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Monday, August 22, 2011

Kalām Cosmological Argument

It has come to my attention that the version of the cosmological argument I use in my previous refutation located here, is not the version many apologetics use and thus, with new thoughts in mind I will refute the basic yet famous four point Kalām Cosmological Argument (henceforth known as "the KCA") laid out by Dr. William Lane Craig.
The KCA goes as follows:


  1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
  4. This cause is the God of Classical Theism, and is a personal being, because He chose to create the universe.
(there are a few subsets and I will refute those as well but first I must hit the main points)

Point 1: This first point is used as a starting to place with which to make a logical inference about our universe. What is said is, "whatever begins to exist has a cause" but this fails for a few reasons. First off, all the things we see "beginning to exist" are actually reconstructions of preexisting material thus they are not creation events in the sense of the universe. According the the common big bang model, (we will ignore multiverse models because those shatter this argument for a whole host of other reasons) there was no preexisting material from which the universe could be created, it was true creatio ex nihilo. Our day to day experiences of "creating" things cannot be applied to the universe because those are creations from existing materials whereas the universe was not created from any preexisting materials.

Second off, we actually can witness creatio ex nihilo in our universe. We witness creation of particles from nothing on the quantum realm.* These are basically equal to the creation event that occurred during the big bang and guess what? Quantum fluctuations are uncaused!** Victor Stenger says that there are "Uncaused, random quantum fluctuations..."[1], Richard Morris says, "...the idea of a First Cause sounds somewhat fishy in light of the modern theory of quantum mechanics. According to the most commonly accepted interpretation of quantum mechanics, individual subatomic particles can behave in unpredictable ways and there are numerous random, uncaused events."[2] and as Paul Davies says, "energy can appear and disappear out of nowhere in a spontaneous and unpredictable fashion."[2] 
These quotes show that with creation events on par with that of the big bang, a first cause is not required thus shattering premise 1. 


Point 2: This point seems rather intuitive but it may not be so.  We do not have a full theory of quantum gravity thus we cannot say for certain what happened in the big bang singularity nor can we say with certainty that it was in fact, the beginning. For example, loop quantum gravity, a competing theory to String Theory and M-Theory, posits that space-time itself is quantized thus meaning there would be no big bang singularity as we know it, it would be the collapse of another universe that would then expand. Granted, this may not get rid of the first cause argument but it is an interesting thing to ponder.[3] There is also a model of the universe put forward by Wun-Yi Shu which has says that the universe had no big bang, no beginning and no end.[4] Of course these are all speculative but it doesn't rule out the possibility of a timeless universe. 


Point 3: Point 3 falls under the refutations of points 1 and 2.

Point 4: Point 4 falls, is insane and contradicts the claim that there was nothing before the big bang because it says that god "chose" to create the universe which means a change from one state to another thus meaning that
     a)God is not immutable since he changed from one state to another and
     b)There was time "before" the big bang since time is required for change to occur.



Now I shall move on to the sub-points.
The first of which goes like this:


  1. An actual infinite cannot exist.
  2. An infinite temporal regress of events is an actual infinite.
  3. Therefore, an infinite temporal regress of events cannot exist.
 To refute this point I only need to refute point one which I shall do now.

Point 1: To prove that this is false I will use two definitions both of singularities. 

     1: "gravitational singularity or spacetime singularity is a location where the quantities that are used to  
         measure the gravitational field become infinite in a way that does not depend on the coordinate system. 
         These quantities are the scalar invariant curvatures of spacetime, which includes a measure of the  
         density of matter."[5]
     2: "A point at which a function takes an infinite value, esp. in space-time when matter is infinitely dense, as
         at the center of a black hole"[6]


It seems that Dr. Craig is a couple decades behind modern physics.


