The Scientific Method

I cannot believe in absolute truths. It goes against my character. Although I try as much as I can to stand by my principles, my mind is always open to new theories, interpretations and to new evidence. Hence my close affiliation with the scientific method.

If there really is one absolute truth out there, it is that the scientific method Works. With a capital W. The results it produces are certainly not open to the same luxurious claim – the method used to find these claims, however, always has, does and will work.

In fact, brushing aside the technicalities of experimental sciences for one second, everyone can engage in the scientific method! Try this:

Establish a negative hypothesis. It tends to describe existing (or what seem to be existing) conditions – a banal, sensationalist example could be: “John is not going out with Jane”. You take this to be the assumption that pervades the whole test. You assume that statement to be true, and now you test it with evidence. For example, you might find that: “John took Jane out to lunch on Friday” and “John took Jane on a romantic camping trip last weekend”. You estimate the probability of the event happening under the conditions of “John is not going out with Jane”. Since it is pretty unlikely that John would not be going out with Jane _and_ take her to a romantic camping trip, you decide that the negative hypothesis is false! You therefore accept an alternative one which could explain the evidence, for example: “John _is_ going out with Jane”.

The point is to be sceptic by absolute default. The null hypothesis test described above is the paragon of scepticism. You tend to assume existing conditions. 500 years ago, a negative hypothesis could have been “The Earth is not spherical”. Since the evidence collected couldn’t possibly fit in with the hypothesis, you accept an alternative hypothesis, for example: “The Earth is spherical”. At all times you cling to already established assumptions, but you are ready to discard them as soon as evidence arrives.

This is very important, and underlies much of the humanist and atheist philosophies.

There’s nothing wrong with scepticism. There’s a lot wrong with not being sceptic. It’s one thing to be gullible – I’m pretty gullible, I’ll look when someone plays the stupid “You’ve got a stain on your shirt” joke on me. But when someone makes a bold assertion, then my scepticism engages automatically, no forewarning.

If someone were to approach me today and tell me “The alignment of Saturn with Jupiter means that you will run into financial trouble” and tomorrow I realise my paycheck is late, I wouldn’t start drawing up solar system charts to track my stock portfolios. It would be meaningless, because under the condition “Astrology does not mean a thing in the world”, me running into financial shortcomings is pretty damn likely. This kind of claim, a trademark of astrology and other pseudosciences, is what I call ‘associating soda cans with rabbits’.

A soda can is not evidence of rabbits, or viceversa. You cannot imply the existence of one from the other because they’re completely irrelevant from each other. If someone told you “Soda cans! Therefore, rabbits”, I hope that you would just keep walking, maybe drop a penny into the jar. But as incredible as it sounds, that fallacious argument is constantly used all over. The scientific method is one which enables you to discern the causality and correlation between two or more different things, and whether one thing means another.

The scientific method also has immediate practical benefits other than engaging you in honest truth seeking (if you really need any more benefits). It activates your prefrontal cortex, as Dr. Kawashima might say. It turns your brain on, gives it exercise. If you simply accept everything you’re spoon-fed on the 6 o’clock news, your brain isn’t getting much exercise. If you think twice about each item of news – context, history, who benefits in delivering it in a particular way, etc. then you start to use your gray matter.

The scientific method does not mean flip-flopping or fence-sitting. Quite the contrary. At some point, once you prove or disprove a negative hypothesis, you then continue your existence assuming your conclusion until further evidence turns up. There’s no flip-flopping involved – in fact, if you wanted to be 100% non-hypocritical, then you would have to live with assumptions you picked up originally, and I can only shudder to imagine what the world would be like today if we lived with 500 year old or even just 50 year old assumptions about the world we live in.

So challenge pre-conceived notions. Question statements. Examine context. Establish negative hypotheses – engage in the scientific method. Not only is it the only way to real truth but the scientific mentality, curiously enough, is inextricably linked to the preservation of your civil liberties.

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40 Responses

  1. One thing about certain members of religious groups that always gets me is that they require answers to nonsensical questions. An example of this is “You say that God doesn’t exist so who made the Earth then?” Obviously no-one. There are scientific theories that have significantly more credence than a man in a cloud creating the world in six days.

  2. I agree with you (as is usual), however have to disagree on one point, the Scientific Principal works (or uppercase Works) only in the sense that you can negate false hypothesis, it cannot work as a mechanism of absolute proof (something I agree you say you don’t believe in).

    You only have to look at the history of science to see that it is in a constant state of flux, as the principal of empirical thought has at its core the essence of its transience, that nothing can be proof.

    Although you are probably not stating here that a ‘fact’ derived by empirical method is an absolute truth, it does leave the argument open to claims that you are treating science as your own religion (though from following your blogs, I don’t believe that).

    Yes, I can comfortably disprove most of the diatribe a creationist will spout, but believe that physics describing the universe and the big bang will alter remarkably in my lifetime

    I look at the empirical method (to paraphrase Churchill on democracy), the worst form of method except all the others that have been tried.

    Keep up your good work

  3. Fair enough, I probably haven’t clarified that particular point.

    The ability of science to change as new evidence comes along makes the concept of absolute truth kind of meaningless – and makes the concept of science pretty darn important.

  4. I was especially interested in the last portion of your blog today. I want to ask, how does skepticism impact you socially? Or is that an area where you choose not to be skeptical?

    If someone tells you they love you, do you choose to believe it or do you examine their actions first?

  5. That’s an interesting question snowhite, actually.

    If someone told me they loved me, I would take it at face value and perhaps think about it later, I suppose. I have a mind that tends to overanalyse and think about everything, so being sceptical is fairly natural to me.

  6. Perhaps in a social context the term ‘sceptic’ is a little inappropriate – it’s more like cautious analysis – although superficially I’m very ‘non-sceptical’ as you might say.

  7. “I cannot believe in absolute truths.”

    Are you “absolutely” sure?

    “There’s nothing wrong with scepticism.”

    I agree.

  8. You’re going to have to explain that one to me, lowerleavell – I’m not sure if you’re trying to be funny.

    I’m comforted to see that you agree with that there’s nothing wrong with scepticism.

  9. “I cannot believe in absolute truths.”

    By definition, your statement was a statement of absolutes. If there are no absolutes, then the fact there are no absolutes is an absolute. Therefore, there is at least one absolute.

    Skepticism is only healthy if you are willing to search for truth with an open mind and a willingness to change, not just to analyze data for the sake of being right.

  10. Lowerleavell, I would offer the same argument for faith. It’s only healthy if you maintain an open mind and a willingness to change. Atheism is more than an absence of religious faith, it is a rejection of it as a result of careful thinking on the atheist’s behalf. I would hesitate to accept an person’s assertion of atheism if they were unable to supply a reasonable understanding of what led them to atheism. Perhaps it should be the same way with Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc. Wouldn’t that be a sight to see?

  11. lowerleavell: That’s kind of a dumb argument. You’re implying that scepticism is the openness to eventually accepting absolute truths hook line and sinker.

    Scepticism is always healthy. It’s always about an open mind and it’s always about a willingness to change practically by definition. It just demands a little fact before accepting fiction.

  12. Eltower said, “Scepticism is always healthy. It’s always about an open mind and it’s always about a willingness to change practically by definition. It just demands a little fact before accepting fiction.”

    Not to the point where you can’t even go through your day without questioning everything. I’d get sick with worry if I did that. For instance, I didn’t question the chair I sat in before I sat down, I didn’t have a taste-tester eat some of my cereal before breakfast because I questioned if there was poison in it or not, and I trust that when I put the keys in my car today the engine will start (that may be the least trustworthy thing on the list though).

    There are things we put our trust and “faith” in every day, and have no thoughts on being skeptical at all. Scepticism is only good if you don’t let it get in the way of accepting known truths. Yes, I can say dogmatically that my chair will hold me up! I can say it with absolute surety! Why, because I’ve examined the evidence and have put my faith in the chair. I can absolutely say I can’t walk through walls or fly. Why? Because there are known laws and accepted truths like gravity. To say there are no absolutes and that skepticism is by itself almost a virtue while taking these truths for granted, is hypocritical.

