Saturday, March 7, 2009

Who Created God?

I like this question. Its one that is a "show stopper" for many debates, and the level of knowledge of the debaters will determine on who's side it stops. Let's look at it.

As mentioned in my post "How It All Began- Part 2", people who hold a naturalistic worldview believe that life on earth was planted here by a superior race of aliens. These people are often challenged by pointing out that they have not eliminated the need for God; they've only moved His need back one step. "Who created the aliens?" If they hold to a naturalistic worldview, they are stuck- unless they want to posit another race of aliens created the aliens who planted life on earth. Of course, they could keep going infinitely back in time, and they would never actually explain an ultimate beginning of any life.

Many Naturalists know this, so they throw the question back to us. "Who Created God?" They believe that we are in the same predicament that they are. They anticipate our response of "God is eternal" and are prepared to laugh us down by rhetorically asking, "how can you posit attributes of something that you haven't proven even exists?"

However, the table can be turned on the Naturalist by the Theist who is armed properly. Since Naturalists don't regard the Bible as a reliable source, I won't appeal to it, and neither should the Christian in this position (if he does, the Naturalist will target the Bible as a reliable source rather than the issue- not that they would provide any good evidence, they would just laugh it away, along with the audience). I will appeal to the Bible as a source for the Christian's benefit later in the post, though.

According to the general theory of relativity space, matter, energy, and time came into existence at a single point in the finite past (The Big Bang). The key here is that time itself has a beginning. Keep in mind that "create" is a verb that requires time (creator...some time passes...creation). If time did not exist before the Big Bang, then whatever is out "there" is "time-less". Whatever is out "there" is also "beginning-less" and "end-less". If something has no beginning, it has no need for a beginner (creator).

The cause of the universe caused time, therefore is outside of time, therefore has no beginning, therefore has no beginner. The Christian faith teaches that God is the Cause of the universe; therefore God is outside of time; therefore God has no beginning; therefore God has no beginner.

Not only does the Bible teach that God created the universe, it also teaches that God existed before time existed.

John 1:1-3, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made." If creation includes time, then God existed before time.

John 17:24, "Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world." God was active before time.

I Corinthians 2:7, "No, we speak of God's secret wisdom, a wisdom that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began." God was active before time.

That list of verses is certainly not comprehensive, but provides a good start for the Christian looking or the non-Christian checking that the Bible actual does teach this.

Here's a quick video from Randall Niles:


For more information:

Websites
Reasonablefaith.org

Podcasts
Defenders

Books
Beyond the Cosmos- Hugh Ross

13 comments:

  1. Not all Naturalists believe in panspermia (aliens seeding life). There are alternative explanations out there, but nothing conclusive yet.

    And as I understand Big Bang theory from my introductory science classes, things did not emerge ex nihilo, and Big Bang does not support that (or possibly even encompass that). Rather, there was an object of infinite density and temperature at a finite time in the past.... and this singularity expanded. Something like a very dense, compact ball of energy expanding to "create" the universe (but here "create" does not imply a person causing this, nor any teleological purpose).

    I don't know that the idea of creation ex nihilo is any more valid than the idea of the universe continually expanding and then becoming a singularity and repeating this process. The same holds vice versa. I will try to see what research is out there.

    As for the theist, I don't think it's a bad position to say that God has always been. Within their system, it makes perfect sense. It's also not empirically provable or disprovable. But it's a metaphysical idea so it is okay. The naturalists says matter has always been. I don't think that's a bad position either. It's not yet proven, but it is disprovable - although I have no clue how one would do so. There isn't a lot of evidence, as far as I know either way. It's kind of an impasse.

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  2. Samuel-
    There are a couple misunderstandings you have here. The singularity that initially expanded could not have been infinite in either density or temperate for these two reasons:
    The universe expanded from the singularity. The total density of the universe is finite. Therefore, the singularity's density is also finite.

    A similar argument can be made with the temperature.

    The only reason that professors use the word "infinite" is because the density and temperature were so high that it is nearly impossible to fathom. The density value and temperature value of the singularity were neither a true infinity nor approaching infinity. They were just an extremely high value.

    Astrophysicists have performed calculations regarding the repeating process you described. They conclude that is it not possible. Check out this web page for details. Also check out their references for the claims.

    http://www.reasons.org/reigning-weird-cosmic-models

    What "empirical" data would prove or disprove God?

    What do you mean by your statement, "But it's a metaphysical idea so it is okay,"?

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  3. In order for empirical data to prove God, He would have to have a physical body and physically interact with the universe.

    I am pretty sure only Mormons believe God has a physical body of flesh and bones. Or is it flesh and blood. The Mormon missionary corrected me as if it was a substantial difference.... eh.

    Metaphysical idea's don't really need to be empirically provable or unprovable. If it's beyond physics, then it's beyond physics. It's the nature of the thing.

    But if God is to be empirically proven, then he has to be physical. He's metaphysical. There is a disconnect there.

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  4. Since God is a metaphysical being, do you believe that any empirical evidence can point to (not prove) his existence or nonexistence?