Points 2 and 3: Both of these fall because they are predicated on the false idea that "actual" infinites cannot exist. *FUN FACT: Dr. Craig concedes that a singularity is an infinity! See foot note [7]*
         
The second sub-point goes like this:

  1. A collection formed by successive addition cannot be an actual infinite.
  2. The temporal series of past events is a collection formed by successive addition.
  3. Therefore, the temporal series of past events cannot be actually infinite.
This one I don't have a straight forward refutation to but I am curious as to why Dr. Craig thinks premise 1 is true. If the successive addition did not stop, then, by definition, it would be an infinity, an infinite regress.

Conclusion: I find the KCA quite unconvincing for the reasons I outlined above as well as the fact that, according to Vilenkin, the universe tunneled out of "literally nothing". I leave you with the thesis of Vilenkin's paper.

"A cosmological model is proposed in which the universe is created by quantum tunneling from literally nothing into a de Sitter space. After the tunneling, the model evolves along the lines of the inflationary scenario. This model does not have a big-bang singularity and does not require any initial or boundary conditions."[8]
~~Peter

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*it must be noted that this point is often contested by theists because they will say that the vacuum of space is not nothing but it really is. It is merely the lowest energy state of nothing allowed by the laws of quantum mechanics.


**here is another point of debate and even if one says they are caused, they are not caused by anything in particular, merely uncertainties in the energy of the vacuum.

For your watching pleasure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baZUCc5m8sE

and: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQ--CbV7L-g&feature=channel_video_title
and: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_676IeyJNQ


1: Vuletic, M. (n.d.). Creation ex nihilo - without God. Secular Web: Atheism, Agnosticism, Naturalism, Skepticism and Secularism. Retrieved August 22, 2011, from <http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/mark_vuletic/vacuum.html>
2: Braungardt, J. (n.d.). Vacuum Fluctuations. Jürgen Braungardt. Retrieved August 22, 2011, from <http://www.braungardt.com/Physics/Vacuum%20Fluctuation.htm>
3: Bojowald, M. (n.d.). Big Bang or Big Bounce?: New Theory on the Universe's Birth - Scientific American - RichardDawkins.net . - RichardDawkins.net . Retrieved August 22, 2011, from <http://richarddawkins.net/articles/3220-big-bang-or-big-bounce-new-theory-on-the-universe-39-s-birth>
4: Zyga, L. (n.d.). Model describes universe with no big bang, no beginning, and no end. PhysOrg.com - Science News, Technology, Physics, Nanotechnology, Space Science, Earth Science, Medicine. Retrieved August 22, 2011, from <http://www.physorg.com/news199591806.html>
5: Gravitational singularity - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (n.d.).Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved August 22, 2011, from <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravitational_singularity>
6: define sngularity - Google Search. (n.d.). 
Google. Retrieved August 22, 2011, from <http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=define+sngularity#hl=en&safe=off&q=singularity&tbs=dfn:1&tbo=u&sa=X&ei=QwtTTsvZKYfagAeZ1sgw&ved=0CBkQkQ4&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.&fp=b95580e7ebe1d466&biw=1366&bih=667>
7: See 4:00 for Craig explaining a singularity himself! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baZUCc5m8sE
8: Vilenkin, A. (n.d.). Creation of Universes From Nothing.mukto-mona.com. Retrieved August 11, 1922, from <http://www.mukto-mona.com/science/physics/a_vilinkin/universe_from_nothing.pdf>

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Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Response to God and Science.org

So I was sent an article on godandscience.org that supposedly proves god using science and I, the magical and egotistical Peter, am here to refute the claims that are made on this beloved site! I will most likely be referencing other posts I make so be prepared. The page itself is broken up into sections and I will refute them in order.



Introduction: This makes a few false claims but there is nothing here that needs correcting.

