God vs. Science.

Someone sent me a link to this blog entry at some random weblog that appears to be a new variation on the popular Evil Atheist Professor versus the True Believer student chain letter that’s been making the rounds for years. Previous versions were much shorter and attributed the student as being Albert Einstein, but this version has replaced making the student someone famous with making the fiction considerably longer. This isn’t the only blog with this email up as of late and just about every site that has it marvels over what a great bit of logic it is.

Well I’m hear to say it’s a load of crap, but first I should start by relating the sad story in question:

A science professor begins his school year with a lecture to the students, “Let me explain the problem science has with religion.” The atheist professor of philosophy pauses before his class and then asks one of his new students to stand.

“You’re a Christian, aren’t you, son?”

“Yes sir,” the student says.

“So you believe in God?”

“Absolutely.”

“Is God good?”

“Sure! God’s good.”

“Is God all-powerful? Can God do anything?”

“Yes.”

“Are you good or evil?”

“The Bible says I’m evil.”

The professor grins knowingly. “Aha! The Bible!” He considers for a moment. “Here’s one for you. Let’s say there’s a sick person over here and you can cure him. You can do it. Would you help him? Would you try?”

“Yes sir, I would.”

“So you’re good…!”

“I wouldn’t say that.”

“But why not say that? You’d help a sick and maimed person if you could. Most of us would if we could. But God doesn’t.”

The student does not answer, so the professor continues. “He doesn’t, does he? My brother was a Christian who died of cancer, even though he prayed to Jesus to heal him. How is this Jesus good? Hmmm? Can you answer that one?”

The student remains silent.

“No, you can’t, can you?” the professor says. He takes a sip of water from a glass on his desk to give the student time to relax.

“Let’s start again, young fella. Is God good?”

“Er…yes,” the student says.

“Is Satan good?”

The student doesn’t hesitate on this one. “No.”

“Then where does Satan come from?”

The student falters. “From God”

“That’s right. God made Satan, didn’t he? Tell me, son. Is there evil in this world?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Evil’s everywhere, isn’t it? And God did make everything, correct?”

“Yes.”

“So who created evil?” The professor continued, “If God created everything, then God created evil, since evil exists, and according to the principle that our works define who we are, then God is evil.”

Again, the student has no answer. “Is there sickness? Immorality? Hatred? Ugliness? All these terrible things, do they exist in this world?”

The student squirms on his feet. “Yes.”

“So who created them?”

The student does not answer again, so the professor repeats his question. “Who created them?” There is still no answer. Suddenly the lecturer breaks away to pace in front of the classroom. The class is mesmerized. “Tell me,” he continues onto another student. “Do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?”

The student’s voice betrays him and cracks. “Yes, professor, I do.”

The old man stops pacing. “Science says you have five senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Have you ever seen Jesus?”

“No sir. I’ve never seen Him.”

“Then tell us if you’ve ever heard your Jesus?”

“No, sir, I have not.”

“Have you ever felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelt your Jesus? Have you ever had any sensory perception of Jesus Christ, or God for that matter?”

“No, sir, I’m afraid I haven’t.”

“Yet you still believe in him?”

“Yes.”

“According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your God doesn’t exist. What do you say to that, son?”

“Nothing,” the student replies. “I only have my faith.”

“Yes, faith,” the professor repeats. “And that is the problem science has with God. There is no evidence, only faith.”

The student stands quietly for a moment, before asking a question of His own. “Professor, is there such thing as heat?”

“Yes,” the professor replies. “There’s heat.”

“And is there such a thing as cold?”

“Yes, son, there’s cold too.”

“No sir, there isn’t.”

The professor turns to face the student, obviously interested. The room suddenly becomes very quiet. The student begins to explain. “You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, unlimited heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat, but we don’t have anything called ‘cold’. We can hit up to 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold; otherwise we would be able to go colder than the lowest -458 degrees.”

“Every body or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-458 F) is the total absence of heat. You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.”

Silence across the room. A pen drops somewhere in the classroom, sounding like a hammer.

“What about darkness, professor. Is there such a thing as darkness?”

“Yes,” the professor replies without hesitation. “What is night if it isn’t darkness?”

“You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something; it is the absence of something. You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light, but if you have no light constantly you have nothing and it’s called darkness, isn’t it? That’s the meaning we use to define the word.”

“In reality, darkness isn’t. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn’t you?”

The professor begins to smile at the student in front of him. This will be a good semester. “So what point are you making, young man?”

“Yes, professor. My point is, your philosophical premise is flawed to start with, and so your conclusion must also be flawed.”

The professor’s face cannot hide his surprise this time. “Flawed? Can you explain how?”

“You are working on the premise of duality,” the student explains. “You argue that there is life and then there’s death; a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can’t even explain a thought.”

“It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, just the absence of it.”

“Now tell me, professor. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?”

“If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man, yes, of course I do.”

“Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?”

The professor begins to shake his head, still smiling, as he realizes where the argument is going. A very good semester, indeed.

“Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a preacher?”

The class is in uproar. The student remains silent until the commotion has subsided.

“To continue the point you were making earlier to the other student, let me give you an example of what I mean.”

The student looks around the room. “Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor’s brain?” The class breaks out into laughter.

“Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor’s brain, felt the professor’s brain, touched or smelt the professor’s brain? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain, with all due respect, sir.”

“So if science says you have no brain, how can we trust your lectures, sir?”

Now the room is silent. The professor just stares at the student, his face unreadable.

Finally, after what seems an eternity, the old man answers. “I guess you’ll have to take them on faith.”

