1/08/2010                                                                                       View Comments

The Impossible Christian Cosmology

By WizenedSage

Christians believe that their god created the universe. Ask them who or what created god and they will say that god always existed. Of course, precious few, if any, have considered the logical quagmire which results from this hypothesis. Now I must point out up front that the following argument has one very serious weakness; one must be willing and able to think on one’s own in order to understand it.

Albert Einstein is famous for many things, among them the so-called “thought experiment.” The process is simple enough, one merely imagines himself in a certain situation and then, using logic and whatever scientific knowledge is available, imagines how some event would unfold. This process ultimately led Einstein to the Special and General Theories of Relativity (after a hell of a lot of hard mathematics). It can be a very powerful technique in helping us to visualize and discover how the world really works. Let’s try a simple thought experiment on this problem of the creation of the universe.

Try to imagine that you are god and the universe has not yet been created. There is only you as some sort of disembodied consciousness. Nothing else exists or has ever existed. There is only you and nothingness, and your “mind” is a blank for nothing exists to think about. Already we have a problem. According to our best science, mind is what a functioning brain does. No one has ever detected a mind or a thought where there was not an alive and functioning brain, or biological “wetware.”

Nevermind. You are god and somehow you have an incorporeal (without body) mind. As we said, you aren’t thinking about anything yet because nothing exists to think about. Perhaps your mind is like a painting of nothing, whatever that might be.


“God can do anything” is not a valid argument. Not even a god could create a finite infinity or a square circle…or, most importantly, have a thought when nothing exists to think about. Anyhow, you suddenly decide to create a universe. But how could this be? How could you even picture a universe since no universe has ever existed and nothing exists for it to be anything like… or unlike. How would you even get an idea, any idea? An idea is a mental picture or symbolic representation of something. But there is no something yet in existence to work with to create a picture and no symbolic language to represent with. All thoughts are representations of something that already exists – or variations on a theme of something that already exists.

Having an idea when nothing exists to think about must be a bit like trying to look something up in the dictionary when you don’t know any words. Have you ever noticed that the dictionary is totally circular (much like many Christian arguments)? Every word in it is defined in terms of other words that are in it. You have to know a few words before you can use it. Similarly, in order to have an idea, something must exist for you to have an idea about, to provide the materials of a concept.

So, god suddenly decides to create a universe, but what does “create” mean to him? How can it have any meaning when there are no other words or concepts in existence to illustrate, define, or otherwise represent “create?” And what does universe mean? This certainly appears to be the ultimate in pulling oneself up into the air by one’s own bootstraps.

This Christian theory of a disembodied, ethereal “mind” (made of…nothing?) somehow creating the universe is a non-starter. No mind, even a god’s mind, can think without something to think about. As long as nothing exists, there can be no thought (since thought absolutely requires an object) and hence no creation by thought. In the words of my slow cousin, “It don’t work.” And, make no mistake, “god can do anything” is not a valid argument. Not even a god could create a finite infinity or a square circle…or, most importantly, have a thought when nothing exists to think about.

I believe this thought experiment pretty much proves that the universe existed, in some form, before any thought existed, and no god could create anything without thought.

137 comments:

webmdave said...

First of all - I'm Swedish, so my English may look funny.

Reading the article, I applause the attempt to reason about whether or not there could be a divine being creating the universe as we know it. Rationality in all its glory, but... Annoying as it would be, isn't it possible that we actually don't know everything about anything about which there are things to be known? Wouldn't it be reasonable to have some humility towards the fact that maybe we don't know how a much more developed being (such as a creator) could function? I mean, we can use our reasoning well, but we can't be sure it can solve anything.

Please don't get me wrong - I like thinking about this stuff too. But I would add that I can't exclude the possibility that if there was a creator, I might not be able to grasp how it could do what it does.

webmdave said...

glebealyth,
I think you are absolutely right, and I detected no "deterioration" at all. Well said. Although I do think we are learning how the world really works at a pretty good clip because most scientists ignore religion. It's the integration of what we have learned into public policy and thought that suffers from the god delusion.

webmdave said...

A great many years ago,I was reading something on atomic particles. It came to me if we considered suns/stars as particles & planets etc. as sub-atomic particles, we could infer that all that exists- IS god. man & everything else on this 3rd rock from the sun are merely sub-atomic particles. I was delighted with my one original thought. Then, a long time later, I stumbled across the word 'pantheism' & learned that this concept was an ancient Chinese idea. Those sneaky Chinese STOLE my one original thought. Bummer !

webmdave said...

Sage,

Another great post. Thank you for your many contributions to this site.

The issue here is you are much more advanced in your thinking than the troglodytes who wrote Genesis. It is amazing that modern mankind wants to set reason aside and follow their lead...

I wish somebody would shut William Lane Craig up once and for all.

webmdave said...

Excellent post. You are a craftsman with the written word.

webmdave said...

Hi everyone,

I posted a comment over an hour ago. It didn't get published. Maybe there was some kind of technical problem or maybe I was suspected of being dishonest - a Christian undercover on a re-conversion mission. You see, what I said was that I applause the attempt of reasoning about whether or not there could have been a divine being who created us out of itself (or nothing). But, I said, I'd like to add that there is a possibility that we aren't able, however intelligent we are, to grasp how a much more supreme being can function. Maybe it'd be reasonable to have that humility after all. That's what I said in my unpublished comment.

I hope this gets published because I'm a sceptic on both sides. I've been a "born-again" Christian for ten years and I find this site very interesting as I'm wondering whether I want to be a Christian. Now that's me. NOT trying to re-convert anyone. Only trying to question information both from Christians and atheists. I look forward to talking to those who think they can meet me with respect although I haven't made up my mind yet. I'm in a process, that's for sure. Let's see how it ends up and if I get through it alive because I can relate to the pain of doubting what has been the meaning of your life for so long.

Oh, and I'm Swedish. This site for exchristians is much more interesting than the Swedish one. Well done! Any more Swedes around?

webmdave said...

Very well said, David. In the OT, the priests who were the ones who wrote the stories in the OT. They kept the myths alive and profited from them. The Kings needed the priests in order to keep the people compliant. Invent a god, make him cruel and sadistic (enough that the people were scared to think) and you have people you can control and manipulate. Nothing really has changed. Our Government does the same thing.

webmdave said...

Thanks Ted, but I think anyone today with a high school education or more is much more advanced than the writers of the Bible. The believers simply refuse to see this. As I've said over and over, why would you consult a 2,000 year old book to learn how the world works since you obviously wouldn't consult a 2,000 year old book to learn how to treat a cancer?

webmdave said...

You are too modest. Your post was outstanding.

You wouldn't consult a 2,000 year old book in either case. It took me 30+ years of delusion on a grand scale to figure that out.

A very smart chap once explained to me long ago that people control others through barbarism or mysticism. I was too delusional to appreciate his sage advice at the time. Now, I do.

webmdave said...

W.S.,

Very nice. This is also the core Ayn Rand's argument against mysticism. The idea that their could be Mind that underlies all thoughts implies that there could be any meaning to a Mind that had no thoughts. Mind's think and in order to think must have ideas or a real world with images to form images in the mind as building blocks for thoughts.

So too Philosophical Idealism also suffers a death in the face of logic. To make mind and ideas both one and the same and eternal might be logical but then there is no way to divide idealism and realism. Words and thoughts become meaningless.

"This is That" is the Hindu version so what the fuck does that mean but perhaps the identification of all sense of meaning. Silence is Sound? Right is Wrong? Death is Life? The Mental is the Material? Square is Round? Thinking like will just back one into a corner sitting in silence in the forrest eating bugs and that does not look like a win to me . In all religions soon their most advanced and serious practitioners who are not just dominated by the institutionalism will learn the limits of words. THE WORD is taught to be the fount of all "words". So personal union with THE WORD (god) in experience becomes the focus. So much of this is mental gymnastics, of course. Mystics make horrible scientists . "God" is the mother of all mystics and contemplation for the mystic is an attempt to get all "words", images, and thoughts OUT of the mind. Blank. Nothingness is the goal. "Nothing" is what rocks think about when they are asleep. Yep, that would be God. Just ain't squat at all. Hand me a thought that never existed in a paper bag. (Sound a little off to you? Me too! ) God is the King Mystic. Count on logic showing that that makes no sense and count on science based on reason and logic finding no evidence for what rocks think about when they are asleep. At best beautiful poetic words to dazzle the dumb.

webmdave said...

