Quantcast

«

»

Dec 28 2012

Spleen venting, or the inadequacy of twitter

For the last few days, my twitter account has been getting spammed by some twit named @lettlander; he seems to be one of those Christians who is infatuated with the First Cause argument. Here’s a small sampling:

@f0xhole @pzmyers @Pipenta something appearing out of nothing isn’t just scientifically impossible – it’s logically self-refuting.

@f0xhole @pzmyers @Pipenta The ONLY way the problem of an infinite regress can be solved is the postulation of an extra-natural element

@f0xhole @pzmyers @Pipenta Besides, you’re perfectly fine with scientifically asserting the universe was uncaused, right? Why not “God”?

@f0xhole @pzmyers @Pipenta Since science and philosophy lead us to a concept of a contingent universe, a non-contingent element must exist

Don’t you just love how these guys pompously dress themselves up as philosophers and scientists to defend the silly notion of a god? But let’s go through those one by one.

1. Something appearing out of nothing is impossible? Tell that to Lawrence Krauss and other physicists. Not only can it theoretically happen, it happens all the time. We must be done already — he’s simply wrong.

2. Since I don’t accept the premise that simple causation is present at all levels, microscopic and macroscopic, no, I don’t have to postulate an “extra-natural element”. The initial cause could have been a quantum fluctuation in nothingness, nothing more. I certainly don’t have to postulate a grand, intelligent cosmic being.

3. Caused, uncaused, it doesn’t matter — show me the evidence for an intelligent agent at the beginning of the universe. I’m not a physicist, though, so I’m neither an authority nor a committed proponent of any particular model of origins, and I’ll heed instead what people like Krauss and Hawking and Stenger say…and they all argue that god is an unnecessary hypothesis.

Why not “god”? Why not a purple space gerbil? Why not snot from the nose of the Great Green Arkleseizure? Even if @lettlander were correct and there was a reasonable logical argument for a necessary first cause, it wouldn’t mean Jesus was the one.

4. On the large visible scale, the scale that we perceive and operate under, it is true that we see a pattern of contingency, where one event leads to another. But on the quantum scale, that is no longer true: science and philosophy lead us to a completely different, unintuitive understanding of how the universe works, and the naive and silly guesses of theologians do not apply.

And isn’t it cute how these kooks blithely reduce their omnipotent, omniscient god to “non-contingent element”? It’s as if they expect that if we acknowledge the possibility of a spontaneous accident, a fleck, a speck and spatter of a singular dot of existence that is not the product of a causal chain, then they’ve proven the existence of the Christian God, the truth of the Bible, and the veracity of their own personal dogma.

Sorry about all that. I couldn’t fit that all in a tweet — although I suppose I could have reduced it to a simple accusation of “bullshit!” It’s just that these presumptuous pseudoscientists who claim science supports their cult leave me cold and contemptuous.

148 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    Ibis3, Let's burn some bridges

    Moreover, as far as we can tell so far, space and time are contingent on each other (or are aspects of the same thing). There can be no “before” before there was something. Perhaps there are types of causality that we don’t (yet?) comprehend. Perhaps our universe is just the current bloom of a flower and the underlying structure is uncaused, eternal, but no more an agent or product of an agent than the universe we perceive.

    This whole prestidigitation act, where they say “there must be a cause” and then pull Jesus out of their ass, boggles my mind. How can they think anyone would fall for that?

  2. 2
    rq

    I think I know that guy. Seriously.

  3. 3
    machintelligence

    I prefer the hypothesis that this universe is just one burst in a cosmic fireworks display. I wonder what the audience must be like.

    This whole prestidigitation act, where they say “there must be a cause” and then pull Jesus out of their ass, boggles my mind. How can they think anyone would fall for that?

    Because people have been falling for it for thousands of years, perhaps?

  4. 4
    ChristineRose

    I’m fascinated by this first cause argument. My two candidates for “God” are a random fluctuation in the quantum vacuum or an unexplained preference for matter over anti-matter. Maybe there are no natural explanations for these; maybe they are supernatural; maybe that’s the definition of supernatural. My next question is how the preference for matter has communicated His/Her/Its plan for my life to me. It’s such a huge leap and they always make it.

  5. 5
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    The whole “since something was created, there must be a creator” argument is nothing but presuppositional. As PZ indicated, at the quantum level, particles wink in and out all the time. I like to ask these folks how was their creator created. Then the true presupposition comes out with the word “eternal” as a vain attempt at not explaining how their creator was created from nothing. The gottcha turned back on them, except they are too blind with hubris to see that.

  6. 6
    physicsphdstu

    I don’t get why kooks can’t believe that universe can come out of nothing but a complex omnipotent omniscient being can be produced out of nothing.

  7. 7
    tomfrog

    Besides, you’re perfectly fine with scientifically asserting the universe was uncaused, right? Why not “God”?

    Ohhhhh, so close. The other way around and he could become an atheist.

    Of course, given that in the history of people trying to understand how things work, all reasoned answers have lead to a natural explanation, the other way around (“you accept that god could come out of nothing so why not the universe?”) seems much more plausible.

  8. 8
    brucegee1962

    Here’s my favorite theory:

    There is a universe that contains 57 dimensions, instead of just our three. In that universe, some kids like to make 3-dimensional universes as a hobby and keep them in glass jars.

    Ours is one such universe — a kid made it for a science fair project. He/she/it played with us for a while, then stashed us under his/her/its bed. Right now his/her/its mom is looking at us and saying, “Junior, you have to do something about this! Did you know it’s developed intelligent life??? It’s disgusting!”

  9. 9
    Jud Fink

    How dare you take the nose of the Great Green Arkleseizure in vain! Snot nice!

  10. 10
    glodson

    I rarely even attempt to discuss the finer points of the Big Bang in regards to this argument. I already know that it will be futile. It is hard to understand even by interested audience. Hell, I am studying this and I feel that I lack the depth of understanding to really explain it well. But the ones making the argument for God being the first cause aren’t really interested.

    I guess I have just wasted so much time trying to explain why we lack a need for a first cause that I am bitter.

    And I have never gotten a good reason for why even if there is a need for an external cause why that equals the evil Abrahamic god of the Bible. Or why this god doesn’t need a cause himself. Even granting the premises that there is a first cause and that cause is external still leaves this argument in shambles.

  11. 11
    mck9

    Since nothing can exist without a cause, the universe must have a cause, which we call God.

    Since nothing can exist without a cause, God must have a cause, which we call Pleox.

    Since nothing can exist without a cause, Pleox must have a cause, which we call Ronobib.

    Since nothing can exist without a cause, Ronobib must have a cause, which we call Tesselblat.

    Since nothing can exist without a cause, Tesselblat must have a cause, which we call Pootzifron, the First Cause.

    Some argue that Pootzifron must have a cause, which they call Zohelt. They are deluded, for Pootzifron is timeless, uncaused, and eternal, and is therefore exempt from the necessity of a cause. As an extra-natural element, Pootzifron enables us to avoid what would otherwise be an infinite regress.

    Since the Zoheltians have never offered any evidence of their obviously superfluous entity, the principle of Occam’s Razor demands that we stop at Pootzifron. As for Zohelt — as Laplace might have remarked, we have no need of that hypothesis.

  12. 12
    chadwickjones

    I’m pretty sure the person being mentioned is the same person that was banned from Coyne’s website and has also been trolling the Sandwalk blog.

    I might be wrong, but the poster is presenting the same arguments…

    Luther Flint/djockovic/David Kaludjerovic over at http://all-ontologies-blazing.blogspot.com/

    He mentions PZ and Shermer in his Dec. 24th blog called “Rational Thinkers R Us”.

  13. 13
    hexidecima

    Theists, and Christians in particular, have no choice to depower their god when they want to play with people who accept reality. Suddenly, an intelligent, emotional, omni-max deity becomes nothing more than a force no more aware than a plop of horse poo. And then we get pascal’s wager too, how “special”.

  14. 14
    ibbica

    I’ll just leave this here, especially for brucegee1962:
    http://zs1.smbc-comics.com/comics/20121214.gif

    ;)

    (SMBC ‘simulation’ comic)

  15. 15
    Sastra

    ChristineRose #4 wrote:

    Maybe there are no natural explanations for these; maybe they are supernatural; maybe that’s the definition of supernatural.

    They’re not interested in mysteries unless they can use them in their own special way. From what I can tell the definition of ‘supernatural’ always involves some form of Mind (or mind product) rising above any need for the physical. You can go back and back and back with postulated natural causes of the Big Bang and the theists will never be satisfied until the chain ends in a disembodied “willpower” or agency or Intelligence which needs no further explanation because it “just is.”

    But how can that be? Oh, we all know it “just is” because we have access to our own minds and don’t our thoughts intuitively feel like they could leave our brain and they “just are?” Sure they do. That’s common sense.

    I don’t think the First Cause Argument ought to focus on cosmological physics. Apologists really don’t give a shit what the cosmological physics are, they’ll just shift it back a conceptual notch and demand another explanation. Go after mind/brain dualism though and there’s nowhere for them to hide God in First Cause. It’s what they’re really keen on anyway; the origin of the universe is simply an excuse.

  16. 16
    d.f.manno

    Besides, you’re perfectly fine with scientifically asserting the universe was uncaused, right? Why not “God”?

    Why not Zoidberg?

  17. 17
    jjgdenisrobert

    The Big Bang does not posit a “creation” or “beginning” of the Universe. It says nothing about its beginning. The Big Bang states that at one point in time, the Universe was in a hot, dense state. We have no way currently to make any solid statement about what might have happened “before” that time (the Planck time). For that reason, I always cringe whenever anyone talks about the “beginning” of the Universe. We have no evidence that there ever was one.

    So we can’t honestly say that the Universe began in any meaningful way. If it didn’t begin, it wasn’t created, and the Cosmological argument fails.

