Refuting Atheists, Yet Again.

Atheist ‘uktelemacher’ has posted this video as a response to my previous blog post where I tried to refute Hawking’s statement that the universe could create itself from nothing. My refutation is below the video.

 

 

Oh, where to begin.

I didn’t think this video would have any substance after opening with the strawman that the Genesis account is a ridiculous explanation of how the universe came to be. Yes, we know some people take the apple and the snake quite literally, but this emotional plea against the egregious ignorance of a few dim-wits is quite obviously a tempest in a teapot that will be a waste of 2 brain cells to try to address.

Somewhere near the beginning of the video, I was given some idea as to what kind of dishonesty and/or ignorance I would be dealing with; the lady in the video mocks Craig for contradicting himself in denying the existence of an actual infinite, in virtue of the logical contradictions such will necessarily impose (see Hilbert’s paradox), yet gleefully describing the initial singularity, which allegedly supports the premise of the KCA, as a “state of infinite density”. Presumably, video lady means that one cannot deny an infinite regress while
accepting infinite density; is the concept of infinity logically coherent or not. Oh that Craig, wants to have his denial of infinite regress cake and eat his infinite density too! Unfortunately for the lady, when something is infinitely dense,
it simply means that its measurements are zero; infinite density means “nothing”. And this is exactly what the KCA aims to show; a creation ex nihilo via God. So, no, no contradiction there, lady.

Lady in video then accuses proponents of the KCA of engaging in wordplay; she makes the old retarded claim that if everything has a cause, then God must have a cause. She then accuses apologists of arbitrarily defining God as an uncaused entity to escape the first premise of the KCA. But this is ridiculous on its face; no one is arbitrarily assigning powers to God as one would see fit; we are talking about the Christian God here who is definitionally omnipotent; this isn’t about my action figure being better than yours; God, if He were to exist, would be by
definition, uncaused. So this particular tripe can only obviously be owed to her philosophical misapprehension of that which she tries to argue against.

Then, video lady says that, as far as up-to-date cosmology is concerned, the singularity doesn’t have much evidence going for it, which leads most cosmologists to adopt other theories such as loop quantum gravity (or string theory), which does away with the singularity and posits the idea of a big-bounce –the idea of an oscillatory universe where the first cosmological event is a remnant of the previous universe’s collapse. But the Borde- Guth-Vilenkin theorem already answers this by saying that, even if our universe was in fact an oscillating one and can inflate eternally to the future, it cannot do so infinitely to the past. There has to be some point where it began. Video lady tries to
circumvent this, rather disingenuously it seems, by misquoting Alan Guth as saying that an infinite inflation towards the past was possible. Mr. Guth, although himself an atheist, has made it quite clear that an absolute beginning of the universe (or multiverse, if you prefer) would be inescapable on the theorem.
She again quotes Mr. Guth in his book as saying that a causeless creation ex nihilo was possible, but let’s not forget that this “nihilo” is nothing short of Hawking’s; an ocean of fluctuating quantum energy still governed by descriptive laws –which I’ve argued is hardly a “nihilo”. In fact Guth writes in his own book
— a part which was interestingly ignored by video lady– “and yet the state of nothingness cannot be identified with absolute nothingness” (maybe because an ocean of fluctuating quantum energy governed by physical laws is STILL required, perhaps?).

Even if video lady is right that Quantum loop theory or another such theory –which has yet to be proven or even shown to be likely true– is able to do away with the singularity, this in no way refutes any of the premises in the KCA simply because it does not give us solutions to the logical incoherence of an actual infinity. It in no way shows that things can go existing uncaused.

Video lady then says that we have no reason to trust our intuitions when it comes to quantum particles, like we normally do for things at the macro level. Presumably, this was again to imply that quantum particles are able to, unlike objects at the macro level, pop into existence uncaused. But, again, this is false on account of quantum particles only able to pop into existence out of pre-existing material, i.e, fluctuating quantum energy and physical laws. Why she cant seem to grasp this is beyond mind-boggling. She then shows a video where Richard Feynman says that particles on the quantum level behave differently from objects at more macro levels — and it’s supposed to be some wonderfully new thing that invalidates the first premise of the KCA. But rather than solidify her point, it just ends up repeating the same ignorant assertion that
somethings can exist uncaused. Again, until video lady can show us good arguments for us to distrust our modal intuitions about existing things needing a cause for their existence, then it seems to me we have  prima facie evidence –that’s confirmed by human experience– to do the exact opposite.

