# My conversation with Bob Dutko

For a long time, my contact with the Bob Dutko show told me there was no link I could share for that show.  Someone has finally provided one.  So thanks for that.

1. mck9 says

Dutko kept harping on the notion that the universe couldn’t have arisen on its own without violating the conservation of mass/energy.

I think the answer Larry Krauss would give is that no such violation is necessary. The total mass/energy of the universe is very likely zero. Gravitational energy is negative, and there may be enough of it to balance other forms of energy, such as the energy that takes the form of matter.

I am no physicist, but let me see if I can explain the somewhat weird concept of negative energy.

When Newton’s apple falls to the ground, some of its gravitational energy (a form of potential energy) is converted to kinetic energy. That energy is the difference between the apple’s gravitational energy at tree level and that at ground level. We can calculate the difference from the apple’s mass, the height of the tree, and the local acceleration of gravity.

If we return that energy to the apple, we can push it back up to tree level. If we supply more energy, we can push it above tree level. With still more energy we can push the apple into the stratosphere, or beyond the moon. The higher we push the apple, the weaker gravity becomes, and the less energy it takes to push it even higher. The way the math works, the total amount of energy needed to raise the apple approaches a maximum as we push it higher.

What we can measure is the change in the apple’s gravitational energy as it rises or falls. To calculate the difference, it’s convenient to calculate the gravitational energy at each level in some absolute sense, and then subtract the numbers.

It turns out that the only sensible way to calculate the absolute gravitational energy is to set it to zero when the apple is at infinite altitude. As the apple falls, its gravitational energy becomes smaller, by becoming more negative.

At the big bang, the total gravitational energy was extremely negative, because everything was so close together. That negative energy presumably balanced out the positive forms of energy. As a result, the birth of the universe needn’t have required any net change in the total amount of mass/energy

Another possibility is that the big bang wasn’t really the beginning. We don’t know enough about physics to understand how the big bang worked. We don’t understand dark energy, we don’t understand dark matter, and we don’t understand how to reconcile quantum mechanics with general relativity. Until we do, we can’t say with confidence that the universe didn’t exist in some form before the big bang.

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3. says

This frackin’ guy. He seems so intelligent, but so clueless at the same time that it makes me want to tear my hair out. How hard is it for this guy to grasp the simple concept of skepticism? I mean, first he can’t seem to wrap his head around the idea that if you have no evidence for something, you have no imperative to believe it nor to justify your disbelief. Further, he seems to think that if the very existence of the universe violates the known laws of physics it must mean that there’s some dude with the power to violate the laws of physics out there who can bring the universe into existence. First off, on what basis does he presume that whatever allegedly brought all matter and energy into existence is sapient in any way? Why is it more plausible for an anthropomorphic being to have done this than a nonliving phenomenon? There’s no reason to go as far as he does even if his premise were true, which goes right back to his inability to grasp skepticism. Of course, his insistence that he “not go down the rabbit hole” by avoiding your actual area of expertise for most of the show is quite telling, as was his continuous efforts to react as if you were being rude or apparently using foul language when nothing of the sort was happening, which looked to me like he was trying to discredit you in the eyes of his listeners, not that he had to since most of them probably only had to hear the word “atheist” to think ill of you. Makes me weep.

4. says

This is the type of discussion that occurs when someone else tries to tell you what you think. Aron stated multiple times that his position is based on evidence. No-one really knows how the universe came about and in this regard, without evidence, you can’t assert anything. Is being an atheist in contradiction to this? Well, based on no evidence for the existence of God, not really. Then again, not really sure that the atheistic position requires a lack of evidence, just a lack of belief in Gods.

Further, maybe Bob has exquisite knowledge of physics and using logic can somehow make a case for a God outside of the known physical universe? This however, is not evidence of such a God existing or that such a God is necessary for a universe to exist.

• says

I know, that was probably the most frustrating thing to listen to. Made all the worse by Dutko attempting to turn it around and claim that his position was being misrepresented by Aron equating his god with a genie. Never mind that, however couched in fancy words he makes it, his description of his god as being an entity who can violate the laws of physics describes exactly what a genie is.

• EnlightenmentLiberal says

Reminds me of some theists who want to make a big difference between magic and miracles. From my position, they’re the same thing.

