an atheist viewpoint

thoughts from a non-theist

More Bullshit from Please Convince Me

Seemingly incapable of reading one of my replies without turning it into a smug ‘please believe in my god!’ style blog posting, the risible Please Convince Me have jizzed out another load of rubbish.

Let’s see what they’ve got to say…

For many atheists, a major stumbling block is the belief – the insistence – that this universe is “all there is.” Considering the likelihood of God’s existence from this starting point will often cause the atheist to engage in circular thinking, as evident in a recent challenge posted on this site:

“For gods to be gods they have to be supernatural – agreed? For something to be supernatural it has to exist outside of the universe – agree? Since the universe IS everything, there is nothing outside, there is no ‘outside.’ Therefore nothing can be supernatural, which means that any being demonstrating the traits of a god is nothing more than a powerful evolved creature that lives in the same universe as we do, therefore is not a god and not deserving of worship.

I’m on solid ground when I say no gods exist. Disagree? Prove they do.”

Yes, that’s me they’ve (without attribution) quoted, and the point I was making is pretty similar to what I said yesterday.

With just a bit of reflection, it is apparent that the skeptic has built his conclusion right into his premises. By defining the “universe’ to be “everything,” and “supernatural” as being “outside the universe,” the only possible conclusion is that there is no God. Restating the syllogism, the challenger is saying: To exist, a being must be within the universe. By definition, God is that being which is outside the universe. Therefore, God cannot exist.

That’s not really all I’m saying, my point was more nuanced than that. I fully accept that a being that could resemble a god could exist (though I don’t believe it does), but that wouldn’t make it a ‘god’. My argument is that nothing supernatural exists, not just gods.

The problem with the conclusion is not the logic employed but the accuracy of the premises involved. Why should we assume that the universe is everything, that there is nothing outside of it? The challenger presents no evidence to support his claim, nor does he provide an argument. He simply assumes that the universe is all that there is. This is very shaky ground upon which to build a belief system.

‘Why should we assume that the universe is everything, that there is nothing outside of it?’ – I’d argue that we should assume this as the universe IS everything, there is no ‘outside’ for anything to be in. Can the believer supply any evidence that I’m wrong? No, he can’t. It’s been put to me that if we were in a computer simulation, then the ‘outside’ would be whatever was outside of that computer, but it wouldn’t, it would just be part of the real universe, albeit a part we can’t see. The Universe IS everything, it includes every possible dimension, or alternate reality, or multiverse, there’s still no ‘outside’.

When a Christian refers to the “universe” – at least an “old earth” believer – he is usually referring to the thing that popped into existence from “nothing” some 14 billion years ago. It consists of length, width, depth and time. Perhaps in the first fraction of a second, it also consisted of additional dimensions. There was a before to the universe and there will be an after; otherwise the universe itself would be infinite and eternal, which science tells us it is not. But if time as we know it began with the Big Bang, then this before and after exist in a way in which our minds cannot fully comprehend.

That’s a very narrow view of the universe, I have to say. Already the believer is limiting ‘reality’ in such a way that they can create a gap for his god to fit into. I’m not surprised though, as any threat to their belief has to be challenged immediately, even if that is at the cost of reality.

Since a “something” cannot come from a “nothing,” this universe needs a source adequate to explain its presence. The source must be immensely powerful, given the size and grandeur of what we see, and immensely intelligent, given the precise mathematical order built into the laws of nature. This source must be artistic, for the universe contains much beauty. But the source, while capable of entering this universe, must exist outside and apart from it; otherwise it would be part of the universe and in need of explanation.

We’ve already gone through this, and it’s been explained that something CAN ‘come from nothing’. Some believers seem to have difficulty with the concept of something from nothing, and have tried to argue that the ‘nothing’ is the cause for the subsequent spontaneous event! The smugger, yet more deluded, of their number even claim that the argument that something can come from nothing is ‘illogical’. You can decide for yourself, click on that link above, and you’ll find a further link to an excellent article about quantum vacuum fluctuations.

Whatever the fundie thinks, it’s a fact that something can come from nothing, and it’s entirely possible that the Universe is the result of a very large quantum vacuum fluctuation…or something else entirely. The cause, no matter how weird it might be, is still not a god.

This challenge is not unlike a skeptic who examines a house he comes across. He sees that it is built to precise specifications, that it is functional and that its appearance demonstrates a symmetric elegance. Because he was not present when it was built, and because the present owners acknowledge that they did not build it, he concludes that it must always have existed, that there were no architects, no carpenters, no plumbers.

This is just Paley’s pocket watch argument scaled up. The argument was shot down over 200 years ago, by Hume, yet Creationists still trot it out as if it is some kind of killer blow.

No rational person would draw such a conclusion, because the existence of precisely built things requires a builder. But, in holding his view, the atheist has abandoned rationality in order to arrive at the place he began. 

This is a fallacy. No-one would stumble across a house and assume it had never been built by anyone, that it had always existed, a house is clearly designed, reality is not. If the sceptic came across a horse he wouldn’t assume it was designed, knowing from experience how birth and reproduction work. That the watch (or house or whatever other man made object is used in the argument) is used as a comparison to a horse, or a planet, or a tree, is completely false, no-one would ever consider a man made to be anything other than designed, and would never consider a naturally occurring structure to be man made.

The believers will often also claim that the Earth, and the Universe is ‘fine tuned’ for life to exist. This is bullshit. Think, how long could you last in even a warm climate without clothes, shelter, access to food and clean water? What about in an unfriendly environment? Roughly 70% of the Earth’s surface is completely uninhabitable to us if we don’t have help from our tools (in this case, boats), and the remaining 30% isn’t all open to us either. In fact, with a total surface area (including oceans) of 196,935,000 square miles, only 52 million of those are habitable, that’s just over a quarter! Hardly ‘fine tuned’ for human life, is it?

But what about the universe? Is that ‘fine tuned’? Well, considering that we’re only aware of ONE place that can support human life, and we know that there are approximately 100 billion stars in our galaxy alone, and there may be as many as 500 billion galaxies, it would appear not. In fact almost 100% of the Universe is profoundly hostile to life of any kind, so to argue that it is ‘fine tuned’ is frankly ridiculous. Even our sun could destroy us, hell, if Betelgeuse supernova’d and we were unlucky enough to be faced by one of its poles, then we’d be fried at a distance of many light years. Hardly the ‘friendly universe’ Christians would like to believe we inhabit.

Once again Please Convince Me have failed to convince.

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3 thoughts on “More Bullshit from Please Convince Me

  1. You wrote"This is a fallacy. No-one would stumble across a house and assume it had never been built by anyone, that it had always existed, a house is clearly designed, reality is not."as someone who is interested in archaeology I always find this assertion by ID proponents a little thin.Modern homes look designed because there are designed, in response to pressures that they should be designed.Older homes look far less designed and more sort of thrown together over a number of decades with some bit taken down too, but when looked at as a final construction there appears to be some concept of design when in fact it's not that clear cut that there was any design at all.The watch analogy fails because we don't see all of the other watches that led up to the watch we finally see. We assume that the watch we see began life as a drawing on designers sketchpad with no prior experimentation or trials and errors.Just my tuppenceworth.

  2. You pulled the same nonsense with Slick that you pull at PCM. Then you claim to be the clever lad. Hilarious

  3. hazmat, to put it bluntly, the PCM crowd are fucking idiots who believe in fairytales.

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