Creationist Wisdom #500: The First Cause

This is what you’ve been waiting for — number 500. It’s hard to believe, but we once considered ending this series with an especially crazy letter — see #167: The Final Climax.

Today’s letter-to the editor is the Buffalo News of Buffalo, New York. It’s titled God must have existed before the Big Bang. There’s a comments section at the end, but there’s only one comment so far — and it’s favorable.

Today’s writer isn’t a politician or a preacher, but he’s sufficiently prominent that we’ll use his full name. He’s described at the end as Zach Krajacic, “vice president at 101.7 FM The Station of the Cross Catholic Radio Network, based in Williamsville.” Excerpts from his letter will be enhanced with our Curmudgeonly commentary and some bold font for emphasis. Here we go!

Though consistent with the Catholic Church’s historic teaching, Pope Francis’ recent affirmation of the plausibility of the Big Bang theory has apparently shocked the world.

It didn’t shock us — see Pope Francis, Evolution, & the Big Bang. Then we’re told:

However, the Big Bang is not incompatible with God, because something would have had to exist prior to the Big Bang taking place, for an explosion could not have happened in a state of “nothing.” This “something” is what we refer to as God.

We’ve seen this before. It goes back to Aristotle’s unmoved mover, and the same argument is part of Thomas Aquinas’ Five Proofs of God. Does Zach have anything new to add? Let’s read on:

The creation of the universe as a byproduct of an explosion would mean that nothing existed before the explosion. But, as will be demonstrated, it is not possible to have a state of nothing (or a state of non-existence), and even if it were possible, a state of nothing could not create something, because there would be no substance or catalyst from which it could be created. This means there must be a supernatural being that was not created but simply exists, and is therefore intertwined with existence itself.

[*Curmudgeon groans*] No one claims that there was literally nothing before the Big Bang — it’s just that we don’t know what it was. Zach sounds like Ray Comfort, the author of Nothing Created Everything: The Scientific Impossibility of Atheistic Evolution.

As we’ve said before, if one begins with the premise that everything has a cause, and then works his way back to God’s being the cause of the universe, the game isn’t over yet. It has just begun. The conclusion that God created the universe isn’t exempt from the premise that brought you to that conclusion. The premise that “everything has a cause” demands that you persevere and seek the cause of God — which leads to the absurdity of an infinite series of earlier gods.

The traditional “solution” is that when one gets to the desired moment in the causal chain, he arbitrarily abandons the suddenly inconvenient premise, leaving him with God as an “uncaused cause” — a conclusion which contradicts the premise. But one can’t arbitrarily stop with some allegedly transcendent thing and assert that it needs no cause. Why? You arrived at that point because everything has a cause. Whether one capriciously abandons the premise at the “right” place in the causal chain, or diligently pursues it to an infinite series of gods — the argument is either self-contradictory or it leads to an absurdity.

There’s nothing wrong with the premise of causality; but it doesn’t support theism’s desired conclusion. Anyway, Zach is on a roll. He continues:

The concept of existence is the key to any discussion about the origin of the universe. Too often the focus of these discussions is on how visible matter came into existence – human beings, animals, planets, stars, sun, moon and so on. The discussion must go much deeper. It must address questions of how existence came to be and whether non-existence (i.e., nothing) is even possible.

This is deep thinking. Deep! Here’s more:

[N]on-existence is not possible. Even if it were possible, a state of nothing would have to be a permanent state, because it is impossible for something to be created from nothing. In order for the creation of anything to have taken place, something must always have existed. This something is God.

Yeah, okay. Moving along:

For this reason the theory of evolution in no way undermines the existence of God. Even if we accept that human beings evolved from monkeys, the next question is: Where did monkeys come from? The answer to that question prompts another question and so on. Each question illustrates the process of cause and effect: something comes into being as the result of something before it. As we continue to proceed through the chain of cause and effect, we eventually reach the atom (the basic building block of all matter) and wonder how the atom came into being.

Ooooooooooh — this is so profound! Then he goes on and on about the need for a prime mover. Skipping that, we come to another excerpt:

This can only mean one thing: A higher power outside of matter must have always existed without having been created. Existence therefore is a state of being that transcends matter and has no beginning and no end. This state of being is what we refer to as God. Aside from God, there is no other way to identify a prime mover that had no need of being created, one who simply exists.

Didn’t he already say that? Oh well, on with the letter:

Since God has always existed, he did not need to be created.

