“It surprises me how disinterested we are today about things like physics, space, the universe and philosophy of our existence, our purpose, our final destination. It’s a crazy world out there. Be curious.” –Stephen Hawking

In the beginning, before even the Big Bang, all that we had was space and time, expanding rapidly according to the rules of cosmological inflation. Today, we’ve got an observable Universe full of stars and galaxies, tens of billions of light years across, with at least one instance of intelligent life: on Earth.

The Earth and Sun, not so different from how they might have appeared 4 billion years ago. Image credit: NASA/Terry Virts.

The Earth and Sun, not so different from how they might have appeared 4 billion years ago. Image credit: NASA/Terry Virts.

The story of how we got to be here was a mystery to philosophers, theologists and poets for all of human history, but advances during the last century have brought that from the realm of the speculative to firm, scientific knowledge.

An infrared view from ESA’s Herschel observatory of a new star-forming region. Image credit: ESA / SPIRE / PACS / P. André (CEA Saclay).

An infrared view from ESA’s Herschel observatory of a new star-forming region. Image credit: ESA / SPIRE / PACS / P. André (CEA Saclay).

Here’s that full story in 12 steps, totaling a mere 200 words.

Comments

  1. #1 See Noevo
    June 13, 2016

    “In the beginning, there was space and time, and the fabric of space was expanding at a fantastic rate.”

    Just so I’m clear on your inflation theory and chart,
    BEFORE the inflation and Big Bang of about 13.8 billion years ago,
    there WAS NO space and time.

    Correct?
    ……………….
    “Some of these planets, rich with life’s fundamental ingredients, form in the habitable zones of their stars. On one of them, 4+ billion years ago, life takes hold.”

    Wow.
    What a science-y statement: “Life takes hold.”
    You could have at least tried to sound more mysterious, and *historical*:

    ‘On one of them, 4+ billion years ago,
    *Spontaneous Generation* occurred.’

  2. #2 Narad
    June 13, 2016

    Just so I’m clear [sic] on your inflation theory and chart,
    BEFORE the inflation and Big Bang of about 13.8 billion years ago,
    there WAS NO space and time.

    Correct?

    Yup.

  3. #3 Michael Kelsey
    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
    June 13, 2016

    @Deceiver #1: “What a science-y statement: “Life takes hold.” You could have at least tried to sound more mysterious, and *historical*: ‘On one of them, 4+ billion years ago, *Spontaneous Generation* occurred.’”

    Yes, that would sound more mysterious, and really very eighteenth century, but less accurate. It also does the wonderful job of advancing your Master’s program of deception.

    We don’t know yet know how life originated on Earth. The most parsimonious hypothesis is that known chemical processes on Earth occurred locally, forming the necessary organic compounds through known pathways.

    A less parsimonious, but still reasonable, hypothesis is that known chemical processes occurred elsewhere in space (other planets, comets, whatever), and the resulting organic compounds were “delivered” to Earth via meteorites.

    The second hypothesis is still entirely materialistic, and simply pushes back the chemical origins of life to some non-terrestrial environment.

  4. #4 See Noevo
    June 13, 2016

    To Mikey the SLACer #3:

    “We don’t know yet know how life originated on Earth. The most parsimonious hypothesis is that known chemical processes on Earth occurred locally, forming the necessary organic compounds through known pathways… still entirely materialistic…”

    Actually, no.
    The most parsimonious hypothesis would be, I think, in keeping with the law of *biogenesis* – that living things come *only* from other living things.
    A “law” which no one in human history has ever observed to be violated.

    Also, not surprising that the ONLY hypotheses you consider are “entirely materialistic.”
    As in, ‘The answer MUST be materialistic.’
    Which, as we both know, is a philosophical position, not a scientific one.

  5. #5 Michael Kelsey
    SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory
    June 13, 2016

    @Deceiver #4: No, we both don’t know that, but your attribution of knowledge to me is well in keeping with your Master’s program.

    Materialism is a trivial, and obvious requirement for any discussion of the _natural_ world (i.e., science). Introduction of supernatural assertions is trivially non-science.

  6. #6 See Noevo
    June 13, 2016

    To Mikey the SLACer #5:

    Me: “Also, not surprising that the ONLY hypotheses you consider are “entirely materialistic.” As in, ‘The answer MUST be materialistic.’ Which, as we both know, is a philosophical position, not a scientific one.”

    You: “No, we both don’t know that…”

    Perhaps I assumed too much.
    I shouldn’t presume to know what a blind man sees.

    “Deceiver…in keeping with your Master’s program.”
    Two simple questions:

    1) Who do you think my “Master” is?
    2) Do you believe this “Master” actually exists, is a real being?

  7. #7 eric
    June 14, 2016

    not surprising that the ONLY hypotheses you consider are “entirely materialistic.”

    I’m willing to consider other testable scientific hypotheses. But I don’t see how “an omnipotent God who is consistent with all possible observations miracle-poofed animals into existence one day” is one of those.

  8. #8 See Noevo
    June 14, 2016

    … says the second blind man.

  9. #9 Narad
    June 14, 2016

    “Deceiver…in keeping with your Master’s program.”
    Two simple questions:

    1) Who do you think my “Master” is?

    Maybe the reference is to your Ivy League degree.

  10. #10 eric
    June 14, 2016

    [eric]I’m willing to consider other testable scientific hypotheses. But I don’t see how “an omnipotent God who is consistent with all possible observations miracle-poofed animals into existence one day” is one of those.

