Cigarette-Driven Monkeys and God’s Existence

Cigarette-Driven Monkeys Composing Hamlet Prove God’s Existence  (Jeff Cook)

Train a hundred monkeys in a room to randomly strike a keyboard, provide them all the bananas and cigarettes they want, and given enough time one of them will eventually compose Hamlet. In fact, give the room of monkeys an infinite amount of time and they will each compose Hamlet an infinite number of times.

How do we explain the apparent design of the universe without a God? A common answer is, “Give matter in motion enough time and randomness and eventually the material order will create things that look designed for a purpose.” Many philosophers and scientists have speculated that there may be an eternal, material reality (sometimes called the “multiverse”) within which our universe was birthed. Give this larger material system enough time and variety and a universe like ours would eventually arise non-theistically with all its apparent “design”.

I personally think this is a worthy move, but I don’t think the materialists who use such arguments realize how lethal this step is for their position.

Certainly I can agree that given enough time and random motion and a larger (unobserved) “multiverse”, eventually a universe like our–with the physical laws set just so from the outset, able to contain carbon based life, eco-systems, and self-aware minds–could come into being. However, it is likewise very easy to imagine all the matter in tmultiverse doing something in the distant past that would have made the creation of you and I impossible.

That is, if you give a material system enough time and variety it may eventually produce us, but it likewise would have produced all kinds of situations that would make the future creation of our universe impossible as well.

Consider the argument this way:

(P1)  If materialism is true, there is an infinite chain of causal events that preceded this moment, with enough variety to eventually create an exceedingly complex universe like ours.

(P2)  Given an infinite amount of time and variety, at some point—in the infinite amount of time that preceded this moment—all the matter that exists would have either:

i.              Began moving outwardly in an irretraceable direction.

ii.            Slowed and ceased moving at the same moment everywhere.

iii.          Moved inward toward a common point, stopped, and would not have moved outward again.

(P3)  Had any of the possibilities in (P2) occurred in the past, the world as we know it would not exist.

(P4)   We do exist.

(C1)   Therefore, Materialism is false.

This is my take on Aquinas’s third way.

Given an infinite amount of time, our universe will have been composed an infinite number of times, but so too: all the matter in the universe will have stopped at least once, all the matter in the universe will have spread outwardly in all directions to a point where it could not possibly reverse at least once, all the matter in the universe will have clumped into a ball from which no motion could occur again, at least once.

If these three pictures (and others we may imagine) are physically possible then our Universe would not have come into existence at this point in time. At some point in the distant past the randomness of material motion would have hit a trajectory that made future complexity of the sort we experience unachievable. We may go a step further and assert:

(P5)  Only a purposeful agent of immense power could direct the flow of matter away from such stagnating results.

(C2) Given P4 and P5, a purposeful agent of immense power exists, and this agent we call “God.”

If the universe is eternal, it seems to me a purposeful, powerful agent must also exist.

Jeff Cook lectures on philosophy at the University of Northern Colorado. He is the author of Everything New: One Philosopher’s Search for a God Worth Believing in (Subversive 2012). You can find him at www.everythingnew.org and @jeffvcook

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • Mike M

    Wow: “keyboard” instead of “typewriter?” How times have changed. I’m not sure if a roomful of emphysematous chimps could stop coughing long enough to produce a work of sublime art but I do know that we are talking about the chimps and not the other way around. My position has always been that God does roll the dice (contra Einstein) but that he loads the dice.

  • Larry

    The multiverse hypothesis: there are an infinite number of completely separate, non-interacting universes. In an uncountable number of them, life is impossible, but ours is one of the rare exceptions.

  • phil_style

    The multiverse explanation appears to me (with my laymans mind) to be an attempt to have a supra (super?)-natural (i..e outside of the nature of THIS particular universe) reality, without invoking the specific supernatural world insisted upon by religion. I wonder, if we took Occam’s razor to the multiverse theory, whether or not a singular “God” might actually come out of the process more favorably that a potentially infinite number of other universes….

  • Percival

    Is it supposed nowadays that the universe has an infinite future?
    The universe is so small (infinitely small) compared to infinity. I heard once (on Radio Lab) that the number of possible chess games is greater than the sum of all the atoms in the universe. That blew my mind, but as with all mind-blowing thoughts, I now doubt its veracity.

