Atheists Believe in Chance

What I mean by this is, atheists must believe that chance has the ability to be a creative force, right?  If God didn’t cause the universe then the universe “just happened to happen” and therefore God is not needed.  I sincerely thought that this was the atheistic consensus but, I guess I was wrong.  Over the past few conversations I’ve had, especially here at mormondiscussions.com, I’ve found that atheists, at least the ones I’ve been arguing with, don’t necessarily believe the universe came about randomly.  In fact, my assertion that the atheistic universe must have had a pure chance beginning was the most hotly disputed.

I wanted to explore the argument further and discover if my assumption about the atheistic position was incorrect, or if the atheists I’m talking to are being inconsistent with the necessary beliefs of their worldview. 

The American Heritage Dictionary defines chance as  “The unknown and unpredictable element in happenings that seems to have no assignable cause.” 

An Infinite Regress

This is an argument I already made in the aforementioned discussion but it bears repeating here.  In order for an atheist to say that the beginning of the universe was not a product of pure chance, the universe had to have a cause.  Being an atheist, they cannot say this cause was God so it must have been some other natural force.  Let’s give the atheist that the universe could have come about by a natural force powerful enough to cause a universe.  What was this universe causing force caused by?  An uber-powerful universe causing force?  And we haven’t even begun to suggest how these universe causing forces can account for the uniformity of nature or the anthropic principle.

If an atheist wants to claim that the beginning of the universe wasn’t random, he can’t get away from the fact that he must then believe in an infinite regress of ever increasingly powerful universe causing forces.  In attempting to describe these forces they will be attributing abilities to them that Christians attribute to God (power, design, control etc) without being able to call these forces God only because it would be impossible to do so and still be an atheist. 

The atheist will then object and say, “Well, then what caused your God?”  There are two problems with this counter-argument.  First, to make this argument the atheist must be admitting to their faith in this infinite regress and attempting to ignore the irrationality of that faith.  Secondly, God is outside of natural existence and therefore doesn’t need a causer.  In fact, His ability to not need a cause is one thing that makes Him God.  This counter-argument is also invalid because it’s completely consistent within the Christian worldview to claim God does not need a cause while it’s not consistent with the atheistic worldview to claim an infinite regress of causes.

But the REAL problem is . . .

Atheists Really Do Believe in Chance

Since these discussions took place on the internet, I wanted to consult the experts on this matter to find what atheistic thinkers actually believe. 

The University of Dublin website puts it like this:

“…at some point in the distant past, everything in the universe was concentrated into a point-like region of space called a singularity.  For some reason, and astronomers are unsure why, this singularity explanded rapidly in an explosion, releasing all the matter-energy and time –this event is what is termed The Big Bang.”  (www.csc.tcd.ie/~tass/HTML/Cosmology/cosm/html)

Big Bang cosmology dominates modern thinking, in fact “today, virtually all financial and experimental resources in cosmology are devoted to Big Bang Studies” (“An Open Letter to the Scientific Community”, New Scientist (Mary 22, 2004).  Now, of course, not all cosmologists ascribe to the Big Bang theory but it’s the most widely known and accepted theory. 

God didn’t cause this Big Bang.  I might have used this quote before but it fits here too, and plus I like it.  Nobel prize-winning French molecular biologist Jacques Monod put it:

“Pure chance, absolutely free but blind, [lies] at the very root of the stupendous edifice of evolution . . . The universe was not pregnant with life nor the biosphere with man.  Our number came up in the  Monte Carlo game.”

Evolutionist K. Rohiniprasad, in her “The Accident of Human Evolution”:  “As the evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould puts it, humans arose as a fortuitous contingent outcome of thousands of linked events.  We should humbly acknowledge the fact that any one of these events could have occurred differently and sent history on an alternative pathway” (http://sulekha.com/blogs/blogdisplay.aspx?cid=3899).  She then goes on to speak about four evolutionary turns, about those turns she says:

“It is important to realize that the above four incidents were totally unrelated and random.  Like every other phenomenon or catastrophe that changed the course of events on the earth, biological evolution trundled along without any pre-ordained plan or purpose.”

I could go on, so I will.  Bertrand Russell, perhaps the most famous atheistic thinker in history puts it:

“Academic philosophers, ever since the time of Permenides, have believed that the world is unity . . . The most fundamental of my intellectual beliefs is that this is rubbish.  I think the universe is all spots and jumps, without any unity, without continuity, without coherence or orderliness . . . Indeed there little but prejudice and habit to be said for the view that the is a world at all”. 

Here comes the nail in the coffin.  Astronomer and cosmologist Marcus Chown comments:

Space and the material world come be created out of nothing but noise . . . According to [physicists] Reginald Cahill and Christopher Klinger of Flinders University in Adelaide, space and time and all the objects around us are no more than the froth on a deep sea of randomness.

He goes on to say:

“This is where physics comes in,” says Cahill.  “The universe is rich enough to be self-referencing.  For instance, I’m aware of myself.”  This suggests that most of the everyday truths of physical reality, like most mathematical truths, have no explanation.  According to Cahill and Klinger, that must be because reality is based on randomness.  They believe randomness is more fundamental than physical objects.                                                                            (Marcus Chown, “Random Reality,” New Scientist (February 26, 2000)).

It seems that the atheists I have been discussing with are confused about what their worldview necessitates.  In order to hold that the Big Bang, or evolution, isn’t random they must disagree with scientists in the field as well as a Nobel-prize winner and the famous Bertrand Russell.