    [See Noevo]… says the second blind man

    [Shrug] Hey, its up to you whether to insult me or explain to me your hypothesis, what it predicts, what data might be inconsistent with it, and how we’d go about testing whether its right or not.

  11. #11 Dean
    June 14, 2016

    Good fond Narad, especially since sn has stated in other posts that he never claimed to have an ivy league education. (It seems to be clear that what ever he was exposed to, no education, in any form, stuck.)

  12. #12 Narad
    June 14, 2016

    The most parsimonious hypothesis would be, I think, in keeping with the law of *biogenesis* – that living things come *only* from other living things.
    A “law” which no one in human history has ever observed to be violated.

    This leaves S.N. in the position of insisting that viruses aren’t alive, even in the reproductive phase, given that poliovirus has been built from scratch.

  13. #13 See Noevo
    June 14, 2016

    To eric #10:

    “Hey, its up to you whether to insult me or explain to me your hypothesis, what it predicts, what data might be inconsistent with it, and how we’d go about testing whether its right or not.”

    My calling you a “blind man” was not an insult but a statement of fact.
    You are blind to the fact that considering ONLY materialistic/testable/“scientific” hypotheses (and truths?) is a PHILOSOPHICAL position, not a scientific or scientifically-justified position.

    It’s like Mikey’s flat-bed trailer driver (the trailer pulling the merry-go-round away) saying the only reality is what he sees from his flat-bed trailer.
    You’d have to be blind not to see that his is not a scientific position. It’s a, to be kind, “philosophical” position.
    …………..

    As to my hypothesis (in your words, ‘an omnipotent God who miracle-poofed animals into existence’) and “what it predicts, what data might be inconsistent with it, and how we’d go about testing whether its right or not”,

    – It predicts that life comes only from other life. Check! (i.e. Confirmed/observed throughout human history!)
    – On the flip side, it predicts that inorganic chemicals and chemical processes alone will not “create” life. Check!
    – It predicts that an organism comes only from other organisms of its kind. Check!
    – It predicts that all the various kinds of organisms will share certain types of matter. Check!
    – It predicts that the process of life formation is characterized more by suddenness than by gradualism. Check!

    Maybe you can help me with what would be inconsistent with it.

  14. #14 eric
    June 14, 2016

    You are blind to the fact that considering ONLY materialistic/testable/“scientific” hypotheses (and truths?) is a PHILOSOPHICAL position, not a scientific or scientifically-justified position

    You’re saying I’m philosophically blind because I don’t consider untestable hypothesis. Cards on the table: you consider me philosophically blind for not considering your YEC hypothesis, correct? Does this mean you put creationism in the untestable category?

    Maybe you can help me with what would be inconsistent with it.

    No observed phenomena is inconsistent with an omnipotent God. That’s the problem: you either give up source omnipotence or you give up hypothesis testability and usefulness, because they are mutually exclusive. At least as I see it.

  15. #15 Narad
    June 14, 2016

    As to my hypothesis (in your words, ‘an omnipotent God who miracle-poofed animals into existence’) and “what it predicts, what data might be inconsistent with it, and how we’d go about testing whether its right or not”,

    – It predicts that life comes only from other life.

    Where?

    – On the flip side, it predicts that inorganic chemicals and chemical processes alone will not “create” life.

    Where?

    Rinse, lather, repeat.

  16. #16 See Noevo
    June 14, 2016

    To eric #14:

    Me: “You are blind to the fact that considering ONLY materialistic/testable/“scientific” hypotheses (and truths?) is a PHILOSOPHICAL position, not a scientific or scientifically-justified position.”

    You: “You’re saying I’m philosophically blind because I don’t consider untestable hypothesis.”

    I’m the Lone Ranger here.
    And I must say “Whoa! Hold up, Tonto!”
    I did NOT say you were philosophically blind.
    You HAVE a philosophy, and you are NOT blind to it.

    You’re just blind to the fact that you’re stance on this issue is a philosophical one, not a scientific one.
    ……..
    “Cards on the table: you consider me philosophically blind for not considering your YEC hypothesis, correct?”

    For *not considering* it, or any non-material/un-natural “hypothesis”, yes, I think so.
    ……………..

    “Does this mean you put creationism in the untestable category?”

    The reason I put quote marks around that word (“hypothesis”) is to distinguish creationism from the field of science in which that term is often used and in how it’s understood there. Creationism is NOT science, and so should not be considered formally as a hypothesis in scientific terms.
    HOWEVER, as I noted in the second part of #13, the observations we make in the real world (i.e. empirical data) are NOT inconsistent with creationism.

  17. #17 Narad
    June 14, 2016

    You’re just blind to the fact that you’re stance on this issue is a philosophical one, not a scientific one.

    Thank goodness you’re not going to hilariously dumb pseudoscientific lengths to demonstrate that synthesizing a bacterium is unpossible. Oh, wait.

  18. #18 Dean
    June 14, 2016

    You do have one thing right sn, creationism (or intellegent design as it is currently called) is not science.

    You are as wrong as ever saying that it is supported by reality (unless, like you, a person denies everything known about science). Only the intellectually stilted believe some magic fairy poofed things into existence.

  19. #19 eric
    June 14, 2016

    For *not considering* it, or any non-material/un-natural “hypothesis”, yes, I think so.

    I’m happy to consider non-material/un-natural hypotheses, if they’re testable. I won’t accept one as provisionally right until its at least passed some tests, true, but I’ll sure consider them if you do. Show me reproducible, scientifically testable, evidence of a ghost. Or telepathy. Tell me you can regrow amputated legs in 5 minutes with a specific prayer, then show me you can do it reproducibly, I’ll accept your hypothesis.

