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REPLY #86b TO
This is the second of a four-part reply. Select the "Go to next reply" link at the end of each part to read the next part of the reply.
(R) Contrary to that, every new discovery of physics showed us that Universe is much more symmetric and beautiful than we have ever imagined.
(MB) Quite true -- even if "beautiful" is a subjective evaluation rather than an objective fact. What is being shown is that science is correct in its conclusions that the universe behaves according to one unified set of physical laws that is inherently knowable. Symmetry is necessary in a universe where all energy is in balance and ultimately conforms to a zero sum formula. In such a universe, the existence of God is not only unnecessary, it is superfluous.
(R) Does not the unification of forces or the highly discussed "theory of everything" show that everything in the universe is connected with each other in a brilliant and magnificent way?
(MB) No, it shows that everything is in balance and conforms to a finite set of laws -- as we should expect to find. "Brilliant and magnificent" are, again, subjective evaluations that express our joy at the realization that we are understanding how it all works. They are not any sort of proof for the existence of any sort of supernatural deity.
(R) And probably you should have heard of the "anthropic principle" which demonstrates amazingly that all the laws of physics are fine-tuned to allow the existence of highly complex living things in the universe. These recent findings indicate that God created the universe with a purpose to accommodate human beings.
(MB) No, they don't. The anthropic principle only points out that life (or anything else, for that matter) as we know it would not exist unless the universe was exactly as we find it to be. If the universe was different in any way, it would either have produced much different structures and creatures, or it would have been incapable of producing anything at all.
Consider a block of ice. The ice could not exist if the temperature of its surrounding environment was too high. In an environment where the temperature is right, ice will form. In an environment where it is too warm, ice will not form. The anthropic principle of ice, therefore, would state that we will find ice if and only if conditions are right to allow it to form. These conditions may be chance products of local events. Therefore, finding ice does not imply that the local environment was created by God expressly for the purpose of allowing ice to form. Rather, it is proof that ice can form only if the right conditions exist.
Now, consider Man. Man can not form if certain conditions do not exist. In places where such conditions are all present, Man can form. In other places, Man can not form. In the vast expanse of the Universe, it is highly likely that all necessary conditions will exist in at least one place. This can be the product of pure chance and does not imply any intervention from any sort of deity.
In a multiverse scenario, there are an infinite number of universes which are always forming. These universes are likely to have an infinite number of different sets of physical laws. In some universes, these laws will be such that ice or Man could form. In others, their laws will be such that radically different things could form. It is entirely likely that, in another Universe, two unfathomably-different creatures are having the same conversation that you and I are having. None of this requires the intervention of any deity.
This is the same argument advanced in favor of all versions of supreme beings. I've asked this of Christians and now I'll ask you that same question. Why is your version correct and all others wrong?
(R) Now, the problem consists of two parts:
1-)The existence of God,
2-)The nature of God.
All religions agree on the first part.
(MB) No, they do not. Remember that religious beliefs go far beyond the superficial similarities of Yahvistic doctrines.
(R) The disagreements are in the details such as the nature of God and His attributes. Although these are details, they are important details, because they are judgements about the most important Being. And the knowledge of the nature of God can only be obtained from His messengers.
(MB) Not at all. In many belief systems, deities reveal themselves directly to the people and, sometimes, live among them. Anyone who purports to make any other claims on behalf of those deities are branded as lunatics, heretics or blasphemers.
(R) For example we Muslims cannot accept that Jesus can be son of God. Because Allah says in the Qur`an
[al-Ikhlas 112:1] Say: He is Allah, the One!(MB) But, this is nothing more than question-begging about the accuracy of the Qu'ran. There are legions of Christians and Jews who will quote just as many of their favorite Bible verses to "prove" their own interpretations of the nature of God and Jesus. However, neither the Bible nor the Qu'ran are self-verifying. Throw in all the other religions with all of their holy books and we come right back to requiring some other sort of evidence to support the veracity of any particular claim.
