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Author Topic:   Big Bang Theory Supports a Belief in the Universe Designer or Creator God
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Message 301 of 317 (640565)
11-10-2011 3:39 PM

Parasomnium's summation
I'll keep this short, because others have already said most of what can be said about this thread. I think Designtheorist's story rests for the most part on an argument from incredulity. Another fallacy we've seen is the argument from authority. We are no closer to understanding what, if anything, caused the Big Bang. But I think we were not expecting that anyway.

"Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge: it is those who know little, not those who know much, who so positively assert that this or that problem will never be solved by science." - Charles Darwin.

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Message 302 of 317 (640567)
11-10-2011 4:05 PM

The initial claim of this thread ha not been supported. What we have seen from the proponents is:

A failure to think about the arguments. Proposing that time began with the universe is not just an excuse to label the hypothetical cause as "timeless", it has profound consequences.

The abuse of quotes and misrepresentation (e.g. Davies rejects talk about "before the Big Bang" as meaningless, but this is ignored).

An amazing failure of imagination. The inability to imagine a non-personal cause for the universe is a severe mental limitation, not an argument ! The more so when such a cause - one actually proposed as a serious scientific proposal - has already been presented in the thread !

If that's what religion does to you, I'm glad I don't have it.

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Message 303 of 317 (640568)
11-10-2011 4:07 PM

I think my takeaway from this thread is simple.

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. However, it is not positive evidence of something, either. A gap in knowledge is just that: a lack of knowledge.

A person may fill that gap with whatever their preconceptions and biases will allow (be it God or whatever), but this does not constitute evidence in any meaningful sense. And sometimes, gaps widen and change shape due to poor understanding of the subject matter in the first place, whether due to ignorance or being misled by others.

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Message 304 of 317 (640569)
11-10-2011 4:53 PM

Summation from a relative non-participant
This thread is no different than any other thread that is started by a cdesign propntist claiming to have evidence. Whenever the evidence is not found where the IDist claims it is, they claim "no, not here, over there" and on and on.

Secondly, I will say that designtheorist got shit-hammered by a lot of posters in a limited time and it was assuredly a daunting task to keep up with that many people. However, when you spout as much unsubstantiated bullshit as he did, it is to be expected given the level of discourse typically found here at EvC.

This thread/topic showed promise so hopefully designtheorist sticks around to learn a thing or two.

"Why don't you call upon your God to strike me? Oh, I forgot it's because he's fake like Thor, so bite me" -Greydon Square

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Message 305 of 317 (640570)
11-10-2011 5:11 PM

Once again, absolutely no evidence or support was presented for the assertions that "Big Bang Theory Supports a Belief in the Universe Designer or Creator God ".

That was as expected.

As a Christian, I find it sad that so many Christians attempt to claim such things without understanding that all they do is denigrate and trivialize the very God they claim they are supporting.

Anyone so limited that they can only spell a word one way is severely handicapped!

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Message 306 of 317 (640572)
11-10-2011 5:35 PM

A bunch of fallacies...
This thread has suffered from
  • Quote-mining: Geoffrey Burbidge, Paul Davies, Allan Sandage.
  • Appeal to Ignorance: "With all due respect, what implies that it wasn't?"
  • Argument from Authority: "Steven Weinberg, winner of the 1979 Nobel Prize in Physics"
  • Argument from Incredulity: "It must be a being because otherwise is inconceivable."
  • Arguments from Popularity: "...as you know there are literally millions upon millions at least that would disagree."
  • Equivocation: compatible != supported.
...and a general misunderstanding of what the BBT says (and doesn't say).

But other than that, it was a reasonably polite discussion where designtheorist dealt with replies admirably - if not successfully.