    What is your current position on God's existence and why?

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  5. "point to" is tricky because it lends itself to subjectivity.

    What kind of evidence WOULD point to a deity? That's what I fail to grasp. "Something is complex therefore there is a designer".... that's merely begging the question.

    In fact, when one looks at nature, there is a lot of cruelty. Animals must eat each other to survive. Natural disasters kill many. Child-bearing is painful and kills many women (at least until modern medicine). I could go on. If we admit this evidence and posit it as proof of a deity, what then can we conclude about the deity? He is either malicious - he does nothing while people suffera; or he is incompetent - he can do nothing about suffering.

    The Christian understanding of God allows for neither of those positions because it has created myths and theodicies to get around them. But once we appeal to myths and theodicies we are no longer relying on empirical evidence but instead turning to stories and revelation. In other words, we are no longer in the courtroom of evidence but in the courtroom of either an honest or a contrived explanation.

    And by myth I mean a "spiritual story meant to convey a truth" not an "untrue story."

    In summary; when you speak of empirical evidence pointing to a deity there are a multitude of problems.

    The first is methodological: What evidence would be evidence for a designer?

    And even if we do posit that it seems reasonable to conclude there is a designer, how would the evidence push us towards Yahweh and not the pantheon of Norse or Greek gods? How do we differentiate whether it was Allah or Brahma? We can't without turning to mythology and theology - which are not empirical methods.

    I think I prefer Dr. Ruse's position that natural science and theology should be seperate.

    As to the last question.... I'm not taking a position. I'm not taking the position of atheism, there is no god. I'm not taking the position of agnosticism, we cannot know one way or another whether there is a god. I'm not taking the position of deism, there is an impersonal god. I'm not taking the position of theism, there is a personal god. I simply am not taking a position because I don't feel the evidence is strong in any one direction - nor that it is particularly of strong import to choose right now.

    I do think it slightly reasonable that if the theistic position is the true one, that God should be a little more conspicuous about himself considering how much disagreement there is about him, and how often that leads to disputes and conflicts. But, as Maher pointed out in his less-than-mediocre documentary - God always has to talk through a prophet.... and oftentimes, the prophets disagree with each other.

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  6. Yes, "point to" is tricky. But that does not mean that it can't be used. "Point to" narrows options. Experiments "point to" several possible conclusions all the time (more experiments are done to narrow further).

    "Something is complex therefore there is a designer"
    Do you believe this is the argument you are standing against?

    Are you saying that a designer is not a possible cause of complexity?

    Pain and suffering are irrelevant to this particular discussion. We are asking whether or not a deity exists. The personality of that deity has nothing to do with its existence.

    If we are able to narrow the options down to a deity (with nothing else available), then we must go to theology (as you stated) to narrow down further. We must check the "revelations" from the possible deities that are in the pool of options, and see which revelation best describes and makes sense of the world we live in. Reason and logic are not abandoned; they are just used in another discipline.

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  7. I don't think there is any empirical evidence that would lead one towards the belief in a deity; but I also don't think there is any evidence that would lead one not to believe in a deity.

    I think "something is complex therefore there is a designer" is the bulwark of the ID argument, and that it is fundamentally fallacious because it is just begging the question. It is saying, we cannot account for X (complexity) therefore we must infer Y (designer) to account for it. When you get to the root of "irreducible complexity" examples provided by Behe, they can be accounted for without reference to theism and by way of natural selection through experimentation.

    A designer is a possible cause of complexity, but this doesn't help us much without evidence for a designer, and complexity is not evidence for a designer. Even if there was evidence for a designer, a designer could be anything from the flying-spaghetti monsters, to aliens, to a god.

    I am curious to know what would constitute empirical evidence for a designer.... "irreducible complexity" has been offered, but at least the examples of IC that Behe has provided have been refuted by science - and I can't think of any irrefutable example of IC that does exist.

    My point about the nature of the designer is that if we did accept nature as evidence; what conclusions would we arrive at? Without theology, our conclusions may be dismal based on nature alone.

    I concur that theology employs reason and logic, but as Dr Ruse points out - the methodology is no longer inductive and empirical.... you are working in a different discipline which relies on deductive reasoning.

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  8. Which of Behe's examples of IC have been explained by random mutation and natural selection? I am requesting specific examples, not the statement, "all of them".

    Can you provide sources to show the paths taken by these that redefine Behe's examples as not irreducibly complex?

    To avoid redundancy, I want to refer you to our comments on the post "What's Important About Consistency?" for evidence for the designer's existence.

    Flying-spaghetti monsters and aliens are still limited by causality. They must be designed also. Those options (if taken seriously- which most don't) only move the design back by one step.

    Here's what we can conclude about God and his nature from using nature alone:

    God is incomprehensively powerful (the Big Bang).

    God is incomprehensively intelligent (look at the complexity of the engineering required by life systems or the extreme fine tuning found in the laws of physics.

    God is patient and loving (look at the time and precision required to prepare our galaxy cluster, galaxy, sun, solar system, planet, and moon for our existence to even be possible).

    God is not limited by space and time (the Big Bang).

