God's existence - it is reasonable to infer a supernatural cause of existence
Debate Rounds (3)
bottom line: if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a duck.
if you see a magician who waves his wand and makes cats turn into dogs, you could argue a natural explanation is possible, and perhaps even argue that it is preferable, given most times magic tricks have explanations. but, the most direct observation is that violations of natural laws have occurred, and / or things outside of nature. at what point can we say given there's no explanation that there is magic that occurred, by definition supernatural?
likewise, according to our observation in the early universe, things are not acting according to laws as we know them. more than just that, our observation indicates *violations* of laws as we know them. that is, something from nothing, and the thermodynamics issue.
-the law of thermodynamics.
"Natural systems left to themselves move towards states of lower potential energy."
this says energy is always breaking down from higher states. this theory basically negates the idea that there is something in our physical universe that goes on and on back infinitely. there can be no infinite beginning, because there is no infinite end. we see an end point coming. that means there must be a finite beginning. that means, if you take things back further and further in time, something must have caused the highest energy level of the big bang. we could call that unknown, God. a reason why we might call it that, is because the phenomenon violates natural laws as we know it- a high energy level came from something other than a higher energy level.
-uncaused cause. we see a finite beginning with thermodynamics, and the big bang. based on our observation, the universe has a beginning. things are known to have causes. that means the cause must be outside our universe, trancendent. therefore, by definition a supernatural cause exists, given the cause is outside our natural existence. it looks like the universe came from nothing. something coming from something else makes more sense. should this cause be said to be natural or supernatural? it looks like what happened is "beyond nature as far as we know". if it's merely "as far as we know", that would lead some to conclude a natural cause is possible. sure, it's possible, but the indicators are there to conclude it's supernatural. usually, like with a bike rolling down a hill, or in advances of science like what causes tides, we can find indicators to lead us to a scientific explanation. but here, with existence as we know it, it LOOKS like there was the universe, but before the universe was nothing.... so if something caused us, it would have to be outside of natural existence. in fact, the direct observation is more than just not what we know - it's violation of reality, or at least outside of reality, apparently more than is possible.
////// to put it in terms of traditional philosophy, there then apparently exists an uncaused cause. that is, every effect must have a cause, except apparently the first one. (we could speculate about God and his causes or lack thereof, but for our purposes in this reality, we have to content ourselves with what we see-and the cause of our universe apparently had no other cause before it) one might argue the universe could be its own uncaused cause. but that would assume something from nothing. something from something else makes more sense as mentioned earlier. (quantum mechanics shows something from nothing. but that is at the quantum level, where matter already exists to begin with. we have never observed matter to come from quantum happenings, let alone quantum happenings that didnt have matter already there to begin with- if fact, if we did see matter coming from nothing else, we might view that as with the magician, it might be something supernatural)
multiverse, something in quantum mechanics, etc. it should be noted too, that there are theories that posit where we came from. those theories are just that, theories. they are not based on empirical evidence. empirical evidence alone, it looks like we came from nothing. and we know that that isn't something we should be working with. why go with supernatural instead of alternative theories? because that's what it looks like.
with the analogy of the magician and with God, this acknowledges that there *could* be other natural explanation possibilities. but nothing has to be definitively proven for it to be a called a proof, or even proven.
theists merely are arguing the most straightforward explanation - the magician apparently caused violations of nature, so we say it apparently is supernatural. it might feel wrong making that conclusion, but if that's what it looks like, that's what it's called.
bottom line: if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a duck.
Atheists often talk about how the spaghetti monster disproves God, cause we could have been formed by it. This is not analogous completely, but it makes an important point. That an intelligence made is is reasonable, that something specific like spaghetti did is random.
what about everyday analogies of causes being natural? Now, It does make sense say something caused us. If you see a bike rolling, that something pushed it makes sense. we'd expect something specific to have a specific cause, but in something that's unique unto itself like existence as we know it, that isn't necessarily expected- we know bikes roling have causes cause we see it all the time it's the only thing to conclude at that level of specificity, and they're (creation v. bike) different things that could reasonably be treated different per anaysis.
Thanks for the debate Pro, I love the topic.
Pro has set up a giant argument from ignorance that if we can't explain something then by default it must be supernatural/god.
It is unreasonable to infer a supernatural cause of existence simply because we can't explain something about the universe.
Pro's position is an argument from ignorance, because rather than providing proof for the existence of the supernatural to be reasonable to infer, Pro appeals to our not knowing something (ignorance), and fills in these gaps in our knowledge with god/supernature.