There goes Zach’s whole argument about causality. No, wait — he takes one final stab at it as we arrive at the end:

Yet we can understand how God has always existed from this perspective: Existence has always existed (or alternatively, there is no such thing as non-existence), which can only be explained through the existence of a supernatural being that is completely distinct from matter. This being is known as God. Unlike the world, he has no beginning and no end. He is existence itself.

So there you are. Everything needs a cause — except the First Cause, which somehow requires no cause. It’s all so very clear.

Copyright © 2014. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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49 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #500: The First Cause

  1. A wonderful addition to the Creationist Wisdom canon, and worthy of the coveted 500th slot!


  2. In order for the creation of anything to have taken place, something must always have existed. This something is God.

    This gives us a whole new slant on the expression “God of the Gaps argument”, doesn’t it?

  3. Charles Deetz ;)

    A good example of circular logic, as in a big fat ZERO! Or maybe the shape of the orifice from which he was talking.

  4. I expected better for #500. Then again, so have the 300-400 others I read. But they’re all interesting as snapshots of that relatively rare “transitional fossil,” evolving from clueless denier to activist in-on-the-scam. One of the most comical – or tragic if that’s how you see it – things is the hopeless confusion among deniers about the Big Bang. Roughly half each say (1) it didn’t happen or (2) it happened and it’s evidence of (their) God. If we did nothing but ask these people which one they favor and whether they ever debated those who favor the other, that would be more instructive to most audiences than all the books by Dawkins, Gould and Miller combined.

    For Zach in particular another obvious question is what came before (his) God. Possibly the FSM?

  5. Ceteris Paribus

    Good decision to not end the series at “#167: The Final Climax”.

    For one thing nothing of importance should be undertaken under the specter of a prime number. And anyway, use of the term “final climax” is redundant until sufficiently proven as true.

  6. No one claims that there was literally nothing before the Big Bang — it’s just that we don’t know what it was.

    I don’t know how to understand, literally, “that there was … nothing before the Big Bang”. ISTM that the plain sense of it would be something like “it is not the case that there was anything before the BB”. Given that one understanding of the Big Bang has it as the beginning of time, that means that it is false to say of anything that it happened “before the Big Bang” – the popular analogy being to “North of the North Pole” – or I suppose that one could say “below the center of the Earth”. Nothing is below the center of the Earth.

  7. TomS says:

    Given that one understanding of the Big Bang has it as the beginning of time, that means that it is false to say of anything that it happened “before the Big Bang”

    Strictly speaking, that’s true. I said this in a comment back in February:

    What I’m about to say invokes the no longer popular — but not yet dead — oscillating universe model. If the universe has always existed, and goes through an endless succession of expansion and contraction phases, then there were “earlier” phases, but to be linguistically strict about it, they aren’t the “past” if there’s no causal connection between phases. Time is bound up with our concept of causality, so it’s correct to say that time begins with the start of each phase.

  8. “It’s all so very clear.”
    As clear as any Louisiana swamp mud can be. They will never find their way out of that philosophical morass.

  9. Sounds like a college dorm bull session. There is no answer in science to the question, “What preceded the Big Bang?” It’s a strictly theological question, unresolvable by use of the scientific method. Anyone who claims to *know* what existed before the Big Bang (or whatever it was that started the universe) is simply stating his/her religious belief.

    Personally, I think it was Santa Claus. He has godlike powers — he knows if you’ve been naughty or nice, he’s omnipresent (in every mall and department store this time of year), he has the ability to deliver presents all over the earth entering millions of homes undetected in one 24-hour period (the schedule really gets hairy starting around 1:00 AM EST), and he has the ability to make reindeer fly.

    The universe was the best present he has ever delivered. Thanks, Santa! By the way, Santa, I’ve been really good this year. Did you get my letter yet?

    Your friend,

  10. “There’s nothing wrong with the premise of causality”
    except that it’s rejected by Modern Physics, which has it replaced by (or rather expanded to) probabilism. The nuclear bomb can’t be understood in terms of causality for instance.

    “Even if it were possible, a state of nothing would have to be a permanent state”
    According to that same Modern Physics any state of nothing is unstable, exactly due to probability.

    RSG proclaims: “It’s a strictly theological question, unresolvable by use of the scientific method.”
    It’s not a strictly theological question at all – it greatly depends on which Big Bang Theory will be accepted. It is possible that it is meaningful to talk about “before the Big Bang” – ie that time is not a feature of our Universe, as Augustinus of Hippo and Stephen Hawking maintain.

