Just a Christian voice in a hostile country.

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Mark's picture
Just a Christian voice in a hostile country.

Hello all, i just wanted to introduce myself to everyone. I am a Christian (capital on purpose), I joined this site as a bit of a spy I think. I have seen and heard so much hatred leveled against those who hold to a view that includes a Creator. Dawkins is the leader of the pack that seems to have a powerful hate-on for all things religious, but after seeing him in numerous debates with actual intelligent Christians and those of other faiths, I think that perhaps his bravado is inspired more toward book sales than any real conviction.
I would like to ask this question to anyone who cares to answer me. Do you think that Atheism is anything more than another belief system?

I ask this because it seems inadequate to explain origins. I mean of course origin of life and origin of mass/energy and space/time. The best answers that I have ever recieved revolves around a statement of faith that science will one day have an explanation.
I hope to offend nobody, and i will assure everyone right off the bat that I do respect you and your intelligence,

I tried to forsake my Christian beliefs when i was in my early twenties, but these two questions stopped me dead in my tracks, and I have never had a decent answer.

Basically (and i am sure that this line of questioning is not a shock to any thinking person) i just cannot buy a statement of faith from a system of thought that claims to have done away with the need for a mind behind it all.

Might as well start off with the only question that matters.

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watchman's picture
@ Mark .....

@ Mark .....

"Do you think that Atheism is anything more than another belief system? "

Nope......in fact I personally think it to be the exact opposite .....

it is a LACK of belief ....

and it aint a system .

and it makes no claims about "origins".....

You might want to do a little research on Atheism .... before you start.

Mark's picture
Hi watchman. I realize that

Hi watchman. I realize that atheism is not a formalized system of anything. but to say that it is merely a lack of belief is confusing. Do you believe that life had a beginning? Do you believe that ides cannot be reduced to mass/energy?
To my understanding, Atheism only rejects belief in a Creator, not in existence itself.
Science has shown us the mechanism of many things in nature, but it seems to me that Atheists such as Dawkins have tried to deify science as being something more than a search for truth.

watchman's picture
@Mark ....

@Mark ....

"to say that it is merely a lack of belief is confusing."

Is it ? .... Confusing to who...?

"To my understanding, Atheism only rejects belief in a Creator"

But you have already demonstrated that your "understanding" of Atheism is flawed .... surely you need to work on that first...?

" it seems to me that Atheists such as Dawkins have tried to deify science as being something more than a search for truth."

Really ? .....That's how it seems to you ....? I suggest you look again.

Perhaps without your pre conceptions....

Mark's picture
Watchman, you say that my

Watchman, you say that my understanding of Atheism is confused, maybe that is why I am here. I have Atheist friends, and they all seem to acknowledge that their dismissal of God is not based empirically (indeed to try and prove a negative is nearly impossible), There is then, i think we agree, no empirical evidence that God does or does not exist. therefore either view must be based on a belief of where the available evidence does point. I conclude that the evidence suggests Gods reality, you conclude that the evidence is pointing away from Gods' existence. since the evidence is inconclusive, all we have left is belief. The side of the issue we choose is irrelevant to the issue of belief.
If you could prove God to be unnecessary empirically, then this conversation and website would be irrelevant. Likewise, if i could prove my case, then we could only disagree about the nature of God, not His existence. (Male pronoun used merely for simplicity).

Algebe's picture
Mark: "Do you believe that

Mark: "Do you believe that life had a beginning? Do you believe that ides cannot be reduced to mass/energy?"

I think we're getting into semantics here. "Believe" in the religious sense is to accept something on faith without any expectation of evidence. As an atheist I reject that. In the general sense, it means to have a reasonable expectation based on evidence that something may be so, even if the evidence is not yet complete.

In that sense I believe that life had a beginning. We have evidence from the fossil record and DNA. That evidence is growing all the time. There's no need for magic. The real story is much more wonderful and interesting.

We also have the laws of probability, which some Christian apologists love to wave around. They tell us the likelihood of life arising instantly in a puddle of water is as high as the probability of a tornado going through a junkyard and creating a jet aircraft. Well there wasn't one puddle. There was a vast primeval ocean seeded with complex chemicals from comets and seismic activities. The ocean was also bombarded with radiation and lightening. Chemical reactions were happening in an almost infinite number of locations over hundreds of millions of years. Do you not think that lowers the odds enough. O.K. Multiply that by millions of Earth-type planets in this galaxy alone. Yes. I know it happened here on Earth. But if it hadn't we wouldn't be here talking about it.

I think by "ides" you meant "ideas" not the date of Julius Caesar's assassination. Yes, ideas can be reduced to mass/energy. Try having an idea without a brain.

