After looking around and reading a few reasons people give for being atheist, I've been quite surprised to find that nobody seems to share the reason that first made me an atheist. I've always thought it funny that people turn to religion to answer questions like where we came from, where the world came from, and what are purpose of life is. Most religions attribute such things to the presence of a creator of some sort, a supreme being that made everything. However, this idea has a serious flaw... what created the creator? What created existence in the first place? Why does anything exist? These are questions I've never been able to answer, and I doubt anyone ever will be able to.. not even religion. I was just wondering if anyone else had ever wondered about these things, and what they thought.
hey man, i'm right there with you. i never became an atheist as i was never a part of a religion but that's always been a glaring inadequacy of the pointing to a deity to for answers to those questions. there's no way around infinite regress. as you say, if god created then who or what created god... and then who or what created that god? it's like the famous story relayed in Hawking's Brief History... often attributed to Bertrand Russell. the story is about a little old lady attending a public lecture on astronomy given by an eminent astronomer. at the end of the lecture she approaches the astronomer and admonishes him for disseminating obvious falsehoods. she tells the astronomer that in fact the world is flat and is supported on the back of a giant tortoise. the astronomer retorts by asking the old lady what the tortoise is standing on. the little old lady scoffs knowingly and replies, "it's turtles all the way down!!!"
running to god as an explanation for origins just moves the question back one step. it's a non-answer. it wouldn't even bother me so much as long as people just used it as a place-holder while they endeavored to find a real answer but that's not what people do of course. they use the non-answer as an excuse to stop looking for real answers. that stymies human progress and it's dangerous thinking.
lol. yeah, exactly! and then when you point out that they're being arbitrary in demanding that the universe have a first cause while exempting their god from this principle they're reply that the universe is too complex to be uncaused. i reply that a complex universe that was caused to be must have a creator that is infinitely more complex than the complex universe and so they're refuting themselves with their own argument. according to their own rationale the infinitely more complex creator of a complex universe demands an explanation infinitely more than does the universe he creates!
those are the two options i can see at the moment with our current knowledge (and with my admittedly limited knowledge of cosmology of course.). however, the universe may be eternal while appearing to have had a beginning. there may be an eternal multiverse where quantum fluctuations give rise to new bubble universes that would, since we can't observe the other universes, appear temporally finite. considered less likely at this point is a singleverse that cycles through expansion and contraction phases whereupon, if we find ourselves in an expansion phase, due to the shortness of time humans have to observe celestial events, the appearance would be of a universe that was not eternal but rather of a universe that must have had a beginning. doesn't mean it's true though does it? of course not.
the simple fact is that i don't know if the universe is eternal or if it was apparently caused- and of course neither do you Leo. no one does. the universe may be eternal or it may have been caused but four things are true:
1. an eternal universe is infinitely more probable than the hypothesis of an eternal transcendent deity having created the universe. simple rule of parsimony.
2. even if it was apparently caused in some way doesn't mean that it was in fact caused. for instance, Uncertainty shows us that some events that seem to be caused, in what appears to be a very supernatural way really, that is these events have no cause and effect relationship behind the event and happen spontaneously, do still have a natural process that underlies the event. though the decay of radioactive elements is apparently caused supernaturally without a natural cause and effect relationship there's still a very natural process at work. though something may appear to have had a supernatural cause doesn't mean that there isn't a natural process at work. there's certainly no reason to posit supernatural causes in the absence of cause and effect relationships. why does a radioactive atom decay when it does? it just does. an apparently caused universe wouldn't indicate that the cause was a conscious entity. again, the rule of parsimony would indicate a likelihood of our simply being ignorant of the process which itself would be based on some unknown law or laws of physics.
3. positing a god as the cause presupposes that god's existence. what you need is evidence of existence first before you can reasonably offer the hypothesis of that existence having caused anything. otherwise why can't i offer up the hypothesis that the Flying Spaghetti Monster caused the universe to exist? there's no more evidence for the FSM (PBUH) than there is for Yahweh or any of the other deities humans have before or do now believe in. without evidence of a deities existence it's meaningless to attribute anything to that deity. unless you have evidence of Santa's existence it's silly to suggest that the noise on the roof is in fact him and his reindeer.
4. that we don't currently know doesn't mean that Goddidit is a reasonable answer. that's god of the gaps reasoning and it's a fallacy.
Just to extend what you said about the Uncertainty Principle, during the early inflationary stage of the Universe, when the quantities were so small and dense, quantum fluctuations is believed to have caused some serious events: Quantum fluctuations are the most probable explanation for the non-homogeneous nature of any particular local area of the universe.
We can use this inflation theory to predict certain properties of the observable Cosmic Background Radiation today. Those properties have consequently been tested to be true.
So spontaneous things are not just limited so small nucleic emissions, they could also possibly explain the grand structure of the universe, and who knows, the trigger for the big bang itself. We just don't know yet.