Chance Does Not Explain Uniformity

I made this argument earlier, so I’ll be brief here.  All of our sense experience tells us that nature is uniform, and science depends upon it being so.  However, we cannot empirically test that nature is uniform because any testing we do would just be begging the question.  A chance beginning to the universe cannot account for where this uniformity came from and the atheist cannot explain how chance would lead to the universal, constant laws uniformity requires. 

The atheists, in the previously linked discussion I was in, were attempting to pass off begging the question and circular reasoning “Nature is uniform because it just is” as a rational argument.  However, it isn’t their fault because this is literally the best they can do without denying the chance element in their worldview.  They must feign apathy towards the philosophical problem of uniformity, pretend the problem doesn’t exist, or attempt to explain to themselves, and you who’s arguing with them, that “It is because it is” is viable and rational.

You see, the atheist lives by faith as well.  They must have faith that a pure chance universe created order with no outside help, that non-life randomly produces life, and that non-intelligence randomly produced intelligence.

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25 Comments on “Atheists Believe in Chance”

  1. cubiksrube Says:

    I’ve finally got around to replying to your most recent comments on my own post, if you’re interested. As for this, just a couple of things I can respond to very briefly, as I don’t have the concentration to get very in-depth now:

    Disagreeing with a Nobel prize winner, or a scientist in the field, or even just somebody “famous” is perfectly allowable if the evidence suggests that they’re wrong. As a layman (and not even an infamous one), I don’t start off in the best or most credible place to make any such argument, but if the facts are there, the facts are there. Linus Pauling won two Nobels, and did great work in chemistry, but is widely viewed (by other scientists, not just me) as having turned into something of a crank in his later years, with his fixation on the supposed curative properties of vitamin C. It seems like he was wrong about a bunch of stuff, and the immensely prestigious awards he got for the stuff he was right about shouldn’t be a bar to any future criticism.

    People mean a variety of things when they say the word “random”. To say that “evolution is random” and leave it at that would be to miss the point about as much as to go no further than “evolution is non-random”. There are random processes that are integral to evolution. There are also equally vital non-random elements to it.

    I don’t know why nature is uniform. I don’t claim that “it just is” is sufficient explanation. What I do claim is that the argument from ignorance doesn’t seem convincing here. The fact that I don’t know the answer to this shouldn’t lead me to grasp at whatever straws I can find, or whatever religious text happens to include the assertion that “our God created it this way”, and assume that that sorts everything out.

    I said I was going to be brief and not go into details. What happened to that?

    I also don’t know what, if anything, “caused” the universe. An infinite regress of any sort doesn’t seem to make sense (which seems to be your point as well), but, again, this doesn’t mean the first God-themed idea which satisifies this one criterion should be lauded for it. “Outside of natural existence” is a meaningless collection of words intended as a get-out clause applicable to your god and your god alone, to account for the fact that the creation of the universe, or a time before time, is an inconceivable notion to our squishy human brains any way you look at it.

    I don’t have faith in any of those things you mention at the end. In the first case, I don’t accept the premise (what does a “pure chance universe” mean, and why must I assume we’re in one?). In the next two, the evidence is on my side that this is what’s happened. (Though, again, this may turn into a digression down a whole other line of discussion.)

  2. forknowledge Says:

    The atheist will then object and say, “Well, then what caused your God?” There are two problems with this counter-argument. First, to make this argument the atheist must be admitting to their faith in this infinite regress and attempting to ignore the irrationality of that faith. Secondly, God is outside of natural existence and therefore doesn’t need a causer. In fact, His ability to not need a cause is one thing that makes Him God. This counter-argument is also invalid because it’s completely consistent within the Christian worldview to claim God does not need a cause while it’s not consistent with the atheistic worldview to claim an infinite regress of causes.

    Er…not quite. An ‘uncaused’ Universe (more on that in a moment) makes more sense than an uncaused God because we know that the former exists, but have no evidence of the latter. Given a choice between an uncaused God and an uncaused Universe, I’m going to go with the second option.

    This is assuming, of course, that choosing an ‘uncaused’ explanation for the Universe is necessary, and here I feel that you’re jumping the gun a bit. It’s a sad fact that nobody knows anything about what the Universe was like prior to the Big Bang, or if our notions of cause-and-effect made sense in whatever state of existence reigned at the time (and I say ‘time’ with tongue firmly in cheek, for obvious reasons). In assuming that whatever kick-started the Big Bang required a cause, you’re transplanting the rules of our space-time Universe onto the unkowable. Is that a satisfying answer? Not really, but there is no way around the fact that we cannot know what conditions were present prior to the Big Bang.

    We are left, then, with a Universe that may or may not have been caused (as we define the term) and no way of knowing which is the case, for now. Even if we assume that the Universe did have a cause, what makes you think that that cause was God? Without substantial evidence behind the assertion, I see no reason not to leave the matter open rather than putting my faith in a divinely inspired guess.

    With regards to randomness, I suspect the other atheists you were talking to hadn’t done their homework. Randomness is of course a major part of the Universe. If we take evolution as an example, mutation (and to a lesser extent, genetic drift) are both completely random processes. But you must be careful to make the distinction between a Universe that contains randomness and a Universe that is completely random – again using evolution as an example, natural selection is not random.

    I’m not very impressed with your article on the uniformity of nature. In your first point, you blatantly project, and assume that the statement ‘nature is uniform’ should be taken to be the very same kind of absolute that the religious are so fond of. This is a mistake. The uniformity of nature is something that still undergoes testing and scrutiny today, and in fact there have been several developments in physics that have questioned this assumption. So far as we know, nature is uniform, and every piece of available evidence supports this conclusion, but only a fool pretends to know it with absolute certainty. How could they?

