Monday, April 20, 2009

I Know I am repeating myself but.

The newest topic on Comforts blog involving a fundy chick named Rebbecca telling all of the Atheists that they have to prove how the universe came to be or God wins by default. I'm paraphrasing but that is the gist of it. I actually want to answer her. Unlike some of them I don't think she is playing games, I think she is just too stupid to understand what is wrong with her argument. Of course Ray made a topic out of it because he is playing games. I rewrote my origin of the universe theory and presented it to her as clearly as I could in hopes that even if she won't admit it she might become slightly less stupid.

I am reposting it here because 1. It's my blog so I can and 2. because I have cleaned it up a lot and like it better. I am thinking of writing an Atheism for Dummies type book. Something that presents a lot of useful information geared for us non scientists. Plus plenty of my generally unpleasant observations about Christianity and other woo.

Here is part of my reply to Rebbecca.

Christianity makes a positive assertion, actually several, but one will do for discussion. This is "God exists" Atheists respond with "I don't believe that." This statement is the only thing that is true for Atheists. We, as a group, do not say "you are wrong" or "you are lying" or "God does not exist", we simply don't believe what you have asserted. Therefore the only thing we are obligated to prove is that we don't believe it.

Some atheists are also scientists and make assertions for which they are required to provide proof. That is however science not atheism.

If instead of saying "there is a God" you were to say "I believe there is a God" that would only be a statement of your belief and your only obligation would be to prove you believe it. I would accept as proof of that the simple fact that you say so. Likewise if instead of saying "I don't believe in God" I said "there is no God" then I would be obligated to prove God does not exist. That is not what I say.

I have said similar things before and when called on it I acknowledge that I was wrong. I have at times stated the Christian God is false and I will back that up with evidence. However such times as I have asserted that there are no Gods at all has either been an error or hyperbole and in both cases I will happily admit so if someone mentions it.

Contrary to what you might think Atheists can have beliefs about many things. Atheists are not a unified group and the only thing we share is the common lack of belief in Gods. Aside from that we have a variety of beliefs. Two types of Atheistic, and also Deistic, thought are scientific naturalism also called methodological naturalism, and Philosophical naturalism.

The first is the assumption that nothing can be believed unless it is backed by empirical evidence. A scientific naturalist is skeptical of everything for which there is no logical or scientific explanation. Not proof necessarily because proof is a rare thing to the scientific mind but evidence supported explanations. The second kind, philosophical naturalists, which I am, believe all sorts of things as long as they don't conflict with scientific evidence. For example if I wished or were convinced I could have belief in a God or Gods as long as no claims were made about them that could be shown incompatible with evidence. Deists for the most part share this worldview as do many Agnostics and Atheists such as myself.

Now as to the question about what I believe. Note this is a statement of belief, these things are well supported by science but they are not proven even by experts, which I am not. I state them as a belief.

I believe the universe is not a creation at all. For something to be a creation it must be known as a product of intelligence. The universe has not been shown to be such a thing.

As to it's origin I believe at the very least that "Space" has existed eternally. This in no way conflicts with the evidence available. It is not universally agreed upon but it has not been scientifically challenged. Space is something, science shows that space has structure, shape and obeys rules. Therefore while non material it is not nothing.

According to quantum mechanics in the absence of anything material space could experience a phenomena which is called quantum vacuum friction. This phenomena has been shown to spontaneously create particles. In an infinite universe of space devoid of anything material this phenomena could as Ray puts it have created everything from nothing. Of course it is not creating anything from actual nothing since space is something. What it would be doing is creating the material from the non material, which is exactly what most Christians claim about their God.

Could quantum vacuum friction be a manifestation of the power of God? Possibly, I would not ridicule someone who believed so as long as they did not claim to have proven it. In which case I would want evidence.

While I believe that this phenomena could have created everything I don't believe that it had to. Energy is also something which could have existed eternally. The first law of thermodynamics indicates that energy can neither be created or destroyed. The laws of thermodynamics are not stable in microscopic systems therefore can not be used to prove conclusively that energy has always existed but they provide a basis for such belief which has never been falsified.

The second law indicates that if energy has existed eternally and if the laws of thermodynamics apply on a universal scale, then such a universe would not have a stable state it would go through periods of fundamental shifts in its nature.

A simple and commonly understood such shift is the idea of a cyclic universe. Energy expands from a microscopic singularity, in accordance with the first law of thermodynamics it attempts to spread itself evenly throughout the universe. Since gravity is not bound by the laws of thermodynamics, this spread is not uniform and instead spreads in packets bound by gravity. These packets become galaxies, solar systems etc.

In some places gravity pulls the energy(and matter which can result from a change in the state of energy) together tightly enough to form "black holes" that energy other than Hawkings radiation can not escape from. However in most cases the energy continues to escape the counter force of gravity and expand as it will to fill empty space resulting in entropy.

Eventually in accordance with the second law all of the energy not contained in Black holes will have spread to a point of theoretical maximum entropy, i.e it is to diffuse too do any work. This state has been referred to as the "heat death" of the universe. However as Gravity remains as a source of work, this energy will be collected in to the black holes reversing the entropy. The black holes also absorb one another until all that remains is a single massive black hole which compresses itself past its maximum density threshold. At which point all of the stored energy is released explosively in a zero entropy state to begin the next cycle.

This second theory is also consistent with science.

My belief is that one or both of these are the case. Therefore there is no origin, and since no creative intelligence has been established there is no reason to accept that there was a creation event or creator.

Or to give the simple answer that Ray is commonly given. "There was never a time when there was nothing"


Whateverman said...

That's quite a mouthful :)

Rebecca is one of the most obnoxiously dense folks over at Atheist Central; I'm assuming you'll discover this shortly, if you haven't already. She's one of the perennial few who barf fundamentalism and then disappear for a month or two.

I confess that I find the First Cause argument compelling. But beyond it suggesting that "something" created "everything", I don't think it can be used to support belief in a specific deity.

Ryk said...


I agree in principle. Regardless of what Rays people try to say I am not biased against a "divine" explanation I just have no reason to believe there is one.

I am a little Schizophrenic on the origin of the universe as I said above. A first cause via Quantum vacuum friction or some such quantum activity. Alternatively I am fond of a cyclic eternal universe. Either way I am open.

If I saw evidence of a "God" entity I would be open to it. I would most likely be Deist in that event unless the evidence was very specific.

Rays disciples always ask "what would you consider evidence of God?" It is funny that as soon as I give it to them they shut up. It seems they can't actually provide any.

I say. Any event or action, which I can observe that is both completely consistent with what is attributed to a Deity and completely inconsistent with what is known scientifically to be true.

This shouldn't be hard for them considering that they claim to see miracles all the time. Apparently it is though.