    Creationism is NOT science, and so should not be considered formally as a hypothesis in scientific terms.

    Great! We agree. So since it’s not a scientific alternative, do you agree that evolution and the big bang theory (with inflation) are the best scientific theories for the origin of species and the origin of the universe, respectively? Because according to your own words, you don’t have any scientific alternative.

  20. #20 eric
    June 14, 2016

    as I noted in the second part of #13, the observations we make in the real world (i.e. empirical data) are NOT inconsistent with creationism.

    That’s an incredibly low bar for defense of a belief. The observations we make in the real world are also “not inconsistent with” invisible dragons in my garage, leprechauns in my garden, Vishnu, us all being in a Matrix-style simulation, me being a trickster God in disguise, Scientology, etc… Now if you want to say YECism and all these things are equally well supported by evidence, I will agree. But if you want to say YECism has more warrant for belief than any of these things, you’re going to have to better than “not inconsistent with.”

    Another problem with “not inconsistent with” is, as I said and you didn’t refute or deny, any observation is “not inconsistent with” an omnipotent God. Thus it is pretty much a meaningless standard for your belief, since you’ve pretty much ruled out the possibility of inconsistency through tautology or definition.

  21. #21 Narad
    June 15, 2016

    S.N., you’re not so much the Lone Ranger as somebody riding in circles in a shabby costume. Have you ever thought about branching out? How about Banach–Tarski? Liven things up a bit rather than just stupidly trolling.

  22. #22 See Noevo
    June 15, 2016

    To eric #19:

    “Great! We agree. So since [creationism is] not a scientific alternative, do you agree that evolution and the big bang theory (with inflation) are the *best* scientific theories for the origin of species and the origin of the universe, respectively? Because according to your own words, you don’t have any scientific *alternative*.”

    I’ll answer with a story:
    ……………………………….
    Two cavemen are looking up at the clear, dark night sky.
    #1 says: “Just look at all those lights up there. Beautiful!
    I wonder how they got up there?”

    #2: They’re called stars. And those smart cavemen, who practice what they call “science”, say they know how those stars got up there.”

    #1: “Really? What do they say?”

    #2: “They say that, a long time ago, the dinosaurs, that live a ways from here, greatly overdid their munching on some green plants. They got a tremendous case of gas and flat-out flatulated like you wouldn’t believe!
    The smell must have been awful, but the upside was that those farts founded the firmament!
    Yes, their passing great gas put all those stars into the sky!”

    #1: “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

    #2: “No, I’m not. That’s what the smart cavemen, the scientists, say. That’s how the stars got up there.”

    #1: “Oh, please.”

    #2: “What do you mean? You don’t believe them?”

    #1: “How could I?”

    #2: “You got something BETTER than the scientists?
    You got an ALTERNATIVE science?”

    #1: “No, I don’t. But I …”

    #2: “Well then you should keep your mouth shut, because…”

    #1: “But I don’t HAVE to have an ALTERNATIVE story to know that THEIR story is a piece of shi…
    er, a piece of dinosaur dung.”
    …………..
    The title of the story is not fixed. It sometimes goes by
    [“Best in Show” is not always good.]

  23. #23 See Noevo
    June 15, 2016

    To eric #20:

    “The observations we make in the real world are also “not inconsistent with” invisible dragons in my garage, leprechauns in my garden, Vishnu, us all being in a Matrix-style simulation, me being a trickster God in disguise, Scientology, etc… Now if you want to say YECism and all these things are equally well supported by evidence, I will agree. But if you want to say YECism has more warrant for belief than any of these things, you’re going to have to better than “not inconsistent with.”

    Well, if invisible dragons in your garage or leprechauns in your garden or Vishnu or the Matrix or you or Scientology, etc… *produced a creation narrative* which said
    – That life comes only from other life, and
    – That inorganic chemicals and chemical processes alone will not “create” life, and
    – That an organism comes only from other organisms of its kind, and
    – That all the various kinds of organisms will share certain types of matter, and
    – That the process of life formation is characterized more by suddenness than by gradualism…

    … basically, creation propositions which are consistent with what we observe in the real world, then,
    I’d think they have *some* warrant for belief.

    However, if those invisible dragons or leprechauns or Vishnu or Matrix Man or you or Scientology Man, etc… ALSO not only took on human flesh, but further rose from the dead as predicted, to the witness of many people who later accepted execution for refusing to deny their witness of that physical resurrection, well then,
    I’d think they have *great* warrant for belief.

  24. #24 eric
    June 15, 2016

    [“Best in Show” is not always good.]

    Hey, nobody’s forcing you to perform research using it. But if you want to convince scientists not to use it when performing their research and teaching students, you’re going to have to do better than made up story/analogies that merely reiterate your own personal incredulity.

  25. #25 eric
    June 15, 2016

    SN @23: LOL so you’re basically admitting that you assess credibility by comparing another idea’s claims to the biblical ones you already accept.

  26. #26 See Noevo
    June 15, 2016

    To eric #25:

    “SN @23: LOL so you’re basically admitting that you assess credibility by comparing another idea’s claims to the biblical ones you already accept.”

    Not sure I follow.
    I’ll just repeat that I’d give *some* credence to a creation account which is consistent with what we observe in the real world.

    And I’ll add that I give *no automatic credence* to the Bible *as the word of God*. It has no power to authenticate itself as such.
    The authentication is extra-Biblical, and involves history, a knowledge of human behavior, and logic.
    You could almost say it’s “testable”, in a sense.