“Now, you accept that there is faith, and, in fact, faith exists with life,” the student continues. “Now, sir, is there such a thing as evil?”

Now uncertain, the professor responds, “Of course, there is. We see it everyday. It is in the daily example of man’s inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.”

To this the student replied, “Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God. God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God’s love present in his heart. It’s like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.”

The professor sat down.

This students statements are true, can you or can you not make night darker?

Is it possible for it to get colder after absolute zero -458 degree’s F.

Can you feel,taste,see,hear,or smell your brain,

If anyone can contest this please do.

So I did. I left the following comment at the blog I pulled this from and, as it’s rather lengthy and there’s a good chance the site owner will just delete it outright, I thought I should post it here as well.

Here’s my reply:

It’s a fictional story that’s been attributed to any number of people including Albert Einstein, but has no basis in reality. It’s also a very flawed argument that’s only really impressive to the scientifically illiterate. It’s kind of sad to see it making the rounds once again, but at least the latest incarnation isn’t attributing it to Einstein.

Let’s start with the most obvious problem with this entire argument: The Christian God is supposedly omnipresent therefor if God is literally everywhere how can there be the absence of God anywhere? This is a fatal flaw to the Absence of God = Evil argument. Additionally there’s the problem with the simple fact that many believers commit acts of evil in spite of their belief in God and often because of their belief in God. This would also be an obstacle for the evil = absence of God argument.

Secondly it relies on conflating two different meanings of the word faith. Namely the faith required for something that’s pretty well established—the fact that the professor does have a brain—versus the faith required for something with absolutely no evidence—the existence of God. In the former there are any number of ways to prove the existence of the professor’s brain, some of which would be extreme but definitive (open his skull and look), but a simple cat scan should suffice for most people. The existence of brains is so well established, in fact, that most Christians wouldn’t be stupid enough to question that reality in the first place.

In comparison you’d first have to nail down exactly what you mean by the word “God”, because even among believers of the same religion there’s often a difference on opinion about the nature of God, before you could even begin to try and establish whether or not it would be possible to determine if he exists. Clearly the type of faith it would take to believe in such a being is miles beyond the faith it takes to accept our lowly professor as having a brain without resorting to cracking his head open to check, though that would at least be possible if it had to come to it.

This particular version managed to work in the anti-evolution angle as well though that too is a flawed and incorrect argument. Evolution has been observed in both simple lab experiments and by studying fossils from antiquity. That is an entire argument unto itself, however, and more time than I wish to expend at the moment.

Furthermore the definitions for heat/cold and light/dark demonstrate that the author of this fiction has only a limited understanding of the concepts he’s writing about. The whole paragraph where the student explains the concept of heat is wrong, but most people aren’t scientifically literate enough to grasp that fact. They just see a lot of scientific words and their eyes glaze over and they think something really intelligent was said.

The author contends that “heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy” and that is flat out wrong as heat is actually the transfer of energy caused by a temperature difference. If two systems are not in thermal equilibrium with each other then heat transfer will occur with the flow going from the higher temperature system to the lower temperature system until thermal equilibrium is obtained. Or, in other words, if one system is hot and the other one is cold then heat will transfer from one to the other until they are the same temperature. The statement that we can have “super-heat, mega-heat, unlimited heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat” is just nonsense. The author is conflating the word “heat” with the word “hot” the latter of which is, like “cold”, a relative term describing the temperature of an object in relation to something else.

So too the author goes on to demonstrate only a partial understanding of light and dark. He starts by conflating the scientific definition of light, which includes the entire electromagnetic spectrum, with what is known as “visible light.” What we refer to as dark is actually just a low level of visible light, but not the absence of light as is claimed in the text. Even in the total absence of visible light all objects will continue to give off infrared and gamma radiation due to heat transfer and as such there is no absence of light at all even though you can’t see. A simple pair of infrared goggles is all it takes to see in the darkest of environments. In order to remove all light you’d have to remove all energy (absolute zero) which isn’t possible to do outside of the realm of theoretical mathematics.

So the answers to the questions at the end of this missive end up as follows: Yes, you could make night “darker” by blocking out more and more of the electromagnetic spectrum. No, you can’t make something colder than absolute zero because that’s the point when a system has no energy. For that matter it’s not possible to reach absolute zero either, though you can get close and matter starts to do some funky stuff at those temperatures. Yes, you can feel, taste, see, hear, and smell your brain if you really wanted to, but some of those would be messy and probably leave you damaged in the process. For some folks, though, it might be an experiment worth undertaking.

Please feel free to chime in with any other flaws you find in either the original story or my rebuttal.

177 thoughts on “God vs. Science.

  1. Robin: The concept of god is undefined. No one can say what it is, because that places limits on it.

    True for the human concept.
    In science, true infinities don’t really occur practically (maybe in theory but the quantity of energy is finite), so I find it difficult to believe a god would be limitless, indeed if he were there would be no problems/need for testing in the world, indeed he’d have little need to create in the first place because he’d be satisfied as is

    But as Nathaniel Branden pointed out, to be nothing in particular is not to be. If cold then is the absence of heat, darkness the absence of light, and to go further, a vacuum is the absence of substance, then the undefined is the absence of knowledge and understanding. There’s nowhere else to go.

    Negatives do exist though – like antimatter (has less matter than a vacuum), anti-energy (which would make temperature the other side of absolute 0 and would not only be the absence of light, but something that would eliminate any light that was introduced, a negative quantity of light being darker than absolute darkness).

