• Guest Post by Neil Webber – The Causality Paradox

    Here is another guest post. The last one by The Thinker has had a thread which has exploded. This one is interesting, and one very similar to my lines of argumentation. Neil is a friend of mine with whom I lost contact. We played ultimate frisbee together at uni, and formed a team with other uni players after our last years. Then I went travelling and the team fell apart without me (well, that’s my story). And I haven’t really seen him in a dozen years. Then, when I debated Randal Rauser about the Nativity, he found out through facebook and contacted me – it turns out that we are geekily interested in the same things. And so here is his guest post. A pleasure to have it here, and hopefully we can meet up again soon for a beer. That said, although I have been playing rugby for the past 10 years (gave up when the twins were born), I met an old ultimate couple this weekend where we threw out the idea of one last tournament together – getting the old crew back together. So, Neil, you game?

    Anyway, enough irrelevant personal shite, back to science and philosophy. Here it is:

     “A whole is that which has a beginning, a middle, and an end. A beginning is that which does not itself follow anything by causal necessity, but after which something naturally is or comes to be. An end, on the contrary, is that which itself naturally follows some other thing, either by necessity, or as a rule, but has nothing following it. A middle is that which follows something as some other thing follows it.” Aristotle, ‘Poetics’, 335 BCE

    We live in a world of cause and effect, beginnings, middles and ends. This is an empirical world view based on what we see around us, everything seems to follow the core principle that for any given event, you can point to a cause. We are evolutionarily conditioned to this outlook, if hunger does not cause you to eat, or seeing a tiger not cause you to run or hide, your prospects are bleak. We conform ourselves, we are born, live and die.

    Atheistic determinism takes this cause and effect principle and extrapolates it to the nth degree; who you are, the decisions you make are all predestined, your neurology demands it which is determined by the world around you as you develop, which itself is determined by a wider set of cause and effect dominos, traceable back to the Big Bang itself and driven by the laws of physics.

    The causal principle is also intrinsic to theistic thinking. Your motivation for following the rules is casual; if you are suitably pious you are rewarded with your place in heaven, if not then hell, or if you prefer a non-Judaeo-Christian outlook on life, the Buddhist principles of karmic action and results. At the heart of the theistic view is the notion of creation and a creator. Whilst it’s fair to say that those who believe in the Genesis story are a minority, there is a widespread belief in God as the creator of the wider cosmos. In the Kalām cosmological argument God is the ultimate cause, the finger that pushes the first domino and creates the Big Bang, the Catholic position of theistic evolution points to God as the cause of the evolutionary process.

    “Everything starts somewhere, though many physicists disagree. But people have always been dimly aware of the problem with the start of things. They wonder how the snowplough driver gets to work, or how the makers of dictionaries look up the spelling of words. Yet there is the constant desire to find some point in the twisting, knotting, ravelling nets of space-time on which a metaphorical finger can be put to indicate that here, here, is the point where it all began…” Terry Pratchett, ‘Hogfather’

    Philosophically we are able, just about, to grapple with the concept of infinity. When we talk of dominos we can see that given enough dominos it is possible that the tumbling might continue forever. When we talk of cause and effect it is also understood that each effect can itself be a cause of another effect with another effect following ad infinitum. Infinity is big, by definition it is never ending, but as beings conditioned to seeing a never ending set of casual chains we can just about wrap our brains around the enormity of an infinite future.

    And yet this concept thrown into reverse is conceptually much harder. The premise that every effect has a cause begs the question of where the cause came from, but we are conditioned to things having a beginning, we are inquisitive creatures that want an explanation as to why. Indeed navigating back through time along the causal chain is like the classic children’s question of ‘Why? But why?’ asked unendingly when they are told to do something they don’t want to do. Eventually the parent despairs and answers ‘Just because!’. Where the idea that there will always be a time after is easy, the idea that there was always a before makes us uneasy.

    It is, however, a difficult concept to dismiss, no matter your theological leanings. Whatever you might imagine to be a prime cause demands the question of where did that come from? How does it come to be? If every effect has a cause, then something cannot come from nothing.

    This is the causality paradox; causality directly implies a creator, but denies the possibility of creation.

    In the case of the Kalām cosmological argument the answer of ‘God’ as the primary cause is no better than the parent’s ‘Just because’. Ultimately it is an answer that dismisses the possibility of a universe that simply appears from nothing in favour of an omnipotent being that simply appears from nothing; or a universe which has, in some way, existed eternally in favour of an omnipotent being that has simply existed eternally – a prime example of special pleading that does nothing to answer the question why or how.

    The same challenge of course is presented to the atheist/physicist. Prior to the detection of the cosmic microwave background radiation, majority scientific opinion favoured a steady state model of the universe and initially rejected the notion of the Big Bang, in part due to the religious overtones of a beginning to time. But with near universal acceptance of the Big Bang model* our universe seems to have been constrained to something with a beginning, with its origins in a singularity, so why and how does that singularity exist? Just because?

