1. The Watchmaker Analogy
If I find a watch lying in the woods, what makes me so certain that it was not simply a product of natural causes? I can plainly see that the rock next to it is just a natural rock. But the watch?
There are two things to say here. First, the watchmaker analogy is a self-refuting argument. If all order requires a more complex designer, then where is the more complex designer that created god?
Secondly, why is it that when we see a sunset or a rain cloud we do not immediately reach for a sunset-making god or a rain cloud-making god? It's because we have perfectly satisfactory explanations for how these things occur, but you can bet that believers made this appeal to ignorance long before we did have explanations for them. This is the same thing you are now doing with our universe. You see order, and immediately leap to the god conclusion, even though order produced by natural means is all around us. Even if we lack an explanation, why is it "god" and not "I don't know"? Your reasoning really seems to be "We don't know, therefore we do."
Third, the reason that watches do not assemble themselves is because they are not composed of chemicals that can self-replicate. People are. The only thing needed for increased order in our universe, whether it's life forms or galaxies, is mutation, reproduction, and selection. Those three qualities are most certainly found in humans, and are found elsewhere throughout our universe.
Of course, this flies in the face of the 2nd law of thermodynamics - or at least, you think it does...2. The Laws of Thermodynamics
The second law of thermodynamics only applies to closed systems. We are unsure if our universe constitutes such a system, but even on the assumption that it is, the second law of thermodynamics creates order. Upon creating order, the disordered energy is then emitted into what's called dissipative systems. As long as the ordered energy is less than the disordered energy, the second law is conserved.
A good example of this would be our atmosphere. It's pretty ordered - it's been there for millions of years. However, the friction of the molecules contained therein creates heat that is then radiated into space as disordered energy. Order in a closed system.
Our solar system is another example. If you get a giant cloud of hydrogen such that it hits a critical mass for gravity to take effect on it, it will compress into a young star and possibly a new solar system. Order from disorder.
Consider atomic chemistry. When two hydrogen atoms bond with an oxygen atom to create water, we have more order with disordered energy being released. The very chemistry for the origin of life functioned this way.
This is high school level physics. Yet creationist and religious web pages, which do not suffer the burden of scrutiny, continue to spread this lie/error. You will find no such arguments in scientific journals where everybody knows this. The fact that very cynical believers continue to throw out this argument hoping to dupe people like yourself says a tremendous amount about them, but it also says a tremendous amount about what they think of you
. I hope in the future you will remember who they are and how they operate.
This leads me to my scientific evidence of why it takes more faith to be an atheist.
Then you need to rethink that. When the nature of the universe conflicts with your belief, you need to rethink your belief. Rethinking the universe is not an option.
I understand your position, I really do. The existence of matter does seem, upon a layman's glance, to indicate that the first law of thermodynamics has been violated. However, the reason that physicists do not think the existence of matter suggests a violation of the first law is because it doesn't. In 1905, Einstein concluded that matter can be formed from energy and vice versa (good ol' e=mc^2). Still, the first law claims that all energy must come from somewhere, so doesn't that mean that the energy had to be introduced to our universe by something?
Conversion to either type is allowed within a fixed system so long as the grand total remains fixed, without breaking the first law. Do you know what all experimentation suggests the total energy of the universe to be?
Zero. That's right, zero. As Stephen Hawking put it in A Brief History of Time
(a book I strongly suggest you pick up):
"In the case of a universe that is approximately uniform in space, one can show that negative gravitational energy exactly cancels the positive energy represented b the matter. So the total energy of the universe is zero. Specifically, within small measurement errors, the mean energy density of the universe is exactly what it should be for a universe that appeared from an initial state of zero energy, within a small quantum uncertainty."
This is what we expect to see in accordance with the modern version of the Big Bang model (the Inflationary Big Bang).
