God: a failed hypothesis or something more?

(Marvin Adams) #341

Vilenken’s statement
"What causes the universe to pop out of nothing? No cause is needed. If you have a radioactive atom, it will decay, and quantum mechanics gives the decay probability in a given interval of time, say, a minute. There is no reason why the atom decayed at this particular moment and not another. The process is completely random. No cause is needed for the quantum creation of the universe."
is logically incoherent from the point of view that the cause for the “random” process is highly deterministic, as in an infinite time timespan the decay is guaranteed to occur, thus it has absolute certainty, and because equilibrium has not been reached we know that our universe is finite regarding the past. The cause for decay is in the instability of the atom in the first place. Otherwise it would imply that a random killing of a person would be without a cause because the victim was shot randomly

(Roger A. Sawtelle) #342

There is no evidence that the universe was created by a random event.

In as far as the universe is governed by rational set of “natural laws” this is further evidence that the universe is not random, but rational in structure.

Natural laws provide rational structure for our universe. They are objective in that they are the results of observation, thought, and testing. They are subjective in that humans understand the universe and live in this universe.

Human laws give structure to our human world. Traffic laws tell us how to drive. Criminal laws hopefully tell us how to keep out of jail. Rules of logic tell us how to think. Moral laws tell us how to be honest.

All of these rules and laws give structure to our lives. Help us to accomplish our goals in life in the best manner. They are objective in that they work and they are agreed upon. In the USA our laws are based primarily on our Constitution. When the president attacks the Constitution he weakens the whole fabric of society.


Perhaps you could describe what you consider to be a random process? [quote=“Relates, post:342, topic:37310”]
Natural laws provide rational structure for our universe. They are objective in that they are the results of observation, thought, and testing.

If I proclaim that the speed of light is 5 miles per hour by law, does the speed of light slow to 5 mph?

(GJDS) #344

Yet the major reason we refer to these as laws is because we believe there is something intrinsic in nature that ensures the phenomena would conform to these “laws” at any point in time and space (the universe). This is axiomatic to science, and without given fundamentals, If we negate these, I cannot see how we can do any serious science.

(Juan Romero) #345

I was re-reading the thread and I came across that name.

(He)[content deleted by moderator] is your average atheist and the guy who gave internet atheists most of their arguments. His excuse not to get a good answer to his ten ridiculous questions was that one was making strange rationalisations and that accepting that God is imaginary is the only answer.

I answered all of his ridiculous questions on a Spanish translation of his video and destroyed any possible objection.

He even thinks that the Bible must contain scientific truths, despite we all know that it was not written as a science textbook.


There is also the pragmatic view which runs in the opposite direction. The success of science demonstrates that interactions between energy and matter are consistent through time and space. Ultimately, it is the success of science which gives us confidence in it, not necessarily a dogmatic set of axioms.

The other point is that natural laws and civil laws are two different things. Obviously, we can’t legislate how nature will behave. We conform our description of natural laws to the way that nature behaves. In civil law, we write laws and expect society to conform to them.

(GJDS) #347

This is a curious outlook - science cannot “make” energy and matter consistent. Science has been possible because of the unchanging fundamental constants that are required in almost every serious scientific enterprise. It is this that has caused scientists to use the phrase “laws of nature (or of science).” If this consistency were not so, we cannot have the science that we do have.

I must say I am disappointed in your notion of pragmatism when it comes to the laws of science. The distinction between societies’ laws and that of science is another matter and is beside the point in this exchange.


Nowhere did I say that science makes energy and matter consistent, so I’m not sure where you are coming from. If the interactions between quantum particles was not consistent through time and space then science wouldn’t work. The fact that science does work gives us confidence that those interactions are consistent. We don’t use science because we have some philosophical, religious, or emotional need for the axioms of science to be true. We use science because it works.

(GJDS) #349

Science as we know it “works” and this is demonstrated by the laws of science. You seem to be arguing against this and promoting a pragmatic view - if this is the case, you are plain wrong.


I think we could be saying the same thing but are talking past one another.

What do you mean by what I quoted above? What do the laws of science demonstrate? In my experience, laws are descriptions of how we observe nature operating. In my view, laws don’t demonstrate anything. Experiments are demonstrations. Laws are simply descriptions.

Are you saying something different?

(GJDS) #351

The articulations are by human beings - the meaning in the phrase “laws of nature” is that there is an intrinsic aspect to nature and that is why scientists arrive at “laws of nature”. Even if the articulations are not absolute, the phenomena studied is set and thus can be reproduced by scientists (with given conditions). This goes to the intelligibility of nature.

(Marvin Adams) #352

your question is as rational as: If you move to a country where there is a law against driving under the influence of alcohol and you drive under the influence of alcohol, does that change the law?

It has always been the understanding of humans that we can find out the laws of nature corresponding to the idea that nature is constrained by laws to generate the order we observe, as much as we try to regulate human interactions to maintain order in our life, trying to find out the laws of nature that apply to our lives and how we ought to behave corresponding to the same will that moves energy and matter around us.
What it boils down to is to obtain a worldview that is corresponding to reality and that is logically coherent. To claim that if laws are the expression of a will that you should be able to set the laws of nature would imply that you think you are the origin of the law and not subject to it. There are plenty of people who think that they can behave according to their own law, which is in effect the problem of the fall or puberty as I describe it, in as much as rejecting the idea of authority over the self, like wanting to be able to make your own laws of nature. You can see how problems arise if people try to redefine their reproductive organs as being recreational organs and how far that restricts them to have a meaningful interaction with reality. But then the “my will be done” attitude is an evolutionary dead end, so God, or Nature if it hurts ones ego to refer to God, will just eradicate those populations in the long run. It is just difficult for some to see the long time constants in evolutionary timescales when applying them to one’s own situation, so people think they can get away with it. If they could only be as forward thinking as they are backward thinking.

