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“Live and Let Live” vs. Burden of Proof

Once again, I’ve seen this conversation between atheists, and it’s got me irked enough to write about it:

Atheist(1): Theists are the ones making claims about god(s).  We don’t have to prove god doesn’t exist.  They have to prove he does.

Atheist(2): I dunno.  I think you’re just being harsh.  I’m a live and let live person.

Does anyone else see the disconnect between these two statements?  Atheist(2) isn’t even addressing what Atheist(1) is saying.  They’re talking past each other.  This is very simple.

Burden of Proof – One of several foundations of critical thinking and the scientific method.

Live and Let Live – A life philosophy.  A political view.  A moral code.

What do the two of these things have to do with each other?  ABSOLUTELY NOTHING.

The Burden of Proof is simply the logical demand for evidence supporting a claim.  Proving the burden of proof is very easy.  All we have to do is assume that it’s false.  Let’s suppose that a claim is assumed true until proven false.  Now, let’s suppose that I claim the following:  “Invisible pink unicorns are the only kind of unicorn that exists.”  You counter with “Invisible green unicorns are the only kind of unicorns that exist.”

Both statements are true until proven false.  The only problem is we can’t prove either false.  We can’t find any unicorns to begin with, much less invisible pink or green unicorns.  So, lacking any proof to the contrary, we must believe that both green and pink unicorns are the only kind of unicorn in existence.

Except that’s obviously internally contradictory.  Both cannot be true.  But… we can’t prove either one false.  So we’re stuck.

On the other hand, if a claim must be proven to be held as true, we have the following assumption to begin with:  Unicorns do not exist.  (If you’re interested, this is what’s known as the null hypothesis.) Now, when you or I claim anything about invisible pink or green unicorns, we are met with the retort:  “Prove it.”  Since neither you nor I can produce a unicorn, we must both shrug our shoulders and admit we can’t prove it.  There is no internal contradiction.

Imagine how you’d feel if you saw an ad on tv for a pill that would prevent you from ever getting cancer, and then found out — after taking it — that it actually caused cancer!  What do you think would happen if it turned out that the company selling the pill hadn’t actually done any research at all to see if the pill prevented cancer?  Would you want some heads to roll?  Maybe see a few CEOs in jail for the rest of their lives?

We live by the burden of proof everyday.  People who believe things just because someone claims it are called gullible, naive, suckers, and chumps.

On to the next topic.  “Live and let live” is a great life philosophy, if you ask me.  It’s the one I live by.  If you’re doing something with your life that doesn’t negatively affect me or other people, I’m perfectly fine with it.  If you believe that purple fairies live in your refrigerator and dance the samba whenever you shut the door, but you don’t want to make anyone else pay a purple fairy tax… we’ll be fine.  I probably won’t hang out with you much because you’re INSANE, but I won’t mess with you and your fairies.

The thing is, when you tell me I also ought to believe in purple fairies, I’m going to look you dead in the eye and ask why.

When we part ways, one of two things will have happened.  You’ll have shown me evidence of purple fairies, or not.  If you haven’t, I’m going to let you go back to your house and keep leaving snacks for the fairies.  But I won’t believe.  That’s how the Burden of Proof works, and how Live and Let Live works.

Get it?

Being “live and let live” is great.  Not demanding proof from someone making a claim… that’s just being stupid.

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Discussion

65 thoughts on ““Live and Let Live” vs. Burden of Proof

  1. GLT is going to bust a nut over this one, given his advocacy for a purple fairy tax hike.

    Posted by Clint | December 10, 2010, 5:56 pm
  2. The problem with theists is that they will show you proof, like the bible. And then what? If you pull a contradiction from the bible, they will interpret as a misunderstanding or that it’s meant to be a metaphor, written in a language that primitive people could understand. And even if they concede your point, they’ll retort that the contradiction doesn’t affect their core belief. So there, burden of proof gets you nowhere with theists.

    Posted by LM | December 10, 2010, 6:25 pm
  3. LM, yes, it’s a problem to be sure. And that’s why the debate roars on. But so long as a child with a little bit of logic training can spot the problems with their “proof,” I think it’s safe to say we’re still under no obligation to accept it. In the same way that we don’t get to reinvent the burden of proof, we don’t get to reinvent what constitutes proof. It’s not man-made rules. It’s man’s observation of what works and what doesn’t.

    Posted by hambydammit | December 10, 2010, 6:42 pm
  4. The best line I ever got from a theist was: I’m not an atheist, I don’t need any proof.

    I didn’t know if I was going to to laugh or cry.