The Big Bang: This really makes no argument at all but just states what the Big Bang Theory is. This part is all fine except for a small factual error which is made. The author says "...the universe arose from a singularity of virtually no size..." but a singularity is not of "virtually no size", it is infinitely small due to the infinitely large gravitational force being exerted by the matter collapsing in and in and in. Here you can read what a singularity is: Read more

Excess quarks: The basis of this argument is that the masses of the quarks in the universe must be finely tuned to allow matter to exist and that somehow proves god. I have a few things to say on this.


1: String theory is beginning to provide a framework for why the elementary particles have the masses that they do so it is ludicrous to assume that they are fine tuned.

2: We have a classic case of the anthropic principle here. This can be easily rationalized by thinking about this:

What would we see if the masses were not "just right" and we did not exist? What would we see if the quarks and anti-quarks annihilated themselves and all we had was pure energy? What would we see if we were not here? We would see nothing! This is key because, regardless of how small the probability is of the masses lining up just right, it must have happened at least once in the past because we are here to study the amazing coincidence! This answer is more probable then saying "God dun it!" because, with the previous statement we are asserting that there is a massively more complex god that then must be accounted for and that violates Occam's razor. Here we are using a simple logical premise whereas in the case of god we are asserting an even more complex watchmaker to make a watch that could have occurred merely by chance. 

3: The next point I would like to make is that we do not know the possible ranges allowed for the mass of the quark (at least to my knowledge). This is also key because it means we cannot make a fair probability judgment because we do not know all the possible outcomes.

4: The up and coming multiverse theory makes this point moot since there are, according to the many theories, an infinite or very large number of universes which means that there is either a guaranteed shot of us being here or a very good shot. Here one could ask, what evidence is there of the multiverse? And to that I say, BAM! Point 1 and Point 2. Granted, we do not know for certain but, at least according to the evidence right now, it seems there may be a multiverse and if M-Theory is correct there most certainly is.

Large, just right sized universe: The point that is being made here is that if the universe were bigger or smaller we would not be alive. I will be addressing this in order.

Smaller: What is claimed here is that if the universe were smaller than the universe would not have undergone nucleosynthesis and we would only have hydrogen. To prove this the author cites the Wikipedia page on Big Bang Nucleosynthesis but if one actually reads the page it makes no mention of what would happen if the universe were smaller, in fact, it only uses the word once and this is talking about Helium-4. But even so, the things that caused it were density and heat that means that if the universe were smaller, the heat ratio could be offset and it would still occur. The same thing applies to it being bigger. So basically, we have a link to a Wikipedia page that doesn't even prove your point.

Larger: What is claimed here is that if the universe were larger it would have collapsed in on itself. The evidence used to support this only proves your claim on the broadest of scales and is fundamentally dishonest. The article being cited is talking about the shape of the universe and the ultimate fate. The only time they talk about it collapsing in on itself is in the distant future and not at the beginning of time like you would *implying* have us believe. You say that the universe would have "collapsed before life was possible" but this is simply false. The only time it talks about the universe collapsing is when it says that it causes the "Big Crunch to happen right now!" Stephen Hawking also comments on the rate of expansion which is part of this by saying:

"The rate of expansion of the universe [in the inflationary 
model] would automatically become very close to the critical rate determined by the energy density of the universe. This could then explain why the rate of expansion is still so close to the critical rate, without having to assume that the initial rate of expansion of the universe was very carefully chosen."[1]

A thing that can be added to both points: If there is a multiverse, which there is evidence for as shown above, this too is moot. Also, the anthropic argument can be applied to this meaning that regardless of how small the probability is of the density being just right, it must have happened at least once.

Early evolution of the universe:  The basic argument here is that the universe must have evolved a certain way to contain matter and life and that proves god. (?) We can also apply the anthropic principle to this as well. But again, if the multiverse does exist this too is moot. The evidence that is cited only talks about matter in our universe, it makes no mention of matter in other universes.

Just right laws of physics: The argument here is that the constants are just right for life but I, and many others, have refuted this point in depth. I wrote a post entitled Debunking the fine tuning argument which shows why this argument is false.

