March 28, 2012

A Universe Perhaps From Something - a Second and Conciser Critique
of the Central Tenet of Lawrence M. Krauss's a Universe From Nothing

Hatched by Dafydd

I have not read Krauss's book, a Universe From Nothing; I cheerfully admit as such up front. But funnily enough, I can still shatter its core argument... and in a lot fewer words than used by David Albert a few days ago in the Sunday Book Review of the New York Times, in his equally devastating (but overlong) piece, "On the Origin of Everything."

And I promise that the sentence above will be the longest and most convoluted in this post.

Krauss purports to prove, whether he admits it or not, that God did not create the universe, and indeed does not exist at all. His thesis culminates with what he alleges to be a scientific -- i.e., non-supernatural -- answer to the question, "Why is there something rather than nothing?", which he sees as the crux of what his cohort, militant atheist Richard Dawkins, who wrote the afterword to Krauss's book, would call the "God delusion." (I'll deal with this -- the "God of the gaps" argument, a.k.a. the Thunder Fallacy -- in more depth below.)

Krauss's answer to his question is thus: Contemporary quantum mechanics demonstrates that what we have historically called "nothing," an absence of any physical substance, is in fact something, quantum fields interacting with other quantum fields; and that the original "nothing-something" can reformulate itself as "something-something," that is, physical particles and suchlike.

Distinct quantum fields can combine in various ways. When they combine in some ways, they create physical particles -- electrons, protons, neutrons, other, more exotic critters, and their quark building blocks. But when they combine in other ways, they create "things" that have no mass, no charge, and no other detectable properties... in other words, what earlier scientists would have called "nothing." (I'm doing my best here as a non-physicist; but even if I get the specifics of Krauss's scientific argument wrong, that doesn't change my point, as you will see.)

Under current theory, quantum fields can interact, break up, and realign themselves into different configurations. Which means that fields that are currently combined in ways that create so-called "nothing" can recombine in ways that create physical somethings.

And that is what he means by saying he has solved the question, "Why is there something rather than nothing?"

Albert's critique is a bit of handwaving -- appropriate because he's responding to an argument by Krauss that is a lot of handwaving. Albert essentially argues that, by Krauss's own description, previous ages of scientists, philosophers, and theologians were simply wrong to think that "empty space" actually comprised literaly nothing; it was always something, to wit, quantum fields arranged in certain ways. Therefore, Albert argues, even Krauss agrees that the universe was not created out of nothing but rather out of something; and the title of Krauss's book is misleading.

And who, Albert argues, created the quantum fields in the first place, not to mention the rules by which they can combine, and the rules preventing them from combining in other ways? Albert argues that all Krauss has done is push divine Creation back one step: Instead of asking, "Who or what created the physical world with us on it?", we must instead ask, "Who or what created the quantum fields and the physical rules that govern them, such that our physical world came into existence with us on it?"

Which is logically the same question, and Krauss is simply begging it.

Krauss complains that his critics are moving the goal posts. The theologians said that God must exist because how else could the universe be created out of nothing; I have proven that physics itself says things can be created out of nothing; but now the critics say that's not good enough, because those very theologians were wrong about nothingness in the first place!

Is that unfairly moving the goal posts? No; and for Krauss to maintain that it is ensnares him in the same trap that has caught many religious folk, when they argue, e.g., that evolutionary theory keeps "moving the goal posts."

Evolutionary science evolves -- pun noted -- because all science evolves. By the very nature of science, theory is constantly checked against observation; and when empirical measurement finds anomalous results, they must be explained. If they cannot be explained by finding some demonstrable error in the testing or analysis of results, then current theory must be changed to accomodate the new observation.

Science is therefore self-correcting, in a way that other disciplines are not. That is not a bug, it's a feature.

However, philosophy, to the extent it is grounded in physical reality, must necessarily also change along with the scientific concensus: When Johannes Kepler discovered that the planets orbited the sun, not in circles (with or without "epicycles") but rather in elipses (squashed circles), philosophy, including religion, had to change its fundamental theory that God pushed the planets around in circles because He is perfect, and the circle is the perfect curve.

Likewise, contemporary religion must remake itself to take into account the scientific truths that the species of Earth, including humans, physically evolved from simpler creatures; and also that quantum theory indicates that what appears to be nothing can reorganize itself into what is obviously something. It's not "moving the goal posts;" it's simply philosophy accepting the evolving nature of scientific understanding. Why should that get Krauss's knickers in a twist?

