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How to respond to a young friend who has come under Dawkins’s spell

Neuroscientist Baroness Susan Greenfield makes an interesting critique of “scientism”

By on Friday, 30 November 2012

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I have recently been in email conversation with a young friend. He is a bright chap but to my dismay he seems to have become an ardent disciple of Richard Dawkins and his kind. He has become quite convinced that “science” has solved the question of “God” – that irrational and improbable deity dreamed up by people long before science came along to enlighten them and to explain to them how the brain works. I have tried to get him to see that the (entirely legitimate) pursuit of science is a different activity from that of theology; there is no reason why they should clash rather than offer mutual, though independent support. He is having none of it: it seems the creation of “Hamlet” is simply the result of lots of cells composing the grey matter being in a happy conjunction; indeed, he thinks the sorrows of the great apes are not far removed from our own. I am simplifying his argument but this is the gist of it.

For this reason, it was good to read “What science can’t answer”, an interview in The Tablet last week between Jack Valero, communications director of Opus Dei in Britain (and co-founder of Catholic Voices) and Baroness Susan Greenfield, a neuroscientist at Oxford University. Lady Greenfield is neither an atheist nor a straightforward believer; but she accepts there are questions which are outside the competence of science to answer. She rejects “scientism” which she describes as “this unshakeable belief, which is as strong as any religious belief, that science is the only approach to understanding the world around you.” She recognises that people can have an experience “that is above and beyond the material.”

Greenfield admits that she has not had this experience – yet. “I have a sense of the spiritual and glimmers of it from time to time, but I cannot say I am a believer in the sense of subscribing to any particular religion.” In 2008 she accompanied Valero and a very sick friend and his wife on a pilgrimage to Lourdes. This was Greenfield’s idea, though she is not sure where it came from. Believers might call it the unconscious prompting of the Holy Spirit. At any rate, the experience did not deter her, as it does some outside the Church, who notice all the souvenir shops full of religious kitsch and conclude the whole place is riddled with superstition and mere trade. Greenfield was deeply impressed by the fact that “sick people were the norm and that…everybody was a volunteer.” She adds that she was also greatly moved by, “the amount of love and altruism and removal from the normal things…people being kind to each other, rather than witty or hostile or defensive”.

In general she robustly rejects the idea that science and religion are in contradiction as “intellectually bankrupt”, mentioning scientists such as Francis Collins of genome fame, who “speaks freely and openly…about being a Christian.” She points out that much of science is not strictly logical but is approached by “a hunch and an instinct”. Science answers some questions but not others “such as the meaning of life, or what is love.” Of course, people might describe love as “when you have a rise in the hormone oxytocin ” – but this does not invalidate or detract from the subjective state.

Apart from her pilgrimage to Lourdes, Greenfield has been on a three-day retreat at Ampleforth. She told the monk looking after her that “I truly don’t know why I’m here”. This didn’t bother him; I suspect he might have heard that remark before, even among supposed believers. When she got home Greenfield felt “super-charged and super-detoxed…bursting with energy and positive.”

I am going to refer my young friend to this interview and see what he makes of it. To be or not to be a chimpanzee; that is the question.

  • Peter

    “The point about gravity is that it may not be a factor inherent in space-time”

    On the contrary, the gravitational field is synonymous with spacetime.

    “Einstein established that the gravitational force can be described by warps and curves in the fabric of space; he showed that gravitational fields manifest themselves in the shape or geometry of space (and of spacetime, more generally).” (Brian Greene, The Fabric of the Cosmso, p.333)

    “For your fourth paragraph you seem to have fallen into the trap of Zeno’s paradox.”

    I doubt whether the paradox applies in this case, unless you can demonstrate otherwise.

     “At the same time you appear to forget that the causality you are desperately clinging to is not present at all if the time element of spacetime is missing.  Therefore your fifth paragraph is incorrect.”

    Of course in a series of spacetimes represented by a multiverse, there is no forward arrow of time since time begins with each spacetime.  There is however a reverse arrow of time.   

