“Sitting on the Fence”

A guy named “SittingOnTheFence” is hovering between belief and non-belief. He asks me some GREAT questions.

He says:

“The problem is that for every great argument that you make, there are 3 that can be made AGAINST the existence of God. There will really be no way to end this debate EVER. Well, maybe if God one day communicates with us in a non-symbolic way….”

I reply:

“OK, so let’s hear those other arguments AGAINST the existence of God.”

And he wrote me back with a great set of questions.

Here are his questions – with a video response from me to each one:

SittingOnTheFence: First of all, I would like you to know a little bit about me. I’m not your typical furious guy who is apparently angry with the world, like some of those you argued against at Infidels.

I consider myself to be actually a calm guy, with a cool demeanor.  Obviously, objectivity is rarely achieved when one speaks about oneself,  but I’m trying my best to describe how I deal with debates.

Even though I’m very passionate, I rarely get mad or angry. Talking about  these topics actually fuels my life and entertains me, so I would never  try to engage into something that could spike my hormones for the  worse.

Because of sites like yours and some others,  I’m NOT an atheist. I don’t discard the existence of God, even though I’ll admit I incline towards his non-existence.

However, there are many things that just don’t fit for me.

I must admit that most of the arguments I am going to present here are  simply off the top of my head (as I’m sure I could come up with many more later on).

I also admit that many of these arguments are of a philosophical nature, rather than a scientific one, since trying to explain the non-belief in God  through science can be virtually impossible.

Since I haven’t had the time to surf through all of your site, I know these points could very possibly have been made before, but if you are kind, you could give some answers.

Anyway, here are some:

1-

If God created DNA, and you believe in the classic view of design, then that ultimately and inevitably leads to the following question.

Who designed God?

I once read on a Christian booklet that if you watch a car, you would  quickly come to the conclusion that the car didn’t make itself. It would seem absurd to think that the engine and all the complex things that a car is made of to make it start and run could possibly be arranged in such  amazing order just by chance or “luck”.

That seems like a pretty fair argument, until they tell you that God was NOT designed. If a superintelligence made everything, was that Intelligence always there??

Would it be more reasonable to think that a vastly more complex being like God was “always there”, but not a car?

This leads to an infinite regress of causes. This in turn, implies that it  is not that absurd to say that DNA “made itself” from evolution. This  also perpetuates the enigma of the “how”.

Atheists say the Big Bang came out of a singularity, but can not explain why energy, matter and time had to “exist” in the first place. They cannot answer where those forces came from, or why those forces  always existed at one single point.

It is just as perplexing to think why God was always there. Nothing had to  be nowhere at no time in the first place.  This is the “crazy inducing” enigma that NOBODY can even attempt to solve.

My Response:

I explore this concept further at Incompleteness.

Also see http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/faq

2-

One of the atheists told you something that may be valid. He said that since you requested one example of a naturally ocurring code, he told you it was DNA.

Since DNA is a code, and it is naturally ocurring, a guy can revert your argument and say that DNA is a prime example of a naturally occurring code, and the ONLY one at that.

My Response:

3-

You said that snowflakes, tornadoes and hurricanes are examples of PATTERNS.

Why an omnipotent being like God would make forces that cause disastrous patterns like hurricanes and tornadoes??  Why earthquakes??

I can understand the old argument that disease , death and most of the world problems occur because of men’s own fault, but NOT this. Why make things that only serve to destroy things?

My Response:

Also see: Evil and Suffering

4-

I am assuming that Christianity must be based on a holy book to know the purposes of God. That Holy Book is the Bible.

If God gave us the Bible to be the prime example of his testimony,  why would he make it so difficult to understand?? The Bible is often written in riddles.

This has lead to a lot of interpretations, which in turn have caused the spreading of NUMEROUS protestant religions.

Even if you tell me that the Bible is CLEAR and straightforward “when  you read it with faith”, you know in your heart it isn’t for most of the  people.

Why would God deliver his message through such a dense work?

Most people don’t like to read that much, except for the stuff they like.  Why would he use that method and not speak himself loud and clear so everyone can hear him?

My Response:

5-

You may say that those who don’t like to read can always go to Church, or that most likely somebody has knocked the door of that person to offer speeches about God.

What about all of the people in the world that haven’t received the Lord’s message yet?? Are they guilty for not having heard of God?

Even when missionaries go to third world countries and marginated places  to spread the Word, there are simply too many people who are NOT reached.  How does God communicate with those people?

My Response:

Also see: “All those heathens are gonna burn in hell”

6-

What can you tell me about all the different religions in the world.

Which one is right?

What right do I have to say that Buddhism is wrong?

If you were born in India, you would most likely practice Hinduism.  What would you be guilty of?

If there is only ONE GOD, then I suppose he would firmly make clear which  is the right path.

Considering that there are so many religions, and other  holy books, how could I possibly know the purposes and the wishes of  that God?

My Response:

Also see: http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/faq/#christian

7-

Now, starting from the premise that the Bible is literal, clear and easy to read, let’s take a look.

The Bible says God really planned men to be perfect, so they could  live in peace and love.

If he really wanted that, why did he put the “forbidden fruit” on that tree??  Many Christians put the blame on Satan disguised as a snake, because of the persuasion.

But the truth is, if no forbidden fruit was ever put on that tree, men would  not have sinned.

What possible explanation could be made for that? That’s like saying, I want  you to be my friend, but at the very start of that friendship, I deliberatly put  obstacles to that friendship.

My Response:

8-

The Bible tells stories about Sea Separations, miracles, ardent bushes, plagues, dreams that tell the future, big floods and other extraordinary phenomena.

Why does nothing of that happens today? Why did all of that  extravaganza (Mana, rain of sulfur and fire, etc.). only happened at that time and not even a hint of that now?

That’s it for now….I would like to read your answers.

My Response:

Also see: http://www.coffeehousetheology.com/miracles/

Thanks, Mr. SittingOnTheFence. Excellent questions.

Perry Marshall

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33 Comments

perrari says:

Hi Sitting on the fence,

Here are some considerations.