    Hoverfrog, you said, “I would hesitate to accept an person’s assertion of atheism if they were unable to supply a reasonable understanding of what led them to atheism. Perhaps it should be the same way with Christians, Jews, Muslims, etc. Wouldn’t that be a sight to see?”

    I agree. I don’t think people should put their trust in something apart from examining the evidence. You guys are healthy for Christians, and shouldn’t be hounded on because you are honest enough to challenge our beliefs. If Christianity is true it will withstand the scrutiny and will continue to stand tall. If I truly believe what I hold to be “truth” then I would be a hypocrite not to welcome challenges and skepticism.

    Using the chair analogy, Christians have simply examined the evidence, put their trust, or if you wish to use the term, “faith” in the God of the Bible, and don’t really have to wrestle with the issues you guys present anymore. They have already accepted it as a known truth, though you haven’t. If the chair holds us up though, then perhaps there’s something to be said for the God of the Bible. If the Bible doesn’t ring true, or God doesn’t deliver on His Word, then there’s not much to be said for our faith, we would fall flat on our faces, and we would be the most miserable people in the world.

    It may take me a while to respond to any comments since I’m moving now and shutting down my computer for a few weeks.

  13. “Using the chair analogy, Christians have simply examined the evidence, put their trust, or if you wish to use the term, “faith” in the God of the Bible, and don’t really have to wrestle with the issues you guys present anymore.”

    AKA Orwellian brainwashing.

    There is concrete evidence for chairs. There is concrete evidence for gravity. There is concrete evidence for the Big Bang. There is concrete evidence for the heliocentric solar system model. There is concrete evidence for photosynthesis.

    There is not, however, concrete evidence for God. None, zero, zilch. Scepticism circuits in me therefore assume there is, for all intents and purposes, no God.

    “If the Bible doesn’t ring true, or God doesn’t deliver on His Word, then there’s not much to be said for our faith, we would fall flat on our faces, and we would be the most miserable people in the world.”

    There have been countless religion before Christianity which make all kinds of apocalyptic prophecies. To give a (more or less) contemporary example, the Mayas honestly believed the world would end in 2012. The only reason you take the Bible to be your ‘chair’ is a mere coincidence of birthplace – there are practically infinite numbers of prophecies that are and have been and will be, and all will be tenaciously defended. A lot of them will be and have been sunk in the mud, and humanity has not been the worse for it. No cataclysm happened when the pagans stopped believing in Zeus and if you’re going to pull the ‘One Truth’ card on me, I point you again to: Coincidence of birthplace and to the number of ‘One Truths’ there are out there today.

    Trust is not the same as faith. Faith is belief in the absence of evidence, or even in the face of contrary evidence. Faith is the surrender of one’s critical faculties – it could be to something beautiful, yes, but it is still the surrender of one’s brain activity and the unquestioning acceptance of dogma. All the nice memories you might have of church life most likely have nothing to do with faith, but with a sense of community or family or whatever – all of which are completely independent of faith.

  14. At the risk of starting another argument …

    lowerleavell makes the valid point that if you don’t take some things as read, then you would never get anything done. But isn’t religion a special case?

    If you have trust/faith that the chair will hold you up, it is of little consequence of itself. You might be wrong, in which case you might (or might not) end up in a heap on the ground. It is unlikely to have a major impact.

    On the other hand, *IF* there is a personal God, who will grant eternal bliss or eternal damnation, and who sent his son to die for our sins, then that is a matter of monumental importance – probably the most important thing in our existence. I’m with Kirkengaard on this.

    The rational response to being born in a society which believes in this is to consider the possibility very carefully, and if being sceptical to make allowance for the possibility that God’s advocates are themselves presenting an imperfect case. Or to put it another way, the existence of unicorns should require strong evidence, while much weaker evidence of God might be acceptable, at least to take the God hypothesis seriously.

    Of course, it may well be (and IMO is) the case that the evidence for the God hypothesis doesn’t stand up to investigation. But I would argue that everyone should make that decision for themselves. I simply cannot understand part-time believers who do not even bother to read their religious texts.

  15. “There is concrete evidence for chairs. There is concrete evidence for gravity. There is concrete evidence for the Big Bang. There is concrete evidence for the heliocentric solar system model. There is concrete evidence for photosynthesis.”

    Where the healthy skepticism enters is asking the question, “why?” and “what?” Why does gravity work? Why does photsynethesis occur? What caused the Big Bang (though I would still be sceptical since it is still classified as a “theory”)? Atheism purports that all of these things happened by means of…nothing. Information is begotten by…nothing. Excuse my sceptisism, but this is not “The Gospel of Reason,” but rather blind faith in something that the laws of nature never accept. Anything that has a beginning MUST have a cause. This is observable, scientific, and unrefutable. Please show one observable thing (besides the Ultimate, which you don’t believe in anyway) that had no cause and I would be compelled to cease my sceptisicm regarding atheism.

    “There have been countless religion before Christianity which make all kinds of apocalyptic prophecies.”

    Yes, but two questions: do they come true 100% of the time, and are many of them so vague that they could come true…eventually? The Mayan one is interesting, but if 2012 comes and goes, we’ll be able to say, they prophesied falsely. Regarding Christ, the Old Testament is so specific that it even specifies which Bethlehem the Messiah would be born at. Daniel gives the exact time that the Messiah would come, and that time was the exact time Jesus was making His “Triumphal Entry”. Regarding Revelation and end time prophesy, it is so specific that if it happened everyone in the world would know it, and there would be no doubts that it was Biblical. Obviously, it hasn’t happened…yet.

    “The only reason you take the Bible to be your ‘chair’ is a mere coincidence of birthplace”

    That’s hilarious, because I don’t remember telling you where I was born. I’m not saying you’re wrong, I’m just saying you’re making deductive reasonings which is usually a bad way to get your logic. I know many, many first generation Christians who didn’t grow up knowing about Jesus. I know someone in the town I just moved to who didn’t become a Christian until 63 years old. Becoming a Christian isn’t a matter of birth place or else 100% of America would be believers. Even in Hindu, Buddist, Islamic, and other regions, you have people who are not Hindu, etc. It’s a matter of personal choice, not a matter of location. My location has historically been mainly Mormon. I’m not Mormon.

    “A lot of them will be and have been sunk in the mud, and humanity has not been the worse for it.”

    I agree.

    “if you’re going to pull the ‘One Truth’ card on me,”

    Did I say, “One Truth”? I may say “Ultimate Truth” but not “One Truth.” This is one major difference between Christianity and atheism, as C.S. Lewis stated. Atheists have to disprove every single religion that is, was, and will be, for their position to be correct. Christians have the ability to find truths in every religion because all truth is truth, regardless of the source. Christians simply put stock in the fact that the God of the Bible is “Ultimate Truth”, but don’t claim to have exclusive rights to all truth.

    “Trust is not the same as faith. Faith is belief in the absence of evidence, or even in the face of contrary evidence. Faith is the surrender of one’s critical faculties – it could be to something beautiful, yes, but it is still the surrender of one’s brain activity and the unquestioning acceptance of dogma. All the nice memories you might have of church life most likely have nothing to do with faith, but with a sense of community or family or whatever – all of which are completely independent of faith.”

    I agree. That is why I usually shy away from using the word “faith” when talking with you guys. I know it is a trigger word that offends, so if I have offended you, my apologies.

    As I have said before, you wouldn’t put your trust in God even if He made Himself visible to you. Therefore, trust, is a matter of faith. I personally see ample evidence for the existence of God (which is a moot point), but my putting my trust in His hands is a matter of faith, not because I am checking my brain at the door regarding His existence, but I am placing my faith in Him as my Creator. That is where God asks for our faith. When things in the world don’t make sense, or don’t go the way we want them to, when we get cancer, etc. We put our trust in God that He is in control and He has a plan for each of our lives, not for His existence or for the Bible’s verifiability. That is a matter of research and sceptisism because if God can’t get even get His Word right, how can we trust Him with our lives?