    Furthermore, you don’t give any reason as to why a Universe born of mostly-random forces should be incapable of producing uniformity in nature. What makes you think this is the case?

    With that in mind, the rest of your argument falls apart. You say that ‘the Christian can know that nature is uniform’, but that’s wrong. The Christian can assume that nature is uniform, or have faith that it is, but cannot know that it is any more than an atheist can know that it is beyond what empirical evidence tells us. Your presuppositional arguments fail.

    Every time you try to drag scientific enquiry or atheism down to the level of religious faith, you acknowledge how irrational and intellectually bankrupt it really is.

  3. Emil Aragundi Says:

    Chance ≠ Improbability

    “Uniformity” as you put it, exists because the course of evolutionary process demands probability.
    Suppose I toss a dart (blindfolded) at a world map and it lands on Sweden. Say I choose to move to Sweden where I meet this girl. Let’s say I marry this girl and have children with her. The above scenario wasn’t meant to happen neither it was impossible. It happened by absolute “chance” and it followed a set of possible outcomes.
    Evolution works kind of like that, it happens by natural selection (a more appropriate word for ‘chance’) and thus follow a logical series (what you call uniformity).

    None of the scientists you quoted say that life sprung from a single cell and fraggle dabble gloop du wop ta da! came humans, there were a series of convoluted events that followed a logical string.

    Had I tossed the dart, unfolded my eyes and found myself on Jupiter, that wouldn’t have been random, that would have been slapstick crazy.

  4. Getting-no-where Says:

    TO EMIL: “Suppose I toss a dart (blindfolded) at a world map and it lands on Sweden. Say I choose to move to Sweden where I meet this girl. Let’s say I marry this girl and have children with her. The above scenario wasn’t meant to happen neither it was impossible. It happened by absolute “chance” and it followed a set of possible outcomes.”

    Problem: When you made the choice to move you didn’t allow “chance” to occur. Chance as defined earlier in the post is “The unknown and unpredictable element in happenings that seems to have no assignable cause.”

    By having the choice to go to Sweden, the choice to talk to the girl, and the choice to marry her allows for no Chance. When you have a choice, you have to have a cause.

    The only thing random that you did was where the dart landed on the board while you were blind folded. But wait….. by definition that would be wrong too because YOU could be considered an assignable cause because you threw the dart towards a direction at a board. So in a way, you didn’t have real “chance.” What you had was Random choice. You did something random and then chose to follow through.

    FORKNOWLEDGE: “We are left, then, with a Universe that may or may not have been caused (as we define the term) and no way of knowing which is the case, for now. Even if we assume that the Universe did have a cause, what makes you think that that cause was God? Without substantial evidence behind the assertion, I see no reason not to leave the matter open rather than putting my faith in a divinely inspired guess.”

    The problem I see is that you aren’t leaving it open for a God to exist to create the Universe. Although Eric’s beliefs are that of a Christian, he poses the question about why Atheists must have a closed door to the possibility of a God creating the universe. Not allowing for the thought that God created the Universe is as much of a “closed door” on the topic as Eric.
    At least Eric’s has faith in a belief/answer rather than stumbling around with no answers and being closed to a possible answer that may be the truth.

    You say “I’m not very impressed with your article on the uniformity of nature.” Well, I am not very impressed, if at all, with your rebuttal to his article. You go on to talk about physics trying to disprove the uniformity of nature, which is basically Chaos Theory (although it seems chaotic, through physics and microbiology show a uniformity in the theory too), and then continue stating “nature is uniform, and every piece of available evidence supports this conclusion, but only a fool pretends to know it with absolute certainty.” Which brings me to why I am not impressed with you, you are Getting no where with your statements.

    And your statement “Every time you try to drag scientific enquiry (inquiry is the word i think you meant to say) or atheism down to the level of religious faith, you acknowledge how irrational and intellectually bankrupt it really is.” Finally, you show your true colors. You seem to have it out for religion when you state it is at a lower level, intellectually bankrupt, and irrational. So I pondered about your statement for a good 3 seconds (because it doesn’t deserve any more time than that) and thought about how you can believe in the uniformity of nature, not with absolute certainty mind you, while waiting for the next opposing argument to try and disprove absolute certainty so you can believe in that. Furthermore, you believe in an uncaused universe. If the universe doesn’t have a cause, then virtually people don’t have a cause. If people don’t have a cause then there is really no point in living, or at least no reason to have hope for the universe. Now doesn’t that sound irrational and intellectually bankrupt?

    Cube: I didn’t find your point in not agreeing with scientists….what was it again?

  5. Eric Kemp Says:

    Cubik

    “Disagreeing with a Nobel prize winner, or a scientist in the field, or even just somebody “famous” is perfectly allowable if the evidence suggests that they’re wrong.”

    For sure. Just because someone is famous or won a Nobel prize winner doesn’t mean their word is gospel or can’t be disagreed with (I obviously believe this since I’m a Creationist!). However, when an individual, in this case an atheist, is claiming to subscribe to a scientific theory, in this case the Big Bang Theory, and doesn’t understand the basic views of the theories, they can’t be taken seriously.

    However, your example of the Nobel prize winner who went batty has nothing to do with this discussion.

