plank of a rowboat, is it still the same boat? What about if you replace another, and another… until every piece of the boat is replaced. Still the same boat? (hint: there is no right or wrong answer)

    Sure, you can claim that the universe explains itself, is non-contingent and necessary. But then you have to show it.

    Can’t of course – no more than you can show that some conscious being exists outside of spacetime.

    But I’m appealing to a generally understood notion that it’s possible that various factors could have been different. That’s how we understand fine-tuning arguments and how we look at probabilities.

    I’m saying that generally understood notions are based on our general experience and can be wildly wrong when applied to things utterly outside of our experience – like the creation of all that exists. Fine-tuning arguments are interesting in terms of providing something that needs to be explained, but they are not arguments for any particular explanation. It is utterly impossible to say what the probability is of the universe being the way it is, because (1) we have only one data point, and (2) we have no idea how that data point came to be.

    So, if the universe formed, it once was one size and shape, and then another. If the universe was smaller, where did the space come from for it to expand? If there was nothing beyond the univese, then the universe could not expand – since it would require more space to expand.

    You still don’t understand modern cosmology. Just do some reading and you’ll see why you are conceptualizing this wrong. I know it’s hard to wrap your head around it, but there are a lot of good non-technical treatments that will introduce you to the concepts. The universe did NOT expand into surrounding space – nothing surrounds the universe, not even “nothingness”.

    RDF: Alternatively, if you claim that God could not potentially be different, I could just as easily deny that: God might have been the sort of thing that was incapable of creating universes, for example. That would make God contingent too.

    SA: Right, but then we’d have two unexplained things and not just one. We’d have a universe which would not be explained by God, and we’d have God with limited powers – and it would be unexplained why God had those limits.

    Nope, just one explained thing instead of two. Instead of a necessary God and a contingent universe, we’d just have a necessary universe. Don’t get me wrong – that’s still not any sort of explanation. I’m just saying it’s better than hypothesizing a god who then went on create a universe.

    It could be eternal or appear spontaneously. But if it was eternal, then the universe would not be moving towards a future state. The future state would have already arrived.

    There are certainly paradoxes and problems associated with an eternal past, but also with a finite past (what happened before then? what would “before then” mean? how could something be caused if the cause could not precede the effect? and so on).

    We have no answers for any of these questions, even though people have been at it for thousands of years.

    There are several arguments that can give good support for the existence of God and others that show why a godless universe is unreasonable.

    We disagree.

    In fact, I think the significant questions you raise about the accuracy and value of science’s ability to truly describe reality, tell us that science alone is not sufficient for an understanding even of what goes on within the universe- much less for the origin of it.

    And here we agree 100%!

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  158. 158
    Box says:

    RDFish: Physical laws are descriptions of the regularities we observe among mass and energy and time and space and forces and so on.

    Are there regularities “among mass and energy and time and space and forces and so on” prior to the coming into existence of “mass and energy and time and space and forces and so on”?
    IOW are there physical laws prior to the big bang?

  159. 159
    RDFish says:

    Hi Box,

    Are there regularities “among mass and energy and time and space and forces and so on” prior to the coming into existence of “mass and energy and time and space and forces and so on”?
    IOW are there physical laws prior to the big bang?

    This is the confusion that StephenB was suffering. I would say this:

    For realists (like me, and I assume you too), mass and energy and time and space and so on exist independently of our thinking about them.

    The regularities among these physical things also exist in the world outside of our minds, but obviously only when those physical things themselves exist.

    Our understanding of those regularities – these “Laws” that we write about, think about, and discuss – are linguistic descriptions of these regularities, rather than things that exist in the world per se.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  160. 160
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    A) Mass/energy is created or destroyed
    B) Mass/energy conservation is violated
    These two sentences mean the exact same thing. Therefore, if (A) is true then (B) is true. B cannot be false if A is true.

    I wasn’t challenging the relationship between A and B. I was correcting your tense. It is irresponsible and inaccurate to say that the law of conservation means that mass “was not” created. Now that you know it is irresponsible and inaccurate, we can move on.

    You then attempted (who knows why) to deny that if mass/energy was created, that would represent a violation of what we call mass/energy conservation.

    I didn’t attempt to do anything. I made it clear that it isn’t logically possible to violate the phenomenon of mass/energy conversation by bringing mass/energy or mass/energy conservation into existence.

    What you still fail to understand is that the moment mass/energy is created, it represents a violation of mass/energy conservation – by virtue of the definition of “mass/energy conservation”, whether or not the Creator has “put the law into effect”.

    The definition of matter/energy conservation has absolutely nothing to do with the fact of its existence. Nothing.

  161. 161
    Box says:

    RDFish: The regularities among these physical things also exist in the world outside of our minds, but obviously only when those physical things themselves exist.

    Obvious indeed. Okay, so the regularities among physical things – which we formulate as laws – do not exist prior to the coming into existence of those physical things, energy space and time.
    IOW those regularities – like the law of conservation – do not exist prior to the big bang?

  162. 162
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    A) Mass/energy is created or destroyed
    B) Mass/energy conservation is violated
    These two sentences mean the exact same thing. Therefore, if (A) is true then (B) is true. B cannot be false if A is true.
    I wasn’t challenging the relationship between A and B. I was correcting your tense. It is irresponsible and inaccurate to say that the law of conservation means that mass “was not” created. Now that you know it is irresponsible and inaccurate, we can move on.

    Irresponsible? Hahahahahahaha. You may now dial down the drama – it’s just an internet forum debate, Stephen.

    Of course you denied that A and B mean the same thing! That was your problem all along. You said that when the mass/energy of the universe was created, conservation was not violated, because the creator had not created that law yet. Now that you realize your error, you call me “irresponsible”. 🙂

    I made it clear that it isn’t logically possible to violate the phenomenon of mass/energy conversation by bringing mass/energy or mass/energy conservation into existence.

    There you go again! “Conservation” is not something that exists like mass/energy. “Conservation” is a concept that we human beings have thought up to capture a generalization of our experience. It is said to be “violated” whenever mass/energy is created or destroyed. AND THEREFORE if at the birth of the universe the mass/energy of the universe was created, we say that at that point conservation was violated. BY DEFINITION.

    What remains is the important point: Just as you realize that mass/energy conservation – one of the most fundamental laws of physics – does not apply in the extraordinary circumstance before mass/energy existed, causality may not apply in the extraordinary circumstance before time existed. Although you refuse to admit it, there are already a number of extraordinary situations where causality as we understand it does not appear to apply – in various quantum phenomena.

    All of this demonstrates that your attempt to prove the existence of a divine First Cause by trying to apply classical notions of causality to a situation where it does not apply is futile.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  163. 163
    RDFish says:

    Hi Box,

    Obvious indeed. Okay, so the regularities among physical things – which we formulate as laws – do not exist prior to the coming into existence of those physical things, energy space and time.
    IOW those regularities – like the law of conservation – do not exist prior to the big bang?

    I just answered this. The actual regularities exist when the physical things exist; the “laws” are our descriptions of those regularities – they are not things that exist in the world.

    It is so interesting that you and StephenB do not understand this.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  164. 164
    RDFish says:

    Both Box and StephenB are arguing that since there was no mass/energy before the Big Bang, then there was no Law of Mass/energy conservation before the Big Bang. Therefore, they reason, if mass/energy was created in the Big Bang, the Law of Conservation was not violated – because it was not yet in effect.

    I’ve pointed out that this is ridiculous, because to say “mass/energy was created” is to say “mass/energy conservation was violated” – they mean exactly the same thing. So when you say “mass/energy was created at the Big Bang”, you are saying “mass/energy conservation was violated at the Big Bang.”

    StephenB and Box are thinking of the Law of Conservation like a law in a legal system – something that can be put into effect, or rescinded, at the discretion of some person or persons. So, they reason, since the Law of Conservation hadn’t yet been “activated” or “created” or something, then it wasn’t “in effect” when the mass/energy of the Big Bang occurred.

    But laws of nature are not like that. They are not laws that are “put into effect” at some point in time. Instead, they are inductions that human beings (in this case, in the 19th century) have made from their experience and confirmed by systematic observation. And like all inductions, there is always the possibility that under some situation the law may be violated.

    If mass/energy was created at the moment of the Big Bang, then by definition mass/energy conservation was violated at the moment of the Big Bang.

  165. 165
    Box says:

    RDFish,

    Let me know what you think of this analogy:

    During a chess game – when the game is on its way – we can observe the following regularity: each player moves a piece only if the other player has moved a piece previously. We can formulate a law on the basis of this observation; let’s call it ‘the law of alternation’.
    Now my question is: is it reasonable to state that the law of alternation is violated by the first move of the game? Or is it more accurate to say that at the moment the game started – during the completion of the first move – the law of alternation was not yet in effect. IOW that the law of alternation came into effect at the moment the first move was played?

  166. 166
    RDFish says:

    Hi Box,

    The ‘law of alternation’ is violated whenever one of the players takes two turns in a row.

    The ‘law of mass/energy conservation’ is violated whenever mass/energy is created or destroyed.

    It is not a matter of the law being “in effect” or not. You can define the law whenever you’d like, and then look for situations in which the law is violated.

    Now, I’m genuinely curious: Can you tell me why you and StephenB are so intent on finding some way of avoiding the manifestly obvious conclusion that creation of mass/energy in the Big Bang would violate conservation? I should think you really wouldn’t care – couldn’t God violate any law He wanted to?

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  167. 167
    Box says:

    RDFish: The ‘law of alternation’ is violated whenever one of the players takes two turns in a row.

    True, but irrelevant to my argument. You are not providing an alternative or better definition of the ‘law of alternation’. Your version depends on my more fundamental formulation of the law, because “turn” is defined only by my more fundamental formulation of the law: “each player moves a piece only if the other player has moved a piece previously”.
    When is it my ‘turn’? Answer: after your opponent has made his move.

    So here is my question again:

    is it reasonable to state that the law of alternation is violated by the first move of the game? Or is it more accurate to say that at the moment the game started – during the completion of the first move – the law of alternation was not yet in effect. IOW that the law of alternation came into effect at the moment the first move was played?