    But even if it did begin, the idea that everything that “begins” has a cause is refuted, experimentally, by the Casimir effect, which proved not only the existence of virtual particles, but also proves the fact that said particles not only do not have a cause, but CANNOT have one. It’s not that the phenomenon is too complex for us to understand, so we have to use probabilistic math to tackle it; it’s that the phenomenon is fundamentally probabilistic: no amount of extra knowledge could ever resolve it into a deterministic one. So there are phenomena that have no cause, they happen all the time, and they have been proven experimentally (it’s not just some guy’s thought experiment). So the Cosmological argument fails.

    It’s things like this that kills me about philosophy. They continue trotting out failed arguments long after science have proven them invalid. If the premisses are true, the Cosmological Argument holds. But science has categorically shown that the premisses are NOT true. Why is it that philosophers all over the world (not all of them, of course, but a significant number of them) still bring up this relic from a dumber past?

  18. 18
    Chuck

    Even granting the premises, first cause arguments fall to the fallacy of composition: just because everything inside the universe has a cause, it does not follow that the universe itself has a cause.

    Although attacking premise #1 (everything in the universe has a cause) as untrue works as well. It just bears pointing out that virtual particles have been proven, and are responsible for the Casimir Effect.

  19. 19
    consciousness razor

    Since I don’t accept the premise that simple causation is present at all levels, microscopic and macroscopic, no, I don’t have to postulate an “extra-natural element”. The initial cause could have been a quantum fluctuation in nothingness, nothing more. I certainly don’t have to postulate a grand, intelligent cosmic being.

    True, but there is no such “problem of an infinite regress” anyway. There may have been infinite time in the past, or there may not have been. It makes no difference. You don’t even need to postulate a finite universe, with an initial “cause” or “reason” or “element” or sky daddy or whatever.

    I would say getting them to understand this simple logical point (that there is no proof that it’s impossible, just like there isn’t one that motion is impossible) is probably easier than getting them to understand quantum mechanics. But whichever is easier, the argument fails before you even start to consider facts about cosmology or particle physics. They assert that it would imply a contradiction, but they never show their work. Get them to show you the blank page where they didn’t do any of the work.

    Since science and philosophy lead us to a concept of a contingent universe, a non-contingent element must exist

    The law of non-contradiction is non-contingent. So is the number eight hundred seventy-four. And like Aquinas said, everyone understands non-contingent things to be gods. Thus, there are an infinite number of gods. QED. Since Jesus’ existence must depend on the law of non-contradiction (among others), Jesus must be contingent and therefore not a god. Bye-bye, Jesus.

  20. 20
    Julien Rousseau

    And isn’t it cute how these kooks blithely reduce their omnipotent, omniscient god to “non-contingent element”

    God is the Vacuum Energy?

    Which leads to one of their assumptions in this argument, the assumptions that you can have “nothing” in the first place.

    Even when you take away every single bit of something we can (matter & energy) there is still a something remaining (vacuum energy) so either you choose to call that next to nothing “nothing” and thus can have something out of nothing (like Stenger & Krauss argue, not sure about Hawking) or you haven’t shown that nothing is possible in the first place, which is a necessary condition for the argument to proceed from.

    If you give up on this unevidenced assumption that there was once nothing then you have two possibilities:

    Some unevidenced thing causing the universe to happen, possibly sentient (no evidence that this nonevidenced thing is sentient either), that believers call their god (never other religion’s gods).

    Some evidenced vacuum energy from which we have good reasons to think a universe can arise spontaneously.

    Occam’s razor cuts deeply on that one.

    But wait, even if we grant them, arguando, the existence of nothing at some point in time… oops, can’t be at some point in time because time is something, so it would have to be just before time itself started to exist. Let’s see, what other “thing” do we need to get rid of to truly have “nothing”? Why, we need to get rid of that rule which says that “you cannot get something out of nothing”, otherwise we have something, that rule itself.

    And once we get rid of that rule then we have no reason to believe that we cannot get something out of nothing.

    So if there once* was nothing then there could then have been something, including time & space of course. I wonder if someone can come up with a misleading yet catchy name for such an event.

    *wrong term as there was no time but human languages are not good at dealingwith such situations

    In conclusion, either nothing is possible, in which case there is no need of a god to create the universe or nothing is not possible, in which case the evidence points to vacuum energy being the “thing” that is not contingent.

    Is god vacuum energy?

  21. 21
    Julien Rousseau

    Oh, and of course it doesn’t fit in a tweet, so let’s try to fit the first part of the argument and maybe it will lead hir to define what xe means by “nothing” to see if it actually is something (which he does of course, for him nothing is full of god):

    “Why do you assume that “nothing” is possible when nobody has ever managed to get “nothing”? #vacuumenergy”

  22. 22
    Gregory Greenwood

    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls @ 5;

    The whole “since something was created, there must be a creator” argument is nothing but presuppositional. As PZ indicated, at the quantum level, particles wink in and out all the time. I like to ask these folks how was their creator created. Then the true presupposition comes out with the word “eternal” as a vain attempt at not explaining how their creator was created from nothing. The gottcha turned back on them, except they are too blind with hubris to see that.

    And physicsphdstu @ 6;

    I don’t get why kooks can’t believe that universe can come out of nothing but a complex omnipotent omniscient being can be produced out of nothing.

    One of the things I find most amusing about the ‘infinite regression/uncaused first cause therefore god’ brigade is that they are so very not even wrong, that even if you are so generous as to grant several of their ludicrous presuppositions they are still laughably not even wrong.

    They claim that it is impossible that something can come from nothing when quantum physics has already demonstrated that quantum fluctuations most certainly do allow for something to arise form nothing, thus neatly knocking out their infinite regression claims.

    But if you let that one slide, they then claim that since something cannot come from nothing, then everything needs a cause. This, they claim, leads to infinite regression until you arrive at an uncaused first cause that must be supernatural in character – therefore god. They fail to explain why it is that this uncaused first cause gets a ‘get out of causation free’ card when the universe itself does not, still less why this putative first cause must be an immensely complex consciousness at all.

    But even if you are in a masochistic enough mood to give them that one as well, they then claim that this supposed consciousness is somehow known to them, and that it is specifically the nasty judeo-christian god, and that it has somehow made its will known to humanity and takes an intimate interest in the affairs of our minor species on our speck of a planet in a backwater solar system of one galaxy among hundreds of billions or more. And that it is particularly concerned with what happens in our bedrooms. All this is asserted without any shred of evidence or any explanation as to how this knowledge has supposedly been conveyed, or why their god declines to reveal its existence to everyone in a suitably unambiguous fashion.

    These people are superstars of not-even-wrongness. It is not sufficient for such masters and mistresses of error to be not even wrong on only one level at a time, but must instead maintain several axese of not-even-wrong-itude simultaneously. It is actually rather impressive in a perverse kind of way. Being that not even wrong, that consistently, must take work…

  23. 23
    consciousness razor

    “Why do you assume that “nothing” is possible when nobody has ever managed to get “nothing”?

    The assumption should be that anything (or nothing) is possible unless it implies a contradiction. Unless the nonexistence of everything* is contradictory or implies a contradiction, nonexistence is possible.

    *Everything except logical truths, if those can be said to “exist.” If they don’t exist, then the argument that “physical laws” need explanation (because they exist and are contingent) has to go out the window too, because they’re abstractions just like laws of logic.

  24. 24
    unclefrogy

    first off we exist in a universe of 4 dimensions not 3. I have never heard of any reference that exists outside of time.
    All things are events in time.
    How do we know that existence is some how favored over nonexistence? We only exist in this one (as far as we know)
    All of our thoughts and concepts are composed of the 4 dimensions that we experience. We might as well try to think of a world with only 3 dimensions one of which being time.
    one god from the middle east is the true answer? because some one said so? And you know his name? A name?
    uncle frogy

  25. 25
    comfychair

    Maybe the dim bulbs are so dim precisely because they were created by some floaty extra-dimensional superdaddy. And whenever I see them trying to rationalize the utterly irrational like in those twitter droppings, I’m reminded of what somebody said about Newtie G. – he’s a stupid person’s idea of what a smart person sounds like.

  26. 26
    Lofty

    The concept of a time before the “big bang” for it to be caused in is of course meaningless. Space-time did not exist before the singularity. The behaviour of time around concentrations of mass is well understood and easily measured (eg by GPS). And I have read that the net energy of the observable universe is close to zero, the energy of stars and matter being equal to the gravitational collapse of the space around them. In other words, the universe, on average, is nothing. No need to create it. The personal viewpoint from a thin scummy layer on a minor planet of a minor sun in….etc is not representative of the universe as a whole.

  27. 27
    conway

    I remember reading a Marvel Comic from the 70s (Doctor Strange, I think) that postulated that our universe was created by a pin-hole leak in another universe. That actually works fine for me.

    Because thinking too hard about it makes my head hurt. I try to read Hawking’s A Brief History of Time every couple of years. I get a few chapters in and then my brain kind of seizes up. The same thing happened when I took astronomy in college. I was doing great until we got to the last chapter.

    So, I certainly understand the appeal of the “a wizard did it” explanation, though why something anyone would ridicule in fiction is acceptable to them in real life is beyond me as well.

    It’s probably more a problem of language, not science. I don’t speak math. If the universe is expanding, what is it expanding into? If space can curve, what is on the outside of the curve? How can there be a time before time? How can every galaxy be receding from me unless I am the center of the universe?

    Wait, I kind of like that. Cool. I’m gonna go with that.

  28. 28
    consciousness razor

    The concept of a time before the “big bang” for it to be caused in is of course meaningless. Space-time did not exist before the singularity.

    Not a known fact, just an assumption. There’s a reason why physicists study inflationary cosmology and multiverses. It’s only meaningless if time must have originated with the big bang, but that doesn’t need to be the case.

    And I have read that the net energy of the observable universe is close to zero, the energy of stars and matter being equal to the gravitational collapse of the space around them. In other words, the universe, on average, is nothing.