    And I’ll say hate isn’t merely the absence of love, it’s actually a negative of it – a mere absence of love would be apathy, apathy is not hate, hate is that you desire someone harm, love is desiring someone happiness, so those two have magnitudes of caring about something, but apathy has no magnitude, as it’s not caring of anything.

    Zilch – :LOL:

  2. Bahamat – I doubt that anti-matter has less energy than a vacuum. AFAIK most scientists are of the opinion that it will react to and generate gravitational fields exactly the same way as matter.

    Anti-energy? I’ve heard of negative energies but only in relative terms ie binding and potential energy. Are you sure that anti-energy exists? If so I’d appreciate being pointed towards some further reading.

    Anyway matter and anti-matter annihilate to give energy….positive not negative energy. So I’m pretty sure that anti-matter does not have anti-mass.

    I personally think that anti-matter is a misleading term. Matter and anti-matter are just two different types of matter that cannot exist in close proximity. If anti-matter was really anti matter, they would annihilate without any by product.

    Edit: I’m assuming that “the antichrist” is “Bahamat” who was formerly known as “Distant Claws”

  3. Note- edited to make more sense

    Julian: I doubt that anti-matter has less energy than a vacuum

    I said it has less matter than a vacuum

    AFAIK most scientists are of the opinion that it will react to and generate gravitational fields exactly the same way as matter

    Probably albeit with a negative mass value it might repel from other antimatter unless you square it or somethin’ to make the sign go away. If this isn’t the case I wonder what, if any gravity antimatter would have when interacting with matter, maybe it cancels. If it doesn’t use some method of removing the negative (like squaring) I think gravity must be linked to time, because time is one of the only seemingly unsymetrical thing we got (indeed relativity links mass to time, and we know that gravity is linked to mass…).

    Are you sure that anti-energy exists? If so I’d appreciate being pointed towards some further reading

    My memory on refrences only goes as far as my symmetry class and reading A Brief History of Time, from which I either read or made up this concept, I cant remember…

    Anyway in order to get something from nothingness (one example being big bang) you need an anti to cancel it, it simply doesn’t balance to get a load of positive energy from nowhere, there should, somewhere in the system be an equal amount of the negative (perhaps before the BB if the BB was the middle point in time and both sides are like mirror images of each other)

    Positive energy can split into equal quantities of matter and antimatter (which has been done experimentally I think), and, if negative energy is simply the mirror of positive and also a valid entity in itself, there is no reason why it should not also be able to split into both matter and antimatter, the only difference is it will have negative energy- If matter of positive energy met antimatter of positive energy you’d reform the original positive energy, and the same would go on the negative side to reform negative energy, but if, say matter of negative energy met antimatter of positive energy in equal amounts, then you would have total anhialation to 0 matter and 0 energy

    But – why don’t we see much matter of negative energy existing and why doesn’t antimatter of positive energy last long? I think it could only be due to time asymetries.

    Just to muddie the waters, anti-light would look (as a drawing of the wave) no different than regular light out of phase, but would carry negative energy. Destructive interference occurs between 2 light waves of positive energy, and the energy is redistributed somewhere (it must be by the laws of thermodynamics though I don’t know where), anyway it’s possible to get light out of phase in space without flipping it’s energy into negative, the difference is though that if light destructively interfered with the anti you wouldn’t get a re-distribution of energy, you’d get elimination to 0.

    Matter and anti-matter are just two different types of matter that cannot exist in close proximity

    They are mirror images of each other, the mass has opposite sign for the anti (-ve), the spin has opposite direction, etc

    Edit: I’m assuming that “the antichrist” is “Bahamat” who was formerly known as “Distant Claws”

    Yup, yup and yup, I quickly got tired of this new one though and changed back, I was being experimental with antichrist

  4. Probably albeit with a negative mass value it might repel from other antimatter unless you square it or somethin’ to make the sign go away. If this isn’t the case I wonder what, if any gravity antimatter would have when interacting with matter, maybe it cancels. If it doesn’t use some method of removing the negative (like squaring) I think gravity must be linked to time, because time is one of the only seemingly unsymetrical thing we got (indeed relativity links mass to time, and we know that gravity is linked to mass…).

    I don’t think anti-matter has a negative mass value. Even if it did it would attract other AM. Since masses are multiplied under Newton’s Law of Gravity, the negative signs would be eliminated. It would however repel matter. But as
    I said I doubt AM has negative mass because:

    They are mirror images of each other, the mass has opposite sign for the anti (-ve), the spin has opposite direction, etc

    They are mirror images of each other but they don’t have negative mass. Anti-particles simply are made of Anti-Quarks instead of Quarks which do have opposite spins. Remember, in annihilation experiments E=mc^2 holds when the masses are added up. This means that both M and AM have the same sign for mass. Since they annihilate to form only one kind of energy(positive) I like to think of energy as the “mirror” or “axis of symmetry” between the two mirror images of M and AM (at least in terms of their properties). Now since energy reacts to and generates gravitational fields identical to the equivalent amount of matter, it seems logical to assume that M and AM have the same kind of mass (positive).

    Anyway in order to get something from nothingness (one example being big bang) you need an anti to cancel it, it simply doesn’t balance to get a load of positive energy from nowhere, there should, somewhere in the system be an equal amount of the negative (perhaps before the BB if the BB was the middle point in time and both sides are like mirror images of each other)

    The way I understood that was that all the matter and energy in the universe is balanced by the negative energies caused by Gravitational negative potential energies and other binding energies like the negative electrostatic energies involved in binding electrons within their Bohr orbits and the binding of nucleons within the nuclei (they have negative potential energy).

