Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Why is it so hard for atheists to learn new thing?


I've been lurking on CARM. Always a hazardous thing to do. But there is a whatever it is we do with atheists on message board (a battle?) non discussion, a non debate, a ridicule sessionbetween a New guy (apparently Christian) Ancient Archer, and a bunch of atheists who haven't got the slightest idea what he's talking about.

The key issue is expansion from the Big Bang. AA uses an argument very similar to mine, called "argument from temporal beginning."The argument says that modern physicists posit that the initial condition of the universe is a timeless void in which nothing happens becasue there is no time and thus no becoming. Now Dante, one of the major atheists on the thread, uses this phrase "becoming" to misunderstand the whole argument. He assumes that AA is saying that the universe just goes "pop" and it's here instead of expanding. He thinks that makes all the difference. For him it does because his shtick is arguing with William Lane Craig. The guy is so studied and practiced at arguing against Craig arguments that he sounds very impressive. The problem is AA is not Craig he's not arguing anything like what Craig says. That "Dante" guy doesn't care because he can't really handle going of script. He's so impressive when in form against Craig, and has no idea what's being said otherwise. So the clings to his Craig script for dear life and totally misses the point.

The argument says there is no change in a timeless void. For example, if you could go the inside of a black hole you would find things just frozen for eons. If there were other people in there the would be frozen and not move and just stay like that because no time there's no change. In saying "no becoming" AA is not saying the universe comes into being like pop its there. He's saying the abstract concept of "becoming" which we find in the Greeks, is not operative in a timeless void. No sequence without time, thus cause is meaningless and thus nothing can happen. Now the false Dante argues that there is a first moment of time, but the big bang is expanding form a point of singularity and that point is infinitesimal so there is no point at which the universe starts up or comes into existence. But the thing is neither my argument nor the version that AA gives really says that. He is misled by the phrase "becoming." So he thinks the argument is that the universe just appears there out of nothing. Then that leads to much ridicule because he has nothing else to say. The calling of names is en toned, the allegations of total ignorance. All becasue this guy is so unable to think off script that he can't listen to what's being said.

AA is saying that the expansion happens in the context of a timeless void, if we go by the latest theories, which are of course proposed without appeal to the divine. Now the false Dante and his pals begin talking as though AA thinks the universe really did come from a timeless void. They get confused and don't understand that the argument really says they think that, or rather they should think it if they are up on what the latest theories say. Of course they don't get this so they just resort to saying "you don't know anything about it, because you don't argue Craig like I do."

Here is the major quote used by AA which is actually from my God argument list and sums up the nature of one of these modern theories. From an article by Sten Odenwald who is a NASA physicist and runs a website called Astronomy Cafe.

Odenwald, NASA
Copyright (C) 1987, Kalmbach Publishing.
Reprinted by permission

Theories like those of SUSY GUTS and Superstrings seem to suggest that just a few moments after Creation, the laws of physics and the content of the world were in a highly symmetric state; one superforce and perhaps one kind of superparticle. The only thing breaking the perfect symmetry of this era was the definite direction and character of the dimension called Time. Before Creation, the primordial symmetry may have been so perfect that, as Vilenkin proposed, the dimensionality of space was itself undefined. To describe this state is a daunting challenge in semantics and mathematics because the mathematical act of specifying its dimensionality would have implied the selection of one possibility from all others and thereby breaking the perfect symmetry of this state. There were, presumably, no particles of matter or even photons of light then, because these particles were born from the vacuum fluctuations in the fabric of space/time that attended the creation of the universe. In such a world, nothing happens because all 'happenings' take place within the reference frame of time and space. The presence of a single particle in this nothingness would have instantaneously broken the perfect symmetry of this era because there would then have been a favored point in space different from all others; the point occupied by the particle. This nothingness didn't evolve either, because evolution is a time-ordered process. The introduction of time as a favored coordinate would have broken the symmetry too. It would seem that the 'Trans-Creation' state is beyond conventional description because any words we may choose to describe it are inherently laced with the conceptual baggage of time and space. Heinz Pagels reflects on this 'earliest' stage by saying, "The nothingness 'before' the creation of the universe is the most complete void we can imagine. No space, time or matter existed. It is a world without place, without duration