1. God means “that entity who is the cause of all causes”. The very nomenclature of God refers to the person who has always existed and from whom everything emanates.

2. One may say so many things, for example “DNA is a prime example of a naturally occurring code, and the ONLY one at that,” but that view point does not help solve the problems of life as we know it, so do not worry for comments that serve no useful purpose.

3. Earthquakes ARE under the control of God, they are just one mechanism of awarding the results of previous actions.

4. The Bible, like all revealed scriptures, must be understood from someone who has fully realized it’s content, then there will be no major differences of opinion. It is the duty of all parents, teachers, and governments to make sure that knowledge of the soul and God is disseminated to their dependents. If some one is born in a place, time and circumstances that deny this, then that is due to their previous desire to be left alone, and not bothered with higher principles.

5. See above.

6. The goal of all religions is one. To end suffering. According to your temperament and characteristics you will come into contact with a religion that is suitable for your nature. Some religions are more effective than others, but all aim at the same goal and embody the same principles. One is free to choose the religion of his or her choice and make progress accordingly.

7. The analogy of the forbidden fruit on the tree is hard to explain in simple terms and involves issues such as free choice, each individuals inherent nature, the nature of God Himself, and that reflection in His marginal expansions, the living entities. It requires knowledge of His different energies and how they work and an understanding of the emotions that play when a fallen person returns to the Lord having left Him. There is very little in the Bible that can be used as references for this, and nothing in science, but I can say that it is necessary for some beings full development that they eat that fruit and then regret it and return. I apologize if this answer seems inadequate, but ask you to continue your search and progress, and in time it will become clear, just as a parents answer to their 5 year old’s question “Where do babies come from?” cannot be overly explicit for the good of the child.

8. A miracle is simply a scientifically unexplainable phenomena. Modern science explains a great deal today that would have been considered miraculous previously, and the modern media downplay events that appear at odds with conventional science. While you may not hear of many modern miracles especially of ‘Biblical’ proportions, there are numerous ‘miracles’ happening daily that are brushed off as coincidence, chance, etc. Since the whole of creation is under the control of the Supreme Lord, there actually are no miracles, but sometimes when a person’s desire is strong enough, the Lord intervenes in the normal course of events to fulfill their desire, and that is called a miracle.

trevcham says:

The Global Atheists Conference is on this coming weekend in my home city of Melbourne Australia. I sent a very brief description of what you are into, having closely read all your emails, and got an email reply from one of the speakers – long term media presenter and atheist Phillip Adams – who stated:
“Trevor, (Perry Marshall’s contentions are) tired old stuff…..a variation on the up-dated creationist tactic….’intelligent design’….. (Stephen Jay) Gould spent his last years attacking this twaddle…showing how profoundly unintelligent it was.”
Of course one cannot claim the title of “atheist” unless one possesses a profound certainty.
What do you see as the likely scientific advancement or intellectual argument which will actually impact the Richard Dawkins (also speaking at this conference) of this world? It’s fine to convince believers and interested observers to one level or another, but where will the breakthrough come for those most ensconced in Darwinian evolution?

Note that he sidestepped your question with an ad hominem attack and calling my position “twaddle” rather than presenting, say, an example of a naturally occurring code.

All these guys do that. Few have the courage to come forward and debate the facts.

People who WANT to believe atheism will not be convinced by any argument. Case in point: read the Infidels thread and see all the atheists who will deny that DNA is a code, in the face of mountains of scientific literature.

However what I have seen is that people who approach this question open to following the evidence wherever it leads find this very persuasive.

Eocene says:

This is typical. You offer nothing in the way of anything intelligent as far as scientific proof of your position. Now you are attending an atheist religious pilgramage where the good Pastor Richard Dawkins will be rallying the faithful. That man has ceased being any type of scientist years ago, no doubt a descision based on intense hatred of others. Next time why not just offer real scientific proof of your TOE (Assumption) and try to keep away from numerous other assumptions and labling them as FACTS which prove your TOE Assumption.

perrari says:

Atheists are so covered by raja guna and tama guna, (lust and ignorance) that they are NOT ABLE to give up their belief. They simply have no desire to, so will propose the most childish and fantastic theories to avoid conceding that the absolute truth is a person.
Do not let this bother you.
Their intelligence to deny God comes from God of course, and there is a very good reason for it.
While it is a noble endeavor to try to spread the word of God do not be surprised by the lack of interest in atheistic circles. It is not a question of examining the facts and then reaching a balanced conclusion.
It is a matter of following a particular life-style and then believing in something that supports that life-style.
Many Christians are actually atheists because they ignore the majority of what Christ says and interpret the Bible to suit their comfortable, affluent life-style at the cost of others.
The example of Jesus should be followed by any one claiming to be a Christian.
The activities of the apostles should be emulated by anyone claiming to be a Christian.
Real Christians are revolutionaries and do not live cozy little family oriented lives with a steady job and savings in the bank, relaxING in front of the tv.

iwtk says:

I think we should learn not to stereotype people. When you say something that appears to make all atheists bad, you are incorrect. When you say all real Christians are good, you are deluded. The facts are, there are good and bad Christians, and good and bad atheists. You wouldn’t even know which ones they were if they didn’t tell you. If I were to say I know there is a God, I would be a fool, same goes if I say I know there is no a God. I can believe either way all I want and that is fine. But the real things we need to know is: Is there really a God or not? That, I don’t believe anyone has found out yet, and that is important. While there is both fact and fiction in the Bible, it doesn’t prove either way. But if you say it does, it does for you, but not necessarily for others and if you say, it doesn’t for you, it doesn’t for you, but maybe it does for others. The only thing that clears this up is facts, and we are waiting for the all inclusive incontestable facts. So far, it’s not there. If it were these silly arguments would cease. Sure hope it comes soon.

trevcham says:

In your blog, you list so many arguments for intelligent design. In Australia, anyone who uses those two words in the same sentence is considered a complete imbecile and a total joke. Surely, assuming all you say to be accurate, there is something among your research and claims that can seriously challenge atheistic Darwinian orthodoxy. Certainly demonstrations of animals evolving over just-a-few generations into new species would do it. The “atheist’s riddle” is thought provoking, but I’m hoping that someone can come up with something to make atheists realise that their cherished theories may be becoming obsolete.