  27. #27 eric
    June 15, 2016

    SN earlier today

    Well, if invisible dragons in your garage or leprechauns in your garden or Vishnu or the Matrix or you or Scientology, etc… *produced a creation narrative* which said…
    …That an organism comes only from other organisms of its kind…
    …then, I’d think they have *some* warrant for belief.

    SN later the same day:

    I give *no automatic credence* to the Bible *as the word of God*. It has no power to authenticate itself as such.

    So, you’re telling me that the concept of kind” that you use to evaluate whether anther hypothesis is credible has nothing to do with the bible?

    I mean geez, SN, if you’re going to deny a biblical basis, at least have the decency not to quote it.

  28. #28 See Noevo
    June 15, 2016

    To eric #27:

    “So, you’re telling me that the concept of kind” that you use to evaluate whether anther hypothesis is credible has nothing to
    do with the bible?”

    I think, essentially, Yes.

    I’m saying it has nothing to do with the fact that parts of the Bible may say it’s the word of God or that some people may say it’s the word of God.

    I’m saying if the leprechaun or L(eprechaun?). Ron Hubbard gave a creation account which was consistent with what we observe in the real world, then, I’d think they have *some* warrant for belief.

    I’m saying that *some* warrant for belief in the account becomes *great* warrant for belief in the account when the authenticity and authority of the account are shown to be from God, *based on extra-Biblical data such as history, a knowledge of human behavior, and logic.*

    Claiming a “biblical basis” alone makes for a weak argument. One should first make sure there is a sound basis FOR the “biblical basis.”

    And one can.

  29. #29 Narad
    June 16, 2016

    I’m saying that *some* warrant for belief in the account becomes *great* warrant for belief in the account when the authenticity and authority of the account are shown to be from God, *based on extra-Biblical data such as history, a knowledge of human behavior, and logic.*

    Ooh kay, so the only thing that “metaphysicially” distingishes the Xenu story from whatever religion that you imagine yourself to be some sort of, ah, exemplar of is that LRH and his putrid empire are devoid of “history, a knowledge of human behavior, and logic”?

    That’s how the scam works.

  30. #30 dean
    United States
    June 16, 2016

    “based on extra-Biblical data such as history,”

    You’ve been asked before and avoided answering: what historical evidence is there for the fables in your bible?

  31. #31 eric
    June 16, 2016

    I’m saying that *some* warrant for belief in the account becomes *great* warrant for belief in the account when the authenticity and authority of the account are shown to be from God,

    I agree this is your position. The difference is, I see it as the argument from authority fallacy, not a feature denoting rational thought.

    But sorry, I really don’t buy that its just a complete coincidence that your criteria ‘that an organism comes only from other organisms of its kind…’ happens to be nearly identical to Genesis’ use ‘animals reproduce according to their kind.’ In fact, three of your five criteria come almost directly from the six claims made by biblical creation scientists in MeClean vs. Arkansas: sudden appearance, insufficiency of abiogenesis, and adaptation only within kinds. The accompanying claim of ‘oh no your honor, these criteria were derived empirically and have nothing to do with our religious beliefs’ wasn’t credible then and isn’t credible now.

  32. #32 See Noevo
    June 16, 2016

    To eric #31:

    Me: “I’m saying that *some* warrant for belief in the account becomes *great* warrant for belief in the account when the authenticity and authority of the account are shown to be from God.”

    You: “I agree this is your position. The difference is, I see it as the argument from *authority* fallacy, not a feature denoting rational thought.”

    Eric, do you believe that the very concept of “authority” is invalid?
    Do you believe that there is no such thing as legitimate, respect-worthy, obedience-worthy authority?
    …………….
    “But sorry, I really don’t buy that its just a complete coincidence that your criteria ‘that an organism comes only from other organisms of its kind…’ happens to be nearly identical to Genesis’ use ‘animals reproduce according to their kind.’”

    You’re free to buy whatever you want.
    But sorry, you’re buying a lemon.

  33. #33 dean
    United States
    June 16, 2016

    ” do you believe that the very concept of “authority” is invalid?”

    I would guess he does not. The problem is that neither you nor anyone has provided any evidence that the idea of “authority” should be given to anything from the bible. No evidence of the existence of your (or any other) god, no external historical support for the important events (and very few non-important events) written there, no evidence of fulfilled prophecies, the internal contradictions in narrative- the only way one can assign authority is purely by faith without evidence. There is no more reason to put your money on the bible than there is any other set of writings about any other set of gods.

  34. #34 philip coleman
    United States
    June 18, 2016

    I’m one that believes no big bang ever existed and time is only man made measurement. A cosmic eternal with an always existence recycles continuum. As far as parsec and distance does not measure within an infinitive continuum. Elements distorts are recognized as blue shifts and microwave theories. Math or numbers have no bearing. Random life is more likely out there then not.

  35. #35 Narad
    June 18, 2016

    I’m one that believes no big bang ever existed and time is only man made measurement.

    This is all fine and well, but it requires some philosophical elaboration in order to respond to. For example, are “you” the “same person” who wrote this?

    Perhaps the under-layer or last negative fabric is this dark matter. All matter begins with a ghost structure which builds as the first positive layer we see today. Perhaps the dark matter arrives through worm holes and supernovae blasts. We know that the element chart we see today is just the beginning and will rise.

    Are you asserting the noumenal existence of plural minds? This kind of throws a sabot into the denial of time.

