Subject: Commonly Asked Questions: Some of My Hints Date: 22 Dec 90 00:31:31 GMT The Argum

---
Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

From: loren@dweasel.llnl.gov (Loren Petrich) Subject: Commonly Asked Questions: Some of My Hints Message-ID: <88296@lll-winken.LLNL.GOV> Date: 22 Dec 90 00:31:31 GMT The Argument from the First Cause: Although this argument probably cannot be directly falsified, it can be shown to be a _non sequitur_. The argument that every series of real numbers must have a lowest member falls down from the introduction of counterexamples like -1, -2, -3, ... An infinite series is not a self-contradictory concept. Therefore, a First Cause is an unnecessary hypothesis. A further difficulty with this and many other theological arguments is that they may not necessarily demonstrate the existence of the right kind of "God". Aristotle, who invented the First Cause argument, concluded that the Universe had a prime mover that kept it going forever and ever and ever. He believed, like most of the ancient Greeks, that the Universe was eternal. This prime mover was a thin shell at the edge of the known Universe. And according to some recent cosmological speculations, the Universe originated from a single quantum fluctuation, which could qualify as a "First Cause." But I don't think that we are likely to see some Cult of the Cosmic Mainspring or some Cult of the Initial Quantum Fluctuation. The Argument from Design: It can't be chance, therefore it was God that did it. Here again, there is the typical theological practice of ignoring alternatives. Natural laws can, and do, produce the appearance of design. There is also the problem of distinguishing design from non-design, which is not always addressed. And even if there was a "designer", the nature of said being or beings (there could be more than one of them!) is still uncertain. It could possibly be that part of the evolution of life on Earth is brought about by the genetic-engineering efforts of space aliens. And what kind of "purpose" or "plan" (if any at all!) would the design indicate? Not necessarily one concerned with the welfare or the punishment of humanity. There is an abundance of Universe gone to waste, if one accepts such hypotheses. The (Alleged) Historicity of the Bible: The advocates of this argument tend to ignore an abundance of similar books -- consider the works of Homer and Hesiod, for instance. Homer's _Iliad_ purports to describe a war over the ancient town of Troy, a war in which the Gods of Olympus were directly involved. His _Odyssey_ purports to describe the wanderings of one of the Greek warriors, Odysseus. Here again, the gods are involved with his adventures. Heinrich Schliemann had use the _Iliad_ to locate ruins of an ancient town which was exactly where Troy was supposed to be. Someone once made a documentary about a journey around the Mediterranean showing places that corresponded to places that Odysseus supposedly visited. But this success is not usually taken as evidence for the existence of the Olympian Gods. Another example: there is a pre-Glasnost history book published in the USSR in 1968, that is in my possession, that contains a LOT of historical information -- people, places, dates, you name it. But it states that the people of the Soviet Union are all one big happy family, working together to create a Workers' Paradise. Not only do all Soviet nationalities live in harmony, all the Soviet-bloc nations do also. In fact, they are the world's leading champions of peace and freedom. The principal cause of trouble in the world is certain imperialistic, militaristic, evil empires, such as the United States. Does all the "correct" history in that book support this official "Party Line"? $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ Loren Petrich, the Master Blaster: loren@sunlight.llnl.gov Since this nodename is not widely known, you may have to try: loren%sunlight.llnl.gov@star.stanford.edu My sister is a Communist for Reagan

---

E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank