Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Magic Middle Man

Deities really don't solve much, do they?

What's the basis of morality?

Moral philosopher: Well, that's a complicated question. Arguably, it stems from an agreement between the members of society... [writes a detailed book]

IDiot: Some magic man in the sky randomly made it up!

Where did the universe come from?

Cosmologist: We aren't sure, yet. We've been working on the math with M-theory, and think our universe might have come from some strange events in a bigger universe that's hard to understand in our concept of time. This is, of course, just a hypothesis at this point, and we'll have a better idea when we slam some particles together harder than we've ever slammed particles together before.

IDiot: A magic man randomly popped in from nothing and did it all!

How did the complexity of life arise?

Molecular biologist: Here's a lot of complicated chemical interactions that obey the laws of thermodynamics.

IDiot: A magic man of infinite complexity just happened to fall together in a human-like manner and create a less complex universe!

See what I mean?

11 comments:

Dark Jaguar said...

On the topic of that video you linked, the detective trail analogy really does reveal one flaw of creationist thinking.

The creationist often opines that we can't ever know for sure because we were never "there". Barring the fact that due to the limit of the speed of light all information we ever get is at least a little out of date with the "true present", one does have to wonder if they'd be satisfied if the courts were run with this sort of concept in mind.

"We have prints on the gun, blood on the accused's clothes, and a written note xeroxed and taped to both the victim and the accused in what he admits is his own handwriting."

Defense: "Ah, but you weren't THERE were you? Where are the transitional stages BETWEEN this footstep in the mud and the next? Are you telling me his feet just teleported from one spot to another?"

MrFreeThinker said...

Let me correct this-

What's the basis of morality?

Atheist: Well, that's a complicated question. Arguably, it stems from an agreement between the members of society... [writes a detailed book]
Theist: Critques relativist view and points out that if this idea brings a host of problems. What happened when the people in Germany had an agreement that they shiould exterminate the Jews. What happened when people in America decided to racially oppress African-Americans. Shows that his view could be used to justify any sort of moral atrocities and the universal, objective laws of morality should derive from a transcendent mind.

Where did the universe come from?

Atheist: We aren't sure, yet. We've been working on the math with M-theory, and think our universe might have come from some strange events in a bigger universe that's hard to understand in our concept of time. This is, of course, just a hypothesis at this point, and we'll have a better idea when we slam some particles together harder than we've ever slammed particles together before.

Theist:Seeing, the contingent nature of space-time, it is reasonable to think it derives itself from a transcendent mind.

How did the complexity of life arise?

Molecular biologist: Here's a lot of complicated chemical interactions that obey the laws of thermodynamics.

IDiot: (A magic man of infinite complexity )
I don't think any ID proponent claimed their designer has infinite complexity

(just happened to fall together)
Fall together?
in a human-like manner and create a less complex universe!

Bronze Dog said...

Tom Foss covered Nazi Germany when a troll named Rhology tried to misrepresent him.

Shows that his view could be used to justify any sort of moral atrocities and the universal, objective laws of morality should derive from a transcendent mind.

Except there is no justification for those atrocities. Meanwhile, the "universal, objective" laws randomly made up by that "transcendent mind" were used to justify exactly those sorts of atrocities. In Abrahamic religions, they were even directly commanded by that "transcendent" idol.

"Transcendent" is usually just a nonsense word.

Seeing, the contingent nature of space-time, it is reasonable to think it derives itself from a transcendent mind.

This sentence makes no sense.

Complexity: An entity capable of designing billions of life forms through tools that don't leave evidence would need to be quite complex. Of course, they have no explanation for where this complexity came from. Who designed the designer?

Dunc said...

So we've got a Divine Command moralist, huh? So, tell me: if Good is what God commands, how can you know God is Good? How can you tell God from Satan?

King of Ferrets said...

I think the contingent thing is what that annoying idiot was talking about over at my blog a while back, how the universe can't possibly have existed forever because it changes which means it's contingent and requires a necessary being like God. So the sentence kinda makes sense. There's just no reason to suppose its true, because we have no reason to believe that something that changes can't have existed forever.

Perky Skeptic said...

Actually, the universe most probably hasn't existed forever. The current measurements put the age of the universe at 13.7 +/- 0.2 billion years.

You can read here for a detailed discussion of the methods used to measure the age of the universe, and I think Astronomy Cast podcast has covered the topic as well.

The self-styled "free thinker" is using a classic argument from ignorance-- because he cannot conceive of how humans could have a concept of morality without a deity or how the universe could have come about without a "transcendent mind" to wish it into existence, he falls back on "Goddidit."

Bronze Dog said...

Well, for the age of the universe, I can imagine something "before" the Big Bang, like those guys tinkering around with the ideas of "branes" and "strings," but that's getting into places even weirder than quantum mechanics.

But yeah, the stuff we know about so far looks to be fairly finite under our standard definition of time. Kind of hard to compact what I'm trying to say into a quick comment.

King of Ferrets said...

Now that I think about it, can't conservation of mass be violated on quantum scales? I remember hearing about it at some point. So it's entirely possible for the universe to actually have poofed into existence on its own.

Bronze Dog said...

Yeah, as I understand it, the laws of thermodynamics amount to the statistical average of QM effects.

You do have pair production, where opposite particles with opposite spin and velocity pop in and usually collide back into each other.

I recall hearing one idea that the net value of the universe is zero: If you added everything up, all that would cancel out. Don't know the reliability of that, though.

MWchase said...

I thought virtual particles were zero point energy clumping together into matter, or something like that. Thus, 'ambient' energy is potentially bound up into particles.

Valhar2000 said...

Actually, King, what QM allows for is the violation of the 1st Law of Thermodynamics for a short time. The idea is closely related to Heisienberg's uncertainty principle: the closer you pin down a particle's mometum, the greater the uncertainty on its position, and viceversa. Similarly, the shorter a time span in which some event could have happened, the larger the uncertainty of the energy that was involved.

What this means is that the 1st Law can be violated for short periods of time, and the shorter the period of time, the greater the violation.

I don't think this applies to the universe, though, since the energy it conatins si enormous, and it has lasted for a really long time.