Mark's picture
Hi Algebe,

Hi Algebe,
Thank you for your comment, you are correct in pointing out that semantics can really muddy the waters here. I think that the broader point that i am trying (unsuccessfully it would seem) to make is that we are all operating on evidenced based assumptions. You are assuming that there is a naturalistic explanation for the questions of origins.
But must it not necessarily be a matter of belief? you are certain that there is no God, therefore indications of God must be rejected. I believe that there is a God, because i look at the same evidence and choose to let it lead me to that conclusion.
Maybe all this is due to my frustration around the assumption that those who choose to accept a Creator, as an explanation for the evidence of things happening outside of the bounds of natural law (the beginning of the universe), are unintelligent and childish (words like magic, and the tooth fairy, zeus, thor etc.)
Both sides of this debate seem to love demonization and degrading the intellectual abilities of the other side, and I find it amazing that a civil discussion seems so elusive.
You are right to point out the complexities of the math regarding the odds of life happening. My challenge with the Atheistic view on the origin of life is that it constantly evokes a story that we need to believe, even though the facts are lacking. This just trust science mentality is a problem for me as it just removes the word God and substitutes science, with no acknowledgement that science is a verb, not a noun, something we do, not something that is.

Algebe's picture
@Mark: "unintelligent and

@Mark: "unintelligent and childish (words like magic, and the tooth fairy, zeus, thor etc.)"

Magic, Zeus, Thor, and magic were all just as orthodox in their day as Christianity is now. People as intelligent as Arthur Conan Doyle firmly believed in fairies and mediums. I take it you're as skeptical as I am about everything but Christianity. Or do you think there's a possibility Zeus or Athena might be floating around out there?

Science is a noun. It literally means "knowledge." It's not something we do. It's a path we walk along toward distant horizons. There's always more to discover. Religion is a road block, a broken bridge on that path. It tells us all the mysteries are solved. God is the answer. You can go this far toward understanding the origin of life and the universe, but no further.

My view as an atheist is that there is much that we don't know but nothing that we can't know.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
"Do you think that Atheism is

"Do you think that Atheism is anything more than another belief system?" No. Atheism is the ABSENCE of a belief system. Have a scan of the previous forums and you will find many discussions about atheism where similar minded people have brought that assumption.
It is an incorrect assumption and has been corrected many times..
Atheism is the lack of belief in god or gods. That is all.

Your next question I think is about the origin of life but you have mixed up a "god of the gaps" argument in there. Essentially you are saying that if science does not explain it "God did it" which I translate as "Magic Happens".Instead of a meaningless "magic happens" statement to explain a gap, I can say "I dont know". I do have a reasonable expectation based on evidence of previous scientific advancement that one day mankind or its successors may know.
"Magic happens" demands evidence not of the occurrence but that "magic" or god exists.

Gaps of knowledge are growing smaller every year through scientific advancement. That is not a faith based argument or position, it is an EVIDENCE based position.

And there you have the nub of atheism. I do not accept your god(s) without evidence.

Mark's picture
Old Man who shouts at clouds,

Old Man who shouts at clouds, i like that name.
I have heard of this God of the gaps idea, but it really cannot apply to a Judeo-Christian God. Unlike the pantheistic gods, the Creator God must be bigger than all of nature, bigger in terms of mind, not size.
To my way of thinking, science cannot do anything but explain how things work, so science is nothing more than a tool for understanding God. Sir Isaac Newton felt the same way so i think I am in good company.
It has always come down to the origins questions, there are still no answers, and what we do know seems to point toward not away from the divine.
I hope that i am not coming off as contentious, I just think that we all (Atheist and Theist alike) need to answer these questions.
I bring it up because the very terms Atheist and Theist indicate that we have made up our minds, i am just wondering how you got past this hurdle? Because it just keeps leading me straight back to God.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
Okay. The way your OP was

Okay. The way your OP was phrased was ambiguous.
"cannot apply to a Judeo-Christian God. Unlike the pantheistic gods, the Creator God must be bigger than all of nature, bigger in terms of mind, not size."
"The gaps" refer to gaps of knowledge not physical measurement. "God of the gaps" is a familiar apologist argument. If you spent some time in the forums you would see that and many other arguments comprehensively demolished.
Anything that applies to any of the thousands of gods worshipped by humanity is common: they have no provable basis in fact.
Your statement "must be bigger" ...please prove that statement. Show me evidence of the supposed "bigness" and existence of your particular god.
The purpose of science is to show/explain "how things work". Nothing to do with a god or gods.
Unlike theists you will find that many atheists have an open mind on any god's existence. What we will not do is accept anything but evidence as to their existence.
Let me turn this around for you like you are attempting to do with me; you are a christian: disprove zeus.
Evidence for Zeus: We exist, lightning, capricious behaviour, temples to Him, ancient books telling us of Him, eye witness accounts of meetings with him, his children interacting with humans. Accounts of miracles, prophecies and intermarriage with humans.
Your turn.

