The origins of the universe and skeptics

Atheists say that the universe as we know it…

a) arose from nothing
b) arose from an eternal something that isn’t God
c) is eternal

All of these possibilities, which seek to explain the origins of our complex and intelligent universe without a God, point to the current existence of things to be the result of an ‘unintelligent source’, and that the rest was brute chance. The thing is, there is overwhelming evidence that our universe is designed, and design requires a designer. By crossing out God, the eternal, all-knowing and omnipotent being as the first cause you’ll end up with a belief that this universe is the result of an unintelligent something and that everything ‘just happened’ (brute chance) to become what we see today. Now, could you really say that with a straight face? How can intelligence come from non-intelligence? :stuck_out_tongue:

Well, to begin with, C) is a non-starter. Regardless of what the consensus among unbelievers had been in the past, you’ll be hard pressed to find one today who subscribes to a past-eternal Universe.

B) is a bit of a strawman, IMO. The Universe is not well-designed, if it’s designed at all. But for the sake of argument, let’s say it is. A Deistic God (let’s call it D)) fits very neatly into the gap at the head of it all. You no longer have to explain away the poor design of the Universe. You don’t have to assume a God with a plan, or try to make sense of that plan in light of the way the world is.

A) is still the most likely scenario for me - though I can only refer to quantum theory for the explanation of how one gets “something from nothing.” Given how counter-intuitive it is, and my general lack of understanding, I hesitant to go all-in with it. But ultimately, the difference between A) and D), as a practical matter, isn’t very much.

ASimon, if there is little difference, “as a practical matter,” between ‘A’ and your proposal of ‘D’, may I ask why you would prefer to nail your colours to the ‘A’ mast?

Because I see no evidence to believe in D).

the multi universe would explain everything. the universes and time, space, matter etc are eternal and our universe looks well designed because it accidently was, by chance.

there are billions of universes that weren’t so lucky, or maybe they have even more planets with life on them.

intelligence from non intelligence…have to think on that one

But it seems you see no evidence for A either, beyond theories derived from quantum physics and an unclear definition of ‘nothing’.

I am just curious as to what part of you seeks to accept atheism. I have seen a few of your posts, and you always seem well-reasoned and polite, so I have no grudge against you personally.

It’s more of a question about why you would prefer to ignore the historical evidence and traditions associated with the Church, and human spirituality generally if we should broaden this further, in favour of nihilism?

Does this position offer you any hope of meaning?

As it happens, I do believe you can be a good person and atheist, but such acts of altruism must always be tinged with sorrow?

itullian, if you are indeed Catholic, why not reach back into the understanding that drew you to the faith in the first place?

It is unlikely that you will entirely satisfy your intellect with any theory during your lifetime, even if God were to appear to you in this instant. Think about it. Would you not perhaps later question whether it was real?

Talking about multi universes is not really helpful in your pursuit of understanding, particularly from a lay position. It is neither here nor there. We can always defer to God. That is why atheists cannot defeat faith.

However, I am interested in why atheists wish to be atheists. If they really feel religion is responsible for the ills of the world, I should think history has proved them wrong. Yes, I mean that. If they wish to break the hearts of the faithful, that seems mean-spirited. If they wish to deny themselves God, that seems masochistic in the extreme.

if He appeared to me this instant I would fall at his feet and beg forgiveness.
don’t forget, i love Him.

Athiests, i guess just see the supernatural as a fairy tale so as they don’t believe in Santa so it goes.

if Mother Teresa,GB her, had doubts and depression, I’m in good company,no?

Mother Teresa’s legacy is not defined by her doubt, however. If we spend our entire lives consumed by doubt, it can be challenging to move forward in any direction.

It’s like, on a very micro-level, you don’t know what you want to do with your career. And you end up either doing something you don’t like or perhaps nothing at all. Better to step back and re-discover your passions and ask yourself again, if you need to ask at all.