Do I understand correctly then that you do not support the theory of The Big Bang and an expanding universe?
Actually I haven't posited the existence of any deity just the same as I would not rule out an FSM, at least not in this discussion at this point. I would assume that you would not posit the non-existence of a deity or FSM at this point either as there is no point in this stage.
I just wanted to see if there was a common ground for a logical, reasoned discussion. My "reasonable" foundation would be three options for the existence of the Universe; 1)it is an illusion 2) it is the effect of a cause 3) it is self-existent and eternal.
1) Can be thrown out thanks to Descartes.
2) An effect by definition has to have a cause. A cause by definition has to have an effect. A cause does not by definition need to have a cause. An effect by definition does not need to have an effect.
3) Doesn't work if you support the Big Bang as it is generally defined and accepted.
Infinite regress only occurs if we twist Hume's critique of Cause and Effect.
I hope that by "Uncertainty" you aren't referring to Heisenberg's Principle as the response below indicates. If you are, then you are misusing the Principle, otherwise disregard my comment.
Self-creation was not mentioned as it is absurd from the start.
where did i suggest that i don't accept that the hot inflationary big bang is the best theory with current knowledge for the evolution of the universe?
you're a Christian Leo, are you not, and so that you posit the existence of a deity goes without saying. it's the position you argue from.
1. you're suggesting that the existence of an eternal universe isn't infinitely more probable than the existence of an eternal transcendent deity? natural explanations aren't more probable than supernatural explanations?
2. and yet there are events that are uncaused, that happen spontaneously. are there not?
3. you'll have to explain how my statement, "positing a god as the cause presupposes that god's existence" runs afoul of BBT. are you disagreeing that it's only reasonable to suggest some thing as being a causative agent only AFTER you have evidence of that thing's existence?
my knowledge of physics is limited and so if i have misused Uncertainty then i apologize. is it not true that Quantum Uncertainty shows that there are events that happen spontaneously with no cause?
so you ignore the fact that you can only resort to special pleading to explain why, if the universe requires a creator, then so does the creator of the universe require a creator? as has already been said, if a god created the universe then who created god? how do you resolve this without resorting to fiat- "god requires not creator!" unless- and now that i think about it we should certainly hear from you what your conception of your god is and what you believe in so that we're not discussing the matter from a fundamental misunderstanding- you don't believe in a god that created the universe.
Speaking of quantum events, it is the case that occasionally, due to quantum flux, a pair of particles will spontaneously generate in a vacuum, of equal and opposite charges. Shortly thereafter, they will encounter one another and annihilate each other, resulting in a net change of zero.
However, when these particles appear near a black hole's event horizon, occasionally, the path taken by one of the two will cross the event horizon, from which it cannot escape, and the other particle will wend its way out into the universe. This is the cause of Hawking radiation, and is one reason why black holes, eventually, evaporate.
Stephen Hawking's book, The Universe In A Nutshell, has a more detailed and probably understandable explanation for this. :)
right. a particle/anti-particle pair are spontaneously generated. but am i correct in saying that there is no cause? there's no cause and effect relationship, that is there's no this-happened-which-caused-this-to-happen-which-in-turn-caused-this... relationship, so that we can't point to a cause for it having happened correct? why does it happen? it just does.
I suggested you don't accept the BBT because your first paragraph combines several theories of cosmological origin into one, some of those generally accepted and some not.
We don't need to get into the details of the details as long as we agree that the BB has a starting point, and if not then the Universe it eternal.
Yes, I am a Christian. Yes, I do believe in God. However, my point in responding to the post was not to argue God's existence but to see if the op had any logical basis for asking for a "creator of the creator".
1. No. I just want to determine if there is any rational foundation to this discussion and to show there is a rational foundation to my position.
2. No. Not knowing the cause of an effect does not remove the need for a cause. "It just does" is not a rational answer. "I don't know" , yes, but not "it just does". Otherwise we would still be saying maggots appear on rotten meat because, "they just do". "It just does" is something I tell my kids when I am embarrassed for not knowing the answer to a difficult question.
3. You don't need to know the exact cause of an effect in order to know that it has a cause. Have any scientific studies not known the cause of an effect before knowing it was an effect and then worked out the cause rationally? Positing and proof of God or the FSM as the cause of the origin is not necessary to determine if the Law of Cause and Effect is rational and whether or not we are looking at the cosmological origin in that rational framework.
I'm not ignoring anything. How is using the Law of Cause and Effect, a rational principle deeply ingrained in the scientific method, a special pleading? If I am understanding or using the Law irrationally or incorrectly, please let me know and I will revisit my position.
x = cause
BB by definition needs an x. Is this not true?
Defining my God to you will not bring us any closer to determining if either of our positions is rational or absurd.