  168. 168
    kairosfocus says:

    Re RDF:

    Let’s look at the logic of:

    RDF, 166: Both Box and StephenB are arguing that since there was no mass/energy before the Big Bang, then there was no Law of Mass/energy conservation before the Big Bang. Therefore, they reason, if mass/energy was created in the Big Bang, the Law of Conservation was not violated – because it was not yet in effect.

    I’ve pointed out that this is ridiculous, because to say “mass/energy was created” is to say “mass/energy conservation was violated” – they mean exactly the same thing.

    Let us use some symbolisation, with t for timeline, W for the world and m/E[W(t)] standing for sum total mass/energy at timeline point t:

    1: set m/E[W] = 0 at t = -1, and

    2: allow t to proceed along a global cosmological timeline to t = 0, 1, 2 etc, in arbitrary units . . . say, Planck time units [with 0 the big bang and/or whatever initiation event one prefers], where

    3: m/E[W(t)] = m/E[W(t+), imposing a global m/E conservation rule.

    The conclusion is, for all t = 0, 1, 2 . . .

    m/E[W(t)] = m/E[W(-1)] = 0

    So, SB and Box are patently right.

    In a world with current mass and energy holding a large positive value . . . negative values not being available [per e = m*c^2 where m is positive or zero], AND having a beginning where m/E[W(beginning)] = 0, an external initiatory event that sets mass and energy to a non zero value is required.

    That is, a world with a beginning from a singularity is inherently contingent.

    And, we see a wider pattern to the law we observe at some t >> 0, perhaps 13.7 BY later.

    Namely, that we should distinguish world initiation from world continuation.

    The well-established broader law of mass-energy conservation we see reflects conditions post world-initiation.

    And indeed it is a commonplace of discussion of the big bang scenario, that our physics is post big bang. Let us observe Wiki:

    The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model for the earliest known periods of the universe.[1][2][3] It states that the Universe was in a very high density state and then expanded.[4][5] If the known laws of physics are extrapolated beyond where they are valid there is a singularity. Modern measurements place this moment at approximately 13.8 billion years ago, which is thus considered the age of the universe.[6] After the initial expansion, the Universe cooled sufficiently to allow the formation of subatomic particles, and later simple atoms. Giant clouds of these primordial elements later coalesced through gravity to form stars and galaxies. The Big Bang theory does not provide any explanation for the initial conditions of the Universe; rather, it describes and explains the general evolution of the Universe going forward from that point on.[4]

    Since Georges Lemaître first noted, in 1927, that an expanding universe might be traced back in time to an originating single point, scientists have built on his idea of cosmic expansion. While the scientific community was once divided between supporters of two different expanding universe theories, the Big Bang and the Steady State theory, accumulated empirical evidence provides strong support for the former.[7] In 1929, Edwin Hubble discovered indications that all galaxies are drifting apart at high speeds. In 1964, the cosmic microwave background radiation was discovered, which was crucial evidence in favor of the Big Bang model, since that theory predicted the existence of background radiation throughout the Universe before it was discovered. The known physical laws of nature can be used to calculate the characteristics of the Universe in detail back in time to an initial state of extreme density and temperature.[8][9][10]

    One may speculate on a multiverse or a base world that gives rise to ours perhaps by quantum fluctuation etc, but such is effectively philosophy done while wearing lab coats and using the languages and symbols of mathematics and physics.

    But, it is not privileged as coming from empirical warrant and must learn to humbly sit at the table of comparative difficulties analysis among significant worldview options.

    KF

  169. 169
    Me_Think says:

    Box @ 169

    is it reasonable to state that the law of alternation is violated by the first move of the game? Or is it more accurate to say that at the moment the game started – during the completion of the first move – the law of alternation was not yet in effect. IOW that the law of alternation came into effect at the moment the first move was played?

    The first move is just a move, so the law of alternation can be used only after the first move, and it is not violated till the first player plays his second move without allowing the second player to play his turn. I have no idea where you are going with this 🙂

  170. 170
    Box says:

    RDFish: Now, I’m genuinely curious: Can you tell me why you and StephenB are so intent on finding some way of avoiding the manifestly obvious conclusion that creation of mass/energy in the Big Bang would violate conservation? I should think you really wouldn’t care – couldn’t God violate any law He wanted to?

    Speaking for myself I can offer you a general answer. It’s a general intuition, it’s certainly not specifically about the law of conservation.
    There is something exquisitely special about The Beginning – Unmoved Mover, First Mover, First Cause – and you are refusing to acknowledge this fact. You want to diminish it by treating it like all the consecutive causes. You are refusing to grant it its special place in the order of things.
    Laws come into effect together with the First Move – and these laws don’t apply to the First Move itself.

  171. 171
    kairosfocus says:

    MT, Kindly, cf 170 above. KF

  172. 172
    Silver Asiatic says:

    RDFish

    We disagree. You are using “limit” as a transitive verb – something must limit something else. In contrast, I consider something’s finiteness to be simply a property of the thing itself.

    But the point here is that a thing doesn’t exist as a “thing itself” – that’s why it’s contingent. The finiteness of a thing means that it is limited by something.

    Again I disagree – it could simply be the things nature to change size and shape, and not require anything else to mold it.

    The reason we disagree hinges on a point I’ll make later.

    It is utterly impossible to say what the probability is of the universe being the way it is, because (1) we have only one data point, and (2) we have no idea how that data point came to be.

    We can observe similar things and by analogy draw some inferences.

    The universe did NOT expand into surrounding space – nothing surrounds the universe, not even “nothingness”.

    Here’s the biggest problem, as I see it. You state that “nothing surrounds the universe”. But the problem here is that science cannot speak of “nothing”. This is just as enigmatic and inexplicable as the notion of creation – which you reject as incomprehensible.

    However, you make it sound like that “nothingness” is a settled concept. All I have to do is do some reading on modern cosmology and it will make sense. But that’s simply not true. Science cannot explain what nothingness is. It cannot be modeled. Mathematics cannot describe nothingness.

    So, that’s where I see an inconsistency in your argument. You assert that there is “nothing” outside of the universe, but you can’t know what nothingness is, and you don’t know that this condition of “nothingness” could be real. You also don’t know that there is nothing outside of the universe.

    So again, with all of this uncertainty you still seem willing to make speculations about such things, but you’re not willing to look in the same way at the concept of God.

    Nope, just one explained thing instead of two. Instead of a necessary God and a contingent universe, we’d just have a necessary universe. Don’t get me wrong – that’s still not any sort of explanation. I’m just saying it’s better than hypothesizing a god who then went on create a universe.

    The idea of a necessary universe depends on the concepts of “nothingness” and “eternity” – these are not explained by the universe. They are explained by God.

    There are certainly paradoxes and problems associated with an eternal past, but also with a finite past (what happened before then? what would “before then” mean? how could something be caused if the cause could not precede the effect? and so on).

    We have no answers for any of these questions, even though people have been at it for thousands of years.

    These are exactly the same problems as the concept of “nothingness”. Space exists in contrast to non-space. The emergence of something from nothing is inexplicable.

    And here we agree 100%!

    You agree that science and empiricism are inadequate tools for a full understanding of reality. You did not use science to draw that conclusion – instead you used philosophical ideas. In that sense, philosophy judged science to be inadequate.

    Therefore, why require an empirically based undertstanding of cosmology before being able to draw inferences about the existence of God? We’ve already agreed that empiricism is not the right tool to use – and we reached that conclusion through philosophy.

  173. 173
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    creation of mass/energy in the Big Bang would violate conservation?

    Would creating the phenomenon that we define as the law of conservation violate conservation?

  174. 174
    RDFish says:

    Hi Silver Asiatic,

    But the point here is that a thing doesn’t exist as a “thing itself” – that’s why it’s contingent. The finiteness of a thing means that it is limited by something.

    The universe may exist as a thing itself, and the nature of that thing is that it is finite.

    RDF: It is utterly impossible to say what the probability is of the universe being the way it is, because (1) we have only one data point, and (2) we have no idea how that data point came to be.
    SA: We can observe similar things and by analogy draw some inferences.

    I don’t think anything at all is remotely similar to the birth of a universe!

    Here’s the biggest problem, as I see it. You state that “nothing surrounds the universe”. But the problem here is that science cannot speak of “nothing”. This is just as enigmatic and inexplicable as the notion of creation – which you reject as incomprehensible.

    I honestly think you just haven’t studied the science. You have to understand the concept of dimensions. There is nothing surrounding the universe in the way there is nothing surrounding the surface (not the volume) of the Earth. That is thinking in two dimensions, which we humans can do just fine. We can’t conceptualize a finite, unbounded three dimensional space, but we can model it in mathematics, and then these maths are shown to accurately reflect in many different ways the universe we live in.

    However, you make it sound like that “nothingness” is a settled concept. All I have to do is do some reading on modern cosmology and it will make sense. But that’s simply not true. Science cannot explain what nothingness is. It cannot be modeled. Mathematics cannot describe nothingness.

    It isn’t the “nothingness” that is modelled – it is the universe. Sorry, but if you refuse to read about cosmology and try to understand it, there’s nothing more I can say about it.

    So, that’s where I see an inconsistency in your argument. You assert that there is “nothing” outside of the universe, but you can’t know what nothingness is, and you don’t know that this condition of “nothingness” could be real. You also don’t know that there is nothing outside of the universe.

    It makes no sense to say “nothingness is real”, any more that it does to talk about the edge of the Earth’s surface. Again, let’s just disagree about this.

    So again, with all of this uncertainty you still seem willing to make speculations about such things, but you’re not willing to look in the same way at the concept of God.

    I think your concept of God is a speculation that is a priori unlikely (given what we know about conscious minds) and that there is no a posteriori evidence to support it.

    You agree that science and empiricism are inadequate tools for a full understanding of reality.

    Yes – certainly this is true now. We have no scientific understanding of conscious experience, for example.

    You did not use science to draw that conclusion – instead you used philosophical ideas. In that sense, philosophy judged science to be inadequate.

    Not really, no. Science answers some questions, and not others, and the origin of the universe, of life, and the nature of consciousness are among the things we can’t scientifically answer.

    Therefore, why require an empirically based understanding of cosmology before being able to draw inferences about the existence of God?