    Our universe began 13.7 billion years ago.  Therefore 13.7 billion years ago the mother universe from which it allegedly budded would have been mature enough for our universe to bud from it (old enough, for example, to have produced black holes).   And any observer in that mother universe would have observed the same with regard to the origin of their universe and its own mother universe., and so on.

    The time element in reverse is not missing, therefore the causality remains and the fifth paragraph is correct.

  • Acleron

    Gravity may or may not be synonymous with our spacetime, Einstein took us a long way forward but he cannot be the last word because both his equations and spacetime make no sense in certain situations.

    I was being polite about Zeno’s paradox, you fell into it, period.

    No forward arrow but a reverse arrow?

    How about an event in our future that creates our universe? This is supported by Einstein’s equations. No causality. How about virtual particles appearing out of nowhere? No causality. What causes a particular atom to decay radioactively? No causality.

    We don’t even know if our perception of time is anything more than our imagination. It may be that the whole spacetime of the universe exists simultaneously. 

    These are the interesting questions to ask ourselves, inventing a rather boring god to poorly explain them doesn’t add either to our understanding or our appreciation.

  • Peter

    “These are the interesting questions to ask ourselves, inventing a rather boring god to poorly explain them doesn’t add either to our understanding or our appreciation”

    God does not explain how reality operates, science does.  God explains why reality exists.

    The downfall of science is that, under the misguided leadership of neo-atheists, it has taken upon itself the task of explaining why reality exists, instead of doing the job it was designed for which is to discover how reality operates.

    Whatever science discovers, the frontier of the First Cause will always be pushed back.  Whatever natural explanations are uncovered of the origin of the cosmos, there will always exist a First Cause which is beyond those natural explanations.

    That is why the First Cause is deemed to be supernatural, because it gives existence where no natural potential for existence is present.

    The only way around the First Cause is to postulate an infinite series of universes in an eternal multiverse.  But for various reason, scientific and philosophical, it is impossible for an infinite multiverse to exist.

    Which brings us back to inescapably to the First Cause, the supernatural creative force we call God.

  • Acleron

    ‘Whatever science discovers, the frontier of the First Cause will always be pushed back.’
      So you are postulating a god of the gaps.

    As for the rest, science is the only method we have so far devised for finding out facts. And it is only facts that allow us to make decisions governing ourselves.

    You have devised a god that required far more complexity than we can already see, the ignoring of known observations and the creation of admittedly, sciencey sounding word salads but with little logic. 

    We know that causality is not a requirement, we can observe that, and thus your ‘first cause’ argument becomes redundant. Your response is to ignore that and faithfully repeat the same falsity.

    The world is far more wonderful, mysterious and interesting than your god and if you don’t mind, I’m going to get back to studying it, a far more worthwhile pursuit, even at my age, than reading the misapplication of science in the cause of the irrational.

  • Peter

    “So you are postulating a god of the gaps.”

    Absolutely not, because the chasm of the First Cause will never be filled. 

    “You have devised a god that required far more complexity than we can already see”

    For the universe/multiverse to come into existence where there is no potential for it to do so is not a natural occurrence but a supernatural act.  Consequently, naturalistic terms such as complexity do not apply.

    “We know that causality is not a requirement, we can observe that, and thus your ‘first cause’ argument becomes redundant.”

    You need to back up that statement with evidence.  

    Your claim, for instance, that virtual particles appear out of nowhere, is just plain wrong, because there pre-exists a framework in which those particles are detected, and that framework itself requires an explanation.

  • Acleron

    You are exactly picturing a god of the gaps, that’s all you have.

    The appearance of virtual particles with no cause is an instance of non-causality, as is the radioactive decay of an atom. No doubt you will claim that your god somehow caused them, whoopee, god of the gaps again.

    Virtual particles are an inherent part of the uncertainty of quantum physics, you have to deny that happens because it doesn’t fit your hypothesis. I did ask that you not try to subvert science to your irrational belief, but if you are just going to continue to deny what is known and make up fabrications then you are beyond reason. 