    *As an aside, it’s worth noting that even if a scientific theory sounds religious, and is developed by a theist (Georges Lemaître was a Roman Catholic priest), show us the evidence and science will cheerfully revise its view.

    Well no. Even at the time Big Bang model was first being developed, Albert Einstein considered a cyclic model of the universe, a never ending series of Big Bangs and Big Crunches. If you apply Occam’s razor to the question of what could cause a singularity containing the entire universe, the simplest answer would be a collapsing version of that same universe. While this seemed to be initially ruled out by the understanding of entropy at the time, cyclic models of cosmology have continued to be developed, some based around the implications of string theory and multi-dimensional space, some around the existence of dark energy.

    Perhaps the most interesting current model is Loop Quantum Cosmology (LQC) which is a physical consequence of the theory of Loop Quantum Gravity (LQG). LQG is a large area of research which attempts to describe the quantum properties of gravity in order to combine quantum mechanics and relativity. LQG applied to the early universe and the physics of the Big Bang leads to the consequence that the evolution of the universe can be continued beyond the Big Bang, replacing it with what has been coined the cosmic Big Bounce.

    What all of these models point towards is a universe that simply exists, a case of simple harmonic motion writ large, bouncing along forever. What they tell us is that causality is an inadequate description of the world, there is no ultimate cause, no agent that could be termed a creator.

    Is this a better answer than ‘Just because’? How does an ever present universe differ from an ever present omnipotent being? Well for one thing, the universe empirically exists. Aside from that ‘Just because’ presupposes the question ‘Why’, and if we abandon the notion of causality the better questions are rather ‘what’, or ‘how’. The answers are simply ‘this, the universe’, and ‘cyclically, forever’.

    Causation is a human myth, a combination of our desire to understand an ultimate why, evolutionary imperative, and a personal view of the world that is embedded in time. Because we have a beginning, a middle, and an end, we project that briefness, that constraint onto our view of the world around us. Reject causation, and what we have would be better termed sequentiality, that is simply that one thing follows another, from eternal past into eternal future.

    Category: cosmologyFree Will and DeterminismPhilosophyScience and religion

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    Article by: Jonathan MS Pearce

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    • Daydreamer1

      The thing with theologians is that no matter what they will continue. After all there have been some pretty shattering changes to their core ideology over the centuries. It is the advantage of selling stories – it is really about the person buying, rather than the person selling. With each new generation comes rebirth.

      This strategy prevails because rebirth is about choosing which ideas will work for each new generation – which will have traction. Some are solid staples; enough people fear death and suffer existential crisis. Others fall away; Adam and Eve, Genesis, Fate.

      I agree that a first cause solves nothing if all you do is push the infinity back, but we must ask what problem it is solving – ‘who benefits?’. Sure, it doesn’t answer the grand question of where everything comes from (since all it claims to do is push it back to God), but the theologian benefits. After all, that is all they cared about and the only place they wanted their parishioners and possible future converts to land. It got the precisely where they wanted it to. ‘Who benefits’ is a great little question and with it we see all we need to about why theologians answer like they do and arrive where they do. It is not the same motivation as scientists or philosophers. In their own little world of cause and effect their motivation caused them to land exactly where we would predict.

      To the physics though:

      If the universe is ever proven to be infinite in time then don’t expect much. Theologians can wade in awe at how their God created something infinite.

      We can walk around and around the Earth for infinity. It is a boundless surface. 3D surfaces can be like this too. Space and time may interchange and do who knows what. We can also have fun with relativistic effects – the different viewpoints of observers in different relations to space-times inside and outside universes. I point you to Brian Greens The Elegant Universe on that one. Infinite space and finite time viewed within a universe can look different dependant on the position of the observer being inside the bubble, or outside it.

      Then we have fun with singularities. They happen in general relativity, but not in QM. Stephen Hawking commented in A Brief History of Time that they knew QM stopped the infinities. Because of this universes can go ‘through the eye of the needle’ and time doesn’t need to start at the Big Bang. As you say, Big Bangs and Big Crunches – though at the moment the acceleration of the universe isn’t indicating this. Maybe our bubble will just pop though – there may be plenty of other bubbles that contract.

      I don’t know the degree to which inflation is still in vogue. The Elegant Universe has a nice description of how to create a universe like ours though through the mathematics of the inflaton field. Basically just start with a very rare quantum state with a total energy of about 21lbs (about the weight of your arm) out in multi-universal space and boom, the dimensions expand exponentially driven by that 21lbs of energy. Then gravity and the inflaton field start feeding off each other, with gravity trying to slow it down and the negative energy feeding off the growing gravitational energy as the equivalent to blowing up a balloon with an elastic band stretched from one side to the other occurs (gravity being the elastic band). As the universe grows the energy of the elastic band grows – of gravity, and the resulting energy gets dumped into the universe as mass/energy. All the time while gravity feeds inflation and inflation feeds gravity until the phase point where the energy is dumped into space slowing inflation down. Or something like that…………

      so Is this a better answer than ‘Just because’?

      Nope, it is a better answer to the theologian in the same way that Essential Oils or Ritalin super-vitamin A5 sells more shampoo.