    “To say that “evolution is random” and leave it at that would be to miss the point about as much as to go no further than “evolution is non-random”. There are random processes that are integral to evolution. There are also equally vital non-random elements to it.”

    I can go along with that. But I would say that the basis of Natural Selection is random mutations, without these random mutations Natural Selection doesn’t happen.

    “The fact that I don’t know the answer to this shouldn’t lead me to grasp at whatever straws I can find, or whatever religious text happens to include the assertion that “our God created it this way”, and assume that that sorts everything out.”

    You considering the God explanation as “grasping at straws” is an example of your presuppositions in action. Also, it’s not that you “don’t know” it’s that the pure chance worldview CANNOT EXPLAIN uniformity. It just can’t. There’s nothing left to discover. And the infinite regress of natural causes view is just ridiculous.

    “I said I was going to be brief and not go into details. What happened to that?”

    Yea, I gave up on trying to be brief.

    ““Outside of natural existence” is a meaningless collection of words intended as a get-out clause applicable to your god and your god alone, to account for the fact that the creation of the universe, or a time before time, is an inconceivable notion to our squishy human brains any way you look at it.”

    It’s actually quite simple. If God created matter than He must be not made of matter, He must be spiritual in nature. If He’s spiritual in nature then He isn’t subject to causes.

    “I don’t accept the premise (what does a “pure chance universe” mean, and why must I assume we’re in one?).”

    I merely meant that in the atheistic universe, which was brought about by pure chance, we’d have no reason to expect nature to be uniform, which we do. Only in an orderly universe can we expect uniformity and only God explains an orderly universe.

    ” In the next two, the evidence is on my side that this is what’s happened. (Though, again, this may turn into a digression down a whole other line of discussion.)”

    Right, because now I’m going to ask you to defend that statement. Specifically, let’s start with non-life becoming life. What evidence do you have that abiogenesis occured?

  6. Emil Aragundi Says:

    Thank you, Getting-no-where, for explaining exactly where I was going. When scientists speak of “chance” they don’t speak about batshit insane improbable outcomes, but rather a series of events that follow possible outcomes that are randomly picked.

    You and Eric Kemp follow a strict dictionary meaning of chance, the problem is that scientists use the word “chance” solely as a means to simplify the intricate explanation of natural selection (which is the core of evolutionary process).

    This should clarify that a little bit

  7. Eric Kemp Says:

    Emil

    When scientists say the word chance, they mean the word chance as defined with the American Heritage Dictionary, or some other reputable source. They, and you, don’t get to redefine the word to suit your argument.

    “You and Eric Kemp follow a strict dictionary meaning of chance, the problem is that scientists use the word “chance” solely as a means to simplify the intricate explanation of natural selection”

    Actually, if you would read my article, you would see that the quotes of the evolutionary biologists I used were using the word chance to describe the evolutionary process as a whole. If they meant to describe the evolutionary process by means of Natural Selection, they would have done so.

    The points of No-where’s post was that you weren’t describing chance at all, and he was pretty clear in his argument. To which you have not offered a counter argument.

    But, Emil, I’m confused about your overall point here.

  8. Eric Kemp Says:

    Forknowledge

    “An ‘uncaused’ Universe (more on that in a moment) makes more sense than an uncaused God because we know that the former exists, but have no evidence of the latter. Given a choice between an uncaused God and an uncaused Universe, I’m going to go with the second option.”

    “We have no evidence of the latter” is an absolute, negative statement, one that you could not prove if I gave you a million years. You could not prove that there is NO evidence for God. If you want to be the type of arguer that makes unprovable statements, I can’t stop you, but this conversation will be far less productive and honest. But more to the point, I just gave you some evidence for God’s existence. “A God Cause for the universe explains the uniformity of nature while a non-cause (chance) does not, therefore God exists.”

    “In assuming that whatever kick-started the Big Bang required a cause, you’re transplanting the rules of our space-time Universe onto the unkowable. Is that a satisfying answer? Not really, but there is no way around the fact that we cannot know what conditions were present prior to the Big Bang.”

    Too true, my friend, we’ll never know. However, what we do know is that somehow whatever conditions existed prior to the Big Bang changed. Changed so drastically as to begin time, space, cause and effect and all other natural laws. The atheistic argument is that nothing changed them, it just happened, by pure chance. The cosmological argument for God’s existence states that this change must have had a cause, since it was the beginning of causes!

    “Even if we assume that the Universe did have a cause, what makes you think that that cause was God? Without substantial evidence behind the assertion, I see no reason not to leave the matter open rather than putting my faith in a divinely inspired guess.”

    As Getting-no-where pointed out to you, you are not open to the matter of God causing the universe. If you were, you’d be ok with science exploring the evidence with this possibility in mind. This means that the supernatural would be a viable conclusion to scientific findings. However, to be more specific, there are several evidences out there that point to the universe, and life, requiring a God cause. The fine-tuning of the Universe being one of them.

    “But you must be careful to make the distinction between a Universe that contains randomness and a Universe that is completely random – again using evolution as an example, natural selection is not random.”

    In the case of the universe, if the beginning was completely random, then how is it NOT entirely random? At what point does pure chance produce absolute, universal laws all by itself?

    “In your first point, you blatantly project, and assume that the statement ‘nature is uniform’ should be taken to be the very same kind of absolute that the religious are so fond of.”

    You have missed the point. Science, to be viable, requires the ABSOLUTE uniformity of nature. If nature could “somehow, somewhere” not be uniform, then no trust could be put into science. Let me show you:

    “The uniformity of nature is something that still undergoes testing and scrutiny today, and in fact there have been several developments in physics that have questioned this assumption.”