Physics is a very complex field, and even if we dedicated our lives to it there would still be disciplines we'd need mastery of in order to form a complete world view. We must
defer to the experts in order to formulate our beliefs, if we want them to be as accurate as possible. I have no problem with this and I do it myself on virtually every subject. But that is not what you're doing, Jack. You're ignoring the consensus of the experts in order to defer to a lone "expert" who defends the position you already hold. Did it not occur to you that perhaps physicists understood the first and second laws of thermodynamics, and that maybe it was a little odd that some guy on a web site, rather than in the scientific literature, was a reliable source to catch them? I'd wager you just didn't know any better, and that's fine. That's why I asked what you meant when you said "peer-review journal." The problem is not that you are deferring to experts, it's that you have a very poor methodology for determining who the experts are.3. Einstein and Planck Time
I confess I'm not entirely sure what you're getting at in discussing Planck units (10^43 seconds). I'm also not sure what you mean when you say that he "calculated the universe down" to that unit (Einstein was not responsible for deducing the smallest possible distance). Can you elaborate? Since I'm puzzled by what you're trying to get across, I'll go ahead and do my best to respond to some parts of this section.
Surely we can agree that the cosmos had a beginning.Our
cosmos? Sure. But we are unsure if we are the only cosmos. It is hard for us to figure out because at Planck's wall (a Planck length away from the epicenter of the Big Bang) many of our physics equations break down. However, there are many things we know about physics in our universe that could give us an idea.
From the entry
I linked you to in my first response:
While we may not know what caused our universe, that doesn't give us carte blanche to say that we can explain it and it must have been god. We can just be honest and say "I don't know." At one point we did not know what ordered the stars or why people got sick (demons, I tell you!) - but we should have said "I don't know" rather than jumping to the god conclusion via an appeal to ignorance, as this yutz is trying to do with the universe (Note: I do not think you're a yutz, but the guy who wrote the article I was responding to certainly was
We even have explanations that conform to our understanding of reality for how the universe could have come into existence. Did you know that when you smash atoms together in a reactor it produces the same ratio of particles every single time? Did you also know that we have established that the ratio of particles produced by the Big Bang is the same ratio as when we smash atoms? This suggests that a Big Bang type of event is naturally what happens when enough matter is crushed under enough pressure (like, say, in all those black holes we were talking about earlier). Of course, since nothing can escape a black hole, these events would have to occur inward into another pocket of space-time (hence "multiverse"). If this system is true, the universe could very well be infinitely old. This
is just one such explanation.
While we know that this universe began, we do not know if we are the only universe. However, in regards to what lies beyond Planck's wall, I am only speculating using what we do actually know about the workings of the universe. It is you, on the other hand, is requires less faith to believe that a particular god, who sacrificed his son - a son that walked on water and rose from the dead - created it, when we have never once found so much as a scintilla of evidence for anything divine. Yet you're willing to say it takes more faith for me to speculate that whatever preceded the Big Bang was a natural catalyst? Come on, Jack...
But even Einstein was repulsed by the thought of a beginning because of the “philosophical” implications – a beginning needs a beginner.
You continue to make self-refuting arguments, even though I explained them to you quite firmly in my opening post (as well as in the opening of this post). If everything that exists began, and every beginning needs a beginner, then why is god exempt from this? This is either the problem of infinite regression, which favors a naturalistic outcome, or you admit that things can exist without a creator, and god is a superfluous variable to the equation since mindless forces acting on inanimate objects produces order all the time in our universe.4. Again, I don’t know what you believe CAUSED the beginning. But this absolutely is a philosophical / religious faith, not a scientific one.
The honest answer is that I do not know. But I'm not the one claiming to have knowledge that no cosmologist has. Why isn't it a scientific question? Just because at this moment we do not know how to ascertain what lies behind Planck's wall does not mean it's not a scientific question.
And just how do you intend to tackle it through religious faith or philosophy? You do not get to say "We don't know how, therefore we do know how and it's god." It doesn't work that way. Please click here
and read about the argument from ignorance. Science also has no data on the subject of unicorns - that does not make their existence a religious/philosophical question.