perrari says:

There is no proof for the theory of evolution because it is false. There has not been an evolution of ‘life’ over millions of years. All the species of life where created at the beginning of the universe, and all 8,400,000 have been listed and cataloged under aquatics, vegetation, reptiles, insects, birds, mammals, humans etc. The evolution is of the consciousness of the life force (soul) which progresses from plant-like mentality up to human mentality, at which point the living entity has the ability to understand the concept of good and evil and thus God. If he or she chooses to pass up on this opportunity then it’s back into the lower species for a few million more births ( and deaths) before again achieving a human body and the opportunity to do something more interesting then simply indulge in animalistic behavior which is better enjoyed as an animal or insect. No guilty feelings once you are back in the lower species, you can do whatever you want; so can a fundamental atheist I guess, it’s all just chemicals and electrons so where’s the question of morals?

I think that in crude outline form, the theory of evolution is correct. But BADLY misguided because in reality, it’s driven by cellular genetic engineering, not random DNA copying errors.

iwtk says:

When it comes to evolution, I could introduce many arguments for or against it, depending what standard you want it supported by. Anyone well versed in the subject can do that. I cannot choose either way as saying “I know”, but this is what I would like to know concerning the issue. When you use a scale and put man at 100 percent DNA and put the nematode a one percent DNA and take a close look at the seemed progression of DNA similarities toward man, one can see by comparison that certain monkeys and chimps being very close to man (95-98%) and a horse maybe a 65 percent the same as man, there is an impression that evolution is involved. If man was created out of the dust of the earth and a totally different creature than the animals, why does the DNA point toward them being related? I think one of my questions for St. Peter at Heaven’s gate would be, if God wanted us to believe the creationists, why did he make it look so much like evolution? A simple thing like DNA of man being totally different than DNA of other animals or plants would have prevented this. I think that is because God didn’t have anything to do with it, and the answer is, we still don’t know the total facts about it.

bill100 says:

I didnt know where to post this so i post it here. I hope this post will not be offensive as it isnt meant in that way at all.
Perry says that DNA was Designed by a Superintelligence. What makes the superinteligence possibility different than aliens did it? Aliens could be super inteligent as well. Thus the first and the last option as outlined by Perry are the same to me. Who designed the aliens and ultimately who designed the designer…The answer – nobody designed the designer because the designer is eternal is to my opinion the same as if one said that in the universe there is infinite order. Things we find random are random because of a lack to perceive a pattern that describes it and so on.
I am taking a slightly different approach to these matters. I claim that everything is randomness. Always was and always will be thus eternal randomness. Why something exists is thus a meaningless question. By eternal randomness i claim the illusion of order. Thus we are being fooled by our brains which try to make sense out of anything. Order comes out of repetition which according to me is a special case of randomness. There is no model of randomness because ultimately there is no structure. I also claim that given an infinity of time Shakespeare will be written which was done by human-ape. We are the living proof that randomness can do it. Not just Shakespeare of course. Look at all the diversity and strange things animals do. Why in the heck would a male praying mantis want to be eaten by female praying mantis for example? Everything is randomness goes deeper than God did it. Look at the footage of the sun or pictures from universe or even closely the weather or the imaginary laws we live by. What is good for our species is not neccesarily good for other species so evil and good are imaginary things. We usually talk about ourselves-humans when we are talking about good and evil. Being anthropocentric wont take us very far. People claimed that everything revolves around earth aka around us. Now we are claiming that everything revolves around brains which are known to be pattern seekers even if there is no pattern really. Brains just fill it in.
Someone said that reality at quantum level is very non-intuitive. Concluding that everything is randomness is also very non intuitive. How could a pattern seeker see randomness if all it does is trying to constantly make sense of its environment. The very mechanism of brains is at question. In my opinion one is searching for what one beleives in before the search even starts. Thus self reinforcing pattern and self-deluding conclusion. Somehow it all reminds of a statement – as above so below. It doesnt seem to be that way according to quantum reality and according to randomness. I claim that this universe is a kind of a bubble where things tend to repeat thus semi-random and this illusion of order is mistaken as -as above so below- is. In randomness there is no fundamental description and philosophy is a mere artifact of semi random asociation of thoughts aka there is no meaning to it all aka runing in circles. To me it makes sense that nothing makes sense. And that is exactly what eternal randomness is. Why do we live if all odds are against humanity and nothing we acomplish or do doesnt matter to reality. We are destroying our own habitats for example. It doesnt make sense. And that makes sense. Because there is no goal behind it. There never was. Everything is merely circumstancial. Randomness is very difficult to explain to anyone that beleives there is a underlining order behind all things. Its difficult to explain anyway. And now to the code. Because humans design the stuff we call code and DNA resembles that we say thats a code too and it had to be designed. The trick is that what we do we think is underlined by order. Thus its an order not randomness. Puting the order as fundamental stuff is the exact opposite of putting randomness as fundamental. Pseudo order as i call it seems to be non acceptable as coming out from randomness. This where i fundamentally disagree. Thus what is left is infinite order vs. randomness. How do you get randomness out of order? Or is randomness entirely pseudo-random? Randomness is a fact though. There is no algoritm for randomness. Its not computable. I think that claims that Perry makes demand going deeper than usual into the very way we reason about and perceive things and conclusions we make about them.

Show me an empirical example of randomness creating a communication system. All you need is one.

bill100 says:

An empirical example of randomly generated communication system – exchange of photons in the electromagnetic force between two charged particles.

Go through the communication system form at http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/blog/solve and diagram this out filling out all the tables. Report back with what you come up with.

iwtk says:

Perry, when you say “Show me an empirical example of randomness creating a communication system. All you need is one.” Does the example have to only contain inanimate objects without any involvement of people or animals? In other words, it cannot involve anything that involves life of any kind. You want an example of where some kind of intelligence comes out of no intelligence. That’s like trying to prove that rocks communicate. You know that can’t be done. Since that can’t be done, what are we suppose to show you?…that it can?