I cannot vouch for the accuracy of Krauss's (or Albert's) science; but fortunately, there is no need. The better critique is to get at the core of Krauss's argument and bypass the question of who or what created quantum fields.

And here it is: Who cares if Krauss has an explanation of how physical somethings can spontaneously spring into existence from nothing? How could that prove the nonexistence of God? The only logical connection that would make that argument work is that Krauss must assume that there is one and only one reason why believers believe in God: because they think there is some "gap" in scientific understanding that can only be filled by God.

Plug that gap, and poof! No more need for God. This, Krauss appears to think he has accomplished.

Francis Collins, author of in indispensible book the Language of God (which I did read) -- former head of the Human Genome Project -- calls this the "God of the gaps" argument, and it goes much like this:

  1. Current scientific theory cannot explain why X occurs.
  2. Thus there is a gap in science.
  3. Aha! That gap must be where God lives! Clearly, God causes X to occur every time it's necessary.

But what happens when scientific theory is changed, as above? Suppose science does now explain very nicely why X occurs? What happens to the God of the gap?

There are two general classes of response: The gapper can quibble whether new theory A really does explain gap X; or he can find another aspect Y, a deeper part of X, that is not fully explained by current theory... and aha again, that's where God actually lives!

Yep, it's turtles, turtles, turtles all the way down. But that other aspect Y is almost necessarily narrower and more technical than the original X. And as Collins (who is himself very Christian) argues, the gaps in which God lives get smaller and smaller, until finally He is squeezed right out. And that's why "God of the gaps" theologians oft become atheists: They run out of gaps in which God can hide.

More melodramatically, I call this argument the Thunder Fallacy -- that we need God to explain the thunder and lightning, the floods, the earthquakes, and the other scary threats that seem to arise out of nowhere. They're punishments by God for some sin we have committed.

But isn't that quite a primitive, petty, and meagre conception of what is supposed to be an omnipotent, omniscient, and omni-good being? I don't know why the sun shines, so God created it. I don't know where people came from, so God individually created them. I don't know how the Bernoulli Effect works, so God reaches down and grabs all the airplanes, holding them in the sky. You may as well say it's ju-ju.

Your dog doesn't understand how food keeps appearing in the magic bowl; but to humans, there is a simple explanation. Alas for Fido, it's simply beyond his ken. And much of the universe is beyond the ken of even the most genius human being; but is everything unexplained therefore unexplainable?

Krauss phrases his killer question as a "why," but it's actually a "how" -- Under quantum field theory, how, by what mechanism, does something materialize out of what appears to be nothing? Assume Krauss is correct: How in cosmos does that prove there is no God?

Even if it's possible for a universe to spring into existence ex nihilo, by itself and without being created by God, how does that prove that our own universe was not created by God? At best, Krauss can prove that we cannot use the Thunder Fallacy, the God of the gaps argument, to prove that the existence of Universe requires special creation by God.

Krauss might be able to demonstrate that God is not required to create a universe, but he surely cannot demonstrate that there is no God, or that God did not create this universe; maybe God is not a necessary condition for our universe, but He certainly would be a sufficient one, if He existed. Likewise, believers cannot use science to prove that God does exist and did create this universe, for the same reason you can't crack a walnut by hitting it with a hard calculus equation: Nutcrackers and mathematics are both useful tools, but they're hardly interchangeable.

And that is all Krauss has done; he has clearly shown that the existence of God cannot be proven by scientific reasoning... an insight that philosophers and theologians latched onto several centuries ago: If God's existence and/or nature could be proved by pure reason, argue the religious, then there would be no need for faith.

Speaking as a bona-fide agnostic -- not like most, who declare themselves agnostics but in fact are cowardly atheists -- I have always understood that God can neither be demonstrated nor refuted by logical or scientific means; He cannot be measured or deduced. I wrote a paper about it at university nearly 35 years ago, and it was an ancient, almost trite argument even then.

Congratulations, Lawrence Krauss... your scientific ontogeny has recapitulated philosophical phylogeny!

All right, all right, so my critique wasn't any more concise than Albert's after all. But by golly, it's more universal and doesn't fall prey to the Thunder Fallacy. So there. Krauss's argument that something can arise from what used to be called nothing proves nothing at all about the existence or nonexistence of God. It proves only that that particular "gap" in science has (perhaps) now been filled, thus it cannot be hiding a mysteriously shy and reticent Almighty.

But we already knew that, didn't we?

Cross-posted on Hot Air's rogues' gallery...