  • RJS

    Jeff,

    This argument doesn’t hit the same nerve with me as the previous one. There is much to explore philosophically, scientifically, and theologically in the nature and origin of the Universe. The multiverse is in the air, and there are other views under discussion. We know nothing, I think, about “before” the big bang. And there is much we don’t know (yet anyway) about this universe we live in (dark energy and dark matter being part of the frontier).

  • Michael M.

    I suppose it was just a matter of time before someone came up with this argument.

  • Tim

    We should be honest enough to admit that we know nothing about what reality there is to discover before and outside of the big bang. To start to define probability sets of what could or could not happen given an unlimited amount of time (e.g., “moving outwardly in an irretraceable direction…slow(ing) and ceas(ing) moving at the same moment everywhere…mov(ing) inward toward a common point, stopped, and would not have moved outward again,” etc.) gets us a no where. We have no idea whether these scenarios are within what is allowed for as possible in the universe/multiverse. We just have no idea. We can speculate about possible scenarios. But these are just possibilities in our own imagination. We have no clue as to whether they are real possibilities within reality.

  • Percival

    Michael May, HA! I get it, but are you saying the respectable Jeff Cook is operating in a chimpish fashion?!

  • Percival

    Sorry, I meant Michael M.

  • Paul Luedtke

    Jeff, “actual infinites” do not exist. Mathematicians have pretty much arrived at that. Astronomers have pretty much arrived at that with Big-bang and Big Crunch. Only God who transcends space and time has any claim to the infinite. Therefore one can never give your hundred monkeys an infinite amount of time to compose and infinite number of Hamlets. Why start off with a philosophical theory that does not reflect reality. The fact is our reality did not take an infinite amount to to arrive at, but maybe only 13.75 billion years. That’s hardly infinite. But can probability account for the complexity of the universe (including life here on Earth) with that amount of time. Probability says no.

  • Joe Canner

    Paul #10: What is the probability of winning $50 million in Powerball? One in . What is the probability that Christopher McGurran of St. Petersburg, Florida, won $50 million in Powerball a few weeks ago? 100%. Yes, the probability that we are alive today by random chance is very small, but yet we are here nonetheless. This is not to say that we did, in fact, arrive here by chance, just that you can’t use probability to disprove it.

  • RJS

    Paul Luedtke,

    But can probability account for the complexity of the universe (including life here on Earth) with that amount of time. Probability says no.

    Actually neither probability nor science says no. We simply do not know enough about the landscape to make an accurate prediction of probabilities. As long as this is true, all we can do is estimate probabilities. If they are infinitesimal we have three possibilities: God, our understanding of the landscape is inadequate, or we got very lucky.

  • http://everythingnew.org Jeff Cook

    Tim (7) You wrote, “To start to define probability sets of what could or could not happen given an unlimited amount of time (e.g., “moving outwardly in an irretraceable direction…slow(ing) and ceas(ing) moving at the same moment everywhere…mov(ing) inward toward a common point, stopped, and would not have moved outward again,” etc.) gets us a no where. We have no idea whether these scenarios are within what is allowed for as possible in the universe/multiverse.”

    This is my primary objection to the argument as well, and I think you make it well.

    Here’s my response: The three scenarios above (and many others we could imagine) are immensely basic compared to the complexity of the natural laws we experience governing our universe by chance. That is, in order for the physical constants to be what they are to create a universe like ours of such vast complexity that screams design, we need a very long frame of time and enough variety to let such a complicated state of affairs arise. But during that amount of time and with that variety certainly something far more simple that would have led to the impossibility of carbon based life in the future would have occurred.

    What say you?

  • Joe Canner

    The second sentence of my post #11 should say “One in [a very large number].” (I didn’t feel like calculating it and the exact number is not important.)

  • http://everythingnew.org Jeff Cook

    Paul (10). Yes, I know the arguments. How do you wrestle with God’s own infinitude.

  • Phil Miller

    ” ‘It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times?’ You stupid monkey!”