    • #36 philip coleman
      United States
      June 18, 2016

      A single point of extreme expansion has no valid exercise within infinity. Absolute nothing can’t exist and even in a vacuum there is matter. Chain reactions can only travel so far. Riding the gravity wave is another story.

  36. #37 eric
    June 18, 2016

    Eric, do you believe that the very concept of “authority” is invalid?

    Its reasonably (though not perfectly) valid in a lot of circumstances. IMO not when you’re using ‘does it match to biblical creationism’ as your criteria for whether to accept or reject some theory of science. Or rather I should say – you personally are free to use whatever appeal to authority you want. But I doubt many scientists are going to be swayed by your assertion that that particular basis of authority is relevant to this particular field of study.

  37. #38 Narad
    June 18, 2016

    A single point of extreme expansion has no valid exercise within infinity. Absolute nothing can’t exist and even in a vacuum there is matter. Chain reactions can only travel so far. Riding the gravity wave is another story.

    This answers neither of the two questions that I posed to you. I have no interest in an unlimited word-salad bar.

  38. #39 Narad
    June 18, 2016

    Do you believe that there is no such thing as legitimate, respect-worthy, obedience-worthy authority?

    Have you ever deployed genuine introspection to the question of the source of your misogyny and, erm, “http://scienceblogs.com/insolence/2015/05/20/why-do-doctors-deny-evolution/#comment-402544”>chastity“?

  39. #40 Narad
    June 18, 2016

    ^ Probably close enough, but “chastity.”

  40. #41 See Noevo
    June 18, 2016

    To eric #37:

    Me: “Eric, do you believe that the very concept of “authority” is invalid?”

    You: “Its reasonably (though not perfectly) valid in a lot of circumstances. IMO not when you’re using ‘does it match to biblical creationism’ as your criteria for whether to accept or reject some theory of science. Or rather I should say – you personally are free to use whatever appeal to authority you want. But I doubt many scientists are going to be swayed by your assertion that that particular basis of authority is relevant to this particular field of study.”

    I think we’d certainly agree that science and religion are different fields of study.

    But here’s a question:
    Given that Christianity is based *partly* on things like Jesus walking on water and turning water into wine but
    based *PRIMARILY* on the REAL, PHYSICAL RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ,
    would you be OK with science using ITS authority to say Christianity is false?

    NOT necessarily a banning of Christianity, of course, but just an “authoritative” statement from something like the NCSE saying Christianity is false?

  41. #42 dean
    United States
    June 18, 2016

    “REAL, PHYSICAL RESURRECTION ”

    Bullshit, without verifiable evidence.

  42. #43 Narad
    June 18, 2016

    Given that Christianity is based *partly* on things like Jesus walking on water

    “It is true that people might be attracted to Zen if a Zen Master were to walk on water. But if they came for this reason, they would find actual Zen practice too difficult, or too boring, or too unmiraculous, and they would soon leave.

    “You know the story about Zen Master Huang Po. He was traveling with another monk, and they came to a river. Without breaking stride, the monk walked across the water, then beckoned to Huang Po to do the same. Huang Po said, ‘If I’d known he was that kind of fellow, I’d have broken his legs before he reached the water.'”

    Your religiosity is fraudulent, and your purported Catholicism is nothing short of farce. If you’re going to comment on a physics blog, stick to physics.

  43. #44 eric
    June 20, 2016

    Given that Christianity is based *partly* on things like Jesus walking on water and turning water into wine but based *PRIMARILY* on the REAL, PHYSICAL RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ, would you be OK with science using ITS authority to say Christianity is false?

    Induction is not an argument from authority; science’s rejection of miracle accounts is based on induction.

  44. #45 Wow
    June 20, 2016

    No, the problem is that there’s absolutely no credible evidence that Jesus Christ even existed as claimed, never mind resurrected.

    Hence the claim “REAL and PROVEN” is completely fictitious and based solely on the need of the one claiming it to be true to “big up” their importance to the entire universe.

    Pathetic, really.

  45. #46 Wow
    June 20, 2016

    “Two simple questions:

    1) Who do you think my “Master” is?”

    Satan. Duh.

    Who cloaks himself in the fiction of righteousness, because who would follow someone who says “Hey, do what I want and instead of eternal bliss, I’ll put you in eternal torment. Deal?”

    Same as with the other demon-driven worshippers like ISIS or Boku Haram. You’re merely the christian wing of the same organisation.

  46. #47 Wow
    June 20, 2016

    “So, you’re telling me that the concept of kind” that you use to evaluate whether anther hypothesis is credible has nothing to do with the bible?”

    Of course it doesn’t.

    Bulldogs “bring forth others of their kind” according to the bibble. And NOBODY has seen a bulldog give birth to a Great Dane (or Russel Terrier..etc), so they must all be DIFFERENT KINDS.

    Which kind of fucks up the magic boat story, since it can’t hold all the animals needed without being continent-sized.

  47. #48 Wow
    June 20, 2016

    “You’ve been asked before and avoided answering: what historical evidence is there for the fables in your bible?”

    Ach, it’s the same crap that would ALSO prove Harry Potter a real-life story.

    Or, indeed the entire Greek Pantheon. You can STILL visit the temples of the greek gods as told in the story and VERIFY FOR YOURSELF that there was much truth in those stories, therefore the gods were real.

  48. #49 Wow
    June 20, 2016

    “within an infinitive continuum.”

    faked up words indicating complete wordsalad. no intellect displayed. not necessary to debunk, since there’s no substance to debunk.

