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Tuesday 27 December 2016

And After A Sudden Surge... Still No Evidence For God.

Welcome to the first attempt at meeting The Hackenslash Challenge.

This particular outing stems from an apologist on Twitter who thinks he has a bit of a grasp of philosophy erecting yet another iteration of the previously debunked cosmological argument for god. I initially spanked this back, as it's little more than a regurgitation of Kalamity Kraig's nonsense. However, the apologist was persistent, and requested further contact. He subsequently posted on the challenge thread and it seems a way of getting the ball rolling. As we'll see, most of this was addressed comprehensively in In The Beginning, and the apologist in question, one Austin Duhe, was directed to that post but, as we shall see, failed fairly catastrophically to grok it.

So, here we are at the beginning, which seems an appropriate place to start:

The Cosmological Argument:
1.) Whatever begins to exist has an efficient cause
2.) The universe began to exist (Evidence)👇🏼
I'll give it to you in an acrostic.

S stands for Second law of thermodynamics. Which says that the unavailable energy in the universe is increasing (energy in the universe is running down). Well if it's running down then someone/something must have wounded it up with the available energy to begin with. We would have no energy right now if the universe is eternal.
OK, so straight off the bat, we have a fallacy of blind assertion. There are several problems with this assertion. The first is that the term 'universe' is undefined. This is hugely problematic from the get-go, as discussed at some length in Before The Big Bang Part I . Much of the content of the apologist's argument treats that which arose from the big bang as constituting the entire universe, when this is far from clear. This is an area of active research but, at the moment, the epistemological status of this idea is 'truth value unknown'.

Secondly, the term 'energy' is undefined, and this portion of the argument rests on having as robust treatment, not least because it invokes the law of entropy.

Thirdly, it hasn't been established just what kind of thermodynamic system our local cosmic expanse is, let alone the universe in toto, yet here a law of thermodynamics is offered as support for a contention. I will finish this post with some questions for the apologist to clarify some of this, and the discussion will continue in the comments. There are several questions concerning thermodynamics arising directly from the above paragraph.

Finally, I'd like the apologist to put some numbers on his assertions here. Without understanding much about what processes might be involved, he seems happy to wantonly erect assertions about how we wouldn't have any energy if the universe were eternal.

U stands for the Universe is expanding; Edwin Hubble detected that in 1929 and shows that everything came from a single point. Which is infinite density, the singularity, which is actually nothing. So the universe had a beginning out of nothing.
The first thing to note about this portion is that the apologist is combining the Fosbury flop with a Selachimorph. There are several factual errors here, and the leap in logic is one that Jonathan Edwards would be proud of.

Let's deal with them in order.

Yes, Hubble observed that the cosmos is expanding. In no way was it established that that everything came from a single point. As we discussed in Before the Big Bang Part I, the singularity theorem comes from a 1970 paper by Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose. We also discussed how the term 'singularity' has two distinct definitions. We noted that the Hawking/Penrose theorem, assuming that GR held, showed that the universe came from the physical notion, as given by the apologist here. However, we also noted that neither Hawking nor Penrose accept that this theorem describes our universe, not least because this type of singularity is prohibited by quantum mechanics. In that framework, this type of singularity is, at best, an asymptote.

Further, even were we to accept the existence of the singularity, the assertion that it's 'nothing' is asinine, and displays an ignorance of the relevant physics. What it actually is is a region in which the density and curvature both tend to infinity. This means, of course, that it has no spatial extent, but that doesn't mean that it's nothing. It's worth noting at this juncture that all of the particles in the standard model of particle physics are point particles, which means that they also have zero spatial extent. Would the apologist wish to contend, then, that they're 'nothing'?

Finally, these are all theoretical considerations, and even current theory cannot take us back to any sort of beginning, even of our local cosmic expanse, let alone the universe as a whole. Observationally, we hit a barrier long before we get even close to the Planck time. This brings me neatly to this:
The R stands for the Radiation after glow; this is the remanence [sic] heat left from the Big Bang discovered by Penzias and Wilson in 1965. Which is literally the smoking gun of the Big Bang; There is heat left from the Big Bang which shows the universe having a beginning
 What this, the CMBR, actually represents, is what is known in the jargon as 'the surface of last scattering'. We covered how this works fairly completely in Evolution and Entropy Revisited. What it really is is the photons that reflected off the last free electrons just prior to their becoming bound to atoms, about 380,000 years after the Planck time. 

It's worth pointing out here that the term 'big bang' is often misused as a matter of historical contingency. This is simply the name we have for the fact that the cosmos is expanding. It was, in the classical theory of the big bang, taken to be the event that started it all, but we've learned to be somewhat more circumspect in our language these days, and we're aware that what we've always thought of as the beginning may well not be. Indeed, as we've covered in some detail in the Before the Big Bang series, the two front-runners on the cosmology landscape currently do not have a beginning at t=0. 

I should also note that I have no problem with the universe having a beginning. Indeed, I've presented in the past a précis of one means by which this might be achieved entirely in line with known physical principles, in The Certainty of Uncertainty.
The G stands for The Great galaxy seeds which we're very fine temperatures in that radiation after glow which showed the galaxy to form in the early universe
And the E stands for Eisenstein's theory of General Relativity which shows that space matter and time are co relative; they came into existence together and had a beginning. He knew this in 1916 and then observational evidence came in 1919 when Eddington did his test on the eclipse, then Hubble in 1929, then the radiation after glow and the great galaxy seeds after that.
Not sure what the apologist thinks he's proved here, except that he doesn't know his history. The existence of inhomogeneities in the CMBR that led to gravitational clumping and the formation of galaxies has nothing to do with the relatedness of time and space. As for the history, Einstein knew no such thing, and it appears that the apologist has ripped this from elsewhere without bothering to check any of it. The obvious glaring error is that Einstein most definitely didn't know this in 1916. Indeed, Einstein introduced a fudge into his equations precisely to avoid any changes in the cosmos, precisely because he was wholly wedded to the idea that it was eternal and unchanging.