Excellent posts here, you all make a lot more sense than my old Sunday School teacher back in the day.
Of course, they really didn't have any answers for me and generally suggested that I just be quiet, stop asking, and accept.

webmdave said...

Hi everyone,

I'm not a Christian undercover on a re-conversion mission. I'va called myself a Christian my whole life, but now I'm in a painful process of questioning things I was so sure of before. This is a really interesting site. I can relate to many things written here.

I applause the attempt of reasoning about whether or not there could have been a divine being who created us. But isn't there a possibility that we aren't able, however intelligent we are, to grasp how a much more supreme being can function? Maybe it'd be reasonable to have that humility after all?

One thing I come to think of is that this self-existent being created us out of itself, not out of nothing. It contained the idea of the universe in itself. It didn't have to adopt the idea from existing things. I guess that if we're imagining a self-existing being we can imagine that the idea of the universe had always been there too. Another possibility is, as I said, that this being's fantasy is much more advanced than ours so even if WE don't comprehend it, it can create out of itself in a way we can never do.

Oh, and I'm Swedish. Anybody else?

webmdave said...

Filosofia,

If there is a supreme being capable of so much wonder, why did it reportedly choose to reveal itself to so few people whom it purportedly came to save? Is it part of the "great mystery"? Why do you suppose it revealed itself primarily to the Hebrews and on behalf of the Hebrews in the OT? Could it be that they conjured it up for their own purposes. It seems that most civilizations embrace mysticism in some form. I don't know what makes the Hebrew God seem more real than any other. Why wouldn't this supreme being reveal itself to us right now and give everyone ample evidence to believe. Funny how all those miracles of the Old Testament seem to have ceased. I never saw one... and I looked far and wide. I keep waiting for a documented miracle on YouTube. Instead, we have thousands of religious sects all claiming they have it right. That inlcudes Pastor Larry who seems to have vanished into the ether...

BTW, I thought Christianity was on the decline in places like Sweden and Norway.

webmdave said...

Pious_Ted,

Thanks for your reply! :) The author of this article is right in stating that Christians believe that a divine being whom they call "God" has created the universe. There is, however, no need to limit this belief in a creator to Christianity. Let's focus on the philosophical question whether or not it's reasonable to reject or keep our minds open to the existence of a creator. I have intentionally avoided Christian language when talking about this divine being as I want to focus on the universal creator-matters that this article is treating.

But to address the question you raised about the Bible God revealing himself only to the Hebrews: yes, I think your doubts are reasonable. I see your points. And yes, Christianity IS on the decline here in Scandinavia.

webmdave said...

(I posted two comments as a guest at first, by my name "Sofia". I was too impatient to wait for them to get moderated so I created an account, signed in and said basically the same thing. Sorry about the messy comments. :( )

webmdave said...

I am open to the possibility of some higher power, but I see no evidence. It is not reasonable to conclude that we require a creator, yet that creator does not also require a creator.

I made references to Christianity because this is an ex-christian site. My entire perspective of "God" was fashioned by Christian teachings.

Now, this is my philosophy:

----------
"It is vain to ask of the gods what man is capable of supplying for himself."

- Epicurus
----------


I don't know if a supreme being exists or not. I do not accept the Hebrew God of the OT. Reading the Bible multiple times convinced me of that.

webmdave said...

Filosophia,
When you say, "But isn't there a possibility that we aren't able, however intelligent we are, to grasp how a much more supreme being can function?" You are suggesting that god can do anything. As I pointed out in the essay, however, "Not even a god could create a finite infinity or a square circle…or, most importantly, have a thought when nothing exists to think about." Please explain to me how a god (or anyone else) could think without anything existing to think about. Thought requires an object. And without thought, there can be no creation.

webmdave said...

I hear you, I definately do. And I don't like the OT God either.

But I'm not saying that we require a creator. WizenedSage has, however, said "I believe this thought experiment pretty much proves that the universe existed, in some form, before any thought existed, and no god could create anything without thought.".

Proves? Really? I'm just asking. Maybe we can't be too sure of how such a surpreme being could work. Maybe our knowledge and logic is limited to our world. Maybe it doesn't stretch out to that world of this being, IF IT EXISTS. To me, it seems unlikely that it does, considering what type of intelligence that we're imagining here.

webmdave said...

WizenedSage,

I am honoured by your reply. In response to your understanding of my line of thinking: I am not suggesting that God can do anything. What I am questioning, however, is that we are fully able to understand what a much more surpreme intelligence as an imagined creator of the universe could do. I'm repeating myself but that seems a good thing when misunderstandings are easy to make. Again: I am NOT suggesting that "God can do anything".

webmdave said...

Whether or not we like the OT god, the NT god, Thor, Zeus, Santa, or the Tooth Fairy is irrelevant. What is relevant is the objective evidence. For most (if not all) of us here, if we were presented with irrefutable, verifiable, objective, scientific evidence of such a god, creator, or creature, we would believe. So far it's a no go.

"Maybe our knowledge and logic is limited..."

does not equal "goddidit"

BP

webmdave said...

"No mind, even a god’s mind, can think without something to think about. As long as nothing exists, there can be no thought (since thought absolutely requires an object) and hence no creation by thought."

However, the premise is not really that "nothing" existed, right? The premise is that nothing BUT God existed. Thus, the mind of God would have nothing to think about but himself. However, thinking about himself is something, right? So your argument seems to fail at that point.

webmdave said...

No, it does not equal "goddidit", and even if I thought so it would be irrelevant to this discussion, unless you wanted to dismiss me because we don't share the same worldview.

This is about the best way I think I can put it at the moment: what I am questioning is THE ASSUMPTION that we are fully able to understand what a MUCH more supreme intelligence as an imagined creator of the universe could do (if such a being would exist).

Is that assumption well grounded? In what? It seems illogical to me.

webmdave said...

WizenedSage - Thank you so much for this thoughtful topic, presented so eloquently and intelligently.

You did an outstanding job breaking this down logically. An eternal, ethereal, thinking entity, is an impossibility. Ours is a physical universe and even as such the possibility of a "supreme being" is thought to be an impossibility as well.

As sound as this arguement may be, never discount the resistive power of a closed mind.

webmdave said...

Just read this article by WS. It's really rather a horrendous bit of "thinking." Science has shown us that the universe had a definite beginning, so in many ways the article is moot. The last line is simply a statement of faith. In christian theism God is triune so God would have existed in a "community" of love. That would at least in part answer the question of what God would be thinking about from eternity. WS seems to think that 2000 years of christian theism has been done away with by this terrible example of "thought." I mean, are you kidding? There are so many errors in this piece of writing it would take a short book to list them all. If someone wants to attain atheism this is not the way.

webmdave said...

"One thing I come to think of is that this self-existent being created us out of itself, not out of nothing. It contained the idea of the universe in itself."

That is a very interesting and intriguing thought, Filosophia. But I'm left wondering how such an incredibly complex being came to be. How could something even more complex than the universe it contemplates...just "be?" -with no process, no evolving, it just "is" and apparently always was. That seems to me to be a very far-fetched assumption. In fact, it is no more farfetched to assume that the massive black holes at the centers of galaxies have minds of their own...But if we have to attach a likelihood to such assumptions, wouldn't we have to say very, very, very nearly zero?

webmdave said...

WizenedSage -

You stated, "most scientists ignore religion". I think that this is nothing new. Not one astronomical object, star, planet, globular cluster, etc. bears a xtian name.

webmdave said...

Ah, right - surely this will assist deconverted Christians not to turn back to Christ. Sorry to say this, but I think that the way you're expressing yourself is so provocative and disrespectful that your comment really is counter-productive.

webmdave said...