    Posted by LM | December 10, 2010, 7:23 pm
  5. The best line I ever got from an atheist was:

    First there was nothing, then it exploded into everything!

    I didn’t know if I was going to to laugh or cry.

    Posted by PG | December 10, 2010, 9:15 pm
  6. What sillier PG is to believe that God created “everything” out of “nothing”, magic that 10year olds believe.

    Posted by LM | December 11, 2010, 6:47 am
  7. Not so fast LM, Lets keep to simplicity.

    What is sillier, To believe something created everything or nothing created everything as you believe.

    Posted by PG | December 11, 2010, 12:35 pm
  8. How about nothing never created anything, and something always is.

    Posted by LM | December 11, 2010, 1:59 pm
  9. LM,

    The idea of something always was would be anti science using our current definitions of scientific observation and natural laws. The current reigning scientific convention is that this universe had a beginning of time, space, and matter….

    Posted by PG | December 11, 2010, 2:13 pm
  10. The idea of something always was would be anti science using our current definitions of scientific observation and natural laws.

    Then wouldn’t God be anti-science?

    The current reigning scientific convention is that this universe had a beginning of time, space, and matter….

    The current reigning scientific convention is also naturalism. So why not stick to that?

    Posted by Ian | December 11, 2010, 2:47 pm
  11. LM,

    Thats just the point! Once science discovered that Time, space, matter, had a beginning where did that leave the materialist philosophy and science’s ability to continue to theorize within the materialist paradigm.

    Posted by PG | December 11, 2010, 3:15 pm
  12. Edit: Let me clarify, naturalism.

    Interesting that science must continue to have a priori commitment to naturalism when the concept of everything coming from nothing is not considered natural. Infact we have a word for such supposed occurrances, the word is “Magic”

    Posted by PG | December 11, 2010, 3:23 pm
  13. PG said:

    “The idea of something always was would be anti science using our current definitions of scientific observation and natural laws. The current reigning scientific convention is that this universe had a beginning of time, space, and matter….”

    You should get up to speed in that department: pre-Bang activities have been observed. This means the universe existed prior to the Big Bang. It means the Big Bang is not the beginning.

    Posted by LM | December 11, 2010, 5:08 pm
  14. PG wrote:

    Interesting that science must continue to have a priori commitment to naturalism when the concept of everything coming from nothing is not considered natural.

    Naturalism isn’t an a priori claim for science, it’s the methodological approach science takes to studying the universe. It has never ruled out the supernatural. If we could observe the supernatural, then science would study it, however it seems that the supernatural is something that only people who believe in it can see.

    As far as something coming from nothing goes, particles can materialize out of quantum vacuum, but the total energy remains 0. You get a particle and an anti-particle, who briefly flicker into existence, then flicker back out. Some physicists think a gigantic quantum vacuum fluctuation could have caused the big bang. Like LM said, there’s some interesting stuff going on in science regarding the pre-big bang state of the universe.

    But anyway, quantum vacuum isn’t “nothing,” and even if some quantum phenomena are bizarre, they don’t violate naturalism.

    Posted by Ian | December 11, 2010, 8:21 pm
  15. Ian, on December 11, 2010 at 8:21 pm said:
    You should get up to speed in that department: pre-Bang activities have been observed. This means the universe existed prior to the Big Bang. It means the Big Bang is not the beginning.

    PG says:
    LM, please dont get ahead of yourself or should I say, get ahead of science. And also ever believe the hype that is put out by the press releases. Yes, There are several theories being explored attempting to map a pre big bang ,But these there is no concensus and significant major challenges to those theories. To jump ahead and accept them as fact prior to any validation is unscientific to say the least..

    Posted by PG | December 12, 2010, 1:13 pm
  16. ^^^^^^Correction, Its LMs quote, not Ians ^^^^^^^^^^

    Posted by PG | December 12, 2010, 1:15 pm
  17. Ian, on December 11, 2010 at 8:21 pm said:
    Naturalism isn’t an a priori claim for science, it’s the methodological approach science takes to studying the universe. It has never ruled out the supernatural.

    PG says:
    Ian, are you pretending naiveté?

    “It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door”. -Richard Lewontin

    Posted by PG | December 12, 2010, 1:20 pm
  18. PG, that’s from “Billions and Billions of Demons,” Lewontin’s criticism of Carl Sagan’s book “The Demon Filled World.” I’m sorry, but I’ve gotta go with Sagan on this.

    We haven’t created an “apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations” due to an a priori commitment to materialism. That’s just silly. We created this apparatus and set of concepts because they work, end of story.

    So what if science hasn’t cured cancer yet? What kind of a complaint is that? Science sure has saved a hell of a lot more people from dying of cancer than anything else we’ve tried.

