5 Reasons Why Atheists/Naturalists Believe in Miracles

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5 Reasons Why Atheists/Naturalists Believe in Miracles

 This post is long so it is divided up into many sections. I suggest reading the first paragraph after which pick whatever interests you.

A couple of quick points before I begin. The title of my last post shouldn't have been, "5 proofs God doesn't exist", rather "5 proofs of naturalism's existence." I consider the two terms to be nearly synonymous (atheism and naturalism), if not very closely related - please courteously correct me if I am wrong. So in essence, the burden of proof is on BOTH the naturalist and the theist. There really is no "default" view, both most be explained. I was also told that I set a negative tone from the first post, so I am trying really hard not to repeat that. Often times the tone of someone can be misinterpreted (especially when reading something they wrote). Please keep in mind that I am writing with the utmost respect and humility right now. I felt like I was being ganged up on for what people perceived as "snottiness" or whining and crying - only with only a few dissenting voices. Also, if anyone is curious about my religious beliefs, I believe that each religion presents some portion of the truth, but none of them are completely flawless. I am attracted to many Eastern religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism as well as transcendentalism and I believe that there is immense power in nature. I used to attend Christian church but was ultimately repulsed by the concept of hell and the inherent cruelty of such a God.

 I figured I'd start a new topic and present new information to you guys (as well as word it much more carefully). I checked out some of your points - I want to thank MrRage, stuntgibbon and strafio for the links. No matter how much I read, I couldn't get over some fundamental weaknesses in the naturalist argument.

1. The very beginning - The Big Bang. I do not intend to claim to be a cosmologist or hold a PhD in astrophysics. Simply put, the naturalist explanation of the beginning of the universe (that it was the result of purely natural forces) causes me significant confusion. What caused it? There doesn't seem to be a natural mechanism that exists that could cause the singularity to essentially spontaneously explode. What are the prevailing theories and are they consistent with the other laws of physics? This requires somewhat of a faith in miracles. Yes, I used the "m" word.

2. The beginning of life - How did it occur from non-living matter? This is the thorn in the eye of the naturalist. After many years of scientific experiments we are nowhere near the answer (the Miller-Urey experiment was strikingly ideal for a supposedly random environment along with a number of other flaws). This website provides an interesting perspective: http://www.allaboutphilosophy.org/naturalism.htm (I do not necessarily agree with everything that the page links too, I haven't read the other articles).

"First, Miller started with the wrong materials. Miller assumed a reducing atmosphere: Methane (CH4), Ammonia (NH3), and Hydrogen. He purposefully excluded Oxygen, because as a biochemist, Miller knew that Oxygen would destroy any amino acids (the building blocks of life) that might be produced. Oxygen precludes any naturalistic evolutionary origin of life. Yet, as far down as we dig into the Earth's crust, we find oxidized rock, indicating the Earth has always had an oxygen-rich atmosphere. However, just suppose there was an Oxygen-free reducing atmosphere. Now we have a chicken and the egg problem. Without Oxygen there is no Ozone (O3). Without Ozone there is nothing shielding the Earth from the Sun's Ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The problem is Ammonia is decomposed by UV -- Ammonia can't exist apart from Ozone. To further cast doubt on the "reducing atmosphere" hypothesis, we should find Methane in ancient sedimentary clays and we don't. The geology appears clear: Earth never had a reducing atmosphere."

The next two points are probably more powerful. In short, point two states that the experiment was carried out with an engineer like precision and know-how as well as being laughably far from "random." Point three states that extremelly toxic chemicals were the major products of the experiment (tar and carboxylic acids).

"Evolutionist Robert Shapiro summed-up the experiment very well, "The very best Miller-urey chemistry, as we have seen does not take us very far along the path to a living organism. A mixture of simple chemicals, even one enriched in a few amino acids, no more resembles a bacterium than a small pile of real and nonsense words, each written on an individual scrap of paper, resembles the complete works of Shakespeare." (Robert Shapiro, "Origins - A Skeptics Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth," 1986, p. 116)"

Leaving all the problems associated with getting the beginning materials together to form the building blocks of life. Statistical probablities are the final nail in the coffin of the naturalist argument for life from non-life by random chance and natural phenomenon.

 "In the last 30 years a number of prominent scientists have attempted to calculate the odds that a free-living, single-celled organism, such as a bacterium, might result by the chance combining of pre-existent building blocks. Harold Morowitz calculated the odds as one chance in 10^100,000,000,000. Sir Fred Hoyle calculated the odds of only the proteins of an amoebae arising by chance as one chance in 10^40,000. When you consider that the chances of winning a state lottery every week of your life from the age 18 to age 99 is about one in 4.6 x 10^29,120, the odds calculated by Morowitz and Hoyle are staggering."

If you ask me - life by random chances is the most amazing miracle that I've ever heard of.

3. Pure probabilities - if you look at the probabilities of each physical law, arrangment of the Earth, the Solar system, the Sun, the galaxies, the universe etc. occuring as it does naturally, well let's just say the odds ask for a miracle. This site contains an immense amount of information. http://hometown.aol.com/silence004/god.htm Don't doubt the veracity of its claims due to the fact that the author is a Muslim and includes quotes from the Quran, I wanted to balance out religion from the equation (the last site's authors were Christian). This does not detract from the scientific validity of these points (if there are flaws please indicate them). This is to show that the counter arguments against naturalism can be applied irrespective of one's view of God.

''The more we advance on the road to science in all directions, micro and macro, the arguments in favor of an intelligent designer become increasingly eloquent. The origin of the "laws" of nature and the precise values of the "constants" necessitate intelligent design. The precision in the "mix" of constants that were necessary preconditions for the universe to evolve and for life to emerge provide mathematical evidence in support of the "God" hypothesis. The odds of obtaining these "constants" without putting "intelligent design" in the equation is one out of 10,000,000,000 to the power 124. To see how impossible it is, compare this number to the total amount of subatomic particles in the whole universe, which has been calculated to be 10 to the power 80 (Hoyle, Wickramasinge 1985)."

Take for instance, the precision of the gravitational constant. If a ruler were stretched across the entire universe (as estimated by scientists) and marked in inches, deviating by a mere inch in either direction would either make gravity far too strong or too weak for it to be properly balanced with electromagnetism and for the Big Bang to occur properly. Now multiply this by the perfection of the cosmological constant (dark energy I believe, correct if wrong), the nuclear forces, neutron/proton/electron masses, the plank constant, the speed of light, etc. etc. etc. etc. Making a chart and then multiplying them all together, as stated above and below:

 Roger Penrose in his book, The Emperor's New Mind (1989) states: "This now tells us how precise the Creator's aim must have been, namely to an accuracy of (1010)123. This is an extraordinary figure. One could not even possibly write the number down in the ordinary notation: it would be one followed by 10123 successive 0's. Even if we were to write a zero on each separate proton and each separate neutron in the entire universe- and we could throw in all the other particles for good measure- we should fall far short of writing the figure needed"

4. Morality and Ethics - I know that this has been beaten to death, but I still struggle with the naturalist explanation. Morality is said to have evolved. The problem is that love and altruism don't seem to mesh so well with a survival of the fittest mentality. What is my motivation to do good thing for others when there is no benefit to me? Why do people love each other? How are we born with a conscience that determines what is right and wrong? According to naturalism there are no universal wrongs and rights. Why should I even worry about being a good person and instead think only of myself? It is all relative. Isn't that odd for such a fundamental part of our character to be determined by a changing paradigm.

5. Fallacy of the Argument that Atheism/Naturalism is the base position - I believe that it is a fallacy to state that your stance is the "base" position. Your attempts at proving a naturalist origin of the universe and life force you to make a number of claims. As I said before, the burden of proof is on BOTH the atheist and the theist. You often fall back on the "prove it to me" logic when faced with a debate. You yourselves fall into the logical trap that you say theist fall into. You say - there is insufficient evidence for X therefore X does not exist. This is not better than me saying that there is insufficient evidence against X therefore X exists.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to a productive and courteous debate. 


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1. The big bang theory is

1. The big bang theory is not _THE_ explanation as you put it, it's a theory. It's a model for how it may have happened based on extrapolations from available data. New data can change it, or blow it out of the water. There can be a bunch of competing theories... but they're all based on something. There's a common view among theists that, because it contradicts religious claims about the world on specific points, science must be equivalent: a top-down world view that tells you why to get out of bed and how to wipe your bum. I'm not a cosmologist, so I don't have a specific answer here, just the comment about approach.

2. Note the link was from a creationist site. Not a biologist, but some people who are will pounce.

3-x Finely-tuned universe/anthropic principle, etc.

Do you notice that all your arguments are based on tearing down science? You have a conclusion in mind, but where is the support for it? 


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6. The tiny amount of

6. The tiny amount of knowledge humans possess (I brought this up in the last topic yet no one really acknowledged it). How is an absolute declaration of no God possible when humans only know waaaaaaaaay less than 0.000001% of all the knowledge in the universe. How can you be so confident with so little knowledge?


