The 2002 Miller, Pennock, Dembski and Behe ID debate

I thought you might be all interested in this fascinating debate between Kenneth Miller (whose book “Only A Theory” I’m currently reading – it’s great, you should definitely buy it) and Robert Pennock, two vocal critics of intelligent design, and William Dembski and Michael Behe, two of the most prominent intelligent design proponents from the Discovery Institute. The debate was held in 2002 at the American Museum of Natural History, and was moderated by Eugenie Scott from the NCSE.

It’s funny how the pro-ID arguments haven’t really changed over time, isn’t it?

64 thoughts on “The 2002 Miller, Pennock, Dembski and Behe ID debate”

    1. I have read neither, unfortunately (I didn't know of D'Souza's book, actually). I've wanted to read Meyer's book for a while now, due to the hype surrounding it (and the fact that I keep being asked if I've read it), but I've no money to spare on books at the moment. :/

      If you're feeling particularly generous and you really think I would benefit from reading it, you can purchase "Signature in the Cell" for me from my Amazon wishlist: https://www.amazon.com/wishlist/3LLJ4MDS18M22/ref

      1. I would if i could, honestly. But i'm just not in the position to do so. I'm new to your post, but i'm interested in people who ACTUALLY engage the best arguments of the opposite view and not just caricature what they don't actually understand in the first place, or taking cheap shots at minor matters not germane to the essential issues. So from the philosophical map where would put yourself–atheist, agnostic, deist…?

  1. The question then that i would submit to you is this–given the enormous significance to the question of the existence or non existence of "God", "Intelligence", "Supranatural"… have you given this perspective a REAL fighting chance in your intellectual life (that would lead, assuming we are intellectually honest, to the transformation of the other dimensions of life–will, moral, relational, social, etc… either way)? If you have given it equal chance then may i ask how did you it (e.g. books you've read?). Or, have you simply just jumped on atheism (agnosticism is quite different, so i'm not sure what you mean when you describe yourself as "agnostic atheist") because it's what's popular, the politically correct view, or the view that's most convenient for the kind of life you have chosen to live?

    I will visit the link you gave later. Thanks.

    1. Yes, I think I've given ample thought to the concepts of theism and the supernatural. Of course, I'm not being dogmatic about it, people are still free to try to convince me to change my mind, but I don't actively pursue answers in this field and I'm intellectually comfortable at the point I am now. Since the burden of proof is on the proponent of religion/the supernatural to convince me, I'm not in an unstable position, I'm simply waiting for people who believe it to try and convince me of what they think is true.

      I haven't "jumped on" atheism because it is "popular", I've come to the atheistic position by listening to what people have to say on both sides of the issue and making up my own mind. A good podcast that helped me make sense of a lot of concept was/is The Atheist Experience, where atheists take live calls from both atheists and theists and answer their questions and have discussions about things.

      Atheism and agnosticism aren't mutually exclusive – in fact, (a)gnostic is a modifier of (a)theist, with (a)theism being what you believe and (a)gnosticism being what you know. I'm broadly an agnostic atheist because I don't know that there is no God, but I don't believe one exists (which is different to believing that there is no God – the latter has a burden of proof and while the former does not, because the latter is a claim and the former is the rejection of a claim). Agnostic atheism can be basically mapped onto another popular term, weak atheism, and gnostic atheist can be said to be another term for strong atheism (claiming that there is no God). The labels are a bit murky, but that's the basic overview.

      You can add (a)gnosticism to theism as well, obviously. An agnostic theist is a person who believes that God exists, but does not claim to know God exists, while a gnostic theist believes and knows that God exists. Both positions require a burden of proof.

  2. Good response, Naon! In similar boat. As we cannot know if a God exists/does not exist (in the same way as if fairies, unicorns, leprecauns, etc) we must logically claim the agnostic ground. This, however, is grounds enough NOT to worship any Gods, as none have substantial proof to claim worship rights.

  3. Okay, your definition of "atheism" is a bit off. As an atheist I'm not necessarily claim that God does not exist, but merely saying that I do not believe that God exists as I am yet to be convinced – ie. the theist has not met their burden of proof for the claim that they are making, that God exist.

    Agnosticism is not a lazy position. It's the position anyone takes when they do not have justification for claiming that they know something. In science one is always agnostic to a hypothesis, unless that hypothesis has been falsified, whereby you are gnostic to the claim that the hypothesis is false. Since nothing can "prove" a hypothesis absolutely there is always the possibility that it could be false, and agnosticism is the correct position to take, even if it is highly likely that the hypothesis is true, as is the case for collections of scientific hypotheses such as the theory of evolution, general relativity, atomic theory etc.

  4. "Serious investigation"? What do you deem a "serious investigation"? I think I know more about religion than the average Christian theist, but yet my investigation is not serious enough? What a strange thing to say.

  5. So your argument is: "either you're an ignoramus as defined by me, or you accept the Judeo-Christian God because people who did founded modern civilization". You've set up a false dichotomy, and you're claiming that Jack hasn't really thought about it seriously because he's not read your prescribed list of books (argument from authority perhaps?) There's no real strength to your argument because you cannot produce any evidence – just a list of books which support your view of the world, and an argument based on your own definitions of what an atheist is.

    What are your claims? How can you give us – who don't believe as you do – ways of testing these claims for ourselves and draw our own conclusions?

  6. Naon

    “Okay, your definition of "atheism" is a bit off. As an atheist I'm not necessarily claim that God does not exist, but merely saying that I do not believe that God exists as I am yet to be convinced – ie. the theist has not met their burden of proof for the claim that they are making, that God exist.”

    My definition is not really off as you say—it’s the most straightforward meaning of the term and in fact is the usual standard definition given in philosophical references. It’s just that you (and some philosophers like Michael Martin) are defining it in a way that lets you escape the burden of proof. Here’s what the on line Britannica says of atheism —

    <Belief that god does not exist. Unlike the agnostic, who merely criticizes traditional arguments for the existence of a deity, the atheist must offer evidence (such as the problem of evil) that there is no god or propose a strong principle for denying what is not known to be true.>

    You say that “theist has not met their burden of proof for the claim that they are making, that God exist”. Let me ask you — What material/s did you study to make this conclusion? Have you taken a really hard look at the arguments presented by the most able theists? Or do you just simply cheer on Dawkins and Harris without really looking at the evidence yourself?

    You say “as I am yet to be convinced” — How should I read this statement? “I don’t want to be convinced”? “Seriously I don’t give #@% about this question”? But let me be optimistic and say that you are really serious about this and that if there is good evidence then you are ready to change your perspective. I presume you know that Anthony Flew (the once famous atheist) “flew” off from unadulterated atheism and embraced some form of theism (or deism?) because of the mounting evidence he has observed in recent decades (notwithstanding the ad hominem attacks against him as a result of his change of mind).

    “Agnosticism is not a lazy position. It's the position anyone takes when they do not have justification for claiming that they know something.”

    Ok, but the true agnostic is open for evidence (seriously open, unlike the attitude taken by Huxley).

    “strange thing to say”? Forgive me if I’m agnostic about your claim to have given the Judeo-Christian perspective adequate study. The challenge I’m making to you and to all who dismiss Christianity out of hand is that at least give it a fair trial—philosophically (how coherent and cohesive it is in terms of the human experience), historically (its impact and contributions, REAL Christianity, that is) , scientifically (I’m not saying science can “prove” or “disprove” Christianity {it can’t} but that to look at the scientific implications of the Christian worldview e.g. the affirmation that a rational, intelligent being brought reality and the universe as we know it, into existence).

    A movement that has so powerfully impacted the history of the world, not by force of arms or power and wealth but by the strength of its metaphysical foundations deserves some respect (I am fully aware of the crimes in history done in the name of Christianity, but these crimes did not spring from Christianity at all but rather distortions and deviations from Christianity by people claiming to be Christians (unfortunately some were true but misguided believers). Today in our postmodern, politically correct climate there is this brain-dead reaction to anything Christian as being just pure myth (akin to believing in fairies or goblins, reflected in the comment of flawedprefect) and that only nutjobs believe in it. Just a little historical knowledge of the towering figures of scientists who were solid Christians will disabuse one of this sick ignorance.

    And how do you do this? Well, by taking on theism’s most able proponents.

  7. To flawedprefect

    “So your argument is: "either you're an ignoramus as defined by me, or you accept the Judeo-Christian God because people who did founded modern civilization". You've set up a false dichotomy, and you're claiming that Jack hasn't really thought about it seriously because he's not read your prescribed list of books (argument from authority perhaps?) There's no real strength to your argument because you cannot produce any evidence – just a list of books which support your view of the world, and an argument based on your own definitions of what an atheist is.”

    Dude your comments miss me by a very wide margin!

    1.No I didn’t say that "either you're an ignoramus as defined by me, or you accept the Judeo-Christian God because people who did founded modern civilization". I just simply pointed out some basic matters, that’s all. Chill, friend,
    2.I’ve not set up any dichotomy, I’ve simply raised the question of whether he has really done his homework on such a critically important question (you don’t expect me to simply swallow something without evidence do you? That’s not very scientific right?). I think that’s a fair question.
    3.“I cannot produce evidence” — I “can’t”? How do you know this? Either you have some supernatural powers of knowing or you’re just assuming on things.
    4.“Just a list of books”? — Your arguments go in circles, you say I can’t produce any evidence but if I suggest books that detail the arguments and evidence in favor of my view you dismiss it and say that they’re “just a list of books which support your view of the world” or just “argument from authority”. How do you expect us to enter into a meaningful and intelligent dialogue with this kind of thinking?

    “As we cannot know if a God exists/does not exist (in the same way as if fairies, unicorns, leprecauns, etc) we must logically claim the agnostic ground…”

    Surely you’re not serious equating the epistemology of classic theism with fairies and leprechauns! Question—can you point out to me, say 10 people, with graduate degrees that believe and promote fairies, unicorns, leprechauns? Ok, say 1 person with a PhD in a recognized university that believes in such? Can’t? (if you have a name please tell me so that I can check this guy out!) I think I don’t have to convince you of the great number of extremely intelligent people (past and present) who are solid theists (many former atheists). I think the point is clear.

    Underestimating and caricaturing your opponent’s position will not help you and your cause. It’s better we respect each other’s position and dialogue on that level.

    1. "Dude your comments miss me by a very wide margin!"

      Do I really need to quote you to you?

      Your logic:

      "Agnostic (Greek)
      >A — the negative
      >Gnosis/Ginosko – knowledge, to know" followed by: "in Latin the equivalent word is IGNORAMUS! Not very flattering eh?"

      Ergo: you called Jack an ignoramus by equating agnosticism with ignorance, because he stated: "I'm broadly an agnostic atheist because I don't know that there is no God"

      You then went on to say: "The Judeo-Christian worldview virtually established Western civilization" therefore asserting that if it weren't for Christianity, we could not live in the world we do today… completely ignoring the fact that our notions of liberty, independence, and free inquiry are because of thinkers from the enlightenment: John Locke, David Hume, Laplace, etc

      Christian or no, at no time did any scientist make a discovery because he came down from a mountain after speaking to a burning bush. It wasn't true of Galileo, Newton or Kepler – all Christians. They all came to their conclusions based on the evidence they amassed through careful observation – not by accepting someone else's revealed truth. In one case, persecution and accusation of being a heretic was the punishment (Galileo); in another case, exile and a profound re-assessment of his faith was the result (Keppler). Newton was a madman, convinced he could solve the riddles of the universe if he could only find King Solomon's temple. He gave us calculus and the three laws of motion which got us to the moon.

      The idea, the claim, and the test is what matters – not the PhD, number of books or authority – clearly this is all the evidence you need, and all you think you're required to persuade someone that they are wrong.

      Where is your God? How may we see/hear/know him? How may we measure the effects He has on this world? How can we draw conclusions from the data we collect on God which give us empirical, conclusive evidence of his existence? You can throw all the books you want at me, but none are worth more than a single shred of tangible, empirical evidence. If God exists, and his influence on the world is evident – please point us to that evidence, not some book.

      If I say "Starfish exist" I won't point you to a library of books written by people with degrees who all testify to have known the existence of a starfish, I'll tell you to go stick your head in a rockpool so you can see one for yourself. Can you do the same for God?

      If I made a claim, I would offer you proof of that claim, not someone else's thesis, stating that they are an expert, have written a dozen books, and have high standing, etc. That is an argument from authority: person A has gained high esteem, therefore anything person A writes about warrants respect. Your list of books is not proof, nor evidence, nor even a valid test to any claim you make.

