Last Update: 26 Feb 00
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REPLY #86c TO
This is the third 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.
Particles behave the way they do because they couldn't possibly do otherwise. If I roll a marble around the rim of a bowl, it will always end up at the bottom of the bowl. This is not because the marble "knows" how to behave. It's because it can't do otherwise.
(R) As I explained above, they COULD do otherwise. Can`t you conceive of a universe in which marbles jump to the air as soon as you release them?
(MB) Yes, I can. I can conceive of an infinite number of universes in which marbles could exhibit an infinite number of different behaviors. However, in *our* universe with *our* physical laws, marbles behave as they do because they can't do otherwise. In other universes, marbles will behave as their laws demand. None of this requires the intervention of any divine entity.
Yes, they are and they have been answered in those terms. Linde's chaotic inflation and multiverse theories provide many of the answers.
(R) No, none of the physical theories can explain *why* there is a law by definition of a theory of physics.
(MB) You are demanding an answer to a question that doesn't have to exist. On the other hand, Linde's theories demonstrate the possibility of an infinite number of universes with an infinite number of sets of physical laws. We can only live in one of them. However, if an infinite number can exist, then the odds are certainly 100% that one of them will contain the proper set of laws which will allow us to form.
(R) Besides, Linde`s theory is highly controversial and if true can only explain the fine-tuning of the expansion rate of the universe.
(MB) Isn't that basically what it's designed to do? The theory is mathematically sound and remains controversial only until its postulates can be experimentally verified -- as is the case for any important theory.
(R) There are so many other cosmic coincidences, especially related to the physical constants that many people wrote books to discuss the importance of them.
(MB) The problem with most of these arguments is that they assume that there is only one universe which had only one chance to form. Even in a one-universe theory, there is the question of oscillation cycles to deal with. If the universe oscillates, then it can be created and destroyed an infinite number of times. Each rebirth would likely produce a different set of physical laws. It just so happens that the current oscillation produced laws sufficient to allow us to form. It is not a given that this has happened before nor that it will happen again. However, it is not an impossibility, either.
(R) On the other hand, the multiverse theories are all flawed due to the Occam`s razor and they seem to me as futile attempts to get rid of the concept of design and purpose.
(MB) How does Occam's Razor apply to multiverse theories? Isn't it more likely that people hang on to ideas of design and purpose in futile attempts to get rid of more natural and rational explanations?
Not at all. The "Why?" questions could easily be answered "Why not?". Since the universe is so inherently simple, there's little reason to think that its creation would have required the intervention of any sort of deity. And, of course, any such claim begs the question of the existence of such a deity. If one can't accept that an inherently simple universe could always have existed or could have been created exclusively through natural and knowable processes, how can that same person then accept the eternal existence of an infinitely-complex deity?
(R) Universe is not simple in its entirety, but only in the rules governing its evolution.
(MB) If the rules are simple, then everything done in accordance with those rules is also simple. Volume does not necessarily increase complexity. Ten simple things are no more difficult to fathom than is one simple thing.
(R) If Universe were as simple as you said why hundreds of thousands people named scientists are trying to decipher its code since so many years?
(MB) Because science is an evolving process where future knowledge can only be built upon the foundations built in the past and present. The computer you are using was not created in toto from first principles. We first had to learn the basics and how to put them together to make new things. The process continues and builds upon itself to produce and discover newer and newer things. The process is ongoing and is naturally accelerating. In the case of physics, we started with common macroscopic objects and have had to work in both directions. Quantum physics inhabits the realm of the very small while relativity describes the very large.
(R) We do not even understand today the turbulent flow of water or the mechanisms of an earthquake exactly!
(MB) We know enough to make very accurate predictions or to uncover the reasons behind events. The rest of the story is more of a matter of computational power and the depredations of Heisenberg Uncertainty. Certainly you would agree that we understand much more today than we did even a few decades ago and that our understanding is increasing exponentially.
(R) What about the development of an organism from a single cell or the workings of the most complex object in the universe, namely brain?
(MB) On what grounds do you consider the brain to be the most complex object in the universe? Biology is unraveling the genetic code in great leaps and bounds. The entire human genome will be cataloged within the next 15 years. Again, don't confuse current gaps in our knowledge with permanent, unfillable gaps in our knowledge.
(R) We were lucky to discover the physical laws since we observed the simple motion of celestial objects but to understand these complex phenomena I mentioned above in terms of basic principles is not easy at all.
(MB) "Basic principles" does not, however, include or require anything supernatural or divine. "God of the Gaps" ideas are simply not compelling.
(R) Complex systems usually exhibit chaotic behaviour which unables us to predict the future of the system.
(MB) The aforementioned depredations of Heisenberg Uncertainty. Predictions to 100% accuracy are not necessary to validate our understanding of the general system.
(R) But interestingly all of the calculations necessary to realize the correct behaviour according to the simple basic rules are done and we see the results. So do bacteria know quantum mechanics?
(MB) Is there a point to that question? Obviously, bacteria don't possess the physical requirements to conduct the experiments necessary to formulate such theories. Nor, do they have any need to do so.
(R) What I want to emphasize is that we see the workings of very high level intelligence, wisdom and power in the universe. To whom can we base these attributes other than an All-Intelligent, All-Wise and All-Powerful Creator?
(MB) Who sees such workings? As I've already pointed out, such conclusions are far from universal or self-evident. They are also not necessary.
(R) As Einstein once said, "God is subtle, but He is not malicious!". The amazing and wonderful structure of the universe cannot be undervalued as being "inherently simple".