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Yes the site operators also

Yes the site operators also have creationist beliefs - focus on what they say though, and don't use that as an excuse. They actually do cite scientists. I also use a site authored by a Muslim. Look at the facts that the authors present, if the facts are correct, who cares who authored them?

Don't you think it would be absurd for me to expect you to get all of your citations from creationists? I obviously should not and do not. Therefore why do you expect me to get my information from atheists/naturalists as opposed to people that believe in God.


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 how do you know it's only

 how do you know it's only .00001 percent of all the knowledge of the universe? that fact is we know of our earth, of our species, and the many species of this planet, we understand much of this galaxy and how it came to be naturally formed, the information is out there. however the exact amount of information available to us? well I doubt anyone knows, are you sure it's .00001 not 30 percent? How much information is outthere? I mean to say that it's .00001 mean there is an exact amount? The reality is we can only know what we have evidence for, test and prove.  To date I have yet to see any evidence of god, now what you posted, i cannot answer at all, I understand the big bang theory and the formation of the planets but not well enough give you a proper answer. However to say that there is no natural way for this to occur and that God is responsible would only hold ground if you can A) define god, B) provide the evidence that shows that god is responsible for the creation of the universe, the planets and all things. 

    As for the material of this universe, there are many theories and hypothesis regarding this, multi-universe theories, super-string theories (if i remember correctly) etc etc etc, as such i would respectifuly say do far more research from neutral sources, such as colleges, universities, and from scientists in those fields.  Not from believer sites. If you start looking from a site that has already made up it's mind that science is wrong then that's all the evidence you will find on it. 

 


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Before I turn to argument,

Before I turn to argument, I wish to say:

Quote:

I used to attend Christian church but was ultimately repulsed by the concept of hell and the inherent cruelty of such a God.

Hear, hear!

Quote:

1. The very beginning - The Big Bang. I do not intend to claim to be a cosmologist or hold a PhD in astrophysics. Simply put, the naturalist explanation of the beginning of the universe (that it was the result of purely natural forces) causes me significant confusion. What caused it? There doesn't seem to be a natural mechanism that exists that could cause the singularity to essentially spontaneously explode. What are the prevailing theories and are they consistent with the other laws of physics? This requires somewhat of a faith in miracles. Yes, I used the "m" word.

Why must I be burdened with this?

The Absurdity of the Cosmological Argument

Quote:

4. Morality and Ethics - I know that this has been beaten to death, but I still struggle with the naturalist explanation. Morality is said to have evolved. The problem is that love and altruism don't seem to mesh so well with a survival of the fittest mentality. What is my motivation to do good thing for others when there is no benefit to me? Why do people love each other? How are we born with a conscience that determines what is right and wrong? According to naturalism there are no universal wrongs and rights. Why should I even worry about being a good person and instead think only of myself? It is all relative. Isn't that odd for such a fundamental part of our character to be determined by a changing paradigm.

Careful. This isn't even an a posteriori statement, just an ad consequentiam. I also think it also commits a false dichotomy fallacy.

The Employment of the False Dichotomy Fallacy and Its Variants In Debate

I suggest you read that from top to bottom, because it puts a clean hole through that argument.

Have you ever studied or pursued neuropsychology? It is quite interesting. And while I have studied neuroscience from a molecular perspective, I confess to knowing little about neuropsychology, but I can help you with this one. Although I hold a qualification in neuroscience (specifically in the areas neurobiology, neurophysiology, cell biology, evo-devo/neurogenesis, VMPFC destruction and FNIRS were unavailable to me when I was doing this. Hence, I shall present you with 34 articles from neuropsychology journals of my distinguished colleagues:

http://neuro.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/17/1/66

http://brain.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/abstract/123/11/2189

Unofortunately, the rest require a sign-in subscription online, and while I possess most of these journals in print, I have only a few online, and hence, I shall simply direct your attention to the cited articles:

Human fronto-mesolimbic networks guide decisions about charitable donation
PNAS, October 17, 2006; 103(42): 15623 - 15628.

The Role of the Ventromedial Prefrontal Cortex in Abstract State-Based Inference during Decision Making in Humans.
J. Neurosci., August 9, 2006; 26(32): 8360 - 8367.

Exploring the neurological substrate of emotional and social intelligence
Brain, August 1, 2003; 126(Cool: 1790 - 1800.

Social Cognition and the Prefrontal Cortex
Behav Cogn Neurosci Rev, June 1, 2003; 2(2): 97 - 114.

So, you see? Neuroscientists have a firm handle on why humans behave the way they do.

Coherent Spontaneous Activity Identifies a Hippocampal-Parietal Memory Network
J Neurophysiol, December 1, 2006; 96(6): 3517 - 3531.

Actual inhibition of conscious control, the same area responsible in contralateral coordination of inhibition and decision making with the ACC, fortunately, is an area in which I am better versed, and hence, on the matter I wrote:

I am referring to what modern neuroscientists called apraxia, a situation which results in a longitudinal divide along the corpus callosum in epilepsy patients, which causes the dominant hand of the patient to undergo involuntary movement and uncontrollable motor functions. The hand might undo buttons, light cigarettes, even strike objects without the users control. However, combined magnetoencephelogram scanning and neurophenomenology conducted after Penfield died in 1976 have revealed that this very rare form of epillepsy apraxia is caused by the damage caused to the medial lobes by the incision along the major axis of the brain. There are different brain functions associated with voluntary movement, the cerebellum for proprioception, the grid neuron array for mechanoperception, Acetylocholin-based Somatic and visceral motor neurons which run up the body's planar axis through the center of the spinal cord and into the Sensory Somatic Cortex. The incision along the brain's long axis severs the connection between the lobes controlling movement, with the result that different areas of the brain may at different times be able to command the hand in different ways, but since they are not connected, conscious control over it is lost. Actually, apraxia is often used to make the neurophysiological distinction between intention of execution otherwise known as Executive function (Anterior Cingulate Cortex), and actual execution. In other words, we can show that the self loses control of the hand due to apraxia due to a division along the major long axis of the brain, and although the kinesthetic sensation is there, the sensation of conscious control over the hand is not. For this reason, most neurophysiologists consider that at the supramolecular level, there is an electrophysiological event which translates intent into action. The general area which does this has been pinpointed by fMRI as the medial fronal lobe. Recently, neuroimaging has revealed the area of the brain responsible for decisional inhibition to be in the parietaloccipatal system. The damage or destruction of this system results in the loss of executive functional inhibition, with the result that the subject may lose conscious control over many physiological functions. But since the area of the brain responsible for action is located on the other lobe of the brain, the result of an incision along the corpus callosum will be in rare cases the loss of ability for interagency neurological control over such functions, with apraxia, with the result that a conscious self loses control for periods of time over the limb in question unless treated. Since the brain is a contralateral control system, which means that damage to the posterior medial lobe results in involuntary movement in the opposite function, the same for the parietal-occipatal system, since the corpus callosum is the link between these two areas and the subcortical synaptogenesis which develops when basic motor skills do, the exertation of control over the movement is partitioned into four areas. In other words, we are seeing exactly what we expect to see with an epillepsy patient experiencing apraxia under IET stimulation.

Another false dichotomy is commited regarding probabilities of natural formation of structures, because the calculations make the same error as Dembski's. There is no need to take me through a tutorial of basic astrophysics, because I am quite versed in it, it is not my profession, but, you know, a scientist should always find himself versed in other fields, too, if not necessarily a polymath. Now, allow me to remind myself how many stars exist in the universe.

6,000,000,000,000,000,000,000

And planets:

5,000,000,000,000,000,000

And Galaxies:

100,000,000,000

Now, how do such things form?

At the immense temperatures of the Big Bang’s immediate effects, free protons and neutrons collide with such incredible force that the protons bind with neutrons and each other, forming element nuclei, a process called nuclear fusion. However, this can only form elements up to beryllium. Big Bang nucleosynthesis was responsible for the formation of all the nuclei up to of Beryllium-8 isotope, which includes deuterium, helium, lithium and beryllium built successively from free protons and neutrons, then deuterium, then helium, which were created in the immense temperatures of the first several minutes of the Big Bang. The ingredients created by BB Nucleosynthesis form stars, which, as discussed, continue to fuse nuclei to create all the elements up to Iron. When the star dies, it generates such massive energy levels as to create the rest of the elements in the table. Deuterium is highly unstable and almost all of it fuses to create helium. However, the deuterium bottleneck delays this process slightly. Anyway, the gist of BBN is that all the elements to create a star (helium and hydrogen being of primary importance), are there. And then the star can make the rest up to Iron, this is why the process is called the nucleosynthesis bridge. The stars take over from where the BB left off, they start by forming the most important biological element, carbon, by the triple-alpha process, ignition by the proton-proton chain, the other biological elements of oxygen and nitrogen by the C-N-O cycle, silicon, the noble gas neon, and the heavy metal Iron.

