How The Discovery Of The Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation Falsified Atheism

By Wintery Knight

Prior to certain scientific discoveries, most people thought that the universe had always been here, and no need to ask who or what may have caused it. But today, that’s all changed. Today, the standard model of the origin of the universe is that all the matter and energy in the universe came into being in an event scientists call “The Big Bang.” At the creation event, space and time themselves began to exist, and there is no material reality that preceded them.

How The Discovery Of The Cosmic Microwave Background Radiation Falsified Atheism

So a couple of quotes to show that.

An initial cosmological singularity… forms a past temporal extremity to the universe. We cannot continue physical reasoning, or even the concept of spacetime, through such an extremity… On this view, the big bang represents the creation event; the creation not only of all the matter and energy in the universe but also of spacetime itself.

Source: P. C. W. Davies, “Spacetime Singularities in Cosmology,” in The Study of Time III, ed. J. T. Fraser (Berlin: Springer Verlag).

And another quote:

[A]lmost everyone now believes that the universe, and time itself, had a beginning at the big bang.

Source: Stephen Hawking and Roger Penrose, The Nature of Space and Time, The Isaac Newton Institute Series of Lectures (Princeton, N. J.: Princeton University Press, 1996), p. 20.

So, there are several scientific discoveries that led scientists to accept the creation event, and one of the most interesting and famous is the discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation.

Here’s the history of how that discovery happened, from the American Physical Society website:

Bell Labs radio astronomers Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson were using a large horn antenna in 1964 and 1965 to map signals from the Milky Way when they serendipitously discovered the CMB. As written in the citation, “This unexpected discovery, offering strong evidence that the universe began with the Big Bang, ushered in experimental cosmology.” Penzias and Wilson shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1978 in honor of their findings.

The CMB is “noise” leftover from the creation of the Universe. The microwave radiation is only 3 degrees above Absolute Zero or -270 degrees C,1 and is uniformly perceptible from all directions. Its presence demonstrates that our universe began in an extremely hot and violent explosion, called the Big Bang, 13.7 billion years ago.

In 1960, Bell Labs built a 20-foot horn-shaped antenna in Holmdel, NJ to be used with an early satellite system called Echo. The intention was to collect and amplify radio signals to send them across long distances, but within a few years, another satellite was launched, and Echo became obsolete.2

With the antenna no longer tied to commercial applications, it was now free for research. Penzias and Wilson jumped at the chance to use it to analyze radio signals from the spaces between galaxies.3 But when they began to employ it, they encountered a persistent “noise” of microwaves that came from every direction. If they were to conduct experiments with the antenna, they would have to find a way to remove the static.

Penzias and Wilson tested everything they could think of to rule out the source of the radiation racket. They knew it wasn’t radiation from the Milky Way or extraterrestrial radio sources. They pointed the antenna towards New York City to rule out “urban interference,” and did an analysis to dismiss possible military testing from their list.4

Then they found droppings of pigeons nesting in the antenna. They cleaned out the mess and tried removing the birds and discouraging them from roosting, but they kept flying back. “To get rid of them, we finally found the most humane thing was to get a shotgun…and at the very close range [we] just killed them instantly. It’s not something I’m happy about, but that seemed like the only way out of our dilemma,” said Penzias.5 “And so the pigeons left with a smaller bang, but the noise remained, coming from every direction.”6

At the same time, the two astronomers learned that Princeton University physicist Robert Dicke had predicted that if the Big Bang had occurred, there would be low-level radiation found throughout the universe. Dicke was about to design an experiment to test this hypothesis when he was contacted by Penzias. Upon hearing of Penzias’ and Wilson’s discovery, Dicke turned to his laboratory colleagues and said: “well boys, we’ve been scooped.”7

Although both groups published their results in Astrophysical Journal Letters, only Penzias and Wilson received the Nobel Prize for the discovery of the CMB.

The horn antenna was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1990. Its significance in fostering a new appreciation for the field of cosmology and a better understanding of our origins can be summed up by the following: “Scientists have labeled the discovery [of the CMB] the greatest scientific discovery of the 20th century.”8

It’s the greatest scientific discovery of the 20th century.

In the New York Times, Arno Penzias commented on his discovery – the greatest discovery of the 20th century – so:

The best data we have [concerning the Big Bang] are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the Bible as a whole.

Just one problem with the greatest scientific discovery of the 20th century: atheists don’t accept it. Why not?

Here’s a statement from the Secular Humanist Manifesto, which explains what atheists believe about the universe:

Religious humanists regard the universe as self-existing and not created.

For a couple of examples of how atheistic scientists respond to the evidence for a cosmic beginning, you can check out this post, where we get responses from cosmologist Lawrence Krauss and physical chemist Peter Atkins.

You cannot have the creation of the universe be true, AND a self-existing, eternal universe ALSO be true. Someone has to be wrong. Either the science is wrong, or the atheist manifesto is wrong. I know where I stand.

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79 replies
  1. John B. Moore says:

    This has to be willful ignorance if you think the Big Bang falsifies atheism. You’re really grasping at straws now. Just because the universe began, that doesn’t mean a person created it. If you’re telling young evangelicals to use this argument on atheists, you’re setting them up for mockery and humiliation.

    Reply
    • JP says:

      No it’s not grasping at straws. And I see you’ve already started with the “mockery and humiliation”.

      Think about it. Nothing comes from nothing. Mindless objects can’t bring anything into existence. Mindless objects can’t create anything by themselves. So given that and the knowledge the universe began to exist, something must have willed it to existence.

      Reply
      • John B. Moore says:

        We have no idea what (if anything) happened before the Big Bang, as JCB points out below. We can’t even say with confidence that “nothing comes from nothing” because nothing we know makes sense at the quantum scale or at the time of the Big Bang. Technically we can’t even say that the universe began to exist since time also seems to have begun with the Big Bang. Thus, there was no time when the universe did not exist.

        Given all this manifest ignorance, it’s absurd for Christians to adopt such a triumphant stance and claim the Big Bang proves God. It’s laughable.

