Christian and Atheist Discuss Cosmology

The following is a fictional account inspired by watching part one of the debate between William Lane Craig and Sean Carroll.

C: We are theists, and we have adequate explanations for why the world is.
A: Silly man. We are scientists, and we only deal with the observed data, not theories of how things could be or might be. You should not have beliefs, but base your knowledge on how things actually are, instead of your own speculations.
C: There needs to be a cause for why the universe is here. The universe is an effect, therefore it needs a cause.
A: Silly man, your theories are so ancient and naive. I can do calculations that show how the universe works. My calculations are self-contained, and explain everything about how the universe is working. There is no need for a cause, since the calculations explain all the current motion and energy.
C: Okay, but doesn’t that merely explain how things work now?
A: Certainly, since “how things work now” is all the data we have.
C: Your statements are similar to saying “I have opened the back of the clock, measured all the gears and motions, and have a math formula that explains how the clock works. Therefore there is no need for a cause for the clock.”
A: Silly man, your theories are so naive. My calculations explain all the motions and energy.
C: Do they explain all the motions and energy? Every last bit?
A: Well, not every bit. But they generally work, and we will find the theory of everything someday.
C: So your math formulas don’t explain all the current data, and do not explain how the clock was put here in the first place.
A: It’s true that we haven’t gotten all the calculations to work yet. But they still explain why we don’t need an explanation for why the universe is here.
C: What?
A: But it could be there are an infinite number of universes . . .
C: It could be? I thought you atheists only dealt with observed data? Isn’t the multiverse idea speculation?
A: Well, yes, that’s true, there’s no data for the multiverse. But if God were really Creator, the world ought to be different. We can know theism is false because I know how God would have created it, and the world is not like that.
C: Isn’t it true that you’re expressing your personal beliefs? And wouldn’t it be true, that if an infinite God existed, then us finite humans might not understand how God would do things? Wouldn’t it be better to base our beliefs on how things actually are, instead of our own speculations? It seems that “how things are now” is all the data we have.
A: Silly man, you are so naive. You have said nothing about my calculations.

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About humblesmith

Christian Apologist & Philosopher
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8 Responses to Christian and Atheist Discuss Cosmology

  1. Jerome Danner says:

    This is an interesting fictional account. I’m glad that I read it.

  2. Nate says:

    Hi Humblesmith. I recently read a post on this issue that was very well thought out, and I’d love to hear your take on it:

    http://jerichobrisance.com/2014/02/18/marcos-daddy-and-the-beginning-of-life-on-earth/

  3. humblesmith says:

    Well,, he makes a valid observation. For those who have made the exact mistake he mentions, I would say he’s correct. I believe the philosopher’s call this a category mistake. A few observations, however:
    –the point he makes is not made in my post here, nor anywhere else in my writings that I recall.
    –I did not watch the Ham-Nye debate, nor do I plan to. I know nothing of Nye’s influence and I’m not particularly impressed with Ham.
    –I think the sword can cut both ways in this type argument. As valid as the author’s point may be, it’s also true that some people assume naturalism, observe some mechanical bits of biology, then claim that whatever the origins were, they had to be purely natural and mechanical. Such a claim is equally a category mistake as the point the author is making. The author is trying to get non-scientists to stop doing science, which is a good goal. My goal is to get scientists to stop doing theology and philosophy.
    –The two questions mentioned are still legitimate questions, to which I give the author credit, he admits he doesn’t know.
    –The author complains of creationists using criticism and derision, then he does the same thing. The “little kid table” has a few big kids sitting at it:

    http://humblesmith.wordpress.com/2014/02/02/ongoing-challenges-to-evolution/

    http://humblesmith.wordpress.com/2010/10/20/dissent-from-darwin/

    –The author states “respectable thinkers are no longer free to assume whatever they wish in this area.” Such a statement very well may be true. The problem is, however, that as Phillip Johnson pointed out, the discussion has all the earmarks of someone wanting to shut down discussion. I suspect both sides are guilty of this.

    • Nate says:

      I agree that both sides can be guilty of unfairly demonizing the other. And I also agree that asking the questions “how did the first life begin?” and “what caused the Big Bang?” are very important questions that should be investigated.

      Also, there are definitely ongoing discussions in the scientific community about the mechanisms of evolution and the Big Bang, but as I understand it, those are discussions about the details. Not the overall notion that life evolved and that the Big Bang occurred.

      Out of curiosity, what position do you hold? Are you more of an old-earth creationist, or young-earth?

      Thanks

      • humblesmith says:

        I try to stay away from discussing details of fields of study that I am ignorant, and there are plenty of those in discussing origins. We already have enough people running around that don’t know what they’re talking about without me adding to the problem. I generally don’t try to referee between people making opposing scientific claims.

        That said, I have found little coming from the young earthers that I find convincing. Besides the theories that don’t seem to hold water, I can build a fairly solid case that we cannot get an accurate age if the earth from biblical genealogies. They skip generations. So I lean heavily toward the old earth view. Reasons To Believe seems to give good information, at least to this layman.

  4. Father Paul says:

    I think we can address deeper issues with the transcendental question, “under what ultimate conditions, sufficient and necessary, is it possible that we know what we know by calculations?” If the world is accidental through and through then how is there any predictability?

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