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First Cause

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OHA
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« on: February 18, 2009, 11:07:51 AM »

Can anyone please explain to me with proof, the naturalistic explanation for how it all began (cosmos, planets, life etc.)?

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benguela
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« Reply #1 on: February 18, 2009, 11:28:00 AM »

I don't know what caused the big bang. The fact that I don't know doesn't therefor mean that your theory is the correct one.

Welcome to the forums.
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Mefiante
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« Reply #2 on: February 18, 2009, 12:09:53 PM »

Can anyone please explain to me with proof, the naturalistic explanation for how it all began (cosmos, planets, life etc.)?
No, probably not with the kind of direct proof that will satisfy you, and certainly not in a single post.  But the Internet is a good place for those with a genuine interest (as opposed to that feigned by creationists) to start reading up on many of the modern ideas that are relevant to the above question.  As an appetiser, it may be that the total energy content of the universe is zero and that it sprang spontaneously (i.e. without cause) into existence, making it, in the words of Alan Guth, “the ultimate free lunch.”

Be that as it may, here’s a pair of somewhat simpler questions:  (1) Can you see the absurdity of positing a hugely complex entity like a creator-god as an uncaused first cause?  (2) Can you see the self-contradiction in asserting that everything has a cause (a view no longer scientifically viable) and then violating that assertion by saying there’s an uncaused first cause?

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Rigil Kent
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« Reply #3 on: February 18, 2009, 13:51:28 PM »

Call me old school, but I'm partial to Jatravartid theory that states that the universe was sneezed from the nose of the Great Green Arkelseizure.

(Whatever you do don't let the Pastafarians who lurk on this forum lure you into their ridiculous belief system. In fact there is strong evidence that The Flying Spaghetti Monster could not have existed prior to the invention of the meatball.)

I must admit that the Jatravartid  dogma has no scientific backing, but luckily there are rumours about the existence of ancient manuscripts that confirm these things as true.

Mintaka

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Wandapec
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« Reply #4 on: February 18, 2009, 20:59:38 PM »

I also don't know, but Dr. Gene Ray, Cubic and Wisest Human is probably the right person to ask.   Wink
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Mefiante
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« Reply #5 on: February 18, 2009, 21:42:59 PM »

Oh, crumbs!  Not Timecube again.  *Groan*

Fortunately perhaps, these ideas are so off-the-wall that most people will reject them for the crazy, impenetrable baloney that they are.

Not so religion, however.

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OHA
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« Reply #6 on: February 19, 2009, 07:28:13 AM »

Thank you for all the responses; some serious and other less so.

'Luthon64 [it may be that the total energy content of the universe is zero and that it sprang spontaneously (i.e. without cause) into existence]

The operative word there being 'may' - thus there is no sertainty and you have to some extent at least, take it all in faith. Is this not so?

[Can you see the absurdity of positing a hugely complex entity like a creator-god as an uncaused first cause?] No, actually I can't. It makes more sense to believe "In the beginning God..." than "in the beginning nothing...", for if there is no God then, nothing must have become something, by whatever process; or if you don't like that idea, then something simply always existed, which again requires some faith to believe.

[Can you see the self-contradiction in asserting that everything has a cause (a view no longer scientifically viable) and then violating that assertion by saying there’s an uncaused first cause?]

To be honest, no I can't see the self-contradiction, nor do I understand how or why the first cause is no longer scientifically viable - since it seems only logical that everything must have a beginning; simplistic example - a fully made Ford does not just come of a factory - it is the result of a long process of planning, making etc. The car manufacturer begins the deseign, and the rest of the process follows.

Benguela [I don't know what caused the big bang. The fact that I don't know doesn't therefor mean that your theory is the correct one.

Welcome to the forums.]

First of all thanks for the welcome, and for your honesty in acknowledging that you don't know how it all started; may I throw a friendly peble in the bush? How do you know that what you call my theory (God creating all for His glory) is not the correct one?



