Monday, August 08, 2011

Stephen Hawking's Two Big Buckets Of Nothing

A plastic yellow bucket.                       Image via Wikipedia
Stephen Hawking's Two Big Buckets Of Nothing:

You take a bucket of negatively charged energy, a bucket of positively charged energy, mix them together, and, oh, baby -- you've got yourself... one big bucket of nothing!

Then, you swirl this one big bucket of nothing around and... BANG!

Postscript. If the bucket is really, really, big, you get a BIG Bang.

Q&A.

Q. "Dr. Hawking, what if the buckets had been smaller?".

A. "We would have been tiny."

Someone remind me how this is an improvement on the big turtle creation myth?
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67 comments:

PatJ said...

how is it different? We can't measure the turtle.

So, in one corner, we have the immeasurable ideas: the turtle, the "creation", the great green arkleseizure. In the other, we have 200 years of math, physics and chemistry backed by careful observation, measurement and demonstrable predictive abilities.

Mr. Ball, you are the one who believes in the turtle.

SDC said...

Can you explain how YOUR myths are any sort of an improvement on the Hindus' myths, or the Vikings' myths, or the Aztecs' myths, or the Chinese's myths, or the Iroquois' myths, or the Inuit myths, or any other sort of myths at all? Given a choice between a hypothesis that is supported by evidence, and a myth that is supported by NOTHING, how deranged do you have to be to choose your particular cult's myths out of all the rest?

Anonymous said...

I'm not going to add anything to the physics/creation arguement that regularly rages here. That is a question to be decided in MY OWN mind and doesn't need to be shared with others.

Unfortunately as somone studying higher physics, I really wish Dr. Hawking would simply shut up.

He's made his contribution and despite his best efforts he has not managed to contribute anything further on the reasearch end.

It's too bad. Scientists are human beings and want appreciation and recognition as much as anyone. When they can no longer get that from the scientific community for their research they turn to the layman public for adoration believing that "The rubes are easier to impress".

Stephen, if physics has worn you out. Then shut up and retire.

As far as SDC, I've read this blog many times without commenting. Now I'd like to ask, "What the hell is your deal?" SO WHAT if this guy believes in God and you don't? How on earth does that affect you?

Get lost you friggin lunatic.

Now, I'm going to leave and I won't be responding when you predictably go crazy and start foaming at the mouth in response because someone dared to refuse to admire the "genius" of you insipid comment(s).

You moronic posting is the basically the same moronic posting you've repeated 100 times before. Do you really think you are accomplishing something or that you are some sort of hero?

RkBall said...

The imaginary sky god / magic book does get tiresome. SDC: Please re-tune your auto-comments generator to provide some variety in your invectives.

Thank you.

RkBall said...

Two hundred years of resting on the assumption that God created an orderly universe and us his creatures capable of exploring it. Two hundred years of Christian scientists, fueled by their belief in God and his ordered creation, resulting in wonderful benefits to humankind.

Big Bang -- proposed by a Jesuit priest. Obviously saw no conflict between his religious faith in an ultimate cause, an ultimate ground of being, the securer of logic, meaning, purpose, and ultimate justice.

Atheists clear-cut it all away and end up with a shabby little uncreated universe that amounts, in the end, to nothing. That's why the atheist's quest for meaning and purpose, and fulfillment of all the grander and more sublime human aspirations ends not with a Bang, but with a whimper.

It's like settling for knowing all the constituent properties of a concrete slab down to their most microscopic detail and being unable or unwilling to ask, "why is this here?".

Anonymous said...

SDC, you remind me of the "Earthmen" in the CS Lewis story "The Silver Chair"

They kept repeating the phrase "Many fall down from above, but few return to the sunlit lands"

They were as Pluddleglum said "A chap of a single idea"

I am curious, why are you so angry?

Rob West
Ottawa

RkBall said...

Rob. That's a good question. Kicking against the goads?

Joe said...

"Kicking against the goads?"

That's been my conclusion since those Same Dumb Comments began repeating themselves over and over and over again. The silly repetitiveness of his comments also hints at something darker.

But then again it could just be a spoiled little brat trying to interrupt adult conversation.

Anonymous said...

