REPLY #25b TO
are parts of the original essay (or a subsequent reply) to which the respondent has directed his comments.
prefaced by (R) are those of the respondent and are presented unedited.
My replies appear under the respondent's comments in blue text
and are prefaced by my initials (MB)
This is the second of a five-part reply. Select the "Go to next reply" link at the end of each part to read the next part of the reply.
(R) Overall, your belief that there is no God and that the universe is a product
of chance is reasonable and logical.
(MB) I want to be sure that it is understood that my basic premise is that the
universe is a product of chance. My belief that there is no God is a
consequence of that basic premise and is not my primary belief. Also, my
philosophy is derived from my basic premise and not from the consequential
belief that God does not exist.
(R) Things may be the way you have stated. Then again, they may not.
(MB) That is correct. However, the preponderance of evidence suggests that
things are the way I have stated and there is none to suggest that they are not.
(R) Your little toe isn't necessary, but it never-the-less exists.
(MB) True enough, but trivial. The fact is that there is conclusive evidence
that my little toe exists whether or not it has an important function.
(R) But regardless of that, your argument that God is not necessary is
nothing more than your opinion. I hold the contrary opinion.
(MB) My argument is more than just an opinion. It is a consequence of the
evidence which supports my basic premise.
(R) We can certainly understand how things occur, but even if they
occur in an apparently "natural" way, how can we be sure there is
no supernatural force which initiates and directs them?
(MB) Because natural and supernatural forces are mutually-exclusive. There is
no such thing as "apparently" natural. Either something occurs through the
operation of the finite set of laws of science or it does not. Nothing
supernatural can have any effect on the natural realm.
(R) If anyone
could prove the universe originated purely by chance, perhaps there
would be some support for the idea that there is no God and
everything happens entirely at random, but this is not the case.
(MB) Here, once again, we come to the question of "levels of proof". I would
venture, however, that even if definitive proof of the natural, chance origin of
the universe was proven, proponents of God would still claim that he got it all
started and would continue to believe as they always do. This shows that such
beliefs are emotional rather than intellectual and are not subject to change by
any amount of factual evidence.
(R) There is empirical evidence which supports the Big Bang theory
over competing theories like steady state, but ideas of why the Big
Bang occurred or what may or may not have been before it are in
the realm of pure conjecture.
(MB) Not true. Many of the mechanisms which could have caused the natural
origin of the universe are well defined and combine to form consistent
hypotheses. Science, however, will not raise these hypotheses to the level of
theories until the mechanics involved can be duplicated or observed in the
particle accelerators of the future. The mathematics behind them is solid. All
that remains is the observational verification.
(R) It is just as reasonable to believe God
initiated the Big Bang as it is to hold any other belief.
(MB) No, it is not. "God did it" is the pure conjecture until there is some
sort of evidence to support it.
(R) It is at best a hypothesis, one which has no evidence to
support it whatsoever, at least none you've presented. As such, it
no better than a personal opinion.
(MB) The fact that you can even say such a thing is a strong suggestion of your
unwillingness to accept anything other than God for an explanation of the
universe. It should be obvious to anybody that nothing has yet been found for
which the supernatural is the only explanation. If this was not the case, there
would be no debates on the matter.
Another opinion... but, without supporting evidence,
not an equal one. It's no more of an explanation than a parent
answering "Because" to a child's question "Why?".
(R) Definitely, another opinion, another hypothesis, and
unsupported just like yours. However, saying God created the
universe is not at all like saying "Because" to a child's question.
(MB) If you are right, then it is an answer that not only explains the universe
accurately, but also would have evidence to support it. If you are not right,
then it explains nothing and only serves to assuage a shallow curiosity in the
absence of any real answer.
(R) Saying the universe is a product of chance, saying it exists "because
it happened," falls much more into that category.
(MB) The universe does not exist "because it happened". The universe contains
all of the things we see because of the operation of the physical laws which
govern it. The complete set of those laws was created along with the universe.