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« Reply #7 on: February 19, 2009, 07:51:59 AM »

[Can you see the self-contradiction in asserting that everything has a cause (a view no longer scientifically viable) and then violating that assertion by saying there’s an uncaused first cause?]
To be honest, no I can't see the self-contradiction, nor do I understand how or why the first cause is no longer scientifically viable - since it seems only logical that everything must have a beginning;

You guys all seem to have a problem understanding that IF you posit that everything has a cause AND you posit that god is the cause of everthing then god must have a cause.
IF god is not caused then everything does not have a cause (since your god by your own admission is not caused)and your argument contradicts itself.

IF god was not caused then a cause is not required for existence and it may have existed for all time and what requires explanation is not 'the coming into being" of existence but how things change. Science provides various answers to most questions of change.

To claim that certain speculative claims is equivalent to making a faith claim in order to imply that FAITH is somehow a valid means to knowledge is nothing more than a strawman. Faith is conceptually a third order concept ( it is only possible once you already hold specific primary concepts such as "existence"; "cause"; "effect"; "entity" and so forth, and the term 'faith' is used to express the expectation of an effect when both cause and effect is known. To treat the concept 'faith' as some floating (not related to anything else)abstraction simply means that it has no meaning NOT that is a means to knowledge or a method of knowing.

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Rigil Kent
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« Reply #8 on: February 19, 2009, 08:28:25 AM »

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The operative word there being 'may' - thus there is no sertainty and you have to some extent at least, take it all in faith. Is this not so?

You will find that a hallmark of scepticism is taking nothing on faith. Why, I am not even 100% sure that, should my pen roll off my desk, it will DEFINATELY hit the floor. But I'm pretty damn confident that it would, and may even bet some money on my expectation.

Faith, as so eloquently defined by Objective in the previous post, implies absolute conviction, which I don't see as an option in the sceptic world. A sceptic may support and think a hypothesis correct if s/he is satisfied that the evidence to support the  hypothesis is sufficient. This is a wonderfully liberating state of mind. The sceptic is not shackled by any faith or dogma, he is free to change his mind. He does not have to defend any viewpoint from an emotional or sentimental angle.

One thing a sceptic won't do, however, is to embrace just any old hypothesis simply because the explanation of a phenomenon or event is still unknown. The sceptic does not have a compulsive need to have absolute certainties. We are happy to wait until evidence becomes available. Sometimes in our lifetimes, perhaps never.

So taking current evidence into account, the Biblical creationist God hypothesis and the Arkelseizure sneeze hypothesis, in my mind, carries equal weight, and I am undecided between the two. I'm simply partial to the Arkelseizure because as a human being, I am not devoid of emotion, and he seems an altogether nicer god.

Mintaka

« Last Edit: February 19, 2009, 09:26:45 AM by Mintaka » Logged
benguela
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« Reply #9 on: February 19, 2009, 09:04:04 AM »


Benguela [I don't know what caused the big bang. The fact that I don't know doesn't therefor mean that your theory is the correct one.

Welcome to the forums.]

First of all thanks for the welcome, and for your honesty in acknowledging that you don't know how it all started; may I throw a friendly peble in the bush? How do you know that what you call my theory (God creating all for His glory) is not the correct one?


Let's finish the first point before moving onto the next one, do you agree that me not knowing what caused the big bang does not mean that you can conclude that your creation theory is correct?


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Mefiante
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« Reply #10 on: February 19, 2009, 10:29:46 AM »

The operative word there being 'may' - thus there is no sertainty and you have to some extent at least, take it all in faith. Is this not so?
But we have physical, repeatable, directly observable evidence today (specifically, the expanding universe and the cosmic microwave background radiation) that is far, far more coherently accounted for not by any creator-god, but by the Big Bang theory of cosmogony.



It makes more sense to believe "In the beginning God..." than "in the beginning nothing...", for if there is no God then, nothing must have become something, by whatever process; or if you don't like that idea, then something simply always existed, which again requires some faith to believe.
Not so.  You cannot define “nothing” without reference to “something” and this problem thwarts every attempt to give physical meaning to “nothing.”  Simply saying that it is the total absence of anything is an empty definition because it tells us nothing useful about, say, the conditions in which this “nothingness” exists, and therefore it can mean whatever you like.  The idea of an eternally existing, infinitely complex, miracle-working creator-god makes far less sense than any naturalistic versions in the light of what science has revealed about the world, the evidence in support of those versions and the total absence of compelling reason and/or evidence for such a god.



