Category Archives: Is He there or not?

Hawking disproved God with M theory?

Stephen Hawking’s book The Grand Design claims to have shown God unnecessary, or at least it seems so. But many critics disagree quite fervently, including long time partner Roger Penrose. Penrose says that M Theory, and all string theories for that matter, are purely speculative with no way of truly testing them, given that what they try to describe is unobservable and therefore, at least currently, are untestable outside of their own consistency.

But while string theories seem promising, they still don’t do what Hawking says they do. He makes the claim that given M theory, there would be 10 to the 500 possible universes, and that this constitutes a multiverse. And that given M theory, gravity would actually “cause” the universe to be created out of “nothing.” At first glance, he seems to present a decent case. Gravity has power beyond what we intially granted it, including the ability to bend light. But upon further investigation, the “nothing” he refers to is really a quantum vacuum, and that is not the “nothing” that philosophers have defined. This is a major obstacle, since the “nothing” that would have been “around” before the universe is absolutely nothing. No probabilities or chance, no particles of any sort, no gravity for that matter. A quantum vacuum simply is not nothing. And if we posit a quantum vacuum, we merely move the origin back one step and we must ask, “What caused the quantum vacuum.”

This should not come as too much of surprise, however, since early on in the book, Hawking makes the claim that philosophy is dead. And so it seems that he is quite content with his ignorance of the philosophical side of things that defines that terms and science that he himself uses.

Much of the book is quite technical, but interestingly, despite saying philosophy is dead, he gives his own shot at philosophizing and saying the way he thinks things are. Interestingly, these turn out to be quite inconsistent with his own views. He espouses a sort of anti-realism based on underdetermination, as well as determinism to the extreme. Given his view of how things really are, his model becomes merely his way of organizing his own personal sense data. The irony being that not only does this seem to undermine any claims he makes about reality (there is no God, philosophy is dead, there is a multiverse, etc.), but his staunch determinism requires that he holds that he is not free to think this for himself based on evidence, but rather that he has been determined to think and “organize his sense data” in this way because that’s simply how things are. Not the greatest way to convince others of your own beliefs, is it?….

In the end, he seems to be getting more and more desperate to justify his own disbelief, this being the latest step in that process. Despite many of those he has worked with, Penrose included, having adopted some form of theism, he has gone further and further in the opposite direction, maybe in part because of this. It is unfortunate to see such a brilliant mind squander things away, including the reputation he had built up, as many in academia have even withheld review of some of his later works do to the extremism that they present.


Trinity=Confusing, yet… astoundingly marvelous

The Trinitarian aspect of God has been thought about and discussed since the Early Church, and we still don’t have a very strong grasp on how it works. It’s something I have been thinking about and reading about lately, and this is where I am at now.

First, it follows from the ontological argument. This argument “proves” the greatest of all beings, so omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, etc. But after some thinking and a sociology class, I came to the realization that the trinity would be a necessary attribute of the perfect being. And here is why: The most stable relationship is a three person relationship. This is common knowledge in the field of sociology. This perfect being must be self-sufficient, we all know that a truly lonely person is not very sufficient, is quite lonely, and many times unstable. So it makes perfect sense to see this perfect being as having three major separate, yet connected parts.

Second is on how we can understand the Trinity. Some mistakenly think that it works like the situation of a father with one sibling. He is a son of his parents, a father of his son, and a brother. Three identities, one person. But that is why it is wrong. Still ONE person. We need three. So with the help of C.S. Lewis and a few others, I have a different concept of it. Think of a triangle. Three individual sides, yet one shape. All connected to each other. We can even imagine somewhat the aspect of ourselves in regards to the trinity and why it is so difficult to comprehend. We can imagine ourselves in a one-dimensional world, whereas the triangle is obviously in a two dimensional world. We could try to grasp how this triangle looks, and prove it mathematically to be consistent on some level, but we could never come close to a full comprehension of it. That is the situation we find ourselves in now. God is so other, so infinite the out finite minds can’t comprehend Him, especially not in this life.

