Reply to a Condescending Agnostic Re Science

This exchange with Damien Priestly took place underneath my post, Dialogue with an Atheist on the Origin of the Universe. I’ve rearranged the order in order to make the dialogue flow back-and-forth per my usual custom). His words will be in blue.

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Wow, the post here so that narrow that the author cannot see his own old fashioned view of “matter” — that in fact, things that are not matter actually exist…e.g. energy in the radiation of electromagnetic theory which has no mass, also other forms of radiation. This radiation and associated particle wavelengths and interactions explain how changes in matter occur and how matter can be created…how chemistry comes into being, including the organic chemistry that forms life and our nervous systems and consciousness. Yet the post dismisses science and instead pushes an undefined God !!

According to theoretical physicist Matt Strassler, it is a false dichotomy to pit matter and energy against each other. He explains:

In reality, matter and energy don’t even belong to the same categories; it is like referring to apples and orangutans, or to heaven and earthworms, or to birds and beach balls. . . . energy is not itself stuff; it is something that all stuff has. . . . Photons should not be called `energy’, or `pure energy’, or anything similar. All particles are ripples in fields and have energy; photons are not special in this regard. Photons are stuff; energy is not. . . .

Energy is something which objects can have, and groups of objects can have — a property of objects that characterizes their behavior and their relationships to one another.

In other words, “energy” is about relations of things that are material. The same could be said about mathematics and logic. This is a non-issue, and irrelevant to my argument.

The theist would never deny that “things that are not matter actually exist.” That’s what we believe God is, remember? God the Father is an immaterial spirit. Anyone who is a philosophical dualist (include atheists in that category) believes there are things other than matter. Duh!

And this OP bashes science that has already answered questions far more sophisticated than this post presents. The author knows that non-living chemistry can be far more complex than living things, right? DNA is far less complex than other chemistry such as polymers, catalysts, other organic chains, etc.. Life may be simple enough to produce in a laboratory from non-living chemicals, stay tuned…

Yeah, I’m waiting. Let me know when that happens.

[Good _Samaritan later chimed in, in the combox:

Almost 10 years ago. [link]

That’s interesting. I should have made myself more clear, though. Doing this is still vastly different from explaining / proving how life as we know it actually evolved from non-life, all by itself (or how its precursors like DNA evolved). Of course this is a laboratory experiment, with human beings assuming certain things as “premises” and making other things happen as a result. I don’t think it’s worthless or insignificant, but it is a far cry from a full explanation in the sense that I describe.

One (BBC) article about it states:

The researchers copied an existing bacterial genome. They sequenced its genetic code and then used “synthesis machines” to chemically construct a copy. The scientists “decoded” the chromosome of an existing bacterial cell – using a computer to read each of the letters of genetic code.

That’s entirely different from explaining the process by which such DNA (and the life that comes from it) evolved in the first place, which is what I was really driving at. It tells us nothing whatever about that. They simply “copied an existing bacterial genome”: which is virtually cloning or something similar, but tells us nothing about originating evolution. ]

Does the author know that life may not have come into existence at any distinct time…that instead it formed in a continuum…just as there is not one day you suddenly become middle aged?

Not even considered here are answers provided by the broken symmetries that occurred after the Big-Bang which we know about — described by Weinberg, Higgs, Gerardus ‘t Hooft, Glashow, and others have provided? — That formed subatomic particles from unified energy of various bosonic forces. No, the OP just says some magical God likely did everything. Injecting A god(s) into ontology solves nothing…it is just a Band-Aid for the faithful.

How and when did this God come into being? 

He never did. He’s eternal.

Answer that before bashing real science.

Just did. I haven’t bashed science (real or not) at all. I’ve simply noted some of its inherent epistemological (and theoretical) limitations.

Demonstrate that?

That’s not what you originally asked, which was: “How and when did this God come into being?” Anyone who knows anything about theology knows that that is a meaningless question, since what is believed about God is that He is eternal, and hence, never came into being. So either you were ignorant enough to not know that (which I don’t believe for a second) or you were just doing the usual, provocative atheist garden variety question schtick (Richard Dawkins played the same silly game, asking the same silly question, in his God Delusion: which I recently extensively critiqued).

Or are you just sheepishly removing yourself from any serious discussion?

I don’t see how (let alone supposedly “sheepishly”). You obviously don’t know a thing about me, my writings, or my 800+ online debates, including scores and scores with atheists. You asked a dumb question and I answered it straight.