5. Andrew Cass says

Funny show, and typical chat with a creationist. Can you debunk the claim about the sword, no need to debunk the C14 stuff, i get that. But if this is something i maight face in battle i need help

All best

6. L.Long says

The part I saw was this BS of violation of the laws of physics.
Which is pure BS as the so called ‘B4 existence’ has NO definition and NO laws that we know of.
But even the Krauss and Hawkins ideas are just ‘best guesses’ because there is no way to know anything ‘B4′. So can something come from nothing? Sure because you nor anyone else has any real concept of what is ‘something’ or ‘nothing’ in terms of the ‘B4 existence’. So scientist may try to understand but theists just make statements from delusional ignorance.
The other BS this Dutko dribbles down his chin, is the same old BS that has been debunked many times over and the proof is ignored by delusional ignorant dogmatists.

7. L.Long says

He NEVER would have Krauss on his show!
He would get his butt bit right off.

8. gearloose says

Teehee. “ass handed to” triggers bad word censor.

9. says

I don’t know what’s funnier… that he accused you of requiring the violation of all physical laws to justify your “beliefs” or that he could say with a straight face that his beliefs don’t violate all known physical laws because god violates all known physical laws. If I ever saw doublethink in real life, this is it.

10. Callinectes says

I’ve noticed this trend before. To you these guys always insist on talking about cosmology. To Lawrence Krauss they talk about biology and palaeontology. On this subjects the pair of you can speak only as lay persons, not scientific experts, but then they can claim to be able to kick around the experts whenever they show up. Next time anyone tries this on you you should lock that down immediately.

One instance that sticks in my mind was one where LK was being quizzed on Carbon-14 presence in fossil fuels, where they should not be. That’s far beyond his area of expertise, though when I researched it myself the people who found out where the C-14 was coming from were also physicists. It seems that the fluid used to fill neutrino detectors (called scintillation fluid”) is made from fossil fuels. While working on the Borexino detector in Italy they found that the scintillation fluid was worthless. The radioactive decay of Carbon-14 creates noise, scintillant flashes very similar to that caused by neutrinos. The purity required for such detectors is astonishing. So when looking for fuel sources with low levels of Carbon-14, the researchers found that the levels varied wildly with origin, correlated with the levels of radioactive minerals in the surrounding rock. It seems that Carbon-14 atoms in fossil fuels are created new during Uranium-Thorium decay. Krauss was not aware of this. Aron may be, I don’t know. It’s the bait-and-switch that infuriates me: inviting experts on and then talking about things they are not experts of.

So yeah. Contrary to L. Long’s assertions, he probably would have Lawrence Krauss on his show. And he’d talk to him about evolution.

• EnlightenmentLiberal says

Indeed. It’s also a giant Pascal’s Wager in disguise, which is why I try to avoid such things at all costs. Either present evidence specific to a christian god which does not apply to the Hindu god, or stop. There are innumerable distinct and pairwise-incompatible god hypotheses. Even if your “first cause” arguments are correct, it has absolutely no bearing on whether the christian god exists. It’s Pascal’s Wager, and it fails exactly for one of the reasons that Pascal’s Wager fails.

PS: Unfortunately, I’ve recently encountered on small part of that argument that I actually do have to address, and it’s infuriating. It’s the morality argument. I take Hume’s is-ought distinction as given. Consequently, everyone has to have at least one moral axiom. (Although Sam Harris uses a different presentation, I’m on board with him and agree that “well-being” is self-evident.) However, the various ontological arguments for the “first cause” god try to avoid that. They try to avoid having a moral axiom by breaking the is-ought distinction, and it’s infuriating when I have to argue that.

I was just arguing with someone somewhere online about it where he said that atheism was “ungrounded” but their morality was “grounded”. They said that god is good. I said you can’t do that – that’s equivocation. You cannot both define god as good and define good as “that which we should do”. He said that good is defined by god’s nature. I said that he should use a different word and say that “foob” is defined by god’s nature, in order to avoid the equivocation. He clarified that god is only god if its nature is good. I then stated that he has not demonstrated that a (good) god exists, and furthermore cannot do such a thing without at least one starting moral axiom. He left the conversation, probably thinking he won when I admitted that “my morality is bankrupt – but only bankrupt insofaras all moral systems are bankrupt.”

/rant