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Whether one believes in a theory of everything, the multiverse, or God, the problem of "turtles all the way down" is inevitable. From what did the theory of everything arise? What caused the multiverse? Who created God?

To get out of this infinite causal series, at some point one has to assume something that exists without cause..."the unmoved mover".

As far as I can tell, there is no scientific way to determine the characteristics of "the unmoved mover".

So why do atheists believe that unmoved mover is more likely to not be sentient than the alternative?
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From what did the theory of everything arise?


We don't have one yet. Human beings are trying to come up with one. A surfer dude claims to have hit upon it, but it's not yet been confirmed.


To get out of this infinite causal series, at some point one has to assume something that exists without cause..."the unmoved mover".



I disagree. This statement assume that pure nothingness is possible, which is not quite correct. My understanding is that quantum fluctuations at the subatomic scale exist even in a pure vacuum, and these can give rise to a universe.


So why do atheists believe that unmoved mover is more likely to not be sentient than the alternative?


Who says we believe in a mover?
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To get out of this infinite causal series, at some point one has to assume something that exists without cause..."the unmoved mover".

What's wrong with an infinite causal series ? Just because your limited finite brain cannot conceive of infinite causation doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

g2w
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Whether one believes in a theory of everything, the multiverse, or God, the problem of "turtles all the way down" is inevitable. From what did the theory of everything arise? What caused the multiverse? Who created God?

When I first started posting here I postulated that temporal beings cannot fully fathom time as infinite. Into this void of understanding, mankind has inserted a creator or other solutions to describe a causal agent.

What I've always found interesting are that the solutions are often just as perplexing. Because god is personified, suddenly everything is okay. Something can't come from nothing, unless it's god, but once we've attached a face to the endless, it's easier to swallow.

Perhaps our inability to fully fathom and accept the possibility that time is truly infinite will always lead us astray in grasping life and the universe. Presuming no causal agent is a bit of a tough road to hoe for a species that lives entirely within a cause and effect existence.

Nigel
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As far as I can tell, there is no scientific way to determine the characteristics of "the unmoved mover".


No? What are physical laws, but relationships that seem to just exist?
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No? What are physical laws, but relationships that seem to just exist?

Yes, "Because I say so" is the operative phrase here.

However you are not allowed to use it in making your own argument.
 
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I don't understand your post, Goofy.
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So why do atheists believe that unmoved mover is more likely to not be sentient than the alternative?

Because from a scientific standpoint, sentience is one of the most complicated specific things in the universe. The only examples we have at our disposal, humans and (to a lesser extent) other animals, are the end result of billions of years of evolution.

In order to pull off this "sentience" trick, these animals without exception require some kind of brain. As our creationist friends will be the first to point out, a brain is itself a ludicrously complex piece of machinery, relying on many interlocking parts which were generated through a mind-bogglingly slow, laborious process of assembling genetic components over said billions of years. Most animals and all plants do without this particular "advantage" since it is far simpler and more efficient to go through the reproductive cycle relying on instinct and natural laws.

Science reasons backwards from the complex to the simple. If you want to explain something, then a good explanation is invariably more basic than the thing it seeks to explain. To explain how a computer works, you have to break it down into easier concepts, and ultimately you get down to electrons behaving mechanically. To explain why World War I started, you have to go to a point earlier in history and point out how natural human foibles ultimately led to something so complicated. If you want to explain the existence of a watch or similarly intricate piece of technology, eventually you'll trace it back through history to the earlier, simpler inventions from which it draws inspiration.

To "explain" the universe by assuming the existence of intelligence, one of the most complicated things in the universe, is not an explanation at all. It is nothing like any kind of "first principle" that we deal with in any other branch of science. It's like asking "Why do watches exist?" and receiving the answer "Because other watches exist."

No, actually it's like asking "Why do sun dials exist?" and receiving the answer "Because super-computer controlled atomic clocks exist."
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To "explain" the universe by assuming the existence of intelligence, one of the most complicated things in the universe, is not an explanation at all. It is nothing like any kind of "first principle" that we deal with in any other branch of science. It's like asking "Why do watches exist?" and receiving the answer "Because other watches exist."

No, actually it's like asking "Why do sun dials exist?" and receiving the answer "Because super-computer controlled atomic clocks exist."


Interesting response. But what if the creator evolved? If time is infinite, why couldn't the creator be the sum total of gazillions of iterations. Certainly doesn't address the painfully obvious, why would time produce one supernatural being to produce everything else, but we are in a rather hazy area where anything is possible.

I'd like permission to use your reasoning. Last night my son said to me "Yo, Nig, if Santa is coming in a few days, why does mom keep locking the bedroom door to wrap gifts?"

I'm going to tell him "Because super-computer controlled atomic clocks exist."

Nigel
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What's wrong with an infinite causal series ?

Nothing. I can rephrase the question to "why are atheist so certain that at least one step in this infinite series wasn't intelligent?"
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To "explain" the universe by assuming the existence of intelligence, one of the most complicated things in the universe, is not an explanation at all.

I know of no intrinsic property of time that demands it move in a single direction. I know of no scientific reason that demands that the first cause, if one exists, has a greater likelihood of being simple than complex.

Others note that there is no logical necessity for a first cause, something could just exist. I see no reason why that always existing something couldn't be intelligent.

And all things being equal, the observation of an orderly universe seems more consistent with an origin based on design than random quantum fluctuations.
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know of no intrinsic property of time that demands it move in a single direction. I know of no scientific reason that demands that the first cause, if one exists, has a greater likelihood of being simple than complex.

Others note that there is no logical necessity for a first cause, something could just exist. I see no reason why that always existing something couldn't be intelligent.

And all things being equal, the observation of an orderly universe seems more consistent with an origin based on design than random quantum fluctuations.

----------------------------------------------------------------
Boyle's law is a wonderful example of orderliness, and yet it is brought about by the chaotic movement of molecules.

Radioactivity (alpha decay) is perfectly orderly, with stable half-lifes and yet it's the result of quantum uncertainty. There's no cause for a decay to happen, it just happens because it can.

The universe looks orderly on our human scale. Fortunate for us. But on the very small scale, or the very large scale, or at high speeds or inside black holes, everything seems to become a bit weird and difficult to understand. Yet, I think time and space are orderly on some deep level, but maybe it's not the same kind of orderly as what we're used to.

Reasoning about discrete steps towards infinity has been proven to be flawed. Zeno of Elea proved that movement could not exist in this way.

Do you think a human (brain) could create a universe ? What is, according to you, the minimum IQ needed to create a universe ?
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Interesting response. But what if the creator evolved?

Then the creator isn't the first cause.
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I know of no intrinsic property of time that demands it move in a single direction. I know of no scientific reason that demands that the first cause, if one exists, has a greater likelihood of being simple than complex.

It is sort of intrinsic to the way the first cause argument is presented. The argument is that things which exist require an explanation because things that are complex don't just happen. This requires God to exist as an explanation. But the reasoning stops there, because God, while just as complex, is asserted to require no explanation.

So as a proof that God MUST exist, it fails.

Others note that there is no logical necessity for a first cause, something could just exist. I see no reason why that always existing something couldn't be intelligent.

If, on the other hand, you want to argue that God COULD exist, you'll get no argument from me. If you want to assert, with no proof, that there is an eternal being who is intelligent, feel free. Just don't expect me to go for that without a reason.

And all things being equal, the observation of an orderly universe seems more consistent with an origin based on design than random quantum fluctuations.

Before you can slip that one past, you have to explain why observing a god wouldn't require that the god have an origin based on design.
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Nothing. I can rephrase the question to "why are atheist so certain that at least one step in this infinite series wasn't intelligent?"

If there is a causal agent for this universe, then there is no evidence that any of it is the result of that agent(1) is an intelligent agent.

Since there is no evidence, this atheist will assume that there is no intelligent agent until evidence is produced that there is an intelligent agent.

That seems, to me, the only intelligent and rational thing to do.

How about you ?

g2w
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What is, according to you, the minimum IQ needed to create a universe?

Beats me. But it would only have to be >0 to falsify atheism.
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Before you can slip that one past, you have to explain why observing a god wouldn't require that the god have an origin based on design.

Now we are back to the infinite series. In any origin argument, at some point there has to be an assumption that something exists. Some say string, a quantum fluctuation, the big bang, whatever. I'm just saying that I don't see any reason why that something is more likely to be simple than complex, random than directed, inanimate than intelligent.

Those who choose complex, directed, and intelligent admit that it is a leap of faith.

Those that choose simple, random, inanimate, insist that their choice is a strictly logical deduction.

I just don't see the difference.
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Since there is no evidence, this atheist will assume that there is no intelligent agent until evidence is produced that there is an intelligent agent.

Why assume that no intelligent agent is the more reasonable default state?

We have no precedent or experience about creating universes. That suggests to me that assuming a nonintelligent cause has no more or less validity than the alternative.

That seems, to me, the only intelligent and rational thing to do.

The most rational would be to accept either option as equally plausible---agnosticism.
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Boyle's law is a wonderful example of orderliness, and yet it is brought about by the chaotic movement of molecules.

Radioactivity (alpha decay) is perfectly orderly, with stable half-lifes and yet it's the result of quantum uncertainty. There's no cause for a decay to happen, it just happens because it can.


But those are simply examples of our own orderly universe. Could one imagine alternative universes where the relationship between pressure and volume was unpredictable or where half lives varied from moment to momentum? Sure can, as that is the premise of the multiverse explanation for our anthropic universe.

Reasoning about discrete steps towards infinity has been proven to be flawed. Zeno of Elea proved that movement could not exist in this way.

That limitation also applies to whatever assumptions an atheist might make about infinity.
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Could one imagine alternative universes where the relationship between pressure and volume was unpredictable or where half lives varied from moment to momentum? Sure can, as that is the premise of the multiverse explanation for our anthropic universe.

The multiverse conjectures of which I am aware have separate universes where the fundamental constants might vary (some don't even have that) but the laws remain the same. I think you're making up a strawman multiverse here.
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The most rational would be to accept either option as equally plausible---agnosticism.

If it is unknowable, then until some evidence comes along that indicates otherwise, I'll assume that there is no intelligent causal agent.

It's the same reason I don't believe there is a god.

g2w
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Why assume that no intelligent agent is the more reasonable default state?

We have no precedent or experience about creating universes. That suggests to me that assuming a nonintelligent cause has no more or less validity than the alternative.