    We do have a good deal of empirically-based understanding of cosmology. None if it has anything to do with a conscious being that exists outside of space-time.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  175. 175
    RDFish says:

    Hi Box,

    RDFish: The ‘law of alternation’ is violated whenever one of the players takes two turns in a row.

    True, but irrelevant to my argument. You are not providing an alternative or better definition of the ‘law of alternation’.

    ??? This is the very same definition! Alternation is violated by one and only one condition: When one player takes two turns in a row. How else would the law be violated?

    Your version depends on my more fundamental formulation of the law, because “turn” is defined only by my more fundamental formulation of the law: “each player moves a piece only if the other player has moved a piece previously”.

    Fine, we’ll not use the word “turn”: The law of alternation is violated when one player moves a piece twice in a row without the other player moving a piece.

    is it reasonable to state that the law of alternation is violated by the first move of the game? Or is it more accurate to say that at the moment the game started – during the completion of the first move – the law of alternation was not yet in effect. IOW that the law of alternation came into effect at the moment the first move was played?

    And again, it’s not a question of when the law is “in effect”. You can make up whatever law you’d like to any time you want to, and then look at the data to see if your law is ever violated, and if it is, when – whether the violation is in the past or the present. Same with the Law of Conservation of Mass/energy.

    There is something exquisitely special about The Beginning – Unmoved Mover, First Mover, First Cause – and you are refusing to acknowledge this fact.

    What I am doing is denying that we have any way of knowing what caused our universe to exist, or have the properties that it does.

    You want to diminish it by treating it like all the consecutive causes. You are refusing to grant it its special place in the order of things.

    The Big Bang is special (as far as we know, it was the birth of our universe, after all); it’s just that we don’t know why it happened, if it was possible for it not to happen, and so on.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  176. 176
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    Would creating the phenomenon of conservation violate conservation?

    “Conservation” is an idea, a law that was thought up by human beings, that describes a generalization that we have made from experience – that mass/energy is never created or destroyed. We can make up whatever laws we want to, whenever we want to, and then go and see if these laws hold in all – or in some – situations in the real world, whether in the past or the present. Conservation of mass/energy appears to hold in all situations ever observed, but it may not have held when the Big Bang happened.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  177. 177
    Silver Asiatic says:

    RDFish

    The universe may exist as a thing itself, and the nature of that thing is that it is finite.

    As we already discussed, the universe is a composite of things. Since those things do not necessarily exist, the universe is not a thing in itself. What it is, is dependent on other things. If the universe could be something different, or if it could not exist at all, then something other than the universe explains it and what it is.

    I don’t think anything at all is remotely similar to the birth of a universe!

    I’d say that the creation of a thought is analogous. A thought is immaterial and yet real enough to cause things to occur.

    It isn’t the “nothingness” that is modelled – it is the universe.

    The nothingness needs to be explained. It cannot be modeled. There is no agreement among physicists on what it is:

    http://www.livescience.com/281.....ebate.html

    SA: You did not use science to draw that conclusion – instead you used philosophical ideas. In that sense, philosophy judged science to be inadequate.

    RDF: Not really, no. Science answers some questions, and not others, and the origin of the universe, of life, and the nature of consciousness are among the things we can’t scientifically answer.

    You arrived at all those conclusions with non-scientific means. Science cannot determine what it can and cannot answer. Science can only be used within a metaphysical framework that establishes what science can and cannot do.
    You know that science cannot answer certain questions because you’ve accepted non-science philosophical principles. So, you use those principles to make judgements about science.

    We do have a good deal of empirically-based understanding of cosmology. None if it has anything to do with a conscious being that exists outside of space-time.

    You’ve already concluded that empiricism cannot provide a complete understanding of cosmology. You arrived at that conclusion through a non-scientific method.

    You seem to be resisting that conclusion.

  178. 178
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    “Conservation” is an idea, a law that was thought up by human beings, that describes a generalization that we have made from experience – that mass/energy is never created or destroyed.

    I am not asking about the idea that describes the phenomenon. I am asking about the phenomenon itself. Would creating the phenomenon in nature that we describe or define as a law–the observed regularity–violate conservation?

  179. 179
    Box says:

    RDFish,

    RDFish: The ‘law of alternation’ is violated whenever one of the players takes two turns in a row.

    Box: True, but irrelevant to my argument. You are not providing an alternative or better definition of the ‘law of alternation’.

    RDFish: ??? This is the very same definition!

    Nope, it is in accord with my definition, but it builds on it. It doesn’t define ‘turn’.

    RDFish: Fine, we’ll not use the word “turn”: The law of alternation is violated when one player moves a piece twice in a row without the other player moving a piece.

    Which just adds “twice in a row” to my more modest formulation: “each player moves a piece only if the other player has moved a piece previously”. Obviously your add-on is superfluous if one doesn’t consider the first move.
    You may object that my formulation doesn’t consider the first move, but I believe that not including the first move enhances the analogy with natural laws, which are based, as you stated, on the observation of regularities in nature (after the big bang obviously). Here “in nature” is analogue with “during the game” (when the game is on its way). Simularly natural laws don’t include the goings on at the moment of the big bang (analogue to the law of alteration and the first move in a chess game).

  180. 180
    RDFish says:

    Hi Silver Asiatic,

    As we already discussed, the universe is a composite of things.

    And we discussed the everything we know if either is a composite of things or may be (even electrons or quarks). I don’t see the relevance.

    Since those things do not necessarily exist, the universe is not a thing in itself.

    Well, you just keep insisting that those things do not necessarily exist, and I keep saying that you have no way of demonstrating that this is the case. For all we know, everything that exists exists necessarily and nothing is contingent. Another way of saying this is to say determinism (or so-called “hard determinism”) is true. Nobody knows if determinism is true or not – either way it is a metaphysical speculation, not a scientific fact.

    I’d say that the creation of a thought is analogous. A thought is immaterial and yet real enough to cause things to occur.

    You declare that thoughts are immaterial – more metaphysical speculation rather than science. Most scientists believe that thoughts are physical states of our brains. Whether there is anything else going on or not (and I am agnostic on that) there is certainly no science to suggest that thoughts are “immaterial things that have physical causality”.

    The nothingness needs to be explained. It cannot be modeled. There is no agreement among physicists on what it is:
    http://www.livescience.com/281…..ebate.html

    First, this discussion doesn’t deal with something called “nothingness” that exists outside of the universe that the universe expands “into”. But the important point here is really that just as you say, there is no agreement among physicists (let alone non-physicists!) regarding these deep questions, including how the universe began. Nobody knows – that is my point.

    Science cannot determine what it can and cannot answer.

    I won’t argue this with you – I think we can agree that science cannot answer questions regarding how the universe came to exist. My point is that we have no way of knowing the answer to that question – it is clearly beyond our comprehension currently, and quite possibly will remain so indefinitely.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  181. 181
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    RDF: “Conservation” is an idea, a law that was thought up by human beings, that describes a generalization that we have made from experience – that mass/energy is never created or destroyed.
    SB: I am not asking about the idea that describes the phenomenon. I am asking about the phenomenon itself.

    There is no “phenomenon” of mass/energy conservation! It isn’t a “phenomenon” – it is a law that was thought up by people. It says mass/energy is never created or destroyed.

    Would creating the phenomenon in nature that we describe or define as a law–the observed regularity–violate conservation?

    Conservation is not something that is created. Imagine a law that says “boy dogs lift their hind legs when they pee”. That law isn’t a phenomenon, it is a generalization about what dogs do. As it turns out, this one isn’t always true (just like mass/energy conservation may not always be true).

    I will ask you the same question I asked Box: Why is it that you are so intent to find a way to avoid the manifestly obvious conclusion that IF mass/energy was created in the Big Bang, THEN that represents a violation of what we call mass/energy conservation? Don’t you believe God can do anything He wants to, including creating mass/energy, even if that never happens under any other circumstance?

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  182. 182
    RDFish says:

    Hi Box,

    RDF: Fine, we’ll not use the word “turn”: The law of alternation is violated when one player moves a piece twice in a row without the other player moving a piece.
    BOX: Which just adds “twice in a row” to my more modest formulation: “each player moves a piece only if the other player has moved a piece previously”.

    Is there something ambiguous about “twice in a row”? Fine! The law of alternation is violated when one player moves a piece more than once without the other player moving a piece.”?

    Obviously your add-on is superfluous if one doesn’t consider the first move.

    There is no “add-on” – it simply states the condition under which your law is violated. You have used concepts like players, “other players”, moves, pieces, and “previously” – these are all perfectly understandable. So is the concept of “more than once without the other playing moving a piece”.

    You may object that my formulation doesn’t consider the first move, but I believe that not including the first move enhances the analogy with natural laws, which are based, as you stated, on the observation of regularities in nature (after the big bang obviously).

    Your law of alternation is fine, and so is my articulation of the condition under which the law is violated.

    Analogously, the Law of Mass/energy Conservation states (essentially) that mass/energy cannot be created or destroyed. The condition under which it is violated is if mass/energy is created or destroyed. That’s all there is to it.

    Here “in nature” is analogue with “during the game” (when the game is on its way).

    It is actually you who are trying to add on concepts to a very simple physical law. The Law of Conservation makes no distinction between what is “in nature” and what is not “in nature”. It just says mass/energy can’t be created or destroyed.

    Rather than trying to argue that somehow this law was “not in effect” (a concept that just makes no sense at all), you ought to accept that physical laws are often violated under extraordinary circumstances. Modern physics was invented because the laws of classical physics were observed to be violated under extraordinary circumstances!

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  183. 183
    JimFit says:

    You declare that thoughts are immaterial – more metaphysical speculation rather than science. Most scientists believe that thoughts are physical states of our brains. Whether there is anything else going on or not (and I am agnostic on that) there is certainly no science to suggest that thoughts are “immaterial things that have physical causality”.

    If thoughts are material then everything around us are thoughts.

  184. 184
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    There is no “phenomenon” of mass/energy conservation! It isn’t a “phenomenon” – it is a law that was thought up by people. It says mass/energy is never created or destroyed.