To be honest, no I can't see the self-contradiction, nor do I understand how or why the first cause is no longer scientifically viable - since it seems only logical that everything must have a beginning; simplistic example - a fully made Ford does not just come of a factory - it is the result of a long process of planning, making etc. The car manufacturer begins the deseign, and the rest of the process follows.
I did not say “the first cause is no longer scientifically viable.”  I said that it is no longer scientifically viable to hold that “everything has a cause” – i.e. that whatever happens depends for its happening on some prior happening.  For example, radioactive decay events are completely spontaneous, as are virtual particles.  There is no “cause” in either, not in any traditional sense of that word.  Thus, we know of natural phenomena that arise uncaused.

If I say “all crows without exception are black” and then try to convince you that this white bird that I have is a crow, then I am clearly contradicting myself.  Similarly, to say that “everything has a cause” and then say that a creator-god is uncaused is to be self-contradictory because at least one thing is then uncaused.  Your Ford example is a bad analogy.  A car is clearly the product of thought and deliberation towards fulfilling a certain purpose.  We have no reason to suppose that the universe is in any way comparable, especially in terms of any purpose.  This is what is known as the “Argument from Design” and is no longer convincing, although it is frequently used by believers.

'Luthon64
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bluegray
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« Reply #11 on: February 19, 2009, 12:23:08 PM »

This might be of interest:
http://forum.skeptic.za.org/science-and-technology/prof-malcolm-longair-talks-in-cpt/
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OHA
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« Reply #12 on: February 19, 2009, 17:18:41 PM »

[For example, radioactive decay events are completely spontaneous, as are virtual particles.  There is no “cause” in either, not in any traditional sense of that word.]

Wouldn't the second Law of Thermodynamics in some way apply to this? while also disproving that lifeforms and systems left to themselves would tend towards disorder (breakdown) rather that improvement (evolution)?

[Let's finish the first point before moving onto the next one, do you agree that me not knowing what caused the big bang does not mean that you can conclude that your creation theory is correct?]

I don't quite know how to answer that one, but if I firmly believe (yes, I know Faith), that the God of the Bible exist and created everything, then either one of us is wrong, for we can't be both right.

[Similarly, to say that “everything has a cause” and then say that a creator-god is uncaused is to be self-contradictory because at least one thing is then uncaused.]

I agree, the "uncausedness" of God is a wonderful mystery, and one I don't tend to break my head over, since if I could completely understand Everything, including God's "beginning" He would no longer be God - How can a finite human being like myself totally grasp an infinite Being like God?

Thank you all for the mostly polite feedback - really appreciate it. Appologies if I was not able to satisfactory answer all questions.
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Mefiante
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« Reply #13 on: February 19, 2009, 20:00:35 PM »

Wouldn't the second Law of Thermodynamics in some way apply to this?
No.  The second law of thermodynamics (SLT) is a statistical law that applies to aggregates of particles.  In essence, it says that some form of energy input is necessary to maintain (or increase) the usable recoverable energy fraction (usually referred to as “order”) of such a system, and that the energy input quantity will always exceed the quantity of recoverable energy.  On Earth, we get that energy input from the Sun.  The SLT does not address itself directly to virtual particles or to radioactive decay, and even if it did, it does not describe any cause-effect relationship.



while also disproving that lifeforms and systems left to themselves would tend towards disorder (breakdown) rather that improvement (evolution)?
Not so.  The SLT is a favourite creationist canard that seeks to show evolution and increasing complexity to be impossible.  The presence of an external energy source, namely the Sun, destroys the argument.  But even if creationists were correct and also were consistent in their claims, they would have to agree that the world is inevitably falling apart materially, and that nothing can be done about it – a patently absurd and demonstrably erroneous implication.