If I were you
And I wish that I were you
All the things I'd do
To make myself turn blue

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Message 307 of 317 (640583)
11-10-2011 7:34 PM

I think you ought to know I'm feeling very depressed
So here I was expecting a lively debate on the basics of theoretical cosmology (a fascinating subject for me) and how modern findings may or may not impact the oft-venerated Cosmological Argument, with someone who actually knew a little something more about theoretical cosmology (and math and science in general) beyond the typical 10th-grade level. That would have been so kewl, like, totally(!).

But what did we get from Doctor DT instead? The same old same old, quote-mining galore and quote-twisting twaddle, unbridled hero worship of award-winning sciency pontificates, pratts, fallacies beyond belief, unsupported assertions repeated and reiterated like a broken record, patronizing nonresponses, DesignerDidIts, arrogant speechifying, whining, and, for the proverbial icing on the cake, all of that drenched with a dismal failure to deal honestly with perfectly reasonable questions and/or objections, or even to check his sources against the actual science itself. And thus we are treated to 300 plus posts, mostly consisting of valiant but futile attempts to clean up the nearly-continuous flood of DDT-style clutter so that some actual meaningful exchange could take place.

I, for one, am deeply depressed now.

Doctor DT may not be one of your run-of-the-mill creationists, but his uncanny ability to channel the spirit of them would make JZ Knight look like a rank amateur.

Edited by DWIII, : fixed typo


Dr Adequate
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Message 308 of 317 (640601)
11-10-2011 9:56 PM

The Gap Of The Gods
Well, we don't seem to have got very far.

On the one hand, we have the idea that the universe had something like a cause. I say something like because normally the idea of cause is bound up with the idea of time, which is something that happens inside our universe.

On the other hand, we have the idea of God, a person having various properties such as wisdom and justice and so forth, who sits in some ethereal realm outside of spacetime and who made our universe from this vantage point.

Such a being would qualify as a "cause" of the universe, but is there any reason except wishful thinking and shameless anthropomorphism to think that he is, in fact, the cause? There is not (and many would say that there are cogent arguments against it, since the universe does not appear to have been framed by wisdom and justice).

Let us grant an ethereal realm in which the cause of the universe dwells. Who can say what it's like? In this other world, universes might form as naturally, as mindlessly, as the dew on the grass in the morning. Heck, maybe in that great unknown people poop universes. Who can say? The most we know about it is that it is not like the universe we live in. We do not know that any analogy would be fruitful.

Think of someone who'd lived his whole life inside a large cardboard box. Let him grasp the possibility that there is something outside of the box. Would he be right to infer that it was a bigger box? No, he would not. Would he be capable of inferring the Atlantic Ocean, or the Milky Way? Could he even infer colors he had never seen, such as green and blue?

There is, then, a great gap between what we can reasonably conjecture (a "cause") and what we would like to conjecture (a god). Designtheorist tells us that his mind cannot conceive of any "cause" except something like a person. This argument cuts little ice with me, for two reasons. First, I can think of lots of other alternatives. But second, I don't see why the "cause" should be like anything that we can imagine. Nothing I've ever seen can cause universes, so why should the cause of the universe be like anything I've ever seen? The gap remains, and designtheorist's personal lack of imagination does nothing to close it.

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Message 309 of 317 (640625)
11-11-2011 3:39 AM

The position of the OP relies only on special pleading and an a priori assumption.

It is stated that everything needs a cause: except, except, the OPs god who is assumed to exist and break causality in a way that was ruled impossible at the outset.

This means the rationale used to imply the OPs god's existence is cast aside when it has served it's purpose.

And of course, the myriad of quote mines and leaps of faith described above.

If the aim was to show that the big bang is compatible with the xian god I'm left with thought that any universe is compatible with a creator that can do anything.

If the aim was show that the evidence supports the OP's god then I remain unpersuaded.