    Positive energy can split into equal quantities of matter and antimatter (which has been done experimentally I think), and, if negative energy is simply the mirror of positive and also a valid entity in itself, there is no reason why it should not also be able to split into both matter and antimatter, the only difference is it will have negative energy- If matter of positive energy met antimatter of positive energy you’d reform the original positive energy, and the same would go on the negative side to reform negative energy, but if, say matter of negative energy met antimatter of positive energy in equal amounts, then you would have total anhialation to 0 matter and 0 energy

    Well then that would imply we actually have 4 types of matter (2 types of M and 2 types of AM) along with 2 types of energy. As of now we only have evidence for 1 type of each of the three above mentioned entities so it’s pretty unlikely that negative energy and the second types of M and AM exist.

    Note:- One problem I had is drawing a difference between negative energy which can be converted into the type II M and AM you referred to, and negative energies in a relative sense, i.e. binding energies etc. I couldn’t think of suitable terms to distinguish between the two.

  5. Julian: E=mc^2 holds when the masses are added up. This means that both M and AM have the same sign for mass

    Or the sign of E matches the sign of m, but if you want E to be positive maybe there is a hidden square-then-root of m, perhaps. But note, mass and energy are interconvertable so it is possible for both matter and antimatter to increase/decrease their mass simply by changing energy (side note: indeed this is why there is an asymptote at the speed of light, because energy by that point is contributing more to mass than force) – anyway, what i’m saying is E=mc^2 includes the energy something has and that distorts it’s mass away from the ground-state mass, which might be negative.

    I suspect mass is caused by a form of spin, and the classical field effect part of gravity may merely be spin-coupling. But gravity has a second (quantum) part, relativity, which couples mass to time, and that might explain the difficulty of including gravity in a unified theory, because it’s more than one effect, maybe

    I have read something interesting; that because of the interconvertability between mass and energy that perhaps matter is just a form of negative energy itself, but able to interact safely with light (positive) because enthalpy changes the energies that would match to eliminate far away from anything conventional, but still hit the right frequency and it should eliminate. Again the different roles of positive and negative may link to time asymetry.

    Perhaps having the negative energy locked up as mass explains where it went and why we have mass, as well as the stark difference between the frequencis of particle-like things and wave-like things for us (everything has particle-wave duality, but is more like one than the other, and I suspect time might again be responsible) – we don’t have much of intermediate frequency between them, save for the electron, which is just an antiquark of sufficient energy to be stable (and being about as fundamental-particle as you can get, having the lowest cumulative spin (one that might couple to time) might explain why it’s frequency is markedly lower than other particle-like things), because it has less of what time is interacting with to make things particle-like

    The way I understood that was that all the matter and energy in the universe is balanced by the negative energies caused by Gravitational negative potential energies

    I have read that they are mathematically linked and was interested, note that would meen the mass of something would have to change with it’s distance from another massive object, maybe that happens, nethertheless if mass was a storage of energy itself, and gravity depends on the quantity of the storage, then those two things are linked – it could just be that mass is made of negative energy itself and since gravity couples it, it’s representative of that, and since gravity affects the overall energy of a particle, gravity changes it’s mass by changing the quantity of negative it stores

    E=mc^2 says that if something has more positive energy it’ll have more mass, which at first looks to conflict with the idea of mass being a container of negative energy, but maybe it’s that surrounding nothingness splits into positive and negative, the positive adds to e and the negative to m – and this occurs with any energy change (On the gaining KE front, gain positive from surrounding nothingness, so also gain negative too. On the GPE front have a more negative energy from surroundings as gou get closer to a mass, and to make up for it the complimentry positive is added to KE, making the object accelarate towards the mass)

    Well then that would imply we actually have 4 types of matter (2 types of M and 2 types of AM) along with 2 types of energy. As of now we only have evidence for 1 type of each of the three above mentioned entities so it’s pretty unlikely that negative energy and the second types of M and AM exist

    Well if one sign of the energy is locked away into matter when time goes forward, it would be unavailable to split into more matter+antimatter itself. It can be contained by the same type of things it can split into, it’s just being contained by what has previously split (maybe from the unlocked sign, if they can both make matter+anti)

    Also all they have to do to go from 4 to just 2 types again is change energy (hence there isn’t a clear distinction between +matter and -matter as one changes into the other), which may happen by splitting nearby nothingness, and projecting into your particle whatever it wasn’t before until it’s the other type, and project the counterpart away (much like how a black hole degrades)

  6. A couple of flaws in Les’ rebuttal:

    I’m pretty sure that anything sort of superheated plasma won’t produce gamma radiation as heat radiation, and in such conditions there’d be plenty of visible light too. Gamma radiation is typically produced in radioactive decay and its photons are far more energetic than those of visible light, UV or infrared.

    Also, a system at absolute zero temperature wouldn’t be void of all energy, but merely thermal energy, which is just the kinetic energy of the particles making up the system. Heat, after all, is nothing other than the random motion of particles colliding with one another.

  7. Flaky: I’m pretty sure that anything sort of superheated plasma won’t produce gamma radiation as heat radiation, and in such conditions there’d be plenty of visible light too. Gamma radiation is typically produced in radioactive decay and its photons are far more energetic than those of visible light, UV or infrared.

    There would probably be what’s known as a maxwell-boltzmann distribution of energy for any object that’s been formed and is emitting. Most emitters will have a ballpark amount of energy depending on the temperature (shifts the curve), but notice that it tails off to both 0 on the low end and infinity on the high end, that means all frequencies, high and low should in theory be possible in different amounts so long as one light wave doesn’t contain more energy than the entire system (the practical limitation on the theory).