      What is your claim? How can you prove your claim, or at the very least, give some method by which we can test your claim? Feigning offense won't earn you any points in an argument. You've not produced any evidence. You've only prescribed a list of people you admire who write about classic theism. You've not even made a claim, just a nagging refutation of Jack's assertion that he's considered his position seriously – as if by reading what you're suggesting he might… what? I'm not clear on what you claim the outcome might be. He might accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior? Might come to see that God is real because he MUST be if a PhD writes that he is? You've not stated what you think that might accomplish.

      I am as chilled as a cucumber.

    1. If you're not going to make any claim, or at least state what the claim of the PhDs you so want us to read are – don't waste your time, as I won't be wasting my time reading any more drivel about classic theology as proof of the divine. I'll be enjoying my Godless existence completely fulfilled with my adoring wife, family and the people who are here, and who matter.

  8. “Do I really need to quote you to you?” – So you think you know me better that I know myself? Or, you think that your interpretation of what I said is more accurate than what I believe I said (authorial intent)? Sigh. I’ll let this pass.

    “If I say "Starfish exist" I won't point you to a library of books… I'll tell you to go stick your head in a rockpool so you can see one for yourself. Can you do the same for God?” —

    Ok, using your “starfish” argument (reductive materialistic grid), let’s see if this works:

    1)So can you show me love the way you can show me a starfish?
    2)How about dark matter? Can you show me dark (exotic) or missing matter? Where do you think I can “stick my head” in to see this stuff?
    3)Can you show me E=mc2 the same way you can hand me a starfish?
    4)How about a quark—can you show me one please?
    5)Prove to me that there is real hope, meaning and significance in life—of course in the same way you hand me a starfish. Can you?

    I hope the critical point i'm making is clear that there are realities in life and in this universe that you can’t just show to somebody like you show a starfish. Astronomers are very certain that dark matters (and quarks) exist (they’ve been studying it for decades now and are more certain of its existence) not because they can see and sense it or put it under a microscope or dissect it (they can’t), but because it is the best explanation for the “clumpiness” of the universe that led to the creation of galaxies and clusters of galaxies since the big bang. Though not detected by scientific apparatus astronomers are thoroughly convinced that dark matter exists because it makes so much sense in explaining the existence of our present universe; it’s the best explanation that “heavenly” experts can come up with. Without dark matter astronomers are at a loss as to how to account for the present structure of our universe (they end up with so so theories that violate the observable evidence).

    Put yourself back 2 and a half millennia, using all the means at their disposal the ancients can’t see any other planet and they can only see a number of stars. Does that tell us anything about the actual number of planets and stars in the universe? No. Do you laugh at the SETI program because they can’t show aliens the way you want them to show it to you like a starfish? Do you conclude there are no alien civilizations out there just because we don’t have empirical evidence? Or do you laugh at somebody when he suggests that perhaps aliens have 4 ears and 10 eyes? What do you know of alien life to laugh at that hypothesis? Not an iota.

    Here is a problem of confusing what a person (or a group of people) knows in a particular circumstance with what actually is or is not the case.

    It is important that we acknowledge that there are different ways of knowing the different levels of realities in life e.g. empirical, detection by theoretical constructs, metaphysical reasoning, the mystical.

    Your position begs the question. Do you have proof that reductive materialism is the only reality there is and therefore we can only believe what scientific materialism can demonstrate? Prove that to me first. If you can’t then why should I limit my perception of the world and life thru the legalistic grid of reductionism and scientific materialism (i.e. matter and energy are it, no more no less)? The eye of scientific materialism is just too myopic a view to account for the broad dimensions of human experience, the mysteries of life, and the secrets of the universe.

    If you look at the bulk of history, civilizations and cultures the predominant view was not the view espoused by Dawkins (scientific materialism), but rather the belief in transcendence, in life after death, in a reality that transcends what we call “natural”. It was just very recent that a “secular ethos” (Charles Taylor) emerged in America and Europe. I am a firm believer in the power of science, but I am very skeptical of the philosophy of scientific materialism. It is intolerably arrogant and too simplistic.

  9. Was Einstein stupid?

    Before Einstein the dominant theory concerning the existence of the universe was that of Kant—an infinite being is seen in an infinite universe (he was still a theist). On the other end was Hume’s “the eternal basic element” that left no room for the Creator. Hume’s attitude was reflected in this well-known statement by Laplace to Napoleon, “I have no need of that (God) hypothesis.” God is left jobless in a universe that was eternal, and is an unnecessary explanation to account for the comprehensibility of the cosmos. This dominated the scene until the 20th century.

    But then Einstein came along with his general theory of relativity that suggested a finite universe i.e. it had a beginning and therefore must have a Beginner! Einstein did not like the logical ramifications of his calculations, and the popular authority of Hume also said otherwise so Einstein tried to salvage an eternal “steady state” universe by proposing a theory called the cosmological constant (he proposed that there was this new force of physics, the “repulsive force” that maintained the established paradigm). He was happy.

    But oh no here comes Hubble with his 100-inch telescope hobbling along and blowing away Einstein’s “comfort theory”. Being intellectually honest he conceded defeat and bowed to the “necessity for a beginning” and the presence of “the presence of a superior reasoning power.” This led to the demise of Hume’s infinite universe.

    When some rabbis and priests congratulated him for discovering God based on his calculations Einstein actually admitted that an intelligent and creative “God” was the source of creation. However, (a bit theophobic I think) he denied that God was a person. When the clerics pointed out the contradiction of his proposition Einstein’s response was interesting. Instead of arguing the fine points of science he threw at them a THEOLOGICAL issue—how do you reconcile God’s sovereignty with human free will? Good question but quite another matter altogether! Squid tactic.

    Einstein cannot escape the conclusions of his own discoveries but he disliked classic theism so he opted to go with the Greeks (the Logos idea), the Universe itself is a rational and intelligent Mind, though not a personal one of course (that’s surrendering too much to theism). Einstein wanted to escape too much the logical conclusions of his own discoveries that he ended up with an oxymoron! But to his credit Einstein asserted his belief for a Creator in spite of tremendous peer pressure.

    So was he stupid or smart?

    Tim Folger, in the Discover magazine, summarized the implications of the empirical evidence, “Our universe is perfectly tailored for life. That may be the work of God or the result of our universe being one of many.” So there you have it–the evidence points to an Intelligent Creator! But if you’re theophobic, you can always have the multiverse (which doesn’t have any REAL evidence, and physicists argue that even a multiverse can’t escape a beginning!). Hawking is one example of theophobia. He is endlessly seeking for theories that will overthrow the straightforward implication of the big bang i.e. that there was Someone (Someone beyond our space-time-matter dimension) that pulled the pin of the “grenade” of the big bang creation.

    Lastly. You seem to be obsessed with “arguments form authority”. Why is that? What I’ve simply stated is that there are very intelligent people who have done what you demand be done—detail the evidence for such a position. It’s not about who they are or their credentials but about the arguments and evidence they present in their work. Their credentials simply give us a handle as to whether these people have done their homework, that they’ve labored hard enough in their studies to at least deserve our respect for their work. On face value I would be more inclined to listen more to a person with a PhD in biology talking biology than an undergrad who talks biology. Will you quit this “authority” thing, it’s really getting old.

    By the way John Locke believed in life after death.

    1. From your posts above, I deduce your claim to be: there is a God, and the universe's existence is proof He exists. I can't be sure, since you've not stated a cocrete claim, nor postulated a way in which we can test your claim. You've merely made a string of rhetorical musings and inferences that because scientist A discovered phenomena B, God exists. Scientist A is a smart man, and acknowledged the existence of a God, therefore: God exists.

      Re: quarks, and other "non-visible" things you might mention… go stick your head in a Hadron collider. There's a big one at CERN in Geneva. I don't have an astro-physics degree to understand dark matter, but I certainly don't make it a subject of faith, that is – I don't "believe" in dark matter. I listen to astro-physicists call it a place-holder to explain discrepancies in measurements of gravity and motion in the universe. I merely accept it as an observed phenomenon. I don't see how not knowing, or observing dark matter can be used as proof of God.

      If you want to see the effects of Einstein's equation: switch on a light, or better still – observe the computer you are reading this on. You are probably getting the electricity you use from a nuclear power station which uses a fusion reactor to generate power. Use a GPS – this relies on the facts which Einstein's equations describe about how gravity and motion effect time. Einstein made an observation, he figured out a way to test that observation, and the equations are a way in which we are able to test the same observations.

      Why even ask if I think he is smart or stupid? What is the point? We have the ability – should we wish – to test those equations for ourselves, and see if they work. We can even postulate what might happen should they be false (falsifiability). Whether he was 'smart" or not is irrelevant. He might have been wrong about a great many things, but I didn't know the man.

      It is a huge leap of faith to go from "the universe exists… therefore God did it". There are so many questions one can ask between the observed fact and the conclusion. God does not logically follow as a conclusion of the observed fact, because you have not claimed what that God did (aside from get the ball rolling) nor what His influence might be. So many other possibilities may yet exist – some which we've not even dreamt of.

      If the universe was created for us – why take 13.75 (plus or minus 200,000) years? If the ability to create a universe fit for humans to exist is in Your power – why not just create it straight away? Why make a universe in which it is only known that life can exist in very rare and small places, such as here on Earth? Why make a universe which overwhelmingly made up of places, things and phenomena which destroy life? That does not seem (to me, at least) to be a universe which is logically and rationally "made" for us. It is a universe in which we are not the norm.

      Claiming that the universe is too ordered or complex to have come about by chance as proof that an intelligence MUST have been behind it only begs the question: how complex must the universe that God came from be in order to produce the conditions in which God could come about to create a universe on his own? What God could have created THAT universe? How complex must THAT universe be, to give rise to a God which could create a universe in which a God could arise with the ability to create OUR universe? And so on… It's a never-ending cycle of infinite regressions which gets us exactly nowhere. How far back do you wish to go? Why worship OUR God, when the God of his God's God must be infinitely more awesome, and the God who created that one is infinitely more so than that?

      continued in next comment…

  10. continuing from above comment…

    This of course says nothing of the questions such as: if we are to believe the universe was created, how can we jump to the conclusion that it was the Judeo-Christian God? Why are God's such as Quetzalcoatl, the Rainbow Serpent, or any of these guys here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Creator_god… considered merely myth? I assume they are, because I don't see any Hopi Indians, Australian Aborigines, or staunch folk who worship the Olympian Gods coming forward to profess their God hypotheses scientifically provable. It is a purely Christian phenomenon. The think-tanks advancing teleological arguments are largely evangelical, American Christians. I am aware of the odd proponent who claims to be agnostic, but that proves little, save perhaps a will to be dissenting, or to try and give some sort of credence, but it is all for naught, because no one has – as of yet – demonstrated how God's influence can be measured and demonstrated. However much has been done to prove the influence and existence of such "invisible" forces as gravity, electrostatics, weak and strong electro-magnetic and nuclear forces. If a force has influence on the universe – it can be measured. If God has influence on this universe (if that is your claim), it only stands to reason that data can be accumulated to measure what influence and baring He has, too.

    If you have a claim, it should be able to be put to a valid test to see if the hypothesis holds true. So far, all you've managed to quibble with is that Jack has not seriously considered his position on the existence of God. The above in this comment should at the very least illustrate some of the questions I've asked myself, and I can only assume that Jack has considered similar questions and conclude that we cannot know.

    Our argument is: there is no proof of a deity, so why should we worship one? That is why we are agnostic, and live our lives as if there IS no God, and describe ourselves as Atheists. We don't know, we CANNOT know; we see no reason to suspect there is a God, and you haven't even begun to build an argument to convince us that we can, nor show us how we could possibly know.

    1. Flawedprefect, will respond soon, but time constraints will not allow me to make that very soon. Be patient. Thanks for your reply.

  11. “From your posts above, I deduce your claim to be: there is a God… since you've not stated a cocrete (sic) claim, nor postulated a way in which we can test your claim…”

    Let’s not approach this huge subject like Rambo with his submachine gun indiscriminately blasting at everything that moves. Rather let’s approach it as a marksman, a sharpshooter; let’s carefully aim at a particular target one at a time.

    Some preliminary rejoinders:
    “Re: quarks, and other "non-visible" things you might mention… go stick your head… I don't see how not knowing, or observing dark matter can be used as proof of God…”

    You’re missing the point. Note carefully what Polkinghorne (former Univ. of Cambridge Mathematical Physics professor turned Anglican priest) says,

    “No one has ever seen a quark, and we believe that no one ever will. They are so tightly bound to each other inside the protons and neutrons that nothing can make them break out on their own. Why, then, do I believe in these invisible quarks? … In summary, it’s because quarks make sense of a lot of direct physical evidence… I wish to engage in a similar strategy with regard to the unseen reality of God. His existence makes sense of many aspects of the world; the multilayered character of reality; the almost universal human experiences of worship and hope… I think that very similar thought processes are involved in both cases. I do not believe that I shift in some strange intellectual way when I move from science to religion… In their search for truth, science and faith are intellectual cousins under the skin.”

