Sunday, January 28, 2018

Evidence Part 4: Cosmology

In the last part we covered the big bang theory, and what it really says, and what it does not say. Before the big bang theory cosmologists believed that the universe was eternal, having no beginning and no end. The big bang theory changed all that. It showed that the universe had a beginning, and it looks like science may never be able to tell us if it has an end (of course, if it does end we will have an answer - reminds me of the halting problem in information theory).

Since the big bang gained enough evidence to be irrefutable, cosmologists have continued to look for ways to get back to an eternal universe, that does not "need" God. Understand that none of these hypotheses are the result of trying to explain observations (like the big bag theory, and like how science is supposed to work), but are proposals to come up with a ways to explain the universe without needing God. They can, in general, neither be confirmed nor refuted because they do not make any claims about our universe, just ideas that maybe there is no God.

All of them are some variation on the multiverse. Our universe is one of an infinite numbers of universes, either parallel in time (parallel universes), or serially in time (bouncing universe). The claim is that since there are an infinite number of universes, any argument for God from design can be refuted by saying "all possibilities exist, it just so happens that this one is this way" (parallel universes) and any argument from existence can be refuted by saying "the universe arose from the previous universe (bouncing universe).

Of course, the bouncing universe suffers from what Stephen Hawking describes as "turtles all the way down." An infinite regression still doesn't explain its own existence. There is a lot more that could be said about parallel universes except I'll leave you with these two thoughts, either of which invalidates the use of the multiverse to get around the need for God.

The first is this. If there are an infinite number of universes and they all work differently, what's to say that the fundamental laws of physics are the same in all of them? If they are, then where did those laws come from? And if not, then what laws are the same in all universes, and where did those laws come from? Or, if you want to admit no fixed laws, and everything that could conceivably exists exists somewhere, then God exists, QED.

But if you don't like thought experiments, consider the Borde-Guth-Vilenkin theorem, which has, for the most part, been unnoticed, but is largely unrefuted as well. It states that any universe or multiverse in which any member universe has a Hubble constant greater than zero (in other words is expanding), has a beginning. The Hubble constant of our universe is greater than zero. Therefore our universe, or the multiverse, if our universe is part of one, had a beginning. Vilenkin says of this theorem:
A remarkable thing about this theorem is its sweeping generality. We made no assumptions about the material content of the universe. We did not even assume that gravity is described by Einstein’s equations. So, if Einstein’s gravity requires some modification, our conclusion will still hold. The only assumption that we made was that the expansion rate of the universe never gets below some nonzero value, no matter how small.
It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape: they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning.
OK, so the universe had a beginning. So what does that have to do with proving God's existence? We'll take that up in the next post, starting with contingency...

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Evidence Part 3: The Big Bang

This is a continuation of a series. Part 2 can be found here.

Modern day Science™ considers itself triumphant in the existence of the "Big Bang" theory. Because of this theory science was able to explain away all the nonsense about God creating the earth in six days. Thanks to Science™ we now know that the universe formed itself, and took about 14 billion years to get to where we are today, and it is still expanding and changing.

But is that really true? Not really. First off, let's get rid of some straw men. Christians by and large do not now, and never have believed that the earth was created in a literal six days, or that the earth is 5,000 years old. Yes, there is a small minority of people who believe that, but claiming that is part of the core of Christianity is false.

Secondly, what is the big bang theory, and how did it come about (the scientific theory, not the TV show)? Let's see what Wikipedia has to say about it. Note that I am using Wikipedia in part because it can not be said to be biased towards the existence of God.
The Big Bang theory developed from observations of the structure of the universe and from theoretical considerations. In 1912 Vesto Slipher measured the first Doppler shift of a "spiral nebula" (spiral nebula is the obsolete term for spiral galaxies), and soon discovered that almost all such nebulae were receding from Earth. He did not grasp the cosmological implications of this fact, and indeed at the time it was highly controversial whether or not these nebulae were "island universes" outside our Milky Way. Ten years later, Alexander Friedmann, a Russian cosmologist and mathematician, derived the Friedmann equations from Albert Einstein's equations of general relativity, showing that the universe might be expanding in contrast to the static universe model advocated by Einstein at that time. In 1924 Edwin Hubble's measurement of the great distance to the nearest spiral nebulae showed that these systems were indeed other galaxies. Independently deriving Friedmann's equations in 1927, Georges Lemaître, a Belgian physicist and Roman Catholic priest, proposed that the inferred recession of the nebulae was due to the expansion of the universe.

In 1931 Lemaître went further and suggested that the evident expansion of the universe, if projected back in time, meant that the further in the past the smaller the universe was, until at some finite time in the past all the mass of the universe was concentrated into a single point, a "primeval atom" where and when the fabric of time and space came into existence.

Starting in 1924, Hubble painstakingly developed a series of distance indicators, the forerunner of the cosmic distance ladder, using the 100-inch (2.5 m) Hooker telescope at Mount Wilson Observatory. This allowed him to estimate distances to galaxies whose redshifts had already been measured, mostly by Slipher. In 1929 Hubble discovered a correlation between distance and recession velocity—now known as Hubble's law. Lemaître had already shown that this was expected, given the cosmological principle.