    And so what if scientists dared to educate simple, hard-workin’ religious folk about evolution? Is that a complaint against science, that educators seek to inform rural people about what is true, even if the sweet little bumpkins would rather not believe it?

    I’m not sure Lewontin is aware of how conceited and dishonest the Creationist/Intelligent Design leadership are. As for myself, having grown up indoctrinated by them, I will happily throw them under the bus, and not make excuses for their opposition to science.

    Posted by Ian | December 12, 2010, 5:19 pm
  19. Ian, Its simple. Science doesent exclude intelligent design, scientists do. The fact that you had bad religion is irrelevent .

    Posted by PG | December 12, 2010, 9:45 pm
  20. PG, if by intelligent design you mean irreducible complexity or specified complexity, then yes, science does rule that out.

    If you mean something more along the lines of Frank Collin’s concept of theistic evolution, I’ll acknowledge that science can’t address that.

    Posted by Ian | December 13, 2010, 6:17 am
  21. PG says:
    Ian, are you pretending naiveté?

    “It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations, no matter how counter-intuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover, that materialism is an absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door”. -Richard Lewontin

    As a scientist I don’t give a hoot about Lewontin or his take on materialism. Science does not take materialism as a presupposition, but rather it is a conclusion, a conclusion that is subject to changes if new data demands it. After more than 400 years of scientific investigation, there is no proof of the supernatural/immaterialism. That is a conclusion, not a presupposition as some like to erroneously promote.

    And history is abound with cases in which the prevailing scientific theory was forced to make major changes or were discarded to make place for new, radical theories. So to portray that science is shackled by some philosophical position is not only false but blatantly dishonest.

    Posted by LM | December 13, 2010, 7:12 am
  22. PG says:
    LM, please dont get ahead of yourself or should I say, get ahead of science. And also ever believe the hype that is put out by the press releases. Yes, There are several theories being explored attempting to map a pre big bang ,But these there is no concensus and significant major challenges to those theories. To jump ahead and accept them as fact prior to any validation is unscientific to say the least..

    No, those who jumped ahead are the theists who have erroneously concluded that the universe had a beginning. First, the Big Bang never made that claim, only that in the far distant past, the universe was confined to a singularity. But most scientists were not comfortable with the idea of a singularity. Hawkins retracted his statement and now believes that the universe could have created itself from quantum fluctuations, and that time has no boundary. This leaves the door open to cyclic theory

    Secondly, the observation of pre-Bang actvities was observed by Penrose, a distinguished physicist, and that observation cannot be ignored. This now opens the door wide open to cyclic theories.

    And there are several cyclic theories already on the market: Penrose’s own CCC theory, Reinhartd’s Cyclic theory that includes String Theory, Smolin’s fecund universe theory, and Guth’s seeding universe theory.

    So no, PG, I’m not jumping ahead. You are just falling way behind.

    Posted by LM | December 13, 2010, 8:37 am
  23. LM says:
    “No, those who jumped ahead are the theists who have erroneously concluded that the universe had a beginning”

    PG says:
    First you insist that theists have jumped the gun and claim the Universe didnt have a beginning. I have a problem with that because the folowing sample of major universities websites completely refute your statement.

    Here is just afew…

    “Scientists generally agree that “the Big Bang” birthed the universe about 15 billion years ago.” Tom Parisi, Northern Illinois University

    “As a result of the Big Bang (the tremendous explosion which marked the beginning of our Universe), the universe is expanding and most of the galaxies within it are moving away from each other.” CalTech
    “The Big Bang model of the universe’s birth is the most widely accepted model that has ever been conceived for the scientific origin of everything.” Stuart Robbins, Case Western Reserve University

    “Many once believed that the universe had no beginning or end and was truly infinite. Through the inception of the Big Bang theory, however, no longer could the universe be considered infinite. The universe was forced to take on the properties of a finite phenomenon, possessing a history and a beginning.” Chris LaRocco and Blair Rothstein, University of Michigan

    “The scientific evidence is now overwhelming that the Universe began with a “Big Bang” ~15 billion (15,000,000,000 or 15E9) years ago.” “The Big Bang theory is the most widely accepted theory of the creation of the Universe.” Dr. van der Pluijm, University of Michigan

    “The present location and velocities of galaxies are a result of a primordial blast known as the BIG BANG. It marked: THE BEGINNING OF THE UNIVERSE! THE BEGINNING OF TIME!” Terry Herter, Cornell University

    “That radiation is residual heat from the Big Bang, the event that sparked the beginning of the universe some 13 billion years ago.” Craig Hogan, University of Washington