      Daniel Dennett’s thoughts are always useful. A theologians teachings only need to do two things. They must seem to answer the question, and they must do so in a way that leaves the parishioner feeling that the theologian understands it more than they do. If it meets these criteria then expect it to be used.

      • As Christer Stendahl said:

        “This understanding leads to the puzzling insight that in the living religious traditions continuity is affirmed and achieved by discontinuity. Authority is affirmed and relevance asserted by reinterpretation.”

        Theological ideas only survive by adapting to societal zeitgeist.

      • Love the Dennett idea.

        • Daydreamer1

          Its great isn’t it. He spoke about it at the same time as considering whether they really know what they are on about. They sure do claim to understand it better than a non-believer or someone uneducated in it, but what is really going on is a long history of tried and tested answers that work functionally on the laity such that when you approach a priest (et al) and ask X you will receive a stock reply designed to appear to answer the problem (that on deeper inspection doesn’t, but most people accept without thinking about deeply), but importantly when the person walks away they have the feeling that the answer was profound, but because they do not really understand it and the priest appeared to it leaves the priest in a position of power.

      • Joseph O Polanco

        Thing is, Inflationary Models not only face the problems of how to get the inflation started, how to get it to end without excess turbulence, and how to get it to allow galaxy formation, but more importantly they themselves require an extraordinary amount of fine-tuning prior to inflation, so that the appearance of design is not eluded.

        For instance, a contracting universe won’t generate the proper “bounce” characteristics as it transitions from a contraction to an expansion. Baum-Frampton is a non-starter because they haven’t figured out how to have zero average growth along geodesics given the asymmetry in the expansion and contraction phase of their model. More importantly, they only considered a subset of the full reality they propose.

        The Aguirre-Gratton model tries to avoid this problem entirely by reversing the arrow of time at the boundary. But if you do this, then the mirror universe on the other side of the BVG boundary in no sense represents a past out of which our current universe evolved. Thus our universe would begin-to-exist.

        Withal, the Aguirre-Gratton model is not even suggested by its authors to be a model of our universe! Rather, they hope that it can serve as a springboard for the birth of our universe through some other physical process.

        Wheeler’s theory, on the other hand, not only succumbs to the problems generic to oscillating models, but insofar as it posits singularities at the termini of each cycle, it is not even a model of an oscillating universe at all, but of just a series of unrelated worlds.

        Clearly, then, the absolute beginning of our universe remains inescapable.

        • Clearly, then, you didn’t appear to take in Neil’s points, particularly the ones on LGC.

          Start here:

          http://journalofcosmology.com/MacyclicUniverse4.pdf

          Also, I suggest reading up on singularities.

          Start here:

          http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/spacetime-singularities/#BreGenRel

          • Daydreamer1

            I thought Joseph was showing an ounce of effort then, until after describing unknowns he launched from them to make an ‘inescapable’ conclusion. Very strange.
            Nice description of the problems with inflation, though from what Ive read getting it to stop isn’t a ‘problem’ that renders the models less able to describe our universe. From the feel of it inflation is pretty much infinite once it starts – you don’t get it to easily stop. Universes stop expanding, or slow down, but inflation runs wild and continues generating new universes outside of our horizon.

            There is an issue with personality here and expectation. Many many people jumped in the past from the lack of a decent gravitational theory to ‘X does it’ without having much of a description of X and no evidence at all. They just defined that X did it and held to that. We have all sorts of examples of this sloppy thinking. Thor, Zeus – almost every experience of nature, every sensory stimuli, has had a narrative roughly pasted onto it at some time in the past by overreaching theologians of one religion or another.

            I see this as a call to responsibility that is easy to see, resting so high on the failures of others as it does. As such the hints given by incorrect ideas regarding the creation of universes should be allowed and seen alongside the many incorrect ideas that showed that nature can be looked at mathematically – that it obeyed laws. That guiding insight shone through all the failures of the past; through every little hurdle overcome on the way to understanding what we do today.
            The birth of the universe is surely one of the hardest and greatest questions we have attempted to answer. Ideas like inflation show, even by being wrong, that the idea is approachable using the same tools as science employs elsewhere.

            I don’t need anything other than that to excite me.

            I certainly don’t need inescapable conclusions that rest on a lack of evidence and theory instead of the opposite. That isn’t a standard that has worked for anything else.

          • Joseph O Polanco

            How does any of this specifically repair the problems in the models I presented?

            • Daydreamer1

              Well, I posted a reply but it appears to have been lost. In short, it doesn’t. But I didn’t try to. In fact I admitted in my first comment that inflation is suffering at the moment (is falling out of vogue).

              However, note that I am not claiming to ‘believe’ in inflation – or any alternative. I hold the jury still to be well out on that. Hence I disagree with forming any conclusions based on any failings or successes of these theories until physicists themselves start saying they have solved the problems.

