love and heretics

It's better to light a candle than curse the darkness

Those questions of the week…

On my quest for truth, (or as I have realized from a friend…best answers) I was challenged by some christian friends to be sure that I did not only listen to one side. I felt that was fair, in fact I believed it to be the only way to be critically honest in such a quest.  I love this approach from Pyrrhonism:

“A Pyrrhonist tries to make the arguments of both sides as strong as possible. Then he asks himself if there is any reason to prefer one side to the other. And if not, he suspends belief in either side.”

“One hallmark of intellectual honesty is the solicitation of opposing points of view” (Tom Clancy)

“It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”~Aristotle

It is in this spirit that I feel encouraged to maintain friendships and interactions with people from opposing viewpoints, and to never dismiss the opposing viewpoint without consideration.

I still continue to receive email notifications from religious sites as well as Skeptics Society and others.

I just received a “Question of the week” from
GotQuestions.org

Question: “Who created God? Where did God come from?”

Answer: A common argument from atheists and skeptics is that if all things need a cause, then God must also need a cause. The conclusion is that if God needed a cause, then God is not God (and if God is not God, then of course there is no God). This is a slightly more sophisticated form of the basic question “Who made God?” Everyone knows that something does not come from nothing. So, if God is a “something,” then He must have a cause, right?

The question is tricky because it sneaks in the false assumption that God came from somewhere and then asks where that might be. The answer is that the question does not even make sense. It is like asking, “What does blue smell like?” Blue is not in the category of things that have a smell, so the question itself is flawed. In the same way, God is not in the category of things that are created or caused. God is uncaused and uncreated—He simply exists.

How do we know this? We know that from nothing, nothing comes. So, if there were ever a time when there was absolutely nothing in existence, then nothing would have ever come into existence. But things do exist. Therefore, since there could never have been absolutely nothing, something had to have always been in existence. That ever-existing thing is what we call God. God is the uncaused Being that caused everything else to come into existence. God is the uncreated Creator who created the universe and everything in it.

I have rather seen this “atheist common argument” as a response to the argument that since we know that from nothing, nothing comes therefore “god exists”.  Something I don’t understand is how saying “WE know that from nothing , nothing comes” is an absolute truth? We have absolutely no idea how the earth or universe got here.  So it is a possibility that the statement “from nothing, nothing comes” is not an absolute truth, and more possibly not even a best answer.  More sincerely I don’t understand the jump from “therefore god” to proof of a personal interactive being….?

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17 Comments

  1. The idea that “something comes from nothing” is difficult to grasp because the argument comes from principles of quantum mechanics. In this manner, generally only physicists understand the suggestion and can make sense of it.

    The thing I’ve been noticing, however, is the prevalence by which “God” is perpetually discussed in the third person. For as long as this being has been referred to in this way, and for as long as it continues, it is clear in my opinion that “God” is a construction of human thought.

    (love your blog, btw)

    • Argus

      I am not!

      I just move in mysterious ways, that’s all …

  2. sunofmysoul

    I did some searching back when it was first thrown at me, and though I am certainly no scientist (much less physicist) I at least understood that there have been some experiments which call into question the previously held “absolute truth”. I too see “God” as a human construct but, I have not had the “experiences” others claim….
    Thank you for the kind words!

  3. I am a physicist and I can tell you that, according to current wisdom, not only does something emerge from nothing, but our universe is the ultimate “free lunch.” This happens because quantum vacuum is unstable and decays into particles (us). It is also the reason some physicists believe the universe will end in twenty billion years or so: apparently, our current vacuum is also unstable!

    • sunofmysoul

      Thanks David. It seems to anyone on the physicist level this is common knowledge. Below that we end up with, because It seems this way to me, (obviously nothing can not come from nothing…”do apples appear out of the blue?” therefore….god did it….
      I appreciate your input!
      If someone were to look for a good way to explain such current wisdom, in VERY layman terms …do you have suggestions?

      • I have a post on the future doom of the universe that explains it (http://www.davidyerle.com/a-hopefully-understandable-explanation-of-the-future-doom-of-the-universe/). If that is not “layman” enough for you, let me know and I will look for something more understandable. Though it is definitely not easy to explain…

      • sunofmysoul

        Thanks again David. Tis appreciated.

      • sunofmysoul

        David, I dual posted this on the discussion board i participate in and added your comment, to which a poster (naz) replied this…
        “I find it interesting that people can believe in “nothing” which can’t logically have any evidence of its existence yet reject a belief in God for lack of evidence.
        😀
        Show me some evidence for the existence of “nothing” and I will believe.”

        Read more: http://letusreasontogether.freeforums.net/index.cgi?action=display&board=religion&thread=1153&page=1#31250#ixzz2NESH1fci

        I thought it an interesting point. How do you define …”nothing”?