    Alex:
    Thanks for your imput.

    You said, “But I would argue that everyone should make that decision for themselves. I simply cannot understand part-time believers who do not even bother to read their religious texts.”

    I totally agree with you.

  16. “Atheists have to disprove every single religion that is, was, and will be, for their position to be correct.”

    WIthout even touching on all the other rhetoric you heaped onto the comment pile, allow me to tell you that Atheism is not about ‘Non Belief’ for the sake of it, it’s the logical conclusion of a scientific and reasoned train of thought.

    The onus is not on the atheist to disprove all others (you would be hard pressed to disprove other major religions which prophesise with great accuracy), but on the believer to prove his position has a little more than a book to prove his position. Show me remains of Noah’s Ark and I’ll believe, quite simply put.

  17. I find it ironic that you say “I cannot believe in absolutes” and yet you come just shy of saying, “there is absolutely no God.” You would think that skepticism would lead you to be skeptic about atheism’s claims so that you couldn’t call yourself an atheist, because you couldn’t “absolutely” say there is no God. Saying you’re an atheist is an absolute.

    “The onus is not on the atheist to disprove all others (you would be hard pressed to disprove other major religions which prophesise with great accuracy), but on the believer to prove his position has a little more than a book to prove his position. Show me remains of Noah’s Ark and I’ll believe, quite simply put.”

    Forgive my sceptisism, but unless you saw a boat that had S.S. Ark on the back of it, I doubt you would even accept it as Noah’s Ark. Ok, so the Bible’s got Jerusalem, Nineveh, Ur of the Chaldeans, Babylon, Egypt, Jericho, etc. detailed with complete accuracy. But since archaelogists haven’t been able to conclusively point their finger at something and say “Ark” you won’t believe? I am doubting that you rejected God’s existence based on the fact that they can’t find an almost 5,000 year old boat. Do you believe the Library of Alexandria existed? Do you believe the Temple of Artemis existed? How about the Great Lighthouse? How about the Hanging Gardens in Babylon? There is just as much evidence that the Ark existed because of writing than those. Those no longer exist, yet we know they did because it was written about and they are verifiable fact. Nearly every culture in the world has a flood mythology (about 500 variations), but yet because the boat, being wood, may have turned back into dirt after 5,000 years, you won’t beleive? I firmly believe that if they did find the Ark, there would be other things that would come up that would keep you from placing you trust in God.

    “it’s [atheism] the logical conclusion of a scientific and reasoned train of thought.”

    Is it though? No one on this site has answered the logical and scientific conclusion of cause and effect. The first thing that logically and scientifically (observable truths)comes into my head is not that there are parallel universes out there, or that the universe is eternal. The logical conclusion is that the universe is not the cause, it is the effect. Please show me scientifically and logically why I should accept nothing begat information. How is this “The Gospel of Reason”?

  18. (I posted this on the “stand by your beliefs” thread too)

    2nd Law of Thermodynamics: The amount of energy in the universe available for work is running down, or entropy is increasing to a maximum.

    If this is the case (and it is), and the universe were eternal like you guys would have us believe, then the amount of usable energy would have long exhausted itself and everything would be dead. For that reason alone, the universe is not eternal and must have a cause. Thus, again I ask, what’s your answer for cause and effect? If you don’t have an answer, why are you not skeptical about atheism?

  19. Even if the universe does have a cause why would it have to be a supernatural one? Also why does the universe need to be eternal for an atheist to assert that it was not created by a supernatural intelligence?

    Also the Laws of Thermodynamics are not laws in a mathematical sense but axioms and so cannot be used as proof of absolutes.

  20. “Supernatural” is a matter of definition. God may very well work in a natural way to Him that to us would be supernatural because we’re of the human species. Many things that we have now, like cars, e-mail, etc. would have been seen 1,000 years ago as supernatural and cultic. Now, we understand how it works and we’re not afraid to accept it. Perhaps the cause of the universe is simply “supernatural” because we don’t understand how He was able to create because of where we’re at and so we reject it.

    Also, don’t forget Newton’s third law of motion, “To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
    The reaction (the universe) can’t be greater than the action (God). If you won’t accept God, but accept that the universe is not eternal, then you have to come up with an alternate theory of something that is greater than the universe. For there to be information and intelligence, it must come from something that IS information and intelligent. Ultimately, regardless of what it is you find, that would be God.

    You said, “Also why does the universe need to be eternal for an atheist to assert that it was not created by a supernatural intelligence?”

    I’ll go with the bait. What is the alternate theory that doesn’t involve intelligence popping out of thin air? Oh yeah, the thin air popped out of what?

    “Also the Laws of Thermodynamics are not laws in a mathematical sense but axioms and so cannot be used as proof of absolutes.”

    Can you prove them to be in error? Show me where more matter simply pops into existence out of thin air, or where all of a sudden, one of the planets disappears for no reason. Show me wherer usable energy continues to grow instead of be used up? No, the Laws of Thermodynamics are verifiable truths. Are you willing to stand on a soap box and tell everyone they are wrong? You better have a good reason if you do, and demonstrate how arbitrary and random the universe really is, not bound by laws of nature.

  21. Even if the universe does have a cause why would it have to be a supernatural one?

    “Supernatural” is a matter of definition. God may very well work in a natural way to Him that to us would be supernatural because we’re of the human species. Many things that we have now, like cars, e-mail, etc. would have been seen 1,000 years ago as supernatural and cultic. Now, we understand how it works and we’re not afraid to accept it. Perhaps the cause of the universe is simply “supernatural” because we don’t understand how He was able to create because of where we’re at and so we reject it.

    Also, don’t forget Newton’s third law of motion, “To every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.”
    The reaction (the universe) can’t be greater than the action (God). If you won’t accept God, but accept that the universe is not eternal, then you have to come up with an alternate theory of something that is greater than the universe. For there to be information and intelligence, it must come from something that IS information and intelligent. Ultimately, regardless of what it is you find, that would be God.

    You said, “Also why does the universe need to be eternal for an atheist to assert that it was not created by a supernatural intelligence?”

    I’ll go with the bait. What is the alternate theory that doesn’t involve intelligence popping out of thin air? Oh yeah, the thin air popped out of what?

    “Also the Laws of Thermodynamics are not laws in a mathematical sense but axioms and so cannot be used as proof of absolutes.”

    Can you prove them to be in error? Show me where more matter simply pops into existence out of thin air, or where all of a sudden, one of the planets disappears for no reason. Show me wherer usable energy continues to grow instead of be used up? No, the Laws of Thermodynamics are verifiable truths. Are you willing to stand on a soap box and tell everyone they are wrong? You better have a good reason if you do, and demonstrate how arbitrary and random the universe really is, not bound by laws of nature.

  22. sorry for the duplicate comment. I went to go paste your comment for a quote and somehow ended up posting the same thing twice. My apologies.

  23. Supernatural by definition is something that is outside the realms of science. A car may have seemed supernatural to a medieval peasant working in a field but it would not have been supernatural as the laws of physics and chemistry that dictate its operation remain unchanged even if the technology of the era was unable to produce a car. There are perfectly serviceable scientific theories for the creation of the universe that do not require a deity or deities to have any involvement in it. Appointing a single creature\intelligence to this role may make it easier to explain but it doesn’t make it fact.

    Unlike your arguments I don’t pretend to understand the forces involved in the formation of the universe, I’m not a theoretical physicist after all. I do have sufficient understanding of the Big Bang to be able to dismiss the need for a god though.

    Newton’s third law of motion applies to force and movement not to chemical and biological phenomena and not to sub atomic action either.