Errors in logic? Please list a couple.

You stated, " In christian theism God is triune so God would have existed in a "community" of love." If nothing existed, there would be no "community", no matter, no brains, no thought, and of course no love. Your's is an non-supported assertion.

webmdave said...

I understand, Filosofia. I like the way you think, by the way.

I'll try to express myself more clearly. I don't believe it's possible for a god to create something without thinking, without some sort of vision of what it intended to create. Now, even gods cannot do what is BY DEFINITION impossible. A square circle is impossible BY DEFINITION. A finite infinity is impossible, BY DEFINITION. To think without anything existing to think about (without an object) is impossible BY DEFINITION. To think about nothing cannot be called thinking BY DEFINITION

If I am right, then no matter how powerful or how clever, god cannot create anything until something already exists TO THINK ABOUT.

webmdave said...

Thanks for your opinion F.

webmdave said...

I really don't care what your worldview happens to be. I care about evidence and thus am not inclined to spend much time worrying about assumptions (mine, yours, or god's) regarding, as you said, an imagined creator.

webmdave said...

To imagine a creator just hanging around in the void till it decided to create us requires a suspension of disbelief of which I am not capable.

webmdave said...

<<< Science has shown us that the universe had a definite beginning >>>

This is 100% wrong, troll. Some scientists POSTULATE that point. Carl Sagan was certainly open to the idea that the universe always existed. I heard him say so with my own ears.

As an FYI, Christian tradition holds that God the Father, God the Holy Spirit, and Christ the Son always existed as three distinct entities. That teaching itself evolved over time.

Go back to Philosophy 101 and argue with your classmates. Learn some manner whilst you are at it.

webmdave said...

You said, "However, thinking about himself is something, right?" Yes, and good point, but where are the materials to contemplate a universe in a being which is neither matter nor energy, since the universe is entirely matter and energy.

webmdave said...

"If nothing existed, there would be no 'community', no matter, no brains, no thought, and of course no love. Your's is an non-supported assertion."

As I said earlier, the premise is not that nothing existed. The premise is that nothing BUT God existed. Thus, if God has a triune community within himself, that community would have existed when God was all that existed.

webmdave said...

Thanks for your reply, this is so much fun! :) Well, my starting assumption is, put bluntly, that in comparison to a creator of the universe, we are to stupid to set our own limitations what this being can not do or be. And also whatever possibilities we can imagine that this imagined creator has, we might be wrong.

Farfetched? In response to that I ask, who are we to judge? Isn't that rational, considering the difference between us and this supposed-to-be supreme being?

Speaking of likelihood, I'd like to use it as well. When we start imagining a being that would be so much more intelligent than us, doesn't it seem that the likelihood of us fully understanding it is very nearly zero?

The consequence of such an assumption is that we can't be sure that we can prove that a creator can't exist, precisely because of it's nature and ours.

webmdave said...

You said, "Science has shown us that the universe had a definite beginning, so in many ways the article is moot."

Moot? How so? Did you even read the article? I didn't argue that the universe had no beginning. I argued that it was not created by a god.

webmdave said...

Thanks! Good reply. I'll think about it.

webmdave said...

Brett Bavar,

You are entitled to believe whatever you like.

If you believe in the eternal existence of a Triune God, would you please share with us one kernel of evidence OTHER THAN translations of translations of literature written by primitive people (i.e. the Bible).

webmdave said...

Beautifully put! I'm with you.

webmdave said...

A "community of love".

Gee, that makes me want to puddle up...

It is amazing that someone thinks God was hanging around in darkness devoid or matter and energy and then willed it all into place. That would explain why the universe is an orderly place, right? Wrong! The universe is not orderly. It is chaotic. Celestial bodies are constantly being transformed, and life exists or not depending on its ability to adapt to its environment.

webmdave said...

I don't believe in it. I'm simply trying to help expose faulty reasoning. We can do better than this when debating against Christian theology, if we're careful and willing to give up faulty arguments.

webmdave said...

A negative cannot be proven. Ever.

We cannot prove the non-existence of Leprechauns. Should we assume they are so wily, so good at creating mischief and then disappearing that it is because of their very nature that we cannot prove they exist? So, we have to rely on the evidence of their handiwork--laundry fallen off the line, the dog getting spooked by something no one else can see. . .

Honestly, this is all we have of god. A feeling, rainbows, jesus in toast. . .

webmdave said...

There are three ways I think I could interpret the point you're trying to make here:
1. Thought cannot happen if material does not exist, because thought only happens in a material brain.
2. Thought cannot happen if material does not exist, because thought can only represent something which exists materially.
3. Thought about material things cannot happen if those material things do not exist, because thinking can only represent something which exists.

I think the responses to each would be the following, respectively:
1. Perhaps we have only observed thought in the form of a material brain. We can imagine how thought could happen in another material form, like in an extremely intelligent computer. Similarly, if we grant the possibility of immaterial existence, how can we deny the possiblity of thinking happening in an immaterial form? We simply don't know what limits there are on the possible forms of thought.
2. I regularly have abstract thoughts which do not represent any material object. We're both thinking ideas about God right now, right? God doesn't have a material existence. Hell, God probably doesn't even exist at all. However, God can still be the object of our thoughts.
3. We have creative imaginations that can think about things which do not exist. Certainly, if God has a mind of some form, it ought to be capable of imagination as well, right?

Are any of these correct interpretations of your argument? If not, can you clarify? If so, what do you think about my response?

webmdave said...

"A negative cannot be proven. Ever."

My point exactly! That's why I question the conclusion in this article.

I must say that there is a considerable difference between the intelligence of a creator of the universe (which therefore must be more complex than it) and the intelligence of mischievous leprechauns, but point taken :)

webmdave said...

Well, my point was in comparing two mythological creatures, to one of which man has assigned great powers.

webmdave said...

We have a need to try to explain everything--from the creation of the universe to that creepy feeling that somebody is watching us when nobody is there: hence we have created god and ghosts, leprechauns and witches. Someone has to take the blame when things go wrong, and someone had to have started it all. Throw in that we want someone to care about us and for us because it is too big a job to be wholly responsible for ourselves and we like to think that we are so special that this world was created especially for us--and you have an all-powerful, all-seeing, ever-present, unknowable god. That is the easiest explanation; not the best.

webmdave said...

Just wondering - why can't I reply to some messages? Is it that there can only be a limited number of "reply-to-this person" in a row?

Because lisa, I just want to say that my very point was to consider the tremendously different levels of intelligence between us and a creator of the universe. Leprechauns may be smarter than us, but in comparison to such a creator they would be smart as ants, too.

webmdave said...

OK, I'll comment here since I can't comment elsewhere...

Lisa wrote:

"We have a need to try to explain everything--from the creation of the universe to that creepy feeling that somebody is watching us when nobody is there: hence we have created god and ghosts, leprechauns and witches. Someone has to take the blame when things go wrong, and someone had to have started it all. Throw in that we want someone to care about us and for us because it is too big a job to be wholly responsible for ourselves and we like to think that we are so special that this world was created especially for us--and you have an all-powerful, all-seeing, ever-present, unknowable god. That is the easiest explanation; not the best."

I hear you. But please let's discuss the article we're commenting on! The article is about proving, via a thought experiment, that a god didn't create the universe. Let's give him cred for his efforts by sticking with the subject. What I'm doing is questioning whether we can prove this since we're of inferior intelligence than a creator of the universe would be.

Logging off for the night... In Sweden it's 8:33 PM, I should do something else now, Friday night and all :)

webmdave said...

After re-reading your article and thinking a bit more carefully about this, it seems your point is that God probably could not conceive of matter and energy when nothing even remotely like matter or energy existed. This is based on your assertion that "All thoughts are representations of something that already exists – or variations on a theme of something that already exists." Thus, even if God could have had thoughts about himself, God's nature is so totally different from matter and energy that no thoughts of matter and energy could have come about simply as variations on the thought of God.