        Reply
        • Jerry says:

          John it’s funny you put it that way, about 6 years ago I had been in a debate with someone who claimed that God was “in” time, and strictly from Gods words about himself with very little if any scientific knowledge I had come to that same conclusion, that time had a beginning. The way I saw it was that if God is eternal and can promise eternal life, then he must already be there, or how would he actually know that he’s eternal? So time actually exists “in” him. thus ” I am the first and the last, the beginning and the end” now you tell me how an ancient people with little to no scientific background, shepherds wandering the desert, could have nailed the concept without divine influence. just lucky I guess. what are the odds? do you like to gamble? would you gamble your eternal life on those odds?

          Reply
      • CM says:

        You are making tons of assumptions. Things can come from nothing. Quantum fluctuations create and destroy particles and waves all the time. A quantum vacuum is never completely empty due to this. You are expecting the universe to behave in a nice classical manner without even any chaos, let alone stochastic behavior. That’s not how the universe works. There is randomness. Nonlinear differential equations can also exhibit higher order phenomenon which are not easily predicted by the equations. For instance, you could describe a human body by recording the quantum state and position of every atom in a person, but you can’t predict humans from quantum mechanics. Humans are an infinite subset of an infinite nuber of possibilities those equations describe. The infinite complexity that can arrive out of these equations is far beyond what we can grasp the scope of. If you had any knowledge of modern math and science, you would know that enormously complex results can arrise from simple equations. That’s the beauty of nonlinear differential equations.

        Reply
        • XXX says:

          “Things can come from nothing.”
          .
          Only if you redefine the word “nothing”. Which is EXACTLY what you attempt to do in the next sentence.
          .
          .
          “Quantum fluctuations create and destroy particles and waves all the time.”
          .
          Yep; and the length of time that those created particles exist are inversely proportional to their mass. So you are purposely NOT telling the whole story as you stated it.
          .
          .
          “A quantum vacuum is never completely empty due to this.”
          .
          A quantum vacuum is by DEFINITION not “nothing”. It is by definition “a quantum vacuum”. Which is something and NOT nothing.

          Reply
          • KR says:

            As far as I’m aware, a quantum vacuum seems to be the closest thing to a nothing we have that’s supported by our current state of knowledge. Do you have any evidence that there’s ever been a state of absolute nothingness – or, in fact, that such a state is even physically possible?

        • XXX says:

          Whole lot of water making a great big whole hole in the ground in a short period of time.
          .
          Do you have a point to attempt to make about it or was it just some random thought that the chemistry created ?

          Reply
      • jcb says:

        JP,
        It does seem that nothing comes from nothing.
        It is false that mindless objects can’t bring anything into existence.
        There were mindless objects in existence before there were minds in existence, according to the scientific evidence we have.
        So it is false that “something must have willed (the universe) into existence”.
        We don’t know what kind of thing it takes to “cause” the Big Bang moment/material.

        Reply
        • PR says:

          JCB,
          .
          “There were mindless objects in existence before there were minds in existence, according to the scientific evidence we have.”
          .
          Please cite the scientific evidence that objects were in existence before minds.
          .
          Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence, at least speaking scientifically.

          Reply
          • KR says:

            “Please cite the scientific evidence that objects were in existence before minds.”
            .
            The evidence seems to indicate that there were objects before there were brains. Do you have any scientific evidence of the existence of minds without brains?

          • jcb says:

            I thought I already posted here!
            Science shows that the first existing things were non-mind things like quarks and atoms.
            https://home.cern/about/physics/early-universe
            Known brains appeared much later on the scene.
            So, non mind objects existed before “minds”, i.e., brain activity.
            Nothing shows that minds existed prior to those initial big bang quarks and atoms.

  2. jcb says:

    So first: I posted on Wintery Knight’s blog, but s/he wouldn’t/didn’t post the comments. I even had a friend post afterwards a question to him/her, and that got through, but mine did not.

    Now to the article:
    It seems that science has said/shown that our ability to calculate and determine what exists goes back to the moment of the Big Bang. That is, we don’t know what “caused” the Big Bang, we only know what happened after that moment.
    So: we don’t know what preceded it. We have virtually no information/evidence about the cause of the Big Bang.
    As a side note, it is contradictory when (some) theists say that time didn’t exist until the Big Bang, and yet also say that something existed (like God) before the Big Bang. “Before” indicates a temporal existence.
    At the moment of creation, we don’t know what kind of reality preceded it. It is no known material reality. It doesn’t follow that the cause of the universe is literally an existing but non material thing. To say that is to say nothing, as immateriality is a lack of materiality. By itself, immateriality is not a thing. In that vein, we don’t know of any existing wholly immaterial things/beings. (Feel free to show otherwise).
    Yes! The universe probably had a beginning, a cause. Most things do.
    No! It doesn’t follow that the cause is known to probably be a god, an intelligence, a perfect being, etc.
    “The best data we have [concerning the Big Bang] are exactly what I would have predicted, had I nothing to go on but the five books of Moses, the Psalms, the Bible as a whole.”
    EXACTLY? That’s clearly false.
    “Just one problem with the greatest scientific discovery of the 20th century: atheists don’t accept it.”. You forget to mention that there are many atheists, and many of them do accept the basic claims of the Big Bang Theory.
    “Here’s a statement from the Secular Humanist Manifesto, which explains what atheists believe about the universe:” You again forget to mention that this is at best only what some atheists believe. So yes, some regard the universe as not created. It appears they are wrong. But nothing here or elsewhere shows that the universe was probably created by a god.
    Yes, there are many arguments for Christianity, and many refutations of those arguments.

    So, as JBM said above, this article fails to show that the Big Bang falsifies atheism (and verifies theism).
    The best we can conclude at this point is Something-ism: something probably created the universe (the Big Bang moment), we know not what.