    There can be no testing in an attempt to empirically conclude that nature is uniform. Why? Because any testing done to that end would beg the question. In order to test that nature is uniform, even just on this Earth, we would have to test every square inch of nature at the same time to find out if it acts the same way given the same set of conditions.

    “So far as we know, nature is uniform, and every piece of available evidence supports this conclusion, but only a fool pretends to know it with absolute certainty. How could they?”

    I never said we were pretending to know. We assume nature is uniform, and science requires this assumption. Even Bertrand Russell would agree with me, I’ll quote him if you want me to defend that statement.

    “Furthermore, you don’t give any reason as to why a Universe born of mostly-random forces should be incapable of producing uniformity in nature. What makes you think this is the case?”

    When was the last time that chance/randomness produced order all by itself?

    “The Christian can assume that nature is uniform, or have faith that it is, but cannot know that it is any more than an atheist can know that it is beyond what empirical evidence tells us. Your presuppositional arguments fail.”

    The Christian can account/explain their expectation of the uniformity of nature. The atheist, on the other hand, must steal the Christian idea of an orderly universe or just have blind faith that it is so in order to assume the uniformity of nature. I probably shouldn’t have used the word “know” here, but what I mean is that the Christian can rationally expect uniformity while the atheist who expects uniformity is being inconsistent with their worldview (of a chance begun universe).

    My presuppositional arguments would fail if you could provide me an atheistic explanation for uniformity. You have not done so.

    “Every time you try to drag scientific enquiry or atheism down to the level of religious faith, you acknowledge how irrational and intellectually bankrupt it really is.”

    And we were doing so well. You were making at least coherent arguments up until this point. You made faith based statements during this post like “there is no evidence for God,” and that “nature is uniform” to go along with your faith-based beliefs that evolution happened and that naturalism can account for everything. But more to the point, in order to claim that religious faith is irrational and intellectually bankrupt you’d have to show it instead of just claiming it. And yes, that is a challenge.

  9. Emil Aragundi Says:

    I’m not redefining anything, I’m simply pointing out the point you both are missing here.

    First of all, chance is a colloquial term, not directly applicable in science but used by scientists anyway to explain natural selection to more simple minds like you and I. That’s my point, put simply. I’m not going to suggest you’re quote mining but I would suggest looking further into what natural selection is and what isn’t.

    In my above post I cited the University of Berkeley, which – though worded to be explainable to children – notes how natural selection isn’t just crapshot randomness.

    Are we the product of chance? Yes, but so of a string of lineages, probability, adaptation, etc. Which gives the impression of what you call “uniformity”.

    If they meant to describe the evolutionary process by means of Natural Selection, they would have done so.

    Right, because you’re quoting people from blogs and interview where you are required to explain things in simple terms without having to drift from the topic. What would you say about encyclopedias or textbooks?

  10. Getting-no-where Says:

    After reading over the statements of Eric and the responses I came to realize the issues that Emil and Cube are having. When Eric speaks of evolution, and he can correct me if I am wrong, he is talking about the beginning of evolution, the creation factor. What Cube and Emil seem to be hung up on is the full evolutionary process and then they try refuting Eric’s point with a different point of the evolutionary chain.

    Now Emil, you state “When scientists speak of “chance” …..(Scientists are talking about) a series of events that follow possible outcomes that are randomly picked.” I shortened your sentence for the sake up cleaning up the language and because this is the main point you were getting across. You are still not making sense about Chance. I read the article and it does not define chance differently, what it states is that Chance and natural selection work together in harmony for evolution to exist. So your sentence is wrong, it should be about evolution not chance. So here……we…..go!

    #1 Chance was never redefined; you are misinterpreting your own article, or are deciding to throw the actual definition out because natural selection was mentioned.

    #2 The article is only, ONLY, ONLY talking about evolution of beings and animals, which doesn’t get to the core of what Eric or I was talking about and that is Creation.

    #3 I didn’t explain where you were going; I was explaining that you are not defining chance, but choice.

    #4 The American Heritage Science Dictionary defines natural selection: “the process by which organisms that are better suited to their environment than others produce more offspring. As a result of natural selection, the proportion of organisms in a species with characteristics that are adaptive to a given environment increases with each generation. Therefore, natural selection modifies the originally random variation of genetic traits in a species so that alleles that are beneficial for survival predominate, while alleles that are not beneficial decrease. Originally proposed by Charles Darwin, natural selection forms the basis of the process of evolution”

    Natural selection does not work without chance or randomness. Natural selection is not the core of evolution as you say, your article states that Chance is “half of evolution” and natural selection is part of the other half. If chance is half of evolution then that is the core of evolution or one of the core issues.

    Here are some questions for you, What allows for natural selection? What created natural selection? Lastly, if natural selection modifies chance or random variation, how does it do it? Is that random?

  11. Eric Kemp Says:

    Emil

    I get your point and I agree with you. Natural Selection isn’t ALL chance and I never claimed it was. But it’s basis is in the chance mutation of DNA.

    “First of all, chance is a colloquial term, not directly applicable in science but used by scientists anyway to explain natural selection to more simple minds like you and I.”

    No, chance is a word with meaning. The meaning is meant to describe/get across an idea. Those scientists were attempting to convey the idea that the universe came about with chance. There is no way of getting around it. I’m talking about the beginning of the universe and the beginning of life, not Natural Selection (which also has it’s base in chance).