    Interpreting what this means will not be a task of theology (the idea!) but of philosophy. Here is a first shot at it:

    “as philosopher Keith Parsons has pointed out, “To say the universe is infinitely old is to say that it had no beginning—not a beginning that was infinitely long ago.”

    Perhaps it’s because you’re retired – but it seems that you are underestimating what science is capable of!

  11. As the writer of the piece, let me explain why the “cause” stops at God. Anything of the natural order (that is, any substance, matter, etc. that are in space and time) has to have a cause. Given your sarcasm, it seems that you accept this as self-evident. Good, I’m glad you agree. But you are troubled that it seems to arbitrarily stop at God. Let me assure you, it is not arbitrary. You see, if we are talking about substance and matter (that is, things we can see, measure, etc.), there has to be a starting point for it, otherwise nothing would have ever been created (you must have missed this key sentence in my piece). If everything was dependent on the natural plane, the world would not exist because there would be an infinite search backward for the initial cause. The only solution to this problem is the supernatural, which exists outside of time and space. In other words, the natural requires the supernatural, because there is simply no “natural” explanation. This is demonstrated by the fact that all you “curmudgeons” ripped apart my piece, but not one person could offer an alternative explanation.

  12. Anything of the natural order (that is, any substance, matter, etc. that are in space and time) has to have a cause.

    This is by no means an accepted truth. You might maybe want to read up on a bit more physics. The argument you’re trying to make is a homespun, commonsensical one. Unfortunately, physics isn’t commonsensical.

    The only solution to this problem is the supernatural, which exists outside of time and space. In other words, the natural requires the supernatural, because there is simply no “natural” explanation.

    Have you troubled to read Lawrence Krauss’s A Universe from Nothing? Although it’s slightly chaotically put together, you’ll find it contains a perfectly comprehensible explanation of how the universe could very easily have come from nothing, without any “cause” of the kind to which you seemingly refer. If you can accept the multiverse concept — for which there’s now what I’d describe as very compelling evidence — then the emergence of our particular universe is the product of a purely chance event.

    Please, by the way, mind who you’re calling curmudgeons. Our host may be one, but some of the rest of us are anything but. I’ll accept the description “grumpy old bastard” if you really want to stereotype me.

  13. It is possible that it is meaningful to talk about “before the Big Bang”

    I’d agree with you very much on this.

  14. @Zach Krajacic: We do not yet fully understand the true nature of the universe (or the true nature of reality, if you will). In fact, we are just at the very earliest stages of our understanding, having just recently discovered the existence of dark matter and dark energy, neither of which we yet understand.

    That said, it appears as though existence entered the portion of space/time we call “our universe” about 13.7 billion years ago (give or take a few minutes). We think of time as being a linear progression. But do we have proof that it is indeed linear, and not circular? If time is circular, it would have no beginning — any more than there is a starting point on a circle.

    My whole point is, we just don’t know. Through the ages mankind has always ascribed to gods (or God) anything that was not understood. We are still doing it.

    mnbo may well be correct — science may find a way to discover what preceded the Big Bang. Maybe it IS God. But it could just as well be Santa Claus. Just because a whole bunch of people on this one planet think a book written over 3,000 years ago holds all the answers doesn’t make it true, nor does that book saying it’s true make it true.

    We do not know. We are striving to find out, stretching our knowledge of physics to its limits, but for the time being, we do not know. Having faith is not the same as knowing.

    And as for what you perceive as sarcasm — isn’t sarcasm somewhat like beauty? That is, it’s all in the eye (or ear) of the beholder. Frankly, I’m surprised that the writer of this blog chose your letter for “Creationist Wisdom #500” since the focus of his blog has been the so-called “controversy” between evolution and creationism, and your letter has nothing at all to do with evolution. Now, young-earth creationists especially, and all creationists in general, deserve sarcasm because they are closing their minds to mountains of evidence ruling out any explanation other than deep time, and another mountain of evidence confirming common descent.

  15. @retiredsciguy
    As far as your speculation that time could be circular – it may not even be one dimensional – who knows what structure it has in the neighborhood of the BB – or even if it exists?

