Monday, March 04, 2013

Theism, Materialism and Science

When writing about the topic of evolution, it is critical to define one's terms. Many (not all) advocates of evolution are masters at defining the term evolution so broadly that it can mean virtually whatever they want or need it to.

For my purposes in this particular post, when I use the term evolution, I am referring to natural selection as proposed by Charles Darwin in On the Origin of Species i.e. Darwinism.

Now, as someone who believes that "God created the heavens and earth," I sometimes find myself being labeled as "religiously bias." Many are quick to assert that those who believe in a designer are unable to view scientific evidence (or any for that matter) objectively because of their religious convictions. However, after pondering the question for quite sometime, it is my conviction that the theist actually finds himself in the more objective position than that of the materialist.

Science, as defined by the current scientific community, basically states that science is the search for natural causes only.

Consider the following words from one of Carl Sagan's friends, Harvard's Richard Lewontin:

Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural. We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of its failures to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment to materialism. In is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover the materialism is absolute for we cannot allow a divine foot in the door. [1]

In other words, the game is rigged before it's played!

With that in mind, it's important to remember that science is supposed be, or at the very least, should be, the search for that which is true.  However, when one claims that "science is the search for natural causes only," he or she, knowingly or unknowingly, is guilty of allowing there philosophical bias to enter into their scientific conclusions. To be specific, materialistic science is based upon the philosophy (or some may even say religion) of materialism- the belief that the material is all there is. This idea is of course problematic because we have good reasons to believe that immaterial things do exist.

Dr. William Lane Craig offers some examples:

1. mathematics and logic
2. metaphysical truths (such as, there are minds that exist other than my own),
3. ethical judgements (you can't prove by science that the Nazis were evil, because morality is not subject to the scientific method),
4. aesthetic judgements (the beautiful, like the good, cannot be scientifically proven), and, ironically
5. science itself (the belief that the scientific method discovers truth can't be proven by the scientific method itself) [2]

If one doubts this, I'll simply point out that the very thought that, "only nature (or the material) exists," is itself immaterial! It is an idea with no weight, mass, etc. If one were to crack a materialists head open (which I don't recommend doing!), you would not find the idea "only the material exists" inside their head.

Contrast this with the theistic worldview. As a theist, I am free to follow the evidence wherever it leads because my philosophical convictions don't box me in. Admittedly, one should always consider natural explanations first; however, if detectable design is present, one should be at liberty to conclude that a designer is the best explanation of the phenomenon being observed. It's important to highlight that those who preach materialistic science do observe what they would call the "appearance" of design-

Richard Dawkins asserts:

"Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose." [3]

Further, Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of DNA, admits:

"...biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved." [4]

So, it isn't that the design is unobserved, but when the observable science challenges the philosophical bias (in this case, materialism), the observable science takes a back seat to the philosophy- materialism.

Moreover, as a theist, I am free to accept, or reject, evolution based solely on it's scientific merits. Hypothetically, if I were to conclude that evolution, on a macro-evolutionary level (change at or above the level of species) [5], were true, this would do nothing to undermine my worldview. As a Christian, I would certainly have to reevaluate some of my views; however, a Creator would still be the best explanation of 1) the origin of the universe 2) the fine-tuning of the universe 3) objective moral values and duties 4) Jesus' resurrection from the dead 5) the information found in DNA 6) and human consciousness. 

But what about the materialist (or naturalist) who says that "nature is all there is?" He or she, because of their philosophical bias, cannot even consider design. They have already decided a priori, that a naturalistic explanation must explain everything, no matter what.  They cannot "let a divine foot in the door." This is simply assuming what you are trying to prove.

Ironically, it is not Intelligent Design or Theism that is a "science stopper," as many of it's opponents would have us believe, but it is science based upon materialism that keeps the scientist from being able to follow the evidence.

Further, it seems hypocritical to me when materialists object to ID because it has "theistic implications," when, if they were honest, materialism clearly has atheistic implications.

It is for these reasons that I believe the theist finds himself in a more objective position than the materialist.

Courage and Godspeed,
Chad


Footnotes:

1. Richard Lewontin, "Billions and Billions of Demons," The New York Review of Books, January 9, 1997, 31.
2. A debate between William Lane Craig and Peter Atkins; the debate can be read here: http://www.leaderu.com/offices/billcraig/docs/craig-atkins.html
3. Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, 1.
4. Francis Crick, What Mad Pursuit (1990), p. 138.
5. John Wilkins, "Macroevolution: Its Definition, Philosophy and History," http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/macroevolution.html#what.