    God values logical consistency (mathematics accurately reflects physics; the law of non-contradiction).

    God values both the complex (biological systems) and the simple (star systems).

    God values diversity (look at the range of species and sub-species).

    God has a moral nature (man, for the most part, strives to be "good", and recognizes when something is "bad").

    God wants to be known (many psychologists believe that man has a "God" gene, and makes man strive to look for a higher being than himself; every previous example).

    Now, going with those things that we do have, we need to look at the claimed revelations and see which one is consistent with what we have found.

    Is deductive reasoning any less valuable or less useful at apprehending truth than inductive reasoning?

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  9. See Anselm Atkins on Behe. The blood clotting organism is the first one that comes to mind. The components of the blood clotting mechanism have functional purposes of their own. The same in regards to the bacterial flagellum.

    And I have sent sources previously, I can look them up again. But it might be better to set aside 15 minutes of googling directed towards "refuting Behe", "refuting irreducible complexity", etc. It wasn't hard to find, and the sources were credible scientists.

    The flying-spaghetti monster is not limited by causality as far I know. But I am not familiar with FSM theology, I could be wrong.

    I don't see how your claims from nature support your conclusions.
    It's completely begging the question to say "the universe took a long time to develop and is precise; therefore God is patient and loving." Just because something takes a long time to develop and precise first of all does not imply a creator, and secondly does not imply that a creator is patient or loving.

    The Big Bang is comprehendible so that doesn't make God imcomprehensively power.

    God values diversity? Or how about natural selection causes diversity?

    God values complex and simple? Just because if hypothetically God created something complex and simple, it does not follow that he therefore values them.
    I create poops everyday, and except for constipation, I don't place much value on pooping.

    Etc. etc.

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  10. DeRosier tears up Behe like a pitbull on a t-bone, why the bacteriul flagellum is not IC:
    http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/programs/ht/qt/3416_08.html

    Anselm Atkins on Behe:
    http://www.simonyi.ox.ac.uk/dawkins/WorldOfDawkins-archive/Catalano/box/anselm.shtml

    Futher source:
    http://www.talkdesign.org/faqs/icdmyst/ICDmyst.html

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  11. You are correct that all my conclusion do not necessarily follow- there are other options. But the option of a designer is not off the table when discussing a control (humans and their creations). Why should a designer be off the table when we look at the universe? Is it impossible that a complex system or object is the result of a design?

    I'm not talking about the Big Bang itself being comprehendible, I'm talking about the amount of raw power and energy required to cause the Big Bang and sustain the expansion of the universe. Can that be comprehended?

    Since you brought it up...what do you suppose would happen if you were to plug your butt for about a month? If it has no value, then nothing bad would happen. If it does have value, something bad will happen.

    The PBS video:
    Which came first, the flagellum or the syringe?

    Would natural selection have eliminated the syringe if the bacteria could not move to its target to inject the poison?

    Can the syringe be further broken down to useful parts? Is each successive step of mutation to the final syringe useful? Were those parts in a location for them to be useful?

    Are the syringe and the flagellum in the same location or did the syringe need to migrate to the location were it finally ended up as a flagellum?

    If it had to migrate, was the combination of each new mutation and each new location useful to avoid natural selection's tendency to eliminate useless mutations?

    The answers to any of these questions have the potential to destroy the rebuttals to Behe; they also have the power to destroy Behe's argument for IC, per example. These need to be answered before a conclusion can be reached about whether or not the IC (or not) of a system or organism can be established.

    Do you know of any references that answer these questions for Behe's specific examples of IC?

    The last link looks like a gold mine. It will take me a while to get through all of it.

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  12. Since the 13th, we have moved way off topic in this thread. IC is quite irrelevant to whether or not God is limited by causality.

    If anyone is curious about my and Samuel's debate about God and causality, check out the comments on the post "What's Important About Consistency". For some reason, that's where we actually debated what should be here.

    Samuel, I'll give you the last comment on this topic, then I'm closing the comments. Since IC is relevant to other discussions, I'll post something on IC in the future, so we can pick up where we left off, but in a more relevant post.

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  13. My last comment.

    I brought up IC being unproven/refuted to substantiate my claim that "I don't think there is any empirical evidence that would lead one towards the belief in a deity;" as IC is the main ID argument within biology for evidence of a designer. If people think IC is legitimate, they think there is empirical evidence. So I had to show that IC is not legitimate to substantiate my claim against empirical evidence.

    To summarize my basic point:
    The teleological argument hinges on causality producing all things going back to a first cause which is uncaused. The only way to abandon causality going back to a first thing is to arbitrarily dismiss causality applying to the first cause by positing a metaphysical axiom.

    The naturalists arguments are shaped the way they are because they do not abandon the principle of causality; whereas theistic arguments "get around" (rather than abandon) by positing a metaphysical axiom.

    Just because it is arbitrary does not make it false; but it is not empirically substantiated - which is not admissible by naturalist epistemology. So any arguments between the naturalist and the theist will really just be talking over each other since they have a fundamental epistemological disagreement.

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