Jack, the appeal to ignorance fallacy is intro to philosophy day one. That you attempt to wield philosophy and science as though you were seasoned while continuing to make easy mistakes like these suggests to me that you're just throwing out things you don't understand in order to barricade yourself against an opposing viewpoint rather than examining it. Twice now you've assaulted territory that you previously asked me to cover that I already had (science of origin and the nature of certainty). This does not do much to make me think that we are both coming to the table openly. So I'd like to suggest a test....
I have just taken all the colored markers I own out of their box and arranged them vertically at random. If you could pray to god, ask him for the order by color from top to bottom, and then recite it to me, I will convert immediately to your faith. That would constitute sufficient evidence for me that you are in contact with god. This is not the only thing that could change my mind within the course of this discussion. If believers prayed over an amputee and the amputee regrew their limb, I would convert. After all, god is supposed to heal other maladies, right? The list could stretch on for quite a ways.
But what about you, Jack? Can you think of anything that could convince you that Jesus was not the son of god?
Let me know.5. Fine-tuning
Many of the fine-tuning arguments you make are god of the gaps arguments, which should be rectified once you understand the appeal to ignorance.
All the same, let's assess them scientifically. Even the ones that apply only apply to life as we know it
. To say that "life" would be impossible if they were different assumes that life could not exist in any other configuration, which is knowledge that we do not have. We do have an undeniable mountain of evidence establishing that life conforms to the environment around it over time, but we have never once seen the environment mold itself to life. As we understand it, the universe and the Earth existed long before life and therefore could not have been molded to accommodate life, so this observation makes sense. The point here is that assuming the universe was fine-tuned to us and not the other way around is probably not the best starting point.
Next, you don't get to say what could exist if the constants of the universe were to change because they are all derived from each other. We don't,
for instance, know what the fine-structure constant
would look like if even one of the variables were altered - the strength of the electomagnetic charge would be almost impossible to predict. If the electromagnetic charge is impossible to predict, then we can't know what chemistry would look like under these different conditions. If we do not know what chemistry would look like, it's impossible to predict whether or not life would be possible. People make the fine-tuning argument, who say that life or whatever would be impossible, are claiming knowledge they do not have. That is not good science, and it is something you will be punished for with a tremendous amount of shame if you try it in peer-review.
Even under different conditions, the universe would still look like something
. It doesn't matter what the odds are for this current configuration, some configuration is inevitable. Imagine if you could lay out plastic cups all across the state of Nebraska and toss a ping pong ball out of an airplane as you flew over. Whichever cup it landed in, I'm sure the odds would be astronomical...but somebody has to "win the lottery" in this case.
This makes statements like this one:
Velocity of Light – 182,000 miles per second – Good thing or all of our laws of physics would be meaningless.
Yes, they would be meaningless under the conditions we derived them. However, we would come up with different formulas to match our environment if the constants were different.
Moreover, some of the things you listed are irrelevant. For instance, you say:
Gravity – It must be the precise strength it is or our sun would not exist (and likely galaxies either). The precision we are talking about is %0.00000000000000000000000000000000000001.
Where did you hear that (I believe this argument arose with Lee Strobel, but you may have heard it elsewhere)? It's emphatically untrue. The Sun's qualities would be different if you alter the value, but it would still exist as a star so long as there was enough gravity to condense and fuse hydrogen (or helium, or carbon, etc). Gravity is about 10^-39 (a thousand billion billion billion billion) times weaker than the electromagnetic force, so you have a lot of wiggle room here. In fact, the force of gravity is so weak that it is irrelevant in determining molecular dynamics in all of our equations. In computer simulations dealing with such material, we just leave it out.
Now consider this; a universe without a weak nuclear force would look very much like the one we currently live in
. Yet you say:
Nuclear forces – If the strong nuclear force were just 2% stronger or 0.3% weaker, life would be impossible anywhere in the universe.
