Monday, January 31, 2011

Why Is There Something Rather Than Nothing? -- Cross Examination

The following post is comprised of my answers to my atheist opponent Ben's questions about my position as stated in my opening statement and rebuttal.

In order for Premise 2 of the Leibnizian Cosmological argument to hold—the premise that requires an agent with will to bring the universe into existence—does one have to postulate that the Big Bang is an event in time rather than the explosion of time and space into existence?

I would say that the Big Bang is the first event in time. God creates the universe at moment of time T=0, or, stated differently, the act of creating is simultaneous with the universe beginning to exist. So the moment of creation is the first event in time. If the universe is genuinely temporal, it would require a first moment-- a beginning. Things which begin are caused. Eternal causes without wills (like a timeless vacuum as in a vacuum fluctuation model) necessarily have eternal effects. Only a timeless being with a will can account for a universe with a beginning.

Hawking admits that on real time models, there is in fact a beginning, and that this could suggest a Beginner: “So long as the universe had a beginning, we could suppose it had a creator” (A Brief History of Time, p. 140-141). This is why his quantum gravity model is so important-- it curves time to get around the beginning point. Of course, numerous physicists, including Roger Penrose of the Penrose-Hawking Singularity Theorems, do not find Hawking's system of explaining the universe to be correct or even, in the case of Penrose, scientific.

How can you reconcile the omnipotent nature of god—which would require that he be able to end his own existence if he so chose—and traits god possesses like emotion and thought—which are contingent upon neurology and evolution in every instance we can examine—with your claim that god exists necessarily, and therefore must not be able to cease his own existence or possess traits that are contingent?

I think this problem stems from you defining omnipotence in a way which Christian theologians do not. I take omnipotence to mean that God can do anything at all which does not deny His nature. (such as things which are irrational, immoral, etc.) For instance, because God is the ground of rationality, and God is consistent with Himself, He will not deny Himself by behaving in irrational ways. For example, God could not draw a square circle or make a rock so heavy that He couldn't lift it. Of course, these are anthropomorphisms which make God material, but even with this flaw aside, God could not do these things because they are irrational. If God cannot deny Himself by behaving irrationally, but can still be called omnipotent in a meaningful sense by being able to do anything which is right and rational to do, it follows that He also cannot cease existing because to do so would be an act of denying His nature and doing that which is not rationally possible.

Click here to read Ben's answers to my questions:

Ben's opening statement and rebuttal can be found on his blog-- Fool of Psalms.

1 comment:

  1. In "The Grand Design" Hawking says that we are somewhat like goldfish in a curved fishbowl. Our perceptions are limited and warped by the kind of lenses we see through, “the interpretive structure of our human brains.” Albert Einstein rejected this subjective approach, common to much of quantum mechanics, but did admit that our view of reality is distorted.

    Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity has the surprising consequences that “the same event, when viewed from inertial systems in motion with respect to each other, will seem to occur at different times, bodies will measure out at different lengths, and clocks will run at different speeds.” Light does travel in a curve, due to the gravity of matter, thereby distorting views from each perspective in this Universe. Similarly, mystics’ experience in divine oneness, which might be considered the same "eternal" event, viewed from various historical, cultural and personal perspectives, have occurred with different frequencies, degrees of realization and durations. This might help to explain the diversity in the expressions or reports of that spiritual awareness. What is seen is the same; it is the "seeing" which differs.

    In some sciences, all existence is described as matter or energy. In some of mysticism, only consciousness exists. Dark matter is 25%, and dark energy about 70%, of the critical density of this Universe. Divine essence, also not visible, emanates and sustains universal matter (mass/energy: visible/dark) and cosmic consciousness (f(x) raised to its greatest power). During suprarational consciousness, and beyond, mystics share in that essence to varying extents. [quoted from my e-book on comparative mysticism]