Mark's picture
Leaving distinct religions

Leaving distinct religions out of it for now, I concede that trying to prove a negative is nearly impossible, but in response to zues, i would point out that this is an example of how science (the search for truth) has certainly disproven the need for any such being, in fact one could argue that since zues was a material god (made of stuff and inside time and space), has already been disproven by the truth of science.
The big "G" God has not been made irrelevant or been shown to be unnecessary by any scientific discovery. In matter of fact, i see the two questions of the origin of life (evolutionary theory points to a beginning of life), and the origin of the universe (big bang cosmology points to a time where time, space, matter and energy did not exist), are a signpost that God has left pointing us to Him.
By the way, thank you for bringing up the open mind, i admit that i have developed a more and more closed mind around this subject as i cannot find or think of a good answer to these two questions. Closing, or at least setting ones mind is a perfectly reasonable action when evidence has directed you there.
I think that my mind has been closed however for a very good reason, and not so tightly that it cannot be opened. The question of origins is paramount to me, i read a lot of arguing over the details of specific religions as proof against God's existence. But religious-based arguments are totally irrelevant until god's existence has been established.
I am a Christian, and as such, i believe in the most ridiculous story that has ever been concocted, God made everything-man sinned-God loved us all so much He came down and became a slimy little baby, born of a virgin, and then didn't even bother to set things right. instead He dies and is raised again, just because he loved me so very much that He would do anything to save me. what a crock of crap! Unless it is true, then it is the most beautiful love story of all time.
If God does not exist, then i am the chief of fools! i have no denial of that fact. However, when i tried to find an alternative explanation for why we exist at all, i found an empty whistling wind. Atheists seemed to say that i should just reject the appearance of design in both the origin of life and the universe. There seems to be no other explanation than 'we don't know yet, but trust science it will lead us to absolute enlightenment'. I guess that i was just hoping for more than a faith-based story that ended in "Then they all died without purpose or meaning!"
I have heard so many Atheist stories where they "saw the light" of Gods non-existence. That i assumed they had some better story.
I apologize if i am being glib and offensive, I just cannot shake the feeling that Atheists just don't know the God that I know. God is a king who is so madly in love with his citizens that He gave everything He could to get us back. He offers adoption, not servitude.
And here i go on and on about my religion after saying we need to set it aside for tis debate...stupid Christians, always so emotional.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
The big "G" God has not been

You said "The big "G" God has not been made irrelevant or been shown to be unnecessary by any scientific discovery. In matter of fact, i see the two questions of the origin of life (evolutionary theory points to a beginning of life), and the origin of the universe (big bang cosmology points to a time where time, space, matter and energy did not exist), are a signpost that God has left pointing us to Him"

Classic "God of the Gaps" argument. You dont know therefore "god did it, or as I said before "magic happens" It s a non argument.

Your argument against zeus is quite comical as you said: "but in response to zues, i would point out that this is an example of how science (the search for truth) has certainly disproven the need for any such being" You seem to be saying" as the science database grew, the gaps of knowledge became so small that Zeus had nowhere to go"...Extrapolate to that which you describe as your "impossible belief".

At the moment "the empty whistling wind" is all we got apart from: the joy of daily existence, making music, laughing with friends, helping others all those good things that happen. The pains of first love, the joy of a cuddle. All these make a life. I will add being hunted by my cat, learning a new language, finding a new fact, listening to an old friend, listening to a new friend. Its life, that is all.

Mark's picture
I guess the issue here is

I guess the issue here is that you say i am filling the gaps with God and you are filling them with faith that one day there will be an explanation that needs no God. One day science will discover a naturalistic reason.
the real issue with that logic is that in regards to the moment of creation, it just falls flat. Big bang cosmology shows that the universe began and Einstein showed that space and time are one thing that also therefore began. If indeed all mass/energy and space/time had a beginning then they one were not.
My question is not that i am filling any gap with God, it is rather that when science breaks down, no natural laws to examine, because nothing existed to interact with them to be described. That is the limit of science, it can only ever describe what we can see, measure what exists. When nothing existed and there was no time within which anything could happen (the singularity), then all we can do is use math and logic.
Math seems pretty useless as there is nothing to add, subtract or multiply, so logic is the only thing. If something did indeed come into existence, and this something was both immensely powerful and at the same time highly ordered and perfectly governed by immeasurably precise laws, then invoking a mind that is itself able to generate laws and ideas, and is necessarily outside of space and time, is hardly a feeble retreat from reason, i would think that it is not only a reasonable explanation, it is the only one. God in this sense is a hypothesis that demands testing and a being that needs to be understood, but will obviously not be bound by space, time, mass, or energy.
Religion is simply the testing of different hypothesis surrounding God and who He is. In the Bible, we are in fact ordered to test all things and hold only to that which is good (Here I will pause to freely admit that Christians have fallen short very often).
Science cannot be used to test the moments of creation and beyond, because it is limited to the physical. Math is pretty good, but gets weird when dealing in plank time and a unified force. Logic, it seems to me is all we have left, and the universe either magically appeared on it's own or was planned and precisely designed by a mind that exists outside it and therefore necessarily supernatural.
i just have never heard another explanation.
Well to be honest Stephen Hawking did say something along the lines of the law of gravity exists and therefore the universe can and will create itself out of nothing. Now I admit that Prof. Hawking is far more clever than I, but since gravity cannot have existed in the very first moments of the cosmos (no expansion possible) and therefore could not have had any influence on it at all. To quote John Lennox "Nonsense is still nonsense, even when spoken by terribly clever people." The issue with the firs cellular life is similar and has similar logical blockades to a purely naturalistic explanation.
I guess that saying "one day we will explain it all, and we certainly won't need God." Just flies in the face of my logic, not my faith. i really think that my faith is built on my logic, God is a God of order, math, logic and science. Science should therefore point to the necessity of Him existing.
I have never been given a better explanation than God, when there is no other explanation available, that is not just a story made up by some human and does not line up with logic (such as membrane theory) without God, the only possible explanation for the universe is an eternal steady state model, that science has shown to be false.