    Sorry, I can’t help myself…

  • Jeremy

    I don’t think this argument (summed up in the last paragraph) works against the multiverse as I have understood it. I don’t think the multiverse theory says that our particular universe will experience all possibilities, which seems to be required in order for the “three pictures” argument. These three scenarios would certainly have happened, but they would have happened in other universes and prevented the life in those universes. Essentially, every possibility exists in some universe somewhere, but not necessarily everywhere. According to my understanding, ours just happens to be a universe where these possible events were not actualized and the requisite complexity was allowed to develop to support life. Have I misunderstood something?

    @16: Brilliant! That was the first thing I thought of too!

  • phil_style

    @Phill Miller,

    “blurst” is the first thing that always pops into my mind when the monkey’s analogy comes up.

  • http://everythingnew.org Jeff Cook

    Jeremy (17). What the multiverse theory does, it seems to me, is apply a darwinian theory to reality itself in order to understand the complexity we see here. There’s two ways that this can work–you hit the first one.

    (1) The multiverse itself is spitting out a vast number of universes with all the variety necessary to eventually create one like our own. This answer fails in my mind to overcome the chief reason for postulating a multiverse in the first place (which btw is a philosophical, non-empirical move). The multiverse seeks to overcome design arguments, but it fails because now we are looking at this *amazing* multiverse that has the ability to create universes–which is an extraordinary feat. It looks as though this multiverse-generating-reality was designed for a purpose. (And all the design arguments just go up a step).

    (2) The better answer in my mind is a larger material reality (multiverse) in which our universe exists that has always been. In order to get a universe in that multiverse system randomly with all the physical constants just right for self-aware life to emerge, you have to have a vast amount of randomness taking place within the multiverse itself–and that leads to the argument above.

    Whachathink?

  • AHH

    While I don’t have time to interact this today, let me just say that what is written above is an example of why philosophers should not try to pass as physicists. Some of the ways in which matter and time are talked about are semi-gibberish from the standpoint of cosmology. Not to mention the way it mentions the multiverse hypothesis in passing, but mostly seems to talk about the evolution of one universe-like entity assumed to be eternal and exploring a bunch of configurations (which is not a description of any physicist’s cosmology).

    And I say this as one who is pretty sympathetic to cosmic “fine-tuning” arguments for theism, as one could find explained (with sensible physics) for example in Karl Giberson’s The Wonder of the Universe or some of John Polkinghorne’s books.

  • http://everythingnew.org Jeff Cook

    Joe (11). You wrote, “What is the probability of winning $50 million in Powerball? One in [a very large number]. What is the probability that Christopher McGurran of St. Petersburg, Florida, won $50 million in Powerball a few weeks ago? 100%. Yes, the probability that we are alive today by random chance is very small, but yet we are here nonetheless. This is not to say that we did, in fact, arrive here by chance, just that you can’t use probability to disprove it.”

    My argument is based on probability. Its based on what eventually must happen given a specific state of affairs. Peace!

  • http://everythingnew.org Jeff Cook

    Joe (11) That is, my argument is *not* based on probability. It’s based…

  • http://everythingnew.org Jeff Cook

    RJS (5). :)

    You wrote, “The multiverse is in the air, and there are other views under discussion. We know nothing, I think, about “before” the big bang. And there is much we don’t know (yet anyway) about this universe we live in (dark energy and dark matter being part of the frontier).”

    If there is a “before” the big bang, would that not suggest a large material reality? If the Universe is all there “is, was, and ever will be,” then time begins in the universe’s inception, ya?

    How would dark matter and dark energy affect this argument?

    Peace!

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    But we do not have an infinite past – at least not in all theories. Just as, referring to our universe, it is nonsensical to speak about “outside” of our universe, it might well be nonsensical to speak about any time before time = 0. We can even only speculate about the time between time zero and Planck time.

    Suppose there are multiverses. That does not imply that there is “space between universes”. In the same way, it is not necessarily realistic to speak about time before zero, even if we’ve had expanding-contracting cycles prior (obvious semantic problem here, bear with me) to that. It might be easier to think of multiple time-lines, as in sci-fi, here.