              Until then all I would say is that it is amazing that we have mathematical models that extend from some of our most successful theories at all. That fills me with hope that the question of where the universe came from is addressable using science. By comparison if we don’t use maths and just use words it is much easier to formulate ideas, much less rigorous, and without having to extend from any of the proven parts of physics.

            • Neil Webber

              And this really is the point. What I find particularly interesting about LQG and also string theory), is that these are not proposed cyclic cosmological models, but rather outcomes of more intrinsic models of quantum and particle physics that happen to indicate cyclic cosmology.

              As with Daydreamer I’m not pinning my flag to any specific theory, rather looking at the wider trends and implications of what the latest physics is telling us. At every step of the way our understanding becomes better and I share his view that the answer is within the realms of science

            • Daydreamer1

              Indeed. This is special because, just like with Newton, it is starting to show that the problem is addressable. For such a grand question that is amazing enough for Tuesday morning.

              Where is can dribble down to a forum chat is the sheer difference between that and what we were all told by our vicars and priests when we were children, and by apologists today. Namely that it is a question only religion can answer and that the answer is God.

              They’ve tried it before with geology and the history of the Earth and been rebuked. They tried it with biology and the history of life. They’ve tried it with historians and encountered similar difficulties. Now we move to the birth of the universe. Sure, when a field is in its infancy there is much to pull at, but theologians have claimed for a millennia that the field did not even exist. It does now, and theology may well have to adapt to its challenges, just as with geology and biology.

              Also look to the horizon at consciousness research – another field that many have said doesn’t even exist that is beginning to bear fruit.

            • Neil Webber

              Funnily enough I have some thoughts on conciousness that may well form the basis of a future guest post :)

        • John Grove

          [[Clearly, then, the absolute beginning of our universe remains inescapable]]

          Read Neil Turok’s book, “Endless Universe: Beyond the Big Bang” by Paul J. Steinhardt and Neil Turok

          They suggests that the cyclic universe is totally compatible with all the WAMP satellite findings. They postulate that the dark energy within our universe is actually unstable and its decay is what will drive the two branes together which will once again begin a new singularity. Furthermore that book was a refutation that “time” began at the big bang.

          • Joseph O Polanco

            Let’s try something. You guys all get together and figure out the truth and, when you do – if you ever do – get back to the rest of us, ok?

            • Andy_Schueler

              You have an infantile understanding of what “truth” means in a scientific context.
              http://chem.tufts.edu/answersinscience/relativityofwrong.htm

            • Joseph O Polanco

              You misapprehend. I seek truth, not Scientism’s oft cheap imitation of it.

            • Andy_Schueler

              Strawman. Try again.

            • Joseph O Polanco

              You mean you don’t remember all the defunct scientific truths like Alchemy, Neptunism, the geocentric universe, Spontaneous Generation, Lamarckism, Emication, the existence of the planet Vulcan, Lysenkoism, Gradualism, Trepanation, Miasma theory of disease, Telegony, the expanding earth, the existence of Phlogiston, martian canals, Luminiferous Aether, the Steady State Theory, Cold Fusion, Hollow Earth Theory, Gradualism and Phrenology?

            • Andy_Schueler

              Stupid lie + proof by assertion + proof by repetition + red herring. Try again.

            • Joseph O Polanco

              Waitaminute! You mean to tell me you actually believe in Alchemy, Neptunism, the geocentric universe, Spontaneous Generation, Lamarckism, Emication, the existence of the planet Vulcan, Lysenkoism, Gradualism, Trepanation, Miasma theory of disease, Telegony, the expanding earth, the existence of Phlogiston, martian canals, Luminiferous Aether, the Steady State Theory, Cold Fusion, Hollow Earth Theory, Gradualism and Phrenology?!?!?!

            • Andy_Schueler

              No, I meant to tell you that your comment was a cocktail of stupid lies + proof by assertion + proof by repetition + red herring.

            • Daydreamer1

              Hi Joseph. Perhaps you might further your goals if you considered how each of these ideas was disproved – by what methodology?

            • Andy_Schueler

              It´s no use – he´s not actually interested in discussing this matter, he just copy-pastes this BS over and over and over again.

            • John Grove

              Just google the cut and paste job and see how many times Joseph (who actually plagiarized it) uses it. It boggles the mind. But it does show how shallow he is.

            • Andy_Schueler

              And this really pisses me off, I actually wasted some three minutes or so replying to this comment when he first copy-pasted this BS on this blog – which he obviously completely ignored.
              He made it abundantly clear that he doesn´t want to discuss anything, he is just looking for excuses to spam links to his “essays” and copy-paste his favorite quotes all over the place.

              The plagiarism is also rather annoying – he has no clue what he´s talking about when it comes to either Biology or Cosmology, he just copy-pastes the latter from WLC and the former from Harun Yahya.

            • John Grove

              Isn’t that the same song and dance from most of the religious zealots we have seen? Dishonesty knows no bounds from those who claim a “basis for morality”. I just don’t get it, I really do not.

              This is what Christianity has been reduced to.

            • Joseph O Polanco

              My rejoinder served to highlight the fallibility of the Scientific Method, thus, dethroning it as the maximum arbiter of truth.