    The nature of the evidence, and the way in which the evidence is requested, presented and weighed will depend on the nature of the subject being considered. If the subject is a starfish then I hand you over a starfish, you put the it in a lab, observe it, dissect it, etc. But what if our subject is God? What kind of evidence do we seek and study to know whether God is a reality or not? Is the nature of God similar to the nature of a starfish?

    A wholistic view of life and reality must account for its different dimensions, expression and manifestations. And knowledge of these demands that we acknowledge different means and lines of ways of knowing and of presenting evidences. Even the great empiricist Bertrand Russell noted the distinction between abstract, descriptive knowledge (hearing or reading about Caesar) and the more basic knowledge of acquaintance (actually meeting Caesar).

    The world of scientific materialism is just too flat and monotone—just matter and energy. And reductionist thinkers proceed with their studies and their perceptions of life and the universe assuming (without scientific justification) that the world and life are indeed flat and monotone. But the world and our experience of life strangely resist this “flatness”. For example, in one of your more short but more “intimate” response to my piece you stated,

    “If you're not going to make any claim… I'll be enjoying my Godless existence completely fulfilled with my adoring wife, family and the people who are here, and who matter.”

    I assume that you indeed dearly love your wife and the people around you and that you truly treasure them from your heart. But you know what, all that talk of love, caring, faithfulness, devotion to loved ones, of being “completely fulfilled”, your passionate and intense devotion for your family, wife and kids and friends etc, in the flat world of materialism (the world you’ve intellectually chosen) all these are mere ILLUSIONS—nothing but physical chemical reactions firing in your body and brain. No different really from lust or selfishness or hatred. All are exactly in the same category, just mere physical phenomena. Such a cold world isn’t it? But I’m sure something within you must resist this monotone world (at least your wife perhaps).

    cont…

  12. There is this arrogant notion that science deals only with pure factual evidence. Physicist Paul Davies is more candid, “… science has its own faith-based belief system. All science proceeds on the assumption that nature is ordered in a rational and intelligible way. You couldn’t be a scientist if you thought the universe was a meaningless jumble of odds and ends haphazardly juxtaposed. When physicists probe to deeper level subatomic structure, or astronomers extend the reach of their instruments, they expect to encounter additional elegant mathematical order. And so far this faith has been justified.”

    “If you want to see the effects of Einstein's equation: switch on a light…”

    Dude, I’m not asking for the effects of Einstein’s equation. I’m asking you this—Please hand me Einstein’s E=mc2, general relativity theory in particular, the way you hand me your starfish (as you demand that I hand God over to you like a starfish). Can you do that?

    “Why even ask if I think he (Einstein) is smart or stupid?”

    You’ve got to be kidding me! I mean it’s the “standard operating procedure” of aggressive atheists from Dawkins to Harris to self-proclaimed experts and intellects in the internet to call anyone who believes in some “intelligence” or “God” behind reality and the cosmos as a nutjob, stupid, idiot, retard, as ludicrous as believing in fairies and goblins.

    So here’s the point– Einstein was one man who looked DEEPLY at the evidence and he concluded (very reluctantly and grudgingly—he did not want to believe) that there is an intellect, a mind behind the whole thing; that “God does not play dice”, and that “the most incomprehensible thing about the universe is that it is comprehensible”, that this universe did not come into existence out of “dumb luck”. He insisted in his belief in a Creator against pressures from peers. So according to the “intellectual” standard of these atheistic experts, self-proclaimed bastions of reason and science, Einstein would fall under the category of a nutjob! Was he then?

    “It is a huge leap of faith…” Ok. But again let’s not go at it as Rambos. Sharp, precise sharpshooting is the best approach here. This will come later. Let’s cover our grounds first. Agreed? In any case your chosen default (materialistic atheism) is as huge (if not a bigger) leap of faith.

    “If the universe was created for us…” These are good questions but theological ones. Let’s stay away from theology for a while.

    “…how complex must the universe that God came from…” Theological.

    “We don't know, we CANNOT know; we see no reason to suspect there is a God…”

    “We don’t know…” Are you open to the evidence?

    “we CANNOT know…” Is this a statement of fact, a scientifically verifiable statement? Or a statement of faith?
    “we see no reason to suspect there is a God…” How should I read this? “We really don’t want to believe in a god and, frankly speaking, we don’t really want to entertain any so called evidence for the existence of god”? One writer I read recounts of an atheist philosophy professor dogmatically asserting in class that he will not believe in miracles even if an amputee suddenly grows a limb right before his very eyes! “There must be a natural explanation for this” the professor says. This is not science; this is dogmatic materialism at work, perverting the mind of the professor!

    cont.

  13. Let’s zero in and look at physical existence and carefully follow the evidence where it will lead.

    Fact 1. All physical reality, say an apple falling from the apple tree, does not exist from a vacuum or from “nothing nothing” (not just of a physical context but of all or any context). It exists in the context of other physical realities (in this case the apple tree, the original apple seed, the soil, sun, water, etc)

    Fact 2: This truth is true of all physical phenomena (your computer, your house, your street, your city, country, continent, planet, solar system, milkyway galaxy, etc.).

    It’s ludicrous to say that your laptop does not require an explanation, and that you can reasonably just say, “I don’t know whence this laptop came or how this laptop came to be in my possession.” Your laptop may just have showed up in your house, that upon coming home one day you find this laptop. But then it would be wrong to conclude that it just popped out of nothing. You may not know who brought it to your house but you can be sure that somebody, some physical context, placed that laptop there. You can investigate if you want to. You can trace the evidence and follow the argument, if you will. Or, you can choose to simply say, “I don’t need to know and I don’t care. I’m just thankful that I have it.” But that does not negate the fact that it has an explanation (perhaps somebody who hates you stole it from your neighbor [say Mike Tyson] and put it in your possession so if by chance Mike sees you with his laptop he’ll beat you to a pulp!).

    Fact 3: This truth is true also of the entire physical universe. The universe as we know it came out of something, out of a context of causation that brought it into existence.

    Let’s summarize the argument at this point — Every physical thing in this physical universe came into existence in the context of other physical things, not out of nothing nothing. This fact is universal.

    Question: Is this true of the physical universe as a whole?

    Setting aside passé theories such as the steady state and the oscillating universe (theories that are contradicted by the observable evidence, while the popular multiverse still cannot escape a beginning), let’s zero in on the best explanation—the big bang, the singularity.

    We have two options:

    1) The physical universe came to exist simply from nothing nothing; it just popped itself from nothing nothing into physical existence.

    2) The physical universe must have come out of something, some context, some cause that brought about its existence.
    Which is the better argument? Ockam’s Razor would seem to argue against #1 (this view just goes against everything we know about physical reality and existence). Option #2 is a far more superior explanation and the best and most recent studies of the origin of the cosmos favors view #2.

    The best explanation of the origin of the universe that’s most consistent with the empirical evidence strengthens the view that there was a context, a cause, for the emerging of the physical reality as we know it i.e. the singularity and the big bang event. The physical universe (matter and energy) as we know it did not exist, and then suddenly it existed!

    But let’s go deeper with the argument.

    cont…

  14. British physicists Hawking, Penrose and Elis, applied Einstein’s general relativity equations to space and time, the result was their space-time theorem of general relativity. Basically this theorem suggests that not only did matter and energy came into existence at the big bang but also time (the dimension where cause and effect happens) and space (width, length, height). The strength of this theorem depended on the strength of Einstein’s general relativity equations. Rigorous tests have repeatedly confirmed the veracity of Einstein’s equations which led Roger Penrose to make this statement; “This (the test results) makes Einstein’s general relativity…the most accurately tested theory known to science.” (More recently these conclusions are joined by cosmologists Barrow and Tipler.)

    Ok, let’s carefully look at this. Let’s not miss the critical point of the argument.

    1.The universe as we know and experience it (matter and energy, time and space) is FINITE; they were not, and then they came to be.

    2.It is a universal fact that every physical occurrence in this universe occurs in some physical context and not from nothing nothing i.e. it is always caused by something. This is also true of the entire physical creation.

    3.The best explanation we have to date, the theory that best fits the empirical data, tell us that the universe (matter and energy, time and space) is FINITE; they were not, and then they came to be. The critical question, the question crying out for an explanation, the question that we MUST face is this; how do we account for the emergence of the physical universe?

    We have 3 options
    A)From nothing nothing? — This is indeed a nothing of an answer; not worth anything!

    B)From physical laws of nature? – This is refuted by the fact that the totality of the universe (matter and energy, space and time) is finite. The universe and all the laws in this physical universe did not then exist and only came to exist out of that singularity and the big bang. How can the thing that’s created also be the thing that created itself? Nonsensical!

    C)The something that brought the entire physical universe is not physical, i.e. something that is not bound or locked into the nature of our universe. In other words, something that transcends matter and energy, time and space. Something spiritual (as opposed to matter).

    Einstein was an intellectually honest person. He looked carefully at the evidence. He was not happy with the direct ramifications of what he found. He fought it at first. But when the evidence mounted he dutifully raised his white flag and conceded to the “necessity for a beginning” and “the presence of a superior reasoning power.” This conclusion is shared by the ancients Plato, Aristotle, and Epictetus. Even the consummate skeptic Hume made the following guarded statements – “The whole frame of nature bespeaks an intelligent author; and no rational enquirer can, after serious reflection, suspend his belief a moment with regard to the primary principles of genuine Theism and Religion.” And in a later work he also said the following; “That the cause or causes of order in the universe probably bear some remote analogy to human intelligence.” There is debate as to what Hume actually meant by these statements. At face value however, it seems that Hume affirmed the rationality of a belief in God (not that he held to that belief).

    Many modern cosmologists, physicists, philosophers who are not friendly to classic theism, are nevertheless not happy with philosophic materialism (e.g. Sagan’s nature is all there is, was and will be). On the basis of the observable evidence they find this position too simplistic and that it does not fit well with the data. They don’t want theism either so they come up with theories such as the Universe as a Mind in itself (not personal), or that the Universe as a living organism, or some other explanation to escape falling into theism. Anything but classic theism. I call this theophobia!

    Let me remind you of the story of those Russian cosmonauts who, after a space mission, reported that rather arrogantly that they have searched for God while they were up there and didn’t find God, thus confirming communism’s atheistic doctrine. When D’Souza mentioned this to the outspoken atheist Christopher Hitchens he laughed and said, “It’s hard to believe those guys were really that naïve.” Hitchens saw through the ridiculous nature of the “search” of those cosmonauts (seeking for some physical appearance of God up there in the “heaven”).

    Why do people dogmatically insist they don’t see any evidence for God? Perhaps the reasons are as follows:

    a)Looking at the wrong places for the wrong kind of evidences at the wrong things
    b)Using the wrong apparatus in the search, or the wrong approach
    c)Looking with the wrong kind of “lenses” (paradigm like those cosmonauts)
    d)Or perhaps not seriously looking at all
    e)Or perhaps not really looking at all
    f)Or perhaps not wanting to see any evidence at all (problem of the will, not the intellect or evidence)

  15. Dj, hope you're here already, here's my follow up on the above discussion. But do carefully read bogz's arguments, i follow his thoughts on the issue.

    Dinesh D’Souza and the infamous atheist Richard Dawkins had an interesting exchange on this topic (hosted by Riz Khan of Al-Jazeera – Darwin’s Legacy).

    D’Souza’s post-interview comments,

    “I argued that it is reasonable to ask scientifically about the cause of the universe. Effects require causes, so what is the cause for which the universe is the effect? It seems unreasonable in the extreme to say that even though nature had a beginning, somehow nature is the cause of itself. So God is the name we give to the supernatural being that is the cause of nature as a whole.”

    Dawkins response was not very impressive: "This leaves open the question of where did the creator come from?" Since the creator is this "great big complicated thing," what good does it do to invoke one complex thing to explain another? "If you postulate a designer you haven't explained anything."

    D’Souza summarizes the logical path Dawkins is taking, “Basically what Dawkins is saying is that there is no point in using complex explanation A to account for complex phenomenon B if you cannot account for A.”

