RE: [asa] The theist challenge

From: Dehler, Bernie <bernie.dehler@intel.com>
Date: Tue Dec 02 2008 - 17:28:00 EST

Jon said:
" Either way, I don't see either proposition as being able to be
solved scientifically, but is metaphysics. The atheist wants faith in
eternal matter, which doesn't make any moral demands upon them, rather than
faith in an eternal God."

Insightful. As far as I can tell, you're right. However- atheists HATE to be told that they have FAITH (of any kind)! LOL !!! I was just debating with an atheist like that at work... it super irritates him to tell him he has some sort of faith.

...Bernie

-----Original Message-----
From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On Behalf Of Jon Tandy
Sent: Monday, December 01, 2008 12:26 PM
To: 'ASA'
Subject: RE: [asa] The theist challenge

-----Original Message-----
From: asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu [mailto:asa-owner@lists.calvin.edu] On
Behalf Of Dehler, Bernie

"Here's one I would propose. I think the "fine tuning" argument for God is
very strong. If science can easily explain how "something can come from
nothing," then this may be a strong case against God. I have no inkling on
how science could do such a thing..."

I think these are actually two different arguments. The fine-tuning
argument says, look at all the properties of the universe, and if any of
them were slightly different we wouldn't have life. The probability of all
these independent properties just "happening" in the early universe in just
this way is unreasonably small, so therefore it must have been designed that
way. But what if science could prove that there was some deeper fundamental
relationship between the fine-tuned properties, so that they are not just
statistically unrelated improbabilities? What if there are some deeper laws
discovered that actually make it LIKELY that those particular set of
properties should actually "fall out" in just the way they have, making it a
reasonably likely rather than an unlikely proposition after all? Would that
really cause you to lose your faith in God? Or would the answer lie
"further up and further in", to quote C.S. Lewis, and the theist argument
would still be, "Yes, but God designed the universe to operate on those
fundamental principles" -- which really can't be disproved by science.

The other statement of "something from nothing," I see as a different
argument. Where did the "stuff" in the universe come from in the first
place, so that there could be a Big Bang from an infinitely dense,
infinitesimally small point? Maybe the universe "popped out" at the end of
a black hole from some other earlier universe. Still, that begs the
question of where did THAT matter come from? What if science could somehow
reach beyond the Big Bang to demonstrate its origin in a previous universe's
black hole. Would that cause you to lose your faith, and if so why? If
matter didn't come from somewhere (i.e. Someone), then matter must have
always existed. Therefore, a non-theistic account of the universe relies on
the eternal existence of matter (and associated laws, properties, etc.),
rather than the eternal existence of a Creator God who made matter from
nothing. Either way, I don't see either proposition as being able to be
solved scientifically, but is metaphysics. The atheist wants faith in
eternal matter, which doesn't make any moral demands upon them, rather than
faith in an eternal God.

This is why, even though I think those two arguments are relatively strong,
they are not "proof" of the existence of God, nor anything approaching a
scientific argument for theism, but rather philosophical justifications for
faith. At best, they would constitute an "intelligent design argument" that
is based on scientific inference, but which is ultimately metaphysical.
[Heb 11:3] "Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the
word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do
appear."

If someone disagrees, please let me know, and why. For instance, why would
the "eternal matter" hypothesis of an atheist require a scientific
explanation for the origin of matter? What if one of the properties of the
universe (multiverse?) is simply that matter exists and doesn't have a cause
and effect relationship like the things we see inside the universe? How
would/could science determine or disprove this assertion without resorting
to philosophy?

Jon Tandy

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Received on Tue Dec 2 17:29:35 2008

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