Friday, June 8, 2012

Quick Takes, including more undercover slime from our friendly neighborhood abortionists… including MY neighborhood abortionist!




Just in the nick of time (it's almost midnight)!!


Before I begin my Quick Takes, this just in: I just got back from seeing For Greater Glory. OMG. If you have not yet seen it… GO (and stay for the credits, trust me)! The acting was superb, the story was riveting (understatement), the score was moving, the cinematography was beautiful. I would see it again, and that's saying something. I cannot even tell you the mix of emotions I felt for those 2+ hours. And I have a favorite new intercessor in Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio. Blessed Jose, in this eerie time in America for Catholics, pray for us!

Blessed Jose, courageous young martyr

Okay, now on to the Quick Takes that I had prepared earlier (if you only read two of them, make it #6 & #7).


1) Lila Rose at Live Action is at it again, this time in my own backyard. Back in a Quick Takes last September, I documented our group march and candlelight procession to this particular abortionist's office, located just blocks from my parish (check the #2 Take). Why am I not surprised to see and hear what goes on inside? Acceptance of gendercide, or aborting babies because they are girls. The second part of this first video reveals more of the same, this time in Tucson.


But as disturbing and evil as that was, the Texas abortion clinic worker, below, chilled me even more. Make sure you watch all the way to the end. What's that you pro-"choice" feminists say about the "war on women"? I don't think I can hear you anymore, after seeing this:


May God have mercy.


2) I am truly interested in what our atheist and pro-"choice" friends think about the normalizing of infanticide that has begun in earnest in the academic community. In March, two professors ("ethicists" no less) promoted it without shame:
Therefore, we claim that killing a newborn could be ethically permissible in all the circumstances where abortion would be. Such circumstances include cases where the newborn has the potential to have an (at least) acceptable life, but the well-being of the family is at risk. Accordingly, a second terminological specification is that we call such a practice ‘after-birth abortion’ rather than ‘euthanasia’ because the best interest of the one who dies is not necessarily the primary criterion for the choice, contrary to what happens in the case of euthanasia.
Of course, I think infanticide and abortion are morally the same, so I can't fault their logic even as I fault their evil premise that the youngest humans are different from the rest of us humans and have no actual right to live. But I am wondering what our pro-"choice" readers think. How do they counter the arguments of these logical, well-spoken professors, or do they perhaps agree with them?

Read the rest of Dr. Nadal's excellent analysis, here:


I guess it's "every child a wanted child", and all that, right? And that death is preferable to suffering (even the suffering of the parents)?


3) Are you all familiar with the Ruth Institute, headed by (former atheist) Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse? They do such good scholarly and public policy work protecting and promoting marriage. I love their stated "Core Values":

*Marriage as the proper context for sex and childrearing
*Respect for the contributions of men to the family
*Marriage as a lifelong commitment between one man and one woman
*Lifelong spousal cooperation as a solution to women's aspirations for career and family
*Cooperation, not competition, between men and women

Amen! And, someone correct me if I am wrong, but I believe Dr. J's husband is still an atheist, and yet he supports her work and agrees with it. Go figure!

You might want to get on their email list, or bookmark 'em for future reference!


4) Ah, Nancy Pelosi strikes again:


Tell it to the Judge, Nancy. I'm sure He'll be super impressed that you "do your religion" one day out of the week. Why, you're a regular Blessed Jose Sanchez del Rio! Wait… or not.


5) Over a week later, my facebook comments are apparently still coming up as spam on some of my friends' walls. Guess I'm still on probation for my hateful, bigoted, ugly remarks! But at least they haven't switched me to timeline yet… now that would really set me over.


6) It's no secret that I champion special needs international adoption. But I am a huge supporter of domestic adoption as well! In a culture where abortion is presented as a "quick and easy" option for a woman in crisis, I applaud the women (heroes, really) who selflessly choose adoption instead. Many of you will recognize Grace In My Heart, below, with her husband and her sweet son, whose birth mother chose life:

I'm only half kidding when I say that I want to be adopted into this family.

This close and loving Catholic family is hoping to adopt again! They are home-study approved and open to adopting any domestic baby. If any of you happen to know someone or have heard about a birthmother in your church communities or elsewhere who is looking into adoption, this amazing couple would love to talk to you! Please don't hesitate to send them an email at graceinmyheart@gmail.com.

I am telling you, any baby placed into this safe and happy home would be blessed beyond measure. Just look around Grace In My Heart's blog and you'll understand!


7) This week's orphan profile is very personal to me. You will see why when you click on Parker's picture:

Parker is seven years old and he has no family.

Did you read it? See what I mean?

If you could just take less than one second to click the "recommend" button on that page, I would be ever so grateful, and then there's more of a chance that Parker's family will find him. I so want him to have a normal, loving, happy life, just being a little boy.

And if you want to go straight to his RR profile and inquire about him or adopt him, go here!

And, a final reminder that the iPad giveaway to help reunite two orphanage cribmates (Gabby and Ava) ends in six days! I have entered (numerous times, heh heh), and I can't wait for the drawing! Go here and get the details; time is running out. Even if you can only share on facebook or blogs, you still get an entry into the iPad drawing. Donating does raise your odds of winning, and is so appreciated. :)

God bless you all and have a fantastic weekend!

And, thanks to Jen for hosting!



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110 comments:

  1. Your Quick Takes Are always so awesome. I haven't watched those 2 videos yet. I watched the first one that came out and it was appalling. I'm interested in watching the AZ ones though.

    I want to see that movie but it's gonna have to wait.

    Pelosi... Well... Blech.

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  2. I watched the first video, didn't have time for both...ewwwwww.

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  3. I am physically ill after watching the video of the woman who has had two abortions and four children. I am sickened...

    DD

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  4. Ooooh. Reading that red text literally made my skin crawl. Ick.

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  5. newborn has the potential to have an (at least) acceptable life, but the well-being of the family is at risk.

    Hey, way to shade it in completely grey terms! I suppose that anything would/could be considered a "risk" to the "well-being of the family". Terms like "acceptable life" and "risk to well being of family" are defined by whom, dear professors?

    we call such a practice ‘after-birth abortion’ rather than ‘euthanasia’ because the best interest of the one who dies is not necessarily the primary criterion for the choice, contrary to what happens in the case of euthanasia

    So, lemme get this straight, cuz I'm kinda simple, and this has really become expletive complicated.
    These guys are reasoning away "the best interest" now, instead of protecting it, which is what, you know, doctors normally strive to preserve. Granted, you mention they're professors and not doctors, which just screams typical.

    This last line about euthanasia. Unreal. Are they not aware that where euthanasia is done, that the "one who dies" isn't necessarily coherent enough to make a choice.

    Cloak and dagger.

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  6. The Texas one about killed me....How can anyone justify that.....????

    So PP employee said the brain is already developed....They know exactly what they are doing....20 wks. Dear God.....

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  7. Oh I can never watch those kinds of videos. There was taken at the clinic in our city last year and it just about made me ill. Anyway- thank God for the mothers who chose LIFE! Thanks so so so much for the shout out. You are so sweet. xo. :)

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  8. It might be worth mentioning that there's a petition to sign at the end of the first video to stop sex selection abortions.

    I didn't watch the second one yet, I can only process one of these videos at a time!

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  9. I watched the second video. Don't those women realize that female fetuses a.k.a. baby girls grow up to be women just like them??? Don't they value their own femaleness? I do NOT get any of this. It doesn't fit in my mind.

    Blessed Jose looks so young.

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  10. Would you take a 12 year old to see For Greater Glory? There's a bit of debate about the rating, so I just wanted to know your opinion since you have seen it. Thanks!

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    1. Absolutely! About 10 families from church went to see it with their children and the boys especially are much more excited about being altar servers being as Blessed Jose thought so highly of learning to be one. Blessed Jose's life had a positive effect on them.

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  11. I feel sick to my stomach after seeing those videos. I don't get how these people are always saying "well others will place judgment on you" (that phrase is said so often)! It's almost like trying to push their guilty consciences off on society for "judging them."

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  12. Wow, I too, feel sick to my stomach seeing those videos....I guess I didn't know it was against the law to get an abortion for that reason, but they've found a way around the law. SO, if they can pick their sex of their babies, I'm sure they would not ever want a baby like mine who is perfect in our eyes and has brought so much joy to our lives. What is even more shocking I think is the non chalant ness (is that a word?) of the employees, like it happens all the time.

    God have mercy....pray, pray pray....

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  13. Okay, I had to share this because a friend of mine and I got into it a bit after reading the article on Pelosi. My friend is a dye in the wool atheist so we were debating the role of religion outside of Church.

    I started attacking the word "respect" because I don't believe any of this stuff is about respect for women. So we finally go to webster.com and I started laughing so hard I couldn't finish the debate:

    Webster.com: Respect, verb

    1.b: to refrain from interfering with

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  14. It's rated R due to the violence of war, and murder. Also there is a scene with women in their old fashioned underwear that was probably seen in the Sears catalog from the 1920s. Actually if the 12 year old has seen women of today at the beach or pool he's seen a lot more than is shown in this movie. There are no bad words. There is physical affection between a married couple, but no sex. It's the scenes of people getting killed (shot, hung, or stabbed). One train blows up, and that is terrible, but not graphic. There's brutality. No violence against women.

    Blessed Jose looks so young in the picture above because he was young. He sure puts Pelosi to shame. The problem with Pelosi is that she doesn't do religion the other six days of the week. Would someone make her go away (as in the next election)??

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  15. Julie, ack, I am so sorry I never answered you, and I am so grateful to Lena for answering your question when I dropped the ball!

    I agree with Lena. I personally left my 11-year-old at home, but I did take my fourteen year old. Well, actually, my kids went together, without me and my husband, so there were a couple kids in their twenties (my daughter and her boyfriend), and three teens, the youngest of whom was my 14-year-old. I got a call that the theatre wasn't going to allow him to get a ticket, because I wasn't there to approve it, but as I was getting ready to drive to the theatre to buy his ticket for him, I got another call. My daughter's boyfriend had thought to tell the manager that our bishop had recommended that his flock see the movie (true!) and so the nice manager said it was okay for the 14-year-old to get a ticket. :)

    Anyway, I just thought that was an interesting story! And, I agree with Lena. :)

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  16. I really like the wording of the Core Values of the Ruth Inst.
    They are simple and strong.

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  17. Thanks for the replies about the movie. I just ended up seeing it with my husband, and I'm still not sure if I would take my 12yo. He is very mature for his age, and I am sure that seeing a movie about such brave followers of Christ would be inspiring to him! On the other hand, he was disturbed in War Horse when two young boys were killed for deserting, so I can only imagine how disturbed he would be if he saw a priest get killed for...being a priest. I guess in the end, I would probably let him see it anyway, but I think my husband thought it was too emotionally disturbing for him. So I guess for now, he'll just have to wait until he's older.

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  18. Hi, you asked for an atheist's opinion so here goes...

    1. I haven't seen the videos but I assume they're the ones that have been on TV. The PP workers are providing women with a legal service so have no place judging or interfering with women electing to have that service because their reasons are morally repugnant to most people. Heck, you live in the USA, you don't see McDonald workers refusing to supersize meals for obese people, do you? NY's irrational, pointless and illiberal soft drink law notwithstanding.

    2. i. This is a really old philosophical issue. It's not news.
    ii. Professors dealing with ethical issues are supposed to push the bounds of what's socially acceptable. They are supposed to posit positions, situations and issues that challenge the current social mores and try to navigate a course of thinking and discussion that will help shape laws and ideas before such situations occur in reality.
    iii. Incidentally, this situation used to occur frequently among various tribes where food was scarce. Should there be a lack of food for the whole family/tribe to survive then the weakest were sacrificed that the others might continue. Or think of the mother hiding from the Nazis with her child, if the child is crying should she smother the child to keep everyone else safe? It's not as straight forward as we'd like to think from our comfortable, 21st century, western lifestyles.

    Personally, I don't think 'birth' is a relevant criteria for anything. The dividing line I'd choose is the ability to survive outside the mother's body. At that point the child is viable and so should, in a wealthy society, be saved and allowed to be. 'Abortions' after that point, except where the mother's life is in absolute peril, should not result in the death of the child.

    However, one point that the ethicists were bringing up (albeit not the main one) is that in times of limited resources not all humans are equal, we value some over others, the more developed (in the case of children) or the more productive (in the case of the elderly) over the lesser. It's easy in times of plenty to pontificate about the absolute sanctity of human life from conception to natural(?) death but when times are tough, tough decisions sometimes need to be made.

    As a great philosopher once said, "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few."

    Regards, MH.

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  19. MH, thanks!

    How positively chilling!

    Your overriding principle on matters of life or death is: "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few." Ah, Dr. Spock channeling Caiaphas the High Priest who condemned Christ.

    Directly the opposite of Christian principles, which calls for care and love of the weakest and most vulnerable among us.

    Would you agree that your philosophy boils down to "might makes right" or "survival of the fittest" or "ends justify the means"?

    And, this:

    Personally, I don't think 'birth' is a relevant criteria for anything. The dividing line I'd choose is the ability to survive outside the mother's body. At that point the child is viable and so should, in a wealthy society, be saved and allowed to be. 'Abortions' after that point, except where the mother's life is in absolute peril, should not result in the death of the child.

    Obviously every part of this is your personal opinion and not based in anything objective but only arbitrary lines drawn. Where do you get your authority on life or death like this, or is it based on a democratic vote or whatever the laws of the land are?

    Again, it's chilling, but I am glad you put it out there for all to see, as the contrast between atheism and Christianity is stark.

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  20. MH, if it does not offend you or violate your privacy, could you give me your demographics? Are you a young white male?

    Thanks!

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  21. Hi Leila,

    My personal views come from a world-view in which the individual's rights are key. If the situation is one where either 5 can die or 1 can die then the only time that is a simple choice is if the one is part of the 5. Other than that it's a troubling choice, and not one I'd like to have to make. Intellectually I'd let the situation play out (since what right do I have to decide who lives and dies) but in many situations my gut reaction would be to save as many as possible. Neither is 'right' or 'wrong'. I digress...