    Why do I have to come up with an alternate theory for something being greater than the universe. I’m pretty sure that the universe is big enough and wonderful enough on as it is without having some puppet master pulling it’s strings. Even the actions of the smallest part of the universe are wonderful enough without the need for your god to dictate them. You don’t need an intelligence to beget intelligence or our children would always be slightly dumber than us. This isn’t the case (or at least I would hope not)

    “Ultimately, regardless of what it is you find, that would be God. ”

    Why?

    Intelligence is an evolved trait. Our ancestors with larger brains were successful and survived to breed. This in turn led to smarter, bigger brained creatures and so on till you get to us and hopefully beyond to even smarter creatures. I see no need again for a deity to magically bestow intelligence on humanity. Pigs and dolphins are also pretty smart, not as smart of most humans but did god wave his magic wand and make them smart? What about my Alsatian that I had as a child. He was intelligent, loyal and friendly but god had no hand in that. A combination of genetic predisposition for him to be a pack animal and nurturing to care for his “pack” or my family made him loyal and smart enough to recognise friend from threat.

    I cannot prove the laws of thermodynamics to be in error because they work. They do a very good job of explaining and predicting the transfer of heat energy in closed environments. Yes the fact remains that they are not mathematical laws and have no absolute proofs. They are axioms because they work for all known cases. This is not a proof as one plus one in a decimal system always equals two. I’m not saying that hey are wrong because they aren’t. I am saying that they are not provable mathematically.

    What you seem to be saying is that you accept that the universe is governed by measurable physical rules and that we humans have done a good job so far of determining what many of them are. This is good news from my perspective because we have some common ground. The difference is that you attribute these rules to a supernatural force outside of these rules while I simply see no reason to do so.

  24. You said, “There are perfectly serviceable scientific theories for the creation of the universe that do not require a deity or deities to have any involvement in it.”

    What are your own theories? The theories I have studied have no more evidence for the origin of the universe than the Bible’s statement regarding God creating out of His shear will. At least there is some logic involved with the view that something came from something. I am yet to understand the logic of something coming from nothing. There is no evidence for this whatsoever in anything at all. So, you are either faced with an eternal universe, which the laws of thermodynamics demonstrate would be virtually impossible, or you have a universe that popped into existence from nothing, or you have a universe that came from something equal to, or greater than the universe.

    “Ultimately, regardless of what it is you find, that would be God. ” You said, “Why?”

    Because anything greater than the universe, in my mind at least, would be something worthy of awe and wonder, and by definition, would be at least a lowercase god.

    “Newton’s third law of motion applies to force and movement not to chemical and biological phenomena and not to sub atomic action either.”

    We are not simply talking aobut chemistry and biology. Force and movement, light, the mind, biology, etc. are all involved in the universe. If there were no force and movement, there would be no universe. What I am saying is that someone or something had to get the dominos rolling. Either force and movement are eternal, or someone or something started them moving. Even in the big bang you are left with where did the matter come from, and why did it explode? Something must have caused the big bang because matter doesn’t just move like that doesn’t just move without any force beginning the movement.

    You say there are other theories that don’t involve a deity. What are they, and do they stand up with science?

    “Intelligence is an evolved trait.”

    This is a point of disagreement that I think is a side issue, because even theistic evolutionists agree with you, but don’t agree with their beginning. I am talking the beginning of intelligence.

    However, are you saying that if we took a baby from 5,000 years ago and brought him/her up in today’s society they would be less adapt then his/her counterparts because our brains today are more intelligent? Our intelligence is a result of building blocks of information from our ancestry. That doesn’t mean they had less brain capacity, it means they had less generations to build upon. If they were less intelligent, how do we still not know how they built the pyramids? They were brilliant, but had less combined information to build upon.

    “I see no need again for a deity to magically bestow intelligence on humanity.”

    Forget humanity. Let’s go all the way back to the origin of life, where it matters. Where did the intelligence come from in the single celled creatures? Is intelligence eternal?
    I’m not just talking about how did we get where we are today, I’m also talking about our foundations and where did it begin if it’s not eternal.

    “You don’t need an intelligence to beget intelligence or our children would always be slightly dumber than us. This isn’t the case (or at least I would hope not)”

    Again, another point of disagreement that I believe is a side issue. I can give you my opinion, but it is just my opinion, so take it as such.

    Mine aren’t dumber, because they are half their mother. 🙂
    En mass, I really see our societies more and more naive. Yes, we have more technology, but common sense today, it’s becoming a thing of the past. Yes, we still have brilliant people (my son is one of them. No, really, he is), but we have a lot of…not so smart people around today as well. If we are progressively getting more intelligent, instead of just standing on our ancestor’s shoulders, why don’t we all use scientific lingo in our everyday writing. By now, we should all be brilliant, our languages should be getting more complex (not fourth grade level, like mine) and not more simple, our test scores should be continually rising, not lowering standards to accomidate, and we (mankind) would be smart enough to end hunger, end polution, have world peace, and stop disease. We would end pride, selfishness, greed, hate, crime, war, etc. We would be smart enough to turn our TVs off after four hours a night, and not live our lives for entertainment but for humanity’s benefit. No, things are definitely on the down swing for mankind’s intelligence as a whole. Again, not for technology, and science, because we are standing on the shoulders of giants and making new discoveries all the time, but I personally see corporate intelligence on the decline.

    “Yes the fact remains that they are not mathematical laws and have no absolute proofs. They are axioms because they work for all known cases.”

    So what cause do we have to think that the origin of the universe is a separate case, an exception to the rule? If every known thing on the planet has a cause, why not the planet? Why not the universe? If there is one exception to the rule, why then is it on the grandest scale of them all? If the whole does not obey the laws of thermodynamics, why do the parts obey the laws? If the universe were merely the accidental by-product of the big bang, then why should it obey orderly principles—or any principles at all for that matter? So I ask, who is following science, creationists or evolutionists?

    “What you seem to be saying is that you accept that the universe is governed by measurable physical rules and that we humans have done a good job so far of determining what many of them are. This is good news from my perspective because we have some common ground. The difference is that you attribute these rules to a supernatural force outside of these rules while I simply see no reason to do so.”

    You are right, we do have a lot of common ground. We are looking at the exact same evidence, and in regard to just about everything except our origins, we are coming to the similar conclusions. The difference is that I see these measurable physical rules for the universe coming from someone, while you think they are a result of…I’m not sure what because you haven’t said.

    Here’s another rule, the the law of biogenesis. This law states simply that life always comes from life. This is what observational science tells us: organisms reproduce other organisms. This law also has no known exceptions. Molecules to man violates this law, yet evolutionists would have us believe that at least once, with the first living organism, that this is the case. However, a creationist accepts this law as true because it’s always observable, and claims that life came from Life. Again, who is following science here?

    How about the laws of chemistry? Why does hydrogen react with oxygen to form water? Why are the properties of elements and compounds not arbitrary? They have design written all over them. Just look at a snowflake. If the laws of physics were just a little bit randomly different, the entire universe wouldn’t function. What if hydrogen stopped reacting to oxygen? What if F=ma, or E=mc2 no longer worked? These follow complex and orderly laws that have no chance of randomness. Again, which side is following science?

    What about laws of mathmatics? 2+2=4. Why? Why is mathmatics always consistent? They don’t arbitrarily change when they wish. They expand the known universe! What makes us think then that the universe did not follow the same pattern and come from an intelligent being?

    “The difference is that you attribute these rules to a supernatural force outside of these rules while I simply see no reason to do so.”

    From my perspective, looking at all the laws and their consitency, I seriously don’t understand how you cannot see design, intelligence, and logic forming the universe. From what I see about the laws of nature, it is the atheists, not the theists who are ignoring science and logic for whatever reason.

  25. First off, I have to thank lowerleavell for his lengthy and interesting comments. If only in the name of fair debate we are obliged to read them.