    No, this is fallacious. You have positive and negative measurements of something. Even if that measurement is zero because those are equal, you’re still talking about something. Not nothing. Nothing is just plain old nothing.

    ———

    If the universe is expanding, what is it expanding into?

    There doesn’t need to be anything. Space is expanding. If space were expanding into something else, that something else would be “space” too.

    If space can curve, what is on the outside of the curve?

    More curved space. Beyond that, more curved space. Not a curved surface or a curved line, from which you can go some other direction orthogonal to the curve. Curved space.

    How can there be a time before time?

    There can’t be.

    How can every galaxy be receding from me unless I am the center of the universe?

    Every point is receding from every other point, not just from you. Unless you want to call every location “the center” (which would be useless), then there is no center.

  29. 29
    Argle Bargle

    Gregory Greenwood #22

    it is specifically the nasty judeo-christian god, and that it has somehow made its will known to humanity and takes an intimate interest in the affairs of our minor species on our speck of a planet in a backwater solar system of one galaxy among hundreds of billions or more. And that it is particularly concerned with what happens in our bedrooms.

    I have a great deal of difficulty believing something which could create this (Hubble Ultra Deep Field) cares if some teenager masturbates. I have no trouble believing someone who makes up gods worries about masturbation.

  30. 30
    Naked Bunny with a Whip

    @lettlander should put down the Aquinas and look into modern cosmology.

  31. 31
    Gregory Greenwood

    Rodney Nelson @ 29;

    I have a great deal of difficulty believing something which could create this (Hubble Ultra Deep Field) cares if some teenager masturbates. I have no trouble believing someone who makes up gods worries about masturbation.

    Isn’t it interesting that theists can look at such a grand, magnificient universe as ours, and yet imagine it to be the creation of such a petty, venal fictional deity as their nasty little god? Why, it is almost as if they are projecting their own hangups and neuroses onto the social construct of god…

  32. 32
    Lofty

    The centre of the observable universe is of course, between the eyes of the observer. Therefore, I am the centre of my universe. My thumb held at arms length can blot out planets stars and entire galaxies and therefore is more important than anything that isn’t me.

  33. 33
    CONWAY

    ———

    “If the universe is expanding, what is it expanding into?

    There doesn’t need to be anything. Space is expanding. If space were expanding into something else, that something else would be “space” too.”

    If space is expanding into space, then it is not expanding.

    “How can every galaxy be receding from me unless I am the center of the universe?

    Every point is receding from every other point, not just from you. Unless you want to call every location “the center” (which would be useless), then there is no center.”

    There’s my problem. By any definition I know of the words point, recede and center, this cannot be true. Unless they are moving away from a center, some of them would have to be moving together, if not toward each other. (This was when my astronomy teacher wanted to throw chalk at me.)

    Again, I think it’s a failure of language.

    Either that, or I am God. I mean, I can only perceive the universe through my perceptions. For me, the universe can only be as I perceive it. When I die, the universe I perceive will cease to exist. The only universe I know or have ever known will end. Ergo: I’m God.

    So you better be nice to me.

    (And yes, I am messing with you. I’m a trickster god.)

  34. 34
    CONWAY

    But not about the “every point is receding from every other point” thing. That simply makes no sense to me at all.

  35. 35
    Inaji

    CONWAY

    I get the feeling you have a vast need for attention.

  36. 36
    Ing

    There’s my problem. By any definition I know of the words point, recede and center, this cannot be true. Unless they are moving away from a center, some of them would have to be moving together,

    Wrong

  37. 37
    Snoof

    There’s my problem. By any definition I know of the words point, recede and center, this cannot be true. Unless they are moving away from a center, some of them would have to be moving together, if not toward each other.

    The standard analogy for explaining an expanding universe:

    Imagine a balloon covered in dots. Now, inflate the ballooon. As it gets bigger, the distance between the dots increases. From the point of view of each dot, the other dots are moving away from it.

    (In this analogy, the _surface_ of the balloon is spacetime.)

  38. 38
    CONWAY

    “I get the feeling you have a vast need for attention.”

    Of course I do. I’m God.

    “Imagine a balloon covered in dots. Now, inflate the ballooon. As it gets bigger, the distance between the dots increases. From the point of view of each dot, the other dots are moving away from it.”

    That’s the way my teacher explained it. But the dots are all moving away from what began as the center of the balloon. And expanding into the space of the room you are blowing it up in.

  39. 39
    consciousness razor

    If space is expanding into space, then it is not expanding.

    If you say so. Then it must not be expanding “into” anything, like you had assumed for no reason. Eppur si muove.

    There’s my problem. By any definition I know of the words point, recede and center, this cannot be true.

    Like you said, it’s your problem, which has nothing to do with what is or isn’t true. Incredulity isn’t an argument.

    Unless they are moving away from a center, some of them would have to be moving together, if not toward each other.

    Nope. Some do move toward us (e.g., the Andromeda galaxy), but there is no need for that.

    What makes you think “expansion” implies “moving toward each other” anyway? I mean, even if you don’t understand the math, doesn’t that seem obviously wrong to you?

    (This was when my astronomy teacher wanted to throw chalk at me.)

    Did you try to learn anything from your teacher, or just insist everything you were being taught must be wrong because you don’t get it?

    Either that, or I am God. I mean, I can only perceive the universe through my perceptions. For me, the universe can only be as I perceive it. When I die, the universe I perceive will cease to exist. The only universe I know or have ever known will end. Ergo: I’m God.

    Or you’re confusing your own knowledge with existence itself. In that case, you’re probably a person with no superpowers just like everyone else here.

  40. 40
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    But the dots are all moving away from what began as the center of the balloon.

    You are missing the point. Surfaces versus solids. Are you really that dense, or are you doing it on purpose?

  41. 41
    ambrosia

    Why not “god”? Why not a purple space gerbil? Why not snot from the nose of the Great Green Arkleseizure?

    I personally prefer the theory that the “Big Bang” was actually unicorn farts.

  42. 42
    consciousness razor

    That’s the way my teacher explained it. But the dots are all moving away from what began as the center of the balloon. And expanding into the space of the room you are blowing it up in.

    No. You ignored this: “(In this analogy, the _surface_ of the balloon is spacetime.)”

    Forget the space inside and outside of the surface of the balloon. It’s two-dimensional analogy for three-dimensional space. Pretend the nipple of the balloon is South, so as you move toward the nipple along the surface you are going South. Got that? Now, which direction would you go in 3D space which would be analogous to areas inside or outside of the 2D surface of the balloon? There isn’t one. Because it’s just an analogy.

  43. 43
    CONWAY

    Okay, I’m confusing you with snark vs legitimate questions.

    A balloon is a sphere. It has dots on it. Im at the opposite side from the nipple. I could travel along the surface from that dot to get to the nipple. Or I could take the straight line through the balloon. Which means there is a center. Which means there is an origin point. Isn’t that what the Big Bang says?

  44. 44
    Ing

    @Conway

    are you intentionally being stupid?

  45. 45
    consciousness razor

    A balloon is a sphere. It has dots on it. Im at the opposite side from the nipple. I could travel along the surface from that dot to get to the nipple. Or I could take the straight line through the balloon.

    No. People use the 2D surface of the balloon as a replacement for 3D space, because it is a picture you can easily visualize. What happens when you go from 3 dimensions down to 2 dimensions? You remove a dimension. Which dimension gets removed? The one which doesn’t correspond to the 2D surface of the balloon, because we want to keep the surface and talk about it.

    The question is what happens on the 2D surface (in the analogy), because those are the only dimensions we’ve kept from the original 3D space (in reality). All the points expand away from each other as the balloon stretches. We could just as well talk about points on a flat piece of paper which is being stretched evenly in every direction; it wouldn’t make any difference.

    (You could of course fold the paper and draw a shortcut that way through an extra dimension too. At least that would be an interesting way of missing the point.)

  46. 46
    sunsangnim

    Perhaps I’m extending the analogy too much, but I always thought the 3rd dimension in the balloon was time. If you move toward the center of the balloon, you’re rewinding the clock to when the balloon was smaller. At the very center of the balloon is a moment 13.7 billion years ago. Unless someone invents a time machine, you’re stuck on the outer surface of the balloon.

  47. 47
    vaiyt

    A balloon is a sphere. It has dots on it. Im at the opposite side from the nipple. I could travel along the surface from that dot to get to the nipple. Or I could take the straight line through the balloon.

    You can also pop the baloon with a needle, or draw scribbles on it. There’s only so far you can run with an analogy before it loses any connection with reality.

  48. 48
    CONWAY

    @Conway

    “are you intentionally being stupid?”

    No. Are you intentionally being a dick?

  49. 49
    CONWAY

    “All the points expand away from each other as the balloon stretches. We could just as well talk about points on a flat piece of paper which is being stretched evenly in every direction; it wouldn’t make any difference.”

    Except that there would still be a center point on the piece of paper.

    Am I missing something? Has the definition of 3 Dimensions changed? Length, width, and depth. Forward/Backward. Left/Right. Up/Down. How is a sphere two dimensional?

  50. 50
    Tony! The Queer Shoop

    CONWAY @48:
    Insults are welcome here.
    Gender based slurs are not.
    Please avoid using gender specific insults/slurs here.

    Fuckwit
    Asshat
    Shartface
    Pus sucking pissant

  51. 51
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Has the definition of 3 Dimensions changed? Length, width, and depth.

    What hasn’t changed is your abject inability to understand a simple analogy. But the analogy involves dropping a dimension from space-time to make it more visible. You can’t or won’t accept that (my guess is won’t). The balloon surface is x,y co-ordinates, and the radius of the balloon is time. You can’t get your mind off the normal x,y,z co-ordinates, which means you don’t know what you are talking about. I’m just a chemist, but I understood this analogy forty years ago when taking physics, and since then when talking about cosmology. It is frequently used to demonstrate expansion.