    “Most scientists agree that the universe began some 12 to 20 billion years ago in what has come to be known as the Big Bang ” University of Illinois

    “The universe had a beginning. There was once nothing and now there is something.” Janna Levin, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University
    “Today scientists generally believe the universe was created in a violent explosion called the Big Bang.” Susan Terebey, Department of Physics and Astronomy, California State University Los Angeles

    “A large body of astrophysical observations now clearly points to a beginning for our universe about 15 billion years ago in a cataclysmic outpouring of elementary particles. There is, in fact, no evidence that any of the particles of matter with which we are now familiar existed before this great event.” Louis J. Clavelli, Ph.D., Professor of Physics, University of Alabama

    “Now, after decades of observing and thinking, we have come to answer confidently the question of the origin of our universe… with what is known as the “big bang”.” Yuki D. Takahashi, Caltech

    So who do I believe, major universities or an atheist scientist who doesent accept the current scientific convention…

    Posted by PG | December 13, 2010, 11:37 pm
  24. LM,
    Regarding Penrose’s CCC theory. Apparently you want to crown Sir Penrose king before reviewing the facts. You dont seem to question the data or the fact that Penrose completely leaves out the inflationary model out of his theory because in fact inflation would erase all circles that are wider than 13.7 billion light years. So what does Penrose do? He argues that the confirmation of his prediction and the mere presence of these structures makes inflation wrong. Forget about the fact that there is still the questions about the infinite pressure of dark energy, the rescaling time, the supposed decay of protons and electrons, Crunch etc

    Its all very suspicious, indeed.

    I think Ill choose to wait for his ticket tape parade before making intillectually dishonest statements that his theory has been validated as a scientific fact and accepted by the scientific community….

    .

    Posted by PG | December 14, 2010, 12:15 am
  25. Well looky here LM, no sooner than you hit your enter button to post that Penrose observed a pre big bang, then the following is written in Nature news…

    Published online 10 December 2010 | Nature | doi:10.1038/news.2010.665

    No evidence of time before Big Bang
    Latest research deflates the idea that the Universe cycles for eternity.
    http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101210/full/news.2010.665.html?s=news_rss

    Posted by PG | December 14, 2010, 1:21 am
  26. PG WROTE:

    No evidence of time before Big Bang
    Latest research deflates the idea that the Universe cycles for eternity.
    http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101210/full/news.2010.665.html?s=news_rss

    Read your own link. This is what it says:

    “Gurzadyan dismisses the critical analyses as “absolutely trivial”, arguing that there is bound to be agreement between the standard cosmological model and the WMAP data “at some confidence level” but that a different model, such as Penrose’s, might fit the data “even better” ” — a point he makes in a response to the three critical papers also posted on arXiv5. However, he is not prepared to state that the circles constitute evidence of Penrose’s model. “We have found some signatures that carry properties predicted by the model,” he says.”

    Of course, scientist are going to be cautious as this discovery can rewrite the current paradigm. However, even if Penrose’s observation does not confirm his own theory, his data still remains in need of an explanation.

    PS: I love those quotes: “the universe was created in a violent explosion”, ” in a cataclysmic outpouring of elementary particles”. Some of these people don’t know that the name “Big Bang” was coined by Hoyle who was mocking the BBT. In reality, the BBT never stipulated that there was an explosion or cataclysm. Just that the universe was confined to a singularity. Secondly, there is nothing in the equations from which the BBT is derived that say there was a beginning. And that’s why there are so many other theories on the market. Smolin, or Reinhardt or Guth or Penrose are distinguished physicists. They would not be wasting their time with theories if they thought that the BBT had answered some of the fundamental questions. They have proposed their own theories because they are fully aware of the flaws in the BBT.

    Paul J. Steinhardt: http://arxiv.org/PS_cache/hep-th/pdf/0111/0111098v2.pdf
    Lee Smolin: http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2009/12/are-black-holes-creating-new-universes-one-of-worlds-leading-physicists-says-yes-.html
    Alan guth: http://www.amazon.com/Inflationary-Universe-Alan-Guth/dp/0201328402/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1292325896&sr=8-1-fkmr0

    Posted by LM | December 14, 2010, 7:25 am
  27. LM,
    I especially like the following comment regarding that most cosmologist believe that the universe had a beginning..This article kills 2 birds with one stone….

    NO EVIDENCE OF TIME BEFORE BIG BANG
    “Most cosmologists believe that the Universe, and with it space and time, exploded into being some 13.7 billion years ago at the Big Bang, and that it has been expanding ever since.”
    http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101210/full/news.2010.665.html?s=news_rss

    Posted by PG | December 14, 2010, 4:36 pm
  28. I already went over that, PG, in my last post to you.

