Let us do some weeding out here. Please, everyone who reads this, speak up and be honest. Three questions (1). Who here believes that the Universe was designed by some intelligence ? (2). Who here believes in unguided evolution by natural selection ? (3). Who here relies on the power of reason and the efficacy of science and rejects faith in any higher, intelligent, guiding power ? Think of this sort of like John Carpenter's "The Thing', or it's 2011 prequel..we're trying to figure out who the alien is that is pretending to be one of us.
I'll start things off. (1). I do not believe the Universe was designed by some intelligence.
(2). I believe in unguided evolution through natural selection.
(3). I reject faith whole heartedly. It is nothing but belief without evidence, or belief
contrary to evidence. I rely on reason and the efficacy of science.
I agree on all three points, Anthony. I need faith like a fish needs a bicycle, to use an old image again.
Same here Chris!
1) No belief in design. There seems no reason to make the leap from recognition of patterns to belief in a responsible agent.
2) Evolution through natural selection and other means. Natural selection may be the principal mechanism, but there are others such as genetic drift that may account for particular evolutions.
3) Disbelief in the supernatural. Any supposedly benevolent guiding power would have a great deal to answer for. Science and reason have given us almost all of what we know outside of history.
There seems no reason to make the leap from recognition of patterns to belief in a responsible agent.
The first-cause argument for the existence of god has never made sense to me.
Yes, perhaps there's a reason why the universe exists. Maybe humanity will even find that reason someday. But why should that reason be some kind of conscious being? If a conscious being were the reason, then what caused the conscious being?
If there's a reason why the universe exists, it would be a kind of physics. So that physics theorem would be the "God" implied by the first-cause argument.
The anthropic principle could perhaps be interpreted as a first cause - so that we are the "first cause". That requires taking the idea of causality outside of the time sequence of events - but it never made much sense to me anyway, to think of causality in terms of the time sequence, since what we have is spacetime, not space and time separately - and spacetime might have come into existence at the Big Bang.
So perhaps the first-cause argument is correct in a sense - that humanity is the conscious being responsible for it all being here :) And we are caused by the universe.
Any supposedly benevolent guiding power would have a great deal to answer for.
If blood is good then there could be a benevolent God.
Yes, perhaps there's a reason why the universe exists. Maybe humanity will even find that reason someday.
There is a reason that the universe exists, but not in the way the average person thinks of reason as synonymous with purpose. What scientists have come to call the laws of nature, or the laws of physics, which are really just explanations of how the universe works, is the reason the universe exists. Many scientists do not believe that the laws of nature came into existence when the universe began to coalesce into stars, planets, galaxies, and all the rest. Rather, they believe the laws of nature have always existed, and it was those preexistent principles that caused the universe to form from the scientific view of nothingness, which is not the same nothingness that the non-scientist, or average person, understands.
What scientists have come to call the laws of nature, or the laws of physics, which are really just explanations of how the universe works, is the reason the universe exists.
But why are those laws what they are, and not something else? There are fundamental constants that we have no explanation for yet. Nature might experiment with those fundamental constants, and we observe them to be what they are because of the anthropic principle.
Also, perhaps there's a reason that quantum mechanics is as it is, and not some other way. I've wondered about this kind of thing, I don't know what physicists have thought about this.
But why are those laws what they are, and not something else?
It could be that the answer to why the laws of physics are as they are and not something else is similar to how physicists answer the question posed by Leibniz (and by Plato before him), "Why is there something rather than nothing ?" The answer given by physicist Victor Stenger is that something is more stable than nothing: “Current cosmology suggests that no laws of physics were violated in bringing the universe into existence. The laws of physics themselves are shown to correspond to what one would expect if the universe appeared from nothing. There is something rather than nothing because something is more stable."
To quote Michael Shermer on this point: "why there is something rather than nothing presumes “nothing” is the natural state of things out of which “something” needs an explanation. Maybe “something” is the natural state of things and “nothing” would be the mystery to be solved. " It could be that the laws of physics are as they are, and not some other way, because they themselves are why there is something rather than nothing. As I said earlier, many physicists hold that the laws of physics have always existed. Of course, they're not laws in the conventional sense, but rather what we call the laws of physics are simply the explanation of how the universe works based upon observation, hypothesizing, construction of theoretical models, testing, and establishing that the model is correct.
Yes, according to quantum mechanics things do appear out of nothing, and something is more natural than nothing. But that still leaves the question of why is it quantum mechanics that regulates what appears, why is something more natural than nothing?
why there is something rather than nothing presumes “nothing” is the natural state of things out of which “something” needs an explanation. Maybe “something” is the natural state of things and “nothing” would be the mystery to be solved
That's facile - there are certainly real questions here. We only have one universe to look at, so we may never know the answer to those questions. But we can try to approach the questions.
I've wondered things like, why are the real numbers the way distances are described in the world ? Why not p-adics, with some prime? They involve another notion of distance, and they are fractal-ish. Why not p-adics with 43 as the prime? I got curious about p-adic analysis to find out the differences vs. complex analysis, and to try to get an idea of why the world is not organized around the prime 43.
Why are complex numbers so important in our reality? The macroscopic world we know doesn't appear to involve complex numbers - but the quantum mechanics that generates the macroscopic world is based on complex numbers.
The physicist Roger Penrose talks a lot about his fascination with the importance of complex numbers in physics. Perhaps he could comment on why complex numbers are so important.
Perhaps loop quantum gravity gives one some answers to the "why" questions. Apparently according to loop quantum gravity, the Big Bang singularity was a state without space or time, and spacetime came into being out of that state. So LQG does try to answer the questions of "why space" and "why time".
With very difficult questions like "why is there something rather than nothing", one can nudge at them by looking into smaller questions that are easier.
Roger Penrose wrote an interesting book Cycles of Time with his own exotically beautiful theory of the Big Bang.
Maybe mathematics "comes alive" in some way, to form our universe. Mathematics exists as an abstract world apart from our physical universe. Maybe when that world of mathematics has areas that describe a universe that permits conscious beings, such conscious beings come to exist.
In other words, maybe there isn't an essential distinction between "real" and "abstract".
The physicist has a different definition, based on testing and observation, of "nothing", than the everyday person has. The everyday person thinks of nothing has the complete absence of everything. But according to physicists, nothing is a limitless sea of jiggling, roiling, vibrating quantum (or vacuum) fluctuations, and that somehow a quantum bubble formed, also known as a bubble nucleation, out of which the universe came into being.
The physicist has a different definition, based on testing and observation, of "nothing", than the everyday person has
I know, but that only raises the question: why do things work according to quantum mechanics.
According to loop quantum gravity, spacetime itself is quantized, and the first quantum of spacetime appeared at the Big Bang.
I like my idea that abstractions exist in some sense, and "reality" and universes happen in a region of mathematics that allows them to happen. Thus our universe exists because quantum mechanics is based on logically consistent mathematics - in which "something" is more natural than "nothing".
Of course we have abstractions existing physically in our heads, as thoughts - but that's a meta-level of existence for abstractions.
I'm suggesting that abstractions might exist independently of people thinking them.
I must compliment you on your deep intellect. You are a highly intelligent person, more so than I. Some of the things you talk about are a little over my head. I enjoy learning from people more intelligent than I. I don't think I'm the dumbest guy on the planet, but I must admit you can run circles around me. I think it is awesome.