Anon @ 8:26, this affects me because lunatics like Mr. Ball are the ones who end up appointing similar lunatics to school boards, who elect similar lunatics to political office, and who force similar lunatics to enact anti-freedom laws, no differently than the muslim lunatics in various countries who have given their myths the force of law; what do you have to say to those who live under those systems? So it's YOU who needs to get lost, or maybe you'd prefer to live in the sort of theocracy envisaged by these clowns. I am fiscal conservative, but the second these lunatics hitch their fairy tales to my political party, that means I can no longer support it.
And Richard, without some evidence for your myths, there is no reason whatsoever for me to pretend that your myths have any more validity than any other cult's myths; you wouldn't blink if I was to characterize any other cult's myths in the same light I do yours, so put on your big-girl panties and suck it up, buttercup.
Finally, Rob, I've already told you (if Richard has deigned to "approve" it) why I am fed up to my teeth with superstitious rubes selling their fairy tales, not only in this aspect of my life, but so many others. Deal with it.
SDC

Joe said...

I do declare Richard I think that Same Dumb Comment is having a Screwtape/Wormwood moment. He is so blindly enraged he doesn't seem to realize that the anti-life Islamist is on the same side as the anti-life secular humanist. I know I know they don't worship the same god but the effect is exactly the same. Death to all who disagree with our god say them both as the secular humanist locks arms with the virulent Islamist and marches ominously toward committing Christians and Jews to martyrdom.

BTW Same Dumb Comment just how are those two big buckets of nothing coming along? Any sign of singularity yet? Maybe if you reversed your stirring something will come from nothing.

RkBall said...

" lunatics like Mr. Ball are the ones who end up appointing similar lunatics to school boards"

Great idea -- thanks, SDC!

Pat J said...

If we can move past the name-calling, I am honestly trying to understand. You are saying the “turtle theory” is better than evidence collected from observation, because the turtle provides “meaning”?

The Buddhist model of the universe also provides “meaning”, as does the Hindu. Does that make them more true than the scientific observation of the universe? What makes them more or less true than each other?

As a side note, I don’t know any atheists who would describe the physical universe as “shabby”. Maybe you need to read a little Carl Sagan to understand how true astonishment and wonder with the cosmos can be found without resorting to the supernatural, or resting comfortably in a state of unknowing. The more we know, the more we discover, the more wondrous and less provincial, and less “shabby” it seems to be.

RkBall said...

"You are saying the “turtle theory” is better than evidence collected from observation, because the turtle provides “meaning”? "

No. I am saying the Hawking explanation is to my mind no better than the turtle theory which is woefully inadequate.

If Hawking's beliefs were cast in mythological terms, you would have two buckets. Maybe throw in a sandbox. Something causes the two buckets to collide or intermingle, and out pops the universe.

RkBall said...

"If we can move past the name-calling"

Was I name-calling? If so, I apologize. I'm trying to temper my intemperate remarks.

SDC said...

Joe, if you'd care to actually look at history for a while, you'll see that your cult's theocratic leanings are no different than the muslims'; you both preach "love" and "peace" on the one hand, but the second you get any actual political power, the first thing you do is use that power to try to eliminate anyone that doesn't believe in your myths. Every single thing that the Nazis did in the Second World War was proposed and tried first by either the Catholic or Protestant sub-sects of your cult, and the good "god-fearin'" people of Germany were only too happy to go along with those ideas because your cult assured them that "this is what god wants".
Now, have you got any evidence yet for your cult's myths, or do you expect others to believe you "just because", fool?

Pat J said...

No, it is SDC and Joe who seem to come here to throw insult, then reiterate their own tired notions, not addressing each other’s points.

“Two hundred years of resting on the assumption that God created an orderly universe and us his creatures capable of exploring it.”
More like 3,500 years of this (since at least the Late Bronze Age), with only 150 years or so of understanding that God was not required to explain the universe (although the Greeks seem to have got to the point before they fell to surrounding zealots).

“Two hundred years of Christian scientists, fueled by their belief in God and his ordered creation, resulting in wonderful benefits to humankind.”
Hmmm… interesting. When I think about the great minds of the last 200 years, I see some who were “fuelled by belief in God” (Pasteur, Mendeleev, Maxwell), and some who were clearly atheist ( Einstein, Dirac, Curie, Pauling). I think both types brought benefits to mankind. As did those in the middle somewhere, such as Darwin, who started with a strong belief in the Christian God, and was troubled for much of his productive life by the understanding that his discoveries were undermining the case for that very God.

RkBall said...

Why I say shabby.

It's shabby because it leaves a petty role for man. No purpose or significance Of no more ultimate value than a cabbage or a rock. It's shabby because it is a universe which must at heart be meaningless. In fact, in an uncreated universe the very idea of meaning is an absurdity. The fact we intuitively seek it a double-absurdity, and the fact that atheists seek to reconcile their atheist philosophy with the upper-story values of meaning, significance, purpose, etc. a triple-absurdity. Not to mention theft from a theistic worldview.

