Showing posts with label Kalam Cosmological Argument. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kalam Cosmological Argument. Show all posts

Monday, September 16, 2013

Life, the Universe and Nothing: Why is there something rather than nothing?

This is the second debate that William Lane Craig and Lawrence Krauss had in Australia this past August. This debate topic was about why there is something rather than nothing. Craig used the cosmological argument from contingency to make his case, which I think is a slightly better version of the kalam cosmological argument. They didn't really go into detail over the argument during the discussion, but one thing the contingency argument presupposes is the principle of sufficient reason, which Craig cannot logically prove. He just assumes it. And unfortunately, since Krauss is not a philosopher (and is an outspoken hater of philosophy), he doesn't call Craig out on this. Overall, I think Krauss did a pretty decent job handling the inanity of Craig and his arguments but his ignorance to philosophy and religion weaken him in areas where he could have attacked Craig a lot harder. He at least deserves props just for being able to deal with him for 3 debates in a row.

A few highlights include 29:50 when Craig accuses Krauss of equivocating when it comes to the word "nothing." But Krauss says in his opener that he's using "nothing" to describe the quantum vacuum of empty space that was thought for many years to be absent of anything, and which we now know is actually filled with some 70 percent of the universe in the form of dark energy. A good philosophical argument can be made that it's actually impossible that absolute nothing ever existed, another point Krauss doesn't make because of his ignorance to philosophy. I make that argument here.

At 1:24:30 Lawrence says to Craig that book reviews can be nonsense, like movie reviews, and he is obviously referring to David Albert's critical review of his book A Universe From Nothing, that Craig used in his opening speech. And Craig nods in affirmation.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Argument From Contingency Vs. The Block Universe & The Principle Of Sufficient Reason

William Lane Craig's Reasonable Faith sight is such a treasure trove of misinformed logic and bad arguments for the existence of the Christian god, that any intelligent atheist would have a field day picking it apart. On a recent Q and A titled the Argument from Contingency, Craig responds to a question about the argument's potency in light of the B-theory of time which posits an eternal 4-dimensional block universe. Craig rightfully admits that the kalam cosmological argument is basically rendered impotent on a B-theory of time, but says that Leibnizian argument from contingency still packs a punch. (To see the argument from contingency click the link about it above as I will not be dissecting the actual argument here.)

Craig asks: why does this four-dimensional spacetime block exist? He goes on to say that if the naturalist says the block universe just inexplicably exists, he's then committing the "taxicab fallacy." I've heard this fallacy being thrown around before, so let me explain it for you now. From street apologetics we get a definition:

The “Taxi-Cab Fallacy” is committed when one hops in and assumes a certain system of thought or worldview in an attempt to make a particular point but then jumps out of the system of thought when it suits their fancy.

Craig argues that the naturalist "treats the Principle of Sufficient Reason like a hired hack that can be dismissed arbitrarily once one has arrived at one’s desired destination. No, the existence of a contingently existing spacetime requires explanation, too, just as do planets and dogs and periwinkles."

Let's examine his response. First, the naturalist who doesn't hold to the principle of sufficient reason acknowledges that certain facts may indeed be brute facts and at some point there might be something that simply just is. So why should we hold him to the PSR? The PSR is also not a logical law. The theist cannot logically prove that there must be a sufficient reason or cause for everything, they just assume that there does. Second, we don't know if the universe is contingent. It might be possible that every physically or mathematically possible universe exists. It's a theory called the mathematical universe, which is the level-4 multiverse. Now no one knows if this theory is true; it's a possibility. But if every physically possible kind of universe exists, then ours is guaranteed to exist as one of them. 

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Law Of Causality

YouTuber Steve Shives made a good point that I had not actually thought of before about the cosmological argument while critiquing Norman Geisler's and Frank Turek's awful book I Don't Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist: If the law of causality states that everything that beings to exist requires a cause, then before all of space and time and all the laws of physics existed – if you can believe that there was such a thing as "before" time when absolutely nothing existed  then how could the law of causality apply to the universe if it did not yet exist? In other words, before anything existed, the law of causality itself must not have existed, and so how could it have applied to the universe's origin? And if the law of causality somehow already existed, then we cannot say that "nothing" existed before the universe, because the law of causality surely isn't nothing.

