Take the atheist challenge

Discussion in 'Religion Archives' started by Prisme, Jun 27, 2003.

  1. Prisme Speak of Ideas, not of things Registered Senior Member

    Can some atheist please tell me what is wrong with the following statement?

    -God has always been
    -Then why can't we say the universe has always been?"

    From a purely scientific standpoint, it is easy to demonstrate that matter cannot be eternal in nature. The universe is expanding from what appears to be a beginning point in space/time, which appears to be a one time event. Hydrogen is the basic fuel of the cosmos, powering all stars and other energy sources in space. If the fuel of the universe has been used eternally, that fuel will eventually be depleted, but the evidence is that the cosmological gas gauge, while moving toward “empty,” is yet a long way from being there—a condition incompatible with an eternal universe. The second law of thermodynamics insists that the cosmos is moving toward a condition of disorder, sometimes referred to as “heat death.” Even in an oscillating universe, things ultimately run out of energy and “die.” All of these evidences, and several others we have not made reference to, show that matter cannot be eternal, as Dr. Sagan and his associates would like to believe. However, this does not mean that we automatically accept the hypothesis that God is the Creator. Why is it not equally invalid to suggest that God has always been?

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  3. Cris In search of Immortality Valued Senior Member

    We know the universe exists.

    We don't know that gods do or could exist so any statement about them always existing has far less credibility than a universe always existing since we do not know there was a time when the universe didn't exist.

    The statements about a universe are describing only what is assumed from a single big bang. In the same way that early peoples assumed the world was the center of the universe. If one considers the statements assuming an infinite number of big bangs then there is no issue.
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  5. Raithere plagued by infinities Valued Senior Member

    Energy and the fundamental forces, however, do seem to be eternal in nature.

    Unless of course there is a mechanism whereby new matter and energy can be introduced, which is exactly what the Ekpyrotic Model suggests (see below). You’re also working under an incorrect supposition (see next paragraph).

    Absolutely wrong, energy cannot be lost from a closed system. Unless you provide for somewhere else for the energy to go, in which case it is no longer a closed system. No, ‘heat-death’ is the result of entropy and infinite expansion of S/T; if the Universe continues to expand to infinity energy will essentially ‘spread-out’ to the lowest possible level. If, however, the Universe contracts, all the energy it ever contained will coalesce again.

    Actually, you have only give one and it is quite wrong. Please prove the others.

    The Ekpyrotic Model
    “After 14 billion years, the expansion of the universe accelerates, as astronomers have recently observed. After trillions of years, the matter and radiation are almost completely dissipated and the expansion stalls. An energy field that pervades the universe then creates new matter and radiation, which restarts the cycle.”

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  7. EvilPoet I am what I am Registered Senior Member


    Just out of curiosity - is the statement you posted from this website?
  8. Prisme Speak of Ideas, not of things Registered Senior Member

    Woow Backup, backup!

    First things first:

    I never claimed to have written anything!!

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    In the first seperated phrase of the thread I said: "tell me what is wrong with the following statement"... this does not even remotely entail that I have made the statement. Instead of giving a hyperlink that most people would not bother to go and visit, I cut and pasted it.


    Since raithere is the only one that bothered to reply to the aspects discussed in the statement:

    Ok. Matter is energy. We all knew that.
    We also know that matter is only energy that is more dense and in a less accelerated state.
    Still, matter decays. So basic energy, as the second law of thermo-dynamics specify, decay.
    If some forms of energy are eternal, matter isn't one of them.
    There is no problem with the fact that some forms of energy are eternal, however, how can we explain that an eternal energy transform itself into a decaying form of energy? (matter)

    So the question stands: how does the anonymous eternal forms of energy (sorry, raithere didn't give out names) manage to reduce themselves to matter and play a role in our physical world?

    Why would these eternal forms of energy 'matter'?

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    if the laws of thermo-dynamics don't even bother to take them into account?

    Thats a big 'If' disguised as an 'unless' raithere. I mean, we all know that most cosmological theories remain just that: theories.
    So to prefer an imperfect theoritical model over another isn't a crime against humanity, much less rationality.