Third, how does the Trinity affect us? Well, it shows us that if we are not worshiping the Trinitarian God, we are not worshiping the right God. Which means a lot of people have it wrong. It is one of God’s major attributes that has a huge impact on His reality, and not just ours, so it is a very important doctrine to be preserved. It shows us that God truly IS love, as He demonstrates perfect love and perfect relationship.

Along these lines, I began to realize the answer the my sociology professor’s question to our class in regards to human relations. His question was that if a three person relationship is the best kind, should be practice polygamy? Some people sort of conceded the point, but I knew that that was going to be unstable because there are only two sexes, and the concept of the perfect relationship would be between three DIFFERENT types of persons, not just three different people. You would always end up with 1 male and 2 females or 2 males and 1 female, which are both lopsided in some manner. I brought this up and assumed, correctly, that God was this third person that would make our relationships better. But what I missed out on was how perfect this really was. Who better to have in your marriage than the creator of marriage, of humans, and the perfect lover? He would give the best possible advice, literally. He would be the perfect mediator. And the perfect friend. Not to mention, He is part of His own three person relationship that is perfectly stable, and we all know how we become more like those we are in relationships with. And who better to become more like than God?

In the end, I have been left with this feeling of awe, in how God has made things to work in harmony so perfectly. It’s almost as if He knew exactly what He was doing, almost… Obviously, I am still nowhere near fully understanding Him in this aspect, but I am trying. My way of trying to love Him with all of my mind.


Beauty

I recently was reading through a few arguments for God based on the existence of Beauty in the world and found them quite interesting. They flow similarly to moral arguments in that they say Beauty is contingent to God. And I actually see them as somewhat persuasive. And I think this is so because I think it is harder to deny the existence of beautiful things than it is to deny good and bad. This is because even subjective beauty can be used in this argument.

If we consider something beautiful, then there must be a scale of beauty that we are using. Sometimes it seems like a personal scale, other times not. Why is it that most people find sunrises and sunsets beautiful? Or are attracted to similar people? Or think that a blue sky is wonderful? I think there is a beauty scale that is subjective but matches up somewhat with others, like when we compare the outward “beauty” of people, but something totally apart from us when looking at nature.

I don’t think I could ever have called a day in my life ugly, at least not the nature part, since I sure have messed up a few myself. But I don’t think I can honestly say that I have looked outside and said, “What an ugly day today.” I know I have said it when I wanted to play baseball and it was raining, or golf even. Or if I wanted snow on Christmas and it was 60 degrees. But that was merely because the weather was not in conjunction with my wishes for the day, and had nothing to do with the actual beauty of the day. On the other hand, I have watched storms from balconies and porches and sat in awe at the rain, lightning, and thunder. I have sat in the grass and watched blue skies hang there, and possibly watch a few fluffy white clouds go floating by. Its really a remarkable thing that we so often take for granted. Maybe we should all make a habit of thanking God for such a beautiful day each time we wake up. It might brighten up our days.

But even if we don’t go that far, though I think we should, there is still something to be said for the beauty of a mountain with the sun shining on its snowcap. Or an ocean as it shines in the sun as far as the eye can see.

Speaking of mountains, I find them certainly to be a sign from God that He is there. First of all, the whole mountain points up to him, and so do all the trees on it. The base is often dirt based, while the top is white with snow. Not many people get to the top, but those who do experience something we can’t possibly imagine. Now compare that to Christianity. God is on top of all things and is perfect. We are along the base, covered in sin. We can assume that since the path to heaven is narrow, not many people will get there, but it will be a wonderful experience for those who do. Its like a micro-Christian world all in one mountain.

But certainly we all acknowledge that there is beauty of sorts all around us. In animals, trees, flowers, the sky, the solar system, the universe and its fireworks of exploding stars. Awe-inspiring. And I know that God was its creator, and that He must be beautiful as well.


Loftus- Why I Became an Atheist, Part: 1

Got the book for Easter, along with two of Michael Martin’s books. A little humorous, because as I celebrate the resurrection, I’m reading about why I am wrong about doing so. I will try to do a post per topic in each book, but no guarantees. So here is the first post on Loftus’ book.

