Saturday, January 24, 2009

An Honest, if Rhetorical, Question

Many IDiots like to claim that it takes more faith to be an atheist than to be a theist, often following up with all sorts of straw men about evolution and physics. Let's compare:

Creationists say the universe came from a magic man that randomly popped into existence from nothing with infinite power, infinite intelligence, and presumably infinite complexity to accommodate the other features. Oh, and that he randomly decided to make the universe look exactly like what scientists say it really is, and all to dick around with us.

Scientists have detailed, testable theories that obey consistent laws, detailing many of the steps, all the way back to the Big Bang. Before that, we don't know.

Which takes more faith?: That an infinitely complex, omniscient, omnipotent stone idol just popped in from nowhere, or "we don't know, yet."

35 comments:

MrFreeThinker said...

"Creationists say the universe came from a magic man that randomly popped into existence from nothing"
No Christian says that. We say there is a timeless transcendant mind.


"with infinite power, infinite intelligence,"
Yes

"and presumably infinite complexity to accommodate the other features."
Not necessarily. Wiki define complex as have many intricate parts. God is a spirit and is not made of material so he has no parts, therefore he is simple.

"Oh, and that he randomly decided to make the universe look exactly like what scientists say it really is, and all to dick around with us."
Yes science provides good evidence for God.

"Scientists have detailed, testable theories that obey consistent laws, detailing many of the steps, all the way back to the Big Bang."
Like this paper from Dr. William lane Craig explianing how the universe came into being.
http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/ultimatequestion.html

"Which takes more faith?: That an infinitely complex, omniscient, omnipotent stone idol just popped in from nowhere, or "we don't know, yet."

No which makes more sense : the universe derives its existence from a transcendent mind, as the evidence from the big-bang and astrophysics suggests or that material and space-time came inot existence without any kind of cause.

Bronze Dog said...

We say there is a timeless transcendant mind.

Which doesn't seem all that much different from a random one.

Not necessarily. Wiki define complex as have many intricate parts. God is a spirit and is not made of material so he has no parts, therefore he is simple.

So, how can he operate without parts? How does this simplicity add up to complex behavior like intelligence?

Yes science provides good evidence for God.

Such as?

Like this paper from Dr. William lane Craig explianing how the universe came into being.
http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/ultimatequestion.html


Dissection likely to proceed tomorrow.

No which makes more sense : the universe derives its existence from a transcendent mind, as the evidence from the big-bang and astrophysics suggests or that material and space-time came inot existence without any kind of cause.

1. I don't see any evidence from astrophysics or Big Bang cosmology for a transcendent mind.

2. Only some cosmologists (and probably very few) subscribe to an acausal model of the universe. They're working on finding causes for the Big Bang. In other words, we don't know, yet.

MrFreeThinker said...

"So, how can he operate without parts? How does this simplicity add up to complex behavior like intelligence?"
Yes, he is a spirit and spirits are simple entities.

Bronze Dog said...

That's a rather extraordinary claim. To date, everything I've ever seen that exhibited complex behavior required complex mechanics behind it. And do you expect me to just accept that there's some special exception in this case?

Another question: I'm going to presume that human souls are also simple and capable of complex behavior. If that's true, why do humans need brains?

King of Ferrets said...

You Christians do too say that the universe came from a magic man that popped into existence from nothing; it's the God created himself argument. Somewhat popular among laypeople where I live.

MWchase said...

At the very least, there's logical complexity in the form of attendant, slightly arbitrary-sounding limitations.

Feel free to contradict me at any time, as I'm getting this all out at once instead of trying to steer the conversation:

Humans would not truly be able to enjoy heaven without free will. (The ultimate reward should not be turning into a false copy of what you were in life.)

Humans would not enjoy/God would not permit a heaven that contained evil.

So, given those two assertions, heaven must be populated by people who are perfectly good and have free will. Why did god not create such people in the first place, thereby bypassing millennia of wars, slavery, murder, wanton cruelty, disease, and other things I'm not mentioning, by making humans free-willed and good in the first place?

(Argument taken from Ebonmusings)

Jimmy_Blue said...

Yes, he is a spirit and spirits are simple entities.

So basically speaking, God is little more than Casper the friendly ghost, with the ability to create time and space thrown in?

Of course, if god is simple that explains a lot about the arguments for his existence.

Akusai said...

Yes, he is a spirit and spirits are simple entities.

Please define spirit and give evidence that it is possible for such a thing to exist. Until you do, I'm going to move forward with the assumption that "spirit" means "entity that can do whatever it needs to do for me to win the argument."

In other words, your argument boils down to a lame plot device. Fail.

Bronze Dog said...

Well said, Akusai.

Akusai said...

Thank you kindly, sir.

MrFreeThinker said...