  52. 52
    consciousness razor

    Except that there would still be a center point on the piece of paper.

    Good thing the universe isn’t a piece of paper.

    Have you forgotten what your argument is? All the points move away from each other. You said all the points must move away from a single point and only a single point, but that not the case when the entire surface is stretched. Instead, each point moves away from every other point.

    Am I missing something?

    Apparently. Or do you have more “snark,” which you think isn’t being “intentionally stupid”?

    Has the definition of 3 Dimensions changed? Length, width, and depth. Forward/Backward. Left/Right. Up/Down. How is a sphere two dimensional?

    The surface is two dimensional. Remember all those times we used the word “surface”? That wasn’t just something you’re supposed to skip over so you could go back to your presuppositions.

    Volume of a sphere: 4/3 πR^3
    Surface area of a sphere: 4πR^2
    The circumference (a curved line) around a sphere: 2πR

    Notice how the R’s go from cubed to squared to linear? Lots of ways to measure spheres. That’s geometry for you.

  53. 53
    CONWAY

    I understand that the dots next to me are moving away as the balloon expands. But the dot on the other side of the balloon is moving away as well. Doesn’t that mean there is a center?

  54. 54
    Amphiox

    That’s the way my teacher explained it. But the dots are all moving away from what began as the center of the balloon. And expanding into the space of the room you are blowing it up in.

    Conway, the reason people are questioning your seriousness is that Snoof answered this question in the very same post you quoted, here:

    In this analogy, the _surface_ of the balloon is spacetime.

    All the dimensions of spacetime are contained on the surface of the balloon in the analogy. EVERYTHING is the surface. There is no center and there is no room.

  55. 55
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    But the dot on the other side of the balloon is moving away as well. Doesn’t that mean there is a center?

    No, forget the middle, and only look at the surface of the balloon. There is no center point on the surface. All light must travel the surface (x,y “plane”). You seem to have trouble visualizing surfaces versus solids. A Mobius strip is a surface phenomenon.

  56. 56
    consciousness razor

    Doesn’t that mean there is a center?

    Nope. Why would it?

    If you were at a location a billion light years from here, you would see the same thing: everything* in every direction would look like it was moving away from you as if your location were the center. But because that is in fact how it looks no matter which location you pick, it would make no sense to treat any arbitrary one of them as special.

    *With some exceptions for relatively nearby things, because attraction from gravity can be more than enough to make up for the expansion on a small scale.

  57. 57
    Amphiox

    Except that there would still be a center point on the piece of paper.

    Not if the piece of paper were infinite in size. That’s the other analogy that can be used instead of the balloon – an infinite sheet of rubber that is being stretched in all directions, infinitely.

    There’s no outer edge, and without an edge, you cannot define a center.

    What you have instead is an observation horizon. Everything you can see because there has been enough time since the origin of spacetime for the light from that region to reach you. The center of the observable universe is wherever you are standing doing the observation, but the point is that you could be standing anywhere in the universe and it would on the large scale look the same. The horizon moves with you.

  58. 58
    CONWAY

    Hey, y’all came up with the balloon analogy, not me.

    Thanks to all who answered nicely. I really was trying to understand.

    It makes sense, but it doesn’t “make sense,” if you know what I mean.

    Anybody want to dissect some of Shakespeare’s sonnets with me?

  59. 59
    consciousness razor

    Anybody want to dissect some of Shakespeare’s sonnets with me?

    How would that have anything to do with the first cause argument? Because that’s the topic of this thread. This isn’t “Educating Conway 101.”

  60. 60
    CONWAY

    “How would that have anything to do with the first cause argument? Because that’s the topic of this thread. This isn’t “Educating Conway 101.”

    It is the cause, it is the cause, my soul.
    Let me not name it to you, you chaste stars,
    It is the cause.

    Everything is Educating Conway 101. Why else would I be here?

    And I thank you for adding to my education.

  61. 61
    consciousness razor

    That’s not a sonnet, and it has nothing to do with the first cause argument.

    Why else would I be here?

    Maybe to annoy us, to waste time, and so on. But usually you should keep those sorts of questions for yourself, since no one else can answer them.

  62. 62
    CONWAY

    I didn’t say it was a sonnet.

    And I didn’t come here to annoy. I did come here to “waste” time. Mine, not yours.

    My first cause argument was making a joke about a Doctor Strange comic book.

    And here we are.

  63. 63
    unclefrogy

    we exist as a more or less life form. we are born live and die at a pretty constant time rate.
    there is no constant time out side of the relative one we experience the measurements we make and project backwards and hence the distances are based on the speed of light which is the only thing we have found that seems to be consistent and fixed.

    we live in space time we are events in time not 3 dimensional objects. it is a convenience to describe things and the universe as a 3 dimensional object and similar to describing the expanding universe as a 2 dimensional balloon with dots on it. We do not experience our existence like that we have a some what sensitive sense of time but often ignore or over look it. I suspect that this awareness of time we have may influence our need for religion and beginnings and such. It is hard to let go of the linear Newtonian clockwork universe with nice universal time when the the universe as we find has relative time and distortions all around.

    uncle frogy

  64. 64
    Amphiox

    It makes sense, but it doesn’t “make sense,” if you know what I mean.

    Well, that’s cosmology for you.

    http://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Talk:Richard_Feynman (see quote #11)

  65. 65
    Amphiox

    The funny thing about that something-nothing dichotomy is that the fundies and creobots always get it backwards.

    Nothing is a negative definition, and has no meaning without reference to the positive definition it negates.

    Something must first exist before nothing can. You cannot have nothing without first having something.

    You cannot even meaningfully talk about it.

  66. 66
    CONWAY

    “Well, that’s cosmology for you.”

    I think quote #1 might be more applicable. But I’m just an unfrozen caveman.

  67. 67
    consciousness razor

    Nothing is a negative definition, and has no meaning without reference to the positive definition it negates

    How about “everything that must exist (or be true)”? That sounds awfully positive to me. If that’s an empty set, then that’s what nothing is. If it’s just math or logic, that’s what nothing is. If it includes time or space, then nothing includes or space. If it includes some of our laws of physics because they couldn’t be nonexistent and couldn’t be any other way, then nothing includes them too.

    We can’t simply assume it includes impossible things, because that would be circular. And you can’t simply assert things are impossible or “meaningless,” anymore than you can simply assert something exists (like a god, a unicorn, a teapot, etc.). Impossibility means that there’s a contradiction, so what is the contradiction in saying “nothing exists”?

    Something must first exist before nothing can. You cannot have nothing without first having something.

    Why not? Because reality cares about your definitions and what you consider “positive” and “negative”?

  68. 68
    CONWAY

    See, this is where we run into the semantic problem again.

    Is nothing a thing?

    If the Big Bang happened and filled an infinite void with something, what did it fill?

    Where did the void come from? Where did nothing come from? Why is a shoe called a shoe?

  69. 69
    Amphiox

    How about “everything that must exist (or be true)”? That sounds awfully positive to me.

    That sounds like a definition of something to me.

    We can’t simply assume it includes impossible things, because that would be circular. And you can’t simply assert things are impossible or “meaningless,” anymore than you can simply assert something exists (like a god, a unicorn, a teapot, etc.).

    I’m afraid I have no idea what you’re trying to say here, or what relevance it has in any way to what I said.

  70. 70
    Amphiox

    If the Big Bang happened and filled an infinite void with something, what did it fill?

    The big bang didn’t fill any void.

    And even a void is something. And empty set is something. Everything that exists is something.

    That is what I mean when I say that the very concept of “nothing” is incoherent on its own. It has no meaning unless you first define its opposite, ie “something”. As a concept it is defined wholly as the absence of its opposite. So, before you can meaningfully talk about “nothing”, you first have to have “something”.

    There is a reason why the concept of zero came so late in the development of mathematics. Because you cannot in fact define zero until you have first defined all the other numbers.

  71. 71
    Matt Penfold

    Why do people think reality has to be something they can easily understand ?

    It may be hard to understand that prior to the big bang there was nothing, but that does not mean the theory is false. It just means you need to put on your thinking cap, and avoid thinking about such things before your first dose of caffeine.

  72. 72
    CONWAY

    “I looked up, as if somehow I would grasp the heavens. The universe, worlds beyond number, God’s silver tapestry spread across the night. And in that moment, I knew the answer to the riddle of the infinite. I had thought in terms of man’s own limited dimension. I had presumed upon nature. That existence begins and ends in man’s conception, not nature’s. And I felt my body dwindling, melting, becoming nothing. My fears melted away. And in their place came acceptance. All this vast majesty of creation, it had to mean something. And then I meant something, too. Yes, smaller than the smallest, I meant something, too. To God, there is no zero. I still exist!”
    ~Richard Matheson

  73. 73
    CONWAY

    Yeah, I know that’s not science, but that movie was one of the things that sent me down the track to becoming atheist, way back when I was ten. He said God. I heard Nature.

    Plus, I just love that quote.

  74. 74
    lutherflint

    @chadwickjones

    You are wrong Hercule.

  75. 75
    gravityisjustatheory

    38 CONWAY
    28 December 2012 at 9:40 pm (UTC -6)

    “Imagine a balloon covered in dots. Now, inflate the ballooon. As it gets bigger, the distance between the dots increases. From the point of view of each dot, the other dots are moving away from it.”

    That’s the way my teacher explained it. But the dots are all moving away from what began as the center of the balloon. And expanding into the space of the room you are blowing it up in.

    When I first learned about electricity, I was given the analogy of water flowing in a central heating system. Voltage was water pressure. Current was flow rate. Etc.

    Initially, this was a useful analogy, but as I got on to more advanced subjects, I got increasingly confused as I tried to think in temrs of water flowing in pipes.

    Until it struck me: electricity doesn’t behave like water in pipes. Electricity behaves like electricity.