    Posted by LM | December 14, 2010, 5:20 pm
  29. Well, LM,

    “The universe had a beginning. There was once nothing and now there is something.” Janna Levin, Department of Applied Mathematics and Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University

    “A large body of astrophysical observations now clearly points to a beginning for our universe about 15 billion years ago in a cataclysmic outpouring of elementary particles. There is, in fact, no evidence that any of the particles of matter with which we are now familiar existed before this great event.” Louis J. Clavelli, Ph.D., Professor of Physics, University of Alabama

    Nuff said….

    Posted by PG | December 14, 2010, 8:14 pm
  30. PG, Penrose’s discovery is very recent (Nov. 2010), so most likely, you will find tons of websites where people have posted without this knowledge.

    http://arxiv.org/abs/1011.3706

    Posted by LM | December 14, 2010, 11:25 pm
  31. Actually, your source date is Nov 16th, 2010. My source date is Dec 10, 2010 and addresses Penrose’s theory. .

    NO EVIDENCE OF TIME BEFORE BIG BANG
    http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101210/full/news.2010.665.html?s=news_rss

    References:
    Wehus, I. K. and Eriksen, H. K. Preprint at http://arxiv.org/abs/1012.1268 (2010).

    Moss, A., Scott, D. and Zibin, J. P. Preprint at http://arxiv.org/abs/1012.1305 (2010).

    Hajian, A. Preprint at http://arxiv.org/abs/1012.1656 (2010).

    Posted by PG | December 14, 2010, 11:53 pm
  32. So, PG, what exactly do you believe? You use scientists (who disagree) to “prove” your “point” (which isn’t clearly defined except as it’s opposite anyone here) that “scientist” can’t be trusted and are wrong.

    What are you trying to say is the correct answer (because I can’t find anywhere that you say anything constructive, only disagree with everyone else)?

    Posted by Alex Hardman | December 15, 2010, 5:05 pm
  33. Penrose results on these observations, as far as I know, were incorrect. And so what? That’s absolutely irrelevant. Universes can create themselves spontneously without violating conservation according to M theory. Of course it’s too soon to confirm it, but it’s an explanation.
    On the other hand, people who believe that the universe was created by a supernatural being offers no explanation on how this super being exists nor how the universe was created, it’s no more valid than any other nonsense invention. And this is when we return to the original article above about the burden of proof.

    Posted by AN | December 15, 2010, 5:46 pm
  34. AN,

    Lets flip what you said around.

    On the other hand, people who believe that the universe was created by multiverses offers no explanation on how these mutliverses exists nor how the first universe was created, it’s no more valid than any other nonsense invention. And this is when we return to the original article above about the burden of proof.
    .

    Posted by PG | December 16, 2010, 2:26 am
  35. Alex,

    You want to know what I believe. I along with most cosmologist state that the universe had a beginning of time, space, and matter…..

    …and we know that everything that begins to exist must have a cause…

    Posted by PG | December 16, 2010, 3:00 am
  36. PG, all your referencing are scientists who are interpreting the data according to different models, and that’s okay. That is how science works. We have different theories, and as more data is discovered some of those theories will be weaned out. That is a strength for science, but you see it as a weakness.

    For instance, prior to 1920’s, it was bellieved that the universe was stable and immovable, until it was discovered that the main structure of the universe was in the form of galaxies which were expanding. In the 1990’s, it was discovered that the universe was accelerating. Each time, it brought on changes in the prevailing model. Will this new data do the same, maybe, maybe not?

    But going back to the OP, it is precisely because scientific models rely on the data, and must accomodate with new data that the burden of proof is in full vigor.

    OTOH, religion believes that faith trumps everything — reason, observation, logic, burden of proof, to name a few.

    Posted by LM | December 16, 2010, 6:54 am
  37. Actually, we don’t know that. You believe that. If you would be honest and admit that, people could actually have an honest, intelligent, conversation with you. Is that possible?

    Posted by Alex Hardman | December 16, 2010, 8:56 am
  38. Alex, I believe the universe had a beginning of time, space and matter which is consistent with the belief of most cosmologists and the current scientific convention currently being taught at the major universities.

    Are you stating that we are wrong and you are correct? please clarify.

    Posted by PG | December 16, 2010, 1:26 pm
  39. Alex, I believe the universe had a beginning of time, space and matter which is consistent with the belief of most cosmologists and the current scientific convention currently being taught at the major universities.

    PG, are you sure you’ve correctly understood what cosmologists are teaching? Or are you being simplistic in your wording?