    You keep talking about Natural Selection but that’s not what we’re talking about. Natural Selection presupposes the beginning of the life, not to mention the universe.

    “Are we the product of chance? Yes, but so of a string of lineages, probability, adaptation, etc. Which gives the impression of what you call “uniformity”.”

    Just plain false. Uniformity is a universal, absolute law. How do probabilities give birth to absolute, universal laws?

    Emil, I want to have a honest and rational discussion with you, but it seems like you are just plugging along with your naturalistic dogma, heedless of the points Getting-no-where and I are making.

  12. Emil Aragundi Says:

    Hmm… nitpicking.
    I never said anything about defining science differently, but mere a matter of context. Like when theory can mean a guess according to dictionaries but when used in science it means an explanation backed by facts. Both definitions are correct, but can vary according to the context that it’s used in.

    Anyways, I’m glad we can both agree that evolutionary process isn’t entirely random but also follows a series of convoluted events. That’s where I’m getting at, contrary to the image that Eric seems to give that Atheists think that everything is random. Eric: if I'm wrong about your conclusions, please let me know

    The article is only, ONLY, ONLY talking about evolution of beings and animals, which doesn’t get to the core of what Eric or I was talking about and that is Creation.

    That’s because the Origin of Life and the Origin of species are different chapters. Evolution begins after life springs (or Creation as you put it). So when Eric quoted all those people talking about evolution, they are talking after “Creation”. Or after the Big Bang if we are to keep in line with how scientific trends go.

    Natural selection is not the core of evolution as you say, your article states that Chance is “half of evolution”

    Ignoring half of the picture is an expression, mister. Natural selection is one of the main mechanism on which evolution works. Chance is the one concept most people can wrap their heads around.

    What allows for natural selection? What created natural selection? Lastly, if natural selection modifies chance or random variation, how does it do it? Is that random?

    Adaptation. Adaptation. Adaptation. Some of it.
    In that order.

    Ok, so the explanation is far more complex but I choose not to get into detail because 1) You can Google it yourself and 2) I know where you’re trying to get at with those questions and it’s not answers from me but rather to push in an argument from ignorance.

    I admit that there are questions about life that we cannot answer, but if you try to use that to push the idea that maybe a supernatural creator did that then you are doing something in the likes of hammering a square peg through a round hole. Don’t. I prefer to accept the limit of my knowledge rather than putting imaginary beings to justify my ignorance.

  13. Emil Aragundi Says:

    Eric… Colloquial terms are words with meaning.

    Uniformity is a universal, absolute law. How do probabilities give birth to absolute, universal laws?

    Why, the string of lineages and adaptation that I also mentioned. A set of probabilities cannot break logic. Blackjack is a game of probabilities, but there just so many outcomes one can expect from that game.

  14. Eric Kemp Says:

    Emil

    “Eric… Colloquial terms are words with meaning.”

    In the sentence, you were using the word “colloquial” in an attempt to say that “chance” doesn’t really mean “chance” when scientists use it. A claim you had no basis for and gave no reason for.

    I had said: “Uniformity is a universal, absolute law. How do probabilities give birth to absolute, universal laws?”

    You said: “Why, the string of lineages and adaptation that I also mentioned.”

    The American Heritage Dictionary defines lineages as: “a. Direct descent from a particular ancestor; ancestry. b. Derivation.”

    The American Heritage Dictionary defines adaptation as: “c. Something, such as a device or mechanism, that is changed or changes so as to become suitable to a new or special application or situation.”

    So you’re attempting to tell me that that direct descendents of chance and small changes to chance leads to absolute laws? Frankly, this is one of the most absurd things I’ve ever heard. And I’m not prone to using sweeping statements like that lightly. Do you have any evidence, examples or reasons I should take this seriously besides your word that it occured?

    “Like when theory can mean a guess according to dictionaries but when used in science it means an explanation backed by facts. Both definitions are correct, but can vary according to the context that it’s used in.”

    So what “fact” backs your theory that the universe was either caused by naturalist means or that chance leads to absolute laws?

    “That’s where I’m getting at, contrary to the image that Eric seems to give that Atheists think that everything is random. Eric: if I’m wrong about your conclusions, please let me know.”

    Yea, that’s not my conclusion. Like I said in my post, I’m talking about a pure chance beginning to the universe that can’t explain the uniformity and absolute laws we see around us.

    “So when Eric quoted all those people talking about evolution, they are talking after “Creation”. Or after the Big Bang if we are to keep in line with how scientific trends go.”

    All of those quotes either implied a pure chance beginning or specifically proclaimed it.

    “I prefer to accept the limit of my knowledge rather than putting imaginary beings to justify my ignorance.”

    I’m going to give this one more try, Emil. The post was about atheistic philosophers and scientists showing the atheistic academic consensus is that the universe came about randomly, by pure chance. A pure chance beginning cannot explain the uniformity we see around this. More than that, in a pure chance begun universe, uniformity would be impossible. And yet, here we sit, in an orderly universe doing science based solely on that order. Only an all-powerful, orderly, rational God explains this uniformity and order. In order to refute me, you must be able to provide an atheistic explanation, a reason, or an account of how pure chance can lead to uniformity and why we should expect order if chance is as pervasive as academia would have us believe. What say you?

    Please be specific about which point in my argument you are taking exception to, because, honestly, sometimes I have a hard to figuring out to what you are referring.