For me, it's history. Look at all the things that our ancestors attributed to intelligent agents: the movement of the sun, earthquakes, plagues, eclipses, etc.; all of which turned out to be be natural phenomena when studied scientifically. Given this experience, I think it's more reasonable to assume a natural explanation rather than a supernatural one for the next physical phenomenon we study, in this case, the origin of the universe.

The most rational would be to accept either option as equally plausible---agnosticism.

We haven't shown how the force of gravity is transmitted. Are you agnostic as to whether that gravity is a purely natural phenomenon or if it might be the result of the work of intelligent agents pushing stuff together? Why or why not?

-Anthony
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Why assume that no intelligent agent is the more reasonable default state?

You're stepping through the waterfall, and they don't care what's on the other side. Hard core theist don't want to be distracted by science, and hard core atheist don't want to ponder theism.

Both make logical sense to me, because, as you say, both avenues are equally plausible.

The most rational would be to accept either option as equally plausible---agnosticism.

Now we might as well blend in a third discipline, and look at the psychology that drives different individuals. If one is predisposed to a "show me" state of mind, it certainly makes sense they will prefer taking what they can see and verify at face value and have no desire to explore beyond that. If the universe is, in fact, orderly by nature, what caused it is not important because that can never be seen or verified, and what if's have little appeal.

To the other half, logical explanations can often be discounted, as even an understanding of why something happens does not distract from the awe of a great hand being involved. They prefer a sense of purpose over the verifiable.

Both live in cozy homes. The rest of us live under a pavilion. Rationality and logic have no place here, only preference.

Nigel
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Both live in cozy homes. The rest of us live under a pavilion. Rationality and logic have no place here, only preference.


"An argument that is in itself perfectly rational and valid will often fall on deaf ears deafened by prejudice, passion, ignorance, misunderstanding, incomprehension or ideology."


"people . . . decide whether to believe or not with their hearts much more than with their heads. Even the most perfect argument does not move people as much as emotion, desire, and concrete experience."

--Peter Kreeft


Despite what people may think about themselves, we are not perfectly rational animals.
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To get out of this infinite causal series, at some point one has to assume something that exists without cause..."the unmoved mover".

No, you don't. You don't have any data about that. It's just your limited human brain trying to wrestle with the vastness of the universe.

As far as I can tell, there is no scientific way to determine the characteristics of "the unmoved mover".

Not yet...and maybe there isn't one. But if there is one, my bets are that the scientific method will get there quicker than anything else (whose current track record is also zero).

So why do atheists believe that unmoved mover is more likely to not be sentient than the alternative?

Who says we believe in an unmoved mover? Maybe the universe is a Mobius strip.

I, for one, couldn't care less right now. You can ponder your question for 10 seconds, and then realize that all the combined work of all the philosophers across the ages hasn't gotten any further than you. Only science has broadened our understanding, of the mechanics at least. By studying those mechanics and the patterns they are expressed in, maybe we'll discover that the slow dance of stars and galaxies is a form of sentience. Heck, maybe gravity is sentience. But that's just more toke-worthy speculation.

The upshot is, there is no reason to be making the assumptions your making.
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The most rational would be to accept either option as equally plausible---agnosticism.

Why would the agnostic limit itself to these two choices only ? There are no hard data that tell us if anything "preceded" the big bang and what it was. Anything is possible. Pure mathematical logic that materialised into space and time, a sentient being, time not being unidirectional, maybe the universe doesn't exist, only my imagination does. Or the most likely perhaps... something quite different from our experience and as yet unimaginable.

There are many different flavors of agnostics nowadays I suppose. I find Huxley's original philosophy still the most appealing. As I understand it, it means : go where the data lead you, think for youself freely and don't believe dogma or "common" suppositions. The notion that the only alternative to chaos is an intelligent creator is an obvious (to me at least) example of the last condition that the agnostic should avoid.

Aren't we on the wrong board for this actually ?
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Aren't we on the wrong board for this actually ?


Pondering the existence of an intelligent creator? This is as good a place as any.
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The most rational would be to accept either option as equally plausible---agnosticism.

Agnosticism simply means that you don't (and perhaps can't) know the answer for certain. It doesn't mean you can't have an expectation about what the answer probably is. That's why I am an agnostic atheist.

If you insist on that both answers must have EQUAL plausibility -- a 50/50 chance -- then you risk falling for a special version of the gambler's fallacy.

For example: What are the odds of fairies existing? 50%. The odds of leprechauns existing? 50%. Unicorns? 50%. So by this logic, the odds of at least one magical creature existing is 7/8, and just keeps going up the more types we throw in.
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hard core atheist don't want to ponder theism.

Not true at all. Hard core atheists ponder theism WAY more than your average believer.
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I can rephrase the question to "why are atheist so certain that at least one step in this infinite series wasn't intelligent?"



The only thing we're certain of is that there is no evidence for that.

You certainly haven't mentioned any.
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What's wrong with an infinite causal series ? Just because your limited finite brain cannot conceive of infinite causation doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

Indeed. A universe (or multiverse) having infinite space and time allows for very unusual things. For instance, there is only a finite amount of entropy one can have in a finite amount of space, and that is the amount a black hole has. However, given an infinite amount of space, and, especially, space that's expanding, there may be no upper limit of entropy for the universe. That would allow entropy to be relative and, therefore, processes involving energy could go on indefinitely, including one big bang after another.

- w
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Those who choose complex, directed, and intelligent admit that it is a leap of faith.

What is a leap of faith other than a leap based on nothing?

I just don't see the difference, unless you can explain some reason for the faith.
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We haven't shown how the force of gravity is transmitted. Are you agnostic as to whether that gravity is a purely natural phenomenon or if it might be the result of the work of intelligent agents pushing stuff together? Why or why not?


Gravity works because the softwared developers defined it to be. We don't know the transmission method because they hacked it together instead of following the techical spec of the design team.

Keith
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The upshot is, there is no reason to be making the assumptions your making.

*sigh* that was supposed to be you're...

Good thing my son didn't see that, I've been on his case about spelling lately :-)
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Gravity works because the softwared developers defined it to be. We don't know the transmission method because they hacked it together instead of following the techical spec of the design team.


That's what happens when they promised it in just six days from Sunday !

(Damn marketing managers !)

- weitzhuis
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We have no precedent or experience about creating universes. That suggests to me that assuming a nonintelligent cause has no more or less validity than the alternative.

I will never understand this sort of argument unless you can make it in a way that makes sense.

There is no intelligence that I've ever run across that could have created a universe. An intelligence that could do such a thing is impossible for me to even imagine! We're not talking about placing things in a certain order that would lead to a useful thing here. We are talking about the creation of matter and time.

The most intelligent individual imaginable cannot magically come up with a universe. Intelligence isn't even an ingredient here. I don't care how smart you are, or how powerful your thoughts might be, there is no precedent that intelligence can imagine things out of nothing.

Just what is it about the origin of the universe that makes intelligence even enter into the discussion?

k
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The creation of the universe by an intelligent agent, or not, may very well be besides the point concerning evolution and the start of life.

It may very well boil down to Einstein's conjecture of did God really have a choice.

- weitzhuis
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Pondering the existence of an intelligent creator? This is as good a place as any.

What you do is take your preexisting beliefs and apply them to your observations. You can't argue against the fact that observations couldn't possibly lead to an intelligent creator without faith, or at least a willingness to fill in the gaps with a magical entity.

Bryan, think about it- you don't even disagree with evolution!

What you have stated in the past is that evolution isn't powerful enough to have created all of the species now in existence.

The reason you do so is because each and every explanation of each and every advance is not immediately explainable. You are correct in this.

But anyone who would insert magic dust as a means of justifying their explanation would be treated in the same way you have been. When will you realize that once "possibility" is allowed in scientific methodology without any means of testing or falsification, the whole method of discovery will fall like a house of cards??

Once that happens, anyone who can imagine a magical explanation would be taken seriously, and wouldn't ever be exposed to a demand of proof.

That's what you're arguing against, you know- a demand of proof.

Is that what you are arguing?

k
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When will you realize that once "possibility" is allowed in scientific methodology without any means of testing or falsification, the whole method of discovery will fall like a house of cards??


k, haven't you heard me say its not enough that the T3SS "possibly" could have evolved into a flagellum? That I want some testable means of verifying it? How can you say I'm the one arguing for "possibility" in science? I thought I was arguing against settling for possibility and just-so stories.

That's what you're arguing against, you know- a demand of proof.

Is that what you are arguing?


I don't understand the question. In the context of this thread, I didn't know I was arguing anything.

Bryan
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Hope you all had a merry Christmas.

For me, it's history. Look at all the things that our ancestors attributed to intelligent agents: the movement of the sun, earthquakes, plagues, eclipses, etc.; all of which turned out to be be natural phenomena when studied scientifically. Given this experience, I think it's more reasonable to assume a natural explanation rather than a supernatural one for the next physical phenomenon we study, in this case, the origin of the universe.

I agree that the universe behaves in what seems like a rational and orderly way. If we assume that to be generally true, which most of us do, then it is reasonable to assume that any phenomenon observed within that universe will have a rational explanation. That is the presumption of science.

The question at hand is what is the source of that seeming rationality. This is a very different question, one we have no precedent for. Scientists certainly have no answer for why there are "laws" and "constants". The current thinking is that those laws emerged at the time of the big bang (so they were in that sense "created"). But there is no scientific reason at the moment explaining why there are laws.

Based on your experience, are consistent and orderly laws something normally attributed to design or random events?

We haven't shown how the force of gravity is transmitted. Are you agnostic as to whether that gravity is a purely natural phenomenon or if it might be the result of the work of intelligent agents pushing stuff together? Why or why not?

I am certainly biased toward a natural explanation for gravity. The reason is because gravity seems to be an intrinsic feature of our universe and, as I've noted above, I happily assume that the universe behaves in an orderly and rational fashion. I believe Newton did the same. I don't think Newton had difficulty reconciling a rational description of gravity with his religious beliefs.
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For example: What are the odds of fairies existing? 50%. The odds of leprechauns existing? 50%. Unicorns? 50%. So by this logic, the odds of at least one magical creature existing is 7/8, and just keeps going up the more types we throw in.

But we aren't talking about the probabilities of magical creatures living in an extensively surveyed ecosystem. What makes those creatures highly unlikely is that all our observations to date point to a rational, orderly universe that doesn't leave much room for short green dudes who store treasure at the end of rainbows.

The question is, what is the source of the laws that make the existence of magic unlikely, if not impossible, in our universe?

Or more precisely, why do atheists believe that the source of the laws that give this universe at least the appearance of order and consistency is more likely to be unintelligent than intelligent?

