As I mentioned on the first part of this post, the one thing that the KCA *must* have is an unquestionable beginning to the universe. At the moment, we don’t know if that is the case or not. We have new hypotheses, cyclic universes, brane theory, etc. These may be accurate, partially accurate or really wrong. We simply don’t know *yet*, and *yet* is often leapt upon by apologists as “we don’t know yet, don’t look any further and therefore God did it.”
Theoretical physics is always dicey to call on as any kind of evidence. It’s formula and calculations of the most rarified type. My opponent has claimed that one of these hypotheses supports the claim of a beginning to the universe. This theorem is the Borde Guth Vilenkin theorem. He also claims that: “You offer me some fringe models that seek to avert a beginning and remain agnostic about the beginning.“ in reference to those hypotheses that I have cited. Unfortunately for my opponent, this theorem is no more supported then brane theory, etc. It becomes “those unproven hypotheses that support me are okay but those that show my claims possibly wrong are “fringe”. Nice bit of hypocrisy there.
However, the most interesting thing about the BGV theorem is that it doesn’t say what these Christians have claimed. From my response: “It says “Thus inflationary models require physics other than inflation to describe the past boundary of the inflating region of spacetime.”
It does not say that the universe must have a beginning, it says that one needs physics that do not include inflation to describe the past. Indeed, the authors say the following which entirely demolishes WLC’s lies about their paper “Whatever the possibilities for the boundary, it is clear that unless the averaged expansion condition can somehow be avoided for all past-directed geodesics, inflation alone is not sufficient to provide a complete description of the Universe, and some new physics is necessary in order to determine the correct conditions at the boundary . This is the chief result of our paper.” Aka new physics is necessary, not a god or a beginning.
And it surprises me not one iota that WLC has no idea what he is talking about. I see this nonsense all of the time from creationists. They run to science when they think that there is “evidence” for their god, but their ignorance about what the science really says always is their undoing. They do their best to lie about actual science, misquoting, quote-mining and outright lying about what is said, all in an attempt to hide under the skirts of science to support their mythic nonsense. It is this pitiful willful ignorance that disgusts me about many Christians. WLC wants to glom onto science but of course ignores the science, like for instance Hawking’s no boundary ideas, that show theist claims could be wrong. I would also note that good ol’ WLC doesn’t like Vilenkin when V has done work on how something can come from nothing: http://mukto-mona.net/science/physics/a_vilinkin/universe_from_nothing.pdf Picking and choosing science when it agrees with you but running away from it when it doesn’t isn’t very honest. Also, you may wish to read this blog post, where Vilenkin is asked directly about WLC’s attempts to misrepresent him: http://arizonaatheist.blogspot.com/2010/05/william-lane-craigs-arguments-for-god.html and that link to the Arizona post has a great bit about how WLC’s so intent on the 2nd law that he ignores the first law, which states that energy cannot be created or destroyed. That’s rather a bummer when it comes to claiming that his god created anything. We’re simply back to special pleading with no evidence.”
After asking *again* “do you deny the beginning of the universe and if so why?” and again “But how is it compatible with a universe that comes into being?” , my opponent says “The atheist should bravely face the full implications of their worldview, to not do so is hypocrisy (also known as inconsistency). If you examine your beliefs and their implications carefully, that’s a good thing.” Of course, this Christian has yet to show any inconsistency of atheism not needing a beginning or lack of beginning to the universe and has ignored every argument put forward by me. He attempts to imply I have not “bravely” faced the implications of his baseless assumptions.
We’re getting closer to the end game now and the death spiral commences in earnest. We have this question from my opponent “But tell me, how does physics work before the beginning of a physical universe? (hint, you don’t need to be a physicist to answer that question).” This is where he wants to claim that there was “nothing” outside of the universe but his god. By this point, I was very happy and a bit giddy because this discussion was turning out so well and I knew I’d get a good blog post from it.
My response: “Christian, is the answer that you just have to believe in a magical being that has no evidence to support its existence? Shucks, then every religion with a creator god is just as right as yours. I think I like Ahura Mazda best since he’s not as primitive and ignorant as the Christian god is portrayed. Or didn’t I pick the right one? How can you tell? But, let me be serious for a bit, the answer is that one just has to say “we don’t know yet, but we’re working on it and have already got some answers on how physics may have worked before this current universe.” Good enough for you? Don’t have to be a physicist or anything to admit that we don’t know yet.”
He then claims that I have “faith” in physics, a usual gambit from a Christian aka “you’re no
better than me” and claims: “Physical laws cannot exist outside the universe. They are generalizations of what happens in space and time. How does it make sense for there to be a law governing events within space and time outside of space and time?” Now, I’m guessing readers can see where this is going. My response: “You seem to think you can claim that your god has always existed, but for some reason you cannot accept that physical laws could have done the *exact* same thing. You again are using special pleading and wanting an exception for your particular god. I think that is particularly funny.”
I continued: “You declare that physical laws cannot exist outside of the universe. OK, prove it. I’m sure that actual physicists will enjoy examining your claim and its evidence. After giving me you evidence, you can send it along to the Perimeter Institute, one of the more cutting edge groups investigating physics and cosmogony. You do have that evidence, right?”
“It’s also rather amusing that you want to claim “how does it make sense for there to be a law governing events within a space and time outside of space and time. Now let’s replace “law” with “god”. So, Christian, how does it make sense to have a magical being outside of space and time that governs space and time? Or are you special pleading again?”
His response: “Your emails are becoming embarrassingly arrogant and disrespectful. It is a sign of the weakness, not necessarily of atheism, but of your personal atheism. I’m certain I can find more articulate and respectful atheists to answer my questions elsewhere.”
Of course I asked him for examples of this “embarrassing arrogance” and “disrespect”. None are forthcoming: “I don’t know what to say, or rather where to start.” Convenient, eh? I invite the reader to see if they can show where I am suddenly “embarrassingly arrogant and disrespectful”. Perhaps we can help this Christian.
So here we are, at the end of a very typical debate between an atheist and a Christian. The subject can change e.g. the biblical flood, the ontological argument, creationism, and the steps will be much the same. There will be attempts to get a different answer to the same question; misrepresenting scientific papers, false claims about what the atheist has done, refusal to answer questions, etc. There will also be claims of how mentioning anything that the apologist doesn’t want to address is being “off topic” (similar to how the Texas GOP members declared that talking about Planned Parenthood and ultrasounds were “off topic” to a filibuster about abortion).
It is rare that a discussion like this is ended amiably. I have had that happen, but it generally ends as this one has. The apologist is sure that some “other” atheist will humbly admit that his arguments are true and give him the “respect” he believes he deserves. Since an atheist by definition does not agree with the theist, that is a vain hope. As I have said before, respect is earned, not freely given. If I am to respect a claim, then that claim must be supported. And if it is “arrogant” to require evidence, then I am “guilty” as charged.