            • Andy_Schueler

              1. Strawman.
              2. Even if it wouldn´t have been a strawman – your list includes precious few examples of scientific theories and is thus a strawman within a strawman.

            • John Grove

              Joseph, your cut and paste material is proof of your insincerity and intellectual laziness.

            • Joseph O Polanco

              Argumentum ad lapidem. You’ve done nothing to dispel the arguments presented nor the facts that support them. Try again.

            • Argument ad nauseum. Try again. No, actually don’t try again.

            • Then how could you be a Christian let alone a fundamentalist one?

    • Jeff H

      Superb post. It is one which reflects my own way of thinking in a clearer, more precise way than I have been able to put into words myself. Thanks for sharing this.

      • Thanks for the feedback Jeff! I’ll pass it on to Neil if he has not already read it.

      • Neil Webber

        Thank you very much Jeff! This is the first time I’ve written something like this and I was quite nervous about it, so positive feedback very much appreciated! :)

    • Joseph O Polanco

      Actually, the KCA deals with the whole issue quite nicely. It states:

      (1) Whatever begins to exist has a cause.

      (2) The space-time universe began to exist 13.70 billion years ago.

      (3) Therefore, the space-time universe has a cause.

      (4) The cause of the universe is a transcendent, beginningless, spaceless, immaterial, timeless, unchanging, omnipotent good personal being.

      (5) A transcendent, beginningless, spaceless, immaterial, timeless, unchanging, omnipotent good personal being is the definition of God.

      (6) Therefore, God caused the universe to exist 13.70 billion years ago.

      This essay here addresses the brute facts that make this syllogism both sound and plausible: http://bit.ly/SSsy8x

      • Having just written a 20,000 word paper on the KCA which is likely to become a book, I would wholeheartedly disagree. Though I normally revel in explaining the issues with the KCA, I imagine doing so with you would be like pulling teeth.

        The KCA sounds easy and good. It is actually riddled with issue at every step.

        Search my posts on the KCA for starters.

        • Joseph O Polanco

          Happily! Thanks!

          • Daydreamer1

            The KCA seems to jump at clauses 2 and 4 onwards. Up to then I see fewer problems with it.

            Obviously it is a theological argument, not a scientific one, so it has certain motivations. Accepting that and moving on:

            The first assumption made in clause 2) jumps by defining the ‘space-time universe’ as opposed to the ‘universe’. Quantum mechanics doesn’t do this so I don’t know why the KCA is. Sure it is the birth of our universe, but the birth of space time in a greater context? Science hasn’t confirmed that – it isn’t even required by physics. Note all the hypothesis that don’t do this (and though they are hypothesis they are still coherent mathematical structures, which is a lot harder to do than lobbing words together in a grammatically correct order).

            4 and 5 contain assumptions – some are bigger than others and one is huge.

            Some of these assumptions clearly follow from Christianity and not logic – and are certainty not following from 1, 2 and 3.

            • Joseph O Polanco

              The essay I referenced – http://bit.ly/10j5YgK – presents arguments and brute facts in support of each of the premisses. Take a look at it and then discuss particularly how and why any of these are false or implausible.

            • Neil Webber

              Well my entire article addresses clause 1, so I don’t feel the need to go into it, other than to highlight the intrinsic inconsistency in the argument that in clause 4 it posits a ‘beginningless’ being, in complete violation of your own clause 1. I have read the article, and it attempts to soft shoe shuffle around this problem by defining an ‘uncaused cause’ as something outside our space-time, but the whole premise of an uncaused cause is simply ‘Just because’.

              The justifications for the content of clause 4 & 5 are nothing more than ad hoc retrofitting the supposed properties of God onto the cause in order to justify 5. the most spectacularly omitted one however is that there is precisely zero justification for the use of the word ‘being’. On the remainder, if you assume something outside our space-time I could list just as many supposed properties that don’t fit so well. Lets start with ‘unknowing’ as anything wholey outside our space-time can have no knowledge of it. Or impotent, as anything wholey outside our space-time can have no interaction with it.

            • Joseph O Polanco

              i. It appears you misapprehend. In no way does premiss 4 contravene premiss 1.

              ii. Do you have evidence the cause of our universe came from within it?

              iii. Argumentum ignoratio elenchi.

              iv. Did you follow the link provided right after the phrase “all good and all loving”? It’s another essay which expansively addresses the necessity and nature of God’s goodness.

            • John Grove

              [[The essay I referenced … presents arguments and brute facts in support of each of the premisses.]]

              You really need to read more guy, you give the awful impression you had never read anything, either scientific or philosophical. Daydreamer1 said to you, “Inflation is suffering at the moment (is falling out of vogue).” This is correct for even Stephen Hawking said of Neil Turok’s work on the cyclic as a “A challenging alternative to the accepted picture of the Big Bang and future of the universe”

              The reason Stephen Hawking conceded this is because the evidence for the cyclic is starting to surpass traditional inflation and answers more questions while the inflation has absurdities.