    Reply
      • jcb says:

        PR,
        You just said, Immateriality is the property of being immaterial. That doesn’t show that immateriality is an existing thing. Feel free to show that it is. I recommend giving examples of purely immaterial things, and show how we know them to exist.
        Start with nothing. Add immateriality (no material). What do you have? Nothing.
        You: Here’s a box. Now I just put in more Immateriality! So it now has more immateriality than before!

        Reply
        • PR says:

          “Immateriality” is a concept and as a concept, immateriality is itself immaterial and therefore has the property of immateriality. A concept is not a “nothing” it is a something.
          .
          Thankyou for the box. I see that the box itself is conceptual and is also immaterial and therefor the box has immateriality. I will add to the box the immateriality of love and I will add to the box the immateriality of hate.
          .
          If “Love” and “Hate are not immaterial then they necessarily are material. If they are material then they necessarily have material properties. Tell me, what is the mass of Love? What is the specific gravity of Hate? How much does the number 2 weigh? What is the energy output of morality? Tell me how big of a box will I need to store your pride?
          .
          Consider the singularity, that single point that exploded into the Big Bang. Before the Big Bang, what was on all sides of the singularity? Is that nothing? The universe is expanding, expanding into what? Nothing? It is not expanding into space because space itself is expanding. Can something expand into nothing?

          Reply
          • toby says:

            Concepts, love, hate, 2, are all mental states and exist physically in the brain. No brain, no concepts, love, hate, 2. THese things are mental constructions. Feel free to demonstrate that mental constructions occur without any brains involved.

          • PR says:

            If I accept your premise (brain = mind) then I cannot possibly “Feel Free” to do anything because my brain can only follow the laws of the universe and cannot do otherwise.
            .
            To accept atheism I must accept that free-will is an illusion as are love, hate morality, hope, a meaningful life, etc… Hawking says its ok if free-will is an illusion because we live life as if it really exists. I’ve decided (as if that were possible) that if I must live a life of delusion that. that life is a life that includes an everloving GOD and I will live forever. Cool huh?

          • Andy Ryan says:

            Conjecturing a God gets you no closer to free will. The determinism argument doesn’t rely on a God not existing and it isn’t refuted/overcome by a God existing.

          • toby says:

            Nice try at shifting the goal posts. Try to answer as if you do have free will. Demonstrate that there can be minds without brains.

          • PR says:

            Conjecturing GOD may not get you closer to free-will but conjecturing free-will does get you closer to GOD.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            You said: “To accept atheism I must accept that free-will is an illusion”
            .
            Free will and atheism/theism are separate, unconnected arguments. There’s no connection between the two. Therefore your quote above is a non sequitur.

          • PR says:

            If atheism is true then materialism is true. If materialism is true then determinism is true. If determinism is true then free-will is not real. If free-will is not real then free-will is an illusion. So yes, they are connected.
            .
            I suppose you could claim that atheism is true but materialism or determinism are false but then you would be inconsistent in your beliefs and I would have no reason to trust anything you say as being true.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            You’ve not shown that the supernatural makes free will more likely. It doesn’t offer a third option of a decision that is neither caused by something else nor random. How is a magic brain more free in its decisions than a non-magic one? How are your decisions different if the supernatural exists? How is your brain different?

          • PR says:

            “You’ve not shown that the supernatural makes free will more likely.”
            .
            Correct, the existence of free-will though makes the supernatural more likely.
            .
            “It doesn’t offer a third option of a decision that is neither caused by something else nor random.”
            .
            As Atheists we don’t believe in something else because there is no evidence of “something else”. We also don’t believe in the so called god “random” because the universe is deterministic and has laws we can prove scientifically.
            .
            “How is a magic brain more free in its decisions than a non-magic one? How are your decisions different if the supernatural exists? How is your brain different?”
            .
            I don’t imagine my brain is different but my brain combined with my soul (which is supernatural in origin and transcends this universe) together make me different than a meat-robot.

          • Andy Ryan says:

            PR: “As atheists we don’t believe…”
            I thought you were a theist?
            .
            “my brain combined with my soul (which is supernatural in origin and transcends this universe) together make me different than a meat-robot.”
            OK, but how exactly? Imagine two people, one in a Christian universe, one in a Godless universe. Everything is otherwise identical in both. Both people decide they want pasta for dinner. How is the first person’s decision more free than the other’s, and why? Just saying the first has a soul, or whatever, doesn’t address the question at all. Both are making the choice based on various factors, weighed up by their brains, right?

          • PR says:

            “PR: “As atheists we don’t believe…”
            I thought you were a theist?”
            .
            Super, lets just critique each others writing styles and stop the debate on theism. I’ve always wanted to be a grammar Nazi.
            .
            As to your question, one brain has only one possible outcome in its decision making and so it is not a decision at all. The other has free-will and can change its mind mind at any time, freely as free-will is a property of the soul. A brain cannot change chemistry, it is bound by it.

    • Joel West says:

      “By itself, immateriality is not a thing. In that vein, we don’t know of any existing wholly immaterial things/beings. (Feel free to show otherwise).”

      As long as there are emotions, wind, frequencies, urnings, desires, etc there are wholly immaterial things. As far as beings, you seem to be classifying your immaterial “Something-ism” as a being … you are the one who capitalized it.
      You have just a long-worded and seemingly educated argument filled with minutia. You could have said all that in just a few eords: ” I hate God so much that I will NEVER admit He exist or created or caused anything, and you can’t make me, no, you can’t make me!”

      I never believe any atheist when tbey say they believe there is no God. I believe they don’t want there to be a God, but they fight so hard because they KNOW there really IS a God.

      However, whether I am correct about you being like my belief above …. You don’t know there is a God because, according to His word: “God RESISTS the proud”. It is obvious by your comment that you are full of at least intellectual pride. Humble yourself, don’t demand He reveal Himself, in that His silence will prove you right. ASK Him if He has been resisting you because of your pride, to humble you, to reveal Himself and to remove your wall of pride. You WILL kneel before Him one day, in the life to come or now. Choose wiseky. For God is not willing that you perish, but you do get to choose. Choice is another immateriality.