We live in a theistic universe. I have to look no further than the human heart to know that, with assurance. It was that intuition that lead me to no longer ask "why", but "Who".

SDC said...

"It's shabby because it leaves a petty role for man."

In other words, "I don't CARE if it's true or not, my ego won't let me admit that I'm not as important as I think I am."

That's your superstition summed up pretty nicely there, Mr. Ball.

Pat J said...

Although, I think you are stretching the “two buckets” metaphor much farther than is useful, I think I see your point.

But you still haven’t answered the real question, which is how you differentiate modern cosmology (defined by mathematics, tested by experiment and comparison to physical observation) from the Christian “Creation” model, and what this means for the other non-evidence-based and non-falsifiable “creation” ideas, like the myths of the Haida, the Buddhists, or (for the sake of argument) the equally-untestable String Theory of modern physics.

RkBall said...

"In other words, "I don't CARE if it's true or not"

More like, I care if I'm true or not.

Anonymous said...

Gus like SDC don't like a theistic universe because it entails an objective morality.

Guys like SDC would rather live in a world where whomever has the sleaziest smart alek lawyer gets whatever they want and whomever is willing to step on the most number of people gets farthest ahead.

Yes, SDC you're quite the little prize aren't you? Your near hysterical rants say quite a bit about your attitude.

RkBall said...

Pat J. Cosmologies -- I will respond shortly.

SDC said...

And what does it say about you when your sense of self-worth depends on a discredited fairy tale, Mr. Ball? Would you be any LESS real if you had chosen to believe in any other cult, or had been born in a different time or place? I'm smart enough to know that the truth of something doesn't depend one whit on what my feelings about it are, it's just too bad that you can't be as honest about that as I am.

Anonymous said...

SDC, Anything that tries to explain the orgin of the universe is by definition outside the realm of science. Creation or Evolution. Both ideas require faith and looking at the natural word there is far more evidence of an inteligent designer than random accidents

Rob West

RkBall said...

" I'm smart enough to know that the truth of something doesn't depend one whit on what my feelings about it are,"

You got that right. Score one for SDC.

RkBall said...

"And what does it say about you when your sense of self-worth..."

Has nothing to do with my sense of self-worth. Well, almost nothing. It does in this sense. Self-worth, if we are the products of a mindless, purposeless, universe, is in and of itself an absurd concept. And the idea of a mindless process like darwinism painting something as sublime as a sense of worth across the psyche of man is a howler.

Soon as you bring in the concept of worth, SDC, you are playing on a theistic field. And that's because we live in a theistic universe, and that's the only way the game can possibly be played. Atheists have to continually beg, borrow, and steal from elements of a universe that are only coherent is theism is true.

As soon as you say "I am an atheist and I have a sense of self-worth" you have entered the realm of absurdity. Of course you have a sense of self-worth, but that in and of itself is enough to point to the absurdity of atheism and its falsity.

Anonymous said...

SDC's sense of "self worth" depends on whatever rules HE decides are appropriate at the time.

If, at some time SDC decides its ok for him to steal from a jewellery store he will do so and justify it by saying he was "under stress" or was in an "autonomic state" or whatever B.S. he can convince a judge about this week.

Then, of course its ok because in his serf serving world where the most important thing is
*!* HIS*!* sense of self worth whatever you can get away with is right. There is no wrong.

He sneers at the moral code of Christians (or Muslims or Bhuddists or whomever) but he follows a moral code that changes as the breeze blows and is endlessly malleable as he sees fit.

Convenient I suppose.

Joe said...

Cutting to the chase of the debate:

Nothing presented as science rules out a Creator. Nothing! Yes we can measure and yes we can observe and to a limited extent we can even predict but that does not rule out a Creator.

Belief in a Creator does not diminish one's intellect or intellectual curiosity. Belief in a Creator is not a yearning to return to the 'bad old days' so many scientism adherents would have you believe.

In fact I find the believers in the Creator are far more likely to explore their world than the believers in scientism. I find scientism to be an intellectual dead end with extremely limited scope. Take for instance Hawkings and that nonsense he spewed on TV the other night. He couldn't even be consistent within his own yarn. Take for instance PatJ and the silly idea that simply because mankind came up with a better measuring tape God doesn't exist. Or Same Dumb Comments and his Something from nothing.

Scientism is a religion and not a very good one at that. Oh well it has its die hard adherents and no amount of hard proof will ever convince them otherwise. Not that hard proof matters since scientism's adherents never seek it anyways.

SDC said...