After Beryllium-8, the hyperbolic increase in fusion energy levels necessary make it impossible (since the BB nucleosynthesis is very short, only lasting a couple of minutes). That is why the stars need to generate the rest of the elements. The stars can only generate up to iron, the rest of the are produced by the utterly incredible heat of a supernovae which blasts all the elements out into the surrounding area. The process of star death, in other words, is necessary to create life. But if a star takes hundreds of thousands of years to be born, it takes billions to die, for the ignition phase of a star is the longest of it’s life, as the rotating disc continues to accumulate helium, billions of years, the number of billions depending on the size and Hertzsprung-Russell class of the star.

The reason I am telling you all of this is because it is absurd to claim that the process by which the elements which make up everything we see could occur over anything less then millions of years, if not billions. True, the basic ingredients for Stellar nucleosynthesis to begin formed within 17 minutes, but as for the stellar burning itself, this is not exactly a rapid process. Stars are known for their longevity, and they will continue to burn hydrogen into helium until they run out of hydrogen, and this process is not exactly short either, and then they have to go through the last cycle of their life to form the elements after Iron, and these elements need to be distributed by a supernovae for terrestrial planets to form.

The birth of a star (which we have seen) is one of the most public and obvious things to happen in the universe. A budding astronomer with a telescope can see that the Orion Nebulae has a hazy patch in the middle of the Sword, part of the Perseus Molecular Cloud Nebulae chain, the patch is from the brightest star within, the NGC1333. Inside the nebulae chain is a massive dark swirl of gas that are collapsing under the pull of gravity to become rotating gas disks that condense into Yellow dwarves, like our sun. The dark patches around the star are filled with an infrared glow, as young stars condense, they shoot out massive jets of hot gas back into the nebulae cloud, which produces a glow visible from Earth. Even with your eyes, you can watch stars being born, very slowly, as the process takes millions of years, but you can watch snapshots of it nonetheless, since many different stars are in different stages of formation. A cloud of diffuse hydrogen undergoes gravitational instability, hence forming a gravity well, it begins to spin and acts like a gas jet, accumulating hydrogen. The gas cloud begins to take shape as it collapses under its own gravitational force. When the cloud has finally achieved hydrostatic equilibrium (unidirectional equivalent pressure), a protostar, the precursor of a star, forms in the centre of the cloud, and these newly born stars continually emit huge jets of gas from their core, which looks something like this:

 

3. The main sequence of a star’s life cycle is the achievement of a high enough temperature that fusion may begin, whereby it begins to burn all of it’s hydrogen and fuse it to make helium. Our sun is currently halfway through this process. The star spends this time converting all the hydrogen to helium, and the length of time it spends doing this depends on how much hydrogen it has to burn, which depends on the Hertzsprung Russell class of the star.

4. The next sequence of the star’s life is required for the generation of the elements necessary for biology, Carbon, oxygen, nitrogen and iron. When the star has exhausted it’s ignition hydrogen it begins to expand into a Red giant, and tremendous heat and pressure is applied to the core area of the star, which allows the process of helium fusion to begin, to create heavier elements. Heavier elements still must be generated by the largest stars, which expand into Red hypergiants (Betelgeuse is a good example). The temperatures here are sufficient to fuse carbon, and continue the nucleosynthesis bridge up to iron.

5. However, it is the collapse of the star which generates the necessary temperature and pressure conditions necessary to a) complete the nucleosynthesis bridge b) distribute this material. The destroyed layers of the dying star are stripped off and recycled to make new stars and planets, while a glowing pulsar is left in its place.

So...we can show and observethat cosmological structures form naturally. Where does God come into the equation?

Abiogenesis is ultimately something in which I am better versed, being that biochemistry is something I routinely use. (You can truly see how sick I am of dealing with this). I would reccomend referring back to the false dichotomy paper. THen look at this (If I were reading this, it would be dully monotonous due to the number of times having posted it, which is really my own fault since I never turned it into a formal essay:

Abiogenesis is poorly understood by many people, as if it were an impossible event of pure chance and luck and "goop" and other derogatory phrases so oft-used by those who do not understand it. Complete nonsense. In terms of complexity of process, chemical evolution, the natural process by which proto-biological polymers may form is on par complexity with biological evolution. Allow me to explain:

 

I suppose that before beginning to explain why, an explanation of fundamental concepts is in order. To understand evolutionary and pre-evolutionary (abiogenesis) mechanisms, we need a very deep understanding of genes and proteins. Since an advanced expalantion of evolutionary genetics is covered in an essay I am writing called Hox Flow Mechanisms and Their Effect on Evolutionary Phenotypes and Structures the bulk of this essay will be about proteins. Why genes and proteins? The relationship between genes and proteins, and their interactions with RNA is deep and ancient. Many times have I said that only someone who truly understands the interlocking three pillars of molecular biology with the depth that comes with years of study is the only person who has any right to comment on the validity of the theory that life evolves and arose from proto-biological replicators.

Essentially, a protein is a string of amino acids, usually 500-2000 amino acids long. The whole of life depends on proteins. Everything else, save the genes, is a mere passive bystanders in a biological dance of life. When we observe the cell, we are in essence observing proteins. Proteins control movement (motor proteins), the control structure (structural proteins), they control concentration (transmembrane proteins), they control ion gradients (pump proteins), and most importantly, they control every single chemical reaction in the body (enzymes). Proteins don't just control the body, they are the body. All proteins fold up tightly into one highly preferred conformation. There is no limit to the number of tasks they do in the cell. Proteins can be subdivided into two large classes, the globular proteins fold up into irregular ball-like shapes and fibrous proteins. Nearly all globular proteins are allosteric, which means they can adopt two slightly different conformations, this means they have two binding sites, one of which is for a regulatory molecule, and the other is for the substrate. Allosteric control is very complex. Suffice it to say for now that it works on either negative or positive feedback (ie the regulatory molecule increases the protein's affinity for the substrate, and the other way around, or the opposite, the regulatory molecule decreases protein affinity for the substrate, which of course, would be reciprocal. In this way, regulatory molecules can turn the protein on or off, and in negative control, there is a tug of war between the regulatory ligand and substrate which are reciprocally affected by each others concentration in the cell.

A short summary of biological proteins would look like this:

A protein is a specific type of biological polymer made up a specific family of chemical subunits called amino acids. There are 20 biological amino acids, and they are distinguished by the fact that they all have a central alpha carbon, which is attached to an amine group (-NH2), a Carboxyl group (-COOH), a hydrogen, and a side chain. It is the side chain that gives each amino acid its properties, and each of the 20 has a different side chain. Proteins can be anything in length. Usually it is 50-2000 amino acids long, and the longest ones can 7000 amino acids long. The interaction between the side chains (which is determined by charge, since three are basic, four are acidic, nine are nonpolar and five are polar but uncharged) determines the shape of the protein. For instance, the nonpolar side chains are all hydrophobic (water hating) which means the protein will fold up in a manner where the nonpolar side chains are facing inwards and not exposed to water (this is the most energetically favorable conformation). This is just one of many different subtle interplays between amino acids that determine a proteins shape. However, nearly all proteins fold spontaneously in a solution, indicating that all the information necessary to fold it is stored in the amino acids.

Proteins are:

Structural: All large structures in the body are almost certainly composed of structural proteins. Adding repeated protein subunits allows for geometric assembly of thousands of structures. For example tubulin can, by readdition of the tubulin subunit, assemble the microtubules of the cell. Actin is a fibrous, ropelike protein that can assemble into fibrils, like most fibrous proteins, which is a long sheet of fibers arrayed together. Actin is the fiber responsible for muscle contraction, another example is elastin, which is made of a loosely bound collection of elastin polypeptide chains, which, when bonded to each other, make a rubber like sheet that gives skin its property of stretching without tearing. Many structural proteins can self-assemble just by the repeated addition of a single protein. For example, the capsid, which is the coat of a virus, is a spherical structure which is made by no more than 60 identical proteins added together to make a perfect sphere.

Enzymatic: Globular proteins function as enzymes, which speed up all the body's chemical reactions. Enzymes are better catalysts than anything man has, and can speed up a reaction by a factor of 100,000,000,000,000 (100 trillion). They control the rate of the thousands of reactions in the cell, and by regulation and coordination and feedback loops, create massive, intricate metabolic pathways. All enzymes have an active site, which the molecule to be catalyzed (any molecule that binds to a protein is called a ligand) attaches to for catalyzation of whatever reaction is needed. Usually enzymes operate in steps, so the product of one enzyme becomes the target for the next, in this case, the molecule is called a substrate.

Transmembrane: Proteins can be arrayed across the membrane of the cell and control the concentration of various chemicals inside, allowing certain chemicals in and out. They are usually powered by ATP hydrolysis and usually control the flow of small ions like calcium and potassium. Trasmembrane proteins are technically a class of motor proteins, which are detailed below. Transmembrane proteins are important in cell regulation and enzyme kinetics. In muscles they are particularly important as it is the flow of Calcium ions out that powers the muscle contraction. They are very important in neurons and synaptic vescicles as the flow of ions (calcium, potassium and chloride) is what creates the energy gradient which holds the information the neuron is carrying.