      Reply
      • Andy Ryan says:

        “You could have said all that in just a few eords: ” I hate God so much that I will NEVER …”
        .
        This is no better than someone telling you that you might as well have replied “I know Allah is the one true God but foolish pride prevents me from admitting it because I enjoy bacon too much.”
        .
        You accuse others of intellectual pride but then presume to know what’s in the hearts and minds of everyone who disagrees with you.

        Reply
      • jcb says:

        What is an emotion? By using the word, you don’t thereby show that it exists, nor that it is immaterial.
        It seems clear that an emotion refers to a bodily (material) state. If you think otherwise, say what an emotion is, for you, and how know it to exist. Saying, I just know! And I just know it has no material properties! won’t cut it.
        Again, if something is “wholly immaterial”, what are you saying? What are you pointing to, or, if you wish, to what are you referring? Nothing, it seems.
        I never said my Something-ism is immaterial. It is, currently, no known material. There is no particular thing we are pointing to as the cause of the universe/Big Bang Moment.
        I could have said “I hate God”, but it would be false. That’s why I didn’t assert it.
        Nothing you said shows that God exists, nor that it created the universe.

        Reply
    • PR says:

      “As a side note, it is contradictory when (some) theists say that time didn’t exist until the Big Bang, and yet also say that something existed (like God) before the Big Bang. “Before” indicates a temporal existence.”
      .
      That is absolutely true but all it means is that humans have a difficult time describing and understanding a non-temporal existence. We don’t really even have the words. I would love to know how to better and more accurately express the thought but the words escape me, I’m not sure they exist.

      Reply
      • jcb says:

        Yes, we have a difficult time describing and understanding a non-temporal existence because all the evidence we have shows there is no such thing. Existing things exist “in time”. We don’t know of any existing thing that doesn’t. (Feel free to show otherwise. Even “thoughts” (brain activity) occur within a temporal framework).

        Reply
      • Jerry says:

        PR, perhaps time needs distance, a space in which to exist, and that “before” that it was so concentrated as to be simultaneous, everything all at once. just a hypothesis, or just a thought. Imagine if you will, what it would look like if the universe were compressed to such a small space that all of time was simultaneous. what would that look like? like the heavens rolled back as a scroll? like the elements melting in the heat?

        Reply
    • PR says:

      Gravity is a certainly a powerful force. That force can be calculated if we know the mass and the distance between objects using Newton’s formula F =G(m1*m2)/r^2. If either m1 or m2 are zero then it would seem that gravity is powerless F=G(0*0)/r^2=0. So if gravity is powerless without mass and mass is due to gravity, how did gravity create mass if gravity is impotent without mass?

      Reply
      • jcb says:

        None of which proves God/theism. What it shows is that there are questions we don’t have answers for, like “What “created” gravity”? Too many theists say, if you don’t have the answer, then my answer is right, even though their answer is not made probable by any known evidence.

        Reply
        • PR says:

          “None of which proves God/theism.”
          .
          Which would matter if I were trying to prove God/theism. I freely admit (if free-will exists that is) that belief in GOD takes a measure of faith.
          .
          All I meant to show here was that gravity is an insufficient replacement for GOD as the cause of the universe because gravity cannot create gravity and if gravity has always existed then where is the evidence that this is true? Just saying gravity did it is no different than me saying GOD did it.
          .
          “Too many theists say, if you don’t have the answer, then my answer is right, even though their answer is not made probable by any known evidence.”
          .
          No different than atheists then. I can’t count the times that I’ve seen theists derided by atheists because the theist said “I don’t know why GOD did that, he at times works in ways that are mysterious to us”, as if we should know everything that an omniscient being knows.

          Reply
          • jcb says:

            Well great! If you agree that the evidence doesn’t prove that God exists, I will try to not repeat that point too much. I’ve asserted that nothing you’ve said proves God, and you don’t dispute that point. Agreement! Now, on to other things. (Unless you were intentionally being unclear…)
            I agree: Gravity is not (as far as I know) the “cause” of the universe.
            But it is still false that “God” is known to be the cause of the universe.
            So yes, you shouldn’t say “God just did it”, and the Gravity people you were arguing with shouldn’t say “Gravity just did it”.
            Yes, atheists can also make assertions without evidence. But here the discussion is whether theists can defend the assertion that “God exists/caused the universe”. If no one can, then the atheists are right: as far as we know, there is no God that exists/caused the universe.

  3. Andy Ryan says:

    “Super, lets just critique each others writing styles”
    .
    I’m not critiquing your writing style or your grammar. I’m baffled by you telling me you’re an atheist. Is that a typo, or are you trying to speak from what you imagine to be an atheist perspective? Either way, your meaning and intention is not clear.
    .
    You’re just telling me one brain has free will without telling me why.

    Reply
    • PR says:

      “I’m baffled by you telling me you’re an atheist.”
      .
      I am a theist and was speaking rhetorically. When you read that last sentence did you understand that I was really saying that I was writing rhetorically and not making verbal communication? I am dumbfounded that you thought I was telling I was an atheist.
      .
      My brain does not have free-will, my soul has free-will and my brain is the physical representation of my soul in the universe.

      Reply
      • Andy Ryan says:

        “I am a theist and was speaking rhetorically”
        .
        OK, so what did you actually mean, because it really wasn’t clear.
        .
        “My brain does not have free-will, my soul has free-will and my brain is the physical representation of my soul in the universe.”
        .
        This just knocks the problem back another step without addressing it.
        .
        BTW, you were posting here before under a different name – am I right?

