I have no need for that hypothesis
|The blog version: http://www.nogodss.blogspot.com|
|Pierre Simon, otherwise known as the Marquis de Laplace ("Laplace" for short) was one of history's most formidable mathematicians. As the legend goes, after presenting the then Emperor of France, Napoleon Bonaparte with a copy of his book on celestial mechanics, Napoleon is said to have asked Laplace where his mathematics included the hand of 'god', as which point Laplace is said to have responded (in French, of course) "I have no need for that hypothesis". This account has reached urban legend status, but even though it may not be a strictly historical account, it is true in spirit, as Laplace is known to have repeatedly & publicly chided and mocked Isaac Newton for suggesting that the hand of 'god' would be required to occasionally fine-tune the celestial orbs to correct for the effects of entropy, (i.e. Newton's second law of thermodynamics).
In the spirit of Pierre Simon "Laplace", I also state that I have no need for that hypothesis.
Here are a few brief reasons why believing in 'god' is in some cases not a good idea and in other cases is a very bad idea.
1. Causation :
A. How can there be causation before there are any physical laws?
B. How can there be physical laws before there are physically existent things in our universe?
C. And how can there be physically existent things in our universe before there is any space-time framework for these physical things to "exist in"?
D. For that matter, how can there be causation before there is any time, which, according to the standard model of the Big Bang Theory, is theorized to have started with the expansion of space-time?
The common theist argument, "Everything has a cause, therefore the universe had a cause" is a bogus idea, as the ideas of causation itself break down when we regard the origin of the universe.
It's highly illogical to reject the idea of an acausal universe merely because it's acausal, and yet turn around and accept the idea of an acausal universe creator. (Or an acausal universe creator-creator, ad infinitem.)
It seems that we must either accept the idea of an infinite regression of causes with no "first cause", or we must accept acausality at some point. I'm not suggesting *WHERE* it should be accepted. I'm merely pointing out that to reject it in regard to the universe itself and then to accept it regarding some alleged creator 'god(s)' is to be irrationally inconsistent. One might even say hypocritical.
The claim by many theists is that increasing order or complexity cannot come about in a non-directed manner because this would violate the second law of thermodynamics, i.e. it would fly in the face of entropy. This idea is often used by theists to attempt to refute ideas of a godless origin of the universe and the theory of evolution of species. However, the claim is not true.
First of all, natural selection, a key factor in the theory of evolution of species, predicts that, (all other factors being roughly equal), organisms within a species that proves best suited to their environment will tend to fare better than those that do not. It has nothing to do with complexity or some relative degree of order. Secondly, consider this example: You toss a pair of normal six-sided dice for thousands of rolls and plot the results on a histogram. Eventually a beautiful Normal or Gausian bell-shaped curve is produced in a graph. This shows an ever-increasing "order" emerging from a non-directed process. (There is also the still somewhat controversial theory of Emergent Behavior, but for the sake of brevity I'll skip it here).
Why is it that such non-directed processes with increasing order are not a violation of the second law of thermodynamics? Because "entropy" is about system stability, not decreasing order. In many ways, stability is order, and it is the unstable system that is highly entopic.
I.D. (Intelligent Design) enthusiasts tend to regard any universe that has any structure and laws at all to be "complex". They consider the universe to be apparently "fine tuned" just so perfectly as to allow for life such as us to exist and if the universe's laws and cosmological constants were just a bit different, life would be impossible. As the story goes, I and my "irreducibly complex eyeballs" beg the question of some creator or "designer" for the universe.
However, I submit the argument that any being capable of designing universes, twiddling the adjustments for cosmological constants and can set planets and stars in motion, as well as create me and my complex eyeballs, must itself be more complex than I am.
So, if the "complexity" argument is valid, then 'god' would need a designer itself, and its creator would need an even more complex designer, ad infinitem.
4. Unlikelihood :
ID enthusiasts consider an acausal and complex universe to be unlikely simply because of the acausality and complexity factors presumed. If an acausal and complex universe should be considered unlikely, then an acausal and even MORE complex universe designer should be considered even more unlikely.
5. "How" questions:
When asked a "how" question, like "how did the universe originate", theists will often respond with something like "Steve did it in a mysterious way". Well, this merely presumes a "Who", and sidesteps the issue of answering the "how", simply saying that the "how" is "mysterious", which is an adjective about how the "hows" are not known. Presuming the 'god' hypothesis answers NO "how" questions at all. The theist is left with exactly the same unanswered "how" questions I am, AND they now have the additional mysterious Steve to answer for and explain. In regard to answering "how" questions, accepting the 'god' hypothesis is actually tantamount to taking a few steps back.