    1- Again, IF we are in a closed system.

    2- Energy conservation is another assumption from physiscists that leaves us with no guarantees.

    There is nobody that can "predict" that either in an infinite or closed system, energy "must" dissipate or be eternal.

    In either systems,
    the hypothesis that energy has a source is problematic at best
    (if there is one we.. ain't found it yet)
    the hypothesis that energy is eternal is a 50\50 wager
    (it is or it is not depending on the theory)
    the hypothesis that basic energy does not decay is utopic
    (physics education insist on decay rather than infinity)

    No, it is not 'quite wrong' as you put it. It merely represents the opposite of certain other physical theories that you have flashed us with.

    As always raithere, you seem to feel free enough to juggle from one physical theory to another in order to defeat your opponant(s) with out-of-context controversies.
    However, when it would come to you to validate what you believe to be true concerning the physical universe, most of us would be unpleasently 'let down' by your own incapacity to hold and defend one single theory (since you need them all to trample others)... but this is not due to lack of intellect.. it is much rather the presence of your intellect that makes you unwilling to adopt a single physical theory above any other... because deep down you know that they are all, in their respects, imprefect and have their own unforgiving faults, if not fallacies.


    Why does physics matter?

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  9. drnihili Registered Senior Member

    Re: Woow Backup, backup!

    It's certainly not a crime against humanity. Whether it's a crime against rationality depends on the evidential basis for the two theories.

    For example Both Newtonian and Einstenian theories are imperfect. That doesn't mean that choosing between them is merely a matter of preference. Given the available evidence, it would be irrational to prefer Newtonian physics as an accurate description of the Universe. Other examples are also easy to come by. For example consider the difference between caloric and phlogistic theories of heat.

    The point of the atheist response, however, has more to do with methodological and logical aspects rather than evidential ones. The response is specific to the cosmological and related arguments. Those arguments proceed by contending that retrospective chains of one kind or another must have a beginning. They then posit God as the beginning of such a chain. The problem is that they fail to account for how God's existence can have the very property that they claim nothing else can have. As a result they are merely proofs by fiat.

    Having noted that cosmological proofs fail to reach their conclusion, the atheist appeals to Occam's razor to prefer a similar resolution without God. Granted, this is a methodological argument rather than a logical or empirical one. But the only conclusion reached is that belief in god is not only not proven, but that standard norms of rationality count against it.

    There has been some relatively recent work on cosmological arguments, but nothing that really solves the original problem with them.
  10. EvilPoet I am what I am Registered Senior Member

    I never said you did. I was just curious if the website I posted
    was the original source for the statement you posted. I take it
    from your reply the answer is yes (feel free to correct me if I'm
    wrong). Thanks for answering my question, much appreciated.
  11. drnihili Registered Senior Member

    I forgot to say what was wrong with the argument.

    The main problem is that the argument has nothing to do with the conclusion. The point about not having run out of Hydrogen yet only shows that stars and similar reactions cannot have existed forever. But nobody claims they have, so this doesn't count against Sagan.

    The claim that Hydrogen powers all other energy sources in the universe is simply false. Hydrogen does not power gravity, nor the weak or strong molecular forces, etc. Nor is hydrogen supposed to have powered events close to the Big Bang, in fact there wasn't any hydrogen at all then.

    Finally (for this post), even if you grant the arguments about hydrogen and entropy, it doesn't follow that matter is not eternal. All that follows is that this specific arrangement of matter is not eternal. All of the arguments are directed against the eternity of certain process, not the eternity of matter per se. So even if the physics were impeccable, the argument is irrelevant to the supposed conclusion.
  12. Prisme Speak of Ideas, not of things Registered Senior Member

    Cosmological theories that speak of a 'Prime starter', such as Aristotle's, do not fail to reach its own conclusions.
    It is only when people start to confound the Prime starter with a specific religious meanning and intent of a God that things get illegitemate.

    As for 'empirical arguments' as you say, we could still ask the atheist to produce some that proves the inexistence of God... and would most likely die before that time arrives. Maybe atheists can survive Occam's razor... but such a standard is only subjective. On my part, I would prescribe Descartes standard to the atheists: "radical doubt towards things that are not indubitable".