Old man shouts at clouds's picture
Wrong. "I guess the issue

Wrong. "I guess the issue here is that you say i am filling the gaps with God and you are filling them with faith that one day there will be an explanation that needs no God" I am not filling gaps with faith. I am not filling them with anything. I am saying "at present I do not know". What I do have is a reasonable expectation based on past performance that science may find those answers but I do not know.
"Religion is simply the testing of different hypothesis surrounding God and who He is" Religion is not "testing" religion is dogma and the antithesis of free thought and discovery.

What is illogical is to say "i don't know so god/magic/the pink unicorn on a tricycle did it" . You keep coming back to god of the gaps, but in truth your "logic" is lipstick on the pig. The pink unicorn may be the best explanation you have but it is based on nothing and must fail.

David Killens's picture
In 1835 Auguste Comte stated

In 1835 Auguste Comte stated "We understand the possibility of determining their (celestial bodies') shapes, their distances, their sizes and motions, whereas never, by any means, will we be able to study their chemical composition". Unknown to him, at the same time the work of Bunsen and Kirchoff were opening up the science of spectroscopy. And with this newly discovered and refined science, we now can delve into the chemical composition of just about anything we can receive in the electromagnetic spectrum.

This is a classic example of "we do not know ... yet". There were questions that could not be answered in Comte's time, but eventually science opened up new branches of knowledge that did provide answers. And that is the position of many. We do not know. We really want to know, but we are not willing to just place the "God did it" label on any question. So we accept the fact we do not know, but hope that in the future science will unravel the answers.

Mark, you are attempting to answer all the questions, and when you run up on a question where the answer is not available to you, then the God answer creeps in. You do not have all the answers in your understanding of the "Big Bang", and are not willing to accept that the answer is not provided yet.

Mark, I respectfully ask that you re-examine your understanding of the scientific explanation of the creation of OUR KNOWN universe. You are making many invalid assumptions with "the universe either magically appeared on it's own or was planned and precisely designed by a mind that exists outside it and therefore necessarily supernatural." You are attempting to pigeonhole all scientific explanations into just one narrow answer, and offer the God explanation as something planned. Have you considered that there are many other, and more valid explanations?

So far our scientific understanding has been able to hypothesize back to the point where at one instant there was a singularity of near zero dimensions but possessing incredible energy in the form of , by a simple explanation, heat. And in the first second from that "appearance" (it may not have appeared, that is just a simple explanation) more happened than in the next 14 billion years. In that one second matter, gravity, and the forces came into being. I suggest you take the time to search around and learn the scientific explanation of the first second of our known universe. It will shred many of your "either/or" assumptions.

As far as the "designed for life", are we the hole or the water that fills in that hole so perfectly? Because from where you are at this moment, if you were transported ten thousand miles in any direction, you would die immediately. This known universe is incredibly hostile to "life", 99.999999% of it would immediately kill any life. That does not seem like a place designed for life, it is a place hostile to life, but life has found a foothold in a very very tiny place.

Mark's picture
David,

David,
Thank you for your excellent reply, very well thought out, i must say that i love this stuff, probably too much. i have work i should be doing.
I agree with you that I am making the assumption of design vs. unguided chance in regards to the universe. I am actually surprised by your challenge. I know of no third option. Is there another way to think of this, i would absolutely love to hear it.
this entire discussion is initiated by the fact that i have heard no third option.
unless of course you are referring to the multi-verse theory or the membrane theory (just the multi-verse 2.0 it seems). the multi-verse is a wonderful explanation, but it requires, I think, 11 dimensions. there was another theory for a while that purported infinite universes, but this runs contrary to logic i think as an infinite number of anything would mean that there could be no such thing as empty space, nor the observable edge to the universe.
Theories are just stories, i would argue that the only story (theory) that has stood the test of scientific scrutiny is the story of God. God is either real or not real, there are only these two options. the universe appears designed, because it was designed. Life appears designed because it was designed. This does not show mental weakness, I would say that the burden of proof has fallen to those who deny design to show how the evidence points anywhere else.
I do however encourage testing and skepticism, i just wonder how many indicators for design can be ignored before one can call it blind faith?
All the evidence i have seen points to intentional design, I can't see any decent evidence to point away from design.
I know i know, God of the gaps...i could just as easily say that others have atheism based on the gaps.
Maybe that is the issue here, do we assume God or Atheism in the absence of absolute proof?