6. Invalid Questions and highly illogical lines of thought:
Regarding point 5 above, theists might respond to a "how" question with something like "'god' spoke light into existence". This answers no "how" question at all, and in fact it is no answer of *ANY* sort. Rather it is a vacuous platitude masquerading as an answer. Much religious rhetoric tends to be riddled with such poetic non-information that deflects from the issue that no "how" questions are being answered in the slightest fashion.
"Do you have evidence that 'god' does not exist" is a popular question among theists. Well, let me respond by saying that if 'x' is described with contradictions, or characteristics that leads to contradictions, then yes, I can prove that 'x' does not exist. For instance, there are no omnipotent, omniscient, predestinating 'gods' that create beings with freewill because this leads to existential paradoxes, i.e. contradictions.
That being said, I should also address the matter of a vaguely described 'god' and a-posteriori empirical evidence. There is no such thing as empirical evidence of nonexistence. We can theoretically show a particular absence, but not universal nonexistence. That I don't have what is impossible to have is tautological and therefore meaningless. It means nothing and suggests nothing that I don't have empirical evidence of the nonexistence of 'god', just as it's meaningless and suggests nothing that you don't have empirical evidence that there are no invisible magic lunar cows living on the dark side of our moon.
If the notion that a complex universe occurring is unlikely, then since ANY life would be considered "complex" by ID standards, then ALL life finding itself in a very unlikely universe (presuming that there are a large number of universes that can occur) is CERTAIN, not unlikely, ergo there is no unlikelihood to beg any universe creation. I've been struck by the shear number of theists that seem unable to grasp this bit if abstract reasoning.
Here's another example of poor reasoning:
Bob's daughter had cancer. He prayed for her cancer to remiss.
Thousands of other Christians had kids with cancer. They all prayed for their kid's cancer to remiss.
Bob's daughter's cancer went into remission and she lived, but the thousands of other kids cancers did not and they died.
Consequence: virtually *ALL* the parents involved considered these results evidence of an existing 'god'. (Sometimes 'god' just says "no", or had good reasons you don't understand).
(I'll leave it to the gentle reader to discern what is wrong with the above line of reason.)
It's irrational, perhaps even hypocritical to dismiss an acausal universe by definition and then glom onto the idea of an acausal universe creator by definition.
In actuality, the subject of entropy is irrelevant to both the theist's and the atheist's arguments as far as I have been able to discern.
Accepting the 'god' hypothesis is actually a step backwards in regard to complexity.
Accepting the 'god' hypothesis is actually a step backwards in regard to likelihood.
5. "How" questions:
Accepting the 'god' hypothesis is actually a step backwards in regard to answering comprehensive "how" questions.
6. Invalid Questions and highly illogical lines of thought:
Theistic thinking and arguments are rife with invalid questions and presumptions and highly illogical lines of thought. I only touched on a few, but I've literally seen hundreds and not one, IMO, have been legitimate.
The list goes on, of course. Such as, theism being a product of instinct or emotions, strange experiences or super special favors 'granted' in time of need, etc, the irrationality of faith (Faith is either superfluous or a bad idea by definition), and so on. Why these are bad ideas by definition should be easy enough to discern, such as how the product of instinctive drives isn't necessarily "truth", emotions can lead us to believe all sorts of untrue things, etc.
I think one of the key points regarding religion is that the "spiritual" should be asking themselves if they are attempting to pursue truth or comforting ideas. My interpretation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden story of Genesis 3 is that the serpent offered Eve "food" for thought and let her decide what she wanted to do. She presumed to choose her own destiny rather to continue to act as chattel and slaves to the will of 'god' and for this they were punished. I see the serpent as a liberator who literally didn't tell any lies, but rather an illicit truth, and 'god' the father is depicted as someone who got caught telling a fib. A&E presumed to pursue truth rather than to preserve the creature comforts they had in a gilded cage. They chose the hard truth that opened their eyes over the alternative comfortable fibs with ones eyes remaining closed; This was the "Original Sin".
Here's a few questions for you.
Adam and Eve had their eyes opened when they partook of the forbidden fruit.
Who gains by ones eyes remaining closed, the good or the evil? Which has something to hide?