You are going to have to show a spirit is not metaphysically possible for your argument to have any force.

MWchase said...

So, we have to explain why an undefined entity that isn't required for a consistent view of the world isn't possible, instead of you explaining why we should believe in such a thing, once you've explained what it is?

Akusai said...

You are going to have to show a spirit is not metaphysically possible for your argument to have any force.

Please define "metaphysical" and provide evidence that it is possible for anything "metaphysical" to actually exist or, indeed, that "metaphysics" is anything but a meaningless word used by assholes with no evidence to shift the burden of proof.

Creating a fictional universe where you are right does not make you right in this universe. We are under no such onus to disprove the "metaphysical possibility" of an undefined wildcard term when there is no reason even to suppose that "metaphysical" has any useful definition.

Bronze Dog said...

You are going to have to show a spirit is not metaphysically possible for your argument to have any force.

Oh, my dear Ammy, my brain hurts from that burst of stupid.

First, you're the one proposing the existence of a vague something called a spirit. You're the one who has to explain what a spirit is before we can even attempt to find contradictions or failed predictions to disprove it.

Second, it's not our job to prove something is impossible. It's your job to prove it's possible and probable. That's how science works. We assume psychic powers, leprechauns, unicorns, the Loch Ness Monster, Bigfoot, Russel's Teapot, and all of them don't exist until we see evidence of them. We don't even have to lift a finger to show that they're impossible.

I don't claim spirits are impossible. You just haven't given us any reason to think their existence is probable.

Jimmy_Blue said...

You are going to have to show a spirit is not metaphysically possible for your argument to have any force.

Oh really?

I think that a giant lederhosen wearing clam called Terence who listens to Val Doonican records exists, and is indeed the true creator of time and space. And he did so with a rigged Oric 1.

Any counter argument you might have depends on you showing that it is not metaphysically possible for this being to exist. Go ahead, I dare you. If you can't, then I win.

Until then, you are going to burn in Swindon (clam hell) for not accepting Terence.

Tom Foss said...

We say there is a timeless transcendant mind.

Why not a timeless universe? Where's your evidence for this transcendent mind? You must have evidence that this transcendent mental spirit entity exists, otherwise you'd be completely making stuff up when you said "spirits are simple entities." If you know what characteristics spirits have, then you must have some evidence that they exists, or you're talking out of your ass.

Incidentally, we already have a model where complex things can come from simpler things. It's called evolution*. You're going to have to give some reason why your God-spirit is necessary to the process.

*Technically, we have many such models; entropy, for instance, since a disordered system tends to be more complex than an ordered one--of course, this all depends on exactly how you're defining "complex."

Dunc said...

What does "not metaphysically possible" actually mean? Since when do philosophical arguments have ontological significance?

Four-legged insects are "metaphysically possible" - but they don't actually exist.

MWchase said...

Not without body-modding. (Eight-legged insects need more. And caterpillars don't count.)

I think what he's asking us to do is demonstrate that his undefined terms have contradictory properties, or something.

Akusai said...

Since when do philosophical arguments have ontological significance?

I've been wondering that for a long time.

Bronze Dog said...

You know, I think MrFreeThinker's not going to bother to reply. He'll just poke at new threads (which I need to start up, anyway. Been a little Magic-manic lately) and again say that he was bored when we all know he's not going to stop by to make any cogent point.

MrFreeThinker said...

Your assertion was that God was complex. I said God was a simple entity, a spirit, like a transcendent mind. If you do not think this is possible it is up for you to show the idea is conceptually incoherent.
For example if you said my uncle was a wife-beater and I say , "no he is a bachelor", it is up to you to show I am wrong. It is possible for him o be a bachelor.

MrFreeThinker said...

Why not a timeless universe? Where's your evidence for this transcendent mind?
The universe is space-time and its constituents. Space does not have an existence apart from time. The universe cannot be timeless.
The evidence is that it is the only possible enitity that could have caused the universe

Bronze Dog said...

Define "spirit." Define "transcendent."

Also, we don't have to show you that these things are impossible, just like we don't have to prove psychic powers or unicorns are impossible. All we have to do is sit back while you fail to prove their existence. You're the one with the burden of proof, and you still haven't given us a definition.

Oh, and so far, all minds I've ever encountered required complex mechanisms, like all the crows I've seen to date are black. If you want to prove the existence of a non-black crow, show me evidence of a non-black crow. I don't have to prove that the existence of the non-black crow is impossible.

To me, it sounds like you're asking me to develop a theory of everything that rules out your undefined spirits, while I'm merely asking you to tell me what it is and show me one.

Akusai said...

If you do not think this is possible it is up for you to show the idea is conceptually incoherent.