Not by a long shot, Rob; science deals with REALITY, while superstition deals with fantasy, and that's the real difference between the two. If science presents a hypothesis that isn't supported by evidence, scientists treat it the way it SHOULD be treated (it is discredited and discarded), while if your cult presents a hypothesis, it absolutely cannot AFFORD to admit that it was wrong, otherwise the myth that you speak for an inviasible magic man in the sky becomes apparent, and your whole house of cards comes tumbling down. Your anthropomorphic projection isn't "evidence of design", it's evidence that you when you can't understand something, you assume that "it must be magic, and if it's magic, there must be an intelligence behind it", in exactly the same way that superstitious savages the world over have done.
Absolutely, Mr. Ball, I realize that the truth of something is entirely separate from how I may happen to feel about that something, and I am ABLE to separate the two; you are clearly NOT able to separate the two, because your sense of self-worth depends on these discredited fairy tales. You are willing to lie to yourself to make yourself feel special, while I am not, since I see no reason to accept being lied to, not by politicians, not by snake-oil salesmen, and certainly not by myself.

Anonymous said...

Not at all, anon@10:32; my moral code is based on my ability to put myself in the shoes of another person, and being able to realize that I would not like to be on the receiving end of certain actions. If I can accept that I would not like to be robbed, murdered, assaulted, etc., it only follows that I can appreciate that others would want the same, and that's ALL that morality is; people realized this simple principle a long time before your insane cult was even founded, and it's a necessary requirement for any species that expects to live together in large numbers.
Now, at the same time that your cult claims that your imaginary invisible magic man in the sky has so thoughtfully given us all rules of behaviour to live by, I notice that neither the protagonists in your little magic book nor your imaginary invisible magic man in the sky live by those rules; convenient indeed, I suppose.
SDC

PatJ said...

Indeed, it is a perilous morality if the only think keeping a person from raping and killing is an unproven threat of “eternal punishment”. Especially as a morality so based is, inevitably, reliant on modern interpretation of ancient texts. Where do the ethics reside when the interpretations (or the text themselves) are contradictory?

RkBall said...

How you differentiate different creation stories...
Genesis vs. other creation stories.

1. As an inquisitive unbeliever, I compared the creation stories of surrounding cultures with that of Genesis. It towers above the others. Instead of capricious, drunken gods, you have a majestic, transcendent God speaking the world into existence. Point for Genesis.

2. The Genesis account is part of a greater story embedded in 66 books written by several authors in three languages over hundreds of years. It fits as a cohesive, progressive narrative. In fact, the symmetry between Genesis as a book of beginnings and Revelation as a book of ultimate culmination, is rather dramatic. So, another point for Genesis.

Genesis vs. science.

Science deals with how on a materialistic plane. My quest wasn't along these lines. I didn't want to know so much how cement was made, I wanted to know if the cement slab had a maker, and what the purpose of the cement slab was. More particularly, I wanted to know if my life had purpose, or meaning, or value. I knew instinctively that a Creator secured those intangibles, and no Creator made meaning, purpose, and value absurd categories -- at best artificial creations of self-deluded humans.

So, the Genesis account has far greater existential value than a purely scientific attempt to explain origins, and fits inside a grand narrative that meets the deepest needs of the human soul.

So, I believe in God,
man created in his image (securing meaning, purpose, worth and providing a sufficient reason and grounding for morality, rationality, creativity etc.),
the fall (existing in empirically accessible data, i.e, the delta between is and ought in every one of us)

I also believe in redemption, which is predicted and initiated in Genesis 3, reached its apex in the death and resurrection of Christ, and which is ongoing to this day, heading towards the culmination of Revelation.

RkBall said...

In many ways I actually find the creation data in Job more useful than Genesis, and more suited perhaps to a 21st cc. mind.

RkBall said...

Indeed, it is a perilous morality if the only think keeping a person from raping and killing is an unproven threat of “eternal punishment”.

It works as a back-stop. One reason the rioters are rioting today in London is simply because they believe there will be little or no downside risk.

RkBall said...

"Indeed, it is a perilous morality if the only think keeping a person from raping and killing is an unproven threat of “eternal punishment”.

Eternal punishment is a wonderful doctrine because it means that justice shall, ultimately, be done. The rapist shall be punished. The murderer who got away with it will be punished. Etc.

RkBall said...

Eternal bliss, based on the self-sacrificing act of God to take upon himself our short-comings, failings, sins, including, e.g., mean-spirited blog posts, etc. is an even better doctrine!

Everybody has to make an existential choice with regards to this.

1. I want my slate wiped clean.
2. I'll wipe my own slate clean.
3. I don't want my slate wiped clean.
4. There's a slate?