23 comments:

John Moore said...

Just regarding Craig's five examples of non-material things, I assert that the first four are entirely material. Yes, all of math, logic, minds, ethics, and aesthetics are material things, although few people understand this.

About the fifth example, it's true that science can't prove it discovers ultimate cosmic truth. On the other hand, science doesn't claim to discover ultimate cosmic truth. It only claims to discover the contingent truth of the here and now, in the world as we perceive it.

Chad said...

Hello Mr. Moore,

Thank you for stopping by the blog and taking to time to comment.

You wrote: "Yes, all of math, logic, minds, ethics, and aesthetics are material things, although few people understand this."

Since you seem to be one of the few that understands this, please enlighten us.

Respectfully

John Moore said...

I have my own understanding, which I admit might be wrong. It's too long to explain here. But the point I wanted to make is that you shouldn't take for granted that immaterial things exist.
Your own lack of a material explanation doesn't give you "good reasons to believe that immaterial things do exist."

Even many atheistic scientists speak of these things as if they were immaterial, and they say we might never figure out how consciousness works, for example. Still, this does not give you reason to believe immaterial things exist. Ignorance is not evidence.

The second part of my earlier comment makes a more important point. Science doesn't try to figure out God's cosmically objective reality. You make a mistake by assuming it does. Since science limits itself to the here and now, it doesn't say anything about God, and therefore it does not in fact have atheistic implications. Also, the scientist does not say "nature is all there is." Instead, the scientist just says that nature is all we'll talk about for now. This is an important distinction.

Chase said...

Hi John,

You wrote: "Even many atheistic scientists speak of these things as if they were immaterial, and they say we might never figure out how consciousness works, for example. Still, this does not give you reason to believe immaterial things exist. Ignorance is not evidence.

The lack of a material explanation for the examples provided is also not a good reason to rule out that immaterial things exist. I think this was the point Chad was making in the post. Correct me if I am mistaken Chad.

I too would like some sort of an explanation of your understanding that these things are material. Perhaps some questions will help formulate a brief overview: In what sense are these things material? Can we touch and handle these things?

Any clarity you can provide is appreciated.

Note: If interested, an interview with J. Steve Miller who has researched near-death experiences can be found here. People who were pronounced clinically dead and then revived were able to provide details of the activity occuring around them after the pronouncment. What do we make of this if minds are material?

Chad said...

Hello Mr. Moore,

Thank you again for sharing your thoughts. You bring up some interesting points; however, if you don't mind, let's just address one issue at a time.

Could you just explain how gravity is material?

Respectfully

John Moore said...

Without mass there would be no gravity, right? It's true that gravity itself isn't made of atoms, but you must admit that the material world is more than just particles. Einstein showed that matter and energy are equivalent and can transform into each other. When I talk about something being material, therefore, I'm thinking of both matter and energy.

It's true again that gravity might not be a form of energy, since it's just a force. Maybe gravity arises due to the nature of space and time. But without matter, there would be no space and time. So I think it's uncontroversial to consider the physical forces to be "material."

When I think of things that are not material, I'm thinking of spirit, or soul. God isn't made of matter or energy, and God would still exist even without any matter or energy, right?

Chase said...

Hello again John,

This is indeed an interesting discussion. Thanks for engaging in it.

In your latest comment you wrote: "It's true that gravity itself isn't made of atoms, but you must admit that the material world is more than just particles.

If "the material world is more than just particles" then is it still a material world? I think, and from your statement above it seems as if you think as well, that the answer is no. The world in which we find ourselves in is both material and immaterial.

Chad said...

Hello Mr. Moore,

Thank you again for taking the time to explain your thinking. It is most helpful and I believe you raise some interesting points.

You write "When I talk about something being material, therefore, I'm thinking of both matter and energy."

Now that you have defined what it means to say something is “material,” how do you conclude that the idea or concept of the law of non-contradiction is material?

It seems to me that ethical judgments, math, logic, aesthetic judgments and metaphysical truths are obviously not made of matter and energy, and in the absence of some defeater, I believe we are on good grounds for affirming that they are indeed an immaterial reality.

As Alvin Plantinga would contend, these beliefs are properly basic.

Respectfully

John Moore said...

The law of non-contradiction is an example of logic, which I'm claiming is "material" in the sense that its existence depends on matter and energy. I hope this is a valid distinction that we can agree on, that "material" things are not just particles but anything that depends on matter-energy for its existence, as opposed to spirit or God, who would still exist even if no matter or energy existed. So I don't want to pursue the point Mr. Chase brought up about non-particles being "immaterial."