  • PaulThibodeau

    A nice article by of all people PZ Myers, strongly challenging evolutionary psychology:
     
    http://freethoughtblogs.com/pharyngula/2012/12/05/ep-shut-up-and-sing/
     
    Evolutionary psychology lies at the core of much of Richard Dawkins’ and new atheist thinking.
     
    Bravo! It is time to call this pseudoscience.for what it is.
     
    Paul Thibodeau
    Author of ‘The Call: moving from Science vs Religion to a Better World’

  • Jonathan West

    You’ve completely misunderstood what PZ was saying. He’s pointing out that many papers on evolutionary psychology aren’t very good, whereas you’re trying to suggest that evolutionary psychology is a pseudoscience.

    But I wouldn’t expect any better of you.

  • Acleron

    1) PZ Myers is defending a friend who criticised evolutionary psychology and has been criticised herself for mixing the sensationalism of the press about science with the actual facts. PZ himself is guilty of the same flaws as his friend. The article that really sparked this off is here
    http://skepticink.com/incredulous/2012/12/01/science-denialism-at-a-skeptic-conference/

    Anybody can notice that Clint does actually criticise certain other EP workers, contrary to PZs claim. 

    The discussion, arguments and sometimes even physically violent disagreements in science are part of its strength. There are no sacred areas where people are not allowed to question. But anybody trying to claim that arguments in science bolster their own irrational views certainly don’t know much about how it works.

    2) EP is not at the core of new atheist thinking. This is just a strawman argument that presumably you find it necessary to erect to move away from justifying your irrational beliefs. While we can draw parallels between animal behaviour and ourselves and additionally elucidate when certain behavioural traits appeared we remain more uncertain about this hypothesis than is normal in science. Thus we can begin to see where and how our rules of conduct developed and we can certainly see they predated any book and certainly didn’t come from an imaginary entity. But modern psychology is also giving us insights into how we can believe in the irrational, in the future we may be able to tie this in with evolution. You never know, we might have a cure for you soon.

    3) Science cannot be vs religion. You might as well say science is vs house painting. Science has enabled us to actually find out how this universe operates, religion has enabled us to find out nothing. However, the reverse can easily be true, religion has a habit and history of denying science and trying to disprove it, thus your strawman above. But it will take more than a religiously motivated critic to destroy what we have learned.

  • PaulThibodeau

    Jonathan, I hope at some point we can at least get one post from you where you actually understand what you are criticizing free from the intoxicated exuberance of your own verbosity. I did not say all of evolutionary psychology is bogus. I said it is time to call this (the kinds of positions and approaches PZ Myers and Rebecca Watson criticize that largely characterize evolutionary psychology) the pseudoscience it really is. In this character evolutionary psychology is reminiscent of Freudian psychology. I strongly recommend readers of this forum to read the articles for themselves, and for example, ‘Alas Poor Darwin’ with a notable entry by Stephen J Gould. Gould long ago characterized this pseudoscience as itself a form of fundamentalism, long predating the esteemed physicist Peter Higgs’ recent remarks that Dawkins ‘in a way is almost a fundamentalist himself, of another kind’. Fanaticism, foolishness, pseudoscience, intolerance, and blind bigotry can make an entry in science just as religion. ‘But I wouldn’t expect any better of you.’–honestly Jonathan, put the foam back in your mouth.

  • PaulThibodeau

    Science cannot be vs religion.

    Your statement lacks a sensible articulation of the
    discussion, so I will not be replying further.

  • Acleron

    I wouldn’t expect anything more from someone who can only speak in slogans and argue by quote-mining.

    You chose to attack atheism by misreading an article which was third hand to an actual discussion and now you run away when challenged on your silly self-advertisement, says it all.

  • Peter

    “The appearance of virtual particles with no cause is an instance of non-causality..Virtual particles are an inherent part of the uncertainty of quantum physics..”

    I’m sorry but again you are plain wrong.