The only answer given so far is that there is no evidence for intelligence (which reminds me of the ID strategy of criticizing evolution to argue for the opposing view). But that only argues against assuming an intelligent source.

What argues for assuming an unintelligent source?
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The question at hand is what is the source of that seeming rationality.



That's an interesting question. But mysteries are not miracles.
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Perhaps rephrasing will help clarify.

Current thinking is that the universe had a beginning---the Big Bang.

Current observations conclude that the universe has laws and constants that provide order and consistency to physical events, and that these emerged at the time of the big bang.

The question is: What is the source of the physical laws that provide an apparently orderly universe?

Current observations indicate that order and consistency (e.g., "design") can arise from intelligence or from undirected events (e.g., Mandelbrot patterns, chance).

Given those observations, is there any reason to assume that the design of the universe more likely arose from intelligence (theism/deism) or from undirected events (atheism)?
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Current thinking is that the universe had a beginning---the Big Bang.

Current observations conclude that the universe has laws and constants that provide order and consistency to physical events, and that these emerged at the time of the big bang.

The question is: What is the source of the physical laws that provide an apparently orderly universe?

Current observations indicate that order and consistency (e.g., "design") can arise from intelligence or from undirected events (e.g., Mandelbrot patterns, chance).

Given those observations, is there any reason to assume that the design of the universe more likely arose from intelligence (theism/deism) or from undirected events (atheism)?


I've watched and read several interviews that indicate this is the rub, the deeper we dig, the farther we look, the more difficult it appears that anyone can subscribe it all to "tossing noodles on the wall."

But, for the sake of discussion, let's look at two alternatives to intelligence. Given enough time, anything can presumably happen. I'm still waiting for monkeys to write Shakespeare, but perhaps I need to give it another trillion years.

If we look only at our own universe, we close a system that may not be closed. Our universe could very well be the nth iteration, and the first one, or the billionth one, where laws of order ruled from purely natural causes.

The second alternative is the natural events that caused the laws of our universe are so complex, so extraordinary, that it's easier to accept supernatural causes than the obvious.

What I'm driving at is that it is easy for me to give the same weight to nature or a creator. I can see why one cause or the other is much more appealing to particular individuals, but I see nothing that gives enough weight to push the pendulum to one side or the other.

Nigel, fence sitter
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But that only argues against assuming an intelligent source.

What argues for assuming an unintelligent source?


Those are the same thing. "Intelligence" is digital. It's either "yes" or "no". If we are arguing against assuming an intelligent source, then by default that is arguing for an unintelligent one. I suspect you were trying to say something slightly different.

My reason for assuming no intelligence (or at least ONE of my reasons) is the "turtles all the way down" problem. Intelligence as we understand it is complex. So if the complexity of OUR intelligence had to have a designer, then who/what designed the designer? And who/what designed the designer's designer? Ad infinitum. The common answer from those who bother to have an answer is "He has always been". I see no reason to favor such a scheme over the undirected, and perhaps perpetually-existing, universe (e.g. the oscillating universe, or the foamy multi-verse, or whatever). That seems a much simpler explanation (e.g. the foamy multiverse) than having some perpetually-existing super-being that diddled everything together for the heck of it (because he was bored?? infinite time would be difficult to fill with activities). And most especially, some super-being revealed only to the semi-nomadic Habiru of the north African deserts...that one particularly doesn't make sense.

1poorguy
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Given those observations, is there any reason to assume that the design of the universe more likely arose from intelligence (theism/deism) or from undirected events (atheism)?


"I think that it can be plausibly argued that the cause of the universe must be a personal Creator. For how else could a temporal effect arise from an eternal cause? If the cause were simply a mechanically operating set of necessary and sufficient conditions existing from eternity, then why would not the effect also exist from eternity? For example, if the cause of water's being frozen is the temperature's being below zero degrees, then if the temperature were below zero degrees from eternity, then any water present would be frozen from eternity. The only way to have an eternal cause but a temporal effect would seem to be if the cause is a personal agent who freely chooses to create an effect in time. For example, a man sitting from eternity may will to stand up; hence, a temporal effect may arise from an eternally existing agent. Indeed, the agent may will from eternity to create a temporal effect, so that no change in the agent need be conceived. Thus, we are brought not merely to the first cause of the universe, but to its personal Creator." (William Lane Craig)
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Current observations conclude that the universe has laws and constants that provide order and consistency to physical events, and that these emerged at the time of the big bang.


Not in my understanding. My understanding has those laws and constants just being. Where do you get this idea of them 'emerging' from?
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I agree that the universe behaves in what seems like a rational and orderly way. If we assume that to be generally true, which most of us do, then it is reasonable to assume that any phenomenon observed within that universe will have a rational explanation. That is the presumption of science.

The question at hand is what is the source of that seeming rationality. This is a very different question, one we have no precedent for.


You seem to be asking why "black" is "black" and why "wet" is "wet". The "phenomenon" have the properties which they have. Some we have explanations for, such as "black" absorbing the visible light spectrum that our eye is able to see, and some we do not. Yet. But with every passing decade we seem to answer more and more, and go further down the rabbit hole of science finding explanations for things which seemed all but fantastic only a few years earlier.

Rather than ascribe the condition of the universe to a great magician in the sky, how about ascribing it to "it is what it is", and giving the benefit of the doubt that eventually, with the progress we have made over the past four centuries and particularly over the last (contrasted with the millenia before when "magic" was the overarching answer) that those answers will come forth, or at least reasonable theories, hopefully testable in some fashion, will give the explanations which we have not yet achieved.

It seems a better idea that starting from the viewpoint than the answer is something which no one has ever produced a scintilla of evidence or proof, but which a lot of people "believe" because they have been brought up to "believe" since they were little children.

The current thinking is that those laws emerged at the time of the big bang (so they were in that sense "created").

They are what they are in this universe. In another, either parallel, displaced by a trillion gazillion years, or elsewhere, they might be entirely different. We don't know. We may never know. That still is not evidence of anything except that we don't know. Some folks somehow conflate "I don't know" into "Well if you don't know, then my answer of a Supreme Creator must be the correct one." Pfooey.
 
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I agree that the universe behaves in what seems like a rational and orderly way. If we assume that to be generally true, which most of us do, then it is reasonable to assume that any phenomenon observed within that universe will have a rational explanation. That is the presumption of science.


from another county --

*seemed* to behave in a rational and orderly way till i read some stuff about Quantum Physics .. rational perhaps ..not what i'd call orderly

assume which? that Universe IS 'rational and orderly' or SEEMS to be .. any Seems to Be could be purely the product of our minds ... SEEMS to be a human talent --finding patterns, order, reason, causes --whether they're really there or not.



=
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assume which? that Universe IS 'rational and orderly' or SEEMS to be .. any Seems to Be could be purely the product of our minds ... SEEMS to be a human talent --finding patterns, order, reason, causes --whether they're really there or not.

That's what I've been hearing, as we are capable of delving ever deeper into the forces that appear so orderly, the order is not glued together with very orderly stuff.

Someone better quote that in a high faluting science journal.
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"I think that it can be plausibly argued that the cause of the universe must be a personal Creator. For how else could a temporal effect arise from an eternal cause? If the cause were simply a mechanically operating set of necessary and sufficient conditions existing from eternity, then why would not the effect also exist from eternity? For example, if the cause of water's being frozen is the temperature's being below zero degrees, then if the temperature were below zero degrees from eternity, then any water present would be frozen from eternity. The only way to have an eternal cause but a temporal effect would seem to be if the cause is a personal agent who freely chooses to create an effect in time. For example, a man sitting from eternity may will to stand up; hence, a temporal effect may arise from an eternally existing agent. Indeed, the agent may will from eternity to create a temporal effect, so that no change in the agent need be conceived. Thus, we are brought not merely to the first cause of the universe, but to its personal Creator." (William Lane Craig)


This brings me back to radioactive alpha decay (yes, same old scratched disk ) The quote would imply IMO that uranium nuclei are intelligent, because they can just "sit" there fore eternity, remaining uranium, or decay at any time. Without any internal or external cause. It just happens sometimes because it can (and wants to :) )
And on the macro scale this personal decision of the U nucleus is even perfectly orderly and predictable.
Perhaps the postulates of quantum mechanics simply define intelligence. Then yes,maybe theists, deists, agnostics and atheists and any other weirdistst can all agree about the role of intelligence in the current laws of nature, in peace and harmony. (Merry Christmas everybody, a bit late, but time is relative anyway.)
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....Thus, we are brought not merely to the first cause of the universe, but to its personal Creator." (William Lane Craig)


Whether an eternal being created a cause or a temporary being created the same cause (truly, an event in time and space) does not matter. Call that time of event T0, regardless of its maker. Then all response to that event at T0 will equal the response at T0+ given whatever energy was imparted to whatever objects from that event at T0. Hence, at T0+, the response to that event will be indistingishable from one cause or another if any of those causes imparted the same energy to the same objects as any other of those causes. This will happen regardless of the owner of said causes or events. Whether it is God (in the shape of said man) standing up or the man.

It seems Craig is confused about what a cause is and the concept of having both infinities and finites coexisting.

- weitzhuis
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The quote would imply IMO that uranium nuclei are intelligent, because they can just "sit" there fore eternity, remaining uranium, or decay at any time.

Not my understanding at all. Uranium, given enough time (but much less than infinite time), will completely degrade.
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For example: What are the odds of fairies existing? 50%. The odds of leprechauns existing? 50%. Unicorns? 50%. So by this logic, the odds of at least one magical creature existing is 7/8, and just keeps going up the more types we throw in.

But we aren't talking about the probabilities of magical creatures living in an extensively surveyed ecosystem. What makes those creatures highly unlikely is that all our observations to date point to a rational, orderly universe that doesn't leave much room for short green dudes who store treasure at the end of rainbows.


You're missing the point of that analogy. The point is that if you have two alternatives that are *possible*, that does not automatically imply that the odds for either one are 50%. To assume the probabilities are identical is a very bad fallacy.

What argues for assuming an unintelligent source?

I already answered that question in my very first response on this thread. Intelligence is more complex than non-intelligence; assuming the existence of an intelligence for which there is no evidence is contrary to Occam's Razor.

Occam's Razor is a rule of thumb and not a law, of course. But you ask me why I don't give identical weight to "intelligence" vs. "non-intelligence" and that's my answer. As I already said, if you want me to grant that a god is *possible*, then I have granted it. But pending any reason to believe in such a god, I don't grant you my belief.
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Current observations indicate that order and consistency (e.g., "design") can arise from intelligence or from undirected events (e.g., Mandelbrot patterns, chance).