              Furthermore, you really need to read Johnny’s work on the Kalam. It fails on several accounts.

            • Joseph O Polanco

              Well, if Hawking says so then it has to be true. After all, he’s never been wrong …

            • Just like the bible is 100 percent literally accurate in every verse and never conflicts with science anywhere.

            • FYI Joseph has been banned because of his behaviour on your guest post – over 800 comments of dross!

            • RIP :(

            • John Grove
            • Joseph O Polanco

              A few salient errors your first video makes. It:

              i. Presents cyclical inflationary models of the universe as reality argumentum assertio. It completely obviates all the serious flaws inherent to these models. not only face the problems of how to get the inflation started, how to get it to end without excess turbulence, and how to get it to allow galaxy formation, but more importantly they themselves require an extraordinary amount of fine-tuning prior to inflation, so that the appearance of design is not eluded.

              For instance, a contracting universe won’t generate the proper “bounce” characteristics as it transitions from a contraction to an expansion. Baum-Frampton is a non-starter because they haven’t figured out how to have zero average growth along geodesics given the asymmetry in the expansion and contraction phase of their model. More importantly, they only considered a subset of the full reality they propose.

              The Aguirre-Gratton model tries to avoid this problem entirely by reversing the arrow of time at the boundary. But if you do this, then the mirror universe on the other side of the BVG boundary in no sense represents a past out of which our current universe evolved. Thus our universe would begin-to-exist.

              Withal, the Aguirre-Gratton model is not even suggested by its authors to be a model of our universe! Rather, they hope that it can serve as a springboard for the birth of our universe through some other physical process.

              Wheeler’s theory, on the other hand, not only succumbs to the problems generic to oscillating models, but insofar as it posits singularities at the termini of each cycle, it is not even a model of an oscillating universe at all, but of just a series of unrelated worlds.

              Clearly, then, the absolute beginning of our universe remains inescapable.

              ii. Aruges against a posteriori causality by fallaciously pointing to Quantum phenomena. It’s fallacious because science has no Science certainly has no experience of things popping into being ex nihilo sine causa. The argument made borders on chicanery because Bohmian quantum mechanics is fully deterministic and states that any indeterminacy is merely conceptual.

              iii. The rest of the video is a Strawman.

            • John Grove

              Nearly everything you have written is a gross distortion. But the worst offender of them all is this:

              “Clearly, then, the absolute beginning of our universe remains inescapable.”

              Science has absolutely nothing definitive to say about this. If you assert this, it is simply a faith proclamation. General relativity breaks down at this level, which is why Stephen Hawking said there was no singularity once quantum physics was taken into account. Hence, “time” didn’t start with the Big Bang, it was only the start of the inflating of the universe from a small dense point, which is either:

              1. Eternal
              2. Cyclic.

              And this is what cosmology is trying to discover. And the evidence is starting to lean towards the cyclic. Now you may wish otherwise to bolster your position, but nature is the way she is, whether you like it or not.

            • Joseph O Polanco

              i. i assertio. Sorry, try again.

              ii. The crunch here is, how is your metaphysical contention more plausible than mine? Better still, what makes my metaphysical asseveration implausible or incoherent? And yes, your contention that the universe came into being sine causa is precisely that, a metaphysical one.

              Unalike Hubble’s Law of Cosmic Expansion or Kepler’s Laws of Planetary Motion, your supposition is not contingent upon the properties, causal powers, and dispositions of the natural kinds of substances which happen to exist. Science certainly has no experience of things popping into being ex nihilo sine causa. (Bohmian quantum mechanics, for instance, is fully deterministic and states that any indeterminacy is merely conceptual.)

              “Being does not arise from nonbeing”; “something cannot come from nothing”. These are putative metaphysical principles, like cause and effect, unrestricted in their application. Thence, we have very good grounds, both conceptually and scientifically, for believing that whatever begins to exist has a cause.

              Accordingly, there is no reason to arbitrarily assert that metaphysical principles are constrained to the natural universe. Unless, of course, you have evidence which necessarily construes such principles as merely physical rather than metaphysical. Do you?

              iii. I’m not sure what Hawking your referring to because Stephen Hawking has affirmed this: “Only if we could picture the universe in terms of imaginary time would there be no singularities . . . . When one goes back to the real time in which we live, however, there will still appear to be singularities.” – “A Brief History of Time.”

            • John Grove

              [[The crunch here is, how is your metaphysical contention more plausible than mine? ]]

              This is what Stephen Law refers to as “Going Nuclear”. Joseph is trying to bring all beliefs down to the same level.

              [[Better still, what makes my metaphysical asseveration implausible or incoherent?]]

              Since there is no evidence for any god(s) or supernaturalism, than it seems to me that it is a matter of simple Bayes Theorem and occam’s razor.