Motor proteins: All proteins have precisely engineered moving parts, but motor proteins especially so, since a tiny movement has to induce a major conformational change. For instance, the protein myosin has to control muscle contraction, which, as you can imagine, is a tremendous organizational problem. Many motor proteins have the very impressive ability to “walk” across structures like microtubules and DNA polymers. This is an autocatalytic inbuilt function of the protein. It results from the protein having three distinct conformations, and the protein switches between them via ATP hydrolysis. Since ATP hydrolysis is extremely energetically favorable, the protein is forced to move in one direction, since ADP condensation is almost certainly not going to occur. The protein is forced forward by a catalyst called Adenine nucleotide exchange factor, which releases the ADP after hydrolysis causing an ATP to bind to the regulatory site almost immediately. In this way the protein is forced from conformation 1 to conformation 2 to conformation 3 and then back to conformation 1 and so on.

This cell’s wall will be studded with transmembrane proteins which control things coming in and out of the cell (organic molecules in, waste gas out). Meanwhile, inside the cell, enzymes will be running the day-to-day operations of the cell. Structures inside the cell (usually made of proteins) needed to maintain it will be being broken down, assembled, and repaired in a series of complex pathways all controlled by enzymes. Meanwhile, the cell needs energy and raw materials, so it imports organic molecules (aka “food) and breaks it down into simple subunits (this process is controlled by enzymes) which are then used for energy (a process which is also controlled by enzymes) or used to construct large cellular structures (this is also controlled by enzymes). For all this to happen requires a lot of chemical messages to fly between lots of different parts of the cell so that the cooperative process keeps going, and all different cellular projects are in communication and taking cues from the environment for what to do (these processes are controlled by signal integrating proteins, signal amplifying proteins and signal transducing proteins).

Controlling all this is the genetic code. The genetic code holds the “master key” to all the proteins. The rate at which proteins are assembled from genes is controlled by other genes, which in turn usually end up being controlled by other genes. Since proteins work in teams, the concentration of each different protein, as controlled by the genetic code, affects the cell as a whole. Most of the time, the demand for various products operates on a feedback loop. If a product is needed, it triggers a stimulus which sends a message to the genetic template. This can result in a particular gene being switched on or off or increasing rate of production or decreasing or a host of other things.

In other words, the genetic code of a cell functions like a microprocessor. It takes input from the environment, processes it, and delivers an output. In this way, the whole balance of the cell can be controlled by the genes. However, this analogy is not entirely accurate since the relation between proteins and genes are reciprocal ie proteins can control genes (these are called DNA binding proteins).

Now, onto protein generation.

This (protein assemblage) too, is not chance. The simpleton would assume that favorable formations of protein assemblage whereby the natural quaternery state would arise is affixed the same probability as a useless denatured amino acid string. That is ridiculous, and has been debunked by the Miller-Urey experiment. Not the old Miller-Urey as cited in the above article. THat was old, 1950s era. At the Scripp's institute several years back, they recreated it, rectifying the Methane/Methyl conc in the atmospheric gas mixture (because cyanobacteria alter Earth's atmosphere, recall) Insofar as the nucleic acids and proteins of cellular mechanisms are primary life (ie they are capable of self-assembly), they undergo their own natural selection. This was demonstrated as far back as 1936 when Alexander Oparin showed that in an anoxic atmosphere, organic molecular structures of the basic primary state would combine to construct elaborate complex macromolecular giants which themselves were capable of reassembly.

And then in 1961, Joan Oro, A spanish biochemist, cracked the adenine conjecture when he showed that the prebiotic nucleotide can assemble from hydrogen cyanide. Upon examination of comet traces, he concluded that comet fragments could have easily brought organic molecules to Earth. This in effect would merge Abiogenesis with panspermia except without the space aliens nonsense. His research paved the way for several more experiments, where the prebiotic synthesis of the other bases, thymine, guanine and cytosine, were demonstrated. After all, what makes a protein successful? A protein is just a catalyst, whose amino acid configuration allows it to fold up in a quaternery state where it serves as multiple active sites. Only polypeptides with certain strings of amino acids acheive this state. But, as the macromolecular covalescence occurs, might protein undergo it's own natural selection? Where proteins that "work" would survive in place of the denaturing ones? After all, we now understand due to the RNA world hypothesis the bulk of the processes behind the formation of proto-biological pathways like glycolysis and photosynthesis, and that the nucleotide handle on nearly all of the carriers (like Uridine Diphosphate Glucose and Acetyl CoA are due to the electrolytical interaction with RNA proto-biological structures, especially for UDP)

Onto the next topic, I have indeed heard (many times) the Fine Turning Argument. Is this the correct explanation of it, that I wrote?


On the Anthropic Principle.

The reader may wish to read this before introducing himself to this topic:

Before immersing himself in this one. The anthropic principle has the distinction of being the a posteriori argument for God which I was least impressed with. It notices that the universe, and this planet in particular, are extraordinarily fine-tuned for the existence of biological systems, which, due to the fact that they are extremely low systems of entropy, are highly sensitive, and cannot exist in most of the incredibly violent and volatile reaches of the universe. At any rate, the physical constants of this universe which affect the existence of biological systems can be distilled to six numbers. Just six numbers. Those are:

Epsilon: The fusion ration of hydrogen to helium. In our universe, this is 0.007, precisely correct. If it were off, say, to 0.008, too high, then all hydrogen would immediately fuse, and there would none left over from the big bang, and hence life could never get started, if it was slightly lower then the universe would remain in freezing darkness since stars could never condense and generate nucleosynthesis fusion, creating the heavy elements necessary for life (oxygen, carbon, iron)

Omega: Relative density of the universe. This is precisely fine-tuned, the overall density of the universe, if too small, the universe would expand and freeze before life could begin. If too large, the universe would collapse almost as soon as it began, crushing back into the fiery pinprick from whence it came.

That the universe is expanding depends on the density of the universe, and the two constants associated, Omega (Ω) and Lambda (λ). This is not to be confused with Lambda in physics, which represents wavelength. In cosmology it has another meaning. At any rate, Newton’s equations, which work perfectly until they disintegrate at the quantum level, dictate that all material bodies have a force of attraction between them which is precisely proportional to the distance between them and the size of the body in question. This is Newton’s Inverse Square Law. Since Einsten’s General Relativity, we have understood that this works because gravity is caused by the distorting effect of material on spacetime, However, surely this means that all material bodies should quickly rush towards each other and crush into a fiery pinprick? No. The reason for this is because the universe, as in space-time itself, is expanding. As we have discovered, the universe is expanding due to Dark matter. Now, this is where Omega comes into play. The density of matter in the universe will determine Omega. Since all material bodies attract, and the expansion of space time forces them apart, there is a fight between Dark Energy and matter, and the density of matter over the universe will determine its ultimate fate.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/2/29/Universes.GIF

Now, if Omega is precisely zero, then the acceleration of the universe and the gravity of matter will be in precise equilibrium and thus the universe will expand at a precise constant rate. If Omega is smaller than one then the expansion of the universe will wind down, and if it is precisely one, the universe will simply wind down and stop expanding, and if Omega is greater than one, then the density of matter will be overpowering and the universe will accelerate and then crush back into a fiery pinprick, as the universe rushes backwards into a fiery pinprick by parabolic expansion and then contraction.

Lambda: The cosmological constant determining the acceleration rate of the universe. Any larger than it is (0.7), and the universe would be blown apart by Dark Energy, any smaller and it would quickly crush itself into a fireball. The Hubble constant is precisely equal to one (Omega+ Lambda).

D: The number of spatial dimensions. Our universe, of course, has three. This is the most conduicive to life. If there are more, the inverse square law is replaced by an inverse cube law, and hence, the motion of planets becomes too erratic for the long stretches of stability needed for life. If there are less, say two, then the advanced computational systems for life cannot develop, as the possibilites are too few. It is much harder to store information in two dimensions than in three (think of integrated circuits) For example, the human mind depends on massive networks of neurons . Biological structures would have great difficulty assembling in two dimensions.

Q: Must recall. Keep forgetting it.

N: The force of electromagnetism divided by gravity. It is 10^36, which shows how pathetic gravity is (you can cancel Earth's gravity by electromagnetism by picking up shavings with static from your comb). But if it were slightly off, by a mere knife's edge of balance between the two...then any structure on order larger than a fermion would quickly and quite violently be rent asunder by the extreme power of electromagnetism.

The Goldilocks Zone: This pertains to the situation of precise tuning the Earth finds itself in regarding its stability and friendliness to life. For one, obviously, it is placed precisely in a small band of temperature ranges from its star such that water does not freeze or boil (0 to 100C). Water is probably not absolutely necessary for life, but is surely the best molecule conduicive to its formation. For one, its a permanent dipole, which is what gives it its properties and an electrical charge without which no biomolecular system could function (ion channels, proton gradients, DNA, cytokines, signal integrators, molecular switches and protein folding all rely on this principle), this charge is also conduicive to abiogenesis, the formation of proto-replicating biomolecules.