    No, I wouldn't agree with your characterisation of me. I was simply putting forward the argument in the paper and showing that it's not the horrific, immoral destruction of all that is good and Christian in society as you, and the knee-jerk reaction media, seem to think it is. My views are more accurately laid out in the above paragraph. However, 'ends justifying the means' isn't always wrong, it usually is and should only ever be a last resort, but it beats caring for the weakest in certain extreme circumstances.

    NB. I don't claim to speak for atheism, there is no single voice especially on something as emotive as abortion.

    "arbitrary lines drawn"
    It is based on logic and the autonomy of an individual. We don't force (by law or physically) person A to give blood to keep alive person B, therefore we cannot force mother A to keep alive child B. If we can remove child B and keep it alive all well and good, if not then we should work to make it so we can. Either people are autonomous or they are slaves to the state. I would much rather have autonomy.

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  22. Leila, I am a mid 30's white male from the UK. My ideas are not the norm, even among the non-believers.

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  23. March Hare, hey I guessed your demographic! Just a lucky guess? ;)

    You said:

    "We don't force (by law or physically) person A to give blood to keep alive person B, therefore we cannot force mother A to keep alive child B."

    It's a common pro-"choice" argument. But what is "justice", MH? By definition, justice is to give someone what is due him. The child owes the mother nothing. The child is not in the womb by his unjust actions. By contrast, a mother owes minimum care to her helpless child. It is only just. It is what is due a child by an adult who has total control over that child's life or death. That is why there are child welfare laws, no?

    You said this:

    "The PP workers are providing women with a legal service so have no place judging or interfering with women electing to have that service because their reasons are morally repugnant to most people."

    Are you arguing that what is legal is always moral? Rape is morally repugnant to most people, but if the state made it legal, would your statement still apply? Can you see where your above philosophy could go terribly wrong?

    I don't understand this:

    "...'ends justifying the means' isn't always wrong, it usually is…"

    But "ends justify the means" and "ends don't justify the means" are two opposing principles. How can they sometimes both be right? One is true and one isn't. Both can't be "sometimes" right and one can't be "mostly" right. I don't get that at all…

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  24. And by the way, gestating a child is a passive, natural, involuntary thing. It requires nothing from the mother except for her to keep living (most of us keep living without even thinking about it ;) ). So, the idea that it requires "force" to gestate is just wrong. Passive gestating is the minimum a child is due from his or her mother.

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  25. Also - just to point out. What these clinics - in the first video linked - were offering is NOT legal in AZ (the state where they were operating). Sex-selection abortion is illegal in this state - it's one of four states that have a law about this.

    Therefore, your statement:

    "The PP workers are providing women with a legal service so have no place judging or interfering with women electing to have that service because their reasons are morally repugnant to most people."


    is actually completely false. This is not a legal service in the state of AZ.

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  26. March Hare

    Yes, Spock the Vulcan was truly a "great philosopher," eh?

    In regard to your 1., obesity and murder are evils of two completely different degrees and kinds. Just as we can know from experience that different goods vary in degree, we can know that different evils vary in degree.

    Murder is a worse evil, I would argue, than obesity. Murder is an evil that immediately affects some other individual. Obesity only may affect some other individual, but more often than not it primarily restricts its evil effects to the obese.

    Within each type of evil there are again different degrees. For example, being 50 pounds overweight generally affects your health less than being 300 lbs overweight might. I'd say as an "evil" 300lbs overweight is greater than 50lbs overweight.

    So too with murder. Our legal system recognizes this with the different degrees of murder. It runs from involuntary manslaughter, which is what happens when you kill someone purely by accident, but an accident that was an result of some negligence, to 1st degree murder, willful and premeditated killing of another person.

    Law doesn't create morality or ethics, it just helps outline punishments for those things we know to be violations of a sort of 'natural ethic,' if you will. I say this because I would argue that when you move from equal opportunity abortion, where you'll get aborted regardless of sex, creed, color or orientation, to discriminative abortion, you take a step further down the dark road of evil.

    So, it is unsurprising that PP would allow and embrace discrimination in abortion (after all, PP was founded by a great discriminator, Margaret Sanger, an incredible racist). What our point is is that the raison d'etre (according to pro-murderers) of abortion is woman's rights, and the right to choose, but bringing this level of discrimination to abortion just emphasizes even more starkly the hypocrisy of the entire act. This is especially so since women are the most aborted sex on the planet. This is almost high macabre humor.

    What happens when you unbalance a country in favor of males? You sure as hell don't create a matriarchy, or do much to balance out/eliminate any so-called patriarchy.

    What happens when you choose to kill daughters? You remove that daughter from ever having any decision over her own body, and whether she wants to kill her own kid or not.

    What happens when you choose to murder your own baby girl in your womb simply because she's a baby girl? Your premeditation just went from tragic, to undeniably spiteful. An act of violence against a woman simply because she's a woman.

    No, there is no question for us here, there is really no, "should PP have permitted this woman to have an abortion just because of sex discrimination?" That is a rhetorical question posed to help others see the hypocrisy. It is no surprise to us. We don't think the "legal service" of abortion should be provided at all to begin with. We do think that with the acceptance of sex discrimination in abortion, those performing already an unfathomable evil are just moving even deeper into a labyrinth of darkness.

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  27. March Hare

    Lastly, in regard to refusing someone murder vice a big mac, the better analogy would be refusing the morning after pill vs. a big mac. That is a whole different conversation. The one here about PP and sex discrimination is about steps toward a deeper and more abiding abyss of moral depravity, i.e. degrees of a specific kind of evil. The question about obesity=no big mac vs. murder= no morning after pill is a question of different types of evil, and what we owe to a consumer vice what we owe to our personal integrity.

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  28. March Hare

    As to your 2., a few thoughts.

    You said: Professors dealing with ethical issues are supposed to push the bounds of what's socially acceptable.

    I disagree. I think professors can push the bounds of what's socially acceptable, but you'd be hard pressed to prove that they should. I'd argue that the idea that a professor should press forward the boundaries on ethics into areas socially unacceptable stems from a confusion of an ethics professor with a professor of science at a research university.

    One would assume that a professor of ethics would do two things. 1) He'd teach the different schools of ethics. 2) He'd belong to one of those schools.

    So, a utilitarian would of course say infanticide is okay. That's old news, like you said. However, is the absolute utilitarian ethic the ethic we want forming our laws, and ideas of what's acceptable with new technology?

    So I would argue they are just positing positions within their school of ethics, and that they only challenge social mores insofar as society does not ascribe to their ethics. They are performing a good service by describing how their school of ethics would answer the problem, but that is not the same thing as describing them as an innovator in the same way a professor researching warp drive (if I can use another Star Trek reference) might be pushing the boundaries. They are just thinking withing the logic of their system of belief and teasing it out to its conclusions in particular circumstances. Not necessarily the same thing as innovation.

    With that said, what's loathsome and surprising is that as our society steps embraces gradually greater evils, as represented by a large swath of society's increasing acceptance of sex-selective murder, the likelihood of wider spread acceptance of the just-as-repugnant-act of infanticide increases. It is repugnant that absolute utilitarians in our modern age exist, and it is frightening to think that they might have an affect on how our laws our written, and what popular ideas are.

    Why is that frightening? Because we believe in freedom of choice, and a right to life. Murdering a child in the womb or out challenges both. If you're willing to do that, and you're willing to murder on the basis of sex, size, age, competence, then what else are you willing to do?

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  29. March Hare

    In regard to point 2. iii a few more thoughts.

    In the case of the smothered baby, that would fall under the principle of unintended consequence. They have noses, and you can cover their mouths without suffocating them. If your intent was to kill the baby, then that is absolutely murder. If your intent is to keep the baby silent, and you accidentally kill the baby, then that is not murder.

    In regard to primitive tribes in times of scarcity, there is a difference between diminished rations and outright starving and outright killing of weaker members of a tribe, you didn't describe what they did.

    Keep in mind that our ethic as Catholics is not one lacking in a sense of utility, at the same time it is not, however, absolutely utilitarian.

    In the case you described, I would forgo food for the sake of my children. Why? Because our time has been split by Christ. He was someone who brought with Him an entirely new way of looking at moral decisions. That aside, I also know that I can do more on less. Giving myself a hearty meal and them nothing would be unacceptable.

    Also, don't think that this isn't a question for modern 21st century western society. What of the great depression? There is a touching scene in "Cinderella Man" where Jimmy Braddock gives up his portion to his kid. It isn't just sentimental, it is an expression of our ethic as Christians.

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  30. Stay tuned, I'll publish my next littlecatholicbubble comment book tomorrow, :-P

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  31. Joseph, so good to have you back! I look forward eagerly to the next installment tomorrow! :)

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  32. I do like to foment a discussion...

    Leila, you define justice in a very modern, western-centric way, historically this has not been the case: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Justice#Concept_of_justice and I would put it to you that justice, like morality or beauty, is subjective.

    "a mother owes minimum care to her helpless child"
    Several points here: when does it become a child (or being capable of being 'owed' anything, because it sure ain't at conception!); on what basis does the mother owe the child anything? I would submit that the only point at which a duty of care is owed is the point at which we as a society could potentially care for that child, at that point there is a choice to give the child up or care for it. Prior to that we should operate on the harm principle, the same one we use with pets. (Can't wait for the reaction to a comparison of 'children' with pets... Although an adult dog is smarter than a 2-year-old child).

    "Are you arguing that what is legal is always moral?"
    No, I am arguing that if someone is providing a legal service they shouldn't be moralising about people using that service, certainly not to their face. If the person morally disagrees with the legal service then stop working in a place that provides it. If is illegal then that's a different question...

    "[Ends sometimess justifying the means] I don't get that at all..."
    That's because you have a ridiculously rigid sense of morality. In some circumstances it may be necessary, or greatly preferable, for the vast majority if something is done that is itself bad if it can prevent a much, much greater harm. However, this should only be used when all other avenues of avoiding the greater harm have been attempted, it should not be the go-to position.

    "gestating a child is a passive, natural, involuntary thing"
    No it's not. You have a massive change in hormones, appetite, you get all sorts of medical issues, you have to alter your lifestyle, both in terms of diet and activities and natural =/= good.

    "Passive gestating is the minimum a child is due from his or her mother."
    Really? Where did that come from? Why is the child (a term I'll ignore even though I disagree with it for much of a pregnancy) due anything? How does person A owe person B a duty?

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  33. Heidi,

    The PP worker is advising the girl how to break Arizona law. She shouldn't. She is making a moral choice like people who refuse to sell contraception. If she can't follow the law she should be fired or refuse to work in the industry in that state.

    On the other hand, it's a stupid law. It solves no real problem. It's the easiest law to get round since you (rightly) don't have to give your reason for abortion, simply that it's not sex-selection. It's also no-one else's business why a woman elects to have a legal abortion assuming she is not being coerced and is mentally competent.

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  34. Joseph,

    regardless of your personal opinions of abortion, it is categorically not murder in the US. It is a legal procedure and so is perfectly on a par with buying a super-sized meal in the eyes of the law.

    "PP would allow and embrace discrimination in abortion"
    Do they? Or are you being hyperbolic? I didn't realise PP had the ability to allow or deny discrimination, I thought it was the law... Of course, you then go on to the nonsense that sex selection is a social problem in the US. Even if it was, as long as abortion is legal the reasons should be none of anyone's business.

    Moral depravity - in your opinion. I might agree, but let's not pretend it's an objective fact. There is no objective morality.

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  35. "I think professors can push the bounds of what's socially acceptable, but you'd be hard pressed to prove that they should."
    Then what good are they? If they can't go beyond what society already thinks then they're of no use. (Which you might argue anyway.) It is incumbent upon all people in seats of higher education to try to push the bounds of their fields otherwise they are contributing nothing. It should also be noted that this was in a paper for philosophers, not a public policy recommendation or course material for students and the idiotic moral outrage from the press (with an obvious agenda regarding abortion rights) treats the American public like stupid children. Unfortunately it works.

    "is the absolute utilitarian ethic the ethic we want forming our laws"
    I'd suggest not, but surely there should be some utilitarian point to laws, no? Don't we want to investigate the potential outcomes, the various options, the logical reasoning, before we allow the knee-jerk politicians to actually make laws based on what the ignorant public, over-excited by an intentionally misleading media, happen to be screaming and shouting about at any given time?

    They're also quite correct, there is no logical difference between aborting a child one day before birth and one day after birth. There is a huge difference 4 months before and 4 months after though.

    "It is repugnant that absolute utilitarians in our modern age exist"
    I don't entirely disagree, but I'd much rather live in a utilitarian world than a deontological world. I prefer a mix between the two, with some fundamental principles/rights, but that can be over-ridden in only the most extreme circumstances. Not entirely dissimilar to what some of the founders of the US constitution had in mind.

    I didn't describe what they did as it's a little controversial and potentially insulting to pick on a particular group and say they used to leave their kids out on the ice to protect the family as a whole. It may never have happened, or it may. Or the Spartans may never have sent the children out into the forest to become men where the weakest persished. But it seems likely that with such cultural ubiquity it happened in a few places.

    "I would forgo food for the sake of my children."
    Indeed, and most people would. However, in a situation where you were the sole provider and there were other children to consider you may not. Think of what they suggest you do on an aircraft - ensure your face mask is secured before helping your child. Counter-intuitive, but utilitarian and, as such, saves more lives, and children's lives, than sorting your child's face mask first.

    Regards, MH.

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  36. March Hare (and excuse the script font if you are seeing that…it's driving me crazy, not of my doing…),

    You are really all over the place, it seems to me, and your belief that "morality is subjective" makes discussion of morality as productive as nailing jello to a wall. (But I thank you for admitting that in a moral universe, morality is utterly, totally, a matter of subjectivity and personal opinion! I can't get many atheists to see/acknowledge that).