Guys like Richard Dawkins love to refer to spaghetti monsters and Santa Claus, but they then are misrepresenting God and Jesus Christ to the extent that it reveals a fundamental lack of understanding.

Mother Teresa’s legacy is not defined by her doubt, however. If we spend our entire lives consumed by doubt, it can be challenging to move forward in any direction.

It’s like, on a very micro-level, you don’t know what you want to do with your career. And you end up either doing something you don’t like or perhaps nothing at all. Better to step back and re-discover your passions and ask yourself again, if you need to ask at all.

Guys like Richard Dawkins love to refer to spaghetti monsters and Santa Claus, but they then are misrepresenting God and Jesus Christ to the extent that it reveals a fundamental lack of understanding.

Also, really really imagine if an angel appeared before you right now. If you truly believe you would fall to the ground, then why the doubt?

Albrecht Moritz, a Catholic scientist who also happens to be a member of this forum has written an article titled “Cosmological arguments for the existence of God”. Among other things, he debunks the multiverse theory (section 1.3.4). Also, given your wavering position between theism and atheism I advise you to read the whole thing. You may have a problem understanding certain parts due to the technicality of the topic, like myself, but I’m sure you’d be able get the main idea.

home.earthlink.net/~almoritz/cosmological-arguments-god.htm

GB MT

Just their view, not misunderstanding to them.

why the doubt? cause it hasn’t happened

Thanks for the article Poof, and for starting the thread.

I dare say, however, that it is when we surrender our intellect, along with (in many cases) our primary attachment to the physical, that we may feel God. That is not a cop out, as atheists might say, but rather the recognition that God goes beyond the physical. I for one would be quite ashamed if my faith were to be brought about or even strengthened by irrefutable proof of God’s existence. Why? Because God has given us these mysteries, and the challenge of choosing to serve Him freely.

itullian, the danger of constantly playing devil’s advocate is that you may forget who butters your bread!

Let’s say you did have a divine experience, and you didn’t doubt it. Imagine then trying to describe it to someone else and how you might feel if they discounted it as your own experience, perhaps an hallucination. Would you care? If you answer is that you would not care, and that you would not doubt any longer if you were alone in your experience, I urge you to think this through further. As Christians I feel we should care about our fellow beings. That does not mean imposing ourselves, but rather helping to illuminate, a delicate balance at times.

Remember we reap what we sow, and this is a very real concept even in a very practical sense.

And atheists do misunderstand, because understanding can only truly exist in a state of innocence or faith.

I don’t think it’s really comparing like with like, to be honest. All D) is, is an example of simple God-of-the-Gaps reasoning. If you want a simple explanation for how (if not why) the Universe came to be, D) will solve all your problems. And not leave you struggling to justify or rationalize anything further. But in the end, it’s only a presupposition. You can plug virtually anyone or anything else in that gap, and achieve the same end.

The situation with A) is not alike, in my view. I don’t see quantum physicists and string theorists as this cabal of Godless scientists on this quest to reshape cosmology so that God is evicted from it. For one thing, if that were the case, they could do a lot better than inventing a totally counter-intuitive system like quantum theory to explain the way things are.

I am just curious as to what part of you seeks to accept atheism. I have seen a few of your posts, and you always seem well-reasoned and polite, so I have no grudge against you personally.

It’s more of a question about why you would prefer to ignore the historical evidence and traditions associated with the Church, and human spirituality generally if we should broaden this further, in favour of nihilism?

Does this position offer you any hope of meaning?

As it happens, I do believe you can be a good person and atheist, but such acts of altruism must always be tinged with sorrow?

Well, the simple answer is, I’m neither a nihilist, nor do I feel any sense of sorrow or regret for not believing in a God. I don’t need to think that my life will go on forever in order for me to find meaning in it now. Nor do I think that anyone else goes through their day-to-day lives under a different assumption. Think of it this way - if experience had to go on forever in order to be meaningful, you’d never pick up a book and start reading. Or go to a movie. Or go to the bother and/or expense of preparing a nice meal or going to a nice restaurant. Why would you? Sooner or later, you’ll turn the page and there’ll be nothing left to read. The credits will roll. The plates will be cleared and the waiter will bring you your check. Since each of these experiences is necessarily finite, they are themselves meaningless, and so not worth having. Right?

