Saturday, December 10, 2005

Response to Guest Commentary

I would like to think JD for his kind and thoughtful commentary. I do have a few comments just by way of observation, but I have no inentino to "beat him" or "show him up."

JD:I enjoyed reading your post on atheism, although I do not agree with all of
it. I am a secular humanist hence I am also an atheist so this post was
certainly relevant to me. I do not believe in a god, a supernatural entity,
or any form of supernatural phenomena. I believe you are mistaken with
large portions or your diatribe; I would like to show you in what ways I
believe you are mistaken and how and why you are mistaken.

Meta: I know atheits in real life and we don't sit around putting each other down. But, certain borads seem to create an atmosphere of hatred. The banners, the services offered, the tone of the posts, what people get away with, these things are a clear and dead give away. The first time I went on the board that started all of this one the very posts I made, which was very modeate and with just enough infor to let them know I was a christian, was met with "haul your self reightous ass out of here!" I labared for days on long posts with plenty of facts and thoughtful arguments and all they would say is "you are pathetic, you could not have been to gradate school if that's how you reason." They actaully never attacked the arguments themselves, just my personality. This is a major board and I'm told one of the cheif offenders is a doctroal student at Ruttgers!

So I think its clear there is a subculture of hatred. They dehumanize christians and talk about us like we aren't people. The signature of the Rutters guy (I am not saying he doesn't go there just because he disagrees with me) basically implises that Christians are Nazis and we would send Anne Frank to the gas chmaber. The other guy said in a blaket stament, "all christians are machiavellians." These may be extreme cases by they are by no means the only one's like them. But I do realize not all atheists act this way. The one's I know in real life don't. I balme the net more than atheism per se.

JD:However, let me begin with armistice; I do agree with your definition of
atheism: the rejection of a belief in god, not merely the lack of belief,
for as you said that would be agnosticism. Atheism is merely an epithet
used by people to define and describe ones disbelief in a god, or
supernatural entity. Atheism is also a negative-reactionary belief it does
not affirm anything rather it repudiates. Atheism relies on theism to
exist; without a belief in god, there cannot be a disbelief in god, in this
manner atheism is reactionary.

Meta: It's rare I find an atheist who agrees about it being a rejetion rather than just a lack.

(Meta--before)“Atheists love to think that all people are born natural atheists, which is
obviously disproved by the recent studies about brain structure and innate
ideas of God.”

JD:Most atheists, that I know, do not assert that individuals are born atheists
naturally; this cannot be true.

Meta: You should go on message boards more often

JD: The newborn infant has not yet been exposed
to the idea or notion of god and therefore cannot reject and/or disbelieve
such and idea or notion. What atheists and theists alike do say is that
infants are born with out the belief in god, not that they are atheists and
reject the idea of god rather that they do not believe nor disbelieve such
an idea or notion; for they are infants and have not yet developed the
cognitive capability to do either.

Meta: I agree

JD: You mention that the idea of natural
atheists has been disproved by recent studies regarding brain structure and
an innate idea of god. What are these studies? Who has conducted them?
Where can I review these studies and view the results myself?

Meta: Many researchers. The best way to chatch up on the evidence is to see the book Why God Wont go Away by Andrew Newberb who may be the top reseracher in the field. The basic findings are that we are wired for God talk. When expossed to many different kinds of statments the only one's that excite certain areas of the brain and get "warm fuzzies" for respondents were "God talk (religious words)" and "sex talk." Newberg says an actaul phsyical change takes place in the brain when we hear talk about God. Of course you are right babbies are not born being christians or believing, but the capacity is there innately. That's all I was really suggesting when I said what I did about innate belief.

JD:For I am
aware of modern research into such topics through psychology and
neuroscience and I have never heard of such a study and outcome.

Meta: Perhaps my satement was a bit Hyperbalic.

I would also like to address your assumption that Big Bang cosmology either
contradicts itself or needs a supernatural force or god to justify it.

Meta:Not really what I said. I said it contradicts iself if we assume the notion of something from nothing and use quantum particles to suggest evidence for that. I didn't say it needs a supernaturl force to justify it (what would that mean to "justify it?"). I said it is indicative of the cosmological argument for God's existence.