Given that even the weak nuclear force is 32 orders of magnitude stronger than gravity, isn't it odd that, by your claim, we're talking about a %0.00000000000000000000000000000000000001 difference in the effect of gravity being a universe altering problem, when the weak nuclear force, by far the stronger of the two, has 2% stronger to .3% weaker as a range before "life would be impossible"? Doesn't this strike you as odd? Why would the stronger force have more room to work with?
There are three more "fine-tuning" scenarios you list, and I confess I'm not going to expend the time to address them individually - partly because I lack the knowledge to do so off the top of my head, and partly because I have summarily refuted fine-tuning above.
Lastly for this section, let's talk about what the universe looks fine-tuned to do. We exist on a teeny piece of dust that has an atmosphere and orbits within our star's habitable zone. 99.9999999999999999 (and on and on, you get the picture) percent of this universe is positively lethal to life. If the universe was designed to produce life, the designer did a piss-poor job of it. Moreover, even our little spec of dust is contaminated with disease, natural disasters, and toothy animals who would love to have us for dinner. This is awful design.
However, black holes thrive in a vacuum, and most of the matter in this universe goes toward feeding them. There are far more black holes in the universe than grains of sand on the Earth. If you want to talk about what this universe appears designed to do, it appears designed to produce black holes. In this sense, it is as though mankind were a fly trapped in an air bubble on the bottom of the ocean. We're going to die in short order due to the environment around us, unless we take matters into our own hands. In the mean time, we can look at all the enormous fish floating around. It is at this point we must ask ourselves for whom Neptune created the sea; for the fly or for the fish?*6. Quote-mining
Lawrence Krauss and many other astrophysicists agree that the accuracy we find in the cosmic mass density and value of the space energy density is by far the most extreme fine-tuning yet discovered in physics.
And I say, "bullshit!" In the comments section on your blog, you suggest two articles from reasons.org. These are also the people you link me to in your response, and I suspect that is where you got the notion that Krauss, an exemplary scientist if ever there was one, thinks that any evidence in physics suggests fine-tuning by a supernatural hand. This will go into our lesson of determ
ining who the experts are. Look at the page
dealing the beliefs of this group.
We believe the Bible (the 66 books of the Old and New Testaments) is the Word of God, written. As a "God-breathed" revelation, it is thus verbally inspired and completely without error (historically, scientifically, morally, and spiritually) in its original writings. While God the Holy Spirit supernaturally superintended the writing of the Bible, that writing nevertheless reflects the words and literary styles of its individual human authors. Scripture reveals the being, nature, and character of God, the nature of God's creation, and especially His will for the salvation of human beings through Jesus Christ. The Bible is therefore our supreme and final authority in all matters that it addresses.
In this paragraph, this group has just announced that the scientific evidence comes second to the bible. That is not how science works. We do not form our conclusions ahead of time. This is why double-blind experiments exist.
Anyway, the page
at reasons.org dealing with Krauss lists their source as The End of the Age Problem and the Case for a Cosmological Constant Revisited
, by Krauss. I just read the entire thing
and I did not find a single instance of him so much as hinting at fine-tuning. The entire article is immaculate in its discussion of evidence in re-examining the case for the shape of our universe. You can even read the purpose of the paper in the abstract of it. While I enjoyed the paper (I would be lying if I didn't admit there were parts of it that did go way
over my head, sadly), reading it for the purposes of acquiring a deeper understanding of the evidence for fine-tuning was a complete and utter waste of my time.
And that's just it. These people do not think that you will take the time to read and research what they say. They require a credulous audience eager to accept claims that support their current beliefs; beliefs to which the audience is emotionally attached. This is why they are appealing to you and not the the dispassionate shredder of bad ideas, a group that cares only about the facts: the scientific community. If they really had something to work with, they would subject it to the scientific community in the arena of peer-review. No, it is the layman who formed his beliefs before examining the evidence and who is now looking for reasons to believe who is the perfect prey for these people. You have not disappointed them.