It can be neither conceptually coherent or conceptually incoherent until it is conceptual. Tossing about meaningless jargon without even attempting to define your terms is pointless. It does nothing to support your argument. Shifting the burden of proof makes you look even more like an ignorant asshole.

Again, you are using words like "spirit" and "transcendent" precisely because they have no real definition, so they can mean whatever you need them to mean. If this is false, if you are not, in fact, a weasely little shit, please define your terms.

Bronze Dog said...

He's too chicken to define the words in a meaningful way. He just wants to ramble about how we can't prove Glarb impossible.

Tom Foss said...

The universe is space-time and its constituents. Space does not have an existence apart from time. The universe cannot be timeless.
The evidence is that it is the only possible enitity that could have caused the universe


You see, your first mistake was talking to someone who actually knows a bit of what they're talking about vis a vis cosmology. You're right in that space and time are inextricably linked, but you fail to see the implications of this. Time, like width and depth and length, is a dimension, a property of the universe. There was no time before this universe, so far as the current models suggest. Consequently, there's no "before" the universe. Time began when the universe began, and no sooner. The universe has existed forever, from the universe's perspective, and there's no reason to suspect that there was anything before the Big Bang to create it, since "before the Big Bang" is as nonsensical as "north of the North Pole."

In fact, "all the evidence" points to the First Law of Thermodynamics: that matter and energy can be neither created nor destroyed in any reaction. The universe contains just as much energy (some of it tied up in matter, but equivalent via relativity) today as it did at the Big Bang. There's not only no evidence to suggest the existence of "transcendent" spirit-minds with universe-creating abilities, there's not only no sense with the current understanding of talking about "before" the Big Bang, but all the evidence says that things can't be created, only made out of preexisting stuff. There's no reason to suspect creation, and far more reason to suspect that the matter and energy of the universe have always existed in some form or another.

You fail on every point, MrFreeThinker.

Tom Foss said...

As far as your wife-beating uncle goes, if you tell me that your uncle is a bachelor, without having ever met your uncle, or heard about your uncle from anyone who's met him, or seen your uncle, or even having any evidence that your uncle exists, then it's kind of pointless for either of us to discuss his marital status.

Likewise, when you talk about the qualities of spirit-entities, but you have no contact with such entities or method of examining those entities or justification for believing those entities even possess the properties you claim or evidence that the entities even exist, it's silly to talk about their qualities. I could say "genies are simple, because magical creatures are simple," but unless I've got Aladdin's lamp next to me and some way of judging the relative complexity of magical creatures, I'm making stuff up.

Jimmy_Blue said...

MrFreeThinker said:

If you do not think this is possible it is up for you to show the idea is conceptually incoherent.

Ok. So, I'm waiting for you to show this is conceptually incoherent:

I think that a giant lederhosen wearing clam called Terence who listens to Val Doonican records exists, and is indeed the true creator of time and space. And he did so with a rigged Oric 1.

Until you can, does that mean you accept Terence is real?

Come on, see if you can grasp the point.

MrFreeThinker said...

@Tom foss
Your abuse of the first law of thermodynamics to disprove cosmology reminds me of how fundy YEC's abuse the 2nd law on biology . Cosmologists say that the 1st law is only applicable with this universe and within this realm of space-time. It is not applicable when a particular realm of space-time comes into existence. If that was true we would have to throw out much of cosmology.
@Jimmy
Gladly. Clams are made of material and as such exist within space-time. To assert this clam is causally prior to space-time is incoherent.

Tom Foss said...

Your abuse of the first law of thermodynamics to disprove cosmology reminds me of how fundy YEC's abuse the 2nd law on biology .

Only because you're clueless on how both work. Fundie abuse of the Second Law requires a complete misunderstanding of how localized order can arise from an energy input (but still ultimately result in a net entropy increase). They leave out the (salient) point of the closed system entirely. I'm not doing anything close to the same kind of thing with the First Law.

Cosmologists say that the 1st law is only applicable with this universe and within this realm of space-time.

What cosmologists? And what reason do they have to say that? It's true, we don't know of any principles or laws that apply beyond the confines of our universe; in fact, we don't know anything about what's beyond the confines of our universe, and chances are we can't know (though there are some ideas in M-theory that could potentially test the hypothesis of multiple universes). It's a good thing I'm not talking about things outside our universe; I'm talking about our universe.

It is not applicable when a particular realm of space-time comes into existence.

First, you need to establish that the universe must "come into existence." There's potential for equivocation here, so let me elaborate: space-time as we know it "came into existence" in the Big Bang; prior to the first moment of expansion, all the matter and energy (and space) in the universe was compressed into an infinitely dense point, or singularity (which is where our current understanding breaks down, and new physics becomes necessary). That matter and energy has existed since the very beginning of time; time is a trait of the universe, and began at the Big Bang. There is no reason to posit that that matter and energy ever didn't exist, and there's no sense in such a position. The timeline doesn't stretch back before the zero point in this universe, and none of us have any way of describing what happens outside our universe (or even determining whether or not that phrase is meaningful at all).