    Higther temperatures shift the peak of the curve towards the high end, and also broadens it, meaning larger variations would be more common.

    This doesn’t apply to energy and the anti seperating from nothingness (as nothingness has an overall energy of 0), only to storages like, say an atom, which have a non-zero amount of total emittable energy. For nothingness it’s only concern is the individual scale, and the splitting would (it seems) likely be into the smallest units of energy possible. Light has different frequencies because it stores different amounts of these units, but they are so small that it appears unquantized on our scale, but I don’t think it eally is.

    Why do I think the splitting is into small units? If it were just as likely to split into any size, complex matter wouldn’t exist for long before it’d be ‘evaporaed’ by elimination from nearby split anti’s to restore entropy. Enthalpy makes the energy of complex matter different, so it won’t be eliminated by the normal anti-units. There has to be something to make it prefer small units in this case, so I think there might be some kind of like-repels-like about this energy, but if not we still have the kinetic arguement that splitting of larger units into smaller ones and nothingness into 2 components is more probable if it would take time to recombine (without taking time there would be no prefrence at all). However, there is an infinite quantity of nothingness everywhere, and if there is any positive probability whatsoever of a larger splitting, it’s effectively guaranteed to happen to an infinite extent, so we must conclude that it’s not at all possible to have a larger splitting.

    Was the big bang a larger splitting at one point though? Not necessarily, it could’ve just been lots of little ones who’s products congregated under gravity, perhaps to make a black hole from which matter could be made by the splitting of nothing outside to eliminate, but that would have taken a looooong time

    Also, a system at absolute zero temperature wouldn’t be void of all energy, but merely thermal energy, which is just the kinetic energy of the particles making up the system. Heat, after all, is nothing other than the random motion of particles colliding with one another

    It’s true that your storage (ie atoms/molecules) have residual energy that cannot be removed, but it would be incapable of emitting anything so for all intents and purposes you might as well consider that energy as a component characteristic of the storage itself (because the mirror anti would have the exact -ve) and might as well consider the whole thing to be overall 0 because deviance from the ground is 0 – if you want to eliminate that locked energy you have to eliminate the entire particle, and you can do that if you really want by throwing in the antis that would cancel it out

  8. ok so i can see that this argument still brings problems i am not coming against the ideals of all of the people who believe in evolution i just liked the post. see when you like something you want to share it. evolution no matter how unprovable it is is a belief of an entire world of people.  i can respect that as a writer and a reader. But i will say don’t come against my post unless you have researched the matter as much as Les. He actually made since but i will still choose to believe what i no is true. all of our theory on the origin of the world still revolves around blind faith.

    not forgetting evolution where science had to evolve to support. Most of the original projects to prove evolution have been proven wrong.  read Darwin’s the origin of species once more and you will see what i am talking about.
    much love Joseph

  9. evolution no matter how unprovable it is is a belief of an entire world of people.

    Wrong, but it’s futile to pursue this. You have made it abundantly clear that you

    choose to believe what i no is true

    Willful ignorance at its finest.

    But i will say don’t come against my post unless you have researched the matter as much as Les.

    How about: Don’t argue against evolution unless you have a clue about the actual science?

    not forgetting evolution where science had to evolve to support. Most of the original projects to prove evolution have been proven wrong.  read Darwin’s the origin of species once more and you will see what i am talking about.

    We know what you’re talking about. We also know that you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    I’m not the first one to say that butting heads with creationists is only interesting if you study their psychological makeup.

  10. Joseph – If you’re talking about the entry on SEB (and not the one at your blog), then we (at least I) tend to drift a long way off from the original topic – entries are just a home for whatever discussion arises amongst the commenters within, we often end up debating with each other on points that have no connection whatsoever to the original.

    But since you brought it up, please show us your evidence (or at least explanation) of evolution being wrong, and provide an alternative explanation that agrees, and makes sense, with all observation. This is necessary for us to understand your point of view, you gotta understand that this is how our minds work. I trust you, as a person, wouldn’t write us off…

  11. ok so i can see that this argument still brings problems i am not coming against the ideals of all of the people who believe in evolution i just liked the post. see when you like something you want to share it. Evolution no matter how unprovable, it is a belief of an entire world of people.  i can respect that as a writer and a reader. But i will say don’t come against my post unless you have researched the matter as much as Les. He actually made since but i will still choose to believe what i no is true. all of our theory on the origin of the world still revolves around blind faith.

    not forgetting evolution where science had to evolve to support. Most of the original projects to prove evolution have been proven wrong.  Read Darwin’s the origin of species once more and you will see what i am talking about.
    Much love Joseph

  12. Joseph, repeating your ill-conceived and mistaken assertions doesn’t make them more true.

    By the way, accepting a word of fiction, the Bible, as literal truth is not equivalent to understanding and accepting a scientific theory.

  13. He must’ve saved a template of that response, it’s word for word, or near as damn it. I don’t think he’s even reading

  14. The professor makes perfect sense in his explanation of evil.

    Also, it doesn’t matter.

    I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things. Isaiah 45:7

    Right there.  CLEAR as day.  He admits he created evil.  Argument over.