Another such useful fine-tuning comes in the form of Earth’s natural satellite, the moon. Tides may play a role in electrophosophorylation and the alternating charge and wetting and drying of primordial biological molecules (see clay theory), and its rotation and orbit keep Earth’s orbit stable. Without it, it would become erratic every several hundred million years, and would flip over. Obviously, such conditions would destroy any DNA forming, which takes perhaps as much as half a billion years.

particle charge is dictated by one of the four fundamental forces in the universe, which is the electromagnetic force, an extremely strong force generated at the subatomic level. Weinberg and Salam showed that it could be unified to the weak nuclear force. It is caused by a particle exchange between the three leptons, which are electrons, photons and nuetrinos (ghost-like particles which can pass through trillions of miles of solid lead without interaction), photons are wavelike bundles which generate light by an electric field oscillating at a transverse to a magnetic field 50/s. Electrical fields are generated by the interchangal of large particles called W and Z bosons between neutrinos and electrons, and the field generated is necessary for the formation of the photon.

This is all standard model quantum physics. In relevance to the Big Bang, the four forces that unify the universe were once unified into a mysterious singularity called a symmetry.

A symmetry in physics equations is generated by the ability to interchange expressions in an equation. Thanks to Weinberg and Salam, we can interchange all three leptons in an electric field, which gives it SU(3) symmetry. The ruling of the universe is dictated by SU(3) x SU(2) x U(1) symmetry, regarding the simplest particles that make up the universe. In the singularity during the Planck era of the universe (10^-43 seconds), the collapse of the false vacuum led to the breaking of the symmetry from SU(5) to what we see today. Symmetry breaking is not properly understood, and very difficult to solve. We think it was a "virtual quantum event" that caused it via tunnelling (this violates a lot of classical Newtonian laws, but the Heisenberg Uncertainity allows it, since it is extremely small and only occurs for about 10^-45 seconds. This caused the false vacuum fluctation, and the symmetry broke. Gravity was the first force to disengage, giving a SU(4) x U(1) symmetry. The breaking off of the other three, including electromagnetism, generated the asymmetry we see today, which explains why the electron has a negative charge (the electromagnetic force).

There was no charge in the symmetry. None at all. Remember, the universe is ex nihilo. Actually, it may astonish you to learn that there is no charge in the entire universe. The electromagnetic force works both ways, it attracts and it repels (unlike gravity, which is purely attractive). It's attraction/repulsion is very, very precisely balanced, to the tune of 10^-32 electron volts difference, which is probably experimental error. This is good because the electromagnetic force is tremendously powerful, almost 1000000000000000000000000000000000000000 times more powerful than gravity (this explains why you can cancel the entire gravity of the Earth by picking up bits of paper with the static electricty of your comb). And that means that if the electromagnetic force was any less balanced, you would be ripped to shreds instantly.

This is excellent evidence for ex nihilo creation. There is no charge in the universe, which can only be explained that there was no charge in the vacuum.

 

Now, from there, if you continue with Penrose's explanation (have you ever read Reese' Just Six Numbers?) what was the conclusion that he drew? It wasn't God. I'll give you a little hint:

 

In the essay I am writing called On the Anthropic Principle, (you just read a piece of it) I discuss Lee Smolin’s Loop quantum gravity and his theory of how multiverses evolved to gradually become more suitable to have the constants necessary for the evolution of biological structures. In short, if multiverse could tie in with the evidence for inflation, answer the fine-tuning problem, it would be a better hypothesis (soon to be crowned theory) than God. The difference between this and the absurdity of God is that it is testable and falsifiable. It does not break the entropy laws (as God does), it does not appeal to magic or fallacy. It checks out, in short.

 

Need I then say more?

And...let us then not forget there are problems with the opposing hypothesis as well: Did I not outline them in your other thread?

Quote:

5. Fallacy of the Argument that Atheism/Naturalism is the base position - I believe that it is a fallacy to state that your stance is the "base" position. Your attempts at proving a naturalist origin of the universe and life force you to make a number of claims. As I said before, the burden of proof is on BOTH the atheist and the theist. You often fall back on the "prove it to me" logic when faced with a debate. You yourselves fall into the logical trap that you say theist fall into. You say - there is insufficient evidence for X therefore X does not exist. This is not better than me saying that there is insufficient evidence against X therefore X exists.

Wrong way around::

The Argument From Ignorance and its uses and abuses

Now, if you would be so kind as to remember what naturalism is. It is not a philosophical stance per se. Just like atheism is not an idea per se. They are, rather, negative stances defined only in opposition to preexisting concepts. Without theism, atheism would be a non sequitur. Without supernaturalism, naturalism as a distinct iidea would be a non sequitur. In epistemology, need I remind you, there is no such thing, at all, as burden of disproof, and that, is where you shall find the above link proves its usefulness.

The ad ignorantium really comes because, even with unanswerable problems regarding the universe, the invocation of the "supernatural, "God" etc ad infinitum, with whatever euphemisms you wish to attach, do not solve anything. They are not solutions in any sense of the word (they beg the question anyway). Uncomfortably, cross-examination of theistic explanations simply revelas that they do not actually mean anything, nor do they establish anything whatsoever. Actually, they end up with a more problematic conjecture than that which they attempt to solve. I believe I already established that in the links I put up in the other thread. This took me ages to slog through, so bear with me here. But "There is no materialist account for X" is ad ignorantium and you know it, because "X therefore God" is meaningless, in any true sense of the word.

 

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

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magilum
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The Free Thinking Theist

The Free Thinking Theist wrote:

Yes the site operators also have creationist beliefs - focus on what they say though, and don't use that as an excuse. They actually do cite scientists. I also use a site authored by a Muslim. Look at the facts that the authors present, if the facts are correct, who cares who authored them?

Don't you think it would be absurd for me to expect you to get all of your citations from creationists? I obviously should not and do not. Therefore why do you expect me to get my information from atheists/naturalists as opposed to people that believe in God.

Because attacking evolution and abiogenesis is a desperate defensive posture on their part. It doesn't promise support for a supernatural explanation for anything. It's bifurcation, at best, to say that a problem with evolution or abiogenesis is support for an intelligent designer. The answer doesn't default to a big, complicated designer. Think: how could it?


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Quote:

Quote:
3. Pure probabilities - if you look at the probabilities of each physical law, arrangment of the Earth, the Solar system, the Sun, the galaxies, the universe etc.
Only if the odds are calculated in a deceptive manner.

I can't remember who said it, but it was pointed out that when you go to the store and park next to the car, the odds that you would park next to the exact car that you did, of all of the millions/billions of vehicles in this world, are mind boggling. However (and this is my own elaboration), if you look at the circumstances, the people in the immediate area, the convenience of the time of day, the reason for seeking the parking space in the area of the lot that you did, the pattern of parking spaces being filled and emptied, and so on, the odds are well within reasonable limits, and the fact is that you had a say in the space in which you parked and you had to park somewhere.

Obviously you have two primary ways of presenting these odds, regarding the parking space. There's the first, which is disingenuously over-simplified but valid in it's own right, and there is the later which is more technically correct but does not carry the same impact and demands greater levels of thinking to understand.

 

Quote:
4. Morality and Ethics - I know that this has been beaten to death, but I still struggle with the naturalist explanation. Morality is said to have evolved. The problem is that love and altruism don't seem to mesh so well with a survival of the fittest mentality. What is my motivation to do good thing for others when there is no benefit to me? Why do people love each other? How are we born with a conscience that determines what is right and wrong? According to naturalism there are no universal wrongs and rights. Why should I even worry about being a good person and instead think only of myself? It is all relative. Isn't that odd for such a fundamental part of our character to be determined by a changing paradigm.
There was a special on the Discovery Channel(?) not long ago that addressed this pretty specifically. Modern man did not come about fully formed; there were a number of other human-like species, with varying degrees of different traits. Our survival strategy is in our intelligence and our numbers. The species that had greater emotional bonds with one another cared for eachother more, and thus did more to keep eachother alive and well. The less empathy the species had, the quicker they went extinct, and the more empthy they had the longer they survived - this is essentially on a gradient, with us as the ones that survived the longest.

Creationists like to make evolution out to be a matter of one single set of traits being the only way a species could possibly survive, and this is a clear misrepresentation of the truth. Not every animal is predatory, they're not all lions and tigers and bears. Don't forget all of the very passive animals, whose survival strategy is to hide, run, or outsmart those that would hunt them, and have done so well enough to keep their species alive even longer than humans, in some cases. Lets also not forget that some animals also show the same kind of compassion that we do. There are some "lesser" species that bury their dead and then grieve for them. They form tight family bonds, and do everything in their power to keep that family alive.

Asking these questions is always fair, but asserting that things like evolution couldn't possibly be true simply because you are not aware of the answers is beyond foolish.

Quote:
5. Fallacy of the Argument that Atheism/Naturalism is the base position
We're not born with notions of gods, we are given those notions after we are old enough to comprehend them. Those that don't grow up without knowing of any god or gods don't develop them spontaneously. You really only need to look at different cultures for evidence of this. If we were born with these notions, we wouldn't expect to see the variety of gods and the plethora of different denominations of each religion. At any rate, it is the default position, as it is what we're born with - no particular belief or disbelief in anything, and that is all "atheism" is.

