Trying to Explain Why You Can't Keep Asking: Before That...
Posted: 2012-01-11 02:28pm
This was the argument of the original poster:
My response, after I corrected him on the details of his one to five was:I used to be an Atheist. I read Richard Dawkins from cover to cover and found it fantastically written and brilliantly argued, on the whole. Despite the fact I was raised in a Catholic family and go to church, I've always found the theological side of believing in God to be quite obviously flawed. It seems that one need only look at the contradictions in the Bible, the multitudes of varying faith that exist, and the strange and often dark world views they contain to know deep down that the Christian God, like the Muslim and Hindu God(s), is essentially fictitious. But I'm not an atheist. Not even really an agnostic. I believe in God and here's why:
Firstly, it is important to clarify what God is. It's clearly not a man in the clouds, it's clearly not something that impregnated a virgin or raised the dead or any of those things. But the problem I have when I consider atheism, at least of the ilk Dawkins and, to an extent, Christopher Hitchens espoused is that as good as their arguments may be when it comes to criticizing religion and the traditional concept of God they don't actually offer any alternative that seems plausible.
In Dawkins' case, I know he acknowledges this and I give him credit for that. He says that he is a scientist and therefore relies on evidence and that there is no more evidence for a divine spirit than there is a flying spaghetti monster, etc. But the problem I have is that I can't wholeheartedly deny the existence of God until there is a proven scientific alternative. Why? Because it's against science, ironically. It's against science to presume there's no creator for something when everything we know requires one. That's not the same as saying you 'know' there is a God. We must be honest and say we do not know either way. But the teleological argument (the argument for design) still stands, because when we look at science we find a kind of regressive process going on:
1) We were created by evolution from apes.
2) The apes were created by smaller organisms, which were created by the formation of a hospitable planet.
3) The hospitable planet was created by the formation of a star system, which it orbits.
3) The star was created by an explosion of matter.
4) The explosion of matter was the big bang.
5) The big bang was created by---?
We do not know what created the big bang. Most atheists, at least intellectual ones, are honest about this. Once again, I give them credit for that. Indeed, an atheist who says 'we don't know how we came to be here' is infinitely preferable to a crazed Christian fundamentalist. But the problem is they don't offer a decent alternative and, like I say, if there is no known alternative it makes sense to assume we were created by something, and that something must be everlasting - i.e beyond the limits of time and space - because otherwise we would not be able to end the regress. Ultimately it must all lead back to something. Whatever we feel about Religion, does it not make sense to call that something God?
As weird as it probably sounds, I often find myself remembering that scene at the end of the movie Men In Black. The part where they zoom out on the universe and see that it's just a marble being rolled by a massive alien. Jokes aside, is that not extremely possible? That we tend to think we, the universe, is such a 'big, big thing' when in reality it forms just a minuscule part, an atom-sized entity perhaps (i like to think of the universe as being of an atomic significance in something larger, based on the fact the laws of physics are so different inside an atom than outside of it, rather like perhaps our laws of physics dont exist in the world of the 'alien throwing marbles). if we can accept that this hypothesis is likely, let alone possible, wouldnt it be fair to say that we all believe in 'God', and that we simply haven't realized the nature of what He is?
Another poster then said:The problem with calling the cause of the Big Bang: God, is that you could just as easily call that something: Yeti, or: Vishnu or: Zeus and know just as much as you did before. We don't know what caused the expansion of the universe, we don't even know where the universe came from, but that does not mean we will never know. Saying: God caused the big bang is a way of cutting yourself off from searching for an explanation, because it's an intellectual dead end.
My response was:The existence of both us, and the universe in general, is totally illogical. Before the big bang there was nothing - As that fundamentally contradicts one of the major principles of thermodynamics, the Big Bang is clearly nonsense.... Hold on you say, but we do exist.... Don't we? Or do we, can we? If there is matter and antimatter then nothing can exist, so there must be more matter than antimatter and the universe is assymmetrical; if the universe is assymmetrical, then it can't have started from a singularity as a singularity must, by definition, be symmetrical and from nothing came energy but, I hear you say, energy can neither be created nor lost... Oops here we go again, going round in circles....
Everything we understand can be put in a bag - Except the existence of the universe. Why? Who holds the bag that holds the universe?
The OP then said:... See this is the problem right here. You're talking about things that you don't understand and you come to faulty conclusions and say things that flatly make no sense and then try and build them up as the arguments of physicists. It's strawmanning, very bad strawmanning.
