REPLY #99c TO
This is the third of a twenty-part reply. Select the "Go to next reply" link at the end of each part to read the next part of the reply.
Quantum mechanics provides the proof of uncaused events and the proof of the creation of particle pairs from within a vacuum state.
(R) First of all, proof of uncaused events is not the same as proof for an uncaused universe.
(MB) Correct, but it does demonstrate that an uncaused universe is very possible and that it is not absolutely necessary to invoke any causal agent. Since uncaused events unquestionably occur, it will be up to you to explain why such an event could not have produced the universe.
(R) Quantum mechanical stipulations apply to micro, not to macro systems.
(MB) The problem here is that a "macro system" is nothing more than a collection of "micro systems". The Sun is, most assuredly, a "macro system". Yet, it shines because of the cumulative effect of the quantum interactions within it. Therefore, your implication that large-scale systems are immune to quantum effects is dreadfully mistaken.
(R) The relative uncertainty approaches zero as the number of quantum particles in a system increases. Therefore, what is true for a quantum particle pair would not be true for the universe as a whole.
(MB) Not true. You are mistakenly considering the universe to be nothing more than, essentially, a big particle. In reality, it is the accumulation and the result of the total interactions of its components. Again, one only needs to consider the Sun's ability to shine in order to see this.
(R) Secondly, the event of particle pairs are only possible when there is an interval of time occurring. At the beginning of the universe, there was no such thing as time. Time is the essence of cause and effect - No time = no cause = no effect = no event. Therefore, the creation of particle pairs is utterly irrelevant to the origin of the universe since it is impossible for them to have occurred without time interval.
(MB) You are mistakenly assuming that time is necessary for quantum interactions to occur. Your own definition should have shown this to you. You are relating time to cause/effect relationships, but you have forgotten that we are talking about *uncaused* events. Indeed, your argument would be devastating to your own Creator proposal. By your own definition, a caused creation would require time. But, if time didn't exist until *after* the universe was created, you have a paradox to unravel.
Linde's inflation and multiverse theories tie together the mechanics of scalar fields and the collapse of false vacuum states in universe-creating events. The mathematics behind these theories have been proven and have been demonstrated in computer simulations.
(R) Would you care to elaborate and explain how scalar fields and false vacuums relate to "universe-creating" events and define exactly what a "universe-creating" event is in that context? Why you are at it, why not provide the empirical proof for the existence of multiverses?
(MB) This document will provide you with the detailed explanations and mathematics that you need:
An Exposition of Inflationary Cosmology
If you need something more accessible, try Timothy Ferris' book "The Whole Shebang". Also, there is a decent overview of these concepts in this document:
Archive of Astronomy Questions and Answers
It should be understood that the only way we could gain empirical proof of other universes would be to leave our own. Unless there is merit to certain ideas about wormholes, leaving our universe is thought to be impossible. However, if the mathematics accurately describe processes which are sufficient to produce our universe, there is little reason to believe that the same processes couldn't produce others.
(R) Also, you overlooked the fact that these computer programs that are created to perform these simulations are designed using key mathematical assumptions.
(MB) Sorry, but it doesn't work that way. The computer solves the equations that arise from the theories. If the equations are wrong, then the results will not be as the theories predict. If the equations are "cooked" in order to get the desired results, then the theories are invalidated. These things must all work together and any funny business will be quickly found and exposed via the process of peer review before the theories are ever published.
The physical proof back to the merest fraction of a section after the Big Bang has been provided in particle accelerator experiments. The predictions of Big Bang cosmology have been strongly supported by COBE data and other experiments.
(R) I am not contending that the Big Bang did not occur. But I do not see any evidence that it was uncaused, or that it's cause was blind, mindless, or natural.
(MB) In other words, you're one of those guys who drives around with a bumper sticker that says "Big Bang Theory: God said it and *BANG* -- it happened", right? BTW, keep your eyes open. Fermilab and CERN are currently racing to see which lab can be the first to verify the discovery of the Higgs boson. When this happens, another big piece of the puzzle will have fallen into place and your case will suffer another blow.
The mathematics behind 10-dimensional superstring theory have also been proven.
(R) The mathematical soundness of a proposal is not the same as physical evidence of an event's occurrence. You claimed that all "all available evidence" supports your conclusion, not all available "mathematics."
(MB) Mathematics also constitutes evidence, does it not? Mathematics enable the theories to make predictions which can then be confirmed by experiment and observation. Mathematics can also point out deficiencies in existing theories. For example, the mismatches between mathematical predictions and observations of planetary orbits led to Kepler's laws of planetary motion and to the modification of Newtonian gravity by Einstein's general relativity theory.
All of this points definitively towards an origin of the universe which is knowable, understandable, and natural in all respects.
(R) No, all that points definitively towards is the absolvement of mathematical equations which are associated to unproven theories.
