"Because the atheist sees evil in the world, he assumes that there must therefore be no God."No, that's a ridiculous as saying Christians see good and assume therefore there must be a God."there is no free will"? If you like, but the complexity of the systems making decisions are so vast that it's entirely impossible to predict what those decisions will be, which is indistinguishable from free will.There is a huge difference between the beliefs of God or no-God; it's the same as the belief that there's an invisible fairy in the room with you and that there isn't.Atheists reject all those Roman and Greek gods, as well as the Judaeo-Christian one, and it's got nothing to do with how benevolent they are; that's just a claim made by Christians (the Old Testament God is pretty arbitrary and capricious).There may have been a first cause, but only religion pretends it had intelligence and cares about what you do in the bedroom.
@goaded Yes, on the first point, they tend to mirror each other in their reasoning. That was sort of my point. The logical fallacy of one does not make the other more plausible.The second, my apologies, I don't quite follow what you are saying. My argument is that if there is nothing transcendent. If the material world is all that there is, then the range of possibilities is limited by the laws of space, time and physics. The permutations may be large, but they cannot be other than what they were.Yes, atheists do reject the Greco-Roman gods - as do Christians. Funny thing. My point was that both are trying to grasp the infinite and make sense of it. The problem for the atheist being that there is no infinite. The funny part is that your last sentence apes perfectly the reason of the Greeks and Romans, their gods and your universe do not care. That still does not explain "how nothing created everything."
I think I recognise the argument technique you're using.It's a mixture of God-of-the-gaps (what happened before the Big Bang?), and the assertion that anything infinite or unknowable must be God (although there's no reason to believe any intelligence or sentience was involved, any more than when a radio-active particle decays).Do you think "God" is sentient/intelligent? Why?
@goaded You are going further than I intend. My point is that there is an atheism an irreducible element of faith that it purports not to recognize. Note my last line. The atheist is making certain assumptions that have their parallel in the religious views that they nominally argue against. The atheist explains things that cannot be explained by reason alone - or simply shrugs and says that it cannot be explained.This is not logically different than the theist who argues that an infinite God is the answer to the question - or that because God is infinite his motives cannot be known. The arguments parallel.To me, the quote from Chesterton - taking its starting point in Aquinas - is the reason for accepting the idea of God. The atheist may dispute that argument, but to do so he must employ the same logic as the theist. He ends up in a hall of mirrors.
Oh, by the way, in answer to your last question - sorry, I almost forgot - I accept that God is a sentient being because I see disorder becoming order. Because out of the welter of forces and tumult in existence, we see planets in a certain shape and orbiting in a certain way and so one.We know that it takes the mind to impose order. In this we glimpse the sense of sentience and rationality. However, that is NOT the same thing as understanding motives and I would at least say that there is a case to be made that the Judeo-Christian idea of God, beyond a certain level of generality, is not dispositive.
The Atheist position is based on observation and logic; the proposition "God exists" is unproven and extremely unlikely.The number of natural phenomena that have been attributed to a God and since found not to require a supernatural explanation has got to the point that the gaps (usually the big bang and abiogenesis) are very small indeed, and based on centuries of experience, getting smaller. You can't, for example, go back to a geocentric universe. When we shrug, we're saying we can't explain it *yet*, not necessarily that it can never be explained. We're just getting started!Order can come from simple rules, look at snowflakes! It doesn't need intelligence to write the rules.
@goaded The atheist has a problem, though. He asserts things that he cannot possibly know. The universe was started by a "big bang." Yet the evidence we have for the big bang is derivative - much in the same way that evidence of God is derivative.Besides, if there is nothing but the material universe, then the conclusion you have drawn is merely the consequence of biochemical and molecular interactions. It really has no more validity than its opposite conclusion which is arrived at through the same process.To say that there are things in the universe that do not require a supernatural explanation is really not saying very much. It is like saying that science is invalidated because certain scientific conclusions have been found to be mistaken, inadequate or contradicted.The point is to get to essences. You point to the snowflake and say that it shows order from disorder. It does, but that does not explain why it does.
UPDATE: Forgive me. I have been trying to cram a lot of ideas into 1000 word increments. Things tend to get lost in translation a bit and so it is here. So I wanted to clarify a point.Science is hugely valuable and important, and I don't want to disparage it in any way. However, what I think you are missing is that it only deals in one kind of knowledge and one aspect of reality.Science deals in the substance of things, but not their essence. Science can show you how love lights up aspects of the brain and how it evokes certain behaviors and its biochemical and evolutionary aspects. However, it cannot empirically demonstrate what love is.In the case of the snowflake, it can show you how it forms. It cannot show you why there is a universe where that happens. Indeed, it relies on that predictability to work at all.CONT.