Humans can set it up but they can’t insert any kind of code in advance. If Miller and Urey’s famous experiment had generated communication, then it would count.

iwtk says:

Perry, I’ve read the many efforts of this and I’m going to take a different approach. What about the Shroud of Turin. Some people say it was a fake, but if it was not and it was real. Do you think it was meant to convey the information that someone would ascertain from it of the image thereon. Or does a person have to use an inanimate object and get it to cause the same thing. One could randomly scatter some sticks nearby a Shroud-like Turin event and the wind blows them into a shape that spells the word “God”. I’m sure this could happen by chance and it sure would make someone think it was not a coincidence. But it would be, wouldn’t it? This is just a teaser, maybe a silly one, but one none the less.

Here another approach. How about the fact that all things in nature seem to follow the laws of physics? Even on other planets and all over the known cosmos that we know of. I’m making the point that patterns appear to have a purpose or intelligence similar as the intelligence in DNA, yet it’s only matter, but matter in motion. Do we know of any other way nature works besides the laws of physics, and God, which is supposed to defy the laws of physics, according to some events claimed?

We either have to say it’s all from a supernatural force of some kind or it’s of a physical force of some kind or both. While there may be other kinds, what are they?
Nature (many non-living things, events) seem to convey some kind of purpose or information aside from the information we see from the living realm (DNA, People, animals, plants, etc.)

I think everything is really not that difficult to understand using the known laws of the universe. Some things that are more difficult are forever, not forever, and consciousness.

The Shroud of Turin is a very interesting study. I’m by no means an expert but I do have a few books on it and I think it’s authentic.

First of all look at your question – a very common one – could this happen by chance? It’s funny how many different ways this gets asked in all kinds of contexts. For me the question was: Look at DNA and look at the amazing evolutionary path from simpler to complex species, can that happen by chance? My conclusion, which I think you’ve seen here on this site, was “No, there is nothing in communication theory to even suggest that codes like this could happen by chance.”

I think what’s most interesting about the shroud of Turin is that the Catholic church guarded this thing for 18 centuries before someone discovered the image with X-Rays. They did not know this image was there, but they still guarded it as an absolutely holy relic.

The fact that everything in nature obeys the laws of physics is another thing that cannot be dismissed as chance. It’s actually a major philosophical issue and question: We cannot prove that the laws of physics are universal, but it appears to be true 100% of the time. Wisdom of Solomon in the Apocrypha says, “Thou hast ordered all things in weight and number and measure.” This was written at least 2500 years ago and it appears to be the first such statement ever made in the ancient world.

This has now become the fundamental premise of modern science.

How did Solomon know this?

This was a very important philosophical position and it took 2000 years to fully take root. Once it did, science took off like a rocket. Notice that this *could* have happened, and tried to happen, in ancient Rome, Egypt, Greece, China and India. But it didn’t take root in those cultures, it took root in Christian Western Europe. And many of the early scientists were deeply religious people.

Note what Colossians 1 says:

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Paul is asserting that the universe is orderly because Jesus Christ decrees it to be so. Stanley Jaki wrote a book called “The Savior of Science” describing how this belief laid the philosophical foundation for modern scientific thought. Match this with what John said in chapter 1:

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome[a] it.

Non-living things do communicate a certain amount of purpose simply by obeying the laws of physics.

Living things convey an entirely greater sense of purpose, because they contain codes which are local languages which are freely chosen rather than being universal laws which are unchangeable. Codes always come from consciousness.

Then John goes on to say:

9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given.

iwtk says:

If everything in nature obeys the laws of physics (and I believe it does), how are you making a difference between patterns and DNA Code? When someone tries to use patterns, you make a distinction where they cannot use patterns, but both are controlled by the laws of physics. Put that same thinking with evolution and the DNA code becomes just another method of the laws of physics, thus not proving a God (if I have to go to the extreme). I would like for you to explain that. While I do believe something caused all this, I don’t believe it the way you do. I don’t know, but you appear to be claiming you do.

Your comment:
We cannot prove that the laws of physics are universal, but it appears to be true 100% of the time. Wisdom of Solomon in the Apocrypha says, “Thou hast ordered all things in weight and number and measure.” This was written at least 2500 years ago and it appears to be the first such statement ever made in the ancient world.

This has now become the fundamental premise of modern science.

How did Solomon know this?

The simple answer he didn’t, just like we don’t know today. Since a lot of the early scientists were religious, it was just a matter of time that it would become a theological thing. We don’t understand the laws of physics, just like we don’t understand the invention of God.

Living and non-living are two totally different things that you try to connect in a greater lesser degree, but when someone uses the non-living things to make a point, you make a point not to connect them at all, thus, making it impossible for them to make their point e.g. patterns and DNA code. I see what you are doing and understand what you are doing. I just think it is not 100 percent as cut and dry as you say, it leaves room for doubt.

You made that clear to me by how you answered my question. You had to use too many references from the Bible (which is not science) and is not fact-based. When you do that, true science can’t compete with your approach. I think a lot of people want to know the scientific answer and not the theological answer. The believers already believe it without question; it’s the non-believers you have to convince. That’s what this journey is all about.

Perry, let’s be honest. I think most non-believers really want to believe what you are saying. They just don’t see it. Some do think for themselves also. They do not buy into just believing something because that’s just what the Bible says, or the religious crowd, or main stream religion. All these approaches have an agenda and they cannot afford to stray from that. You are not straying from it either; that automatically makes your approach bias, and flawed. People who really want to know the truth cannot in good conscience just go along without having answers to their questions, answers that provide just as much comfort as the answers believers have without asking any questions at all. One is possibly deluded and the other refuses be deluded because they really do want to know the truth.

Yes, living things are in an entirely separate category from non-living, because codes require choice and you cannot derive choice from the laws of physics. See http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/infinite-chasm/

The difference between a code and a non-code is absolutely black and white. As the above article shows. There is no middle ground and there is no ambiguity. See http://www.cosmicfingerprints.com/solve/ for definitions.

Solomon knew this because God told them. You’ve got this backwards. Theology did not get this from science. Science got this from theology.

This is vital because there is a popular myth in our culture that science rescued the world from religion. No, Christian theology gave birth to science.