  16. Zach, your terrible piece did not present any “explanation”, thus we need not offer alternative explanations. If we were to sneeze, our sneezes would still be superior to your ignorant morass of self-contradictions, non sequiturs and question begging. Religion simply redefines “explanation” to mean “allegations of cause whether or not supported by evidence.” You offer a supernatural God as an allegation of cause unsupported by evidence; that is not an explanation. If we ask, “Why did Snow White come back to life after being killed by a poisoned apple?” You can respond “A prince kissed her,” but that’s not an explanation, it’s an allegation.

    Your allegation of cause is so terrible it’s hard to know where to begin.

    1. Your eternal God conclusion assumes the principle of non-causality, that is, that things that exist need not have causes. This contradicts your major premise that things that exist must have causes. Then you say your God exists but you say it has no cause. You cannot Kalam out of this by saying “Oh I meant that only things that begin to exist need causes,” because your alleged rule “Things that begin to exist need causes” was allegedly derived from a set of observations of things with causes that themselves began to exist.

    Is it not true that, for all entities to which the rule “If it began to exist it has a cause” has ever applied, the rule “If it began to exist, it had a cause that began to exist” also applies universally? …Buh bye Kalam. Don’t let the door hit ya where the dog shoulda bit ya.

    All rules of the form “If it exists it must have a cause” and variants on that can’t get you out of time and space, because the observed causes are always in time and space; can’t get you to a supernatural cause, because the observed causes are always natural; can’t get you to anything transcendent because the observed causes are not transcendent, etc. etc.

    So the theist is attempting the fundamentally dishonest trick of metaphysics, that is, the theist hypothesizes that some INDUCTIVE rules derived from a set of observations {X} applies outside of space and time, even when the inductive rules themselves REQUIRE space and time!!! (Jibbers Crabst, note how Zach keeps saying “before the Big Bang” as if there’s time before time exists!) and then the theist demands that other, equally valid rules which apply even better to observations {X} must NOT apply outside of time and space! Thus the rule “If it exists it has a cause” is assumed to include “causes” that are invisible spooks outside time and space, thus it applies outside time and space, but, demands the theist, the rule “If it exists it has a cause” does NOT apply to invisible spooks outside time and space!

    From a finite set of observations, one may derive an infinite set of rules, so the theist asks himself, “To get to my desired conclusion ‘God exists’, which rules should I concoct and then say apply outside time and space in the Empyrean I’ve never visited, and which OTHER rules should I say do NOT apply to an invisible spook no one has ever seen?”

    If rules derived in time and space also apply outside of time and space, as you and metaphysics assume, then the cause of the universe is made of matter and has a natural cause.

    2. And everyone here knows that the rule “If it exists it has a cause” and variants are not true anyway, it’s observationally falsified by quantum phenomena. Virtual particles produce observable effects but don’t have causes.

    3. If this rule were true (it’s not) it still can’t produce a “problem” of infinite regress, because 1. Infinite regress is not impossible, even in a finite amount of time, and 2. It’s an INDUCTIVE rule, and inductive rules can’t be applied to an infinite set of entities while expecting no exceptions to the rule. Inductive rules, unlike mathematical proofs, are derived from a finite set of observations, thus are probabilistic and can never be known with 100% certainty, and the probability of exceptions is never zero. If inductive rules are applied to an infinite set of entities, the number of exceptions to the rule may be infinite, since a small % times infinity = infinity.

    I have to laugh whenever theists say their god is necessary to solve the “problem” of infinite regress! No, when you encounter an apparent contradiction, you must go back and ask which of your starting premises was wrong! Here, the bad premises were assuming inductive rules like “If it exists it has a cause” are true (when we know they’re not) and that inductive rules can apply to an infinite number of entities while expecting no exceptions. But when the theist hits a contradiction, he cannot question his dumb premises because he starts with the desired conclusion “God exists” and works backward to the necessary premises.

    4. You keep saying bizarre things like “before the Big Bang” which are ludicrous. Either there is time before the Big Bang or there is not. If there is time before the Big Bang, then it can have a natural cause. If there is no time before the Big Bang, then it cannot have ANY cause, because causes in our uniform experience must exist in time and space. In rules of the form “Everything that happens has a cause”, the effect is at some time t2 and the cause is at some earlier time t1 with t1 < t2. But with the universe, if there is no time before the Big Bang at t2, then there us no t1 < t2 and no cause is possible.

    Do not bother googling how that bald-faced liar William Lane Craig gets out of that one. I'll tell you how: he equivocates by flipping between definitions of "cause". Equivocation is dishonest.