    But let me try this. You said that you are NOT saying that what is legal is moral. So then, what are you saying? How is morality determined?

    Thanks!

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    1. OH my gosh!!! MAJOR correction! I meant to say: "But I thank you for admitting that in an atheist universe, morality is utterly, totally, a matter of subjectivity and personal opinion!"

      Sorry!!

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  37. Leila, here are some thoughts I had 4 years ago when first really trying to nail this down:
    http://paulforpm.blogspot.co.uk/2009/04/morality-exposed.html
    This is tending towards a utilitarian view of morality using intellect and reason.

    My views have actually evolved somewhat since then. I am more a moral error theorist albeit with the slight difference that I think morality exists for an individual, but that that morality is completely subjective, constantly in flux (at the edges at least), alterable by suggestion, magnetic fields, colours and suggestion.

    Simply put, (personal) morality is whatever our present set of values (equality, fairness, empathy, justice, well-being etc. all of which may also be subjective) makes us feel or think the correct decision is in a given situation.

    Incidentally, many atheists don't agree that morality is subjective (e.g. Leah Libresco at unequally-yoked is a virtue ethicist, others are utilitarians) but since there has been no evidence put forward for this view, outside of religion, then I think it is incumbent on them to show evidence for the existence of it rather than for me to prove it doesn't exist (which is impossible).

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  38. MH, well that is very clear to me, and I think your views are consistent with the concept of no God. So, kudos for being logical! If there is no God, then anything goes and really, nothing is intrinsically wrong. Nothing.

    Let me ask you this, since you make sense to me as an atheist: Do you believe that life is ultimately meaningless?

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  39. Okay Leila, I'll ignore the questions I had that weren't answered, I'll even ignore the unbelievably loaded language you use:

    Meaning is what you make of it. It is ultimately nothing, whatever we do, however great or terrible, will end up lost in the big crunch or the entropy of the universe.

    I like what you're pushing, an either-or, but it's not really what you think it is...

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  40. but it's not really what you think it is…

    Then what is it?

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  41. March Hare

    Real quick because I am in the process of a move, and all that entails.

    First of all, super sized drinks and abortion are not categorically the same in the eyes of the law, guarantee it. Were John Deere to force Jane Doe to drink a 44oz soda, or force her to eat two big macs against her will, the charges brought against him would be different by degree and kind than if he were to forcibly abort the baby Jane Doe carried in her womb.

    Secondly, I think the question of refusing a big mac vice refusing an abortifacient is, again, different in degree and kind. Standing by in the face of murder, legal or not, is a different circumstance than standing by as someone fattens themselves. The fattening only affects the individual eating, the murder affects some 2nd party, (3rd if we include murderer, bystander, and murdered).


    By the way, US Law does indeed recognize a difference: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unborn_Victims_of_Violence_Act

    Victim of what? Assault? Assault and battery? Or murder? Murder. Forcing someone to eat a big mac would be considered assault and battery. Killing a pregnant woman (and thus causing an abortion), or aborting a baby without the woman's consent? Homicide. Homicide and assault and battery? Different.

    What's the difference between assault and battering someone with a big mac? Consent. What's the different between homicide and abortion? Consent of the mother. Okay, so in that respect they are similar, consent makes the act "OK" by the law. But why does a woman have a "right" over the life and death of her child? It is only murder if she doesn't want the child dead, but it is a medical procedure, or a pill (in the case of the morning-after-pill) if she does?

    A little bit of inconsistency in the law, it seems. With that said, I'd point out that abortion is legalized murder,and that a pharmacist is morally obligated and noble to refuse to participate in murder. Even though it is a legal service.

    I am about to bring up Nazi death camps, and I am 100% certain that you are emotionally and intellectually mature enough to realize the legitimacy of the example, without resorting to some sort of facepalm. What the Nazis did was murder. They murdered millions in their death camps. But it was not legally recognized as murder. Does that make it not murder? Does absolve the soldiers of culpability for their action, just because they were following the law, and obeying their superiors?

    That's it for now. Back to unpacking and cleaning up and the such.

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    1. That third to last paragraph should read, "What's the difference between selling someone a big mac and forcing them to eat it? Consent. What's the difference between legally procured abortion and forced abortion? Consent of the mother." The rest stands.

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  42. Leila,

    It's the same question we all have, believers and non-believers. This is a temporary existence that ultimately doesn't matter except inasmuch as you make it matter for yourself. For some believers that's as a test to get into heaven, for some believers and non-believers that's to live as good a life as they possibly can, for a given value of good.

    So, yeah, big picture, life has no meaning, but no-one lives for the big picture, we live short term, moment to moment, as best as we can at that time - unless you're a super-villain.

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  43. Joseph, vagaries of US law aside, if someone is providing a legal service they have no place judging someone for using that service, at least not to their face, it's just poor customer service (and rude). If they can't avoid doing that they have no place in a customer service role.

    "But why does a woman have a "right" over the life and death of her child?"
    She doesn't, she has a right over her own body, and even then only up until the point the state (as guided by the medical profession) decides the 'child' has any justification being called a child.

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  44. It's the same question we all have, believers and non-believers.

    I don't understand this at all. I don't have the "same question" you have. Not at all. I was asking you because I had no idea what you meant when you said:

    "I like what you're pushing, an either-or, but it's not really what you think it is…"

    I believe "meaning" and truth are objective, not "what you make of it." So, we don't have the same question about life's ultimate meaning, and I don't understand your answer.

    And, if you could please address Joseph's question about the legal state of the Nazi atrocities? Thanks!

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  45. Leila, I didn't make myself very clear, I apologise.

    Your either-or is life has an external meaning given by some sort of deity, or it has no meaning. You seek a dichotomy between, in your view, Catholicism and nihilism. Ignoring all other religions, worldviews and displaying a Christian privilege that is so ubiquitous in the US it's almost impossible for you to even notice it.

    We can give life meaning, the vast majority of believers are/have been wrong about what that meaning is (simply because there is no consensus on what they believe that meaning is, or what deity is important) but they have imbued life with that meaning. You have chosen the Catholic meaning but you have to realise that it is a choice. A choice between not two extreme options, but of many.

    What Germans did on WW2 was legal in Germany, morally repugnant to the victors and so retrospectively punished. It wasn't murder to the German state but it was considered murder by those who conquered the Germans. The definition of murder requires a law I believe, and so I don't get what the point is.

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  46. MH, is it objectively wrong to murder Jews? Was the murder of the Jews in Germany intrinsically wrong? Or only wrong because those who conquered the Germans said it was wrong?

    Is there any intrinsically evil act?

    And, forget the "Christian privilege" that I enjoy in this (largely Protestant) country. Every faithful Catholic in every culture in the world (China, Kenya, Chile, gosh, even Sweden!) lives the same faith, believes the same thing, within his own culture.

    Of course it's a choice to be Catholic. Every act we do voluntarily is a choice.

    But there are objective facts in life, too. Such as, the earth is not flat. It is not flat, no matter how many people believe it's flat. The whole world could think the earth is flat, but choosing to believe it does not make it so.

    Either God exists and we have meaning that is objective OR God does not exist and we have no ultimate meaning.

    Those are the two choices. Since they are mutually exclusive, one is true and one is false. Do you at least agree with me there?

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  47. Your worldview (which is either true or false) allows you to operate in the realm of subjective morality.

    My worldview (which is either true or false) obligates me to act within in confines of the moral law.

    Either God exists or He doesn't. Either an objective moral law exists or it doesn't. Man's life is about conforming his acts to what is real, not what he simply wishes were real.

    I wrote about there here, a while back:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2010/10/pilate-said-to-him-what-is-truth.html

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  48. And as to the notion that the Church is arrogant to claim to teach truth:

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/07/truth-exclusive-catholics-arrogant.html

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  49. "is it objectively wrong to" ... "Is there any intrinsically evil act?"

    No. All moral statements are either wrong or not even wrong (the error part of moral error theory).

    That doesn't mean I don't use those terms, but they are simply shorthand or a heuristic for "according to my preferences for how the world should be and how people should act within it". If something is slightly against the above then I consider it bad, if it is massively against it then it could be called, but not actually be, evil.

    For example, if someone was abducting young girls and killing them then I may call that act evil in conversation because we'd have a common enough set of values that such an act would be against our wishes for how people behave in such an egregious fashion that evil would be appropriate. However, you'd say it was evil based on some objective standard. With a bit of mental gymnastics I could construct a situation where the abduction and deaths were not actually evil, but a reduction of a greater evil (e.g. it turns out they're carriers/incubators of a deadly virus that would wipe out most of humanity if they were allowed to come into contact with the general population). In that scenario I may revisit the term 'evil' whereas you've tied your colours to the mast and must stick with calling such acts 'evil'.

    "Either God exists and we have meaning that is objective OR God does not exist and we have no ultimate meaning.

    Those are the two choices. Since they are mutually exclusive, one is true and one is false. Do you at least agree with me there?"


    No, not even close. This is a problem we had on another, unrelated, discussion. You rule out all but two possibilities then try to strawman the one you don't like. What other options could there be? The universe is eternal but there is no gods so our actions and decisions have ramifications that last forever; there is at least one god, but it/they have no interest in humans so our lives have no meaning.

    Or how about the one most atheists live by: our lives have meaning to ourselves and those around us so we will live to make the most of whatever time we have.

    It seems you have been led to believe (by others or by your own reasoning) that without some objective meaning we shouldn't/wouldn't care about anything. This is false and can easily be shown by the effort people take in playing video games or role playing games that really have no objective meaning, they reset when the board is put away or the computer is switched off. Yet people act as if they matter when playing. Maybe that's how we treat life, as if it matters, regardless of whether it does or not.

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  50. Well, of course human beings treat life as if it matters, because innately we know it does. Unlike animals, who don't morally reason and don't care. There is a reason that humans care if one human rips another human limb from limb, but lions don't get morally offended by anything, or reason their way to the next level of "moral evolution".

    But you want it both ways. You want to feel meaning in something that has none. Okay, that's how you cope with the nothingness that is your atheistic destiny and the TRUE meaninglessness of an atheistic life. I get that. And I get that as an atheist, there is no act that is intrinsically evil (because given a good enough "end" then any horror will be justifiable).

    Back to the Nazis: Was it intrinsically evil to exterminate the Jews? They thought they were justified, and that there was no intrinsic evil there. Your answer tells me that, no, there was no intrinsic evil in what they did. I appreciate the clarity. It fits with an atheistic worldview.

    And thank you for the chance to clarify, and start at the bare basics:

    Either God exists or God does not exist. The two positions are mutually exclusive. One of us is right and one is wrong. Do you agree, at least, with that?

    And, just curious: Were you raised an atheist?

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  51. Leila, please don't put my position on all atheists, some are (as I have said) virtue ethicists and some are objective utilitarians, I speak only from a rough moral error theory perspective. Most/many atheists actually believe in objective moral facts, I think they're, at best, misguided. My view is that only religion really provides for objective moral facts as it allows for an external non-subjective moral authority, but that isn't the majority view among the atheists that I know. Many atheists do believe in actual evil.

    We innately feel/think many things that are false...
    Many animals, especially social ones, do have a moral sense. It is hubris of the highest order to think that we are exceptional on this topic. It is unthinkable that only humans, of all the hominids, that could have developed a moral system.

    I actually don't want it both ways, I am one of the rare breed that is perfectly OK with the idea that life has no meaning and our acts have no permanence. It really doesn't matter to me. So why care about anything? Because it offends my mind for things to be worse than they otherwise could be - no greater reason is required.

    "because given a good enough "end" then any horror will be justifiable"
    I'd rather change that to "given the avoidance of any bad enough end", as with many people, but not all, the avoidance of negative outcomes is preferable to attaining positive outcomes (risk averse).

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  52. As for the Nazis, if you tell me what they did was intrinsically wrong then I would ask why. What would you say to that? Would you splutter with moral indignation, unable to fathom how I could ask such a question, or would you patiently explain how people have intrinsic worth (they don't, but still...) and how detaining them was an abrogation of their autonomy and how the conditions they were kept in meant they suffered terribly and how splitting up families is a terrible harm and how medical experiments that cause harm with no benefits to the person taking part and no consent given is a painful, dehumanising experience? Would you point out how it also impacted the Germans themselves? How it led to recriminations and damage beyond the generation that perpetrated and suffered?

    If you explained all that, and much more, about why what the Nazis did was 'evil' then I might agree that what they did is so at odds with my view of how the world should be and how people should treat each other that the nomenclature 'evil' is appropriate, if philosophically unsound.

    "Either God exists or God does not exist."
    No, I do not agree. You use the term 'God' which, I guess, is the Abrahimic, Biblical one. However, you haven't defined 'God', you simply assume I'll know which metaphysical, extra-natural entity with whatever properties you deign it to have (and perhaps even a gender!) but there is no way I can know that. Religious people get upset when atheists assign properties to their 'God'. The phrase, "that's not the God I believe in" is used so often in debates it's unreal.

    It also assumes a single creator 'God' which is rather presumptive. There is an infinity of possibilities outside this universe (or not!) of which your particular flavour of 'God' is but one. Why can there be only one? Why not a whole panoply of deities? And why would any of them consider humans worthy of singling out? We exist in a universe where bacteria are the preeminent lifeform, both in numbers, habitats and biomass. A universe where black holes and supernova are more common than human beings, and potentially infinitely more interesting, and noticeable, to an external universe creator, assuming such a creator is even conscious.

    No, you have to at least attempt to define 'God' before I can even understand your question let alone answer it. Sorry if that seems like a debating trick, but if you have the Karen Armstrong 'God' then there is no discussion to be had, if you have the Ratzinger 'God' then there is perhaps logical contradictions that could be explored.

    I was raised in the Catholic faith, but it always seemed a bit messed up to me, logically incoherent and morally bankrupt, even to an eight year old. (Back when I believed in right and wrong as objective things).

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  53. "Many animals, especially social ones, do have a moral sense."

    They can morally reason and not just act on instinct? Evidence, please?


