Category Archives: Religion

On Iran – A Brief Update

On Tuesday March 3rd, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke before congress on the need to halt Iran’s nuclear program. Opinions on the program (those will be later) and absurd and slightly hypocritical comparisons aside, one of Netanyahu’s major talking points was the following Tweet from Ayatollah Khomeini:

Taken at face value this Tweet looks pretty menacing; it seems like the Supreme Leader of Iran is making a threat against the Jewish people! That, however, is not what is happening. Iranian officials and Khomeini have previously drawn distinctions between “the regime of Israel” and the Jewish people and these distinctions are crucial in understanding what is going on. The Tweet is specific to the regime that currently in place, namely Netanyahu’s administration, and is calling for the destruction of that regime, that’s it. When the US said that Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq was in the “Axis of Evil” and must be stopped, the US didn’t mean that the Iraqi people needed to be liquidated; rather the regime needed to change. When the US condemns the North Korean regime, it is not making a normative statement about the ethnic group making up the country, rather it is making a statement on the government that is in place. Similarly, when Khomeini makes a statement about “the regime of Israel” (especially in the context of Israels failure to protect Al-Aqsa, the third holiest Islamic site), he is NOT making a statement about the Jewish people or the ethnic groups that make up Israel; all he is saying is that there must be a regime change and while the word “annihilated” might sound spooky, that is pure rhetoric and doesn’t imply an outside force attacking Israel. Quite literally, Khomeini is doing what all governments do, denounce States they see as evil. That is it.

It’s time to stop giving Netanyahu the benefit of the doubt and critically examine what’s going on between the two nations. For a further, and more indepth, discussion on whether Iran has a nuclear program, whether they want to “wipe Israel off the map”, and whether a nuclear Iran is a good thing, please read the post “Arm Iran – The Case for the Nuclear State”.

No Afterlife? No Problem!

I’m aware I haven’t written anything major in a while and I apologize for that, although I am working on a few big posts that will be finished soon — I promise, but I’ve had this thought on my mind for a few months now and wanted to get it written down and then presented to some fellow Atheist-Humanists.

Below the jump will be a brief discussion on why I find the idea of an afterlife, either Hell or Heaven, terrifying and why the “just being gone” view of death is more comforting than anything else.

 

Continue reading

Thoughts on Charlie Hebdo – A Reply

I originally wasn’t going to write anything about the massacre at Charlie Hebdo because I was under the naïve assumption that there wouldn’t be people posting with the hashtag “#NoTearsforCharlieHebdo” because they’d realize how absurd they were…but I was wrong. Recently, the blog Fuck Yeah Marxism-Leninism posted an essay by a one Eric Struch wherein he compared Charlie Hebdo to Der Stürmer (a Nazi-era publication) and concluded with “‘freedom of expression’ really is, is just a continuation of colonialism in a new form”. Before we get into the nitty gritty of this after the jump however, I shall quote Struch’s entire post below (image included):

“The inability of liberal ‘humanists’ to understand racism and national oppression, and the transformation of this ostensible ‘humanism’ into a propaganda tool of imperialism:

“If a Filipino Catholic ‘guest worker’ (AKA modern-day slave) in Qatar, who has no rights and probably lives in a non-air-conditioned sweatbox with 50 other workers (and has seen plenty of his fellow workers go home in pine boxes), wants to make fun of the hypocritical way the al-Thani family purports to be ‘Muslim’ while abusing other Muslim workers from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, etc.— that’s one thing.

“But in France, which still has a neocolonial relationship to Muslim countries like Algeria, Mauritania, Senegal, and others, and has housing projects filled with poor immigrants from these countries, where French cops get to go into these projects and get away with shooting whoever they want— then what this so-called ‘freedom of expression’ really is, is just a continuation of colonialism in a new form.”

– Eric Struch

Graphic via IS Horst

#NoTearsForCharlieHebdo

Continue reading

Kalām Cosmological Argument

It has come to my attention that the version of the cosmological argument I use in my previous refutation located here, is not the version many apologetics use and thus, with new thoughts in mind I will refute the basic yet famous four point Kalām Cosmological Argument (henceforth known as “the KCA”) laid out by Dr. William Lane Craig.
The KCA goes as follows:

  1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
  2. The universe began to exist.
  3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.
  4. This cause is the God of Classical Theism, and is a personal being, because He chose to create the universe.

(there are a few subsets and I will refute those as well but first I must hit the main points)

Point 1: This first point is used as a starting to place with which to make a logical inference about our universe. What is said is, “whatever begins to exist has a cause” but this fails for a few reasons. First off, all the things we see “beginning to exist” are actually reconstructions of preexisting material thus they are not creation events in the sense of the universe. According the the common big bang model, (we will ignore multiverse models because those shatter this argument for a whole host of other reasons) there was no preexisting material from which the universe could be created, it was true creatio ex nihilo. Our day to day experiences of “creating” things cannot be applied to the universe because those are creations from existing materials whereas the universe was not created from any preexisting materials.

Second off, we actually can witness creatio ex nihilo in our universe. We witness creation of particles from nothing on the quantum realm.* These are basically equal to the creation event that occurred during the big bang and guess what? Quantum fluctuations are uncaused!** Victor Stenger says that there are “Uncaused, random quantum fluctuations…”[1], Richard Morris says, “…the idea of a First Cause sounds somewhat fishy in light of the modern theory of quantum mechanics. According to the most commonly accepted interpretation of quantum mechanics, individual subatomic particles can behave in unpredictable ways and there are numerous random, uncaused events.”[2] and as Paul Davies says, “energy can appear and disappear out of nowhere in a spontaneous and unpredictable fashion.”[2]
These quotes show that with creation events on par with that of the big bang, a first cause is not required thus shattering premise 1.