  49. #50 See Noevo
    June 20, 2016

    To eric #44:

    Me: “Given that Christianity is based *partly* on things like Jesus walking on water and turning water into wine but based *PRIMARILY* on the REAL, PHYSICAL RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ, would you be OK with science using ITS authority to say Christianity is false?”

    You: “Induction is not an argument from authority; science’s rejection of miracle accounts is based on induction.”

    So, you would you be OK with science saying Christianity is false?
    With something like the NCSE saying Christianity is false?

  50. #51 eric
    June 21, 2016

    @50: I am okay with stating that accounts of humans walking on water, turning water into wine, resurrecting others or themselves from the dead etc. break the laws of physics as we understand them. Given the wide variety of sectarian beliefs, I tend to think generalizing to Christianity writ large or religion writ large is going to mischaracterize someone’s (or some sect’s) beliefs.

    Your comment about NCSE illustrates my point: they consider themselves compatibilist but you obviously think they are anti-faith. When they say ‘science is compatible with Christianity,’ they aren’t accurately depicting your sectarian beliefs, are they? Their compatibilist generalization handwaves away biblical literalism, which is theologically very important to you. This rightly upsets you. To me, this shows the failure and unhelpfulness of generalization.

    So “am I okay with” them making such statements? Well they’re a private organization; they can opine whatever they want. If I could set policy for NCSE, would I make their policy statement? No; I wouldn’t make any such general assertion at all.

  51. #52 See Noevo
    June 21, 2016

    To eric #51:

    “I am okay with stating that accounts of humans walking on water, turning water into wine, resurrecting others or themselves from the dead etc. break the laws of physics as we understand them. Given the wide variety of sectarian beliefs, I tend to think generalizing to Christianity writ large or religion writ large is going to mischaracterize someone’s (or some sect’s) beliefs.”

    You seem to be missing the gist of my question, so I’ll revise for greater clarity.
    You and I and probably EVERYONE AGREES that humans walking on water, turning water into wine, resurrecting others or themselves from the dead BREAK the laws of physics as we understand them.

    So, would you be OK with *YOU, ERIC*, saying that ANY religion BASED ON these BREAKS is FALSE?

  52. #53 Sean T
    June 21, 2016

    SN,

    I won’t speak for eric, but yes, I am quite willing to state that any set of beliefs based on phenomenon that break physical laws is most likely incorrect. Induction is on my side on this one. The problem is the phrase “most likely” has to be included here. The reason is one that has been pointed out to you repeatedly on this blog. Any belief system predicated on an omnipotent supernatural being is by necessity unfalsifiable. That may seem like a strength, but it is not. What it really means is that there is no way to gather real supporting evidence for that belief system. After all, if ANY observation confirms the belief system, why even bother making observations? You already know the answer. Any observation you do happen to make, then, cannot really be considered supporting evidence for your beliefs and you are left with just empty rhetoric.

    Anyway, I’m not quite sure what the point of all this is. Why is it so horrible to declare that you believe someone’s religious beliefs to be wrong anyway? I’m quite sure you would be willing to declare literally billions of peoples’ beliefs to be wrong. Or are you willing to acknowledge that the Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, Taoists, Zoroastrianists, etc. might well be right and YOU might be the one who has it wrong? Somehow, I doubt that. So why is it okay to declare all of these peoples’ beliefs to be wrong, but somehow not okay to say Christianity is incorrect?

  53. #54 eric
    June 21, 2016

    So, would you be OK with *YOU, ERIC*, saying that ANY religion BASED ON these BREAKS is FALSE?

    If someone tells me their religion demands a literal miracle which science says couldn’t have happened, then I’ll be clear and say that according to our best understanding of science, that miracle couldn’t have happened. But it is really not up to me to decide what some other individual’s religion demands, or if one of their faith claims turn out to be not literally true, whether that person ought to declare the entire edifice false.

    I’m not sure where you’re going with this. It should be fairly obvious to you, me, and everyone else that some sects and believers consider evolution and science’s denial of miracles to be insurmountable theological problems. It should be equally obvious that some sects and believers do not consider these scientific claims to be a problem. As a scientist, I can talk through the evidence for evolution and how inductive reasoning should lead us to reject past accounts of miracles, but I can’t decide which of those two sectarian buckets a person of faith is in or should be in. That’s up to them to decide, not me.

  54. #55 See Noevo
    June 21, 2016

    To Sean T #53:

    “I won’t speak for eric, but yes, I am quite willing to state that any set of beliefs based on phenomenon that break physical laws is *MOST LIKELY* incorrect.”

    First, any particular reason you replaced my “false” with your “incorrect”? It almost seems like the difference between “he lied” and “he misspoke”.

    Secondly, so, you think the specific religion that is based *partly* on things like Jesus walking on water and turning water into wine but based *PRIMARILY* on the REAL, PHYSICAL RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ
    *could be* correct.

    I guess that’s progress.
    ……………
    “Any belief system predicated on an omnipotent supernatural being is by necessity unfalsifiable. That may seem like a strength, but it is not. What it really means is that there is no way to gather real supporting evidence for that belief system.”

    Why people like you continue to say or imply that there is no way to gather real supporting evidence for Christianity is beyond me.
    ………..
    “After all, if ANY observation confirms the belief system, why even bother making observations?”

    Many people, including me, say the exact same thing about the belief system of evolution.

  55. #56 Narad
    June 21, 2016

    Secondly, so, you think the specific religion that is based *partly* on things like Jesus walking on water and turning water into wine but based *PRIMARILY* on the REAL, PHYSICAL RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ
    *could be* correct.