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, March 28, 2012, at the time of 6:46 PM

Comments

The following hissed in response by: snochasr

Marvelous! But tell me, as an agnostic, do you ever think that perhaps you should hedge your bet?

The above hissed in response by: snochasr [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 29, 2012 4:29 AM

The following hissed in response by: Sabba Hillel

The actual point is that no matter how or when the Universe is assumed to have developed, it says nothing about creation. G0d could have created it with this message on your computer screen while you are reading these words. Similarly G0d could have created the universe 5 seconds, minutes, hours, months, years, decades, centuries, millenia, eons, ago. Those who argue against the existence of G0d because of fossils are just as wrong as those who argue against the existence of evolution because of creation from nothing. This says nothing about the "G0d in the gaps", it just says that in order to allow us to have free will, G0d deliberately allows ambiguities.

A famous example is the splitting of the Reed Sea during the exodus from Egypt. The bible explicitly states that G0d caused a wind the entire night before in order to open up the path. Modern science has discovered a reef in the sea at the point that they think the exodus occurred that a 60 mile per hour wind blowing all night would uncover and allow people to cross. Some of them them said that this "proves" that G0d does not exist. After all, if G0d existed, then it would have been done like Cecil B. DeMille showed it and not by a "natural wind". They ignore the fact that this wind occurred exactly at the right time and place to let the Israelites escape and that it stopped blowing just in time to drown the Egyptian army.

A similar argument is made about those who argue that "who created the gods?". The definition of G0d is the one that created whatever came first (including Time) and was not created.

The above hissed in response by: Sabba Hillel [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 29, 2012 8:20 AM

The following hissed in response by: Sabba Hillel

An interesting question. Do you as a "true agnostic" live your life as if there is or is not a G0d. Whichever it is why do you do this? How do you define the G0d that you are unsure about? If it is the "watchmaker G0d" which has no interaction with the Universe, how does that differ (in any substantive sense) from the life of an Atheist (capitalized because it is the name of a religion)?

A true agnostic might actually be able to live according to Pascal's Wager. His flaw was that he assumed that a person who chose to live as if there were a G0d, would choose to live according to his particular religion. In my view, a true agnostic would choose to live according to a particular definition of "good" because of the possibility that G0d exists. This is because part of the definition is that G0d created us because he wants us to use our free will to do "good".

The above hissed in response by: Sabba Hillel [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 29, 2012 8:29 AM

The following hissed in response by: Karl

And who, Albert argues, created the quantum fields in the first place, not to mention the rules by which they can combine, and the rules preventing them from combining in other ways? Albert argues that all Krauss has done is push divine Creation back one step: Instead of asking, "Who or what created the physical world with us on it?", we must instead ask, "Who or what created the quantum fields and the physical rules that govern them, such that our physical world came into existence with us on it?"

And indeed, I haven't heard many people (especially Dennis Prager) address the possibility that quantum fields and the physical rules that govern them may have always existed and no creator (or Creator) is required.

If a theologian can argue that God always existed and did not need to be created, we can argue the same about the most basic laws of nature.

The above hissed in response by: Karl [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 29, 2012 9:27 AM

The following hissed in response by: snochasr

Well, that is the other alternative, to argue that the universe has always existed and will always exist (something incomprehensible for mere mortals), but the physical science says that it has not and will not, that it has a start and an end. We accept the Big Bang theory for the start of the universe, not knowing where the stuff that "banged" came from, and we accept that all the stars will eventually burn out. Even if the remnants collapse back into a new Bang, the universe "stops" at that point.

The above hissed in response by: snochasr [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 29, 2012 9:48 AM

The following hissed in response by: Sabba Hillel

Karl:

You miss the point. Actually I am listening to some tapes that Dennis Prager made in 1989 on the 13 principles of Maimonides. One of the points that he makes is that no matter how far back you take the argument, then the initial creation is the point at which your discussion must center. He points out that even if you create some very sophisticated methods for "creating" the Universe, they all assume that something existed before that. Bertrand Russell made the claim that the Universe had "always exited" back in the 1930's and the argument was no more accurate then than it is now. Just because you define the "always existing" as some "quantum fields" rather than "primal matter" does not make a difference.

Isaac Asimov once tried to define the Big Bang as occurring from the "collision" of two primordial "seeds" of opposite polarity. However, he very quickly got into trouble by having to define where they came from.

The difference between G0d and "laws of nature" are based on the fact that "laws of nature" are part of the Universe. I would suggest that you listen to Prager from 1989 to see that your objection was answered almost a millenium ago. The arguments were not new even then.