    Then theists and atheists would be on the same threshold... as they should damn well be.

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    Reply to dhrili that replied to 1st post:

    The start of the text does not address the end, in the exact same way that atheists that discredit the bible do not address the existence or non-existence of God.

    The whole argument is to show that science does not hold the entire knowledge of the universe as it often claims to.
    Thus, by discrediting man made science, there is more place for the possibility of force mature and the divine in general, which represent the eternally unexplainable, what is beyound our mortal reach.
    Althought discussing of empirical AND theoretical componants of the universe, this alone does not prove God per se. However, showing that the world does not suffice to itself helps to infer divine intervention... be it a religious God or not.

    Evil poet: hope you are proud to trace texts that don't matter to its original site. Bravo... don't let go of what you found to be enternaining.

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    Last edited: Jun 27, 2003
  13. fadingCaptain are you a robot? Valued Senior Member

    For the 14,732th time...the burden of proof lies on the maker of the claim. Otherwise, one would be required to place 'radical doubt' on the non-existence of people that live on sun, flying pigs, etc. So, who is the maker of the claim? The ones who say 'there is a god'. Cavemen did not claim there is no god before religion and infants do not claim there is no god before being indoctrinated. Atheism is always and has always been a reaction to the theist's claim.

    So...we do not ask an atheist to prove the inexistence of god. It is not necessary. What is necessary is a proof of the claim. At least some legitimate evidence would be nice also.
  14. Prisme Speak of Ideas, not of things Registered Senior Member

    Fading Captain

    For the 14,733th time, the burden of proof lies onto any man who seriously entertains a question in his own subjectivity... and unfortunately for you, that includes everyone of us.
    -as well as theist than atheists.. even Socrates knew that.-

    You can Occam razor me to death, but that doesn't give you a free ride on the fact that your own belief in the inexistence of God is in itself more readily acceptable and obvious than the claim for his existence.
    As I already stated, Occam's standards are subjective and not even as severe as Descarte's.

    Your trying to have your cake and eat it to Captain. Fascism was a reactionnary political group towards democracy... does this mean that Fascism is a stand alone political party? No, it has to make its own way and show to the world its worth consideration by itself. Even if we discover that democracy is a fallacy in the next millenia, the ideals of Facism are independant in the facts, although linked historically.

    This is your biased criteria that allows you to dodge the justification of your own beliefs... not the one of objective knowledge.

    Thought that dogma was a thing of the past.

    Last edited: Jun 27, 2003
  15. fadingCaptain are you a robot? Valued Senior Member

    No it doesn't. I don't 'prove' to myself that god doesn't exist. You are thinking in absolutes. I think in probabilities. Here is the scenario:

    Theist: There is a god.
    Me: Really? Give me a reason to think this so.
    Theist: Here are some books and stuff.
    Me: Nope doesn't do it for me.

    Me: I think you are wrong about that god thing.
    Theist: Really? Give me a reason to think this so.
    Me: Um, didn't we cover that above?

    Now, do you see the problem here? I do not need to give him a reason why I do not believe in god. I do not need to prove god's inexistance.

    Its not fool-proof. I may be wrong. I simply claim that I have come to the conclusion that it is improbable.

    Yes I agree. But that doesn't change the fact that it is only logical for the burden of proof to be on the maker of the claim.
  16. drnihili Registered Senior Member

    No, their failure has nothing to do with any conception of God. They contain logical errors. There is a broad literature on this topic, and it's pretty much in agreement on this point. THere have been some attempts to resurrect the argument from time to time, but none that have been successful. Th flaw is with the basic logic of the argument, not the specificity of it's conclusion.

    Form a logical and empirical standpoint, the cosmological argument provides no support for atheism. One could try to wrest a victory via Occam's razor, but methodological arguments aren't persuasive enough to decide between radically opposing camps unless those camps agree upon common norms. Th subjectivity of application of Occam's razor does not, however, come in to play. The question is merely whether one ought or ought not to believe in a prime mover based on the argument at hand and all other things being equal. Unless you want to reject simplicity as a desiderata in explanations, the atheistic response is simpler.