    Analogies are only useful up to a point. Electricity isn’t water. The universe isn’t a balloon. Dots on the surface of an inflating balloon expanding and moving away from each other might be a useful metaphore for expanding space, but the rest of the balloon (the rubber, the air, the person blowing it up, etc) doesn’t represent anything about the universe.

  76. 76
    sunsangnim

    Since we’re discussing cosmology and clearing up misconceptions, maybe somebody can help me out.

    If the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate (leaving aside why that might be the case), do objects resist that acceleration because of their inertia? My thought is that space would become warped around the object, leading to the gravitational well depicted in explanations of general relativity. Picture the balloon in the above analogy with little stones taped to the surface. If you blow up the balloon at an accelerating rate, wouldn’t the stones form dimples on the surface of the balloon? The stones resist the acceleration of the balloon, so the balloon surface gets distorted around them. Could this explain the equivalence between inertial mass and gravitational mass? The more inertia an object has, the more it resists the accelerating expansion, hence the deeper gravitational well.

    If this model is accurate, I suppose one result would be that gravitational wells might get deeper over time as the balloon surface (space) stretches around objects with an ever accelerating pace. This would mean that the gravitational constant G would probably get larger over time. As far as I know, there have been no observations indicating this is true.

    Again, perhaps I’m extending analogies beyond their usefulness. I hope someone can clear up any misconceptions I have.

  77. 77
    Matt Penfold

    If the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate (leaving aside why that might be the case), do objects resist that acceleration because of their inertia?

    Short answer, yes.

    Members of the local group of galaxies (ie, our galaxy and our near neighbours) are actually moving towards each other because their gravitational attraction is sufficient to overcome expansion.

  78. 78
    Argle Bargle

    sunsangnim #76

    If the universe is expanding at an accelerating rate (leaving aside why that might be the case), do objects resist that acceleration because of their inertia?

    Think of the expansion as expansion of space with objects (galaxies, clouds of gas and dust, etc.) embedded in space. The objects are being carried along in space. If you’re sitting in a moving car, your body doesn’t resist moving with the car because it is being carried by the car (this is a very simple analogy and I thought of a couple of objections to it while writing it).

    The stones resist the acceleration of the balloon, so the balloon surface gets distorted around them.

    Actually the stones aren’t resisting acceleration. If the balloon isn’t expanding, the stones still cause dimples. This is one of the problems of translating the 2D balloon surface into the 3D volume of space.

    Again, perhaps I’m extending analogies beyond their usefulness.

    I think you’re overthinking the analogy.

  79. 79
    alkisvonidas

    Something appearing out of nothing is impossible? Tell that to Lawrence Krauss and other physicists. Not only can it theoretically happen, it happens all the time.

    Quantum. Vacuum. Is. Not. Nothing.

    I’m sorry, but as a physicist, I get immensely frustrated at this new mantra, “Nothing is unstable, therefore the Universe”. I get the feeling the people who use it do not understand it any more than apologists understand “goddidit”. They’re just glad to have an instant argument against the First Cause bullcrap. A sophistry pitted against another one.

    Quantum fluctuations are deviations of a field around its zero expectation value. Quantum fluctuations can be thought of as (virtual) particles. They’re no more mysterious than flipping a coin 100 times and getting a bit off the 50/50 heads/tails ratio. Getting a coin out of thin air… now, *that* would be the thing!

    The confusion stems from the misconception that particles are “real”, while fields are somehow less “real”, so a particle pops where before there was “nothing”. It doesn’t work that way: fields and particles are part of our current model of “reality”. What matters is that the statistical effects of a field are well defined: I know what kinds of virtual particles to expect, and at what ratios.

    The Casimir effect, e.g., far from being proof of uncaused events, is an illustration of how a measurable, predictable effect can arise out of probabilistic laws (patterns, if you want to avoid all anthropomorphic language). Even though we can’t predict the patterns of individual fluctuations (indeed, if we set out to measure them, we change the physical system to something different), we *can* predict the end result as a measurable force.

    But if I ask the question “why these laws, and not others?”, “why have predictable patterns at all?”, there is not yet a satisfactory answer. There are attempts at an answer, there are self-consistent sets of laws, but nothing so unique and unavoidable as to say it necessarily exists. We shouldn’t pretend we have such an answer just to go one better than the apologists.

  80. 80
    mnb0

    “The ONLY way the problem of an infinite regress can be solved”
    The first thing I noticed is that Letlander doesn’t know what a circle is.

  81. 81
    consciousness razor

    I’m afraid I have no idea what you’re trying to say here, or what relevance it has in any way to what I said.

    Why put it this way, if you’re not saying “something cannot come from nothing”?

    Something must first exist before nothing can. You cannot have nothing without first having something.

    That sounds like a metaphysical claim to me, not a claim about when we invent particular concepts. But now there’s this:

    It has no meaning unless you first define its opposite, ie “something”. As a concept it is defined wholly as the absence of its opposite. So, before you can meaningfully talk about “nothing”, you first have to have “something”.

    Here, you’re clearly talking about which order we come up with the different concepts (which wouldn’t imply one is “meaningless,” only that one depends on another, like atheism and theism); but the concepts we use are not themselves the states of reality they’re about. Even if the quote above is correct, it doesn’t matter which we have to talk about first, because either way it could be that “you cannot can have nothing without first having something.”

    There is a reason why the concept of zero came so late in the development of mathematics. Because you cannot in fact define zero until you have first defined all the other numbers.

    Therefore “zero” is meaningless? You can’t meaningfully talk about it?

    ———
    I share your pain, alkisvonidas. I’m not a physicist, but I’m sure it’s even more annoying that way.

  82. 82
    Cosmas

    This is the best thread ever. Bookmarking to read post the Holidays guests leave

  83. 83
    merganser

    I registered just to thank alkisvonidas, and to leave this link.

  84. 84
    Julien Rousseau

    The assumption should be that anything (or nothing) is possible unless it implies a contradiction. Unless the nonexistence of everything* is contradictory or implies a contradiction, nonexistence is possible.

    I was thinking more in terms of *physically* possible rather than logically possible as many logically possible things might not be physically possible and in general if something is logically possible but physically impossible (not self-contradictory but against the laws of physics) then you shouldn’t assume it’s possible.

    My mistake is that in the case of nothing it breaks down as physical laws might not be logically necessaries so I should have been thinking in terms of logical possibility indeed.

    Still, the following, weaker, claim should work:

    “Why do you assume that “nothing” ever existed when nobody has ever managed to get “nothing” or evidence of “nothing” ever existing? #vacuumenergy”

    It doesn’t make any claim about its possibility on any level, it just points out that it shouldn’t be an assumption unless we have some evidence for it.

    Any other problem I missed?

  85. 85
    lutherflint

    @Julien Rousseau
    I don’t think anyone is assuming that nothing could exist in the sense that there could have been a thing called nothing that existed. The question is more about why anything should exist at all. And so we can ask the question without using the problematic word “nothing”, which causes confusion when put in front of the word “exists” precisely because it can be misunderstood, if one has a mind to, as an positive existence claim about a thing called nothing. It isn’t. And so the question basically is, how come anything exists at all in the first place?

  86. 86
    Julien Rousseau

    lutherflint:
    That’s not what they ask. They ask how the transition from nothing to something happened. This presupposes an initial nothing.

    If their question was “how come anything exists at all in the first place?” then it would apply to their god too: “how come god existed at all in the first place?” whereas by saying that you cannot get something from nothing they exclude their own belief from the question as god is not nothing.

    This also shows the hypocrisy of the argument as they are happy to presuppose that there was something at the beginning (god) which caused the universe to exist but insist on presupposing that there was nothing at the beginning for atheists.

    We shouldn’t presuppose either but go with the evidence. The evidence so far is that we cannot get rid of vacuum energy so given what we know it is more reasonable to assume that there was something at the beginning (vacuum energy) from which the universe is derived.

    It may or may not be the case but given the current evidence we have it seems the most defendable position, much more defendable than either assuming that there was nothing (which we’ve never seen evidence for) or something which we’ve never seen evidence for (god).

  87. 87
    lutherflint

    @Rousseau
    Who asks about the transition from nothing to something? The question was always about how come anything exists at all. A question which could be misconstrued, if one had a mind to, as a question about the transition from a thing called nothing to the existence of something. But there is no need to construe it that way. We could simply ask, how do we explain the existence of anything, including, eg, vacuum energy? And it’s hardly “reasonable” to say vacuum energy always existed since no reason whatsoever has been given for why vacuum energy had to exist.

  88. 88
    eddarrell

    Even if @lettlander were correct and there was a reasonable logical argument for a necessary first cause, it wouldn’t mean Jesus was the one.

    Ahem. “Even if @lettlander were correct and there WERE a reasonable logical argument . . .”

    And, everyone knows, as Dick Tuck knew, Nixon’s the One.

    [In 1968, political prankster Dick Tuck hired at least one very pregnant woman to walk around Nixon rallies, and the lobby of the hotel Nixon stayed at during the GOP convention, with a six-inch version of the button that said "Nixon's the One."]

  89. 89
    Julien Rousseau

    Who asks about the transition from nothing to something?

    letlander does. From the OP:

    @f0xhole @pzmyers @Pipenta something appearing out of nothing isn’t just scientifically impossible – it’s logically self-refuting.

    It does help to read the post you are commenting on.

    And it’s hardly “reasonable” to say vacuum energy always existed since no reason whatsoever has been given for why vacuum energy had to exist.

    It is more reasonable because there is evidence for its existence whereas there is no evidence for the existence of the alternatives. If there was evidence either of god[esse](s) or of true nothingness then it would not be reasonable but as things stand it is more reasonable to assume something known to exist than something not known to exist.