    In order for virtual particlles to appear from within spacetime, you need a pre-existing electromagnetic field, as the experiment where particle-antiparticle pairs pop out from between two charged plates shows.

    It is believed that virtual particles can emerge not only from energy fields within spacetime but from the gravitational field of spacetime itself, since it too, like the electromagnetic field, is subject to quantum fluctuations in accordance with the uncertainty principle.

    Since there are no energy fields present, such as an electromagnetic field, the virtual particles from the gravitational field of spacetime are deemed to pop out from nothingness.

    But what is omitted is the plain obvious.  The pre-existence of a gravitational field is a necessary requirement for virual particles to pop out from.

  • Peter

    “Bravo! It is time to call this pseudoscience.for what it is.”

    EP is not the only pseudoscientific dud in the neo-atheist arsenal.

    The whole issue of non-causality is pseudoscientific fabrication, whether it be an infinity of universes, an eternity of spacetimes, or a self-causation out of nothingness.

    The absurd ends to which neo-atheists go to eliminate the First Cause will be their undoing.

  • Peter

    That the universe had a beginning, held as a matter of religious doctrine for millennia by the Judeo-Christian tradition, was denied by scientists for centuries right up to the 20th century.  It was only then that science caught up with religion and discovered the truth.

    The First Cause is likewise a matter of age-old doctrine and continues to resist the best scientific and pseudoscientific attempts to eliminate it.

  • Acleron

    Don’t talk about ‘truth’, please, I’ve mentioned before that the religious have debased the meaning of the word.

    You had a fairy story about the beginning, so did many cultures, all equally fantastical. But if you take that as some sort of ‘truth’, whatever you mean, then you will equally accept that bats are birds, insects have four legs and all the rest of the ‘truths’ in the bible.

    You didn’t have the faintest idea about a beginning, purely a story and now you want to hang onto the coattails of science but subvert it for your own use. You have demonstrated that you are quite prepared to ignore observed facts. Science is built on evidence, how can you even begin to speculate on it, when you deny its very foundation?

  • Acleron

    The appearance of the virtual particles may require an EM field but their appearance is not caused by anything. It is a chance that they may occur or not. 

    The very presence of non-causal events means that your causality argument fell to pieces long ago.

    There are many hypotheses as to the creation of the universe, you have aptly demonstrated that a god is the least useful one, for that I suppose we should thank you.

  • Peter

    “The appearance of the virtual particles may require an EM field but their appearance is not caused by anything.”

    They are caused by the EM field, as the two plate experiment demostrates.  

    More precisely, they are caused by fluctuations of the EM field at the  quantum level.

    This is in line with the uncertainty principle which also needs a cause.

    It is pseudoscience to claim that virtual particles appearing come from nothing require no causality.

    All that has happened is a process which we haven’t yet discovered, a process which is contingent upon the pre-existence of the uncertainty principle and an EM field.

  • Peter

    “There are many hypotheses as to the creation of the universe”

    There are no hypotheses as to the creation of the universe that are not pseudoscientific.

  • Peter

    You are confusing science with pseudo science.

    Science is rightly concerned how the universe works, right up to its earliest origins.

    Pseudoscience which you promote claims to answer the question of why the universe exists.

    Pseudoscientific claims are absurd, having no sound basis in science or reason.  They are designed only to further the dogmatic aims of fundamentalist neo-atheism.

  • PaulThibodeau

    I think you make a good point Peter. It is not clear to me that there is a familiarity with the philosophical (and by implication theological) challenges here.

  • Acleron

    Always amusing to be accused of being a pseudoscientist by someone who ignores observable facts.

  • Acleron

    A silly statement. You do realise that also includes your hypothesis don’t you?

    We judge hypotheses on their fit to facts, yours fails.

  • Acleron

    The very last refuge of the religious, right at the end of the god of the gaps.

    Children have this argument, it doesn’t make sense then and it doesn’t now. 

