Monday, January 7, 2008

Why do I feed the trolls?

So this is a little something I wrote in response to a decently popular video purporting to "prove the existence of God."

*Sigh* Since this video seems popular, I guess I'll bite.

Although I appreciate that you are going about it in a logical fashion, I suggest
that you brush up a bit on your first-order logic.

At a very basic level, the bulk of your video is essentially saying, "For all
theories of cosmology, all are false except for my notion of Christian
creation." You then proceed to (attempt) to disprove Big Bang theory and
conclude that Christian creation is the only remaining option. In order for this
approach to work, you would exhaustively need to disprove all other theories of
cosmology, a difficult task since there are a countably infinite number of them.

I will not contest your point about time starting at a definite point, though I
imagine even that could be refuted (related to the infinite count of numbers
between 0 and 1, or any two real numbers for that matter).

One minor point which does not necessarily weaken your argument, the "matter cannot
be created or destroyed" thing is not strictly true unless one includes energy
in the definition of matter. This is because matter and energy are different
permutations of the same phenomenon, and can be converted between each other,
but I digress.

So we then come to about minute 3 of your video. At some point we had "we don't
know" and then later we had a whole bunch of stuff without any
explanation. Current cosmology does not have an answer for how the universe
started, but we do know that within a few picoseconds of the origin of the
universe, everything behaved according to our present understanding of physics
and relativity (See COBE and cosmic background radiation).

Now, the first logical mistake you make is assuming that because we don't know
means that we won't know or can't know. A couple thousand years ago we didn't
know how lightning worked and attributed that to Thor. Given our present
understanding of electricity, we know exactly how it works and can even
reproduce the same phenomenon in labs or high schools. Back then, lightning
might have seemed just as mythical as existence. Maybe in a couple hundred or
thousand years, high school students will be creating miniature big bangs to
make their friends' hair stand up.

I'll agree that there was a great deal of energy/mass involved in whatever
created the universe. It created approximately 10^80 atoms plus however many
have been converted to energy over time (probably less than an order of

The problem is that you implicitly assume that there was something to create it
which had to have a greater or equal amount of energy to start out with. It is
commonly believed that the current laws of physics did not apply in the first
few instants of the universe. This seems like a cop-out, but remember the
dichotomy between classical mechanics and quantum mechanics. There is a set of
Newtonian laws governing all physical objects until you look at things that are
small enough, at which point things cease to have discreet positions. Given that
fact, it is a small leap to say that there were different rules for the origins
of the universe in which matter generates more matter. One atom appears and,
according to this new set of rules, starts multiplying. It sounds weird, but no
less weird than probability distributions involving complex numbers (as in
quantum mechanics).

So there is no need for an immensely powerful entity to impart a portion of its
energy into the fledgling universe.

As for "extremely intelligent," there is no need at all for that. Your argument
for it being intelligent is that "it created enough stuff to ..." I fail to see
how "a process creating a certain volume of material" is necessarily
intelligent. A fire burning down a tree creates enough stuff to fertilize the
ground around it to sustain life for new plants. Is the fire then "intelligent?"
The sun produces enough energy to sustain life on Earth. Is the sun

I think part of the problem is a lack of understanding of how elements are
created. Assuming one starts with only Hydrogen (more likely it was even more
basic than that, but this is not a lesson in subatomic particles), one can get
all elements currently in existence. In brief, normal fusion within stars
produces successively heavier elements until about iron and nickel, which have
the highest binding energy per nucleon (so no more energy can be extracted from
fusion). This process is called Nucleosynthesis (wikipedia it) and it is the
reason why the overwhelming majority of the universe is made up of hydrogen
(about 73% by mass) followed by helium (24% by mass).

So all the creator has to do is make a crapload of hydrogen and kick back as it
fused into helium, lithium and so on.

Your argument was "(awesomely powerful) AND (amazingly intelligent) implies
(Christan God)." I have shown that the origin of the universe need not be
awesomely powerful and certainly not intelligent, so it is incorrect to conclude
that this is a correct proof of the existence of a Christan god.

On a side-note, I feel like there could be something in the Bible about it being
bad to demand proof of God's existence before worshipping him, but I could be
wrong; I never read the thing.