        • Well, my response to this would be that believing in the quantum vacuum is not an act of faith at all. It is not, because the quantum vacuum has very defined physical properties that can be measured and predicted. In fact, the Casimir effect (the appearance of a force between two plates of a capacitor) can only be explained via the quantum vacuum.
          That is, the existence of the quantum vacuum is:
          1. A testable prediction
          2. A prediction that has actually been tested and been found to be right.
          3. Something that is actually necessary in order to explain certain facts about matter.
          Whereas the existence of God is neither.
          Scientists do not have “faith.” They make assumptions, which they are willing to drop if data does not confirm them. On the other hand, the belief in God stays despite all evidence to the contrary, as shown by the fact that there are still plenty of Christians despite all the factual inaccuracies of the Bible.
          Feel free to post this in your forum!

      • One more thing! Scientists do not claim the quantum vacuum to be “nothing.” That is a misunderstanding. In fact, scientists make no claim whatsoever about the existence of nothing. They make claims about the existence of the vacuum, which is a well-defined, testable entity. We avoid this kind of language traps by rigorously defining every object of our theory and making sure it is subject to experimental inquiry.

      • sunofmysoul

        Thanks David. I haven’t been able to be online much this week so I am playing catch up. I just put this out on the forum and truly appreciate your clarification. 🙂

    • Argus

      Ye gods, is it down to only twenty billion now? Not so long ago I read to the effect umpty trillion trillion. I guess the only thing that’s really unstable is science?

  4. Argus

    I go with Aristotle in your list above …

    Sadly I’m old enough and experienced enough to run with my current thoughts—
    A) Most often your religion is indicative of your environment
    B) Formal religions are in it for wealth and power (regardless of trappings or dogma).

    I think you shoot your own foot in your thoughts about the source of God. Frankly I think He was created by a Godier God than He, and that one by an even more Godier God than either of them, and He by an even more Godier one yet ad infinitem—which wraps it up very nicely. Failing that the old “God created Man … and man returned the compliment” also rings bells.

    Sadly we can’t be selective: either the universe can equally exist forever (both ways) just as much; or both need creators. Brrr~!

    (Aside: on the subject of infinite life I’ve posted a witchy story you may like—

    http://independentsguide.wordpress.com/2013/03/11/the-blessing/

    —or not. If you are intrigued by the physical similarities between God and we human men (replicas in the divine image, boom-boom!) you might like this (‘Feminist Genisists’)—

    http://panoramia.wordpress.com/

    —either way absolutely NO offence intended. All in fun and hopefully a wee bit of thinking … and please forgive me for advertising on your site without prior permission.

    • sunofmysoul

      No apologies please! I love being linked to good reads!~ And I love how the community all seems to pop back and forth. :)Thanks for sharing!

  5. This discussion, I think, and actually the history of philosophy as a whole, was the result of a mistake the Greeks made. They thought reason was sufficient to prove everything; reason is a pretty impressive faculty after all, and they were mesmerized by it. But the everything that was subject to reason included God. That was not all that much of a stretch for a Greek considering that their gods were pretty human, and then became more a logical construct than anything else. Then came the Judeo-Christian idea of God as the creator of all things from nothing – not all things from vacuum, but all things including vacuum from nothing. Space, time, the whole caboodle (I love that word) from nothing, zero, empty set. The existence of such a God is logically beyond proof: creature within a created system attempting to look out of what they are in. It would be like David Copperfield trying to prove the existence of Charles Dickens.
    The existence of God is not a theorem, it is an axiom. Or not. Either way you are in the realm of faith. I am a mathematician, not a scientist, but that math and science do not rest on faith is a delusion we have held since the Enlightenment.
    As usual, I have enjoyed visiting. You can probably tell that I am obnoxiously opinionated and this gives me a place to release the pressure without exploding. And that is a service to all mankind. I hope my post is provocative and entertaining enough to create new avenues of thought. Your original post, by the way, is very sound, points well taken, with which I do not disagree, though I hesitate to think of Tom Clancy simultaneously with Aristotle. But their advice is much harder to follow than one might think.

  6. sunofmysoul

    🙂 “obnoxiously opinionated” and “a place to release the pressure without exploding”
    hee….
    Happy to be of service.
    I am willing to fully admit there are things that we don’t have explanations for (yet) and things that we put faith in , and things that we value that may or may not fall under ‘solid things” . Faith hope love….music, art, humor…
    as for Mixing Tom Clancy and Aristotle, I hope i did not offend. Tis my way. I believe nuggets can be found anywhere…pearls even in the mud…
    I am not afraid to pick a nugget up, wash it off and keep it. I am a quote/nugget/truth collector of sorts, and don’t base the “item’s” value on from whence it comes. 😉

  7. Certainly you are right, Tom Clancy is as likely to produce a nugget worth attention as any of them. Well, not “as likely’, perhaps, but no one is entirely empty of truth. But if I am hungry and looking for food, I look in the places where the soil is best.

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