To sum up: I see no sound refutation of any of the premises of the KCA. I see no solutions to the logical incoherence of an actual infinity. What I do see are some sloppily constructed strawmen and red herrings. Therefore, the KCA, in my mind, stands unrefuted.

Oh yeah, it’s hardly any surprise many cosmologists who’ve been quoted by Craig, or other apologists, don’t agree with divine explanations of the origins of the universe. Since science needs to presuppose naturalism when using the scientific methodology, it isn’t a surprise a lot of scientists have been pushed towards adopting naturalism itself as a philosophy. This does not obviate apologist’s use of their theories as evidence for theism. To argue otherwise would be to run smack, head first, onto a fallacy.

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Posted on August 8, 2011, in apologetics, Religion, science and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. “I didn’t think this video would have any substance after opening with the strawman that the Genesis account is a ridiculous explanation of how the universe came to be.”

    But how can it be a straw man when so many evangelicals and fundamentalists still believe it? The church for centuries stated it as fact (or, “common sense”, of course) as we lived in ignorance, but once science showed how ridiculous and irrefutably wrong it was you get the luxury of backpedaling and wrapping yourself in this new interpretation as if it was always that way. The Bible can be pretty much interpreted an almost infinite number of ways–slippery like an eel. Logically refute any part and . . . oops! . . . we learn that it didn’t *really* mean that, it meant something else!

    Same with evolution . . . . deny, deny, deny, until the evidence is so overwhelming that the backpedal becomes ID. And speaking of denial, the processes of abiogenesis will be one of the next big curtains to be pulled away. We’re getting closer all the time, see, e.g., http://io9.com/5828902/did-dna-tool-kits-from-meteorites-make-life-on-earth-possible

    That will be a day of backpedaling unlike any that current theists have ever known. But of course then it will be “Intelligent Abiogensis”, despite the fact that, like evolution, no directing intelligence is necessary. Maybe the IAs will form an institute that can also avoid research and peer review.

    “Unfortunately for the lady, when something is infinitely dense,
    it simply means that its measurements are zero; infinite density means “nothing”.”

    Except it doesn’t (except, I suppose, to theologians who need that to be true in order to support their conclusions). A thing in a state of infinite density may have no component parts, it may exist only as the smallest piece of the most primal matter, but that does not make it nothing. If there is, literally, nothing, there the concept of density has no meaning.

    Calling the problems associated with defining God “retarded” shows first of all a serious lack of sensitivity for someone wrapping themselves in religious cloak. But it’s also just name-calling because to any reasonable person it’s easy to see that it is just a trick of wordplay. It’s two kids playing in the park with robot toys, one says “I shot you with a laser!” and the other, not wanting the play to be over and not in his favor, says “Oh no you didn’t, mine is invincible! Game over!” Your argument is that by Christian definition of what God is, he has no beginning. Certainly there are Gods of other religions whose stories give them beginnings, it is only how the Bible defines the Christian God that you can make your claim, but that becomes circular because God’s only claim to his definition is himself as revealed in the Bible and we already know from the account of Genesis that you can’t take the Bible literally. Your response ultimately is “Nuh-uh! It means what *I* say it means”, maybe thrown in with another insulting comment about the mentally handicapped . . . you’ve got nowhere else to go.

    As for uncaused events in quantum phsyics, it’s way more evidence of uncaused events than there is actual evidence for God.

    • I certainly should’ve said “intelligent atheist ‘uktelemacher’ has posted..”

      I’ll probably respond to you soon, but not today, since it seems, as opposed to myself, you have much more time on your hands.

      But, firstly, let me thank you for commenting.