Nyarlathotep's picture
Mark - this entire discussion

Mark - this entire discussion is initiated by the fact that i have heard no third option

You didn't even consider the obvious option of an eternal universe.

David Killens's picture
Thank you for the very civil

Thank you for the very civil and respectful tone Mark.

The scientific world is hard at work on unraveling the mysteries of the universe. But as I point out, we do not know everything ... yet. But a lot of the current effort is constructed around complex math I do not claim to understand. And many who deal in that realm will quickly point out that what we accept as logical and intuitively correct is turned on it's head in such realms as quantum physics.

And I do not accept the "design" theory. I hold the position opposite to yours, that I do not see any evidence of a design. For me, the fact that it took many millions of years for the primordial soup to finally combine into a complex molecule, and a few million later for those complex molecules to form on a self-replicating object, life, does make sense and is logical.

As far as "God" standing the test of scientific scrutiny, it was never allowed before. But today there are many who will not be burned at the stake for challenging old assumptions, and a these new questions poke huge holes in previous religious assumptions.

I do not assume either atheism or "God", I seek the truth and will accept those conclusions. Because I have not been convinced by the "God" answer, by default I am an atheist. One can not place atheism and religion as competing beliefs. One is a belief, the other is a rejection of that belief.

If I told you I could not swim, would you come back with the question "how far or fast can you not swim"?

"I would say that the burden of proof has fallen to those who deny design to show how the evidence points anywhere else." I can lay out a very simple description on the evolution of the (for example) eyeball, something many claim HAS to be a result of design. I can prove how the eyeball came to be how it is, can you lay out an explanation for the design of the eyeball, apart from "it was designed"? And how come we (supposed to be in God's image) wind up with an eyeball clearly inferior to such animals as the mantis shrimp? Why does God have eyes that suck?

But lastly, I must call you out on the "Theories are just stories". I disagree strongly. Theories are much more than stories, theories are ...

In modern science, the term "theory" refers to scientific theories, a well-confirmed type of explanation of nature, made in a way consistent with scientific method, and fulfilling the criteria required by modern science. Such theories are described in such a way that any scientist in the field is in a position to understand and either provide empirical support ("verify") or empirically contradict ("falsify") it. Scientific theories are the most reliable, rigorous, and comprehensive form of scientific knowledge, in contrast to more common uses of the word "theory" that imply that something is unproven or speculative (which is better characterized by the word hypothesis). Scientific theories are distinguished from hypotheses, which are individual empirically testable conjectures, and from scientific laws, which are descriptive accounts of how nature behaves under certain conditions.

Algebe's picture
@Mark: "the Creator God must

@Mark: "the Creator God must be bigger than all of nature"

How do you know that?

"Sir Isaac Newton felt the same way"

You're on shaky ground claiming to know what Isaac Newton felt. He was one of the most intelligent and complex human beings in history, and his beliefs also included alchemy and the occult. He deduced the existence of a creator from his view of the universe as a deterministic clockwork mechanism, a view that has been disproved by relativity and quantum theory.

Mark's picture
I will concede that I should

I will concede that I should not claim special access to the mind or private thoughts of Sir Isaac Newton, he was however a Theist, that much I think we can agree on. who can say where he would have hung his hat if he were alive today? I am certain that both camps would claim him as their own.
My more serious point is to the origin issue. to my mind, any worldview must have some sort of explanation for this, or they need to take their ball and go home. As I have stated in a couple of my other conversations, logic is the only thing left at the beginning of the universe. Physical laws (and with them the ability to do science) can have no effect on a singularity that is by definition a possessor of neither space/time or mass/energy. Most cosmologists and physicists that i have heard just default to the word nothing instead of singularity, a this implies something which must be somewhere at a certain time. since space and time did not exist and mass and energy were right there with them (else they become supernatural themselves).
Just a lot of words to say that once upon a time there was no universe, no time, no nothing. but then...everything. The only thing we have left with which to look into this darkness, is logic, and even that gets pretty shaky. My story goes like this The universe had a beginning, something outside and beyond it's laws and confines, had to have begun it.
I call this God, and my spiritual quest is to understand Him more and more, this includes all science and math and physics. As well as psychiatry and a study of the mind and what it is.
I have yet to hear a more convincing explanation than "In the beginning God..." If nobody can even come up with a counter-staory that works logically, then I see no other fighters in the ring, and God wins.

mykcob4's picture
@Mark

@Mark
That is a HUGE assumption. We don't have to have an explanation for the beginning of the universe if we don't have the facts to support such an explanation. You call your explanation "god" but you have ZIP, NADA, ZERO, NOTHING, to prove it. You just make an ILLOGICAL assumption. No one needs to come up with a counter story. That is just stupid. Coming up with a "story" is stupid in the first place, and that is all your god is, a fucking story!

