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February 20, 2014

Comments

Brett,

This response seems to me very confused. Let me explain.

First of all, in the beginning of the video you talk about "nothing" as if it were a state of affairs, which it is not.

But the biggest problem with your response is as follows. Recall that you say: "If nothing comes from nothing, but something is here, something must have come from something."

Although you do not explicitly admit it, the above statement, and other, similar statements you make in the video, strongly suggest that you really do believe the premise that "nothing comes from nothing." In that case, Barker's criticism applies to you: For if in addition God exists, it follows quite logically that God did not come from nothing, i.e. he came from something, which is impossible given your concept of God. This is a serious problem for you. One or the other must go---either God does not exist, or the premise "nothing comes from nothing" is false.

You also spend some time arguing about what sort of thing the cause of the universe must be. In particular, you claim it must be uncaused. But if the premise "nothing comes from nothing" is true, then it's easy to see, as above, that it can't be uncaused!

Your only option as a God believer is to deny the premise that "nothing comes from nothing." There is no way around that, for the classical theist.

Fortunately for you, you are free to deny that "nothing comes from nothing," and in its place you can accept the premise that "out of nothing, nothing comes." But if that's the move you want to make, you should have said so in your response. However even then, I would caution you not to be misled by the stilted and ambiguous wording of this replacement premise. All it really means is that whatever begins to exist has a cause.

Ben,

We seem to have lost out on a proper understanding of the essence of the "thing" that differentiates between the "nothing" and "something."

The issue works itself out in an enigma that I'm pondering thanks to the interchange between ErrKi, RonH, and WL in the companion post. Simply put, can gravity exist in a vacuum? A vacuum is the expression of the nothing. Gravity, while not a thing that is tangible, remains a "something." In the vacuum of space, I would doubt it. But in laboratory experiments where vacuums can be created, gravity can be demonstrated to work. Therefore, the likelihood of gravity in a vacuum occurs.

That's the problem with this situation. We hold all things to be material, but understand that some things are immaterial. Thus Barker's assertion that God is something and thus "not nothing" is demonstrated to be false on point of ambivalence. Some nothings are somethings. Liberty. Comprehension. Happiness. Things which we in grammar call abstract nouns. Brett's allusion to Aristotle's Prime Mover give us pause to attempt the extremely inexplicable, ultimate origins.

I understand your misgivings over the issue of "nothing from nothing." It's complicated.

99 times out of 100 when a theist says, “nothing comes from nothing," it’s tongue-in-cheek.

It should be tongue in cheek.

Nothing is nothing.

Even saying, “Out of nothing, nothing comes” doesn’t work.

Nothing is nothing.

But we know we have something on our hands.

> Even saying, “Out of nothing, nothing comes”
> doesn’t work.

That's being a bit pedantic.

Ok, then. How about, "Out of nothing no thing comes."

Mike,

Make no mistake; I’m not pushing back on the conclusion. I just think that saying 'nothing comes from nothing' doesn't make sense.

My problem is with the “out of”. It’s like “next to”….there’s no what to be "next to".

Let them say where the Universe came from.

Let them say it came from nothing.

Then let them explain that in a universe where things have causes.

Ah.. I see what you're getting at now. Thanks for clarifying.

DGF-

Simply put, can gravity exist in a vacuum? A vacuum is the expression of the nothing. Gravity, while not a thing that is tangible, remains a "something."
I think a better way to ask this question is whether the law of gravity could be true even if there were no masses to have gravitational fields about them.

That's not something you can answer by conducting experiments in a vacuum.

The reason for that is that gravitational fields penetrate vacuums. So even if you have a region containing no masses, gravitational fields from masses outside the evacuated region still set up gravitational fields that penetrate into that region.

But I do think the answer to the question as I restated it is "yes". So I agree with you there. The law of gravity could be true even if there were no masses to have gravitational fields about them.

If bit by bit, the masses in the universe were destroyed, the law of gravity would still apply unchanged to the remaining masses. After the last bit was destroyed, the law of gravity would still be true, it's just that nothing would exist to follow it anymore.

Likewise, no matter how much mass exists in the universe, were another bit of mass to suddenly be created, it would also fall under the law of gravity. That's true even if the initial mass is zero.

Here's an analogy. Suppose that at some point our society decides that men in their majority shall have the right to vote only if married. So we pass a law that prevents adult bachelors from voting. Now, in the passage of time, it happens that this and other incentives raise the marriage rate to 100% among men of voting age. Does it follow that the law preventing adult bachelors from voting is thereby rendered false? Of course not. A law can be in effect even if the things it governs don't exist.

Now, returning to gravity, I don't know that the opinions I express are true by experiment. How could one, in a world containing no masses, conduct an experiment on the behavior of masses

I'm expressing a philosophical opinion. It is based on a doctrine I believe to be true: the doctrine of the Uniformity of Nature. My belief in that doctrine is not founded on any experiment...nor can it be. It's founded on the character of the Creator.

Like so many things, I don't think atheists have any reason to believe in something like the Uniformity of Nature. They still do of course.

"I don't think atheists have any reason to believe in something like the Uniformity of Nature."

My initial reaction is that I think the uniformity of nature is a reasonable axiom to apply, and the logic behind that is inductive. I'll think about it some more.

What I wouldnt say is that it's objectively true. I would say that is true in a colloquial sense i.e. observational reality seems to work that way.

I would also add that it's coincidental that I think that and that I'm an atheist.

Induction depends on the prior truth of the Uniformity of Nature. You can't use induction to argue for it. You'd be arguing in circles.

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