Now one possible answer to this dilemma is that the law of causality is a law of logic, and logic is eternal in the platonic sense that abstract objects like numbers are also timeless and eternal. That would, I suppose allow logic to somehow predate the origin of space and time, and perhaps allow causality to apply to the universe. But if logic and numbers exist in the platonic sense, then it may be true that fundamentally all the physical laws are numbers, an idea some physicists entertain called the mathematical universe. That means that the laws of physics can be eternal in the same sense that the laws of logic can be. And the thing is, we are pretty certain that the laws of physics allow something from "nothing" – or the ultimate free lunch as it's called.

So if the law of causality can be invoked to say the universe requires a cause, maybe the cause of the universe was made possible by eternal timeless laws of physics. Otherwise, you'd have to ask yourself, what caused the law of causality? If god did it, then it is a contingent law that cannot be said to be on par with the laws of logic, because logic cannot be violated and cannot therefore be created. Maybe there is some intrinsic logic behind the fundamental laws of physics in the mathematical sense that is as yet discovered. Right now we just don't know.

Some say that the laws of physics can't actually cause anything and that they're merely just descriptions of what happens between forces acting upon matter. There is no agreement on this. Quantum mechanics and general relativity allows universes to be created without the need for a material cause and perhaps even an efficient cause. Quantum tunneling models allow for quantum fluctuations to tunnel through towards inflationary periods where infinitely dense singularities with a radius of zero can rapidly expand to extreme macro scales.

But philosophically speaking, a point that I want to make and that I think nobody can deny, is that the universe cannot be said to have emerged from a state of absolute nothing. Something preexisted at the moment the universe began, whether it be the laws of logic, or the laws of logic perhaps along with the laws of physics. Even a dark empty vacuum isn't nothing – it's a dark, empty vacuum – which is something. And the fundamental laws of logic would apply to it. And I'm still not convinced that there ever was a "before" the origin of our universe if the big bang is the absolute beginning of time and space – a claim no one can currently make with certainty.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Questions For Atheists - Part 7 (Just Curious)

I've finally reached the end of Phil Fernandes' challenging questions to atheists with my intellectual integrity intact and unscathed. The last section of questions seems to be really just a bunch of miscellaneous questions about cosmology and evolution and morality, perhaps his last ditch attempt to damage my intellectual integrity. Considering how far I've come and how all of his questions so far seem to have stemmed from monumental ignorance about the most basic science, I highly doubt they'll be anything here remotely challenging.

1. If caterpillars could talk, would they argue against the cocoon-of-the-gaps with their butterfly friends?

Presumably, if caterpillars had enough intelligence to talk, they'd figure out science and answer this question using the scientific method. They'd be able to observe other caterpillars cocooning themselves after some honest inquiry and not need to resort to fantasy tales of magic. Although, they might have to all suffer intellectually through many years of ignorance until they figured this out, just like how we did.

2. If there was a Big Bang, where did the bullets come from? Who pulled the trigger and who manufactured the gun?

There couldn't have been anyone pulling the trigger given the standard big bang model because it was the beginning of time and thus no events could have preceded it. That's why it couldn't have had a cause.

See more on the cosmological argument here and here.

3. How does science weigh morality? Does ‘goodness’ expand when frozen or rise when heated?

I don't believe like Sam Harris does that you can describe morality strictly in scientific terms. Morality is ultimately in the domain of philosophy, not science. But, that doesn't mean that science has nothing to say about morality. Science can give us empirical answers as to what actions we commit will harm those affected by them. For example, Europeans used to think Africans weren't human and thus weren't entitled to be treated like humans. Science has proven that Africans are just as human as Europeans and as well as all other races. So empirical answers could be given regarding such moral concerns. The same was true about smoking. In the 1940s and 50s, doctors used to recommend their patients smoke because it was believed to be helpful. Then we learned it caused cancer. And after that fact emerged, it would have been immoral for a doctor to recommend their patient smoke, because they would've been knowingly harming their patient's health.

See more on moral arguments here, here and here.

4. If man is just an evolved animal, why have we never observed another species thrilling in the beauty of a sunset or a picturesque mountain view?

I don't see how the fact that man evolved has anything to do with whether animals enjoy sunsets. Maybe they do. Maybe birds enjoy their aerial views as they fly across beautiful landscapes. Maybe chimpanzees enjoy the mountain views from the canopies of their jungle homes. Even if they do not, our ability to enjoy beauty is most likely a byproduct of our evolved consciousness that natural selection embedded into us. And what about those of us who are mentally handicapped who'll never enjoy a sunset or a scenic landscape? Did god purposely screw them over? 