I started Loftus first, as he came highly recommended. But through the first 4 chapters, I’ve actually been disappointed. He had a rough time that cause him to fall from his “faith,” but wants to entirely attribute his “deconversion” as he calls it to his intellectual fallout. But it surely appears, at least at face value, that it was in fact the emotional problem he had that aided his intellectual disbelief. For those of you who don’t know his history, he grew up a nominal Christian, and knew of nothing else. He got into drugs, but then found Jesus, who became his new high, and that was in fact how he preached it. He went to Bible college, got a few Masters degrees, even one under Bill Craig, and went into ministry as a pastor. He succumbed to the openness of a co-worker and had an affair, and instead of the Church rallying around and supporting him through his sin, they condemned him, and not his actions, and even though he repented, that wasn’t good enough. This was just the beginning. He continued to find problems at other churches, and eventually he started to stop attending.

Now as one can see, it is indeed a sad story. He found redemption in Christ and lived as best he could to please Him, and we all fail at this, and when he failed, his church did not treat him very well at all. In their correspondence, Norman Geisler apologized to Loftus for the church’s behavior, and does not at all blame him for his reaction. So while the church messed up and surely didn’t follow Christ’s example. Indeed, it is a heart-wrenching story that one, as a Christian, hates to hear. But this was not the part that I was disappointed by. This was actually eye-opening, because all I had known before hand was that Loftus was trying to follow in the footsteps of Paul Copan and become an apologetic leader for the church, and then the next thing we knew, he was promoting atheism. So this story was moving and enlightening, as I realized it wasn’t that he just looked into it and doubted, but had other reasons to doubt as well. And not only this, but that he went down kicking and screaming, for 13 years nonetheless.

The part that was disappointing was the chapter on morality. He attacks Divine Command Theory(DVC) by proposing the Euthyphro dilemma, and says that this puts the proponent of this theory in a tight place. He quotes Craig as biting the bullet. Yet, as a former Christian, it seems he should know that many theologians consider this a false dichotomy. There is a third possibility, viz. that God commands are good because He is good, that it is part of his nature. And in the same way that we are human, and can’t act apart from our human nature’s, God is good and can’t act apart from that. His response is that this begs the question, since how is God good if there is no good other than God to compare his good too? But this can be applied to us being human as well. How do we know what human; is apart from ourselves? We can call it whatever we want, the name is arbitrary, but the proposition or state of affair that hold for one to be “human” seems to be just that, the state of affairs such that one is “human.” So to say that “God is good” is more of an identity statement rather than an attributive statement. He is the measure of good, just as we are the measure of human.

But then he goes on to basically dismiss the natural law theory of Aquinas in less than a paragraph, which he admits is the most popular view in Christianity today, that says that morality is innate to us, that God has “put it on our hearts” and this is our intuition of right and wrong. He simply states that this does not make Christian morality superior to any other morality, and that if this is true, anyone can grasp it. Well, this seems to be a straw man. I know of no proponent of multiple objective moralities, so either Christian morality is true or it isn’t. There is no better than or worse than, it either is or isn’t. I also have never heard anybody say that you must be a Christian to be moral. Usually the argument from morality says that we all observe objective right and wrong, not that only Christians do. So it seems he is surely attaching a straw man.

And this is what disappointed me, and I hope improves as I continue reading. As a former Christian, I hoped that he would only look at the real issue, rather than attacking fake versions of it to make his arguments seem strong, the way Dawkins and Haris and Dennet and Hitchens often do. But that is exactly what he resorts to when speaking of morality.

So… more to come on the next few chapters. I will try to do a post per topic that he discusses and some thoughts on it.


Evidence from how it is vs. how it would be

So if the Christian story was true, what would things look like? Let’s give a quick list.

  • Human intelligence
  • Appearance of design
  • Appearance(intuition) of an immaterial soul
  • Outside world matching up with thoughts in head
  • “Beautiful” theorems and laws
  • Rapid spread of belief after Jesus resurrection
  • Bible matching up archeologically and historically
  • Evil (due to free will)
  • Good sometimes coming from result of evil
  • Religious experience
  • Appearance of “miracles”

There are more, but this you get the idea. There are certain things we would expect to see if it were indeed true.

