Why a benevolent divine law-giver almost certainly does not exist. Monday, Apr 19 2010
Those of a Christian bent generally have something along these lines to say to excuse the evils in the world: “god has to allow evil because he has to allow our free will”. Whilst this may satisfy some curious minds, it doesn’t really explain anything.
I recently came across an almost perfect analogy which completely destroys the reasoning of allowing evil to let free will reign. If a policeman stops a thief stealing something, we do not claim the fact that the thief’s free will has been curtailed is some kind of huge moral evil. The point is that we have laws and they are enforced – the problem with scriptural laws is that they are not enforced. The laws that various gods have allegedly passed down to their prophets have only ever been enforced when humans have taken it upon themselves to enforce them.
Now, the problem with this is that within the Christian paradigm is the doctrine of Original Sin. So here we have a situation where the divine law-giver has given us the laws, and instead of enforcing them himself, he palms off the responsibility on us: those who are suppossedly “fallen”. It’d be like the government creating laws and relying on ex-cons to uphold them rather than the police.
The whole idea is fundamentally flawed. To Christians who laud the free will defence of allowing god to let evils occur: I do not understand how you can rationalise living in a society which operates under the rule of law which neccessarily curtails the free will of those who would commit actions deemed illegal. If any gods exist, it is their responsibility to uphold any laws they create – to do any less would be irresonsible.
The Big Bang, Fact or Fiction? Saturday, Apr 3 2010
The Big Bang, Fact or Fiction?
It’s rather irritating to those in the science fields to hear the phrase, “The Big Bang is no different than god creating the universe.” This assertion is so biased and misinformed I have to wonder about the troglodyte that said it in the first place. The Big Bang is a mathematically reducible concept. Here’s why:
A great scientist Edwin Hubble (who we name the Hubble telescope after) found out that v = H*d. He, for the first time established that the universe was and is indeed expanding. It was this relationship that destroyed scientists’ previous theories of an infinite stable state universe. Basically the relationship between how fast a galaxy is receding from earth is a property of how far away it is. The further the galaxy is the faster they are receding from us.
This was the first proof that space itself was expanding, pushing away objects held together by gravity faster and faster as the amount of space between two objects grew. To notice this effect you need to be two galaxies separated by mind boggling distances but the effect grows rapidly.
How can galaxies be approaching then? Well galaxies aren’t just static, they’re moving in space as space is expanding between them. Some galaxies such as the Andromeda galaxy are close enough that the expanding space between it and our galaxy is not greater than the velocity at which it’s approaching ours, but it is a general rule that the farther something is away from us the faster it’s moving away from us.
It was this theory that lead science to postulate the idea of a ‘big bang’ something seen previously as impossibility. It became science overnight to believe that time actually had a starting point and that our universe was born. If space was expanding faster and faster objects at one point had, logically, to be closer and if objects were closer gravity should have pulled them together and, like an explosion, once that force was overcome the universe would’ve rapidly expanded. We know now that it wasn’t only gravity but I digress.
As science progressed we filled in more blanks. If there was a big bang there should’ve been energetic residue throughout the universe that proved it did; however no one was having any luck finding this residue.
It’s important now to understand the nature of light. Electromagnetic radiation (of which visible light is a part of) is a property of its wavelength. Radiowaves are large; the visible spectrum of light includes small tight waves, and X-rays are even smaller. In 1964 two Radio astronomers were using a telescope which interprets Microwaves instead of visible light. Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson were having a problem. They were attempting to run experiments with satellites and radio astronomy but they could not account for several extra degrees Kelvin.
Both Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson knew that the atmosphere contributed a minor amount to their readings but it had been long established that this was only about two degrees Kelvin. They were reading seven to eight degrees Kelvin. They assumed something else was influencing it. First they checked nearby radio signals and pointed their telescope away from incoming sources. Unfortunately they were still reading around seven degrees Kelvin.
This didn’t make sense until they heard the squawk of pigeons coming from their telescope. Usually pigeons wouldn’t affect such equipment but they decided to clear the birds out anyways and after having the fowl creatures return several times were forced to use drastic means. After scrubbing the pigeon’s left-overs from their telescope they tried again; six degrees Kelvin.
At this point, after clearing every inconsistency away, they couldn’t understand why cold dark space seemed to be anything but cold and dark. Their telescope had been calibrated manually, their interference had been removed and the birds had been killed. The only conclusion was that space wasn’t cold and dark.
What Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson had stumbled upon was the predicted residue from the big bang: a snapshot of the microwave radiation still present in all space from the initial explosion of the big bang. This was dubbed the CMBR or the cosmic microwave background radiation. After the stunning discovery scientists had their smoking gun. The big bang was now fact.