        Reply
        • PR says:

          AR: “It doesn’t offer a third option of a decision that is neither caused by something else nor random.”
          .
          PR: Atheists claim that they lack belief in God for lack of evidence. Here you are offering a third option of “something else”. What is your evidence of “something else”? If you have no evidence then you are not-lacking-belief without evidence for “something else” when it is convenient to your argument. The same is true of “random”. Why should I pay any attention to your claims when they appear to be inconsistent?
          .
          PR: “My brain does not have free-will, my soul has free-will and my brain is the physical representation of my soul in the universe.”
          .
          AR: This just knocks the problem back another step without addressing it.
          .
          PR: The “problem” (how my person can have free-will) is addressed. My soul/consciousness/mind is metaphysical and exists with or without my brain. It is integrated with my brain but it is not my brain. A property of my soul/consciousness/mind is free-will.
          .
          AR: OK, but how exactly?
          .
          PR: I don’t know. Our knowledge of the metaphysical and how the metaphysical interacts with the physical is limited. Nevertheless, if the universe is deterministic and nature cannot explain free-will then a supernatural explanation is the only alternative. Can there be other supernatural explanations other than God? Sure, but to even consider those you would have to not-lack-belief in the supernatural and that at least takes you once step closer to God.
          .
          If you claim that there is a natural explanation for free-will and we just don’t know it yet, (science will figure it out), then you are making a claim that goes against the available evidence and arguments that the universe is deterministic. The claim would be nothing more than a statement of faith and another case of not-lacking-belief where there is no evidence when it is convenient.
          .
          Yes, I’ve posted here before under another name.

          Reply
          • jcb says:

            Our knowledge of how the material universe interacts with anything outside of it altogether (the “metaphysical”) is not just “limited”, it is virtually non-existent.
            There are plenty of unexplained things. Nothing particular about God/the Supernatural follows from this.
            Since we don’t know God (A perfect in all ways being) to exist, God is not a good/probable explanation for anything.

  4. Andy Ryan says:

    “Super, lets just critique each others writing styles”
    .
    I’m not critiquing your writing style or your grammar. I’m baffled by you telling me you’re an atheist. Is that a typo, or are you trying to speak from what you imagine to be an atheist perspective, or some other rhetorical trick? Either way, I don’t get your meaning.
    .
    You’re just telling me one brain has free will without telling me why.

    Reply
  5. Andy Ryan says:

    “What is your evidence of “something else”? “.
    That’s what I’m asking you! The problem of free will is that decisions are either caused by something else or they’re random. Just declaring “My decisions are free!” doesn’t address this, and neither do appeals to the supernatural.
    .
    I’m not so much asking how the supernatural interacts with the brain as asking why you think it would make a difference to the free will problem.
    .
    You’ve posted here under a different name – have you engaged ME in discussion under a different name?

    Reply
    • PR says:

      My evidence of something else is free-will. My argument is an if-then argument.
      .
      If free-will truly exists then it is supernatural in origin therefor the supernatural exists.
      .
      If free-will does does not exist then the Universe is completely deterministic with no extra-dimensional influences.
      .
      Causal free-will is an oxymoron, it does not exist.
      .
      Random free-will is an oxymoron, it does not exist.
      .
      Here’s another if-then statement. If you think free-will is real then you will buy my argument. If you think free-will is not real then you will likely not be compelled by my argument. I think free-will is truly free-will and not an illusion, can I prove it, NO! If you think free-will does not exist then I assume you are fine being defined as a meat-robot and there’s little for us to discuss on the matter.
      .
      How do I think free-will works? We consider a number of alternatives and influences and then decide freely what we want our future to be.
      .
      How do I think decisions are made in a non-free-will Universe? Very much like a function in a computer program. Functions have one possible outcome for any given set of input variables. It is not really a decision per se, it is just a calculation made by biological chemistry as opposed to the solid state chemistry in a computer.

      Reply
  6. Andy Ryan says:

    “How do I think free-will works? We consider a number of alternatives and influences and then decide freely what we want our future to be.”
    .
    Problem is your explanation includes the assertion that free will happens. That’s like giving a recipe for pea soup and having one of the instructions being “Add pea soup”. Or it’s like being asked to define a word and including the word itself in the definition. It just knocks the problem back a stage without solving it. You’re just telling me (asserting) that a choice is made freely.
    .
    For me the whole free will discussion is a red herring. That brains may be deterministic tells us nothing about whether a particular decision was good or bad.
    .
    So you’ve argued with me before but decided you wanted to do so now under a different name, right? Feel like telling me the previous monika?

    Reply
    • PR says:

      “Problem is your explanation includes the assertion that free will happens. That’s like giving a recipe for pea soup and having one of the instructions being “Add pea soup”. Or it’s like being asked to define a word and including the word itself in the definition. It just knocks the problem back a stage without solving it. You’re just telling me (asserting) that a choice is made freely.”
      .
      Yes, I’ve been telling you that free-will exists exhaustively. It is similar to me telling you that the Universe exists.
      .
      “For me the whole free will discussion is a red herring. That brains may be deterministic tells us nothing about whether a particular decision was good or bad.”
      .
      Agreed, good and bad have no meaning to a deterministic brain, there is only what is and what had to be.
      .
      “Feel like telling me the previous monika?”
      .
      No.

      Reply
      • Andy Ryan says:

        “Yes, I’ve been telling you that free-will exists exhaustively”
        .
        Sure, but you’ve not gone beyond just asserting that it does, and saying you think it does because you believe in the supernatural.
        .
        So you think materialism would rule out free will, but you’ve not explained why the supernatural existing would make a difference.
        .
        “Agreed, good and bad have no meaning to a deterministic brain, there is only what is and what had to be.”
        No, I mean the whole question of whether we have free will or not is irrelevant.
        .
        As for ‘no other choice was ultimately possible’, one can equally say that every choice you make in a theistic universe was known by God millions of years before you made them. You quite literally couldn’t have chosen otherwise.
        .
        You can argue that this doesn’t mean you didn’t get to make the choices you wanted, and I’d agree, but the same goes for choices made in a deterministic universe.