    The only method we have ever developed to answer all questions has been the scientific method. Religion, with its illogicalities and irrationality hasn’t any hope of answering them. That’s why you are desperately trying to cherry pick your way through science to justify your belief.

  • Peter

    God is not a hypothesis.

  • Peter

    Acleron says:
    “Always amusing to be accused of being a pseudoscientist by someone who ignores observable facts.”

    It is not I who ignore the observable but you who invents the unobservable through your pseudoscience.

    You have no evidence, no justification, to claim that virtual particles appear from nothing, simply because we are as yet unable to fathom the process by which they appear. 

    The fact is that they are given the natural potential to exist by the presence of an EM field, without which they would have no potential to exist at all.

     

  • Acleron

    Of course it is, you are hypothesising that some entity created the universe. It’s a fail, but still an hypothesis. It fails because you conclude that this being created the universe and then pick and mix your facts, fantasies and logic to ‘prove’ it. 

  • Acleron

    Oh really, that must be why you can produce evidence, observable fact, that free will suddenly starts up at a particular time, that random events are not random, that gravity is absent without spacetime etc, etc, etc.

    Or is that you haven’t the faintest idea of how to even determine these observations but having a belief that allows think you can type out word salads and think they prove your point?

  • Peter

    This lack of familiarity is exemplified by Laurence Krauss in pp. 174-5 of “A Universe from Nothing”:

    “To simply argue that God can do what nature cannot is to argue that supernatural potential for existence is somehow different from regular natural potential for existence.  But this seems an arbitrary semantic distinction designed by those who have decided in advance…that the supernatural (i.e.God) must exist, so they define their philosophical ideas (once again completely divorced from any empirical basis) to exclude anything but the possibility of a god.”

    No, it is not an arbitrary semantic distinction.

    Krauss has overlooked the elementary question of why there is a natural potential for existence in the first place.  How did it come about?  Surely it cannot have come about naturally, since that potential would not have been there to start with.

    But it exists, and if it did not come into being naturally then, by default, it could only have come into being supernaturally.

    It seems neo-atheists have decided in advance that the supernatural cannot exist, so they define their pseudscientific ideas to include everything except the possibility of the supernatural.

  • Acleron

    Krauss is arguing very closely about finding something we don’t know and either exploring it, the scientific approach, or blindly stating it was some sort of god, your approach. Your approach leads to no new knowledge or understanding because you just make it up as you go on. The further problem with your approach of creating a myth to label absence of information is that it allows you to progress with other unevidenced attributes to something which has no proof to start with. It enables you to start claiming anything you like that fits your prejudices and use that to justify them.

    You can’t prove your entity exists, has any effect on the natural world, was responsible for anything, you have made up facts to attempt to justify your invention and disregarded others that disprove the rather simplistic and uneducated approach to the problem. So now you are reduced to inane insults. Spend the necessary years learning real science, or are you frightened it may upset you to find out that your beliefs have no basis except as a delusion?

  • Peter

    “gravity is absent without spacetime”

    The notion that gravity can persist eternally outside of spacetime, so that the natural potential for spacetime to exist is always present,  is pure pseudoscience designed to eliminate the First Cause.

    It is devoid of sound evidence and ignores the question of why there is gravity instead of nothing.

  • Peter

    Krauss’ lack of familiarity with the philosophiocal challenges continues on p. 175 of the same book:

    “The possibility that our universe is one of a large, even possibly infinite set of distinct and causally separated universes, in each of which any number of fundamental aspects of physical reality may be different, opens up a vast new possibility for understanding our existence.”

    Krauss fails to make the crucial distinction between a finite and an infinite multiverse, essentially between a multiverse which is eternal and one with a beginning in time.

    If the multiverse is infinite and therefore eternal, requiring no First Cause, he must demionstrate that it is so, otherwise it becomes a pseudoscientific claim.

    If the multiverse is large but finite, then it has a beginning in time out of nothing which requires a First Cause. 

    The conflation of the two by Krauss is symptomatic of a pedestrian understanding of philosophy.  He’s a great cosmologist but a dreadful philosopher. 

