Wednesday, November 18, 2009

A Christian Dialogue - Part 2

This is part of an e-mail exchange


To Mr. Ward:
I am sympathetic to your position as I used to be an agnostic, however, agnosticism and atheism became no longer as intellectually satisfying as theism. I think that we make inferences to things that are invisible, yet exist. I first came across God, as an agnostic when I saw the Grand Canyon, made love to a woman, and began stargazing. What these experiences led to was the contemplation of the universe.

I have questions. Did it just evolve? From out of what did it evolve from? If there is nothing a void, then you get nothing. So, did it just pop out of space, like a magician pulling a rabbit from a hat? Now that is an evolutionary myth if I ever heard one. In order for evolution to occur (I don't deny the evolution of species, God certainly can use it to bring about life), you need three things: A space, time continuum and matter. Once this is in place, then evolution can occur. Evolution cannot create itself out of nothing; it has to have existing matter, time and space in order to work.

The second law of thermodynamics indicates that the universe has a beginning (Even atheistic astronomers acknowledge this as the “Big Bang”). If the universe has always existed, then an infinite amount of time would have already passed before reaching this present moment. But it cannot be true that an infinite amount of time has passed to get to this point because, according to the second law, the universe, which contains a finite amount of energy, would then be in a state of equilibrium - a cold and lifeless state of absolute rest.

The question that obviously follows is: If the universe has not always existed, then who or what caused it to come into existence?

Astronomers tell us that the universe was tuned at its inception to a precision of greater than sixty decimal places, which is a precision equal to the number ten multiplied by itself more than 60 times. Unless the universe was finely tuned, it would not have worked. But all known natural processes are not tuned that finely, only to seven decimal places.

Only a First Cause with supreme intelligence could have produced such phenomenal accuracy. Brother, God's fingerprints are all over the place!

Don't let your philosophical prejudices blind you from the evidence.

Mr. Ward Replies:
Philosophical prejudice?!! – OK. Well, Sir, let us start here…

There cannot be a First Cause!

Even if you attribute the existence of the universe to a creator, the decision by that creator to make that "First Cause" is in itself a PRECEDING cause and if so - the "First Cause" then becomes an effect.

That effect would be a link in an endless, complete, and inescapably fused web of cause and effect simultaneity, a condition that would maintain and regulate every attribute and process this supposed "creator" may possess, develop, dispense, or dispose, from this time point - going back. But - if that creator were transcendent, eternally possessed of itself, and beyond natural laws, all the divine capabilities and possibilities as asserted by you, and refuted by me, would be nullified into a silenced impossibility.

Now, let's start nullifying... Your description Sir, of the second law is not indicative of a beginning, but of a closed system. The universe is a dynamic, open system, with infinite reserves and unbounded possibilities. The universe IS the free exchange of mass-energy.

The conversion of mass to energy, and of energy to mass, never stops. The void (energy) produces the visible and/or measurable (mass), and mass itself dissolves, again and again, to become the void. This is a continuous, eternal, and OPEN process that operates with no cessation, no depletion, and no rest.

Now, Sir: There is also a law of thermodynamics that claims energy cannot be created nor destroyed, it changes from one form of energy to another - from electricity to heat for example. Sir: Isn't energy a part of "creation?" If it is - how could an aspect of “creation,” fall outside the possibility of creation? If that is so, such an argument would logically conclude that energy is a separate entity, distinct from the created whole.

If you will remember Sir - energy EQUALS mass times the speed of light squared. This universe is the un-separable continuum of the equal and un-created.

I personally reject the possibility of the universe being the creation of a god or any preceding intelligence. If there is or was such an existence, it would have to totally transcend cause and effect. A god that is eternal and transcendent - itself beyond the domain of causality, would have no place or ability to produce a first cause, and therefore could neither create something nor destroy it.

There is also a persisting condition of impermanence, which determines that the very causes and conditions that give rise to phenomena, but is equally revealing of an inherent and permanent universal order, are themselves impermanent and subject to change. Existence is fundamentally empty and non-substantial in nature.