    • you say:

      But how can it be a straw man when so many evangelicals and fundamentalists still believe it? The church for centuries stated it as fact

      — Then take it up with them. I don’t necessarily know any evangelical who isn’t a fundamentalist who still literally believes it. I guess there’s a reason why we call them fundamentalists. The video, I believe, was specifically made to address Craig and the KCA argument, which he formulated, and who doesn’t take the Genesis account literally. The whole bible isn’t meant to be taken literally, this is true for any literary device. Sure some parts should be taken literally, like the life of Jesus and the letters of Paul and so forth, but I would doubt the reading comprehension of anyone who argues that, with respect to the whole bible, it’s a complete enigma as to what needs to be taken literally and figuratively. Obviously there is disagreement among exegetists, but I think Craig has already given the ‘web of faith’ analogy where the resurrection lies at the center of the web and bible inerrancy and other such lie at the periphery. Removing those beliefs at the periphery still leaves the web intact.

      you say:

      “Same with evolution . . . . deny, deny, deny, until the evidence is so overwhelming that the backpedal becomes ID.”

      — You are speaking to a theistic evolutionist, not an ID’er or a creationist. Besides, this has nothing to do with the KCA, so we might as well set this tangent aside.

      you say:

      “Except it doesn’t (except, I suppose, to theologians who need that to be true in order to support their conclusions). A thing in a state of infinite density may have no component parts, it may exist only as the smallest piece of the most primal matter, but that does not make it nothing.”

      — Well, “nothing” may not be the accurate description since we don’t exactly know what it is; our physics breaks down at that point; math starts to not work. Point is: it’s the state at which matter is “squeezed indefinitely”, as video lady described it. The problem here is that this is logically incoherent. How can something get squeezed indefinitely? Imagine that. We can’t actually verify that it’s “nothing” because we don’t have the calculus to describe how matter itself can be “squeezed indefinitely”. The fact is that Craig didn’t use the word “infinite” in this case to mean an ‘actual infinity’, so it’s much too different from the actual infinity, which an infinite regress will imply, that’s being described as logically incoherent in Hilbert’s paradox. The word is used differently on these 2 cases, and video lady was either strawmanning, or was ignorant of the distinctions.

      you say:

      “Calling the problems associated with defining God “retarded” shows first of all a serious lack of sensitivity for someone wrapping themselves in religious cloak.”

      — I think the argument is retarded. I didn’t say video lady was retarded.

      you say:

      “But it’s also just name-calling because to any reasonable person it’s easy to see that it is just a trick of wordplay. It’s two kids playing in the park with robot toys, one says “I shot you with a laser!” and the other, not wanting the play to be over and not in his favor, says “Oh no you didn’t, mine is invincible! Game over!”

      — No it isn’t. No matter how you try to argue this, its quite plainly wrong. I am not making up attributes for God to make him beyond intellectual scrutiny. Christian God is by definition omnipotent. If some being out there created everything but was himself created by something else, then he wouldn’t be God, it’s that simple.

      you say:

      “Certainly there are Gods of other religions whose stories give them beginnings, it is only how the Bible defines the Christian God that you can make your claim, but that becomes circular because God’s only claim to his definition is himself as revealed in the Bible and we already know from the account of Genesis that you can’t take the Bible literally.”

      — Yes, and those “Gods of other religions” can quite easily be shown to be incoherent. These attributes are just basic philosophical conceptualizations of God that we won’t need the bible to tell us. Again, you really have to know the definition of what you try to argue against, else you would be moving the goalposts any which way you please. Even atheist philosophers, who do understand the concept of God, concede this.

      you say:

      “As for uncaused events in quantum phsyics, it’s way more evidence of uncaused events than there is actual evidence for God.”

      — Those particles do not come to existence uncaused. And, maybe you didn’t know, but the consensus isn’t that the events in quantum physics are not caused, but rather that the cause is yet to be known -this is one of the points of string theory, it tries to explain quantum events. Be that as it may, the point is that whatever the “cause” of a quantum event, the event or the particles that produce the event does not come into being uncaused.

      Again, nothing of what you or the lady in the video said refutes the KCA.

      To refute the KCA, you will have to show one of the premises to be faulty, or some solution to the logical contradictions of an actual infinity.

      I haven’t seen any.

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