So what about this? Do we see this? It seems we do see these things, ALL of these things. Dawkins admits that things appear designed, physicists are saying it seems like somebody monkeyed with physics, Einstein found his formulas by looking for beautiful theorems, we find ourselves able to think of these things, and so on. So is it a coincidence that what we would expect to see we do indeed see? It doesn’t seem so to me. It seems like this is decent evidence for the Christian view. It matches up.

On the other hand, what about atheism? Do we see what we would expect? Does it appear that things happened by chance? Obviously not if they appear designed, since something can’t be appeared to be designed by chance (this is not saying that evolution by natural selection is wrong, just simply that one may not say, “Oh yeah, just looking at this it looks like it was entirely unplanned and random.”). Is there a natural explanation for everything? Not yet at least (origin of life, origin of universe…). Why would self-sacrificial religion be so prevalent (some religions may benefit survival, but ones like Christianity that lead to selflessness and possibly self-sacrifice would not be too beneficial)? Purely natural evolution would not explain such a thing. If atheism were true, we should expect religious stories to all fall into the “myth” category and not have hardly any evidence that any such religion is true or has any trace of fact in it. Such things like the Greek and Egyptian myths of gods impregnating humans to form demi-gods like Hercules (Heracles), or fighting each other to form night vs. day, and dying and rising with the changing of the seasons. There are no evidences that would support these being held as facts about the real world, but are rather stories that helped explain events that otherwise had no explanation. And this is what one would expect to be true of all religious stories if atheism were true. But…

There is great evidence for Christianity in the Bible. There are cities and civilizations that were dated correctly by the Old Testament. The same for the New Testament, not to mention the life of Jesus. We have more biographies written within 50 years of his death than almost every ancient figure including Alexander the Great and Julius Caesar. He is mentioned also by Josephus, Pliny the Younger, Seutonius, and Tacitus, not to mention the Talmud. The events in the New Testament are historically accurate on nearly everything spoken of, and even some of the so-called “errors” may be reconcilable. But is this what one would expect if atheism were true? That one religion would have any evidence, yet alone this much supporting it, on top of what is mentioned earlier about finding what one would expect to find if this religion (Christianity) were true? The answer is no, this is not what one would expect to find given atheism.

1 in 3 people are Christians, and 62% believe hold to a form of theism, while only 2% claim to believe in no gods, and 8% are atheist/agnostic/humanists. These don’t seem to be the numbers one would expect to see if there were no gods, and yet the numbers are what the Christian theist would expect. Should we really have to be so counter-intuitive, explain away so many facts, in order for atheism to be rational? One would think that if atheism were true, that religion would be counter-intuitive, or at least be discarded by natural selection once it was no longer useful. But religion, Judeo-Christian belief in particular, has weathered every storm, assault, and come out with 1 in 3 people in the world believing it. Not what atheism would seem to promote.

Now by no means is this definitive of anything, but simply is a point that should spark some thought. This is at a glance, since this is by no means delving too deep into this idea, the concept of expect to see vs. actually see supports the Christian theists view, and not the atheistic view. Think about it.


Cosmological argument shown false… as Smith disproves motion?

In the Veritas Forum with Craig, Plantinga, Gale, and Smith, Smith talked a bit about how the universe caused itself.

Check out the video.
Parts





This should be all the related parts, the rest can be found in related videos on youtube.

Whole (sometimes won’t load all the way through)
http://www.veritas.org/Media.aspx#/v/315

Craig shows how Smith’s view of how the universe began, if true, would actually prevent motion as a cost. Plantinga then throws in the idea that the universe is not in fact entirely explained. Gale actually disagrees with Smith, causing a short comical period.


Challenge

Recently, I “officially” started a challenge that really began in ’06 that consists of reading both atheistic and theistic books as to find the truth, which happens to be the purpose of my blog. I will give updates a few times a month, probably at the end of each book read, and give some comments and feedback on each one.

Check back for more.