Six Common Excuses for God

by Luke Muehlhauser on December 11, 2009 in Reviews

I’m blogging my way through Sense and Goodness Without God, Richard Carrier’s handy worldview-in-a-box for atheists. (See the post index for all sections.)

In the previous two posts, we discussed Carrier’s first 6 reasons to be godless. Now we will discuss the last.

Carrier’s seventh reason to be godless is: anything defended with such absurdities must be false.

No fact that people need such ridiculous contrivances to defend is ever likely to be true. If it were true, the facts would speak to it. You would not need to resort to the absurd. But this is just what everyone does.

And next, Carrier gives the six most common excuses for God. They are:

1. God is Mysterious

It is said… that God must have a reason to be completely silent, obscure, unfriendly, and unhelpful, and to have built a dangerous, painful, limited, and flawed world for the poorly-designed creatures he is supposed to love. We can’t know what this reason is because it must be so complicated or profound that human minds could never grasp it. It’s a “mystery.”

But there is no reason to believe such mysterious reasons exist! They are just made up to get God off the hook.

Besides, if we allow ourselves the “It’s a mystery” response to every objection raised, we could use it to “justify” the existence of damn near anything. For example, I could say there is an all-evil God that rules the universe. You would object, “Well, why is there so much goodness and happiness, then?” I would reply, “It’s a mystery.” But that’s no answer at all.

2. The Free Will Defense

Some argue that God can’t be blamed for all the misery in the world because it is the result of human free choice. But this excuse requires another ad hoc excuse for why God doesn’t set right the mistakes of his children, another ad hoc excuse for why he is a silent no-show, and so on.

There is also the serious problem that libertarian free will does not exist.

Moreover, most misery is not caused by human actions but is inherent in the design of the universe: earthquakes, floods, plagues, genetic defects, and so on.

Finally, we routinely restrain or prevent people from doing evil. And we do not think this is an unjust limitation on their “free will.” If a man is about to blow up a building, we think it is just to thwart his “free will” in this case and stop him. In fact, if we have the means to stop him and choose not to, then we are usually considered to be morally guilty along with the bomber himself!

3. The Free Choice Defense

Others argue that God must not intervene to make the world a better place because doing so would leave too much evidence of his existence, which would “force” us to believe in him, a violation of our free choice to believe.

First, why should God care about our free choice to believe he exists? Shouldn’t the free choice that matters be whether or not we love or worship him?

And again, this “totally fails to explain the misery-inducing flaws in the very design of nature itself…”

But in any case, convincing evidence does not deprive us of free choice!

There can be no evil in telling a man what he needs to know to save himself and be happy… If you believe it is a good thing for a preacher, an apologist, a missionary to give me more evidence and better reasons to believe, then you cannot believe it wrong for a god to do so.

4. The Arrogance Defense

Another excuse is to say, “Who are you to question the Supreme Being?” I have dealt with this one here.

5. The Defense of Arrogance

Another common “defense” is the Schoolyard Copout: “I can’t be wrong, you are just sick or confused, and you’ll suffer for it!”

No reply needed.

6. The Great Deceiver Defense

Others say that God put so much contrary evidence into the world to test your faith. My response is below:

Conclusion

Carrier writes:

So here we are. This is the sort of… absurdities people are forced to resort to in order to defend their belief in God. It should be clear that no true belief would ever need any of these absurd defenses, or anything like them.

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{ 37 comments… read them below or add one }

Josh December 11, 2009 at 12:19 pm

The problem here with Carrier is that as freaking absurd as the “mysterious” defense is, it’s not technically unsound or invalid… same goes for Plantingan warranted Christian belief.

Which is precisely what makes those arguments so damned irritating!

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hoy December 11, 2009 at 12:28 pm

I am putting the following ‘excuse’, which I heard recently, up for criticism:

God is love, but he is also just. At the beginning, everything was perfect. Now, sin has crept in and sin has caused all the bad stuff.
Up-to-date Christians will say that his love was shown by giving us a chance to ‘see the light’ but that ‘justice’ follows if we refuse to believe.

