Monday, October 5, 2009

Order In the Natural World: “God did it!”




To some number of hard core Fundamentalist Christians it’s incomprehensible that a Creator isn’t directly in control of what the rest of us understand as natural forces and events.

This Christian I was debating (I use the term debate loosely) insisted that it's impossible for the "design" of the universe to have occurred randomly, it’s “too ordered” thus proof of God the Creator. So I asked, when sand or any granulated mineral falls out of a bucket, in a vacuum or unaffected by other forces, the random particles fall into a pile that form a cone every time. If randomness can't form an ordered design how does he explain that?

His childlike answer: The person emptying the bucket made it happen... thus the person was the cone's creator. Of course that natural physical forces cause the random falling particles to form into a well ordered and specific geometric shape was totally lost on him. The concept never even crossed his mind. He could not connect the hypothetical with the actual.

I tried to explain that the resulting cone would have been identical if it had been wind blown sand falling off a cliff into a protected gully; or a slow trickle of sand or highly mineralized water dripping from a cave ceiling -- that the man and the bucket wasn't the salient point at all. But it was lost on him. He couldn’t allow that reality to confuse his theistically motivated absolutist thinking.

Sends shivers up your spine just to realize these people actually walk and drive among us. Ron White said it best: “You can’t fix stupid.”

21 comments:

NewEnglandBob said...

There is a much bigger phenomenon than just the cone shape of a pile of sand. There are all kinds of emergent properties that occur in nature. All atoms are made from electrons, protons and neutrons but each type of atom is different. There are crystals formed when the temperature rises for some elements or compounds.

Solidification is yet another example. There is example after example such as the lattice that simple clay can take or shapes of non-living organic molecules or self assembly of amino acids. There is so much to understand and education is the key. This is something that appears to be beyond the comprehension or willingness to open the mind of many religionists.

Rachelle said...

IDiots, or those who try to push "Intelligent Design," are either willfully ignorant or being dishonest with themselves. Ask them: If there is a "creator/designer of the universe," how can you be so sure it's your "god" and not some other "alien." LOL!

Dromedary Hump said...

NEW Bob,

You are correct of course. Salt disolved in solution and then have the water evaporated will reform in a predetermined geometric form.

But I try to keep it as simple as possible for the critically simple.

Thanks
Hump

Sharon said...

There maybe order in the micro universe, such as in the sand illustration you gave. But in the macro universe, everything is randomness and chance. Just look at meteors and asteroids. They do not act on any set patterns, only pure randomness.

When people talk about an ordered universe I have to ask which universe they are talking about. Cause it sure ain't this one. :-)

NewEnglandBob said...

Sharon:

Meteors and asteroids are not the macro universe. Quantum fluctuations of space and time ARE part of the macro universe and are random but the big bang, galaxies, galaxy clusters, supernovas, black holes, etc. are also part of the macro universe and they are not random.

Anonymous said...

Hump,

Considering the predisposition of your debate partner, using any example that involved humans/machines is going to get derailed.

One of the best example of order from chaos is the snow flake crystal. Almost everyone (including children) knows about snowflakes. And these beautiful six sided shapes form in randomly shaped clouds and gusting blasts of winds.

- Fastthumbs

Kristen D said...

Having once been a completely deluded fundamentalist (35 years of upbringing and indoctrination can do that to even people with above-average intelligence, unfortunately), I also see one other "reason" for the behavior of your idiot debater (okay, some are NOT above average in intelligence, like Mr. Conehead there).

I experienced Cognitive Dissonance when I was finally learning real science but still teaching the bible. On the one hand, I had the faith I'd grown up in, memories of all the kind people who had nurtured me (and all the horrid ones who continually told me I'd fry in hell if I didn't repent of whatever little thing I'd done to violate scripture that week).

On the other hand, I had these facts that conflicted with what I believed. Some people choose to toss the facts and learn to "reason" them away, no matter how lame their argument. Some, a very few, like me, choose to leave the faith and seek after knowledge, even though it separates them from family and their entire social group.

Some, like this guy you talked to about the sand, are just ignorant and choose to stay that way.

zarton said...

Hi all,
I am surprised that the fundie didn't even try to bring up the 2nd law of thermodynamics (the entropy law). I love it when they bring this one up without realizing that the this law still allows for pockets of order amongst chaos. It's even better when they don't even know the 1st law which states that energy cannot be created or destroyed... thus perhaps energy would be the cosmological constant.
Hmmm... let's apply Occam's razor to this. Energy, we know it exists, has always been here or a supernatural being that can't be explained did it.
Checkmate atheist, of course it is simpler to say that a god who needs a million different explanations and justifications would be simpler than "energy" always existed. LOL
I am not saying that the debate about how we got here is over. I have read Victor J. Stinger's book: God the failed hypothesis: How science shows that god does not exist. Where he gives an excellent argument of how "something came from nothing". I am only saying that Occam's razor shreds the god hypothesis, but of course so does common sense.
Yours Truly
zarton

oneluv said...

it's easier to reject a valid refutation than to argue for an absurd proposition.
"revelational evidence" is not subject to basic principles such as the onus of proof, but rather to the more empirical application of circular reasoning. heh
all one needs to validate the arbitrary is to reject the valid. how convenient.

one

NewEnglandBob said...

I just happened to stumble upon this web site about emergence hours after my earlier post.

The Emergent Universe

Dromedary Hump said...

So many on target and interesting comments, thanks for your input all.

Bob..I had never heard of "emergence" or "emergent behavior" very interesting and so applicable to the dicussion with that Xtian. thks.

NewEnglandBob said...

Emergence is a fascinating subject. Here is some more information from Wikipedia.

Glenn Livingston said...