5. While you've most likely heard, “Forever’s a long time to be wrong,” have you ever considered it’s also a “long time to be right?”

If implied in this question is the vague threat of eternal hell fire, then I don't want to allow fear to cloud my mind. To me the best way to construct reality is to educate yourself on the facts as much as possible and follow the evidence where it leads. Any time fear enters the mind, you are bound to start thinking irrationally. I want to know the truth. We all do. If the evidence lead me to religion, I'd go that way. But a close look at the evidence for god and for Christianity and other religions has shown me that they all are based on logic derived primarily from faulty human intuition and leaps of faith aided by confirmation biases motivated by emotion. That's why apologetics ultimately fails. And it only ever succeeds in winning over hearts and minds when it preaches to the vulnerable and uneducated. 

Final Thoughts

Why did I do this? Several reasons. First, I wanted to challenge myself. I think no one should ever get complacent in their worldview for too long, and a good challenge is necessary from time to time. That beings said, Phil Fernandes' questions were hardly a challenged as I consider myself pretty seasoned in the realm of counter apologetics. This shows you how naive he is about his own views of religion, science and philosophy. I'm sure William Lane Craig could've provided much tougher questions.

Second, I did this for other atheists and skeptics out there who may have been hit with one of Phil's questions either online or in person and needed to look it up online to find an answer. If someone in that position hit my site and I was able to provide them with a decent answer that they could also possibly use as a counter argument, I will have considered this a success. As I come across additional challenges on the internets, I will take them head on too. If you have any questions or need me to elaborate on an answer, feel free to ask, and I will try to provide you with a more thorough response. 

Until then, this is your atheist in the city here, keepin' it secular. Over and out.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Questions For Atheists - Part 5 (God, Disbelief in God, The Bible)

In part 5 we get to the good stuff: god himself. Because after all, that's what this is all about and that's what this is all leading up to. Let's see if Phil's questions can rattle my atheism.

1. If you ARE God’s creation, isn't it true your present attitude is unfair to Him? Insulting, actually? And you thus have very good reason to deny His existence because you deserve punishment for your utter disregard? 

So let's say the Christian god is real, like it was empirically proven to me. I'd be fucking pissed. It would mean that I'd have to live under a celestial tyrant who is so insecure about himself that he demands constant admiration, devotion and worship. Yet he's somehow perfect. I would not be able to deny this truth. Why would me being god's creation make it required to worship him forever? Honestly, even if god did exist, I would not be able to bring myself to love him. Love cannot be forced, it must come natural. The only possible way that I'd respect god, would be to avoid his wrath, but then I would technically only be doing it for my own selfish purposes. And why should I deserve punishment for my disdain of god's personality? Am I not entitled to my own opinion under his rule? If not, then god is a tyrant as I said before. 

2. Are you willing to follow the evidence where it leads, and consider the “cumulative case” for God’s existence? If not, why?

I suppose the "cumulative case" for god's existence are the cosmological, teleological, moral and ontological arguments. If so, then yes I am willing to follow the evidence, and it has lead my right where I started off - atheism. The cumulative case for god amounts to nothing more than the "leaky bucket" approach. Each of these arguments are saddled with holes and so no matter how many you pile onto one another, they still amount to a bunch of leaky buckets that cannot hold any water.

3. Are you right about God? How do you know?

I am confidently sure that the god of the Bible - or better yet - the god of Abraham does not exist. How do I know? Because that god is logically impossible. Now could I be wrong? Perhaps. Could I be wrong that some other god cannot exist? Yes, there might be some sort of deistic god, or an evil god. But without any good evidence, I have no reason to believe in any of them.

4. If you are not right about God, do you know how to GET right with God?

It depends on the god. But why should I assume the Christian god is more real than the god of Islam? What evidence is the Christian offering me that's better than what the Muslim is offering me? Both gods are taken on articles of faith that requires huge leaps of logic and reason. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

A Short Look At William Lane Craig's "Refutations" Of The B-Theory Of Time

Over at the website Closer To Truth, which is a site about an agnostic who goes around interviewing philosophers and scientists to try to find answers to the biggest and deepest mysteries of the meaning of existence and the universe, there is a profile of William Lane Craig. In it, they summarize his arguments against the tenseless theory of time. I want to quickly address them here.