Order does not flow from chaos. It takes a mind and reason to impose it. In a random universe a chicken would lay eggs today, have live births tomorrow and lay automobiles and bicycles the next. (I joke, but you get the idea.)There is an order and predictability in the universe - science, revealingly, calls them "laws" - upon which science depends to be even viable. Science can discern these laws, but cannot describe why there are such laws. Cannot say why planets orbit in an elliptical patterns, why stars have a life cycle, etc. and so on.CONT.
We know that chaos does not spontaneously lead to order, yet the universe conduces to order. This suggests, just as background radiation in the universe suggests the "big bang," an ordering mind. This is how I - actually Augustine beat me to it - come to the conclusion of a sentient God. (A fun fact aside: Augustine identified the idea of evolution centuries before Darwin was born. Not for nothing, by the way, does Vatican City house one of the world's most important astronomical observatories. Roman Catholic doctrine specifically presumes the ultimate compatibility of faith and reason. )Bottom line, atheists presume that one aspect of reality is the totality of reality. They fall back on science, failing to understand the limits of science and what science does and does not demonstrate. In this, as I say, they make the same error as the religious fundamentalist and are merely the other side of the same coin.
You're not making a case for an intelligent cause to the universe, that I can see (let alone an intelligence that takes an interest in people, which is what most, if not all, definitions of a God involve).If there were complete chaos, or even slightly different physical laws, there wouldn't be anyone to observe it, since we wouldn't have evolved (evolution being a non-random sequence of minor adjustments). We happen to have evolved in this universe because the laws of this universe allowed it. Isn't it possible that universes pop in and out of existence all the time, on a larger scale?You said "the evidence we have for the big bang is derivative - much in the same way that evidence of God is derivative", but what is the evidence of God? What does it derive from? We've gone from "God made the mountains" (nope, plate tectonics), to "God made the Earth" (gravity), to "God made the sun and the planets" (gravity and fusion), to "God made the universe" (big bang)..."Why" is not needed.
@goaded The evidence of God is, as I stated, that we find order in the universe. (I could also point you to the "proofs" offers by Augustine and Aquinas.) Anyhow, somewhat to my surprise, you have proved my point. Rather than address a question, you prefer to brush it aside. You say the "why" is not needed. Yet the "why" is there. Your argument that were it not we would not be here is circular. The point is that we ARE here.You say I am not making a case for an intelligent cause of the universe. You are content with "nothing created everything." Well, I suppose you can stop there if you choose, but it leaves a raft of unanswered questions and - I would have thought - that would provoke the scientific mind. Not cause you to shrug and say, in so many words, "Well, nature works in mysterious ways."Where have I heard echoes of that argument? Paradoxically you somehow manage to demonstrate that there is order in the universe without explaining it.
Perhaps I should have said "Who" is not necessary, instead. There's no evidence of intent in any of these:Why are there mountains? Plate tectonics.Why is the Earth (roughly) spherical? Gravity, spin.Why does the sun shine? Gravity and fusion.Why are there heavy elements? Big suns going pop.Why are there people? Evolution, extinction of the dinosaurs, allowing mammals a chance, some single-celled organisms evolving photosynthesis, creating oxygen... Why is there a universe? (Or: why are the universal laws how they are?) Because we wouldn't exist to ask the question otherwise. I see no reason to posit an intelligence "before" the big bang/"outside" the universe, when we've found no evidence of one answering those questions going back 13.5 billion years.
@goaded Again, you assume order without purpose. That is odd. Where is order in human affairs without the intent to create order? Again, you ask the questions but miss the essence. In a chaotic universe, these things would not have happened, or would have happened and then un-happened the next day, or would happen once without consequences to the future. All would be disjointed - random. You seem to miss the degree of the pre-suppositions in your own thinking. That there is order in the universe implies the intent to create order. Those mountains, for example, are the product of an order that preceeded them. You keep citing the consequences while neglecting the first cause. You prefer the form to the substance. You miss the essence. P. S. unrelated aside. For some reason your notes to me are not showing up on my notices. I just found this most recent note by accident. If you respond and I don't immediately reply - my apologies. (I also have a job, too.)
"That there is order in the universe implies the intent to create order."This is where we disagree, and I think I'll leave it at that.I've enjoyed the conversation, though.
@goaded Okay. If I may, indulge me in one more point.In other words, you believe that the law of averages is such that there will be a continuous concatination of accidental coincidences such that lead to the rise of a universe capable of sustaining life that then produces life - at least on one planet - and that then survives to be intelligent and then...Well, you get the picture. That is just too many coincidences to be credible. However, we can let it go. I have also enjoyed the discussion.