Mark's picture
mykcob4, I disagree that

mykcob4, I disagree that there is no evidence, the big bang is evidence that the universe began, many once thought that the universe was in a steady state and eternal, the big bang did away with that story. Any explanation is a story when it comes to the origins of the universe, proof is elusive at best, the good folks at the supercollider are working on it, but there is little hope that they will find anything conclusive, i say this because the moment of creation (for lack of a better term) demands that the laws of nature were not operating as we know them.
You are right that it is a story, it is all stories. that is how science works, we tell a story, then gather evidence to confirm or deny it.
Energy is an example of this, we all can agree that energy exists, but we don't know what it is, we know what it does, but not what it is.
Ideas are another example of this, we can all agree that they exist, but we cannot measure them or define their substance, they are insubstantial, but very real. existence is not therefore tied to being within the natural laws.
I do not "believe" in God as an act of blind faith, I believe in God because He has been shown to be necessary.
Blind faith is better defined as the one who is convinced that God is not real despite the indications to the opposite. belief in the face of contrary evidence is blind, that is not what i have.
It seems to me that if we only have one story that fits the facts, then the burden of proof is on the other party to show the logic of their case.

Algebe's picture
@Mark: "The universe had a

@Mark: "The universe had a beginning, something outside and beyond it's laws and confines, had to have begun it."

How did you arrive at those two assumptions?

"I call this God"

That's a leap of faith. What's your justification for personalizing the processes that led to the emergence of this universe?

"My spiritual quest is to understand Him"

So you've also concluded, allegedly through logic, that the universe was created by a god, and that this god was male. And yet you accuse atheists of leaping to conclusions based on faith.

Mark's picture
I don't suppose that we will

I don't suppose that we will manage to solve the mystery of the early universe in this discussion forum, no big surprise there.
There has been much discussion about proof, demanding proof of God's existence. The trouble with proof is that the very beginning of the universe cannot be studied, scientists have built the biggest and most expensive piece of experimental equipment in history to attempt this and they are still spinning their tires. I think that we all need to acknowledge that studying the singularity must rely only on logic/math. the laws of nature had to have been different, they had to, in fact be nonexistent. the running theory is that there was a super force, or one force that split into the natural forces (gravity etc.).
All of the theories that extend beyond the beginning of that natural universe are just ideas (multiverse, membrane theory etc.). they cannot be proven, they can only be thought about.
My retention of my belief in God is that it is by far the most elegant and simple explanation that still fits all of the available data. This is not a God of the gaps, it is merely an elegant and comprehensive alternative explanation for the beginning that does not require us to suspend laws of nature or invent new dimensions.
I suppose that my frustration is based around the fact that there is a strong sentiment that those who have been convinced of God's existence, are always being passed of by simplistic language (magic, fairies, thor etc.). The God that the Bible purposes is necessarily bigger than and outside of the limits of space/time and mass/energy.
There is no logical or scientific reason for me not to believe in a big G God. His existence is the most likely explanation for there being a universe at all.
There are really only two options that i can see.
1) There is a possibility of something that is beyond and outside of our universe something super-natural.
2) There is only Mass/energy that operates within the bounds of space/time. Naturalism. everything can be reduced to mass/energy.
The big bang theory insists that the universe had a beginning (and accelerating expansion suggest that the big crunch theory is unlikely or impossible)
The only two options for the beginning are then,
1) that the universe (everything) popped out of nothing, for no reason and yet is fine tuned to a truly fantastic degree, by pure chance.
2)There was something that is outside of mass/energy as we know it (super-natural). This something then has the attributes to bring forth a universe which is fine tuned for the allowance of life.
I cannot see a third option, there are some variations of these two options, but I have never heard a third or fourth theory.
When i looked at the possibility of God, I simply took these two points of view and applied logic to determine which was the more likely. God wins by a long shot,
I am really honestly asking here, is there a third option? is my logic flawed? I have yet to receive a counter-argument.

Algebe's picture
Mark:

Mark:
You refer to the "biggest and most expensive piece of experimental equipment in history" and say that they are "still spinning their tires". I assume you're talking about the Large Hadron Collider. That's only been operating for a few years, yet it's already produced some highly significant discoveries, such as the Higgs boson. Your religion, if we include its origins in Judaism, has been around for several thousand years and has added zero to our understanding of the cosmos.

About the various cosmological models, such as the Big Bang, membranes, and multiverse, you say "they cannot be proven, they can only be thought about." Is that not also true of your own cosmological model, the creator god? You really have no evidence, except your own cultural bias toward Christianity, for preferring the creator god model. Do you have any evidence, outside of your own mind?

What I'm seeing in your arguments is a variation of of the "god of gaps." Instead of accepting a shrinking role for god as science blasts away our ignorance, you are attempting to personalize the as yet unknown processes of cosmological creation as a creator god. Do you attach intelligence, awareness, and purpose to that god?

I'm guessing that you don't have degrees in particle physics, advanced mathematics or astrophysics, etc. Neither do I. So I wouldn't presume to narrow down the possibilities of reality to the options that you put forward. I think you're attempting to understand cosmology from the perspective of your experience of the mundane world in which billiard balls only move when they are struck. The reality is much more counter-intuitive.