    This is a very bad argument. The issues is this, Does the evidence lead us to infer that the universe was caused by Something or Someone that was other than nature i.e. a Supernature, a Spirit? If the evidence leads to that then we must follow that lead however tough that direction may be. The evidence must lead. Dawkin’s theophobia about that "great big complicated thing" is beside the point. Again, if the evidence leads us to postulate that a "great big complicated thing" must have been the cause of the universe then so be it. Dawkin’s statement that "If you postulate a designer you haven't explained anything" is a desperate move. Again, if the best explanation that best accounts for the evidence leads to a “designer” then that in itself is a worthy explanation.

    Explaining the possible nature and identity of this “designer” and how does “it” relate to the universe is an important topic but it is another issue altogether.

    One step at a time.

    1) Where does the evidence take us? Non-intelligence or Intelligence?
    2) If non-intelligence then there is so much to explain e.g. what caused this finite universe to come into existence?, how come the universe is the way it is (orderly and structured and not random chaos)?, how did life came to exist?, how can life come from non-life?
    3) If Intelligence then, from a logical perspective, it is quite easy account for existence. The question then can be debated as to the nature and perhaps the source of this being. Another question is whether this supernature somehow interacts with creation, perhaps this being has revealed itself. Completing theological claims will then be analyzed and tested.

    But Dawkins is squirming his way out of the question. Squid tactic. Won’t do.

  16. Part 1
    Abstract:
    I point out logical flaws and evasions in your previous post. I present summaries of attempts to answer difficult questions about the origin and structure of the universe, and of abiogenesis. These may be ultimately incorrect; I only show preliminary work. I close with a challenge: explain the origin of your deity. Now, not in some unspecified future epoch.

    Dawkins response was not very impressive: "This leaves open the question of where did the creator come from?" Since the creator is this "great big complicated thing," what good does it do to invoke one complex thing to explain another? "If you postulate a designer you haven't explained anything."

    D’Souza summarizes the logical path Dawkins is taking, “Basically what Dawkins is saying is that there is no point in using complex explanation A to account for complex phenomenon B if you cannot account for A.”
    This is a very bad argument.

    Actually, it’s a crushing argument. A simple example: If you ask me “where did that car come from?” and I answer “It was built in a factory in Japan,” I have only postponed the answer by one step. The homology of this exchange with the “origin of the deity” question is clear.

    Dawkin’s statement that "If you postulate a designer you haven't explained anything" is a desperate move.

    It’s a crusher. He’s put the finger on the fundamental flaw in your position.

    Explaining the possible nature and identity of this “designer” and how does “it” relate to the universe is an important topic but it is another issue altogether.

    Huh? This is an ostrich head-in-the sand response. Better translated as “I don’t know and will defer thinking about it until some (indefinite) time in the future.”
    You accuse Dawkins of “squid logic”, yet completely refuse to address the basic question: What is the origin of the deity? Without such an explanation your argument lacks any foundation. Worse yet, it has no surface on which to even lay a foundation.

  17. Part 2

    One step at a time.

    1) Where does the evidence take us? Non-intelligence or Intelligence?
    2) If non-intelligence then there is so much to explain e.g. what caused this finite (The visible universe is finite, but what lies beyond 13.5 billion light years is not visible because light from it has not had time to reach us; the universe may actually be infinite) universe to come into existence?, how come the universe is the way it is (orderly and structured and not random chaos)?, how did life came to exist?, how can life come from non-life? 3) If Intelligence then, from a logical perspective, it is quite easy account for existence. The question then can be debated as to the nature and perhaps the source of this being.

    One reply at a time.
    1.Rhetorical.
    2.“How did the universe come into existence?”
    2.1.I’m a biologist (Ph.D), not a cosmologist, so my knowledge of the field is second-hand. Physical evidence only reaches back to about 10^-36 seconds after the big bang, so what happened before that is currently unknown.
    2.2.How did the universe come from nothing? Nobody knows (yet) but current estimates indicate that the universe appears to add up to nothing,/b>. (WTF?!) Simply: (the amount of) matter = (the mass equivalent of) energy, i.e., matter = energy, equivalent to matter – energy = 0 to current estimates. (If you can stomach a little more Dawkins and a little ID-bashing, and have an hour to invest, I recommend this fascinating presentation for more detail: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ImvlS8PLIo ). What this means is (I think) that nothingness congealed into equal and opposite (complementary) parts matter and energy, yet retained net nothingness. (I know it’s mind-fucking!)
    2.3.Why the bang? There’s also some stuff about gravity being repulsive at short distances (which I don’t claim to comprehend (see “The fabric of the cosmos, by Brian Greene” 2004; Vintage Books, ISBN 0-375-72720-5, p. 277ff [but with a huge amount of preliminary reading required])). It’s mind-bending shit, and I don’t claim to understand it, nor to be able to assess its merits. My point is that people are working on this difficult question and making testable hypotheses (as science requires).
    3.“How come the universe is the way it is (orderly and structured and not random chaos)?” (note: ‘randomness’ and ‘chaos’ are completely different concepts.)
    3.1.The flippant answer is that if it had a different form, any sentient being would ask the same question.
    3.2.However, I will actually address what I think is the actual question: “Why order and structure rather than not?” The proximate answer to this one is actually relatively easy: Gravitation causes structures to form (on a series of hierarchical levels). The ultimate answer involves a deeper question: why is the universe not uniform? Again, this is at the interface of quantum physics and cosmology, and I grasp only its essence. Short (possible) answer: quantum fluctuations in the pre-inflation (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inflation_cosmology) universe were fossilized during inflation, then provided local areas of relatively high density that nucleated the formation of galaxies, clusters and higher-order structures of the universe. Is this correct? I’m not qualified to assess. Again, my point is that people are working on this difficult question and making testable hypotheses (as science requires).

  18. Part 3.
    4.“How can life come from non-life?” Here, being a biologist I feel at least somewhat comfortable in my response. However, one major problem is that there is no agreed definition of ‘life’. Refer to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Life for some proposals.
    4.1.Abiogenesis is an active field that has not seen any consensus. But let’s review the situation. Earth is big (at least on the scale of living organisms). The (huge) ocean and the (huge) atmosphere included plentiful supplies of carbon, nitrogen, phosphorus, sulfur and mineral ions, all components of extant life. Energy (solar, electrical, geothermal) was plentiful. Time was (essentially) unlimiting. About 250 million years later (can you even conceive of such a span of time? I know I can’t!) isotopic signatures (enrichment of carbon-12 relative to carbon-13) are observed that are consistent with extant metabolic biases.
    4.2.I haven’t addressed the question. This is one plausible scenario. Increasingly complex chemicals formed (a la Miller Urey); ultimately a self-replicating chemical arose (RNA is the current favorite, due to its ability to self-replicate variably in laboratory experiments). Prebiotic competition favored increasingly complex entities until at some point, one or a few of them crossed some threshold and became what we could agree to be alive. Speculation? Yes. Evidence-free? No. The only possibility? Definitely not.
    4.3.Sure, it’s hand-waving. But it’s a try.
    4.4.Consider an additional spatial scale. I have considered only Earth. Our galaxy includes 100 billion to 400 billion stars and by one estimate includes 500 million planets in the “habitable zone” (defined restrictively to include only zones habitable by life as we know it). Our galaxy is only one of about 200 billion in the observable universe (and the universe may actually be infinite in extent). Simple multiplication gives a ballpark estimate that the observable universe contains on the order of 10^20 (100,000,000,000,000,000,000) planets in habitable zones (and an infinite number in an infinite universe). Even if I overestimate by a factor of a billion, the number is still mind-numbing. Even if the likelihood of life originating de novo is one in a trillion, the number of planets with life would be huge. Maybe it only happened once (although I personally doubt it). If it did happen only once, it still happened.

    5.

    3) If Intelligence then, from a logical perspective, it is quite easy account for existence.

    (emphasis mine). Yes “if intelligence” then… From faulty premise you can build a valid argument, but its veracity is only as good as the premise. You still need to explain the origin of the intelligence that you require. I challenge you to provide a testable (falsifiable) hypothesis.

    6.

    But Dawkins is squirming his way out of the question.

    Quite the opposite. See the final statement in the previous paragraph

    7.And finally:

    The question then can be debated as to the nature and perhaps the source of this being.

    This is the standard answer that I get from theists: “I’ll answer that question later.” Yet no-one ever has. I close with the same challenge that I posed to “Will”:

    If you can state clearly the origin of god (or at least propose a falsifiable hypothesis, in the scientific manner), I will at least entertain the possibility.

    If you cannot do so, this discussion is over. Until then, I wait. And retain my atheism.

    I will check in occasionally, my only responses will be to repeat this challenge, until it is met.

  19. DJ, thanks for engaging. Please do follow the arguments bogz has laid out. I will respond to your points asap. I'll be back.

  20. "It’s a crusher. He’s put the finger on the fundamental flaw in your position."

    First, I think we need to clear things up before we can begin to have a productive dialogue.

    “Crushing argument”? It is difficult for me to understand how you seem to put a whole lot of weight into Dawkins’ argument. Does it have a point? Yes. Is it damaging to the argument I’m making? Hardly! Let me illustrate (just an illustration).

    A huge drug bust. Two investigating officers carefully examining the evidence.

    Officer 1 (O1): This is unbelievable—the evidence appears to implicate out own boss!

    Officer 2 (O2): That’s not possible! I mean he is the drug czar of the country; he’s been up and down the whole nation fighting drugs. How can that be? How do we even explain or reconcile that?

    O1: I know, but just look at the evidence, it is clear that it implicates the boss’ major involvement in this huge drug bust. It’s not conclusive of course but for now this is where the evidence leads us.

    O2: I can read the evidence and I follow what you say. But how in the world do we even begin to make the case? If we start this thing then we better be sure to make all the connections and close all the gaps, plug every hole and build a solid case otherwise we’re dead! I know the evidence appears to implicate the boss but that’s all we have for now and we need so much more than that to make the case. And not only that, on the face of it this appears absurd, I mean who would believe us? His family, career, reputation, all spotless…so far at least. And honestly I can’t even begin to imagine how we can pursue and develop the case.

    O1: I know what you mean.

    O2: Is it possible that we are reading the evidence wrongly? Honestly I just can’t see how we can make the case.

    O1: Is it possible that we’re misreading the evidence? Possible, yes. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not concluding that the boss is guilty. But at this point in the investigation it seems quite clear that the evidence leads to that direction. I know it appears absurd but it’s our job to follow the evidence. I know this is tough but we must let the evidence lead us.

    Reflections:
    O2 argues that because he feels (and he may be right) that it’s impossible to follow the lead and construct a case implicating their boss then it is useless and pointless to do anything about it, in spite of what evidence they already have that appears to point to that direction.

    O1 argues that it is their job to follow the evidence one step at a time. The current evidence appears to implicate their boss. O1 takes this seriously and is willing to take the risk, follow it and perhaps open the investigation.

    Let me ask you – who is in the correct position here, O1 or O2?

    Let us start with the ultimate question – why is there something instead of nothing? – that’s the first argument we need to PATIENTLY address, look at the evidence and then move on. Let’s not rush this issue for this is foundational and fundamental to the other issues in the debate. Let’s us discuss what are the best explanations for this question first. Otherwise we will just be chasing rabbits here, there and everywhere and not getting anywhere.

    I agree with bogz — “Let’s not approach this huge subject like Rambo with his sub-machine gun indiscriminately blasting at everything that moves. Rather let’s approach it as a marksman, a sharpshooter; let’s carefully aim at a particular target one at a time.”

    "ostrich head-in-the sand response. Better translated as “I don’t know and will defer thinking about it until some (indefinite) time in the future.” "?

    It's difficult to dialogue with someone who go motive-mongering. Why make that conclusion? Why put things in my mouth? Why paint me in that light? As I’ve said let’s take things one at a time.

    Bogz presented an argument on the origin of physical reality based on empirical data that leads to the conclusion that the totality of the physical universe (matter, energy, space and time) was brought into existence by something or Someone that is not part of the physical universe (see the details of the argument and some of its major proponents). Let’s first deal with that.

    We are dealing with matters that need deep reflection and analysis and you seem to be rushing things as if these things are just obvious black and white. Your cavalier dismissal approach is not really helpful in this dialogue.

    Patience my friend. Let us understand each other and not read things into each other and make assumptions and judgments. Not really helpful. You are busy to be patient? I'm busy too but i'm willing to take the effort and time to understand you and make my response.

    My concern is that if you are already 100% sure that you are correct and that you are just engaging in dialogue to correct my ignorant ramblings then that is a real problem. There is no real dialogue then. But i hope that's not the case.

    1. Actually, the answer to your mystery is "Someone else unknown did it." Do you see my point?
      Accusing me of being 100% sure of the answer is rather hypocritical on your part.
      I repeat: Provide me with a testable hypothesis that explains the origin of the creator.