I'll take what's behind door number one.

Pat J said...

You provide excellent examples of how perilous a morality based on the philosophy of “slate wiping” is. All the slate-wiping in the world (or, in the afterworld, if you will) does not help the raped or the murdered. And if a slate can be wiped clean, what is the disincentive to rape and murder?

If your morality is based on justice, it is not ethical. Justice is a tool to deal with unethical behaviour, and only a blunt, ineffective tool at that. To simply say “I will not break the law, because I fear the repercussions” is not to take an ethical stance, and often, it is the exact opposite.

SDC said...

And what makes you think you have a "slate" to begin with? I notice you have jumped right past the step of determining if there IS a slate, you just take it like it's a given, in the same way that the Hindus just took it was a given that we all rested on a stack of turtles.

Joe said...

Years ago I met a mathematics professor at university. We became friends even though his skills in mathematics was way way way beyond my comprehension. On a lark he sat down one day and showed me it is impossible to contain radiation with magnetism. It was great fun, he and I, two atheists laughing at the Christians as they wended their way to vespers all the while flaunting our 'intellectual superiority'.

Time separated us and by chance I bumped into him on the street one day. Anxious to catch up we went to a nearby coffee shop and started with a very stilted conversation. Finally my friend asked me if he could share his faith with me. He didn't know that I had become a Christian after I had a very personal encounter with Jesus.

He started out saying that although we used to have great fun laughing at Christians, he had since become one. In the course of our discussions I asked him why. His answer was brief. MATH! The numbers didn't work for the atheist position. He explained with mind numbing detail the 'numbers' that were needed for existence of life and with the same mathematical skill he used when he showed me that magnetism could not contain radiation he showed me that the chance of life spontaneously emerging and being self sustaining was ZERO.

He went on to explain that once he was sure that the math was right he began looking for answers in the ancient knowledge and discovered Christianity which alone was able to meet his exacting demands.

Our friendship was renewed and we met often to share our worldview and fellowship. About a year later my friend told me he had be diagnosed with terminal cancer and almost three weeks later he slipped from this mortal coil surrounded by loving family. He is gone but his math and his testimony remain.

PATJ said...

Also, your long comparison of "alternate cosmologies" could be broken down into a single statement:

"What makes Richard Ball feel good must be true".

I wonder why some others have a problem with this description for the origin of the universe.

RkBall said...

"What makes Richard Ball feel good must be true".

Whether there is purpose or meaning to the universe, and from that, whether human beings have intrinsic value, are either objectively true or objectively false. If there is no God, they are objectively false, and they are nothing more than "feel good" delusions that infect the human race. If God exists and created the universe for a purpose, then there is meaning and purpose to life whether it makes us feel good or not.

So, nice try, but you are dodging the issue. It is atheists that ultimately reduce both purpose and morality to matters of personal preference and feelings.

RkBall said...

Joe -- that was a beautiful post. Your best yet.

RkBall said...

Accepting something that will validate your existence and your intuitions about yourself as a tentative hypothesis to be further explored is eminently rational; in fact it is the opposite -- rejecting out of hand an hypothesis that will validate your existence and potentially fulfill the deepest aspirations of the human heart -- that is irrational.

And that is the settled position of hardened atheists.

Anonymous said...

Lying to yourself that you have a diamond the size of a Volvo buried somewhere in the backyard, just waiting for you to dig it up, might make you feel good too, Mr. ball, but it has no relation to REALITY. You are admitting that you don't care about truth, just so long as you can "feel good" about what you choose to believe in.
SDC

Anonymous said...

And Joe, your "personal encounter" wouldn't have happened to occur at a time when you were drunk, high, or under a great deal of stress, would it? Hallucinations like these are common among all cultists.
SDC

P@J said...

You put a lot of fancy words around “if it makes Richard Ball feel good, it must be true”. It is the height of conceit to expand your own good-feelings to the entire universe. Clearly, your “purpose” and “meaning” are different from those of most of the human population of Earth, are different than those of the bacterial population of earth (which outnumber the human population by a factor of about a trillion), and are different from those of any other life forms than might exists across this universe. Clearly, things are no objectively true just because you feel they are true, that is the opposite of “objectively” true.

You thought Genesis was more pleasing, because it lacked “capricious, drunken gods” (I will avoid the argument that the “Tree of Knowledge” and the “Great Flood” stories are stellar examples of a capricious action by a god) of other creation stories. Therefore it is objectively true? This is the logical rabbit hole you are taking us down?