So maybe this is where I'm struggling with your argument. I have two big questions about the assertion quoted above:
1. Why do you think that's true?
2. How different must thought X be from thought Y for it to no longer be considered a "variation" of the thought Y? What is the threshold at which it is no longer possible for imagination to start with thought X and arrive at thought Y?

webmdave said...

I agree! That's the problem I have with the argument. I consider myself somewhere between hard agnosticism and weak atheism but as I like to ponder this subject, I'll play devil's advocate here.

We are assuming a god would work in the ways that we understand or can define. IF a god existed (I use the term "god" loosely here, and am not referring to the silly god concepts of revealed religions) then surely it is something beyond our comprehension? And if we are unable to define god, then what makes us think we can define how it could or couldn't create things?

webmdave said...

Welcome!

webmdave said...

"What I'm doing is questioning whether we can prove this since we're of inferior intelligence than a creator of the universe would be."

We think we are of inferior intelligence to god because the bible tells us that we are. The bible was written by men. So, we are of inferior intelligence to an imaginary being that we created in the first place?

webmdave said...

I think you put it better than me, thanks. :)

NOW it's time to log off... I'm starting to realise that I'm slightly obsessed by reading stuff here...

webmdave said...

Yeah, this is what I'm talking about. We get our idea of an unknowable god through religions.

webmdave said...

lisa - I totally agree. We shouldn't believe in a supreme god because the Bible says so, or any other old scriptures. But I'm just playing with the thought - IF there would be a creator of the universe, I think he/she/it would be smarter than us.

webmdave said...

If you are not apollo99, this was not written to you, but they are apollo99's very words.

I shaved with Occham's Razor this morning. What you wrote is unprovable. You're asserting that god not only always existed, but was also triune. This is not reasoning, this is "party-line" dogma, and unduly complex.

Please, dazzle us with your theological brilliance and prove the existence of your god, singular or triune.

webmdave said...

While I can't answer for someone else, I liken it to word association games. A word will make you think of another word that is somehow related in your mind. In order to imagine a pink unicorn, you start out with something that closely resembles horse, see in your mind's eye a shade of pink you have seen before, and maybe a horn that is straight and spiral like a staircase, a snail's shell, whatever. A person who is blind from birth can't imagine the concept of a pink unicorn. He/she can imagine the shape from feeling a horse but have no point of reference to colors.

It would follow that there has to be some sort of frame of reference in order to form a concept. If there is no frame of reference, then there is nothing to contemplate except for nothing.

webmdave said...

Yes Pious_Ted, it makes me feel all warm and fuzzy too.

Looking at this from our EXxtian view, if we were made in god's image and likeness, that would mean god is also composed of physical matter. If this were true, god would not be omnipotent, as the tyranny of matter dictates definite limits on parameters such as maximum mass and velocity.

You make an excellent point in your observation of chaos in the universe. Given the very low matter to space ratio that exists in our universe, an almighty, all-perfect diety should not find it difficult to keep large objects from colliding with each other. Science has taught us otherwise.

webmdave said...

I don't believe in God. However, I am still willing to point out faults in atheist arguments, because I want us to arrive at our beliefs through honest logical reasoning.

My reasoning is simply like this:
1. IF God exists, then something does exist for God to think about, namely himself.
2. IF God has a triune communion with himself, then that communion is present as long as he exists, regardless of whether anything else exists.

Note the premises here: "God exists" and "God has a triune communion with himself." Let me make this clear: I do not believe these premises. However, they are the premises upon which we are building this thought experiment. That's how thought experiments work--we assume something to be true and then try to follow it to its logical conclusions to see what it implies.

webmdave said...

Hi glebealyth!

Rambling rant? I don't think so. Consider this eloquent paragraph:

Once you add to these two considerations a shaman who is intelligent enough to recognize that there is an income to be had by selling hopes and dreams, rather than by tilling the ground, the scene is set for the society and belief system in which most of us are condemned to live. The whole of human society is built upon a foundation of wishful thinking, from the "Please make it work..." silent prayer syndrome to the god-botherers' insistence that the divine, Eternal Plan may be altered by ego-centric supplications to a caring deity. This situation is further and constantly reinforced by politicians and priests who are, in reality, different sides of the same coin and who gain power and wealth by the making and trading of unfulfillable promises.

That contains more information and truth than most books, thank you.

webmdave said...

Swedish and blond, right?

webmdave said...

That is just way too funny. You say, "There are so many errors in this piece of writing it would take a short book to list them all." And all you can come up with is your ridiculous 3 = 1 argument. Ridiculous. 2000 years of christian theism still hasn't come up with one decent piece of evidence for your god or this site would not exist.

webmdave said...

Swedish and blond, right?

webmdave said...

EXACTLY! Wonderfully expressed. Thank you. Now those of you who still have a problem with my arguments, please read what Renee D
P wrote. She (?) nailed it. To wit:

"If there is no frame of reference, then there is nothing to contemplate except for nothing."

And no matter how damned super intelligent this hypothetical god is, he cannot create what he cannot even contemplate! Over and out.

webmdave said...

Well Brett, many xtians (a.k.a. True Believers™) come here on a regular basis and attempt to point out various faults in our arguments. I haven't seen one succeed yet. Reason always seems able to "hold it's own" in all past examples of debate.
No offense intended, if you're here to school us, please allow me to watch from a safe distance.

webmdave said...

Brett, plase read what Renee D P wrote, below, and my response to her. In my thought experiment, for this god to have a concept of matter and energy would be similar to a blind man having a concept of the color pink. Without a frame of reference, that's simply not possible.

webmdave said...

You've never been convinced by any Christian about any fault in any of the arguments by any of the atheists on this site?

If that's true, I could see a few possible reasons:
1. There have never been any faults in any of the atheists' arguments on this site.
2. The Christians who visit this site have never uncovered actual faults in atheists' arguments on this site.
3. You haven't followed much of the discussions on this site, so you have missed the occasions in which a Christian has uncovered an actual fault in atheists' arguments on this site.
4. You are biased against the arguments of the Christians on this site, such that you could never be convinced by any of them that they have uncovered an actual fault in atheists' arguments on this site.

The first is just ridiculous. I'm sure the writers on this site aren't perfect. In fact, I'm pretty sure this article has some faults. Surely it's not the only one.

The second is possible, though it seems unlikely to me. If any very thoughtful Christians have visited this site and chosen to participate in the discussion, they should have noticed a fault or two in the arguments presented here.

The third doesn't sound right, since I get the feeling that you follow the discussions here regularly.

Perhaps you should consider the fourth possibility. Hopefully it is not the case.

webmdave said...

AAAAmen!

webmdave said...

Very well said, WizenedSage. It reminds me of the Buddhist gods popping out of no where, seeing the other and thinking, "Did I do that? I just thought you and there you were." It is laughable. I basically said the same thing to my Buddhist prof in class and he said, "No one said the gods were smart." Now that I think about it, such a statement looks bad on early humans, for they were the ones who started all the god stuff.

webmdave said...

I'm noticing two different cases here:
1. Accurately imagining something which already exists, though you are incapable of experiencing that thing directly.
2. Imagining something which does not exist.

I certainly see the impossibility (or maybe just extreme improbability?) of case 1. When something already exists, there is a standard by which your creative imagination is measured. No matter how much you try to imagine that thing which you haven't experienced, you probably won't have a fully accurate picture of that thing.

The blind man example fits into case 1: A blind man who attempts to accurately imagine color will fail, because he has no experience of it.

On the other hand, I do not think the same logic applies to imagining things which do not exist. Many minds are very creative, capable of coming up with incredibly original ideas. When imagining things that do not exist, there is no longer a standard by which to judge whether the imagination is accurate. The mind is completely free to explore whatever it wants.

The example of God and creation fits into case 2: If God created everything from nothing, he could have imagined anything at all and (with sufficient creative capabilities) he could have made his imaginative vision into reality.

webmdave said...

Brett, I might disagree with you here.