    Now it may be that some further argument could establish that any atheist response would entail greater complexity than a possible theist response. Such an argument would very likely rest on subjective notions of simpolicity (as would the converse atheistic argument). So Occam's razor could not be applied unproblematically in those cases. But in the case of the Cosmological argument it can.

    This thread isn't about atheism vs theism though. You asked what was wrong with the given reply to the typical atheist response to cosmological arguments.

    I haven't a clue what you are trying to say here. Care to try again?

    Well, the argument certainly doesn't do that. But then I don't know anyone who claims that science holds the entire knowledge of the Universe. So I'm not sure what the fuss is about here.

    This borders on nonsense, but in any case doesn't follow from what you wrote above.

    Yes, if you could prove that the world was not sufficient to itself, you could then infer that there was something beyond, and you would be free to call that God. That's what the cosmological argument attempts to do. Unfortunately, no one has succeeded in proving, or even making a strong case for, that thesis. Certainly the argument at the beginning of this thread doesn't come close, as has been demonstrated.
  17. Prisme Speak of Ideas, not of things Registered Senior Member

    Nope, your scenorio doesn't do it for me.
    (Now who's claiming what?)

    Just in case you didn't figure that one out, your scenario is no the Absolute scenario and still does not prevent the serious atheist to find himslef incapable of justifying his belief that God doesn't exist.

    Oh really?Show me your equasion.

    Of course, you have none. Because we are talking about concepts not numbers. And even if their were 99 good reasons not to believe in God and only 1 in favor... you would have good odds, but never certainty.

    When it comes to God, I don't feel like taking chances... I mean many americans don't mind the slim to none chance of WMDz in Iraq... but who am I to deny a miracle?

    In any case, I prefer reason over odds, and the only thing that has anything remotetly to do with probabilities and God is Pascal's wager.. which you should be taking if you are a true gambling man.

    (in response to fascism)

    I said that Fascism was independant of democracy, eventhought a reaction to it, in order to respond to your claim that atheism is a reaction to theism and thus doesn't need to justify itself... but I think you knew that.

    If we can agree that your atheist inclination is solely based on probability and that theists are also running the same odds in favor of God... then this discussion is most likely resolved for we both agree.
  18. EvilPoet I am what I am Registered Senior Member

    Perhaps it doesn't matter to you, but I think it's
    important to give credit where credit is due.
  19. Prisme Speak of Ideas, not of things Registered Senior Member

    Actually bother to name me at least one of these 'logical flaws' ?
    Or are we playing 'Simon says' again?

    Well, actually I started this thread and it kinda worked itself up to there. But hey, if you have nothing to object to my argument, that's fine with me.

    Further explanation:

    To the claim that the way that Cosmology works does not necessarily entail a God:

    I answered:
    It is true that the original statement at the beginning of this thread ends with God when it started to talk about the cosmos.

    Why did the author does this? Because it is embede in an attempt to reduce science.
    Why would it do that? Because atheist scientists do the same when laughing at the Bible.
    Both groups attack the foundation of the other... but both never get to the real question:

    Does God exist and if so how can we know?

    How do they dodge the question?
    By deflecting their arguments on holy scriptures and the cosmos, which both do not hold the true answers.

    Its been awhile since you have chatted with some of your more radical atheist friends has it? But I am glad you don't hold that view.

    Your bordering fallacy (personnal attack), but hey, I don't mind. I accept you as you are dhrili.
    For I know what I said can withstand your petty, unelaborated insults.

    Actually, Aristotle made a pretty good case out of it. And considering the 'abundance' of examples from start to finish about the weakness's of the cosmological argument that professes a non-religious God... I still believe it's a good case.

    Last edited: Jun 27, 2003
  20. Prisme Speak of Ideas, not of things Registered Senior Member

    Evil poet

    You giving credit to a theist?

    Coming from anybody else than a guy which his signature is a negated cross.. I could of believed that statement.

    Your just trying to accuse me of infringement from the start, stop being hypocrite about it. I simply did not do that for the simple fact that I never claimed to be the author of the quote I used.