      1. By the way my 3 responses are not my only response to your question, but they are foundational. It sets the question in a proper context.

  21. “What is the origin of the deity?”

    3 responses
    1.This is a valid question. But again not the question at this level of our dialogue. It is completely pointless to discuss this question if in the first place you find the idea of God’s existence as absurd as the belief in The Abominable Snowman. First let us look at the available evidence and see if there are valid reasons to even entertain the “God-hypothesis”. If we don’t see any sound reasons then good riddance by all means! But if there are legitimate reasons then perhaps it is something we need to take seriously and not cavalierly dismiss.

    2.I do not mean to offend but I get this feeling – I remember when I was young (a few centuries ago) knowing friends who bullied and taunt other kids by saying, “I bet you can’t do this, I bet you can’t do this, loser!” They did not really want to engage the other kid. They simply wanted to ridicule and shut the poor kid up. I hope this is not what you’re doing.

    3.Putting the question in the big picture – a little humility goes a long way in searching for ultimate answers. Please be patient with me here. Thanks.

    Let us put that question in the bigger picture.

    The human being (you and me) occupy an infinitesimally tiny space in this finite but extremely vast universe. The human species is a johnny-come-lately in the arena of existence. Curious being that we are we ask questions, and the most fundamental is the question, why is there something instead of nothing? We ask this question because of the empirical fact of our objective existence in an objective world. Why is there objective reality instead of no reality, where does reality come from? And a follow up question is why there is life. Another fundamental question is that of the unique human consciousness that strangely is able to objectively grasp the rationality of the universe e.g. its mathematical structure matches our mathematical minds. But the most fundamental is that of the origin of the existence of the known universe. That’s the first step we are to study, following whatever evidence we can find.

    Now let’s follow the arguments – 1) Let’s say that in fact there is nothing behind existence and life. This may be true but we must not start with this assumption as we seek for answers. We must not hold to this as an a priori in our search for answers. Although it is a convenient assumption it can also blind us in our search for the truth. To hold to this as a presupposition in the search is to rig the evidence at the get go. This is not good science.

    2) Let’s say there is something behind existence and life. The same argument as above should be maintained.

    We need to acknowledge our place in the universe—1) we’re incredibly intelligent but FINITE creatures, occupying an incredibly small space and time in the universe 2) though we use great tools (telescopes, probes, etc) to study the universe we’re still very LIMITED to this planet 3) we also need to acknowledge that there other valid ways of knowing of beyond the empirical and the scientific. Acknowledging this should lead us away from arrogant presumptions and unreasonable demand for answers.

    Cont…

  22. Cont…

    Carl Sagan was a great scientist but many, even atheists and agnostics like him, felt that he went beyond the bounds of science when he made statements like, “The Cosmos is all there is, was, or ever will be”. There are scientific observations behind this statement but the statement itself is not scientific. Sagan may be right but there is no way that he could prove that scientifically, and he never did. He merely assumed it.

    Apparently he was as susceptible to the intellectual flaws that he saw in religious people. He said,

    “You can’t convince a believer of anything; for their belief isn’t based on evidence, it’s based on a deep seated need to believe.”

    However, when his theory of the Cosmos (by Cosmos [he liked to capitalize it] Sagan meant everything else that exists!) was being challenged by the now confirmed standard big bang (he held to an infinitely old universe under the oscillating theory) he still held on to his theory in spite of the evidence against it and did not embrace the better model based on more solid empirical evidence. In fact the oscillating theory is now virtually debunked.

    Why did he maintain an outmoded theory? Well, I can quote his words to him, “You can’t convince a believer of anything; for their belief isn’t based on evidence, it’s based on a deep seated need to believe.”

    Cont…

  23. Cont…

    The debate surrounding the big bang theory is represented by the following,

    " … (Mathematician and astronomer Fred) Hoyle dislikes the idea because, as he puts it, “The big bang theory requires a recent origin of the universe that openly invites the concept of creation” (he held to the now debunked steady state theory). Barry Parker sums up the feelings of most cosmologists: “If we accept the big bang theory, and most cosmologists now do, then a ‘creation’ of some sort is forced upon us” (Herren, Fred “Show Me God” page 107–108)

    In the end Sagan was guilty of letting his materialistic worldview dictate his conclusions.

    Eminent physicist and astronomer Robert Jastrow, no friend of theism and a self-confessed agnostic, put his finger on the problem and expressed a more scientifically sound approach when he admitted the following (‘God and the Astronomers’),

    "At this moment it seems as though science will never be able to raise the curtain on the mystery of creation. For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountain of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries."

    "There is a strange ring of feeling and emotion in these reactions [of scientists to evidence that the universe had a sudden beginning]. They come from the heart whereas you would expect the judgments to come from the brain. Why? I think part of the answer is that scientists cannot bear the thought of a natural phenomenon which cannot be explained, even with unlimited time and money. There is a kind of religion in science, it is the religion of a person who believes there is order and harmony in the universe, and every effect must have its cause, [but still believes that] there is no first cause…

    "This religious faith of the scientist is violated by the discovery that the world had a beginning under conditions in which the known laws of physics are not valid, and as a product of forces or circumstances we cannot discover. When that happens, the scientist has lost control. If he really examined the implications, he would be traumatized. As usual when faced with trauma, the mind reacts by ignoring the implications…”

    He even admitted the following, "Now we see how the astronomical evidence supports the biblical view of the origin of the world….the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same. Consider the enormousness of the problem : Science has proved that the universe exploded into being at a certain moment. It asks: 'What cause produced this effect? Who or what put the matter or energy into the universe?' And science cannot answer these questions. (June 25, 1978 New York Times magazine by Robert Jastrow, "Have Astronomers Found God?")

    And he is not alone in this admission. Robert Wilson—winner of a Noble Prize in Physics as a co-discoverer of the Radiation Afterglow— stated, “Certainly there was something that set it off. Certainly, if you’re religious, I can’t think of a better theory of the origin of the universe to match with Genesis.” George Smoot—another Nobel Prize winner who co-discovered the Great Galaxy Seeds—likewise asserted, “There is no doubt that a parallel exists between the Big Bang as an event and the Christian notion of creation from nothing.”

    Arthur Eddington (expert in General Relativity) conceded, “The beginning seems to present insuperable difficulties unless we agree to look on it as frankly supernatural.”

    Note that many of these science technicians make these concessions GRUDGINGLY! And what led these technicians of science to that politically incorrect position? THE EVIDENCE.

    Honoring Mother Nature means that we need to take a humble stance towards it. And humility suggests that we simply follow the evidence that nature itself provides for us (even if it is unfriendly to our pet theory) and not to force it to fit our presumptions.

    We can’t go wrong with that.

  24. Here is the source of our disagreement:

    1.This is a valid question. But again not the question at this level of our dialogue.

    Here I disagree entirely. It is explicitly the question that I pose, and you are doing your best to avoid addressing it.
    Here’s why I demand an answer (not necessarily from you; anyone would suffice). (The germ of this question sprouted in my mind when I was about 7 years old and Roman Catholic nuns were attempting to indoctrinate me.)
    Let’s back up to three points that you summarized in your first post to me:
    1)Why something instead of nothing?
    2)Why is the “something structured”?
    3)Whence life?
    If you review my response, you will see that points 2 and 3 don’t bother me:
    Structure is a result of gravity (on the large scale) and the other three known forces at quantum scales.
    The origin of life de novo is a matter of probabilities, time, and a huge laboratory.
    I return to the first point. If you review my post, you will see that I present Lawrence Krauss’ summary of cosmological analysis that suggests that the universe adds up to nothing [matter’s energy equivalent – other energy = 0].
    Still that leaves another question: what congealed to form the universe (how did nothing assume its current shall we say “bipolar” form)? Before this happened, there was nothing; not just no matter/energy, but no space and no time. I cannot comprehend this state, nor, I wager, can you. Being creatures of matter in a universe that has space and time, we are not mentally capable of considering that kind of system.
    Cosmologists have suggested solutions: ‘the multiverse’, ‘replicating universes’ in which ours is the inside of a black hole in a parent universe. These ideas are of course on the outskirts of science. But let’s accept (for example) the replicating universes idea. If our universe came about by way of a singularity in a preceding universe, the question of the origin of that universe remains. Was it a black hole from a preceding universe? (An infinite regress… turtles all the way down!) How did this whole process begin, and from what? I cannot comprehend. I certainly do not lack humility.

    So there’s the easy answer: “A deity made it.” This is not a satisfactory response; it’s simply incurious. This proposition encounters the same infinite regress. What is the nature of this deity? Is it some physics grad student whose project went horribly awry? Is it sentient cloud of some undefinable substance? In either (any) case the next question is “What is the origin of said deity?” From what precursor did the grad student evolve, and in what universe (or analog); how did the cloud arise and under what circumstances? Answers to both questions are the same as to mine: “We don’t [can’t] know.”

    In short, this answer is not an answer. It merely replaces one problem with an equally unanswerable one. In fact, it replaces the earlier problem with an even larger one, especially if you’re a ‘hard theist’ who believes that the deity micromanages a visible universe that is 13.5 billion light years in apparent radius, and contains something like 10^22 stars (an may in fact be infinite in extendt and content): Considering that anything we create is simpler than we are, I can only infer that this proposed deity is more complex than the universe.

    Postulation of a deity? Occam’s razor cuts it off.

    The scientific response “We don’t know how the universe came to be and perhaps never will." is much simpler than the theist response “God created the universe; we don’t know how god came to be and perhaps never will." Especially because the scientific response is followed by ", but we will keep trying,” whereas the theist response is "but that's not the question at this level of our dialogue.”

    I’m too curious to accept the latter answer.

    I do not reply to the rest of your post because it’s irrelevant to this argument. In particular, philosophical had-waving, appeals to authority and denigrations of authorities are no more germane to this discussion than any papal inanity that I could cite. Furthermore, your assertion that my position

    You prefer to believe in a deity? That’s your choice (Faith). I do not share it. You will never recruit me to your philosophy until you can demonstrate that postulating this entity is simpler than not. My challenge remains. Provide a testable hypothesis for the origin of the creator.

    I'll give you one more try.

  25. Let me address first some matters that I find disconcerting in your methods of argumentation. These matters simply muddle what could be a good dialogue. Bear with me.

    “Here I disagree entirely. It is explicitly the question that I pose, and you are doing your best to avoid addressing it.” — Again why do you insist that I am dodging the question? I am not. What I’m doing is putting the question in its proper perspective. Let me illustrate – Husband and wife had their first major fight and they both hit each other (with lite slaps, slight pushes). Of course the wife gets more offended and takes the husband to court. And in court the prosecuting lawyer asks the husband on the stand ‘Sir did you or did you not beat your wife?” The husband cries foul, “Wait a minute—let me explain the context of that incident; it only happened once and …” The lawyer cuts him off and says, “You are not answering the question; did you or did you not beat your wife—yes or no?” This may be a legal approach but definitely not a fair way to deal with the matter. The wife’s lawyer is setting up the husband on a legal technique to pin him down.

    “If you review my response, you will see that points 2 and 3 don’t bother me: Structure is a result of gravity (on the large scale) and the other three known forces at quantum scales.” ??? — Your answers may not bother you but it bothers me in the extreme! So gravity is the source of this entire incredible fine tuning of the universe? So where did gravity come from? Is gravity infinite? How did gravity came to be? Do you have a testable hypothesis of gravity coming into existence from nothing? Physicist Paul Davies (no friend of theism) has stated that there is no a priori reason why the universe is the way that it is. The physicality of the universe (gravity and all) does not determine that the universe be so finely tuned and mathematically elegant. So how come the universe is in such a state? From a physical standpoint there is no reason to expect that the universe should be structured the way it is so structured today. The universe could have been just total random chaos. But thankfully it is not! Why is that? A fluke? So so theories will just not do!

    “The origin of life de novo is a matter of probabilities, time, and a huge laboratory.” — ??? Wow, that was easy. You surely pulled that one out of thin air! I hope you realize that your position is pure imagination without an iota of REAL scientific substance! The scientific fact that we do not even have to prove, something that stares us in the face every second of the day, is that life produces life. Is it too much to entertain that perhaps what produce life was Life? Do you have some testable hypothesis that demonstrates life arising out of non-life? In Stein’s ‘Exposed’ Dawkins and Ruse got some flak for their comments on where did life come from (Ruse, ‘from the back of crystals’, hmmm; Dawkins, ‘from aliens’, so from intelligence? Hmmm. Dawkins had to retract later). Even in this site Jack is broaching the idea that the intelligence that we obviously see in nature is perhaps alien in origin. So where did the aliens come from?