    5. Related to this is the fallacy of composition. Even if a rule like "It must have a cause" applied to all objects in time and space (we know it doesn't), there would be no guarantee the rule applies to time, space and the universe. In modern mathematics, the properties of all elements in a set are NOT the properties of the set itself.

    6. You keeps saying all sorts of self-confident statements about "nothing", like nothing can't turn into something, nothing is impossible, etc. First, you don't define "nothing" which enables equivocation which leads to absurd conclusions (compare: nothing is better than happiness, a ham sandwich is better than nothing, therefore a ham sandwich is better than happiness.) Defining "nothing" prevents absurdities.

    Second, rules like "something can't come from nothing" are known to be false with some definitions of "nothing" (e.g. nothing as quantum vacuum.)

    Third, if the rules were true, they would still be INDUCTIVE rules, and can't be applied to an infinite number of entities to conclude zero exceptions!

    Fourth, you say bizarre things like "[N]on-existence is not possible"– how could you possibly prove that? It's absurd; unicorns have non-existence, so it is quite possible. Then you say, "Even if it were possible… it is impossible for something to be created from nothing." Inductive rules again! But how could you KNOW this, when you just said non-existence is not possible? If it's not possible, you can't study its properties, right? So how can you know what it can or can't do if you've never observed it?

    Here, the theist is simply attempting equivocation, trying to flip between definitions of "nothing". But there is no single definition of "nothing" which has both properties he needs: A. It can't turn into something and B. Atheism logically entails it created anything. All definitions either fail A it fail B, or both, so atheism produces no absurdities. The theist uses one definition of "nothing" which fails A, and when this is pointed out, he switches to another definition that evades A but fails B, and when that's pointed out, he switches again.

    Obviously if "nothing" means the quantum vacuum then it fails A, because the quantum vacuum can turn into something. If "nothing" means

  17. [Disclaimer: I hadn’t read any of the comments at the time of posting this one.]

    Zach Krajacic points to a by-now hackneyed hole in our knowledge and says, “Here be God!” Ho hum, nothing new here. Ergo, in its bumpkinesque pseudo-sophistication and its regurgitation of much that is tatty old hat, the letter makes for a worthy 500th candidate.

    That said, it would still be really, really good if cretinists, of whichever stripe, paid heed to cosmologists concerning notions about a supposed temporal order of events at the Big Bang, particularly in respect of a purported “before”. Our idea of causality requires a temporal succession of events, clearly rendering nonsensical any talk about “causes” in a climate where time as we know it is absent. Our commonplace experience of time’s “flow” is in all likelihood wholly inapplicable at the birth of a universe, which birth is thought to have given rise, in addition to matter, to both space and time as we understand those concepts.

  18. [N]on-existence is not possible. Even if it were possible, a state of nothing would have to be a permanent state, because it is impossible for something to be created from nothing. In order for the creation of anything to have taken place, something must always have existed. This something is the primordial (very early) universe.

  19. Sounds to me like the letter writer accepts a 13.7 billion year old universe and everything that science says has happened since the Big Bang.

    He writes: “the theory of evolution in no way undermines the existence of God.” I grant that it may be confusing, poorly written, and poorly reasoned, but I would bet he is more likely to visit BioLogos than the Discovery Institute.

    On a the Creationist Ken scale, he definitely falls more towatds the Miller side than the Ham end.

  20. Zach Krajacic

    This discussion proves what St. Augustine wisely pointed out long ago: Belief precedes understanding. I suggest you look it up – I think you would find it very interesting. He was brilliant! Don’t let the evil one keep you in the dark. That is what he wants. Give Christ a chance. Not only will you come to have the understanding you are seeking, but more importantly, you will experience incomparable peace and joy (and this will be the best proof ever). Try it. Don’t be afraid. There is nothing to fear. You will never regret it. I promise you. He is waiting for you.

  21. @Mark Germano; I like your optimism, but it appears Zach Krajacic’s latest response (8:44) has proven you wrong. He may not be as baked as Ham, but he’s far from Miller.

  22. Diogenes Lamp

    So Zach cannot defend his non sequiturs and bare assertions, but rather, when we point out that his claims are self-contradictory, he says we are controlled by the Devil. Don’t let the Evil One keep you in the dark? It’s like saying Islam is true but evil djinn caused you to see the evidence against it. Or that Middle Earth is real but Lord Sauron has caused you to see the evidence against it’s reality. An infinite number of realities can be proven this way.