Universal Probability Bounds: This really makes no argument but just talks about the most improbable thing that could happen and I feel no need to comment on this.

What do cosmologists say: This too makes no real argument but what I have to say is that in 1998 only 7% of the members of the National Academy of Sciences who returned a poll (about 50%) said they believe in god whereas 72.2% said they did not.[2] I think this speaks for itself.

Speculative "solutions" to the design "problem": The basis of this is that the only alternative is the multiverse theory but that there is no evidence for it thus it is invalid. This is not true seeing as if one looks above I give evidence for the multiverse. Granted, it may not exist but it is still much more elegant and simple than an all knowing, all powerful cosmic sky daddy.


~~Peter

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1: "The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning."Colorado.edu. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Aug. 2011. <http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/Fallacy/FT.pdf>
2: "Percentage of atheists - Think Atheist." Think Atheist. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Aug. 2011. <http://www.thinkatheist.com/notes/Percentage_of_atheists>

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Monday, August 1, 2011

Rationalizing Prayer

During the course of this post I will be showing what people thinks prayer does and a way to rationalize the, sometimes, big amounts of coincidences associated with "answered prayers".

Point 1: What does payer do?

Prayer is used by people of many different religions to either bring about change in a personal setting or on the world's stage. Prayer has been used by people like George Bush *GOD BLESS AMURICA* or more recently by governor Rick Perry. To the religious community prayer means a lot and the belief that it actually does something is wide spread and is a basic tenant of almost all religions. I for one used to think that if I prayed to Yahweh he would answer my prayers (of course I have since moved on). But to the secular community prayer seems to be, and is, a way to feel like you are doing something/are in control when you are actually doing nothing/are not in control. During the course of this article I will give a way to rationalize the somewhat off coincidences associated with answered prayers.

Point 2: An Example.


So a while back a post was written in a group I a member of and the post said this:
"I signed up online to get texts from the news for school day closings and whatever.But I always end up getting extra texts about random news. Yesterday I got a text it said they put out an amber alert for a missing 4 year old boy in Ohio at 12 at night. I prayed and prayed that he wouldnt be harmed, that his parents would be able to have as much peace as they could in the situation, and that he'd return home safely. I prayed for about and hour straight. I fell asleep. About two hours later, I woke up for no reason. I looked at my phone to check the time, it was a text from my news. It read 'an amber alert for a missing pickaway county boy has been lifted. He was found safely in lanecaster, Ohio.' God is sosososo good. ♥"

And I questioned this by asking if they ever thought that this could merely be coincidence. I got an answer. The answer was that in some cases it could be but if one looks at the events that happened on that night it is obviously divine intervention. The same person that wrote the previous quote wrote this:
"1. I could not go to sleep at the usual time.
2. I signed up to get texts to tell me when Westerville city schools have a snowday, or just school closing in general, yet I get other texts such as 'a semi on 270 has a gas leak' and 'Obama says he will not release photos of Osama.' even though I canceled and re applied specifically for school closing texts.
3. Once I got the amber alert text, I prayed for an hour, then I fell dead asleep.
4. I randomly woke up two hours later, looked at my phone to see what time it is, like always. There was a text, from about 10 or 15 minutes before I woke up, saying he had been found safe. 
5. Like I said, I was only about the text saying he was found safe was received only 15 or 10 minutes Before I woke up for no reason.." 
These are all fine and dandy but let's rationalize them!



Point 3: Rationalization.

Of course small things that will already happen but are prayed for a quite easy to explain. One simply says "It would already happen." and that is that. It's the things with lots of oddities that make prayer seem to work. Before I go in depth into this we will analyze the 5 points laid out above. Point number 1 is just saying that the person could not sleep at the usual time which is not all that odd because their mind was either engaged, they had eaten something that kept them awake etc. This is really not special in the least.