Here's why I think logic is material. I claim that all logic (and mathematics) is a set of rules we use in our brains for predicting sensory input. For example, if I see an elephant one moment, I predict I'll still see that elephant in the next moment (unless I see something else that leads me to think I'll lose my view of the elephant). In other words, elephants don't just disappear. It's either an elephant or it's not. This is how I interpret the law of identity, or non-contradiction etc. It's a rule of thumb for predicting what I'll see next.

I say our mental rules are material because they exist only in our brains, which are material. You wrote in your original post that if we opened up a person's head, we would not find an idea inside, but that's only because ideas are microscopic. I'm proposing that an idea is a bunch of neurons connected to each other such that a neural impulse flowing in will be redirected and will eventually have some kind of motor output. For example, the input might be from my eye when I see an elephant, and when this input flows through the part of my brain where I have the idea of "elephant," then the output could be me saying "That's an elephant."

If we had the proper equipment to look at individual neurons and keep track of the myriad flows of energy from one neuron to another, then we really could see an idea in a person's brain. So that's why I say an idea is a material thing. Mental rules work the same as ideas. They're groups of neurons connected together so that sensory inputs result in particular motor outputs.

Maybe the point where we disagree most is when I claim that ideas are only connected neurons and nothing else. Maybe you think ideas also exist in their own right out there in the world. Well, I agree that something must certainly exist out in the world. I just don't think the world has such things as ideas, or logic or math. The world outside our minds is objectively very different from the way we understand it.

Whew! This is a pretty long comment. Thanks for considering and discussing.

Anonymous said...

Hello Mr. Moore

In regards to your comments posted on March 11 and 12, 2013

The material world is the material word. The world that we live in made of matter that has forces acting upon it. The matter is matter and the forces are forces. Forces are not matter and I don’t think you have shown that they are.

It’s just a thought, but I don’t need a material explanation to know that my thoughts exist. I don’t see how it follows that I should not believe I have a conscious because scientist can’t explain how it works.

Do you believe that any immaterial thing can exist? Maybe I am reading your points incorrectly, but it appears to me that you have a preconceived bias that matter is all there is and it must explain everything. Please correct me if I am wrong.

I think science dealing with only the “here and now” is somewhat off the mark. Forensic science looks at the here and now to help determine the past. Climatologist (weather men) looks at the past and compares to the here and now to predict the future weather. Yes it deals directly with the here and now but implications reach beyond the present. If science dealt “only” with the here and now why would they want to explore space?

As far a bias in science, which is what the article was about, science is a tool only, nothing more. In and of itself, it is neutral. But the scientists have biases, both the theistic and the atheistic. ID’ers use science to show a designer (yes with implications of God but not limited to only God). Some cosmologist use science to try and determine a non-theistic origin of the universe. Evolutionary theorist use science to tell us how they think things happened without God. Some scientists have suggested that the Higgs boson particle is going to disprove God. Yes, science is neutral but scientists are not.

God bless,
Ron

Chad said...

Hello Mr. Moore,

I trust you are doing well! Thank you for the interesting and thought-provoking discussion.

I think a major point of disagreement that is arising is that you believe thoughts, ideas and even beliefs can be reduced to matter. Further, you state that ideas are “microscopic” and that if we had the proper equipment, we could actually see an idea in a person’s brain. I find this very problematic. However, I would want to ask what scientific or philosophical evidence you have to support this view?

During our dialog I was reminded of an interview I read with Dr. J.P. Moreland about the evidence for consciousness. He has done much work in the study of consciousness and physicalism. During the discussion, the interviewer asks Dr. Moreland, “What positive evidence is there that consciousness and the self are not merely a physical process of the brain?” [Which seems to be what you are asserting.]

Moreland shared the following:

“We have experimental data for one thing. For example, neurosurgeon Wilder Penfield electrically stimulated the brains of epilepsy patients and found he could cause them to move their arms or legs, turn their heads or eyes, talk, or swallow. Invariably the patient would respond by saying, “I didn’t do that. You did.” According to Penfield, “the patient thinks of himself as having an existence separate from his body.”

No matter how much Penfield probed the cerebal cortex, he said, “There is no place…where electrical stimulation will cause a patient to believe or to decide.” That’s because those functions originate in the conscious self, not the brain.