Quote:
You yourselves fall into the logical trap that you say theist fall into.
We, atheists, are not the ones making the claim. Obviously you would ask for proof from anyone professing the existence of a different god - you would demand proof of krishna, allah, horus, zeus, thor, or any other. You wouldn't take the burden of proof to disprove them, and nor would we as athiests, as we cannot disprove something for which there is no evidence or rational basis for. We know you don't see it that way, but you need to understand that your claim to us is absolutely, positively, 100% exactly the same as someone asserting that zeus is the one true god. If you want us to consider your claim then you need to provide some rational basis for it, otherwise we simply have no reason to consider it.

Quote:
You say - there is insufficient evidence for X therefore X does not exist
Incorrect, and I don't think many will take kindly to having words put into their mouth. We say there is insufficient evidence, period. Without evidence, or even a rational basis, there is simply no reason to take the issue further. Provide even the most basic evidence or rational basis to believe and you will find most people willing to listen and consider your point of view. Unfortunately there have been no such arguments presented, even after 2000 years of some of the world's smartest people devoting their lives to trying to find such arguments. Anyone wishing to attempt to do so now has their work cut out for them, for sure.

You might spend some time looking through previous threads. You will likely get some terse responses in this thread, as you have not presented any arguments that have not been repeatedly and continuously beaten to death, so don't be surprised.

 


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The Free Thinking Theist

The Free Thinking Theist wrote:
6. The tiny amount of knowledge humans possess (I brought this up in the last topic yet no one really acknowledged it). How is an absolute declaration of no God possible when humans only know waaaaaaaaay less than 0.000001% of all the knowledge in the universe. How can you be so confident with so little knowledge?
okay, since you, by your own confession, only know a minutely small amount of knowledge of the universe.... how do you know the universe wasn't farted into existence by a snarfwidget?

 

Of course, technically we can't know there is no god. But by the same argument, we technically can't know that Brian Sapient isn't god. Or that we're all not going to spontaneously transform into a ham sandwich tomorrow.

 

There is simply no point in pursuing such ideas, when no evidence points in their direction.


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The Free Thinking Theist

The Free Thinking Theist wrote:
6. The tiny amount of knowledge humans possess (I brought this up in the last topic yet no one really acknowledged it). How is an absolute declaration of no God possible when humans only know waaaaaaaaay less than 0.000001% of all the knowledge in the universe. How can you be so confident with so little knowledge?

 

The only thing the majority of atheists are sure of, to my knowledge, is not knowing.  There is no way to know what could possibly exist in terms of a supposed "god" character.  Trying to narrow that down to one concept is extremely silly to myself, and I am sure, most others here.

 

But with what you just said in the above quote, how would a definite concept of god be possible with how supposedly little we know?


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The probability of life

The probability of life coming into being on this planet through the random combinations of chemicals is 1.


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Quote: 1. The very

Quote:

1. The very beginning - The Big Bang. I do not intend to claim to be a cosmologist or hold a PhD in astrophysics.

So maybe these scientists know a little more about the subject than you and have good reasons to formulate their specific theories. (no insult, I really mean it)

Quote:

Simply put, the naturalist explanation of the beginning of the universe (that it was the result of purely natural forces) causes me significant confusion. What caused it? There doesn't seem to be a natural mechanism that exists that could cause the singularity to essentially spontaneously explode. What are the prevailing theories and are they consistent with the other laws of physics?

good questions. well, maybe the subject can't be put that simply. instead of saying "I don't understand it, therefore it can't be true", why don't you just get a textbook on the subject and read for yourself about it, ask your teachers or professors or read trough the plenty of essays that you can get here on this site.

Quote:

This requires somewhat of a faith in miracles.

No, it doesn't. what you state here shows the very problem I have with theism:

saying "I don't know how it happend, so it must have been a miracle/god". Are you satisfied with such a worldview? I'm not. and so aren't the scientists you name. if they would have been, scientific progress would have stopped long ago.

 

 

"And the only people I fear are those who never have doubts."
Billy Joel, 1993

And God spoke: You can stand under my umberella -ella -ella -eh -eh -eh ...


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Wow. I give you props for

Wow. I give you props for trying, and thank you for attempting to clarify your first, errantly worded post.

I'm not going to bother telling you how you made a similar mistake in this one because deludedgod just gave you at least three months of study, and I don't want to bog you down with one more thing.

Anyway, sometime when you're done studying neuroscience, look into the idea of axioms, and then apply the rules of epistemology to the axiom of existence combined with the word "natural." When you're done, you'll understand why this question doesn't fly any more than the last one -- on philosophical grounds.

On scientific grounds, I'd say you've got a lot of refuting to do.

(Thanks again, Deluded!)

 

Atheism isn't a lot like religion at all. Unless by "religion" you mean "not religion". --Ciarin

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Actually, I disagree that

Actually, I disagree that the net energy/charge of the universe being 0 is evidence for ex-nihlo.

 

Quote:

This is excellent evidence for ex nihilo creation. There is no charge in the universe, which can only be explained that there was no charge in the vacuum.

 

 

 This is also compatiable with quantum flucuation from an already existing universe, since the net energy of quantum flucuations, is well, 0.

 

 


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You've not presented a

You've not presented a single reason why either Atheists or Naturalists believe in miracles. Atheists by definition cannot believe in miracles... although I may be accused of stretching the term to include some things it is not strictly inclusive of. Naturalists most definitely cannot believe in miracles, for there is no natural explanation for them and there is no evidence of them. Miracles, by definition cannot exist in a Naturalist view. What you suggest are miraculous things are in fact not. What you posit are erroneous and presumptuous and sometimes wholly incorrect. There is no faith in Atheism and the word is meaningless to a Naturalist. There is either evidence or there is not. Evidence either points to some occurrence or explains something or it points to some other and explains something else. Your inability to comprehend what you posit as 'evidence' that Atheists and Naturalists believe in miracles (what you equate with faith) does not mean that Atheists or Naturalists believe in miracles or have faith. You have been presented with an enormous amount of reading by which you may begin to understand the reality of your 'evidence'. That is, that what you posit as evidence is in fact contrary or else entirely false.

Here, I will attempt my own refutation of your five points. (Why just five points? You could have used ten considering how erroneous the five are. You could have made up some other things, or distorted or been ignorant of the realities of other things, to 'prove' that Atheists and Naturalists believe in miracles.

The Free Thinking Theist wrote:

1. The very beginning - The Big Bang. I do not intend to claim to be a cosmologist or hold a PhD in astrophysics. Simply put, the naturalist explanation of the beginning of the universe (that it was the result of purely natural forces) causes me significant confusion. What caused it? There doesn't seem to be a natural mechanism that exists that could cause the singularity to essentially spontaneously explode. What are the prevailing theories and are they consistent with the other laws of physics? This requires somewhat of a faith in miracles. Yes, I used the "m" word.

Yes, you did the 'm' word. Miracles. We can read. We're not even shocked. So far you've given no reasons; proven nothing. You've also used the word 'faith', which is more problematic. Perhaps you're interested in the meaning of the word faith? It is senseless to use words like faith and miracles here.

The Big Bang theory is a working model of how the universe came into existence. It is not necessary that you have qualifications to understand the basic principles. There are other theories that also explain how the universe came into existence. The Big Bang theory works within other theories and as such does not contradict any principle laws of physics. If you knew how to use the word theory properly when referring to theories in science you would not be so confused.

As to what existed before the Big Bang, that is a matter of some debate. I believe the most prominent thought on the matter is that a singularity consisting of the total matter and energy of the universe existed. I believe, however, that quantum theory excludes the possible existence of singularities of this nature (similar to those that are theorized in Einsteinian physics to exist in black holes) as nothing can exist that does not have dimension. This is not very helpful, nor does it much matter. Anything that science cannot sufficiently explain is not something explained by god. The fact that a working model of the universe's beginning does exist excludes the possibility of it being a miracle. The theory relies entirely on natural explanations in order to work. There is nothing at all miraculous about the Big Bang.

The Free Thinking Theist wrote:

2. The beginning of life - How did it occur from non-living matter? This is the thorn in the eye of the naturalist. After many years of scientific experiments we are nowhere near the answer (the Miller-Urey experiment was strikingly ideal for a supposedly random environment along with a number of other flaws). This website provides an interesting perspective: http://www.allaboutphilosophy.org/naturalism.htm (I do not necessarily agree with everything that the page links too, I haven't read the other articles).

I will not bother to write about your suggested reading.