On a side note, is there a way to add formatting to comments (e.g. italics, bold)?

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Josh December 11, 2009 at 12:36 pm

By the way, what exactly is on the cover of that book? Is that someone hugging a bacteriophage?

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Ryan December 11, 2009 at 12:58 pm

I had someone use the old argument from mystery on me in the debate I’m currently having:

http://www.debate.org/debate/10352/

My response to it was this:

First of all, that defense runs afoul of Occam’s razor: You are postulating at least one unknown explanation for the existence of Evil (that might not even exist) that you have no evidence for in order to get theism consistent with the data. Naturalism requires no unknown explanation in order to be consistent with Evil.
Your argument is unconvincing. Let me explain by analogy: Suppose that I were to say that the existence of weasels contradicts the God hypothesis. You ask me why and I say, “Well, there could be some unknown reason that the existence of weasels contradicts the existence of God. Mere human beings can’t say what a God would or wouldn’t do if he existed, because our minds are so limited compared to the hypothetical mind of God. For all we know, a God would never even think of creating weasels!”

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ayer December 11, 2009 at 1:01 pm

“No fact that people need such ridiculous contrivances to defend is ever likely to be true. If it were true, the facts would speak to it. You would not need to resort to the absurd. But this is just what everyone does.”

You mean like: it just looks like the universe if fine-tuned; actually, there are a multitude of other universes (which are in principle impossible to detect, but just trust us).

Or: yes, it seems absurd to say that the universe just popped into existence uncaused out of nothing, but it’s not, really, when you think about it.

Or: yes, it seems obvious that people have nondetermined minds and contracausal free will, since we hold people morally accountable for their freely chosen actions, even to the point of putting them in prison for their crimes–but we’re really just pretending; everything they do is physically and chemically determined.

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Jason Finney December 11, 2009 at 1:08 pm

Two fundamental problems with your thinking mate:

1. You’re trying to put something as IMMENSE as the COSMOS is flipping box. I think this is the most ironic title I have ever seen: “worldview-in-a-box” No wonder you can’t think outside the box. You’re trapped in it, mate. Feel sorry for ya. Damn sorry.

2. You ask astonishingly ignorant questions like this: “why should God care about our free choice to believe he exists? Shouldn’t the free choice that matters be whether or not we love or worship him?” Well pardon me for being curt but um, DUH. God is love. His ESSENCE is LOVE. LOVE is a CHOICE one must FREELY make to be authentic. In all your bloody studies you never EVER mention LOVE…. which makes your studies all a bunch of nonsensical drivel about a truly imaginary God that you have obviously fabricated in your mind. A conversation about God void of LOVE is not a conversation about God.

Good Lord get out of your box. Go read some Shakespeare and learn about the human condition. That’s where all the miracles are Mr. Luke, ya materialistic poof! ;) I kid ya Luke!

Cheers and beers!

Jason

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Charles December 11, 2009 at 1:27 pm

Exactly how (and when) did sin enter the world?

The Christian must be able to respond to this, in a way that is consistent with facts and theories already known.

(My gut tells me that while a response is possible, it can’t be reconciled with the notion of an all-good, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving god.)

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Steven Carr December 11, 2009 at 1:58 pm

AYER
Or: yes, it seems obvious that people have nondetermined minds and contracausal free will…

CARR
Ayer is still boasting that his actions are not determined by rational thought, that he cannot make himself behave well, and that he can kill you for no cause.

Can somebody not lock this guy up for the good of society?

He openly boasts that he does not need a cause to kill people, that he can kill of his own free will even if you give him no cause for him to do so.

Lock up everybody with contracausal free will! How else can we be safe from people who cannot control themselves?

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hoy December 11, 2009 at 3:37 pm

Charles: Exactly how (and when) did sin enter the world?

When:
Well, the Bible (Romans 5:12a) says that “by one man sin entered into the world”. Here, ‘man’ is Adam. So ‘sin entered into the world’ at some point between Adam’s creation and God forcing him out of Eden.

