From: email@example.com (Loren Petrich)
Subject: Commonly Asked Questions: Some of My Hints
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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Since this nodename is not widely known, you may have to try:
My sister is a Communist for Reagan