Do you want to know the truth, in a scientifically objective way? Read the articles on this site. It’s 90-95% science, less than 5-10% Bible quotes. Read every post on the blog. Read the conversations.

jeromehoover says:

Greetings SittingOnTheFence, Perry, and bloggers,

I thought I’d start out with one of my favorite quote’s to set the tone of my response.
(ehemmm)

“All things are subject to interpretation. whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is always a function of power but not always truth.” -F.N

That being said, I’d like to add some thoughts to question one…

1. So what if we were created? That doesn’t mean that we’re particularly special, nor is God for that matter…. whatever is outside the biggest circle is outside the realm of observation. This is the most difficult aspect to the point perry was making. While there may indeed be “something” outside the natural realm, this hasn’t taken us much further than just another lose end, If you follow your own logic, that is….I understand God is defined as the Great I Am. The Alpha and the Omega; who was, and is, and is to come. And perhaps he is exactly who you say he is with respect to the spiritual realm…

Though the part of S.O.T.F’s question I feel was kind of side stepped, was the possibility of something outside of God and the spiritual realm. For example, let’s say that I’m an angel or a demon. Existing in the spiritual realm, would I not then be able to come to the same conclusions we are drawing here?
to illustrate, this is essentially Perry’s argument:

Natural Realm encircled by Spiritual Realm.

you can make this argument, but not without yielding to this one–

Spiritual Realm encircled by X, or something beyond the spiritual realm including God as the greatest spirit.

This process must continue on and on into infinity.
From this, i would conclude that God (if he’s there) is neither omnipotent, nor is he synonymous with the term infinity.

I would love to hear someone explain to me why the logic we used to arrive at the conclusion of the spiritual realm’s existence, cannot be used to prove that there is something beyond?

respectfully,

Jerome

I agree, many ideas in quantum mechanics are compatible with eastern philosophy. At the same time, science does not give us any good reason to believe in the eternal cyclical universe of the eastern religions, because of entropy. We don’t have any solid scientific measurement that would suggest that there was another universe that came before us, for example.

As for your quote by FN, you get to decide whether you yield to power or yield to truth. If you believe this statement is the ultimate truth and you have no power to discern, then you are forever a victim. Are my own arguments simply an outworking of power, or do they contain objectively verifiable truths? How about yours?

You said, “This process must continue on and on into infinity.” Well that is the Eastern view. But it invokes infinite regress which nearly all western philosophers reject. They reject it because it doesn’t explain anything. It just invokes causes that are more and more complex than the effects.

Western philosophy and theology traditionally asserts that God is simple, God is one, and God is infinite and indivisible. This is a more parsimonious model than an infinite regress of unidentifiable causes, is it not?

The bottom line answer to your question is, an infinite regress explains nothing. Your feet never touch the bottom of the swimming pool, within that view. So it must be rejected for that reason.

jeromehoover says:

Perry,

Thank you for your thoughtful consideration.

To begin with, power and truth function best hand in hand. Let’s be reasonable. Power is not the problem. Power in the wrong hands is the problem. Then the question becomes, “who should I trust?”

My response- the person with the most applicable answers to the most basic questions…

Eastern philosophy may suggest an infinite regress. Be careful not to equate idea’s. YOUR own argument suggests an infinite regress. the point I was making is that your idea of god is useless when applying godel’s theorem. Can’t you see the double standard you’ve set for all of your readers? You can’t at one moment, proclaim that a theory of everything is impossible because everything in the physical world is dependent upon an outside agent, and then say that this outside realm is the end all be all. In fact, according to that train of thought, there must be something beyond this “outside agent” we’ll just call god for the sake of argument.

And yeah it is pretty difficult to tear apart. Infiniy’s not an easy subject to try to unravel. But it is the task we are left with. I highly suggest reading up on some m-theory/string theory.

Anyhow,

One last point: the most important thing to understand is presupposition. Others, as well as your own…what is informing your opinions and ideas? Your answer should not be simply, “because i want to believe,” or “i need to believe.” Your answer should be, “I have no choice BUT to believe.”

I know the dangers of taking a “middle position.” However I can empathize with S.O.T.F., because of his honesty. There seems to me, no obvious alternative to the avid truth-seeker…While I cannot sit here and prove to you that there is no God or no spiritual realm, you contrariwise cannot sit there and say that God is infinite and omnipotent by means of Godel’s Theorem, when this same theorem suggests that infinity is even bigger than any of us thought it was. And that’s a real problem for your argument, my friend.

The truth is, you DO believe in a Theory Of Everything. All you’ve done, is put your theory into the language of theology and placed this realm beyond beyond the scope of rationality…God, for christians, IS the Theory Of Everything.

This is the part where the age-old controversy between science and religion come into play– you have your opinion already. God created everything and that’s where it ends. This opinion gets built upon by the furthering of different mind’s with different idea’s. science, on the other hand, has no presupposition other than verifiable facts. which, admittedly, makes it very unstable, because science DOESN’T have have solid ground to stand upon. That’s where it BELONGS, perry. Christians presuppose their own solid ground. Science does not.

Respectfully,

Jerome

p.s. this is coming from someone who is rooting for you to prove me wrong :)

An infinite entity or being is utterly different from an infinite regress. In fact it is the opposite. An infinite regress refers to an infinite series of finite things. Gödel’s theorem implies something boundless. But it can’t be divisible. An infinite regress is infinitely divisible.

There cannot be something beyond God because God is already infinite.

Please remember that as soon as you invoke anything infinite you have stepped out of the realm of science. Science can only speak of finite time, finite space, finite matter, finite energy. Science has no knowledge of anything infinite. Mathematics can only refer to a limit as one goes to infinity. Even math cannot touch infinity. Yet logic demands something infinite. Thus logic extends beyond the bounds of science.

I don’t think very many philosophers would be surprised at that.

Science has its outer boundaries.

Even logic has boundaries. A wider set of boundaries than what science has.

Can you see that this is not a controversy between science and religion? Because logic demonstrates that some things are outside of science. Again, every philosopher knows that. Many scientists seem to be unaware of even the logical and philosophical framework and assumptions that their science lies within.