This is not a thorn at all. Matter is not 'living' in any sense. Even in a living being matter is not 'living'. Matter is an inanimate thing composed of energy. Matter may come together to form compounds which react (change form) when in contact with other compounds or matter and it always forms regularly occurring compounds on its own when present in certain conditions. Free oxygen will form water when hydrogen is present and the conditions are adequate for the molecule to form. Water is the third most common molecule in the universe. There is no reason to think that life formed from non-living matter (we now see how redundant it is to write this, for matter is always non-living) randomly, by chance, or by miracle. No faith is required to believe that matter did come together to form life, for there is life on this planet. It is far more probable that necessary chemical reactions took place which formed the 'building blocks' of life than it is that a creator assembled the matter into life in the first place. In terms or probability, the latter is far more probable than the former. We know for certain that life does exist and not by chance or accident so much as per inevitability. The sheer number of planets and satellites that exist in the universe combined with the one planet on which life is certain to have formed means that the probability of life existing is not so small that it can't have happened at least once. It did happen at least once. It's not miraculous. It is, however, the case.

Once again, simply because science has not recreated the formation of life does not mean that god-did-it and it is not necessary to have faith that life merely began because of natural processes. What requires faith is to believe that god-did-it, for to use that explanation you must not have any evidence.

The Free Thinking Theist wrote:

3. Pure probabilities - if you look at the probabilities of each physical law, arrangment of the Earth, the Solar system, the Sun, the galaxies, the universe etc. occuring as it does naturally, well let's just say the odds ask for a miracle. This site contains an immense amount of information. http://hometown.aol.com/silence004/god.htm Don't doubt the veracity of its claims due to the fact that the author is a Muslim and includes quotes from the Quran, I wanted to balance out religion from the equation (the last site's authors were Christian). This does not detract from the scientific validity of these points (if there are flaws please indicate them). This is to show that the counter arguments against naturalism can be applied irrespective of one's view of God.

I will not comment on your source.

The explanation for the Earth having life on it is known as the Anthropic principle. I expounded it in so many words above. The odds of life forming on Earth are not such that a miracle is required for life to have formed in the first instance. It was merely bound to happen and it's known to have happened (you're alive), therefor in the entire universe the odds must have been such that it could happen at least once. Considering the number of extant planets and satellites, the odds are fairly good that life will form. Life did form. The odds are so good that life likely exists elsewhere. There is no evidence, but there really is nothing so terribly unique about the Earth, nor is there anything so unique about the chemical processes by which life did form, to detract from the probability.

Again, god-did-it is not an explanation for the Earth's particular place in the cosmos. Also, you're suggesting that there was a plan from the instant the universe was created. A plan by which humans would eventually evolve to inhabit this exact planet. A planet which was intentionally placed and seeded with life so as to necessitate our eventual evolution. This is ridiculous beyond the absurd. That requires faith and miracles, where the Naturalist and Atheist views, again, do not.

The Free Thinking Theist wrote:

4. Morality and Ethics - I know that this has been beaten to death, but I still struggle with the naturalist explanation. Morality is said to have evolved. The problem is that love and altruism don't seem to mesh so well with a survival of the fittest mentality. What is my motivation to do good thing for others when there is no benefit to me? Why do people love each other? How are we born with a conscience that determines what is right and wrong? According to naturalism there are no universal wrongs and rights. Why should I even worry about being a good person and instead think only of myself? It is all relative. Isn't that odd for such a fundamental part of our character to be determined by a changing paradigm.

Survival of the fittest is a myth and is especially stupid when used as you have. I will not detail the reasons that this is simply not true. It is not a principle of evolution. It is a bastardization. I will henceforth ignore the fact that you use this as part of your refutation of Naturalist moral origins. Please, read evolutionary theory. It never states that 'the animal that is the meanest and greediest and most dominant and suppressive of all others is the one that will survive.' Evolutionary theory rather states that animals most fit to survive will survive. Evolutionary theory makes mo value judgements. It makes no moral statements.

Morality did evolve. You do good things exactly because doing them benefits you. A simple example is murder. You do not murder not because the bible tells you not to (murder existed before the bible and before the god of the bible was even thought up), but because as a social species it is necessary that humans do not murder each other. Murdering results in being expelled from society. You do not murder if you want to be within society. This is consensus morality. It is also evolutionary necessary. If humans, social animals who live in societies, did always murder each other, humans would not be extant, or such a trait would have been evolved out of the species. If you're only reason not to do murder is because you read in a book that god commands you not do it, then you are not moral at all. I hope you understand the significance of this so far.

We are not born with a conscience that determines what is right and wrong. If we were, we might expect that every human would be fundamentally opposed to easting dog or pig. It so happens that the conscience is developed by interaction in the society in which a child grows up. You may find it wrong to eat dog. You may believe that eating pork is immoral. Morals of this sort are definitely not absolutes. By suggesting that morals somehow are you are suggesting that all moral guidance can come from a singular course. This is not the case. The bible fails to sufficiently explain the action that should be taken in all possible instances. You have grown up in a society that practices morals of certain kinds and are able o come to decisions about instances that can be governed by that moral thinking.

There are morals that are universal to all humans. Murder, for one. Theft, for another. Universal morals can be found in every human society. These morals are, however, no more absolute than morals dependent on societal constraints. There are a number of studies that poll people's responses to certain situations. Regardless of culture or religion (or lack thereof), people tend (upwards of 97% of people) to come to the same conclusions about what would be morally reprehensible or morally acceptable.

If morality was absolute and also not necessary to our nature as social animals we could expect that everyone would find it morally reprehensible to eat pigs and that murder and theft would always be wrong. It is indeed, all relative. As situations change and as society changes, what is morally acceptable (or unacceptable) also changes.

So, why should you be a good person and not be only selfish? (Well, ignoring your idea of 'survival of the fittest' is hard here.) You wish to be a member of society. If you did not want to, then you would not act in a manner that is permissible in society. That you are a member of society shows that you are 'good' because it benefits you. When you are not 'good', as described by various laws in various cultures, you are punished or imprisoned or killed. This is not negative reinforcement, but punishment for acting outside the norm. The norm is that you work within societal expectations. You are not kept 'good' by laws (it's proven that laws do not always keep people 'good' and that punishment does not always deter crime) anymore than you are kept good by god. Whether you believe it or not, you are not murdering and raping because it is not natural.

There is so much literature out there that disproves this notion of divine morality that it really is a waste of my time to offer even this succinct and (probably) lacking explanation. You simply have no real idea about what constitutes humans' morality.

The Free Thinking Theist wrote:

5. Fallacy of the Argument that Atheism/Naturalism is the base position - I believe that it is a fallacy to state that your stance is the "base" position. Your attempts at proving a naturalist origin of the universe and life force you to make a number of claims. As I said before, the burden of proof is on BOTH the atheist and the theist. You often fall back on the "prove it to me" logic when faced with a debate. You yourselves fall into the logical trap that you say theist fall into. You say - there is insufficient evidence for X therefore X does not exist. This is not better than me saying that there is insufficient evidence against X therefore X exists.

This is the most fallacious of your evidence. It is not 'more powerful' than any of your other points.

Based on how everything you have presented thus far is erroneous it cannot possibly seem to you that god really is the answer for anything and everything that we either don't know or don't have a sufficient explanation for. That is pure ignorance and it is insulting.

Atheism is non-belief. You believe in a being for which there is no evidence. That requires faith. To not believe in something for which there is no evidence is simply called non-belief. In the case of gods, the non-belief is called Atheism. If I purport to be in contact with an invisible pink unicorn and can offer no evidence for it's existence and maintain that it is the creator of life and the universe and explains anything and everything humans haven't or have not sufficiently explained that is exactly the same thing as what you are doing. It's not reasonable for you to believe in the invisible pink unicorn simply because I say it exists. Further, there it is not required of you to prove that it doesn't exist. Necessarily, you never could. After all, it very well could exist, but you can't have evidence that it does (like god) because you will never know absolutely everything. This is exactly how I can never prove that you won't fart a Lamborghini. I will never have enough information to calculate that you will not fart one 100% of the time. I can only ever reduce the probability that you won't to 99.9~%. I would be comfortable to say that you won't fart a Lamborghini, for there is no precedent for it and the universe nearly forbids such an occurrence. Likewise, can you comfortably tell me that the invisible pink unicorn does not exist. There is no precedent for it, there can never be evidence of it, and what I claim it is responsible for are things that it doesn't have to be responsible for. You could conclude that it doesn't exist for the same reasons you can conclude that Thor and Zeus don't exist. Does that mean it's still possible that they do? It certainly does, but it is not even remotely probable. This works for your god as well.

Further, there is no evidence for god, therefor god does not exist. The evidence is not merely insufficient. There is none and there never has been. If there was any at all there could be no Atheists. Please, don't be so stupid. Also, the lack of evidence merely establishes the burden of proof (which is not at all on the Atheist (it is not shared) it is all upon the person making the claim, the Theist) and not the reason to disbelieve. (It is a good enough reason for some things). Your god, however, is purported to be responsible for things that we can prove it is not. This further diminishes the possible existence of your god. Like my invisible pink unicorn example, unless I can prove it, you don't believe it. And unless I can prove that it really is responsible for what I claim, you don't believe it. And placing your god where we are ignorant or are not sufficiently cognizant is intellectually reprehensible and insulting. It's clear that your god fits there no more than it did fit in the sky, no more than Zeus was responsible for lightening and no more than Thor was responsible for thunder.