    "Because it offends my mind for things to be worse than they otherwise could be - no greater reason is required."

    What does "worse" mean in a morally relative universe? Who sets the standard for "worse" and on what is it based? Does it mean whatever makes you "feel" the most unpleasant? Help me see how the word "worse" can even apply to your moral worldview. Because "worse" implies that there is a "better" or a "best" and that we can know what those are.

    "I'd rather change that to 'given the avoidance of any bad enough end'"

    I've no doubt you'd rather change it. It's euphemistic, like some would rather say "choice" than "dismemberment of humans". It makes things sound prettier, more palatable, cleaner.

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  54. "As for the Nazis, if you tell me what they did was intrinsically wrong then I would ask why. What would you say to that?"

    I'd say that it's written on every human heart that murder is wrong. Everyone knows this, which is why murderers who justify their murders will call it anything but murder. Because they, as everyone, know that murder is wrong.

    It's one of those things, March Hare, that "we can't not know".

    http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/06/if-you-read-only-one-book-this-year.html

    As for my God question: I don't care which way you use it. I don't think it's a debating trick, I think it's your way of avoiding the question and obfuscating. I'll try one more time. Is this true:

    Either God or gods exist, OR they do not. Both premises cannot be true. Either I am right and you are wrong, or you are right and I am wrong. But both of us cannot be right.

    (Unless, again, you are trying to have it both ways and you want to say that there are other "gods" that you might believe exist somehow. But that would go against what you state as your belief, i.e. atheism. So, there is either god/gods or not. Correct?)

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  55. Whoa! Speaking of atheists and Catholics! Look at what I just read, guys:

    http://brandonvogt.com/2012/06/welcome-leah-libresco.html

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  56. Leah jumped the shark, I've followed her for a while and thought she was looking for an out, especially to Catholicism, I hope it makes her happy. Given her bisexuality I'm not sure it'll be easy for her, but I'd much rather she changed the church than it changed her.

    She always engaged with people in a way that was was understanding and empathetic/sympathetic, I couldn't do that so I liked having her voice out there, but it did seem like she was looking for a reason to abandon atheism (it's intellectually satisfying/consistent but it's emotionally bankrupt!).

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  57.  We exist in a universe where bacteria are the preeminent lifeform, both in numbers, habitats and biomass.

    So?  Those things cannot reason, feel, or communicate, can they?

    A universe where black holes and supernova are more common than human beings, and potentially infinitely more interesting, and noticeable, to an external universe creator, assuming such a creator is even conscious.

    Just curious, why are you hanging your hat on these ideas?  Know what you can know.  

    That is, we know from physics that we live in an expanding universe.  And we know that any expanding universe has to have a starting point.  And we know, if it has a starting point that points to a Creator.
    Because TIME came into existence at that starting point.  You cannot separate the dimension of time from the other governing constants of the universe.  

    Hanging the idea of God out to dry simply because you're assuming that a Creator finds supernova more interesting ... or that a Creator is even conscious... I mean, sorry, but even physicists can agree that there was a beginning to the universe.  They just disagree on when that beginning was.
     
    Point being that if there's a beginning (which there is), then there's definitely a Creator.   Because time did not evolve from anything or anywhere, did it?  No.  It came into being at the beginning, at the starting point of when it was created .

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  58. From your end of the interweb spectrum: http://scienceandreligiontoday.blogspot.co.uk/2009/05/do-dogs-have-morals.html
    I'm not sure if those examples would meet your definition of 'reason'ing, but they are, at the very least, suggestive of a spectrum in the animal kingdom and to believe that it wouldn't scale up for other hominids and that we're the exception is not a valid conclusion.

    "What does "worse" mean in a morally relative universe?"
    Less pleasing to my view of how things could/should be and how people could/should act and react. My worse may turn out to be your better - e.g. I value freedom, tolerance and personal autonomy but an Abrahimic fundamentalist may well value purity and piety. These are pretty much at opposite ends of the spectrum so any change making things better in their view will almost always make things worse in mine.

    "[avoid bad rather than seek good] I've no doubt you'd rather change it."
    That's not fair. I was quite clear that the avoidance of negatives is more important (to me) than achieving a more positive outcome. Saving a life is not the same as not killing someone. (Except to extreme utilitarians).

    "I'd say that it's written on every human heart that murder is wrong."
    And I'd say you were wrong and that would lead us nowhere. You have to be able to say why in terms that are reasonable because many seemingly innate things are completely wrong (persistence of vision, free will etc. etc.) You need common ground for this type of conversation, such as harm/pain/loss of autonomy being unwelcome - anyone not thinking this (outside of a sado-masochistic scenario) is not worth having a conversation with - and move on from there. Simply stating by fiat that murder is wrong will get you nowhere.

    "It's one of those things, March Hare, that "we can't not know"."
    Psychopaths, philosophers and I would disagree. Depending on the person and/or century people 'know' many things that turn out to be not quite true. e.g. Black people are less than white; women are less than men; authority should be respected; slavery is a natural state; adulterers should be stoned; gays should be persecuted; many diseases are caused by demons; witchcraft is real; need I go on?

    Gods might exist. One of them might have created this universe. One might even cause effects within this universe. There is just no reliable or reasonable evidence that this is the case. Until some evidence is shown atheism is the only reasonable position, once some evidence is shown then agnosticism becomes the reasonable position, once the evidence is heavily in favour of some god's existence then deism and if, and this is a big ask, a certain god of a certain religion becomes the most likely then we should reasonably follow that religion.

    I wasn't avoiding your question, I was simply trying to point out that the versions of gods described above lead to very different conversations.

    "Either I am right and you are wrong, or you are right and I am wrong."
    Again with the false dichotomy. I am not claiming to be right, I am simply saying there is not enough evidence to change the default (scientific but probably not human) position that no gods exist. But because you have been very specific about which god exists there is a possibility that we're both wrong and god(s) exist, just not your particular one.

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  59. Hi Nubby,

    "So? Those things cannot reason, feel, or communicate, can they? "
    And how do know that those things are important to an extra-universe entity?

    "Just curious, why are you hanging your hat on these ideas? Know what you can know.[see above]"
    I'm not, I'm simply positing alternative reasons a creator (which I don't believe exists) might have for being interested in a universe like ours that doesn't require placing humans front and centre.

    "That is, we know from physics that we live in an expanding universe."
    True.
    "And we know that any expanding universe has to have a starting point."
    Not necessarily, but it appears likely.
    "And we know, if it has a starting point that points to a Creator."
    I think some of your logical steps have gone missing... You have also capitalised a word for reasons that are not apparent.

    "I mean, sorry, but even physicists can agree that there was a beginning to the universe."
    It's a working assumption, a premise, not a fact. Not that it makes a difference to anything you argue anyway, unless you can find those missing logic steps above.

    It seems to me you read the Kalam Cosmological argument somewhere, threw in a bit of modern science and decided it was convincing enough for you. Perhaps it is, but it doesn't work for me I'm afraid. Not even everything within the universe has a cause, but even if it did, we still know nothing about what happens outside the universe (and its particular laws of physics) so it is invalid to make assumptions about cause and effect based on what happens in here. Let alone assume a conscious agency worthy of a capital letter.

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  60. MH, did you just sort of admit that the default "human" position is that gods/God exists? Well, I agree! ;) And, I do not think there is a default scientific position that God does not exist. Science oversteps its bounds when it presumes anything about God. Have you gone to Stacy's blog at Accepting Abundance? She's done tons on that subject.

    I'm not sure if we can continue if you will not admit that there are some things that are self-evident? For example, I cannot "prove" that men and women are different. Some on the left (on this blog) insist that there really is no difference (aside from incidental genital differences) between men and women… that they are essentially the same, and everything "male" is a construct, as everything "female" is a construct. I just can't have a conversation with people like that. Some things are axiomatic, no?

    Murder is wrong. That is one thing we all know. We may define 'murder' in a way that justifies whom we decide to kill ("Oh, killing the fetus is not murder!"). But we all know the principle that "murder is wrong". Hope that helps. I do encourage you to read the book I linked to (What We Can't Not Know), as it goes into details and explanations much better than I can here. Once you read it, you and I could have a much more intelligent conversation on the natural law.

    As for the idea that animals can morally reason… sorry, I cannot take that seriously. Dogs "choose to forgive"? Really, where or how would someone be able to gauge that? Yes, they feel emotion (of course dogs get scared or anxious), yes animals can act on instinct and be trained, but they cannot morally reason.

    Basically, I am not sure where we can go from here. I think you have integrity as an atheist: You don't believe in any objective truth, you don't believe in intrinsic evil, you believe that the ends can surely justify the means, and you believe that life is ultimately meaningless. Of course I utterly, totally disagree with you, but I can't say there is anything wrong with your logic (considering your premises). This is a blog about clarity, and you are very clear and have followed your ideas to their logical conclusion. I think you are dead wrong in your worldview, but if I were an atheist, I think I would have to conclude as you do! It's so dark, though, and I can't even put my mind there. I've tried to even imagine what it's like, but I can't go there… it gives me the shivers and would make me want to throw myself off a balcony. Sorry, but that is the truth.


    God bless you! And I hope you find Him someday (or that He finds you, and you allow Him in….)

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  61. Thanks Leila.

    Just a couple of points:
    Science has to take the default position that there is no supernatural agency that can interfere with experiments, otherwise all results are meaningless. Humans on the other hand, we assume agency in everything, it's innate and it's something we have to learn to stop doing (as individuals and as a species/culture/society!)

    I'm sure, if you wanted to, you could prove that men and women are different (e.g. hormones that affect the brain and influence judgement and reasoning would be a pretty good place to start).
    I agree murder is wrong, I just have reasons why it's wrong (ones you'd mostly or completely agree with) whereas you simply accept the higher level concept.

    You don't think rats that refuse to take food when that act harms another, unknown and unrelated, rat are making a basic moral decision? Perhaps not, maybe it's an emotional, instinctive reaction, but perhaps our own moral reasoning is more post hoc than we'd like to admit...

    "You don't believe in any objective truth"
    MORAL truth. I don't believe in any objective moral truth. There are plenty of truths I do believe in.

    "It's so dark, though, and I can't even put my mind there. I've tried to even imagine what it's like, but I can't go there… it gives me the shivers and would make me want to throw myself off a balcony. Sorry, but that is the truth."
    Don't apologise. It is hard, it is lonely, it is frightening. It's the main reason I think Leah Libresco sought an excuse to (re-?)join the Catholic Church in spite of certain fundamental issues she has with it (homosexuality, women's rights, contraception).

    I happen to quite like the abyss, even at those times where the realisation hits that nothing matters and everything I, and humanity as a whole, does will be for nothing in the fullness of time. It is a form of freedom, it means that when I act I do it on my terms for my reasons. I still treat my fellow humans well, I still want the best for them as I see it, and have passed by many balconies safely. I recognise it's not for everyone, but reality so rarely is.

    Aside: In spite of the number of times I have used 'I', my personal philosophy is that the mental construct 'I', if valid at all, is temporary and constantly changing. The person who posts this is (slightly) different from the person who started it. This, coupled with the evident lack of free will, is a reason I find the concept of hell (however envisioned) to be a compelling reason to dismiss all flavours of Christianity and Islam.

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  62. "And we know that any expanding universe has to have a starting point." I said.
    Not necessarily, but it appears likely. You said.

    It is extremely likely, and it's not been disputed to this date. Physics shows us that every inflationary model of the universe is eternal into the future but never into the past. (see Alan Guth). It must always have a beginning. The whole of the BVG theorem (developed in 2003), which is not disputed is based only on the condition that the expansion of our universe (or any multi-verse, string oscillating universe, etc) be greater than 0. As long as we are expanding, there is a necessity of a beginning..

    Whether you're talking inflationary universe, bouncing universe, or superstring theory the evidence is there for a Creator.

    "And we know, if it has a starting point that points to a Creator."
    I think some of your logical steps have gone missing.

    I'm all for logic. Speaking of logic, let me ask you a simple and important question since you've not answered about the dimension of time sufficiently, (infact, you've completely ignore that vital question), let me ask: how can something (our universe) come from nothing? And I mean "nothing" as it truly is: not a vacuum, not a low-quantum state, not empty space -- but nothing.

    And, here's another logical question for you: how did time evolve? No right minded physicist would claim it ever has. Time "never was' ... and suddenly, at the Big Bang ... it was, and is.

    "I mean, sorry, but even physicists can agree that there was a beginning to the universe." - I said.
    It's a working assumption, a premise, not a fact. Not that it makes a difference to anything you argue anyway, unless you can find those missing logic steps above. -You said.

    Interesting that you claim to find logic missing, yet you won't tell me where. Consider this, even if an exception to the BVG theorem is ever found, it doesn't hold that it would apply to our universe.

    . Perhaps it is, but it doesn't work for me I'm afraid. Not even everything within the universe has a cause, but even if it did, we still know nothing about what happens outside the universe (and its particular laws of physics) so it is invalid to make assumptions about cause and effect based on what happens in here. Let alone assume a conscious agency worthy of a capital letter.

    And so begins metaphysics where physics leaves off. Physics shows us that there is more than ample evidence for a limited universe. Metaphysics picks up from there and can prove out absolute ideas or propositions using reduction to absurdity. Are you familiar with this?

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  63. "Whether you're talking inflationary universe, bouncing universe, or superstring theory the evidence is there for a Creator."
    Where? You are making a massive, unjustified, leap here. Beginning does not necessitate a beginner. (Wow, that looks and sounds ugly.) Something happened, you propose that there must have been a cause (questionable, but not outrageous) and the cause must have been, or originated from, a creator with agency and, presumably, intelligence - this is not a valid, logical conclusion. THIS is where the gap in your logic exists (or doesn't!) Or:

    1: Everything that has a beginning must have a cause
    2: The universe had a beginning
    3: ...
    C: The universe was created by an intelligent agent. (I assume this is your conclusion, otherwise you wouldn't have capitalised the C in creator.)