The above ontological example models the zero premise to BB theory. It does so by applying the relative uniformity assumption that the alleged zero event eventually ontologically progressed from the compressed alleged sub-microscopic chaos to bloom/expand into all of the present observable order, more than it models the Biblical record evidence for the existence of Jehovah, the maximal Biblical god designer.
-Attributed to Buzsaw Message 53

Moreover that view is a blatantly anti-relativistic one. I'm rather inclined to think that space being relative to time and time relative to location should make such a naive hankering to pin-point an ultimate origin of anything, an aspiration that is not even wrong.

Well, Larni, let's say I much better know what I don't want to say than how exactly say what I do.

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Message 310 of 317 (640652)
11-11-2011 11:46 AM

This thread was unfortunate.

The OP failed to recognize the most basic logical fact:

Big Bang cosmology does supports (though not nearly conclusively) the hypothesis that the Universe had a "beginning," inasmuch as there appears to be an absolute minimum value for time.

"God" is merely one potential explanation of that "beginning." There are countless more conceivable hypotheses, ranging from colliding branes to cosmic eggs to the possible inevitability of existence.

Beyond that, "God" alone is not an explanation, it's an attribution. It asserts who is responsible, not what actual function was performed. Even if we were to accept that "God did it," we would be no closer to discovering what "caused" the Universe, just as saying "Joe did it" doesn't tell me what fixed my car.

The entire thread has been a massive phlogiston argument, whereby a name is asserted to be the answer to a mystery, yet no actual explanation is given, no understanding is increased.

Tack on multiple appeals to authority through mass quoting, some appeals to personal incredulity, and an unfounded assumption that causality for the Universe itself functions in the same way as causality as human beings experience it, and you have a basic summary for the thread.

Big Bang cosmology is no more evidence for a Creator God than is the existence of life itself, or gravity - they are only "Evidence" if you begin with the false premise that a Creator God is the only possible cause for any of the above.

The OP's arguments began with a false premise and proceeded through multiple logical fallacies. His entire argument was invalid from start to finish, and we are left once again with a Universe that does not provide any apparent evidence supporting the god hypothesis.

“The human understanding when it has once adopted an opinion (either as being the received opinion or as being agreeable to itself) draws all things else to support and agree with it.”
- Francis Bacon

"There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old's life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs." - John Rogers

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Message 311 of 317 (640663)
11-11-2011 1:31 PM

I have nothing to add to the excellent summaries that have been offered here, except that I hope that Designtheorist will also provide his final thoughts on this discussion, and that he will stay around at EvC for a little bit longer. As discussions with creationists go, this one wasn't that bad and I learned a thing or two about colliding branes at that!

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Message 312 of 317 (640678)
11-11-2011 3:59 PM

Apologies for not taking an active role in this thread - work keeping me far too busy - but there was some great input by the regulars and I did not feel there was much to add.

There were some requests to revisit the topic of fine-tuning and I'd be happy to contribute to a thread if someone wants to start one.

So, my one (admittedly rather off-topic) post here grants me the right to a summary, so here it is:

We see the concept of time being an integral part of the Universe still causing the inevitable confusion. A past-finite time dimension inevitably draws the ideas of a "beginning", and a "moment of creation", absent from considerations of a past-infinite time dimension. Of course, from an "outside" vanatge point on the Universe, these two possibilities are essentially identical.

Similarly with the spatial dimensions: the idea that a finite universe leaves room for an "outside" where-as an infinite universe does not is equally misguided. The finiteness or infiniteness of the time and space dimensions are merely internal geometric properties of the Universe.

Accepting for a moment its ridiculously ill-defined properties, a creator deity can just as easily create a universe that has a big bang, as a universe that has an infinite past. As such, Big Bang Theory does not in any way support belief in a Universe designer or creator god; appears compatible with - perhaps; support - no.

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Message 313 of 317 (640683)
11-11-2011 6:19 PM

"Nothing will come of nothing."
Well, that sucked, in a primum movens kinda way.

It's fascinating to watch someone attempt to construct an ex nihilo argument with empty hands, but ultimately nothing comes of it.