    Even so, understanding probability means that even if the chances are exceptionally small, it means that the vent could happen at any given moment. Furthermore, it is unhelpful to examine just probability. We live in a dynamic universe (from a mathematical point of view). What appears as pure randomness is often the result of complex, chaotic systems (chaos does not equal randomness, mathematically). One could almost say that it is the properties of numbers, working on number, that created our order. The question that could be asked, is that if the universe runs on mathematics, is God the mathematician?

  • Johnathan Pritchett

    I like it.

    I don’t get thinking in the concept of infinity too well, but the two assumptions in this argument, mainly (P2) seems to be that all possible scenarios including the ones you mention will have had to have been exhausted prior to this present moment (or the moment of our local universe’s “bang” anyway) already, with something occurring that makes this and further universes impossible, and that it is also necessary that more complex systems occur after the universe-generating mechanism has produced less complex arrangements of itself and other universes. One doesn’t have to assume a Darwinian ordering, from the simple to more complex, for the multiverse. It could just as well be that more complex ones are followed by less complex ones or no pattern at all regarding simplicity or complexity, since in an infinite amount of “time” it is irrelevant which order all potential possibilities occur. Seems to me that infinite time is still a never ending timeline, and that options i., ii., and iii. could just as likely happen tomorrow as much as a 99 zillion years ago or whatever. Again, I don’t actually understand this too well, but it doesn’t seem to me that either of those assumptions in (P2) are necessary.

    Refute me, please, because I really like your argument, and I in my objection, I probably don’t know what I am talking about anyway. :)

  • Perry

    So often we hear materialists say that the universe was created by chance (or quantum fluctuations, if you want to get technical). But “chance” is a non-causal entity. Chance, or probability cannot “create” anything, accomplish anything, or do anything – it can only evaluate a phenomenon which has already occurred. Chance does not cause a flipped coin to be heads or tails. The intentional act of a human being is the causal agent which results in an outcome of heads or tails. Chance can merely describe those outcomes.

    (Someone recently posted this to Facebook)… “Atheism: The belief there was once absolutely nothing. And nothing happened to the nothing until the nothing magically exploded (for no reason), creating everything and everywhere. Then a bunch of the exploded everything magically rearranged itself (for no reason whatsoever) into self-replicating bits which then turned into dinosaurs. And they mock your beliefs.”

    Or to put it even more eloquently and succinctly: Romans 1:19-20

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Perry – not so much:

    Causality of the cosmos cannot be absolutely determined at this stage – for instance, we can only speculate about what happens between time 0 and Planck time (5.39106(32) × 10−44 s). But that cannot be used as an argument for God’s existence per se.

    However, as to the quote – that is entirely wrong. We have very good models all the way back to Planck time. Models that explain expansion (not explosion), cooling, coalescing, etc etc – all the way up to possible models for enzyme creation and the origin of life. The thinking that produced the quoted argument/definition often results in God-of-the-gaps type ideas, which are perilous, as the history of science shows. Sure, the science can change – that is the way of science, with continued refinement and revisiting based on new data etc.

  • EricG

    AHH is right about the problems with this post. It is important to understand the various multiverse theories before making arguments like this that really don’t apply. These arguments don’t apply to the bubble universe from inflation theory, which seems to be the most prominent one for now, or the Feynman multiple universe theory.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Oh, I saw some really bad typo’s in my earlier post at 24 (Apologies!). Here’s the last paragraph again:

    Even so, understanding probability means that even if the chances are exceptionally small, it means that the event could happen at any given moment. Furthermore, it is unhelpful to examine just probability. We live in a dynamic universe (from a mathematical point of view). What appears as pure randomness is often the result of complex, chaotic systems (chaos does not equal randomness, mathematically). One could almost say that it is the properties of numbers, working on matter, that created our order. The question that could be asked, is that if the universe runs on mathematics, is God the mathematician?

  • Perry

    Some food for thought (from “The Programming of Life”, LaBarge Media 2011):

    The probability of a single protein being formed by undirected natural processes is 1 on 10 to the 164th power. The probability of life (or a simple cell) evolving by undirected natural processes is 1 in 10 to the 340 millionth power! (And by the way, that calculation doesn’t take into consideration the DNA information that’s stored in the cell, which directs the cell in all aspects of its operation. That estimate is solely the chance of chemicals combining to form something living.)