    This is a FORUM not a Doctorate thesis.
  21. MarcAC Curious Registered Senior Member

    How embarrassing...

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  22. EvilPoet I am what I am Registered Senior Member


    1) I am female.

    2) I think you ought to check out this link.

    3) IMO - freedom of religion also includes freedom from religion.

    4) I have nothing more to add to this thread.
  23. Raithere plagued by infinities Valued Senior Member


    Actually, unreferenced, the assumption would be that you wrote it. You should site your sources.

    Absolutely not. Please see the first law of Thermodynamics, paraphrased as “Within some problem domain, the amount of energy remains constant and energy is neither created nor destroyed. Energy can be converted from one form to another (potential energy can be converted to kinetic energy) but the total energy within the domain remains fixed.” - http://www.grc.nasa.gov/WWW/K-12/airplane/thermo1f.html

    Nor can matter be destroyed ‘decay’. The closest you can come to the destruction of matter is converting it to energy… but it never goes ‘away’.

    Wrong again.

    No, all of the energy within the Universe that has ever been (including all that which appears as matter) is still here and will always be here unless you can discover somewhere else for it to go.

    Matter essentially condensed from the hyper-energetic state in the first few seconds after the big bang.

    I don’t know what you mean here… all energy is taken into account by the laws of thermodynamics.

    Not quite. The Ekpyrotic model fits all known facts. Now, that does not mean it has been proven… we’ll have to wait around for a few more trillion years or figure out some other method of discovering proof.

    This, however, does not mean that all unproven theories are equal. Some, like the notion of a supernatural cause, are simply un-testable and meaningless. Even if we assume a supernatural cause, it tells us nothing. No further hypotheses can arise from such a supposition. There is no way, for instance, to jump from ‘a supernatural creator’ to ‘Yahweh.

    1- Again, IF we are in a closed system.If the Universe is everything in ‘physical’ existence what is outside and how do you transfer energy there?

    The conservation of energy is no more an assumption than the law of gravity. Every experiment ever done has confirmed the laws of thermodynamics without exception.

    Sure can. Look, you cannot just make shit up and pretend its science. If your hypothesis is that energy can leave the Universe or somehow go away then you must provide a mechanism for that and some way to prove or disprove the hypothesis. Otherwise you’re just blowing smoke out your ass.

    Again, this is wrong. We know that energy can come from nothing (virtual particles from a quantum fluctuation). Mathematically there is nothing that prevents all the energy in the Universe coming from nothing as long as it eventually returns to nothing.

    No, it most certainly is not.

    Wrong again. It is fact.

    No, it is wrong. As I stated above the first Law of Thermodynamics is as sure a thing as gravity. Every experiment ever done has confirmed the laws of thermodynamics without exception.

    What the hell is out of context about the First Law of Thermodynamics or the Ekpyrotic Model when we’re discussing energy and the Universe? Please show me anything that I’ve written in this thread that is out of context. I’m not simply tossing one theory after another at you in the hopes of tripping you up, I have provided the relevant scientific laws and theories. If you want to play make believe then I suggest you not use a quotation that claims to be ‘scientific’ as your proposition.

    I don’t hold to a single theory regarding the beginning of the Universe because there isn’t one that stands out far and away above some of the others. However, your initial proposition is invalid because it violates the known Laws of Physics, not because there is are alternatives to the ‘God’ hypothesis.

    I suggested the Ekpyrotic Model because it seems to be the most complete theory we have currently, various ‘Big Bang’ theories are also good but have some difficulty explaining the recently discovered accelerating inflation of the Universe.

    Truth is a hard thing to come by; in fact it is nearly impossible. It is this, more than anything else that I try to convey to people here. Certainty is the hobgoblin of the mind. The moment you are absolutely certain of something, the moment you hold faith in your mind, reality beings to slip away from you. The Universe is not static, it is always changing, and if we could really understand the immensity of that which we do not know and how much of what we thing we know is wrong… well most people probably could not handle it… they are so certain.

    When your car doesn’t start do you check the gas and the battery or do you perform an exorcism to drive the demon out of your engine block? Physics matters because it works.


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