God is not a theory of everything, because God is not a system. God is a being. God IS.

God is not infinite and omnipotent by means of Gödel’s theorem, by the way. According to Gödel’s theorem, *something* has to be infinite, and according to information theory, this something has to be also conscious. I can’t prove it’s God. I can only point out that if it looks like a duck, and walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck…

jeromehoover says:

No, but your belief in God Is your own version of the theory of everything, indifferent to wether or not he’s actually there. God himself is not the theory, your belief in him is. make sense?

What i’m still tripped up on, is how either the information theory or Godel’s theorem point toward an indivisible entity? I’ve read and re-read your essay and I’m not sure whether your words account for some fundamental philosophical questions–

1. Why is there SOMETHING instead of NOTHING?

God is something after all, no? which lead’s to the obvious question,

2. How did God come to be?

If one God can come into existence, who’s to say there can’t be more?

all of the sudden, an infinite regress isn’t so unlikely. particularly if one apply’s quantum mechanics. A lot of the things we know about reality, contradict an omnipotent God…there is creation, yes, It happens all the time. But destruction happens quite often as well. In fact, there are people who believe that this “give and take” is pretty mutual, cornerstone to the balance of the Universe (I consider myself to be one). a system built upon the existence of both good and evil, if you will….

You’re a math dude, maybe you’ll like this analogy: compare this balancing act to an endless sine wave. The higher you go up, the harder you will fall….That being said; If God represents the light, or the top of the peek, or all that is good and wholesome, why would he allow evil to come into existence in the first place? surely an all knowing entity would have foreseen Lucifer, the author of evil, in his greed and lust for power. Why create that which was foreknown to cause great suffering?I think these idea’s about the devil and an all-good-god, are simply a poetic way of trying to describe the continual ebb and flow of the Universe, initiated by the first action: the big bang. a cataclysmic blast that, for the first time, sprayed energy into the abyss…I’m not going to try and say anyone should actively seek pain…but a meal always tastes better when you’re starving….that being said, is it possible for an all good god to exist? without his counterpart? instead of a sine wave, he’d be reduced to a strait line. a strait line is stagnant. a strait line is death…

yet still, even if all you say is true, the question then is what kind of a god are we dealing with, hmm? you say he must be a good god, but the universe is a terror show! beautiful and wonderful to be sure. but terrible…and this “good god” of ours created it. a good tree should produce good fruit…

Respectfully

Jerome,

Excellent questions.

Why an indivisible entity? Because if it’s divisible, it’s a system with relationships between the parts and those relationships are always contingent on some external factor. Which leads you to something external which means your search has not come to an end.

You can’t stop until you arrive at something indivisible, which, as Gödel indicates, is not provable but has to be taken as axiomatic.

1. Why something instead of nothing?

I don’t claim to be able to answer that question. Obviously there is something. I think that’s one of those things you have to take as axiomatic. The more important question is – WHY do we ask why? Why does the question itself exist? Doesn’t that also imply that purpose is implicit and we instinctively know this?

2. There is no “how” God came to be. God IS.

Ultimately you reach a point where something has to just “be”. There is a necessity for an uncaused cause.

I’ve explained many times why I reject infinite regression. It explains nothing. A willful infinite being is ineffable at some point but such a being is still a perfectly logical explanation for why a universe exists.

I don’t think that quantum mechanics gives you infinite regress as an option, unless you are only operating from a vague notion of quantum mechanics that supposes that in quantum-land, ‘anything is possible.’

Now to your real questions, which I think are most central of all. Good and evil.

Leszek Kolakowski, the famous Polish philosopher who lived through the holocaust, said: “I can understand people who do not believe in God, but the fact that there are people who do not believe in the devil is beyond my comprehension.”

The Judeo-Christian worldview insists that there is a literal battle between Good and Evil. That we have chosen Evil, and thus Evil rules in the world – even though Evil is lesser than and inferior to Good.

Just about every book and story you have ever read, and movie you have ever watched, is about some aspect of that battle between good and evil. A movie that treats evil as an impersonal philosophical transaction would not be engaging or interesting. Why? I say it’s because such a movie would not be telling the truth. There’s nothing more annoying than art that does not tell the truth.

CS Lewis in Mere Christianity said “Someone”, while obviously a great artist (as the universe is a very beautiful place) is also “quite merciless and no friend of man (for the universe is a very dangerous and terrifying place).”

We are confronted with what theologian Karl Barth referred to as “the otherness”, the strangeness of God. God is far more unlike us than like us.

I believe that God has sincerely and truly granted free will to created beings. Lucifer and the rest of us behave in freedom and not according to some pre-determined cause and effect originally dictated by God.

Anyone who objects to this can voluntarily give up their freedom and obey, say, the 10 commandments or the Tau and stop contributing to the moral pollution.

Jerome, we ARE dealing with a very strange God. God is not like we might have hoped. God has allowed us to live in our own excrement.

However you feel about that, God also became man in the form of Jesus and lived with us in this excrement. I’m quite serious about this. God offers His friendship to us. We can accept it or reject it. However strange He is, He has shown Himself to be humble. And friendly. Throngs of people followed Jesus, hanging on his every word, nurtured by his teaching. When you actually sit down and read the book of John, you experience this for yourself.

All your questions about good and evil are ultimately answered in the cross. It’s no coincidence that the #1 icon, symbol and brand logo in the history of civilization is a cross – an instrument of hideous torture – and there’s one at the top of nearly every church in the world.

The cross is about suffering.

You can adopt an impersonal, mechanistic view of evil if you want to, but it doesn’t explain why you experience it as evil and pain rather than mere cause and effect. Yes, it’s inevitable that God knew what would (or could) happen when he created Lucifer. “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 1 cor 4:4. The Bible is emphatic that Lucifer runs the show on planet earth, not God. That if you are a follower of God you are on the narrow road, a member of the minority.