JD: The
Big Bang does not require the belief that before it there was nothing or
merely a supernatural existence, all it explains is the beginnings of the
universe, as we know it today.

Meta: True, but it does leave open the possilbity since the engery in the Big Bang is thought to have been created in the big band, and there seems to be no real evidence that anything did come before it. But the major point is that shows the univese is contingent. Why? Because it came into being and it requires the prior conditoins since the elements that make it up are contingencies themselves.

JD:The Big Bang theory postulates that the
universe originated in an extremely dense and hot state, and since then
space itself has expanded with the passage of time carrying the galaxies
with it. The theory does not, however, force one to assume that before this
extremely dense and hot state there was nothing or only a supernatural
existence, it is surely fair to assume that material or “real natural”
existence is in effect eternal and has no beginning nor ending in time
meaning that there was no “creation” of the universe merely a growth and

Meta: why would it be fair to assume that natural existence is an eteranl effect? The universe has a beginig, we know of beyond that event horizon, the elemetns that make it up are not eternally existing, but finte and contingent. Moerover, scientists tell us the universe has an end, therefore it must have a begining. The ened is the result of heat death wihch eventually will result even blacks holes leaking and all energy becoming radent and useless for work. Thus the universe as whole will disove into a cold of space. IF material universe was some sort of eternal becoming woulnd't it have met this heat death eons ago? In fact there are mechinsms working to hasten us to that end:

(1)Lambda force which speeding up expanding of the cosmos

(2) angular momentus

(3) flat universe

(4) missing mass.

All of this means we will continue to expland, we don't have the g forces to pull it all back, and eventually all energy will burn up in heat death and we find ourselves in the ciy cold forever. The thing is, if the universe were eternal it woudl have gone to this end a long long time ago. In other words, it couldn't be eternal because it's an open sysetm.

2) Cyclial Universe The concept that the universe is eternallay ocillating between big bangs and big crunches. When the matter from the explosion of a Big Bang reaches a certain point the gravitational pull draws it back, it callapses into superdense black hole and pops back out again. This notion does not require an initial cause, the cyclical universe is just always there always going through its cycles.

a) Universe continuing to expand

Evidence from three recent studies reveals that the final fate of the universe will be to drift apart and cease all useful functions capable of supporting life due to missing mass, which can't produce gravitational pull to bring it all back together and start again, and heat death in which case energy is useless for work. Several major studies show this to be the case.

[New Scientist Magazine, archive 11, April 98, archive; originally Oct. 96] you should be able to click here, but here's the url just in case) [

"ON THE night of 5 March last year, the huge telescope of the Cerro Tololo Inter-American Observatory in Chile intercepted a message from deepest space. Transmitted a billion years before the Earth was born, its contents have proved to be of truly cosmic significance. The message was barely readable after its journey halfway across the Universe, and an international team of experts laboured for months to decode it. In January, Saul Perlmutter of the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory in California and his colleagues revealed to the world what they believe to be its gist: "The Universe will never end." A month later, a team led by Brian Schmidt of the Mount Stromlo and Siding Spring Observatories near Canberra in Australia published the decoded contents of more of these cosmic missives, which arrive as bursts of light from supernova explosions in far-flung galaxies. The message was the same. Now Chris Kochanek and his colleagues at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics in Cambridge, Massachusetts, are about to publish more evidence, this time from light that has been bent and sculpted by the gravity of unseen galaxies."

* Omega force = Continued expansion forever (no Big Cruch)

"These three sets of cosmic missives all suggest that instead of collapsing in on itself in a big crunch, our Universe will go on expanding forever. And that's not all. They also hint that the expanding Universe is in the grip of a mysterious force that is fighting against gravity--a force that pervades the entire cosmos and springs literally from nothing."(Ibid.)

[mysterious force = "omega" ie the equasion of gravitational force vs. mass needed to close the universe; omega must = 1 to close]

* Missing Mass.

