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Old 07-15-2013, 08:44 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AREQUIPA View Post
In the context of the thread, evidence for an intelligent creator through the anthropic principle with especial reference to universal constants is not really a stumper.

It is a good argument - one of the better ones in the theist armoury - and there are objections to the various points.
This argument starts to make a lot more sense when you read notable physicists talk about the perplexing nature of these constants. A lot has been written and said about these natural constants, and I cannot really do justice to them on this forum. Whole books have been written just about pi.

At the Risk of Sounding Ridiculous, I will also state that saying "I don't know" to rudimentary ideas in physics and math - speed of light, pi, etc. that we teach to 10 year olds, does not sound like a very satisfactory answer. In a way, all of mathematics, physics and chemistry is based on many of these physical constants. From the complicated idea of the big bang to the simpler idea of the hydrogen atom - they are all highly dependent on our understanding of these constants.

That said, I am glad that you and some others at least acknowledge that this idea makes you stop and think. And I suspect that those that dismiss this idea outright, do not understand it at all.
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Old 07-15-2013, 08:55 AM
 
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Originally Posted by old_cold View Post
Seems like this is being responded to just over what questions have stumped the atheist, mostly because the theist will answer as above.
However, there was a question posted on the Christianity board a few weeks ago that was glossed over, skirted and side-tracked with no answers attempted...certainly none given....not even the usual ones .
Is it fair to say it is one that 'stumped' them?

Why must Animals Suffer?
I am not sure what is so perplexing about this question!

Quote:
I have often wondered why animals must suffer since they are not accountable to God and not guilty of sin. Does anyone have any insight into this matter? It grieves me to know about the suffering of animals. They are subjected to be hunted, raised and killed for food, tormented by pests in the wild, subjected to starvation, cold, and even subjected to the cruelty of humans who abuse them at times. Why must this be so? Is it irrational for me to feel sorrowful about things like this?
Why we (humans) form relationships with certain animals (dogs, cats, horses) is very well studied and understood. Also, many of us just get squeamish when we see a deer being attacked by a lion on TV. What is so irrational about that? Bringing god into the picture might be the reason behind all the confusion.
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Old 07-15-2013, 09:00 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fishbrains View Post
I hear this argument, but I don't really know how true it is. Why would the universe collapse if pi=4.76? So what if the speed of light were to be only 197,000,000 m/s? All that I have ever seen is the bald assertion by theists, asking me to take it on faith that it is true, which inevitably leads to the saying therefore god!

But even granting its truth, so what? We only need one universe, and that is the one we inhabit. If the universal laws were such that it precluded life, or even existence, problem solved, we would not be here to argue about it.

None of this says anything about god though.
That is simple. Try calculating the area of a circle with your value of pi = 4.76.

Math, physics and chemistry ... as we know it would cease to exist if these constants changed. Unless you are telling me that in the universe where pi=4.76, the shape of a circle would just be different. Maybe some unknown dimension would be added --- fascinating!

NB: In case you didn't know - draw a circle of ANY size and divide its circumference by its diameter, you will always get the value of pi.
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Old 07-15-2013, 09:18 AM
 
39,202 posts, read 10,880,280 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
This argument starts to make a lot more sense when you read notable physicists talk about the perplexing nature of these constants. A lot has been written and said about these natural constants, and I cannot really do justice to them on this forum. Whole books have been written just about pi.

At the Risk of Sounding Ridiculous, I will also state that saying "I don't know" to rudimentary ideas in physics and math - speed of light, pi, etc. that we teach to 10 year olds, does not sound like a very satisfactory answer. In a way, all of mathematics, physics and chemistry is based on many of these physical constants. From the complicated idea of the big bang to the simpler idea of the hydrogen atom - they are all highly dependent on our understanding of these constants.

That said, I am glad that you and some others at least acknowledge that this idea makes you stop and think. And I suspect that those that dismiss this idea outright, do not understand it at all.
There is a difference between knowing about these constants and being able to explain why they are there. 'I don't know' is true but a bit simplistic in that there are suggestions but we don't know for sure.

The relevance to goddunnit is that, in the absence of a really convincing alternative explanation (let alone evidence) there is a gap for god - as there is with anything where unanswered questions remain. And to that extent it is a stumper for this atheist at least.