    “Before this happened, there was nothing; not just no matter/energy, but no space and no time. I cannot comprehend this state, nor, I wager, can you. Being creatures of matter in a universe that has space and time, we are not mentally capable of considering that kind of system.” — Agree. This is a significant issue and the implications needs to be thought through carefully and not just say (the arguments of Bogz above), ‘O well, there aint nothing we can say about that.’

    “How did this whole process begin, and from what? I cannot comprehend. I certainly do not lack humility.” — Granted.

    “What is the origin of said deity?” … “We don’t [can’t] know.” — I may agree with you on this question but I refuse to admit that we can’t say ANYTHING about this matter. Again, I invite you to look at the evidence, follow the argument, look at the possible options, and say for the sake of argument that an Intelligent Being (i.e. God) is the source of creation, then we reason through with the best observations for the emerging of the universe (i.e. the singularity and the big bang, the totality of our known universe [matter, energy, matter, time and space) being finite vis a vis God the Beginner).

    We raise questions such as, ‘If matter, energy, time and space are finite i.e. they were not and then they came to be, and if the source of our known universe is God then how do we then conceive of the nature of the Beginner’s Being? If this Being, being the Beginner, existed prior to matter, energy, space and time (the dimension where cause and effect happens) then what kind of a Being would this be vis a vis our universe (i.e. matter, energy, space and time)?’

    cont…

  26. Cont…

    From a purely logical stand point it is ludicrous to expect that any human being can come with “A Scientific Anatomy of the Origin of the Beginner”. To attempt to do this is obviously insane, and to expect a human being to do this is equally insane. From the nature of the case it is just not intellectually and physically possible to do so. Your statement equally applies here, “Being creatures of matter in a universe that has space and time, we are not mentally capable of considering that kind of system”. I affirm your point and apply the principle here.

    BUT inductively we can learn some things about the Beginner by looking at the effects that are empirical and observable to us today. From the facts of nature today, the origin of reality and of human life we can deduce some things about the nature of the Beginner.

    “Postulation of a deity? Occam’s razor cuts it off.” — I say the razor cuts both ways.

    “The scientific response “We don’t know how the universe came to be and perhaps never will." — This has been used as a cop-out to avoid the potential discomfiting reality that perhaps there is a God. Can be an intellectually lazy answer. Huxley pursued atheism for moral (or immoral!) reasons. Why not keep on looking and considering?

    “… is much simpler than the theist response “God created the universe; we don’t know how god came to be and perhaps never will." — This is a problem is see in our exchange. It appears that you have already put the question and answer in your logical box and since the theist definitely cannot give you a scientifically i.e. physically satisfactory answer – “A Scientific Anatomy of the Origin of the Beginner” – then you rest in your confident unbelief. Sounds like, ‘I bet you can’t do this, loser!’

    “whereas the theist response is "but that's not the question at this level of our dialogue.” — Wow, another one of those eh?

    “I’m too curious to accept the latter answer.” — I am as curious as you are! The difference is that you seem smug in your materialism while I’m open to a world bigger and grander than flat reductionism.

    “I do not reply to the rest of your post because it’s irrelevant to this argument.” — Irrelevant? Hubris! What you find irrelevant others find as critical clues that speak of a reality greater than the myopic world of reductive materialism! I invite you to reconsider and interact with the “irrelevant”, you may find them not really irrelevant at all.

    “In particular, philosophical had-waving (sic), appeals to authority and denigrations of authorities are no more germane to this discussion than any papal inanity that I could cite.” — Cavalier dismissal. This is as hand-waving as you can get! You just quoted Kraus and gave me links on works done by others; I didn’t label this appeal to authority. I don’t expect you to reinvent the wheel, so don’t put the same expectation on me. We’re living in a global village and we can get into the minds of experts and technicians (not that they are perfect) in a click and reflect on them, weighing their points, evaluating their worldviews (and how it affects their positions) and quoting them in appropriate contexts in conversations. Everybody does that. Governments and corporations do that. Teachers do that. Even scientists do that with other scientists! Sharing and exchanging relevant information is certainly fair game in this information age. What's wrong with that?

  27. Cont…

    A blind appeal to authority is this, “This is what Dawkins say and I believe him because he is sooo intelligent, and, and, he is a scientist, and, and, and that he can’t possibly be wrong, and, and and, he agrees with me!” Is this what I’m doing? I quote eminent scientists who are not even in my philosophical camp, people who have deeply studied the evidence (more than you and I have done) and thought long and hard about them (more than you and I). They make grudging but honest admissions leading to openness in their view of life and the world (not the neatly locked world of materialism). Many prefer to remain skeptics and agnostics. Others (no less eminent intellects) because of the sheer abundance of evidence pointing to a reality that’s bigger than the world of flat materialism made the shift from being well-known atheist faith-defenders to at least some form of a deistic perspective (e.g. most recent is Anthony Flew, notwithstanding the ad hominem attacks on him!). Some like Einstein give up atheism for a Rational and Intelligent Universe. Others have gone all the way and become Christians (e.g. Francis Collins, head of the Genome Project). These people have done their homework and they deserve RESPECT from you and me. And here you are hand-waving all of this as irrelevant, appeals to authority and as papal decrees? C’mon dude. This demonstrates hubris and a severe lack of humble reflection! Think thru these things.

    No magic wand (arguments as ‘irrelevant, appeals to authority, papal decrees’) will make these people go away. They are a testimony that there are extremely intelligent people in the world who looked deeply into the evidence, followed thru with the argument and concluded that it is more rational to believe in an Intelligence or a Mind (whether personal as in classic theism or deism, or Einstein’s the Universe as a Mind itself–Logos, an ancient Greek concept) behind creation. Harris and Dawkins say that to believe in such is stupid and moronic. Sez who?!?! Hume himself asserted that belief in Intelligence behind creation is very much rational.

    “You will never recruit me to your philosophy until you can demonstrate that postulating this entity is simpler than not.” — At this point let me remind you that classic theism does not depend only on a physical argument (that should be obvious in view of the fact that in classic theism’s view God is not part of the created order of matter, energy, time and space—the world we live in—for He is SPIRIT by nature. By definition the Beginner is not subject to the constraints of physical reality since God preceded physical reality and the source of it).

    And by the way I am not recruiting you, I am merely pointing out certain clues in the universe we live in that can be windows to a world greater than ‘matter is all there is and all there ever will be’. And if you want to be more wholistic and nuanced in your atheism then I suggest you get into the trouble of tackling the rigorous argument presented by Dean L. Overman, A Case for the Existence of God. He provides a broad range of tightly reasoned arguments that point to the reality of God “behind the scenes”.

    I’m out for the weekend. But be assured that I WILL DIRECTLY ADDRESS YOUR QUESTION in my next piece (early next week). Hope you still have the patience.

  28. Hey djlactin, i'm back…

    Earth's crammed with heaven, And every common bush afire with God; And only he who sees takes off his shoes; The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries. — Elizabeth Browning

    You stated, “Before this happened, there was nothing; not just no matter/energy, but no space and no time. I cannot comprehend this state, nor, I wager, can you. Being creatures of matter in a universe that has space and time, we are not mentally capable of considering that kind of system. How did this whole process begin, and from what? I cannot comprehend. I certainly do not lack humility.”

    Now hold that thought in mind as I attempt to address the question. First let me just point out a little but significant inconsistency in your statement. You stated “we are not mentally capable of considering that kind of system”. I would like to point out that actually there was no “system” (any set up, equation, or structure that’s known to our universe) before the big bang.

    I will not challenge your claim to humility, so IN HUMILITY let me invite you to FOLLOW THE ARGUMENT.

    1. We live in a universe of cause and effect. Things do not just happen without a context of effect or effects. This is universally true; from falling apples to supernovas.

    2. This is true even of the entire cosmos. The universe as we know and experience it (matter and energy, time and space) is FINITE; it was not, and then it came to be.

    The question then that cries out for an answer is this – If both of the above statements are true then what caused the universe to come into existence? How did it happen? What can we reasonably conclude and what are the implications?

    We have 3 options

    A) From nothing nothing (from no cause and no context). The universe just happened to pop out from nothing without explanation. — You and I agree that this is not a very credible position!

    B) From some physical laws of nature (Hawking, Stenger et. al.) – This is refuted by the fact that the totality of the universe (matter and energy, space and time) is finite. The universe and all the laws in this physical universe did not then exist and only came to exist out of that singularity and the big bang. There was no nature then; there were no laws of nature before the singularity and the big bang. There were no natural laws prior to the creative event some 13.7 billion years ago. If you posit nature then you have not really solved the problem. You’ve merely shifted it. So how can the thing that’s created also be the thing that created itself? This is not only unscientific it is nonsensical.

    C) The most direct and logically consistent implication of the established truths (points 1 and 2 above) appears to be this – Something caused the big bang, and that the something that brought the entire physical universe into existence is not physical, i.e. something that is not bound or locked into the nature of our universe i.e. something that TRANSCENDS matter and energy, time and space. Something or Someone that is SPIRITUAL (as opposed to physical/matter).

    (There is a refinement of the standard big bang model, the inflationary big bang. An important study presented by Alexander Vilenkin demonstrates that there is still no escape for a beginning of the universe, thus still upholding the singularity.) — Cont…

  29. “Let us follow the truth whithersoever it leads.” Socrates

    Good scientists heed that advice and Dr. Robert Jastrow has demonstrated in his life and work that he was not a ‘company boy’ of politically correct science when he followed the evidence and concluded, “That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.” Why ‘supernatural’? Simply because prior to the big bang there was no nature, no natural phenomenon, nature as we know it today did not exist then. Thus whatever caused our natural physical universe must be something outside or beyond nature i.e. Supernature—something TRANSCENDENT.

    Cosmologists, astrophysicists, physicists, stunned by the evidence, have made statements unwittingly affirming a reality beyond matter, and a universe of purposeful design, intended by some Intelligence. I will be quoting scientists to make a point. I hope you will not label this as ‘appeals to authority’ and dismiss them out of hand without thinking. These people are experts in their fields, they have done their homework, and they have looked at the evidence and deeply reflected on the implications. Their perspectives deserve consideration and should not be brushed aside as irrelevant. You and I may not agree with what they say but they do deserve our respect. To do otherwise is not only unwise but also to our disadvantage.

    Cosmologists Carr and Rees, after reviewing the anthropic principle stated, “Nature does exhibit remarkable coincidences and these do warrant some explanation.”

    The evidence led astronomer George Greenstein to make the statement: “As we survey all the evidence, the thought instantly arises that some supernatural agency—or rather Agency—must be involved. Is it possible that suddenly, without intending to, we have stumbled upon scientific proof of the existence of a Supreme Being? Was it God who stepped in and so providentially crafted the cosmos for our benefit?”

    Fred Hoyle, Cambridge astronomer and mathematician had this to say, — “Would you not say to yourself, "Some super-calculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature would be utterly minuscule." Of course you would . . . A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintellect has monkeyed with physics, as well as with chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. The numbers one calculates from the facts seem to me so overwhelming as to put this conclusion almost beyond question.”

    Arno Penzias, winner of Nobel prize for physics, "Astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing, one with the very delicate balance needed to provide exactly the conditions required to permit life, and one which has an underlying (one might say 'supernatural') plan.”

    Vera Kistiakowsky (MIT physicist): "The exquisite order displayed by our scientific understanding of the physical world calls for the divine."

    Cont…

  30. And thus the following characteristics of that Transcendent Supernature would necessarily logically follow,

    • not bound by space because it existed before space and in fact created the dimensions of space (length, width, height)

    • not bound by time because it existed before time and in fact created time (where the cause and effect phenomenon happens)

    • immaterial (i.e. not of material substance known to the universe) because it existed before matter and in fact created matter

    • powerful because it “banged” or brought into existence incredibly powerful things (all the power of universe) out of nothing

    • intelligent because the “bang” was not a random chaotic explosion but produced the utter genius of creation that is observably fine tuned, it was a bang that was intelligently designed producing an intelligent and a mathematically elegant universe

    Alan Sandage (winner of the Crawford prize in astronomy, equivalent to a Nobel prize) stated, "I find it quite improbable that such order came out of chaos. There has to be some organizing principle. God to me is a mystery but is the explanation for the miracle of existence, why there is something instead of nothing."

    • personal because the Supernature chose to bring into being creative existence out of non existence, and only personal beings make choices (non personal forces don’t make choices).
    It is valid to refer to the Supernature as CREATOR for an act of creating (defined as causing something to exist) is what actually happened.