Given those observations, is there any reason to assume that the design of the universe more likely arose from intelligence (theism/deism) or from undirected events (atheism)?


Current observations indicate that people can be killed by machine guns, or by things that are not machine guns.

Given those observations, is there any reason to assume that Julius Caesar was more likely killed by a machine gun, or by a non-machine gun event?
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me : The quote would imply IMO that uranium nuclei are intelligent, because they can just "sit" there fore eternity, remaining uranium, or decay at any time.

bdhinton : Not my understanding at all. Uranium, given enough time (but much less than infinite time), will completely degrade.

Up to the last atom ? Alpha decay is a quantum tunneling phenomenon. What I really wanted to convey is, that there can be effects without cause, and some things just happen (or not) without intelligence (apparently, or not ? You tell me!)

Just like, given enough (non-)time, one or more universes can (must?)spontaneousy arise ? Or eventually you will roll three aces with dice. And if God doesn't play dice... maybe that's the proof that God doesn't exist. ;) Unless she does play with dice of course, but how are we to know ?
Actually, I can't think of a western God of gambling. (there are god(esses) of luck of course, like fortuna) but a quick google search came up with only an Aztec gambling God ( Macuilxochitl) , so perhaps the Aztecs identified the true God.

http://atheism.about.com/od/aztecgodsgoddesses/p/Macuilxochitl.htm
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Both make logical sense to me, because, as you say, both avenues are equally plausible.


Just because there are two possibilities does not mean there is a 50% likelihood of either possibility being correct.
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Up to the last atom ? Alpha decay is a quantum tunneling phenomenon. What I really wanted to convey is, that there can be effects without cause, and some things just happen (or not) without intelligence (apparently, or not ? You tell me!)


True enough Only as time goes to infinite will the probability of every atom decaying in a said sample will approach 100%, and, there is no way of telling when one particular atom will actually decay, only a probability that it will decay in a particular interval of time.

By the way, there is a finite, but vanishing small probability that any atom, save Hydrogen of atomic weight 1, will decay to a lighter nucleus.

-weitzhuis
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By the way, there is a finite, but vanishing small probability that any atom, save Hydrogen of atomic weight 1, will decay to a lighter nucleus.


interesting.

...but not by Alpha decay ...no?


[ so .. is it now absolutely accepted that Decay is an effect without cause? ]


=
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"I think that it can be plausibly argued that the cause of the universe must be a personal Creator.

"Must be". A "plausible" argument must follow that the cause of the universe "must be" a personal creator.

For how else could a temporal effect arise from an eternal cause? If the cause were simply a mechanically operating set of necessary and sufficient conditions existing from eternity, then why would not the effect also exist from eternity?

What evidence is there that the cause of the universe was an "eternally existing" set of necessary and sufficient conditions- mechanical or not?

For example, if the cause of water's being frozen is the temperature's being below zero degrees, then if the temperature were below zero degrees from eternity, then any water present would be frozen from eternity.

But temperature is a product of the existence of energy, and energy is a product of molecular activity, and molecules are a product of creation. What evidence is there that, before the known universe, there was either water or energy?

The only way to have an eternal cause but a temporal effect would seem to be if the cause is a personal agent who freely chooses to create an effect in time.

I still see no evidence of an eternal cause.

For example, a man sitting from eternity may will to stand up; hence, a temporal effect may arise from an eternally existing agent.

This finally argues against the whole premise. Apparently, the existence of an intelligence is presumed all along, and as I've said, there isn't any evidence presented that this is the case.

Indeed, the agent may will from eternity to create a temporal effect, so that no change in the agent need be conceived. Thus, we are brought not merely to the first cause of the universe, but to its personal Creator." (William Lane Craig)

Only if one is assumed in advance.

Every argument that claims the existence of a personal creator that I've ever heard boils down to this same thing- the existence of said creator is assumed in advance. He takes the guise of a purely mechanical engine for the con side, and is thus shown to be non-mechanical, but instead, intelligent. Obviously, the reasonableness of a machine God will pale in comparison to an intelligent one, but that solves nothing.

k
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Obviously, the reasonableness of a machine God will pale in comparison to an intelligent one, but that solves nothing.

The only reason I can see for this, though, is projection by we non-machine intelligent beings.
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so perhaps the Aztecs identified the true God.


Maybe that's why there's so many casinos in Mexico
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When will you realize that once "possibility" is allowed in scientific methodology without any means of testing or falsification, the whole method of discovery will fall like a house of cards??

--------------------------------------------------


k, haven't you heard me say its not enough that the T3SS "possibly" could have evolved into a flagellum? That I want some testable means of verifying it? How can you say I'm the one arguing for "possibility" in science? I thought I was arguing against settling for possibility and just-so stories.


The possibility of T3SS evolving into flagellum is assumed because the only evidence available suggests that biological structures have evolved. Is there evidence of a different means? No, there is no evidence of a different means. Science has to go with the evidence and proceed from there.

Every scientist on the planet is free to pursue whatever "possibility" they deem likely as long as they have the financial support and the brain trust with which to do so. There are millions of dollars spent on the plausibility of ID and billions of dollars available to any scientist that wishes to show evidence of some other means by which biological structures could have come about.

No one spends a dime on this. I'm thinking that there is a reason for that.

That's what you're arguing against, you know- a demand of proof.

Is that what you are arguing?

--------------------------------------------------------

I don't understand the question. In the context of this thread, I didn't know I was arguing anything.


No?

k
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By the way, there is a finite, but vanishing small probability that any atom, save Hydrogen of atomic weight 1, will decay to a lighter nucleus.

Actually, there is a theoretical phenomenon called proton decay. I don't know if having an electron bound to it makes any difference, and last I knew it had never been observed. I recall reading about an experiment to detect it many years ago, but never saw that they had. So, it is conceivable that even a proton (hydrogen) will decay.

1poorguy
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Every argument that claims the existence of a personal creator that I've ever heard boils down to this same thing- the existence of said creator is assumed in advance.

What is assumed is that some cause exists eternally, either intelligent or material. If there's truly only two options, and one is shown to be less plausible, the other is more plausible.

He takes the guise of a purely mechanical engine for the con side, and is thus shown to be non-mechanical, but instead, intelligent. Obviously, the reasonableness of a machine God will pale in comparison to an intelligent one, but that solves nothing.


It *proves* nothing. He's not saying it does.
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Obviously, the reasonableness of a machine God will pale in comparison to an intelligent one, but that solves nothing.

-------------------------------------------------------

The only reason I can see for this, though, is projection by we non-machine intelligent beings.


Exactly.

A machine God is just as preposterous as an intelligent one, but we make things, so we assume that something made us in much the same way. We also project that if a machine god made us, then something made the machine god.

What we fail to realize is that we, ourselves, are machines that operate according to our programming. The fact that we are self-programming according to our experiences (both biological (DNA) and sensual) leads us to believe that we have some sort of god-like power that lesser beings don't have. The fear of the faithful is that there simply may be no such thing as an eternal soul that makes us sentient and, well, eternal.

If we are the mechanical result of mechanical origins, then death is real. What we project as being the Eternal God is that part of ourselves that can actually survive the inevitability of our end. No God, no soul, no eternal survival.

It's really quite a masterful work- religion. Paintings and poetry pale in comparison to its appeal to our more artful selves. It will be difficult for us as a species to let it go, but the good news is that it isn't even important in the grand scheme of things.

Three thousand years ago, a virgin was sliced open from crotch to breast in order to maintain as sense of eternal existence for her people. Her mechanical mind told her that she was the most important person in the world in the moments leading to her death. On my way to work this morning, I saw an Opossum torn open in the middle of the road. This animal had no sense of being important to other Opossums at all.

k
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Actually, there is a theoretical phenomenon called proton decay. I don't know if having an electron bound to it makes any difference, and last I knew it had never been observed. I recall reading about an experiment to detect it many years ago, but never saw that they had. So, it is conceivable that even a proton (hydrogen) will decay.



weird stuff


In the Standard Model, protons, a type of baryon, are theoretically stable because baryon number is approximately conserved. That is, they will not decay perturbatively into other particles on their own because they are the lightest (and therefore least energetic) baryon.

Some beyond-the-Standard Model grand unified theories (GUTs) explicitly break the baryon number symmetry, allowing protons to decay via new X bosons. Proton decay is one of the few observable effects of the various proposed GUTs. To date, all attempts to observe these events have failed.

<>
To date, all attempts to observe these events have failed. Recent experiments at the Super-Kamiokande water Cherenkov radiation detector in Japan indicate that if protons decay at all, their half-life must be at least 10[^]35 years.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proton_decay
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Every argument that claims the existence of a personal creator that I've ever heard boils down to this same thing- the existence of said creator is assumed in advance.

------------------------------------------------------------

What is assumed is that some cause exists eternally, either intelligent or material. If there's truly only two options, and one is shown to be less plausible, the other is more plausible.


But the cause is formed in the language of an eternally existing individual, or state. The straw man of an eternally existing material cause is only the description of a mechanical God. If there was no God (whether mechanical or intelligent), which is difficult for you to grasp, then the eternity that existed prior to the universe may have been a constantly changing eternity.

He takes the guise of a purely mechanical engine for the con side, and is thus shown to be non-mechanical, but instead, intelligent. Obviously, the reasonableness of a machine God will pale in comparison to an intelligent one, but that solves nothing.

---------------------------------------------------------


It *proves* nothing. He's not saying it does.


Read it again.

k
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To date, all attempts to observe these events have failed. Recent experiments at the Super-Kamiokande water Cherenkov radiation detector in Japan indicate that if protons decay at all, their half-life must be at least 10[^]35 years.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proton_decay


That's even longer than I remember...I'm thinking it was quoted before at 10^30 years. But it was several years ago. Kamiokande sounds right. As I recall that was originally set up for neutrino detection*, but they decided proton decay was an added bonus. IIRC.

Fun stuff.

1poorguy

*The neutrinos they are looking for can -in theory- pass right through the entire planet without realizing they had done so. They are VERY non-interacting, making it very difficult to detect them. Hence the water Cherenkov detector deep in a lead(?) mine.
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radiation detector in Japan indicate that if protons decay at all, their half-life must be at least 10[^]35 years.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proton_decay

That's even longer than I remember...I'm thinking it was quoted before at 10^30 years



like the old joke ..

Teacher: there's a theory that Protons will all decay in 10^30th years

dozing student: WHAT?!?