    Needless to say, Zach presents no evidence that the Age of Enlightenment is “in the dark”, nor any evidence that Satan is real, nor any evidence that he supernaturally causes us to see the self-contradictions and non sequiturs in Zach’s writing.

  23. Paul S.: May my previous comment, typos be darned, stand as a testament to the inability to understand the strange mind of the creationists. Just when you think you see what they’re trying to say, they go and attempt to save your sin-soaked soul and tell you how to live your life.

  24. IOW, “You’ll see it when you believe it.

    Funny thing is, all sorts of crackpots and fruitcakes urge the same essential approach to persuade you of their own favourite ideas. Even respected scientists aren’t always immune to this subversive non-argument.

  25. Actually I can prove the evil one exists. Look at the unhappiness, bitterness, anger, and rancor, posted on this board (incidentally, look up the image of the word “rancor” on the Internet – very telling). These are the fruits of the evil one. As I’m sure all of you highly intelligent people know, there is both quantitative data and qualitative data. You are focused solely on quantitative data. Qualitative data is just as important, if not more important. There are some things that are not quantifiable but reveal truth. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” He loves you. Believe in Him and your life will be transformed.

  26. @Zach

    there is both quantitative data and qualitative data

    Could you possibly define “qualitative data” for me? I’m genuinely puzzled.

    I don’t, by the way, think it’s immensely constructive to accuse everyone who disagrees with you of being possessed by the Devil. Hm: it’s pretty rancorous, in fact.

  27. @Zach: If “belief” is what is really important, then why the attempted “scientific” explanation? As you can see, opening that door only leads to refutations from actual scientists (such as many of the commenters on this blog) which, in my opinion, will cause more believers to question their faith than non-believers to somehow acquire faith. Non-believers will be bolstered by the additional scientific explanations. It seems to me to be wiser to leave God as an ineffable being rather than attempt to put him into some “scientific” context. If God’s existence relies on the mysterious cause of the big bang, for example, then when we eventually come to understand that cause, he will cease to exist.

    Besides, a god which is simply “existence” does not seem to be a very personal god. I imagine that is not what you meant, however it might be more sustainable from a religious viewpoint to promote a god which entered our universe at some undetermined time in the past, and for some reason took interest in human lives. Leave the explanation of how the universe works to science. Doing so will vaccinate religious belief from future scientific discoveries. Already it appears that the Vatican has abandoned Genesis as literal history, due to our current understanding of the universe, so why not the rest of it?

    That’s the viewpoint of one atheist, anyway. Take it for what it’s worth.

  28. WondrousTermagant

    Wow. I’ve never seen someone attribute intellectual rejection to supernatural forces. Zach, I think the most plausible explanation for the poor reception your ideas have received is just because they’re total crap. Or maybe Lord Sauron has possessed us.

  29. Ed,
    Thanks for your rational and well-articulated response. You ask good questions. The answer is: I believe we can come to know God through both faith and reason and I can’t cover it all (goodness, etc.) in one opinion piece. For those who don’t have faith, I tried to offer some reason as a starting point. Apparently I failed (at least for now). So I would encourage everyone to read the works of people far more intelligent than I: the authors of the Bible, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, the other Church Fathers. All very brilliant people! I guess I will just leave it at that. Merry Christmas to you all.

  30. If sarcasm is beauty then I must be a [edited out] sexual Tyrannosaurus Rex!*

    Zero Zach wrote: ” The only solution to this problem is the supernatural…”

    To which I reply in the Spirit of Christmas, “Bah, humbug!” Says who, Zachy? Too bad, Zachy, you can’t even define what the “supernatural” is. Outside of space and time. Meaningless words, my foolish friend. Augustine and Aquinas. Really? That’s the best you’ve got?

    I’ll just cut to the chase with this chew toy since the Lampster has done such a fine job of fisking Zach’s childish thesis: Zach, old buddy, what really bugs you as an authoritarian are people who think for themselves. That’s it, basically. We don’t need your dogma, mythology, and contrived rules. We get by just fine using our own powers of reason and logically consistent reality.

    You should really give pause, Zachy, to the antisocial sociopaths you’ve thrown yourself in with, people who would light candles and worship a tortilla while condemning entire continents of people to death and poverty. But, God’s will be done, right, Zachy?

