Cosmic Genesis And Grousing Of Religious Atheists

Cosmos

Michael Palmer’s The Atheist’s Creed records the first article of faith, which characterizes what I call religious atheism, namely “I BELIEVE THAT the cosmos is all that is or ever was and ever will be.”(Palmer 2012:5, emphasis in original), which is contrary to modern cosmology. I recommend reading the first part: Cosmic Beginning And Grousing Of Religious Atheists, before reading its second.

In The Beginning And Religious Atheists’ Fear

Religious atheists’ fear, as echoed in Steven Hawking’s prerecorded speech played on his 70th birthday, is that “[a] point of creation would be a place where science broke down. One would have to appeal to religion and the hand of God.” (Grossman 2012: 6).

Hawking noticed long ago that the notion of space-time forming a closed surface without boundary “has profound implications for the role of God in the affairs of the universe.” He contended,

So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator. But if the universe is really completely self-contained, having no boundary or edge, it would have neither beginning nor end. What place, then, for a creator? (Hawking 1988: 140-141)

John Gribbin properly observed that 
”[t]he biggest problem with the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe is philosophical – perhaps even theological – what was there before the bang?” He went further,

This problem alone was sufficient to give a great initial impetus to the Steady State theory; but with that theory now sadly in conflict with the observations, the best way round this initial difficulty is provided by a model in which the universe expands from a singularity, collapses back again, and repeats the cycle indefinitely. 
(Gribbin 1976: 15).

Even though Gribbin spotted this problem he could not escape its tentacles since he did not only hold that there is no problem with the beginning of the universe from nothing but that in the genesis of the universe we have “[n]ot something from nothing, after all, but nothing from nothing” (Gribbin 1986: 374).

Hubert Reeves concurs with Gribbin’s observation and further explained that, “The problem of the origin involves a certain metaphysical aspect which may be either appealing or revolting” (Reeves et al 1973: 912).

Quantum cosmologist Christopher Isham exlounded well when he wrote,

Perhaps the best argument in favor of the thesis that the Big Bang supports theism is the obvious unease with which it is greeted by some atheist physicists. At times this has led to scientific ideas, such as continuous creation or an oscillating universe, being advanced with a tenacity which so exceeds their intrinsic worth that one can only suspect the operation of psychological forces lying very much deeper than the usual academic desire of a theorist to support his/her theory. (Isham 1988: 378)

I think some of religious atheists’ fear is understandable because, as a former editor of Nature, the late Sir John Maddox put it, the genesis of cosmos is “philosophically unacceptable” since theists would “have ample justification in the doctrine of the Big Bang,”[1]

Does cosmic beginning give theists holding Genesis 1:1 account ample justification? I will let you decide.

Bibliography:

Isham, Christopher (1988) “Creation of the Universe as a Quantum Process” in R.J. Russell, W.R. Stoeger and G.V. Coyne (eds) Physics, Philosophy and Theology: A Common Quest for Understanding, Vatican City: Vatican Observatory, 375- 408.

Gribbin, J. (1976) “Oscillating Universe Bounces Back”, Nature, 259: 15-16.

_________ (1986) In Search of the Big Bang, New York: Bantam Books.

Hawking, Stephen (1988) A Brief History of Time New York: Bantam Books.

Palmer, Michael (2012)The Atheist’s Primer. The Lutterworth Press. (Uncorrected Proof Copy Review Purposes Only)

Reeves, Hubert (1973) “On the Origin of Light Elements” Audouze, J., Fowler, W.A. and Schramm, D.N. in Astrophysical Journal, 179: 909-930.


[1] Nature, 340 1989 page 425

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19 thoughts on “Cosmic Genesis And Grousing Of Religious Atheists

  1. In response to:
    “Hej Allallt

    How is it that the fact the universe began tells us nothing of whether it was causally created, or not? And how is it that if it was causally created (which would be speculation) it doesn’t tell us whether the cause is an intelligence or a mechanism? And how is it that if it is an intelligence (by which point you are making two speculative claims) it doesn’t tell you if the intelligence had to be used up in order to create something else, or not?
    What I am asking is if you, Allallt, could give reasons for holding these positions. Just for curiosity.
    Yours,
    Prayson
    “I never asserted to absurd a preposition as that something could arise without a cause.”- David Hume
    (J.Y.T Greig’s “The Letters of David Hume” Vol. I p.187)”

    I don’t understand the question. We know the universe began, and we know it exists now. We don’t know how it began, we don’t know what made it begin, and if something did make it begin we don’t know if that thing is still around. If you think you do know, then you are speculating. That’s it.

        • I understood that part Allallt. But I am asking not “what” we know or not know but “who” are “we” in your comment. Krauss, Smith, Hawking, Atkins to mention the flew claim that they know.

          In The Grand Design, published by Bantam Books in 2010, Hawking and Mlodinow assert that “the universe appeared spontaneously from nothing” (p. 136) without a cause. They redefined nothing(because philosophy is dead 😦 ) as a constant vacuum energy contained in empty space(because positive energy associated with matter balance with negative energy associated with gravitation(which they call zero). Then they contended that the cosmos spring into being as a fluctuation of the energy in the vacuum. They concluded, “Because there is a law like gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing in the manner described in Chapter 6” (p. 180).