Pro says "something must have caused the highest energy level of the big bang. we could call that unknown, God....because the phenomenon violates natural laws as we know it"
Here's my analogy for why the argument from ignorance is a fallacy that damages Pro's position:
Imagine that you're a doctor and you have been studying different types of cancers for years. You, with the help of modern medicine, understand medical principles that explain how cancers form and metastasize, how medicines and therapies are used to treat tumors, and how people can avoid certain carcinogens to more likely avoid cancer. This is well understood science of modern medicine, and there are very few gaps in our knowledge of it.
But, there are ways that secondary tumors lay dormant, undetectable, immeasurable for ten years until they are reactivated by some signal that has not been explained, and seems to violate the very principles of modern medicine.
To save you from reading an entire article, it says that "it is difficult to get a picture of the early stages of growth of metastases: they are too small to show up in imaging scans...something keeps them from proliferating, and then something activates these cells...what those signals are is unknown." No modern medicine principles can currently explain such a phenomenon.
Now imagine one of your patients, who has a rather limited knowledge of modern medicine, decides to tell you that he's figured out that since we can't explain these certain signals, and these signals seem to violate our current understanding of the reality of medicine, that the explanation for these signals must be outside of our medical scope and transcendent to a new type of medicine...after all it seems to violate the principles of modern medicine.
Your patient continues to tell you to forget your years of studying, identifying and applying non transcendent explanations for everything in modern medicine, because your patient claims that this particular unknown explanation for a violation of modern medicine's current model infers transcendent supernatural medicine of which god is the cause.
Without your patient ever mechanistically explaining how god's supernatural medicine solves the mystery, do you think your patient has a reasonable inference?
Is it more likely true that the solution to the mystery, as in all ex-mysteries of modern medicine, is a modern medicine-based explanation and thus more reasonable to infer?
Pro is much like the patient in the analogy. The only difference is instead of challenging modern medicine by inferring supernatural medicine/god would solve an unknown, Pro is challenging modern cosmology and quantum mechanics by inferring supernatural cosmology/god or supernatural quantum mechanics/god would solve an unknown.
Giving no mechanistic explanation for how supernature/god would fill these currently unexplained gaps in our knowledge, Pro merely asserts that supernature/god is the explanation. Pro's reason? Our ignorance of an explanation. Pro is committing what some people call "the god of the gaps argument"; it's under the argument from ignorance umbrella, and it's a fallacy. Anywhere there is a gap, you put a god...god of the gaps.
Therefore it is not reasonable to infer a supernatural cause of existence based on a logical fallacy, the argument from ignorance. Not knowing something (ignorance) does not mean that supernature/god fills these gaps in our knowledge.
I will not dodge the attacks on science...check the avatar...I will respond.
So just demonstrating that there are unknowns, doesn't mean you can insert or retrofit whatever you wish in the unknown's place...but Pro could have picked any number of unknowns in quantum physics, and instead chose concepts that are very well understood.
Pro has many misunderstandings about "quantum nothingness", modern cosmology, and the application of thermodynamic laws.
1. Pro says something from nothing is a violation of laws as we know them.
2. Pro claims that the 1st law of thermodynamics is violated at the big bang.
Pro has a conflation of the laws of physics and the laws of quantum mechanics which are both natural laws. Yes, many subatomic particles violate laws of Newtonian physics, which is why there is another field of study for them called quantum mechanics. Literally, subatomic particles pop into existence from nothing and pop out of existence all of the time...it looks supernatural, and it sounds supernatural...but it's just well founded quantum mechanics.
This fluctuation of subatomic particles is natural, has been demonstrated, and is called quantum nothingness, because there is no matter/energy, no radiation, no full particles, no atoms--basically nothing...but there is this constant fluctuation, and it is a state of nothingness.
This state of nothingness is actually unstable; it can't remain this way for long, such that with the many subatomic particles popping in and out of existence all of the time, energy is inevitable. Energy is just the other side of the coin to matter, and this means that if subatomic particles are appearing from nothing, that energy and therefore matter can come from this unstable quantum nothingness.
The 1st law of thermodynamics says that the total energy of a system is constant. Well, the total energy of a subatomic particle is 0, and when energy is finally expressed from quantum nothingness, the amount of negative (-) gravitational energy exactly cancels out the positive (+) matter and energy equaling 0.
So with positive energy and negative energy existing together, 0 can be represented as a set of (+) matter/energy and (-) gravity energy.