    Speaking of which, where did you study cosmology? Who was your professor?

    Posted by hambydammit | December 16, 2010, 4:10 pm
  40. Alex, I believe the universe had a beginning of time, space and matter which is consistent with the belief of most cosmologists and the current scientific convention currently being taught at the major universities.

    Are you stating that we are wrong and you are correct? please clarify.

    I’m not stating either (that you are right or wrong), simply that you consistently assert that you are right and we are wrong, and that is inconsistent with the level of evidence available for either answer (according to the scientific consensus method for layman to accept scientific principles as facts).

    Unless, as asked by Hamby, you have studied this in depth somewhere, you are not sufficiently educated to offer a strong opinion that anyone should respect. You repeatedly do this however, on a range of topics without demonstrating anything even close to a sufficient understanding of the subject material. This is why you come off as an ass so much of the time.

    Saying what you believe, is perfectly acceptable however.

    For example I believe in the infinite universe concepts. I’m also partial to the simulation concepts.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | December 16, 2010, 5:12 pm
  41. Thanks, Alex. This goes back to a post I did a while back where I asked who you ought to lean towards believing in matters of cosmology — someone like Stephen Hawking, who has studied it his whole life, or a pastor, who has studied…. Jesus.

    It’s also why I don’t get into discussions like this. I’m not qualified, and generally speaking, I’m usually better qualified than my interlocutor. Which means that the whole conversation is a total waste of time.

    Posted by hambydammit | December 16, 2010, 6:53 pm
  42. Thats great Hamby, Im all for leaning on the experts.

    Lets lean on Nobel Laureate Dr. Penzias since he is the one who actually discovered the microwave background radiation predicted by the BBT.

    Penzias stated to the New York Times on March 12, 1978:
    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.

    In a subsequent radio interview, Penzias was asked what there was before the Big Bang:
    “We don’t know, but we can reasonably say that there was nothing.” An upset listener called immediately, accusing Penzias of being an atheist. He wisely replied: “Madame, I believe you are not aware of the consequences of what I just said. Before the Big Bang there was nothing of what now exists. Had there been something, the question could be: where did it come from?” He continued commenting that if there was nothing and suddenly things began to appear, that was sign that Somebody had taken them from nothing, and concluded saying that his discovery could bring about the overcoming of the historic enmity between science and religion.

    Posted by PG | December 17, 2010, 2:17 am
  43. PG, your anecdote about Penzias is quite revealing. In those days, anyone even suggesting that the prevailing belief was wrong was immediately attacked as an atheist — in this case Penzias wasn’t — but it shows why atheists were closet atheists in those days for fear of reprisals . It’s only recently that atheists have been comfortable enough to come out of the closet. We’ve come a long way since then.

    Posted by LM | December 17, 2010, 7:07 am
  44. LM,

    It is quite ancedote in that some of today’s Atheists still cannot accept the current scientific convention as Penzias eloquenty stated…
    “Before the Big Bang there was nothing of what now exists.”

    Posted by PG | December 17, 2010, 11:30 am
  45. And once again you miss the point entirely. Thanks for playing “how much can one person misunderstand”. We’ve reached a new record.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | December 17, 2010, 12:22 pm
  46. PG wrote: “Before the Big Bang there was nothing of what now exists.””

    Sorry PG, but I happen to be one of those who has studied the equations that give rise to the Big Bang model. It can explain the Cosmic Background microwave and the ratio of hydrogen and helium. With the help of Guth inflationary theory, it can explain the flatness/horizon/monopole problems, and with Dark energy, the acceleration of the universe. But anything shorter than the Planck length is pure speculation as neither Relativity nor Quantum Mechanics is valid at those distances.

    Your claim is an opinion beyond what the model can claim. I’m not say you’re wrong, it just isn’t there in the theory.

    Posted by LM | December 17, 2010, 2:33 pm
  47. LM,

    “Before the Big Bang there was nothing of what now exists”

    LM, I didnt state, Nobel Laureate Penzias who discovered the CBM did….

    Posted by PG | December 17, 2010, 8:04 pm
  48. So what, didn’t you posted because you believe it too?

    Posted by LM | December 17, 2010, 10:51 pm
  49. LM,

    I agree with Anthony Flew (The Atheist)..