I agree, the "uncausedness" of God is a wonderful mystery,…
Oh dear me!  Quite apart from the completely unwarranted and unproven supposition of a creator-god, the implication here is that we should resign ourselves to an insoluble riddle by calling it a “wonderful mystery” whenever we are stumped.  All I can say is that I am deeply grateful to those individuals – past, present and future – who refuse to subscribe to such a cognitive fatalism and choose instead to confront their ignorance by probing deeper, and in that way increase human knowledge and the potential for improved welfare.  If we resigned ourselves thusly every time we failed to grasp some problem, we’d still pretty much be living in the Stone Age.
 


… and one I don't tend to break my head over, since if I could completely understand Everything, including God's "beginning" He would no longer be God
Is a deeper understanding of the universe, how it is and how it may have come about not a worthy aspiration?  Even in the complete absence of any immediately practically usable knowledge, I think that a desire for such knowledge for its own sake is what gives humanity much of its sense of purpose.  It’s just sad that so many people, instead of honestly admitting that they don’t know, choose to vest their belief in some god or other, pretending that such an entity answers all questions when, really, it only provides excuses and obfuscation.  True humility lies in acknowledging what we do not know and earnestly resolving to seek honest answers wherever they may lead, not in prostrating oneself abjectly before a wilfully ineffable and cruel taskmaster.



How can a finite human being like myself totally grasp an infinite Being like God?
You can’t because whenever understanding is forthcoming, the goalposts are quite deliberately shifted.  The only function of a god is to serve as a receptacle for the things we are unwilling to task ourselves with understanding properly.

'Luthon64
« Last Edit: February 19, 2009, 20:23:57 PM by Anacoluthon64 » Logged
benguela
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« Reply #14 on: February 20, 2009, 10:07:21 AM »

[Let's finish the first point before moving onto the next one, do you agree that me not knowing what caused the big bang does not mean that you can conclude that your creation theory is correct?]

I don't quite know how to answer that one, but if I firmly believe (yes, I know Faith), that the God of the Bible exist and created everything, then either one of us is wrong, for we can't be both right.

Unfortunately I'm rather limited to logical reasoning. If 1 + 1 does not equal 3 that does not mean that 2 + 2 = 3. I fail to understand why you could not agree with my statement.  Cry
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« Reply #15 on: February 20, 2009, 11:08:15 AM »

Saw this on psychohistorian.org:
Does the Universe need to have a cause?
NEW YORK, MARCH 12 – Michael (Michał) Heller, a Polish cosmologist and Catholic priest who for more than 40 years has developed sharply focused and strikingly original concepts on the origin and cause of the universe, often under intense governmental repression, has won the 2008 Templeton Prize.
A quick search failed to find much more on this. Anybody know more?
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ingwe
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« Reply #16 on: February 20, 2009, 17:11:46 PM »

I thought it had some connection to the DI (Discovery Institute) but can find no obvious links


Purpose:
The Templeton Prize honors a living person who has made an exceptional contribution to affirming life's spiritual dimension, whether through insight, discovery, or practical works. Established in 1972 by Sir John Templeton, the Prize aims, in his words, to identify "entrepreneurs of the spirit"—outstanding individuals who have devoted their talents to those aspects of human experience that, even in an age of astonishing scientific advance, remain beyond the reach of scientific explanation. The Prize celebrates no particular faith tradition or notion of God, but rather the quest for progress in humanity's efforts to comprehend the many and diverse manifestations of the Divine.

Men and women of any creed, profession, or national origin may be nominated for the Templeton Prize. The distinguished roster of previous winners includes representatives of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and Buddhism. The Prize has been awarded to physicists, theologians, ministers, philanthropists, writers, and reformers, for work that has ranged from the creation of new religious orders and social movements to humanistic scholarship and research about the origins of the universe.

What these remarkable people have shared is a devotion to one or more of the Big Questions at the core of the John Templeton Foundation's mandate. All have been seekers of wisdom, humbled by the complexity of the human condition but determined, with their ideas and deeds, to chart fresh paths forward. Some Templeton laureates have demonstrated the transformative power of virtues like love, forgiveness, gratitude, and creativity. Others have provided new insights on scientific questions relating to infinity, ultimate reality, and purpose in the cosmos. Still others have used the tools of the humanities to provide new perspectives on the spiritual dilemmas of modern life. The Prize seeks and encourages breadth of vision, recognizing that human beings take their spiritual bearings from a range of experiences.