A lot of subsequent research has validated this. When Roger Sperry and his team studied the differences between the brain’s right and left hemispheres, they discovered the mind has a causal power independent of the brain’s activities. This led Sperry to conclude materialism was false.

Another study showed a delay between the time an electric shock was applied to the skin, its reaching the cerebral cortex, and the self-conscious perception of it by the person. This suggests the self is more than just a machine that reacts to stimuli as it receives them. In fact, the data from various research projects are so remarkable that Laurence C. Wood said, “many brain scientists have been compelled to postulate the existence of an immaterial mind, even tough they many not embrace a believe in the afterlife…

So the scientist can know about the brain by studying it, but he can’t know about the mind without asking the person to reveal it, because conscious states have the feature of being inner and private, but the brain’s states don’t.” [1]

I conclude with an illustration a friend shared with me that I believe beautifully illustrates the difference between the immaterial mind and material brain.

In the movie A Beautiful Mind, which is based on a true story, the main character experiences hallucinations of two people for years. He finally realizes that since they do not age, they must be hallucinations. He continues to see the hallucinations, but just ignores them. So, his material brain was malfunctioning and causing hallucinations, yet his mind was able to see beyond the material malfunctions and recognize the reality of the situation.

Mr. Moore, you have mentioned God a few times in our dialog. May I ask, “Do you believe in God?”

Respectfully

Footnote:

Lee Strobel, The Case for the Creator, p. 257-258.

The references to the studies mentioned above are available upon request.

John Moore said...

It looks like we're still unclear about what the material world is. I'm glad to have this discussion because I didn't even realize it was an issue. I'll have to ponder more seriously about this.

Do you guys think there's a significant difference between matter (particles) and other physical things like energy? I think the really important difference is between matter/energy and spirit. Or do you think God is a kind of energy? I hope you can be clear and specific on this point.

The forces of nature, such as gravity, electro-magnetism, and the strong and weak nuclear forces - are they not physical? There is also space and time. There is also inertia and entropy. I thought all these things were part of the physical world, and so I call them "material." God transcends them all, which means God isn't contingent on any of these things.

Any materialist you meet will most likely think the same way as me. The existence of energy does not mean there's something supernatural. The existence of gravity does not suggest that spirit must also exist. Or does it?

John Moore said...

You got me on the phrase "here and now," because I agree it should also include the earthly past and future. Science can indeed investigate a few billion years in each direction. But the important point I wanted to make is that science can tell us nothing about what might have happened before our universe was created. Science can't tell us what is in God's mind. Honest scientists won't even try!

So as I wrote earlier, "Science doesn't claim to discover ultimate cosmic truth. It only claims to discover the contingent truth ..."

John Moore said...

Ron wrote, "Some scientists have suggested that the Higgs boson particle is going to disprove God." I think this is ridiculous. Can you show me a quote? If some scientist really said this, then I agree they're totally out of bounds.

John Moore said...

About my idea that we can see ideas under a microscope, Chad writes, "What scientific or philosophical evidence you have to support this view?"

Well, if you accept my definition of an idea as a set of neurons connected up with each other in the way I described, then it's pretty straightforward. We can certainly see neurons under a microscope. It's more difficult to see how the neurons interact with each other, but that's surely possible some day.

But I guess you don't accept my definition of an idea. Maybe you have your own different definition to suggest for me?

John Moore said...

The experiments mentioned by J.P. Moreland are certainly interesting. It's clear that a person's sense of self is separate from the neural circuits directly responsible for moving arms and legs etc. The brain has many layers and many different parts. Why couldn't the sense of self just be in a different part of the brain?

By the way, no one doubts that we think of ourselves as having an existence separate from our body. Materialists claim this is an illusion, though, and deny that the "separate existence" is an immaterial soul. It's a universal illusion, but still an illusion.

There are lots of other universal illusions. For example, no one sees the blind spots in their eyes, even though they are looking right at them. Those blind spots really exist! You just can't see them until you do the special trick.

About Penfield's statement that "There is no place ... where electrical stimulation will cause a patient to believe or to decide," I think he just didn't look hard enough. Beliefs and decisions are probably more complicated than raw sensory inputs and motor output, and there might not be a single place in the brain that can be stimulated by itself to produce a lasting belief or decision.

On the other hand, it's easy to stimulate a person's brain and make them believe a spider is crawling up their arm. Isn't that a kind of belief? I hear drugs and alcohol can do it, so you don't even need to use electrodes.

As your example from "A Beautiful Mind" shows, it's possible for the rational part of the mind to overrule other parts that might be producing sensory illusions. No problem. The brain is made up of many different parts that can compete with each other, but all those parts are still material.

