Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Quote of the Day: A Universe Created Out Of Nothing


Arno Penzias - American physicist

“Astronomy leads us to a unique event, a universe which was created out of nothing, one with the very delicate balance needed to provide exactly the conditions required to permit life, and one which has an underlying (one might say ‘supernatural’) plan.” (h/t y-origins.com)

German-born Arno Penzias won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1978. Along with Robert Woodrow Wilson, Dr. Penzias discovered cosmic microwave background radiation, the radio remnant of the Big Bang.

7 comments:

MIkhael said...

Let's see.... I can believe in a universe creating out of nothing 20+ billion years ago (or at least nothing that we can describe mathetically with present day knowledge.

Or, I can believe in a universe created by an omnipotent male over a period of "seven days" (yes, I know, about days and all ) who then chose to destroy things, then let some people suffer horribly, then intevened again, then was hands off for a time, then sacrificed his "son"... etc etc.

Seriously. I'll take "nothing" over patent fairytales.

RkBall said...

And I'll take the One who said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me".

RkBall said...

You are creating a false dichotomy by creating a caricature of the Genesis creation account and then heaping scorn on your caricature. It makes you, and not the writer of Genesis, look foolish.

The proper starting-place dichotomy is not between atheism and Genesis, it is between atheism and theism -- you can believe in a creator God without trying to read Genesis as a 21st cc. scientific account of creation, which it is not, and which it was not trying to be.

There are many other accounts of the creation in the Bible that are not expressed in the spiritual language of Genesis that you object to.

Like studying the last book of the Bible, the Revelation, and understanding its literary genre, i.e., Apocalyptic, the first key to correctly understanding the opening chapters of Genesis is to grapple with its literary genre.

Meanwhile, if you are looking for more opportunities to heap drive-by scorn, here's another one: I believe that Jesus is the Door -- that's right, I believe that Jesus is a big plank of wood.

The A-Team said...

First, let me correct mikhael. It's actually more like 13.7 billion years. I know it's a minor knit-pick but worth mentioning.

If that's all it take to convince you of something, fine. I'll say it: I am the way, the truth, and the life, no man comes to the Father but by me.

This is not an example of a false dichotomy. It might have been an ad hominem if Genesis wasn't a caricature already. As it stands, it's an insult to science, logic, and just plain common sense. But if atheism and theism are a false dichotomy, please provide an option that falls in neither of these two categories because it seems to me that god(s) either exist(s) or he(they) doesn't(don't).

Now you switch to an anonymous creator god when you really mean specifically Jesus and his father, the father of Abraham. But if you want to say you can be intellectually honest and believe Jesus but not Genesis, then you've got a problem. No Genesis, no fall. No fall, and Jesus becomes an unnecessary character in the story. It's kind of a package deal.

DJeffery said...

Theologically, a-t may have got you there. Why did Jesus die? or believe in Adam?

RkBall said...

"But if atheism and theism are a false dichotomy, please provide an option that falls in neither of these two categories because it seems to me that god(s) either exist(s) or he(they) doesn't(don't)."

For some reason, you routinely misinterpret what I write. Either I am not writing clearly, or you are not comprehending.

I said that the Genesis-Atheism construct as presented by mikhael was a false dichotomy because he sets up a caricature of the Genesis account and then contrasts this to atheism, as if it's an either-or proposition. Secondly, I suggested the proper (not false) dichotomy for an inquiring mind was not between atheism and Genesis, it is properly between atheism and theism. This is not a false dichotomy -- it is indeed either-or (unless you want to shave a bit off of God and throw deism into the mix).

The point is it is not necessary for a person to believe the Genesis account in order to believe in the existence of a divine Creator of unknown character and name.

Inquiring as to his character and name would be a second, further step (as it was with me).

"Now you switch to an anonymous creator god when you really mean specifically Jesus and his father, the father of Abraham."

I don't think I mentioned Abraham, my friend, but it is early in the morning and I haven't completely downed my first jumbo coffee of the day. [Coffee-- another reason to believe in the goodness of God!] And I don't know where you get the idea that God was Abraham's father. I didn't say it. Abraham is depicted as the father of faith, and the father of the chosen people, the Jews.

"But if you want to say you can be intellectually honest and believe Jesus but not Genesis, then you've got a problem."

Indeed I would have, if that were the case.

I never said that a person ought not to believe Genesis. I simply said the starting point for an inquiring mind is not atheism vs. Genesis; it is atheism vs. theism.

It's line-upon-line; precept-upon-precept.

"No Genesis, no fall. No fall, and Jesus becomes an unnecessary character in the story. It's kind of a package deal."

I could not agree more. It is indeed a package deal. The issue becomes how one interprets Genesis, what correspondences the images in Genesis have with material and spiritual realities.

I believe that Genesis is profoundly true in a way that makes scientific accounts of the Beginning (while valid) seem trivial by comparison.

I am planning on addressing Genesis and your magic talking snake when my schedule clears.

And now, seize the day!

The A-Team said...

I understood you fine. I see no misinterpretation after reading your follow-up. Obviously it's not necessary for generic theists to believe in the Judeo-Christian stories and god. But you're not arguing for a generic creator god but rather the specific god of Abraham and his specific son, Jesus. If that's the position you're taking then as I stated before, you kind of have to accept the Genesis account or else your position is inconsistent. If there were no Fall, Jesus becomes unnecessary to the story. And you're not inquiring as to his character; you're claiming to have the answer. And that answer you claim to have is Yahweh and his son Jesus.

"Now you switch to an anonymous creator god when you really mean specifically Jesus and his father, the father of Abraham." And I only meant father to Abraham as another way of saying the god of Abraham (as well as the father of all life in the universe, according to the OT)

Regarding your starting point argument, agnostic atheism (lack of god-belief) is the default position from a logical standpoint since nobody is born with knowledge of any particular religion. You have to be taught religious ideas. Everyone starts off with lack of knowledge and lack of god-belief. People, if left to their own devices in a closed system, will likely invent their own form of magical thinking to explain the uncertainties in life but the proverbial boy raised by wolves will never accidentally think up Christianity or Islam. That'd have to be taught by someone else. Now once knowledge is acquired about the universe you are in the position to test specific religious claims against observable reality. But certainly The Bible and Jesus are not the starting point positions anymore than Islam or Mormonism.

"I could not agree more. It is indeed a package deal. The issue becomes how one interprets Genesis, what correspondences the images in Genesis have with material and spiritual realities." This sounds an awful lot like just picking and choosing which passages to accept literally and which to write-off because they're just too absurd. And if it's so hard to interpret, it's hardly fitting of an divine author. And if it's so hard to interpret that millions of people fight over different interpretations it seems pretty arrogant to me to profess to hold the correct interpretation. It also sounds like you're applying materialist criteria for determining what to accept and what to write off as metaphor.

"I believe that Genesis is profoundly true in a way that makes scientific accounts of the Beginning (while valid) seem trivial by comparison." Good luck with that.

"I am planning on addressing Genesis and your magic talking snake when my schedule clears." Good luck. Try not to eat any magically cursed fruit before then.

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"