    So, would you abandon Roman Catholicism were it not for the ontological assumptions that you feel the need to put in full caps? I’ve missed the part where you’ve been able to philosophically defend supernaturalist occultism.

    Why did Jesus say that the Kingdom of G-d is within you? Do you think this was an instruction to sit around on your ass calling Hillary Clinton a “bitch” on Breitbump?

    Let’s have a Gedankexperiment: Throw ontology overboard. You want G-d? He’s as real as the nose on your face (i.e., not at all). In the meantime, the perceived world is a mirror of your mind. Would you chuck the teachings of Jesus overboard? What are you doing to improve the place?

    You’re simply copping to the need for external authority, which seems an awful lot like frustrated projection over your own failures to personally be able to exercise it (say, over women).

  56. #57 eric
    June 21, 2016

    After all, if ANY observation confirms the belief system, why even bother making observations?”

    Many people, including me, say the exact same thing about the belief system of evolution.

    Darwin’s theory of inheritance was rejected based on observation. So was Pauling’s alpha helix. Right now there is vigorous debate over the relative roles of natural selection and genetic drift – a hypothesis not even thought of until the 1920s or 30s. Group selection hypotheses have come and gone as a result of observation (and occasionally they crop up again). The role of horizontal gene transfer in both early life and today is something being debated, and like genetic drift, is a mechanism not contained in or even imagined by Darwin’s original theory of evolution, which was by natural selection with a brief not towards sexual selection and essentially, no other mechanism.

    In short, the modern synthesis /= Darwin’s 1850s idea, and the difference is a result of scientists observing the world and deciding the original idea was wrong in some respects.

  57. #58 Narad
    June 21, 2016

    Many people, including me

    This is an extremely tedious fixture in your comments.

  58. #59 See Noevo
    June 21, 2016

    To eric #54:

    Me: “So, would you be OK with *YOU, ERIC*, saying that ANY religion BASED ON these BREAKS is FALSE?”

    You: “…it is really not up to me to decide what some other individual’s religion demands, or if one of their faith claims turn out to be not literally true, whether that person ought to declare the entire edifice false.”

    Not talking about “some other individual.”
    Talking about YOU.
    You have so far refused to answer with a simple Yes or No as to whether *YOU, ERIC*, would say that any religion based on these breaks (with physical laws as we know them) is FALSE.

    I guess that means that you, eric, would NOT say that any religion based on these breaks (with physical laws as we know them) is FALSE.

    I guess that’s progress.

  59. #60 See Noevo
    June 21, 2016

    To eric #57:

    You: “After all, if ANY observation confirms the belief system, why even bother making observations?”
    Me: “Many people, including me, say the exact same thing about the belief system of evolution.”

    You: “Darwin’s theory of inheritance was rejected based on observation…
    Right now there is vigorous debate over the relative roles of natural selection and genetic drift…
    Group selection hypotheses have come and gone as a result of observation…
    The role of horizontal gene transfer in both early life and today is something being debated…
    In short, the modern synthesis /= Darwin’s 1850s idea, and the difference is a result of scientists observing the world and deciding the original idea was wrong in some respects.”

    Yes.
    But guess what’s held absolutely steady, eric?

    I’ll give you a hint:
    It starts with “Belief in Evo _ _ _ _ _ _.”

  60. #61 Narad
    June 21, 2016

    @55:

    I guess that’s progress.

    @59:

    I guess that’s progress.

    OH NOES, S.N. has a new reflexive Ejacυlation of Power!

    Oh, wait (comments 23, 28, and “livened up” at 32).

  61. #62 eric
    June 21, 2016

    You have so far refused to answer with a simple Yes or No as to whether *YOU, ERIC*, would say that any religion based on these breaks (with physical laws as we know them) is FALSE.

    I haven’t refused, you just can’t seem to get it.. “Is false” is in the mind and sectarian beliefs of the believer, not in the statement of scientific result. It is a judgment about what that scientific result means, theologically, to the believer.

    But if that’s too nuanced for you, I’ll elaborate on what I said in @54: if you tell me evolution would render YECism false in your eyes, then I’ll agree with you that evolution renders YECism false in your eyes.

    Yes.
    But guess what’s held absolutely steady, eric?

    I’ll give you a hint:
    It starts with “Belief in Evo _ _ _ _ _ _.”

    This is just plain wrong. Plot out the % of people in general or scientists who think evolution is correct, and that number has not been “steady” for 150 years; its obviously risen.

    Second, what a lame goal post move. Your argument was that we don’t question the theory or change our minds about it. We clearly do; that’s why we have this thing called the new synthesis. We do not accord any special authority or immunity to questioning to the musty old book that was the origin of our hypothesis. You do. Thus, your attempt at a tu quoque fails.

  62. #63 See Noevo
    June 21, 2016

    To eric #62:

    Me: “You have so far refused to answer with a simple Yes or No as to whether *YOU, ERIC*, would say that any religion based on these breaks (with physical laws as we know them) is FALSE.”

    You: “I haven’t refused, you just can’t seem to get it.. “Is false” is in the mind and sectarian beliefs of the believer, not in the statement of scientific result. It is a judgment about what that scientific result means, theologically, to the believer.”

    You HAVE refused, or, you just can’t seem to get it.
    We’re NOT talking about some “believer” or what that believer might believe “theologically.”
    We’re talking about YOU.
    So, for about the third time,
    1) Would *YOU, ERIC*, say that ANY RELIGION that is essentially BASED ON breaks in physical laws (e.g. Jesus walking on water and turning water into wine and rising from the dead) is FALSE?