About Roger Sperry's conclusion that materialism is false, again I think it's too soon. He looks at the brain for a while and doesn't find something, so he triumphantly decides that thing doesn't exist. It's an argument from ignorance.

John Moore said...

I admit I don't officially believe in God, but I'm open to the possibility that God could exist. I like talking about God and interacting with believers in a respectful and thoughtful way.

My project is to build an artificial intelligence that would be "human equivalent" using computers. So it doesn't serve my purposes right now to believe in God.

cvaughn3946 said...

Hi John,

I’ve been following the comments on the blog and I was hoping I could ask you about this comment you posted:

“You got me on the phrase "here and now," because I agree it should also include the earthly past and future. Science can indeed investigate a few billion years in each direction. But the important point I wanted to make is that science can tell us nothing about what might have happened before our universe was created. Science can't tell us what is in God's mind. Honest scientists won't even try!”


And lastly:


“I admit I don't officially believe in God, but I'm open to the possibility that God could exist. I like talking about God and interacting with believers in a respectful and thoughtful way.

My project is to build an artificial intelligence that would be "human equivalent" using computers. So it doesn't serve my purposes right now to believe in God.”



Do you believe the universe is only 13.4 billion years old? If yes, in your opinion, what is the transcendent cause for space, time, and matter to come into existence out of nothing? I understand that we can only use science to study the contingent universe but how can one not want to search for a reasonable answer as to why does anything at all exist?


If you don’t “officially” believe in God, isn’t your “purposes” mentioned above nothing more than a human illusion?


Thank you,

John Moore said...

Hello cvaughn3946,

I don't know what caused our universe. I think our earthly common sense is a very unreliable guide when talking about such things as the Big Bang or quantum physics, so we can't even rule out the possibility that our universe appeared from nothing for no cause at all.

Of course it would be fascinating to know what God was doing before he created our universe, but that's impossible. So we have to discipline our minds and focus on things we really can know from our earthly perspective. We shouldn't spend all our time with baseless speculation, but we should celebrate the beauty of nature all around us.

Yes, my purposes are merely human. From God's cosmic point of view, I might be wallowing in illusion, but from my point of view, I'm happy!

Chad said...

Hello Mr. Moore,

I hope you are well! It seems that we have reached the point in the discussion where it is difficult to feel one is able to adequately address all the topics being discussed. For that reason, and for the fact that I must guard my time, I will give you the last word in our discussion. If you would like, I have a great book I would like to send you that covers much of the material discussed here and I believe could prove beneficial in your search for truth. It is free and I give you my word that I will not SPAM you or anything! If you are interested, please email me your address at truthbombapologetics@gmail.com

You have stated ”God isn't made of matter or energy, and God would still exist even without any matter or energy, right?”

You are correct here. God is not made of matter or energy and would still exist without any matter or energy. God is spaceless, timeless, and immaterial. Nor is He contingent upon the existence of the universe.

Let’s revisit a main contention I made in the article. I contend that I have good reason to believe that materialism is false because things like mathematics, logic, metaphysical truths, ethical judgments and aesthetic judgments cannot be scientifically proven and are not subject to the scientific method in a strict sense. I would also contend that they are grounded in God’s nature. These beliefs are what philosophers would call properly basic. They are experienced in our human condition and in the absence of some defeater, there is no reason to doubt them. When claiming that the existence of the law of non-contradiction is dependent upon the existence of the universe, I fear this is simply question begging. You are assuming what you are trying to prove. You have given no compelling reason that I can see to conclude that math, logic, metaphysical truths, ethical judgments and aesthetic judgments are contingent upon the universe. The theist contends that these things find their ontological grounding in the nature and character of God. This seems to me to be a much more robust explanation than claiming that these are simply the by-product of matter + time + chance. If that is the case, what reason do we have even to trust our own conclusions? After all, as you concede, on materialism the “I” or ego that we all seem to experience is nothing more than an illusion. Therefore, so too is one’s materialism an illusion.

Further, I would contend that these are immaterial because you cannot subject them to the scientific method. [Which, by the way, I concede that gravity would be physical and was a poor example. My apologies.] For example, how much does the law of non-contraction weigh? How much does love weigh? What’s the chemical composition of hate? Clearly, these questions are absurd because thoughts, convictions and emotions are not completely materially based.

Chad said...