But not being able to produce a feasible alternative (as we can with abiogenesis) does not mean that this somehow becomes evidence for a god (let alone Biblegod). It really only does mean that we don't know.

What we do know is that we required a few extinctions to give mammals a chance and, if a god hath dunnetted it, that would not have been necessary, so that is indirect evidence that, wherever the constants came from, they were not put in place by a god, but just came to be out of a lot of other possible constants, in the process of a cosmos evolving.

So I wonder whether that does not become something to stump the arguer for Goddunit?
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Old 07-15-2013, 09:21 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
That's easy. The religious beliefs infringe into the non-believer's lives on a regular basis. To list a few:
- most religions condemn atheists to hell
- religions push policy (e.g. do not teach evolution in school, teach creationism)
- religions get special status and too much attention (e.g. tax exempt)

Therefore one side needs to lose the argument.
I don't think someone needs to lose the argument. But for the policy and the tax status, someone needs to lose the court battle. It's not a matter of which side has the correct beliefs but whether zealots are trying to codify their religion into law, encroach on the freedoms everyone else enjoys, or use taxpayer-funded venues such as public schools to teach their religion. The Constitution was set up to protect the minority from the tyranny of the majority, and I believe the way atheists can protect themselves and their rights is to make sure the concept of separation of church and state is strictly adhered to. I couldn't care less about what someone else feels in his or her heart, but I do care when they try to force me to live by it, discriminate against me because of it, or hide behind their religion as a way of trying to sponge off the government and the rest of us.
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Old 07-15-2013, 09:26 AM
 
39,202 posts, read 10,880,280 times
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Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
That is simple. Try calculating the area of a circle with your value of pi = 4.76.

Math, physics and chemistry ... as we know it would cease to exist if these constants changed. Unless you are telling me that in the universe where pi=4.76, the shape of a circle would just be different. Maybe some unknown dimension would be added --- fascinating!

NB: In case you didn't know - draw a circle of ANY size and divide its circumference by its diameter, you will always get the value of pi.
But isn't that like saying that the distance across a circle is always going to be the same as half the distance from top to bottom, no matter what size circle you draw?

True, Pi is more involved, but there seems no reason to find anything more extraordinary about it. It is, like a lot of geometry and other maths -related stuff, what it has to be because of what it is. It strikes me as the old business of looking at anything that we can't immediately grasp and trying to to find spoor of God in it.

Anyone who argued that a throw of stones will never be exactly the same, ever, no matter how often you throw them and thus it proves God would be hooted off the stage, but the same argument is used for snowflakes to prove intelligent design. It is, I suspect, the same as rummaging in Woo for something mysterious enough to enable 'Must be God' to be invoked.
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Old 07-15-2013, 09:55 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AREQUIPA View Post
But isn't that like saying that the distance across a circle is always going to be the same as half the distance from top to bottom, no matter what size circle you draw?

True, Pi is more involved, but there seems no reason to find anything more extraordinary about it. It is, like a lot of geometry and other maths -related stuff, what it has to be because of what it is. It strikes me as the old business of looking at anything that we can't immediately grasp and trying to to find spoor of God in it.

Anyone who argued that a throw of stones will never be exactly the same, ever, no matter how often you throw them and thus it proves God would be hooted off the stage, but the same argument is used for snowflakes to prove intelligent design. It is, I suspect, the same as rummaging in Woo for something mysterious enough to enable 'Must be God' to be invoked.
Well, I think you are pettifogging the issue by bringing in the snowflake and "godunnit" argument. In a way, I find little to no difference between a theist who says pi is what it is because god made it so, and an atheist who says that pi is what it is cause I don't know or care ....
And it is no only me saying this about the natural constants. Notable physicists and mathematicians are perplexed by these issues.