              [[ And yes, your contention that the universe came into being sine causa is precisely that, a metaphysical one. ]]

              I am not contending anything, this shows you your inability to read. I was giving you the scientific opinions based on mathematical models and the current evidence available from cosmology and physics. My contention is to not to have too strong an opinion on the matter. Modern science has no definitive answer, nor purports to have any, for what occurred before the big bang. Whether the universe existed in a different form (and therefore did not “begin” with the big bang) is simply beyond our present knowledge. Not knowing is not suitable warrant to insert a god, when this god cannot itself be investigated. It is more reasonable to say “we don’t know”. The models we have are not definitive.

              [[ your supposition is not contingent upon the properties, causal powers, and dispositions of the natural kinds of substances which happen to exist.]]

              What supposition is that? I have no definitive opinion on the matter.

              [[Science certainly has no experience of things popping into being ex nihilo sine causa.]]

              We have never examined “nothing” so how can we make any assessment of it? The “nothing” we do know about (vacuum) is a brew of virtual particles popping in and out of existence so fast you cannot see them.

              [[“Being does not arise from nonbeing”; “something cannot come from nothing”. ]]

              That may be true within about things within our universe but it may not be true about our universe. According to the latest cosmology (Hawking, Krauss and many others), we can have a universe from “nothing”.

              [[we have very good grounds, both conceptually and scientifically, for believing that whatever begins to exist has a cause]]

              1. The radioactive decay of an atom has no apparent cause.
              2. Virtual particles also have no apparent cause.

              And since the Big Bang was a “quantum” event, this may not apply. BTW, as a side note, we have never witnessed something “beginning to exist”. We have only witnessed rearrangements of existing matter and energy. Also, the Kalam is a poor argument. Besides muddling the concept of “existence” and “universe”, it requires an explanation as to why the universe requires an un-caused cause but gods do not.

              [[there is no reason to arbitrarily assert that metaphysical principles are constrained to the natural universe.]]

              Are you ever going to present evidence for your position or the best you can do is talk about metaphysics? That is like discussing “imaginary evidence”. How things operate outside a universe (if we can even say that) without scalar fields is pure speculation and I don’t care much about your speculation.

              [[I’m not sure what Hawking your referring to because Stephen Hawking has affirmed this: “Only if we could picture the universe in terms of imaginary time would there be no singularities . . . . When one goes back to the real time in which we live, however, there will still appear to be singularities.” – “A Brief History of Time.”]]

              In the same book genius, all you had to do was read it instead of quote mine it. Stephen Hawking said “there was in fact no singularity at the beginning of the universe” (p50). This revision followed from quantum mechanics, in which general relativity must break down at times less than the Planck time. Hence general relativity cannot be used to show a singularity.

            • Joseph O Polanco

              i. Argumentum ignoratio elenchi. Sorry, try again.

              ii. Non sequitur. http://bit.ly/1197U6R

              iii. Your contention that “god cannot itself be investigated” is a non sequitur for the same reason as ii.

              iv. That the universe came from nothing by nothing for nothing. Unless, of course, I am misunderstanding your view. Am I?

              v. Non sequitur. The Quantum Vacuum is a “roiling sea of particle pairs, energy fluctuations and force perturbations.” How precisely is this “the absence of anything”? http://bit.ly/14Ff2hg

              vi. See v.

              vii. Bohmian Mechanics is fully deterministic and states that any indeterminacy is merely conceptual.

              viii. Non sequitur. I witnessed the beginning of the existence of my son 7 years ago as he grew in his mother’s womb.

              ix. Your objection displays a salient misapprehension in what the KCA actually argues: http://bit.ly/10j5YgK http://bit.ly/15WYDYz

              x. Hawking’s equivocality, then, makes his opinions a worthless lodestar for truth.

            • Andy_Schueler

              Can you demonstrate that “the absence of anything” is a possible state of reality? If not, your objection wrt to quantum vacuums is baseless.

            • John Grove

              i. This in no way commits the fallacy, nice try. You haven’t even made a point yet, all I did was comment on a comment. You really need to google, “Stephen Law & going nuclear”

              ii. How is that a non sequitur? There is no evidence for your position at all, it is a simple Baye’s statistic that your position is hugely, astronomically invalid. And it also commits the god of the gap fallacy.

              iii. There is no way to bridge the gap between deism and theism. The moral argument can’t cut it and neither can the resurrection. So try again.

              iv. Yes you are, my opinion is “I don’t know”. But I suspect it will have a naturalistic explanation just as everything seems to do.

              v. The quantum vacuum is not nothing, I agree, but the nothing you are thinking about doesn’t exist. There was never “nothing” and not even you believe that since you believe God always was. Is God “nothing”? There is no evidence of such a state. Not only that, such a state can never be investigated.

              vi. See v.

              viii. Your son is made of atoms and those atoms were made by dying stars millions of years ago. Your son is not the beginning of something from nothing. He is 100% made from elements that existed prior to his birth.

              ix. You have not dealt with the objection at all, so we can dismiss your rant.

              x. You have not dealt with the fact that general relativity breaks down and therefore there was no singularity at the big bang to speak of. Those are the facts.

            • Joseph O Polanco

              i. Lookup “Argumentum ignoratio elenchi.”