          Smith contended that the universe created itself from earlier substances, while Atkins take similar route. So I am confused in “we”. Who are “we” in your comments?

          Prayson

          • I never liked Hawking and Mlodinow’s “philosophy is dead, especially as they went on to talk about ‘model dependent realism’ — a philosophy.
            Krauss doesn’t claim to know. Read the book again, and try to count how many ‘coulds’ and ‘mights’ there are (although Hawking and Mlodinow don’t hedge their bets so much with their book). Both Hawking and Mlodinow and Krauss are presenting hypotheses that are consistent with mathematical models and current empirical data. They don’t claim to know. What they do claim, with confidence, is that the simple fact that there are plausible options means that it is not intellectually necessary to assume that God did it.
            Besides, the three authors we’re talking about are theoretical physicists; it is their job to speculate. Then they hand their speculations over to experimental physicists to see if they can collect data to corroborate or falsify the theory.

            The “we”, it would seem, is everyone. We know the universe began (Big Bang cosmology), we know the universe exists now (I think, therefore…), but that’s it. You can assume and speculate causes all you like, but you don’t know, and you have no evidence in support.
            Normally when I make the claim that you have no evidence people retort saying something akin to ‘the Big Bang proves God’, but without jumping to arguments from authority no one has ever been able to make that jump.

  2. Just my thought for Allallt’s last comment. I am not philosopher, but your argument seems to be based on speculation itself. Your argument against the possibility of a Creator (or intelligence) is not based any fact, but simply your desire to find a way to reject that the universe having a beginning leads one to believe in a Creator. Not sure if I am clear.

    BTW – This was a good post. I always enjoy reading.

    • My argument doesn’t reject a Creator. It says that you cannot equate beginning with creation, and you cannot assume the nature of creator.
      My argument is not ‘there is no Creator’, my argument is that you cannot get to ‘there is a creator’ from ‘the universe began’. My comment outlines the 3 speculations you have to make in order to make that jump: the beginning was causal; the cause was intelligent; the intelligence didn’t get used up in making something.

      • Got your argument now. Like I said, I am not a philosopher. But, I think your second speculation is a natural result of the first. For if the beginning was casual, then what other cause could there be but an intelligence. The fact that there is even a beginning implies that there was nothing before, except for what caused the beginning. So, I would say that you really have only 2 speculations.
        As far as your first speculation, I would say, based on evidence we have, the “jump” I have to make to say the beginning was casual is not near as big as the “jump” one has to make to say it was not caused. For the only reason I can find that one would not want to claim that there was a beginning is so they could try to live their life without a God-conscience. So, to believe in a beginning is to let a divine foot in the door, which the late atheist Carl Sagan said he simply could not do.

    • I can’t reply in order. This is to your last comment.

      The universe is a bubble of space/time. Anything that is not the bubble of space/time is a reasonable candidate for the cause. Modern science points most strongly to the quantum field, but in terms of evidence this weak. But the fact that it is a plausible option does make the second speculation–that the cause of the universe is intelligent–a speculation completely independent from whether or not the universe has a causal beginning (equally speculative).
      I’m happy to admit that I don’t know. But on the evidence we have, the quantum field model is more plausible than God.

      • Hej there.

        If I may add a thought. David Albert, who is probably among the leading giants in quantum physics, would not share your position Allallt. In his review of Lawrence Krauss’ book “A Universe from Nothing: Why there is Something Rather Than Nothing.” which Krauss defined “nothing” as a “quantum vacuum”, he made the following observation that:

        Krauss seems to be thinking that these vacuum states amount to the relativistic-quantum-field-theoretical version of there not being any physical stuff at all. And he has an argument — or thinks he does — that the laws of relativistic quantum field theories entail that vacuum states are unstable. And that, in a nutshell, is the account he proposes of why there should be something rather than nothing.

        But that’s just not right. Relativistic-quantum-field- theoretical vacuum states — no less than giraffes or refrigerators or solar systems — are particular arrangements of elementary physical stuff. The true relativistic-quantum-field-theoretical equivalent to there not being any physical stuff at all isn’t this or that particular arrangement of the fields — what it is (obviously, and ineluctably, and on the contrary) is the simple absence of the fields! The fact that some arrangements of fields happen to correspond to the existence of particles and some don’t is not a whit more mysterious than the fact that some of the possible arrangements of my fingers happen to correspond to the existence of a fist and some don’t. And the fact that particles can pop in and out of existence, over time, as those fields rearrange themselves, is not a whit more mysterious than the fact that fists can pop in and out of existence, over time, as my fingers rearrange themselves. And none of these poppings — if you look at them aright — amount to anything even remotely in the neighborhood of a creation from nothing.