        Reply
      • PR says:

        AR: Sure, but you’ve not gone beyond just asserting that it (free-will) does (exist), and saying you think it does because you believe in the supernatural.
        .
        Except that’s not what I’ve said at all. I said the following:
        -Conjecturing GOD (or the supernatural) may not get you closer to free-will but conjecturing free-will does get you closer to GOD (or the supernatural) .
        -the existence of free-will though makes the supernatural more likely.
        -My evidence of something else (the supernatural) is free-will.
        -If free-will truly exists then it is supernatural in origin therefor the supernatural exists.
        .
        For the fifth time, I am saying that free-will exists and I think the supernatural exists because free-will exists. WHAT I AM NOT SAYING IS: that the supernatural exists and therefor I think free-will exists.
        .
        I think that free-will exists because I experience or exercise my free-will daily. This is the same reason why I think the Universe exists.
        .
        So what is the evidence you have to prove free-will does not exist? I suspect that it is only your prior acceptance of a deterministic universe. You have to believe free-will is false or your worldview falls apart.
        .
        AR: As for ‘no other choice was ultimately possible, one can equally say that every choice you make in a theistic universe was known by God millions of years before you made them. You quite literally couldn’t have chosen otherwise.
        .
        What does millions of years mean to a timeless being? What might be foreknowledge to you and I is just knowledge to GOD.
        .
        You can argue that this doesn’t mean you didn’t get to make the choices you wanted, and I’d agree, but the same goes for choices made in a deterministic universe.
        .
        There is no such thing as “choices” in a deterministic universe by definition. Its like me telling my kid that I have determined he is going to bed at 8PM so his choices are to go to bed either at 8PM or at 8PM or alternatively he can go to bed at 8PM. There is no choice when something has been determined for you.

        Reply
        • Andy Ryan says:

          “I think that free-will exists because I experience or exercise my free-will daily”
          .
          How do you think it would feel different if determinism was true? How are you imagining that would feel?
          .
          And even if you WERE able to somehow detect the existence of free will, you still haven’t explained why that would be evidence for the supernatural.

          Reply
        • KR says:

          “So what is the evidence you have to prove free-will does not exist?”
          .
          I’ve laid out my argument against the existence of free will many times before in this forum so those who’ve already seen it can just keep scrolling. As far as I can tell, free will inevitably leads to logical contradictions, which means it cannot exist in reality. First, we need to nail down how we define free will. My definition is that free will means that we are the true and deliberate originators of our actions, i.e. our choices are not determined by any prior causes and we are in control of these choices through our will.
          .
          From this follows that free will choices must have a reason. If we don’t know why we make the choice, we are clearly not in control and the choice cannot be an expression of our will. It also follows that the reason for the choice must be under our control – otherwise our choice would be determined and not free. This means that the reason for a free will choice must also be a free will choice. Of course, this choice also needs a reason, which has to be a choice, which needs a reason, a.s.o.
          .
          We now have an infinite regress of choices based on prior choices. The only way we as agents can get out of this infinite regress with our free will intact, is through an action that is not a choice (since this would simply continue the regress) but is still under our control (since otherwise the action would be determined and not free). An action that is not by choice but still under our control would be simultaneously involuntary and voluntary – an obvious logical contradiction. Therefore, I conclude that free will – as I’ve defined it – cannot exist in reality.

          Reply
          • Andy Ryan says:

            Yes, I find this a compelling argument, and it’s nothing to do with materialism or whether or not there’s a God.
            .
            I don’t get why part of the brain being supernatural would solve the problem.

          • toby says:

            Well put. I guess someone could scramble for a reason your notion of free will is incorrect, but I doubt it would make any sense.

          • PR says:

            KR: “We now have an infinite regress of choices based on prior choices.”
            .
            So what you’ve done here is asserted that choices are based (entirely) on previous choices. Since the past is determined this fits nicely with your belief that the universe is deterministic.
            .
            I however do not agree that choices are based entirely on prior choices. More goes into a choice than just what was chosen before. Choices are also based on current conditions, if it is raining I might choose differently than if it is not raining. Choices are also based on the condition of the chooser, I might make one choice if I’m in a bad mood versus good. So your assertion that choices are wholly based on previous choices is false. Choices are made of multiple components.
            .
            If any component of a choice is your “will” then free-will must exist. While past choices and present conditions can certainly influence your choices they are the lesser important components of a choice. The primary component of every choice is your will for what you want your future to be. Unlike that past, the future is undetermined. Since you can “want” any future you can freely choose what you want your future to be. The reason for every choice in your regression of choices was to will what you wanted your future to be amongst a number of available options. You have free-will.
            .
            Example: A life long criminal wakes up one day and in spite of his past, he decides he wants to be a better man. The reason for this choice is that he wants a different future than what his past has been and he is choosing it freely.

          • toby says:

            Free vs determined is a dichotomy. Determined would seem to be the only thing of the two that’s orderly. This precedes this, precedes this, etc. It appears what people are your side of the aisle are saying (perhaps unknowingly) is that free choices are random. Because if you are not influenced by past experience then your choice can’t be a reasoned choice. Either you’re tossing reason out the window or free will or both.

            The primary component of every choice is your will for what you want your future to be. Unlike that past, the future is undetermined.
            How do you know the future is undetermined? Because of free will? Do you only mean the course of your life, if that’s the case? Because if the universe is acting in accordance with laws that never vary I’d say that the future is determined, but the variables leading up the one single event are so great that it could never be predicted. That’s what I think those in the past constructed the idea of free will for. The number of variables going into any given choice are so great that it they are unpredictable and even unfathomable to our minds. Someone along the way, shrugged, gave up thinking about it, and called that the free will that we are currently going in circles over.