    Even if this was true (which I dispute) all it does is then allow for my black hole-loving Creator as being at least as likely as any human-orientated Creator. There's still a lot of spade work before you can show that we humans matter.

    I'm not going to touch on time unless you think it has properties that somehow enhance the proposition that the universe had a creator, or even a Creator. If so I'll respond to those, otherwise it's tangential to the main point.

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  64. "Whether you're talking inflationary universe, bouncing universe, or superstring theory the evidence is there for a Creator."- I said.

    Where? You are making a massive, unjustified, leap here. Beginning does not necessitate a beginner.-You said.

    There must exist one reality which has a beginning, isn't dependent and isn't conditioned. Why? Because if nothing has a beginning then nothing can ever come into existence. Not only that, but there can be only one beginning. How many book suggestions would you like?

    And, logically, I'll ask, what kind of physical laws were in place pre-big bang to initiate the big bang? What energy + 1 was there to initiate that explosion that created our GTR universe as we know it? None, right.

    If there was nothing, then where did all the matter, time, space and energy come from?
    And further, if all that was just hanging out there in a static state, not expanding and then suddenly it went "boom", what caused that?

    It was steady, and then suddenly, it was expanding. Not only did it explode, but it exploded with immediate constants that govern physics which remain today. These constants are so finely tuned (insanely small fractions that move one part higher or lower, and we're not here), and the conditions for life arising 'just so' is so improbable, can you seriously consider this?

    Where did that extra energy come from?

    Please answer: How does something arise from nothing? Absolute nothingness. How does it create anything? It's nothing. No energy is there, no space is there, nothing. Nothing cannot do something. It cannot be something. It's nothing.

    Consider how important the laws of entropy are. The universe exploded, and now its energy is running down (2nd law of thermodynamics). What are the odds this low entropy universe arose by chance? 10 raise to the 10 raise to the 10 with 123 zeroes after it IN THE EXPONENT against, as Penrose the atheist physicist calculated.

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  65. And there's your cosmological argument... Was waiting for a nice argument from personal incredulity and ignorance - NB. I'm not calling you personally ignorant, simply that the human race is ignorant of many of the questions you asked.

    "How many book suggestions would you like? "
    None. They're all gibberish based on flawed premises and dodgy philosophy coupled with bad science. I'm assuming Deeprak Chopra and William Lane Craig feature heavily on this list? If not then I'll take one.

    "what kind of physical laws were in place pre-big bang to initiate the big bang?"
    We don't know. Some would argue we can't know. Others have speculated. See: Krauss, Hawking.

    "If there was nothing, then where did all the matter, time, space and energy come from? "
    Don't know. See, this is the ignorance I was referring to.

    "These constants are so finely tuned (insanely small fractions that move one part higher or lower, and we're not here), and the conditions for life arising 'just so' is so improbable, can you seriously consider this?"
    Actually, and this is kind of the point I made earlier, the constants are fine tuned for supernovae (and black holes). Supernovae create the heavier elements which occasionally form self-replicating molecules, but it's supernovae which are most important here. A perfectly fine solar system could have been created by a Creator, but instead we have a universe with constants set up to produce black holes and supernovae. Why should this be? One possible explanation is that when black holes (almost always singularities) form they spawn off new universes with new sets of physical laws and/or constants. Those universes that produce black holes would be most common and it's almost inevitable that one would have laws much like ours.

    Not saying that's actually the case in reality, but it seems more likely than a 'Creator'. But that would require a multiverse etc. so it's all speculation.

    "How does something arise from nothing? Absolute nothingness."
    I don't know. One person speculated that nothingness is unstable. Regardless, it's still a leap to assume a conscious agent that exists outside of space and time who started our universe, fine tuned the constants and who may, or may not, tinker with one species on one planet in one star system in one galaxy in one corner of that universe.

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  66. None. They're all gibberish based on flawed premises and dodgy philosophy coupled with bad science.

    Now I know I'm onto something when the shrugs come out toward perfectly upheld and non-disputed physical theorems.
    That's your issue, not science's.

    I'm assuming Deeprak Chopra and William Lane Craig feature heavily on this list? If not then I'll take one.

    You know what they say about assuming...
    Try David Hilbert (math), Bernard Lonergan “Insight: A Study of Human Understanding”, Roger Penrose (singularity theorems), Einstein, and Arno Penzias. You can even read Hawking, but why waste your time when even his own peers reject his m-theory speculation?

    "what kind of physical laws were in place pre-big bang to initiate the big bang?"- I asked.
    We don't know. Some would argue we can't know. Others have speculated. See: Krauss, Hawking. -you say.

    Familiar already with the Hartle-Hawking model. Hawking likes to imply nothing came from nothing. He also argues a boundary line in the past. Doesn't negate a beginning. Completely disregards BVG. Tsk, tsk, sloppy.

    "If there was nothing, then where did all the matter, time, space and energy come from? " I asked.
    Don't know. See, this is the ignorance I was referring to. -you say.

    Ignorance? It's a very logical question. If you don't know, then what do you deduce?
    You don't have an answer or a good rebuttal so you proceed to call this logical question ignorant?

    It's pretty important, that if you want to say nothing comes from nothing (which Hawking would love to posit, but is so far from scientific honesty) then you need to explain how it does anything. How does nothing create nothing? Why are you forcing nothing to do and be something?

    Actually, and this is kind of the point I made earlier, the constants are fine tuned for supernovae (and black holes). Supernovae create the heavier elements which occasionally form self-replicating molecules, but it's supernovae which are most important here. A perfectly fine solar system could have been created by a Creator, but instead we have a universe with constants set up to produce black holes and supernovae. Why should this be? One possible explanation is that when black holes (almost always singularities) form they spawn off new universes with new sets of physical laws and/or constants. Those universes that produce black holes would be most common and it's almost inevitable that one would have laws much like ours.

    And, so you want to posit what? That because supernovae exist in a finely tuned solar system and possibly spawn others that God isn't relevant? You're skipping a lot of huge questions that need answers. Saying "we don't know" isn't an answer.

    You can deduce and reason what is plausible.

    Not saying that's actually the case in reality, but it seems more likely than a 'Creator'. But that would require a multiverse etc. so it's all speculation.

    And even a multi verse needs a beginning! This is physics!

    I don't know. One person speculated that nothingness is unstable. Regardless, it's still a leap to assume a conscious agent that exists outside of space and time who started our universe, fine tuned the constants and who may, or may not, tinker with one species on one planet in one star system in one galaxy in one corner of that universe.

    Nothingness isn't unstable! Nothingness is NOTHING. It has no energy- no low energy, even to be unstable! Physics 101.
    It's not a leap of absurdity to come to a very plausible conclusion that
    a) since there is a beginning, and b) we know that the universe needs something else to cause it to exist then, yes, indeed, there needs to be a transcendent force, a super intelligence, a super power.

    You call this ignorance, and I can call the failure to see it logically and metaphysically ignorant.

    Happy trails, then.

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  67. Nubby, the ignorance was in the lack of answers, not the questions.

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  68. They are valid questions and have answers. I don't have the answers, but it's a bit of a stretch to say that because I don't know I can place whatever unevidenced pet theory in there if I can manipulate it to cover all the gaps.

    "Saying "we don't know" isn't an answer."
    It is, and it's an honest one. What's dishonest is calling this plausible:
    "a) since there is a beginning, and b) we know that the universe needs something else to cause it to exist then, yes, indeed, there needs to be a transcendent force, a super intelligence, a super power."

    Why does there have to be an intelligence? Why can't a multiverse exist eternally and eternally? Why can't we be a simulation in a universe that does have answers to the questions you ask that don't require a Creator? Why does it require agency? Why does it give the slightest concern about humanity? Why wouldn't it be the instigator of any number of universes and we might just be the like the bacteria on The Scientist's instruments?

    Prior to evolution becoming widely known, Palley's Watch was a fairly reasonable argument in favour of a life Creator. It is hard now to believe that the lack of answers to your questions are indicative of anything more than our current lack of knowledge. To make the same mistake with regard to a universe Creator would be embarrassing.

    Unless there is evidence for it that extends beyond our ignorance...

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  69. http://www.ncregister.com/blog/mark-shea/a-reader-puzzles-over-a-nephews-philosophy/

    March Hare, thanks for the response, and on the off-chance that you think all believers (including me) are believers so that we can be comforted from the abyss somehow, please read the Mark Shea piece above.

    I will sit back and watch the discussion between you and Nubby now. :)

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  70. Leila, I am aware that many people come to faith for many reasons, not the least of which is personal revelation, for others it may be that religion X has answers to questions people struggle with, or being part of something larger than oneself, or simply a cultural/family tradition. That's all fine (kind of) but what it's not based on is reason or truth, yet people routinely claim it is, so I ask them to show their working.

    The abyss I mentioned can be different things, for some it is death, suffering, pain, a lack of moral certitude, lack of social bonds etc. I was using a bit of poetic license. I didn't intend to come across as a wet-behind the ears 20-year old know-it-all...

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  71. They are valid questions and have answers. I don't have the answers, but it's a bit of a stretch to say that because I don't know I can place whatever unevidenced pet theory in there if I can manipulate it to cover all the gaps.

    No one wants pet theories, except those who make a bundle off of book sales declaring God unnecessary through badly interpreted science. But I digress.

    Why does there have to be an intelligence? Why can't a multiverse exist eternally and eternally?

    Please hear, this is the most important point that I hope is understood: Even if there exists a muti verse, it has a finite beginning. How do we know this?
    Laws of entropy, BVG 2003 theorem, the Borde-Vilenkin 1993 theorem to start with. Why do I hammer a "beginning"?

    Because when you pinpoint a beginning, you must acknowledge that it came into being. It wasn't nothing. It wasn't just 'floating nothingness' (because that isn't even scientifically honest). It came into being = it was created, and conditioned, and dependent.

    Something bigger than itself had to give that initial thrust for it even to come into existence. And physics implies this and physicists understand this. All they seem to disagree about is where the beginning is. They don't argue that the past is finite or infinite. They know it's finite.

    Why can't we be a simulation in a universe that does have answers to the questions you ask that don't require a Creator? Why does it require agency?

    Because we live in a reality that is conditioned by time and dependent for our existence (speaking physically here). Know what you can know. Questions about' simulation in a universe' ... I mean, stick to what you can know by reason, by sciences and metaphysics. Deduce the knowable.

    Why does it give the slightest concern about humanity? Why wouldn't it be the instigator of any number of universes and we might just be the like the bacteria on The Scientist's instruments?

    How about taking logical steps as we gather evidence. Simple A to Simple B. This isn't meant condescendingly. I mean, if you're going to wonder about 'why does it give the slightest concern about humanity' then you're entering into philosophy and metaphysics which just require research. Hold one up to another. Compare. What has been revealed and what can we know? And for what we don't know physically, what can physics give to our foundation of metaphysics? What questions can we take from the cue of physics and all that has shown us? And what reasonably holds up, under all that evidence?

    That we came from nothing? That we came from something or someOne with a higher intelligence and power?

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  72. Nubbin,

    How can we know the law of entropy exists outside our universe? There is also no proof that ALL universes, or a multiverse, must necessarily have a beginning.
    Vilenkin doesn't mean a creation ex nihilo, but a more general framework of physical laws existing before/outside any universe: http://debunkingwlc.wordpress.com/2010/08/11/alexander-vilenkins-model-of-cosmic-origins/

    But that's not something I want to debate too deeply, my physics is beyond high school but not grad school.

    So let's get to the main flaw in your argument: a created universe does not imply a theistic creator. If you want to argue for a deistic creator, or my black hole loving creator, that's fine, it has no impact on anything of any importance. It's a discussion that goes nowhere because I say I don't think it's necessary and you say it is.

    However, if you demand that a theistic creator then you have a lot of work to do. You appear to be claiming that the fine tuning argument is proof that this universe was designed for us, I categorically deny that on so many levels, not least of which is that the universe is really poorly designed for us since so little of it is hospitable, our existence as a species is contingent on so many more variables, at much greater odds than you state, within the known confines of the universe (random genetic mutation, asteroids, suitable moon leading to tides, distance from a suitable star, destruction of the dinosaurs, breeding habits of our ancestors etc. etc.) that we are exceedingly unlikely. Unless you want to posit a creator that tinkers, in which case why have the whole universe, why not sustain us in a better world? But a creator who tinkers is a massive leap from a universe requires a power to kick start out outside that universe.

    So please, talk me through your reasoning, start from the universe requires an external force to begin (as there is no point arguing that fact at present) and tell me:
    Why that external force requires intelligence;
    Why the 'created' universe is in any way special to the creator, i.e. why it isn't one of a potentially infinite number of universes it is creating (which would remove the fine tuning argument);
    Why this 'creator' is tinkering in our universe, if you think it is;
    Why humans are in any way special with regards to this 'creator';

    Or if you don't think (m)any of these things then lay out what it is you do think.

    I would imagine you're reasoning backwards from a conclusion, but I was wrong about you before so I look forward to being proved wrong again.

    Regards, MH.

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  73. Just popping into the MH/Nubby convo not to give anything of substance (way beyond my scope of expertise), but to tell you that this line seems ironic to me, coming from a secular leftist:

    "...not least of which is that the universe is really poorly designed for us since so little of it is hospitable.."

    I am going to bet dollars to donuts that March Hare thinks this world is overpopulated, and teeming with too many people, even after we've aborted literally billions across the globe and contracepted and sterilized to the hilt. :)

    We are tending to flourish and live even in this inhospitable world (where most starvation, by the way, is man-caused).

    Anyway, popping back out again to watch Nubby's response…

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  74. Then you owe me dollars and/or donuts!

    Why do you think I'm a leftist? What did I say that would have given that impression? Not being defensive, genuinely intrigued.

    I don't care how many people are on this planet, unless they encroach on my ability to survive then I might take some extreme measures, until then populate away.

