Wednesday, November 25, 2009

50 blogs on disbelief - Cosmology

50 Blogs on Disbelief
My thoughts on the book, 50 Voices of Disbelief, Why We Are Athiests, edited by Russell Blackford and Udo Schuklenk. Written as I read them in no particular order. The page number of the essay is provided at the top of each entry.

P 112 Victor Stenger "Godless Cosmology"

Stenger starts out claiming that Christian apologists who say science and religion are not in conflict are wrong. I usually disagree with this statement, but as he defines it, I have to agree. The apologists he is referring to attempt to twist science to create proofs of God.

He covers cosmological arguments for God and pretty well bastes them. He explains how the universe could have come from nothing and why it does not need a cause. It helps if you understand the math and quantum mechanics, which requires an advanced physics degree. He does his best to help you out with that. He provides names and plenty of references for both sides of the argument if you want to pursue this further.

He also points out some pretty sad maneuvering by those on the religious side of the argument, including quoting things that aren’t there. These are not fringe members of the theistic community, William Lane Craig and Dinesh D'Souza. Our new understanding of where we are in the universe has created a significant shift in culture. Religious leaders should be champions of that new understanding, not trying to make new information fit outdated interpretations.

He also covers the anthropic principle and the argument of “fine-tuning” the universe. I think he pretty well puts those arguments to bed. He only spends one paragraph on the primordial existential question, “why is there something rather than nothing?” He quotes the Nobel Prize winning physicist Frank Wilczek, “Nothing is unstable”. I’m sure that makes more sense to other Nobel Prize winning physicists. Their definition of “nothing” is no doubt different from mine.

Stenger acknowledges that there are many possible ways the universe could have come into existence, making the dualistic question seem trite. However you might note that the existence of many possible theories leaves many questions still open.


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