  • Acleron

    So no evidence, thanks for proving my point.

  • Acleron

    So ‘We don’t know’ = ‘god exists’?

    God of the gaps appeal, it may be comfortable to you, but is not to a scientist, and science is how we have gained knowledge, not appeals to ignorance.

  • Acleron

    This is even more amusing than a theologist accusing scientists of being pseudo anything.

    The early parts of philosophy that were useful to science were taken and greatly enhanced. The rest of it is omphaloskepsis.

    That Krauss is, according to you, poor at philosophy isn’t the great problem you imagine. Of course, philosophy, with its many mistakes which are never condemned is attractive only to those who can’t do real science. Strange that with all the claims made on behalf of philosophy it hasn’t advanced our knowledge in the past 200 years.

    In actual fact, Krauss is very good at thinking and cutting out nonsense, a lesson that theologists have never learned.

    Still banging on about first cause? Only by maintaining, without evidence, that causality is necessary can you argue that. Therefore you make up the fact that causality must occur even though you cannot answer the evidence, therefore you have a belief, not a hypothesis.

    But even if causality was necessary, what stops your god being one of a long line of regression.

    Ooh don’t tell me, it can only be the one because otherwise your musings fall apart.

  • Peter

    “In actual fact, Krauss is very good at thinking and cutting out nonsense”

    Quite the reverse actually.  Where philosophy is concerned Krauss’ thinking is a muddle.

    In 1911 the Nobel prize-winning scientist Svante Arrhenius said “the opinion that something can come from nothing is at variance with the present day state of science, according to which matter is immutable.”

    In his aforementioned book, another physicist, Lawrence Krauss, says that “the metaphysical rule ..namely that out of nothing nothing comes, has no foundation in science.”

    So we have two physicists, both well-known self-proclaimed atheists,  effectively contradicting each other.

    Arrhenius is saying that nothing can come from nothing, in line with centuries of philosophers and scientists who said that creation cannot have a beginning and must be eternal.

    Krauss, on the other hand, says the exact opposite, that something can come from nothing, unwittingly admitting that creation had a beginning and is not eternal.

    Then he contradicts himself by positing a multiverse and suggesting that perhaps creation did not have a beginning after all, in which case there would no longer be nothing for something to come from.

    All in all Krauss’ thinking is a complete muddle, and as such is symptomatic of the chaotic state of thinking in the neo-atheist camp as a whole.

  • PaulThibodeau

    Peter wrote: All in all Krauss’ thinking is a complete muddle, and as such is symptomatic of the chaotic state of thinking in the neo-atheist camp as a whole.

    Ironically the attempt to avoid the eternal regress by positing a firm nothing creating something makes the strongest possible case for a supernatural first cause. Dawkins tries to muddy the waters here with ‘almost nothing’, which of course is categorically different from ‘nothing’.  For ideological purposes the multiverse theory is a neat escape to an eternal regress, the preferable problem I believe for ideological atheism. Dawkins is so hellbent on a final solution to the God problem he has thrown in his lot in an all out push for something coming from nothing (for example his comment that with Krauss atheists are now finally suitably ‘armed’ in their fight against religion). Nevertheless, I expect that the eternal multiverse theory will prevail to the extent that the science is driven by an ideological confrontation with theology and religion.

  • Peter

    “I expect that the eternal multiverse theory will prevail to the extent that the science is driven by an ideological confrontation with theology and religion.”

    We are now approaching the endgame of the neo-atheist controversy.   Just as the Albigensian controversy made its last stand at the castle of Montsegur, so too do the neo-atheists make their final defence behind the ideology of an eternal multiverse.

    History will record that the neo-atheists of the early 21st century where never atheists to start with, but deists in disguise.  They were not simple deists but a very special kind of deist who believed that the creator and the created were one and the same thing. They were pandeists.  To them the eternal multiverse with its unlimited laws represented an infinite and impersonal creative force which they held up in direct opposition to a personal theistic Creator.