“I didn't want to know so much how cement was made” – for someone with such a disinterest, you seem to spend a lot of time mocking the people who are doing good work discovering how the cement was made, and even calling them liars and cheats for suggesting it might be useful to know how the cement was made.

To continue the analogy, you have previously argued that cement-making schools should stop teaching how cement is made, and instead teach why cement is made.

But you are again changing tacks. Explain to me how a morality based on punishment and reward is ethical?

Joe said...

Well Same Dumb Comments when you take your silly blindfold off I will be happy to show you the colours of the rainbow, the beauty of the sunset and the myriad of stars in the night sky. Until then you can entertain yourself with those buckets of nothing. How is that experiment coming along BTW. Any sign of singularity?

RkBall said...

"Clearly, things are no objectively true just because you feel they are true, that is the opposite of “objectively” true."

The objective purpose and meaning I am talking about flows from whether or not this universe is the intentional creation of God. It has nothing whatsoever to do with whether I think the universe has purpose or even whether I exist or not. Or whether anybody exists. This purpose and meaning exists if God intentionally created the universe, and does not exist if the universe is an uncreated bang, buzz, burp, or aberration.

The fact that I as a human being have intuitions about purpose and meaning is another issue.

Here are the choices.

1. There is no Creator, no purpose/meaning, but intimations of purpose/meaning embedded inside darwinian lifeforms called humans. This is absurd and leads to either the denial of purpose/meaning and existential despair -- well documented by the godless 20th cc. existentialists -- or the affirmation of purpose/meaning, which amounts to huge self-delusion. So, no God = absurdity, and either delusion or despair -- your call.

2. There is a Creator, purpose and meaning objectively exist, intimations of purpose and meaning are purposely embedded in human beings, and human instincts concerning purpose, meaning and worth are validated. God = purpose, meaning, and validation of human intimations.

It is true that there is an existential choice to be made, but this is not about subjective feelings.

I hope this clarifies this for you.

RkBall said...

"And what makes you think you have a "slate" to begin with? "

Did you not see option 4?

RkBall said...

Justice is a tool to deal with unethical behaviour,

You are perhaps thinking of legal justice, which is just one element of justice. There are several, including:

1. The quality of being just; fairness.
2.
a. The principle of moral rightness; equity.
b. Conformity to moral rightness in action or attitude; righteousness.
3.
a. The upholding of what is just, especially fair treatment and due reward in accordance with honor, standards, or law.

If someone steals a kid's toy, and somebody else gives them a toy to compensate, that is an act of justice regardless of whether the thief is caught and punished.

RkBall said...

"you seem to spend a lot of time mocking the people who are doing good work discovering how the cement was made, and even calling them liars and cheats for suggesting it might be useful to know how the cement was made."

I do? I know I am satirical, but liars and cheats? I've really got to tone down my rhetoric. I'm really trying to be a nice guy!

Anonymous said...

Joe, I can see all of those things just perfectly fine, and I don't need to imagine that there's an invisible magic man in the sky necessary to "explain" any of it; why do you?

Anonymous said...

Yes, Richard, I DID see option 4, but you have jumped right PAST that step, so I'm asking what makes you think you have a "slate"? Is it (as you've already elucidated) just because "it makes you feel good", or do you have any sort of a rational reason?
SDC

Joe said...

"you seem to spend a lot of time mocking the people who are doing good work discovering how the cement was made, and even calling them liars and cheats for suggesting it might be useful to know how the cement was made."

Interesting how that same criticism doesn't apply to those who mock we who seek to understand WHY the cement was made.

PatJ said...

Yes, by definition I mean legal justice, whether codified in Civil Law and enforced by a government or etched in tablets in a holy book and enforced by a deity. You seem to be arguing that this justice (and the subsequent promise of personal punishment/reward in this or the afterlife) is the basis for human morality and ethics. You take it so far as to say that people who do not believe in your justice system (atheists) have no basis for their ethics.

Unfortunately your trip through “ethics” as a study got stopped somehow in the late bronze age when the bible was written. The contributions of Aristotle, Locke, or John Stewart Mills seem to have been missed entirely. Even Kant’s formalism has a solid basis without invoking the need for an ultimate purveyor of justice.

Short form: Christian justice does not equal ethical morality. And none of this has anything to do with the physical processes at the beginning of the universe.

RkBall said...

"You seem to be arguing that this justice (and the subsequent promise of personal punishment/reward in this or the afterlife) is the basis for human morality and ethics."

Not sure I argued that, PatJ.

"You take it so far as to say that people who do not believe in your justice system (atheists) have no basis for their ethics."

Don't think I said that either, PatJ.