At the same time, this emptiness is infused with countless possibilities for existence. These possibilities are driven to manifestation, by a ubiquitous, eternally reciprocating, causational network of conditional opportunities, for appearances, for transformations, and for temporary periods of non-existence.

In addition, there is a condition of potentiality. This refers to the fact that something cannot be produced from just anything. For a particular set of causes or conditions to give rise to a particular set of effects or consequences, there must be some kind of causal relationship between them - this relationship is called RELATIVITY.

Relativity can also be expressed in the term “dependent origination.” I think that the “origin” of the universe must be understood in terms of the principle of an infinite chain, or better, an endlessly woven fabric of relativistic causation, with no transcendence or preceding intelligence. Causation itself implies no original cause.

If there were a "Big Bang" I would prefer not to think of it as an absolute beginning. Rather, I would like to think of it, until we learn more, as a recurring point of thermodynamic instability – an event in a continuous series of formations, sustains, destructions and renewals. A process stage of the eternal and repeating life cycle of a beginning-less and possibly oscillating universe.

If you look at “creation” this way, you will have, at the very least, a reasonable hypothesis - until we learn more, that renders moot the question of what was before the universe – the question of what was before creation.

The “fine tuning” that you mention, I do not think is something that was done by a god by way of design or construct – this “tuning,” if you will, I think, is an inherent characteristic of existence. Existence by its very nature tunes, communes, transforms and regulates of and within itself, with no outside initiation or assistance. The tuning of all natural processes are self-calibrated to the same degree as the universe, because they are both at the deepest levels one and the same.

This one and same reality means - the infinity of everything. I think that the entities of all individual existences within the universal scenario, are seamlessly interpenetrated through and into the entities of all other existences, and this includes the manifest we perceive as "space-time." To me, this is what makes possible the “dependent origination” that I mentioned before.

This brings up a question: If you think a god is adept enough to fine-tune the universe to a precision of “sixty decimal places” or better, why would he stop short before tuning everything else that is contained therein to the same degree? If that is the case - an argument asserting the dissonant condition of individual existences with each other, and then as NOT being tuned to the same degree as the pervading existence, meaning the entire universe as space-time continuum; for me, such an argument does not work.

Existence is oneness: Meaning – the universe simultaneously and indivisibly contains everything including itself; with all individual existences being essentially the same. All things are joined at all existential levels, with mass-energy abiding as the transforming constant – while energy-mass conserves and flows as an endless, singular unity.

So: This supposed dissonance that you assert; Sir – makes no sense either philosophically or scientifically. There are causational and existential inconsistencies in your viewpoint that makes your argument very hard to buy. And, if your argument does not make sense, I must conclude that your assertion is not true, at least until more convincing evidence that concurs by proof or argument or both is presented.

Further, I think it is a mistake at this point in our collective understanding, to automatically default to the “God Did It” hypothesis just because we are not fully clear on how things came to be. At the same time, I think we know enough about the universe, in the beginning of the 21st century, not to have to reference some dusty book of Iron Age superstitions, when it comes to developing a better understanding of the true nature of the universe.

I mean COME ON man - the Bible describes the world as flat!

When it comes to discourse on these matters, no one has ever produced indisputable evidence, or made an intelligent argument that was convincing to me, explaining that the universe was created in such a way, as to bypass the laws of nature, or to override the processes of cosmic, chemical, and biological evolution.

I think the universe has an inherent, non-conscious, un-created, all-possessing active intelligence, with my present understanding that is the best way for me to describe it. That “intelligence” is implicit within its eternal dynamic, and its deep energetic structure. Out of this dynamic – we have humanity, whom has emerged at this stage of cosmic evolutionary unfolding. Human life is the point, that this magnificent universal intelligence awakens, and becomes conscious of itself.

This intelligence is simultaneously being-specific, when you are looking at other kinds of living beings, or insentient objects. And you see its various manifestations and relations in the relativistic behavior of existence itself. The perception of this reality, in its ever-changing, majestic, poetically beautiful, and all-powerful universal wholeness – I think is what people MISTAKENLY call God.

What we call life and its activity is an infinite, all-pervasive, eternal, unstoppable and natural universal inherency, regulated and maintained, by an unalterable and uncreated law of cause and effect.

No fingerprints needed.

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