[New Scinentist article April 1999] "If it [the universe] contains enough matter, gravity will eventually slow its expansion, stop it, and reverse it--producing a cataclysmic big crunch billions of years hence. But if there is too little matter--or if there is an extra source of "oomph" at work in the cosmos--then the Universe will expand forever.... Cosmologists call the ratio of the actual density of matter in our Universe to this critical density 'Omega.' And whole armies of astronomers have spent decades trying to work out if Omega is less than, more than or equal to 1.,... "Studies of the gravitational effects of clusters of galaxies have revealed that there must be at least 10 times as much mass tied up in invisible "dark matter" in the Universe as there is in the familiar form of luminous stars and gas. Yet even when all this dark matter is thrown into the equation, it still doesn't make the theorists happy. Despite searching every cosmic nook and cranny, astronomers have never found anything like the amount needed to make Omega equal to 1."

"So the take-home message looks the same as that now emerging from the supernova and quasar surveys: the Universe is going to expand forever, and it may yet prove to be flat. Certainly the idea of the big crunch seems to have gone for good, but the exact values of Lambda and Omega, and the fate of the cosmologists' theories, are still up for grabs. These values may finally be nailed early in the next century, with the launch of NASA's Microwave Anisotropy Probe (MAP) and the European Space Agency's PLANCK missions. These will use the heat left over from the big bang to try yet another way of measuring Omega and Lambda, which may lay the question to rest for good ("Genesis to Exodus", New Scientist," 19 October 1996, p 30).

Flat Universe means no contraction

Andre Linde, Scientific American, Sept 1997

"A second trouble spot is the flatness of space. General relativity suggests that space may be very curved, with a typical radius on the order of the Planck length, or 10^-33 centimeter. We see however, that our universe is just about flat on a scale of 10^28 centimeters, the radius of the observable part of the universe. This result of our observation differs from theoretical expectations by more than 60 orders of magnitude." [Messuer is a leading physicist and one of the first to invent the inflationary universe theory]

ABC Scientists: Universe is Flat another link Physics.

Wayne Hu of the Institute for Advanced Studies, School of Natural Sciences in New Jersey said "temperature maps of the CMB form a snapshot image of the Universe when it was extremely young." "The...result supports a flat universe, which means that the total mass and energy density of the universe is equal to the so-called critical density," Wu wrote. "A perfectly flat universe will remain at the critical density and keep on expanding forever, because there is not enough matter to make it recollapse in a 'big crunch.'"

c) End of Universe reveals begining--universe would have already ceased.

Energy of the universe is being expended, as it burns up,it becomes useless for work. The fate of the universe will be eventual death in ciy darkness as all of its suns burn out and their energy disipates][New Scientist, April 1999, oct. 96

"But even if the Universe lives forever, its inhabitants will not be so lucky. A mere thousand billion years from now, all the stars will have used up their fuel and fizzled out. There will still be occasional flashes in the perpetual night: the death throes of stars so large that they have collapsed in on themselves to form black holes. Even these will eventually evaporate in a blast of radiation. For the next 10122 years, this Hawking radiation will be the only show in town. By then even the most massive black holes will evaporate, leaving the Universe with nothing to do for an unimaginable 10 to the power of 1026 years. Quantum theory then predicts that atoms of iron--the most stable of all elements--will undergo "tunnelling" and disappear into tiny black holes, which will themselves end in a final fizz of Hawking radiation. In the beginning there may have been light, but in the end, it seems, there will be nothing but darkness. ".[New Scientist April 1999]

Given infintie time and possibility all potentialities would have already come to fruition, the chain would have already been broken before our universe came into being. This just illustrates the impossibility of an infinte series of events. (being a series of events it would be "in time" so it's really redundant to say "an infinite series of events in time.") In other words, if this universe drifts apart because it lacks mass to produce omega, than the last universe would have too because energy and matter would be the same amount, just formulated differenlty (energy cannot be created or destroyed). The absurdity of the notion of an infinite series of big bang/cruches is driven home; how could there be an "infinite" series if one of the links in the chain can't make it? It can't "already be infifinte" and then stop because infinite means no begining and no end.

