In the other thread, I asked the question "How was the universe created", and the consensus amongst you was pretty much 'We don't know, but we’re getting closer to knowing, and you can't logically say it was God'.
This is a fair representation of what an atheist might say. But it is an answer that calls out for an explanation; but an explanation of the answer rather than an explanation of the creation of the universe.
The word “creation” itself carries baggage that is not helpful. We associate the verb “to create” with an agent – “The bull created a mess in the china shop.” – i.e. that (i) there is an agent and that (ii) the agent is something exterior to the thing that has been created. In the case of the universe, there is the implication that the agent would have to be a massively intelligent source because, as Creationists say, “otherwise, what else could account for the complexity?”
Complexity is “Something that is hard to grasp and understand because it is made up of difficult propositions.”
This idea that "mankind should be able, without effort, to understand everything" was a natural thought in the time before the scientific method opened up the universe’s secrets – at that time, mankind thought everything was very simple and we could know everything. At that time in history, it was valid to say, “It’s obvious, isn’t it?”
We can no longer say, “It’s obvious, isn’t it?” We know we cannot say this because there are university courses dedicated to learning all manner of complicated knowledge – knowledge that the vast majority of us simply cannot grasp – admit it, 99% of us are neither intelligent or capable enough to understand the proof of Fermat’s last theorem, although it has been resolved.
Q: Does “The Solution to Fermat’s Last Theorem” then fall into the category of “Things an atheist takes on faith.”?
A: No. It does not.
It falls into the category of “Those things that we know that mankind can do.” And that does not mean “All of us can do” it means one or two from amongst us who has satisfied a group of well qualified persons who, in turn, agree that each step is the truth. They say this based upon being able to show that each proposition is based upon a solid truth itself. This proof goes all the way back to 1+1=2
If we are serious about finding the origins of our present and observable universe, there are several questions about events preceding the present and observable universe’s first appearance. Questions to which, at the moment, there is no definitive answer.
However, what there is, is a vast amount of knowledge of the way that matter
behaves. It is from this knowledge that we can say that “Something happened 10-42
seconds before the universes came into existence but we don’t know what, but
whatever it was will be in line with the knowledge we now have and, unfortunately for the Creationist, that knowledge - even at its present level - is of a physical nature and excludes a deity.
We can explain the formation of the universe from 10-42
seconds before it came into existence without having to introduce a deity.
Those who cling to the idea of a deity are stuck in denial at a time before the Enlightenment. Why are they stuck there? Because to admit otherwise would be traumatic to their lifetime of learning.
Q: Why is it so difficult for the deist to admit that knowledge has expanded and why is it difficult for them to say that the old explanations of huge physical events are no longer valid, whereas atheists accept this to be the case?
A: As we learn, we build up neural pathways. These pathways (in simple terms) are investments and lead our experiences to become conclusions. The conclusions help us cope with daily life – nettles sting; eating stops you feeling hungry; some things are dangerous, some things are nice; some things are nice but dangerous, etc.
These conclusions are very deeply seated; the brain does not want the trouble of re-learning, especially in an area where the knowledge is not critical to our daily life – and you must admit that belief in a deity is not essential to daily life, otherwise there would be no atheists and we would all believe in one god.
I then asked 'is it possible there is some intelligence behind the universe' and the consensus seems to be 'it's possible, in the sense ANYTHING is theoretically possible, but highly unlikely'.
This is a very fair representation of one type of atheist philosophy. This is the atheist’s open-mindedness. The best an atheist will day is “Everything points towards XYZ, and we can show each step, right up to the final conclusion. However, tomorrow, someone might come up with something we have missed.” So, we should not fear saying, “I don’t know.” The Bible-inerrancy
deist does seem to fear this, as his personal God should have explained everything and everything should
confirm His existence.
The deist therefore looks to things that give confirmation bias to his poorly sourced beliefs. He receives information input and converts that to an Experience he can assimilate and that fits the pathways that are filtered through his belief system.
you are not persuaded by a Hindu or Jewish version of a great event. You dismiss the animist beliefs of many people as pure, misguided ignorance and superstition - missionaries are sent to put them right. You may well think they are deluded. But your own system is quite normal... Why might that be?
And as an aside: The following is an amazing coincidence! True story:
In a nutshell, here's what’s been troubling me:
There are varying degrees by which we can validate the truth of something. For instance, we can be told that there is a wardrobe in a room. We might believe this even without validation, if we have no obvious reason to doubt the person telling us. We could ask somebody not privy to the conversation to walk into the room and tell us what it contains. If they say "a wardrobe ", we can pretty much take that to the bank. Or we can validate it 100% by walking into the room and seeing it for ourselves.
I have just returned to UK from having taken my son to Maastricht University in the Netherlands. Prior to his departure, my wife packed his stuff and had seen a picture of his room – it is not particularly large… in fact it’s quite small. In the photo, you could see the bed, a bookcase and a desk and chair. My wife said, “Shall I pack coat-hangers?”
I asked why she was asking – “Well, I can’t see a wardrobe.”
My son and I both said, “Well there must be a wardrobe! All bedrooms have wardrobes! Who would build a flat (US = apartment) without a wardrobe or if they did, who would furnish a bedroom with desk, chair, bookcase but not a wardrobe?”
Anyway, we arrived in Maastricht and saw the room… I will not say if it has a wardrobe or not – I will just say, “'it's possible, that it does not have a wardrobe, in the sense ANYTHING is theoretically possible, but highly unlikely'.” ; )