“You know, the most amazing thing happened to me tonight. I was coming here, on the way to the lecture, and I came in through the parking lot. And you won’t believe what happened. I saw a car with the license plate ARW 357. Can you imagine? Of all the millions of license plates in the state, what was the chance that I would see that particular one tonight? Amazing!” - Richard Feynman.
@goaded Fallacious analogy. It was not one event. It was a rather a series of events, one after the other after the other - that brings us to man. You have to believe that everything just happened exactly right at the right moment - by sheer coincidence. Everything from the Big Bang on down the line. If we were speaking of one event - like the license plate - Mr. Feynman would have a point. As it is, you have to believe that a lot of fortuitous coincidences just happened exactly in the right way at the right moment.That strains credulity just a bit.
I don't think it is a fallacious analogy; the car was there because the driver chose to travel that particular route at that time, they learned to drive, they chose that car, they were born, all their ancestors were born, on Earth, in the Milky Way galaxy, at this time, etc., etc., etc. - There are astronomical odds against you or I having been born, but it happened. What are the chances of that? 100%.
@goaded So, repeat the experiment and get the same result each time? Then we can engineer man to be whatever we like him to be? It's that easy.Note, by the way, in your opening line, how many conscious choices - specific concrete acts of will - had to happen to make your analogy work.
"how many conscious choices"? According to you, none - no free will, remember?Repeating the "experiment" is impossible because the slightest difference in initial conditions would produce different effects (Chaos theory).
@goaded In the atheist/scientific view there cannot logically be free will. That was my point, it is a shortcoming not of the theistic view.As to the second point - my point again. You have to believe that everything happened - by pure happenstance and coincidence - perfectly every time all the way through the history of the cosmos in all its infinity to get to where we are. The odds on that are, to say no more, long.Indeed, go to the start and calculate the odds. (Not retrospectively which is putting effect before cause and is a logical fallacy.) It simply begs credulity to assume that everything fell into place exactly as it did, perfectly, by pure chance.You just can't get here from there sans a rational mind to shape disorder into order.
"You have to believe that everything happened - by pure happenstance and coincidence - perfectly every time"No, you don't; just that if anything had gone differently, we'd be in a different reality now.If I roll a die six times and get 2, 3, 1, 5, 5, 2, no roll has gone "perfectly", but I have seen a sequence that has a 1 in 46656 chance of occurring. If any of the rolls had gone differently, I'd have seen a difference sequence that had exactly the same chance of occurring.If your God is omniscient, by the way, that means there's no free-will, too.
@goaded "If I roll a die six times and get 2, 3, 1, 5, 5, 2, no roll has gone "perfectly", but I have seen a sequence that has a 1 in 46656 chance of occurring. If any of the rolls had gone differently, I'd have seen a difference sequence that had exactly the same chance of occurring."The problem, of course, is that the die roll HAS to go perfectly to get the universe we have - and the people in it and all the rest. All you are saying is that if things had been different, they'd have been different. That's not saying very much.Not to mention the fact that order not only exists, but must continue to exist. In a random universe, to use my (okay, not funny) joke, today a chicken lays eggs, tomorrow it lays automobiles. The snowflake is formed because there is a universe that conduces to a certain order.You do not get order from chaos. Certainly not reliably. CONT.
As to the last point - which is a whole other issue - the theological argument is that God knows all the potentialities but of his nature does not to know what course you may choose to take. You exercise your free will - God does NOT decide for you how will use it. The choice is yours and he can see across time and space all the potential choices and consequences.At any rate, even if your argument is correct - and in classical theology it is not - the atheist ends up in the same place. Which when we started this discussion - which I have really enjoyed by the way - is the point I made. In the end, the atheist is merely the other side of the religious fundamentalists coin. Choosing one form of knowledge and subordinating it to the others. (Please note, in that connection, that I no more accept the fundamentalist's view than I do the atheists. Both make the same error to come to their diametrically opposed conclusions.)
"The problem, of course, is that the die roll HAS to go perfectly to get the universe we have - and the people in it and all the rest."You're missing the point; the die has to have rolled the way it has to get to where we are, if it had rolled differently, the universe would be different, but not necessarily worse.
@goaded The point is not better or worse, the point is different. In any case, the larger point is that there is an order - at all. Order is not spontaneous. It requires something to shape it. Again - go back to my (very bad) chicken joke. That there is order is the central point.Choose what order you will, there nevertheless IS order. That is what I am driving at.
P. S. Unrelated - Since I am computer inept, in the extreme, I wanted you to see this. Who is an underrated G@Ger? ↗You will have to find my reply, but I did want you to know that I have found you to be a polite and good natured interlocutor. I tried to pass on the credit, but since I don't know how to paste in the link so that the site will notify those mentioned, I muffed it.