Craig's done his homework to try to put this theory to rest, but I think he ultimately fails. I'm not going to go into detail here, but I will add a few thoughts how I think each of his refutations are ultimately baseless.

I. Arguments for the Tensed Theory of Time

A. Tensed sentences, which can neither be translated into synonymous tenseless sentences nor be given tenseless, token-reflexive truth conditions, correspond, if true, to tensed facts.

Craig here is making the case that since our language is constructed around tensed perception (e.g. before, during, and after), then it means the tensed theory of time is likely true. But this is baseless. Yes languages make temporal distinctions, but linguistic social constructs like tensed words do not dictate what the ultimate physical nature of time is, and function merely as a pretense to the tensed theory of time. Under a tenseless of time, we can still use tensed language out of convenience and practicality.

B. The experience of temporal becoming, like our experience of the external world, is properly regarded as veridical.

Our perception of all kinds of things are intuitively based on our limited knowledge and our subjective experiences of the world. Craig here relies so heavily on his intuition, as he often does, but science has shown us time and time again that our intuition and perception of reality is not sufficient to understand it. That's why we need science to understand how it really is.

II. Refutation of Arguments against the Tensed Theory of Time

A. McTaggart’s celebrated paradox is based upon the misguided marriage of a tenseless ontology of events or things with objective temporal becoming, as well as the unjustified assumption that there should exist a unique, complete description of reality.

McTaggart's paradox can be summed up with the following argument:

1. Future, present and past are incompatible properties, but
2. in time every event appears to possess them all, and
3. these two propositions entail the contradiction that events have incompatible properties.

I think what Craig may be saying here is that an event's properties are time dependent, as a tensed theory would entail, but that McTaggart is holding a tensed view of events to a standard that is best explained in a tenseless view of events where all events are ontologically equal and thus a completed description of reality is found. My rejection of the tensed view is not based on any paradoxical semantic argument, whether it is well founded or not, it is on the data we get from physics that lean towards the tenseless view being true.

B. The passage of time is not a myth, but a metaphor for objective temporal becoming, a notion which can be consistently explicated on a presentist metaphysic.

But presentism cannot explain the relativity of simultaneity and the equations of special relativity and quantum mechanics. Physicist Paul Davies notes, “Nothing in known physics corresponds to the passage of time.” This is why most physicists and a large percentage of philosophers see time in the tenseless view. "We do not really observe the passage of time" Davies writes, "what we actually observe is that later states of the world differ from earlier states that we still remember. The fact that we remember the past, rather than the future, is an observation not of the passage of time bit of the asymmetry of time."*

Friday, July 12, 2013

Logic - The Structure Of Reason

Dealing with arguments for god has made me a lot more accustomed to the study of formal logic. Here's a nice educational video of the history and structure of logic that also highlights some of it's shortcomings. It always amazes me when I catch wind of some over-enthusiastic theist who hears the cosmological argument or the ontological argument and thinks it's "proof" that god exists. They are obviously unaware of the problems of induction (which the first premise of the kalam cosmological argument relies on) and the problem of equating the possible with the actual (which the ontological argument relies on).

As Kurt Godel, the Austrian logician said, "One cannot claim with certainty of any formal system that all conceptual considerations are represented in it."

Sunday, July 7, 2013

An Atheists Reads "I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist" & "Reasonable Faith"

I came across YouTuber Steve Shives a few months back. He critiques some of the most popular apologetics books out there and does a pretty good job doing so. Check out his videos and channel on YouTube for an insightful look at the underbelly of Christian apologetics.

An Atheist Reads I Don't Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist:

An Atheist Reads Reasonable Faith:

Monday, July 1, 2013

Does Simultaneous Causality Exist?

The concept of simultaneous causality is what theists use to save themselves when making the cosmological argument from the logical problem of causes preceding their effects when the effect is the beginning of time itself. They claim that god somehow caused the universe to exist at the same time as the effect took place. But does simultaneous causality really exist?

Immanuel Kant, the famous 18th century German philosopher gave a well known example of simultaneous causality. He imagined a ball resting on a pillow. The impression of the ball on the surface of the pillow is a simultaneous cause and effect according to Kant. But we all know that the ball must be dropped onto the pillow first, and as the ball drops, the impression in the pillow deepens. So the cause does precede its effect in Kant's example.