I hope it’s clear to you that nobody really processes their life like this. So I must confess that I’ve never truly empathized with those who insist that life must go on forever to have meaning. I find it quite easy to accept that, in all probability, my life will one day end and there will be no second life waiting for me on the other side of the curtain. The only challenge it poses is the question how to use up the time I’ve got left.

The question of the ‘origin’ of the ‘universe’ is not a meaningful one. The whole idea of a history, or past- are these not just functions of a dead metaphysics? There is no distinction between history (which carries the concept of ‘past’), is just a narrative which exists in the present time. The idea of ‘origin’ is just a figment of this story.

And the idea of ‘universe’. There is no universe- there is just the play of perception, concept, and language. There is the idea ‘universe’ and the word’ universe’, but there is no ‘universe.’

To speak of the ‘origin of the universe’ is like speaking of ‘the square root of negative four’, or a ‘unicorn egg’.

  1. Does God not explain why rather than simply how? Isn’t the weakness of purely scientific understanding at this point that it cannot explain why? If you plugged anything else into the gap it would be God with a different name. God is not a man or something that can be defined as a single entity, as you well know.

  2. With respect, it was not me that first compared A and D.

  3. I don’t view scientists as such any more than I think the media is some kind of organized machine. The secular world is comprised of many interactions, which sometimes comprise something that looks like a collective. The individual motivation for why scientists (many of whom believe in God) do what they do is evidently varied. I do not suppose quantum physics is born of convenience, but at best it is an insight into how God works in the way He does, rather than why. At worst, it is as interesting as a weather report: perhaps accurate, perhaps not, ultimately will not let it affect the core belief in something as fundamental as God.

  4. Living forever is a separate issue that is quite apart from how we might serve God. When we read a book, or take part in any other entertainment, there is a clear reason for why we do that, even if we do not realise it. Perhaps it serves as a distraction from the meaninglessness an atheist might suffer at his/her core. Or in the case of a non-atheist, perhaps it might simply serve as a diversion, enriching us or otherwise, on an onward journey. Either way, one may hope that the entertainment is not the end in itself. The meaning comes from having been created. I feel an obsession with eternal life can sometimes cloud our view of Him by keeping our focus only on ourselves. If we live in hope of the after-life, that can offer depth in our relationship with God, no doubt, but recognising God in itself offers far more meaning surely than viewing the source of our creation as an accident?

You used some anologies. Let’s say you’re playing in the World Cup final. Your team is 3-0 down with 45 minutes to go. Do you give up based on the probability that you will lose, or do you spend the time you have left in the match attempting to win?

Why give up on God based on your own perception of probability?

Another question if I may add to the previous post ASimon.

If someone was to have their faith shaken by you, would it please you? If not, why propose your atheism publicly?

I am not suggesting you should not say what you like, I am just curious about your motivation to speak against God, in addition to why atheism appeals to you.

If you could believe the world would be a better place with the belief in God, regardless of existence, would you still propose you atheism to others?

Incidentally I would be happy if you were to turn to God, because I believe it would be good for you and it would please Him :slight_smile:

The theistic God concept attempts to explain ‘why,’ and as long as you look at the broad strokes, you can even say it offers a plausible answer. But problems arise whenever one takes an honest look at the details. Believers like to insist that the Universe shows evidence of being designed. But current scientific understanding must lead an objective person to wonder why, if this Universe is designed, is the design so poor? The Problem of Evil, Why Do Bad Things Happen to Good People - neither have ever been satisfactorily answered, in my view. And on and on. Every answer seems to beget more questions.

Science might not be able to explain ‘why,’ but science also doesn’t place itself under any burden to answer that question. Not now, and not ever. Perhaps there is an answer, and perhaps it may one day be known through science. But science doesn’t owe it to anyone to necessarily justify our existence here.