            • John Grove

              Look up “god of the gap”. And while you are at it, look up invincible ignorance, confirmation bias, selective memory, unfalsifiable and make sure to look up pseudoprofundity and deepity.

            • Argumentum ad stupidus Latinus to makus me soundus more intlligentus thanus I reallyus am is getting quite boring.

              So, for several reasons, and on the request of a number of people who have better things to do than listen to someone who:

              1) doesn’t know his fallacies

              2) doesn’t know how to argue

              3) does not interact with the OP of any post

              4) cuts and pastes without any real knowledge of what he is pasting or that it is either not relevant or entirely refuted and lacking in any intellectual robustness.

              5) etc

              I am deciding to ban you. I don’t like doing this, but conversations like this:

              http://www.skepticink.com/tippling/2013/02/11/boom-craig-is-um-owned-on-animal-suffering-twice/

              Show me that you are not willing to put in the requisite effort to converse and discuss fairly and critically. Just spamming us with shit links is not good enough. You have had more than our fair share of opinion. It just didn’t add any value to our lives.

            • Neil Webber

              Aw, how am I going to rival your last guest poster’s comment count without his science-denialist frothing? :)

            • Honest_John_Law

              As an FYI, Joe Polanco (a.k.a. Skullus Thickness Maximus) wasted little time migrating to another skeptic website and plaguing the participants. He has been spewing his dross on a site called ‘Friendly Atheist’. There could be something seriously wrong with that guy (imo). I think his conduct is alarming.

              http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2013/06/23/time-cover-story-wrongly-attacks-atheists-for-not-helping-out-victims-of-oklahoma-tornadoes/#comment-950106413.

            • Daydreamer1

              (1) Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
              I see what you mean, but QM add problems to this. It sounds nice, but if QM s random then events occur without prior causes – though they have the potential to occur they are the start of new causal chains.

              (2) The space-time universe began to exist 13.70 billion years ago.
              The evidence indicates that this is true.

              (3) Therefore, the space-time universe has a cause.
              Possibly/probably. The ’cause’ might have been random though – you don’t seem to be addressing that here.

              (4) The cause of the universe is a transcendent, beginningless, spaceless, immaterial, timeless, unchanging, omnipotent good personal being.
              Massive jump. We don’t know what is outside the universe enough to say about the degree something transcends it. What is outside may well be natural and timeless. The unchanging bit is just an assertion. The omnipotent good personal being is just something to inject that does not conflict with 1 and 2, but in no way follows from them without adding lots of other things: Watch:
              I add 4a) The omnipotent’s favourite soup is Chicken. That in no way conflicts with 1, 2, 3 or 4, but it does not follow from any of them and I cannot just say it is true because it doesn’t conflict with them and you cannot disprove it.

              (5) A transcendent, beginningless, spaceless, immaterial, timeless, unchanging, omnipotent good personal being is the definition of God
              It is yours, but it is not ‘the definition’. Many religions have other ones right now, and many very different ones have existed over the millennia.

              (6) Therefore, God caused the universe to exist 13.70 billion years ago.
              A complete leap since 4 and 5 do not follow from 1,2 and 3 and 1 may be more complicated than you express here while at the same time your definition of ’cause’ is very mechanistic. The ’cause’ may have been random and that isn’t in conflict with any of the points here except the theology you have tagged on without discussing.

            • Joseph O Polanco

              Your second video is equally specious as a fallacious argumentum falsum analogiam for it equates God’s mind with man’s. Unless, of course, he has reviewed a body of scientific work which makes this assumption a matter of fact. Does he?

            • John Grove

              The old omniscient escape clause.

            • Joseph O Polanco

              ???

            • Look, if you want to argue in Latin then let’s do it, I have a qualification in the subject. However, it is really quite unnecessary because you are only using it as a rather silly rhetorical technique to make you appear more intelligent than you are. It is so crass.

              By all means, continue, but let it be known that you only make yourself appear like more of a douche every time you do.

              Also, if you are going to use Latin, do it properly.

              As far as I know, and correct me if I am wrong, but analogia, -ae is a group 1 feminine noun and the adjective falsus, falsa, falsum should agree in the accusative case, which is what you have use, in the feminine.

              Which means it should be falsam analogiam.

              I might be wrong. Either way, stop using pseudo intellectual bullshit to make yourself sound important.

            • John Grove

              What’s worse, is he uses it like some kind of deepity, pseudoprofundity, and it merely makes him sound all the worse, like he is simply full of shit and completely insincere.

            • Joseph O Polanco

              Thanks for pointing out the typo :)

            • John Grove

              It wasn’t a typo, you are simply an idiot. Nice try.

            • Joseph O Polanco

              Argumentum ad hominem. Try again.

            • John Grove

              Amen Johnny, bout time..

            • Daydreamer1

              I had forgotten Dennett’s term ‘deepity’; thanks for reminding me :)

      • How is the god described in the 5th premise compatible with a god that recommends that some people can be kept as slaves for life? And how can an unchanging god impregnate an underage Palestinian virgin so that she can give birth to himself in the form of a Jew?

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