More than five reasons why you're wrong. -Read above.

BigUniverse wrote,

"Well the things that happen less often are more likely to be the result of the supper natural. A thing like loosing my keys in the morning is not likely supper natural, but finding a thousand dollars or meeting a celebrity might be."


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Thank you deludedgod for

Thank you deludedgod for that very well written article, unfortunately it is stretched a little bit too far to the right on my browser so several words are cut off and I cannot quote you.

Please respond to this - NATURALISM is a position that requires proof. I am not saying that you must proove your disbelief (prove your atheism) rather that you must prove naturalism, which ties together with atheism.

Clearly you have done your research on the matter quite extensively and have faced many similar questions in the past. As for me, it is going to take a few weeks minimum to go over everything that has been brought up. Each time I will come back more prepared though. I enjoy the challenge that this forum presents and don't mind losing a few arguments.

Don't forget that there are very few theists here which makes this an impossible debate to win. Clearly I am not going to convince anyone here, and I doubt anyone will convince me. I challenge anyone here to go on any site with theist astrophysicist or biologist, chemists, etc. Such sites do exist. I will be sure to find such discussion forums and direct you there. This is if you want a challenge, because I'm a bit of a pushover.

I apologize for the fact that my arguments are far from perfect, but lets be realistic here, I am just trying to start a discussion, if you want to disprove me, let your facts speak. And I want to thank everyone so far for holding back on the personal attacks, it really says a lot for your arguments when you do that.


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Quote: Please respond to

Quote:

Please respond to this - NATURALISM is a position that requires proof. I am not saying that you must proove your disbelief (prove your atheism) rather that you must prove naturalism, which ties together with atheism.

My apologies since the top part will take you some time to read, undoubtably, but I actually did answer that, at the very bottom of the post. 

"Physical reality” isn’t some arbitrary demarcation. It is defined in terms of what we can systematically investigate, directly or not, by means of our senses. It is preposterous to assert that the process of systematic scientific reasoning arbitrarily excludes “non-physical explanations” because the very notion of “non-physical explanation” is contradictory.

-Me

Books about atheism


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The Free Thinking Theist

The Free Thinking Theist wrote:
Please respond to this - NATURALISM is a position that requires proof. I am not saying that you must proove your disbelief (prove your atheism) rather that you must prove naturalism, which ties together with atheism.
naturalism is not tied to atheism.


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The Free Thinking Theist

The Free Thinking Theist wrote:
The very beginning - The Big Bang. I do not intend to claim to be a cosmologist or hold a PhD in astrophysics. Simply put, the naturalist explanation of the beginning of the universe (that it was the result of purely natural forces) causes me significant confusion. What caused it?

A good question to ask yourself is what a 'cause' is and why everything must supposedly have a cause.
My understanding of 'cause' is a relation between two events in time. The cause comes before the effect.
Because events determine (through the laws of physics) what events come after, they are connected to certain events that come after so we have cause and effect.

According to big bang theory, the big bang was the beginning of time itself, i.e. there was no 'before'. (It seems strange that time should have a beginning but that's what many cosmologists appear to be telling us)
As a cause is a relation between two events in time, it doesn't make sense to talk about what caused 'time' itself.
It might be that time didn't begin and is actually eternal, which would simply mean that there is an infinite chain of events that go on forever.

Quote:
2. The beginning of life - How did it occur from non-living matter?

The fact that there's things we don't know is hardly a contradiction to naturalism. Naturalism isn't built on the premise that we know everything. I gave you reasons why I ruled out supernaturalism in the previous topic.
If you have some objections to my arguments I'd be interested to hear them. Smiling

Quote:
3. Pure probabilities - if you look at the probabilities of each physical law, arrangment of the Earth, the Solar system, the Sun, the galaxies, the universe etc. occuring as it does naturally, well let's just say the odds ask for a miracle.

Wouldn't a designer/creator be even more complex?
So wouldn't they require an even greater 'miracle' to come about?
You say that there's a miniscule probability that things are the way that they are, but that would be the same for any way that they are. If you draw a card from the pack, whatever card you get it was a 1/52 chance that you'd get that card.
Something had to be, you had to get a card, this is the hand that was dealt to us. Where's the problem for naturalism?

Quote:
4. Morality and Ethics - I know that this has been beaten to death, but I still struggle with the naturalist explanation. Morality is said to have evolved. The problem is that love and altruism don't seem to mesh so well with a survival of the fittest mentality.

You seem to misunderstand 'survival of the fittest' in the evolutionary sense. Believe it or not, when they say that the crocodile has survived for millions of years, they're not talking about the same crocodile - they're talking about the species crocodile.
It's not about personal survival, it's about the survival of your young.
In evolution, it's the best parent's whose genes are preserved.
Already it should be quite clear why species that work together successful produced a second generation while selfish ones died without producing young.

Quote:
According to naturalism there are no universal wrongs and rights.

Really? What relevance has a theory of how the world is got to do with values?

Quote:
5. Fallacy of the Argument that Atheism/Naturalism is the base position - I believe that it is a fallacy to state that your stance is the "base" position. Your attempts at proving a naturalist origin of the universe and life force you to make a number of claims. As I said before, the burden of proof is on BOTH the atheist and the theist.

Once again I'll refer you to the argument I made in the previous topic.
Another argument I can give here is as follows:
The things that the naturalist believes in are things that the supernaturalist also believes in - there is no disputing the existence of tables and chairs. etc.
So the naturalistic doesn't need to justify what they believe in as it's not under dispute. The supernaturalist wants to add something extra to the equation, something that is disputed, so justification is necessary.


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Also, because as people

Also, because as people have mentioned that atheist and naturalist aren't the same term, you can probably find an atheist that believes in supernatural or paranormal things.   That person may not find enough evidence in any of the cases presented for god, but might still not be as skeptical about, say, ghosts.   For some people, cold spots in old buildings, doors slamming, hearing noises, etc. ARE their "proof" that doesn't shut out the possibility of paranormal occurances. 

Even if you removed the term atheist, and JUST focused on naturalist.  Wouldn't that be a relatively easy thing for a naturalist to gather supporting evidence for?  Prove what exists? Nature? Natural processes?   We can find that! (tons of it!)   If you kept score it'd be like, what, nature: everything to god: zero?


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Naturalism is easy to prove

Naturalism is easy to prove on the basis of pragmatism. Science is justified by pragmatism, and the principle of Occam's Razor is justified by pragmatism. Science + Occam's Razor = Physicalism. Physicalism <= Naturalism (i.e. physicalism is a subset of naturalism).

So, since naturalism (specifically physicalism) is justified by pragmatism, and supernaturalism is NOT justified by pragmatism, there's your justification for being a naturalist. Note my username.

To justify something by pragmatism, show how it produces useful results when tested. Both science and Occam's Razor produce useful results. Science makes accurate predictions, Occam's Razor eliminates wasteful assumptions. Supernaturalism, on the other hand, produces no useful results.

Also note my signature (below). That explains most of your feelings of 'miracles'. The greatest 'miracle' is that there are no miracles. (Don't be fooled by the intentional equivocation.)

Wonderist on Facebook — Support the idea of wonderism by 'liking' the Wonderism page — or join the open Wonderism group to take part in the discussion!

Gnu Atheism Facebook group — All gnu-friendly RRS members welcome (including Luminon!) — Try something gnu!


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The Free Thinking Theist

The Free Thinking Theist wrote:

Take for instance, the precision of the gravitational constant. If a ruler were stretched across the entire universe (as estimated by scientists) and marked in inches, deviating by a mere inch in either direction would either make gravity far too strong or too weak for it to be properly balanced with electromagnetism and for the Big Bang to occur properly. Now multiply this by the perfection of the cosmological constant (dark energy I believe, correct if wrong), the nuclear forces, neutron/proton/electron masses, the plank constant, the speed of light, etc. etc. etc. etc.

One thing always amazes me when I read about these estimates. There is an implicit assumption that if you vary one of these constants, all the others have to remain constant. Why would it have to be so? If you're assuming that one of them could change, why not all of them, at the same time? (Yes I realize that people do that because that is easier, and it gives you these numbers of probability with which you can dazzle the scientifically illiterate.) Why can't there be a whole array of combinations of values for these constants which gives you stable configurations (livable universes)? Considering this, why is it even considered up to the atheist to have to play defence against the theists' "argument" from lack of imagination?

 

One more thing in connection to this. I never ever see any estimates from the creationists/ID people about the probability that this god would exist. They say "oh look how improbable everything is blah blah". Well, if so, then why do you postulate something even more improbable as the solution? If they're right, this god would have to be incredibly complex to be able to calculate all these possibilities and possible outcomes, and what they would mean for the universe, and then create the universe. So how probable is it that such a thing would exist? Once they give a number for that (that's not based on speculation or presuppositions), then we could actually discuss the validity of the claim.

 

In addition to this rant, I agree with deludedgod.