0 = [+1, -1] and 0 = [+2, -2] and 0 = [+3, -3] etc...as the universe expands, the (+) energy increases directly with the (-) energy... 0 = [+1000, -1000] such that the energy constant never changes and is always 0, but we can observe positive energy--planets, stars, and us--because the negative gravity energy has been canceling it out since the big bang.
So even though these concepts that Pro claims are unexplained are actually explained, even if they weren't, we logically cannot say "if the explanation is not science, it's supernature" This is called a false dichotomy because Pro is neglecting the other possible options besides just science and supernature...subnature, infranature, the explanation is unknown between true and false, and the explanation is unknowable.
I argue that the Greater White-fronted Goose both looks and quacks like a duck, yet is not a duck. Furthermore, other similar looking waterfowl quack.
Go to the 7th sound wave down called flock of geese flying...
The Greater White-fronted Goose
Pro claims, "bottom line: if it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it's a duck."
...or a white-fronted goose.
I am using this as an analogy to highlight Pro's use of false dilemma (false dichotomy) with the claim "it's either science or it's supernature."
Pro claims it's either a duck that looks and quacks like a duck, or it's not a duck. This is a false dilemma, because
Pro has accidentally omitted additional options for things that look like ducks and quack like ducks but aren't ducks, like a white-fronted goose.
medical sitautions are somewhat different because we always have observed natural excplanations. it would be expected there would be a medical cure. (thought to note, in another debate I have, I don't see some things that l00k supernatural happen to atheists that happen to thesis, such as some healings) it's like seeing a bike rolling and assuming it had been pushed. something unique such as existence itself is in its own category.
con ignored by response to quantum random things come into existence. this is where matter is to begin with, the quantum level. there is nothing that we've ever observed that didn't have matter to begin with, and then appear.
it's hard to understand con's points about thermodynamics. except to say ive cited a definition of higher to lower energy potential, and applied that to the universe. con points ive never heard applied to thermodynamics before
Pro responds "medical sitautions are somewhat different because we always have observed natural excplanations. it would be expected there would be a medical cure."
Quantum physical/cosmological situations are not different, because, like medical situations, we always have observed natural explanations. Not only would it be expected that our cosmological/physics mysteries would be solved by a natural explanation, but the "violations" posited by Pro have currently been explained with natural explanations of quantum mechanics. See my round 1 arguments.
Quantum mechanics is super counter-intuitive, but the "violations" posited by Pro are founded principles of quantum mechanics, a natural explanation. It is a fact that subatomic particles both exist and don't exist seemingly at the same time in an unstable state of quantum nothingness from which positive and negative energy come.
This basically violates everything we know about physical existence, and it's still all perfectly legal under the natural laws of quantum mechanics.
Although, I recommend going to the YouTube video I posted in round 1 from Lawrence Krauss; it is way more concise and easier to understand.
Pro also responded to my claim that Pro is committing an argument from ignorance fallacy (god of the gaps) when Pro appeals to our ignorance of an explanation for phenomena, that seem to violate laws, in order to infer that god/supernature is the explanation.
Pro says "it's not really an argument from ignorance. what we observe are violations of nature, apparently. that's not based on ignorance but observation."
Pro may have a misunderstanding about the argument from ignorance/god of the gaps fallacy. So first here's a link:
Furthermore, I never claimed that our observations of "violations" of nature were based on ignorance. I claimed that our lack of knowledge about unexplained phenomena (ignorance) is being used as a proof, by Pro, to infer the supernatural. This is fallacious.
Pro has misunderstood what the argument from ignorance is.
These fancy names for fallacies are simply just ways to say, you're not really proving your claim, you are instead trying to appeal to something that doesn't prove your claim, like our lack of an explanation for something.
So I'll use Pro's argument in different fallacious forms:
-appeal to popularity- Supernature should be inferred, because so many people believe it to be so.
-appeal to antiquity- Supernature should be inferred, because it has been posited since the time of early humans.
-appeal to authority- Supernature should be inferred, because god told us that supernature exists.
-appeal to ignorance-Supernature should be inferred, because we are ignorant of an explanation of something.
The 4th appeal is the general fallacy that Pro relies on. More specifically, it's called the god of the gaps fallacy.
But appeals make for lousy arguments, because demonstrating that supernature is a reasonable inference does not require:
-many people to believe it to be reasonable (popularity)
-many years since this idea was posited to be reasonable (antiquity)
-an irrelevant position of authority to confirm its reasonableness (authority)
-a lack of a current explanation in science to be reasonable (ignorance)
When you have the burden of proof, as Pro does, it helps to think of your position as a salesman trying to sell a product that no one has been convinced that you have yet.