    It is, indeed, a phenomenon of nature. We describe and define that phenomenon as the law of conservation. I suspect you are setting up an excuse to evade my question.

    SB: Would creating the phenomenon in nature that we describe or define as a law of conservation–the observed regularity–violate the law of conservation?

    Conservation is not something that is created.

    Ah yes, there it is–the excuse. Whatever it takes to dodge the question.

    I will ask you the same question I asked Box:

    No problem. I do not run away from questions. That is your gig.

    Why is it that you are so intent to find a way to avoid the manifestly obvious conclusion that IF mass/energy was created in the Big Bang, THEN that represents a violation of what we call mass/energy conservation?

    Its very simple. The law of conservation pertains to an isolated system where mass/energy is contained over time. If there is no isolated system, or no time, which is the situation prior to the big bang, then there is no conservation of energy. Thus, the arrival of the isolated system (and time), which scientists attribute to the big bang, is the introduction of both mass/energy and the (principle, phenomenon, law) of mass/energy conservation.

  185. 185
    Me_Think says:

    StephenB @ 186

    Thus, the arrival the isolated system (and time), which scientists attribute to the big bang, is the introduction of both mass/energy and the (principle, phenomenon, law) of mass/energy conservation

    Yes. Of course, except that conservation was discovered later and made into a law by us. I don’t see where RDFish differs from what you stated.

  186. 186
    StephenB says:

    Box

    Okay, so the regularities among physical things – which we formulate as laws – do not exist prior to the coming into existence of those physical things, energy space and time.

    IOW those regularities – like the law of conservation – do not exist prior to the big bang?

    RDFish

    I just answered this.

    No, you didn’t. You evaded it.

    The actual regularities exist when the physical things exist; the “laws” are our descriptions of those regularities – they are not things that exist in the world.

    Box didn’t ask you about the laws, he asked you about the “regularities,”(Did they exist prior to the coming into existence of physical things, space, energy, and time) When all else fails, read the sentence.

    It is so interesting that you and StephenB do not understand this.

    It is interesting the way you call on your perennial strawman to avoid answering simple questions.

  187. 187
    StephenB says:

    Me Think

    Yes. Of course, except that conservation was discovered later and made into a law by us. I don’t see where RDFish differs from what you stated.

    RDFish thinks that the arrival of conservation (the regularity that occurs in nature, not our discovery of it) violates conservation. This is obviously nonsense. The principle of mass/energy conservation in nature can only be violated after it arrives, not as it arrives.

  188. 188
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    It is, indeed, a phenomenon of nature. We describe and define that phenomenon as the law of conservation. I suspect you are setting up an excuse to evade my question.

    That is ridiculous, as my example with dogs illustrated perfectly well. I suspect you are flailing because you know you have been wrong about every single point you’ve made in this thread.

    Mass/energy conservation is not a phenomenon, not an event, not something that can be observed. We can only observe mass/energy, and look for it to be created or destroyed, and note that we never do see that. This is not a phenomenon, quite obviously – it is in fact a generalization about the absence of a phenomenon.

    RDF: Conservation is not something that is created.
    SB: Ah yes, there it is–the excuse. Whatever it takes to dodge the question.

    I can’t even understand what you are saying here. You are the one who dodges everything, as you’ve done yet again. We’ll try another example.
    Consider the Law of Red Sunrise: If there is a red sunrise, there will be a storm that day.
    Is the Law of Red Sunrise a phenomenon? No – it’s just a way sailors made up to try to predict the weather.
    Is the Law of Red Sunrise something in nature that a creator created? No.
    Is the Law of Red Sunrise ever violated? Sure – every time there is a red sunrise and no storm that day.

    This is exactly the situation with the Law of Conservation – and all laws of physics. They are not phenomena in nature, they 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. And sometimes they can be violated.

    RDFish thinks that the arrival of conservation (the regularity that occurs in nature, not our discovery of it) violates conservation.

    Aside from evading my questions and responses, and from blatantly mischaracterizing me, there really isn’t much you do. I obviously have said nothing of the sort; what I’ve said is that conservation is not something that “arrives” or gets “put into effect by a creator”. It is a generalization that people make about what we observe in nature.

    I have also made the self-evident point that the creation of mass/energy violates the principle that says mass/energy can’t be created. Duh.

    The principle of mass/energy conservation in nature can only be violated after it arrives, not as it arrives.

    Principles do not “arrive”. They are authored by human beings. You are so very confused.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  189. 189
    RDFish says:

    Hi JimFit,

    If thoughts are material then everything around us are thoughts.

    Ok, and if porcupines are animals, then all animals are porcupines.

    Are you StephenB’s logic coach, by any chance?

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  190. 190
    Box says:

    RDFish,

    Box: Okay, so the REGULARITIES among physical things – which we formulate as laws – do not exist prior to the coming into existence of those physical things, energy space and time.

    IOW those regularities – like the law of conservation – do not exist prior to the big bang?

    RDFish: I just answered this.

    Would you be so kind to repeat your answer to my question, because I’m unable to locate it.

    – thank you StephenB #188 –


    edit:
    as a side note:

    RDFish: Mass/energy conservation is not a phenomenon, not an event, not something that can be observed. (…) This is not a phenomenon, quite obviously – it is in fact a generalization about the absence of a phenomenon.

    The violation of a non-phenomenon, which is the generalization about the absence of a phenomenon, doesn’t sound like a big deal 🙂

  191. 191
    Box says:

    RDFish,

    Let’s start anew.

    When observing a chess game in progress we observe that each player moves a piece only if the other player moved previously. From this we can formulate the law of alteration.

    The law of alteration: “each player moves a piece only if the other player moved previously”.

    Now it seems to me a separate matter to define when and how this law can be violated. It seems to me an odd thing to include in the very definition of the law itself examples of ways in which the law can be violated. So stuff like “twice in a row” or “moves a piece more than once” are not part of the law itself.

    RDFish: Is there something ambiguous about “twice in a row”? Fine! The law of alternation is violated when one player moves a piece more than once without the other player moving a piece.”?

    You are perfectly right of course that this is a fine example of a violation of the law of alternation. I just note that descriptions under which the law of alteration is violated are not part of the law itself.

    Which brings us to the problem of the FIRST MOVE.
    here is my question again:

    is it reasonable to state that the law of alternation is violated by the first move of the game? Or is it more accurate to say that at the moment the game started – during the completion of the first move – the law of alternation was not yet in effect. IOW that the law of alternation came into effect at the moment the first move was played?

  192. 192
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Box

    Your law of alternation is a good analogy.

    Me_Think answered it correctly in 171

  193. 193
    Box says:

    Silver Asiatic,

    Thank you. I agree that Me_Think answered it correctly in 171.
    – –

    Only now I notice that a couple of times I wrote “alteration” instead of “alternation”. This is an obvious mistake on my part, hopefully my mistake didn’t cause any confusion.

  194. 194
    Silver Asiatic says:

    RDFish

    And we discussed the everything we know if either is a composite of things or may be (even electrons or quarks). I don’t see the relevance.

    A thing that is contingent is dependent on other things. This gives us a regress of causes. The universe cannot be both necessary and contingent.

    You declare that thoughts are immaterial – more metaphysical speculation rather than science. Most scientists believe that thoughts are physical states of our brains.

    There is no evidence that thoughts are physical things. Thoughts have no physical properties. So, until it can be shown otherwise, the best explanation is that thoughts are immaterial. Science is immaterial, logic is immaterial, mathematics is immaterial, language is immaterial, beauty is immaterial, dreams are immaterial. This can all be falsified by showing that these are physical things.

    Whether there is anything else going on or not (and I am agnostic on that) there is certainly no science to suggest that thoughts are “immaterial things that have physical causality”.

    What kind of science could conclude that something is immaterial? Do you think empirical science can observe immaterial entities?

    But the important point here is really that just as you say, there is no agreement among physicists (let alone non-physicists!) regarding these deep questions, including how the universe began. Nobody knows – that is my point.

    You claimed that the universe was surrounded by nothingness. You made this appear as if it was a scientific certainty. But as I showed, nobody knows what nothingness is. I was pointing to an inconsistency in your thought. You were willing to draw some conclusions about nothingness which is something science cannot comprehend. But you are unwilling to draw some conclusions about the origin of the universe or the existence of God because you feel these are things science cannot comprehend. That’s not consistent.

    The idea of an eternal, necessary, non-contingent universe has a lot of problems. We’d have to accept many things that “just are that way” – blunt facts. The universe is finite and limited to a specific size and shape – for no other reason than “that’s the way it is”. The singularity just always existed. At one moment in time, the big bang occurred (after an infinite delay) – just because that’s what happened. The universe has certain properties and is governed and shaped by laws and forces. It is comprised of a variety of things, some which come into existence others which disappear. The origin of these things would also simply be “the way it is”. Then, there would have to be “nothing” outside of the universe, although nobody knows what nothing is. We’d have to say the universe “just is”, even though we can observe it changing over time and moving to a future state, which would have already arrived if the universe was eternal.

    The alternative view is that there is a God who created the universe. With this, we solved the origin of laws, forces, matter, movement, change and the existence of things in themselves. We do not need to posit “nothingness” (which cannot produce anything), but rather the “fullness of being” which can confer existence on other things.

    So, we’d also have answers for the limitations of the universe and a beginning point as a moment of creation. We’d have a non-contingent, necessary being as the first cause of all other beings, and as the first mover of all sequences of causes.

    I understand that you prefer the idea that the universe is simply necessary and non-contingent. But I think that view leaves a lot more unanswered questions than does the idea that God exists as the creator of the universe.

  195. 195
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    That is ridiculous, as my example with dogs illustrated perfectly well. I suspect you are flailing because you know you have been wrong about every single point you’ve made in this thread.

    Don’t get so excited, RD. I was just pointing out that you run away from my questions. It is a fact that you do. Just saying that you are right and I am wrong doesn’t really help you. You must present arguments.

    I can’t even understand what you are saying here.

    Well, of course. you don’t. When confronted with a hard question, you pretend not to know what it means.

    Is the Law of Red Sunrise something in nature that a creator created? No.

    How, pray tell, would you know that? One minute you tell us that we know nothing at all about the situation before the big bang; the next minute you tell us, without warrant or a shred of evidence, that the Law of the Red Sunrise was definitely not created.

