googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: Believers in Poofism

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Believers in Poofism

Where did matter come from?” That question strikes at the heart of the problem with all secular explanations of our origins. Natural science has no theory or even a credible story to explain the ultimate origin of matter. The mere existence of matter lends itself strongly to the idea that there was a supernatural cause for the universe. This is commonly called the “Kalam Cosmological Argument.”

Evolutionists have a very short list of possible replies to what is, by any standard, a very reasonable question. Their replies can usually be assigned one of three categories: 1) They will try to divorce the question of origins from the entire rest of science, 2) they will apply divine-like qualities to matter by saying it is eternal, or 3) they will resort to a pseudo-philosophical “uncaused” origin of matter. None of these options are very scientific.

The question, “where did matter come from?” is more profound than some people might realize at first hearing. Without the Big Bang, there is no “where” from which matter can come. “Before” the Big Bang there was nothing. Actually, I can't even use the word “before” because even time did not exist. There was no place. There was not even space. Nothing! Then, suddenly, there was everything. All the matter, all energy, all space, and even time itself just appeared. Poof!

Of course, I've heard some people invoke “exotic” theories like quantum mechanics and other principles of physics in an attempt to explain the non-origin of everything but that just begs the question. Where did physics come from? One cannot invoke any natural law to explain the origin of the universe without first presupposing the “uncaused” existence of natural laws. If natural laws – like gravity – exist, then they too must have poofed into existence with the rest of the universe.

I think we should change the name of the Big Bang to the Big Poof!

Poof! Time began!
Poof! There was space!
Poof! There was matter!
Poof! There was energy!
Poof! The matter began to expand!
Poof! Chemicals became alive!

There was no cause. There was no purpose. There was no god. These things just happened all by themselves.

Sometimes, evolutionists ridicule creation by calling it, “magic.” It's a rather blatant attempt to make creationism sound unappealing by describing it with loaded words. I usually try to avoid using such a lazy argument myself but, in this case, I'm not sure how else to describe it. People who deny a supernatural origin of the universe are believers in poofism.


Steven J. said...

Two points, first. One, the Big Bang is not intended as a metaphysical explanation for why reality exists. It is a reconstruction of part of the history of the universe, an explanation for the pattern of galactic redshifts, the relative cosmic abundances of hydrogen and helium, and the 3 Kelvin cosmic background radiation. That this history does not very well accord with a six-day creation of the universe six thousand years ago does not mean that the theory was devised as a substitute for theism. Which brings us to point two: the Big Bang is not inherently atheistic (it is inherently contrary to some accounts of how God created the universe, but then, so is heliocentrism); it is not even inherently "evolutionist." There are plenty of old-earth creationists who accept the Big Bang. For that matter, evolutionary theory does not depend, in any very obvious way, on the idea that the universe has expanded from an initial very hot, very dense, very small state to its present vast, diffuse, cool state. Evolution requires a fairly old universe, yes, but not the Big Bang. That both theories are widely accepted has to do with both being well-supported by evidence, not by some intrinsic dependence of one on the other.

Steven J. said...

Now, to address some specific points in your post:

First, there are theories of a cyclic Big Bang. These are minority views, but if one of them is correct, then there was time before the Big Bang -- perhaps an infinity of it, and an eternally existing universe.

The mainstream view, of course, is that time is an illusion (albeit "a stubbornly persistent illusion"). The universe did not "poof" into existence at the Big Bang, any more than Interstate 74 poofs into existence at Davenport, IA. The universe simply exists, and extending from the present a finite distance backwards in time (growing smaller, denser, and hotter as one goes back) is simply one of its properties. In its own way, it is timeless and uncaused; time is simply part of our own parochial perception of it.

Secondly, God is said to have His own nature -- that is, He is said to behave in a consistent (even "unchanging") way. But "physics" or "the laws of nature" are simply descriptions of the consistent ways that things behave. If you have entities, you have "laws of nature." If God's nature doesn't require any cause or explanation, it's not at all clear why the universe's does.

Third, I can understand why the idea of the existence of matter being basically an accounting trick would distress you (the idea, drawn from "inflationary Big Bang theory," is that the rapid expansion of the early universe created an immense negative energy -- as in, "less than zero energy" -- requiring, to comply with the first law of thermodynamics, the appearance of an equal amount of "positive energy" -- the matter and energy we see in the universe around us). But the math works, apparently, and physicists like math.

Fourth, "magic" refers to the ability to produce effects without physical mechanisms and/or by the utterance of words or commands. That is not a description of physicists' accounts of the history of the universe, or evolutionists' account of the history of life (or even biochemists' efforts to describe the history of abiogenesis); all of these invoke mechanisms.

Todd Williams said...

Steven, you said, "In its own way, it is timeless and uncaused;" Are you saying that you believe that whatever existed of the universe prior the end of the Planck epoch existed eternally? I'm confused a bit because a couple sentences prior you say that the universe extends "from the present a finite distance backwards in time."

You also said, "If God's nature doesn't require any cause or explanation, it's not at all clear why the universe's does." By definition, an all-powerful mind cannot be described by anything other than what it reveals to us if it exists in manner that we are not able to measure or access naturally. I know this probably appears circular since the Bible is considered his revelation to us, but in many ways the Bible can be tested for its authenticity as the revelation of a greater mind, therefore breaking the circle. I know personally my revelation of God happened a long time before I even knew what a Bible was. Then after reading the Bible, I discovered that my experiences could be described and confirmed in a remarkably accurate way by scripture.

I know the stock response to this is that my psychological responses to the environment around me were given what ancient writers (who also shared these responses) considered a plausible cause (God), and now I'm just matching mine to their naive immaterial understanding. It's much more than this, but I won't go into it here.

Steven J. said...

Todd, I think what I'm trying to say is that the universe itself exists "outside of time" (which almost makes sense: time exists inside the universe, so the universe exists outside time). My understanding of non-cyclic Big Bang theories is that questions of cause and effect apply inside of space-time; asking about the cause of space-time itself is a completely different question, perhaps even a meaningless one.

Likewise, I'm not trying to explain an all-powerful Mind and I'm not trying to accuse anyone of circular reasoning. My point is that it is more parsimonious to have a lesser thing without an explanation or cause than a greater -- indeed, infinitely great -- Thing without a cause or explanation.