    2) Alternatively, would you say that walking on water and turning water into wine and rising from the dead CANNOT happen and NEVER HAVE happened?

    3) In still other words, would you say that the proposition that Jesus walked on water and turned water into wine and rose from the dead is FALSE?

    This isn’t as hard as you’re making it out to be.
    What is your three-fold answer (Yes/No) to the above?
    …………
    Me: “Yes. But guess what’s held absolutely steady, eric? I’ll give you a hint: It starts with “Belief in Evo _ _ _ _ _ _.””

    You: “This is just plain wrong. Plot out the % of people in general or scientists who think evolution is correct, and that number has not been “steady” for 150 years; its obviously risen.”

    Yes, and if you tell a lie often enough and long enough, then, quite often, more and more people will begin to believe the lie is truth. A recent, non-scientific example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGAdrQ2RpdM
    …………
    “Second, what a lame goal post move. Your argument was that we don’t question the theory [of EVOLUTION] or change our minds about [the theory of EVOLUTION]. We clearly do; that’s why we have this thing called the new synthesis [for the theory of EVOLUTION]. We do not accord any special authority or immunity to questioning to the musty old book that was the origin of our hypothesis [of EVOLUTION].”

    Question: What never goes away and is never discarded in the above?

    Hint: It begins with “EVO _ _ _ _ _ _.”

  63. #64 Narad
    June 21, 2016

    Yes, and if you tell a lie make a fool of yourself often enough and long enough, then, quite often, more and more people will begin to believe the lie is truth grow weary of your dishonesty, cowardice, hypocrisy, pathetic demands for attention, and all-around incompetence.

    FTFY.

  64. #65 eric
    June 22, 2016

    1) Would *YOU, ERIC*, say that ANY RELIGION that is essentially BASED ON breaks in physical laws (e.g. Jesus walking on water and turning water into wine and rising from the dead) is FALSE?

    Sigh. For the last time, the scientific conclusion that such miracle accounts are inaccurate will be given different theological weight by different believers. My personal, individual opinion is that the believer themselves must decide how theologically important some claim of science is. Christianity comprises YECs, OECs, theistic evolutionists, Catholics who accept evolution like the Pope, Catholics who don’t like you, even UUs who may not even believe Jesus worked miracles. As far as I can tell there are believers who read many of the miracles stories as allegories or myth, believers who think the miracle stories were confabulations by later authors, believers who think they are real but aren’t bothered by the contradiction with science because they see science as not applying to the question, and believers like you who see a major conflict. It should be obvious to anyone not blinkered by an agenda that there is no single, agreed-upon Christian answer to the question of how to theologically interpret the claims of science. There is no answer that applies to the religion as a whole, because “the religion” is an umbrella term that includes believers with wildly different and regularly contradictory beliefs.

    would you say that walking on water and turning water into wine and rising from the dead CANNOT happen and NEVER HAVE happened?

    This one’s much easier because its much more narrow and you aren’t asking me to make a theological judgment for someone else. With the standard science caveats about provisional tentative understanding, yes.

    would you say that the proposition that Jesus walked on water and turned water into wine and rose from the dead is FALSE?

    Assuming we’re not counting tricks, exaggeration, etc.? Yes.

    The point I’ve been trying to make, however, is that not every Christian is going to give the literal truth of those stories the same theological importance you are. So the question of whether the claim “Jesus didn’t walk on water” falsifies Christianity is really something I can’t answer for anyone.

  65. #66 Sean T
    June 22, 2016

    SN

    You really are pathetic. That’s what you gleaned from my post? You, of course, completely missed the point. The only point I made was that given an omnipotent being, any possibility exists. That perceived strength, though, is really a weakness. It means that there is no REAL evidence that can support the belief. If all POSSIBLE observations are consistent with an idea, then none are actually supportive of that idea.

    That was the real point. To have a testable theory, you have to stick your neck out and provide some possible observation that would cause you to admit you’re wrong and make you modify your theory. Note that ALL scientific theories do so, including evolution. In fact, as pointed out to you, evolution has already been modified. The current theory is not the sameas Darwin’s theory. Further observations could lead to further modifications.

    You are right in one regard, though. Observations that cause modification to the current theory will lead to new scientific theories, not religipus ones. It’s the old false dichotomy that all of you creationists seem to have. Overthrowing evolution is not the same thing as proving creationism. Even if evolution is completely falsified (unlikely), I suspect you won’t like the new theory any better. It certainly won’t involve God or creationism because those are not testable ideas.

    BTW, I did not intentionally change “false” to “incorrect” in my previous post. I just didn’t reread your post before making mine. However, if you insist on making a distinction beyween the two, I prefer to use incorrect. I don’t know you or any other Christian well enough to conclude that you are intentionally lying rather than simply mistaken about your beliefs.

  66. #67 Tom Sarbeck
    Napa County, CA
    June 26, 2016

    This long discussion demonstrates that:
    1) in debates for and against the Big Bang, the “for” debaters ultimately make their religiosity explicit, and.
    2) a mind subjected to Catholicism may be impervious to reason, as my mind once was.
    Re #2, my mind being impervious to reason.
    I now laugh when I say Catholicism took twor years to fill my head with its dogma and ten years to protect that dogma with “concrete” (guilt, shame, helplessness, etc).

  67. #68 philip coleman
    United States
    June 26, 2016

    I follow Richard Dawkins beliefs or perhaps I should have said his complete matrix about our existence and future realms.

  68. #69 See Noevo
    June 26, 2016

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