The above hissed in response by: Sabba Hillel [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 29, 2012 1:34 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dick E

I’m a cowardly atheist. No, I don’t claim to be an agnostic. It’s just that atheism is so unpopular in this country that, when the subject comes up and I tell people that I am an atheist, I face unbelieving (irony intended) stares. So I don’t discuss the topic unless I feel it necessary.

Am I absolutely, 100% sure that there is no supreme being? No, of course not. On this matter, I rather like the 7-point scale of Richard (the Blowhard) Dawkins. A lot of what he writes is condescending and insulting -- like his pasta metaphor. But Dawkins says on a scale of 1 (absolute theism) to 7 (absolute atheism) he calls himself a 6.5. Is there anyone more atheistic than Richard Dawkins? On his scale I’d have to be at least a 6.5. (Unfortunately, at that point Dawkins’ argument descends into blowhardiness. He says that on the other end of the scale, he doesn’t think anyone has a belief score less than 1.5. How the hell does he know?)

I guess I figure that if one has to be absolutely, 100% sure, then the word atheism is useless. I’m not that sure of anything. Will the sun come up tomorrow? I believe it will. Is there an infinitesimal chance that overnight we will be swallowed by an unforeseen supernova? (Probably not physically possible, but work with me here.) Or maybe some evil aliens will decide they need our sun as an energy source, so they tow it away with their tractor beam.

The reasons for my belief system -- and yes, I acknowledge that’s what it is -- are unique to me and my life experience. I don’t try to convince anyone that I’m right and their religious beliefs are wrong, because my reasons wouldn’t convince anyone. I can explain why I became an atheist; like you, Dafydd, I wrote a paper on the subject in college but, unlike yours, mine was an explanation, not an argument.

Will I ever change my mind? I don’t think so. On this, I’m kind of in the Christopher Hitchens school. Actually, I’m kind of in his shoes, too. I don’t flatter myself that I have anything like the late Mr. Hitchens’ intellectual or literary gifts -- but I do share the fatal disease part. I might last a couple more years; fortunately liquid oxygen allows me to maintain a significant amount of mobility. But there won’t be a deathbed (or foxhole) conversion.

The above hissed in response by: Dick E [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 30, 2012 12:04 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh

Dick E:

Sorry to hear about your disease, Dick E. But as long as we're talking about nothing being 100% certain, there's always the chance that before you actually sucumb, medical researchers might at least come up with a maintenance regime. Heck, they did it for AIDS; and as I recall, the "AIDS cocktail" came about rather suddenly.

(I'm not suggesting you have AIDS; it's just an illustrative example.)

As to how I live -- we segue from response to a specific comment to comment on this entire thread -- I actually have a very, very rigid moral and ethical code, and I try as hard as I can to live up to it (and usually succeed). As a matter of pride, I refuse to cheat or take shortcuts just for my own convenience; for therein lies chaos, madness, and epic fail.

It would be easier for me if I was a believer; if I sincerely believed that Someone besides me was watching everything I did, with an eye towards judging me after death, I would have more of an incentive to stick to the program. Not only that, but I would be relieved of having to deduce for myself what was moral and what immoral or amoral.

But part of my code requires utter honesty... though not utter consistency, thank God! I cannot lie even to myself to say, "Yes, I believe in what Prager calls an ethically monotheistic God."

I am well aware that if I was to tell myself that every day, several times a day, I could program myself actually to believe it; but it would still be a lie, because it would be conditioning by endless repetition, rather than either reason or direct gnosis. I could equally well program myself to believe in Druidism or Scientology.

So I must figure out right and wrong for myself, and I must rely on nothing but my own Will to follow what I perceive as the former... without any authority figure or even a community of the like-minded to support me.

But to stand an' be still to the Birken'ead drill
is a damn tough bullet to chew

My motto -- one of them, anyway -- is the same as Fox Mulder's. But I can't force it; it must come naturally. I'd rather burn for an honest agnostic than for an ersatz believer and Babbitt.

All right, a bit melodramatic; but wotthehell, archie, wotthehell.

Dafydd

The above hissed in response by: Dafydd ab Hugh [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 30, 2012 2:53 AM

The following hissed in response by: snochasr

I consider myself a logical person as well, though each of us reasons from a different set of life experiences. I became religious-- not obviously, just attending church-- in my late teens, as many in my circle did. I was a "social Christian." I got more involved during college and, through association, experienced things that I cannot explain other than as being from God, or so the sum of my then-current experience would name the source of it.