How would a salesman show a product? Excuse the tautology, but he just needs to show it.
Proving your claim true, since you can't necessarily physically show it, requires you to just show your proof...logically.
When someone who is proving something instead points out our ignorance in science, the approval of their idea from many people, the longevity of their idea, or confirmation of their idea from an irrelevant authority, the salesman has failed to show their product logically.
So, until Pro meets his burden of proof and logically explains the mechanism behind supernature/god's solutions to our mysteries, it remains unreasonable to infer the supernatural.
Pro also said "it's hard to understand con's points about thermodynamics...con points ive never heard applied to thermodynamics before"
Ok, well I pride myself on being able to explain things clearly as I am a teacher, so I will give it another try.
The total amount of energy in the universe is exactly zero: its amount of positive energy in the form of matter is exactly canceled out by its negative energy in the form of gravity.
This is called the zero-energy universe
So, accepting the big bang, we start from a universe the size of a subatomic particle, that popped into existence in quantum nothingness. At this point the total energy of matter + gravity = 0.
I like to represent matter and gravity as a set:
[+ matter, - gravity]
Since matter is positive energy, we'll represent it with (+)
Since gravity is negative energy, we'll represent it with (-)
At the big bang, before expansion, matter and gravity could be represented as
[+0, -0] which of course equals 0 total energy.
But after the big bang, matter and energy were expressed, and so was gravity.
So in the very beginning the total energy set of matter and gravity would look like:
[+1, -1] and then [+2, -2] and then [+3, -3] and so on as the universe expands. Still 0 total energy, but we have matter.
We know that currently the universe is still expanding as we have observed galaxies moving away from each other, so the set probably currently looks like:
[+1000000000000, - 1000000000000]
Either way, the total amount of energy never changes, and thus is neither created nor destroyed.
This negates the big bang's violation of thermodynamics claimed by Pro.
Pro continues "con ignored my response to quantum random things come into existence"
I provided both a YouTube video and a publication explaining how the unstable state of nothingness, subatomic particles popping in/out of existence from nothing, inevitably leads to something...energy which is matter.
So, the violations pointed out by Pro are not violations, rather are phenomena well with in the laws of quantum mechanics.
Even if they weren't, not having an explanation for phenomena doesn't mean that any substitute explanation with no mechanistic explanation can be put in our lack of an explanation's place. This is the argument from ignorance (god of the gaps), and makes inferring a supernatural cause unreasonable.
the higher to lower energy explanation i gave indicates something should have caused the universe that was of a higher energy, yet there is no explantation. even con's points about thermodynamics doesnt explain anything here
Pro stated "quantum happenings only occur where there is matter to begin with. quan tum happenings dont explain where matter came from."
Pro's "quantum happenings" are subatomic particles popping in and out of existence as explained by
and the Lawrence Krauss video.
In a vacuum of empty space there is no matter, no energy, no radiation, no atoms, no full particles. There are in this vacuum of nothing however, physical fields from subatomic particles popping in and out of existence. So without matter, subatomic particles popping in and out of existence is unstable enough to eventually generate energy and therefore matter. From this fluctuation, energy and matter come.
Pro claims "the higher to lower energy explanation i gave indicates something should have caused the universe that was of a higher energy, yet there is no explantation. even con's points about thermodynamics doesnt explain anything here"
I explained the zero energy universe where no matter how high positive energy gets (matter), there is enough negative energy (gravity) to cancel it out to exactly 0 total energy. So, the high to low energy explanation is explained by my sets of [matter, gravity]
Pro claims that the cause of the universe is a higher energy...ok even if there were a higher energy, it would be cancelled out by negative energy to equal 0 total energy.
To conclude, it is unreasonable to infer a supernatural cause of existence given Pro's argument in total, because a lack of an explanation for an apparent violation of scientific laws does not therefore mean there is a supernatural explanation. To infer a supernatural explanation because of a lack of knowledge (ignorance) is to appeal to ignorance or to commit the argument from ignorance fallacy.
Pro has specifically employed the "god of the gaps" argument from ignorance, where committers of the fallacy find gaps in our current knowledge and fill them with ideas of supernature/god/magic.
Why this is a flawed argument:
I provided an example where a patient tells his doctor that since no medical science can currently explain the signal that activates secondary tumors, that there must be a supernatural explanation. The patient does not provide HOW this unexplained phenomenon is solved by supernature; he merely asserts it after appealing to ignorance.
Pro's position on cosmology and quantum mechanics is analogous to the patient's position on medical science.
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