Happy Easter! Its been awhile since I made a part 2 to the first blog I did on this. I was waiting on a reply and I never got one. However, more things were being written so I though I would write back to this author. I have paste my reply to y’all for your reading and such but I wanted to give the frame of this discussion: this author has written a few columns in the Astronomy magazine and several people have written replies back that he responded to. Many deal with Intelligent design. This atheist author has a few main points he harps on: the fact that an intelligent designer would put a final cause, that is, and end for which something moves, would be destructive to the principal of creation and is disproved in the random chance of the world; string theory and quantum mechanics can prove creation from nothing since ‘nothing is unstable’ and finally, that an intelligent designer must be false since it cannot be tested. It is like the Great Deceiver who just puts knowledge, creation in your head 3 seconds prior and you cant disprove him because that is all evidence he has put up.
Here is my reply, sorry if its long:
I wanted to address three main areas I have read you speak of recently. The first was your response you made in the May 2018 answering to Steven Imerman concerning the Big Bang and creation from nothing. You spoke about fluxuations in strings and said at one point, “Why does anything exist? Based on the general form of field equations, theoretical physicists argue that absolute nothingness is unstable.” Thus promoting, as you had spoken of early, various principles from entropy and such. I think at this point again it is very important to clear up terms. When we speak of true nothingness, we are not just speaking of empty space or vacuum or lack of action but also we have to say true nothingness is not potentially something. Something that potentially could be (and something that thus is unstable), is not nothingness but is something, is potentially something. That which later is, could only be, were it present in some seminal form, even in only potential. Even speaking of string theory and quantum mechanics, there still is something and not pure nothingness because nothing is nothing and can do nothing nor can become nothing! We have to get to that basis. Nothing is the same as no being. This gets into the distinction also of being as being as the foundation, with essence, what it is which presupposes being. Matter in some seminal way must have been present, even if we consider strings. Some thing, some being had to have been there. I quote a small bit from my friend Thomas Aqinas: “ For if formless matter preceded in duration, it already existed; for this is implied by duration, since the end of creation is being in act; and act itself is form. To say, the that matter preceded, but without form, is to say that being existed actually, yet without act, which is a contradiction in terms. Nor can it be said that it possessed some common form, on which afterwards supervened the different forms that distinguish it…to be made means merely to be changed; for since that preceding form bestowed actual substantial being, and made some particular thing to be, it would result that the supervening form would not simply make an actual being, but this actual being…” he goes on a bit more but he is essentially distinguishing the different categories of being, I will talk about that in a bit. But again, there is still something, some form of something even. The Big Bang is said to be at the point from true nothingness, something, some form, was then given, even if it were just seminal, potential forms. But before that moment was nothing and that nothing could not produce this something.
Earlier you criticized telos, as something that messes up the theory of how things came to be. Here again is good to distinguish Artistoles’ 4 causes: efficient, formal, material, final. Efficient makes it be, formal is what is it (as we said above) material says its properties (so in our universe matter, energy and so on) and final, what essential it does and also in some cases why. So speaking of a final cause, we describe ends to which things tend, weather they be complicated or simple, self guided or not. This is in many ways what makes the scientific method possible, that you can test to see, ‘will it do it again?’ ‘will it have the effect we predict?’ an object can have that within in and we say again that all these 4 causes normally work together. So the form will say what it does.
A little on the guiding hand and intelligent design, first let me say that I also, as well most true christians don’t believe in like the puppet master God who is invisible but acting within as a puppet master. Albert of Saxony, a catholic bishop and natural philosopher, reconciled it by saying its not by intelligence but by a sort of impetus. Again that from the creation in the big bang, all these things and all that would be to come, had within them the direction and projected end by means of this impetus of creation.
You also spoke in your April 2018 column on the Great Deceiver and then intelligent design. You mention ‘because they are untestable’ as the criticism. Let me first again say that I believe that in dealing with the scientific method and thus principals of matter, energy and physics, it is a faultless tool and I commend you for your work with it. Too much knowledge has become relative and people believe it because it seems nice or they like it or they have an ax to grind against something else. That doesn’t change truth. However, the reason why God and and Intelligent design are untestable is because, as I said earlier, he is not an object within our universe. All those things can be subjected, but not something outside. It would be like a painting, existing in a 2 dimensional realm saying he can either prove or disprove or test for the painter who lives in a 3D world that the painting exists within, but is dimensionally limited to experience. He really cant. Or a baby in a womb wanting to test the reality of a doctor. In the painting scenerio, only what is in the world of the painting from the painter can be preceived and guess what, it would still only appear as an object or effect of the 2 D world and not necessarily of a 3D. If you’ve read, “Flat Land”, when Mr. Sphere from Spaceland visits Mr. Square in Flatland, Mr. Square still only preceives a line, which is what everyone is in Flatland and only when Mr. Sphere is directly in/on Flatland. So to put the Intelligent Design to the crucible is like trying to use a hammer to paint a wall. Also, again the principal of proving vs disproving. To prove aliens exist, I only need some small proof that they are real, but to disprove it, I not only have to test and evaluate that this little green man is not an alien, but also that every single possible situation in the universe at all times, would not be alien friendly. A much harder thing to do.
I also want to bring up an intersting point: you mention in that same article: “a theory is an explanation that could, in principal, be proven incorrect. A theory makes predictions that, should they fail,would kill it. That vulnerable is its strength. When predictions that could have destroyed a theory are verified, confidence in the theory grows. That confidence never reaches 100 percent.” It would seem that with this statement that you have made a theory, that is not subject to its own principal. Can you imperically prove and test the principal that ‘only that which is empirically testable and able to be found false’? You can certain test things and matter and objects, but can you test that very principal? Is the theory that, ‘that which is untestable is false’ testable? It seems like a chain but also something that has steped out of its field. It we permit that your theory could potentially be proven false, then we must say that there could be things untestable. If it is true, then the theory also seems to have been, well, proven, contradictory.