Teacher: i SAID ... there's a theory that Protons will all decay in 10^30th years

dozing student: o.... i thought you said 10 ^ Thirteeenth ..and I was worried


-b
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What is assumed is that some cause exists eternally, either intelligent or material. If there's truly only two options, and one is shown to be less plausible, the other is more plausible.
---------
But the cause is formed in the language of an eternally existing individual, or state. The straw man of an eternally existing material cause is only the description of a mechanical God. If there was no God (whether mechanical or intelligent), which is difficult for you to grasp, then the eternity that existed prior to the universe may have been a constantly changing eternity.


What are you saying? If not eternally existing material cause, and not eternally existing personal cause, what then?

A "constantly changing eternity" of what?

Change implies prior states, which leads to an infinite regress. Craig argues against that, the statement I quoted assumes that discussion.

Bryan
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[ so .. is it now absolutely accepted that Decay is an effect without cause? ]


When you think about it, the answer may be yes and no. (How's that for quantum determinism !) If a fermilab scientist crashes to gold nuclei together to create a heavy unstable element, is the subsequent decay then caused by the scientist making that heavy nucleus in the first place? You can't say with absolute certainty that he will have for the that nucleus may never decay, but, he upped the odds that it will in a short period of time. Similiarly, all the Uranium that we know of, save a few atoms that may have been created in some accelarator, have been made in supernovae. So, can one argue that their decay was caused or, at least, made possible by those supernovea?

- weitzhuis
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What are you saying? If not eternally existing material cause, and not eternally existing personal cause, what then?

A "constantly changing eternity" of what?

Change implies prior states, which leads to an infinite regress. Craig argues against that, the statement I quoted assumes that discussion.


A constantly changing eternity of what?

Exactly.

The only reason I don't know and you do is because you believe in God.

To you, eternity exists as either something, or nothing. To me, eternity is outside of my scope of opinion. Since I can't answer your question, and you can, then you are correct by default, right?

I can't make the statement that eternity is nothing any more than I can tell you what my neighbors are having for dinner tonight!

The whole argument presented is based on either a God, or nothing at all that occurs forever. This argument forces me to come up with the origins of the universe out of nothing at all.

I am not qualified (nor is anyone else) to speak to such an argument.

You say you win by default, but I say that "I don't know" means that I am being absolutely scientific about the whole thing. You say that you do know, yet you have no evidence at all about your supposition!

You compare your theory against your own theory that if there is not God, then there is nothing at all. Science doesn't allow that argument. If we don't know, then we don't know.

Are you beginning to understand?

k
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You seem to be asking why "black" is "black" and why "wet" is "wet".

It's what scientists do.

Rather than ascribe the condition of the universe to a great magician in the sky, how about ascribing it to "it is what it is", and giving the benefit of the doubt that eventually, with the progress we have made over the past four centuries and particularly over the last (contrasted with the millenia before when "magic" was the overarching answer) that those answers will come forth, or at least reasonable theories, hopefully testable in some fashion, will give the explanations which we have not yet achieved.

I have no problem with that, though there is some question whether any event prior to the big bang will ever be accessible to experimental science.

What is being speculated upon is not whether science can come up with an answer, but rather what that answer might be. Will the answer be a detailed mechanistic description of why the universe is the way it appears, or will it be attributed to an improbable event occurring by chance?

If the latter , then consider this. If a supernatural event were to actually occur and be investigated scientifically, what conclusions could be made? The scientist would find an event without logical cause and attribute it to either something unknown or an improbable event occurring by chance.

That still is not evidence of anything except that we don't know. Some folks somehow conflate "I don't know" into "Well if you don't know, then my answer of a Supreme Creator must be the correct one."

Why isn't it equally ridiculous to "conflate "I don't know" into "Well if you don't know, then my answer of some random event must be the correct one"?
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Why isn't it equally ridiculous to "conflate "I don't know" into "Well if you don't know, then my answer of some random event must be the correct one"?

Because random events actually occur?

k
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The point is that if you have two alternatives that are *possible*, that does not automatically imply that the odds for either one are 50%. To assume the probabilities are identical is a very bad fallacy.

I'm not assuming anything. I don't know what the odds should be. You're the atheist who is assuming odds different from 50%.

I already answered that question in my very first response on this thread. Intelligence is more complex than non-intelligence; assuming the existence of an intelligence for which there is no evidence is contrary to Occam's Razor.

Why is assuming the existence of something complex rather than simple a violation of Occam's razor?

Occam's Razor is a rule of thumb and not a law, of course. But you ask me why I don't give identical weight to "intelligence" vs. "non-intelligence" and that's my answer.

From what I've read so far, it's a lousy answer.
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Given those observations, is there any reason to assume that Julius Caesar was more likely killed by a machine gun, or by a non-machine gun event?

We know with reasonable certainty that there were no machine guns during Caesar's time, so the latter is best assumed.

So what is it that you know about the origin of the big bang that makes your analogy relevant?
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Buttin' in here-

I already answered that question in my very first response on this thread. Intelligence is more complex than non-intelligence; assuming the existence of an intelligence for which there is no evidence is contrary to Occam's Razor.

------------------------------------------------------------

Why is assuming the existence of something complex rather than simple a violation of Occam's razor?


Occam suggested that the introduction of assumptions should be held to a minimum. If there were an assumption that at least has some support through evidence, I'm sure it wouldn't be a deal breaker to allow it. But one that has absolutely NO support through evidence?

Occam's Razor is a rule of thumb and not a law, of course. But you ask me why I don't give identical weight to "intelligence" vs. "non-intelligence" and that's my answer.

---------------------------------------------------------

From what I've read so far, it's a lousy answer.


Might I submit that you, personally, have evidence of a creator? I'm certain that you do.

k
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Given those observations, is there any reason to assume that Julius Caesar was more likely killed by a machine gun, or by a non-machine gun event?

----------------------------------------------------------

We know with reasonable certainty that there were no machine guns during Caesar's time, so the latter is best assumed.

So what is it that you know about the origin of the big bang that makes your analogy relevant?


Oh come on!

What good would an analogy be that didn't include evidence that it was wrong? What if we didn't know when machine guns were invented?

k
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The neutrinos they are looking for can -in theory- pass right through the entire planet without realizing they had done so.


Like a fact through a creationist's head.
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Change implies prior states, which leads to an infinite regress. Craig argues against that, the statement I quoted assumes that discussion.

The "infinite regress" argument is flawed, because you cannot reason about infinity by intuition. You need a mathematical context, otherwise you're simply repeating Zeno's story of Achilles and the turtle.

An interesting analogy is the "fall into a black hole" if you wish. When you calculate the trajectory for a remote observer, the thing falling in the black hole stops at the Schwarzschild radius, because time simply stops there. The object's "light cones" completely fold up, so here is an apparent case of eternity within our temporal universe.
Yet we can get out of this strange situation by transforming some of the coordinates. Infinites disappear, the lightcones come back, but tilted in a
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Change implies prior states, which leads to an infinite regress. Craig argues against that, the statement I quoted assumes that discussion.

The "infinite regress" argument is flawed, because you cannot reason about infinity by intuition. You need a mathematical context, otherwise you're simply repeating Zeno's story of Achilles and the turtle.

An interesting analogy is the "fall into a black hole" if you wish. When you calculate the trajectory for a remote observer, the thing falling in the black hole stops at the Schwarzschild radius, because time simply stops there. The object's "light cones" completely fold up, so here is an apparent case of eternity within our temporal universe.
Yet we can get out of this strange situation by transforming some of the coordinates. Infinites disappear, the lightcones come back, but tilted so that any "forward" move in time can only proceed in one spacial direction : towards the black hole center.

That shows how careful you should be with extrapolating (our familiar concept of ) time back to the big bang and beyond. It simply makes no sense to do that with "Galileian" time and space concepts. It makes even less sense to conclude that such a simple extrapolation is incomprehensible and that it therefore somehow makes an argument for a Deity (or intelligence or whatever you swant to call it)

Details about moving through the Schwarzschild radius here : page 131 and following:
http://www.unine.ch/phys/string/lecturesGR.pdf

(Sorry for the previous, incomplete post. I typed a <tab> instead of the "a", and this followed by a <space> posts whatever you've typed up to then .)
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Just because there are two possibilities does not mean there is a 50% likelihood of either possibility being correct.

No question. But if you follow the logical trail, you're left with this:

Science cannot prove god does not exist.

A creator can prove it does exist if it ever chooses to appear and appease Kazim as to its authenticity.

Even without a 50-50 chance, with even just a 99.99999999 to 0.00000001 chance, a pragmatist such as myself will leave the door open.

The best science can achieve is a reasonable explanation for everything that has happened once the whole ball of wax started rolling.

I'm not arguing in favor of either belief, god or no god, I'm just saying that whatever the "odds," you really can't close the door with certitude.

Nigel
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What are you saying? If not eternally existing material cause, and not eternally existing personal cause, what then?

A "constantly changing eternity" of what?

Change implies prior states, which leads to an infinite regress. Craig argues against that, the statement I quoted assumes that discussion.
-------------------

A constantly changing eternity of what?

Exactly.

The only reason I don't know and you do is because you believe in God.

To you, eternity exists as either something, or nothing. To me, eternity is outside of my scope of opinion. Since I can't answer your question, and you can, then you are correct by default, right?

I can't make the statement that eternity is nothing any more than I can tell you what my neighbors are having for dinner tonight!

The whole argument presented is based on either a God, or nothing at all that occurs forever. This argument forces me to come up with the origins of the universe out of nothing at all.


You are not making sense. Read the bolded statement above. The two options are not God or nothing. The options are matter/energy existing forever, or a personal causal agent existing forever. I'm *ignoring* what I consider the absurd option that one or the other popped into existence out of nothing.

You certainly have the ability to ponder what makes more sense. If your neighbor told you they were grilling chicken tonight, and you can smell burning chicken grease wafting over from their yard, even if you can't see into their yard to confirm your suspicions, you can do more than throw your hands up and say you don't have a clue what they're eating.

Bryan
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An interesting analogy is the "fall into a black hole" if you wish. When you calculate the trajectory for a remote observer, the thing falling in the black hole stops at the Schwarzschild radius, because time simply stops there. The object's "light cones" completely fold up, so here is an apparent case of eternity within our temporal universe.
Yet we can get out of this strange situation by transforming some of the coordinates. Infinites disappear, the lightcones come back, but tilted so that any "forward" move in time can only proceed in one spacial direction : towards the black hole center.