    One thing sure, the Law of the Red Sunrise (the regularity in nature) is completely independent of our definition of that law. (Of course, you haven’t defined it, so you can now define it after the fact and say that I got it wrong. How sweet it is).

    This is what you do not understand, RD. The sun once started rising and setting, but the occasion of that event, or the law that governs it, had nothing to do with our definition of it. Nature doesn’t care what you think about it.

    Is the Law of Red Sunrise ever violated? Sure – every time there is a red sunrise and no storm that day.

    Hmmm. —First, you call it a “law” and then you say that it is routinely violated. I am beginning to understand why you never define your terms.

    This is exactly the situation with the Law of Conservation – and all laws of physics. They are not phenomena in nature, they 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. And sometimes they can be violated.

    Oh, so now they are “just ideas.” So much for regularities in nature. In almost every comment, your subjectivism overrides your logic.

    Aside from evading my questions and responses, and from blatantly mischaracterizing me, there really isn’t much you do. I obviously have said nothing of the sort; what I’ve said is that conservation is not something that “arrives” or gets “put into effect by a creator”. It is a generalization that people make about what we observe in nature.

    I never mischaracterize you and never evade your questions. Now you have reduced your self to lying. The problem is you aren’t consistent and often don’t know what you are saying. First, you admit, when pressed, that conservation is a regularity in nature, but when I press you about that regularity, you change your tune and tell me that aa law is only a “generalization that people make.” First you say that it is not a “phenomenon” and then you say that it is something that we “observe.” Remarkable.

    I have also made the self-evident point that the creation of mass/energy violates the principle that says mass/energy can’t be created. Duh.

    You are the only person I know who can contradict himself twice in the same sentence:

    First, we know that you reject all self evident truths. You are on record as saying so. Second, you can’t violate a principle by creating it, nor can it violate itself by simply coming to be even if it isn’t created. It is logically impossible.

    SB: The principle of mass/energy conservation in nature can only be violated after it arrives, not as it arrives.

    Principles do not “arrive”. They are authored by human beings. You are so very confused.

    No, RD. I assure you that the confusion is all yours. Principles do occur in nature.

    Principle (second definition)

    “a fundamental source or basis of something.”

    The problem is that you think that nature has no source or no basis. Indeed, you don’t even think it had to be caused. You think everything is subjective. It isn’t. Not everything is a definition. Some things actually exist independently of your subjective fantasies.

    Again, though, this is the way you do business. Notice how you completely evade the point: In fact, the regularities in nature did arrive with the big bang. In order to evade that point, you start laboring over something that doesn’t matter.

  196. 196
    RDFish says:

    Hi Box,

    IOW those regularities – like the law of conservation – do not exist prior to the big bang?

    I’ve explained this endlessly now. Let me be as clear as I possibly can.

    * There are two things under discussion here: (1) Mass/energy being created, and (2) Conservation Laws

    * As for the (1), mass/energy is something we can observe and measure, and the creation of mass/energy is something – a phenomenon – that we could potentially observe and measure, although we never have.

    * As for (2), the Conservation Law is an idea that scientists have come up with that describes the fact that we never have, under any circumstances, observed such a phenomenon.

    * You and StephenB are confused about (2). You see it as something real – a phenomenon – that exists in nature, when in fact it is just an idea that human beings came up with. In other words, you have made the error of reifying the Law of Conservation. StephenB has said that the law was created at by a “creator” at some point, and so before that the law didn’t exist, as though a divine lawgiver wrote down the law and all of a sudden subatomic particles and forces were bound to operate according to this decree. I believe your understanding is similar to this. It is this confusion on your part that has been the issue of our recent posts.

    RDFish: Mass/energy conservation is not a phenomenon, not an event, not something that can be observed. (…) This is not a phenomenon, quite obviously – it is in fact a generalization about the absence of a phenomenon.

    This is correct – I’ve been saying this all along, over and over again.

    The violation of a non-phenomenon, which is the generalization about the absence of a phenomenon, doesn’t sound like a big deal 🙂

    Phenomena are not violated, box – that is just a non-sequitur. Laws may be violated, but not phenomena. Phenomena are things that happen in the world, not laws that can be violated. I really can’t think of a way to make this any clearer to you.

    Or is it more accurate to say that at the moment the game started – during the completion of the first move – the law of alternation was not yet in effect.

    Here is your confusion on display. Laws in legal systems or games can be “put into effect”, or suspended, or rescinded. Natural laws are not like this. Instead, natural laws are inductions (generalizations) that we come up with, and then we look at nature to see when these generalizations hold and when they don’t. Nobody “puts them into effect” – they are not “in effect” at some particular time or other.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  197. 197
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    Rather than respond to your increasingly bizarre “arguments” and even more bizarre insults, please refer to my response to Box @198 where I make your errors as clear as any reasonable person might want.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  198. 198
    Box says:

    RDFish #198,

    Box: is it reasonable to state that the law of alternation is violated by the first move of the game? Or is it more accurate to say that at the moment the game started – during the completion of the first move – the law of alternation was not yet in effect.

    RDFish: Here is your confusion on display. Laws in legal systems or games can be “put into effect”, or suspended, or rescinded. Natural laws are not like this. Instead, natural laws are (…)

    Why would I be confused? We are in fact talking about a law concerning a game, are we not? You state that those laws can be put into effect and so forth. So why not answer my question, without assuming that I’m talking about something other (natural laws) then the subject at hand?

  199. 199
    StephenB says:

    Box

    Is it reasonable to state that the law of alternation is violated by the first move of the game? Or is it more accurate to say that at the moment the game started – during the completion of the first move – the law of alternation was not yet in effect. IOW that the law of alternation came into effect at the moment the first move was played?

    This is an interesting analogy and an excellent question. RDFish will respond in one of two ways:

    [a] He will probably refuse to answer the question, but if he does,

    [b] He will say that it doesn’t apply.

  200. 200
    StephenB says:

    Box

    IOW those regularities – like the law of conservation – do not exist prior to the big bang?

    RDFish

    I’ve explained this endlessly now. Let me be as clear as I possibly can.

    No, you dodged the question again, as you always do.

    the Conservation Law is an idea that scientists have come up with that describes the fact that we never have, under any circumstances, observed such a phenomenon.

    Let us examine this bizarre statement:

    …”An idea that scientists have come up with.”

    Notice that he says nothing about the objective regularities in nature. It’s all subjective. It’s all about ideas. (At least for now. This can change at any moment).

    ….”that describes the fact that we never have, under any circumstances, observed such a phenomenon.”

    So, a law tells us about what we have “never observed.” There is nothing there about what we have observed. (Again, this can change at any moment. Stay tuned).

    Isn’t subjectivism fun?

  201. 201
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: I think 170 is still relevant, so here it is again:

    __________

    >> 170 kairosfocus February 25, 2015 at 5:47 am

    Re RDF:

    Let’s look at the logic of:

    RDF, 166: Both Box and StephenB are arguing that since there was no mass/energy before the Big Bang, then there was no Law of Mass/energy conservation before the Big Bang. Therefore, they reason, if mass/energy was created in the Big Bang, the Law of Conservation was not violated – because it was not yet in effect.

    I’ve pointed out that this is ridiculous, because to say “mass/energy was created” is to say “mass/energy conservation was violated” – they mean exactly the same thing.

    Let us use some symbolisation, with t for timeline, W for the world and m/E[W(t)] standing for sum total mass/energy at timeline point t:

    1: set m/E[W] = 0 at t = -1, and

    2: allow t to proceed along a global cosmological timeline to t = 0, 1, 2 etc, in arbitrary units . . . say, Planck time units [with 0 the big bang and/or whatever initiation event one prefers], where

    3: m/E[W(t)] = m/E[W(t+), imposing a global m/E conservation rule.

    The conclusion is, for all t = 0, 1, 2 . . .

    m/E[W(t)] = m/E[W(-1)] = 0

    So, SB and Box are patently right.

    In a world with current mass and energy holding a large positive value . . . negative values not being available [per e = m*c^2 where m is positive or zero], AND having a beginning where m/E[W(beginning)] = 0, an external initiatory event that sets mass and energy to a non zero value is required.

    That is, a world with a beginning from a singularity is inherently contingent.

    And, we see a wider pattern to the law we observe at some t >> 0, perhaps 13.7 BY later.

    Namely, that we should distinguish world initiation from world continuation.

    The well-established broader law of mass-energy conservation we see reflects conditions post world-initiation.

    And indeed it is a commonplace of discussion of the big bang scenario, that our physics is post big bang. Let us observe Wiki:

    The Big Bang theory is the prevailing cosmological model for the earliest known periods of the universe.[1][2][3] It states that the Universe was in a very high density state and then expanded.[4][5] If the known laws of physics are extrapolated beyond where they are valid there is a singularity. Modern measurements place this moment at approximately 13.8 billion years ago, which is thus considered the age of the universe.[6] After the initial expansion, the Universe cooled sufficiently to allow the formation of subatomic particles, and later simple atoms. Giant clouds of these primordial elements later coalesced through gravity to form stars and galaxies. The Big Bang theory does not provide any explanation for the initial conditions of the Universe; rather, it describes and explains the general evolution of the Universe going forward from that point on.[4]

    Since Georges Lemaître first noted, in 1927, that an expanding universe might be traced back in time to an originating single point, scientists have built on his idea of cosmic expansion. While the scientific community was once divided between supporters of two different expanding universe theories, the Big Bang and the Steady State theory, accumulated empirical evidence provides strong support for the former.[7] In 1929, Edwin Hubble discovered indications that all galaxies are drifting apart at high speeds. In 1964, the cosmic microwave background radiation was discovered, which was crucial evidence in favor of the Big Bang model, since that theory predicted the existence of background radiation throughout the Universe before it was discovered. The known physical laws of nature can be used to calculate the characteristics of the Universe in detail back in time to an initial state of extreme density and temperature.[8][9][10]

    One may speculate on a multiverse or a base world that gives rise to ours perhaps by quantum fluctuation etc, but such is effectively philosophy done while wearing lab coats and using the languages and symbols of mathematics and physics.