So then what would the big bang have been like? Well using Hubble’s law and the more exact data provided by Arno Penzias and Robert Wilson we can calculate the universe’s age to be somewhere between fourteen to fifteen billion years old. The number of course is more exact as we can derive down to a fraction of a second after the big bang (when the laws of our universe break down and quantum mechanics take over) but the point is the universe is about that old.
Fifteen billion years ago the big bang formed. From quantum mechanics we believe this was caused by a spacetime foam, these foams are created when universes (constantly shifting and moving) interact with each other creating a new universe. The new universe starts out as a big bang singularity. Big bang singularities should not be confused with the singularities at the center of a black hole; though the idea behind both is the same (minus gravity) the big bang singularity contains all of the original stuff in our entire universe within it.
This singularity was amazingly energetic and dense. The fundamental forces of our universe held it together acting as a ‘super force’ gravity, electro magnetism, weak interaction (where nuclear fission gets its energy), and strong interaction (where nuclear fusion gets its energy) were one.
One of the neat things about the birth of a universe is that time begins. As time begins change happens and so it did. The forces were violently thrown off of the singularity condensing into the laws that we know today releasing a huge explosion of energy. As the singularity expanded, space itself expanded, its boundaries pushed larger and larger as the singularity exploded. Space quite literally expanded faster than the speed of light.
Some might say, hey wait a minute, nothing is faster than the speed of light. This is true but that’s assuming in a straight line. The laws of relativity allow for a loophole to that speed. Rather than you moving, the space around you moves, and the expansion of space or even the shape of it is not constrained by light.
The farther the primordial energies of the big bang got from one another the more space and time there was to dissipate their heat. Energies interacted in ways that can’t happen at modern day temperatures building up complexity as they coalesced and interacted producing most (if not all) of the matter and energy within the universe today. First it was photons, then electrons and positrons then protons, antiprotons, and neutrons.
With the building blocks of matter in place the first (and still the most common) element appeared: hydrogen. The universe was nothing but gaseous hydrogen at this point but there was a lot of it and space itself buckled under the weight. A star was born, and another and another. Soon galaxies and super clusters were born. The engine within a star produced all of the elements through iron we know and love today. Unfortunately fusion by itself isn’t enough stars simply don’t possess enough energy to fuse heavier elements than Iron.
What was needed was an explosion. The first supernova, second and soon trillions propagated the heavier elements throughout the universe. Eventually, in a small galaxy and on the edge of one arm enough raw materials came together to give birth to a star. That star we call Sol, and around that star dust and debris collected to form planets. The Solar system was born.
So that leads us back to our first question. The big bang, fact or fiction? Frankly to believe in anything else is insanity.
Atheism, atrocities and idiot priests Friday, Apr 2 2010
Well, being Good Friday and all, the Catholic Church has decided to come out swinging. Here in Australia, they have launched incredibly ignorant and nonsensical attacks on atheism and secularism. One of the newly appointed Bishops here in Sydney came out and said several things:
”Last century we tried godlessness on a grand scale and the effects were devastating,” he said.
”Nazism, Stalinism, Pol-Pottery, mass murder and broken relationships: all promoted by state-imposed atheism or culture-insinuated secularism.”
This is the first thing I’ll deal with here, and it is an absolutely preposterous and absurd thing to say. To first point to Nazism and the holocaust as an example of something that atheism or secularism is responsible for reflects ignorance of the highest degree of what actually happened.
The Catholic Church were responsible for 800 years of anti-Semitic filth that was propagated and spread throughout Europe before the Holocaust. Without this foundation, the Holocaust is completely unthinkable. Robert Runcie, the former Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote:
“Without centuries of Christian antisemitism, Hitler’s passionate hatred would never have been so fervently echoed […] because for centuries Christians have held Jews collectively responsible for the death of Jesus. On Good Friday Jews, have in times past, cowered behind locked doors with fear of a Christian mob seeking ‘revenge’ for deicide. Without the poisoning of Christian minds through the centuries, the Holocaust is unthinkable.”
There are numerous documented incidents of Hitler making pacts and public relations campaigns with high ranking members of the Catholic Church all over Europe before WW2 and on almost all occasions he spouted the same kind of hatred and bigotry that would become the basis for the ideology of the Holocausts. Indeed the Catholic Church even signed a political Reichskonkordat with Hitler after he had stated just months earlier:
“I have been attacked because of my handling of the Jewish question. The Catholic Church considered the Jews pestilent for fifteen hundred years, put them in ghettos, etc., because it recognized the Jews for what they were. In the epoch of liberalism the danger was no longer recognized. I am moving back toward the time in which a fifteen-hundred-year-long tradition was implemented. I do not set race over religion, but I recognize the representatives of this race as pestilent for the state and for the Church, and perhaps I am thereby doing Christianity a great service by pushing them out of schools and public functions.”