          • KR says:

            “So what you’ve done here is asserted that choices are based (entirely) on previous choices. Since the past is determined this fits nicely with your belief that the universe is deterministic.”
            .
            What I’ve asserted is that the infinite regress necessarily follows from the premises that a free will choice must have a reason and that this reason must be under the agent’s control. Do you disagree with these premises? If so, can you explain how a choice can be an expression of your will if you don’t know why you’re making it and how a choice can be free if it’s taken for a reason that you did not choose?
            .
            “More goes into a choice than just what was chosen before. Choices are also based on current conditions, if it is raining I might choose differently than if it is not raining.”
            .
            My point exactly, thank you for agreeing with me. Choices made based on any conditions that were not chosen by the agent – like rain – are obviously determined and not free.
            .
            “Choices are also based on the condition of the chooser, I might make one choice if I’m in a bad mood versus good.”
            .
            Unless you’re claiming to be able to choose your mood, this mood is a brute fact and any choice based on it is determined and not free. If you are indeed claiming to be able to choose your mood, my question would be why you chose a particular mood (I would be especially interested to know why you would choose to be in a bad mood).
            .
            “So your assertion that choices are wholly based on previous choices is false. Choices are made of multiple components.”
            .
            Again, you’re making my point for me. Since free will choices must be based on previous choices and we agree that actual choices have other components, there is no reason to believe there’s any such thing as a free will choice.
            .
            “If any component of a choice is your “will” then free-will must exist. ”
            .
            This is just a bald assertion that doesn’t address my argument. It also makes very little sense to me. If a free will choice has to be under your control, being almost in control clearly doesn’t cut it. If there are components to your decision that weren’t chosen by you, you are not in control and you’re not making a free will choice.
            .
            “While past choices and present conditions can certainly influence your choices they are the lesser important components of a choice.”
            .
            A choice influenced by factors you didn’t choose is not free.
            .
            “The primary component of every choice is your will for what you want your future to be. Unlike that past, the future is undetermined. Since you can “want” any future you can freely choose what you want your future to be. The reason for every choice in your regression of choices was to will what you wanted your future to be amongst a number of available options. You have free-will.”
            .
            For every desire you have for your future, I can ask you “did you choose to have that desire?”. If you claim to have chosen your desires (which is already a rather weird claim), I will simply ask you what the reason for this choice was. You will find yourself in exactly the kind of regress I described. For every reason you give me for your choices, I will ask you if you chose this reason and, if so, why. I can keep this up indefinitely but you won’t be able to. You will eventually have to concede that you either don’t know the ultimate reason for your decision or the decision was based on something you didn’t choose – either way, it was outside your control.
            .
            “Example: A life long criminal wakes up one day and in spite of his past, he decides he wants to be a better man. The reason for this choice is that he wants a different future than what his past has been and he is choosing it freely.”
            .
            So the man changed his life due to a desire to be a better man. Did he choose to have this desire? If so, what was the reason for this choice? Did he choose that reason? What was the reason for that choice? Did he coose that reason? Rinse and repeat. The only way the regress stops is if there was no reason for the choice or if the reason for the choice wasn’t chosen by the man – either way, it wasn’t a free will choice.

  7. Barry says:

    Suppose an atheist reading this blog discovers that the inerrantist Christian bible-believing conservative scientists over at Institute for Creation Research (ICR) think the Big Bang is junk science and contradictory to the bible.

    http://www.icr.org/article/has-big-bang-been-saved/
    http://www.icr.org/article/cosmic-supervoid-vs-big-bang/

    If you yourself did not need to read the bible for thousands of years before it became reasonable for you to start drawing conclusions about its truth claims, then how long do you require an atheist to read and compare the arguments scientific Christians give for and against the big bang, and for and against its allegedly “biblical” basis, before we atheists are justified to start drawing conclusions about which among god’s like-minded ones got it right?

    6 months? 20 years? Or do the authors of such website articles, themselves Christians, expect the reader to recognize the truth long before 6 months’ worth of study?

    Reply
    • PR says:

      Barry,
      .
      The article is written by a Christian who believes that the Big Bang happened. I have no idea of what you are going on about.

      Reply
      • Andy Ryan says:

        “The article is written by a Christian who believes that the Big Bang happened.”
        Yes, that’s part of Barry’s point. If you don’t understand what Barry is trying to say (and his point isn’t complicated), why not just politely ask him?

        Reply
  8. Andy Ryan says:

    “So what is the evidence you have to prove free-will does not exist?”
    .
    I don’t know if it does or doesn’t, and have already said I don’t see the relevance of the question. I don’t see what it’s got to do with the existence of God or the supernatural. It seems a non sequitur to connect them.

    Reply
  9. toby says:

    So what is the evidence you have to prove free-will does not exist?
    Let me ask you this: can you name a decision that you’ve ever made that did not depend on some previous event? By previous event I mean experiences you may have had, knowledge you picked up along the way, languages you have learned. You know, things that have made you who you are and would cause you to decide one way or another.

    Reply
    • PR says:

      “Now that I have settled it, can we move on…?”
      .
      Yes, if free will exists we can certainly choose to move on.
      .
      No, if free will does not exist. We can only wait and see what the universe has decided we will do and we cannot do otherwise.

      Reply
  10. Andy Ryan says:

    PR: “The primary component of every choice is your will for what you want your future to be.”
    .
    But you don’t get to choose what your own will is. And KR never said your choices aren’t reacting to present conditions. Obviously the forecast and the present weather conditions play an important part in whether you take an umbrella out of the house with you. Who’s denied that? But that gets you no closer to demonstrating free will exists. You’re missing the point of KR’s argument.

    Reply
    • PR says:

      “But you don’t get to choose what your own will is.”
      .
      I disagree. “Will: The mental faculty by which one deliberately chooses or decides upon a course of action” is supported by a mind which is supernatural in origin. What I don’t understand is why I should take the word of someone that does not believe in the soul, of what the soul can and cannot do? How is it you came upon this knowledge?
      .
      ” Obviously the forecast and the present weather conditions play an important part in whether you take an umbrella out of the house with you.”
      .
      Free-will gives me the option to choose whether or not I carry an umbrella in spite of what the forecast is.

      Reply
      • Bob says:

        The mental faculty by which one deliberately chooses or decides upon a course of action” is supported by a mind which is supernatural in origin.
        .
        How is it you came upon this knowledge?