    Far from being a recourse to reason and science, this form of pandeism – let’s call it neo-pandeism – is a just another heresy which has surfaced throughout the centuries in opposition to Church doctrine.    Like other heresies before it, it will become unstuck and be consigned to history.

  • Acleron

    You are comparing a statement made by a physicist prior to to discovery of quantum mechanics to statements made by an expert in the same field.

    Why didn’t you just say that Aquinas knew more about the subject than any present day physicist, after all, that’s where your sad hypothesis comes from? And that is why your hypothesis has little chance of being correct. Not only does it deny what we observe but is purely derived to try and support the ‘god exists’ belief, it isn’t science and isn’t logical.

    But you have, accidentally I know, made an interesting point. Yes, scientists did accept from the evidence that the universe was eternal. They accepted it because there was no evidence to the contrary. The skies appeared unchanging, mass and energy appear to be conserved and Newton’s laws of motion appeared to serenely rule. Then along came Einstein who postulated that Newton’s law were slightly wrong. He accepted, as do all good scientists, that his theory could not be accepted without confirmation with evidence. From the evidence we know that Enstein’s relativity is closer to reality than Newton’s laws. And that is the essential difference between science and woolly minded theologists. Either the theory fits the evidence, in which case it is accepted or it doesn’t and is rejected. A theologist will murder the rules of evidence and logic rather than accept his hypothesis is wrong.

    It is often pointed out to me, as if it proves something, that your book of rules predicted that the universe is created. But all the evidence was that the universe is eternal, so what great theories did the theologists and philosophers evolve to resolve this difficulty? Well, apart from having a universe created to look as if it was unchanging, absolutely nothing. Of course, adding complexity onto complexity to further a belief is not just an old lack of logic and progress, you have displayed exactly those characteristics.

    And as for your jibe against neo-atheists, you might actually try to find out the meaning of the term before you fail to insult it. It is also factually wrong. Science has been the only method of extending knowledge that we have found. The preponderance of atheists in the scientific world should give you pause to think before you speak, but then thinking was never a strong suit for the believers.

  • Peter

    Acleron says:
    “Yes, scientists did accept from the evidence that the universe was eternal.”

    But nothing has changed, has it?

    Simply subsitute multiverse for universe, and we are back to where we started, with the neo-atheist pseudoscientific community proclaiming a multiverse which is eternal.   You yourself do the same  by insisting that gravity is eternal.

    However, there is one big difference between the two.

    The universe was believed to be eternal and static, that is, it did not grow but in Epicurian fashion simply rearranged its fixed number of atoms.

    The multiverse on the other is claimed to eternally grow, with additions such as our own universe, which renders it logically incoherent for reasons I have already given several times.   Whereas an eternal static universe, although wrong, was logically coherent, an eternal growing multiverse is not so.  

    This of course is understandable, because the former – the eternal universe – was the product of genuine science limited by discoveries as yet unmade, whereas the latter – the eternal multiverse – is the product of pseudoscientific dogma.

  • Acleron

    Gosh, just like your beliefs, you make it up as you go along.

    You are the people who believe in some sort of sky fairy, atheists don’t have that belief. Not only have you no evidence for it, no cohesive theory and no logic there are observable facts that contradict all the various flavours of such a belief.

  • Acleron

    I know you cannot argue against real evidence and logic but you might just stop raising strawmen. It is a form of lying and regardless of your archaic rules, is impolite in society.

    I don’t insist on anything, I pointed out that your statement of gravity only being a function of spacetime was incorrect, as yet the appearance of such phenomena has not reached the theory or law stage and is hypothesis, but Brane theory points to gravity being a function of dimensions beyond our present observation.

    You haven’t given any coherent theory at all, you have a mish-mash of poorly understood physics and just ignore those inconvenient facts that contradict it. Making statements and mathematically disproving hypotheses are different. You obviously cannot grasp the distinction. If the universe at the quantum scale was not random we would see the non-randomness. However, we have mathematical theorems that we use to test the hypothesis of non-randomness. To any level we have tested they are random. That immediately leads to virtual particles and thus lack of causality. Once acausal events have been shown, using the argument that everything is causal is a dead duck.