    To put that in perspective, if you filled the entire known universe with sand, the probability of picking one particular grain out is a mere 1 in 10 to the 96th power.

    According to information science, there is a threshold beyond which a probability becomes “operationally impossible”. Scientists generally consider anything with a probability of less than one part in 10 to the 70th to be “operationally impossible”. Not even an infinite amount of time can solve this problem, because functional information has NEVER been observed to arise purely by physical interactions.

  • Norman

    I agree with Klasie #24, the practical dynamics of this universe exist in the known time frame of approx. 13.7 billion years and going beyond that point of origin is moot as far was what we can test and explore for practical realities and reasoning.

    Also his point concerning probabilities is well taken, because what we are currently determining from our physical material universe is that it is anything but a dead ball of inert matter. Physical elements/properties display atomic and subatomic dynamics that we have just touched the surface of their power and potential. Somehow it appears this physical dynamic gave rise to biological properties and I would propose they did so without direct outside intervention that wasn’t already encoded into the universes properties. The Universe was front loaded with this dynamic because it can’t be Aliens as Dawkins proposed/jested perhaps, because they would be limited to the known parameters of the universe as well including its 13.7 billion origins.

    The ability of the universe to bring forth life though appears to be anything but common place in this universe so far. Most of us should be aware of the specialness that is required for a habitable planet around a just right star and other planets and asteroids. Even if we discover life on other planets it doesn’t guarantee that we will find highly intelligent life forms but we can’t rule it out either since it has occurred once. We should also understand that biological convergence appears to be frontloaded into the atomic development of carbon based life. With the right conditions which include catastrophic exterminations and planetary disruptions one might see high levels of intelligence appear again. However it took over 500 million years of evolutionary processes with likely unrepeatable scenarios to bring highly intelligent humans in our present form into place. This has occurred essentially only in the last 1-2 million years out of that 500 million years of biological diversity. Even with biological convergence physical scenarios had to arise that are unique and not necessarily easily repeatable especially since they were near catastrophic to overall life at times.

    I might call it the hand of God or Devine providence from my faith perspective but it doesn’t appear to have invoked powers outside the natural forces of nature that have already been frontloaded. It appears to be just the right combination of events over billions and millions of years to bring us here today.

  • AHH

    And Perry @30 provides an example of why so many scientifically literate people reject Christianity as something for the ignorant.

    NOBODY, except the occasional misinformed apologist, thinks that proteins and life developed by the sort of totally random process described in these calculations. While there are arguments against a “natural” origin of life that at least are not ridiculous, this is not one of them.
    Any Christian who uses something like this in apologetics needs to immediately stop, toss the argument in the trash, burn the trash, and bury the ashes. I cannot emphasize enough how much damage this sort of nonsense does to our Christian witness among the scientifically literate.

    But I suppose we are diverting off the topic of the post, which as I said before seems to be trying for a cosmic fine-tuning argument for theism (which I think has validity) but is too muddled in its portrayal of cosmology to do so effectively.

  • http://everythingnew.org Jeff Cook

    AHH (20) You’re not saying anything here. You’re just saying I’m ignorant (which is an ad hominem fallacy–and it fails as a refutation). Since you’re informed, do tell me 5 things you *know* about the multiverse. I suppose a conversation can start there.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Exactly what Norman says.

    Perry, I’m not sure what your background is, but the use of information theory by creationists/ID -types has been thoroughly debunked. See this link for a popular -level discussion: http://www.talkreason.org/articles/stephen-meyers.cfm, or this one: http://www.colorado.edu/philosophy/vstenger/RelSci/CosmicCreationism.pdf

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    The creationist which most known for his (mis)use of Information theory is Werner Gitt. Talk Origins has a short page devoted to him: http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/information/gitt.html

  • http://everythingnew.org Jeff Cook

    Klassie (24). You wrote, “But we do not have an infinite past – at least not in all theories. Just as, referring to our universe, it is nonsensical to speak about “outside” of our universe, it might well be nonsensical to speak about any time before time = 0.”

