Monday, August 04, 2008

The "Atheism of the Gaps":

I didn't coin that phrase. As far as I know Dinesh D'Souza did. [This is a good debate; I don't remember which part D'Souza made this point, but part one of the debate is here.] After that horrible book of his "The Enemy At Home," I almost hate to appeal to him as an authority. But when I hear something that makes sense, I won't reject it simply because the source has been full of it on other occasions.

Bottom line: Given the known universe has a beginning makes it just as rational to believe in a prime mover that exists outside of time/space/matter/energy than an uncaused universe. No one knows what happened before the big bang. That is, we have a gap in knowledge. But to fill the "gap" in with atheism (the universe always existed and must have been expanding/contracting ad infinitum) is simply to appeal to "the atheism of the gaps." Yes, it is "plausible" that the universe is "uncaused" that the "big bang" was not the beginning, but a radical transformation in an uncaused universe. But we don't know that. It is equally plausible that a first cause -- a prime mover who exists outside of time/space/matter/energy -- got the ball rolling. But we don't know that either. So I guess agnostics win the debate.


PhillyChief said...

Fill in the gap with atheism? That's just ridiculous. You said it yourself, we have a gap in knowledge; however, positing theories such as an eternal universe are not just fabrications of an imagination, but based on observed facts of reality (namely the law of conservation of matter and energy). There's nothing to suggest a "prime mover". It's a completely unfalsifiable invention of an overactive imagination.

Is a prime mover possible? Sure, and it's possible he made my shoes, too. I certainly never witnessed my shoes being made, so I can't say he didn't do it, but I'm going to ignore that possibility until I have a reason not to. Is that atheism of the gaps, too?

Thanks for this. I never heard this one from him before. D'Souza is quite amusing. Now THERE is a guy with an overactive imagination. LOL

John Evo said...

You said: Given the known universe has a beginning makes it just as rational to believe in a prime mover that exists outside of time/space/matter/energy than an uncaused universe. No one knows what happened before the big bang.

EXACTLY! No one knows. Certainly not you, or I, or DiSouza. That's why the atheism position is the correct default position. By your reasoning, it’s also equally “rational” to believe the universe was not created by a single prime mover, but millions of fairy-like creatures who could only create the universe by pooling their efforts.

You invent a "prime mover" and claim "it's as good an explanation as atheism". It's not, for several reasons.

Atheism is not an explanation - it's a simple acknowledgment that there is no evidence for a god or for your "prime mover". And that is the case. There is no evidence of a prime mover. Saying "there is no evidence" is absolutely not equivalent to "prime mover did it".

Here's a simple analogy that I'm sure you'll grasp - would "there is no evidence of aliens" be an equivalent statement to "An alien fleet with advanced technologies which preclude us from detecting them, are sitting just beyond Mars, observing our race and waiting for orders from their planet, beyond Alfa Centauri"?

It's possible, isn't it? But it's MORE than possible. I have some personal knowledge to share.

I KNOW it's true, because I was abducted by them and taken up to the fleet medical ship where I was examined. I experienced it personally. I have met with other returned abductees who had nearly identical experiences. I can show you a small scar on the front of my head, where they inserted probes. My family will testify that I was missing during the period I am talking about. You believe my testimony, don't you?

Even if forget the whole "equivalency" argument and just say "I would rather accept the idea of a Prime Mover"... what would that mean? So YOU accept it. You will agree that you have absolutely zero knowledge about what this Prime Mover is, How many of them there are, if they even realize we exist or if they still exist. You certainly can't (by any logical measure) make the next step to tell me something specific, like that he is the god described by the Greeks, or the Northern Europeans, or Native Americans, or Africans, or Asians or Middle Easterners. You claiming that a Prime Mover and Atheism are equally probable doesn’t get you anywhere towards identifying it.

Atheism is the only non-absurd position. All others deteriorate upon inspection. All others have one, and only one thing that they can claim as their "ace card". Faith. You believe without evidence. I don't see why you don't believe what I'm telling you about the Squangosian Empire. They are there. I don't just have faith (though YOU should). I have personal experience.