    The multiverse and Brane hypotheses are just that, hypotheses. But they have been generated by a lot of hard rigorous intellectual effort. There are indications that we might be able to start testing these hypotheses in the near future. This is how real science works. Calling such efforts pseudoscience, just shows how little you know about it. Your main problem is that you don’t like them, therefore you erect fallacious arguments ignoring present knowledge and are reduced to insults. I really don’t think your shallow appreciation of the field is going to have much impact.

  • Peter

    “I don’t insist on anything, I pointed out that your statement of gravity only being a function of spacetime was incorrect, as yet the appearance of such phenomena has not reached the theory or law stage and is hypothesis, but Brane theory points to gravity being a function of dimensions beyond our present observation”

    As I implied earlier on a post regarding Krauss, self-contradiction is a mark of neo-atheism.

    You deny proclaiming the eternity of gravity and yet on an earlier post you said:  “As I gave two hypotheses to the presence of gravity how can I be said to be relying on one of them? But whichever way you cut it, gravity could be eternal.”

    Either you claim it is eternal in which case you have contradicted yourself, or you claim may or may not be in which case we have a muddle.

    As I also implied on an earlier post regarding Krauss, muddled thinking is also a mark of neo-atheism

  • Peter

    “Dawkins is so hellbent on a final solution to the God problem he has thrown in his lot in an all out push for something coming from nothing (for example his comment that with Krauss atheists are now finally suitably ‘armed’ in their fight against religion).”

    In addition to the neo-pandeism of an eternal creative multiverse mentioned below, there is another more widely recognised strand of pandeism which teaches that the creator is not eternal but brought itself into being as the universe, which explains the order and apparent intelligence in the cosmos.

    The position you describe above is very much this form of pandeism, where the universe is alleged to have brought itself into existence from nothing with its ready-made laws and constants.

    The neo-atheist position is indeed confusing – whether creation from nothing or eternal creation – but whichever way you cut it, it is still a position of pandeism and, as such, remains a heresy.

  • Acleron

    Only in your world when I discuss different hypotheses and use the word ‘may’ can it be stated that I’m insisting on anything. Why didn’t you pay attention to the part where I said ‘stop lying about what I am saying’? I suppose much like your handling of evidence, you only see the bits you want to see and just make up the rest.

    Your statements, implications and general word salads are worth nothing without some cogent reasoning or some evidence. You have also stated that there is no evidence that will shake your belief in your imaginary friend, you are certainly not a scientist and obviously not much used to a discussion where evidence is necessary. 

    You have no evidence for free-will let alone its magical appearance.You contradict known science when you deny the stochastic nature of the universe.

    You apply thinking that was formalised and wrong in the 11th century to modern scientific theory.

    Your ‘smaller scale’ moves are refuted by observation.

    Your first mover only works when with another stroke of magic you declare, for no other reason than it fits your belief, that the creator has no mover of its own.

    Your remarks on Krauss you tried to justify with a quote from an era that didn’t know about quantum theory and its implications.

    You descend into vague and pretty appropriately modern if not post-modern philosophy to argue.

    Your main argument appears to be, we don’t know everything therefore god exists.

    Stick to just believing, entangling and trying to justify yourself to anybody but your peers is unlikely to be successful.

  • Acleron

    And yet again you demonstrate your ignorance of both science and atheism.

    Atheists do not have a position on the creation of the universe. The origin of the universe will be whatever we find. It is only people who have to justify their belief that have a position. This can be seen from the communication LeMaitre had to send to the Vatican, warning them not to jump all over the big bang theory, a warning that was obviously ignored.

    But it is one more delusion that because you have to believe, dismiss contrary evidence and lie, that others must be doing the same. It is a delusion which is well known and well described as projection in psychology.