    But, it is not privileged as coming from empirical warrant and must learn to humbly sit at the table of comparative difficulties analysis among significant worldview options.

    KF>>
    _____________

    See why there must be initiation before continuation and conservation, and why it cannot follow the same rules, so to speak of violation is not relevant. Especially as effects cannot happen before causes?

    KF

  202. 202
    RDFish says:

    Hi Box,

    You have neglected to respond to the points I’ve made. Let’s try again:

    1) Do you agree that physical phenomena (events) cannot be “violated”? But rather, only generalizations (i.e. “inductions”, “rules”, or “laws”) that people think up – such as the “Law of Conservation of Mass/energy” – can be violated?

    2) Do you agree that when people make up a law of physics, that law is tested by observing the phenomena that the law deals with and seeing if the law is contradicted under some circumstance? And that laws can be observed to hold in a vast number of circumstances, but then can be found to be violated under circumstances that are very different (for example, in situations dealing with high energies, high velocities, large masses, and so on)?

    3) Most importantly, do you agree that these laws of physics can be made up any time at all by human beings, and they are not “put into effect” at some point? Do you agree that these laws (like the conservation laws, or laws of motion, etc) do not determine the behavior of physical entities, but rather attempts to describe them?

    It’s important that we settle these in order to prevent further confusion.

    Now I will respond to your post.

    RDFish: Here is your confusion on display. Laws in legal systems or games can be “put into effect”, or suspended, or rescinded. Natural laws are not like this. Instead, natural laws are (…)
    BOX: Why would I be confused?

    I believe you are confused because you think of laws of physics as being like the rules of a game, or laws in a legal system, which can be “put into effect” at someone’s discretion, rather than what these laws actually are, which are generalizations about phenomena we observe.

    We are in fact talking about a law concerning a game, are we not?

    The subject was whether or not it would be a violation of the Law of Conservation of Mass/energy for mass/energy to be created in the Big Bang. You brought up the analogy of a game in order to make some point.

    You state that those laws can be put into effect and so forth.

    Sure.

    Is it reasonable to state that the law of alternation is violated by the first move of the game?

    The law that you made up requires two different events in order to determine if it has been violated. So in that respect it obviously isn’t a good analogy to the Law of Conservation of Mass/energy in physics, which would be violated immediately upon mass/energy being created or destroyed.

    Or is it more accurate to say that at the moment the game started – during the completion of the first move – the law of alternation was not yet in effect.

    Rules for games are “in effect” as soon as you start playing the game, of course. These rules are arbitrary – the inventor of the game can make up any rule they wish to. For your particular rule of alternation, it obviously isn’t possible to violate the rule until at least two turns have been taken.

    So your analogy fails for two reasons, Box:
    1) Rules we construct for games are completely unlike the laws rules that we construct in physics. The former are arbitrary and prescriptive (they tell people what actions are allowed or disallowed), while the latter are induced from experience and descriptive (they make predictions regarding what we will observe).

    2) Your example requires at least two events in order to violate your rule, while the Law of Conservation would be violated as soon as mass/energy is created or destroyed.

    Now, scientist are not at all sure that mass/energy was in fact created in the Big Bang for various reasons (for example, because gravitational potential energy is a negative quantity which might cancel out the potential and kinetic energy of the mass), but the fact remains: Simply by the definition of the Conservation of Mass/energy, if mass/energy really was created in the Big Bang, that would by definition represent a violation of mass/energy conservation.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  203. 203
    RDFish says:

    Hi Stephen,

    Your anger and fear are once again getting the best of you, and you are losing the thread and resorting to insults, sarcasm, and silly strawmen.

    Of course anybody can make up whatever law they want – that has nothing to do with subjectivism. Some laws might be perfectly ridiculous and be observed to be violated routinely, in which case we would say that the law has no scientific validity. The “red sky in the morning” law, for example, is not inviolate, and so is not considered to be a scientific law.

    What is relevant here is that the laws that scientists have induced and reliably confirmed under the ordinary circumstances of our experience have in the past been violated under extraordinary circumstances, requiring reformulation of those laws. For example, Newton’s laws of motions were found to be perfectly predictive and never violated for hundreds of years, and are still routinely used in ordinary circumstances. Yet they are now known to be violated under extraordinary circumstances (high energies, high relative velocity, and so on) and have been replaced by relativistic laws (and that means the laws of the Theory of Relativity, not laws that are epistemically relative!!!!)

    The Law of Mass/energy conservation has never been observed to be violated, but if mass/energy was created in the Big Bang, that would by definition represent a violation of that law. It would not at all be the first time that a scientific law that has held in all known situations was violated in an extraordinary circumstance.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  204. 204
    JimFit says:

    Ok, and if porcupines are animals, then all animals are porcupines.

    Are you StephenB’s logic coach, by any chance?

    What difference there is in electrochemical reactions in nature from humans? If electrochemical reactions precede what we call a thought (A) Why we don’t think all the time? If you can’t control our thoughts and are just reactions what determines them? (B) Why our brains are the product of our thoughts? The plasticity of the brain is a fact that materialism cannot solve.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oBsI_ay8K70

  205. 205
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Just to get grounded again, this is RDFish’s point (121):

    Now, either the stuff in the unvierse has always existed, or it began to exist, right? If it always existed, we have no need to hypothesize something that created it. If it began to exist, then conservation has obviously been violated at some point, and hypothesizing a god (a conscious being) that could create mass/energy, charge, momentum, etc. out of nothing doesn’t obviate that problem, since that too would represent a violation of conservation.

    So, the problem with God creating mass/energy is that the act of creation would violate the law of conservation.

    But that’s really not a problem, for a number of reasons.

  206. 206
    RDFish says:

    Hi JimFit,

    What difference there is in electrochemical reactions in nature from humans?

    I don’t know what you mean here.

    If electrochemical reactions precede what we call a thought…

    Physicalist theories of mind generally hold that neural activities do not precede thoughts, but rather that they comprise them.

    (A) Why we don’t think all the time?

    In some sense we do think all the time, but we are not consciously aware of most of our thoughts.

    If you can’t control our thoughts and are just reactions what determines them?

    If determinism is true then antecedent events determine our thoughts. In any case it is certainly “we” who control our thoughts – who else would be responsible? It’s just that when physicalists say “we control our thoughts” they mean that we are physical systems that control themselves, rather than an immaterial soul that somehow operates our bodies.

    (B) Why our brains are the product of our thoughts?

    I don’t know what you mean here.

    The plasticity of the brain is a fact that materialism cannot solve.

    First, “materialism” is a metaphysical position regarding ontology, not a scientific theory. Second, dualism does not solve problems such as these either. Third, there is no contradiction between brain plasticity, or placebo effects, and physicalism, your video notwithstanding.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  207. 207
    RDFish says:

    Hi Silver Asiatic,

    So, the problem with God creating mass/energy is that the act of creation would violate the law of conservation.But that’s really not a problem, for a number of reasons.

    Of course – I never have argued that the violation of conservation is some sort of argument against God. On the contrary, I’ve pointed out that presumably an omnipotent god would have no trouble violating any natural law. This is why I’m baffled by folks here insisting that if mass/energy was created in the Big Bang, then it shouldn’t be considered to be a conservation violation.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  208. 208
    Box says:

    RDFish,

    RDFish: You have neglected to respond to the points I’ve made. Let’s try again:
    1) Do you agree that physical phenomena (events) cannot be “violated”?

    I’ll be happy to agree if only I could understand what you mean by this question. Maybe this is your point, so probably we are in agreement.

    RDFish:
    2) But rather, only generalizations (i.e. “inductions”, “rules”, or “laws”) that people think up – such as the “Law of Conservation of Mass/energy” – can be violated?

    Sure, laws can be violated by events that are not in accord with those laws.

    RDFish:
    3) Do you agree that when people make up a law of physics, that law is tested by observing the phenomena that the law deals with and seeing if the law is contradicted under some circumstance?

    Yes, of course.

    RDFish:
    4) And that laws can be observed to hold in a vast number of circumstances, but then can be found to be violated under circumstances that are very different (for example, in situations dealing with high energies, high velocities, large masses, and so on)?

    Yes I agree.

    RDFish:
    5) Most importantly, do you agree that these laws of physics can be made up any time at all by human beings, and they are not “put into effect” at some point?

    No, I do not agree. It seems obvious to me that the laws are not in effect in situations where the corresponding physical phenomena are not in existence – e.g. prior to the big bang. It seems that we are in disagreement on this.

    RDFish:
    6) Do you agree that these laws (like the conservation laws, or laws of motion, etc) do not determine the behavior of physical entities, but rather attempts to describe them?

    This is a very interesting question. I’m not sure it’s crucial to our discussion though. For now, I respectfully disagree. It seems to me that laws are ontologically distinct from physical entities.
    Allow me to post some thoughts by Berlinski:

    Joel Primack, a cosmologist at the University of California, Santa Cruz, once posed an interesting question to the physicist Neil Turok: “What is it that makes the electrons continue to follow the laws.” Turok was surprised by the question; he recognized its force. Something seems to compel physical objects to obey the laws of nature, and what makes this observation odd is just that neither compulsion nor obedience are physical ideas. (p.132)

    In a Landscape in which anything is possible, nothing is necessary. In a universe in which nothing is necessary, anything is possible. It is nothing that makes the electron follow any laws.
    Which, then, is it to be: God, logic, or nothing?
    This is the question to which all discussions of the Land-scape and the Anthropic Principle are tending, and because the same question can be raised with respect to moral thought, it is a question with an immense and disturbing intellectual power. (p.133)
    [Berlinski, The Devil’s Delusion.]

    However, I think I can make my point without the assumption that laws and physical entities are ontologically distinct.

    Box: Is it reasonable to state that the law of alternation is violated by the first move of the game?

    RDFish: Rules for games are “in effect” as soon as you start playing the game, of course. These rules are arbitrary – the inventor of the game can make up any rule they wish to. For your particular rule of alternation, it obviously isn’t possible to violate the rule until at least two turns have been taken.

    Firstly, the law of alternation is not ‘made up’, but is based on an observation of a game of chess in progress instead.
    Secondly, where does it state that the law of alternation can only be violated until at least two turns have been taken? Why is that obvious?