(MB) Sorry, but that's not how it works. With complex questions, it is necessary to build the answers in many individual parts. It's similar to constructing a large building. If any of the building materials fails, the whole structure is in danger of collapse. But, if the parts are all sound, the building continues to take shape as it nears completion. Mathematics are just one part in building a solid theory. So long as none of the parts are unsound, the theory continues to progress towards completion. As sound parts accumulate, we can become more and more confident that the whole theory will eventually be proven.
Now, the mistake that you and many other theistic Creation supporters make is in promoting the false assumption that any theory which is less than 100% proven must be either worthless or disproven. A 75% proven theory is not 25% wrong. The remaining 25% is still awaiting verification while the other 75% is valid and allows us to have reasonable confidence in the entire model. The theistic Creation model has yet to rise above 0% proof. This does *not* inspire confidence in the model as a whole. This is why its supporters are so adamant in their support of the notion that "faith" is essential. They simply have nothing else to go on!
(R) Not to mention that these theories are constantly falling apart on a regular basis year in and year out and being replaced with different ones.
(MB) Oh, really? Perhaps you could give some examples of cosmological theories which have "fallen apart" in the last few years?
Nothing has ever been found or demonstrated for which a supernatural explanation is required. As I've said before, if the evidence and the conclusions drawn from it are all that this debate is about, it has already been won by science.
(R) The "evidences" are there, but it's funny how the scientific conclusions based on the evidences change just about every decade. In that respect, science hasn't "won" anything.
(MB) In the previous paragraph, you said that this happened every year. Now, it's "just about every decade". Which way do you want it? Also, don't confuse the discovery of additional evidence with the invalidation of any theory. Scientific advancement is increasing at a nearly-logarithmic pace. We are bound to keep expanding our base of knowledge. Continuing to improve the accuracy of our theories does not mean that those theories are wrong or that we must give any credence to anything supernatural.
(R) Furthermore, you say that nothing has ever been found or demonstrated for which a supernatural explanation is required.
(MB) That's correct -- and I notice that you have been unable to show that this statement is wrong.
(R) This is not surprising since there NEVER WILL BE a reason for a materialist to accept a supernatural explanation because as soon as one materialistic explanation fails, the materialists will just create another one to replace it ad nauseum ad infinitum; forever evading obvious theistic implications that have been present from day one.
(MB) Given the thousands of mutually-exclusive theistic belief systems and sects within systems, it inspires raucous laughter to see you rant about the supposed failings of science. There is no such thing as an "obvious theistic implication". Theistic explanations merely fill gaps in knowledge and/or understanding for people who don't want to make the necessary effort to learn about reality. If one could even demonstrate that *anything* supernatural existed, then theistic proposals about universal origins might be reasonably considered. As it is, all we know are things which are explainable in the natural realm.
You will need to build a powerful positive case in support of your own ideas if you can hope to challenge anything. Incredulity, by itself, won't do this.
(R) I have been given no reason to accept this criteria whatsoever.
(MB) Then, you know nothing about basic logic. Rejecting or disputing any proposition does not translate to an exemption from having to positively support your own preferred alternative.
(R) I do not have to replace a faulty claim in order for the claim to be shown faulted.
(MB) Correct. However, if you are going to propose an alternative to science, then that alternative must be supported by a positive case in its favor. This can't be done by attacking science unless you can also demonstrate that there are only two possible answers. Given that there are thousands of versions of the theistic proposal, I'd say you need to solve that problem first before attempting to take on science.
As to your added stipulations which are not a part of any scientific theory, it is only theism which posits creation "from nothing" and which requires any sort of higher purpose for the universe. Why is any such higher purpose required? Can't the universe simply *be*?
(R) If the universe was always "something" then it would be eternal.
(MB) Actually, that just means that it has always existed. It doesn't mean that it will continue to exist throughout eternity.
(R) The evidence does not support the idea that the universe was always something, and therefore always existed.
(MB) I have already shown otherwise.
(R) Of course the universe can simply "be." But is it? Does it appear to you to be the kind of reality that just "is?"
(MB) Yes, it does. There is nothing about the universe which suggests that its existence has any underlying purpose. If you believe otherwise, then you will need to explain what that purpose is and what evidence leads to that conclusion.
(R) If so, you must have a healthy faith in mindless incidences causing amazing order and complexity, over and over and over again.
(MB) I don't have "faith". I have confidence in the basic set of physical laws under which this universe operate. Given those laws, the universe can't help but be the way we observe it to be. It's only "mindless" in the sense that no controlling "mind" is necessary.
[RE: You need to be more specific than using ambiguous claims such as "origin grounded in natural processes."]
I think I've accomplished that. Now, it's your turn to make a positive case in favor of your own views. Remember that doing nothing but assaulting a competing position does not provide support for your own side of the story.
(R) No, you have not accomplished that. You managed to rattle off loose references to various scientists while giving no details or support for any of their alleged theories.
(MB) You may now wish to revise this claim.
(R) Also, it must be understood that my views are not being given as a form of "empirical" evidence, but rather, they are being given as a more probable and logical alternative to materialistic assumptions.