We both have confidence, but the evidence resides
solely with my side. To say otherwise is to display an extreme
degree of closed-mindedness. That is detrimental no matter
what beliefs a person might hold.
(R) The physical evidence is entirely inconclusive and supports
neither position. To argue otherwise shows merely an intolerant
bias towards one's own opinion.
(MB) Evidence does not have to be conclusive in order to lend support to any
given position. You agree that there is evidence (although you find it
inconclusive). You also admit that there is no evidence which supports your
position. Therefore, all of the evidence must support my position. Since that
is the case, our positions cannot possibly be equal. This hardly qualifies as
There's the key phrase! You "find it easier". In other
words, who cares about facts, evidence, logic, reason or
anything else other than an answer that is "easier", eh? "Ease
of understanding" is not a factor in the physical laws that
govern the universe. Because they are not easily understood,
that does not mean that it is valid to substitute superstitious
nonsense in place of them.
(R) To more fully appreciate my meaning, let's try a few
synonyms in place of the word "easier," shall we?
(MB) OK, let's redefine terms once again...
(R) How about "simpler?"
(MB) How does that differ from "easier"?
(R) Or, "more sensible?"
(MB) It is more sensible to believe what the evidence supports.
(R) Or "more rational, logical, and reasonable?"
(MB) Rationality, logic and reason all side with the evidence and conclude that
the burden of proof resides with the positive existential claim of existence.
(R) The facts and evidence, logic and reason, support the idea of a Creator
equally as well as they support the idea there is none.
(MB) How? You've already admitted that there is nothing to support the idea of
a Creator. Therefore, the negative existential position is the more logical and
(R) Neither idea is nonsense, superstitious or otherwise, unless the other is,
(MB) Since the beginning of that statement is incorrect, so is the conclusion.
You also seem to be a little hazy on the difference
between "impossible" and "highly improbable".
(R) I have no problem understanding this difference. I
understand it is possible to roll ten "ones" in a row with a die. I
also understand a pencil will always fall to the floor when dropped,
and that neither a 747 or a watch will ever be created randomly,
regardless of any theoretical possibilities concerning such matters.
(MB) You've just proven my statement to be true -- you *don't* understand the
difference. "Impossible" means just that. It refers to an event that cannot
occur under any conceivable circumstances over any amount of time. Since each
of your examples is conceivably possible (although I would not bet any money on
their happening any time soon), they are not impossible. They are, instead,
Some have argued "it would have taken too long for the
universe to have been spontaneously created". Well, prior to the
universe being around, there would have been no such thing as time
and nobody to notice how much would have been passing.
(R) I've never heard of anyone arguing it would have taken too
long for the universe to be created.
(MB) The fact that you've never heard the argument before doesn't matter. It is
a common theme among those who mangle probabilities in order to "prove" that God
created the universe because it couldn't have arisen by chance.
(R) I think you've got this mixed up with those who have argued the universe
hasn't been around long enough for Life to have appeared randomly -- using this
as evidence to support the idea the universe is not directed by chance, but by a
(MB) No confusion here. That's a separate, but related argument, used by those
whose main concern is the special creation of Man by God. The mathematics in
both arguments are equally bogus.
The fact that the universe exists is proof that "highly
improbable" and "impossible" are not the same thing.
(R) I don't think you need to go so far as to invoke the existence
of the universe to prove the difference between the improbable and
the impossible, because it is already somewhat obvious.
(MB) Since there was some initial confusion and since there are those who mangle
numbers to attempt to show otherwise, it is sometimes necessary to invoke the
Apparently, you don't understand it or you wouldn't
infer that creation by God is a natural process. Something
"supernatural" can not also be "natural". Those are
(R) Certainly the supernatural and the natural are different, but
so are "natural" and "man-made."
(MB) "Man-made" is a subclass of "natural". Man does not create anything by
invoking the supernatural or by violating any laws of nature. He is merely the
catalyst which causes things to happen more quickly than they might otherwise
(R) Cattle are natural, and airplanes
are man-made. However, we can intervene in natural processes,
through selective breeding, and produce pure-bred Angus cattle. If
we can impose man-made direction on nature, why is it impossible
to suppose God can impose His own direction?