  15. forknowledge Says:

    I’m going to give this one more try, Emil. The post was about atheistic philosophers and scientists showing the atheistic academic consensus is that the universe came about randomly, by pure chance. A pure chance beginning cannot explain the uniformity we see around this. More than that, in a pure chance begun universe, uniformity would be impossible. And yet, here we sit, in an orderly universe doing science based solely on that order. Only an all-powerful, orderly, rational God explains this uniformity and order. In order to refute me, you must be able to provide an atheistic explanation, a reason, or an account of how pure chance can lead to uniformity and why we should expect order if chance is as pervasive as academia would have us believe. What say you?

    An all powerful, orderly, rational God explains nothing unless you can give a reliable method by which said God came into being and operates. Since you can do neither (the former waved away by a cop-out and the latter left to the ever-popular realm of ‘mystery’), I suggest you alter your tone slightly so as not to come across as so much of a buffoon.

  16. Emil Aragundi Says:

    I’ll try to narrow down things to make it as simpler as possible.

    According to scientists, the earth began as a large rotating cloud of gases which eventually gave shape to the earth. The way the earth was formed set a precedent, like gravity the composition of the atmosphere, etc. Any event happening after that cannot violate the precedent set by the above events because everything must follow a string of logic. This that you call uniformity is the result of a series of events which set nature as it is.

    Nothing physical can violate the earth’s gravity, even so gravity was the result of ‘chance’. Like I said on my first post: Chance ≠ Improbability.

  17. Eric Kemp Says:

    forknowledge

    “An all powerful, orderly, rational God explains nothing unless you can give a reliable method by which said God came into being and operates.”

    You are expecting me to have the ability to empirically describe God. This is like comparing apples and oranges. The claim that God can explain uniformity, as well as the claim that He doesn’t, is a metaphysical claim. If you are requesting this, we are not event talking on the same level.

    In fact, it is an exteremely hypocrital request because you cannot empirically describe or show how the first life came about from non-living chemicals, but yet you believe that happened. What’s the difference?

  18. Eric Kemp Says:

    Emil

    “According to scientists, the earth began as a large rotating cloud of gases which eventually gave shape to the earth. The way the earth was formed set a precedent, like gravity the composition of the atmosphere, etc.

    This is a faith based statement that has no bearing on actual science or rationality. You are describing a postulation as fact. I ask for evidence for your claim that chance leads to absolute laws and all you do is basically restate your position.

    “Any event happening after that cannot violate the precedent set by the above events because everything must follow a string of logic.”

    Why must it follow a string of logic? What set that absolute law into motion? Are you saying that matter itself forces laws upon itself? Don’t you see how you are just over and over again begging the question?

    “This that you call uniformity is the result of a series of events which set nature as it is.”

    Again, begging the question. What law says that something must follow after a certain series of events? How did this law get put into place? Are you attempting to use laws to show how laws came about. Circular and begging the question.

  19. forknowledge Says:

    You are expecting me to have the ability to empirically describe God. This is like comparing apples and oranges. The claim that God can explain uniformity, as well as the claim that He doesn’t, is a metaphysical claim. If you are requesting this, we are not event talking on the same level.

    Ah, I see. God gets a free pass; you don’t even have to take a stab at describing how God could have come into existence, or how he could work his magic? No wonder religion is so popular – it’s so easy!

    In fact, it is an exteremely hypocrital request because you cannot empirically describe or show how the first life came about from non-living chemicals, but yet you believe that happened. What’s the difference?

    You really don’t ‘get’ this stuff, do you? That life came from non-life via abiogenesis is one possibility. At present it’s the strongest one, since we’re pretty sure that it’s not possible and have a reasonably good idea of how it would have occurred, but I still only believe that it’s a possibility.

    The way you’re projecting here really is interesting. Your belief – ‘God did it’ – is empirically indescribable by your own admission (with no possibility of it ever being empirically describable, in any way) and thus scientifically useless…so the best you can do is attempt to drag real science down to your level? Am I missing something here?

  20. Emil Aragundi Says:

    It’s something called logic, Mr. Kemp. If X happens then no event afterwards can contradict X. Man evolved after a series of random events, but he cannot perform anything outside of his nature. All events must follow a string of logic because they would otherwise be impossible. The reason I restate my positions because you adamantly refuse to understand it, forcing me to having to over simplify over and over again.

    In fact, it is an exteremely hypocrital request because you cannot empirically describe or show how the first life came about from non-living chemicals, but yet you believe that happened

    Life springing from chemicals isn’t a mere product of imagination, a lot of these hypothesis have been experimented and observed. the Miller experiment was one of them.

    This is a faith based statement that has no bearing on actual science or rationality.

    I don’t know whether to laugh or to be angered by such statement. If you believe that citing a scientific POV about the formation of the earth, then there’s nothing I could say that would satisfy your queries, and little would you note them. Taking this discussion even further would be really pointless so this will be as far as I will comment on this post. Good day, sir.


  21. […] fun with this guy. Eric Kemp wrote a new post, this one with serious readership to it, called “Atheists Believe in Chance”. Funny, here again with the unwarranted accusations. “We atheists” (whatever the hell […]

  22. Eric Kemp Says:

    forknowledge

    “Ah, I see. God gets a free pass; you don’t even have to take a stab at describing how God could have come into existence, or how he could work his magic? No wonder religion is so popular – it’s so easy!”

    You ignore what I say about the difference between empiricism and metaphysics and restate your opinion. Well done.

    “That life came from non-life via abiogenesis is one possibility. At present it’s the strongest one, since we’re pretty sure that it’s not possible and have a reasonably good idea of how it would have occurred, but I still only believe that it’s a possibility.”