(R) But these differences in understanding and interpretation of the nature of God should not cause you to judge that these religions weaken rather than support each other. Once you accept that all of the Abrahamic religions refer to one and the same God, it will be easy to decide which one is the today`s and completed true religion.
(MB) Why should I accept such a proposal? Isn't this nothing more than special pleading on behalf of your chosen beliefs? How would you refute a Hindu who tried to tell you that "once you accept Vishnu, you will know which is the one true religion"?
Doesn't calling this the "only acceptable explanation" commit the circular reasoning fallacy of presupposing the existence of the same entity that the argument is trying to support? If not, why is this the only acceptable explanation?
(R) What I mean by "acceptable" is rational, reasonable and sensible. Of course it is not illogical to deny the existence of God, but it is highly unreasonable.
(MB) Why? Without objective supporting evidence, and in the face of so many contradictory beliefs, the only reasonable position is to be skeptical about the existence of *any* particular deity until such time as believers can support its existence with something other than quotes from holy books or expressions of emotional wonderment.
The amazement of those great scientists and any other thinking person is that the answers are, in reality, so simple. It is a vindication of how well the natural processes work and of our understanding of them.
(R) Yet this is the greatest evidence of the existence of an All-Wise and All-Merciful Creator.
(MB) Not at all. It is the greatest evidence that such a creator is not needed and that the universe can get along quite nicely on its own accord.
(R) Who else can build such a complex universe with amazingly simple rules?
(MB) It is not necessary for it to have been "built" at all. In the words of Stephen Hawking, "there is nothing for a Creator to do".
(R) Why does "the natural processes" work so well? If they really work very well, this means that there is a Perfect Being behind these wonderful acts, doesn`t it?
(MB) Absolutely not. It means that the scientific view that all things are ultimately one thing is correct and that the resulting natural processes of the universe can't help but work well. Perfect Beings are not only logically incoherent, but they are unnecessary.
(R) And if He did not create the universe within the capabilities of our understanding, could we ever imagine to understand any of the processes going on?
(MB) Who says that this is way such a being would do things? Any statements to the contrary are most likely to be rationalizations that are meant to do nothing more than substitute for a lack of knowledge. They are not proof that we can't gain such knowledge through our continued and concerted efforts. The history of science strongly suggests that there is very little, if anything, that we can not eventually learn.
(R) So this complemantarity between workings of nature and workings of our mind should point an even greater Wisdom and Mercy.
(MB) I consider such claims to be lacking in perspective. The human mind is the most infinitesimal nothingness when compared to the rest of the universe. There is no reason to assume that our ability to think has any greater meaning.
Don't make the invalid assumption that particles have some sort of inherent knowledge or intelligence just because they behave in consistent ways. Indeed, they couldn't do otherwise!
(R) But they behave as if they have intelligence and knowledge, since they behave according to mathematical rules.
(MB) No, if they follow such rules, they can behave in blissful and total ignorance since they can't do anything else. There is no reason to infer any greater meaning from events that *must* happen.
(R) Eugene Wigner wrote about this in his famous book "Unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in natural sciences", in which he argues that nobody can explain why universe functions mathematically.
(MB) "Why?" questions are easily answerable by showing that no other method is possible. Remember that mathematics did not create the laws of universal behavior. Those laws always existed. All that mathematics does is to codify them and allow us to predict them.
(R) And it is the key-point of our discussion that the laws of physics are not deducible from logic, as once Descartes thought.
(MB) Of course, Descartes knew nothing about quantum mechanics. This only goes to show the dangers inherent in basing one's beliefs upon presuppositions.
(R) On the contrary they are the contingent ways of behaviour showed by mindless matter. So you cannot say that matter could not do otherwise, because logically nothing forbids two opposite charges to attract rather than repel.