How:
First, if God created man to have a relationship with him (and a just God would want this relationship to be pure), then why would God create a tree from which he did not want Adam to eat?
God did so to allow for Adam (and Eve) to CHOOSE to follow him. He wanted people who made a commitment, not slaves.
So ‘sin entered into the world’ when Adam chose to do what God said not to do.

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Alex December 11, 2009 at 4:07 pm

Josh: How do you find the mystery card irritating? It doesn’t have any power at all, other than establishing that it seems (superficially) that the view you’re defending is logically possible.

Carrier said about the book cover that it’s just a spaceship landing on a planet, but the resemblance to a baceriophage is definitely there.

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Jeff H December 11, 2009 at 5:16 pm

Jason Finney:
2. You ask astonishingly ignorant questions like this: “why should God care about our free choice to believe he exists? Shouldn’t the free choice that matters be whether or not we love or worship him?”Well pardon me for being curt but um, DUH. God is love. His ESSENCE is LOVE. LOVE is a CHOICE one must FREELY make to be authentic. In all your bloody studies you never EVER mention LOVE…. which makes your studies all a bunch of nonsensical drivel about a truly imaginary God that you have obviously fabricated in your mind. A conversation about God void of LOVE is not a conversation about God.

I’ve highlighted the relevant word for you to help it stand out. Nice readin’ there, sport!

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Jason Finney December 11, 2009 at 6:04 pm

Recommended reading for all atheists:

Orthodoxy by GK Chesterton.

Go ahead, I dare you to read this with an open mind. Go on. Get your head out of the boxview angle and open up a bit. Go ahead and grab it with Stanza for free if you have an iPhone. It won’t take you but two or three days to read. It might change your life.

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svenjamin December 11, 2009 at 6:21 pm

Jason,

I think I will read Orthodoxy, actually. But don’t you find anything ironic about attacking Luke’s characterization of Carrier’s book as a “worldview in a box” and then recommending a book called “Orthodoxy”?

As far as I can tell, referring to it as “worldview in a box” means simply that Carrier is delineating a systematic worldview in a his book. It doesn’t mean that anyone that refers to it as such has decided to commit themselves to thinking within that box.

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Fortuna December 11, 2009 at 6:53 pm

LOVE is a CHOICE one must FREELY make to be authentic.

Except of course, as we discovered on the previous Richard Carrier thread, you don’t have any “free” choices in a universe with an omniscient being. Congrats, your worldview doesn’t allow for authentic love.

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lukeprog December 11, 2009 at 7:41 pm

Jason Finney: LOVE is a CHOICE one must FREELY make to be authentic.

Jason, it sounds like you might enjoy New Ways of Loving by James Park.

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Thomas Reid December 11, 2009 at 9:31 pm

Steven Carr: [to ayer] Lock up everybody with contracausal free will! How else can we be safe from people who cannot control themselves?  

CARR attempts satire of his opponent while at the same time embedding his interlocutor’s assumptions in CARR’s attack:

Does CARR think people can choose to control themselves?

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Steven Carr December 11, 2009 at 11:44 pm

Of course people can choose to control themselves.

Ayer simply denies the existence of a control mechanism. He claims he cannot control himself because there is literally nothing he can do to cause himself to behave well.

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Roman December 12, 2009 at 12:12 am

Hi Luke,

The “New Ways of Loving” book by James Park sounds interesting and I have looked at it before because it is linked to from your ‘about me’ page. But I am wondering if you know whether its claims are backed up by any scientific research?

If not, it’s surely not worth spending time on.

(I only ask because it’s hard to find information about its scientific underpinnings. I worry that it might just be one persons speculations.)

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Roman December 12, 2009 at 12:16 am

Actually, it looks like you have removed the link to the book from your ‘About Me’ page. Is this because you have changed your mind and no longer agree with it?