    By the way, I was shocked, shocked I was, to learn that I am the Fruit of Satan when I thought I was Fruit of the Loom.

    *quote from which famous Arnie movie?

  31. Zach Krajacic counsels—

    “Look at the unhappiness, bitterness, anger, and rancor, posted on this board…”

    Zach, I think this is a case in point where you read much more into things than can reasonably be sustained. The main problem you’re facing is that the regulars here are thoroughly familiar with an extensive array of apologetic abracadabra, sleight-of-mind subterfuges and theological trickery, as well as their various failings. What you might be picking up on is much more likely to be the frustration of having to debunk the stale old samey-samey all over again. What’s needed are some novel ideas.

  32. Zach, a minor point: atoms are not the basic building blocks of all matter. There are, of course, a host of fundamental particles. There are also entire stars, miles in diameter, made of nothing but neutrons, not atoms.

    But, with that error in mind, one must ask: if your knowledge is that limited, or your statements of “fact” that sloppy, what is the accuracy of the rest of your arguments?

  33. Zach Krackerjack whines:

    “Look at the unhappiness, bitterness, anger, and rancor, posted on this board…”

    You’re kidding, right Zach? Or, perhaps you mean there’s not enough fawning, sycophantic, mewling adoration for the Words of Zach that you’re used to on newspaper discussion threads and amongst your faithful.

    I certainly don’t hang around unhappy, bitter, angry and rancorous people and the denizens of this board are all eloquent, thoughtful and academically qualified to counter your silly 13th century arguments.

    Merry Christmas, Zach!

  34. Diogenes Lamp

    Zach says: “Actually I can prove the evil one exists. Look at the unhappiness, bitterness, anger, and rancor, posted on this board”

    Oh, so if someone is unhappy, it proved Satan is real? And controlling them? If so, then conservative Christians must be controlled by Satan, because on their blogs they write nothing “unhappiness, bitterness, anger, and rancor.” Go to Ken Ham’s Facebook page, or any conservative Christian blog and read the comments. Watch Fox News for 30 seconds.

    His do you think conservative Xians feel about gay marriage? Has any conservative Xian ever described gay marriage WITHOUT heaps of “unhappiness, bitterness, anger, and rancor”?

    Who invented the fake “War on Christmas”? Not atheists, but conservative Christians who saw ratings to be made in creating “unhappiness, bitterness, anger, and rancor” by fabricating Xian martyrbation fantasies.

    Anyway Zach assumes that emotions must be caused by invisible fairies and spirits. So unhappiness is produced by an unhappiness fairy, etc. and so on for all emotions.

    Likewise if you make a hive of bees angry, it’s proof the anger fairy is real and controls bees. If you confuse a cat with a laser pointer, it’s proof there’s a confusion fairy and she has the cat under her power.

    So Zach’s confusion about our refutations of his logic is proof that the confusion fairy is real, and that she has Zach under her power.

    Why so angry, Zach?

    Anger fairy got ya too?

  35. Unhappiness? Bitterness? Rancor? Here? As Doc Bill said, “Bah! Humbug!” I’ve not seen this much joy and laughter on this board in YEARS! So, thanks, Zach, for the fun & frivolity you’ve created.

  36. Maybe the confusion fairy has been waving her laser around to long under Zach’s nose.

  37. Rikki_Tikki_Taalik

    I find it interesting that when the proselytizing begins (usually at the end) the assumption is often made that the targets have never heard of Jesus, weren’t indoctrinated as children, never read the bible, nor familiar with apologetics.

  38. Rikki_Tikki_Taalik says: “I find it interesting that when the proselytizing begins (usually at the end) the assumption is often made that the targets have never heard of Jesus …”

    I think all that preaching in the closing paragraphs is in the style of ending a church service with an old familiar hymn. It provides soothing comfort after all the preceding “science,” and it assures the reader that he’s on familiar and trustworthy ground.

  39. Zach Krackerjack hasn’t learned anything. He’s back there on the newspaper comment thread spouting the same nonsense even though he’s still getting blasted. Oh, maybe that’s it: he’s blasted.


  40. Zach Krajacic

    Making fun of a person’s name: the last resort of someone with nothing substantial to offer.

  41. @Zach

    I’d actually agree with you on that.

    However, on the topic of having something substantive to say, I asked you a few days ago, quite genuinely, to explain what you meant by “qualitative data” since it seems to me that data are either quantitative or they’re not data at all.