    Without delving into the meat of them, I’d just like to point out one thing lowerleavell says which is very much open to interpretation (and slanted towards the scientific interpretation):

    “From my perspective, looking at all the laws and their consitency, I seriously don’t understand how you cannot see design, intelligence, and logic forming the universe.”

    In the constituency of the universe we live in it is clear there is a whole lot of logic, beauty and elegance in… I hesitate to say ‘design’.

    It would be an intellectual effrontery to the principle of good investigation and an act of sheer laziness to simply attribute it to an ‘intelligent creator’. Not only does this raise far more questions than it answers, it is incapable of standing the test of scientific evidence, which lends more weight to a worldview which dispenses of the need of the supernatural, than that which requires hocus pocus to make it all come together.

  26. I’m quite happy with the idea of a Big Bang as a cause for our current universe. That’s as far back as my own understanding goes. Maybe the universe goes through phases of contracting to a singularity and then exploding again. I don’t know. Stephen Hawking has suggested such a thing but also claims that the universe does no have sufficient mass to contract down to a singularity again. At least insufficient mass that has been found. I’m no expert obviously and I’m perfectly happy to say I don’t know. I’m also hopeful that the human race may one day understand the universe enough to explain how the universe formed and what happened prior to the Big Bang, or other event is another, better theory comes along.

    That is the key difference between religion and science. Scientists say “I don’t know how that works so I’ll try to find out” whereas religion says “God made it happen” and you stop looking. I find hope in science and am horrified and appalled by arrogance of religion who claim to have the answers without actually having any evidence. It’s a position that many zealots take to extremes to the detriment of everyone.

    You mention the logic of something coming from nothing but I read today about the Casimir Effect (google it) and how it may now have practical applications.

    You also mention a domino effect and attempt to look for a precursor to push over that first domino but that could and should be applied to religion equally. If you say god created the universe then what created god and what created that creator. Ad infinitum. You don’t need a god creator any more than you need a god.

    As for intelligence I think you are attributing genius to ancient builders (and the pyramid builders used some amazing feats of engineering) while denying that same genius to modern engineers. Is a new technique for lifting stone any cleverer than a new technique for laying foundations for a skyscraper? Even if it is 4500 years is not really a long time to see evolution at work in any measurable way. What’s that 200 generations? Hardly a lot in evolutionary terms.

    “I see no need again for a deity to magically bestow intelligence on humanity.”

    I’m not a biologist but I looked up the law of biogenesis and found that scientists in 2002 had been able to artificially create a polio virus (a life form) from non-living matter. True it isn’t a complex life form as a virus has no cells but it at least shows that it is a possibility not to be dismissed. They were humble scientists who did this and not gods.

    You go on the state that other laws do not seem arbitrary and I’d agree that they do seem very neat. Isn’t nature grand and all the grander simply because it requires no intelligence to make it so. The periodic table is well formed and the reason for this is that the elements have structures that conforms to certain rules. They aren’t divinely provided rules but natural ones that clever scientists have managed to understand and catalogue. The same goes for mathematics.

    It is my own theory that humans invented deities to explain the unexplainable (why does the sun fly across the sky? Why it is the Apollo who pulls it with his flying chariot) but that time should have passed. We don’t need god anymore to explain things and should do away with the very idea and look for answers where we’ll find some reasonable explanation rather than mysticism and superstition.

  27. Eltower,

    I apologize for the length of the comments. I really try to make them shorter, but I’m sure you all would agree this is important stuff.

    You said, “It would be an intellectual effrontery to the principle of good investigation and an act of sheer laziness to simply attribute it to an ‘intelligent creator’. Not only does this raise far more questions than it answers, it is incapable of standing the test of scientific evidence, which lends more weight to a worldview which dispenses of the need of the supernatural, than that which requires hocus pocus to make it all come together.”

    I find it ironic that I have felt the same way about atheism. I have always concluded that atheists just wave their hands and dismiss any possibility of their being a God, no matter what evidence may be presented. You said “it raises more questions than it answers.” That is true, but why should that keep you from being inquisitive? So many religions, so many beliefs, so many theories…it’s much easier to just say, “no God!” and be done with it all. However, to do that is not really being openminded or even skeptical about the world in which we live in. If there really is a God, He exists outside our minds, outside our views, outside our religions and all our bias. It is outside those presupposed boxes that I desire to know God and just let Him speak for Himself, if He can.

    I think perhaps that I have been wrong, at least about you guys, as atheists. You guys seem to have done a lot of homework, do care, and are consistent with your views. I appreciate that and I commend you for it. From my experience, your knowledge, and footwork on the subject is rare among your peers, and I have been blessed from discussing these issues with you. So, thank you.

    “Maybe the universe goes through phases of contracting to a singularity and then exploding again. I don’t know.”

    This is a hard cup to swallow. It requires more faith (since there is no proof whatsoever) than faith in God (which at least explains where the matter came from).

    “Scientists say “I don’t know how that works so I’ll try to find out” whereas religion says “God made it happen” and you stop looking.”

    Creationists better not stop looking! Yet, the perspective is different. Atheists simply study the evidence and say, “how did this happen apart from God” while theists study the evidence and say “how did God do this?” We all desire to study and learn, yet our presuppositions will make us come to different conclusions. I too hate it when theists get arrogant and flaunt the Bible and God’s existence over atheists like, “Hey the Bible says it, all you scientists can go home now!” I’m sorry for those who have made it your perspective of theists (I don’t know, maybe it was me).

    I looked up the “Casimir Effect” and I didn’t really see how it related to the universe coming out of nothing.

    “If you say god created the universe then what created god and what created that creator. Ad infinitum. You don’t need a god creator any more than you need a god.”

    This is a common discussion between atheists and theists. However, you know as well as I do that only things that begin to exist need a cause. As even the Big Bang would show, the universe had a beginning, therefore it needs a cause. If (as He claims in the Bible) God is the creator of time and has existed eternally, He does not have nor need a cause. He would be the ultimate cause. You are correct to assume that an infinite regress of causes is impossible. So, even if God did need a cause, you and I would agree that there would be one there. So, with the universe, we know it needs a cause, why do we then just assume that there isn’t one there?

    Basically, the theistic principle is this: Every effect has a cause; The world is an effect; Therefore the world has a cause.

    “As for intelligence I think you are attributing genius to ancient builders (and the pyramid builders used some amazing feats of engineering) while denying that same genius to modern engineers.”

    My apologies, I did not mean to say that at all. I merely was saying that our ancestors brains weren’t less than ours. Man’s recorded history doesn’t go back all that far so we don’t really know what the ancient’s brain capacity really was because it isn’t observable. It is based off of the presupposition of evolution. However, in recorded history, my only point was that people did not have less brain capacity, they just had less to build upon. Not to deny the genious of those living today.

    “I see no need again for a deity to magically bestow intelligence on humanity.”

    Then intelligence is eternal, or it came from somewhere else. Aliens? (an answer I’ve gotten from several atheists) Where did they come from?

  28. “I’m not a biologist but I looked up the law of biogenesis and found that scientists in 2002 had been able to artificially create a polio virus (a life form) from non-living matter.”

    Yeah, I heard about that too, and I looked it up when you mentioned it. To me, it sounded a little fishy from what I researched. For instance, they did not synthesize DNA from raw ingredients. Instead, small chunks of already-existing DNA were used, which were then ‘stitched’ together chemically so that the resulting larger molecule had the correct sequence. How did they know what the right sequence was? From knowing (and copying) the sequence in the already existing PhiX virus. I wonder how long it would have taken them if they just through molecules together at random hoping to get life out of it. I’m not saying that scientists wouldn’t be able to one day “make” life in a lab (not saying that they can either), but wouldn’t that be intelligent design? Life from life? It still doesn’t just spring out of nowhere after raining on rocks for millions of years. If you would be able to show me where life sprang from molecules in nature, then maybe I’d say you have a good point.