One could just as easily say all the matter and energy in the universe(s) are eternal

You could say it, but it carries little weight, since that hasn’t been established as plausible, based on the scientific data. Matter and energy are subject to scientific laws; God is not. I was just dealing with that topic yesterday in my Dialogue w Atheist on the Origin of the Universe.

God(s) then are a redundant complication

He is in your view because you have ruled Him out from the outset. You’re in an impenetrable and arbitrary epistemological bubble of your own making.

but scientists, and nobody else, should speculate.

Bull hockey! Scientists don’t possess the sum of all knowledge. This is a self-defeating statement, since you imply that all other knowledge is useless; yet science itself is but a form of philosophy (empiricism). Therefore, philosophy must also be a valid form of knowledge (else science isn’t, being philosophy at bottom and in its starting premises).

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You must have flunked out of Sunday School.

A pejorative, typical.

Misunderstood mild sarcasm, as usual . . .

Anyhow, all the intelligent, inquisitive kids flunk Sunday school — the gullible pass with flying colors!

Like I said, you missed the humorous sarcasm, and so you make this dumb comment.

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God of the gaps never goes away does it?

See my Dialogue with an Atheist on “God of the Gaps”.

Atheist derision and grandiose unproven claims never go away, do they?

The author of this post should be embarrassed…Get a physics, micro-biology or chemistry PhD…then study up on real science, particle physics, chemistry and genetics before pushing any speculative God as an answer.

You’ve offered no answer to the many serious objections you raise there. All you’ve shown is that you know a lot of details about science (as, presumably a scientist). Congratulations! But that has nothing to do with the questions I raise. You can know ten trillion different facts and scientific bits of information (I’m mightily impressed by what you’ve already expressed in that regard!), while still failing to explain how life and consciousness evolved and how the universe originated (what caused it, etc.). I think science is great, wonderful, one of the biggest blessings in life. But I don’t think it explains everything (that seems to be your self-delusion). It’s not the sum of all possible knowledge.

And it hasn’t wiped out God: much as you would love for that to be the case.

All you have done here is show how afraid theists are of science…I understand why!

You don’t understand anything about me, and quite obviously so. I wrote (mostly edited) an entire book about science. And I have an extensive web page on it.

Far from being “afraid” of science, I absolutely love it, and have yet to be shown how it disproves God or Christianity in the slightest. If anyone should be said to be “afraid”: that would be you. You seem to be afraid of any sort of knowledge besides science. You appear to have made it your religion. Scientism . . .

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No, it was fair question! And you won’t answer.

You assert something is eternal, and then you cannot demonstrate or support that assertion. You just say it is a meaningless question. Again, as I previously stated, you just remove yourself from any serious discussion.

It does not matter how may debates you have been in or how many blogs or web pages you have…You can’t just define an eternal being into existence and exempt it from any laws…then claim others must use laws that you avoid, scientific or otherwise. That is not the way epistemology works. It is the way children argue.

At least, just admit up front that you are exempting yourself from any need to justify or demonstrate claims you make…that is only for your opponents to do. Scientists don’t claim to have the sum of all knowledge and will say “I don’t know” when it is the appropriate answer. Theists who can’t do that — Yes, they live in fear, rightfully so.

I assumed you weren’t utterly ignorant of the history of philosophy, the theistic arguments for God’s existence, and philosophy of religion. But it looks like you are, or else you wouldn’t ask such stupid questions.

Once again you misrepresent what even happened. I didn’t say that the assertion of God’s eternal existence and reasons we would give for that is “meaningless” or that we can offer no evidence suggesting it. I said in reply to your original question, “How and when did this God come into being?” that “Anyone who knows anything about theology knows that that is a meaningless question, since what is believed about God is that He is eternal, and hence, never came into being.”

Then you started into the personal attacks and juvenile mind-reading, because I refused to play your game of topic-switching and inane “gotcha” silliness. You say I remove myself from “serious discussion” while at the same time making it manifestly obvious that you have no interest in that in the first place (not with Christians, anyway). This is obvious in your comments elsewhere (six days ago), where you write that “The Bible is incoherent and immoral” and “Jesus, if real, was often a ranting whiner” and refer to “these idiotic old holy books.”

If you want to know the reasons we would give, from philosophy and philosophy of science for why we believe God is eternal (which is revealed most fully in the Bible), then we refer you to the cosmological and teleological arguments. I have compiled a great many articles by scholars on those topics. Knock yourself out!

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Photo credit: [PublicDomainPictures.Net / CC0 Public Domain license]

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