Point 2: This point seems rather intuitive but it may not be so.  We do not have a full theory of quantum gravity thus we cannot say for certain what happened in the big bang singularity nor can we say with certainty that it was in fact, the beginning. For example, loop quantum gravity, a competing theory to String Theory and M-Theory, posits that space-time itself is quantized thus meaning there would be no big bang singularity as we know it, it would be the collapse of another universe that would then expand. Granted, this may not get rid of the first cause argument but it is an interesting thing to ponder.[3] There is also a model of the universe put forward by Wun-Yi Shu which has says that the universe had no big bang, no beginning and no end.[4] Of course these are all speculative but it doesn’t rule out the possibility of a timeless universe.

Point 3: Point 3 falls under the refutations of points 1 and 2.

Point 4: Point 4 falls, is insane and contradicts the claim that there was nothing before the big bang because it says that god “chose” to create the universe which means a change from one state to another thus meaning that
a)God is not immutable since he changed from one state to another and
b)There was time “before” the big bang since time is required for change to occur.

Now I shall move on to the sub-points.
The first of which goes like this:

  1. An actual infinite cannot exist.
  2. An infinite temporal regress of events is an actual infinite.
  3. Therefore, an infinite temporal regress of events cannot exist.

To refute this point I only need to refute point one which I shall do now.

Point 1: To prove that this is false I will use two definitions both of singularities.
1: “A gravitational singularity or spacetime singularity is a location where the quantities that are used to
measure the gravitational field become infinite in a way that does not depend on the coordinate system.
These quantities are the scalar invariant curvatures of spacetime, which includes a measure of the
density of matter.”[5]
2: “A point at which a function takes an infinite value, esp. in space-time when matter is infinitely dense, as
at the center of a black hole”[6]

It seems that Dr. Craig is a couple decades behind modern physics.

Points 2 and 3: Both of these fall because they are predicated on the false idea that “actual” infinites cannot exist. *FUN FACT: Dr. Craig concedes that a singularity is an infinity! See foot note [7]*

The second sub-point goes like this:

  1. A collection formed by successive addition cannot be an actual infinite.
  2. The temporal series of past events is a collection formed by successive addition.
  3. Therefore, the temporal series of past events cannot be actually infinite.

This one I don’t have a straight forward refutation to but I am curious as to why Dr. Craig thinks premise 1 is true. If the successive addition did not stop, then, by definition, it would be an infinity, an infinite regress.

Conclusion: I find the KCA quite unconvincing for the reasons I outlined above as well as the fact that, according to Vilenkin, the universe tunneled out of “literally nothing”. I leave you with the thesis of Vilenkin’s paper.

“A cosmological model is proposed in which the universe is created by quantum tunneling from literally nothing into a de Sitter space. After the tunneling, the model evolves along the lines of the inflationary scenario. This model does not have a big-bang singularity and does not require any initial or boundary conditions.”[8]

~~Peter

————————————————————————————————————-

*it must be noted that this point is often contested by theists because they will say that the vacuum of space is not nothing but it really is. It is merely the lowest energy state of nothing allowed by the laws of quantum mechanics.

**here is another point of debate and even if one says they are caused, they are not caused by anything in particular, merely uncertainties in the energy of the vacuum.

For your watching pleasure: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baZUCc5m8sE
and: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KQ–CbV7L-g&feature=channel_video_title
and: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u_676IeyJNQ
1: Vuletic, M. (n.d.). Creation ex nihilo – without God. Secular Web: Atheism, Agnosticism, Naturalism, Skepticism and Secularism. Retrieved August 22, 2011, from <http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/mark_vuletic/vacuum.html>
2: Braungardt, J. (n.d.). Vacuum Fluctuations. Jürgen Braungardt. Retrieved August 22, 2011, from <http://www.braungardt.com/Physics/Vacuum%20Fluctuation.htm>
3: Bojowald, M. (n.d.). Big Bang or Big Bounce?: New Theory on the Universe’s Birth – Scientific American – RichardDawkins.net . – RichardDawkins.net . Retrieved August 22, 2011, from <http://richarddawkins.net/articles/3220-big-bang-or-big-bounce-new-theory-on-the-universe-39-s-birth>
4: Zyga, L. (n.d.). Model describes universe with no big bang, no beginning, and no end. PhysOrg.com – Science News, Technology, Physics, Nanotechnology, Space Science, Earth Science, Medicine. Retrieved August 22, 2011, from <http://www.physorg.com/news199591806.html>
5: Gravitational singularity – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. (n.d.).Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved August 22, 2011, from <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gravitational_singularity>
6: define sngularity – Google Search. (n.d.). Google. Retrieved August 22, 2011, from <http://www.google.com/search?sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=define+sngularity#hl=en&safe=off&q=singularity&tbs=dfn:1&tbo=u&sa=X&ei=QwtTTsvZKYfagAeZ1sgw&ved=0CBkQkQ4&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.r_cp.&fp=b95580e7ebe1d466&biw=1366&bih=667>
7: See 4:00 for Craig explaining a singularity himself! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=baZUCc5m8sE
8: Vilenkin, A. (n.d.). Creation of Universes From Nothing.mukto-mona.com. Retrieved August 11, 1922, from <http://www.mukto-mona.com/science/physics/a_vilinkin/universe_from_nothing.pdf>

Response to God and Science.org

So I was sent an article on godandscience.org that supposedly proves god using science and I, the magical and egotistical Peter, am here to refute the claims that are made on this beloved site! I will most likely be referencing other posts I make so be prepared. The page itself is broken up into sections and I will refute them in order.

 

Continue reading