How can you not find pi to be extraordinary? While pi is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, it is regarded as the most important yet strange constant in mathematics:

- pi goes on and on for an infinite number of digits (Pi to the 10,000th digit - CNN.com)
- pi is used in astronomy to find other planets
- pi is used in math distributions (normal, gaussian). Think modelling weather, wall street, stocks, tv signals, radio waves
- pi is used in astrophysics (calculations for Big Bang)
- pi in particle physics (basic calculations for Large Hadron Collider)
- pi in simple calculations for Gravity, energy, volume
- pi is found in the coiling of the DNA
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Old 07-15-2013, 10:58 AM
 
Location: Northeastern US
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Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
How can you not find pi to be extraordinary?
Well, how can you not find air extraordinary? It's everywhere. Water, too (expands instead of shrinks when cold!). Empty space. Right angles. Where does it end? Isn't pi in an important sense ordinary simply because of its ubiquity? If it inspires awe in you that's fine ... I wouldn't want to rain on your parade. But if you find pi extraordinary it's proof only that you find pi extraordinary ... not that it IS in some sense objectively remarkable and certainly not that it is evidence of or for god(s).

I find pi interesting in its own right, though not awesome; others find it utterly boring. If amazement is evidence for god, then how do you account for some people not being amazed? If the failure of some to respond to pi's wonderfulness doesn't disprove god, then in what sense does some people's excitement prove god?
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Old 07-15-2013, 11:19 AM
 
3,404 posts, read 2,252,501 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sandman249 View Post
Well, I think you are pettifogging the issue by bringing in the snowflake and "godunnit" argument. In a way, I find little to no difference between a theist who says pi is what it is because god made it so, and an atheist who says that pi is what it is cause I don't know or care ....
And it is no only me saying this about the natural constants. Notable physicists and mathematicians are perplexed by these issues.

How can you not find pi to be extraordinary? While pi is the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter, it is regarded as the most important yet strange constant in mathematics:

- pi goes on and on for an infinite number of digits (Pi to the 10,000th digit - CNN.com)
- pi is used in astronomy to find other planets
- pi is used in math distributions (normal, gaussian). Think modelling weather, wall street, stocks, tv signals, radio waves
- pi is used in astrophysics (calculations for Big Bang)
- pi in particle physics (basic calculations for Large Hadron Collider)
- pi in simple calculations for Gravity, energy, volume
- pi is found in the coiling of the DNA
I would argue that pi's ubiquity is not due to something amazing about pi, but that the concept of circles and cyclical elements are all through the math we use to describe the world. If pi is intrinsically related to a circle, then the interesting thing is how circles and cycles play a part in the world around us, not so much pi itself...

-NoCapo
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Old 07-15-2013, 11:20 AM
 
Location: Somewhere out there.
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Pi is what it is because it deals with the properties of a circle - if you changed the value of pi you would no longer be dealing with a circle but something else entirely and then we would be sitting here discussing a different shape. On a simplistic level, its like saying that if the angles of a square were all 89 instead of 90 we would no longer have a square. Or if the total angles on a triangle didn't add up to 180 you would no longer have a triangle. The properties are what they are because they describe the properties of the shape mathematically, simple as that.

Don't get me wrong, I absolutely understand what you are getting at - the universe is full of such mathematical constants, complicated and puzzling concepts often broken down into simple and elegant equations. Why should this be? I think what you are trying to get is to say is that it must be down to god. Yes it does seem extraordinary that we should be able to explain our universe using mathematical equations. And it certainly is elegant, fascinating, thought provoking and often mysterious, I would certainly agree with you on that. It would be easy to think that because the physical constants are often described so elegantly, mathematically, that god must somehow be 'built-in' to the whole thing. There are all sorts of extraordinary things about the universe and we have historically put down to god. I think as atheists of course we have moved away from that, because so much of what seemed like a good idea to attribute to god in the past, turned out to have another explanation.
Yes of course we could all be wrong, but until proven otherwise I think we would like our scientists to continue to explore 'the reason why' things are the way we are.

I mentioned earlier in the thread the book "Why E=mc2" and was going to write a review of it here but honestly on further reading I'm not sure I could write a concise summary, so I strongly recommend you read it yourself. It traces the progress of how Einstein arrived at his famous elegant equation - from Galileo, Faraday, Maxwell and research by other scientists which led to how Einstein arrived at his mathematical description of the universe. It is so well written that it is surprisingly easy to follow. The chapter about the speed of light is fascinating.
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