    But your biggest misunderstanding of my comment was that I talked about the universe, not this planet - albeit even our planet has been really bad for humans for the vast, vast majority of its existence. Of course, the basic mistake with regards to our planet is thinking it is well designed for us whereas the reality is that we are well evolved for it.

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  75. How can we know the law of entropy exists outside our universe?

    My logical rebuttal to that is: How can you know they don't?

    And regardless, it's an irrelevant question to our conversation here. According to BVG theorem, whatever universes are somehow in relation to us, we know there is a traceable beginning. BVG theorem has not been disputed. Even if you're talking about other eras pre-big bang, we know everything is traced back to a starting point. Before that there was nothing. Not even a molecule.

    There is also no proof that ALL universes, or a multiverse, must necessarily have a beginning.

    False. The BVG theorem tested for just this idea. (ref: Physical Review Letters 90, 151301 (2003))

    They illustrate a point where there is a clear boundary to any previous era. Even if there's an era with completely different physics, there is still is a boundary to its previous era because it's expanding. They modeled this for any kind of universe (multiverse ) in connection to ours and found, indeed, there is an absolute beginning point.

    So let's get to the main flaw in your argument: a created universe does not imply a theistic creator.

    You want to know how we get to Super Intelligence and from there to God? Specifically, Jesus Christ? Great idea. Let's pursue it, of course, this is now entering philosophy which leads to all kinds of 'proofs' as you probably know.

    If you want to argue for a deistic creator, or my black hole loving creator, that's fine, it has no impact on anything of any importance. It's a discussion that goes nowhere because I say I don't think it's necessary and you say it is.

    Why isn't it necessary? If I can get you to concede the point, that, based on well corroborated physics and physical theories, that there is an agreed upon beginning to the universe (regardless of the exact age), then you must also concede that a beginning implies a Creator.

    If you concede that, then the next step is to say, how can we know of this Creator? You can even go so far as to philosophize about God in the revealed Son of God in Jesus Christ.

    But before we get there, can you concede to the point of there being a definite beginning to the universe? And can you logically concede that this implies a Creator, or creator, if you don't want to capitalize.

    However, if you demand that a theistic creator then you have a lot of work to do. You appear to be claiming that the fine tuning argument is proof that this universe was designed for us,

    It's one proof (along with space-time geometry and laws of entropy). Let's just take one angle at a time.

    I categorically deny that on so many levels, not least of which is that the universe is really poorly designed for us since so little of it is hospitable, our existence as a species is contingent on so many more variables, at much greater odds than you state, within the known confines of the universe (random genetic mutation, asteroids, suitable moon leading to tides, distance from a suitable star, destruction of the dinosaurs, breeding habits of our ancestors etc. etc.) that we are exceedingly unlikely

    These points actually favor my angle of Super Intelligence. But, this is another discussion, for a later date.

    more coming...

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  76. So please, talk me through your reasoning, start from the universe requires an external force to begin (as there is no point arguing that fact at present) and tell me:

    Step 1: There is no arguing that fact, because we're going with the Big Bang theory, right? And if we're going with that, then we're clear that science honestly cannot say that something came from nothing. If there wasn't even a molecule in existence, then let's leave that 'something arose from nothing' nonsense at the door.

    Step 2: We've covered in very dumbed-down terms how the universe needed an initial thrust to begin that expanding outward. We're talking every field. Even space. It's not like an explosion from a bomb. This is a singular point that, as it exploded, space, time, energy, matter all expanded with it. There was nothing to compel it previously. So... you tell me, what reasonable idea, knowing that there is a definite beginning point, can you illustrate to me other than: A superpower had to send that initial thrust? That spark?

    Will get to you other questions when time permits.

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  77. Why do you think I'm a leftist? What did I say that would have given that impression? Not being defensive, genuinely intrigued.

    Most secular folks I speak to are on the left. Are you a conservative? That would definitely surprise me, and I'd love some evidence! Then, I'll figure out how to get those donuts to you. :)

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  78. Leila, libertarian, atheist, materialist, determinist (to the extent that quantum mechanics allows), individualist, economist (which may or may not be a positive!), scientist (not professional), pragmatist, secularist, minarchist (more or less).

    That'll do for now. Oh, realist!

    PS. Libertarianism came from reasoning and logic, however I disagree with most libertarians (non-Georgists, not that I'm a Georgist) when it comes to owning land, I think it's a logical impossibility to have the ethical and/or (justified) legal right to own land.

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  79. If you favor abortion rights, sexual libertinism, gay "marriage", I would place you generally in the liberal camp. :) Socially liberal/libertarian, same difference to me. What's your opinion of socialism? Do you like the new French gov't?

    Would you vote for Romney or Obama if you were in the US?

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  80. Abortion rights: up until the fetus can survive outside the womb, then an extraction (assuming there is an entity [govt./charity] willing to pay).
    Sexual libertinism: Consenting, informed, sane adults can do whatever they like, it's not my business.
    Gay marriage: the government has no place in the marriage business. If religious institutions wish to discriminate in who they give sacraments to then I would hope that would encourage people to abandon such institutions, but it is no business of the state, or me.
    Socialism - you don't know what it means. But I'm not in favour of it except those parts necessary to keep a(n almost) minarchist state functioning. Unfortunately my pragmatic side and my harm avoidance ideals tend to be in favour of more 'socialism' than my raw intellect. New French govt? No idea, too new, but I'm assuming they'll be as bad as all French governments (and virtually all governments) have been.

    Romney vs Obama? Wouldn't vote. Obama is a traitor to both the Democratic party (no bad thing) but also to the country - do you guys not impeach Presidents for anything other than sexual indiscretions? His first act should have been to investigate Bush and Cheyney. His second should have been to repeal every unConstitutional law and policy that they implemented, instead he exceeded them on many issues and hence broke his oath of office. Romney is a snake oil salesman with strange beliefs and policies for sale. He is big government in areas that don't even pretend to help people whereas Obama is big government in areas that appear to have some social benefit. When the game is rigged, as it currently is, pragmatism and empathy determine that some slippage from libertarianism is justified.

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  81. Um, yeah. Those beliefs would pretty much put you on the left, maybe even the extreme left! (Depending on what impeachable offenses you think he is guilty of. That's vague.

    And, Clinton was impeached for perjury. We frown on Presidents lying under oath.

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  82. Breaking the oath of office by not upholding the constitution, unless you think going to war without congress' approval, spying on US citizens without a warrant, killing people (even US citizens) without due process (whatever Holder says), allowing the CIA to operate within the US, allowing the military to operate within the US, militarisation of domestic security forces, illegal search and seizure, castration of the 2nd amendment, illegal funding of religious groups, illegal detention of people in direct violation of the constitution, military tribunals for civilians, murder of (foreign) civillians, illegal treatment of Bradley Manning, torture, admission of evidence gained by torture in trials...

    I could go on, but those were just for Obama, Bush's list is slightly smaller, although stealing the 2000 election should rate quite high, along with illegally invading Iraq.

    Socially left, economically right. I believe that's what a libertarian is, although I think the left/right scale is too limited. I think anti-authoritarian is much more important.

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  83. Why that external force requires intelligence;

    Let's be straight up logical here. What's are the options? We've discounted that the universe did this to itself, because before there was space, time, energy, matter ... there was nothing. Nada. Not even a morsel of matter. No physical laws to govern anything. No space. No carbon based expansion to spark off of. Just to be crystal clear.

    What other option do you deduce? Can't go down the road of matter having already been there, correct? Can't go down the road of a low-energy state somehow sparking itself, and birthing the highly improbable perfect constants that govern the universe, that allow life, correct?

    What are you left with? The shoddy logic that space somehow brought itself out of nothing. Or that a SuperIntellect is at work.


    Why the 'created' universe is in any way special to the creator, i.e. why it isn't one of a potentially infinite number of universes it is creating (which would remove the fine tuning argument);

    You've got two separate thoughts in this comment.
    1) The created universe is special to the Creator for His own reasons. Agape love is your answer. To deduce that, you'll need to philosophize, which is a perfectly acceptable line of thinking because it, like physics, has the same foundation of taking in our observable world, and where that observation leaves off, we can theorize.

    Philosophy and metaphysics hold 'proofs' that lead us to theorize about the truths of the universe, and hard science itself wouldn't step on the toes of philosophy (it can't and it shouldn't, it's a completely different line of thinking).

    2) This whole grasping for 'infinite universes and multi-verses, and higher dimensions' as somehow proof that God is either absent or unecessary is going off onto a rabbit trail without reasoning with what we know through physics.

    You want to posit that because there are (bubble) universes upon universes upon universes, that somehow, a ratio of perfect laws turned up, and here we are. It's all chance, you'd like to say.

    And, Roger Penrose (atheist physicist) even has a lot to say about that nonsense. He shows in his book (The Road to Reality full of math equations), that any kind of bubble universe or multiverse would require the same kind and degree of fine tuning as ours!

    Understand, universes cannot collide, cannot bump into each other, they must be ordered! They must, in fact, be governed by the same fine-tuning laws so that more universes can spawn, etc. etc. Governed. By fine tuning.

    It doesn't do away with fine tuning, as you wish. Infact, it's quite the opposite, according to hard science, not faith.

    Do you see how this very notion flies in the face of pure chance emergence? It actually magnifies the truth and the proof and the importance of fine tuning necessary! He dismantles 'pure chance in any emerging universe'.

    Look at what information has merit and is well corroborated and well modeled. We have so much info from the world of physics at our disposal. It's there to help our jump into metaphysics and philosophy even.


    Why this 'creator' is tinkering in our universe, if you think it is;

    Catholics aren't like your average Intelligent Design believers. We roll with evolution, so long as it's not a strict godless philosophy we live by. We acknowledge God's hand in evolution.


    Why humans are in any way special with regards to this 'creator';

    Agape love, for you, brother. That's another discussion. When you're ready for it.

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  84. Nubby, I fear I was correct, you have argued from the conclusion.

    But let's break down the parts where we disagree:
    You're understanding of what existed before, or outside of the universe is a bit more concrete than mine because I admit ignorance whereas you seem to think you know something about it.

    "The shoddy logic that space somehow brought itself out of nothing. Or that a SuperIntellect is at work."
    Well, there are other options, but you still don't explain why an intellect has to be here. While you may have this as the final piece in your jigsaw this is the first piece in mine and it simply doesn't follow.

    "From nothing came something therefore intellect." No, that's WLC's nonsense and it just doesn't follow at all. You can quote him if you choose (force without matter is mind/consciousness or some other gibberish) or perhaps you have a better explanation for why intellect. False dichotomies don't cut it.

    My query about this universe being special was not an appeal to a multiverse in a scientific sense, but an infinite panopoly of universes created over an infinity of time by a timeless creator. It was saying that even if I give you an intelligence that created the universe there is no reason to think this is its one and only universe and no reason to think that there are not an infinite number with every possibility played out within them. This means whatever scientific arguments there are against bubble universes etc. are irrelevant because we've tentatively accepted a supernatural (in terms of our universe) creator. You have to explain why an intelligence which, at this point, all we think we know about it is that it created this universe, would stop at just one. You can use data assumed later on, but be aware that you might end up begging the question if you assume too much.

    "It doesn't do away with fine tuning, as you wish. Infact, it's quite the opposite, according to hard science, not faith."
    Just the opposite, if we tentatively cede that a supernatural intelligence created this universe we no longer use science to say what that supernatural intelligence might do in creating other universes and what limits there are on it.

    "We acknowledge God's hand in evolution."
    Tinkering.
    "Catholics aren't like your average Intelligent Design believers."
    Tinkering also includes all the (from my point of view) nonsense the Catholic Church believes: demonic possession -> exorcism; miracles by Jesus and the apostles; Marian apparitions; miracles required for canonization; efficacy of prayer etc. Basically any time a supernatural entity suspends/alters the laws of the universe to make a change.

    "Agape love, for you, brother. That's another discussion. When you're ready for it."
    Makes no sense. Again, this was your starting point from which all the other things flowed, whereas I'm coming from the other end. When I say the universe came from nothing with no requirement for a creator that is as meaningless to you as you saying agape love is to me. The difference is I start my journey from ignorance and work forward whereas you start from certitude and work backwards. Or we simply think we know different things, that's also a possibility.

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  85. Nubby, I fear I was correct, you have argued from the conclusion.

    Don't be scared. I see you haven't answered anything regarding space-time relationships as we know of it. I also see you've avoided acknowledging what modern science tells us. Start where you want. I'm good for it. But can we start with the facts and not speculation? If you don't want to look to the cosmos for pondering these kinds of questions, then by all means, throw out another theory or argument.

    But let's break down the parts where we disagree: You're understanding of what existed before, or outside of the universe is a bit more concrete than mine because I admit ignorance whereas you seem to think you know something about it.

    Work with me. We're going on a theory - the Big Bang theory, right? There are already assumptions in place when we go there. One major assumption, not open to dispute, is that there was nothing before the beginning. Not even subatomic particles. How can something come before, or outside of, a beginning??

    I know about the known universe. And I know a bit about what physics can, and has, modeled regarding previous eras and other universal realities. That's because it's mathematically measurable on levels that are testable.

    And there's a lot we don't know, and all things are subject to change, possibly. But for now -- use what hard data is there, or argue another theory entirely different than the Big Bang. I don't get the speculative, non measurable outlook from atheists who claim to cling to observed reality.

    Can I ask, what do you do with the known measured data? Do you not consider that it leads to bigger questions that have a sastifying answer? Do you spend time speculating away reason?

    You can't make a negative assertion about a Creator from data in the world. You'd be out of bounds to use that data to come to that supernatural conclusion. Saying "you don't know", okay, that's fair. But that makes you agnostic, not atheist.

    If physical data has been measured, tested, corroborated and upheld, why do you plead ignorance to what has been revealed to, and discovered by, man? Don't you believe that you can apply data from the world, to positively reason a satisfying answer to what is reasonable to believe, outside of the world?

    "The shoddy logic that space somehow brought itself out of nothing. Or that a SuperIntellect is at work." - I said.
    Well, there are other options -You say.