Some theists have proposed the idea of a ball resting on a pillow existing in that state eternally, then the cause would not be said to have preceded its effect. This idea, some theists claim, saves the simultaneous causality hypothesis from the rigid manner of a temporal world where causes always precede their effects. But is this a practical scenario? And does it compare to the origin of the universe?

Friday, June 14, 2013

Much Ado About Nothing

I've been somewhat obsessed recently about nothing. In fact, I can't get nothing out of my mind. The reason why is because us atheists are accused of believing that 'nothing' somehow created everything, and this is supposed to make us all sound so absurd that we'll all somehow become Christians in order to restore our sanity. That's the dream of every Christian at least.

I'm a big fan of physicist Lawrence Krauss. I don't always like what he says about philosophy, but I admire his science cred and his antitheistic attacks on religion. When I read his book A Universe From Nothing he describes as best he can what physicists know going back as far as we can. In the early universe, as you get closer to the singularity, the laws of physics get fuzzy. General relativity breaks down and quantum mechanics takes over. But even then we cannot yet today fully describe the singularity itself because the equations that describe it contain infinities. It might for all we know be an actual infinity, but until we can describe quantum gravity, there will remain mysteries about the singularity. One thing is for sure, theology sure isn't going to offer us any help.

One of the criticisms of Krauss' book from my favorite punching bag William Lane Craig is that he says the quantum vacuum that we can describe the foam out of which the early universe sprang from is not technically 'nothing'. In response, in Krauss' lectures he tries to go back as far as he can to nothing as it might be possible. But, if indeed our universe is the beginning of all of time and space, and there is no other universe preceding it, then we'll never really be able to go back to a point where nothing truly exists, because as long as there is time, we will have something.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Refuting The Kalam Cosmological Argument Redux

In my arrogant opinion, the cosmological argument (CA) is the best argument that theists have. Theism really stands or falls on the CA, and if theists should lose it, the foundations of theism would be on shaky grounds and theism would be in a lot of trouble. Since the CA forms the bedrock that all other arguments for god are built upon, it deserves more attention that I have duly given it.

When I first wrote on the Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA) I primary was trying to write a detailed technical refutation of it, but I essentially granted the argument itself as being valid. So what I want to do here is spend a few moments attacking the argument itself and some of its problems.

As you’ll recall the Kalam consists of two simple premises and a conclusion. They are:

1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause
2. The universe began to exist
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause

Sounds simple enough, eh? Let’s take a look at the first premise.

Can An Actual Infinity Exist? A Quick Argument In Support Of Actual Infinities

If an actual infinite number of events is impossible as per the philosophical justifications of the Kalam Cosmological Argument (KCA) then isn't it problematic that the number future events is eternal and god has knowledge of all these events? If the number of future events is infinite, and god has knowledge of all these future events (as per his all-knowing property) then wouldn't god's knowledge of every future event consist of an actual infinity and not a potential infinity? It seems that this would contradict the theist's claims when justifying the KCA on philosophical grounds that an actual infinity cannot exist. They must, it seems, make an exception that god can have knowledge of an actual infinity of future events and that seems to me that actual infinities can exist. 

Monday, March 18, 2013

Moving The Goal Posts

It's amazing to see Christians and Muslims debate the existence of god today, especially the formidable ones. They have to concede that evolution is now a fact and that it happened, and that Big Bang cosmology accurately describes the history and evolution of our universe - meaning that it is not thousands of years old, but billions. And in order for them to make the case for the Kalam Cosmological Argument, they must use science that actually disproves their own religions, at least in their literal contexts.

This is particularly problematic for Muslims, because they must show their own Qur'an to be false on its claim to scientific "facts" to argue the Kalam. For example, the Qur'an says that the heavens and the earth was made in 6 days in chapters 7:54; 10:3; 11:7; 50:38; & 57:4, then it says it was made in 8 days  in chapters 41:9-12. A Muslim might then say that a "day" might mean a period a lot longer than a literal 24 hour day that we experience, but luckily we also have in the Qur'an the definition of just exactly how long a "day" is for god. The Qur'an says that a day for god is the equivalent of 1000 years for us in chapters 22:47 and 32:5, and then it says that a day for god is 50,000 years for us in chapter 70:4.

Friday, March 1, 2013

The Fine Tuning Argument

On my blog here I've written several times responding to the Cosmological Argument for god's existence and the various moral arguments, but I've only once written about the Fine Tuning Argument head on. I want to take some time expounding on some of its implications and the problems I think it has in a bit more detail than I previously did.