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danielg December 12, 2009 at 12:50 am

I’m not sure why you give Carrier the time of day. His arguments sound more like the straw man or biased arguments of someone who experienced disappointment with the Church, not like real arguments.

While his observations have merit, they don’t carry much weight. Perhaps I’m not giving him credit, but his arguments seem more like complaints than arguments.

1. God is mysterious – his simplistic view really sells this idea short. What it really says is much more:

- you can’t figure out God w/ your limited intellect. Get used to it.
- while God in the gaps is a poor argument for every problem or objection, there are certain things to which that is a regrettable but probably best argument, esp. when there are paradoxes involved, like free will and predestination.

2. The free will defense – that is just one of many proposed theonomies. So he doesn’t find that good enough? Me neither. And I’m still a Christian.

And his argument about natural evil? The biblical answer is simple – all of creation fell with mankind, so the existence of storms, thorns and weeds, pain in childbirth, and Carrier’s less than perfect life are part of the curse. While that may not be palatable to him, it’s reaonsable.

3. The free choice argument – not bad, perhaps God lacks mercy for not healing amputees. Perhaps his plan to make it all right in the life to come rather than fixing it all here pisses Carrier off. That does not make the Christian concept of God faulty or unjust. He just doesn’t like the plan. But he needs to discern between what he finds unfair, and what is true or not. His sense of justice is interesting, maybe even compelling, but a better question than “do i like it” or “does it make sense to me” is “is it true?”

Many people have wasted their time making decisions on the former questions instead of the latter, like Einstein, whose search for a universal constant to contradict the Big Bang was motivated by a dislike for the implications of the theory, rather than what might have been true. Later, he admitted that such a motivation led him astray.

4. The arrogance defense – again, while such a rejoinder can’t be made for every question, when it comes to a child begging to understand the mysteries that he can’t, when he begins to question the motives of a perfect God, there comes a point where the answer of “who are you to reply against God” might be the only answer left.

Like Job, who said “when I merely knew about You, I imagined I had a case against you, but now that I’ve met you, I admit that I did not know what I was talking about, and I repent in dust and ashes.” At some point, Carrier and those like him will have to admit their arrogance and demanding answers that they can not understand.

Again, I don’t like the abuse of this response, but in certain situations, and at the end of some arguments, even Paul the Apostle answers this way. After explaining for chapters God’s ways in the book of Romans, he plays out the predestination/free-will argument, and like Carrier, asks “why does God blame us if he made us this way?” At this point, Paul, having explained much, says “look, this is above your pay grade, and God says ‘shut up idiot!’” I’m good with that even if self-styled intellectuals are not.

5. The Defense of Arrogance – this is a wrong response, though it may be true – those who are terminally skeptics may have more than an unfulfilled intellectual curiosity, but a childish pout that demands God go their way or the highway. And this may really be a fault with them, not God.

6. Contrary Evidence – this is a stupid argument, I’m not sure anyone besides some fringe creationists (and I’m not talking about YECs, I’m talking about real fringe) make this kind of argument. Who makes such claims today? The First Church of the Backwoods Baptists?

I think Carrier is more complaining about perceived and real problems with immature church people, and some theological concepts that offend his sense of justice. However, I don’t see his arguments as cosequential when it comes to real faith. Not yet anyway – havent’ read his book yet. Gonna do Lofton first.

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Beelzebub December 12, 2009 at 2:17 am

And his argument about natural evil? The biblical answer is simple – all of creation fell with mankind, so the existence of storms, thorns and weeds, pain in childbirth, and Carrier’s less than perfect life are part of the curse. While that may not be palatable to him, it’s reaonsable.

It’s only reasonable to someone who has had it saturated into their mind, particularly if it was since birth. To an unbiased and naive observer who might come upon the proposition for the first time, it’s absurd. Because of singular bad action by our progenitors the entire fabric of the universe was changed and our essential natures altered. To view this as truth, alongside but counter to the myriad other fantastical creation stories throughout culture — come on, let’s get real.
Now THERE’S the arrogance. In the face of what might strike any outsider not vouchsafed with the truth as utter absurdity, I’m going to give serious consideration to something that was either pounded into my noggin or struck me as truth for inexplicable reasons.