Hi There :-)

How do you respond to accusations that you're simply an angry person choosing to take it out via the atheist cause instead of identifying the source of the anger in your personal psychology and working it through?

(I'm finding my friends and loved ones making such accusations. My response is always something along the lines of pointing out the ad hominem attack, and suggesting that even if it were true, it doesn't invalidate my points, but this seems to fall on deaf ears)

Your advice? (Time permitting, of course)

Much appreciated!,

Glenn :-)

Dromedary Hump said...

Glenn,

Ah!! the "Why are you so angry?" "Why are you angry at God?" "If a Christian hurt you at some time, Im sorry." platitude ploy.

Yes, a favored technique to try and derail a conversation when they feel unable / inadequate to defend their reliance on an indefensible belief sysem and supernaturalism against secular reasoning and logic.

My usual response is this:
a) I'm no more angry at God / Jesus than I am angry at Moby Dick or Jabba the Hutt. It would be silly to be angry at a fictional figure.

b) I hold no anger toward believers who do not wish to impose their beliefs on me, or impede scientific advancement, or suborn peoples rights.
I do reserve the right to express my opposition and anger toward those religionists who would and DO support those things.
For not not feel anger, to not agressively oppose it, would lead to apathy. Apathy and failure to oppose those things will lead to the errosion of our secular government, open subjugation of certain peoples based on biblical interpretation, and deeper into religious ignorance and intolerance which is the hallmark of religiosity in general, and Christianity in particular. History has demonstrated that over and over again.

Then ask them: "WHY ARE YOU ANGRY AT REALITY?" and watch them quirm.

Dromedary Hump said...

typo above:
"quirm" = "squirm"

Dromedary Hump said...

Glenn,

Also, we don't need to always have to defend our selves. After the above I'd put them on the defensive. try these:

"Why are you afraid of reality and so fearful that you need to deny it?"

"I think your embracing superstition is simply your way of coping with a lack of self esteem, lack of control over your life and rejection of self reliance. Perhaps counciling could help you work that through."

"Clearly, your fear of the finality of death is causing you to grasp at religious fables. You should try and see death as just part of a natural cycle of living things and overcome your fear."

I bet you could come up with others ;)

NewEnglandBob said...

Those are all great comebacks, Hump.

One more, for giggles:

"If I tell you, I would have to kill you"

Glenn Livingston said...

To all ... well said and much appreciated!

I'm finding this a wonderful resource for strengthening my skills to debate... I think you've got a (not so young) activist in the making :-)

And in essence, having the well reasoned responses creates a situation where I don't have to become angry myself, or simply exhausted from the never-ending barrage of twisted (yet well honed over the course of 2 thousand years) logic designed to support the theistic position.

Thanks!

zarton said...

I told a friend of mine who I consider a CINO (christian in name only) who tried the "why do you hate God?" approach. "I don't hate God, that would be silly, I just hate your God." To his credit he laughed and said "nice comback".

Anonymous said...

Firstly, the original question was phrased incorrectly. It said that the granulated mineral falling out of the bucket was "unaffected by other forces". The particles were affected by the force of gravity, one of the forces that creates order in our universe and without which the universe as we know it could not exist.

Secondly, rather than argue the case for a creator behind the amazing order within the universe myself, I will offer these quotes from Einstein, arguably one of the greatest scientific minds of the last century.

The following quotes are from a Time magazine article from April 16, 2007, a “Book Excerpt” entitled “Einstein & Faith” by Walter Isaacson

In his fifties, Einstein settled into a deism based on what he called the “spirit manifest in the laws of the universe” and had a sincere belief in a “God who reveals Himself in the harmony of all that exists.”

“Try and penetrate with our limited means the secrets of nature and you will find that, behind all the discernible laws and connections, there remains something subtle, intangible and inexplicable. Veneration for this force beyond anything that we can comprehend is my religion.”

‘You accept the historical existence of Jesus? “Unquestionably! No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.” ’

“I’m not an atheist. I don’t think I can call myself a pantheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws.”

“The fanatical atheists are like slaves who are still feeling the weight of their chains which they have thrown off after hard struggle. They are creatures who – in their grudge against traditional religion as the ‘opium of the masses’ – cannot hear the music of the spheres.”

“Science can be created only by those who are thoroughly imbued with the aspiration toward truth and understanding. This source of feeling, however, springs from the sphere of religion.” ... “The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

Dromedary Hump said...

Thank you for your anonymous demonstration of a complete lack of understanding of the granulated material discussion, and the artful quote mining of Einstein.

The natural forces of the universe, including gravity, were the sole cause of "order" (and chaos which is more descriptive of what the universe is). The point was it didn't require a "creator" or "intelligent design" for those sand particles to consistently form an ordered geometric shape. Any more than an intelligent designer created spherical vs square planets.

Einstein rejected supernaturalism. His god was the "god of Spinoza" best described as a feeling of awe and wonderment in the universe.

That I, Einstein, or anyone gives benefit to the doubt of Jesus' existence has no bearing on supernaturalism, God/s, divinity, or supernatural powers or myths.

But, most Xtians lack the intellectual prowess to discern that difference... and the intellectual curiosity to read all of Einstein's letters, and/or the intellectual honesty to quote all his statements on religion and complete rejection of belief in a personal/supernatural god.

Finally, this desperate attempt by less intelligent theists to use selective Einstein statements to somehow give credence to their blind faith, and bolster their own unsupportable belief is a rather childlike apologetic. If eintein had been baptised, and became a preist, it would not lend any more credibility to the unprovable and irratioanl acceptence of supernaturalism.

Feel free to post again when you have the courage to identify yourself, when you fully understand Einstein's position on religion / God/gods.