This Reichskonkordat gave the Nazi government the political and moral support of the Catholic Church in return for the Nazi government’s introduction of compulsory Catholic teachings in schools in Germany and other such political gifts. Guenter Lewy, in his The Catholic Church and Nazi Germany says:
There is general agreement that the Concordat increased substantially the prestige of Hitler’s regime around the world. As Cardinal Faulhaber put it in a sermon delivered in 1937: “At a time when the heads of the major nations in the world faced the new Germany with cool reserve and considerable suspicion, the Catholic Church, the greatest moral power on earth, through the Concordat expressed its confidence in the new German government. This was a deed of immeasurable significance for the reputation of the new government
Furthermore, whilst 6 million people were being slaughtered for being Jewish, the Catholic Church pretended it wasn’t happening. In fact the Vatican was entirely aware of the slaughter of the Jews when they attempted to negotiate with the German ambassador from 1942-44. They were unconcerned with attempts to render justice to those responsible and even after the Holocaust continued further a dialogue of anti-semitism. As Dr. Michael Phayer, one of the foremost experts on Vatican foreign policy during WW2 says:
Questions about Pius XII’s moral leadership arose shortly after his death in 1958. These concerns [began]… with statements by German bishops at the time of the sensational Adolf Eichmann trial in Jerusalem and on the eve of the Second Vatican Council in 1960. Julius Doepfner, cardinal of Munich, spoke of regrettable decisions that had been made by church leaders during the Nazi era and German bishops collectively apologized for the ‘inhimane extermi- nation of the Jewish people.’
What is troubling about Pius’s preocuipation with diplomacy is that Jews would continue to be murdered as peace negotiations were underway. [Note: the author refers to peace negotiations undertaken by the German ambassador to the Vatican between 1942 and 1944]. Pius knew this, of course. A high-ranking official in the Papal Secretariat of State, Monsignor Domenica Tardini, told the German ambassador that the United States would probably object to Weizsaecker’s (latest) proposal for negotiations because of the ‘Jewish matter.’
The difficulty with Pius’s inadvertence to the Holocaust lies in the fact that Catholics in high and low stations kept reminding him of it. The most persistent of these was Konrad Preysing, Bishop of Berlin, who wrote to Pius thirteen times in fifteen months during the most active period of the Holocaust. When Pius finally responded to his friend from the Weimar era, it was not the fate of the Jews but the fate of Christendom and of the Church that preoccupied him.
While the Vatican showed keen interest in getting the perpetrators of the Holocaust freed, and, as we have seen, had to be restrained by its trusted envoy Bishop Muench, it showed little or no interest in the question of restitution for survivors of the Holocaust.
As did most Italians, Pope Pius sought to save native Italian Jews during the Holocaust, but he did not allow the Jewish tragedy to upset his world vision which remained fixed on his church and the Marxist danger.
If the Holocaust was not sufficient cause for Pius to break with Germany during the war, it is not surprising that antisemitism, restitution, and strict justice for war criminals would not be his priorities during the Cold War.
As any rational person can see, to blame the Holocaust on Atheism is absolutely absurd and an affront to anyone with a brain that is not totally ignorant of what took place. Without the discourse of anti-Semitism that the Catholic Church ensured stayed at the heart of European society for hundreds of years prior to the Holocaust, the foundations never would have been there for Hitler to extrapolate upon. Hitler himself was a practicing Roman Catholic and not only did the Catholic Church have no qualms or will to criticize his anti-Semitic propaganda. Mein Kampf was written and published in 1925 yet the Catholic Church signed a political agreement giving him their backing in 1933, after he spent 8 years extrapolating on his plans and ideology present in Mein Kampf.
It was only until he started systematically killing Jews, which apparently surprised the Catholic Church after all of their dealings with him, that organised criticism seems to emerge, and even at that point the Catholic Church was far more interested in protecting its own image and public perception than any organised resistance on their part, and they even proceeded to enter into diplomatic negotiations with Hitler’s Germany, fully aware of the situation of the ongoing Holocaust.
To palm this off onto atheism or secularism when it was committed upon foundations set by the Catholic Church by a Roman Catholic whose legitimacy was confirmed by the Catholic Church, the moral guide of Europe, even after he had spread such propaganda and genocidal filth for years prior is absolutely disgusting.
Happy Easter, everyone.