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Steven Carr December 12, 2009 at 4:57 am

DANIELG
The biblical answer is simple – all of creation fell with mankind, so the existence of storms, thorns and weeds, pain in childbirth, and Carrier’s less than perfect life are part of the curse. While that may not be palatable to him, it’s reaonsable.

CARR
Reality says otherwise.

Storms existed before mankind.

Death existed before mankind.

Why do Christians continue to test reality against their old book and then whine when people test their old book against reality?

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lukeprog December 12, 2009 at 5:38 am

Roman,

No. I removed that whole section because I thought it was so short that it ended up being misleading and I’d rather remove that section.

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drj December 12, 2009 at 6:48 am

I think Carrier is more complaining about perceived and real problems with immature church people, and some theological concepts that offend his sense of justice. However, I don’t see his arguments as cosequential when it comes to real faith. Not yet anyway – havent’ read his book yet. Gonna do Lofton first.

Add starLikeShareShare with noteEmailKeep unreadEdit tags: Atheism

If one views the idea of God, as just another hypothesis or explanatory theory for the world around us, its perfectly appropriate to criticize it the way Carrier does. Just because one suggests that the world and universe would look different than it does, if a loving omnipotent, omniscient being created it, does not mean one is acting as a disgruntled malcontent, upset at the quality of their life for doing so.

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Charles December 12, 2009 at 9:58 pm

hoy:
When:
Well, the Bible (Romans 5:12a) says that “by one man sin entered into the world”.Here, ‘man’ is Adam.So ’sin entered into the world’ at some point between Adam’s creation and God forcing him out of Eden.How:
First, if God created man to have a relationship with him (and a just God would want this relationship to be pure), then why would God create a tree from which he did not want Adam to eat?
God did so to allow for Adam (and Eve) to CHOOSE to follow him. He wanted people who made a commitment, not slaves.
So ’sin entered into the world’ when Adam chose to do what God said not to do.  

Exactly. And here is why it is absurd. Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of evolution would know that the human race could not have descended from one man. People don’t evolve. Species do.

But even if we accept this, what does it say about God? Humans have walked the earth for at least a hundred thousand years, and he (God) only chooses to intervene in the final two?

Or what about earthquakes, tsunamis, and other natural evils? Is it truly the position of the Christian that before, the Fall, these sorts of things did not occur?

And what about death? We have the fossils of the dinosaurs. Clearly, death did not enter the world when Eve ate the apple. It was with us long before.

Put simply, the story sounds fine, so long as it is short on details! But when you try to flesh it out, it falls apart like the house of cards it is.

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Steven Carr December 13, 2009 at 1:15 am

CHARLES
Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of evolution would know that the human race could not have descended from one man.

CARR
Really? I assume that you haven’t thought through the term ‘common ancestry’.

There is a simple mathematical proof, that if special creation is false, all of humanity can trace their family tree back to the same one man and the same one woman (who may not have met each other)

A tree structure makes this inevitable.

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Charles December 13, 2009 at 4:15 pm

I’m not sure what you’re getting at here. I assume you’re not defending the bible story so let me rephrase. I should have said,

Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of evolution would know that the human race could not have descended from one man and one woman.

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Lee A. P. December 13, 2009 at 4:48 pm

ayer: “No fact that people need such ridiculous contrivances to defend is ever likely to be true. If it were true, the facts would speak to it. You would not need to resort to the absurd. But this is just what everyone does.”You mean like: it just looks like the universe if fine-tuned; actually, there are a multitude of other universes (which are in principle impossible to detect, but just trust us).Or: yes, it seems absurd to say that the universe just popped into existence uncaused out of nothing, but it’s not, really, when you think about it.Or: yes, it seems obvious that people have nondetermined minds and contracausal free will, since we hold people morally accountable for their freely chosen actions, even to the point of putting them in prison for their crimes–but we’re really just pretending; everything they do is physically and chemically determined.  (Quote)

More like “Heres what we got so far and we will continue to gather evidence and go where it leads”.

