Monthly Archives: October 2009

Sarah’s Confusing Post

Sarah recently responded to a question posted by a man named Brett on the Cosmological Argument.

“God, or the “eternal cause”, is eternal in time, and infinite in space. Thus He (or it) is infinitely larger than the universe, but is unchanged by the passing of time.” : Sarah

confused-full1I really don’t understand what it is she is trying to say here, and I just wanted to post this in order to distance myself from the inevitable fallout from Sarah’s post. I think it’s extremely confusing and deceptive, and takes up far too much space making unnecessary points, and even more making incorrect ones.

The beginning is good, though. I more or less agree that therein lies the answer to Brett’s question. I would normally take the time to personally dismantle any objections or answer questions, since I’m easily more philosophically capable than Sarah, (though she has me beat in some areas.)

To reconnect with the beginning of my post, I just want to point out what I thought was the most retarded thing Sarah said, which is quoted at the top of this page. Barring consideration of the corporeal Christ, God has no size. He does not occupy space, so I have no idea what Sarah means. Moreover, Sarah does not seem to understand that actual infinites such as she has described cannot exist. You cannot have one physical object which is infinitely larger than another physical object. That simply cannot be. (I will post on this topic later)

The distinction to be made is between actual infinites, potential infinites, and eternity. An actual infinite is a thing which is physically infinite as a measure, not as a property. An abyss would be a good example. Another good example would be a beginningless universe, or a hotel with an infinite number of rooms. A potential infinite can be characterized as something indefinite or potentially infinite. An example would be an endless universe. A universe which goes on forever does not happen all at once as one big infinitely long timeline with two ends. It would have one end (the beginning) and at no given point in it’s history could someone look back and say, “The universe is infinitely old”. No matter how far you go along the line, there is always a finite traversed-distance behind you.

I will post more later.

-Payton

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Refutation: Brett’s Objection to the Cosmological Argument

I’d like to give a big shout out Brett for posting an objection to the Cosmologial Argument.  We love getting responses!  I’m going to take the first crack at answering it- though I’m sure Payton will come along and yell at everyone since the Cosmological Argument is his baby.

Brett writes,

“If the universe never had a cause for its existence, if it never began to exist, but it exists now, then it is infinite. Given infinite time, every possibility is allowed to be actualized, including the possibility for everything to cease to exist. ”

Please explain how that same argument doesn’t apply to the “eternal cause” of the universe.”

The concern he raises rises from the misuse of “eternal” and “infinite”. They are not synonyms. Something that is eternal IS forever- it cannot change. If I am eternally turning on a lightbulb, then I can never turn it off- time is not even a relevant concept in eternity. It is forever in the present tense- it wasn’t, and it won’t be- eternity is.

Meanwhile, infinity is an inconceivably large measure, in this case applied to time. I think that infinite may not have been the best word choice, but it is the word used here, and in all other versions of this argument, so I’ll do my best to explain the difference. Infinity describes a material object or effect. Since infinite time is just an endless amount of time, the effects of time can take place on an object. It is entirely possible for all the atoms of a planet to simultaneously repel each other, or for two comets to collide and form a Bengal tiger, since there are infinite chances for these things to occur. It is also possible for all of the particles in the universe to explode.

God, or the “eternal cause”, is eternal in time, and infinite in space. Thus He (or it) is infinitely larger than the universe, but is unchanged by the passing of time.

Now, how do we know that the universe isn’t eternal? It began- something that is eternal just is , with no beginning. And I am not being a whacktacular fundie for asserting the universe had a beginning; virtually all modern science confirms the universe began to exist.
“It’s also common knowledge that the universe isn’t eternal but had a beginning ten to twenty billion years ago, and that it is expanding.” (Kitty Ferguson, The Fire in the Equations, 1994, p. 89)
“Now three lines of evidence—the motions of the galaxies, the laws of thermodynamics, and the life story of the stars—pointed to one conclusion; all indicated that the Universe had a beginning” (Dr. Robert Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, 1978, p. 111) (Note: Despite his book’s title, Dr. Jastrow is an evolutionary astronomer, an agnostic, and at best a deist)
“It was apparent that matter could not be eternal, because, as everyone knows, eternal things do not run down.” (Dr. Bert Johnson, So Long Eternal Universe; Hello Beginning, Hello End!, 2001)

Therefore, since the universe is demonstratabely not eternal, even if it is infinite, arguments that apply to it cannot apply to an eternal being or cause.

Sincerely,
Sarah

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