So, I am wondering, does one need to first admit the possibility, and perhaps even "pretend" to concede it, in order to "reason" to oneself that it may be true? Do you have to live it first without believing to come to the belief?

As for the moral code, I'm not sure that having an absolute moral code from God, especially a forgiving God, helps much, other than you don't need to decide the big, general rules for yourself. It's in the little cracks that the ethical quandaries arise, anyway. Myself, I've always favored the simplest ethical rule, from St. Augustine, who said, "Love God, then do as you please."

The above hissed in response by: snochasr [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 30, 2012 7:19 AM

The following hissed in response by: Sabba Hillel

Daffydd:

The point that Dennis was making was not that you force yourself to pretend to believe, but that you live as if you believe rather than live as if you were an atheist. In this case, the way you describe yourself as forcing yourself to live by a moral and ethical code leads me to believe that you are indeed living as if you are a believer. A true atheist has the attitude that there is nothing there. Thus, there is no reason to have a moral code. The very fact of your refusal to lie even to yourself, seems to imply this.

The only reason that I doubt that we will meet in the afterlife is that the concept of reward and punishment is different for everyone. What might be a reward for me could be a punishment for you.

There is a story that a great rabbi was asked

What is the reward of the righteous.
His response was "They get to stay in the study hall of G-d and study the Torah for eternity".
"What is the punishment of the wicked?"
"They have to stay in the study house of G-d and study the Torah for eternity"

There is another story of two men who made a deal that whoever died first would come back and say what it was like. Finally one of them died and came in a dream to show his friend what he was undergoing. The friend saw that he was in a luxurious apartment with a beautiful woman as his roommate.

The friend asked, "How did you deserve this reward".

The dead man answered, "I am her punishment".

The above hissed in response by: Sabba Hillel [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 30, 2012 12:25 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dick E

Dafydd-

Thanks for the kind wishes.

I didn’t intend that my illness be a mystery -- I have pulmonary fibrosis, a kind of scarring of the lung tissue. There’s research on it, but not as much as for some other diseases. It would be wonderful if a better maintenance regime or a cure came soon. But I’m not holding my breath.
d^_^b

The above hissed in response by: Dick E [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 31, 2012 12:34 AM

The following hissed in response by: Geoman

There could be a god, and I can prove logically.

In the last 1,000 years or so human beings have developed extraordinary technology. Our pace of technological advancement is increasing exponentially.

Projecting forward, what will human beings look like in 100 years? In 1,000 years? In 10,000 years? Will we even be defined as human? What sort of powers over our environment will we have? Instaneous travel, super intelligence, control over all matter and energy, time travel. What might we be capable off in 10,000 years? In all probibility, anything.

The universe is immensely old. Yet intelligence, even highly advanced technological intelligence, evolved very quickly on our world. It is a near certinty that it evolved elsewhere in the universe, and it is statistically probable that they are far, far ahead of us. They have already passed the 10,000 year barrier.

Therefore, beings with god-like powers certinly exist in the universe, now, today. Rather they have science indistinguisable from magic. And we are likely to become such beings ourselves (assuming we don't snuff out along the way). If time travel is possible, then perhaps we are even our own Gods.

So, some aethist explain to me why this is not just scientificaly plausible, but even likely.

What's that? Not fair? Pshaw! You define god your way, I'll define it mine. My guess is my moralistic super powerfull space alien/future human is going to look an awful lot like the classical definition.

Suck it Dawkins.

The above hissed in response by: Geoman [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 2, 2012 2:03 PM

The following hissed in response by: Geoman

There could be a god, and I can prove logically.

In the last 1,000 years or so human beings have developed extraordinary technology. Our pace of technological advancement is increasing exponentially.

Projecting forward, what will human beings look like in 100 years? In 1,000 years? In 10,000 years? Will we even be defined as human? What sort of powers over our environment will we have? Instaneous travel, super intelligence, control over all matter and energy, time travel. What might we be capable off in 10,000 years? In all probibility, anything.

The universe is immensely old. Yet intelligence, even highly advanced technological intelligence, evolved very quickly on our world. It is a near certinty that it evolved elsewhere in the universe, and it is statistically probable that they are far, far ahead of us. They have already passed the 10,000 year barrier.

Therefore, beings with god-like powers certinly exist in the universe, now, today. Rather they have science indistinguisable from magic. And we are likely to become such beings ourselves (assuming we don't snuff out along the way). If time travel is possible, then perhaps we are even our own Gods.