Insteasd of “Wow the universe is puzzeling! I can’t fathom any other way than to believe that it must have been created by my 3 headed God — the one who wrote a perfect book and sent his son who is also magically himself at the same time to die so that he will not have to torture all of us for eternity, but that some folks may stumble upon that book and believe in the wild stories written in it and gain eternal life!”

Many things science has posited but not had complete proof have wind up being true. Black holes for instance. Other universes work out elegantly as an explantation. We will eventually find out if they do exist. I suspect they do.

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Tony Hoffman December 13, 2009 at 4:56 pm

Ayer: You mean like: it just looks like the universe if fine-tuned; actually, there are a multitude of other universes (which are in principle impossible to detect, but just trust us).

The probability of an event that has occurred is exactly 1. The probability that the universe exists exactly as it does now is 1. The likelihood that the universe should exist to produce us is only a problem if you misapply probability to investigate a past event, such as the likelihood that the universe should exist in order for us to ponder it.

On what basis do you consider our universe improbable?

Or: yes, it seems absurd to say that the universe just popped into existence uncaused out of nothing, but it’s not, really, when you think about it.

Quantum mechanics observes events occurring all the time that are not caused. Radioactive decay occurs without cause. Physicists say odd-seeming things like “nothingness is inherently unstable.” So, yes, apparently when we do think about it (or investigate it), the facts are that events without cause are not absurd. In fact they appear common.

Why is it less absurd to imagine that a theistic God just popped into existence?

Or: yes, it seems obvious that people have nondetermined minds and contracausal free will, since we hold people morally accountable for their freely chosen actions, even to the point of putting them in prison for their crimes–but we’re really just pretending; everything they do is physically and chemically determined.

So you think that you would behave differently if you were the product of natural forces? What makes you think that?

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Steven Carr December 14, 2009 at 2:20 am

CHARLES
Anyone with even a rudimentary understanding of evolution would know that the human race could not have descended from one man and one woman.

CARR
It is indeed possible. ‘Common ancestry’ is not just a collection of letters. It does mean something.

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drj December 14, 2009 at 4:39 am

Steven Carr: It is indeed possible. ‘Common ancestry’ is not just a collection of letters. It does mean something.  

Well, its not possible in the Adam and Eve sense – that two original humans spawned the entire race of humanity, through nothing but their own progeny, and subsequent incest.

It is possible (and true) in the y-chromosomal Adam and mitochondrial Eve sense.. in that all of our lineages can be traced back to a single man.. and a single woman, living at different times. Of course, they weren’t the only people alive at the time, and their progeny mixed and bred with all kinds of people who were not their siblings.

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Thomas Reid December 14, 2009 at 10:19 am

Tony Hoffman: Quantum mechanics observes events occurring all the time that are not caused. Radioactive decay occurs without cause. Physicists say odd-seeming things like “nothingness is inherently unstable.” So, yes, apparently when we do think about it (or investigate it), the facts are that events without cause are not absurd. In fact they appear common.Why is it less absurd to imagine that a theistic God just popped into existence?

This is not my understanding of QM. Quantum mechanics observes particle creation and destruction within a vacuum energy which is controlled by specific laws. Radioactive decay is decay of matter (which is not nothing), in accordance with defined probabilities, if not laws.

Neither of these examples remotely qualifies as “nothing”, not in the sense required to posit a universe popping into existence uncaused out of nothing. For on the naturalist (if not atheist) metaphysic, without the universe there is literally nothing: no matter, natural laws, platonic forms, souls, etc, etc, etc.

The statement “nothingness is inherently unstable” is rhetorical flourish, not an explanation of the properties that “nothing” has. For indeed it is impossible for nothing to have any properties.