We can imagine things we have never experienced or invent things that have never before existed. But we still base these things on SOMEthing we have experienced. When describing these things to someone who had never seen them, we could find the words from our experience of other things. Even blind people can understand the concept of color by using heat and cold, or rough and smooth: red is hot, blue is cold. Or red is rough, green is smooth, etc.

I think a better example for a creator who has to create from absolutely nothing would be a blind and deaf person with no sense of smell, taste, touch who has had no contact with any other living creatures or surface of any sort and is kept in a weightless condition and fed through tubes. Sounds awful, I know. But what could this guy imagine?

This would be the starting point for the creator.

webmdave said...

i like your point about "why would a self-sufficient god create anything in the first place?' that is a good question. i always thought the christian reasoning for creation was ridiculous. one view i heard was that god made us because he was somehow "lonely" and wanted to commune with us. but why create people? if he was "lonely" he could have created any number of things to keep him company. this was weak, i thought because i would equate loneliness in an all powerful and all perfect being as something of a flaw. the other argument i heard was that god created us for his own glory. the funny thing about that is, if he is the only god why would he need to create something for his own glory unless he was just really really vain. who would he show us off to. who could he brag about us to. both of these points made by xtians i have known were weak reasoning. all the time i wasted in that belief system and i never heard any good, clear explanations for anything at all.

webmdave said...

probably a tech glitch. i've had stuff not be published as well. i think you will be welcomed as long as you are respectful to everyone here. i dont think you'll find anyone here looking to reconvert so as long as you keep that in mind you should have an interesting time and be exposed to many different perspectives.

webmdave said...

This is an interesting and fun thought experiment, though I have my doubts that many christians would be swayed by it.
Let me see if I can summarize your argument, and perhaps you can clarify with your own set of logical "statements" (rather than the essay form above) if I'm wrong...

1) if something does not exist (or alternatively a mind has no way of experiencing something that may or may not exist), then it is impossible for a mind to conceive of it.
2) prior to the universe, physical matter, space and (perhaps) time did not exist.
3) hence, it would be impossible for the mind of god to conceive of matter, space or time prior to its existence (i.e. his creating it).

As a corollary, god could not create that which he could "conceive", as it were.

Is this pretty much it?

Possibly the most common christian response would be that in god's case you have it backwards. god is the ultimate, all knowing, all understanding, all everything being, including all possible concepts, thoughts, possbilities, realities, etc, far beyond anything we could imagine. Thus, reality could not come into being unless it existed in god in some manner in the first place. Since we do have reality, then everything we know, perceive, touch, feel, think on, etc, did/does in fact exist in god (probably in some way unknowable to us). Thus he would have been able to think up the universe, and hence create it.

Now is this totally coherent? In my opinion, it dodges the question, pretty much as Filosofia's appeal to "an unknowably greater intellegence". But remember, you are dealing with a religion where one of it's cornerstones (having become so after much debate in the early church) is that jesus if fully god and fully man. figure that one out for me. since jesus is god and man, then i suppose god has always been fully spirity and fully physical (exactly where that physical part is I don't know, but as you know, there are infinite parallel universes and possibly infinite diminesions, so it must be out there somewhere!), which means he' HAS always known what "physical" is thus 2) above is not true, and so your argument falls apart.

Thus my argument would be.

1) jesus is both fully god and fully man
2) I have no idea what the hell 1) means.
3) neither does any christian I've ever met.
4) but christians believe 1) totally.
5) therefore, logic and reason aren't terribly important to being a christian.

The corollary is, your argument may be valid, but to a christian, what does that matter?

Finally, doesn't thinking itself pose a problem for god? I mean, per christian theology, god is immutable, which means unchanging. So then, what possible meaning could "thinking" have with respect to god? Doesn't thinking imply change? For me to think, I have to move in my mind from one idea to the next, from one word to the next, from a hypothesis to a conclusion, etc, which means, I"M CHANGING! Thought requires change by its very nature. Meaning god cannot think.

I suppose that lets the christians sidestep your argument in another way! Nevermind all the problems it also causes...

Besides, if due to his immutable nature, god does not think, then thinking can't be that important anyways...

webmdave said...

That is subject to debate. I wouldn't consider a being who "created" us being too intelligent since we were supposedly designed. It seems silly to include things like an appendix, wisdom teeth, nipples on men, waste byproducts, the food chain in general, a caudal appendage in the womb (sometimes still present at birth and has to be removed) and heads of infants so large that women have to have c-sections as it can't pass through the birth canal.

Have you ever heard a rabbit scream as it is being killed? I have. The ecosystem is so fragile that the tiniest change wipes out entire species because they cannot adapt.

We were supposedly created in god's image so I would like to know: does he have a navel? Where and how does he go poop? Does he have problems with periodontal disease? Most fertilized eggs in women either fail to implant properly or are miscarried and only a few make it to being a baby. Awesome job there.

If I felt like being generous, I would give him a grade of C-minus here. Since I am not in a generous mood, he gets a big ride on the FAIL boat from me.

webmdave said...

Actually, most people who come here to try and convince the "error of our ways" usually get hit with the clue bat as soon as they start spouting things like the fossil record proving that the world is only 6000 years old and proves the existence of Noah's Ark. After we finish laughing our arses off, the ex theologists jump in and shoot down these silly arguments and those people quietly slink off never to be seen again.

In simpler terms (LOLcat speak): circular argument is circular. We get a lot of that. I bring popcorn and watch...Anyone want some of these Junior Mints?

XPD (ex pastor Dan) is awesome :)

webmdave said...

I'd like to deal with the thought experiment dealing with a creator, not the God in the Bible, so let's pretend we weren't created in the creator's image here.

We can't know for sure whether these weaknesses of the body, or vunerable parts of nature, are the result of lacking intelligence. This creator may have been a little sadistic, right?

Anyway it doesn't prove that the creator of the universe isn't mega intelligent. I wouldn't say that the discoveries in chemistry, physics or biology show that the universe is a C- or big failure... I think it's pretty amazing, how everything works...

webmdave said...

You have succeeded in explaining the fundamentalist mindset very well :) Folks who are waiting around for some invisible sky wizard to "tell" them what to do don't have to do a lot of thinking.
Besides, thinking and questioning will get you sent straight to hell.

Someone please save me a window seat if there are any left.

webmdave said...

In response to your first question, no. All the arguements for the existence of god are essentially the same as those I was exposed to in Philosophy 101 thirty-plus years ago. Dogma is unchanging. The responses against god's existence are improving daily, as scientific discoveries lay old myths to rest.

In all honesty, I come to this site for support, to listen to people with similar perspectives. I am neither dumb nor uneducated and consider the regulars on this forum to be anywhere from equal to far superior in intelligence. I find reading their perspectives and arguements inspiring, owing them a debt of gratitude for piquing my curiosity and inspiring me to learn more.

So, in essence, I don't come here to critique my fellow Ex's. I enjoy the topics, responses, and of course support. I've seen no glaring logical errors, ever. If you want a variety of topics and perspectives to subject to your logical examinations, look around the archived posts.

Over and Out...bruno

webmdave said...

Brett Bavar wrote:

"I'm noticing two different cases here:
1. Accurately imagining something which already exists, though you are incapable of experiencing that thing directly.
2. Imagining something which does not exist.

I certainly see the impossibility (or maybe just extreme improbability?) of case 1. When something already exists, there is a standard by which your creative imagination is measured. No matter how much you try to imagine that thing which you haven't experienced, you probably won't have a fully accurate picture of that thing.

The blind man example fits into case 1: A blind man who attempts to accurately imagine color will fail, because he has no experience of it.

On the other hand, I do not think the same logic applies to imagining things which do not exist. Many minds are very creative, capable of coming up with incredibly original ideas. When imagining things that do not exist, there is no longer a standard by which to judge whether the imagination is accurate. The mind is completely free to explore whatever it wants.

The example of God and creation fits into case 2: If God created everything from nothing, he could have imagined anything at all and (with sufficient creative capabilities) he could have made his imaginative vision into reality."