For better thoughts and greater detail, see what Rahvin said.

Message 296

Edited by Omnivorous, : Nuttin'.

"If you can keep your head while those around you are losing theirs, you can collect a lot of heads."

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Message 314 of 317 (640692)
11-11-2011 7:43 PM

Overall, this has been a good experience for me.

Let me start by listing some of the things I learned through this debate and the study the debate caused me to do:
• I learned Hoyle’s Steady State theory is not the same as the Static Universe theory. I was using the terms Steady State and Static State interchangeably and that was wrong and misleading. I was under the impression Hoyle did not come to the “steady bang” view until after 1965, but it seems I was wrong there. I need to study Hoyle more.
• I learned there was some controversy around the Geoffrey Burbidge quote regarding his peers going off to join “The First Church of Christ of the Big Bang.” I learned Burbidge wrote a letter saying he was referring only to the fervor with which is peers were holding to big bang theory.
• I also learned Burbidge was a close personal friend of Allen Sandage. In the NY Times obit for Burbidge, Sandage said they spoke on the phone three times a week for 40 years, mostly about the big bang. Of course, Sandage is the biggest name in astronomy to convert to Christianity on the basis of the big bang. This seems more than a coincidence and is enough to make me wonder about the Burbidge quote again.
• I learned there are more misconceptions about the big bang than I knew of.

The thread suffered from a number of participants who misunderstand logical fallacies. Supporting a point with a quote is not the same as quote-mining. Describing an expert’s eminence in a specialized field is not the same as an appeal to authority. A thread on logical fallacies may be helpful as they are poorly understood on this forum. And it might do me good to brush up on some of them as well.

The goal of the debate was to persuade people that the big bang is both compatible with and supportive of the concept of a Universe Designer or Creator God. The goal was not to convince atheists that God exists or that God created. There will always be some idea or theory claiming to show a Designer or Creator is not necessary (colliding branes, etc.). It was not my goal to defeat each of these competing theories. Also, the goal was not to convince anyone that the big bang requires people to believe in a Universe Designer or Creator God. The goal was to demonstrate my view the big bang is supportive of the idea of a Creator God or Universe Designer is internally consistent and common among scientists.

Secondary goals for this debate include correcting or clarifying certain common misconceptions about the science of the big bang, a theory which is poorly understood by most people. Misconceptions needing to be corrected include:
• The false view the big bang is somehow “anti-God” or is evidence against creation. Even Hawking admits the big bang compatible with the idea of a creator.
• The false view the singularity could exist in that form for any period of time (the singularity is a mathematical concept, not a physical one). An infinitely dense and hot singularity must begin to expand as soon as it exists.
• The false view the singularity could somehow get triggered from a dormant state into the big bang expansion through some physical/natural process. This is patently absurd since the singularity cannot exist in a dormant state.

Adequate understanding of the science will correct each of the above false views. Key posts explaining the science are Message 1, Message 49, Message 152, and Message 253.

I also tried to explain that, while some scientists refuse to do so, it is possible to speculate about the nature of the Big Banger based upon the limited information we have. (Speculation can be based on logic and imagination, but not mathematical physics. Einstein said “Imagination is more important than knowledge.”)

With this as background, and building on al-Ghazali, we now we can summarize the steps of my argument:

If the universe had a beginning in the big bang (the standard view of cosmology), the universe must have a cause.
The cause cannot be physical because it happened before the physical universe was created. (See Paul Davies book Cosmic Jackpot - Davies will not speculate on non-physical causes because he limits himself to mathematical physics)
And the cause happened during the timeless; that is, it occurred “before” time was created in our universe.
Therefore it is internally consistent to believe the cause of the big bang (the Big Banger) is both immaterial and timeless.

As corroborating evidence, I give you the history of science around the big bang. Robert Jastrow’s book God and the Astronomers is a detailed account of big bang theory and discovery of the CMB radiation (which confirmed the theory) and the impact it had on cosmology and the personal world views of these scientists.