So in response to your question...
Wouldn’t you agree?
...the answer is a firm and resounding no.
You have another quote-mine later in your response from the work of Sagan. It is irrelevant for the purposes of this discussion, so I'm not going to bother with it.7. The rise of life.
I don’t have the numbers in front of me but we both know they are of cosmic proportions – even greater than the cosmological fine-tuning. You say you don’t have faith, but you have to have faith to believe that this sort of complexity “happened” with no intelligent forces.
You have the numbers on the improbability of life arising? Ok, go find them if they're not right in front of you and tell me what they are.
I handled this claim in my first response (see the section
"On the odds of...life?"), and you did nothing to refute it. In fact, you ignored it completely. I linked you to videos explaining processes that could account for it using known and verified processes and that do not violate the natural laws, which makes them far and away more likely than supernatural explanations. Rather than explaining why you do not find those reasons compelling you just admonished me to believe that the odds were high, hence god had to do it. Moreover, you're making another self-refuting argument. If the odds of something simple like polymers assembling inside of lipid mycels in a primordial Earth is too high for your taste, perhaps
you could speculate on the odds of an almost infinitely more complex god popping out of nothing in order to insert his divine hand into the process?
I am growing weary of this type of thing happening, Jack. But in the spirit of good faith, I'm going to delve deeper and try to be as precise as I can be without turning this into an intro to biology textbook.
I think your primary hang up is how we get to living matter from non-living matter, and the answer is that we don't entirely know. But here are some things we do know. First, DNA is constructed of just four nucleotides (out of about 20 total): adenine, cytosine, guanine, and thymine. So where did they come from?
The atmosphere in the primordial Earth contained many gases (nitrogen, methane, ammonia, hydrogen cyanide, etc.). In 1961 Juan Oro built an experiment based upon the work of Miller and Urey in 1953. He left hydrogen cyanide and ammonia to stew in an aqueous solution resembling that of the primordial Earth and discovered that doing so produced adenine. Organic material from non-organic material. Similarly, cytosine is formed when an electrical current passes through a mixture of nitrogen and methane. Again, one of our nucleobases from non-living matter.
So we know that our nucleotides can be synthesized without the hand of god, and we know by what processes these elements involved came to be (see r
processes in supernovae - or, if you'd like to wait, an astronomy major at MSU, Aron McCart, will soon be finished with a paper explaining them that he will allow me to publish on my blog). From then on, the RNA World model kicks in. I explained this in my first response, and I strongly suggest you go back and re-read it. We have numerous experiments illustrating that amino acids, the building blocks of DNA, form naturally in clay that was present on Earth 4.4-3.8 billion years ago when left with nucleotides. Not only that, but those same experiments have confirmed that such conditions produce polypeptides (proteins) - very long chains of amino acids that act as the molecular machinery of cells.
So if god really was the author of life, at what point did he elect to alter things by his own hand? Creation of elements? No, we know how their formation was a direct result of physics and the aftermath of the Big Bang. Formation of nucleotides? No, we know they form naturally as a result of the existence of particular elements under certain conditions. So on and so forth.
We know these processes work, and the odds of their occurring are not that daunting at all. Evolution over billions of years takes care of complexity. No scientist is saying that the human genome or even the genome of the simplest bacteria formed via random happenstance - they do not believe that. Again, this is introduction level knowledge. Of course, the scientific position is lied about and misconstrued by people who are not scientists wishing to claim support of the greatest method for understanding our universe as their own. Again, it is not important that you understand any of this in forming your world view. It is, however, very important that you are able to determine who the actual experts are. I'll give you a hint - the scientific method has provided our world with literally every tangible luxury you see. How has faith and the church contributed to human knowledge?