It seems we can't reply to one another more than five times in a row, but if I could I would have done so. But Brett Bavar said that it isn't impossible, with sufficient creative capabilities, to imagine the universe and make it happen.

I think it's not impossible either. It's not per definition impossible at all. WizenedSage, I can buy other arguments of yours as you seem a very intelligent bloke, but this one doesn't really stand up to scrutiny.

webmdave said...

I completely agree with you and gave your post a "like". I wish I could have given it a "triple like". Well stated, bruno.

BP

webmdave said...

p.s. Sorry for the rambling rant. It started well, then deteriorated. I shall try to do better in future.

If you do any better, David, you'll be deserving of a Nobel prize. Heck, I think you already are!

BP

webmdave said...

Thanks! I realise that after reading about this site's commentary policy. I have had good atheist friends since I was two apples high and I love them so I hope noone here will find my comments disrespectful.

webmdave said...

Thanks! :)

webmdave said...

OK, before we leave this discussion... This is off topic, but if anyone here hasn't heard Ricky Gervais on the creation in the Bible, I strongly advise you to do it now. :)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E_EXqdJ4L7I

webmdave said...

Hi Filosofia!

I know you are engaged in several dialogues here, but I just wanted to extend you my welcome. This is a good supportive place in which to question beliefs, I hope this will be your experience too. Have a good day!

webmdave said...

Hi All

I’ve really enjoyed reading the articles on this site and the discussion that follows. So many of them echo my own thoughts and wrestlings.

With this article, I’d like to share my own comments on its logical rigor. Please let me be very clear – I am not here with any kind of agenda – I am simply analyzing the logic / thought experiment.

In a nutshell, to me, the argument as structured in the article is a circular one – god could not have created the universe because only within the universe does the idea of creating exist.

Let’s look at a variation on the thought experiment to show what I am saying…
Consider a character in a computer-generated animation cartoon (It’s not a perfect parallel, but please bear with me). Thinking to himself, the cartoon character could say “man does not exist because existence requires the software program as a pre-condition and he could not exist prior to the program.”

However, the counter-argument is that the cartoon character is unaware of the hardware on which the program is running, the people who made the hardware and the people who wrote the program, because his existence limits what he can conceive.

There are many arguments against believing in god - i would just say (with all respect to WS) that, in my view, this one does not hold its own from a logical structure point of view.

webmdave said...

Thanks bruno, I enjoy being here.

webmdave said...

Now that was funny. lol

webmdave said...

Thank you for the laugh! I had never seen this before.

webmdave said...

I have friends in Sweden, & I* have visited there almost 40 years ago. ( Karlsham )

webmdave said...

Amen Brother!

XPD

webmdave said...

An excellent presentation of a mind-bending topic, Wizened Sage. Great thought experiment, too.

There might still be a case for pantheism or panentheism, with a god and the universe either coming into existence simultaneously, or always existing in some form. A universe-creating god, though? Does. Not. Compute.

webmdave said...

In the words of Billy Preston, "Nothin from nothin leaves nothin".

XPD

webmdave said...

Filosofia -

Thanks for the link! I have been over at You Tube for an hour, watching Ricky!

I laughed so hard my throat hurts!

XPD (Ex-Pastor Dan)

webmdave said...

I am reminded of an old, fundamentalist preacher I knew back in the day. He would say, "if the Bible said that Jonah swallowed the Whale, I'd believe it! God said it, I believe it, that settles it!"

I was raised around some real geniuses! [sic] (:D

XPD (Ex-Pastor Dan)

webmdave said...

We'll probably just have to agree to disagree at this point. I am simply not convinced that the imagination of a creative mind is so limited.

webmdave said...

Filosofia,

I have read your posts on this thread. I have made a few observations. For starters, you seem to get defensive when people criticize the "creator". You act like its cheerleader. You sound more like an apologist than someone who is really debating if "creator" exists or not. Are you trying to convice us there really is a "creator" who is real smart? If so, what is your next objective? To convince us it "loves" us?

Take a look at the Hubble telescope gallery website.

hubblesite.org/gallery

Does this look like everything "works"? You can see images of entire galaxies slamming into one another and being torn apart. Galaxies may each contain billions of celestial bodies. Yes, that looks real orderly to me...

This site is not an ex-God site. It is an ex-christian site. What is the point of arguing if there is a "god" or not. Many of us don't really give a damn.

webmdave said...

That was a funny video. Thanks for posting it.

There is some good insight in his humor. The bit about light is interesting. Suns burn gasses and emit light. However, light has to travel. Even if the whole universe were created at one moment, it would take many years for the light to travel across the expanse to actually illuminate many celestial bodies. Of course, some Christian apologists might claim that God created the universe with the light waves already in place (as if they had been there a long time) to illuminate other celestial bodies in the universe. Those same apologists may also think the Devil put dinosaur bones in the earth to trick us...

webmdave said...

Jutsas,
The best short summation of my argument was posted by Lisa, above. She said, "I think a better example for a creator who has to create from absolutely nothing would be a blind and deaf person with no sense of smell, taste, touch who has had no contact with any other living creatures or surface of any sort and is kept in a weightless condition and fed through tubes. Sounds awful, I know. But what could this guy imagine?

This would be the starting point for the creator."

You see, since nothing else exists or has ever existed, this creator has no frame of reference and no mental materials to conceive of anything.

Now, of course no Christian is going to to read this and then go yelling in the streets, "I get it! I finally get it!" It doesn't work this way. No single argument ever does the job. But, if a Christian is open to critical arguments at all (and many are, or this site would not exist), then my essay is like one more straw on the camel's back, or one more snowflake on the side of the mountain prone to avalanche. But, of course, it was intended mostly to amuse the regulars here.

webmdave said...

filosophia,
I appreciate your interest and I think your comments have been on track and very good. But...one can be incredibly creative/imaginitive, but without a frame of reference and mental materials he will create nothing. Lisa gave the best brief explanation of my thesis, above. In her words,

"I think a better example for a creator who has to create from absolutely nothing would be a blind and deaf person with no sense of smell, taste, touch who has had no contact with any other living creatures or surface of any sort and is kept in a weightless condition and fed through tubes. Sounds awful, I know. But what could this guy imagine?

This would be the starting point for the creator."

You see, since nothing else exists or has ever existed, this creator has no frame of reference and no mental materials to conceive of anything. I don't believe you can get a universe out of such a situation.

Thanks for all your comments, and, yes, it has been fun!

webmdave said...

wannabewise,
I believe your argument is off track. You are right, our part of the universe could be just a clever computer simulation and we would have no way of proving otherwse. But I am arguing that creation of the universe as the Christians imagine it, is impossible. Note that my use of the word "universe" is intended to be all inclusive, it includes all that exists. And prior to its creation, according to the Christian cosmology, there was nothing but god. Again, I will use Lisa's much briefer restatement of my argument. She said,

""I think a better example for a creator who has to create from absolutely nothing would be a blind and deaf person with no sense of smell, taste, touch who has had no contact with any other living creatures or surface of any sort and is kept in a weightless condition and fed through tubes. Sounds awful, I know. But what could this guy imagine?

This would be the starting point for the creator."

You see, since nothing else exists or has ever existed, this creator has no frame of reference and no mental materials to conceive of anything. I don't believe you can get a universe out of such a situation. But, yes, we could be living in a very clever computer simulation (or cartoon?). But that has nothing to do with the matter at hand.

webmdave said...

Cool! I think it's Karlhamn, by the way, but that's not important. That's way south in Sweden. I live up north. Almost 2000 km further up the country. That's not important either :) It's so cold right now. We've recently had -30 degrees Celsius.

webmdave said...

Pious_Ted,

I think I can understand why you percieve my comments that way. But as far as I'm aware, all I'm doing is questioning this thought experiment's premises and conclusion. You can even be an atheist to do that (like Brett). I act the devil's advocate (what a silly expression) at church too. I like questioning and try not to accept things straight away. But I guess you'll get to know me better if I decide to hang around more around here. I think it's extremely interesting to see why people leave the Christian faith. But if you don't like what I say, my way of thinking and if you don't agree with me, that's okay anyway. You may believe what you want about me, of course.