    If we go this route, we just have one shot at getting a universe with the enormously complex and fortuitous set of universal constants governing motion, the arrangements of stars and galaxies and the like. At that point traditional design arguments from cosmology kick in, which I think are quiet convincing. What do you think?

  • http://everythingnew.org Jeff Cook

    Jonathan (25). You wrote, “One doesn’t have to assume a Darwinian ordering, from the simple to more complex, for the multiverse. It could just as well be that more complex ones are followed by less complex ones or no pattern at all regarding simplicity or complexity, since in an infinite amount of “time” it is irrelevant which order all potential possibilities occur.”

    I concur. Good thoughts. We would have to hold that infinite amount of time and possibilities have passed and that there’s no beginning.

  • http://everythingnew.org Jeff Cook

    EricG (28). Pitch the theories and why they overcome the argument.

  • Perry

    AHH @ #32 By “not ridiculous”, are you referring to theories such as Crick’s pan-spermia, alien seeding, or comet bacteria? Please. I have yet to hear a non-ridicuous theory proposed by materialists that does not merely push the problem back a step, rely on evidence-less assumptions, and/or violate numerous, well-established laws of science. If not through random processes, what do scientists propose as the source of irreducibly complex systems, and both the information and mechanism to read and interpret that information. One need not be “scientifically literate” to deduce the obvious: that time + chance + matter will never produce DNA, much less the ability to read, execute, and reproduce it.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Perry – you are embarrassing yourself, channeling dubious ID-type arguments. Which laws are being violated (for instance)?

    Jeff: I’m not sure what you mean by one shot. Where we are, as humans, is potentially one outcome at these specific co-ordinates in space time. That does not imply that these are the ONLY co-ordinates in space time whereby an outcome such as us humans are possible.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    As to origin of life – the Mica hypothesis holds much promise, but lots of details still need to be worked out. If you understand chemistry a bit, as well as geology, you can see how this outcome is quite possible. Maybe even more than once.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20558181

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Back to Jeff @ 35: Well, the more I study nature, the more I realize that it is written in mathematics. And that the complexities and “design” all that has a lot to do with the behaviour of dynamical systems, and the properties of numbers that determine outcomes, even information.

    So, design as in engineered – no. Design as “write” the math, and pushing the first pendulum so-to-speak (people who know anything about dynamical systems will understand my use of the word pendulum)- possibly. That is why I have sometimes used the word “Originator” rather than “Creator”.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    At 42 I’m referring to Jeff @36: A comment got released from comment purgatory :)

  • Perry

    #40 Forgive me for channeling things so “dubious” as the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, cutting-edge Information Theory, not to mention hundreds of published scientific articles in the fields of Genetics, Cosmology, Microbiology, and my personal field of Geology, which give compelling evidence that contradicts materialistic/naturalistic/evolutionary models, and harmonizes with not only I.D, but a biblical model. (See creation.com for these papers, many of which have been published in secular science journals). Ultimately, people believe what they want to believe, and accumulate for themselves sufficient “evidence” to support it. I personally choose to anchor my hope (and understanding of the natural world) in a living, eternal, omnipotent, loving, intentional, Creator God, rather than a chunk of Mica. If that’s “embarrassing myself”, so be it.

  • Perry

    #40 Forgive me for channeling things so “dubious” as the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics, cutting-edge Information Theory, not to mention hundreds of published scientific articles in the fields of Genetics, Cosmology, Microbiology, and my personal field of Geology, which give compelling evidence that contradicts materialistic/naturalistic/evolutionary models, and harmonizes with not only I.D, but a biblical model. (See creation.com for these papers, many of which have been published in secular science journals).

    Ultimately, people believe what they want to believe, and accumulate for themselves sufficient “evidence” to support it. I personally choose to anchor my hope (and understanding of the natural world) in a living, eternal, omnipotent, loving, intentional, Creator God, rather than a chunk of Mica. If that’s “embarrassing myself”, so be it.

  • EricG

    Jeff -the post seems to assume that a problem in one universe will carry over and prevent development of life in another universe. That isn’t true in the multi-verse models I mentioned. In theory, the multiple universes in chaotic inflation have different constants, which are the drivers of different cosmology in each one.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Perry: True to form.