    I’m still waiting for your reply.

  42. Zach Krajacic

    Qualitative data is something that cannot be measured in a mathematical or numerical way. I was referring to certain qualities, characteristics, and behaviors, such as bitterness, anger and rancor. You cannot apply a number or mathematical formula or principle to them. But we know they are real and they tell us something. We get information from them. Thus they are data. They are not meaningless. So, if you are walking down the street and someone yells an obscenity at you, you are receiving data. You have learned that the person does not like you. Their nature of their comments may even tell you why they don’t like you. So you have learned something about their attitude toward you, even though you cannot take a ruler, a caliper, tape measure, or any other device and measure it. It has nothing to do with math, but it is far from meaningless. Conversely, if someone offers you a kind word, or helps you out, or saves your life, you getting important data from that as well. The point is, we can know that God and the evil one exist based on non-quantitative data. When we see good happening in the world (e.g., you neighbor helps you out), it points toward God. When someone is nasty and cruel toward you, we can see evil. Now someone is saying: There is no such thing as supernatural; everything can be explained through the physical. So, tell me why someone would run into a burning building to save someone else’s life? This is not rational from a purely physical perspective. But it happens frequently. Based on Darwin’s “survival of the fittest” it cannot be explained through the physical world. From a purely physical perspective, every creature should just be concerned with themselves and no one else. So clearly empathy, concern, compassion are supernatural qualities that cannot be explained by the physical world.

  43. Zach Krajacic

    One more thing: Read Francis Collins, who was heading up the genome project. Obviously a brilliant scientist. Perhaps he can explain things better.

  44. I was referring to certain qualities, characteristics, and behaviors, such as bitterness, anger and rancor.

    I don’t think you can call those data. To be honest, I think that, like Humpty Dumpty, you’re twisting the meaning of the word “data” so that you can give it the meaning you’d like it to have.

    When we see good happening in the world (e.g., you neighbor helps you out), it points toward God. When someone is nasty and cruel toward you, we can see evil.

    I don’t think that follows at all. I know plenty of atheists who’re generous, courteous, kindly, you name it. To set against them, you offer what? The Crusades? The Inquisition? It really is dishonest to claim all good human behavior as evidence of God and all bad behavior as evidence of the Other Guy. It would be every bit as logical — and as disprovable — for me to claim exactly the opposite.

  45. Zach Krajacic

    Data is nothing more than information. Quantitative data is one type of information.

    A person’s disbelief in God does not disqualify God as the source of the good traits they possess.

  46. Data is nothing more than information.

    No, Zach: data are something less than information. Data are what you derive information from. They’re measurements, statistics, etc.

    A person’s disbelief in God does not disqualify God as the source of the good traits they possess.

    No, but it doesn’t in any way indicate God as the souce, either. I think the burden of proof here is on you. Otherwise all you’re doing is waving your hands and declaring your blind belief to be true despite evidence to the contrary. To reiterate what I said above, It really is dishonest to claim all good human behavior as evidence of God and all bad behavior as evidence of the Other Guy. It would be every bit as logical — and as disprovable — for me to claim exactly the opposite.

    If everything good that happens is evidence of God and everything bad that happens is evidence of evil, how do you explain a tsunami that kills hundreds of thousands of innocents?

    Incidentally, I think you’re unwise to offer Francis Collins as evidence of your case. He’s indeed a brilliant scientist but even brilliant scientists are as prone to foolishness as the rest of us outside their own specialties. John Taylor was a brilliant mathematical physicist, but you might want to google around to find an account of his adventures with Uri Geller.

  47. Well, I guess there is nothing to do except agree to disagree. I enjoyed the debate and probably will not be checking in anymore. I wish you all the best. Take care!

  48. Merry Christmas, Zach, and have a Happy New Year. You’re an intelligent man, and you were most likely indoctrinated into your faith at a young age (as was I, somewhat).

    Keep your mind open. The more you learn, the more you will question your early teachings. You may start to wonder why there are so many different religions in the world, with almost every one of them claiming to be “the one TRUE religion”. You may also start to question if your belief is based on your being taught that if you DON’T believe, then you will be condemned to hell, or at least not allowed to enter the Pearly Gates.

    You may at some point come to the same understanding as many before you — there is really no way to truly KNOW if there is a god. Thus, if we are all perfectly honest, we would all call ourselves agnostics.