    The law of alteration: “each player moves a piece only if the other player moved previously”.

    The first move is played without “the other player moved previously”. Isn’t that a violation of the rule of alternation? At least that is part of the question put to you …
    >> This post is my final request for an answer. Another dodge and I will have no choice but to stop discussing with you. <<

    RDFish: So your analogy fails for two reasons, Box:
    1) Rules we construct for games are completely unlike the laws rules that we construct in physics. The former are arbitrary and prescriptive (they tell people what actions are allowed or disallowed), while the latter are induced from experience and descriptive (they make predictions regarding what we will observe).

    The coming into existence of the rule of alternation is by observation , so it is descriptive as I have pointed out several times.

    RDFish: 2) Your example requires at least two events in order to violate your rule, while the Law of Conservation would be violated as soon as mass/energy is created or destroyed.

    It doesn’t require two events. That is to say, I wouldn’t know why. And BTW even if it does is that really a problem?

  209. 209
    Box says:

    RDFish,
    REGULARITIES among physical things – (which we formulate as laws) – do not exist prior to the coming into existence of those physical things, energy space and time – prior to the big bang?

    YES or NO?

    **this is my last attempt**

    – – – –
    BTW …

    RDFish: The Law of Mass/energy conservation has never been observed to be violated, (…)

    Interestingly this is wrong. The universe expands. Empty space has weight. In fact empty space has more energy than everything else in the universe combined. The space that gets added while the universe expands has exactly the same weight. IOW mass/energy is created as we speak – the law is violated as we speak.

  210. 210
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    Your anger and fear are once again getting the best of you, and you are losing the thread and resorting to insults, sarcasm, and silly strawmen.

    I am not angry at all and I am certainly not afraid. Let’s take your definition of a law one step at a time and consider my response:

    ”An idea that scientists have come up with.”

    SB: “Notice that he says nothing about the objective regularities in nature. It’s all subjective. It’s all about ideas.

    Clearly, you didn’t include regularity in nature as a component of a physical law. Don’t you think it belongs there? Most people would say that a physical law does, at least in part, pertain to something that is happening in nature. I know I do. Do you disagree?

    …”that describes the fact that we never have, under any circumstances, observed such a phenomenon.”

    SB: “So, a law tells us about what we have “never observed.” There is nothing there about what we have observed.

    Are you now saying that you have changed your mind? Do you no longer believe that a law is about what we have “never observed.” If you didn’t mean that, then what did you mean? It is, after all, what you said. In what way did I misrepresent you?

    Of course anybody can make up whatever law they want – that has nothing to do with subjectivism.

    It has everything to do with subjectivism. A subjectivist is someone who believes that our descriptions inform nature’s regularities. An objectivist is someone who believes that nature’s regularities inform our descriptions. Do you understand the difference?

    Everything you have said suggests that you are in the first camp. Since you are afraid to answer my questions, I have to assume that you already know that the holes in your arguments are large enough to drive a truck through.

  211. 211
    kairosfocus says:

    F/N: Note how studiously RDF has avoided what appears in 170 and again in 203 above. KF

  212. 212
    RDFish says:

    Hi Box,

    RDF: 5) Most importantly, do you agree that these laws of physics can be made up any time at all by human beings, and they are not “put into effect” at some point?

    No, I do not agree. It seems obvious to me that the laws are not in effect in situations where the corresponding physical phenomena are not in existence – e.g. prior to the big bang. It seems that we are in disagreement on this.

    Ok, let’s see if our disagreement is conceptual or semantic. We need to make a distinction between when a law is “in effect” and when it is “applicable”.

    1) When you say a law is “in effect”, I take it to mean that the law, at that time, determines or constrains the behavior of physical entities – just like the rules of a game determines or constrains the behavior of the players. So, if the conservation law was not “in effect”, this would mean nothing would preclude mass/energy from being created. Once something (a “creator” according to StephenB) decided to “put the law into effect”, however, mass/energy could no longer be created. The law, in this case, determines the way the universe works (or the way a game is played).

    2) When I say a law is “applicable”, I mean that it is relevant to the situation being investigated. For example, Kepler’s Laws describes planetary motion, but they would not applicable if there were no planets. It would still be “in effect”, however, in the sense that if some planet existed and were orbiting a star, it would move in an ellipse, sweeping out equal areas in equal times, etc. Likewise the conservation law declares that mass/energy can’t be created or destroyed, but it is not “applicable” if there was no such thing as mass/energy in existence.

    RDFish:6) Do you agree that these laws (like the conservation laws, or laws of motion, etc) do not determine the behavior of physical entities, but rather attempts to describe them?
    BOX: This is a very interesting question. I’m not sure it’s crucial to our discussion though.

    I think it is the central point of our discussion. You and Stephen are confusing prescriptive and descriptive laws, and it reflects a very interesting difference in the way we think about the world.

    RDFish: 6) Do you agree that these laws (like the conservation laws, or laws of motion, etc) do not determine the behavior of physical entities, but rather attempts to describe them?
    For now, I respectfully disagree. It seems to me that laws are ontologically distinct from physical entities.

    I don’t understand your comment about ontology here, or why you disagree.

    Allow me to post some thoughts by Berlinski:…In a Landscape in which anything is possible, nothing is necessary. In a universe in which nothing is necessary, anything is possible. It is nothing that makes the electron follow any laws.
    Which, then, is it to be: God, logic, or nothing?

    I certainly don’t think any of these three answer the question! The laws of nature are axiomatic, induced from our experience. Why they exist the way they do is a great question, and currently without an answer.

    Firstly, the law of alternation is not ‘made up’, but is based on an observation of a game of chess in progress instead. Secondly, where does it state that the law of alternation can only be violated until at least two turns have been taken? Why is that obvious?

    Sorry yes, I’d forgotten how you worded your example. Yes the law of alternation, in your scenario, is induced rather than arbitrarily declared. And yes, if the law is stated as “each player moves a piece only if the other player moved previously”, then IF the other player hadn’t moved a piece previously (perhaps in another game?), then this law would be violated on the first move.

    >> This post is my final request for an answer. Another dodge and I will have no choice but to stop discussing with you.

    It’s hysterical that people accuse me of dodging, when the majority of my points go answered each time I post 🙂 I have not tried to dodge anything, Box – I’m trying very hard to understand what you are getting at.

    The coming into existence of the rule of alternation is by observation , so it is descriptive as I have pointed out several times….It doesn’t require two events.

    Again, you are absolutely correct in this: In your imaginary scenario, you have induced the rule from your observations and not made them up. And with the particular way you’ve worded your “law of alternation”, the first move of a game would indeed represent a violation IF the other player had not made a move previously.

    And likewise, IF the net mass/energy of the universe was created in the Big Bang, then it would represent a violation of mass/energy conservation. I still have no idea how you think your analogy refutes this.

    REGULARITIES among physical things – (which we formulate as laws) – do not exist prior to the coming into existence of those physical things, energy space and time – prior to the big bang?

    YES or NO?

    **this is my last attempt**

    Is your great granddaughter’s grandson in the Army? YES or NO?????
    The answer, of course, is NOT APPLICABLE!!!!

    I have tried my hardest to explain to you. Perhaps the explicit distinction I’ve explained between “applicable” and “in effect” above will help you understand. Regularities cannot occur among physical entities that do not exist, quite obviously. But it is confused to say this means that laws that describe these regularities are “in effect” or not “in effect”. You can only say they may not be relevant or applicable if the entities the law refers to don’t exist.

    Interestingly this is wrong.

    Interestingly, this is controversial – I’ve read about various ways the expanding may violate m/e conservation (red shifted radiation is one way), but there is no consensus about it. Here’s a paper that’s a few years old: http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/pap.....0.1629.pdf

    If conservation is violated by expansion somehow, that would be just be another example of people devising rules that describe the way things work under one set of conditions, but do not hold in other situations.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  213. 213
    RDFish says:

    Hi StephenB,

    RDF: ”An idea that scientists have come up with.”
    SB: “Notice that he says nothing about the objective regularities in nature. It’s all subjective. It’s all about ideas.

    And you are patently confused about this. Of course any scientist can write down any law that he or she wishes to. That doesn’t make the law valid. We test the law using objective methods of science. There is nothing subjective about it.

    Clearly, you didn’t include regularity in nature as a component of a physical law.

    Because regularities are not components of laws – they are what laws are about. They are the referrents of the laws we invent.

    “So, a law tells us about what we have “never observed.” There is nothing there about what we have observed.

    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. Conservation of Mass/energy is induced from our observations of uncountable situations in which it is NEVER observed that mass/energy is created or destroyed.

    RDF: Of course anybody can make up whatever law they want – that has nothing to do with subjectivism.
    SB: It has everything to do with subjectivism. A subjectivist is someone who believes that our descriptions inform nature’s regularities. An objectivist is someone who believes that nature’s regularities inform our descriptions. Do you understand the difference?

    Oh good grief – you think I meant that when somebody makes up some law it somehow becomes true? Hahahahahahahahahaha. I’ve said over and over and over and over again the law may well be completely ridiculous and fail every confirmation!!! Hahahahahahahahahaha

    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

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  214. 214
    RDFish says:

    It is just amazing that StephenB mistook what I meant. I said that Laws are made up by human beings, and he thought that meant human beings decide how the universe operates. That is so incredibly weird. What it means, of course, is that scientists make up laws that they THINK will describe the universe reliably, and then we do experiments and observations to see if they are right or not.

    It is fascinating to see how StephenB’s mind works. Since he thinks that God invented the physical laws of the universe, it made him completely misunderstand the obvious point that I made. His whole understanding of the world is skewed by this idea that there is some divine Lawmaker writing down laws that control how gravity works, and electricity, and so on.

    Wow! So interesting!!!

  215. 215
    Box says:

    RDFish,

    RDFish:
    if the law is stated as “each player moves a piece only if the other player moved previously”, then IF the other player hadn’t moved a piece previously (perhaps in another game?), then this law would be violated on the first move.