        Reply
  11. Andy Ryan says:

    What I’m interested in is what evidence you’re seeing that the supernatural is involved in you deciding to take an umbrella with you when leaving the house. Are you figuring in a materialistic universe such a decision wouldn’t be possible? Or do you have an idea of what it would feel like to have a ‘non-magic’ brain, and what you experience doesn’t match up to that? If so, how do you know? Perhaps what you experience is just what it feels like to have a materialistic brain making choices. It’s just a more complicated, self-aware version of how it feels to be a monkey, dog or lizard making decisions, with a greater range of impulses, variables and memories to draw on.

    Reply
    • PR says:

      ” Perhaps what you experience is just what it feels like to have a materialistic brain making choices.”
      .
      Perhaps the universe and reality isn’t what we think it is at all. We all are just existing within a large brain vat (called the matrix) run by aliens in a dimension completely unlike our universe and not following any of its laws. All of our so called senses and universal laws are really just sensory input fed to us by our alien hosts such that we cannot tell the difference between force-fed sensory input and what we deem to be reality. If my matrix proposition were true, how would we determine that it was not? How do we know that we are not just simulations designed for the temporary whimsy of aliens destined only to be discarded into nothingness.
      .
      The answer is that we have no way to determine if we exist within the matrix or not. What we do is take the information we have and decide what best explains reality. I acknowledge that it is possible that we are all just part of the matrix but I think and believe a physical universe best describes reality because without that explanation, existence would seem to be absurd and pointless to me.
      .
      Likewise, so much of what I deem to be reality would become absurd if free-will was non-existent. Language would fail, morality, love, hope, valor, honor, life’s meaning and purpose, all fake. Therefore I believe that free-will existing, best explains reality as I experience it. You believe you are a meat-robot. I’ve seen nothing and heard no argument that would lead me to believe that is true. If free-will is non-existent, then existence would would be absurd and pointless to me.
      .
      “What I’m interested in is what evidence you’re seeing that the supernatural is involved in you deciding to take an umbrella with you when leaving the house.”
      .
      If the Supernatural is not involved and the universe is deterministic then I am not making a decision to carry or not carry an umbrella at all, there is no freedom at all, I am only doing what must be done as determined by the universe. Free-will gives me the option to choose whether or not I carry an umbrella in spite of what the forecast is. That is to say more generally that I am free to make choices that go against my best interests. Humanity making choices against their better interest is a phenomena that is repeated over and over again that I believe also points to free-will existing.

      Reply
      • KR says:

        “Likewise, so much of what I deem to be reality would become absurd if free-will was non-existent. Language would fail, morality, love, hope, valor, honor, life’s meaning and purpose, all fake.”
        .
        This is an argument from consequences, which is a fallacy. The consequences of a proposition has no bearing on its validity. That said, I also fail to see why a lack of free will would have the consequences you describe.
        .
        ” You believe you are a meat-robot. I’ve seen nothing and heard no argument that would lead me to believe that is true.”
        .
        I believe there is no such thing as free will for the simple reason that it’s a logically incoherent concept and I’ve laid out my argument for why this is the case. Your response didn’t address my argument – in fact, it indicated that you didn’t understand the argument since you basically agreed with me that the choices we actually make have components that we didn’t choose and therefore are, by definition, not free.
        .
        “Free-will gives me the option to choose whether or not I carry an umbrella in spite of what the forecast is.”
        .
        Whatever you choose, this choice either has a reason or it doesn’t. If it has no reason, it’s involuntary and not an expression of your will. If it has a reason, this reason is either something you chose or something you didn’t choose. If it’s something you didn’t choose, it’s not a free choice. If it’s something you did choose, then this choice either had a reason or it didn’t, a.s.o., a.s.o. Cue inevitable regress – which can never end with you making a free will choice.
        .
        “Humanity making choices against their better interest is a phenomena that is repeated over and over again that I believe also points to free-will existing.”
        .
        Whether the choice is in their best interest or not makes no difference to the fact that free will choices must have reasons and that these reasons must be under the control of the agent making the choice.

        Reply
  12. Andy Ryan says:

    “You believe you are a meat-robot”
    .
    I’ve not said that. I said I find KR’s argument against free will persuasive, and you’ve made no counter-arguments against it. You seem to be saying that some supernatural component is required to prevent language from ‘failing’ but you don’t say why. You also say you don’t like the idea of free will not existing, but that’s not an argument either.

    Reply
    • Andy Ryan says:

      At any rate, I could imagine comparing a human without self awareness to a robot. And perhaps a metal robot that develops awareness might still be called a robot. But it doesn’t work to compare humans to robots, when we’re both self-aware, and organic.

      Reply
  13. roland watts says:

    There are several points to make against “BB falsifies atheism”:-

    1) A humanist/atheist manifesto does not necessarily speak for all atheists anymore than the Nicene Creed necessarily speaks for all theists, let alone all who call themselves “Christian”.

    2) “A universe from nothing” makes for a catchy title to sell books, but the actual argument is nuanced. A physicist’s concept of nothing is not necessarily the same as a layperson’s concept of nothing (i.e. the complete absence of anything). Thus, “nothing” or “the vacuum of space” to a physicist can, I think, consist of things like potential energy and a seething mass of virtual particles. If an outside observer could look at it, they would literally see nothing. However, with measuring instruments they could detect that mass of unseen virtual particles. (Something like that anyway.)

    3) There is an alternative to an eternal, supernatural intelligence as a creator of our observable universe. The alternative could be an eternal, supernatural non intelligent agency (e.g. some kind of algorithm). Because it’s eternal, the latter needs no more explanation than does the former.

    4) There are always ideas like Brane cosmology:-

    https://arxiv.org/abs/hep-th/0209261

    – or the notion that our existing universe is the outcome of some kind of phase change occurring in a pre-existing state.

Finally, and more related to the list of topics or points at the end of the article, the failure of atheists to explain certain aspects of the universe hardly means that therefore theists have explained them. That is, and as an example, it’s not a matter of “Explain the origin of molecular machines and unless you can, then ID is the explanation.” If ID cannot offer an explanation (beyond assertion only), then clearly nature must have done it (and allow us to offer our own assertions).

    Reply

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