        He went further,

        He[Krauss] complains that “some philosophers and many theologians define and redefine ‘nothing’ as not being any of the versions of nothing that scientists currently describe,” and that “now, I am told by religious critics that I cannot refer to empty space as ‘nothing,’ but rather as a ‘quantum vacuum,’ to distinguish it from the philosopher’s or theologian’s idealized ‘nothing,’ ” and he does a good deal of railing about “the intellectual bankruptcy of much of theology and some of modern philosophy.” But all there is to say about this, as far as I can see, is that Krauss is dead wrong and his religious and philosophical critics are absolutely right. Who cares what we would or would not have made a peep about a hundred years ago? We were wrong a hundred years ago. We know more now.

        Albert discover the philosophical and theological implications to which I showed above as the main player of the struggle and grousing of atheists in this issue. He wrote,

        And I guess it ought to be mentioned, quite apart from the question of whether anything Krauss says turns out to be true or false, that the whole business of approaching the struggle with religion as if it were a card game, or a horse race, or some kind of battle of wits, just feels all wrong — or it does, at any rate, to me.

        I agree with Albert. Quantum field is something and only pushes the question a step back. In Quantum theorum, as presented by Krauss, we have creation through “Krauss’ nothing” and not creation out of nothing.

        Yours,
        Prayson

  3. “Does cosmic beginning give theists holding Genesis 1:1 account ample justification?”

    Yes, but why?

    The universe is a closed system!

    To me it is so impressive that thousands of years before modern science discovers a truth, God boldly declares it in His word. God states that in six days He created the heaven and the earth and all that is in them and that on the seventh day He ended the creation process. Nothing can be added to it or taken from it.

    In a book titled Many Infallible Proofs, the following enlightening excerpt is found:

    This complete cessation of creative activity has been inadvertently recognized by modern science in its formulation of the First Law of Thermodynamics, the Law of Conservation of Mass-Energy. This is the most universal and certain of all scientific principles, and it states conclusively that, so far as empirical observation has shown, there is nothing now being created anywhere in the known universe.

    In the passage of Ecclesiastes 3:14, it said concerning God’s creation: “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.”

    Matter can change form but it cannot be created or destroyed.

    Peace

    • Thank you Roy.

      The first person to go against Aristotelian view of eternal universe was a scientist and a priest basing his view of Genesis 1:1. American astronomer, physicist and cosmologist Robert Jastrow put it well when he wrote,

      “For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”(Jastrow 1978: 116) in “God and the Astronomers” published by New York, W.W. Norton

      Roy, some theologians following early Church fathers believes that the six days started at Genesis 1:3. The creations of the cosmos(Heaven and Earth), Genesis 1:1-2, is not, according to early traditions, part of the six days. Something I am pondering still 😀

      Yours,
      Prayson

  4. Is the claim “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth” justified by the fact that the universe began? No. They’re not incompatible, one does not falsify the other. But the fact that the universe began does not support the claim that ‘God created the Heaven and the Earth’.

    • Well, not according to Stephen Hawking, George Smoot, George Greenstein, Arthur Eddington, Arno Penzias, Roger Penrose, Frank Tipler,Alexander Polyakov, Edward Milne, Arthur L. Schawlow, Wernher von Braun, Frank Tipler and Paul Davies to mention among few. These eminent figures in the field of cosmology and its family seem to declare that it does.

      Example:

      Davies gave a profound claim in his book “God and the New Physics”, published by Simon & Schuste in 1983. He wrote: “In my opinion science offers a surerpath to God than religion” (P. C. W. Daviesin 1983: p. ix) 🙂

      Smoot in The Los Angeles Times of Saturday 2nd May 1992, he stated “A somewhat more “sober” assessment of the findings was given by Frederick Burnham, a science-historian. He said, “These findings, now available, make the idea that God created the universe a more respectable hypothesis today than at any time in the last 100 years.”

      I can direct you to the works of all names I mention above from my research on field of cosmology but if you are familiar with the literature in this field, you would discover that many theories were brought forth to avoid the beginning of the cosmos simply because of its theological and philosophical implications.

      I am curious [Name! :)]. How does not the beginning of the universe give support for the Genesis 1:1 account?

      Yours
      Prayson

      • The fact the universe began tells us nothing of whether it was causally created, or not. And if it was causally created (which would be speculation) it doesn’t tell us whether the cause is an intelligence or a mechanism. And if it is an intelligence (by which point you are making two speculative claims) it doesn’t tell you if the intelligence had to be used up in order to create something else, or not.

      • Hej Allallt 🙂

        How is it that the fact the universe began tells us nothing of whether it was causally created, or not? And how is it that if it was causally created (which would be speculation) it doesn’t tell us whether the cause is an intelligence or a mechanism? And how is it that if it is an intelligence (by which point you are making two speculative claims) it doesn’t tell you if the intelligence had to be used up in order to create something else, or not?

        What I am asking is if you, Allallt, could give reasons for holding these positions. Just for curiosity.

        Yours,
        Prayson

        “I never asserted to absurd a preposition as that something could arise without a cause.”- David Hume
        (J.Y.T Greig’s “The Letters of David Hume” Vol. I p.187)

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