I personally think that an understanding that evil is real and personal and has a life of its own explains the facts at hand better than a theory that it’s just an endless impersonal cycle. Both logically and experientially.

jeromehoover says:

Extremely thought provoking, perry.
I like where this is heading and as i say, i’m rooting for you :)

However you’re far from beating away counter-argument’s. Every theory has it’s “Godel statement,” and that include’s the Information Theory…let me give you a few more counter-argument’s. perhaps i’ll debunk you. then again, perhaps i’ll force you to look at your ideas in a different light, thereby making your opinions even stronger. now, to brass tax…i’ll give you my scientific response first, as we are now discussing both science and morality.

I don’t like the concept of a universe without an explanation anymore than the next guy. That being said, a God-factor is very tempting both intellectually and spiritually. The existence of a God tie’s everything together. Which is why the Holy Trinity IS a theory of everything. theologically speaking moreover scientifically, but you seem to be making an earnest attempt to move it in that direction. Which is totally valid! most of us, i think if we are completely honest with ourselves, are looking for an ultimatum. Just do everyone a favor and stop playing games, please, and say what you mean.

In you essay, you state,

“Yes, it does seem perfectly “obvious” that a line can be extended infinitely in both directions, but no one has been able to PROVE that. We can only demonstrate that Euclid’s postulates are a reasonable, and in fact necessary, set of 5 assumptions.”

You know where this is heading, don’t you? our ENTIRE conception of mathematics is based on the assumption that the universe is infinite. Of course, you’ll contrarily have us all think the universe is finite as well as our scientific understanding of it:

you say,
“Please remember that as soon as you invoke anything infinite you have stepped out of the realm of science. Science can only speak of finite time, finite space, finite matter, finite energy. Science has no knowledge of anything infinite. Mathematics can only refer to a limit as one goes to infinity. Even math cannot touch infinity. Yet logic demands something infinite. Thus logic extends beyond the bounds of science.”

We DO assume the Universe is infinite. Everything we’ve discovered about the Universe in the history of numerical inquiry, imply’s that it must be! Not to say that this has anything to do with time, matter, NOR energy. Thus far, we are speaking only of space, which is assumed must be infinite…In other words, Space preceded Energy and Time. Matter is only respectfully cooled energy, and time couldn’t exist without motion. sooo, are you assuming that there is a dual-infinity? how is this possible? The Cosmos is infinite and so is God. Are they one and the same? And here’s another thing; what about Hell? Hell is separate from Heaven, obviously. Both are infinite. When we die, we are either eternally damned or celebrating eternity in peace and happiness with God…so now we’re up to 3!! Infinite heaven, infinite Hell, Infinite physical space…M-theory call’s for 11 dimensions, perhaps these are three more in addition to what we lowly human’s experience?

by this definition, can anyone logically say that the Universe is a system? If Space stretch’s forever in all directions, where is up, where is down? is there a difference between inside and outside at that point? more to the point, if our scientific understanding of space is correct, is it possible to wrap a circle around the Cosmos?

(this would be an excellent time to insert my opinion on quantum mechanic’s, however that’s just another rabbit trail and i’d like to make sure I’m understood clearly before taking this ‘debate’ to the next level. However, just for the record, I think Quantum mechanic’s is an area of physic’s that is a friend to those who live by faith. It postulate’s that literally ALL THINGS are physically possible. which leaves a lot of room for the miraculous, even in our rational academic world, to be scientifically supported. Jesus himself agreed with this:

matthew 17:20 “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”

For now, however, i think it’s time we turn back to the topic of the Cosmos on a macro scale: It’s fabric and punctures).

To Elucidate, let’s take a look at what we know thus far about the fabric of space.
throughout the universe are many punctures known as black holes. We are finding out that energy is actually quite damaging to its fabric. The larger the stellar explosion, the greater the damage to the fabric and the larger the black hole….If you know anything about black hole’s or vacuum’s , you’ll agree that the implications of its behavior concerning Entropy are counter-intuitive…It’s almost as if these vacuum’s are a kind of cosmic defense mechanism. But that, as you would say, is just a vague speculation…ANYWAY, If this entire discussion comes down to the acceptance of a ’causeless cause’ as an axiomatic, why is God a necessity? A lot of atheist’s believe the Big Bang was the first causeless cause.

and now for my moral response:

To be fair, everything in existence (that we know of) is pretty untamable. from the interaction of particles, to the behavior of life, and the live’s of morally minded creatures. That being said, the state of our morality is pretty pathetic, even from those who preach it. “Do unto other as you would have them do unto you,” is easier said than done, though i agree wholeheartedly, that that is best way to live in a social atmosphere. I agree that cooperation is the driving force of evolution. but the strong prey up on the week as a general rule. this is the natural way i think. its consistent throughout all of nature; a stronger force will always overwhelm a weaker force. so morality, it seems, is counter intuitive to the “wildness” of nature, for lack of a better term. it requires the suppression of greed, and ultimately, selflessness. Morality is a VERY real thing…not many will try to tell you different. I thing Evil IS personal…where I’m not sure, is if it extends further than the person projecting it. Same goes for the Good. I think sometimes people confuse the Good things and the Evil things in life as implicit purpose. I think most of the crazy things that happen on our little blueish green sphere of life are pretty spontaneous and unplanned for. Absurd reactions to an absurd existence. But that’s not to say that God, in his eternal wisdom couldn’t still be using these things to accomplish his will as, theoretically speaking.

Yet still, is it easier to assume ‘God is wild,’ as an adequate explanation for why the Universe is as merciless as it is, or is it easier to assert that there isn’t anybody driving this ship? a journey with no destination. No purpose other than what we assign to it. I think that’s what really haunt’s the human spirit. We work so hard to do and to be somebody, to fill that void you say only Jesus can fill…how terrible would it be to find, that none of our hard work meant anything? For me, this is why a belief in God is so tempting. My life would mean something in the face of eternity, even if it is only an nth, it would have genuine value. not that my life doesn’t mean something to the people i love, but let’s face it–our planet and the crazy things that happen here are no more than a speck in the face of the Cosmos.

Respectfully,

Jerome

p.s. I hate it when art tries to lie, too.

http://video.pbs.org/video/1512280538/

This is a link a very interesting documentary that would be good to watch. It’s the first of 3 episode’s of NOVA’s Elegant Universe. And, if you haven’t done much research on super-string theory, or what is now called M-theory, it’s a good place to start.