    “Notoriously, confession is good for the soul. I will therefore begin by confessing that the Stratonician atheist has to be embarrassed by the contemporary cosmological consensus. For it seems that the cosmologists are providing a scientific proof of what St. Thomas contended could not be proved philosophically; namely, that the universe had a beginning. So long as the universe can be comfortably thought of as being not only without end but also without beginning, it remains easy to urge that its brute existence, and whatever are found to be its most fundamental features, should be accepted as the explanatory ultimates. Although I believe that it remains still correct, it certainly is neither easy nor comfortable to
    maintain this position in the face of the Big Bang story. For, apparently, our cognitive predicament is as Lewis describes it in his original paper:
    `Some amazingly long time ago, things came to be and shaped themselves into the universe we know, including ourselves. This just happened, out of
    nothing, a total void. First there was nothing, not even presumably time and then there began a world or worlds … and processes about which we
    now have learned a great deal’. This, Lewis continues, `is a notion we just cannot accept…. Ex nihilo nihil fit was said long ago, and seems as
    unavoidable for us as for those who pondered these things earlier’. But what Hume called `that impious maxim of ancient philosophy’ is no
    logically necessary truth. Our warrant for accepting it either as a methodological maxim or as an a posteriori truism is, and can only be, our
    experience of and within the universe. It is, surely, the weight of all this experience which makes even those of us who see no need to postulate a
    sustaining cause for the universe so uneasy about saying that its initial Big Bang had either an unknown cause or no cause at all.” (Flew A.,
    “Response to [H.D.] Lewis,” in Margenau H. & Varghese R.A., eds.,
    “Cosmos, Bios, Theos: Scientists Reflect on Science, God, and the Origins
    of the Universe Life, and Homo Sapiens,” [1992], Open Court: La Salle
    IL, 1993, Second Printing, p.241)

    Posted by PG | December 18, 2010, 12:54 am
  50. LM,

    I hope you dont mind that I continue to believe along with mainstream science that the universe had a beginning.

    I think Valenkin states it most eloquently…

    “It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning ” (Many Worlds in One [New York: Hill and Wang, 2006], p.176).

    Posted by PG | December 18, 2010, 1:51 am
  51. The problem, PG, is that there are enough well educated people who disagree and aren’t convinced (and I don’t even consider them unreasonable) that the “proof” is definitely missing, and apparently might not even be a real argument.

    Posted by Alex Hardman | December 18, 2010, 5:37 am
  52. PG, you can find all sorts of quotes from many famous scientists that will support your position. In fact, 95% of the world population believe in God, and so you have a vast pool of people that can support you.

    But so what? The number of people is no guarantee of the veracity of a belief.

    You quoted Flew. So what? I can quote Bertrand Russell who held the opposite. Then you’re going to quote who? C.S. Lewis. I’ll quote Stephen Hawkins. On and on, we can play that game. Where will that get us?

    But let’s go back to the Big Bang theory.

    What about the statement that the universe started from the random expansion of an extremely dense state, a singularity?

    That is obtained by extrapolating from the Big Bang theory. There are many unresolved issues with the theory, especially at Planck’s length where Relativity and Quantum Mechanics are not applicable. There has been a considerable effort in the last 40 years to develop a theory that would explain any phenomenon at those distances — namely String Theory and Loop Quantum Mechanics. So we can’t really say that the universe started as a singularity. And we also don’t know if the universe can start from a singularity.

    This is not new knowledge. It’s been around for the last 50 years. That is why there is a plethora of other theories on the market. I’ve already listed some of them. Scientists wouldn’t be wasting their time or put their reputation at stakes if there was no need to develop new cosmological theories.

    Posted by LM | December 18, 2010, 7:58 am
  53. LM,

    You are correct to state that the majority of scientists and the world have concluded after reviewing the available data that the universe had a beginning. Its no secret. Mainstream science believes that the universe has a beginning.

    And I am fully aware that there are scientists such as yourself who believe otherwise and carry the burden of proof to continue to search for alternative answers and I respect that, That is the greatness of science.

    However, please respect the fact that I will continue to accept the conclusions of all of those famous mainstream scientists until some future empirical evidence overturns the prevailing BB theory.

    Posted by PG | December 18, 2010, 12:06 pm
  54. PG, said:

    “You are correct to state that the majority of scientists and the world have concluded after reviewing the available data that the universe had a beginning. Its no secret. Mainstream science believes that the universe has a beginning. ”

    Fine, but I hope you realize that the theory doesn’t prove nor disprove your conclusion.

    Posted by LM | December 18, 2010, 12:44 pm
  55. LM,says::
    Fine, but I hope you realize that the theory doesn’t prove nor disprove your conclusion

    PG says::
    Let me remind you of what you said.
    “PG, you can find all sorts of quotes from many famous scientists that will support your position…”

    LM, As Flew stated ” Confession is good for your soul…”

    Posted by PG | December 19, 2010, 1:20 am
  56. Yes PG, confession to an imaginary sky daddy might be good for your “soul”.