If that was true we would have to throw out much of cosmology.

Really? Find one cosmological principle we'd have to throw out if the First Law applied to the origin of the universe. I'll wait.

Look, as far as the universe is concerned, there was a hard beginning to time. As far as our current models can determine, it's nonsensical to talk about what (if anything) happened before that zero point. There's no reason, based on any science, to propose that the matter and energy that make up our universe had to be created in the first place. As far as the universe is concerned, the matter and energy have always existed in the same quantity. There was a beginning of time, but not some separate or subsequent beginning of energy.

It's true, any explanation of things "before" the Big Bang is purely speculative. There are purely speculative hypotheses which extrapolate from known physical principles in this universe (vacuum fluctuations, black holes, some interpretations of quantum physics) and there are some purely speculative hypotheses which posit completely speculative entities (God). Both of those groups of models--and every other "everything has a beginning/every creation has a creator" argument--fail to establish a key point: that the matter and energy needed to be "created" in some process in the first place. We have no reason, either metaphysically or extrapolated from our universe, to suspect that it required some ultimate beginning.

And all those models still fail to establish that concepts of time have any validity before the Big Bang, and tend to presume that our universe exists in something, some larger meta-space, which is equally unsupported.

MWchase said...

Gladly. Clams are made of material and as such exist within space-time. To assert this clam is causally prior to space-time is incoherent.

Ah, but Terrence is half-slime-monster. Slime-monster ancestry obviates the need for a physical body. Thus, Terrence ever-always-is-was outside of time. (Slime monsters can draw from the universe without physical effect. Thus, Terrence is slime-monster on his mother's side.)

In order to refute this, you have to prove that the idea of a 'slime monster' that exists outside of time and can observe the universe without collapsing wave-functions, capable of cross-breeding with clams... You have to prove that that is incoherent.

Jimmy is free to disagree with me, of course. That was just my interpretation of the nature of Terrence.

Jimmy_Blue said...

MrFreeThinker:

Gladly. Clams are made of material and as such exist within space-time. To assert this clam is causally prior to space-time is incoherent.

If Terence were just a clam you might have a point. But you have failed to understand the nature of Terence, as most non-believers do. Which definition of Terence are you using that you think all Terence believers (or Clammers as we like to be known) use?

See, Terence is a lederhosen wearing clam who listens to Val Doonican records. Clearly, therefore, he is different to what you non-Clammers think of as clams. By definition, Terence is not a normal clam. He listens to Val Doonican records for Terence's sake. He used a rigged Oric 1 to create space and time. How is any of that normal to you?

Therefore, since Terence is not normal your normal rules don't apply to him. Your normal rules can't possibly describe something that isn't normal.

Hence, to assert that Terence is causally prior to space time is entirely coherent and consistent with Terence. He is not a normal entity as your simple science understands them.

So please, do try and continue to show that Terence is metaphysically impossible.

MWCHase:

Pah. It seems you are one of those heretic "Slime Clammers". Your heresies have done nothing but show your complete lack of understanding of clam theology. You even used the spelling of Terence determined at the Council of Grimsby by arch-deacon Kevin. You do know that he was once a barnacle-ist, don't you? You're going straight to Swindon unless you repent.

I beat Christians hands down, my religion is only 5 days old and it has already had a schism.

MWchase said...

At least I'm not one of the people who figured his mother was a griffin instead. The frisson inherent in conceiving of a being that, by rights, should be utterly limbless, nonetheless wearing lederhosen, is utterly destroyed by any ancestry that involves legs.

Akusai said...

Gladly. Clams are made of material and as such exist within space-time. To assert this clam is causally prior to space-time is incoherent.

Fuck you and your special pleading, you lame-ass, arrogant tool. Throwing around jargon does not make you smart. Exempting your deity from any form of empirical analysis does not support your claim.

I submit than it is incoherent to assert that anything is prior to spacetime is incoherent, and most cosmologists (you know, real scientists who actually do know things and don't just toss about jargon) would probably have my back.

Given no reason to believe anything can exist outside of or prior to spacetime, you have again done nothing but created an entity that fulfills all the definitional requirements for you to win an argument without actually doing anything: "God is outside of spacetime because that's where he needs to be for me to dodge any requests for real evidence."

Jimmy_Blue said...

MWChase:

Pfffft. Griffins. No true Clammer would even mention Griffins. The fact that lederhosen wearing and limblessness appear to be contradictions is simply because people don't understand that Terence acts in mysterious ways.

Nothing that Terence does, says or wears can be contradictory or wrong, by definition. Kind of like the Fonz.