  90. 90
    lutherflint

    @Julien Rousseau

    Far from asking about the details of the transition from something to nothing, he is saying no such thing is possible. Thus we arrive, it seems, at some necessary entity/thing. Necessity being one of the prime attributes of God, fwiw. And so it is only if you want to say there is no necessarily existing thing (do you?) that you would then need to show both that nothing is possible, and how a universe can come from it.

    I think, then, that you misunderstand the whole argument. That is, nothing that is being said depends on nothing being a possible state of affairs. What is being said, roughly, is that given that the universe exists and couldn’t come from nothing, so the argument goes, there must be some necessarily existing thing that grounds the whole shebang – a thing they call God – ground of all being and all that.

  91. 91
    Julien Rousseau

    Far from asking about the details of the transition from something to nothing, he is saying no such thing is possible.

    You’re dense, aren’t you?

    Why would he say that no such thing is possible if he wasn’t presupposing both the necessity of nothing and the necessity of something coming out of nothing for the atheist case? Otherwise his tweet would make no sense at all as an argument against atheism.

    Necessity being one of the prime attributes of God, fwiw.

    Oh, so you are dense. You won’t go very far around here by begging the question.

    And so it is only if you want to say there is no necessarily existing thing (do you?) that you would then need to show both that nothing is possible, and how a universe can come from it.

    You first need to demonstrate that god is necessarily existing, simply stating it is not enough.

    FYI, an omniscient entity is logically impossible so if your definition of god includes that attribute then such a god would be necessarily not existing.

    I think, then, that you misunderstand the whole argument.

    I understand the argument, it’s just that, unlike you, I’m able to follow it to its logical conclusion.

    What is being said, roughly, is that given that the universe exists and couldn’t come from nothing, so the argument goes, there must be some necessarily existing thing that grounds the whole shebang – a thing they call God – ground of all being and all that.

    I know, and my argument is that it assumes a false dichotomy between god on one side and nothing on the other whereas neither are evidenced and there is a third option, vacuum energy, that is evidenced and with a plausible mechanism between it an a universe like ours and is thus more likely.

    If they don’t assume that nothing is necessary in the absence of god then there would be no reason to mention it at all as instead of comparing god & nothing they would compare god & vacuum energy.

    If they didn’t assume nothing was necessary in the absence of god but didn’t know what that thing might be then they should have shut up and either done a search on what such a thing might be or asked Pz what he thought such a thing might be and in either case find out about Stenger & Krauss’s argument.

    – a thing they call God – ground of all being and all that.

    That they assume that that thing is god shows that they assume there would be nothing in the absence of god as otherwise they would have to add a step to show why they think that thing should be god and not what the atheists think it might be. They didn’t.

    Mind you it is possible that letlander was too stupid to realise the implications of his assertions but his obliviousness would not negate them.

  92. 92
    lutherflint

    @Julien Rousseau
    He says it’s not possible for something to come from nothing because that’s one route people have tried to use to get away from accepting that if the universe exists then something must necessarily exist. That is, such people say there need be no necessarily existing thing because a universe can come from nothing. A claim that depends on: a) nothing being possible; and b) a universe being able to come from it. You might even see some of those people make that very point above.

    The point letlander makes, on the other hand, certainly doesn’t need the possibility of nothing – on the contrary, he thinks nothing is neither here nor there because since nothing could come from it anyway, and since the universe exists, the universe must have come from a necessarily existing thing. And in the context of this argument, God just is the necessarily existing thing. If you then want to go on to argue that God is not an appropriate name for such a necessarily existing thing then that’s another argument, but as such it leaves the proof for a necessarily existing thing untouched.

    And since you think letlander needs to show nothing is possible when that is precisely what he doesn’t need to show, it’s fairly clear that you have indeed misunderstood.

  93. 93
    Julien Rousseau

    He says it’s not possible for something to come from nothing because that’s one route people have tried to use to get away from accepting that if the universe exists then something must necessarily exist.

    If he didn’t assume an initial “nothing” was the only godless possibility then where did he argue against the other possibilities so as to be able to assert the following:

    @f0xhole @pzmyers @Pipenta Not in the least an argument from ignorance. An inference to the best (in this case the only) explanation

    If he thinks that’s the only explanation then either he assumes that the only other one is the nothing->something argument or he must have tried to refute any other explanation.

    That is, such people say there need be no necessarily existing thing because a universe can come from nothing. A claim that depends on: a) nothing being possible; and b) a universe being able to come from it. You might even see some of those people make that very point above.

    I know, I’m one of them in my first post.

    There’s nothing wrong with questioning both the validity and the soundness of an argument.

    Those (including me) that dispute the contention that you cannot get something out of nothing dispute its validity and they can do that by accepting (possibly arguando) a given premise (like an initial nothing).

    What I am doing is pointing out that the argument is not necessarily sound either as an initial nothing is not necessary even without gods.

    The point letlander makes, on the other hand, certainly doesn’t need the possibility of nothing

    The point for his argument for god doesn’t, the point against the nonexistence of god does, unless he argued against it in other tweets that I didn’t see, which I doubt since he tweeted this:

    @KeesEngels @Pipenta @astVintageSpace @pzmyers Spouted? Give me a scenario that accounts for the singularity.

    Krauss did. Either letlander accepts Krauss’ characterisation of vacuum energy as nothing in which case he is wrong to state that you cannot get something out of nothing or he rejects it in which case he was wrong to state that a supernatural explanation was the only explanation (first tweet I quoted).

    And in the context of this argument, God just is the necessarily existing thing.

    Again, he cannot merely assert it, he needs to show evidence for it.

    If you then want to go on to argue that God is not an appropriate name for such a necessarily existing thing then that’s another argument

    Burden of proof! He who asserts that it is an appropriate name needs to show evidence that it is.

    For example, if it turned out (for the sake of argument) that there was a necessarily existing thing and that said thing was vacuum energy, would it be proper to call such an inanimate thing god?

    Maybe in a pantheistic way but letlander said he was a christian so I would expect him to show that said necessarily existing thing was at least conscious, so merely proving that there was a necessarily existing thing would not be enough for his argument (not that he did even that).

    but as such it leaves the proof for a necessarily existing thing untouched.

    But it destroys the assumption that said necessarily existing thing would be evidence for any god(s), let alone his particular version.

    And since you think letlander needs to show nothing is possible when that is precisely what he doesn’t need to show

    No, he doesn’t need to show that nothing is possible, he needs to either stop assuming that an initial nothing is the only option available in a godless scenario OR show that it is the only option available in a godless scenario (which he can’t as it isn’t). He didn’t do either.

    it’s fairly clear that you have indeed misunderstood.

    It’s clear that I didn’t misunderstand him but that you are misunderstanding me.

  94. 94
    John Morales

    lutherflint:

    He says it’s not possible for something to come from nothing because that’s one route people have tried to use to get away from accepting that if the universe exists then something must necessarily exist.

    An unwarranted presupposition; all you can squeeze from accepting that the universe exists is that at least one thing exists.

    And since you think letlander needs to show nothing is possible when that is precisely what he doesn’t need to show, it’s fairly clear that you have indeed misunderstood.

    No. The claim is that without God, there would be no universe, but that since there is a universe, there must be God; Julien has merely noted the corollary: that since God is supposedly necessary for existence, then the universe must be contingent on God’s existence (heh) and therefore without God there would be no existence — that is, nothing.

    (It’s all the same claim)

  95. 95
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    For over a year, a shithead name Sh*l*h argued a similar argument. It was all presuppositional. If he wasn’t inclined to think a creator existed, he couldn’t get to the conditions that a creator was even philosophically required. It was never scientifically required. At no point was a creator, without presuming it, a conclusion, but rather a desire.

  96. 96
    lutherflint

    @Rousseau
    He didn’t argue against anything else. In the context of this argument, the necessarily existing thing just is God – that’s what it’s called. In that respect, then, you’re simply arguing about God’s attributes, and as noted, that’s a whole set of different arguments. And with regard to that, those attributes appear to be: outside space and time, necessary, supernatural (ie, completely inexplicable in natural terms since it “just is”), omnipotent in a reasonable sense, and various others. In short, then, what you have already conceded is that a scientifically inexplicable mystery, with many of God’s key attributes, lies at the heart of being. But this is getting perilously close to God in the sense many throughout history have argued for.

    And you did misunderstand him, you misunderstood him precisely because you take him to require the possibility of nothing. He doesn’t, as has been explained above.

  97. 97
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    And with regard to that, those attributes appear to be: outside space and time, necessary, supernatural (ie, completely inexplicable in natural terms since it “just is”), omnipotent in a reasonable sense, and various others.

    Exactly as Sh*l*h argued it, but it did interact with matter to create the universe, and as such is detectable by science. Or, its alleged existence does nothing to change the science, since if it is left out, nothing changes, and parsimony rules…

  98. 98
    lutherflint

    @John Morales
    But he’s not squeezing anything more out of just the claim that universe exists. The additional premise, in this case, would be that something cannot come from nothing. Thus you can reject that premise if you like but then you would need to show that it is possible for there to be nothing and that it is possible that a universe could come from it. On the other hand, if you don’t want to reject that premise, then we’re into the territory of arguing about the nature of the thing that must exist – ie, we’re arguing about the attributes of God – even if the jury is still out as to whether the term “God” has too much historical baggage to be an acceptable name for whatever that thing is. the question, then, is what, and how much, would need to be true for “God” to be the right name for such a thing?

  99. 99
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    we’re arguing about the attributes of God

    No, since god the creator is imaginary, there are no attributes not put there by presupposition. There is no logical need for attributes, as there is no logical need for the concept. Only presuppositional fuckwitted idjits argue otherwise, like you.

  100. 100
    John Morales

    lutherflint:

    [1] The additional premise, in this case, would be that something cannot come from nothing. [2] Thus you can reject that premise if you like but then you would need to show that it is possible for there to be nothing and that it is possible that a universe could come from it.

    1. But then you would need to show that it is possible for there to be nothing, and that it is not possible that a universe could come from it.

