I am a former pentecostal turned...to anything but religion. I am very grateful for seeing the truth opened up to me (by an atheist). I am trying to find my personal position. At present, I am assuredly agnostic, but leaning toward atheism altogether. I would love to hear what you all have to say regarding the quote/title of this thread.
The title is an excerpt from an article, "'Helter Skelter' author challenges God in his new book". In context it reads:
" The faithful take a beating in Bugliosi's book, but he doesn't spare atheists either.
"When I hear theists and atheists pontificating on how they know God does or does not exist, I can only smile at the irrationality and, yes, vanity of the notion," he writes.
Bugliosi believes that atheists have failed to account for the "first cause" argument for God's existence - that someone or something created the universe. "We know from our human experience that nothing in existence can give itself existence because if it did, then it would have to have preceded itself, an impossibility," he writes. "
The whole article is here:
I look forward to your responses.
"we know of things that occur apparently completely uncaused."
Incorrect. ALL events in the verifiable universe are caused by the four fundamental forces of nature: electromagnetism, gravity, strong and weak nuclear forces. ALL effects have a cause.
"radioactive decay is totally random. we can statistically analyze the rate of decay but the point at which any one atom decays to another is seemingly random and without cause. there's no reason that the atom decays just then."
Incorrect. Radiaocative decay is caused by an unstable or radioactive isotope. The process is well understood and half-lives are well known or, for example, Carbon-14 dating would be useless.
Your corrections are perhaps personal opinions you are very convinced of, but they are incorrect.
It does not automatically follow from there being four known forces that all events are caused. The example given was quantum fluctuations I believe. This is a consequence of the Uncertainty Relation between energy (mass) and time, but a single event, like the creation and/or annihilation of a single virtual pair is entirely unpredictable and has itself no (preceding) cause.
Same goes for radioactive decay. The half-life of a radioactive isotope is a statistical concept. For example the half-life Carbon 14 is about 5730 years. But a single C-14 could decay in a day or a picosecond or carry on undisturbed for another 10.023 years.
There is a probability curve that peaks at 5730 years, so that on average with a (very) great number of C14 atoms you'll find that half of it has decayed after 5730 years. The decay of a single atom however is entirely unpredictable and without cause.
Sigh. Same old "I can't explain it, therefore an invisible magic man must have done it" argument. Same old "I think I can analogize my experience on earth with things beyond my knowledge" mistake. Like almost all theist arguments, they are based on circular reasoning and unfounded assumptions.
Turn the logic around:
If everything that exists has to have a cause; Who created god? If god created the universe, he must be an extremely complex thing. god must be at least as complex as the universe he created. how could such a complex entity just appear? god would also need a cause. If the response is, god always existed, this means something can exist without a first cause. By the same logic it can then be said that the universe has always existed.
Then again arguing with the irrational is irrational.
That may work against the logic of an older cosmological argument, but William Lane Craig has adapted the Kalam Cosmological Argument to prevent this move.
1. Everything that begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
So, he supports premise (2) in a number of ways that I won't get into, including Big Bang and problems with actual infinites in case someone brings up the multiverse. The important thing to note is that, if his support of (2) is successful, your response is no longer valid.
The key point about the first premise is the phrase "begins to exist." So, it's different than saying everything that exists has a cause (they can say God did not begin to exist). Then, we naturally come back and say that maybe the universe in some form or another has always existed and a lot of debate goes into that - whether or not there can even be an actually infinite series of events. That's so detailed that I don't think we can do it justice here. I'd read William Lane Craig's reasons why he doesn't think there can be an actual infinite in reality and then maybe Wes Morriston's responses to him about why his arguments fail. That's a good starting point.