In the 1920s and 1930s almost every major cosmologist preferred an eternal steady state universe, and several complained that the beginning of time implied by the Big Bang imported religious concepts into physics; this objection was later repeated by supporters of the steady state theory. This perception was enhanced by the fact that the originator of the Big Bang theory, Georges Lemaître, was a Roman Catholic priest. Arthur Eddington agreed with Aristotle that the universe did not have a beginning in time, viz., that matter is eternal. A beginning in time was "repugnant" to him. Lemaître, however, thought that
If the world has begun with a single quantum, the notions of space and time would altogether fail to have any meaning at the beginning; they would only begin to have a sensible meaning when the original quantum had been divided into a sufficient number of quanta. If this suggestion is correct, the beginning of the world happened a little before the beginning of space and time.
Note the emboldened text above. Every major cosmologist actually opposed the theory, because they thought it supported religious ideas about the origin of the universe. So far from being a triumph of science pushing out silly religious ideas, it was an idea, proposed by a priest, which pushed out dilly scientific beliefs.

Religious people at the time did not and do not now have a problem with the big bang theory. It does not in any way disprove God or provide an alternative beginning of the universe. It merely confirms Judeo-Christian beliefs about the universe.

The big bang theory does not say anything about what caused the big bang, or how or why the universe came into existence. It does describe what happened in the early universe. For the how or why of the start of the universe, in some sense it is not a scientific question. First off, "why" questions cant' be answered by science. But even the "how" involves pure speculation.

In that sense, theories about the "how" of the big bang are all based solely on faith, not on observation (since we can't observe anything outside the observable universe, by definition). In the next post I'll go over some of the ways Science™ has tried, unsuccessfully, to eliminate the "need" for God.

Next part is cosmology, here.

[N.B.: I use the term "Science™" to denote, not actual science, but the false idea of science "worshiped" by adherents of scientism.]

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Evidence part 2: Scientism

In part 1 of this series I went over a brief introduction and ground rules for my arguments. One of the things which we must get out of the way in order to have a discussion is the notion that science can explain everything, or even that science is the best way to prove something. Rather than get into a lengthy discussion of metaphysics, I will use logic. If there is something that science can't explain, than the statement "science can explain everything" is false, by the law of non-contradiction.

Here is something science can't explain. Mathematics. Although science uses mathematics, it doesn't explain how mathematics works, or why it should be true. Furthermore, mathematics works without science. I could prove, using mathematics, that the circumference of a circle is 2 pi r without ever examining or measuring an actual circle.

Furthermore, while science may b able to demonstrate that velocity is approximately acceleration times time, I can prove it definitively using calculus in a much more sure and convincing way.

Having established that there are things which science can't answer, let me give a less concrete example of something science can't answer. Science can't answer any question that asks "why?" Oh I can say "why is the sky blue" and science can tell me that blue light is scattered more than red. I can ask "why is blue light scattered more than red" and science can tell me that it has to do with particle size and the wavelength of light. But ultimately I will ask a question that involves "why are the laws of physics such and such" and at that point the best science can say is "because they are."

Scientism is the belief that when science says "because they are" we have to suspend all critical thought and just accept it on faith that either science will explain it or it isn't explainable. Ironic, isn't it. As shown above, if scientism is true, we'd have to give up mathematics, and then science wouldn't "work." In other words, the principle of scientism is self contradictory.

In the next few posts I will go into the arguments that Comfort makes in his video that started this whole thing; the argument from existence and the argument from design. They are probably two of the "easiest" to understand.

On to Part 3.

Friday, January 5, 2018

Evidence. Tons of it.

This is the first post in a series of apologetics. I've been contemplating writing one for a long time, but never got off my rear and started. This will not be nearly so long, nor as eloquent as John C. Wright's A Universal Apology, but then again I am not a science fiction author.

I recently came across this video, which I suggest watching. In just a few minutes Ray Comfort presents two of the arguments for the existence of God, the argument from design and the argument from existence. While the video is somewhat terse and glosses over a lot of important details, at least it is a starting point for a discussion.

It always amazes me when people tell me they are atheist or agnostic, and claim to be open minded about it, but they have seen no good evidence or arguments for the existence of God.

If they said they haven't considered the matter important enough to investigate, or that they just didn't care, or that they found the idea of God too uncomfortable to accept, or even that they held their position out of faith (in a person or an idea) I could accept that; but to say that they are open to evidence, but dismiss all the evidence, is somewhat disingenuous.

There was one fellow who was militantly atheist (who was literally shouting me down in a series of posts) who admitted he had never heard of Aquinas' "five proofs." I posted a link, and within 15 minutes or so he replied that he had read them and they were "wrong." Understand that these five proofs would take about that long to read, let alone to understand what they were about, and people have been studying them for some 800 years without refuting them successfully, but this guy apparently did. And furthermore, his intellect was so dizzying he was unable to make someone as stupid as poor me understand exactly what the flaw in those proofs might be. The logic was jsut too dizzying.

What I hope to do in this post (and several more following) is to cover a few of the arguments for God in enough detail to at least demonstrate that these is overwhelming evidence for God, and if you want to remain an atheist or agnostic you need to think of an alternate justification than saying "there is no good evidence or argument."

The tools I will use for this are pretty simple. First is thought. There are a few principles I will use. The first is the law of non-contradiction. Two contradictory statements cannot be true in the same sense at the same time. If I ate breakfast this morning, I did not skip breakfast this morning.

The second is the law of the excluded middle. That is, for every statement, either it or it's opposite is true. Either I ate breakfast this morning, or I did not eat breakfast this morning. There is no other option. For those who immediately want to say "well, what if you ate something that was sort of like breakfast..." forget it. Remember we are talking about something in the same sense at the same time.

I will also be using boolean algebra and propositional calculus as well as a number of propositions. I will attempt to avoid straw men and other logical fallacies, but if something is not fully explained call me on it. I am not perfect, and my understanding of subjects is not infinite.

Well, having st the ground rules I hope I've piqued your interest enough to read part 2. I'm going to try to post at least one per week.

Link to Part 2