    Cont…

  31. So let’s go where angels fear to tread—what caused or created the Supernature?

    Let’s talk about TIME. Time, as we know and experience it (the domain of cause and effect phenomenon) is finite; it was created. Time had a beginning point. Time came to exist at the big bang, and thus time only and always flows in one direction i.e. forward. (I’m aware of fantastic theories of time-travel back and forth in time, but these are simply fantasies.) Time cannot be reversed or stopped. The fact that time (in our universe) is finite means that it only exists in half a dimension (it doesn’t exist prior to the big bang). This is another proof of creation for everything that exists within this finite time must also have a starting point for its origin. Thus it must be created or caused (cause and effect law in our universe). Thus creation is a necessary fact within our time-bound universe.

    Let’s talk about the Transcendent Supernature vis a vis time in our cosmos. From the above discussion it is explicitly clear that this Entity is outside the domain of our finite time-bound (cause and effect) existence. Thus the Supernature itself is not bound to the necessities of our time-bound (cause and effect) existence. It is not necessary to submit the Supernature to our time-bound world because this Entity is Transcendent vis a vis finite time.

    So how did this Supernature originate? At this point I simply quote your words in full agreement, “I cannot comprehend this state”. I say Amen brother! However, the above discussion appears to be a necessary implication as we follow the argument. Since Supernature is not subject to our cause and effect existence it is not necessary that we posit a cause for the existence of Supernature.

    (Bogz) Einstein was an intellectually honest person. He looked carefully at the evidence. He was not happy with the direct ramifications of what he found. He fought it at first. But when the evidence mounted he dutifully raised his white flag and conceded to the “necessity for a beginning” and “the presence of a superior reasoning power.” This conclusion is shared by the ancients Plato, Aristotle, and Epictetus. Even the consummate skeptic David Hume made the following guarded statements – “The whole frame of nature bespeaks an intelligent author; and no rational enquirer can, after serious reflection, suspend his belief a moment with regard to the primary principles of genuine Theism and Religion.” And in a later work he also said the following; “That the cause or causes of order in the universe probably bear some remote analogy to human intelligence.”

    Stephen Hawking is a very smart fellow. However, in spite of his significant contributions in establishing the space-time theorem of general relativity that established the finitude of space and time, he is hell-bent in trying to get rid of “God” in his universe. But reviewers of his recent works point out that Hawking still cannot escape the singularity. In discussing Hawking’s proposals theoretical physicist Heinz Pagels pointed out,

    “This unthinkable void converts itself into the plenum of existence—a necessary consequence of physical laws. Where are these laws written into that void? What “tells” the void that it is pregnant with a possible universe? It would seem that even the void is subject to law, a logic that exists prior to space time.”

    That “law” or “logic” that “tells” (speaks) to the void (the creative Word) is the Supernature.

    Another theoretical physicist Frank Tipler also pointed out that Hawking’s proposal is simply substituting the standard singularity to a quantum singularity. Thus, there is still no escape from the singularity and the necessity for the Supernature.

    Cont…

  32. Again, Dr. Jastrow who was a self-confessed agnostic (in religious matters), upon reviewing the evidence was led to make the following conclusion,

    “Now we see how the astronomical evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.”

    He also made this frank admission in an interview, “Astronomers now find they have painted themselves into a corner because they have proven, by their own methods, that the world began abruptly in an act of creation to which you can trace the seeds of every star, every planet, every living thing in this cosmos and on the earth. And they have found that all this happened as a product of forces they cannot hope to discover. . . . That there are what I or anyone would call supernatural forces at work is now, I think, a scientifically proven fact.”

    Conclusion

    For all practical purposes this Transcendent Supernature is virtually indistinguishable from the God recognized by classical theism.

    > God is eternal vis a vis finite creation, He is not bound by the cause and effect phenomenon that governs our reality and experience

    > God is Spirit vis a vis material/physical creation, He is not bound by the limitations natural to physical entities.

    > God is personal and intelligent as is reflected in the nature of nature (animate and inanimate, micro to macro) and of the human specie

    This is God by definition. To ask why God is eternal is like asking why is water wet, or why do mothers have babies, or who is the bachelor’s wife. This conception of God is thoroughly consistent with the Judeo-Christian view of God and so thoroughly antagonistic to the ancient Greek gods as Zeus (Greek gods were truly made in the image of the Greeks!) and the impersonal nondescript gods of eastern mysticism (Brahman, Nirvana).

    Looking at our small place in the universe it is good to be humble and to say with the ancient psalmist,

    “The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has given to man.” Psalms 115:16

    Ultimately we cannot search out the mysteries of the Supernatural. We can only study the effects and follow the argument up to a point. Science deals with nature only. And since we are seeking to understand Supernature it is necessary to go beyond the reach of physical science. Beyond that Infinite Supernature must reveal Himself to us who are natural and finite beings.

    This is a leap of faith, but it is a leap into the LIGHT. To retreat to reductive materialism is also a leap of faith, but a leap into the DARK. It is to deny the greater realities that nature, human intelligence and experience points to us. Physicist Tony Rothman’s words are revealing,
    "When confronted with the order and beauty of the universe and the strange coincidences of nature, it's very tempting to take the leap of faith from science into religion. I am sure many physicists want to. I only wish they would admit it."

    “If we need an atheist for a debate, I go to the philosophy department. The physics department isn’t much use.” Heinemann prize winner in mathematical physics Robert Griffiths

    “For this is what the high and lofty One says– he who lives forever, whose name is holy: "I live in a high and holy place, but also with him who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite.” Isaiah 57:15

    Humility can go a long way, even to eternity.

    "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it." (John 1:1-5)

    In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1)

    "For the present we see things as if in a mirror, and are puzzled; but then we shall see them face to face. For the present the knowledge I gain is imperfect; but then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." (1Corinthians 13:12)

  33. That was a lot of text just to say "Some immaterial being did it." Still, however, no statement about its origin. Substituting an unexplainable answer to an unanswerable question is not a satisfactory response.

    THis is a particularly telling quote:

    Since Supernature is not subject to our cause and effect existence it is not necessary that we posit a cause for the existence of Supernature.

    WTF? A total non-answer. We might just as easily (and (il)logically) state "The universe always was", and also avoid questions of its origin.

    This debate is going nowhere. And now that it has devolved to a series of bible quotes, I'm outta here.

    It's been amusing though.

    D

    1. We're trying to dialogue on a topic that is perhaps the most important matter in this universe and you respond with "WTF" ??? is that the best response you can give dj? tsk tsk tsk…

      Yes, your response is indeed amusing! I fully agree with you on that.

      I wish you well in your atheism. I guess we will soon find out who is in the path of truth.

      DEATH will come to both of us soon. If i die and see and become nothing, o well, you are right.

      If you die and you see the face of God then… well, you figure it out.

      Thanks for the challenge though. No hard feelings?

      1. There's no dialogue here, this is you copying and pasting arguments from authority.

        If god (or however you want to define the supernatural entity in question) created the universe, who or what created god? Are you able to logically formulate your own opinion on this?

        1. Justin — “There's no dialogue here, this is you copying and pasting arguments from authority. If god (or however you want to define the supernatural entity in question) created the universe, who or what created god? Are you able to logically formulate your own opinion on this?”

          Sigh. The response below is to both djlactin and Justin. And dude, before you engage in an ongoing dialogue will you please first carefully follow the exchanges. I have already addressed that arrogant, cavalier dismissal, magic wand argument.

          — A blind appeal to authority is this, “This is what Dawkins say and I believe him because he is sooo intelligent, and, and, he is a scientist, and, and, and that he can’t possibly be wrong, and, and and, he agrees with me!” Is this what I’m doing? I quote eminent scientists who are not even in my philosophical camp, people who have deeply studied the evidence (more than you and I have done) and thought long and hard about them (more than you and I). They make grudging but honest admissions leading to openness in their view of life and the world (not the neatly locked world of materialism). Many prefer to remain skeptics and agnostics. Others (no less eminent intellects) because of the sheer abundance of evidence pointing to a reality that’s bigger than the world of flat materialism made the shift from being well-known atheist faith-defenders to at least some form of a deistic perspective (e.g. most recent is Anthony Flew, notwithstanding the ad hominem attacks on him!). Some like Einstein give up atheism for a Rational and Intelligent Universe. Others have gone all the way and become Christians (e.g. Francis Collins, head of the Genome Project). These people have done their homework and they deserve RESPECT from you and me. And here you are hand-waving all of this as irrelevant, appeals to authority and as papal decrees? C’mon dude. This demonstrates hubris and a severe lack of humble reflection! Think thru these things.

          No magic wand (arguments as ‘irrelevant, appeals to authority, papal decrees’) will make these people go away. They are a testimony that there are extremely intelligent people in the world who looked deeply into the evidence, followed thru with the argument and concluded that it is more rational to believe in an Intelligence or a Mind (whether personal as in classic theism or deism, or Einstein’s the Universe as a Mind itself–Logos, an ancient Greek concept) behind creation. Harris and Dawkins say that to believe in such is stupid and moronic. Sez who?!?! Hume himself asserted that belief in Intelligence behind creation is very much rational. —

          DEAL WITH THE ARGUMENTS and don’t hide behind such mindless retorts!

          1. "I quote eminent scientists who are not even in my philosophical camp, people who have deeply studied the evidence (more than you and I have done) and thought long and hard about them (more than you and I). They make grudging but honest admissions leading to openness in their view of life and the world (not the neatly locked world of materialism)."

            I don't think you understand what "argument from authority" means. See wikipedia or even items (1) and (2) from your own post in the other thread:

            "When someone quotes the work of a recognized authority the following questions need to be asked;
            1.Is this person a legitimate authority in a particular field relevant to the discussion?
            2.Is the statement of the authority reflective of the evidence, or is it a valid deduction from the evidence and not a statement more reflective of the metaphysical worldview of the authority and not necessarily from the evidence (a non sequitor)?
            4.Is the quote not taken out of context?
            5.Is the quote given at the proper context of the argument being made?
            6.Is the quote being properly used by the one quoting or is it being expanded to the point of distortion and made to appear that the source of the quote actually is in full agreement with the one quoting?"

            It doesn't matter that you are quoting people "not even in your philosophical camp", what matters is that you are presenting arguments that consist entirely of quoting the _opinions_ of authoritive scientists. "Thinking long and hard" might be enough to get a philosophy paper published, but that is not how science works. A scientific argument consists either of testable, falsifiable hypotheses or of citing evidence obtained from experiments testing such hypotheses. This is neither.

            "Hume himself asserted that belief in Intelligence behind creation is very much rational"

            So what? Hume also said, "A wise man proportions his belief to the evidence." (An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding, section X). Perhaps you should follow his advice.

            1. Dude i already quoted to you the full text of the fallacious appeal to authority and it exposes your abuse of such point. This is a site where we engage in exchanging ideas gleaned from the works of technicians. This is not a scientific journal. We do not go to the finer technical details of the argument (although we mention some of them here and there, but there are a lot of published works that give the full argument if you are serious to investigate it). I have tried to present a case for the rationality of a belief in the supernatural, or at least to an open worldview and not the dogmatic view of reductive materialism that atheists ASSUME to be the whole truth and nothing but the truth. I argue that an open worldview is a better fit to the data than the closed world of materialism.

              Am i claiming that i have scientific proof that God exist? No. Do you claim to have a scientific case to prove the non-existence of God? I don't think so! What i claim is that upon looking at the evidence, at the data, at the science, it compellingly points to a Reality greater than our reality. And this is the context of the quotes i make of legitimate authorities who have looked at the evidence in depth (e.g. Einstein) and were led to conclude (some screaming and kicking e.g. Hoyle) that indeed somebody, some super-intellect appeared to have monkeyed with the laws of physics and the entire cosmos. And because some of them are theophobic (appeal to consequence) they rush to find way out. You seem to consistently fail to get this.

              Your only argument is that we are to stick to pure science when in practice you don't actually stick to pure science. Do you have a scientific evidence for our atheism? So on what do you base you belief then? Science is only a part of the experience of life, not the end all and be all of existence. I love science but science is a limited tool. I argue that science as a tool points to a greater reality. Doing science with the dogma of reductive materialism is rigging the search for ultimate reality from the get go.

              Again, here's a scenario — Follow me in this very possible reality thought experiment. What if nature does not bow to the dogmatism of reductive materialism? What if it's not just all matter? What if there is Intelligence behind nature? Will the reductive materialist (just purely natural explanation) grid be an aid to discover truth to our understanding of ultimate reality or a hindrance?

              Tell me.

              I quote Hume for he is the patron saint of the empiricists. Yet in spite of being a consummate empiricist he did concede that it is very rational to believe in the supernatural on the basis of the evidence.