    2nd Law of thermodynamics applies to closed systems, and gases. The earth is not a closed system (or a ball of gas). The universe might be, but – it also refers to the entropy of the system as a whole, and not at every single point.

    Information theory: Read the links I gave earlier.

    Hundreds of papers??? The blog owner at Naturalis Historia recently gave an overview of the current state of YEC publishing (I presume this is what you refer to as “Biblical model”): It is thoroughly embarrassing – http://thenaturalhistorian.com/2012/11/03/the-state-of-creation-science-as-measured-by-scholarly-publishing/

    If anyone does not want to go there, for 2011 (for instance), there were 60 publications in total, by 29 authors, with 3 authors contributing 1/3 of all output, for the 3 main “academic” Creationist journals. (!!!)

    a few ID-papers made it out to “secular” journals, none of them upsetting the status quo.

    You also realize that your comment referring to “people believe what they want to believe” also refers to yourself, Creationists, ID’s etc?

    I started out as a YEC when I begun my studies in geology. Overtime I kept on adding all sorts of intellectual contortions to keep to YEC’ism, eventually landing in some sort of postmodernist quagmire. Then I realized that I was being thoroughly dishonest. There is no evidence for YEC’ism – nothing, nada, zilch. Few, if any of the other readers here would argue against that. ID itself is a philosophical idea, not a scientific one. You cannot prove/disprove the philosophy, scientifically. It is outside of the realm of science, and therefore, non – science.

    As to “Biblical model”, you really need to read some other posts here, as well as on internetmonk – they are currently having a bit of the series on the meaning and context of Genesis 1. High;y recommended.

  • Perry

    Yes, there actually are hundreds of papers if you include archived sources and other websites such as answersingenesis.org, and most of them, in fact, are scientific in nature. And yes, I do understand that my comment that “people believe what they want to believe” also refers to me, Creationists, ID’s etc. When I peruse http://creation.com/young-age-of-the-earth-universe-qa, I see a wealth of scientific articles that would provide evidence (not proof) for YEC. Interestlingly, I have attended many Creationist/Evolutionist debates, and consistently, the creationist appeals to scientific evidence, while the evolutionist resorts to philosophical arguments and religion-bashing (and little or no positive evidence for his own position). After years of such debates, (and documentaries such as the movie “Expelled”), I have concluded that the academic establishment has gained a monopoly on “truth”, and has black-balled all dissenters. That is not what my understanding of good science is about. Scientists should be allowed to go wherever the evidence leads, but unfortunately, the prospect of I.D. is anathema to modern academia – not on scientific grounds – but on the grounds of a subconscious revulsion toward the implications of moral accountability.

  • Dan Arnold

    Jeff,

    Given that (P2) refers to “an infinite amount of time,” what is time?

    Shalom uvrecha,

  • AHH

    Jeff @33,

    True that I didn’t give much specificity in #20; I did mention one specific problem but maybe too briefly. As I said, no time during the day today. EricG @46 hit on more-or-less the same thing.

    So before I go to bed, let me be more specific about what is wrong with your argument. (P2) is very confused in the way it talks about time and matter. No cosmology today proposes “infinite time” for our universe. Nor does any propose infinite varieties of arrangements of matter in our universe. Your whole argument about the universe getting “stuck” only works against a cosmology of some single universe infinite in time that is bouncing around exploring all conceivable conditions. That is a cosmology that nobody holds.

    From another angle, your “infinite chain of causal events” is not a feature of the cosmology of our universe, especially if (as appears to be the case) you are meaning causal in terms of a temporal sequence. The chain for our universe goes back to the Big Bang, and that’s it — that’s where the time and matter of our universe originated. Which is not to say that the Big Bang was “uncaused” in the metaphysical sense (science can’t address that), but it makes no more sense to talk about what was “before” the Big Bang than it does to talk about what is North of the North Pole.