(Con't)

Now, you write that “If we had the proper equipment to look at individual neurons and keep track of the myriad flows of energy from one neuron to another, then we really could see an idea in a person's brain.”

First off, here you are doing nothing but cashing a post-dated check. Essentially you are saying, “I don’t know…but I’m fairly sure we’ll figure it out.” I would rather deal with what we do know rather than what we might one day know. This seems to me to be a “science of the gaps”
argument.

I cited studies and research that suggest that the brain and the mind are not the same thing. These findings are at least consistent with dualism. You simply suggest that Penfield “didn’t look hard enough.” This is significant when one considers Penfield’s background. Wilder Penfield is considered by some to be the father of modern neurosurgery and performed more than a thousand surgeries on epileptic patients. Through his career he encountered concrete evidence that the brain and mind are actually distinct from each other, but certainly interact with each other. He said, “What a thrill it is, then, to discover that the scientist, too, can legitimately believe in the existence of the spirit.”

This makes sense if you consider the surgeon, as philosopher Doug Groothuis explains:

“Although a surgeon can see the brain (and has seen the brain previously through a CAT scan), she cannot see or hear the patient’s emotions. Nor can she see or hear the thought the patient forms, although the verbal report of this thought is heard shortly after the feeling occurs. The point here is that these states of consciousness-feeling fear or forming thoughts-are not reducible to material descriptions. Even if some device could register every material property and process of the human brain, it could not capture consciousness itself. The fact that consciousness is affected by the brain and by other physical objects, such as the probe, in no way reduces consciousness to a physical property any more than a wooden oar that troubles water turns the water into wood.”

I would also contend, as I highlighted above, that your conviction that our thoughts are merely the product of firing neurons has grave epistemological implications. As British biologist J.B.S. Haldane explains:

“If my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain, I have no reason to suppose my beliefs are true…and hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms.”

Further, and I believe most importantly, you write ”My project is to build an artificial intelligence that would be "human equivalent" using computers. So it doesn't serve my purposes right now to believe in God.”

So it seems to me that this suggests that even if compelling arguments for God’s existence were given, you would not even be willing to believe in Him or want to believe in Him because it “doesn’t serve your purposes.” It seems to me that one should accept or reject a truth claim based upon whether or not it’s true, not whether or not it serves one’s own personal purposes.

Moreover, I don’t see how believing in God could hinder one’s quest to build a “human equivalent.” On the contrary, I could easily see how belief in God could aid you in the process because then your quest would be to understand the program of the Programmer.

I appreciate the respectful dialog and your kind manner. You are in my prayers.

Respectfully

cvaughn3946 said...

Hi John,
Thanks for taking the time to respond to my questions. I have a few final comments/questions and I as well will give you the final word.

I don't know what caused our universe. I think our earthly common sense is a very unreliable guide when talking about such things as the Big Bang or quantum physics, so we can't even rule out the possibility that our universe appeared from nothing for no cause at all.


I would have to disagree with you on this. First, because I don’t understand how you can say our earthly common sense is very unreliable on one hand and then on the other propose to tell me how the universe came from the same thing that rocks dream of.

Secondly, I think Al-Ghazali answered your objection almost a thousand years ago:

1-Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2-The universe began to exist.
3-Therefore the universe has a cause.

In response to-

Of course it would be fascinating to know what God was doing before he created our universe, but that's impossible. So we have to discipline our minds and focus on things we really can know from our earthly perspective. We shouldn't spend all our time with baseless speculation, but we should celebrate the beauty of nature all around us.


Totally agree. But it seems to me that you are committing the taxicab fallacy in assuming that everything that happens within the universe can be explained with science but the cause of universe itself can’t be explained.

And Regarding-

Yes, my purposes are merely human. From God's cosmic point of view, I might be wallowing in illusion, but from my point of view, I'm happy!

This is an interesting comment. You mention God’s cosmic point of view although he is officially not a part of your worldview. If there indeed is no God, you and everything else in the universe exist to no purpose, since the end of everything is death, nothing more than blind products of chance.
Is happy a material thing? If yes, how does science evaluate the little neurons sending happy thoughts? Does it make any difference that your happy is a result of helping an elderly lady across the street where as my happy might be celebrating the Sandy Hook killing spree? How can science tell us anything more than this is what made John happy versus this is what made Chad happy?

Thanks again for your time. And again, I’ve appreciated the opportunity to follow this dialogue and engage with you as well.

Chad Vaughn

Chad said...

For readers who are interested in exploring the premises of the argument mentioned by cvaughn3946, see here.

Godspeed