Point number 2 says that even though the person applied only for school closing texts, they got others as well. Since the site was not given I cannot do research into it but I do not find it surprising at all that this would happen. Most likely the texts had an advertisement at the bottom (much like ChaCha) which is a way for them to make money so the more they send you the more they make which would explain lack huge numbers of texts that were received. Of course that could not be the reason and the person merely signed up incorrectly or did not successfully stop the first set of texts. There are countless ways to explain this that it is not special at all. I feel that I needn't waste more of anyone's time debunking 2.

Point number 3 is just saying what happened. Nothing needs to be said here.

Point number 4 says that the person randomly woke up and looked at her phone only to find a text that said the kid was safe! Amazing right? Not per se. Randomly waking up is not mysterious at all seeing as body functions could easily be beckoning or a dream woke her up. (Remember, if one wakes up within a REM cycle or within 5 minutes after one you will not remember your dream) This is not magical at all. As to the kid being found, according to FBI statistics 99% of all the kids that go missing each year are found thus is not surprising at all that the kid was recovered.[1] Of course the child could have been part of the 1% that are not found but that is improbable.

Point 5 basically says the same thing as 4 and thus all my arguments can be applied here.

But let me put it another way, what would one say if the child had not been found? "Oh, well, god didn't answer it."? Or, more likely, she would have forgotten about the child. These things only seem extraordinary because they happen. If the kid was not found she would not have given it another thought. This is a form of anthropic principle to be used with prayer. The simplest way I can put it is: If the child were not found there would be nothing to attribute prayer to. Prayer necessitates something to happen thus if nothing does there is no use in thinking about prayer at all.

Point 4: Scientific data.

Is there any scientific data on the effectiveness of prayer? Well yes actually, there is!

Galton, who loved to quantify everything from intelligence to female beauty, collected mortality data on groups of people who were the objects of much prayer—kings, clergy, missionaries—and found that they lived no longer than others. Moreover the proportion of stillbirths suffered by praying and nonpraying expectant parents appeared similar.[2]
There are many cases where prayer has been tested in double-blind studies and has shown to be ineffective in hospital stays/mortality rates etc.. Of course there are some examples where prayed for patients do better but that is nothing compared to the amount of sameness between two groups. But also let's look at one of the most famous prayer experiments, the Harvard Prayer Experiment (HPE)! The HPE was set up in the following way: There were 3 groups of Cardiac Bypass Patients who were assigned to 3 conditions. Group 1 was told that they may or may not be prayed for when in actuality they were not. Group 2 was told the same thing but they were actually prayed for. Group 3 was told that they would be prayed for and they were. The results are as follows:
"Some patients were told they may or may not receive intercessory prayer: complications occurred in 52 percent of those who received prayer (Group 1) versus 51 percent of those who did not receive prayer (Group 2). Complications occurred in 59 percent of patients who were told they would receive prayer (Group 3) versus 52 percent, who also received prayer, but were uncertain of receiving it (Group 1). Major complications and thirty-day mortality were similar across the three groups. Major events and 30-day mortality were similar across the 3 groups. (13 in group 1, 16 in Group 2, and 14 in Group 3)
Not only did prayer not help the patients, those that were told they were being prayed for experienced more complications." [3]
Point 5: Conclusion. 

Numerous scientific experiments as well as all the unanswered prayers in the world prove that prayer is NOT effective in the least and in some cases actually is counterproductive! So remember, not only is there no god but the myth of prayer is just that, a myth.

~~Peter

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1: "Missing Children Myths | SparkAction." SparkAction | For children. For youth. For change.. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Aug. 2011. <http://sparkaction.org/node/223>
2: "Prayer." DavidMyers.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Aug. 2011. <http://www.davidmyers.org/Brix?pageID=53>
3: "FreethoughtPedia.com."FreeThoughtPedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 1 Aug. 2011.  <http://www.freethoughtpedia.com/wiki/Harvard_prayer_experiment>

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