    Thank you for answering my question. However I would also like you to respond on my follow up question, which I offered to you several times before. Here in its entirety:

    Is it reasonable to state that the law of alternation is violated by the first move of the game? Or is it more accurate to say that at the moment the game started – during the completion of the first move – the law of alternation was not yet in effect. IOW that the law of alternation came into effect at the moment the first move was completed?

    **now before you answer please don’t run off about whether it is an apt analogy or not with natural law. Or how confused I am. We can discuss all that later. Please focus on the law of alternation and chess.**

    Box: REGULARITIES among physical things – (which we formulate as laws) – do not exist prior to the coming into existence of those physical things, energy space and time – prior to the big bang?

    RDFish: Regularities cannot occur among physical entities that do not exist, quite obviously.

    Thank you for answering my question. Indeed they can obviously not occur if they don’t exist. Again, thank you.

    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?

  216. 216
    JimFit says:

    I don’t know what you mean here.

    *What difference there is in electrochemical reactions in nature from humans? *

    I mean that electrochemical reactions are the same everywhere, calling our thoughts electrochemical reactions you imply that in Nature every electrochemical reaction is a thought. If you find what chemicals take place in our brain and replicate them you will create thoughts according to your logic.

    Physicalist theories of mind generally hold that neural activities do not precede thoughts, but rather that they comprise them.

    So immaterial thoughts affect the material brain.

    In some sense we do think all the time, but we are not consciously aware of most of our thoughts.

    So consciousness precedes our thoughts aka our electrochemical reactions, that’s why we are aware of them, that’s dualism

    If determinism is true then antecedent events determine our thoughts. In any case it is certainly “we” who control our thoughts – who else would be responsible?

    For you to control your thoughts it means that you precede your thoughts and that’s dualism, if we are what the brain is we wouldn’t be able to do that.

    It’s just that when physicalists say “we control our thoughts” they mean that we are physical systems that control themselves, rather than an immaterial soul that somehow operates our bodies.

    How can you control something when you don’t have free will? To control your brain you need a consciousness that precedes the brain.

    I don’t know what you mean here.

    I mean that if our brains determine everything then brains would be identical like 2 pcs but our brains change according to our will, if i decide to be a mathematician i will end up with a structurally different brain..

    http://www.bbc.com/news/scienc.....t-26925271

    The plasticity of the brain is a fact that materialism cannot solve.

    First, “materialism” is a metaphysical position regarding ontology, not a scientific theory. Second, dualism does not solve problems such as these either. Third, there is no contradiction between brain plasticity, or placebo effects, and physicalism, your video notwithstanding.

    I am happy that you recognize Materialism as metaphysical.
    Dualism just makes the claim that consciousness preceeds Materialism and we have evidence for this now

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4C5pq7W5yRM

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qB7d5V71vUE

    Third of course there is contradiction between brain plasticity and physicalism. If i support that my arms chose to get some exercise and that’s why i have muscles now i will be wrong since my arms doesn’t have conscious thoughts, i chose to excersise my arms to have muscles not my arms. The brain is just another organ not the source of Consciousness.

    Quantum Enigma
    Observation in Quantum Mechanics and the ‘Collapse of the Wavefunction’

    http://adsabs.harvard.edu/abs/1961ZPhy..161..454J

    http://journals.aps.org/pr/abs.....Rev.47.777

    http://philoscience.unibe.ch/d.....964epr.pdf

    http://www.nature.com/nature/j.....6866a.html

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvMx1baJwpA

    http://link.springer.com/artic.....6096313729

    http://arxiv.org/abs/0704.2529

    http://physicsworld.com/cws/ar.....to-reality

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nttB3Wze3Y8

    http://arxiv.org/abs/quant-ph/9903047

    http://www.bottomlayer.com/bot.....ly-web.htm

    http://arxiv.org/abs/1106.4481

    http://www.newscientist.com/ar.....ke-it.html

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LiNJRh2fxY8

    http://arxiv.org/abs/1206.6578

    http://www.nature.com/news/200.....416-9.html

    http://arxiv.org/abs/1207.5294

    http://www.pnas.org/content/108/4/1256.abstract

    http://meetings.aps.org/Meeting/MAR07/Event/57254

    http://www.nature.com/nnano/jo.....12.34.html

    http://www.livescience.com/192.....cules.html

    http://arxiv.org/abs/0909.1469

    http://www.nature.com/news/201.....1.210.html

    http://www.wired.com/2009/09/quantum-entanglement/

    http://www.nature.com/news/201.....0.130.html

    http://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/pap.....1.0337.pdf

  217. 217
    StephenB says:

    RDFish

    Because regularities are not components of laws – they are what laws are about. They are the referrents of the laws we invent.

    Finally, you understand that laws are descriptions about regularities in nature. The word, “invent,” though is a little too facile, as I will explain later.

    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. Conservation of Mass/energy is induced from our observations of uncountable situations in which it is NEVER observed that mass/energy is created or destroyed.

    So you think that the law of gravity is about what “cannot happen” or “must not happen?”

    Interesting.

    “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.”

    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.)

    Oh good grief – you think I meant that when somebody makes up some law it somehow becomes true?

    No. A subjectivist is someone who tries to remake reality according to own personal wishes.

    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.

    Or, someone like RDFish, who thinks that creating mass/energy violates mass/energy. Let the universe be what I want it to be. Oh yes, and never speak of a first cause.

    Or, someone like RDFish, who says that “something from nothing is the same as “ex-nihilo creation.” That’s right, folks, he did say that.

    That is subjectivism.

    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

    You seem to be imploding.

    It is just amazing that StephenB mistook what I meant. I said that Laws are made up by human beings, and he thought that meant human beings decide how the universe operates.

    It seems that everyone misunderstands RD. I wonder why that might be. Perhaps that it is because RD doesn’t understand himself. A law is our subjective description of objective regularities that occur in nature. Subjectivism is a philosophy–RD’s philosophy.

    What it means, of course, is that scientists make up laws that they THINK will describe the universe reliably, and then we do experiments and observations to see if they are right or not.

    Not quite. 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.

    “a statement of fact, deduced from observation, to the effect that a particular natural or scientific phenomenon always occurs if certain conditions are present.
    “the second law of thermodynamics”

    It is fascinating to see how StephenB’s mind works. Since he thinks that God invented the physical laws of the universe, it made him completely misunderstand the obvious point that I made. His whole understanding of the world is skewed by this idea that there is some divine Lawmaker writing down laws that control how gravity works, and electricity, and so on.

    Insofar as God is a lawmaker, He certainly does not “write down” physical laws, which are not made of matter (surprise, RD, physical laws don’t have weight or size and are not extended in space). They are ways of making things happen by way of secondary causes.

    Clearly, though, the existence of laws that regulate the behavior of matter, or are at least associated with that regulation, must be explained. RD does not think they need to be explained, or that causal explanations should always be respected (when he would prefer not to have them around). Hence, he doesn’t think that the law of matter/energy conservation needed to be caused. For RD, it could just as easily have “poofed into existence.” Or, perhaps he thinks that the law of conservation is eternal. He is afraid to tell us. That is subjectivism. It doesn’t submit to scrutiny—but oh, how it loves to scrutinize.

  218. 218
    RDFish says:

    Hi 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?

    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.

    You have once again revealed a deep confusion regarding what a “law” is, vs. the natural entities and events that laws describe. Entities and events exist in nature. Laws are what people think up to describe them.

    If you understood this, you would not ask if a “law” could exist before the universe began. As I’ve explained endlessly, a “law” is something that human beings think up, and human beings did not exist before the universe began, so how exactly could this law “exist” before the universe began?

    Now of course you say, “Aha! I told you so! The law didn’t exist before the universe began, and so it couldn’t have been violated!”

    And I say: GOOD GRIEF, you haven’t listened to a single thing I’ve said. We humans come up with provisional laws of physics (all scientific conclusions are always provisional), and then continually test them see if they are broken under various conditions, and these conditions may be in the past or they may be in the present.

    Get it? It just doesn’t make sense to ask if the LAW existed sometime in the past.

    So, if one was to say that the law of conservation was violated at the Big Bang, they would be saying the following:

    1) Human beings have thought of a law called the Law of Mass/energy conservation
    2) This law seems to hold invariably in all in ordinary circumstances
    3) It may be violated when applied to the entire universe (because its expansion, red shift energy loss, for example)
    4) It may also have been violated if mass/energy was created at the Big Bang.

    I am sincerely hoping you now understand this simple point.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  219. 219
    RDFish says:

    Hi JimFit,

    I mean that electrochemical reactions are the same everywhere, calling our thoughts electrochemical reactions you imply that in Nature every electrochemical reaction is a thought.

    No, this doesn’t follow.

    Sorry Jim but I don’t think you have any understanding of philosophy of mind. I would suggest you read some other sources. I only looked at a few of your links, but none of them argued for dualism, theism, or anything else you believe in.

    Cheers,
    RDFish/AIGuy

  220. 220
    RDFish says:

    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

  221. 221
    StephenB says:

    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.

  222. 222
    StephenB says:

    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.

  223. 223
    JimFit says:

    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?

  224. 224
    StephenB says:

    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”).

  225. 225
    RDFish says:

    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

  226. 226
    RDFish says:

    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

  227. 227
    Box says:

    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.

  228. 228
    StephenB says:

    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.)”

  229. 229
    JimFit says:

    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

  230. 230
    RDFish says:

    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

  231. 231
    RDFish says:

    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

  232. 232
    RDFish says:

    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

  233. 233
    StephenB says:

    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.

  234. 234
    Mung says:

    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?

  235. 235
    RDFish says:

    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

  236. 236
    StephenB says:

    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.

  237. 237
    RDFish says:

    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

  238. 238
    StephenB says:

    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.

  239. 239
    StephenB says:

    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.

  240. 240
    RDFish says:

    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

  241. 241
    StephenB says:

    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.

  242. 242
    Silver Asiatic says:

    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.

  243. 243
    JimFit says:

    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..

  244. 244
    StephenB says:

    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.

  245. 245
    Silver Asiatic says:

    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.

  246. 246
    Mung says:

    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

  247. 247
    RDFish says:

    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

  248. 248
    StephenB says:

    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.

  249. 249
    Silver Asiatic says:

    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/.....038;pgnu=1

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