Note: If the Skeptic does not agree to this principle, that given infinite time every possibility comes to fruition than he can neither argue infinite chances nor multiple universes against the Antrhopic argument.

d) Universe contains finite stock of order, connot be eternal (because it would have burned out by now)

*Scientific conesnsus:

Paul Davies, in his article, "Space-time Singularities and Cosmology," says,"If we extrapolate this prediction to its extreme,we reach a point when all distances in the universe have shrunk to zero. An initial cosmological singularity therefore forms a past temporal extremity to the universe. We cannot continue physical reasoning, or even the concept of space-time, through such an extremity. For this reason, most cosmologists think of the initial singularity as the beginning of the universe. On this view, the Big Bang represents the creation event; the creation not only of all the MATTER and ENERGY in the universe, but also of space-time itself."[ P. C. W.Davies, "Space-time Singularities in Cosmology," in The Study of Time III, ed. J. T. Fraser (Berlin: Springer Verlag, 1978), pp. 78-79.]

* Laws of Physics break down at singularity

The laws of physics break down at the singularity. 1st Thermo. would apply after the Big Bang, then the fixed amount of energy that is "put in" to the universe (as Davies puts it) would be finite (in quantity) and subject to 1st and 2nd Thermo.

* 1 LTD applies to matter also. Thirdly, the 1st Law of Thermo. applies to matter ALSO. If you argue that energy is eternal, you've got to argue that matter is eternal, which goes against all the empirical evidence we have for the Big Bang.

* 2 LTD Energy burn to heat death

Fourthly, if you opt for 1st Thermo. before the Big Bang, try being consistent and applying 2nd Thermo. as well. If the energy (AND matter) of the universe is eternal, it would have reached MAXIMUM heat death an INFINITE amount of time ago.

Theoretical physicist Paul Davies, in his book God and the New Physics, states:

"If the universe has a finite stock of order, and is changing irreversibly towards disorder - ultimately to thermodynamic equilibrium - two very deep inferences follow immediately. The first is that the universe will eventually die, wallowing, as it were, in its own entropy. This is known among physicists as the 'heat death' of the universe. The second is that the universe cannot have existed forever, otherwise it would have reached its equilibrium end state an infinite time ago. Conclusion: the universe did not always exist."

If you deny that the universe has a finite stock of order, you are essentially denying the 1st law of thermodynmics, as it requires a fixed finite amount of matter and energy. (check your Encyc. Britannica)

In your wider universe, does the 1st law of Thermodynamics apply WITHOUT the second? What reversed the entropy of this eternally existent universe? As we saw above, a universe containing eternal matter and energy would have reached maximum entropy an INFINITE amount of time ago. What organizing principle intervened 11-15 billion years ago and organized all that energy and matter that was no longer available for work? What or who (or Who) woundthe universe up?

Fifthly, we observe that the universe is expanding uniformly in all directions. Had the universe existed for an infinite period of time, the density of matter would have become zero. (Koons) How do you explain the observable expansion of the universe? We measure the recession velocity of distant galaxies by using Cepheid variables, type Ia supernovas, and now Red Clumps as standard candles. And the microwave background radiation and redshift (doppler effect that skews the red portion of thespectrum of starlight in proportion to the distance of the star) confirm this expansion also. Futhermore, within the very field equations of General Relativity, is embedded the fact of the expansion and decceleration of the universe. There are now 19 proofs of General Relativity in 12 isolated areas of Physics,making it the most exhaustively proven principle. Are you saying that General Relativity does not apply to our universe as a whole?!! It is accurate to better than a trillionth of a percent precision. Where is your scientific evidence for A) seperate portions of the universe which General Relativity does not describe B) seperate universes? If its not falsifiable, and there's no evidence for it, then its just not a threat to the standardBB model as it is not scientific.

JD:A few scientific proposal to submit this theory would be as
lined out as follows: 1) chaotic inflation 2) brane cosmology models,
including the ekpyrotic model in which the Big Bang is the result of a
collision between branes 3) an oscillatory universe in which the early
universe’s hot, dense state resulted from the Big Crunch of a universe
similar to ours. The universe could have gone through an infinite number of
big bangs and big crunches. The cyclic extemsion of the ekpyrotic model is
a modern version of such a scenario.

Meta: Sorry, the cyclical universe, or the "inifnite number of bangs and cruches" has been basically disproven and is all but abandoned. It is disproven by the lambda force and the other three things I spoke of. Chaotic inflation is just a theory with no facts to back it up. None of those theories really disprove the necessity of prior conditions meaning the universe is contingent upon an eternal origin, not that is etneral itself.