  15. Being secular myself, I admire your response to the obvious flaws in the argument, however, there is something to be said of “God”.  In the original treatise, replace “Brain” with “Mind” or “Soul” or “Conscious”.  It is this ego we all have that plucks at even the most militant atheists strings.  We cannot deny our own existence, and because of this, and because of the collective desire to exist, we all seek a reason for it all and attribute it to a higher power.  No one wants to believe life is all for nothing.  No one wants to believe there is no meaning, that we are all just apes of a different sort living our lives without purpose.  Slaves to nature.  I think the issue really is that of worship and the title you give your God.  I believe in a higher power, but I do not believe in Jesus.  The issue with Christianity is not God, but whether or not Jesus was the human manifestation of it.  Any mythical story of God taking human form is bogus, but that does not mean God is bogus.  It has nothing to do with faith either.  We don’t necessarily “feel” gravity without the perspective of what it does to us. Without a point of reference, we would not perceive the pull of Gravity as represented in the “anti-gravity” plane rides they take people on.  You are not weightless, you are merely falling at the same speed as the plane, yet people perceive it as weightlessness.  Certainly you can measure gravity, but only because we decided to make instruments to do so.  Perhaps someday we will invent something to measure faith, and saying it cannot be done is much like saying the world is flat.  Just because the knowledge isn’t here right now does not make it right to discount it entirely.

  16. db- I find conciousness a difficult thing to pin down – is it possible to contain genuine conciousness within a circuit? If so we should be able to make truely AI computers, if not then it somehow needs to be interacting with the physical – it would have to be linked if it was not completely contained.

    Then again, that all depends on how real our ‘reality’ is.

    The desire for meaning is an odd, yet common, phonomenon – it might have an explanation in evolution, but when questioned few feelings really have any basis or justification for being maintained were the one feeling them able to stop/alter them (as we are to some extent). I also don’t understand what makes a person desire a feeling to be satisfied – they do, but I don’t see why

    And yes, a point of refrence allows comparison, but…

    Perhaps someday we will invent something to measure faith, and saying it cannot be done is much like saying the world is flat.  Just because the knowledge isn’t here right now does not make it right to discount it entirely

    I wouldn’t think it’s possible because I don’t see anything quantifiable about faith – things of the mind are not always well-defined and you cannot arbitarily assign values to certain ‘switches’ of brain circuitry and know that they’re fairly represented, because it’d vary with each brain, with time.

    We can generally say things are not possible in the future when there is no mechanism of doing it (Ie you cannot ever see what truely happens experimentally when time is run backwards, because we do not control the rules, just what obeys them). Our improvements to machinery only increase the sensitivity and scope, it rarely allows it to do anything new, and even then it needs to have a mechanism within our model in order to be done – also rules within our models rule out some things (ie violating thermodynamics)

  17. We cannot deny our own existence, and because of this, and because of the collective desire to exist, we all seek a reason for it all and attribute it to a higher power.  No one wants to believe life is all for nothing.  No one wants to believe there is no meaning, that we are all just apes of a different sort living our lives without purpose.

    Speak for yourself, db.  I myself do not seek a reason for it all and attribute it to a higher power.  And just because the Universe as a whole has no meaning or purpose, does not mean that there are no meanings or purposes within the Universe- within the short span of time we living things have to be alive.

    This is an argument I hear again and again from theists of all stripes: if there’s no God, there’s no meaning or purpose to life.  Nonsense- meanings and purposes do not exist outside of life: they are evolved entities, and while our curious nature is always seeking bigger and better meanings and purposes, that doesn’t necessarily mean that they exist.

    And this dismissive “just apes of a different sort”- what do you mean “just”?  Apes are pretty wonderful, and people even more so.  I’m quite happy with the meanings and purposes I find in my own limited time here, and making up stuff about higher powers doesn’t seem like it would make me any happier.

  18. What Zilch said. I have no problems accepting that there is no reason behind existence and no set purpose to life. It just makes it all the more amazing for existing in the first place.

  19. Doesn’t it sound scary? … no afterlife…

    Scares the shit out of me, hurts my head the thought that I (my conciousness) will one day no longer exist. 

    And yet I’m still an atheist. What I want and what I know to be true can be in conflict, but it does not change the truth.

  20. LH- why fear nonexistence? Can’t hurt because you wouldn’t even know about it, and you wouldn’t have to work anymore.

    Either way, it makes no difference to the living whether or not someone exists beyond death, so all you would’ve done here would’ve been concluded anyway on death

  21. Late to the party…

    Being secular myself, I admire your response to the obvious flaws in the argument, however, there is something to be said of “God”.

    And that would be “no”.

    In the original treatise, replace “Brain” with “Mind” or “Soul” or “Conscious”.  It is this ego we all have that plucks at even the most militant atheists strings.  We cannot deny our own existence, and because of this, and because of the collective desire to exist, we all seek a reason for it all and attribute it to a higher power.

    Not all of us do. What you’re saying here amounts to the argument from ignorance and a cop-out default answer rolled into one.

    Speaking for myself, I simply don’t get the jump from “isn’t nature full of wonders” to “god did it”…

      No one wants to believe life is all for nothing.  No one wants to believe there is no meaning, that we are all just apes of a different sort living our lives without purpose.  Slaves to nature.

    What zilch said. And Dawkins. The universe it cruelly indifferent to us, but rather than being down about it, we should view it as an opportunity to put our existence to a purpose of our own choosing.

    I think the issue really is that of worship and the title you give your God.

    I do not worship anything that could be reasonably called ‘god’.

    I believe in a higher power, but I do not believe in Jesus.  The issue with Christianity is not God, but whether or not Jesus was the human manifestation of it.

    There are many issues with Christianity and the resurrection myth is among the more harmless ones.

    Any mythical story of God taking human form is bogus, but that does not mean God is bogus.

    There are many reasons for ‘God’ being bogus and a myth itself.