    Yet another angle, you write as though “multiverses” refers to one universe sequentially exploring a set of conditions, but that’s just wrong. I’m not a professional cosmologist, but let me try. All we know about (and probably all we can know about scientifically) is our observable universe, which originated at the Big Bang. The multiverse question is whether there exist other universes beyond (spatially and/or in other dimensionality) that we can’t observe. One way multiverses arise in theory is from cosmic “inflation”, which is a theory that, while certainly not 100% established, has some evidence in its favor. In inflation, there was a brief period shortly after the Big Bang where things expanded so fast that very many regions were generated that are not observable from the other regions, basically different universes. And potentially they could have different physical laws (at least some differences), allowing many possibilities to be sampled. Now, all of the “inflation” universes originate in the same Big Bang 13-14 billion years ago, so there is certainly no idea of infinite time there, just many universes sharing what is in some sense the same time.
    Other, more speculative, theories would posit a multiverse in which there are also many universes that do not have their origin in the same Big Bang as us, but that’s not particularly relevant here.

    The nature of the cosmic fine-tuning argument is that in our observable universe the basic laws and constants of physics are conducive to the evolution of stars and planets and life, and that these values are remarkably fine-tuned for that purpose when the physics we know would say such values have an extremely low probability. So the cosmic dice for our universe were extremely loaded. The multiverse somewhat gets around that extraordinary finding by postulating many universes with different physical laws so that (at least) one of them won the lottery and produced us. Most Christian experts in this (again, read Polkinghorne or Giberson) would say that fine-tuning is still, while not a knock-down argument, a fair pointer to theism. But a fine-tuning argument like yours (if that is the type of argument you intend — are you really doing a Kalam argument instead?) that talks about cosmology in unphysical ways is not going to convince anybody.

    I hope this has been a somewhat coherent expansion of my comments in #20.

  • RJS

    As AHH has said, some of the physics implied in the argument of the original post isn’t exactly consistent with the current favored model (and bear in mind that this is a developing understanding). I’ve commented in the past (and gotten bemused comments in response) that the expanding universe is a rather misunderstood concept. The universe isn’t expanding “from” anywhere or “into” anything. It was and is infinite from the big bang (or if not “infinite” in the mathematical sense – always everywhere in the spatial sense). The expanding of the universe is a metric expansion of space itself. Space itself is getting bigger and thus objects can separate even though they don’t “move” in the way we usually understand. The Wikipedia article I’ve linked gives some of the discussion and is (sort of) readable.

    The formation of structures like earth suitable for life, and then of life itself, is caused by the “right” constants producing the right elements and the clumping of matter under the influence of gravity. This is where the fine-tuning argument carries its power, I think.

    Now Dawkins and others will throw out the multiverse as an answer to the fine-tuning argument, but this is simply a desire to put a nail in the coffin of theism (or anything other than atheist materialism) I think.

    What came “before” the big bang is a scientifically unanswerable question I think and may even be phrased in a poor fashion. (What does “before” mean if time originated with the universe?)

    I think the big bang and fine-tuning arguments are not proofs, but powerful indicators, of the existence of a creator God.

    Note that there are a number of “I think”‘s above – this is a topic for discussion, not a mathematical proof and there are a number of points that involve current state-of-the art in scientific query (we don’t have “final” answers).

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    RJS, while any of these theories are certainly not a disproof/proof of God’s existence, I am still somewhat unclear why you say that they are “but powerful indicators, of the existence of a creator God.”

  • RJS

    Klasie,

    Do you mean why don’t I just take them as a natural given?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    RJS,

    I mean, they could be a natural given. It seems to me that there is, hidden in the assumption that they are powerful indicators, some sort of appeal to emotion, or to incredulity. Which is fine, but not an argument.

  • RJS

    Klasie,

    They could be a natural given. It is even possible that we (well likely not you or I, but humankind perhaps) will find a theory in which they are determined on some first principles basis. While it is not a proof, I don’t think we should ignore the appeal of the heavens declare the glory of God.

    The most important thing here is we don’t know. Sometimes that is the wisest thing to say.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    RJS, indeed.

    On another point: With the tendency of these types of discussions to devolve into a no-no-no argument, as shown by the exchange between myself and Perry above, I thought Peter Enns’ post today to be most apt. You’ll certainly enjoy it:

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/peterenns/2013/01/when-cute-little-bunnies-talk-theology/


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