    “They aren’t divinely provided rules but natural ones that clever scientists have managed to understand and catalogue. The same goes for mathematics.”

    How did these “natural laws” come into being? They are either eternal laws, they must have also evolved, or they must have come from a Lawgiver. If they are eternal then you still have entropy (a law) to deal with. If they evolved, why are they not still evolving? Why do we not have giraffes just popping into our living rooms out of nowhere? It’s because we have…may I say it, “absolutes.” That would leave you with a Lawgiver.

    “We don’t need god anymore to explain things and should do away with the very idea and look for answers where we’ll find some reasonable explanation rather than mysticism and superstition.”

    That is not the mind of one who is open minded or skeptical. To me it sounds like you’ve made your mind up, and have said “absolutely” no God. We have disproven Apollo, yes! Get rid of every deity that doesn’t hold up! That’s fine with me and probably every theist out there. But to say with a wave of your hand “it’s all mysticism and superstition” and be close minded even to the possibility that you are the result of a cause…that’s just sad.

  29. I said, “Not to deny the genious of those living today.”

    Ha, that’s funny! By my spelling I just proved I wasn’t in that camp. 🙂

  30. Eltower: ” ‘The Scientific Method’ delves a little deeper into the subject of rationality, reason and evidence and why they’re superior to dogma, hardheadedness and faith.”

    And I’m still waiting for an answer to why that’s not an absolute (and some other things that have been discussed).

  31. “I have always concluded that atheists just wave their hands and dismiss any possibility of their being a God, no matter what evidence may be presented.”
    Not so, present evidence that can be verified as to the existence of God and I don’t know a skeptic who will not change their mind and adjust their world view.

    “If there really is a God, He exists outside our minds, outside our views, outside our religions and all our bias. It is outside those presupposed boxes that I desire to know God and just let Him speak for Himself, if He can.”
    Therefore God is supernatural and not evidence exists for his\her\its existence.

    “Atheists simply study the evidence and say, ‘how did this happen apart from God’
    Again, not so. Scientists study the evidence and draw conclusions based on the evidence. If there were evidence for supernatural phenomena then it would be recorded and studied.

    “If you say god created the universe then what created god and what created that creator. Ad infinitum. You don’t need a god creator any more than you need a god.”

    “God is the creator of time and has existed eternally, He does not have nor need a cause.”
    Sorry but either everything needs a cause including God or the Big Bang does not need a God to cause it.

    “Then intelligence is eternal, or it came from somewhere else.”
    No, intelligence is an evolved trait.

    “If you would be able to show me where life sprang from molecules in nature, then maybe I’d say you have a good point.”
    I read recently that scientists are working on just this and hope for a breakthrough in the next five to ten years.

    “How did these “natural laws” come into being? They are either eternal laws, they must have also evolved, or they must have come from a Lawgiver.”
    Evolution does not apply to laws, which are simply methods of understanding the universe. Humans have devised the laws to explain the observable universe.

    “Get rid of every deity that doesn’t hold up! That’s fine with me and probably every theist out there. But to say with a wave of your hand ‘it’s all mysticism and superstition’ and be close minded even to the possibility that you are the result of a cause…that’s just sad.”
    That’s not what I was saying. I was sayign that rather than make up a story we should study the evidence. If a cure for cancer is found that involves chanting and drinking water with a hint of lavendar (superstition and mysticism) and can be proven to work and be repeated then it no longer remains supernatural but becomes science. I reject all gods because of the lack of evidence for them. Show me the evidence and I’ll reconsider.

  32. “Not so, present evidence that can be verified as to the existence of God and I don’t know a skeptic who will not change their mind and adjust their world view.”

    If you are asking me to say, “God will be at such and such a place at such and such a time…be there!” to show evidence, then I have none. I can’t speak for God. From what I understand, the amount of evidence needed for someone to believe in God’s existence varies from person to person. For me, being told about someone who loved me enough to die for me was enough for me to believe (Jesus is the only one to make the claim that he died for me [and the American GI], it’s at least worth giving the time of day to check into it). From that point my knowledge of Him grew both experiencially and objectivelly as I learned about science, chemistry, and math. For me, it became obvious (and this is simply my experience so take it as such) that there could not be such order, beauty, and design without a designer.

    “Therefore God is supernatural and not evidence exists for his\her\its existence.”

    My only point was that God is objective, not subject to our experience to exist. Yes, I believe Him to be supernatural, but I also believe that He often works within the realms He created. Sometimes He does not, as you can see by following this link of a “caught on tape” miracle. If you’ve never heard about Duane Miller then this is a story you should hear. Basically, it was a “miracle” caugt on tape and shows how his voice was literally healed in the middle of a sentence so much so that the doctors couldn’t even tell that he ever had a problem with his vocal chords.

    http://www.ashworthtn.com/stuff.aspx You may have to google the story too as this site doesn’t have too much on him. Oprah had his story on her show too, so you know it’s true. 🙂

    Other people I have met have had “supernatural” things happen to them that I try not to go into because they are subjective (like my friend saying if there’s a God my cell phone will ring and then it rang; and then answering to hear someone say, “hi, I’m supposed to tell you that I just gave my life to God…” click). My own story is that while visiting the Grand Canyon when I was six I was fooling around and in the split second my parents weren’t watching me, I got too close to the edge and lost my balance. I felt myself start to fall, totally lost my balance, and for about one-two seconds I was falling into the canyon. Then, for reasons I do not know, I physically felt myself pushed back onto the edge and my balance was restored. Though this may not prove anything to you, (since it is simply my story) to me it shows that “supernatural” occurences happen, even with a six year old.

    “If there were evidence for supernatural phenomena then it would be recorded and studied.”

    Some are trying to document and work on “spirit guides” and “entities” who are said to be supernatural, though I’m sure there are fakes.

    Also, take a look at history. History is filled with legends and mythologies of supernatural beings. Are these aliens, or something else? By the way, you never answered the question if you believed in aliens? If you do, then don’t you believe in the “supernatural”? Apparently the US government does believe in the supernatural with the whole SETI program.

    “Sorry but either everything needs a cause including God or the Big Bang does not need a God to cause it.”

    Everything that is an effect needs a cause. Everything that has a beginning needs a cause. The Universe, through the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics can be shown to have a beginning, therefore it must have a cause. Whether God exists as we understand it or not, the universe still needs a cause, whatever it is. The God of the Bible simply identifies “God” as the cause. That is the aspect that takes faith, not in the fact that the universe needs a cause, but in the fact that the God of the Bible is that cause. I find it convincing for myself that the God described in the Bible is described as being the cause. But that is a side issue.

    “No, intelligence is an evolved trait.”

    Then it must have had a beginning, and a source. It could not have sprung from nothing and is an effect.

    ” “If you would be able to show me where life sprang from molecules in nature, then maybe I’d say you have a good point.”
    I read recently that scientists are working on just this and hope for a breakthrough in the next five to ten years. ”

    Scientists will not simply have to “create life” in a lab, they will have to demonstrate how this life can spring from nature, outside of a controlled lab. Considering the fact that this goes against the observable laws of nature and we don’t ever observe new life forms springing up from non-life in nature, then it will never happen. It must happen apart from design (human or otherwise) for evolution to be correct. Needing intelligent scientists to “work on it” really shows that it is not natural at all. The fact that we have life shows that there was design and a “life-giver” if you will.

    “Evolution does not apply to laws, which are simply methods of understanding the universe. Humans have devised the laws to explain the observable universe.”

    You’re right there, especially since evolution breaks many known laws in order to be correct, like the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics as well as the Law of Biogenesis. Evolution is virtually “supernatural” since it goes totally against observable nature.

    “I reject all gods because of the lack of evidence for them. Show me the evidence and I’ll reconsider.”

    The evidence that I have focused on is the fact that you and I are effects and need a cause. Life does not spring from nothing, but from other life and must have its source, in Life. Those are observable facts, not faith based. If you are intellectually honest, you will at least have to consider those two facts. The flip side to these statements is what? Effect with no cause and life from no life? Doesn’t sound like “the scientific method” to me.