The Fine Tuning Argument, another staple of my favorite punching bag Dr. Craig, generally states like this:

1. The fine tuning of the universe is either due to physical necessity, chance or design.
2. Fine tuning is not due to either physical necessity or chance.
3. Therefore, it is due to design.

The Fine Tuning Argument poses what seems to be another tough obstacle for the atheist. The probability that all the elements in the universe would be as meticulously fine tuned to unfathomable levels that would allow life as we know it, are incomprehensibly small. But as scientists tell us, events that are extremely improbable happen all the time.

1. First I always like to use the probability of me being born as an example of chance. What is the probability that I would've been born? Well first my father and mother had to meet, that took some chance. I then had to have been conceived from one particular sperm cell and egg. The chances of that are extremely rare when considering that every time a man ejaculates, as much as 100 million sperm cells are thrust outward and only one will fertilize the woman's egg - and that's if fertilization even happens at all. The chances of me being conceived just considering that one specific time when my parents tried to conceive a child, and not even considering all their other attempts, is about 1 in 100 million. When you factor in all the other attempts at conceiving a child, combined with the probability of the circumstances that lead up to their decision and attempt to conceive a child, already the mathematical odds are stupendous. 

Then you have to multiply this to the chances of each of my parents being conceived and the circumstances that lead up to that event, and then do the same to their parents, and their parents, all the way back literally to the very first form of life some 4 billion years ago. The odds of this happening are unfathomable. Everyone alive today is the product of an unbroken chain of births, billions of generations in the making. The chances that any one of my distant relatives would have had a different offspring that wouldn't have been one of my ancestors, would have always been much more probable. And yet of course if this had happened, I wouldn't have ever been born, and yet I exist and I'm real. What are the chances of that?

So events that are extremely odd can happen all the time even when the odds against them are much more probable. But even this answer doesn't satisfy all the critics, so let me give a few others.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

5 Weak Arguments Atheists Commonly Make And How To Fix Them

There are theists out there who are dedicating their lives to defending their religious faith and belief in god and many of them spend years sharpening their arguments and have come up with some quite sophisticated uses of logic. That being said, I do not want my fellow non-believers to sound as ignorant as the fundis do. As atheists, non-theists, skeptics, or non-believers - whatever title you call yourself - we cannot be basing our rejection of religion and god purely on emotion. It's easy to point out some stupid verses in the Bible or the Koran and laugh and say "Look at how stupid religious people are for actually believing this stuff, ha ha." That's fine. I'm all for making fun of religious absurdities. But making fun of religion shouldn't be the basis for why you disbelieve. At its heart, there should exist an intellectual foundation for why you call yourself any of the above titles. So what I want to do here is outline some of what I think are the weakest arguments that atheists typically make and offer better alternatives that carry much more weight. None of the alternatives may be perfect or ideal, but they're certainly better than the ones more often being used.

1. I can't disprove the existence of god, but I also can't disprove the existence of unicorns, fairies and the flying spaghetti monster.

This is one of the most common arguments made by atheists and if you think about it, it isn't particularly strong. If unicorns, fairies and the flying spaghetti monster existed, they would be material beings existing inside the universe, and even here on Earth. We could technically search every square inch of the Earth and confirm that they do not exist. We could also measure their supposed effects like leaving money in exchange for teeth and watch if the money exchanged actually comes from the tooth fairy. When arguing that no one can disprove god, it is better to give a similar example that also cannot be disproven by anyone.

A better example would be to say that no one can disprove that we aren't living in a computer simulation and that we're just brains hooked up with electrodes being fed signals that give us the illusion that the world around us is real. It's impossible to disprove such a reality because we wouldn't expect to see anything different if we were in it. The atheist and theist alike has to just assume that they aren't living in a Matrix because their isn't any real testable positive evidence that their senses could use to determine such a possibility is false. The believer in the Matrix possibility has a very similar job as the theist does. He has to argue that the Matrix is real despite the absence of evidence.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Absence Of Evidence: Why Is God So Timid?