(MB) Without any supporting evidence, on what basis are your views to be considered "more probable" or "more logical" alternatives? All we have to use to evaluate them are the paradoxes and contradictions into which they devolve under scrutiny. Is that the sort of thing you wish to hang your hat on?
It is a given that there are still things which exist that we don't understand. If this was not true, there would no longer be any questions about anything. Consider how many things we know today that weren't even dreamed about throughout much of our history.
(R) If your assumption is as simple as that, then one can just as equally assume that God is existent and that we simply do not understand all the ins and outs of it as of yet.
(MB) Yes, we could assume that. However, there are certainly plenty of proposals about God and his inherent nature which lead to nasty problems for their proponents. There are no such proposals which lead to anything which can be observed, tested or calculated. This is true even though theistic belief systems have existed for many thousands of years. This strongly suggests that none of them have any hope of ever rising above the level of a "good story".
(R) But anytime you are assuming something based on a hope that future evidences with validate it, you are succumbing to a "god of the gaps" type fallacy. In the case of your assumption, it would be the "materialism of the gaps" fallacy.
(MB) Not at all. It is reasonable to assume that gaps in our knowledge will be filled by natural realm explanations since the current sum total of our knowledge exists in that realm. Every discovery ever made has filled a "gap" in that way. No gaps have ever been filled by anything outside of the natural realm. Theists try to shoehorn their ideas into those gaps, but none of their efforts have succeeded. The only way one can reasonably propose that "God fills the gaps" is to demonstrate that God exists at all.
[RE: The only stipulations I am claiming is that the origin of the universe is MORE LIKELY the result of an intelligent, transcendental cause than a material, mindless one.]
So you have claimed. However, you have yet to provide the first positive argument in favor of such a belief.
(R) I have already eluded to the obvious implications of my case.
(MB) That is a rather hilarious misspelling of the word "alluded". To "elude" something is to run away and escape from it. That's basically what you have been doing in response to reality and the evidence for it provided by science. Perhaps, your subconscious understanding is poking through the consciously-held dogma?
(R) There was no time at the beginning of the universe. Time is the essence of all events. No time, no cause = no effect = no universe. This strongly suggests that the universe is the result of an entirely different order of cause which transcended the effect it made - the universe. You have completely failed to show how this implication is escapable, unless you'd like to introduce an entirely new concept of physics.
(MB) No new concepts are required here. You are arguing against a natural cause for the universe. However, current theory promotes an uncaused universe. Therefore, what you're disputing is not what science is saying.
(R) In addition, there is no physical mechanism for the universe's calibration or ordered complexity as we see it. This again strongly suggests that these intricate balances and orders were fine-tuned by a cause that was directing results, and conserving them.
(MB) The missing physical mechanisms are what superstring theory is investigating and what particle accelerator experiments are testing for. Again, your objections are not support for theism. At best, they merely highlight a "We don't yet know" answer to a question on which science is still working. There's no reason to add further complexities by tossing a supernatural causal agent into the mix nor is there any logical reason even to consider the possibility.
Personal incredulity is *not* a positive argument. First, you will need to demonstrate the existence of anything "transcendent" -- intelligent or otherwise. Second, you will need to demonstrate why any such thing is "more likely" than a process behind which all the evidence lines up. Third, you will need to demonstrate and define the particular "transcendent process" which you support as the one which produced our universe. Fourth, you will need to demonstrate why we should associate Yahweh with this process. Finally, you will need to demonstrate why there couldn't be any transcendent process *other* than that represented by Yahweh which might have been responsible for the whole thing. You have some work to do, my son.
(R) *laughs* You are making this far more complicated than it needs to be.
(MB) On the contrary, I'm distilling it down to a simple exercise for you. It could get *far* more complicated. If you can't answer the simple questions and give somebody a reason to take your proposals seriously, how can you hope to ever provide anything resembling a complete explanation?
(R) If my proposed alternative was being given in the form of an empirical, scientific theory, your stringent criterias would apply. Such is not the case.
(MB) You can't even satisfy the *simple* criteria of inquiry. How can you hope to satisfy anything more stringent? You also can't hope to provide any sort of alternative to the scientific view unless you're willing to play by the same rules. It would be like somebody arguing about whether or not to draw a card in a game of poker while using the rules of BlackJack as his support.
(R) Also, I am not arguing for any particular deity,...
(MB) Stercus tauri. A proposal for a specific deity is the inevitable next step after one gains any level of acceptance for the general proposal for the existence of *any* deity. Since you have already stated your personal preference, don't even try to BS your way around the fact that you will always end up proposing Yahweh as the Creator. That being the case, why not dispense with all the smokescreens and go right to your true beliefs?
(R) ...nor is it necessary for the purpose of showing general atheism to be inferior to general theism.
(MB) This is true as a concept. However, to succeed in your purpose will always eventually require evidence in support of some particular deity. Again, since we know without doubt which deity you are going to support, the issue can be simplified by cutting directly to the chase.
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