The matter-antimatter problem is a flaw in the current model that we have to explain the Big Bang, but the existence of said flaw does not invalidate what we already know to be true. We know for a fact that the universe is expanding, that means that regardless of whatever else, we know that it used to be smaller. Go back far enough in time and you see that the universe would have to be a singularity. At some point for whatever reason the universe began expanding aka the Big Bang. That is all the theory says. It doesn't say energy came from nothing. It doesn't even talk about what happened before the Big Bang.
To use an analogy, what you're saying isn't that much different from the following:
My table is made out of wood.
What is wood made out of?
Carbon and some other elements.
What are those made out of?
Protons, neutrons and electrons
What are those made out of?
Particles which are made out of smaller particles.
What are those made out of?
We aren't completely sure, but there are various theories which say different things.
AHA! You do not know what fundamental particles are made out of therefore your table cannot be made out of wood.
And the second responder then said:irstly, i'm aware that my 'list of occurences' wasn't technically absolutely correct, mainly because i was short-cutting the scale. of course i'm aware that the planet does not orbit a 'star-system', but a star. i should have probably taken more time to ensure the terms were watertight but it'd take me forever. the point i was making is that there is a causality to everything, which roots back to one thing.
secondly, yes you can call it Yeti or Vishnu or whatever. i dont have a problem with any of that. you can call Him whatever you want. i don't mean to suggest any conscious being necessarily caused the big bang, simply that it makes sense given our understanding to suppose SOMETHING did. that's just my point though. atheists spend a lot of time (understandably) demonstrating how much of religion is tied up in semantics, but unfortunately that means they get tied down to semantics often themselves when the real issue is existence itself. if we can call him vishnu we can just as easily call him God just as we can easily call it 'the first mover' or 'the bigger bang'. the terms don't matter, the concept does.
essentially all human opinion on the matter (excluding the absurd) boils down to one of three alternatives:
1) the big bang had a creator
2) the big bang had no creator, or came from a source that had no creator. either just came into existence for no reason. along with time, space and all else.
3) we don't know, so we are going to completely with-hold any and all definite opinion on the subject.
all three positions have their potential strengths, but also their weaknesses. to say the big bang had a creator brings up the issue of the nature of that creator (what caused the aliens to exist & own such marbles). to say it came from nothing brings up two issues a) what is the nature of 'nothing' and b) how can something come from nothing. this is completely absurd given our understanding of causality, but does have the benefits of being an absolute rejection of God and the problems associated with Him. to say we don't know is probably the most intellectually honest approach to the subject, and is essentially agnosticism. aside from faith, which i have based on personal experience, the feeling that there's something there (which is the main source of my personal faith, while admittedly not a basis for scientific discussion) the reason i lean towards alternative #1 is because:
1) all things we can comprehend are caused by something.
2) the second alternative does not explain, with our current knowledge, how the big bang happened and therefore
3) it makes sense to work with the presumption that there is a creator. be it God, the Yeti, Vishnu or Jimi Hendrix.
even if one dismisses my 'jump' to assuming creation as mere conjecture, which to a degree it is (but based on a real-world premise of course, namely causality) then that would seemingly put them in the 'we don't know camp'. my problem then with atheism is that while it doesn't usually say WE DO KNOW FOR A FACT THERE IS NO GOD it is biased against the possibility (atheism by definition is the theory that God does not exist). it seems to me that it should be the complete opposite. we should be biased if anything in favor of the God hypothesis because it is the only one based on causality and the laws of physics as they exist in our world, that all things require something else to exist, with the understanding that we may one day learn that there is no eternal being and that matter and energy can indeed come from nothing, or at least from something that does not fit the definition of the eternal.
It's now clear that they are being deliberately obtuse. How do I explain that nothing they've said is right, they've drawn the wrong conclusions and explain why they can't just go: God Did It, when you can't explain something.If we are a result of the big bang then it explains the existence of US which is what I said, I did not say that it explained existence. A very authoritative scientist explained to me last night that there is about 80% as much antimatter as matter, and that if equal amounts of each existed we wouldn't be here because they would cancel each other out - Sounded perfectly reasonable to me.
If you can explain to anybody's satisfaction within what the universe is contained I should be very happy - It is illogical that the universe exists as an entity because anything which exists is physical, and anything which exists must exist within something, which must exist within something, which must exist..... We can't even say that we are figments of our own imaginations because even imagination must relate to the concrete, or it is not imagination. Even if the universe grew from a singularity that singularity must have been contained in a void.... Oh dear, we're back to the bag within a bag problem - Perhaps it is all turtles as Terry Pratchett says...