(MB) Einstein did not believe in God as any sort of real entity. He refers to "God" in the way that many scientists and philosophers do. The reference is a metaphor for the inevitable workings of the universe. We make similar metaphors when we refer to "Mother Nature" or "Father Time". They do not imply a belief in the actual existence of such things.
Not at all. It is a far more coherent explanation to understand that particles behave in simple and consistent ways since they can't do otherwise.
(R) I showed that this reasoning is fallacious above.
(MB) You may now wish to revise that argument and free it from its accompanying presuppositions.
(R) But let me remind you that for a particle to behave according to physical laws, it must know the positions and relevant physical properties (like charge, mass, etc) of all the other particles ( which is about 10^80 in the observable universe ). Now you can decide whether it is a simple or a complex job to do.
(MB) Such knowledge is not required at all. The particle acts in the only way(s) it can act in accordance to the conditions present at its location in space-time. It does not need to know how those conditions came to be the way they are. It does not think. It just acts and responds. This is a very simple thing.
Why must we believe in any Gods whatsoever? If we must, why must that God be Allah (or any other specific deity)?
(R) "If the existence and operation of the universe is not attributed to God Almighty; then it requires admitting that each particle has the attributes of the Necessarily Existent Being, and that each particle should both dominate and be dominated by all other particles. Again, each particle should have an all-encompassing will and knowledge, for the existence of a single thing is dependent on all things and one who does not own the universe cannot rule a single particle" (Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, Islamic scholar of the highest standing, contemporary thinker, famous commentator of the Holy Quran and great saint).
(MB) This is a conclusion based on the same flawed premises that we have already discussed. It is also an argument of the same form that is advanced by other religions and their believers. As such, it is not an explanation of why we must believe in Allah or in any other version of God. It is simply an example of the logical fallacy of an argument from authority.
I acknowledge the rightful fame of Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, but, you must realize that what he is saying is very similar to how a Zen Master would describe the universe -- without the reliance upon any deity, of course -- when he says that "all things are one". Science, in essence, also says that all things are one and is making strides towards formally proving that proposition. Bediuzzaman unnecessarily complicates the issue by inserting an infinitely-powerful and complex being into the picture to produce the same things that are more simply and concisely explained by the simpler scientific view.
(R) If you decide to belive in one God, you will see that the most reasonable and the rightest path to Him , is the way of Islam.
(MB) Circular reasoning. It is equivalent to the common Christian apologetic that one must first believe in God before he can be revealed to you. Needless to say, if one has already decided to believe in God, he needs no other proof. However, those of us who do not accept the existence of God require something far more compelling than circular reasoning to change our minds.
We don't have to choose *anything* as "God". We can rationally believe that the Universe is here on its own and that there are no such things as any "hereafter" or "God".
(R) If you think that such a magnificent and mysterious Universe does not need an explanation, and the highest beings in this Universe called human beings are nothing but animals and although they deserve being immortal observers of Absolute-Beauty`s beautiful works and everlasting guests of a Benign Creator with their highly developed senses and deep feelings and lovely hearts they will be killed by Death and be thrown into nothingnes yes.
(MB) That, sir, is a magnificent collection of circular reasoning, question-begging, special pleading, argument from assertion and argument from undesirable consequences that is worthy of the most hardened Christian apologist. As such, it is no better than those apologetics and is certainly not any sort of refutation of a rational belief in a natural universe.
"Magnificent and mysterious" is a subjective emotional reaction and is not an objective and quantifiable quality of the universe. There is no reason or evidence to consider humans to be the "highest beings" in the Universe. There is no reason to think that we "deserve" anything or that there is anything more than our mortal life -- either wonderful or horrible or benign -- to be attained. None of these things are proofs of or evidence for the belief in Allah (or any other deity). Instead, they are conclusions derived from the presupposed belief in his existence.
Why should these verses be accepted when similar verses in other religion's holy books must be brushed aside? It is a logical fallacy to claim that any such book is self-referentially true. I've pointed this out on numerous occasions to Christians who support all of their claims by quoting Bible verses. The same reasoning applies to Muslims who quote the Qu'ran, to Hindus who quote the Bhagavad Gita, to Zoroastrians who quote the Avesta, etc.
(R) Firstly because Qur`an is authentic and secondly the other religion`s holy books is not brushed aside by any of Muslims.
(MB) Other holy books are "authentic", as well. Even those which have suffered from mistranslation or other problems over thousands of years still retain their basic core beliefs -- even if the details are a bit muddy. As far as your claim not to have brushed aside other holy books, you haven't even stated Word One in reference to any of them and have concentrated solely on claims of problems with the Bible. Even if you demonstrate that Islam is the superior version of Yahvistic belief, you will still have to deal with all non-Yahvistic religions before you have successfully proven that Islam is the "one true religion".
(R) We all accept that there are true verses in Old and New Testament, but everybody knows that they are not well conserved, as I explained above.
(MB) Does that make the story of the Bible any less truthful? If Jesus actually existed and was actually the Son of God, it makes no difference if some of the material within the Gospels isn't perfect. Jesus' nature would be unchanged. The same reasoning applies to the holy books of any other religion.
(R) And I did not quote these verses to support my claims for the existence of God but to show how beautifully and impressively Allah worns His people by His message.
(MB) Again, this is the same argument advanced by competing beliefs and has the same amount of objective supporting evidence -- zero. The existence of any particular version(s) of God *must* be successfully demonstrated before any religion which worships him/them can hope to be taken seriously by anyone other than those who already believe it. Simply quoting from holy books won't get that done.
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