  1. With respect, it was not me that first compared A and D.

Whether I did or not, you seemed to imply that I had no reason to cast my lot with A) over D) - that they were two sides of the same coin. I disagree that they are, and I said as much.

  1. Living forever is a separate issue that is quite apart from how we might serve God. When we read a book, or take part in any other entertainment, there is a clear reason for why we do that, even if we do not realise it. Perhaps it serves as a distraction from the meaninglessness an atheist might suffer at his/her core. Or in the case of a non-atheist, perhaps it might simply serve as a diversion, enriching us or otherwise, on an onward journey. Either way, one may hope that the entertainment is not the end in itself. The meaning comes from having been created. I feel an obsession with eternal life can sometimes cloud our view of Him by keeping our focus only on ourselves. If we live in hope of the after-life, that can offer depth in our relationship with God, no doubt, but recognising God in itself offers far more meaning surely than viewing the source of our creation as an accident?

If eternal life is really a separate issue in your view, then you might need to explain what you think makes you so different from me. Say we’re both created - me by accident, you by God. Neither one of us has an inherent moral edge, based on our circumstances. There shouldn’t be anything stopping me from having a life just as meaningful as your own. But all other things being equal, you seem to imply that being a creation of God gives one’s life far more meaning than one who was created by accident. And this is without taking into account the prospect of an eternal life. So the question is, where is this advantage coming from? What does “recognizing God” do for you, to make your life so much more meaningful than mine?

You used some anologies. Let’s say you’re playing in the World Cup final. Your team is 3-0 down with 45 minutes to go. Do you give up based on the probability that you will lose, or do you spend the time you have left in the match attempting to win?

Why give up on God based on your own perception of probability?

Because the game is rigged. The refs are bought off by the opposition, and they’re all allowed to use their hands, while I’m only permitted to kick with my left foot. Sorry if this isn’t a satisfying answer, but that’s how I look at it. To me, there are only two real options - quit, or defect to the other side, if I think there’s actually some sort of trophy to win. Personally, I don’t believe there is.

To answer it one way, I’m just here to have discussions with people, because those are often interesting and enlightening.

And yes, it would please me for someone to have their faith shaken by something I put forward. For much the same reason Believers are often pleased to help shepherd those in their conversions from other faiths or unbelief. Of course, it rarely happens in real time, and few people make a life choice of such consequence without really considering their options.

If you could believe the world would be a better place with the belief in God, regardless of existence, would you still propose you atheism to others?

If believing in something, without regard to whether that something actually existed, would make the world better, I’d believe in it myself.

Incidentally I would be happy if you were to turn to God, because I believe it would be good for you and it would please Him :slight_smile:

Noted.

Atheist have a lack of belief in a deity because they do not believe in the super-natural. This is not unreasonable at all in my opinion.

As for the origin of the Universe goes, a lot of scientist, specifically cosmologist, put their eggs in the basket of the Big Bang theory. It was Einstein who first postulated that the Universe was eternal and, in a sense, static. And it was actually a Catholic priest, Georges Lemaître, who concept-ed the idea of the Big Bang, he called it the Primeval Atom.

A lot of evidence suggest the Universe started out from a singularity; ranging from CMB radiation provided by WMAP to the Red/Blue shifting (Hubble’s Law) of galaxies.

Most scientist who work in the fields of Physics and Biology do not believe in God either (I believe 7% of them did). However, other fields, such as those in medicine, had a rate of about 70% or higher of the belief in god. It is a matter of context I suggest.

If God created the Universe, then who created God? Why can’t the energy that sparked the Universe have had always existed in the initiation of time. The origin of the energy that has existed since the beginning of time cannot exactly be explained by science, and instead is led up to Philosophy, but was the separation of the four major forces of the Universe. God adds an extra Paradox to the whole concept and further complicates this matter. This is why science and religion do not belong together.

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