What that says is that there is no time in the initial conditions into which the proto universe expands. The expansion is a break in the condition of super symmetry. That is a contradiction to physicist and no one knows why it happened. My argument says it should not have come about. Since it should not have happened (becasue no change in timeless void there could not be anything to change it) that's a pretty good reason to beileve in God. It requires some outside agent who is not subject to physical law to change the set up so that something contrary to physical can happen. Of the phrase "contrary to physical law" is a metaphor since it's not as though a celestial legislature passed a real law. Now some atheist pick up pon that and evoke the old descriptive physical law thing. But that doesn't really change the argument because either its not supposes to happen and that suggest an outside agent.

Of course some atheists are quire to change this with being God of the gaps, becasue here's a gap, we don't know how it is that the expansion began in a timeless void. But the atheists are sure science will expalin it some day. Not a God of the gaps argument because this is more than just not knowing, it's a actually violation of what is suppossed to happen according to the descriptions of the way the universe tends to work (ie violates physical law). AA tells them that is faith. They don't care. It's a faith they like better than Christianity.

So the circus of misunderstanding continues. The ridicule is just about to begin. Of course since they can't understand that this is not William Lane Craig, then they have to just lash out rather than try to listen to what's really being said. Now one further wrinkle. The major attack on Craig that Dante was leading, and the way this all began, centers around the argument that God can't create from outside time because it's a timeless void. This is really the height of atheist hypocrisy. They say God can't create the universe because he would have to do from outside time and he can't even think let alone act because outside time there is no change. But wait, they are spending 89 posts telling AA that there is no timeless void, the universe expands from a singularity it doesn't come up into a timeless void. where is this timeless void God is supposed to be in when he creates if this is the case? If God is suppossed to be in a timeless void when he creates then why is not the universe expanding into a timeless void? If God is hamstrung because of this timeless state, how it is that the expansion is able to expand and to function when God could not?

When the Christian says it it means he doesn't know anything. When the atheist says it, it's a brilliant and absolute dilemma which can't be gotten around! The answer I give and that AA gives is that God is not in a timeless void. The timeless void is in God. Rather, it's an illusion created by the fact that reality is in the mind of God. Prior to God's consideration of this reality, there is nothing; that creates the illusion that there's a timeless void. What actually happens is God begins to think about time and thus time appears. Of course time is not independent of space. space/time is a coherent whole, and time is a function of space/time. So the moment at which expansion seems to happen is actually the moment God begins to thin about space/time. Now this brings up another total hypocrisy. "Dante" says there is a first moment of time, then he denies that the universe "comes to be." He claims this thinking of the universe as "coming to be" is an indication that AA doesn't know anything. That must always be the upshot of disagreement on the net. So time has a first moment but not the universe. The universe expands form infinitesimal. But the evidence says there is no space apart from time and no time apart from space. Thus it would be impossible to have a first moment of time without a first moment of space, which I assume would be a coming to be.

Why must arguments on message board always be battle grounds of the ego and exercises not listening?


Kristen said...

My real question, after reading all this, is "what on earth is a timeless void?" The fact is that it is nothing anyone can even conceive of. So to try to say anything at all about what conditions would be in a "timeless void" doesn't make a lot of sense.

I think the Christian idea (which is what you are setting forth, Joe-- and I don't think Dr. Craig would disagree) is that there never was a "timeless void"-- there was just God. Before space-time, there was only God. What exactly God is, our minds cannot grasp-- but whatever He is, He is not a "timeless void," nor did He "live in" one prior to the Creation-- because even the words "live in" make no sense when you're talking about a timeless void.

Am I making any sense?

J.L. Hinman said...

I don't know what else to use to describe it. But the evidence says time is meaningless the closer we get to t=0.