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Old 07-10-2013, 02:34 PM
 
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I haven't been really stumped by the universal constants. As a rule of thumb, what works is what we get. It is rather like saying that only God could get water so perfectly flat. It is what it does, naturally.

The other aspect is the argument that we couldn't have evolved without the right conditions. That is true, but the fact is we have been lucky. If it had all been arranged to suit us, as humans, then that is presumably what conditions would have been provided. In fact we needed a couple of extinctions - first of the reptiles to let the dinosaurs dominate and then of the dinosaurs to let the mammals dominate. We have been lucky. And the conditions were not made to suit us - we evolved to suit the conditions.

Your other point that morality derives from the Bible doesn't cause me a moment's pause. In fact human morality is partly evolved social behavious which has been added to and made more complex because of the development of society after the ladies invented farming and we became settled organized communities.

We developed similar books of codes in various cultures and the Bible morality was based on that rather than providing it.

This can be proved by discussing a few nasties in the Bible. It is argued that these were justified, or necessary or God was just going along with the customs of the time. The same applies to excusing Jesus preferring his followers to his family, sending a herd of pigs suicidally mad or cursing a fig tree because it was the wrong time for fruit.

The point is not whether this can be exused or not, but that the Bible is measured against human standards of morality. I rather doubt that Hitchens was any more stumped by this point than I am.
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Old 07-10-2013, 02:42 PM
 
Location: Space Coast
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There's a lot of questions where my answer is "I don't know." I am quite comfortable with the fact that I don't know everything and have no need to make up an answer (aka goddunit) just for the sake of having one.
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Old 07-10-2013, 02:46 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AREQUIPA View Post
I haven't been really stumped by the universal constants. As a rule of thumb, what works is what we get. It is rather like saying that only God could get water so perfectly flat. It is what it does, naturally.

The other aspect is the argument that we couldn't have evolved without the right conditions. That is true, but the fact is we have been lucky. If it had all been arranged to suit us, as humans, then that is presumably what conditions would have been provided. In fact we needed a couple of extinctions - first of the reptiles to let the dinosaurs dominate and then of the dinosaurs to let the mammals dominate. We have been lucky. And the conditions were not made to suit us - we evolved to suit the conditions.
Well, there is a difference between the fine-tuning of the universe to led to the big-bang and fine-tuning of earth to create life. Mainly that conditions on earth were just perfect for life to have been created, but were not perfect for life in zillions of other planets. So the random nature does make sense ... it was pure probability - random chance. But in case of the creation of the universe, this line of thinking does not hold up. Was the universe also just a random accident? Or are we going to adopt the multi-verse theory here? You see .. it gets more confusing ....

Quote:
Your other point that morality derives from the Bible doesn't cause me a moment's pause. In fact human morality is partly evolved social behaviour which has been added to and made more complex because of the development of society after the ladies invented farming and we became settled organized communities.

We developed similar books of codes in various cultures and the Bible morality was based on that rather than providing it.

This can be proved by discussing a few nasties in the Bible. It is argued that these were justified, or necessary or God was just going along with the customs of the time. The same applies to excusing Jesus preferring his followers to his family, sending a herd of pigs suicidally mad or cursing a fig tree because it was the wrong time for fruit.

The point is not whether this can be exused or not, but that the Bible is measured against human standards of morality. I rather doubt that Hitchens was any more stumped by this point than I am.
No, I am not repeating the good old line - we get our morality from the bible. In a debate with Hitchens, Wilson says that you (an atheist/ rationalist) cannot judge me (Christian) using your own morality or rules. To judge me you have to enter my world view .... of Christianity. For example, he says that who are we (non-Christians) to say that killing of the Amalekites was unethical? It was perfectly ethical according to the Bible. Such an action cannot be judged within a different world view using morals that are not Christian morals.