(Marvin Adams) #353

I have serious doubts that you “answered” any of his questions. Most people fail to apply critical thinking to his questions and are therefore unable to deal with them in a rational way.

He is indeed lumbered with a name that makes one cringe. Whilst those new atheists who called themselves the “brights” movement clearly punished themselves, one ought to wonder who punished him :slight_smile:
His book “how God works”, in line with his domain “howstuffworks.com” is a splendid study book to demonstrate how apply critical thinking, as he failed so beautifully in every step. It also makes it a great study book for bible study classes to make people aware of what prayer or healing is about in the context of understanding Christ, and to get them away from praying to Santa’s big brother to get their wishes fulfilled. It is a great journey to make the young people aware of how materialistic their worldview has become and how incoherent that is with observed reality. In disproving the God of the atheists by showing how irrational their God hypothesis is, you can open their eyes to reality. As such, his book is a real blessing.


Scientific laws are therefore idealized models that describe consistent observations from experiments. If experiments did not produce consistent observations due to the absence of consistent laws then the scientific method simply wouldn’t work since science relies on consistent laws. The fact that the scientific method does work, and works well, tells us that there are consistent laws.

When I say that science “works” I mean that we can build on previous knowledge, make predictions about currently unknown processes, and then have experiments support those hypotheses and increase our knowledge of how nature works. If fundamental properties of the universe were constantly changing, such as the speed of light or the strong nuclear force, then these experiments wouldn’t work. You would get different results on different days and at different particle accelerators on the same day. Science wouldn’t work since we couldn’t make predictions and have them borne out in experiments.

This is what I was getting at earlier when I described my pragmatic view of science. It isn’t as if we have to dogmatically accept that the universe is consistent through time and space. Rather, the fact that science works gives us confidence that the underlying axioms are true.


If I change the law so that it is no longer illegal to drive drunk, is it now legal to drive drunk? Yep.

Can you do the same thing for natural laws? Can I rewrite a physics book so that it says the speed of light is 5 mph and have nature fall into line because I have rewritten the law? Nope.

Natural laws and civil laws are not the same thing. Conflating the two is a logical fallacy. It is nothing more than a semantic argument.

(Marvin Adams) #356

dream on, as it is not yours to change that law. that was the point to make you aware of. The laws of nature point to an intelligence far superior to yours, thus you might understand and follow them, but you have not got the capacity to change them. We impose laws on humanity as we have gained the capacity to behave as if we were a law to our own, as I mentioned earlier, the problem of puberty of the fall to reject the authority of the self. This is why humans try to create laws similar to those of nature to bind humans to behave in accordance with the law that governs nature and not according to their own wishes as the latter is bound to create conflict. Laws are the expression of authority over the action of the elements the law applies to. It is not a question of semantics but a question of coherent thinking. Claiming that the meaning of words in not the meaning of words bot conflating things is irrational, so your claim to logical fallacies is meaningless. The whole point of putting words in context of the source is to point at the authority that the law originated from e.g. to mark out the difference in source. Semiotics is lost on some people, but then, materialism is pretty meaningless :wink:

(Marvin Adams) #357

I figure you do not get that this is not a pragmatic view of science but an axiomatic necessity. If you believe that there is no ultimate causality in reality and that this ultimate causality bound the universe to a will, e.g. to subject the movement of matters to laws that make it behave in a logical and coherent way you have no justification to pursue science as there is no reason for it to generate any objective truth statement. As it can do so by chance of observation leads to confusing coincidence with causality. In fact if you do not accept the axiom to demand coherence from reality you could not even falsify anything. You might as well carry on drink driving and claim you changed the law. It is at least coherent with your logical fallacies :slight_smile:


You know what I am saying. If my state’s legislature passed a law saying that it was legal to drive drunk, then it would be legal to drive drunk.

If my state’s legislature passed a law stating that the speed of light was 5 mph, the speed of light would not slow to 5 mph to be in compliance with the law.

Asserting that laws of nature point to an intelligence does not make it so. I can repeat again and again that rainbows point to invisible pink unicorns, but repetition doesn’t make it so.

False. Natural laws are human constructs that have no authority over nature.

Have you never heard of homographs? These are words that are spelled the same but have different meanings in different contexts. Just because two words are spelled the same does not mean that they inherently mean the same thing. This is a basic rule of language that I was taught in 2nd grade, for crying out loud.

(GJDS) #359

I initially read this as a light-hearted comment from you - but me thinks you are serious.

Really! Science works, so we are confident of laws, and - science laws are idealizations consistent with observations, so thus science works.

Getting out of this circularity is beyond my meager intellect. Perhaps you have a philosophy of science that the rest of us do not. :grin:

Thanks for the discussion.

(Marvin Adams) #360

You obviously did not get it in 2nd grade that to use the same word to describe the similarity of concepts is different from a situation were words of different meaning arrive at similar spelling of pronunciation. Hopefully one day you understand what they taught you in 2nd grade and then what they taught you in 3rd grade. It is indeed sad that you did not, so your crying out loud is understandable