JD:Obviously there is no reason to assert that Big Bang cosmology either
contridicts itself or requires supernatural explanations to justify iteslf.

Meta: Again I didn't say eihter of those.

JD:The theory certainly can be interpreted as the beginning of the magnificent
explosion and expansion of the material universe, that before this extreme
change there was the dense-hot state of a gravitational singularity, and
that prior to this singularity and explosion there was an eternal state of
natural existence; that in any case matter-energy is eternal and
indestructible as defined by the Law of the Conservation of Mass and
requires absolutely no supernatrual force or miracle.

Meta: Sorry, you could say that, but no scientific theory postulates that mater-energy sat around in the singulairty etenrally; the major idea is that it was created in the Big bang itself, see Odewald from NASA. Also I suggest that an the idea of a natural contignecy being eternal is a contradiction in terms. All natural existants are contingencies, the very meaning of naturlism is contingnecy.

JD:Here is a quote from
the humanist Corliss Lamont: “Thus creative matter needs no ultimate
theistic power to sustain it, no Divine Principle to impregnate it with the
capacity of flowering as a whirling nebula containing billions of stars, as
a warming and light giving sun or as a fertile planet that produces all the
wondrous forms of life, and at their apex the human race and it’s
indomitable powers of the mind. Matter is self-existent, self-active, self
developing, and self-enduring. It is auto-dynamic. Intellectually, there
is nothing to be gained and much to be lost for philosophy by positing a
supernatural Creator or First Cause behind the great material universe.

Meta: And this source you are quoting is authoritative why? What are the scientific credentials here?

JD: If
everything has a definite cause, the God, too, must have a definite cause
and so on ad infinitum.

Meta:I've this babby to rest so many times I neglect to give it much work. Suffice to say: God is a necessity, thus needs no cause since "he" is eternal. Mater-energy is contingency and thus need a cause.M/E could fail or cease to be, and require dependence upon something ontolgocially prior (which is gravitational field) but God is eternal, meaning, cannot cease or fail or be.

JD: The fact is that regardless of how far we push our
inquiries, at one point or another we are compelled to assume something self
existent that possesses certain powers and potentialities. Otherwise we
become involved in a never ending regress of explanations and assumptions.

Meta: That's not really an argument for your side, because it's frank admittion that we need something like God, and that you have to demonstarte a neger neding regerss of explanation, which you haven't done; you try to leave it all rest in the hot dense gas of the singulairty.

Actually, my own cosmolgoical argument has moved beyond the concept of "cause." I argue "prior conditons." But I put up an early page on why God doesnt' need a cause and the universe does. I would be obliged if you would read it.

JD:God as a First Cause simply constitutes a large-scale miracle gratuitously
intruding at the alleged starting point of everything.

Meta: and that's bad? Why? What do you have to compre it to prove it's bad?

JD: Furthermore, the
argument form a First Cause takes for granted that there must have been a
beginning of the cosmos. However, no logical necessity forces us to the
conclusion that there is a beginning in time, and indeed it would seem more
sensible to accept Aristotle’s opinion that the universe is eternal.

Meta: the Big bang is beging of time and is predicated upon the idea that the universe, space/time began at a single point.

Most scientists see it this way.

Terry Herter, Cornell University, says:
"The present location and velocities of galaxies are a result of a primordial blast known as the BIG BANG. It marked:


Astronomy 101/103 Lecture 29: Cosmology

It's real tempting to look at the singualrity like a seed with a little universe inside it just eternally wating to open. That's not the way scientiss see it, and it's not even logical because its contradiction in temrs. It can't sit around eternally and suddenly change and not be eternal anymore.

JD: In
fact, those who postulate a supernatural God as Creator or First Cause
usually attribute to it a state of eternal being and are therefore assuming,
like most nontheists, an eternally existing reality.”

Meta: But eternally existing anything would have to be ontologically necessiary, but naturlism requires ontolgocal congingency for all natursiltic phenomena.

JD:Obviously, there is no reason to assert that Big Bang cosmology or
naturalism is contradictory or reliant upon supernaturalism and theism to
justify itself and ultimately make coherent sense.

Meta: As I've already discussed, that's a rather inaccruate way of putiting it.

thanks for your views, your contribution to the blog. Rebuttle is welcome.

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