Several things seem to have been mashed together here, and it isn't easy to make sense of it. What can be made sense of is either trivial or wrong.
3.) Therefore the universe has an efficient cause
And here we find the apologist has shot his load without making anything like a robust case.
Conclusion:So the evidence shows that the universe is not the uncaused first cause. There must be something beyond space matter and time, which is a cause that is spaceless timeless and immaterial; in order to create space time and matter in the first place. This cause also has to be powerful, personal, & intelligent. Powerful: because this cause created the universe out of nothing. Personal: because to go from a state of non-existence to a state of a creation, you had to make a choice (non-personal things don't make choices, they merely react. Example: Gravity, Rocks, molecules). Intelligent: again, intelligence in necessary to make a choice and to be personal; also this cause was intelligent enough to fine tune the universe so precisely. So we have a spaceless, timeless, immaterial, powerful, personal, and intelligent being that caused the universe into existence. This is exactly what we mean by a Theistic God; an "unmoved mover"- Aristotle
And this is the usual pseudo-philosophical word salad. The first thing to address here is Aristotle. Here's a protip: If you want to talk about principles in physics, Aristotle is exactly the wrong way to go about it. By today's standards, he was a complete ignoramus. We looked in In The Beginning at Aristotle's thinking, and concluded that he had as much place in a discussion of this nature as he does on the subject of sexual dimorphism in human dentition.

Further, the degree of circularity buried in there is approaching singularity. The conclusion is smuggled in by virtue of referring to the universe as 'creation'.

Frankly, I'm still waiting for the argument to begin. 

Bad objection to P1:
What we mean by "cause" is "efficient cause". Pardon me I'll use Aristotle again, but this is what he meant by a cause: that brings an effect into being. That is an efficient cause, not a material cause. A material cause is the stuff out of which the thing is made. For ex., Michelangelo was the efficient cause for the statue "David"; but the material cause was the block of marble that was sculpted.
The claim was that Everything that begins to exist has an efficient cause. And having the universe beginning to exist, (which is what the evidence shows), must have an efficient cause.
I know what he meant. He has no place in this discussion. Here's physicist and philosopher Sean Carroll:
But there's a bigger problem with it which is that it is not even false. The real problem is that these are not the right vocabulary words to be using when we discuss fundamental physics and cosmology. This kind of Aristotelian analysis of causation was cutting-edge stuff 2500 years ago; today we know better. Our metaphysics must follow our physics - that's what the word metaphysics means. In modern physics, you open a quantum field theory textbook or a general relativity textbook. you will not find the words 'transcendent cause' anywhere. What you do find are differential equations. This reflects the fact that the way that physics is known to work these days is in terms of patterns. Unbreakable rules; laws of nature. Given the world at one point in time, we will tell you what happens next. There is no need for any extra metaphysical baggage like transcendent causes on top of that. It's precisely the wrong way to think about how the fundamental reality works. The question you should be asking is what is the best model of the universe that science can come up with.
'Nuff said.
You also say that "quantum tunneling" can be used as evidence for an effect without a cause, or evidence that something can pop into existence out of nothing. Sorry, but the quantum vacuum is not "nothing" (nothingness has no properties). Any physicist can tell you that. Also, they're are at least 10 different interpretations of the quantum vacuum but we don't know which one is right. But if the quantum vacuum is not nothing, then it to must have an efficient cause; just like space matter and time having a cause. But if the evidence (SURGE) shows that space matter and time had a beginning, then the efficient cause must be spaceless timeless and immaterial because the cause can't be made of/subject to space time and matter. It has to be outside of the universe which contains such things. Also, timeless beings do not have beginnings, therefore they have no efficient cause. So what ever the cause of the universe is cannot have a cause. It must be eternal.
First, I never said quantum tunnelling could be used as this sort of evidence. I did mention quantum fluctuations, however. I do note that it's extremely interesting that you invoke things coming into existence out of something in your first premise, then switch to out of nothing, in a brutal fallacy of equivocation, but suddenly you object when I note something that negates your first premise on the grounds that it doesn't address your second premise? Are you serious?

That said, the quantum vacuum is indeed nothing. It is not nothing in the sense that it's seething with activity, but absent that activity, which is the very activity under discussion here (quantum fluctuations), it is indeed nothing. Again, this was covered at some length in The Certainty of Uncertainty.

Finally, you've erected an awful lot of unsupportable assertions in there. I'll add them to the questions.

Seriously, you need to drop these Aristotelian notions of causation.They're a comprehensive failure of thought. Good in Aristotle's day, useless now.
Bad objection to P2:
Premise 2 does not commit the fallacy of composition. The universe itself, is space matter and time. Space matter and time is not the part of the whole, it is the whole. Therefore, there is no fallacy. Also notice that we don't say "everything in the universe that begins to exist has a cause...... therefore the universe has a cause." Rather," everything that begins to exist has a cause..... therefore the universe has a cause." Forgive me, but it seems like you're putting up a straw man.
And here we see the full failure of understanding. I didn't actually assert that premise 2 commits the fallacy of composition, the argument in its entirety does. You've taken a principle that seems to hold in the universe and attempted to apply them to the universe itself. This is a crystal clear fallacy of composition.

So, questions:

1. What type of thermodynamic system is our cosmic expanse?
2. What defines a thermodynamic system?
3. What is energy?
4. What is a timeless being?
5. Can you provide any evidence of such an entity?

That should be enough to be going on with.

1/10. Must try harder.

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