    Posted by LM | December 19, 2010, 6:00 am
  57. LM,

    Just think, In another universe, you are one of the disciples of Christ…

    Posted by PG | December 19, 2010, 1:20 pm
  58. LM,
    Consider that this entire time of discusion, I have only been stating that my beliefs are the same as the majority of the scientific community, and the world, and that is that the evidence points to the universe having a beginning.

    You attack me when I dont agree with your unproven minority view even when I never mentioned an implication of a GOD once in our discussion. This leads me to believe that your Atheist belief drives this discussion, not your science, and your need to dilute the prevailing BBT theory and cling to theories that attempt to disprove a beginning, is simply a religiously motivated hope..

    Posted by PG | December 19, 2010, 1:36 pm
  59. BTW,I respect those scientists who are attempting to see beyond to a pre BB. Like Hamby says, they have the burden of proof…

    I wish them the best of luck…

    Posted by PG | December 19, 2010, 1:43 pm
  60. PG said:
    LM,

    “Just think, In another universe, you are one of the disciples of Christ…”

    In another universe, I could be Superman. 🙂

    PG said: “You attack me when I dont agree with your unproven minority view even when I never mentioned an implication of a GOD once in our discussion.”

    Hmmm, it was not my intention to attack you, but to correct you in your extrapolation on the BBT.

    Secondly, the first shot came from you with:” Confession is good for your soul…” You brought in your religious views into the discussion.

    PG said: “BTW,I respect those scientists who are attempting to see beyond to a pre BB. Like Hamby says, they have the burden of proof.”

    Good, I hope that you apply the same principle to your beliefs.

    Posted by LM | December 19, 2010, 4:20 pm
  61. Am I getting this right? Because I’m feeling confused.

    1. BBT hypotheses are as yet unproved.
    2. Therefore… PG is right because he’s… um…

    Why again does this prove your religious ideas? Or does this have nothing to do with your religious ideas, and you just like griping at cosmologists?

    Posted by hambydammit | December 19, 2010, 6:40 pm
  62. LM,
    I requoted the confession reference from the famous Atheist Antony Flew where he said the following..

    “It is said that an argument is what convinces reasonable men and a proof is what it takes to convince even an unreasonable man. With the proof now in place, cosmologists can no longer hide behind the possibility of a past-eternal universe. There is no escape, they have to face the problem of a cosmic beginning ” (Many Worlds in One [New York: Hill and Wang, 2006], p.176).

    LM, I just dont know who to lean on, the famous mainstream scientists and famous theologians and the major universities science departments and thefamous atheists trying to tell fellow atheists to face the fact that the universe has a cosmic beginning,

    or

    you

    Posted by PG | December 19, 2010, 6:48 pm
  63. PG, You want to quote Flew, then read Hawkins latest book.

    This is old hat: science doesn’t prove God and doesn’t disprove it either. But if you want to use science as a crutch, be my guest.

    Posted by LM | December 19, 2010, 7:15 pm
  64. LM, on December 19, 2010 at 7:15 pm said:
    PG, You want to quote Flew, then read Hawkins latest book.

    PG says:
    This is perhaps the most published quote from Hawkings new book.

    “Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the Universe exists, why we exist.”

    Gee wiz LM, Consider that one can deduce 2 conclusions from Hawkings statement.

    1) Hawkings believes “the universe can and will create itself from nothing ” One can conclude that Hawkings presumes a beginning of the universe from nothing. (Or why even bother invoking a spontanious creation event)

    2) Hawkings concludes that the universe was a creation event from nothing but an invisable force. (GRAVITY).

    Dont you think that Hawkings explaining a creation event from an invisable force, and a beginning of our universe,… is giving Theists way tooooo much ground?

    ; ) He He He..

    IMO, Hawkings hasent explained how the universe was created from nothing, but He has simply explained that the universe was created by something (i.e. the universe from physical laws such as the law of gravity). He just spells his god
    G-R-A-V-I-T-Y. Consider though that a Universe that “creates itself” “and Nothing” are more metaphysical musings and not grounded in the domain of physics.

    Perhaps the timely words of Sagan need to be said with conviction:
    “For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.” (Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World (1995) Chapter 1)

    .

    Posted by PG | December 19, 2010, 11:13 pm
  65. PG wrote: “For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.Carl Sagan, The Demon-Haunted World (1995) ”

    It’s a great quote from Cal Sagan . I hope you realize he was an atheist until the day he died.

    http://galadarling.com/article/cherry-on-top37

    Posted by LM | December 20, 2010, 6:59 am

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