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December 27, 2006


Ian Wishart

Now my responses. By the way, the T stands for Theist, and A stands for AtheistComments invited. Seminar I. Design in the Cosmos

T: Where did the universe come from? A: Why did it have to come from anything? T: Everything has to come from something. A: Then, you tell me. Where did the universe came from? T: The universe came from God. A: Where did God come from? T: God did not have to come from anything. He always was. A: Then everything does not have to come from something after all. Perhaps the universe always was. WISHART: Flawed argument, you a presuming that God is a "thing" like matter, energy or the Universe. The whole premise of Theism is that God is not a created "thing" at all, but transcendent. Every "thing" that begins has a cause. Only created "things" need causes. Ipso facto, the Universe must have been created.

T: Philosopher William Lane Craig has argued that the universe had a beginning, therefore it must have had a cause. That cause is God. A: Quantum events can happen without cause. Perhaps our universe was a quantum event in a larger universe that always was. T: You have no evidence for this. A: You have no evidence against it. Current physics and cosmology allow for such a scenario. WISHART: Again, flawed philosophy and a conflation of the arguments. Quantum physics is not advanced enough to prove beyond doubt that Quantum events need no cause. Secondly, the theory of multiple universes or a previous universe can never be scientifically tested and is as much a religious theory as Creation. It's not science. You don't have a trump card here, you just have a totally untestable and unproveable theory with no actual supporting scientific evidence. There is, in contrast, supporting evidence for the existence of God.

T: How could this happen? Where did the matter and energy of the universe come from? A: Matter was created from energy in the early universe. Observations indicate that the positive energy of matter is exactly balanced by negative gravitational potential energy. Thus, the total energy of the universe is zero and no energy (or very little--just the amount allowed by quantum mechanics) was required to produce the universe. WISHART: Avoids answering the question. The matter and the energy required Creation from outside the universe. If our universe was simply a re-run of Quantum physics then that would imply that Quantum instability could create Universes all the time...but they're not. There's only been one Universe created in the past 13 billion years, and we're in it.

T: Where did the order of the universe come from? A: It could have been produced spontaneously by natural processes of a type that are now beginning to be understood in physics. One such process is called "spontaneous symmetry breaking." It's like the formation of a snowflake. WISHART: Might be a good answer for a primary school class, but has no bearing on the complexities of biological and astronomical entities. A snowflake is a very simple pattern, but a single human cell contains intelligent information in its DNA code, enough unique information to fill 30 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica. It is not the appearance of snowflakes that shows evidence of design, it is the appearance of complex intelligent information and Laws of Physics and Chemistry and Mathematics.

T: Still, the second law of thermodynamics says that disorder, or entropy, must increase with time. It must have started out more orderly than it is now, as created by God. A: An expanding universe allows increasing room for order to form. The universe could have started as a tiny black hole with maximum entropy, produced by a quantum fluctuation, and then exploded in the big bang. T: You can't prove that. No one was there to see it. A: You can't disprove it. Such a scenario is allowed by current scientific knowledge. WISHART: Again Vic, a religious argument, not a scientific one. And again, the weight of observed scientific evidence would be against it, because despite quantum events occurring all the time, none has exploded into a new universe amongst us.

T: Many prominent scientists don't think the big bang happened. What does that do to your scenario? A: The data from cosmological observ ations, which has improved enormously in just the last few years, has left no doubt among current working cosmologists that the big bang happened. The remaining holdouts are a few older astronomers who are gradually dying out. They are like some nineteenth century chemists and physicists who refused to accept the atomic theory to their dying days. Furthermore, the big bang is used by theists such as Craig and Hugh Ross to support their theologies. It does not, but I caution atheists not to argue against theism by saying the big bang did not occur. It very definitely did. WISHART: I hold to the Big Bang as well.

T: But isn't the universe fine tuned for life? Isn't it true that the slightest change of any one of a number of physics constants would make life impossible? Is this not evidence for a universe intelligently designed for life? A: The universe is not fine tuned for life. Life is fine tuned for the universe. If we had a universe with different constants, we might have a different kind of life. T : Doesn't life require carbon, which would not exist without a delicate balance of nuclear parameters? A: Our kind of life, yes. We do not know about other kinds of life. T: You can't prove that life is possible without carbon. A: I do not have the burden of proof here. You are making the claim that only one kind of life is possible, carbon-based life. You have to prove that. I am simply saying that we do not know and so cannot say the universe is designed for life as we know it. It could have been an accident. Nothing in current science says that is impossible, WISHART: Fairies exist. Goblins Exist. Silicon-based lifeforms exist. God exists. Using your own logic, Vic, you've just destroyed your defense.

T: So, even if everything that happens is natural, as you claim, where did the laws of nature come from? A: The laws of nature are misnamed. They are not necessarily rules that govern the universe, that sit out there in some kind of Platonic reality. They could just as well simply be human inventions, descriptions we have made of observations. WISHART: No, mathematical equations precisely govern the operation of our universe, and have done so since it began. AS a concept, two plus two was always four, long before humans even realised they had fingers, let alone learnt to count them. The laws of Physics equally apply outside of and independent of human observation. If they didn't apply, we wouldn't be here.

T: Then they are subjective. We can all make our own laws. A: Not quite. We can make up different laws if we want, but they are not scientific unless they agree with observations. The laws of physics can be written in many different ways, but they agree so well with the data that we are confident they describe aspects of reality. T: Well, then where did those aspects of reality come from, if not from God? A: Why did they have to come from anything? But, that's how we started this discussion. WISHART: So far you've failed to account for Creation of the Universe, you've failed to prove that God needed to be created like the rest of us, and now you're simply being obtuse.

T: Still, you have to explain why there is something rather than nothing. A: Define nothing. T: Nothing. No thing. No matter, no energy, no space, no time, no laws of physics. A: No God? T: God is a separate entity who created matter, energy, space, time and the laws of physics from nothing. A: I won't ask you again who created God. Rather, why was it necessary for the universe to have come from nothing? T: It had to come from something. A: But you just said it came from nothing! WISHART: If this is the best level of intellectual debate that an Emeritus Professor can muster, I'm saddened.


Do you agree that this is a fair representation of your reasoning...
1. The universe is a "thing".
2. Every "thing" was created.
3. Therefore the universe was created.


I think that it might be too simplistic to categorise the universe as a single "thing", albeit I used the word loosely above.

The Big Bang was an "event", and events need causes.

The universe is a word we use to describe the entire realm of all that is natural and material. It might be a 'thing' in one sense of the word, but it's really an amalgam of different things that all sprang into being pretty much simultaneously.

Without splitting hairs, I think the argument is more this:

1. Anything that has a beginning has a cause

2. The universe had a beginning

3. Therefore the universe was created

I take as good evidence for point 2 the scientific data relating to TBB, and the general scientific acceptance that Time appears to have sprung into existence with the Universe, so is a product of this natural realm, not independent of it.

To my mind, anything outside the natural realm (where Time is confined to) may therefore exist in eternity. God, if he exists in the Christian sense, by definition exists outside Time, which seems to fit the theory nicely.

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