That shows how careful you should be with extrapolating (our familiar concept of ) time back to the big bang and beyond. It simply makes no sense to do that with "Galileian" time and space concepts. It makes even less sense to conclude that such a simple extrapolation is incomprehensible and that it therefore somehow makes an argument for a Deity (or intelligence or whatever you swant to call it)


I've often flirted with the notion that time is the creator. It has been pointed out that time is relative, and if nothing existed prior to <big bang, god, multi-verse, other>, there would be no time, but relative to me, in the Galilein sense, time flows backward and forward from my present forever. Time predates everything whether one prefers an active agent or natural causes. Might not work nice and neat from a physical sense, but given my limits, it does provide perspective I can grasp.

Nigel
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Why is assuming the existence of something complex rather than simple a violation of Occam's razor?

That's the DEFINITION of Occam's Razor.
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I've often flirted with the notion that time is the creator. It has been pointed out that time is relative, and if nothing existed prior to <big bang, god, multi-verse, other>, there would be no time, but relative to me, in the Galilein sense, time flows backward and forward from my present forever. Time predates everything whether one prefers an active agent or natural causes. Might not work nice and neat from a physical sense, but given my limits, it does provide perspective I can grasp.

My hunch is that the time-dimension we know from experience is not useful to philosophize about the beginning of the universe. It is very tightly related to space. all kinds of paradoxes arise when we project our familiar notion of space and time to conditions that are beyond our normal experience (high speed, large gravity, very small or large scale etc...)
BTW, in relativity, the dimension "ct" (time multiplied by the constant light velocity) is used rather than simply time. This gives the time dimension a "spacial" unit of measure.
Here's a quote from the link I posted earlier for some more black hole fun :

The Kerr metric describes a rotating black hole and is characterised by its mass M and its angular momentum J. Now one no longer has spherical symmetry (because the axis of rotation picks out a particular direction) but only axial symmetry. The situation is thus a priori much more complicated. A stationary solution (i.e. one with a time-like Killing vector, `static' is a slightly stronger condition) was found by Kerr only in 1963, almost fty years after the Schwarzschild and Reissner-Nordstrom solutions. Its singularity and horizon structure is much more intricate and intriguing than that of the solutions discussed before. One can pass from one universe into a different asymptotically flat universe. The singularity at r = 0 has been spread out into a ring; if one enters into the ring, one can not only emerge into a different asymptotically flat space-time but one can also turn back in time (there are closed time-like curves), one can dip into the black hole and emerge with more energy than one had before (at the expense of the angular momentum of the black hole), etc. etc. All this is fun but also rather technical and I will not go into any of this here.
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We know with reasonable certainty that there were no machine guns during Caesar's time, so the latter is best assumed

We certainly do not know that. All we know is that we don't KNOW of any machine guns in Julius Caesar's time. Yet we know that it is possible for machine guns to exist. So what is your proof that machine guns did not exist then?

Another thing we know is that it is much easier to kill someone with a machine gun than without one. Given the reasonable belief that Julius Caesar was killed (rather than dying of natural causes), isn't it fair to say that if there is even a small chance that machine guns existed, then it is at least equally likely that they were used as that they were not?

Why is assuming the existence of something complex, like a machine gun, not plausible to you, when it can be used as a handy explanation for Julius Caesar's death?
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centromere:
So why do atheists believe that unmoved mover is more likely to not be sentient than the alternative?

If you believe a Deity could have created the universe, then why do you think he created it as it is ?
The early universe was extremely unstable, very low entropy in what looks like something of an extremely improbable state, which is why billions of years later it is still moving towards a more "equilibrated" state.
So why would a creator not create a steady-state universe immediately ? That's what most religions seem to tell us is what happened anyway.
What does this strange primordial universe tell you about the nature of the creator ? Could it mean he was constrained by physical laws ?
If that is the case how did those physical laws come to be ?
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You are not making sense. Read the bolded statement above. The two options are not God or nothing. The options are matter/energy existing forever, or a personal causal agent existing forever. I'm *ignoring* what I consider the absurd option that one or the other popped into existence out of nothing.

There is matter/energy, God, nothing, and that's it? How do you know that?

My problem with the whole argument has always been the origins of one of the possibilities presented- God. Why is a god an option? Really! Is it because there has ever been any evidence whatsoever that one exists? or is it because God is a holdover from a more superstitious past? What makes a god a valid option in the first place?

You certainly have the ability to ponder what makes more sense. If your neighbor told you they were grilling chicken tonight, and you can smell burning chicken grease wafting over from their yard, even if you can't see into their yard to confirm your suspicions, you can do more than throw your hands up and say you don't have a clue what they're eating.

He didn't say he's grilling chicken tonight- he said he's replicating Vulcan stew. While I smell grilled chicken, I cannot be certain of exactly what he's preparing. My senses tell me that he's probably grilling chicken despite what he says, and my sensibilities tell me that what he told me was based on a man-made imaginary process and dish! :o)

k
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Why is assuming the existence of something complex, like a machine gun, not plausible to you,



Because complicated things like machine guns dn't form themselves out of nothing.


Only infinitely complicated things like gods do.
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We certainly do not know that. All we know is that we don't KNOW of any machine guns in Julius Caesar's time.

Guns are proof of ID. Guns don't kill people, ID does.

By way of logic, Julius Caesar was killed by ID.
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We know with reasonable certainty that there were no machine guns during Caesar's time, so the latter is best assumed.

Are you sure of that ? The Romans employed a repeating ballista at least by the time they invaded Britain under Claudius (~43AD).

This weapon might certainly have existed in Caesar's time.
But Caesar wasn't killed by a repeating ballista. There are documents about his death and lots of documents and traces of the civil wars that were fought as a result of the event.
Contrary to gods, angels and demons who have left little (not one) identifiable historical trace.
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There is matter/energy, God, nothing, and that's it? How do you know that?


I don't know it, but it's all I can think of. I have experience with both material and personal causes. I don't know of any other types of causes.

My problem with the whole argument has always been the origins of one of the possibilities presented- God. Why is a god an option? Really! Is it because there has ever been any evidence whatsoever that one exists? or is it because God is a holdover from a more superstitious past? What makes a god a valid option in the first place?


Because the data is compatible with (and I say favors) a purposeful design, and that implies certain things.

Or if you prefer, some people say they walked and talked with this guy who was alive, both before and after he died, who said he could forgive sins. Either its true, or somebody made it all up. My spidey sense says its true, but . . .

He didn't say he's grilling chicken tonight- he said he's replicating Vulcan stew.

LOL

Bryan
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So, it is conceivable that even a proton (hydrogen) will decay.
------------
weird stuff
-----------------
Again, the many Universes are queerer than anyones limited brain power could possibly imagine.
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There is matter/energy, God, nothing, and that's it? How do you know that?

---------------------------------------

I don't know it, but it's all I can think of. I have experience with both material and personal causes. I don't know of any other types of causes.


And when we didn't know about germs, we used to bleed people to death to make them better.

k
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When you think about it, the answer may be yes and no.
------------

Well, as any self respecting quantum physics type will utter, yes &/or no depends on what dimension one may be referring to & all.
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The great Van Morrison takes what might seem the middle way, which I tend to do as well:

"It just is, it just is".
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I've often flirted with the notion that time is the creator. It has been pointed out that time is relative, and if nothing existed prior to <big bang, god, multi-verse, other>, there would be no time, but relative to me, in the Galilein sense, time flows backward and forward from my present forever. Time predates everything whether one prefers an active agent or natural causes. Might not work nice and neat from a physical sense, but given my limits, it does provide perspective I can grasp.

Nigel
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I might refer you to Douglas Adams Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy for answers proper & all.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/cult/hitchhikers/
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Why is assuming the existence of something complex, like a machine gun, not plausible to you
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Because complicated things like machine guns dn't form themselves out of nothing.
-----------------

Well, Leonardo had this in mind:

http://inventors.about.com/od/dstartinventors/ig/Inventions-of-Leonardo-DaVinci/Eight-Barrelled-Machine-Gun.htm
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Well, as any self respecting quantum physics type will utter, yes &/or no depends on what dimension one may be referring to & all.


:)

But, i do think this does open up the question of what exactly happens when one makes an event or a change in the universe. If i push a pencil across the desk, what is really happening? At the quantum level, am i merely changing the probability that one will find the pencil's particles at the new location? For the pencil, the outcome is a near certainty, but for an electron in a memory cell, this could have serious consequences.

This might shed new light on the missing socks in the dryer conundrum !

- weitzhuis
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This might shed new light on the missing socks in the dryer conundrum !


? i thought that was well-settled Quantum Tunneling Effect ...


-b

but (IMO) quantum effects do mess with the naive notion of 'cause'
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Based on your experience, are consistent and orderly laws something normally attributed to design or random events?

To random events, of course.

Design, or more specifically, human design, is a disorderly affair and can be quite inconsistent. One day, you have vacuum tubes. The next, you have transistors, and nobody designs any new vacuum tubes anymore. One day, everybody's wearing crinolines, and some 200 years later, everybody is prancing around in mini-skirts and stilettoes. As the say on Project Runway, one day you're 'in', and another, you are 'out'.

This is because design does not have to be either orderly or (self-)consistent to be effective.

Random events, on the other hand, have to be at least consistently random to be considered truly random. There have been postulated certain interesting implications of, e.g., random behavior of thermodynamic ensembles. E.g., the ergodic hypothesis states that for a particle that randomly moves through all its accessible states with the same energy these states are uniformly distributed. A more accesible example of this behavior is the flipping of the coin that has a 50 / 50 chance of falling onto each of its sides. Why is this probability so symmetric, you may ask yourself? Your gut feeling will tell you that it ought to be symmetric for equivalent outcomes of coin-flipping. Your gut has just produced ergodic hypothesis.

Symmetry and uniformity are the cornerstones of randomness.

2195501y
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My hunch is that the time-dimension we know from experience is not useful to philosophize about the beginning of the universe. It is very tightly related to space. all kinds of paradoxes arise when we project our familiar notion of space and time to conditions that are beyond our normal experience (high speed, large gravity, very small or large scale etc...)
BTW, in relativity, the dimension "ct" (time multiplied by the constant light velocity) is used rather than simply time. This gives the time dimension a "spacial" unit of measure.


I get that part, but let me ask you this, as we stand here, right now, and "look" at our universe, do we not gaze back within our own perception and concept of time? Case in point, time is altered in a black hole, but from a theoretical and philosophical perspective, if we were to stand outside and follow back in time, would we not see the formation of a black hole and a galaxy around it? And prior to that a dense gas cloud, and prior to that sparse matter, and prior to that....who knows. And if we created a telescope that can see that far away, wouldn't we see back to beginning from right here and now?

