Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Atheism and Reason!

Now and then, I browse Uncommon Descent's threads. There's something I've seen happen there so many times that I find it fascinating.

Again and again, I see atheists/agnostics show up to argue that something can, in fact, come from nothing utterly uncaused. Literally that. That it's entirely possible for something to exist suddenly, for no reason, uncaused, out of utter nothingness.

If I didn't see it happen at least a dozen times, with my own eyes, I would have never believed anyone was doing this. I've even seen an evolutionary biologist do it on UD (though he later backed off.)

What also fascinates me is that some of these same people claim that *this has been observed by scientists*. Seriously. They claim that scientists have reported, "We have seen things (Virtual particles being particularly popular here) pop into and out of existence from absolute nothingness, uncaused." And they inevitably add that this is okay, because it's only really tiny things that do this. Except maybe universes sometimes.

I have nothing to add. No witty remark, no snideness. Words fail me. People believe this. And many of these people think people who believe in God are the irrational ones.


Ilíon said...

"I have nothing to add. No witty remark, no snideness. Words fail me. People believe this. And many of these people think people who believe in God are the irrational ones."

*grin* I think that was a perfect remark.

Anonymous said...

From The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan

"Consider this claim: as I walk along, time -as measured by my wristwatch or my ageing process -slows down. Also, I shrink in the direction of motion. Also, I get more massive. Who has ever witnessed such a thing? It's easy to dismiss it out of hand. Here's another: matter and antimatter are all the time, throughout the universe, being created from nothing. Here's a third: once in a very great while, your car will spontaneously ooze through the brick wall of your garage and be found the next morning on the street. They're all absurd! But the first is a statement of special relativity, and the other two are consequences of quantum mechanics (vacuum fluctuations and barrier tunnelling,* they're called). Like it or not, that's the way the world is. If you insist it's ridiculous, you'll be forever closed to some of the major findings on the rules that govern the Universe.

*The average waiting time per stochastic ooze is much longer than the age of the Universe since the Big Bang. But, however improbable, in principle it might happen tomorrow."

Crude said...


Ah, Sagan. One of my favorite non-atheist scientists.

Please note that nowhere did I deny the weirdness of quantum physics. I focused on two very specifics claims.

1) Some things pop into existence from utter nothingness, without cause.

2) Scientists have observed 1 happening.

Quantum physics is weird. Very weird, and I love the subject for a number of reasons. But no amount of weirdness makes 1 a rational claim, nor 2 anything other than pure bullshit. The "But the quantum world is weird" card didn't justify the nonsense in What The Bleep Do We Know, it doesn't justify Deepak Chopra's games, and it doesn't save the people I'm talking about from being breathtakingly ignorant.

A lot could be said in response to Sagan's quote on other grounds, mind you - there are problems embedded in that quote that I haven't gotten into, nor will I right now. But my criticism was specific, and the quote does nothing to address those criticisms.

Ilíon said...

Sagan: "[blah, blah, blah, blah, bullshit-blah]"

And, sometimes, iron axeheads which fly off their handles into a pond float to the surface. And, sometimes, the dead bodies of persons who really and truely are dead, rise back to life.

Ilíon said...

[darn those typos and the lack of an edit function]