    Wait, what don’t I get? I made the claim that you can’t empirically describe the beginning of life yet you still believe it. You pretty much regurgitated what I just said and confirmed this claim by saying “we’re pretty sure it’s not possible…but I still only believe that’s is a possibility”. Looks like I’m right on actually.

    So, my question stands. What’s the difference between this belief and a belief that God created the first life since both aren’t empirically verifiable?

    “and thus scientifically useless…so the best you can do is attempt to drag real science down to your level? Am I missing something here?”

    Real science? At what point will the beginning of our universe be empirically verifiable? At what point will we build a time machine and observe and test the beginning? What you’re missing is that you are continually making metaphysical statements like “God didn’t create the universe,” “Life came about all by itself” while straight pretending that you are making empirical statements and demanding empirical statements of everyone else.

  23. forknowledge Says:

    You ignore what I say about the difference between empiricism and metaphysics and restate your opinion. Well done.

    I’ll direct you to the comments on my blog about verifying that your metaphysical explanation is the correct one.

    Wait, what don’t I get? I made the claim that you can’t empirically describe the beginning of life yet you still believe it. You pretty much regurgitated what I just said and confirmed this claim by saying “we’re pretty sure it’s not possible…but I still only believe that’s is a possibility”. Looks like I’m right on actually.

    Gah, okay, this is entirely my fault. I meant to say that ‘we’re pretty sure it’s not impossible‘, not that it’s not possible. Read the paragraph again with that in mind and then get back to me. Remember, you originally said that I’m actually claiming that abiogenesis was definitely the method by which life first arose, which is not the case at all.

    So, my question stands. What’s the difference between this belief and a belief that God created the first life since both aren’t empirically verifiable?

    You state your belief with certainty, despite having no way of determining whether it’s true, while I do not. As well as that, there is no conceivable way of determining whether your belief is correct (unless you just haven’t gotten around to mentioning that yet?).

    Real science? At what point will the beginning of our universe be empirically verifiable? At what point will we build a time machine and observe and test the beginning? What you’re missing is that you are continually making metaphysical statements like “God didn’t create the universe,” “Life came about all by itself” while straight pretending that you are making empirical statements and demanding empirical statements of everyone else.

    Okay, I’m actually annoyed at this one. Could you go back through my comments and find where I actually stated ‘God did not create the Universe’? I’ve said several times that God creating the Universe remains a possibility, and will always remain a possibility unless we can find a way to determine that it happened by other means. ‘God did it’ is not an explanation I find satisfying in the least, and I don’t understand why others do, but that is not the same as me claiming to actually know that God definitely did not create the Universe.

    I’m also open to the possibility that we may never know why the Universe is here. (At the moment it seems like the only intellectually honest position to take.) Yet again, I’m confronted by the fact that, even if this is the case, I have no way of verifying whether your metaphysical explanation is correct. I would rather say ‘I don’t know’ than assume something to be true without good reason.

  24. Eric Kemp Says:

    Emil

    “If X happens then no event afterwards can contradict X. Man evolved after a series of random events, but he cannot perform anything outside of his nature. All events must follow a string of logic because they would otherwise be impossible.”

    Emil let me show you how you are just straight not understanding what is going on here. Just so we’re on the same page; a “begging the question” fallacy is one where your answer to my question doesn’t actually answer the question and just forces me to ask the question again, it begs the question.

    My question to you is “How can chance lead to absolute laws?”. You answered with “All events must follow a string of logic because they would otherwise be impossible”. You are invoking a law of the logic called the law of non-contradiction and you are invoking the law of cause and effect. You are using absolute laws to answer the question of “How does chance lead to absolute laws?” This is circular and begs the question. This is as clear as I can explain this to you.

    “Life springing from chemicals isn’t a mere product of imagination, a lot of these hypothesis have been experimented and observed. the Miller experiment was one of them.”

    The Miller experiment has been outright debunked. To throw this “evidence” out without admitting that even modern evolutionary biologists have deemed that experiment a failure is to be nothing short of disingenuous.

    “If you believe that citing a scientific POV about the formation of the earth, then there’s nothing I could say that would satisfy your queries, and little would you note them.”

    I understand your frustration that I don’t allow you to portray scientific speculation as fact without questioning it.

    You’re welcome back any time Emil.

  25. forknowledge Says:

    The Miller experiment has been outright debunked. To throw this “evidence” out without admitting that even modern evolutionary biologists have deemed that experiment a failure is to be nothing short of disingenuous.

    (Sorry for butting in, but I couldn’t help it…)

    You perhaps should have paid attention to the part of the original sentence that said ‘Miller’s experiment was one of them. Just to be really clear on this, ‘one of them’ implies that there was more than a single experiment carried out.

    The original ‘Miller’ experiment is significant not because the hypothetical early-atmosphere mixture used was correct (it wasn’t, as any scientist will freely admit), but because it came as a surprise that such conditions solutions could form complex biological molecules. There have been many other similar experiments since then, which were prompted by the partial success of the original. These other experiments use a range of different methods and conditions. Historically, the experiment is significant as the beginning of experimental inquiry into the origin of life.

    The idea that the original Miller-Urey experiment is the only source of evidence in this regard, and that it should be disregarded entirely, is a product of Creationist imagination.

    I’d like you to ask yourself why you weren’t aware of this. Clearly, your sources are lacking. It may be time you stopped trusting those more interested in propaganda than science. I’d also ask if your sources contained a comprehensive explanation of what the Millery-Urey experiment actually was.


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