If we can do that, why can't time predate everything?

Curious,

Nigel
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If we can do that, why can't time predate everything?

Curious,

Nigel
-------------

Who says it can't?
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Who says it can't?

The scientists who certainly understand time better than I do.

Time from a purely mechanical aspect has properties that say it can't predate space. The two are different sides of the same coin.

But time, for we humans, is also an abstract concept. This abstract notion gets blurred by the fact that it is very intertwined with a mechanical recognition of what time is, but our mechanical understanding of time as we go through life is deficient.

I think.
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Who says it can't?

The scientists who certainly understand time better than I do.

Time from a purely mechanical aspect has properties that say it can't predate space. The two are different sides of the same coin.

But time, for we humans, is also an abstract concept. This abstract notion gets blurred by the fact that it is very intertwined with a mechanical recognition of what time is, but our mechanical understanding of time as we go through life is deficient.

I think.

I think the above says it better than I did. My thoughts exactly.

What makes it all even more difficult is the difference between the dimension of time and the concept of causality. We look back in time as a series of cause-and-effect events, but in space-time, events can be separated by time-space distances that make any cause-effect between the two impossible. And that implies that different observers can "see" these events occur in a different sequence in their own time frame.
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What makes it all even more difficult is the difference between the dimension of time and the concept of causality. We look back in time as a series of cause-and-effect events, but in space-time, events can be separated by time-space distances that make any cause-effect between the two impossible. And that implies that different observers can "see" these events occur in a different sequence in their own time frame.


Does that imply that God could "see" our future in a different sequence than we experience it?

We experience time as a one-dimensional line. Some have argued God has access to time as a two-dimensional plane, from an observation point beyond the plane.
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Does that imply that God could "see" our future in a different sequence than we experience it?

We experience time as a one-dimensional line. Some have argued God has access to time as a two-dimensional plane, from an observation point beyond the plane.

Of course not, nothing in general or special relativity implies anything about any kind of god. check out Einstein's train paradox for an example of what I mean. (The guy standing next to the railroadtrack sees simultaneous events, while the train passengers see one occurring after the other -- verified by their local clocks of course.)

Your god exists in your mind and you can give him any power you want, but I suppose you won't be able to produce a "god-equation" that can predict when the next divine intervention will occur.
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Nigel, that pesky spacetime thingy is always getting blurry as new & improved theories take root.

Here is how I had understood it, so simultaniety may just be a relative term at best.

Space-time is essentially a "curved" geometric construct that allows for the relativity of simultaneity. In other words, if one observer correctly concludes that two events occur simultaneously, the same events would appear to take place at different times to an observer who was in motion relative to the first observer. Both the observer who measures the two events to be taking place simultaneously, and the observer who measures the events as taking place at different times, are right! One observer may see a firecracker they are holding and a second firecracker that a friend is holding explode at exactly the same time, while a third observer moving relative to the other two may see one firecracker explode before the other firecracker. Relativity tells us that both are right! Both time and space are relative, and are "different" for observers in relative motion to one another. For one observer the firecrackers actually did explode at precisely the same time, while for the other observer the explosions of the firecrackers actually did occur seconds apart. The time and distance measured by each observer is different, both are right, neither is wrong!
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We experience time as a one-dimensional line. Some have argued God has access to time as a two-dimensional plane, from an observation point beyond the plane.
---------

My best guess, if I were to, would have to agree that not merely 2 dimensions but more likely uncountable dimensions.

That God certainly is one trippy concept.
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We experience time as a one-dimensional line. Some have argued God has access to time as a two-dimensional plane, from an observation point beyond the plane.



So? Is there any evidence for that? Some also argue that God is outside space and time, which is impossible for an omnipresent God.


People make a lot of silly arguments.
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What makes it all even more difficult is the difference between the dimension of time and the concept of causality. We look back in time as a series of cause-and-effect events, but in space-time, events can be separated by time-space distances that make any cause-effect between the two impossible. And that implies that different observers can "see" these events occur in a different sequence in their own time frame.

Okay, so then we have three alternatives for the beginning of everything:

1). Supernatural

2). Natural cause and effect.

3). It just happened, no cause needed?

And if I'm getting this right, then both 1 and 2 are more likely to have stronger theological/philosophical concepts incorporated within them?

What I'm trying to piece together is, what is essential for creation to happen? If the answer is time and space we can formulate a concept of the beginning, and explore creation.

Let's look at this from a relative stand point. The contemplation of creation cannot take place without sentient beings reasoning the event. If we are to extrapolate in a general sense from here, any sentient creature anywhere in our universe is subject to the same perception of time and causality. From our (meaning any reasoning creature anywhere) relative standpoint, the beginning was the effect, and something should have caused it.

Now we find ourselves on turtles all the way down, so we have to make a leap and go supernatural, or simultaneous.

I want to leap to time as a resolution. Where I struggle with the blur between literal and abstract is the answer to this question: If nothing existed before the big bang, nothing at all, then why can I still conceive of time passing or being marked by me prior to the big bang?

From a philosophical bent, time is abstract, and the concept of time can predate matter, relative to us here and now, even if the physical form of time cannot.

Since we've left the realm of evolution temporarily, and the mighty flagellum has taken a back seat to the very instant of existence, might as well cease the moment.

Nigel
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The time and distance measured by each observer is different, both are right, neither is wrong!

No doubt. I'm taking it all the way down, since I am the one contemplating the beginning, it's occurence is relative to me.
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So? Is there any evidence for that? Some also argue that God is outside space and time, which is impossible for an omnipresent God.


People make a lot of silly arguments.


As much as I enjoy the pugilistic nature of this board as much as the next guy, asking questions as we quest for understanding really shouldn't be cause for a pop on the nose.

Now, if he was asserting that the duality of time was proof of god, I'd hold his arms back while you pummeled him.

Nigel
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OCD: seize, however "cease" was likely a Freudian slip
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The time and distance measured by each observer is different, both are right, neither is wrong!


Another way to put it is to really view time and space as a four dimensional construct. Two events (in this case, the two firecrackers) are happen at their own points in spacetime. They are then separated by a distance in this spacetime construct. A distance that has x,y,z and i*ct components. Now, the trick is, just because one observer is moving and another isn't, and so forth, shouldn't make a wit of difference to this distance. This is called invariance. I.e. Chicago and New York remain the same distance apart whether you use feet or meters to measure it. It simply exists as it is. So what is happening then? The observer who sees the firecrackers exploding simultaneously, is merely viewing the spacetime distance of these two events along a constant time coordinate, while the other observer is seeing this same distance (a line segment, if you will) down an angle that isn't along a constant time coordinate. We humans see it as a seeming paradox because we can't see four dimensional spacetime objects constructs directly.

- weitzhuis
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Me: "Why is assuming the existence of something complex rather than simple a violation of Occam's razor?"

Mapletree: "That's the DEFINITION of Occam's Razor."

Nope. Occam's razor has to do with preferring theories with the fewest number of assumptions. The more assumptions required in an explanation, the lower the probability of that explanation being correct.

In the case of the origin of the universe, we have the theist view that an intelligence created the universe.

The atheist view is that the big bang occurred spontaneously.

Two different proposals that each require whopping big assumptions. It's not clear to me which way the razor should favor. It was pretty clear to William of Ockham however as he was a theist.
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Why is assuming the existence of something complex, like a machine gun, not plausible to you, when it can be used as a handy explanation for Julius Caesar's death?

Because there is a wealth of historical data indicating that the Romans of Caesar's time did not have the technology. Trust me. We can go over it if you want but it seems pretty silly.

To put it another way for those who are particularly stubborn. The preponderance of the existing data for the Roman Empire during the time of Caesar, of which there is a great deal, indicate that machine guns weren't available. To assume the existence of such would require a number of unlikely assumptions about the incorrectness of the historical information, a clear violation of Occam's razor.

In contrast, the data that describes the source of the big bang is sparse, to say the least. In the absence of data, one should be careful about making conclusions about the nature of that source.

Seems pretty obvious.
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Because complicated things like machine guns dn't form themselves out of nothing.

The universe is far more complex than a machine gun. It follows then that in your world-view the universe could not form itself out of nothing.

Another closet theist.
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The universe is far more complex than a machine gun.


But far less complex than an omnicubed god, and therefore more likely to occur.



It follows then that in your world-view the universe could not form itself out of nothing.


The universe itself appears to add up to nothing. What's so hard about getting nothing from nothing?


Another closet theist.


Another nonsensical excuse for an argument.
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But far less complex than an omnicubed god, and therefore more likely to occur.

You keep making one-liners like this that are never justified. Apparently a student of the Karl Rove method of political debate. Why does the universe have to be far less complex than the presumptive being that created it? I'm sure you've heard of deism and other variations of that type.

The universe itself appears to add up to nothing. What's so hard about getting nothing from nothing?

If you really believe this argument, then you should have no problem with the existence of an intelligent creator comprised of an equal balance between positive and negative energy/mass.

Another nonsensical excuse for an argument.

My calling you a closet theist wasn't an argument. It was an observation.
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Because there is a wealth of historical data indicating that the Romans of Caesar's time did not have the technology. Trust me. We can go over it if you want but it seems pretty silly.

What, so now you're saying that absence of evidence is evidence of absence? That you can conclusively prove that some Roman secret society couldn't have had machine guns and just not shared this knowledge in written form?

In contrast, the data that describes the source of the big bang is sparse, to say the least. In the absence of data, one should be careful about making conclusions about the nature of that source.

Oh, this is just too easy. It sounds like all that's bothering you is that we have TOO MUCH data from Rome, so I'll run around that objection right away. Let's ditch Rome and head back to the Chinese Xia dynasty, circa 1600 BCE. As far as I can tell, we have no surviving writing from that period, only legendary texts.

Therefore, surely you must grant that it is just as likely as not that Emperor Yu the Great was killed by a machine gun. In fact, Wikipedia even states that he was killed on a hunting tour. Surely hunting is easier with a machine gun, and that would certainly fill in the vague details of his death which would otherwise be lost to history.

Now prove me wrong. It sounds like your standard is that we are free to make up any entity we want, as long as there is no writing available to contradict it.
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My calling you a closet theist wasn't an argument. It was an observation.

An observation based on a clearly sarcastic post which was parodying theism?
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Because there is a wealth of historical data indicating that the Romans of Caesar's time did not have the technology. Trust me. We can go over it if you want but it seems pretty silly.