As the great astrophysicist Arthur Eddington said. "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." God is the result of trying to understand that universe based on the very limited faculties through which we perceive the world around us. Science is dramatically augmenting those faculties.

Mark's picture
Algebe,

Algebe,
Firstly, thank you for the civil discussion, it is nice to not have the derision that is common in these emotionally charged subjects.
you are laughably correct to assume that i do not have degrees in particle physics or mathematics, I only wish I were that cool.
I think maybe that i have skipped a step in this discussion, would ou not agree that there are only two options in this debate
1) unguided and uncaring natural process that has no intent or plan.
2) a Creator who made the universe (and thereby must be beyond it).
Design or blind chance, i have never hear a third option. To argue about that nature of God or the possible mechanisms of this unguided force are secondary to this first big question.
I am not invoking God, i am saying that no God seems to disagree with many of the observable facts of this universe.
It seems to me that God is the rational answer, and Blind process is the very unlikely scenario.

Algebe's picture
@Mark: "Firstly, thank you

@Mark: "Firstly, thank you for the civil discussion"

Likewise. One of the triggers for derision is comments suggesting that atheists have no morality because morals must come from god. People understandably find that rather insulting. In a similar vein, comments blaming the atrocities committed by Hitler, Stalin, and Mao, etc., on atheism are likely to be met with a barrage of ridicule.

Your options are an unguided and uncaring natural process that has no intent or plan, or a creator god who is beyond the universe. I'm no cosmologist, but what if the universe/multiverse is eternal and this universe is just one of endless iterations? Something that's eternal requires no creator. I realize that the human mind is unable to encompass concepts like "eternal" and "infinite" (although I remember singing them often enough in hymns at school). That doesn't make them untrue.

I think the "unguided and uncaring" part is the hardest for theists to accept. I find it perfectly logical. Gods are a reflection our emotional belief as humans that we are most important things in the universe. That leads on to ideas about "fine-tuning". Theists tell us that various forces are balanced just right for our existence (and the existence of rocks, frogs, trees), and that therefore the universe was purposely created for us. It's the puddle and hole analogy.

I take the opposite view. We are products of a universe with those particular attributes. If it was a little bit different, we wouldn't be here wondering about it. We're just an accident. And that's a difficult thing for the human ego to accept. The religious desire for meaning reminds me of a "VIP" stuck at an airport check-in counter, loudly asking "Do you know who I am?"

Many people find it emotionally difficult to accept a cold, purposeless universe and the finality of death. So they project emotions and purpose onto the universe in the form of god. As an atheist, I think that purpose and meaning come from within and from relationships with other people.

"no God seems to disagree with many of the observable facts of this universe"

That's true of an infinite number of things. Where do you draw the line?

Mark's picture
Hi Algebe,

Hi Algebe,
I certainly do not think that atheists have no morality, i have heard similar statements, but never from people looking at the question in rational terms. One problem that i do see with Atheistic morality is that it has no standard by which to be measured, it is intrinsically subjective and based on the ultimate goodness of humanity. History, so far has not had a good track record for the application of a God-rejecting morality, not that the individuals are always wrong, it is just there is nothing to test their wrongness against.
In regards to an eternal universe, I think that that has been disproven soundly (at least in regards to steady state), by observations of expansion.
I do here lean on the opinions of experts as i am not a cosmologist, but i have heard no disagreement with the big bang model, so i am leaning heavily on that in my arguments for my viewpoint of Gods existence.
I think that there are only three options here.
1) Nothing Made the Big Bang happen.
2) Something made the big Bang happen.
3) The universe made itself happen.
All three are possibilities, since we really have no evidence either way except logical deduction.
the first i just cannot fathom as nothing is indeed nothing and therefore it cannot do anything....although i have heard some very intelligent people demand that nothing is in fact capable of making everything. the logic of this is totally lost on me, and if this is true then how can we trust science at all in a universe where nothingness produces things?
Obviously I lean toward the simple and obvious conclusion of #2 that something created something.

I would like to lump the reincarnating universe model into the third category, as long as we can agree on the big bang model. reincarnation is just saying that the moment of our universes creation was made by a previous version of our universe. For this to work, we need the multi-verse (to account for fine tuning etc.) Also, this Multi-verse theory is problematic as it would be impossible to measure and test things that are outside our universe with anything but our own imaginations (science fiction).
It is generally agreed that our universe (as we know it) did have a beginning, it is only the nature of that beginning that is in question.
this beginning included a beginning of time and space, they are one thing as Einstein proposed.
So from where we are and from what information we have, I still think that my Creationist view is the most likely and best explanation. despite much mental gymnastics on the part of those who ridicule it as simplistic.
This does not think that we should stop digging, it just means that my view is just as valid and evidence based as any other (i would argue that it is more valid, but then that is why we are on this forum I suppose).
My view is not faith-based, it is just my best deduction of the available data. I think that Atheists lean toward the summary dismissal of God as a rational or reasonable option outright. It seems that the non-existence of God is a given, therefore we must not allow ourselves to seriously consider Him as an explanation. Hence the plethora of derisive terms like magic and fairies on this forum.
I think that to not consider an option based on pre-established bias is inherently in-scientific. So i refuse to.

