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Some Stipulations

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Posted by Harvey on October 25, 2002 19:26:07 UTC

Richard,

***It is a scientific question to wonder if the universe is self-sustainable (however, not necessarily free of god). It is not scientific to say that the universe is self-sustainable, because the evidence is not available yet for either conclusion to be made. We have so little information that we can't even say its inconclusive. All we can say is that we have no info.***

It is a scientific question in the sense that scientists ask metaphysical questions all the time, and in fact this is how new scientific discoveries are made. However, the question itself (aside from who asks it) is a philosophical one. A specifically-scientific oriented question is one about scientific models and questions about whether a specific model, hypothesis, or theory can provide a reasonable explanation and even provide predictive phenomena from the model so that we can confirm whether the model is an accurate tool to describe and predict what we see in nature.

However, there is at least another caveat to this. I am not saying that a future scientific model can never explain why our material universe continues to exist as a reasonable postulation. For example, quantum cosmology is such a scientific hypothesis which suggests that the universe is sustained by quantum laws that apply to our whole spacetime geometry. If quantum cosmology were to make enough confirmed predictions, then it would be a reasonable postulation that the universe exists due to quantum laws.

That might seem to be science at its best answering a very difficult question, but I still say that this is a philosophical issue. The reason is that quantum laws can be interpreted in an empirical manner (i.e., as a 'model' and not a 'law') and no doubt any quantum cosmological 'laws' could also be interpreted as such and therefore leave the question about why the universe persists as a mystery. Answering 'why' questions are very difficult and as Hume's arguments against inductive reasoning showed 3 centuries ago, this issue is not going to go away. It is an intrinsic problem of induction (actually called 'Hume's problem of induction').

***But science runs on the idea that everything occurs naturally. This has never been disproven, ever. How many billions of experiments have made because of this conclusion?***

I won't argue with this even though Alan Plantiga, I believe, has cited exceptions to this argument. What I will say is that the term 'natural' is often defined based largely on the concept of 'law', and herein is the problem. If 'laws' are not really laws in the sense that they somehow necessitate certain facets of nature, then the term 'natural' is fully dependent on a certain observed range of past behavior. However, the argument for God's involvement is not an involvement that is observable. For example, how does one observe 'quantum laws'? How does one observe 'laws of general relativity'? We have to infer that there are reasons for some behavior, but we not observe those reasons themselves. We only observe the outcome. If God is involved, as I suggest, then the outcome of God's involvement is what is observed, and not directly God's involvement. This is not unscientific, since we are not able to observe the 'cause' of anything. We only observe effects. The causes are theoretical schemes that best explain the observed effects, and this does not even deal with more ultimate causes or even pretend to deal with any ultimate causes.

***It is logical to carry-on that the universe is naturally occuring, based on this idea. Because of religion's lack of uniformity throughout the world, it is difficult to venture the base of logic it would take to assume a god created the universe, at least from a scientific standpoint. Nothing has ever been shown to have been created by a god.***

A perhaps better way of saying this is that no scientific model has been required to introduce God to explain or predict the natural phenomena in question. However, scientific models generally avoid addressing the metaphysical causes of something, so we shouldn't even expect science to provide insight into God's involvement. Yet, science does give us some indication that mathematics and underlying order to the Cosmos are important to scientific realism, so science realist interpretations of science do at least suggest that there is underlying order (which many theists have always signified as a sign of God's presence in the world).

***While believing in a god may make "sense" it may not necessarily be logical, because every science experiment has shown otherwise! However, a natural origin is not even close to being conclusive for a conclusion!***

Since scientific experiments are meant to address whether a certain model is sufficient to utilize for understanding and predicting natural phenomena (although instrumentalists say science is mainly limited to prediction), it is neither the goal nor the ability of science to address these philosophical implications. Rather, just like philosophy must analyze the claims of scientific realism and scientific truth, philosophy must also analyze the claims of metaphysical causes. Since philosophers have been able to show plenty of utility in there being a God, it continues to be a viable philosophical stance adding more insight to scientific discoveries.

The philosophical position that is contradicted by God's existence is the materialist philosophy.
The question, though, is why would human beings choose to hold a philosophical stance that is counter to the theist beliefs of most human beings on the planet, especially when those beliefs are so dismal. Is it possible that a small percentage of humans have a need for random origins in order to experience a kind of freedom that comes from an atheist or agnostic belief system? Any ideas?

Warm regards, Harv

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