Similarly, there is a wealth of scientific data indicating that the conditions in the early universe did not support sentience, and that sentience does not provide any ability to violate the conservation of energy or any other natural laws.


To put it another way for those who are particularly stubborn. The preponderance of the existing data for the Roman Empire during the time of Caesar, of which there is a great deal, indicate that machine guns weren't available. To assume the existence of such would require a number of unlikely assumptions about the incorrectness of the historical information, a clear violation of Occam's razor.

Similarly, the preponderance of the existing data for sentience suggests that it requires an old universe to exist at all. To assume the existence of sentience that existed otherwise would require a number of unlikely assumptions about the incorrectness of sentience requiring complex arrangements of mass and energy resulting from long periods of matter interacting via natural laws.

In contrast, the data that describes the source of the big bang is sparse, to say the least. In the absence of data, one should be careful about making conclusions about the nature of that source.

Hence:

The Big Bang is the cosmological model of the universe whose primary assertion is that the universe has expanded into its current state from a primordial condition of enormous density and temperature.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_bang

There are only conjectures about how the initial situation came to be, not conclusions. But based on what we DO know about sentience and how it works (machine guns and how they come to be), the idea that one just existed without evolving in an old universe (being built by living designers with knowledge of gunpowder, metallurgy, etc.) is laughable.
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What, so now you're saying that absence of evidence is evidence of absence? That you can conclusively prove that some Roman secret society couldn't have had machine guns and just not shared this knowledge in written form?

We were talking Occam's razor weren't we? This does not require one to "conclusively prove", which as you point out is difficult. It involves the preponderance of the evidence.

Therefore, surely you must grant that it is just as likely as not that Emperor Yu the Great was killed by a machine gun. In fact, Wikipedia even states that he was killed on a hunting tour. Surely hunting is easier with a machine gun, and that would certainly fill in the vague details of his death which would otherwise be lost to history.

Wow. I can't believe you of all people would be posting something like this. First, the proponderance of the evidence indicates that the technology for machine guns was not present anywhere in 1600 BCE. Given what we know about the historical progression of technology it is highly unlikely that such technology was available even in unknown societies of that period. Therefore, the correct application of Occam's razor is to assume that the Xia dynasty was not substantially more advanced than the other leading civilizations at the time, and therefore did not have machine guns, or nuclear weapons for that matter.

Furthermore, in the absence of data, one should be careful about speculating too specifically about any event. A far more valid (and intellectually honest) analogy that is far more comparable to the issue in question would be to ask whether Emperor Yu was killed by an undirected, spontaneous event, or by intelligent design (e.g., assassination).

For this question, Occam's razor would suggest that a conclusion is not possible given the lack of data. You, I'm guessing, would assert emphatically that it was by accident since you seem in this thread to be against anything intelligent.
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Similarly, there is a wealth of scientific data indicating that the conditions in the early universe did not support sentience, and that sentience does not provide any ability to violate the conservation of energy or any other natural laws.

Materialists assert that sentience is simply a question of complexity. We are also talking about the situation before the natural laws of this particular universe were established. If the universe emerged from nothing, then exceptions to the conservation of energy would have to be made regardless of a theistic or atheistic outlook.

Similarly, the preponderance of the existing data for sentience suggests that it requires an old universe to exist at all. To assume the existence of sentience that existed otherwise would require a number of unlikely assumptions about the incorrectness of sentience requiring complex arrangements of mass and energy resulting from long periods of matter interacting via natural laws.

The question is whether these assumptions are substantially more than required for a universe to spontaneously emerge from nothing.

But based on what we DO know about sentience and how it works (machine guns and how they come to be), the idea that one just existed without evolving in an old universe (being built by living designers with knowledge of gunpowder, metallurgy, etc.) is laughable.

As opposed to colliding "branes" producing multiverses? Is the notion of a near infinite number of parallel universes substantially more acceptable to Occam's razor than an intelligent designer?
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One last comment before I wish you all a Happy New Year.

Kazim said: Now prove me wrong. It sounds like your standard is that we are free to make up any entity we want, as long as there is no writing available to contradict it.

I'm not making up any entity. Belief in some entity has been around for a long time, no need for me to make anything up. Theism has been the dominant belief of our species for a long time. That alone justifies considering it seriously. It may be wrong, but one can't just dismiss it out of hand.

There is also the question of where does the observed order in the universe come from. Science has no answer for that. We know random events can produce order and we know intelligence can. The question then is whether the order observed in the universe is more consistent with one or the other.

Atheists answer that question one way, theists the other. I don't have an objection with either, though I am curious about the reasoning. From the posts so far, the reasoning for both sides seem to rely more on faith than a lot of you are comfortable in admitting. Tough.

Now what I do object to is the assertion that the question itself is nonsensical. I think that is nonsense. I also think you folks need to learn a bit more about the correct usage of Occam's razor.

And with that bit of admitted pretentiousness I wish you all a Happy New Year.
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We are also talking about the situation before the natural laws of this particular universe were established.

What the... what the hell does that mean? Why do you believe there ever WAS such a situation? How would we go about coming to ANY conclusion about it if there were?


If the universe emerged from nothing, then exceptions to the conservation of energy would have to be made regardless of a theistic or atheistic outlook.

Of course.


The question is whether these assumptions are substantially more than required for a universe to spontaneously emerge from nothing.

I hold no beliefs about what is required for a universe to spontaneously emerge from nothing. I' not sure I even understand what 'nothing' in this context means. No energy existing in a given volume of space-time? No energy existing in no volume of space-time with no consistent relationships that can be phrased as laws?


As opposed to colliding "branes" producing multiverses? Is the notion of a near infinite number of parallel universes substantially more acceptable to Occam's razor than an intelligent designer?

I don't know enough about "branes" to competently discuss them. For mulitiverses, I'm vaguely familiar with the many worlds interpretation of quantum mechanics, but that has nothing to do with universe beginnings. I'm also vaguely familiar with the idea of eternal inflation.

For eternal inflation, we have an already moderately accepted idea of inflation that gives us multiverses. The additional universes are almost a side-effect of the inflation that was only proposed to explain the homogeneity of our universe. I'm still not convinced inflation itself is correct, though; it seems pretty ad-hoc. <shrug>

Proposing an intelligence by itself does nothing. In proposing an intelligent-designer-of-universes, you are proposing a new class of 'life' and another set of meta-laws that this 'life' operates under. You are comparing (one additional super-being and an unknown set of meta-laws that govern his existence) to (additional independent universes as a consequence of laws that govern in our universe also).

At least Kazim's proposed machine gun in ancient Rome answers a definite question (what caused the death of a certain person) and proposes a fairly well-defined object (a machine gun.) It may violate everything we understand about the requirements of how machine guns come to be, but we can obtain examples of machine guns existing and killing people anytime we want. We cannot obtain examples of natural laws coming into existence much less intelligent beings creating natural laws and still have to ignore everything we understand about the requirements for how intelligence comes to be in order to propose an intelligent-designer-of-universes.
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Belief in some entity has been around for a long time, no need for me to make anything up. Theism has been the dominant belief of our species for a long time. That alone justifies considering it seriously. It may be wrong, but one can't just dismiss it out of hand.

When every single person you ask, directly or indirectly, gives you a bad reason for believing it, then I can and do dismiss it out of hand. For as long as I can remember, actually.
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But far less complex than an omnicubed god, and therefore more likely to occur.
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You keep making one-liners like this that are never justified.




An infinitely-complex god must be more complex than a finitely-complex universe or machine gun. It's very simple.


The universe itself appears to add up to nothing. What's so hard about getting nothing from nothing?
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If you really believe this argument, then you should have no problem with the existence of an intelligent creator comprised of an equal balance between positive and negative energy/mass.



My statement is based on actual observation and evidence. Yours is not.



My calling you a closet theist wasn't an argument. It was an observation.


I don't believe in the supernatural because there is zero evidence for it. There is no reason to call me a theist, except to be a jerk.
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Theism has been the dominant belief of our species for a long time. That alone justifies considering it seriously.


No. No, it doesn't.



There is also the question of where does the observed order in the universe come from. Science has no answer for that.



Mysteries are not miracles.
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But far less complex than an omnicubed god, and therefore more likely to occur.
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An infinitely-complex god must be more complex than a finitely-complex universe or machine gun. It's very simple.



*i* wonder if "Complex" can be defined with enough precision for any of this to make sense.

machine gun .. Complex .... 22(?) different parts .. take it apart, is it still complex?

take all the parts from 200 machine guns and put them in a bag, shake the bag --more complex?

seems to me that's the sense in which the Universe is Complex ..22 different kinds of things, zillions upon zillions of those things, in a big bag, Shaken (not stirred)


=b
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But far less complex than an omnicubed god, and therefore more likely to occur.
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You keep making one-liners like this that are never justified.



An infinitely-complex god must be more complex than a finitely-complex universe or machine gun. It's very simple.


The beauty of genius is its profound, simple grasp of the obvious.

If some supreme, supernatural being were to exist, it would seem to me that it would be completely efficient, and not all that complex.

Nigel
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NigelGlitter wrote:
The beauty of genius is its profound, simple grasp of the obvious.

If some supreme, supernatural being were to exist, it would seem to me that it would be completely efficient, and not all that complex.


I would intuitively assert (any proofs? partial proofs?) that you can only achieve complete efficiency if there's only ever 1 possible answer to every problem you're trying to solve. Which (to me) directly implies all available solutions must be expressible in limited pure mathematics, which in this context basically means the physical laws of the universe.

If there's more than 1 possible answer, then you need some intelligence to select which one.

If you're trying to solve problems like "should I answer this mortal's particular prayer, and if so, then how?" then at a minimum you'll need something that can make sense of all human languages. I don't see any "simple" solution to such things.
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If some supreme, supernatural being were to exist, it would seem to me that it would be completely efficient, and not all that complex.


If it knows everything, and occupies every space, and exists in every moment, and has the power to do anything, then how could it be simple?
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If some supreme, supernatural being were to exist, it would seem to me that it would be completely efficient, and not all that complex.

======

If it knows everything, and occupies every space, and exists in every moment, and has the power to do anything, then how could it be simple?



define 'simple' .... or 'complex'

THEY say It is homogeneous, consisting of only One kind of 'stuff' -- super-magical, god-stuff woo-woo. "Simple".

unlike us ...consisting of lots of different cells of different kinds, each made up of different molecules of different kinds. "Complex"


-b
...... how a thing consisting of Only super-magical, god-stuff woo-woo could DO anything --that's a Mystery.
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