Consider everything I've written above about the nature of only a handful of experiments on this subject and try to imagine what I must think when I read:
Every time you see another scientific experiment discover yet another design feature, you can put one more nail in the coffin of atheism.8. On the nature of "design".
You frequently say things like:
Design does not come from chaos.
Show me order from Chaos...Complexity without intelligent design.
The second law, also called the Law of Entropy, explains why we will NEVER (I am absolutely sure) see natural law form something of complex design.
Absolutely sure, are you? I invite you to scroll up and (re) read section 2 of this entry, The Laws of Thermodynamics.
I have shown you several instances of complexity arising from natural forces working on inanimate objects (nucleotides, every element known to man, the Sun, the solar system, etc). Hell, take a look at crystals
or crystalline solid
is a solid
material whose constituent atoms
, or ions
are arranged in an orderly repeating pattern extending in all three spatial dimensions. The scientific study of crystals and crystal formation is crystallography
. The process of crystal formation via mechanisms of crystal growth
is called crystallization
Crystals are highly ordered, and we know precisely what natural mechanisms create them. Nobody feels the need to invoke a crystal-making god to explain them because we already have a complete understanding of the process. Order out of chaos is easy to observe, and it is responsible for virtually every instance of complexity in the universe. Go find a die and roll it 1,000 times (each roll would be a random event). Keep track and see how many Yahtzes (5 consecutive rolls of the same number) you come up. Order out of randomness/chaos.
The problem is that every time you see order you infer design. However, since the universe creates order just fine on its own through mindless forces acting on inanimate objects, you have no grounds upon which to say that any particular instance of order must have been the hand of god without suitable evidence.
This is why when you say things like this about complexity:
This leads me to my scientific evidence of why it takes more faith to be an atheist.
It strikes me not as evidence of any sort, but rather as a lack of imagination.
Science does not get built off a negative case. Even if you had compelling evidence that forced us to recant our understanding of the nature of DNA or of evolution, it would not make the prospect of a god doing anything even slightly more likely. For that you need positive evidence to make your case and you have not provided any (while expecting me to provide tons, which I feel I've done).
It is probably obvious to you at this point, both from my tone and from my explanations of how I view your approach, that I am slowly becoming frustrated. I am not becoming frustrated because you are so frequently in error - errors are part of learning, and we should embrace this fact. I, for one, love finding out when I'm wrong. I relish the opportunity to correct an inaccurate belief.
Instead, I am becoming frustrated at your lack of effort, Jack. You tell me how eager you are to learn in one breath, pouring on the insistence of how important science and knowledge are to your world view, but then you ignore explanations I've given you, which causes you to re-enter territory I have already covered. You also have not done your homework, and have elected to let an anti-science institution, rather than actual scientists, do your scientific homework for you. It seems to me that you have no use for science except as a cudgel for your faith, and if the science does not conform...well, we know how reasons.org feels about science at that point. Surely you can empathize with my position. To an extent, I feel like I have shown up to play tennis with an opponent who has brought a twig instead of a racquet.
We only have one more round, so I feel it necessary to summarize where we stand and what I expect from you in our last round.
1. At the end of section 4, I ask a very important question. I would like an answer.
2. I have shown you how complexity arises out of disorder in our universe. Also, everything we have explained has had a natural, not a supernatural explanation. Everything. This makes my position a matter of taking in the universe for what it appears to be. Do you have a single piece of positive evidence for the existence of a god, let alone one who rose from the dead and has any interest in my moral choices?
3. Please read up on the appeal to ignorance fallacy. It will save us a lot of time.
I have enjoyed meeting you, Jack. You are polite and humble on the surface. I am hoping that your humility runs deeper than that - in fact, I am counting on it, otherwise I would not be continuing with this discussion.
Take your time, I know this is a lot to digest. I will wait patiently for round three.
* This argument is paraphrased from Richard Carrier's Sense and Goodness Without God.