So, some aethist explain to me why this is not just scientificaly plausible, but even likely.

What's that? Not fair? Pshaw! You define god your way, I'll define it mine. My guess is my moralistic super powerfull space alien/future human is going to look an awful lot like the classical definition.

Suck it Dawkins.

The above hissed in response by: Geoman [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 2, 2012 2:04 PM

The following hissed in response by: Geoman

sorry for the double post.

The above hissed in response by: Geoman [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 2, 2012 2:04 PM

The following hissed in response by: Dick E

Geoman-

I acknowledge that such god-like beings are plausible. They may even be out there right now.

But the beings you conceptualize, while highly advanced, are not supernatural. Thus, while god-like, they are not God -- to me or, I’m pretty sure, to the vast majority of theists.

If we ultimately meet these ET’s, we might initially regard them as God or gods. That’s the mistake the Aztecs made when they met Hernán Cortés and the Conquistadores. (The story may be apocryphal, but it’s illustrative.)

The above hissed in response by: Dick E [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 2, 2012 11:20 PM

The following hissed in response by: Geoman

But you see, you are now playing the gaps.

"Supernatural" simple includes things that that appear to defy natural law. There are all sorts of "supernatural" things that we now have pretty decent natural explanations for.

Cortez was clearly supernatural...to the Aztecs. We laugh/pity their mistake, but that is only because we are also "supernatural" to the Aztecs...and maybe Cortez. My dog thinks I am supernatural, since I make food appear in his bowl each day, and water come from a pipe in the wall. To the dog this is "truth". I do my best not to dissuade him to the contrary.

I think it is very funny that you (and others) may draw a bright line between the God and space aliens, when the only difference is that one pulls the cloak of respectable (and inexplicable) science over itself. We are comforted by one, and discomforted by the other....yet we understand neither.

I get that "God is a space alien" sounds flaky. It makes us cringe. But that is not my point at all. My point is that super intelligent nearly omnipotent beings are possible given our known understanding of the universe, and therefore the existence of God (the not space alien) cannot be logically precluded by any means.

What or who God actually is...who knows?

The above hissed in response by: Geoman [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 3, 2012 12:11 PM

The following hissed in response by: Geoman

By the by, the insistence on a difference between the two comes solely from this: We don't expect superintelligent space aliens to ...judge us. We are thus comforted - they may be vastly more powerfull than us, may even destroy us, but they won't know or care that I stole that candy bar in sixth grade. They won't...nag us to be good. They are simply impersonal forces of nature.

God, on the other hand, has suggested he may hold us accountable...and that bugs most people. God knows and cares. He's judgemental.

So, for example, Iran may get nuclear weapons and attack the U.S., which is bad, but God help me if I have to live with my mother-in-law!

The above hissed in response by: Geoman [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 3, 2012 12:22 PM

The following hissed in response by: Sabba Hillel

The point devolves to the definition of G0d as opposed to the definition of a god. The problem is that you are including (as an example) Zeus or any other of the members of that race of super powerful magicians called "gods" in the definition of G0d.

The definition that many of us are working with is the being which is "outside" of nature as created everything. Of course, according to Clark's Third Law*, we could mistake super powerful aliens for "gods" just as the Incas did Cortes. However, that would still be wrong. As long as they exist within the Universe they are merely gods and not G0d.

There have been a number of fantasy (or science fiction) stories and novels based on this concept. That is why no matter how far back one goes, the question is still valid.


*Clark's Third Law: Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic

Any sufficiently advanced magic is indistinguishable from technology.

Anonymous saying, this is an inversion of the third of Clarke's three laws : "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." It has been called "Niven's Law" and attributed to Larry Niven by some, and to Terry Pratchett by others, but without any citation of an original source in either case — the earliest occurrence yet located is an anonymous one in Keystone Folklore (1984) by the Pennsylvania Folklore Society.

The above hissed in response by: Sabba Hillel [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 10, 2012 10:59 AM

The following hissed in response by: Dick E

Sabba Hillel & Geoman-

It would seem to me that God (or a god) must, by definition, be supernatural -- that is, must actually be supernatural, not just appear to be. And real supernaturalism (if that’s not an oxymoron) is necessarily innate; it cannot be achieved via advanced technology.

People might believe ET is a god. They might worship ET as a god. That does not make ET a god.

The above hissed in response by: Dick E [TypeKey Profile Page] at April 10, 2012 9:03 PM

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