  34. djlactin, Justin

    1.I gave a carefully reasoned argument for the existence of Supernature, Beginner, Creator, God gleaned from current scientific studies from recognized scientists in their fields, most of which are not even friendly towards theism. I made straightforward deductions that are the direct logical implications of the shared conclusions reached by scientist from different fields of expertise (physicists, astrophysicists, cosmologists, astronomers et. al). You don’t even attempt to challenge any of the steps I have painstakingly presented. Instead, you wave your magic wand retort “arguments from authority” and think that the facts of the case are thereby rendered irrelevant??? You are terribly wrong my friend! I challenge you to deal with the issue—face squarely the fact of existence and its origin and nature, and if you come up with a testable hypothesis explaining why there is something instead of nothing on the grounds of your reductive materialism then shout till your blue in the face ‘there is no God!’ But if you can’t do that then I would encourage you to be humble and be open to consider the possibility that there is Something greater than mere matter.
    Perhaps a lesson from Eisntein is in order here.

    There is an interesting article in Time magazine titled “Einstein & Faith,” which is actually an excerpt from Walter Isaacson’s biography of Albert Eisntein, Einstein: His Life and Universe. This article particularly highlights Einstein’s struggle with faith as he was growing up and in his later years as a scientist. Later in his more mature intellectual ponderings he believed that science and faith ought to work hand in hand in the study of nature, this is reflected in his statement, “science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind."

    He was explicitly clear in rejecting atheism. He said to a friend, "There are people who say there is no God… But what makes me really angry is that they quote me for support of such views." He was rather impatient with atheists who arrogantly mock those who held on to the Supernatural, he said, "What separates me from most so-called atheists is a feeling of utter humility toward the unattainable secrets of the harmony of the cosmos". He had this to say to the atheists, "The fanatical atheists are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who–in their grudge against traditional religion as the 'opium of the masses'– cannot hear the music of the spheres."

    True he rejected classical theism, but not on scientific grounds. His rejection was based on THEOLOGICAL grounds—he cannot accept a personal God because he could not reconcile free will and the determinism that he assumed was the course of nature. But this interview he gave to George Sylvester Viereck was revealing,

    — To what extent are you influenced by Christianity? "As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene."
    You accept the historical existence of Jesus? "Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life."

    Do you believe in God? "I'm not an atheist. I don't think I can call myself a pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws." —

    Learning from Einstein in this matter is not a bad thing.

    1. This post is entirely an argument from authority. Why does it matter what opinion Einstein had? These quotations are not based on science, they are statements of Einstein's personal beliefs (and unattributed, at that).

      1. There you go again Justin, wielding that argument from authority thingy. "Why does it matter what opinion Einstein had?" It does matter because Einstein was a man who looked deeply at the evidence, at the data, on the science, and on that basis he formed his conclusions. Now, you may not want to follow him, sure, but to cavalierly dismiss Einstein in this matter is very shortsighted and arrogant to say the least.

        You see life is not all about science, we need to listen, reflect and learn from people like Einstein. True we may not always agree with him at all points (i don't) but surely we can learn something from him. And i dare say in this matter Einstein's position needs to be taken seriously.

        Appeal to consequence?

      2. Inviting you to engaged my new posting (Science or Appeal to Consequence?) on Tim Folger's article, It touches on the points you've raised. please go to Complex Specified Correspondence – Lou’s query and quotes, April 30th, 2011 | Category: complex specified correspondence

  35. 2.I specifically quoted dj to hold his own words in mind as I gave my argument,

    “Before this happened, there was nothing; not just no matter/energy, but no space and no time. I cannot comprehend this state, nor, I wager, can you. Being creatures of matter in a universe that has space and time, we are not mentally capable of considering that kind of system. How did this whole process begin, and from what? I cannot comprehend. I certainly do not lack humility.”

    I fully agree with dj’s statement. And if you are not so prejudiced you will already see the wisdom in those words. However, I believe your arrogant atheism has blinded you and so has made a mockery of you in this situation. I argued that the evidence that nature itself provides us leads to the reality of a Supernature behind the universe.

    I stated, “Why ‘supernatural’? Simply because prior to the big bang there was no nature, no natural phenomenon, nature as we know it today did not exist then. Thus whatever caused our natural physical universe must be something outside or beyond nature i.e. Supernature—something TRANSCENDENT.”

    Then I discussed our time-bound existence (time—where cause and effect phenomenon happens). Our time-bound universe is a proof of creation for it subjects all entity, animate or inanimate, to a cause for its existence. Then I argued,

    “Let’s talk about the Transcendent Supernature vis a vis time in our cosmos. From the above discussion it is explicitly clear that this Entity is outside the domain of our finite time-bound (cause and effect) existence. Thus the Supernature itself is not bound to the necessities of our time-bound (cause and effect) existence. It is not necessary to submit the Supernature to our time-bound world because this Entity is Transcendent vis a vis finite time.”

    Dj’s earlier response was totally anemic, “WTF? A total non-answer. We might just as easily (and (il)logically) state "The universe always was", and also avoid questions of its origin.”
    This is a pathetic response. Why? I don’t think you (dj) read poorly. You are obviously an intelligent person. I refuse to believe you are deliberately misconstruing my argument. I think the problem is that you are so smug about your atheistic stance that you unconsciously look down on theists and sneer at their arguments, “These theists are just so blinded by their stupid faith; thus their argument must surely be empty of real substance.” And so you do not try to carefully read and assess what we have to say.

    I have already repeatedly demonstrated that the universe (energy, matter, space, and time—the totality of our universe) is not infinite, it began in the big bang event. The empirical data tells us that it is utterly false to consider that "The universe always was". So your retort is utterly lacking in reason and logic. It is evidently false on the basis of empirical data.

    You (and Justin) continue to insist on the question “If god (or however you want to define the supernatural entity in question) created the universe, who or what created god? Are you able to logically formulate your own opinion on this?”

    Let me quote you again,
    “Before this happened, there was nothing; not just no matter/energy, but no space and no time. I cannot comprehend this state, nor, I wager, can you. Being creatures of matter in a universe that has space and time, we are not mentally capable of considering that kind of system. How did this whole process begin, and from what? I cannot comprehend. I certainly do not lack humility.”

    I say Amen dj! However, I guess your pride blinds you from seeing the fact that your question is self-stultifying. You are merely refuting yourself. You are actually already providing a very sound answer to the question but in insisting the question you are just making a fool of yourself.

  36. What was before the universe? I am in full agreement with you when you say, “I cannot comprehend this state, nor, I wager, can you. Being creatures of matter in a universe that has space and time, we are not mentally capable of considering that kind of system.” Being creatures of the created cosmos we are not able to comprehend what was before creation or beyond the cosmos. However, as I have argued above, this does not mean that we cannot say anything about this matter. Creation itself provides us with powerful clues, to summarize,

    A.The universe was caused into existence by something that’s not natural, something beyond nature, Something Transcendent and Supernatural (as opposed to natural), Spiritual (as opposed to matter) and Infinite (as opposed to our finite existence) – Creator, Beginner, God.

    B.This is what stands prior to the big bang, and in fact programmed the nature of the big bang.
    So to insist on your question “If god (or however you want to define the supernatural entity in question) created the universe, who or what created god? Are you able to logically formulate your own opinion on this?” is self-stultifying and self-refuting based on your own words that, considering what was prior to the big bang , “I cannot comprehend this state, nor, I wager, can you. Being creatures of matter in a universe that has space and time, we are not mentally capable of considering that kind of system.”

    On one side of your mouth you speak wisdom, “I cannot comprehend this state, nor, I wager, can you. Being creatures of matter in a universe that has space and time, we are not mentally capable of considering that kind of system.”

    But on the other side you speak utter foolishness, “explain the origin of the intelligence… I challenge you to provide a testable (falsifiable) hypothesis. who or what created god?”. In your own words you judge your own question foolish for God is in a reality that is in the category of what you say, “I cannot comprehend this state, nor, I wager, can you. Being creatures of matter in a universe that has space and time, we are not mentally capable of considering that kind of system.”

    So if you “cannot comprehend this state” and you wager I can’t too, then why in the world do you demand of me to “explain the origin of the intelligence… to provide a testable (falsifiable) hypothesis. who or what created god?” ?????? And you’re a science guy right? You also ought to have already discerned that by sheer logic the Supernature cannot be subjected to the science lab since Supernature is not in the category of the natural (that’s the reason we call it Supernature in the first place!). Science is limited to the natural.

    Do we see an Intelligent Supernature behind the existence of the universe? The empirical data says yes. As finite creatures we must take a humble stance towards nature and follow the argument that nature itself provides. When we do that we find that we, proud human intelligence with our great scientific minds, are not really the sum of all knowledge and wisdom. Nature does not bow to the rigid dogmatism of reductionist materialism. There is something Greater than our minds, a Wisdom greater than our science, a Reality greater than our earthbound, time-bound existence.

    Thousands of years before astronomers and astrophysicists have confessed their awe of the origin and the nature of the cosmos, David, the warrior-king of Israel, declared,

    “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands. Day after day they pour forth speech; night after night they display knowledge. There is no speech or language where their voice is not heard. Their voice goes out into all the earth, their words to the ends of the world.” (Psalms 19:1-4)

    But hey, you stick with your materialism. I will continue to look at nature with an open mind to seek the One who is the source of reality and life. DEATH will be the clincher as to who’s right and who’s wrong.

    Earth's crammed with heaven,
    And every common bush afire with God;
    And only he who sees takes off his shoes;
    The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries.
    — Elizabeth Browning

    1. "A.The universe was caused into existence by something that’s not natural, something beyond nature, Something Transcendent and Supernatural (as opposed to natural), Spiritual (as opposed to matter) and Infinite (as opposed to our finite existence) – Creator, Beginner, God."

      On what basis do you claim this? Just because we currently do not know what caused the universe to exist does not mean we won't ever know, nor does it follow that it had to be something supernatural, nor does it follow that the supernatural entity is the Christian God. We still do not know by what mechanism gravity acts — does that mean we should immediately give up on searching for naturalistic explanations for it?

      "So if you “cannot comprehend this state” and you wager I can’t too, then why in the world do you demand of me to “explain the origin of the intelligence… to provide a testable (falsifiable) hypothesis. who or what created god?” ?????? And you’re a science guy right? You also ought to have already discerned that by sheer logic the Supernature cannot be subjected to the science lab since Supernature is not in the category of the natural (that’s the reason we call it Supernature in the first place!). Science is limited to the natural."

      Precisely. As soon as a supernatural argument is introduced, it is no longer science, by definition. Nobody here is saying you cannot have your own beliefs, but they are most definitely not scientific.

      "Do we see an Intelligent Supernature behind the existence of the universe? The empirical data says yes"

      This is a baseless claim. I am not aware of any empirical evidence of a creator, and furthermore you have already stated that the basis of your belief is supernatural. You can't have it both ways — either there is empirical evidence or at least a falsifiable hypothesis, or there isn't. Since you've already said there is no naturalistic explanation, I'll go with the latter. Feel free to provide a citation to the empirical evidence, of course.

      1. Please read my new post (Science or Appeal to Consequence) on Tim Folger's article issues touched here —

        "On what basis do you claim this? Just because we currently do not know what caused the universe to exist does not mean we won't ever know, nor does it follow that it had to be something supernatural, nor does it follow that the supernatural entity is the Christian God. We still do not know by what mechanism gravity acts — does that mean we should immediately give up on searching for naturalistic explanations for it?"
        1. On what basis — Bogz and my posts demonstrate the basis
        2. Theists have been accused of the God of the gaps argument, do i sense here you using the chance or naturalism of the gaps argument?
        3. Gravity? Is gravity infinite? Where did it come from? So gravity is your creator?
        4. "does that mean we should immediately give up on searching for naturalistic explanations for it?" — Who said anything about stopping our research? Not me. As i responded to the other guy, 'This is another misconception. To believe in God or Intelligent Causation does not make one a lazy scientist (there are as many lazy Christians as there are lazy atheists). Historically many of the towering figures in science were devoted Christians. In fact western science was born in the cradle of the Christian worldview!

        The search must continue, but it must be an open search and not a search rigged with the philosophy of materialism from the get go. This is what i'm trying to point out.

        So here's a scenario — Follow me in this very possible reality thought experiment. What if nature does not bow to the dogmatism of reductive materialism? What if it's not just all matter? What if there is Intelligence behind nature? Will the reductive materialist (just purely natural explanation) grid be an aid to discover truth to our understanding of ultimate reality or a hindrance?

        Tell me.

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