(MB) Such a thing would not be impossible for an all-powerful God. However,
that presupposes that such an entity actually exists. If he does not, then the
question is pointless.
(R) Just because you suppose the supernatural and the natural to be mutually
exclusive doesn't mean the former cannot affect the latter.
(MB) That is the meaning of "mutually-exclusive". If they can't exist in the
same realm, they can't affect each other.
Time in any one universe must be finite if it has a
beginning and an ending. Time between different universes
would have no meaning. That is a difficult concept as we tend
to be fixated in our linear dimension of time. There's no
reason that the same manifestation of the time dimension
would exist in another universe where the laws of physics are
(R) Time is a funny thing.
(MB) Not really. Only our flawed conceptions of it are funny.
(R) The speed of light is constant, as far as we know.
(MB) That was proven by Einstein.
(R) In any frame of reference, light always travels at
186,000 mi./300,000 km. per second, and if space curves or time
slows, it would seem to be only so as to maintain this constant. If a
frame of reference has zero velocity, time moves at nominal speed,
indeed, it would seem it could never move faster than this nominal
speed, because a reference frame cannot have less than zero
velocity. However, if the velocity of the reference frame is
increased, and approaches the speed of light, time will slow down.
But what, exactly, does this mean?
(MB) It means that you are leaving out one piece of the puzzle. If there is
only one thing in the universe, it can't be said to have any velocity at all
since there would be nothing for it to be moving relative to. Therefore, time
would neither speed up nor slow down for such an object since there would be
nothing to measure it against.
(R) If a space ship travels past the Earth at 99 percent the speed of
light, time proceeds much more slowly for an astronaut in the ship
than for the people on Earth. Does this mean everything inside the
ship, as perceived by the astronaut, happens in slow motion?
(MB) Nope. To the astronaut, everything would seem normal since he, too, is
moving at the same speed as his spacecraft and everything in it. If an observer
on the Earth could see the astronaut, it would seem to that observer that the
astronaut is moving in slow motion. If the astronaut could see the observer on
the Earth, it would appear to him that the observer was moving extremely
he get up in the morning, and turns on the lamp in his cabin, the
light from the lamp must still take exactly the same faction of a
second to reach the far side of the cabin, in order to keep the speed
of light constant, as it would if the space ship were standing still.
But time on board the space ship is moving much more slowly,
almost to the point of stopping. Does this mean the astronaut can
actually see the rays of light emerge from the lamp and travel
toward the wall? Or does everything proceed normally, as far as he
is concerned, just as if he were standing still on earth? Is his
perception of time exactly the same, regardless of the space ship's
velocity, or does he notice time slowing down?
(MB) The astronaut would notice nothing unusual or different since everything
about his relative and immediate surroundings would be moving at the same speed
and would experience the same time dilation effects. The light from the
astronaut's lamp would move just as quickly as it always does -- as far as he
was concerned, anyway.
(R) If the space ship achieves light speed, then time stops.
(MB) It is more accurate to say that as the ship approaches light speed, the
advancement of time approaches zero. No object with a mass greater than zero
can attain light speed.
(R) Meanwhile, on Earth, time proceeds along quite merrily. Does this
mean time doesn't exist for the space ship, or just that its not
(MB) It would mean that time has slowed down to near zero as far as the ship was
(R) If time stops in-between universes, that is, in-between Big
Bangs, has it truly ceased to exist?
(MB) Since time is one of our universe's four physical dimensions (or, at least,
one of the four that did not curl up), neither it nor any of the other three
dimensions would exist "between" universes -- if, indeed, the concept of
"between" has any meaning at that point.
(R) Or does it merely briefly stop
and immediately (a very relative term in this context) start again? If
so, it would have no beginning and no end, and would be infinite.
(MB) One could not equate the existence of the time dimension in one universe
with the existence of a similar time dimension in a subsequent, previous, or
co-existing universe. Each existence of a particular manifestation of time
would be finite in extent within its own universe.