    Gimme one. Please, give me one option that isn't conditioned by time, space, or other dimensions. Just one. One that we know of, measurably.

    It has to be measurable, otherwise, you're getting into supernatural turf. And for your outlook, that's a no-no. And I'm talking tested and measurable, not some ridiculous notion that has no basis whatsoever for being a well corroborated theory.

    Even superstring theory, in all its 11 dimension glory - as crazy as the mathematics that go into that theory - doesn't mean it's without a beginning. It's all speculation and I don't know about you, but I don't like to hang out in speculation. I like to put my foot on solid ground and know what I can know. Ya know?

    And, actually, what doesn't follow is that you're trying to eliminate the idea of a super intellect, but you posit nothing in its place. I have asked -- if we are going with the Big Bang theory, then pray tell, where did all that matter, time, space, and energy come from, if not from an Unconditioned being, with super intellect?

    You say, We don't know. So, I asked, What can we know, deductively? You say, Don't invoke God, or a Higher Intelligence. And I say, What other option would you insert? Using what you know about the known, measured universe.

    What is a natural explanation for our universe in lieu of a super intellect and superpower?

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  86. My query about this universe being special was not an appeal to a multiverse in a scientific sense, but an infinite panopoly of universes created over an infinity of time by a timeless creator.

    Yeah, I get that. But it's irrelevant. We're talking a measurable universe, aren't we? Aren't we on the same page regarding the Big Bang as our conversational starting point? If not, then when did we switch gears and why?

    even if I give you an intelligence that created the universe there is no reason to think this is its one and only universe

    So, what if it's not? It's not relevant to knowing about our own universe. I'm talking about what has been discovered and revealed. And what can be logically deduced. Can we stick there? Have you ever read Aquinas' Summa?

    and no reason to think that there are not an infinite number with every possibility played out within them. This means whatever scientific arguments there are against bubble universes etc. are irrelevant because we've tentatively accepted a supernatural (in terms of our universe) creator.

    Why are you hammering infinity when we're talking about the known universe which is not infinite? I don't think we're on the same page, even as to our starting point of reasoning outward.

    You can apply what you know of the known world to make a positive assertion or proclamation about the "outside" world. But you cannot make a negative assertion.

    You have to explain why an intelligence which, at this point, all we think we know about it is that it created this universe, would stop at just one.

    I personally don't care what number He stopped at, if He's even stopped. I'm talking about knowing our own universe, knowing what we know. Measurable data. And taking that data, how do we apply it and deduce logically into wider fields of thought. What do you personally make of the fact that this particular universe has a beginning? What conclusions can you draw about us specifically?.

    if we tentatively cede that a supernatural intelligence created this universe we no longer use science to say what that supernatural intelligence might do in creating other universes and what limits there are on it. - you say.

    Three things:
    1) It matters not to speculate on things that aren't measurable, right, atheist friend? Let's just stick to what we can gather with our senses (mathematical senses, observational senses, the physical). Let's not get into lofty speculation. It answers nothing as pertains to our measurable universe in a satisfying way. Agree?

    Sidebar: Why do I find myself (a Catholic, supposed superstitious, unreasonable person) always talking my atheist friends down off a ledge of speculation, and asking them to stick to the facts, when it's supposed to be me who is the one who has faith yet not reason?

    2) Science honors (or should honor) a dividing line in the sand when it comes to "out of this world data", and gives way to philosophy and metaphysics.
    a) It doesn't do our conversation any good to speculate about what a Creator might do. Let's just look at the data we have and speculate, deductively, how we can know of our Creator.
    b) Specifically, all the corroborating evidence from space time geometry, laws of entropy and fine tuning, so to speak.

    3) If you want to enter into a philsophical discussion, that would be great. I have several questions, asked in an ordered way, that I find very interesting to consider in regards to "if there is a Creator God, how do you know it's the Christian God?" You want to see them?

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  87. "Agape love, for you, brother. That's another discussion. When you're ready for it."- I said.
    Makes no sense. Again, this was your starting point from which all the other things flowed, you say.

    Um, no. I never began this argument with agape love. I'm extrapolating from the Big Bang, considering scientific evidence, taking that evidence into philosophy and into metaphysics, and deducing - what is reasonable? I'm not starting with agape love, at all.

    When I say the universe came from nothing with no requirement for a creator... The difference is I start my journey from ignorance

    Why are you pleading ignorance, when physics measures our universe! We have known limitations on hand, and you're pleading ignorance? Really? Why stop the critical thinking?

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  88. Nubby, the problem is at every single step you make illegitimate leaps, sometimes based on a false dichotomy. It's like back before evolution was known, the false dichotomy was either god made man as he is or the various parts of man just came together by chance. It was, at the time a very strong argument for a creator. Evolution, which was not considered in the original either/or, turned out to allow for man to come about without a creator.

    If the Big Bang theory is correct, and we both think it is, then what existed 'before' the big bang is a complicated question. Time started at the big bang, so in our terms there is no before the big bang, but lets take a step outside (likewise there is no space outside the universe so outside is a complicated question too) the universe, what was there? Could it have been nothing? Depends on your definition of nothing. I'm not sure nothing means what you think it does. Or what I do either. Could it have been an m-brane, an eternal multiverse (but that might have its own problems in terms of no beginning), quantum potentiality, the laws of physics in potentiality, a mind waiting to bring the universe into existence?

    It could be any of these, albeit most likely none of these if the history of science is anything to go by. But my answer is "I don't know and have no way to even judge between the options, including the mind outside the universe that creates the universe." I simply cannot see how you could start here and favour the mind option (except you didn't start here). When science doesn't know, and various hypotheses are being thrown around by people at the cutting edge, it would be arrogant and foolish (a dangerous mix) for me to say anything other than I don't know.

    Just because someone made up an idea that fills all the current gaps doesn't mean it's true, or that it even deserves to be in the same conversation. We don't accept bad explanations because good ones aren't readily available, e.g. when someone says they've seen a ghost and I can't immediately come up with a plausible explanation for what they say happened, it doesn't mean ghost is the correct explanation, or even that it should be the default explanation.

    "what doesn't follow is that you're trying to eliminate the idea of a super intellect, but you posit nothing in its place"
    A super intellect, in and of itself, has nothing going for it other than an explanation of something scientists are investigating. It stops all research dead since the answer is already there and gives us nothing (except existence!) It is not what science accepts unless there is good evidence for it, none has been forthcoming for any explanation yet, which means the default position should be I don't know. It is also not my place to posit what could have made the universe. Could I have, pre-Darwin, given you an alternative to a man-creator god any more than I can give you an alternative to a universe-creator intelligence today? It's just not on to say goddidit with the best evidence being there's no solid evidence either way. Unless you do have evidence...?


    So, what do we know? The universe is here. The universe has been amenable to investigation using the scientific method. The universe appears to have began about 13.7 billion years ago. We have no idea what was 'there' 'before', or what caused it to generate a universe. I'm not sure how much you think we can deduce, but lets what induction gets us - every time a phenomenon (humans, thunder, harvests, rain, sunrise, comets etc.) has been ascribed to a supernatural entity it has later been shown to be a natural process. That doesn't mean all are, or all have been, simply that every one investigated has been shown to be natural.

    If you can show, using logic, induction or deduction, how any of your steps are valid I'd be intrigued.

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  89. Nubby, I missed your previous post while typing the last one up, sorry if it seems like I was trying to dodge.

    The reason I moved to speculating about multiple universes is that if I allow for a creator, then the next step you take is to say: 'well, isn't it a benevolent creator, making this fine tuned universe for us', to which my retort is: 'all we know about this creator at present is that it is a universe creating force. It is not unreasonable to speculate that perhaps that a timeless universe creating force might create an infinite number of universes in which case the fact this particular one appears such a good fit is suggestive of nothing.' You want to push on and give the universe creator more and more of a relationship with us and I say that's a false move if the special conditions in our universe are just an inevitable, but unintended, outcome of a timeless universe creator.

    You talk of facts, yet the facts simply state that there has never been strong evidence (or even very weak scientific evidence) for any supernatural being or occurrence. All we know, as fact, is that the natural world seems to function as if there were no supernatural entities interacting with it. What happened pre-big bang is pure speculation, at present, as I covered in my previous post. If you have facts that show anything different I'm all ears, or eyes in this case.

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  90. A super intellect, in and of itself, has nothing going for it other than an explanation of something scientists are investigating.

    Scientists aren't investigating God. Scientists are investigating the world. That is all they are asked to do, want to do, and should do. Metaphysics, on the other hand... not investigating God per se, but investigating to see if there are any proofs, absolutely.

    Have you ever heard of Lonergan's proof? One can certainly argue that there is One unconditioned reality, and further, one can argue that this One unconditioned reality must infact be an Unrestricted Intelligibility. Bold assertion? Yes, how do we get there by deduction ... quite an adventure but it's all grounded in truths and Truth.

    Let me know if you'd like to hear more. Otherwise, we're barely off the ground.

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  91. The reason I moved to speculating about multiple universes is that if I allow for a creator, then the next step you take is to say: 'well, isn't it a benevolent creator, making this fine tuned universe for us',

    That's not where I would jump to at all, MH. Why do you assume that? I would ask you a lot of probing questions before I ever jumped to "well, isn't it a benevolent creator?" Come on...

    to which my retort is: 'all we know about this creator at present is that it is a universe creating force.

    Why is that all you know? And yet, I don't even have a philosophy background, and I "know" more than that. Meaning, there are very sound logical arguments, using physics in one hand, and philosophy in the other, that work together to get at more satisfying answers than 'there's a creator of the universe'. Lockstep some philosophical knowledge with that. Start with Aquinas, I suggest.

    It is not unreasonable to speculate that perhaps that a timeless universe creating force might create an infinite number of universes in which case the fact this particular one appears such a good fit is suggestive of nothing.'

    That's not even remotely a) measurable b) physically proper c) approaching time with a correct definition.

    You know, this is rather important so that we don't toss around terms like "timeless": modern science and philosophy treat time as more than a dimension with movement, they treat it as a separate reality. Tell me how that "naturally evolved"?

    Not only that, but there is very good argument for a Creator of past time. Lonergan's book points to this argument. Very sound.

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  92. Thanks, but I'd rather focus my prayers for people who are STILL WAITING, not someone who already has a baby.

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  93. it is not unreasonable to speculate that perhaps that a timeless universe creating force might create an infinite number of universes in which case the fact this particular one appears such a good fit is suggestive of nothing.'

    Let me ask you a really simple question: Why did time come into existence then? It makes no sense to say t + 10 = 0.

    Time came into existence at the Big Bang (as you and I agree) and it's always been the same ever since. It's been it's own reality. It cannot be manipulated.

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  94. Thanks, but I'd rather focus my prayers for people who are STILL WAITING, not someone who already has a baby.

    Anonymous, that's a bit mean spirited. I think there are enough prayers in all of us to go around. And some birth mothers specifically choose families with built in siblings, on purpose.

    Why don't we all just pray that every child will be loved and cherished, and then our prayers will be most pleasing to God, instead of having that tone of bitterness?

    It might be time for me to go back to non-anonymous comments.

    Blessings and prayers to you.

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  95. Okay Nubby, let's start at the beginning and see what knowledge we share.

    There was a Big Bang at which point our multi-dimensional universe came into being with the three spatial dimensions and time originating at that point (there may be other dimensions, but I don't actually know about them). There was a strangely unequal amount of matter and anti-matter, one of which is what everything we can see and measure (within reason - obviously anti-matter exists and can be created) in the universe is made of.

    The amount of matter and the gravitational pull made the matter coalesce into clumps. Extreme gravity in those clumps allowed the light elements' nuclei to fuse releasing energy. We call these starts. Start aged and exploded throwing heavier elements into the universe. Heavier elements also coalesced into clumps we call planets. On at least one of these planets molecules that replicated themselves (perhaps they were their own catalysts) using available raw materials became more prominent. Changes to those molecules (by radiation perhaps) that enhanced replication (most changes wouldn't and so would be lead to the altered molecule being less common)or utilisation of raw materials became more prominent than the original. Complication increased. Competition between molecules increased. Evolution and natural selection began to take hold. Life was formed. life became more complex, ultimately resulting in us, the internet and this conversation.

    That's the short version of what I know.

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  96. Okay Nubby, let's start at the beginning and see what knowledge we share.

    There was a Big Bang at which point our multi-dimensional universe came into beingwith the three spatial dimensions and time originating at that point (there may be other dimensions, but I don't actually know about them).


    Stop right there. No need for the rest:

    #1: There was a point at which the measurable universe came into being. I fully and completely give a resounding yes, we agree.

    #2: When all that matter was highly compressed and could not bring itself to explode... what external force had the +1 power necessary? And further, why did time begin, just then?

    It makes no sense to say time was infinite, all spatial dimensions were infinite, and then, suddenly, they just were.

    If you're trying to make God unnecessary, then your reasoning would have to be that the universe had tried every possible combination over an infinite amount of time before it exploded. That makes zero sense, because we'd never get to today. There wouldn't be the condition of time!

    Time is a separate reality, that's how most of the scientific and philosophical community is understanding it in modern times. How do you reason that a negative value of time would get you to a "today"?

    Either God created the matter and set it all in motion via the BB, or if you want to posit that matter existed in some infinite time frame or timeless frame, then we'd never be here. We'd never get to today. The Universe never would've exploded.

    You're stuck with at least conceding to the idea of a creator. Simple because there is a beginning and a beginning implies a Creator.

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  97. Consider the fact that if t = 0 at the Big Bang, then there cannot be a t -1.

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  98. Nubby, this is why we shouldn't have this conversation, neither you nor I are even remotely qualified to comment on this. It is highly speculative physics and, frankly, philosophy is laughable when it comes to this stuff.