    2. I reject it because it’s a presupposition; to accept it, I would need to see it as both necessary and sound — but it’s neither.

    (It’s an ad hoc presupposition that makes room for people’s magic sky person but serves no other purpose)

  101. 101
    lutherflint

    @John Morales
    1. Something can’t come from nothing because whatever something comes from must have causal powers – in this case the causal power to yield something – and nothing, in virtue of the meaning of the word, can have no causal powers. You still seem to be thinking of nothing as a special kind of thing, a sort of unthingy thing. Nothing is no more a thing than nobody is a person.

    2. See (1).

    3. Magic sky person, no, supernatural ground of all being, yes.

  102. 102
    Julien Rousseau

    @John

    I didn’t note the corollary, rather I argue that his premise (that the only godless scenario starts with nothing) is wrong as there can be a scenario where you start with something that is not god.

    @lutherflint

    He didn’t argue against anything else.

    So you admit that he was wrong to say that a supernatural explanation was the only explanation as he didn’t argue against any godless scenario that include a starting something.

    In the context of this argument, the necessarily existing thing just is God – that’s what it’s called.

    It might work if he was a pantheist but he said that he is a christian so merely proving the existence of a necessarily existing thing (which he didn’t even do) would not be enough to show that such a thing would be god as if vacuum energy was necessarily existing it still wouldn’t be god from a christian perspective (the christian god is sentient, vacuum energy isn’t).

    Saying that god is the name of the necessarily existing thing is just begging the question.

    In that respect, then, you’re simply arguing about God’s attributes, and as noted, that’s a whole set of different arguments.

    No, I’m arguing what one minimum attribute for a christian god is, sentience. If it’s not sentient it can’t be the christian god.

    If you want to call a nonsentient field like vacuum energy god, knock yourself out, but it won’t be what most humans think of when they think of god (maybe some new agers). Plus why not call the electromagnetic field god too?

    And with regard to that, those attributes appear to be: outside space and time, necessary, supernatural (ie, completely inexplicable in natural terms since it “just is”), omnipotent in a reasonable sense, and various others.

    None of which necessarily apply to vacuum energy.

    Also omnipotence is logically impossible as shown by the fact that theologians, when told about it, redefine it to mean “can’t do some things” instead of “can do anything”.

    In short, then, what you have already conceded is that a scientifically inexplicable mystery, with many of God’s key attributes, lies at the heart of being.

    Nope, notice that I was careful to say “arguando”, “for the sake of argument”… as I do not think that whatever was at the beginning (if anything) was necessarily existing as it might not have been necessary but existed anyway. To say that it must be necessary presupposes that only necessary things can exist. What reason can you offer why possible but non necessary things cannot exist?

    But this is getting perilously close to God in the sense many throughout history have argued for.

    A nonsentient thing? Nope, most people’s conception of god until recently was highly anthropomorphic. It’s only recently with the advances of science that it retreated from such a human form to more tenuous conceptions like “god is love”, “god is energy”, “god is consciousness”, “god is the laws of nature”, “god is the universe”.

    And you did misunderstand him, you misunderstood him precisely because you take him to require the possibility of nothing. He doesn’t, as has been explained above.

    I don’t take hime to require the possibility of nothing for his belief, I take him to require nonbelievers to require the possibility of nothing for their belief, which is where he is wrong. It’s a possibility but not a requirement.

  103. 103
    Argle Bargle

    @lettlander really, truly wants something called “god” to exist and so has determined this “god” does exist. He mumbles something about this “god” being “necessary” (necessary for what is left as an exercise for the reader). Apparently “god” created the universe because supposedly the universe cannot come from nothing. Where “god” came from is a question studiously ignored.

  104. 104
    John Morales

    lutherflint:

    @John Morales

    1. [1] Something can’t come from nothing because whatever something comes from must have causal powers – in this case the causal power to yield something – and nothing, in virtue of the meaning of the word, can have no causal powers. [2] You still seem to be thinking of nothing as a special kind of thing, a sort of unthingy thing. [3] Nothing is no more a thing than nobody is a person.

    2. See (1).

    3. Magic sky person, no, supernatural ground of all being, yes.

    1.1 Cause and effect are complementary; you can’t have one without the other. Fine. But you are still claiming the universe is an effect and therefore there must be a cause.
    1.2 No, it is you above (1.1) who does that.
    1.3 Nothing is that which you claim cannot have “the causal power to yield something” and therefore God — was it necessary to invoke it, powerless as you claim it is? ;)

    2. <snicker>

    3. The cosmological argument for supernaturalism fares no better than that for God just because it doesn’t involve foreskins. ;)

  105. 105
    lutherflint

    @Rousseau
    No, the supernatural is an unavoidable consequence inasmuch as no natural explanation can possibly be given for the existence of something that JUST IS.

    And to say that some thing JUST IS but it’s nature could be different is a case that would have to be made after careful consideration of what attributes the thing that JUST IS must have. Unclear what methods could be used to determine this. Not science anyway.

    We also have not yet decided whether the thing should be considered sentient or not – it simply hasn’t come up. And arguing about whether the Christian conception of God is right is arguing about the attributes of the God thing. You don’t want to call it God, okay, but then you’d need to cash out the properties it has and see where that leads. Also, people are allowed to get some details wrong without the thing they got the details wrong about being considered non-existent upon finding out those things were wrong. Even fairly central things can be wrong, eg, the earth isn’t flat, and atoms aren’t indivisible.

    Re the misunderstanding, I think the assumption he makes may be more warranted than you think because of the first point. That is, you either argue something could come from nothing or you accept the supernatural in the sense that whatever JUST IS can have no natural explanation. You’re certainly never going to get a natural/scientific explanation of how it came to be the way it is.

    Thus I don’t think we’re disagreeing too much. Rather, we’re quibbling about the possible details of something that may necessarily exist and about what is the appropriate name for such a thing. And we got there via a consideration of an arguments that is supposed to be complete nonsense. How strange!

  106. 106
    lutherflint

    @John Morales
    Nobody needs to invoke nothing. The question can be asked without using the offending term. Here it is: how come anything exists at all? The problem being that the answer to that seems to necessarily involve the supernatural inasmuch as no natural explanation is possible. That is, whatever natural explanation one attempts always ends up with an unexplained JUST IS grounding it and so is no explanation at all since it was the JUST IS we were asking about.

  107. 107
    John Morales

    lutherflint:

    No, the supernatural is an unavoidable consequence inasmuch as no natural explanation can possibly be given for the existence of something that JUST IS.

    So, obviously the universe can’t just be, unlike the supernatural, that obviously just is and which accounts for the universe being.

    (Never settle for the simpler explanation!)

  108. 108
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    Anything stupornatural, like imaginary deities/creators, loses on parismony at the end of the day. Totally unneeded fictions. End of story. So god is a “just so” story, meaning nothing, since it can’t survive parsimony….

  109. 109
    lutherflint

    @John Morales
    If the universe JUST IS, then the universe is supernatural by definition. That is, totally inexplicable by natural means.

  110. 110
    John Morales

    lutherflint:

    The question can be asked without using the offending term. Here it is: how come anything exists at all?

    The answer is: Existence is necessary for that question to exist.

    The proper question should be “Is it meaningful to ask whether existence had a beginning?”

  111. 111
    John Morales

    lutherflint:

    If the universe JUST IS, then the universe is supernatural by definition. That is, totally inexplicable by natural means.

    A version of the fallacy of composition, leaving aside that you contend the supernatural (shout it!) JUST IS as well as claiming it accounts for the natural.

    (Very, very sloppy thinking)

  112. 112
    John Morales

    PS reminiscent of Gödel’s incompleteness theorems, the claim that the universe can’t account for itself by itself.

  113. 113
    lutherflint

    @John Morales
    Not a very good answer because the question wasn’t whether stuff exists – we know the answer to that is yes. And no, your “proper question” is not a good question at all. A much better question is how come anything exists at all? It’s better because “existence” is better thought of as a property of things than it is as as some actual thing which exists in its own right. By contrast, since we know the universe exists – we know stuff exists – we’d simply like to know how this came to be so.

  114. 114
    lutherflint

    @John Morales

    The fallacy of composition! LOL. No mention of parts. No mention of arguing from properties of parts to properties of wholes or vice versa. Nothing remotely like what is needed for the fallacy of composition.

  115. 115
    Ing

    If the universe JUST IS, then the universe is supernatural by definition. That is, totally inexplicable by natural mean

    You’re abusing definitions to try to define something into existence. If the universe just is than that is a natural mean. You are not using a useful form of “supernatural”. Define your term and try again.

  116. 116
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    If the universe JUST IS, then the universe is supernatural by definition.

    Bull fucking shit. Stupornatural is non-existent drivel. No way the universe is stupornatural, the evidence says otherwise. Try not presupposing your imaginary creator….

  117. 117
    John Morales

    And no, your “proper question” is not a good question at all. A much better question is how come anything exists at all?

    It is not a well-formed question, and it is you still invoking possible non-existence to contrast with evident existence.

    By contrast, since we know the universe exists – we know stuff exists – we’d simply like to know how this came to be so.

    You’re still presuming it (existence) came to be, however you phrase it, and your solution still amounts to invoking the existence of something additional to reality as just being (your grounding-thingy) to account for what is.

    Nothing remotely like what is needed for the fallacy of composition.

    On the contrary, it is the epitome of such — I paraphrase:
    * The universe is made of everything that exists.
    * Everything that exists in the universe had a beginning.
    * Therefore, the universe must have had a beginning.

  118. 118
    lutherflint

    @John Morales
    When you say paraphrase you mean cut from whole cloth.

  119. 119
    John Morales

    lutherflint, you dispute the syllogism?

  120. 120
    lutherflint

    @Ing:Intellectual Terrorist “Starting Tonight, People will Whine”
    By “supernatural” I mean not in principle explicable in natural terms. A definition which has in its favour the fact that it’s pretty much exactly what the word means.