I would say that atheists have no good grounds for believing that objective right and wrong exists. In a molecules-to-man universe, right and wrong seem like out-of-place categories; at best a human construction, and, therefore, like tastes in music, subjective. I would go further and suggest that in a hard materialist universe, right and wrong, like meaning, purpose, and worth, are absurd categories.

I've used this example before. If it is not wrong, or evil, for a rock to fall on a cabbage and squash it, how is it different if it falls on a person? We're just a different arrangement of molecules, a slightly modified sequence of DNA. In fact, there's undoubtedly a darwinist out there somewhere celebrating how much DNA we share with cabbages. I know they do about earthworms.

If it's not wrong for a rock, or a bear to kill a human, why is it wrong for another human?

If it is not wrong for a human to kill a pesky bug, why is it wrong for a human to kill another pesky human? It seems to me the atheist has no good answer to this.

Empathy? Empathy is nothing more than a chemical reaction in the brain; it has no real authenticity or legitimacy; it's just another one of those amoral darwinian burps that evolution coughed up; no better than, e.g., the urge to rape or kill.

Atheists may profess atheism, but when it gets down to actually living their lives, they live them as though theism were true -- a universe where complex material arrangements are not the highest reality, but lives driven by meaning, purpose, and values -- categories which are absurd if atheism is true.

A true atheist will admit that if atheism is true, there is no meaning to either the universe or life, there is no purpose to human existence or the universe, and there is no free will (under which scenario it becomes a bit weird to even be discussing moral codes and ethics.)

SDC said...

"A true atheist will admit that if atheism is true, there is no meaning to either the universe or life, there is no purpose to human existence or the universe, and there is no free will"

"there is no meaning to the universe or life" - why does this bother you to the point that you're willing to lie to yourself to give yourself a false "meaning"? Our lives have the meanings that we assign to them.

"there is no free will" - this is simply an assertion on your part.

RkBall said...

"Our lives have the meanings that we assign to them."

What you can't explain is why uncreated, purposeless creatures whose existence has no meaning should be meaning-seekers and meaning-makers. You've got an absurdity to deal with -- something that is absurd under darwinism. "You" just don't fit with the darwinian model you espouse as truth.

To put it more starkly, since there is no meaning to life or existence, when humans assign meaning to their lives they are engaged in an act of gigantic self-delusion.

RkBall said...

"there is no free will" - this is simply an assertion on your part."

It is the conclusion of many materialistic atheistic philosophers and scientists. There is a huge body of literature on this topic.

e.g.,

http://www.physorg.com/news186830615.html

It is the logical conclusion of equating our minds with our brains. If our brains are molecular machines, and there is no soul inside the machine, then the machine drives us, rather than us driving the machine. Actually, the machine is us, and the "you" inside the machine doesn't exist -- it's an illusion.

See the problem with denying belief in God? When God disappears, so do "you".

RkBall said...

Slate. I had a slate. I did not treat my parents with the respect they deserved. I was unkind. I was unselfish.

And, I have a slate. You don't have to go farther than this blog. I have not always accorded blog posters the respect and courtesy they are entitled to -- you included. Many of my posts are intemperate and unkind.

SDC said...

"What you can't explain is why uncreated, purposeless creatures whose existence has no meaning should be meaning-seekers and meaning-makers."

I certainly can; we do these things (whether they are making music, or climbing mountains, or drawing pictures, or solving scientific problems, or anything else) simply because we ENJOY them. Why do you have this neurotic compulsion to assume that an unseen force is responsible for such things?
Unlike those in your cult, I am not forced to accept the pronouncements of others as to the nature of being, and my will is affected by my decisions. Can you show evidence to the contrary?
Finally, your supposed "slate" is nothing of the sort; if you have wronged someone, the only entity to who you have any sort of obligation is to THAT person, since there is no invisible magic man in the sky making marks on an imaginary "slate" for you. Your cult is directed towards living for a non-existent "future life", while mine is directed towards living my life.

PATJ said...

Your examples of rocks and cabbage are interesting, as they display one of the great gaps on “Christian Ethics”, and that is the idea that there IS always a discrete “right” and “wrong”, or a sharp dividing line between ethical and non-ethical behaviour (this completely aside from the obvious issue that “the sharp dividng line” is being drawn by modern people translating ancient texts of dubious origin, assembled by bronze-age goat herders, which are essentially a collection of parables and allegory, whose meaning shifts with cultural changes over time).