Until getting into the atheism/theism debates I did not know there were schools of theologians trying to make logical and sophisticated arguments for the existence of god. What I was more familiar with were the loudmouth fundamentalists who portray religion in its most stupid form. What the fundis actually do, is make religion seem like it's for uneducated idiots who are willing to believe anything, no matter how irrational it is. They unknowingly actually hurt their religion and its cause by making it look so unsophisticated. Since the evolution/creation debate is over, (with evolution having clearly won) I do not plan on spending any significant amount of time in the future arguing the truth of evolution. Enough information is out there for anyone who wants to see the arguments and evidence on both sides of the issue.

What I am interested in is how religions have adapted to the truth of evolution by incorporating it into their beliefs. Even the Catholic Church and a growing number of Protestant churches are embracing evolution, something which was unthinkable just a few decades ago. This growing acceptance of evolution, which is even occurring among many Muslims too, has created a kind of religion 2.0 that brands itself as the new and improved theism, and not the old fashioned faith your parents knew. While there are still plenty of holdouts clinging onto a strict fundamentalist view of their religion, the scientific community is ecstatic that large numbers of the faithful are finally embracing what scientists already knew for 150 years. This new-found enlightenment comes with more questions about the role of religion and of god however..

I'm more focused on the more sophisticated arguments for god's existence like the cosmological and moral arguments. Theologians like William Lane Craig have tried to use logic along with scientific data to make as strong a case as possible that there exists a god, and that he had a son named Jesus. And this has recently got me asking the following questions: What kind of evidence does an atheist need to make his case? How do you disprove the existence of something that is totally undetectable? William Lane Craig's website has taken on these questions on along with many others. So let's see what the response is to the absence of evidence that atheist's point out.

One traditional argument made by atheists is that the absence of evidence of god is itself evidence of absence. Theists counter that if god exists, we wouldn't necessarily expect to see the kind of evidence atheists are asking for. This is usually justified for the following reasons:

  1. Man's sinful nature can obscure his ability to see truth by temporarily hindering his cognitive faculties. 
  2. Atheists require standards that are too high when theists assert a premise used to logically deduce god's existence from it (i.e. "Everything that begins to exist has a cause for its existence" from the Cosmological Argument).
  3. God doesn't actually want people to merely believe he exists, he wants people to voluntarily love him.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Refuting William Lane Craig: The Kalam Cosmological Argument

What we call today the Kalam Cosmological Argument, was first made by Aristotle and then by Islamic scholars in the 9th century. In recent times, Dr. William Lane Craig has refined it to make it the cornerstone of his argument for the existence of the god of Christianity. He argues that if the first two premises are true, then premise three seems to logically conclude a creator, and that creator, Craig argues, is Yahweh.

The Kalam Cosmological Argument generally states like this:

1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause of its existence.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause of its existence.

If it can be shown that a universe can be created without the prerequisite of a deity, then the last sanctuary of an ever disappearing god, could be upturned. For millennia, god’s intent was attributed to everything we were without explanation for. When we didn't know what lightning was, we attributed it to a god; when the Earth shook right under our feet and the wind became fierce enough to topple trees and buildings, we attributed it to a god; when children got sick and died, we attributed it to some god’s mysterious ways. God or gods (and their evil counterparts the devil and demons) were how we rationalized away that which could not be explained throughout much of human history. But since the modern scientific era, when we have found natural explanations for all this phenomena, god and the supernatural have found an ever decreasing role to play within nature. And now, after the impact of evolution having hammered the final nail into the coffin of creationism, the role of god has been pushed back, so far, to what is one of the last great mysteries of all time: the origin of the universe itself.

Now I don’t claim to know, with certainty, how the cosmos came to be, and I don’t think there is anyone alive today who does. We may never know the full truth about how and why there is something rather than nothing. But, there are teams of scientists around the world, rolling up their sleeves, and getting to work on what could be, answering the most arduous of conundrums. The atheist does not have to prove empirically that god doesn’t exist no more than he has to prove unicorns and fairies do not exist. All the atheist needs to show, is that a universe can begin to exist without god, just as how Darwin showed us that god wasn't needed to explain the origin and diversity of species.

The Cosmological Argument is therefore, nothing more than a clever god of the gaps argument. It is a surrender to the supernatural, and a forfeiture of the labor that science is forced to endure. It claims that the existence of the universe can best be explained by an intentional designer, namely god, since natural explanations have not been able to posit such existence. And it further claims that since something always comes from something else; god is the necessary predecessor to all. But to me, inserting god today as the party responsible for the creation of the universe, is tantamount to our superstitious ancestors inserting god as the reason for why the earth shook, or why the sky thundered.


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