    It has nothing to do with faith either.  …
      Perhaps someday we will invent something to measure faith, and saying it cannot be done is much like saying the world is flat.  Just because the knowledge isn’t here right now does not make it right to discount it entirely.

    I don’t see a problem with measuring faith. Concoct a few more goofy religions and see how many people you can sell it to. You’ll get a rough estimate for the gullibility of people, on a scale of outrageous claims vs. percentage of buy-in.

  22. LH- why fear nonexistence? Can’t hurt because you wouldn’t even know about it, and you wouldn’t have to work anymore.

    Your money or your life!

  23. I will tell you all somthing that will give you a better understanding of me… Well to start off i kind of see my self in this fictional teacher, always pointing out the contradictions and hippocracy of Christianity… Im sure ANY ONE not christian would cheer someone bringing up the points this man made(at least in the early part didn’t read it all srry) in private but alot off people wouldn’t in public… But you know it dosen’t matter in the end… NOTHING matters in the end… If you don’t have a faith that is… I do though and this may sound crazy to the “learned peoples” but my faith is Mayan, not the most understandable religion but it works for me. To me the worlds ending in 2012 (should the gods choose wisely) and man will start over…and I’ll admit I can’t wait… I hate this culture it’s so… material and lazy and… Lets just say it has me praying for the end. Oh yeah and I don’t give a fuck what you have to say about my personal opinion.

    Im sorry if I have ranted and for what ever gramar problems I had, not really in the mood to check.

  24. Your money or your life!

    I know that one, Hussar:
    “Take my life.  I’m saving my money for my old age”.

  25. catholics suck it: I hate this culture it’s so… material and lazy

    How is this a problem?

    Oh yeah and I don’t give a fuck what you have to say about my personal opinion

    Which means you’re more resilient

  26. Oh yeah and I don’t give a fuck what you have to say about my personal opinion.

    Like hitting the “delete comment” button?

    Im sorry if I have ranted and for what ever gramar problems I had, not really in the mood to check.

    Not to worry, nobody’s in the mood to read posts riddled with bad grammar or spelling.

  27. Your money or your life!

    I know that one, Hussar:
    “Take my life.  I’m saving my money for my old age”.

    Thank you, we’re here all week, try the veal.

  28. Heya Les, I just wanted to thank you for posting this blog refuting (at least partially) the chain letter in quesiton.

    Someone commented that responding is pointless because the audience/author are unconvincible, but I disagree. The author may be, but the only way to fight ignorance is to expose it (considering so many people are uninterested in questioning even the simplest of premises and conclusions) and sadly, your blog refuting this is the only thing of its kind I could find in a google search (and it took some trying, sadly).

    Readers of this garbage really do just see that it appears to be written intelligently and run with that, and the fewer people who respond to it means more people who might just google it and, finding no refutations (as I initally came up with) and assume it is truth.

    On a more personal level this chain letter bothers the bejeebers out of me because it not only assumes it “proves” God, and that that sort of faith is good and necessary, and “disproves” evolution, but it also stereotypes the philosophy professor according to what the Christian communities would like them to be. I’m a philosophy major at a school with 10 phil professors, only two of which believe in a god at all and of all of the classes I’ve taken not once has a discussion even similar to the one portrayed here occurred.

    There are simply sooooo many more interesting and pertinent topics to cover. But the Christian community thinks philosophy has it out for their God.

    How ego-centric…We moved on long, long ago…

  29. Hi. God is omnipresent in the fisical plane not in the non-fisic like feelings, it’s obvious that this history is for that one who really know something about faith, not only Science.
    talking about the absolute zero what if it were -1000ºF? can we go under? what if WE think it is -458ºF but it isn’t? if you don’t see it (in all it’s dimensions) it doesn’t exists, for us absolute zero is it -458ºF but, do we know all the dimensions? i don’t think so.
    PS don’t play “understanding” God

  30. OK- I’ll let the language go on the understanding English as a second language.  I’m crap at languages so I won’t criticise the syntax etc.

    The ideas behind it, though? In the immortal words of Eddie Murphy…

    Get the fuck out of here!

  31. God is omnipresent in the fisical plane

    God is an economist? I always thought he was in the construction business.

  32. Last Jussar:Sorry, i am Mexican, the english isn’t my first language. But I am sure of something: when you are in a forum and you become agresive you only show that you are afraid of something, I am not an ignorant, I am a Mechatronic and Process Control System Engineer, also Teacher of the Humanistic Sciences at a University. I am here for learn not for discuss.

    Julian: You are right, you “thought”,how can you be sure that there is no such a thing as a economist builder?, for heaven sakes it is God, He can be anything He wants. If you don’t believe in Him you can talk about. in words of berkeley “if you don’t seem it(in any dimension) then it doesn’t exists”

  33. Jus:  Something to think about.  If “God” is what we don’t understand or can’t measure, then “God” is shrinking all the time.  That’s a dangerous road for believer to walk.

  34. He can be anything He wants

    If that’s the case, so far he seems to be intent on being a figment of people’s imaginations. Your argument seems firmly rooted in my favorite CS Lewis quote from Four Loves:

    “If there were an invisible cat in that chair, the chair would look empty; but the chair does look empty; therefore there is an invisible cat in it.”

    So if you can’t sense the cat or prove it’s there, and the cat never does anything that makes it visible or proves its existence, why should anyone treat the chair as if there were a cat in it, unless they’re mainly concerned with wanting their to be an invisible cat in the chair rather than there actually being an invisible cat in the chair? And if two people point at a chair and one says, “See, there’s my invisible cat!” why should anyone believe him or think the man is anything but deluded?