Sheldon's picture
"One problem that i do see

"One problem that i do see with Atheistic morality is that it has no standard by which to be measured, it is intrinsically subjective and based on the ultimate goodness of humanity."
>>So is religious morality, unless you can demonstrate objective evidence for the existence of a deity, and then demonstrate objective evidence that it is moral, and then finally demonstrate objective evidence that you know what it wants. Otherwise religious morality is based necessarily on those three assertions which are all subjective. My morals are based on the subjective assertion that human morality should promote physical and emotional well being, and try to reduce suffering as much as possible. This is subjective of course, but I doubt many people would find it moral to ignore or increase suffering, and we can of course make objective moral claims once we accept the initial premise.
------------------------------------------------

"History, so far has not had a good track record for the application of a God-rejecting morality"

Firstly atheism doesn't reject God, that's an oxymoron.

I'd also argue that biblical and Koranic dogma and doctrine are extremely immoral, and when they make obviously moral commandments these always predate those religions and can be found in almost every human society with to without religion. A society that doesn't see the value of moratoriums on murder, theft and rape won't last very long after all, you donlt need a deity or religion to see that. So the accusation is simply not true, and is generally a disingenuous claim that atheism is somehow to blame for the actions of 20th century totalitarian single party states often with total power vested in a single leader, where human rights simply didn't exist. These generally embraced atheism to destroy the abhorrent 'divine right of kings' supported for centuries by European Christianity. There is ample research that shows atheistic countries that are post industrialised democracies compare favourable against overtly religious countries with lower rates of violent crimes like rape and murder, higher levels of literacy, lower rates of property, and even things like unwanted teen pregnancies and abortion are lower. I accept that there are many factors at play, and merely point this out to show how erroneous your claim is.

Sheldon's picture
" i am leaning heavily on

" i am leaning heavily on that in my arguments for my viewpoint of Gods existence.
I think that there are only three options here.
1) Nothing Made the Big Bang happen.
2) Something made the big Bang happen.
3) The universe made itself happen.
All three are possibilities,"

How do you know there are only three options? What evidence have you that any of them are possible? I'm not a cosmologist either which is why I try not to make assertions about the origins of the universe as you have done here, however I don't see how anyone can limit the options available to explain something we don't yet have an explanation for, that strikes me as absurd hubris. Furthermore they seem absurdly over simplistic to me, as we are dealing with a point of origin for space and time itself. I've noticed it seems fashionable among religious apologetics to try and hijack scientific credibility in this way, and then make bare assertions that don't in any way reflect the current scientific position. Take this claim...

"nothing is indeed nothing and therefore it cannot do anything"

How exactly did you test that claim as it strikes me as un-falsifiable, no scientists would make such an erroneous assertion, least of all any credible physicist or cosmologist. Are you defining nothing here as an absolute? If so you've already rejected science for pure speculation. Then there is this....

" how can we trust science at all in a universe where nothingness produces things?"

We trust science (I assume?) because it has an immensely impressive track record establishing it easily our most successful method for objectively gaining knowledge and explaining the world and universe. I'm also highly dubious that any credible scientists claims to know something can be produced from nothing, and it certainly isn't claimed by the big bang theory. I found this...

"If we imagine reversing the expansion of the universe in time, all the galaxies, etc. would converge to a single infinitesimally small point - the Big Bang Singularity. At this point, our current theory of gravity, Einstein’s General Theory of Relativity, predicts that the universe had an infinitely small volume, and an infinite density and temperature. This moment is often referred to as the beginning of the universe - the birth of matter, space and time. Such an interpretation, however, ***goes much too far.*** The infinite values indicate that General Relativity itself is broken. The laws of physics no longer apply. To explain what happened before and during the Big Bang, physicists must go beyond General Relativity."

>>and this...

"In the quantum universe, the lowest energy state, the quantum vacuum (the scientific version of nothing), is not empty. The total energy of a quantum vacuum system is never absolute zero due to the constant quantum fluctuations of "virtual particles". These quantum jitters are the sudden appearance of dual particle pairs, such as electrons and positrons, that almost instantaneously annihilate each other and disappear."

NB No deity is required for science to explain this, and Occam's razor applies when apologetics tries to shoehorn one in, usually using argumentum ad ignorantiam.

Which is why I am always suspicious when people make sweeping claims about the origins of the universe using terms like nothing in an absolute sense, as it is clear that they don't understand what science claims, and what it does not claim about the origins of the universe, and they usually have an agenda and are simply ticking off straw man arguments so they can pull their chosen deity "out of a top hat" as if this bare assertion that "god did it" had any explanatory powers at all. It;s not an argument, it is an assertion masquerading as an argument.

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