Jerome,

I’m glad you’re here, and that we can have this conversation.

There’s a subtle but very real distinction between the “space” of mathematics and the actual universe and outer space itself. You’re wise to bring this up.

Science only knows of a finite universe. But yes, in our minds we picture infinite planes and infinite space and infinite number lines.

Isn’t this interesting?

Mathematics is BIGGER than the universe. Infinitely so.

Doesn’t this tell you, first, something about the human mind and of consciousness?

Now, within the last 50-100 years we figure out how big the universe actually is and we understand that as huge as it is, it’s still finite.

Mathematics extends far beyond science.

I say that’s another vote for the reality of a metaphysical world.

I propose that *consciousness* preceded energy and time. But space itself is intrinsically bound to time.

I salute you for just coming out and admitting that you WANT there to be a purpose in it all. That there really is a destination when it’s all said and done. Wanting your life to mean something. Isn’t it nice to at least know what you want?

It’s depressing to contemplate a blind pitiless universe with no purpose or aim.

Why?

If entirely purposeless processes got us here, why is it that we have such a deep hatred of purposelessness? Why wouldn’t we just be indifferent or even unaware?

You WANT there to be purpose.

Who says you can’t have what you want?

Why not say – “I want purpose – so I’m going to embrace it!”

Yeah, I know, you fear that you might be wrong. You could be a sucker. You could go through life talking to your invisible friend who turns out to not even exist. Just think how stupid you would have been. You passed up the opportunity to be a cynic instead.

But why let fear run your life?

If you stand on the sidelines and voted for purposelessness – contrary to what you deeply desire – just because you’re afraid of being wrong – then aren’t you purposefully denying purpose? And aren’t you making yourself miserable?

Pick 10 atheist websites at random. Spend 10 seconds on each one. Ask yourself: “Are these people happy?”

Walk into 10 churches at random, during worship. Spend 10 seconds in each one. Ask yourself: “Are these people happy?”

Thanks for the Brian Greene video.

iwtk says:

You are right, you can pick ten atheists and fine that they are happy and also pick 10 more atheists and find them to be unhappy. This same thing goes for church attenders. There are happy people and unhappy people, no matter whether atheists or christains. It’s just a label. I’ve purposely tried this because I wanted to know the difference. There is none.

jeromehoover says:

Thank you perry, I enjoyed our conversation!

Keep your heart and mind open. Things are getting started now.

Respectfully,

Jerome

zubairzia0 says:

Dear Perry

I was eating an apple and I wondered to myself, if we know everything about genetic codes or have extensive knowledge about it why haven’t we created our own fruit? Well the cool thing is they have apparently understood the full genetic code of an apple and will now be making apples that will be more pleasant and tasty for us apple eaters…..

Well that was a short story of my day and how it somehow led me to your site. I will be open to say that my views are biased because; I am a firm believer in the existence of God, since I have happened to be born in an Islamic nation and to a Muslim family.

I am confused how you only point to the DNA for the proof of existence for God, Do you not think the laws of physics and natural laws point to God?

I think Laws are created by a power, for example laws in our societies are created by our government to sustain order. Similarly it can be said that laws in nature and the universe are created by a ruler to have order in universe and apparently go towards disorder (entropy). In my opinion, maybe if we did not have the second law of thermodynamics we would never come to the need for the realization of a creator.

I did of course have an issue with your opinion of Islam and of nations other then the so called western (Christian) nations. Do these western nations correctly align themselves with the beliefs of Christianity? I doubt that… however can the expressed interest in investigating ideas (in the west specifically) other than religion originate by the lack of evidence provided in the bible, Perhaps!…. I think that the success of the west is through democracy. A democratic nation advances far from any other nation because it allows freedom of expression and capitalism that allows an economy that can be controlled and manipulated etc. Democracy, by the way, has its origins in ancient Greece and perhaps even far back in the earliest civilizations of Egypt and the near east.

As far as the poverty in the Muslim world, that can be explained through a thousand different reasons that are logically based. You cannot simply state that poverty is an exact result of a dominant religion of a certain region. Your reason for Christianity being a superior or THE right religion, is that, the west has better standards of living and lower poverty rates. I think that is similar to the argument the atheists provide for not having a god, that if there is a god why we don’t have a more perfected species. Perhaps it’s the exploitation of the west of the east… (i do not think Christianity preaches exploitation of fellow man) my point being that you saying Christianity is correct because the west has less poverty rates is incorrect, also saying that Christianity coincides with science more than any other religion is also untrue. Islam has explained more scientifically true phenomenon’s than any other religion on this planet, perhaps you should just a simple search on Google saying Islam and science and you would be overloaded with information. The majority of the Islamic Philosophers and Scientists explored the laws of nature in light of a designer. Check up on Al-farabi one of my favorites, he was one of the greatest scientist and philosophers of the Islamic world in his time. Up till today you get the best doctors from the poverty driven east, IT is booming in India a country which has completely skipped one of the stages of advancements (industrial Revolution) that west had to go through.

Forgive me for my bias towards my religion, my point was only to correct an argument that I think is misunderstood. If you would like to argue on the basis of religion then that would be another subject.

The fact is that you have proven through Inductive reasoning that DNA is in fact a designed code. I applaud you for that! In addition nothing in the known universe can create a code similar to the DNA without a designer.
That is a universal Truth that we must except until further information is provided regardless if you have belief in God or not.

Warm Regards,
Mohammad Zubair Zia

sciencemaster says:

hey check out this Alien article

Carbon-based Machine says:

Here is the answer to the question “Who created God?”:

Something that exists outside of time cannot have a point of origin. It is impossible. So, it is logically necessary that the cause of our universe exist outside of time, and it is logically impossible for this cause to have a point of origin. If it did, then It would have a point in time where It came into existence, meaning that it didn’t exist before that point in time, and this would violate the very condition of being *outside* of time.

Keep in mind that “It” isn’t necessarily the “He” that was defined by the 3 Abrahamic religions. “It” is still largely unknown.

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