    At t=0 to t=10^-43 (the so-called Planck epoch) our current physics is completely incapable of even guessing at what was going on (even if it was, I wouldn't understand it). To ignore that and then make, what are nonsensical in the literal sense, statements about what must have gone on before is simply an untenable position. To then use this non-knowledge as a basis for some kind of theology (or a kind of 'proof' of an existing one) is not sensible, rational, viable or plausible.

    "It makes no sense to say time was infinite, all spatial dimensions were infinite, and then, suddenly, they just were."
    I'm not. I'm saying that, as far as we're aware, they didn't exist until the Big Bang. I would also postulate that time and spatial dimension are intrinsically linked although this isn't the unanimous view of physicists (but it is the prevailing view).

    "If you're trying to make God unnecessary"
    Well, I'm saying your definition of 'God' is unnecessary. That a more generic deity might be the trigger for the universe is a much more tenable position, but one I still fundamentally disagree with. But that's not your contention at all. You think there is a Deity that kicked it all off, you think It thinks humans are special. That requires a lot of work, of which you have done precisely zero thus far.

    "...then your reasoning would have to be that the universe had tried every possible combination over an infinite amount of time before it exploded."
    There are other possible explanations for the physical constants we see today, but no matter, you show a fundamental misunderstanding of time here. I would correct you, but my understanding is just as flawed as yours - but I don't go round saying X makes zero sense based on my misunderstanding. What I would say is that there is no requirement for an external time, and it is not illogical to think that all possibilities were tried at once - it even has some 'validity' based on some interpretations of quantum mechanics... Not that this is necessarily my view, simply that this would be a possible response to some Kalam Cosmological arguments.

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  99. Perhaps you could enlighten me, I really don't get what you mean when you say, "Time is a separate reality" could you please expand on this?

    "Either God created the matter and set it all in motion via the BB, or if you want to posit that matter existed in some infinite time frame or timeless frame, then we'd never be here."
    I really wish you'd stop doing this. You can't set up a false either/or situation and then illegitimately knock one down and declare the other the truth. I don't know if it's a lack of imagination or a religious thing (Leila does it too) or if it's a debating tactic Americans do, but it is poor form and distracts from your actual argument.

    "You're stuck with at least conceding to the idea of a creator. Simple because there is a beginning and a beginning implies a Creator."
    False conclusion from a false dilemma where one leg of the dilemma was illegitimately declared untrue due to an argument from incredulity.

    I can't say there isn't a creator, or even a Creator, I can't even tell you how the universe may have come about as it is, or how one could come about at all, without one. I have to plead ignorance. But you are equally not allowed to come and say, "I have a solution, Leprechauns did it" and just because you define Leprechauns in such a way that it avoids the problems the natural universe hypothesis has does not make it so. It needs more.

    "Consider the fact that if t = 0 at the Big Bang, then there cannot be a t -1."
    That depends on your frame of reference. And level of knowledge. I am lacking enough in both respects to make sense of the comment let alone formulate a cogent response.

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  100. Goodnight, Irene!

    Why you're not "qualified" to ask logical questions and draw plausible answers is beyond me, so you choose to bow out.

    You protest this, and protest that, but don't posit anything in its place. There is no debate until you give me something. Anything. Again, your issue.

    And you toss in this insanity: "physics (of our known, measured universe!) is highly speculative". You better set to work telling the science community that they don't know what they're doing. And that their well tested and undisputed theories prove nothing. And, "philosophy is laughable"? You clearly don't want to get to any serious point of consideration. Please stop wasting my time then.

    Here's a serious perspective:

    1- How does the universe go from nothing to the Big Bang? Posit something through science or posit something supernatural. Saying "I don't know" doesn't refute the possibility of a Supernatural Being! Give me something according to the BB theory.

    2- What did we have at t -1? We know we what we have at t = 0.

    3- If there's nothing before that, what happened between then?
    There's no logically explained reason for t = 0 to even happen!

    Until you resolve that step in between, everything else is irrelevant! And you don't have an argument disproving a supernatural Being!

    We don't start with all this "stuff" floating around, coming together to get the universe. We start with nothing. Not a thing. Not a spark. There's nothing.

    4- What is your logical, sensible explanation for why it all came into being from nothing, with the agreed upon point of "coming into being"?

    What's the logical answer? The logical answer is that the universe could not make itself explode.
    You know this, yet you won't concede it. You backtrack into, "Well, I have "non-knowledge" so therefore, I'm unsure."

    Frankly, that's backing out dishonestly and being stubborn; it's not refuting my position one iota.
    From a very simple, straight forward, pop quiz type of question, just posit something concrete.

    5 -Don't you have powers of deduction? You cannot reason, simply reason, where one position fails, you can't be open to another possibility? You haven't proved anything else to me. Give me something besides an unrestricted Being!

    We agree that there was a finite beginning and nothing before it, yes?
    Nothing existed before T=0. So any theories leading up to T=0 (the Big Bang as we've defined) are illogical.

    6- You want to have this hope that the universe just spun into existence, that it has no first cause. You want A to B to C back to A. Completely illogical! There's no starting point with that reasoning, and you've already agreed to the data that shows we have a starting point in the Big Bang theory. You see why my eyes are beginning to cross?

    7- You have not provided any other logical reason for how and why the matter, energy, space, and time instantly came to be, when the nanosecond moment previous to T=0, they were non existent.

    8 - What natural power could provide this? According to science of the known universe, no power existed to do that .

    9- The universe could not have simply evolved into being, because there was no time dimension for it to evolve in!
    You need time for evolution!

    10th and final comment-

    I don't like getting into dishonest arguments. If you want to be honest then say, "You're right, the extra spark necessary for the BB couldn't have come from within. I don't like the idea of a Being unrestricted and unconditioned, but I'll keep looking for an logical answer."
    Don't come back positing nothing as an alternative just to be stubborn.
    It's intellectually dishonest and wastes my time.

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  101. Nubby, as I said before, if we were debating pre-Darwin about the necessity of a creator for the existence of man (or life in general) then you would not accept "I don't know, yet" as an answer. But that was the only honest answer. Instead, you'd do exactly what you're doing here, set up a false strawman argument: either goddidit or random chance, and we know it can't have been random chance ergo goddidit. We can't discount that possibility, nor can we ever say goddidn'tdoit, but we might get to a point where god is unnecessary for whatever it is you think is impossible without god (mankind, life, morality, universal constants, the universe itself...)

    Admitting ignorance is a much superior position to false certitude. Also, claiming the existence of something and then retrospectively defining its properties as explaining what we currently cannot is the very definition of 'god of the gaps' and making it completely untestable doesn't really help much either.

    "And you toss in this insanity..."
    I'd much rather you quote me accurately and in context - I was referring to time before the end of the Planck epoch where our current understanding of physics breaks down. Physicists do know this and are investigating, speculating and doing a lot of complicated maths involving equations, particles and counter-intuitive assumptions that you and I are completely ignorant of. And there is no consensus so I can't give you anything to posit in place of a creator outside of the random speculation I have already given you, but I'll try again:

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  102. 1. Multiverse, m-brane, quantum inevitability, computer simulation, negative gravity (which leads to the universe being a zero energy event), eternal Big Bang-Big Crunch events, a deity. All possible, almost certainly none of them true.

    2. t-1 is a non-concept. If time itself begins at t=0 there can literally be no t-1. Also, time doesn't mean what you or I understand it to mean. Also, we have absolutely no clue about what happened between t=0 and t=10^-43 as humanity's best understanding of physics can't cope with the conditions at that time.

    3. I don't try, and logically cannot, disprove the existence of any supernatural being. I just don't see any evidence for one. And I don't (necessarily) count ignorance of an event as positive evidence for speculative beings.

    4. Logic ceases to function I'm afraid. At the quantum level maths becomes the arbiter of what constitutes logical and our medium scale, monkey brains cannot handle that. Cause and effect at that scale (and extreme energies, high and low) does not always work in the way we expect - not all effects have causes and not all causes precede effects! This is why, for you (I assume) or I, ignorance is the only tenable position.

    5. Logic isn't what you think it is. We don't agree that there was nothing before t=0, if such a thing can even be said to be possible, which I'm not entirely sure it can. However, there can be stuff external to the universe, existing independently of our universe and this could be the mind of a creator, it could be a multiverse of some description, or it could be, frankly, anything as we have no data to go on.

    6. Again, logic and cause and effect don't happen he way our 'common sense' thinks they do at the quantum level.

    7. "...nanosecond moment previous to T=0" A time that, based on our universe's timeline cannot exist. I believe the phrase "what's north of the north pole?" is one that is used to try to explain how t-1 is not a meaningful concept. But let's assume the universe started and it had to come from somewhere/thing/time and push on to 8.

    8. By definition anything outside of the universe is a supernatural power, but I don't think that's what you meant. Any processes external to the universe, that are natural in that plane, are not available to us to investigate or test. It is then very hard to say what is there or what it can do unless it impacts our universe and the only impact we know of, currently, is the Big Bang (miracles notwithstanding).
    "According to science of the known universe"
    But... the known universe is this universe. It is not any external plane of existence, be it an m-brane, other universe, pantheon of the gods, or whatever. The science of the known universe is not necessarily, and almost definitely simply isn't, applicable to anything outside of this (known) universe.

    9. Please stop using evolved in this sense in this discussion, it muddies the waters.

    10. Okay, "You're right, the extra spark necessary for the BB almost certainly couldn't have come from within. I don't see any evidence of a Being unrestricted and unconditioned, so I'll keep looking for a logical answer."

    However, shooting down your certitude of a Being(?!?) as the only thing that could have caused the universe, even while positing nothing in return, is a worthwhile exercise.

    I'm also interested in how, even if you tentatively* accept a being as the ultimate cause of the universe, you move on from there... You seem to think the steps follow logically and they all hang together (hence if we can remove the certitude from the initial step...)?

    * Even if I disagree with your certitude that a being must be the cause, if later steps have explanatory and predictive power then it is possible that they will add credence to the initial hypothesis.

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  103. Why I even try... I've no idea.

    we have absolutely no clue about what happened between t=0 and t=10^-43 as humanity's best understanding of physics can't cope with the conditions at that time.

    Conditions btwn t=0 and anything beforehand? Physics can’t cope because there was nothing to cope with. Do you realize there were no laws of physics until the universe came into being? There were no physical laws governing anything.

    Logic ceases to function I'm afraid. At the quantum level maths becomes the arbiter of what constitutes logical and our medium scale, monkey brains cannot handle that.

    I'll pay admission to see you proclaim this aloud in any physics lab or math class. Would love to see the looks on their faces. Psst... In case you weren't sure, math has its very foundation in philosophy. Branches of the same tree.
    And as for 'math trumping logic at this quantum (or any) level' --- that's inane. Mathematical and logical systems are inseparable.

    Cause and effect at that scale (and extreme energies, high and low) does not always work in the way we expect - not all effects have causes and not all causes precede effects

    Soooo....when did quantum physics begin again? Before T=0 or after? Yeah, that's what I thought.

    However, there can be stuff external to the universe,

    How, in the most sensible way, can you tell me with a straight face, that something can come before, or 'be external to', a beginning????

    The word "beginning" means starting point. Does it not??

    What is with this grasping at "outside a universal beginning"? A beginning is a beginning!

    There is no outside of it, no before it. Quit moving the goal posts to include everything you want it to and to exclude everything you don't want. It's mind numbing and dishonest!

    If something existed before T=0, then T=0 is not correct and needs to be adjusted to the “real” beginning. Do we agree that there was a beginning or is that changing, too?? Good God.

    The science of the known universe is not necessarily, and almost definitely simply isn't, applicable to anything outside of this (known) universe.

    “humanity's best understanding of physics can't cope with the conditions” of this concept so why are we talking about it??

    Why are you not applying physics to metaphysics! Why are you stopping the buck at inductive reasoning?

    I don't get you, bro.
    You poo-poo very valid branches of thought like philosophy and everything that entails. Absurd.
    You now poo-poo logic, as it applies to quantum mechanics. Absurd.
    You poo-poo deductive reasoning. Absurd.

    You basically are comfy in your tiny little box of thought.

    Good for you. Makes no sense whatsoever to me. I wouldn't trumpet a proud badge of "uncertainty" because your uncertainty doesn't come from intellectually exhausting any avenue of thought. It comes from laziness. Sorry.

    However, shooting down your certitude of a Being(?!?) as the only thing that could have caused the universe, even while positing nothing in return, is a worthwhile exercise.

    You've shot down precisely nothing. And I'm bored with it, sorry.

    You ignore the old saying, "less than everything is far from nothing". Apparently this doesn't apply to you.

    Good luck with that whole train of thought. Admitting ignorance is only a badge to wear if the pursuit of the thought has been intellectually honest. Not true in your case.

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  104. Nubby,

    You seem unable to grasp the concept of a local time, one entirely internal to this universe, therefore there is NO concept of before t=0. (This equally applies to space and 'outside' of the universe.) But that's fine as it is a concept completely alien to our ape brains. But it is mathematically feasible.

    "Do you realize there were no laws of physics until the universe came into being? There were no physical laws governing anything."
    That's probably not knowable. The only evidence I am aware of for what is not in our universe is, counter-intuitively, our universe. The physics in our universe came into being with our universe, but there is no way of knowing, or showing, that there is no physics external to it.

    The beginning of everything we know is not necessarily the beginning of everything. Since we cannot know what we cannot know, or I certainly can't, then it is not really fair to 1. posit a complete beginning and 2. expect me to explain it and then 3. because I can't explain it decide that your metaphysical explanation must true.

    Nubby, if you want to explain how any branch of logic (outside of mathematics) or philosophy applies to the quantum realm then please do, but it is clear to me that superconductivity, superfluidity, mass and energy equivalence, wave particle duality, action at a distance, just to name some, were not in the realm of philosophy or logic until they were in the realm of known facts. But maybe you know better and I missed something?

    If you want to lead me down a path that you say I am apparently unable to see then please do so, but all you've done thus far is ask for answers to questions that, for the most part, you have shown no understanding of.

    So, your turn, tell me how you use induction and deduction to get beyond what I have already written.

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