This is a little difficult to explain. You may have to watch the debate (it was also in the Collision movie). And it did stump Hitchens .. he had no answer. I mean, there is no way to debate such a line of argument.
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Old 07-10-2013, 05:23 PM
 
Location: Summit, NJ
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At the moment only one. Why was there a big bang at all? Wouldn't all that matter be perfectly content staying in one giant mass? Or, in fact, not existing in the first place? Where did this matter come from?

Some atheists will say it's irrelevant, that we should just accept that the universe is - baloney. It's a valid question and I'm hoping it'll be answered before I die.

That's all that stumps me at the moment. I know there are holes in evolutionary theory, but I'm guessing most of those will be cleared up in the next 50 years.
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Old 07-10-2013, 06:34 PM
 
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Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
Well, there is a difference between the fine-tuning of the universe to led to the big-bang and fine-tuning of earth to create life. Mainly that conditions on earth were just perfect for life to have been created, but were not perfect for life in zillions of other planets. So the random nature does make sense ... it was pure probability - random chance. But in case of the creation of the universe, this line of thinking does not hold up. Was the universe also just a random accident? Or are we going to adopt the multi-verse theory here? You see .. it gets more confusing ....



No, I am not repeating the good old line - we get our morality from the bible. In a debate with Hitchens, Wilson says that you (an atheist/ rationalist) cannot judge me (Christian) using your own morality or rules. To judge me you have to enter my world view .... of Christianity. For example, he says that who are we (non-Christians) to say that killing of the Amalekites was unethical? It was perfectly ethical according to the Bible. Such an action cannot be judged within a different world view using morals that are not Christian morals.

This is a little difficult to explain. You may have to watch the debate (it was also in the Collision movie). And it did stump Hitchens .. he had no answer. I mean, there is no way to debate such a line of argument.

As to cosmic origins, there are various possibilities. 'We don't really know' is the only answer and while one could say it 'stumps' the atheist, 'goddunnit' is not therefore the valid default answer. What is more it isn't even relevant since that God could have been the god of any man -made religion or of none.

The Wilson view still seems to me to fall down. I say that the human -derived codes of conduct are the valid ones, just as the human - evolved rules of logic, law, mathematics and language are the only valid ones. To 'bite the bullet' and say that what God does is good and what Christians do is good even if it looks bad to our normal way of reasoning is simply not acceptable, just as saying that human rules of logic do not apply to God or to Christians. To do this means that they have departed from valid reasoning and morality and they, not atheists, are the ones without morality or rationality.

In fact what they do in practice, is to apply the same rules that we do but insist on special exemption where they cause difficulties. It may stump me in getting the Christians to see this, but it doesn't stump me. I just say that it is an unreasonable and unacceptable bit of special pleading.
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Old 07-10-2013, 06:40 PM
 
39,031 posts, read 10,825,389 times
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Originally Posted by averysgore View Post
At the moment only one. Why was there a big bang at all? Wouldn't all that matter be perfectly content staying in one giant mass? Or, in fact, not existing in the first place? Where did this matter come from?

Some atheists will say it's irrelevant, that we should just accept that the universe is - baloney. It's a valid question and I'm hoping it'll be answered before I die.

That's all that stumps me at the moment. I know there are holes in evolutionary theory, but I'm guessing most of those will be cleared up in the next 50 years.
You are quite right. It is a question that we would very much like answered. The irrelevance is in the religion debate because not knowing does not make God the default, and even if it did, we would still not have a reason to pick one god rather than any other. The cosmic origins debate is really an academic one and our major beef is with organized religion and the authority it claims to derive from its various Holy Books.

In just the same way, the orgins of life is one we very much want to know, but it is academic. What we do know about evolution from the earliest blobforms completely relegates Genesis to myth and that is what is relevant in the religion debate.
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Old 07-10-2013, 06:40 PM
 
Location: Parts Unknown, Northern California
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No theological questions stump me. On such matters I never lie, I'm always right and I understand everything.