Someone had suggested I quote Stephen Hawking on the issue of this debate. I did not get a chance to do that prior to the summation so I will do it now. Stephen Hawking seems to have rejected the big bang (a view he once supported) because the big bang offers support for a creator.

“Many people do not like the idea that time has a beginning, probably because it smacks of divine intervention. (The Catholic Church, on the other hand, seized on the big bang model and in 1951 officially pronounced it to be in accordance with the Bible.) There were therefore a number of attempts to avoid the conclusion that there had been a big bang.” Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time, p. 46f.

“… a joint paper by Penrose and myself in 1970, which at last proved that there must have been a big bang singularity provided only that general relativity is correct and the universe contains as much matter as we observe. There was a lot of opposition to our work, partly from the Russians because of their Marxist belief in scientific determinism, and partly from people who felt that the whole idea of singularities was repugnant and spoiled the beauty of Einstein’s theory. However, one cannot really argue with a mathematical theorem. So in the end our work became generally accepted and nowadays nearly everyone assumes the universe started with a big bang singularity. It is perhaps ironic that, having changed my mind, I am now trying to convince other physicists that there was in fact no singularity at the beginning of the universe – as we shall see later, it can disappear once quantum effects are taken into account.” Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time, p. 50.

“The quantum theory of gravity has opened up a new possibility, in which there would be no boundary to space-time and so there would be no need to specify the behavior at the boundary. There would be no singularities at which the laws of science broke down and no edge of space-time at which one would have to appeal to God or some new law to set the boundary conditions for space-time.” Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time, p. 136.

“The idea that space and time may form a closed surface without boundary also has profound implications for the role of God in the affairs of the universe. With the success of scientific theories in describing events, most people have come to believe that God allows the universe to evolve according to a set of laws and does not intervene in the universe to break these laws. However, the laws do not tell us what the universe should have looked like when it started – it would still be up to God to wind up the clockwork and choose how to start it off. So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end; it would simply be. What place then for a creator?” Stephen Hawking, A Brief History of Time, p. 140-141.

You can see from these quotes that Hawking does not believe in a creator and no longer believes in the big bang, but Hawking does agree that a universe that has a beginning is compatible with the concept of a Universe Designer or Creator God. Offering these quotes is not quote-mining as they correctly portray Hawking’s position.

But is the big bang really supportive of the idea of creation? Unequivocally yes! Not only is the big bang supportive of the idea, it is supportive of the religious text for Jews and Christians – “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”

“Now we see how the astronomical evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world. The details differ, but the essential elements in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis are the same: the chain of events leading to man commenced sharply and suddenly at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy.” - Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, p. 14.

Scientist George Smoot (who led the COBE team of scientists who first measured ripples in the cosmic background radiation) says: “There is no doubt that a parallel exists between the big bang as an event and the Christian notion of creation from nothing.” - Quoted in Show me God by Fred Heeren, p. 139.

“Until the late 1910’s humans were as ignorant of cosmic origins as they had ever been. Those who didn’t take Genesis literally had no reason to believe there had been a beginning.” - George Smoot and Keay Davidson, Wrinkles in Time, 1993, p.30.

I suppose one weakness in my argument is that I did not consider that some people might think an impersonal god is capable of design, planning, a choice to create and the power to do so. If I am ever involved in a similar debate in the future, I will be certain to point out how an impersonal god lacks the necessary attributes of will, planning and design.

Finally, I wish I had a chance to respond to Rahvin’s Message 296. I agree with much of what he said. Perhaps I will get a chance to interact with Rahvin in the future.

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Message 315 of 317 (640714)
11-12-2011 7:28 AM

Followup Thread
This thread will remain open for anyone else wishing to post their summation or conclusion, but there seemed interest in continuing the discussion, so I suggest that someone post a proposal for a followup thread over at Proposed New Topics.

EvC Forum Director

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