Criteria of Merit:
The qualities sought in a Templeton Prize nominee include creativity and innovation, rigor and impact. The judges seek, above all, a substantial record of achievement that highlights or exemplifies one of the various ways in which human beings express their yearning for spiritual progress. Consideration is given to a nominee's work as a whole, not just during the year prior to selection. Nominations are especially encouraged in the fields of:

Research in the human sciences, life sciences, and physical sciences.


Scholarship in philosophy, theology, and other areas of the humanities.


Practice, including religious leadership, the creation of organizations that edify and inspire, and the development of new schools of thought.


Commentary and Journalism on matters of religion, virtue, character formation, and the flourishing of the human spirit.
These fields do not exhaust the areas in which achievement might qualify for the Templeton Prize, nor is it necessary for a nominee's work to be confined to just one field.

Award:
The Prize is a monetary award in the amount of £1,000,000 sterling ($2,000,000 USD).


A list of previous winners is @ http://www.templetonprize.org/bios_recent.html

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« Reply #17 on: February 20, 2009, 18:34:19 PM »

If the Templeton Foundation has any but the most indirect and obscure connection to any Creationist or Intelligent Design organisation, somebody would surely have weaselled it out by now.  Some of the Templeton Prize winners of the past are very respectable scientists (who, in the approximate words of Richard Dawkins IIRC, “didn’t say anything bad about religion”).

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« Reply #18 on: February 21, 2009, 11:26:18 AM »

Some respectable scientists may have won the prize, but the foundation itself is basically dedicated to blurring the line between science and "spirituality", which is not looked upon favorably by most scientists.
PZ (talking here about the second Beyond Belief conference)
Quote
The questions afterwards got a little heated, though, because both Atkins and Kroto said disparaging things about the Templeton Foundation — Jonathan Haidt accused them of "moralistic tribalism" and defended the Templeton because they had funded some of his research on moral psychology, and Michael Shermer sounded absolutely furious that people weren't appreciating the wonderful things the Templeton was doing. I think they're both full of crap: the Templeton funds stealth religion, and the good work they support is a façade to conceal their aims…an effective shield, if Haidt's and Shermer's responses are any measure.
and Jerry Coyne, among others, really seem to get annoyed with the foundation, but many do not say much about it but do not support it either.
I personally don't care much for the award since I think it is to placate people who are religous, but also believe that science is (at least mostly) correct.  While I don't believe we should be confrontational, I don't like endeavors that feel the need to use "mealy mouth" language and awards that are supposedly entirely scientific.
I can't find a good link to it yet, but the Templeton Foundation was supporting the DI at one stage, but dropped it.  Again, that is from memory, and with mine, it is lucky that I have that much.  I can't remember what the relationship actually entailed.
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« Reply #19 on: February 21, 2009, 11:53:26 AM »

Some respectable scientists may have won the prize, but the foundation itself is basically dedicated to blurring the line between science and "spirituality", which is not looked upon favorably by most scientists.
Sorry, perhaps I phrased my reply poorly.  I didn’t mean to suggest or imply that the Templeton Foundation commands general scientific respect or that it is an acknowledged scientific institution – quite the opposite.  My point was purely that, while sharing a basically anti-scientific agenda somewhat aligned with Creationism/ID, it has no easily detectable ties to Creationism and/or ID institutes.  The mention of some respectable scientists who have won its prize was meant to illustrate that separation because very few scientists feel comfortable being associated with something as overtly anti-scientific as Creationism and ID.

The morality of the Templeton Foundation is indeed a little tarnished.  In our view, it runs entirely counter to the spirit of free enquiry to attempt biasing scientific findings towards some preconceived ideas through promise of the possibility of a large financial reward at the end – a scurrilous approach that is reminiscent of some clinical trials conducted not too long ago and funded directly by large pharmaceutical concerns who expected (and got) the results they “paid” for.  One of the Templeton Prize’s most basic conditions is that it must always exceed in value that of the Nobel Prize.  Now why should that be?

'Luthon64
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