I think you underestimate the (literally) astronomical numbers. Think about all the other galaxies (recently estimated at 2 trillion) with all their stars (estimated at 100m stars in the average galaxy) and all their planets (which seem to be fairly common).As far as we know, just one in 200,000,000,000,000,000,000 stars devloped intelligent life, at some point in over 13,000,000,000 years (OK, less time than that, because heavy elements had to come into existence first - still in the billions, though). That's a lot of places where things didn't go "perfectly", and so don't have people asking why they are there.Now, it's not unreasonable to suppose that there is an unknowable higher plane, where universes come and go, possibly with different rules, but even if so, the reason we live in one of the "good" ones is because we couldn't exist in any of the "bad" ones, just like we couldn't have evolved as we are on Jupiter. There's no more reason to suppose an intelligence created [...]
... this universe for us than there is to believe one created this world for us, and just added a few million trillion more stars to look pretty.
@goaded Now who is speculating here in the absence of evidence? There is zero evidence of life on other planets. Even if there were life on other planets, that would not negate my point. To the contrary, it reinforces it.You keep narrowing the focus. The mere fact that there IS an order is the point. Whether that order supports only one planet in all the universe that sustains life - or trillions of planets - the point is that there are physical properties, an order in things, that make it possible. If you replicate that once or a million times, the fact that it replicates at all is the salient point. If the universe were random, there would be no physical laws. (indeed, the fact that science calls them "laws" is suggestive.) There would be no consistency to existence. The point is that you cannot have order - ANY order - without something to impose it. Order is NOT spontaneous - certainly not consistently so. To have one planet or ten that sustains life merely proves the point.
The bottom line is that odds across the infinity not only of space - in the sense of "territory" - and time, that you would get a universe that is defined by physical laws, and that those physical laws stay consistent over space and time, are (no pun intended) astronomical.You argue that I am underestimating the astronomical numbers. I would argue that you are too easily taking the order in the universe for granted.
"The point is that you cannot have order - ANY order - without something to impose it."You keep saying things like that, but it sounds to me exactly like saying that there has to be someone holding up the sky - Atlas, or governing thunder and lightning - Thor, or fertility - Min.Almost every time someone has claimed a higher power, it's turned out not to be the case; there's been a natural explanation. Why should this case be any different?(There's also a massive chasm between a hypothetical intelligence poofing a universe that is to all intents and purposes 100% deadly to humans, and an intelligence that cares what you eat or how you behave.)
@goaded "Almost every time someone has claimed a higher power, it's turned out not to be the case; there's been a natural explanation. Why should this case be any different?(There's also a massive chasm between a hypothetical intelligence poofing a universe that is to all intents and purposes 100% deadly to humans, and an intelligence that cares what you eat or how you behave.)"On the second point, I did not say that it cared. Hence, my point about the ancient Greek gods. On the first, you keep confusing the chain of event. In effect, you pick some random phenomenon and say, "See! It wasn't caused by God." Fair enough - and not the point.We are talking about the totality of existence. To get this existence - again, to get order from chaos and randomness, requires either an intelligence or a series of lucky coincidences so fantastically against the odds as to be impossible.Again, go back to the beginning and calculate the chances of all of this coming together as it did.
I'm not picking "some random phenomenon", I'm picking what various religions have claimed their gods are responsible for.We have looked back billions of years, and have found nothing that requires a supernatural explanation.If your version of God doesn't take any interest in the human world, I don't think there are any religions that would agree with you (including the ancient Greeks e. g. "Apollo (kourotrophos) is concerned with the health of children").
@goaded Well, on the last point, two different questions. Debating the existence of God is distinct from debating which religion best grasps God's motives and purposes. In fact, on the latter, I have recently had some questions. That is a different discussion for a different day.As to the former point, the same applies. If you are objecting to religion, that is not the same thing as objecting to theism. The latter being, effectively, the more elemental. As I noted above, the Catholic Church posits the idea of the ultimate compatibility of faith and reason. That science gives us insight into creation and thence into faith.You may or may not argue the specifics of the Roman Catholic faith - it is ultimately the finite trying to grasp the infinite. However, that insight of faith/reason compatibility, properly understood, strikes me as a thoughtful, serious and correct starting point.
In the beginning there was void. And God said: "Let these 19 independent fundamental constants take these values", and there was a universe that eventually produced stars, galaxies, planets and life that made up stories about gods. :)
@goaded Ha! Well, the universe cannot be all bad with atheists in it with a good sense of humor. A pleasure.
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