  33. As I suspected all the evidence is subjective and anecdotal and therefore unverifiable.

    Aliens is an odd one. If you mean little green men in spacesuits abducting people for experiments then no. If you mean do I believe in the possibility of other planets existing that could support life then I would say that it sounds reasonable given that at least one such world exists.

    So, scientists creating life in a lab will prove to you that life can arise from non-living matter but not that it is possible for life to arise from non-living matter? OK laboratory conditions are artificial but surely these conditions could occur naturally. I see though that you’ve moved the goalposts here though.

    “Evolution is virtually ‘supernatural’ since it goes totally against observable nature.”
    Really, so the observations recorded in The Origin of Species were made up were they?

    Throughout your arguments you are applying an supernatural intelligence (God) to explain things that are difficult to understand. I could equally claim that a Leprechaun was responsible with as much evidence but I can guarantee that you’d reject that idea.

  34. Hoverfrog said, “As I suspected all the evidence is subjective and anecdotal and therefore unverifiable.”

    I simply shared my own experience as my own road and said to take it as such. I also said that it is not evidence for God, it is only my own story.

    However, cause and effect, as well as biogenesis are not anecdotal. We also haven’t covered irreducibly complex machines, astronomy, anthropology, the mind, etc. You don’t take one portion of the discussion on God and say, “ok, there’s a God” or “no God!” although that is enough for some people. You have to take all the arguments together. I was merely trying to keep us from discussing ten things at once so we don’t get overwhelmed.

    “So, scientists creating life in a lab will prove to you that life can arise from non-living matter but not that it is possible for life to arise from non-living matter?”

    It would prove to me that intelligent beings can manipulate nature, many times for good, as is seen in some cloning. However, for the test to be correct, you are right, they would have to get life from non-life. I seriously doubt this will ever happen and so no, I am not moving the goal posts. I am simply saying that it is a hypothetical at this point, so even if they hypothetically did, it still wouldn’t show how it happens in nature, only how you can manipulate nature to get what you desire from forcing it to do what you intelligently wish it to. I was simply giving you a LOT of credit for your statement.

    “Really, so the observations recorded in The Origin of Species were made up were they?”

    The idea that nature goes from disorder to order, simple to complex, that life springs from non-life using chance + time is NOT observable science. Things break down, things die, things wear out; that is observable science. Whenever mutations occur, there is never brand new information that just pops out of nowhere, that is observable science. Order from order, life from life, effect from cause. That is objective, observable science and those are neutral facts. How you interpret them is subject to your bias. These facts though are contrary to the theory of evolution (not simple adaptation mind you) and demands that I reject it as a fedistic based theory, because it is not observable science.

    “Throughout your arguments you are applying an supernatural intelligence (God) to explain things that are difficult to understand. I could equally claim that a Leprechaun was responsible with as much evidence but I can guarantee that you’d reject that idea.”

    I get your point loud and clear. However, it is not simply I that am making the claim that the God of the Bible is the one who responsible for the universe, the Bible makes the claim. Your main beef isn’t with me, it’s with the Bible. However, hypothetically speeking, IF there is a “cause” to all this, that cause must be necessary, one, simple, infinite, all-knowing, all powerful, all perfect, unchanging, and uncaused. Let me explain. It must have enough power to cause something else to be or not be in some way. Of course, it need not have the power to do what is impossible, because the impossible cannot be. But it has the power to make come to be what can come to be. It must also be all-knowing because knowing beings exist. I exist and I know it. I can’t deny my own existence because I’d have to exist to deny it. But whatever I am, I have been caused to be and so have you. So, the actual ability to know (which is an ability I possess) is caused to be by the cause of all fininte beings. The cause of knowing is infinite, so it must know infinitely. It must also be eternal, and unchanging to be “the cause.”

    Guess what? Those characteristics are identical to the God described in the Bible and no other god matches up exactly. A Leprechaun certainly does not match up! So, if you were to agree that there is a “cause” then that cause would be identical to the God described in the Bible, and no other. That is one big reason I have put my trust in the God of the Bible, because if the universe is not eternal and thus needs a cause, the cause necessary for creating is identical to the cause described in the Bible. I’m not saying “God of the gaps,” I’m saying “God of the Bible.”

    As far as aliens go, I simply wished for you to admit that life outside our understanding is indeed possible. Can you prove aliens exist? They either exist or do not exist outside of our knowledge objectively. Aliens, however, have been deemed “supernatural” or “extra-terrestrial.” Does that mean that you believe in the possibility of the “supernatural” or does it mean that your going to move the goal posts and redefine “supernatural?” (By the way, I’m not claiming aliens exist, ok?)

  35. You’re making an awfully big leap there is saying that if there is a cause then it must be the Biblical God. Why not Odin? He was supposedly all knowing after he drank from and dropped his eye in Mímir’s magical well.

    I think what you are arguing is determinism. Determinism was one (of many) things that led me away from religion. If every cause has an effect (which it does), then every effect can be predicted given enough information regarding the cause. Therefore every event is predetermined. If every event is predetermined then free will doesn’t exist.

    I admit that the possibility for alien life exists, this is not supernatural. We know that life exists on this planet so it isn’t really that difficult to speculate that life could exist on other worlds. If we knew that ghost dogs existed then it wouldn’t be a stretch to speculate that ghost humans existed, but they don’t.

    In fact if your Biblical God exists then it is reasonable to assume that Odin, Ra, Quetzalcoatl, Vishnu, Jupiter, The Flying Spaghetti Monster and every other deity ever recorded must also exist. If they all exist then all their creation myths must also be true.

    Clearly they can’t all be true.

  36. “You’re making an awfully big leap there is saying that if there is a cause then it must be the Biblical God. Why not Odin?”

    One difference between atheists and theists is (as C.S. Lewis describes) that theists can see truth in all religions while atheists must disprove every single one. That being said, there are things abount Odin that may be sourced from folklore, handed down and embelished (obviously) over the years. However, like with the flood tales, there are some common threads to the God of the Bible. 1) Odin made the earth, and 2) they made the first man and woman of whom all are descendants.

    Going back to cause and effect though, if Odin is not the source of all then who is? Odin doesn’t explain biogenesis, cause and effect, etc. and can obviously be shown to be a product of man’s embelishment, not the source.

    The God of the Bible however is exactly what you would expect to see from cause and effect, biogenesis, etc. because He is one, He is all knowing, all powerful, etc. He fits the description. The only other one that I have researched that could hold an argument would be Alah (one source, etc), not Odin.

    You said, “I think what you are arguing is determinism. Determinism was one (of many) things that led me away from religion. If every cause has an effect (which it does), then every effect can be predicted given enough information regarding the cause. Therefore every event is predetermined. If every event is predetermined then free will doesn’t exist.”

    You admit to cause and effect then deny that it doesn’t exist because of what it would produce? Hoverfrog, the fact that you’re an atheist proves that free will exists and that determinism and fatalism are not valid. God is all knowing but He says we have to make a choice regarding Him (free will). Where does all that meet together in a way that makes sense? I have no clue. Anyone who says that they have all of it figured out is probably trying to sell you something. However, the fact that you can choose against God proves that free will exists. However, free will does not negate the need for a cause. So, there must be a balance between the two that we haven’t been able to fully grasp. That doesn’t mean its false.

    “I admit that the possibility for alien life exists, this is not supernatural. We know that life exists on this planet so it isn’t really that difficult to speculate that life could exist on other worlds.”

    If evolution were true, alien life should be swarming the galaxy and shouldn’t just be a “possibility.” Aside from that, my only point was that alien life is very closely associated with “the supernatural.” The fact that atheists readily accept the possibility for aliens but not for a “cause” to the universe to me is not consistent.

