Thursday, February 12, 2015

Quantum Eternity and Young Earth Creationists

Yesterday's post about scientific evidence that something material having always existed got some interesting reactions off site.

Eventually I came across this Q&A by William Lane Craig to attempt to answer what Sean Carroll called the Quantum Eternity Theorem.

Here's the first part that truly struck me:

"Saying that the time variable t runs from −∞ to +∞ just implies that quantum time evolution is information-preserving: “given the current quantum state, we can reliably reconstruct the past just as well as the future.” In other words, we can extrapolate from the present indefinitely into the past or future. This allows us to describe a moment prior to a given moment if there is such a moment; but in order to know whether there is such a moment we must look to empirical evidence. "
- William Lane Craig, Reasonable Faith Q&A

This was very similar to an argument I got elsewhere that things like quantum mechanics don't really address whether or not material things were created or not, but rather describe "already existing systems".

This is part and parcel of how apologists will try to evade the kinds of points I brought up saying how we have some evidence that "something material has always existed".  It's effectively a way to insist that there is a metaphysical question that can't in fact be answered by any kind of scientific evidence.

In order to respond to this, it's very important to see exactly what the theist is claiming here.  As charitably as I can interpret them, it goes like this:

The material world is described by laws (or regularities) that make it look like it has always been there, if we assume those laws have always applied.  However, theism does not assume that those laws have always applied. Effectively there is no logical contradiction to believe that god created a universe that looks like it can't be created or destroyed once it exists.

So what are we to think of this?

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Evidence that the Universe has Always Existed

This is a topic that comes up fairly often for me, given that the cosmological argument is what drew me into counter apologetics.  If you've followed my videos as well as the more prestigious debates on the topic, none of the information here is going to be new to you.

I've said before that both theists and atheists necessarily think that "something has always existed".  So long as you accept the axiom that "something can not come from nothing", you're going to be faced with the above conclusion.

Theists think a god has always existed.

Atheists (generally) think that something material has always existed.

What I wanted to do is provide the philosophical and scientific evidence that we have for the atheists conclusion.

Both the theist and the atheist agree that "something material" currently exists, and certainly theism is compatible with the idea that something material has also "always existed".  It is notable that the specific Christian dogma creation ex nihilo is not compatible, so they're going to have problems with the evidence I'm about to present.

So lets get to it.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Hitting Philosophical Bedrock with the Shovel of a Stupid Question

Yesterday I became embroiled in a debate of sorts about meaning, purpose, and value with apologist Tom Gilson of ThinkingChristian.net.

Presumably in response to the points I was making, Tom replied to me on Twitter linking his 2012 blog post: What Made This Dust Into a Meaning-Maker?

That is what I'd like to respond to here. 

In the article, Tom makes the same move that is made by very many apologists, which to quote Sam Harris "hits philosophical bedrock with the shovel of a stupid question." 


Thursday, February 5, 2015

The Problem with Contemporary Christian Apologists

So the trend lately is for me to find something online which then prompts me into writing.  I suppose this is good because I've neglected my blog for too long.

This post was inspired by an old favorite, Randal Rauser, in his post Apologetics and the Problem of the William Lane Craig Clones.

For those who don't know Randal Rauser is a Progressive Evangelical Apologist and Theologian, so his take on the "problem" of WLC clones is from a very different perspective than my own.

What is telling is that we actually can agree that there certainly is a problem with contemporary apologetics and imitation of William Lane Craig.  Admittedly I also think there's a lot of problems with Craig himself, contra Randal, so my critique is going to be a bit harsher than his.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

A Response to Forbidden Fruit



Forbidden Fruit,

I came across your video yesterday on reddit’s /r/atheistvids and was a bit surprised to see an objection to this post from Ed Brayton on FTB: “Atheists, please stop saying these things”.  I considered what Ed said to generally be pretty sound, and effectively it’s an appeal to be more philosophically nuanced in our critiques of theists.

I disagree with almost all that you said in your video, and for whatever reason I felt compelled to write up a response.  I apologize for not doing a proper video reply, but work and family really get in the way of me doing videos right now.  

I’m writing this to try and convince you why I think you’ve got these things wrong on most of these issues, largely because we’re on the same team.  Like Ed I don’t like seeing atheists make these arguments either, and I don’t want to see people “on my side” make arguments that can be dismissed by apologists who can see the same flaws I do.  Hopefully we can come to some agreement here.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Stranger than Fiction

In Warhammer 40,000, the space Ork technology works only because the Orks think it will work.  Their collective psychic energy as a race is literally what causes their technology to function.

There's a story in the game about human tech-priests trying to fire an ork gun and having it fail.  They inspect the weapon, only to find it has no firing mechanism, just parts welded & screwed together.  Unfortunately for the tech-priests, an ork was able to break into where they were conducting their experiment.  The ork promptly grabbed the gun, slapped it shut, and shoots everyone to death (much to the surprise of the tech-priests).

Why is this amusing story relevant to a Counter Apologetics blog?

Because Deepak Chopra denies that HIV causes AIDS.  More specifically, he claims that a persons belief in material causation - that HIV causes AIDS, is what actually makes them susceptible to the disease.  So when such a person contracts HIV, they get AIDS.  Like firing Ork technology.

"Chopra: HIV may be a precipitating agent in a susceptible host. The material agent is never the cause of the disease. It may be the final factor in inducing the full-blown syndrome in somebody who’s already susceptible.
Robbins: But what made them susceptible?
Chopra: Their own interpretations of the whole reality they’re participating in.
Robbins: Could that be translated into their thoughts, their feelings, their beliefs, their lifestyle?
Chopra: Absolutely. . ."
Deepak Chopra is worth $80 million dollars. Games Workshop, the company that makes Warhammer 40k is worth about $38 million.

Personally, I think they should sue at this point.





Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Is Natural Theology Self Defeating?

Suffice it to say, if you're familiar with my blog, you'll know that I find natural theology to be a failure. I'm pretty dedicated to showing exactly how and why such arguments are false.

However, on thinking about the topic last night I was struck by a line of argument I've had on the periphery for a while.

Consider the definition of natural theology: "Natural theology is a program of inquiry into the existence and attributes of God without referring or appealing to any divine revelation."

Lets assume for a moment that if natural theology actually worked, that it was gods intention that it work. So it's not say, incidental to Christian theism being true.

Next, consider the direct implications of Christian focused natural theology: There is a god, and this god wants you to believe he both exists and has a specific set of properties.  This god wants you to be a Christian. More specifically wants there to be evidence for his existence, and for belief in him to be achievable through reason.

Lets also consider a less direct implication of being a Christian: This god wants you to believe the bible is his divinely inspired word which is, liberally interpreted, "true in all things it teaches".