But the line is actually very fuzzy, and all of the moral philosophers I listed above don’t pay any attention to rocks and cabbages, but to the fuzzy area between people and cabbages. As a non-Christian, I extend my ethical thought towards many non-humans. My ethics tell me it is wrong to cage, torture, or intentionally injure primates, especially our very close cousins the great apes. I think it is morally repugnant to torture any animal. But my moral ground here does not go so far as to make me a vegan, but with some people it does. I am free to admit there is a fuzzy ground between “right” and “wrong” in animal rights, and do my best to define it in a way that allows me to live with a relatively clean conscience. That said, I have smacked a lot of mosquitoes in my life. Does that man I equate dogs with people? No. But I also do not dismiss dogs as being no more worthy my care than a rock.

There are many examples of the fuzzy moral lines. I think that embryonic stem cells should be allowed for research, as they are not sentient beings, but the products of the research may reduce the suffering of sentient beings. I also think that animal research is a valuable tool to improve the human condition, but that it should be carried out in as humane a way as possible. If the research is, by necessity, incredibly inhumane, then we have to balance the suffering of the animal against the potential gains of the research. I think state execution is morally wrong, regardless of the severity of the crime, especially when we have the technology and resources to prevent a criminal from repeating heinous crimes. Of course, you can make up a million examples along the line of the “Runaway Trolly Quandary”.

Does the atheist have a good answer for this? No! But neither does the Christian, because the fuzzy line does not fit with Christian Dogma. You imagine there is a sharp line, send down from a Deity through a prophet and the gospels. But the gospels are frighteningly vague about where that fuzzy line is, and leave a lot open for interpretation (I think about Luke 19)

RkBall said...

"we do these things (whether they are making music, or climbing mountains, or drawing pictures, or solving scientific problems, or anything else) simply because we ENJOY them."

This makes you an epicurean, then, a pleasure-seeker. A psychopath finds pleasure in murder and torture. A rapist finds enjoyment in the anticipation and act of rape.

And enjoyment is nothing more than the product of a chemical reaction caused by mindless natural processes. Life under atheism really is an absurdity.

Strangely, atheists seem generally unwilling to admit this.

RkBall said...

"we do these things (whether they are making music, or climbing mountains, or drawing pictures, or solving scientific problems, or anything else) simply because we ENJOY them."

None of what you have said goes to the level of what I am intending to say by meaning. Here are some dictionary definitions which help

1. Something that is conveyed or signified; sense or significance.

3. An interpreted goal, intent, or end: "The central meaning of his pontificate is to restore papal authority" (Conor Cruise O'Brien).

4. Inner significance: "But who can comprehend the meaning of the voice of the city?" (O. Henry).

Under atheism, there is no significance to the universe as a whole or its parts -- as you have so eloquently put it, it "just is". Under atheism, there is no goal, intent or end of the universe. It just is.

You cannot even state that the goal of enjoyment is to somehow propagate the species, because if propagation of species was a goal of darwinism, then it would be teleological, which darwinists cannot admit. It just is.

There is no inner or deeper significance to life, whether it be expressed in painting or raping. Life, like the universe, just is.

The kind of meaning-seeking I am talking about entails asking "why". And you have already answered this question with, "don't ask".

So, meaning, purpose, significance, worth are all non-starters under atheism. And yet, no one lives their life as though this was actually true. We may espouse atheism, but we must live our lives as if theism is true.

SDC said...

"We may espouse atheism, but we must live our lives as if theism is true."

We certainly do NOT; I appreciate my life for what it is, a fleetingly brief period of time, and I cannot fathom lying to myself that anything else is the case. At the same time, I appreciate that I am part of a society that has guidelines for behaviour for the good of everyone. It is a mystery to me why some people are so desperate to "find meaning" beyond those simple facts that they will happily lie to themselves.

RkBall said...

"We certainly do NOT; I appreciate my life for what it is..."

Stop right there. Let's look at the sublime emotion of appreciation. Under atheism/darwinism "you" are not appreciating anything -- appreciation is merely an involuntary chemical reaction in your brain, and nothing more. Because, under darwinism, there is no "you" to direct the appreciating -- you are just a complex molecular machine derived from primitive molecular machines, all without purpose or design. Plus, of course, you don't even begin to have a rational explanation for how something as sublime as appreciation could be generated by a mindless, emotionless process of darwinism, which consists of nothing more than the occasional shuffle of the molecular-based DNA deck.

So, once again you have failed to live as though atheism were true, and spoken in a way that is only coherent if we were intentionally created by God -- which is what I mean when I say living as though theism were true.

It's a lot harder to be a true atheist than you think.

Anonymous said...

Under your simplistic assessment of atheism, you mean; the fact that I can enjoy something is in no way dependent on anything else, unlike what your primitive superstition claims.
SDC

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