And to comment on what you wrote about the universe... That's interesting, because you see what I've been taught is that everything works amazingly out there. But I have much to learn. Thanks for sharing your perspective.

But as for now, I won't show up for a while... I'm studying theology and will do a test in the New Testament Greek course on Friday. :/ So boring, and I can't really concentrate as my mind is so preoccupied with thinking about arguments for and against God. Take care!


Pious_Ted wrote:

"Filosofia,

I have read your posts on this thread. I have made a few observations. For starters, you seem to get defensive when people criticize the "creator". You act like its cheerleader. You sound more like an apologist than someone who is really debating if "creator" exists or not. Are you trying to convice us there really is a "creator" who is real smart? If so, what is your next objective? To convince us it "loves" us?

Take a look at the Hubble telescope gallery website.

hubblesite.org/gallery

Does this look like everything "works"? You can see images of entire galaxies slamming into one another and being torn apart. Galaxies may each contain billions of celestial bodies. Yes, that looks real orderly to me...

This site is not an ex-God site. It is an ex-christian site. What is the point of arguing if there is a "god" or not. Many of us don't really give a damn."

webmdave said...

It could be possible that there is a creator being. But that does not mean He/she/it wants or requires worship in any form. I

webmdave said...

Thanks, WizenedSage! Dito, I really appreciate your responses to my comments. I guess we agree to disagree on this one. (But if I know myself, I will continue to ponder your thought experiment.) I look forward to talking more to you :)

webmdave said...

Ironknee: I agree, of course it doesn't have to mean that.

webmdave said...

Hi, My family was a host to foreign exchange students way back when. Of all the 'kids' we hosted, my favorite was a Swedish girl, Charlotte Herrlander. In 1972 my family visited hers. She is all grown up now. She's married & their 'kids' are grown. We are 'still in touch' via email & facebook. Her family now lives in Taby.

webmdave said...

XPD!

Sure, belief takes less effort than thought. Our's is not a journey for the intellectually idle. Thanks for the example...bruno

webmdave said...

Filosofia,

I am not trying to run you off. You are as welcome as anyone else here to share ideas. I just garnered the impression that you were an apologist of sorts. I could be wrong.

My limited perspective on things leads me to believe the universe is not orderly at all. There are massive forces at work every moment. I don't like to use the word "create" or "destroy", because matter and energy are transoformed. Nonetheless, simply believing in a creator without the creator revealing itself in a direct manner isn't good enough for me. Nobody should believe such a thing on simple faith. Bridges are not built on faith that they will hold up.

I can not imagine studying New Testament Greek... considering that I utterly reject the supposed authority and inspiration of the texts. Good luck to you. Don't be a stranger.

webmdave said...

Oh, I agree. Just jumping in on the fun!

webmdave said...

WS, just to be clear - I was not implying that we are living in a computer simulation, only using the parallel to show that "we do not know how much we do not know."

There is an implicit assumption in your line of reasoning which is that the god being postulated would have the mental faculties and understanding that people have. This is not necessarily true, but is key to the framework you have built.

As I showed in the "cartoon character" parallel, our ability to think and comprehend is limited.

webmdave said...

No offense taken :)

I'm not an apologist because I'm one of many independent thinkers in this discussion who have been trying to make the same point, but in different ways. I think wannabewise expressed it brilliantly, in response to WizenedSage (my use of large letters): "We do not know how much we do not know. There is an implicit ASSUMPTION in your line of reasoning which is that the god being postulated would have the MENTAL FACULTIES and understanding that PEOPLE have. This is not necessarily true, but is KEY to the framework you have built."

This assumption needs an argument, but noone has presented one.

The most important thing I've learned so far is that there is no difference between people, atheists and Christians alike in this matter: some people say that they are openminded and critical, but they can nevertheless be biased at the same time without actually knowing it. You need to be on the other side to notice.

Do my questions and thoughts prove me to be biased? That conclusion can't be made, as there are atheists in here saying what I have said, but in a better way.

Take care!

webmdave said...

WizenedSage, Another thoughtful & great post. It had my thinking-cap spinning, and gave me an excuse to delve into some books I hadn't gone thru in a while.

I came across a quote by Hawkings' that I'd nearly forgotten:
" So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither begging nor end; it would simply be. What place then, for a creator ?"

webmdave said...

I will offer you this:

Christians are a group who make the bold assertion that God exists, and they claim to know many of God's attributes (some of which the Bible explicitly lists). The burden of proof is upon them. The Bible and oral tradition are the only "evidence" they have to offer. Scientific data simply does not support the method of creation they assert. I do not consider the Bible or other oral tradition to be convincing that God exists. The Bible itself simply does not stand up to higher textual criticism.

I am open to the possibility that a higher power exists. The fact that the universe appears to exist does not convince me that it required a creator. My observation is the universe is filled with chaotic and seemingly random events. If any such creator will not appear before me and make its presence abundantly clear in a way that I can perceive, I will not believe. It would be irrational to do so.

Don't be a stranger. You point of view is as welcome as any other here. Good luck on the quiz.

webmdave said...

Good point.

This is how William Lane Craig likes to argue. He claims that anything that begins to exist requires a creator. I am okay with the notion that the universe (at least its contents of matter and energy) always existed in some form. Perhaps it has gone through transformations. Either way, I will not believe in a creator unless it reveals itself explicitly. That is not too much to ask.

webmdave said...

It's like god said "What shall I do today? I know, I'll create a Universe! I'll make all these dead planets and a sun and a moon and then I'll make a planet, just one, where I'll create all these little people and animals and trees and rocks and things. It'll only take me 6 days then I'll have a bit of a rest. Ah! Finished planet Earth. Perhaps I'll wait 4.5 billion years before I put little people on it, I'm so tired. When I create the little people I'm going to make sure that they are all total sinners so they'll have to grovel and squirm and beg me to forgive them. I'll design them so that they can reproduce themselves, but I'm so nasty, I'll make it a sin if they do! I'll send down my son as a baby(not sure why) then I'll have the Romans crucify him so he can come back to heaven with me. Whoops! He is me anyway! Silly me! How did I do that? He is me and I am him."

?????????

webmdave said...

Yup. This is how it plays in my head, too. I don't understand how anyone can make anything logical out of it.

webmdave said...

Sounds just like a man. Now if the god of the Bile were a woman, she would have taken 9 to 10 months to create her baby universe, if not 9 to 10 billion years and did it right. Then rested. However, I guarantee you there would be no murderous behaviour... with the exception of the goddess having occasional PMS maybe or is popping out a new species or planet or what have you. lol Oh and that male god, she'd be giving him "honey do lists"- Honey, fix that shaking problem. Honey, don't make those giant dust twisters those humans call tornadoes. Honey, fix that water problem I have down there in the Pacific ocean and stop playing in the water causing those twisty things in the ocean. Those humans don't like water being splashed on them. lol

I'm telling you, if a woman did, she'd take her time and do it right AND she'd be getting after any god who tried to play in it and muck it up.

webmdave said...

And if a woman had made a mistake and created this planet she would have rolled it all up and started all over again!

webmdave said...

lol Yup!

webmdave said...

It's little things that disturb me: why did man have to travel from such a primitive state to our current modern state? Think about it: all the tools were here from time eternal: the elements to create our current technology...it's not like new elements have been created over time. Everything was already here for man to develop.

original sin is the culprit given...we went into primitiveness because of the fall. makes no sense.

webmdave said...

Done that many times with artwork, lesson plans, sewing projects, whole theses. . . Darn right we would.

AND, then we would help it along. Not going to let our baby universe bungle around on its own and hurt itself.

webmdave said...

david,

Good point. I have often wondered things like that.

Why did human life expectancy go up so sharply if we had an intelligent creator. Life expectancy has risen sharply over the past few hundred years.

Why did God supposedly destroy the earth in a flood. The earth was supposedly filled with violence before and after the flood. It doesn't seem the earth was better off long after the flood considering how much violence has taken place.