  121. 121
    lutherflint

    @John Morales
    I dispute it as a representation of anything I’ve said. And it doesn’t seem to be an accurate representation of anything anyone else has said either. It seems to be a rewording specifically concocted to make it susceptible to the fallacy of composition.

  122. 122
    Ing

    By “supernatural” I mean not in principle explicable in natural terms. A definition which has in its favour the fact that it’s pretty much exactly what the word means.

    That’s a useless definition. Anything measurable or notable is natural. The sum total of matter and all that interacts with it is in the universe and natural. That definition is just an invocation of argument from ignorance: if we don’t know or can’t explain it it’s supernatural.

  123. 123
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I mean not in principle explicable in natural terms. A definition which has in its favour the fact that it’s pretty much exactly what the word means.

    Stupornatural is a null term meaning nothing. You admit that. So unless you presuppose the stupornatural exists, it doesn’t. Thank you for playing, and pick up your consolation prize on your way out….

  124. 124
    lutherflint

    @Ing:Intellectual Terrorist “Starting Tonight, People will Whine”
    It’s not an argument from ignorance. It’s an argument from definition, where the definition is met by the particular facts obtaining.

  125. 125
    Ing

    @Lutherflint

    Anything that interacts and demonstrably manifests is in the natural world. Ergo by definition anything notable is natural.

    Supernatural is not a meaningful definition.

  126. 126
    Ing

    It’s an argument from definition, where the definition is met by the particular facts obtaining.

    say what?

  127. 127
    John Morales

    lutherflint:

    I dispute it as a representation of anything I’ve said. And it doesn’t seem to be an accurate representation of anything anyone else has said either. It seems to be a rewording specifically concocted to make it susceptible to the fallacy of composition.

    I see. So you agree that in that form, it’s an invalid argument?

    (What then is your basis that existence needed to somehow be caused?)

  128. 128
    lutherflint

    @Ing:Intellectual Terrorist “Starting Tonight, People will Whine”
    I know you don’t understand. But that’s your problem.

  129. 129
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    I know you don’t understand. But that’s your problem.

    No, it’s your problem. The stupornatural doesn’t exist unless you show conclusive physical evidence for it. OOPS, that’s right, it doesn’t interact with matter. Since it can’t be proven to exist, then Occam’s Razor (or parsimony) says it doesn’t. Prove otherwise with conclusive physical evidence….

  130. 130
    Ing

    Really? So your only defense is “you’re an idiot?”

    Well I guess this discussion is over.

  131. 131
    lutherflint

    @John Morales
    I’ve not really offered one. But if I was to offer one, I might say:

    Everything that exists has a begining
    The universe exists
    Therefore the universe has a beginning

    And even given that the claim “everything that exists has a beginning” is drawn from things which are all parts of the universe the argument does not deal with those parts qua parts but qua things. Thus there is no fallacy of composition unless one was to argue that the universe has a beginning in virtue of being comprised of things that have beginnings.

  132. 132
    John Morales

    lutherflint:

    I’ve not really offered one. But if I was to offer one, I might say:
     
    Everything that exists has a begining
    The universe exists
    Therefore the universe has a beginning

    Everything that exists has a beginning
    The supernatural exists
    Therefore the supernatural has a beginning

     

    (Shouldn’t you be asking what caused the supernatural? :) )

    Thus there is no fallacy of composition unless one was to argue that the universe has a beginning in virtue of being comprised of things that have beginnings.

    An argument you do not make, right?

  133. 133
    lutherflint

    @John Morales
    The supernatural isn’t a thing any more than the natural is. They’re both categories/descriptions of things. And no, I don’t make that argument, but if I did I would be talking about parts qua things and not parts qua parts of the universe, and the universe qua a thing rather than the universe qua the whole of which the parts are parts.
    Anyway, off to bed.

  134. 134
    Ing

    The supernatural isn’t a thing any more than the natural is. They’re both categories/descriptions of things.

    Is English a language you’re fluent in?

  135. 135
    lutherflint

    @Ing:Intellectual Terrorist “Starting Tonight, People will Whine”
    What I mean is that they aren’t things/objects. It makes no sense to say, eg, how much does the natural weight? Or what colour is the natural? Or does the natural have a beginning?

  136. 136
    SallyStrange

    Everything that exists has a begining

    Begging The Question

  137. 137
    Ing

    @lutherflint

    Which is a non-sequitor.

  138. 138
    consciousness razor

    What is being said, roughly, is that given that the universe exists and couldn’t come from nothing [1], so the argument goes, there must be some necessarily existing thing [2] that grounds the whole shebang – a thing they call God – ground of all being and all that.[3]

    [1] That’s not a given. Impossible isn’t the default. Why couldn’t it come from nothing? What would make that impossible?
    [2] That doesn’t follow. Something could have always existed, in which case there was no ‘necessary’ first thing which would allow you to stop your pseudo-explanation at some point with “Goddidit.” Reality doesn’t need to make it easy for us.
    [3] It grounds itself too, or only part of the whole shebang? Does it have a Being-Grinder to make the job a little easier? (It’s never clear what this ‘grounding’ is supposed to do, except stop your desperate handwaving, though I’m sure that wouldn’t be easy.) How finely ground is it? Why would we need something to ‘ground’ reality anyway? Reality isn’t fundamental enough by itself? Needs moar imaginary critters in it?

    The additional premise, in this case, would be that something cannot come from nothing. Thus you can reject that premise if you like but then you would need to show that it is possible for there to be nothing and that it is possible that a universe could come from it.

    Nope. You need to show there is a reason why it’s impossible, or this is simply an argument from incredulity (and ignorance). “That’s impossible” is not telling me what the contradiction is. What is it? You can’t use “it’s physically impossible, because physics says there are causes for everything[citation needed], etc.” since we’re talking about a state nonexistence which could have no physics whatsoever.

    On the other hand, if you don’t want to reject that premise, then we’re into the territory of arguing about the nature of the thing that must exist – ie, we’re arguing about the attributes of God – even if the jury is still out as to whether the term “God” has too much historical baggage to be an acceptable name for whatever that thing is.

    Nope, doesn’t follow. There could have always been something. The assumption that there must a stopping point, which is “necessary” or a “first cause” or a “ground of all being” is only an assumption to make your apologetics easier. We’ll only ever get so far in our explanations, but that does not imply there must be an end as far as reality is concerned. Because reality is not concerned about anything, and in particular not about what makes your bullshit go down nice and smooth. So you need some reason for that, other than “I give up: Goddidit” which shows why there must be at least one thing which is necessary (not only one thing, with one name and one set of attributes, as you assumed). And if the best you can muster is an abstract object like the number 42 or the Pythagorean theorem, that is not a god, so you’ll have find another argument which has fewer than a billion holes in it.

    the question, then, is what, and how much, would need to be true for “God” to be the right name for such a thing?

    If that’s the question, then it would need to be an intelligent creator of the universe/existence* which is supernatural.

    (Supernatural is not just anything “inexplicable,” but something mental which doesn’t reduce to something non-mental. That’s how you could describe a type of thing, rather than your ability to explain or know something or your lack thereof — assuming “God” is a type of thing and not just a concept stuck in your head,** you would at least need to do that.)
    *Because we’re not talking about non-creator gods, just the kinds which are supposed create everything.
    **But it obviously is just imaginary, so don’t bother I guess.

    Something can’t come from nothing because whatever something comes from must have causal powers – in this case the causal power to yield something – and nothing, in virtue of the meaning of the word, can have no causal powers.

    Something can exist from a state in which nothing existed, because there is nothing to stop something from existing. How could there be some rule or “force of nature” in a state of nonexistence which prevents any possible thing’s existence? There are no rules stopping it from happen. We know stuff existing is possible: we’re doing it right now. So how exactly is a state of nonexistence supposed to have any effect on that? How is it even relevant?

  139. 139
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    It’s an argument from definition,

    Can’t be any better prima facie evidence for a presuppositional argument, the exact definition of one. Try thinking before you respond, handing your ass to us on a platter….

  140. 140
    Argle Bargle

    Since something comes from nothing all the time (see virtual particles) and since modern cosmology theory says the total energy of the universe is zero, there’s no reason not to see the universe creating itself as a zero-energy, unending virtual particle. No uncaused first causes required.

  141. 141
    Lofty

    Rodney Nelson, pretty much what I thought. The universe still consists of a lot of not very much, the gravity well we live in gives us the illusion of standing on something significant. You can get a taste of the lots of nothing surrounding us by trying to breathe on top of Mt Everest. It only gets worse the further you get from the Earth’s surface.

  142. 142
    Ing

    @Rodney Nelson

    We recently had someone correct us that VP are not coming from “Nothing”

    IMO the problem is that a True Nothing, i.e. Oblivion is not a coherent concept. nothing may simply not exist

  143. 143
    CONWAY

    The Hubble Telescope saw a galaxy about 13 billion years old. It looked 13 billion years into the past.

    If you turned the Hubble 180 degrees, what would it see? The future?

  144. 144
    Ing

    @Conway

    Obvious troll is obvious.

  145. 145
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    If you turned the Hubble 180 degrees, what would it see? The future?

    Probably the Earth. But the deep sky lens without the Earth in the way, the same distance in any direction. DUH. Don’t troll.

  146. 146
    Ing

    Though in all seriousness if the pointed the Hubble 180 degrees *assuming no earth in the way* to see another star 13 billion light years away…you would see light that was from the same time as the light from the other 13 billion light year star. Cause we don’t live on a 1D line

  147. 147
    Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls

    In case the lurkers are interested (I bet Conway isn’t), the universe is isotropic from Earth.

  148. 148
    Ing

    You know if object A is X miles away and moves at speed Y and object B is -X miles away and moving at speed -Y they will arrive at point zero at the same time.

Comments have been disabled.