Go ahead....try me.
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Old 07-11-2013, 08:25 AM
 
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Originally Posted by averysgore View Post
I know there are holes in evolutionary theory, but I'm guessing most of those will be cleared up in the next 50 years.
I think I understand evolution by natural selection pretty well. What holes are there in this theory?
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Old 07-11-2013, 09:23 AM
 
Location: Hyrule
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Amazes me, maybe, scares me, yes, stumps me, no.
I have plenty of fantasies about afterlife but nobody can give me pause in regards to any compulsion to force others to accept their fantasy. It's just what they think, not a fact.

What amazes me is that whole countries can accept and enforce fantasy. But that's a different thread. As far as debating a theist, it's akin to debating a child who believes in Santa Claus. Sad and useless. They believe, and proving a disbelief would shake their reality, which is fantasy based so it gets odd. I usually just let it go.

They've never "stumped" me, just amazed me with their conviction to an imagined thought. Sometimes they scare me. Like someone who really believes a fairy is following them around and protecting them. You never know what the fairy is thinking, it could be telling them to do bad things. It could be telling them I'm a bad person who needs their treatment. Scary stuff, yet it's so accepted it seems normal. "God Bless America", see what I mean. So weird. IMO.
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Old 07-11-2013, 12:47 PM
 
Location: Somewhere out there.
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Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
The question that plays with my mind till this day is the "fine tuning of the universe" argument and how some claim that this serves as a pointer to a god or creator.

In summary, the fine-tuning of the universe refers to the astonishing precision of the universe's physical constants. In order to explain the present state of the universe, scientific theories require that these mathematical constants of nature and the beginning state of the Universe have extremely precise values.

Some of these constants include: speed of light, relative mass of electrons and protons, gravity, pi .. and so on. It is widely believed by physicists that these physical constants are so finely-tuned that even infinitesimal deviations could have caused the Universe to collapse --- and there would be NOTHING.

So the universe seems fine-tuned for life.

Sir Fred Hoyle, an English astronomer, said this:
A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a superintendent has monkeyed with the physics, as well as chemistry and biology, and that there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. I do not believe that any physicist who examined the evidence could fail to draw the inference that the laws of nuclear physics have been deliberately designed with regard to the consequences they produce within stars. Adds Dr. David D. Deutch: If anyone claims not to be surprised by the special features that the universe has, he is hiding his head in the sand. These special features ARE surprising and unlikely.

And many other notable scientists including Hawking have alluded to this .....

In answer to this particular question, I don't think the universe is finely tuned for life. Seems to be far from it. It has taken an unbelievably long amount of time for us to get to this point. After our own little earths formation, roughly 4.5 billion years ago, there was a wait of a billion years before even the simplest biomolecules emerged on this planet. Then there was another really long wait, doing not much, until multicellular organisms (still with no physical components) appeared roughly 700 million years ago. Another million years go by before the start of the Cambrian explosion and eventually leading to where we are today. Between then and now there have been mass extinctions in which nearly everything on earth was wiped out: 250 million years ago (ending the Paleozoic era) and 65 million years ago which as we know marked the end of the dinosaurs. In relation to the length of time most scientists believe the universe has existed, 'life' as we know it has been around for a very short time, and humanity itself, just the blink of an eye. And all this because we happen to live in the habitable zone within our solar system.
The next nearest earth-like planet in a habitable zone is estimated to be at least 6.4 light years away. That's quite a long way.
And we are here for a finite amount of time. Life will have died on this planet long before our sun dies. So I think of it more like the opposite. The universe seems to be on the whole extremely hostile and unhabitable.

But to answer your original question, there is no question a theist has posed that has made me think. There are however, still the questions that I pose to myself. Such as what causes the complex collection of cells that form a babies heart to spontaneously start beating for the first time, and keep that heart beating rhythmically for the rest of that humans life? They are not 'theist' questions however. I've spent enough time pondering this stuff to have ruled out god long ago. I just think as others have said, that there are questions we have yet to find an answer to. And if we can't find the answers, so be it, I'm happy to accept that.
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