Why would God supposedly appear to so few people in such a primitive place in a primitive time. Why not appear to everyone at once. I guess it is a matter of faith...

It is comical to listen to apologists try to put their spin on these issues. The more delusional they are, the more comical the spin job.

webmdave said...

Feed, nurture, protect, love unconditionally, let the whole of planet Earth know who you are and why you are there, not just a tiny group of Hebrew nomads who still have only managed to get the word out to one third of the World's population so that 4.6 billion people (60% of the population) will go straight to hell when they die!

webmdave said...

That's part of evolution, something that creationists don't even believe in!

If humans hadn't evolved from a primitive state, they would have had all the knowledge and skills that they have now. so, reading into it, if humans were made in god's image, then can we assume that god is also as primitive as man was 200,000 years ago and has eveoleved or is god still short, covered in long hair and grunts all the time?

webmdave said...

Yesterday I answered a Christian posting on an atheist forum(I think she's looking for converts) who states that god heals all those who believe in him through the medical profession! "He" created the doctors, etc. and works through them.

What an insult to all those dedicated medicos, nurses. etc.

She couldn't answer when I said my atheist daughter didn't die from her cancer but millions of devout Christians with cancer aren't saved by god, so how does god choose who to save and who not to save?

Yes, as you say, delusional!

webmdave said...

I read a story some years ago about a large family of devout Presbyterians whose dad was diagnosed with advanced cancer. The family published a website (which I looked at several times after reading about it). They drafted a specific list of prayer requests. They kept updating the website with Bible verses etc., and they kept posting how God could do anything etc. They asked people all over the place to pray for them. The father of that family withered away and died in less than one year just like so many others do. I don't know how they came to terms, but it appeared God didn't answer a single one of their prayers. I suppose they decided God called the guy home. Stories like that make me cringe... especially for the younger children praying for a miracle.

webmdave said...

I became an atheist at a young age(12), but can still recall praying and wondering why the nasty things happened anyway, with all my praying. It's pretty devastating for a child when it's a loved one who dies even after all the praying.

webmdave said...

Yeah,

It's bad enough when your Dad is dying of cancer and you are NOT expecting or praying for a miracle. Lies and false hopes are not helpful.

webmdave said...

First of all, i have never been a Xtian of any stripe, or even a theist for that matter, but i did enjoy reading the exchange revolving around the thought exercise. Until filosphia admitted to being a Xtian, i could see some logic to her ideas about what a god might be like. In a sort of Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy sort of way, that is.

It seems remotely possible there could have been a god before the creation of the universe as we know it. It could have been an entity that contained everything, matter, energy, 42, the works in its giant databank. It could have been the creator of many worlds that we know nothing about. Our universe was probably not the first or last.

Of course, none of this even remotely relates to YWH or Allah or Zeus, but it is interesting to think about. Such a creator could not possibly be as petty as the gods of any bronze-age scriptures. Admitting to the vague possibility of a hands-off creator in a distant past is a far cry from rolling on the floor and yelling, "Jezzus save me!"

webmdave said...

Hello all. I'm new to this site but I have enjoyed these posting tremendously and thought I'd throw out some ideas. Please keep in mind I am an agnostic theist and am not trying to prove the existence of God. Rather, I just enjoy thinking on these things.

The only flaw I see in this Cosmology Theory is that this article presupposes that "God" thinks as we do and or has thought process similar to humans.

When you look at the timeline of events, the universe was created 14 billion years ago and the first anatomically correct humans only 200,000 YEARS ago. As a species, we have advanced radically but who is to say that there was not, at some point, an even more evolved race with eons more of evolution behind it. This race would theoretically have more knowledge, technology, and science behind it. Physically, these beings may have developed senses and perceptions beyond our current limitations. We have no idea how they may have processed info, much less if we could prove they existed.

I liken this idea to scientists who say "All life is based from carbon" or "water is necessary to life". These statements are true because we know of nothing else. That is NOT to say life couldn't exist some other way or form. We just haven't found it.

How can we hope to understand the mind of a creator (if he exists) when we can't even fathom beings that are more advanced than ourselves?

In closing, consider this; a few years ago, I read an article in WIRED magazine on science and religion and I still have it saved. The question posed by the author of the article remains with me and I ask you is: "Which takes more faith..to believe that an supreme being (s) created everything from nothing when only that being existed OR that this 14 billion year old universe had no creator, and things have progressed-through amazing coincidences, entropy, Chaos, etc-to give us our VERY unique universe where we can actually read this?"

I don't know if there was an intelligent designer or not, but I do believe that all this discourse will bring us closer to the truth.

webmdave said...

sclesi,

You left out a third possibility. Perhaps the universe always existed (in some form). Carl Sagan was open to that possibility. There is no certianty that the universe is 14 billion years old (or any measurable age).

The choice you offer re. coincidences and chaos etc. sounds like an overly biased description against the possibility of a naturalistic universe. I have heard scientist(s) state that matter plus energy plus enough time guaranteed life would exist somewhere in some form. Some think this universe is VERY unique because we have experienced nothing to compare it with. The fact is the universe is not an orderly universe at all. It IS filled with seemingly random and chaotic events . Matter and energy are constantly being transformed. It does not look like a product of intelligent design to me. You can look at the Hubble telescope photo gallery and see images of entire galaxies slamming into one another. Who is to say advance life does not exist there. Maybe they are asking "why me" at this moment.

Religions asserts that God exists. Let's see God appear. I will believe if God can convince me. Otherwise, it is not rational to believe. I will not believe strictly out of fear of the supposed consequences of not believing.

webmdave said...

Pious_Ted,

Thanks for the response. And you are right--it slipped my mind to mention the self-creating/sustaining universe. However, I am open to ALL creation theory speculation.

I believe it was Stephen Hawking who theorized that the universe may be the result of infinitely occurring Big Bangs followed by Big Crunches. This means our universe would have no set creation date. This is definitely worth looking at.

I will definitely take a look at the Hubble telescope pics and research the universal chaos you spoke of.

The only thing I disagree with here is you saying "let God appear". Do you mean "reveal himself in a way that humans can understand and perceive?" Maybe God is or has and we have not been incapable of that experience. Maybe the reason he hasn't "shown himself" is because HE doesn't exist. I don't have the hard proof to say which and I will probably spend many years trying to come up with the answer to that one. And you are right-NO ONE should bow down before any being just because "My parents said so" or for fear of divine punishment.

If one is to believe (or disbelieve)it should be with a commitment to learning all you can about your belief system, not to shying away from truth, questioning the status-quo, and being open and tolerant to other's beliefs. It was when I started giving previous "sacrilegious' ideas a second look, I came to a new understanding of things.

webmdave said...

sclesi,

When I said "let God appear", I do mean that I want God to appear in a way that I can perceive and understand. How can someone be expected to fully believe in anything if they are not given ample evidence. I do not believe that a real God would refuse to appear to its subjects and then judge them for their lack of belief.

Look at how religion (Christianity in particular) has constructed the rules to let God off the hook. They say it is a "mystery". They say you must have "faith". They say we will "die" if we see God in person. They say the existence of the universe is "General Revelation". You get the idea. God has basically been given a free pass to never appear or speak to us while we are required to believe.

This is a good site:

hubblesite.org/gallery

The Discovery Channel also has some outstanding programs. Matter and energy are constantly being transformed (I don't like to use the words "create" or "destroy" because matter and energy still exist). Anyhow, it doesn't appear orderly to me at all. It is also absolutely certain that life will not exist on this earth sooner or later. Our own sun will exhaust its fuel and we will go bye-bye. We can see this in other galaxies.

webmdave said...

"It is also absolutely certain that life will not exist on this earth sooner or later. Our own sun will exhaust its fuel and we will go bye-bye."

We should be so lucky. We will probably just go with a whimper when the climate gets so out-of-whack and we have so many people that we can't grow enough food anymore and the water is no longer fit to drink. That, or we will nuke ourselves into oblivion. Even then, some species will probably survive and adapt and evolve till the sun burns up. Man might not be one of them.