  35. Why should anyone believe him or think the man is anything but deluded?

    MisterMook: lol, that’s funny, i will try to answer that question, in fact anyone shouldn’t believe him or think he is not lying, that’s what we call “Faith freedom”, but, does it matter what the other do think?if the one who is telling the cat is it in the chair really believes in it,and the cat can affect his life, then the cat exists, that’s because when you can’t seem anything you can say it exists because of the reactions that it produces in the enviroment… sorry for the grammar

  36. does it matter what the other do think?

    People seeing things that nobody else does are called deluded—in the clinical sense. People sharing and mutually reinforcing the same delusion are called religious.

  37. elwedriddsche:

    I agree with you, but there is a possibility that what we call “delusion” become a reality when other ones seem it or understand it. There is an effect in the Clinical world and,you know i am not lying, they say that when you don’t know something you have less chance for identify it in a group of other objects (tangible, feelings, ideas,images,even smells or sounds), that’s the reason because somebody could ignore facts of reality. The real question is it, how could we know what is it this “reality”, not philosophy reality but one that can be identified for the most of the people, that denies it is a “delusion”.

  38. I agree with you, but there is a possibility that what we call “delusion” become a reality when other ones seem it or understand it.

    Not likely. We may understand the root causes of what’s causing delusions, but that doesn’t make delusions objectively real.

  39. I man might believe there is a real cat there, but that does not mean there is a real cat there in any objective sense of the word. More importantly, the modern world can’t easily afford to attend to every delusion as if it were objectively real while its performing the very important business of

    When it comes time to sit in the chair, science must firmly put its ass down and smother any nonsense of a cat in the chair with reality, no matter who it might offend or whose invisible cat it has caused to vanish.

    I really have no problem with the very small margin of religious people who can accept that their cat is indeed invisible (objectively unreal), but who simply perform their faith as a sense of morality, or community, or culture. I might disagree with those notions, but then religion at least becomes normal politics rather than politics bolstered by delusion.

  40. MisterMook: I am the same Fer, only that now i have an account.
    You use 2 finite terms; objective and science, they are the same as Faith and Religion, and both they look for the same, with different names; Science looks for the truth and Religion for the God, Both assumes that it’s goal exists and Both(again) have it own terms that are the “right methods” and there are no way for saying one or another is wrong,you must taste “both sides of the force”  before taking one of them. What are you, religious or scientific? I think i am a scientist that believes in God after studying quantum physics, and I am also Teacher of Humanistic Sciences

  41. elwedriddsche: there is not such a thing like a delusion, only what WE call that way, for making laws of the universe you should know ALL the universe. in Math if you don’t know all the universe you can’t probe that something doesn’t exists. Do you know all the universe? or even all the dimensions?

  42. objective and science, they are the same as Faith and Religion, and both they look for the same, with different names; Science looks for the truth and Religion for the God

    The above only holds if you apply a sufficient amount of woo.

    woo: n.(or adj), the way a person is when they uncritically believe unsubstantiated or unfounded ideas. Short for “woo woo”.

  43. Julian: You are right, you “thought”,how can you be sure that there is no such a thing as a economist builder?, for heaven sakes it is God, He can be anything He wants. If you don’t believe in Him you can talk about. in words of berkeley “if you don’t seem it(in any dimension) then it doesn’t exists”

    …………There are no words.

  44. elwedriddsche: sorry but I don’t think that: the universe is finite>>the knowledge is limited, so everything is fake if you don’t know all in the universe, it is logic, don’t? i think that’s correctly founded by the fact of the infinite universe. You still looking everything in the science mode, science is a human creation (I am not against science..)but science knowledge is finite by now.
    Julian:That was a joke! the important thing in the text is the phrase of Berkley, only changing knew instead of seem.

  45. Fer, you are so far out that it’s difficult to figure out where to start.

    Borrowing from wikipedia, “science refers to a system of acquiring knowledge based on the scientific method, as well as to the organized body of knowledge gained through such research.”

    It is implicit from this definition that our knowledge of nature is limited. If we knew everything, we wouldn’t need science, would we?

    Allowing that English probably isn’t your native language, your basic point appears to be that since we don’t know everything, we don’t know all the things that are true or untrue and more so, we don’t actually know anything.

    With regards to the former, science does well enough and it’s up to you to demonstrate a better or even equivalent method of increasing our knowledge. With regards to the latter, that’s a problem with your epistemology.

    The long and short of it is that if you want me to give a harebrained claim any thought, you better have a better case than asking me to prove a negative by exhaustive search. Furthermore, it’s up to you to demonstrate rational warrant for any other methods to allegedly gain knowledge.

    Science is not a human creation, by the way—it’s the application of an abstract method, just like applied math. Religion on the other hand is a human creation and nothing but. For all its pervasive and sublimal influence of philosophy, it’s not really a field of study that increases our knowledge—it’s an intellectual Ponzi scheme that prompts more question for every attempted answer.

  46. elwedriddsche: if we knew everything we actually would need science for organize the knowledge.
    ***
    It is a lifetime for looking for another way of “looking for the greatest truth”, and it is so difficult if you are scientist and religious but i am trying, when I find something you will be the first in knew it.
    ***

    “One thing only I know, and that is that I know nothing.”

    There are truth in that words of Socrates
    ***
    this is a link of an image of the place where I think that the secret of the “superior being” is hidden.
    It is also wonderful to read about dark energy and dark matter and discover how ignorants we are.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Image:Cosmological_composition.jpg
    ***
    and, finally, thank you for all the information I think this question will still without an answer but you really guide me into my quest. I think that i don’t have more information for support my theory.

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