(MB) This is not a matter of logic. It is a matter of fact. Opposite charges don't attract because it is "reasonable" for them to do so. They attract because it is *inevitable* that they should do so. Logic comes into play when we first observe that opposite charges always attract and then use that observation to predict the outcome of a future event involving opposite charges.
(R) Or nothing determines the gravitational constant G which determines how strong two objects attract each other. In the end, the age old question remains forever: Why is the universe the way it is?
(MB) The physics of gravity are the one big piece of the unified theory puzzle that has yet to fall into place. Given the history of science, it is reasonable to predict that we will eventually solve this puzzle and that the solution will be one more large piece of evidence in favor of a natural universe that does not concern itself with "Why?" questions. In fact, I predict that we will one day accept that the ultimate reason behind the universe is that there is no reason at all. It just *is*.
Physicists *do* know why this works. Einstein proved it with his relativity theories. Space is curved by the presence of matter. The motion of matter follows the contours of curved space. Since local space only curves in one direction (i.e., towards the most massive local object), what we call "gravity" will always be observed to be an attractive force.
(R) Thank you for explanations, but, I am doing Ph.D in physics and I pretty well know what relativity theory is.
(MB) Then, you should understand my points and know that no doctoral thesis which explains the universe using the Qu'ran as its principle evidence will ever be approved. You should further understand that physics does not change no matter what religion any particular physicist might practice. This should further produce the understanding that the universe is as it is without regard to any such religious practices.
Consider the intelligent inhabitants of any life-bearing world in the system of any of millions of candidate stars in our galaxy alone. What do you think is the likelihood that they will have developed any or all of the various religions practiced by Man? Then, consider the likelihood that they will have learned the same principles of physics that Man has learned. This should lead to the understanding that the universe is the same for any observer even if the "Why?" questions about it have a near-infinite number of possible answers.
(R) I am not asking you why the objects attract rather than repel in the context of physical explanation but I am asking the very deep question why there is an interaction at all? How can mindless particles interact with each other in an intelligent way?
(MB) You are presupposing that this is any sort of intelligent, knowing, or willful action on the part of the involved particles. This presupposition is necessary in order to include all the religious baggage. No such presuppositions are necessary in an unobfuscated understanding. Particles interact as they do because they can't do otherwise. It doesn't get much simpler and more understandable than that.
(R) Saying that relativity explains gravity is like saying a pen writes "I am intelligent" BECAUSE there is an appropriate force acting on it. This explanation may be correct but it is certainly not COMPLETE.
(MB) Actually, that's not even correct. It is clear that the pen, left on its own, can't write anything and can't do anything on its own other than stay where it was put. It also does not require a pen to write any particular words. Finally, any words that are written are not necessarily self-evident (they could be in code or in an indecipherable language) nor are they proof that the pen was moved by an intelligent being (it could have been moved by a machine or by a non-intelligent being who chanced upon the right sequence of strokes).
(R) Similarly, explaining one phonemona in terms of another one does not reveal why these happen. Because I can ask why objects curve the space or whatever reason physicists find as a material cause of attraction happens to be like that instead of any other way.
(MB) If you can't accept that an inherently-simple universe which operates under inherently-simple rules just *is* and is not the product of any deliberate act of creation, how can you give your total belief to a proposition that an infinitely-complex being is responsible for it all and just *is* without himself also being the product of any deliberate act of creation?
(R) You may say that they have to do it in some way, I agree, but Who chooses this way?
(MB) Nobody chooses it. It just *is* because it can't be any other way in the universe which we observe.
(R) And why every particle chooses the same way to behave and CONTINUES TO BEHAVE LIKE THIS?
(MB) Once again, it can't be any other way. There is no "choice" involved for any particle.
(R) If you think deeply on physical laws themselves, you will discover that they are nothing but the manner of creation of an Omnipotent and Eternal Creator.
(MB) I will come to no such conclusion. I will not substitute an ad hoc explanation for any gaps in science. It is better to say "I don't know" than to postulate nonsense which will later have to be retracted.
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