    You also said, “In fact if your Biblical God exists then it is reasonable to assume that Odin, Ra, Quetzalcoatl, Vishnu, Jupiter, The Flying Spaghetti Monster and every other deity ever recorded must also exist. If they all exist then all their creation myths must also be true.

    Clearly they can’t all be true.”

    I agree, they can’t all be true. However, as cause and effect should show, there can only be one ultimate cause. Accepting God isn’t a package deal with all the other gods. Saying the One exists doesn’t mean that all exist and saying the others don’t exist doesn’t mean the One doesn’t exist either. If 100,000 people claimed to be the president of the US, does that mean that there isn’t a real president? You seem to be saying that simply because in history people have claimed deity for others than the God of the Bible then that means that no God exists. Isn’t that a fallacy? Just because one may be needed does not make them all correct (inlcuding the God of the Bible on those terms). However, as cause and effect shows, one really is necessary.

    The question is not if there is a cause, the question is, can that cause be known?

  37. “the fact that you’re an atheist proves that free will exists and that determinism and fatalism are not valid.”
    No it doesn’t. Every single action and decision I make is based on the sum of my physical (chemical, electrical, biological, etc) attributes and my experiences. How can I make a decision based on experiences that I have not had? By reference to those that I have had or have considered. That is determinism and it negates free will. Without true free will the ability to decide to sin or not is negated and so heaven and hell cease to have meaning.

    “If evolution were true, alien life should be swarming the galaxy and shouldn’t just be a ‘possibility.'”
    Why? Life required a certain environment to flourish, at least in a form that we can understand. Perhaps that environment is very rare. Until other worlds are explored it is impossible to determine. All I am saying is that it is possible for life to exist on worlds other than Earth given the number of stars in the universe and the assumption that life sustaining planets exist in at least a few of these solar systems. Who knows what form that life will take or even if they develop intelligence and the tools to attain space travel. We simply do not know enough about the universe to know but we do know that life is possible and that it there is no reason for Earth to be the only celestial body capable of supporting life.

    “Aside from that, my only point was that alien life is very closely associated with “the supernatural.” The fact that atheists readily accept the possibility for aliens but not for a “cause” to the universe to me is not consistent.”
    I disagree. On the one hand you ask about accepting possibilities based on evidence. “Could aliens exist” and then you talk about supernatural things. One is a possibility based on available evidence and the other is make believe. I’m not saying that aliens are real. All I’m saying is that it is possible given our understanding of the universe.

    “Accepting God isn’t a package deal with all the other gods.”
    So we should accept the first primitive god as being the correct one. That would probably be the sun. Why select on made up deity only a few thousand years old over a much older and better established one. Ra is 6000 years old, nature worship even older.

    “The question is not if there is a cause, the question is, can that cause be known?”
    No the question is can this cause be a supernatural intelligence or something wholly explainable by science once sufficient data is amassed.

  38. “No it doesn’t. Every single action and decision I make is based on the sum of my physical (chemical, electrical, biological, etc) attributes and my experiences.”

    What you seem to be advocating is behavioralism. Is that correct? You are a product of your environment? I just want to make sure I understand you.

    “How can I make a decision based on experiences that I have not had?”

    If that were true, then I would probably be a raging drug addict. I’ve never experienced drugs but I made a free-will decision simply based on analyzing data and “choosing” not to do drugs. You don’t have make decisions simply based on experiencing them. If you are saying that the data I analyzed was an experience, you’d be correct, and your original statement would be correct.

    “By reference to those that I have had or have considered. That is determinism and it negates free will.”

    You seem to think that you must possess all knowledge to have true free will. If that is the definition of free-will then you are correct, free will would not exist because we don’t have all knowledge. However, I do not believe that this is what is needed in order to make informed decisions.

    In another Biblical sense free will does not entirely exist because we are prone toward evil (men love darkness rather than light). Biblically speaking, you are right that we do not have the ability to 100% of the time to choose correctly. We are portrayed as those in need of rescuing without the ability to “save” ourselves from our fate. That is where God is shown in a merciful light, warning us of our dilema, giving us the ability to choose between life, or continuing on toward our eventual ruin. God gives people the right and the ability, from Adam on down, to choose for Him or against Him. The fact that you have chosen against Him, and the conversations we’ve had, shows that you do believe you have had enough experiences to make an informed decision regarding God and you are going about your life with your eyes wide open. You can never say, “I didn’t know” or “I was determined to fail.” God has given you every opportunity and yet you will not listen. You have the free will to do so, but my heart breaks for you.

    “Without true free will the ability to decide to sin or not is negated and so heaven and hell cease to have meaning.”

    Again, you have plenty of knowledge to make an informed decision. Heaven and hell are irrelevant anyway in comparison to our being at peace with “the Cause.” The reward of heaven isn’t simply paradise, it is being with our Creator. The punishment of hell isn’t so much the physical pain (which shouldn’t be minimized) but rather the knowing that we cannot have fellowship with God. That’s why it’s a big deal and to go there knowingly, having been warned, is absolutely tragic.

    “Why? Life required a certain environment to flourish, at least in a form that we can understand. Perhaps that environment is very rare.”

    The more we learn, the more we understand just how rare our solar system, and our small little planet really is.

    “One is a possibility based on available evidence and the other is make believe. I’m not saying that aliens are real. All I’m saying is that it is possible given our understanding of the universe.”

    Fair enough. You are a rare among your peers I have talked to regarding “the supernatural.”

    “So we should accept the first primitive god as being the correct one. That would probably be the sun. Why select on made up deity only a few thousand years old over a much older and better established one. Ra is 6000 years old, nature worship even older.”

    Again, there are some common threads with Ra, but Ra is not the unique “source” either. He does not fit the description provided by “cause and effect” and should be rejected.

    I am simply saying that the God of the Bible matches up to the description of “cause and effect,” does He not? Am I wrong? If He does not fit the profile, should I worship Him? No, He would be a false god. Just like worshipping the sun would be ridiculous, so would be worshipping the God of the Bible. However, if He matches the description of the one needed to do what takes to make the universe, then why be so militant against Him?

    “No the question is can this cause be a supernatural intelligence or something wholly explainable by science once sufficient data is amassed.”

    That is a good question as well. At this point, the answer is “no,” science cannot explain how it happened at all. You keep looking to science, hoping they will find something that will show that God is not the cause. They have no clue what the cause is and at this point are debating whether or not you even need one. They haven’t the slightest clue. However, there has been a claim made by someone who says they were there and they say that they know how it happened. Since you don’t know, why are you so militant to say that “there is no God!”? I would at least think that being an agnostic would be more honest.

  39. I guess our conversation is over?

  40. Fortunately, “belief” is not required for absolute truth. Absolute truth is fully independent, is solid and reliable, and is in the sphere of reality, whereas “belief” is dependent on flawed material minds, is weak and fickle, and is lodged inextricably within the sphere of doubt. The two are such opposites that I personally find it amazing that the author even considers putting the two terms in the same sentence. However, that is the confused nature of the atheist.

    The fact is that there is absolute truth, and there is relative truth. Neither one is dependent on, or even remotely related to, “belief.” One knows truths and facts, and one may “believe” any number of unproven and unprovable theories, such as evolution theory. That particular section of the vast amount of philosophy, theism, religion, and science is particularly weak, and is best suited for silly children, not serious adults.

    God Himself is the Absolute Truth, and He never changes. He is fully independent of all surrounding circumstances, personalities, and energies. Relative truths exist only as a result of God’s existence, as a by-product, and although relative truths are also true, they are changeable. For example, I am now a certain age, and this is a fact. One year from now, that figure will change, and a new relative truth will be fact at that time.

    The atheist has never observed God, nor does he have access to information from anyone who has observed God, and so any and all statements that he may possibly offer in regards to God, whether positive or negative, must necessarily be understood to be unscientific, and therefore must be rejected by any truly scientific mind.

    If you are interested in seeing additional factual information on this subject, please see this video:

    Thank you very much.

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