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ayer December 14, 2009 at 6:16 pm

Lee A. P.: Insteasd of “Wow the universe is puzzeling! I can’t fathom any other way than to believe that it must have been created by my 3 headed God

No, the arguments of natural theology only get you as far as a personal, monotheistic God–but that’s not bad.

Lee A. P.: Other universes work out elegantly as an explantation. We will eventually find out if they do exist. I suspect they do.

No, the problem is that the multiverse theory is metaphysics (like concept of God), not science–to the extent that adherents of the multiverse argue that falsifiability and predictability are overrated aspects of science (see http://www.math.columbia.edu/~woit/wordpress/?p=307). As cosmologist George Ellis says, with the multiverse, “science is venturing into areas where experimental verification simply isn’t possible.”
http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v438/n7069/full/438739a.html

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Tony Hoffman December 15, 2009 at 6:52 am

Thomas Reid: Radioactive decay is decay of matter (which is not nothing), in accordance with defined probabilities, if not laws.

I said that radioactive decay is an example of something occurring that does not have a cause, not that atomic particles are nothing. (This in response that everything must have a cause.)

Thomas Reid: The statement “nothingness is inherently unstable” is rhetorical flourish, not an explanation of the properties that “nothing” has.

This could be true, although I think I made it clear that it was not my rhetoric. Your comments are an appreciated admonishment to me, however, as you have reminded me that I shouldn’t invoke arguments that I don’t really understand well enough to properly defend.

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Thomas Reid December 15, 2009 at 4:46 pm

Tony Hoffman: I said that radioactive decay is an example of something occurring that does not have a cause, not that atomic particles are nothing. (This in response that everything must have a cause.)

Right, I understand what you were trying to get at, but I didn’t think it was analogous. With radioactive decay, you at least have the material cause – you have the stuff which can decay. With the universe popping into existence out of literally nothing, there is no cause of any kind available.

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Tony Hoffman December 15, 2009 at 7:13 pm

Thomas Reid: With the universe popping into existence out of literally nothing, there is no cause of any kind available.

But I don’t think that (nothing) is the way that physicists ultimately describe the thing from which the universe began. I think that that the universe is thought to have emerged from the cosmic vacuum, which is not nothing (but is referred to as “nothing” by physicists as a sort of shorthand to non-trained people, among whom I count).

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Janus Grayden December 18, 2009 at 11:26 am

This is what I don’t understand about any of this. We know people believe in God. God, being omniscient and omnipotent set up the entire universe knowing that these people would believe in God. The situations in their lives that caused them to believe God were known to Him before He even created the universe. This is corroborated in the Bible in a number of locations.

Given this, that God is the one responsible for a person’s situation by which they believe in God, we’re to assume that He knows exactly what it would take for each person to first believe He exists and second to love and worship Him.

This isn’t a violation of free will or choice. If I need someone to help me move and I also know they like beer, then I will offer them a case to help me move. We both win. I didn’t disrupt his free will or choice in this situation, I simply knew what it would take to win him over. Nobody is used in this circumstance and, in all likelihood, we end up being better friends for the experience.

Therefore, what Christians posit is that God took the care to meet their requirements for belief, praise, and worship yet is more than happy to let everyone else go to hell because He can’t be bothered with us.

Nevermind what ramifications this has on the Garden of Eden incident. If I booby-trap a person’s fridge with a bomb and they blow themselves up trying to open it, then I’m the one who goes to prison. Why? Because I put it there having a pretty good idea what would happen as a result. In this vein, God set up a scenario by which he didn’t just have a pretty good idea what would happen, being omniscient, he knew exactly what the result would be.

We have to assume that an all-knowing being wouldn’t just know every single result of their actions are, from execution until the end of time, but the direct result of every single action that could have been taken instead. God would know that if He placed the tree of knowledge perhaps a foot to the left or gave the fruit some weird bumps or made it all a slightly different color or any one of an infinitely vast array of different options, the end result would be completely different.

Shouldn’t God, having set up a situation He knew for a fact would result in the corruption of all mankind, condemning the vast majority of everyone who ever lived to Hell, be held responsible?

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