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man created God


Sunday afternoon I went for a walk in the winter sunshine to one of the less-affluent parts of town, to one of my favourite cafes. Along the way I spotted the above billboard. It’s the first one I’ve seen since they were put up a few days ago.

I’m fascinated by the use of the word “man” in this slogan. That gender-exclusive language by the organising atheists is embarrassingly SO last millennium! This is, of course, for those of us old enough to remember, a quote. Jethro Tull had these words on the cover of their classic “Aqualung” album.

1 In the beginning Man created God; and in the image of Man created he him.
2 And Man gave unto God a multitude of names,that he might be Lord of all the earth when it was suited to Man
3 And on the seven millionth day Man rested and did lean heavily on his God and saw that it was good.
4 And Man formed Aqualung of the dust of the ground, and a host of others likened unto his kind…

Aqualung, of course, is a rather seedy character:

Sitting on a park bench
eyeing little girls with bad intent.
Snot running down his nose
greasy fingers smearing shabby clothes.
Drying in the cold sun
Watching as the frilly panties run.
Feeling like a dead duck
spitting out pieces of his broken luck…

Reminding people that it has all had a beginning doesn’t actually play in atheists’ favour. It was a Christian, Fr Georges Lemaître who, from Friedmann’s equations, in 1927 inferred the expansion of the Universe. In 1931 he suggested that, running the film of the Universe backwards in time, all the mass of the Universe would have started at a single point. Fred Hoyle famously mocked this theory, calling it Fr Lemaître’s theory of a “Big Bang”! Atheists really needed a “steady state” cosmological model. The contemporary acceptance by the majority of scientists now that the universe has a beginning has increased the popularity of the Kalam cosmological argument:

1. Whatever begins to exist has a cause.
2. The universe began to exist.
3. Therefore, the universe has a cause.

As for our concepts of God being human constructs, this also is a strongly Christian affirmation. The Fourth Lateran Council of 1215 said it well: “Between Creator and creature no similarity can be expressed without including a greater dissimilarity.” When we say God is powerful, we know what “power” is and see it in nature, and in human activity. But God is more unlike that power than like it. Apophatic spirituality always points to “Immortal, invisible, God only wise, In light inaccessible hid from our eyes, Unresting, unhasting, and silent as light, Nor wanting, nor wasting,…” Even kataphatic spirituality acknowledges that God is always greater than our images, our concepts of God.

Our human concepts and words are signposts pointing to the Ultimate Reality we humans call “God”, the One who is the Source “in the beginning”.

There’s probably no God?
NZ Atheist Campaign

The cafe I had my coffee in is run by Christians. They probably don’t want that made a big deal of, because “Christian” has so many unhelpful connotations. They are not “preachy” – the goal of the cafe isn’t to get more people into church or anything like that. Many of those who work there live in the area and are working to improve the area. All profits from the cafe are ploughed back into the local community. Some are working in the cafe voluntarily. The cafe clearly has a passion for justice and for fair trade. As I sip my coffee I wonder what these people would have done with the more than $22,000 that was raised to put up the above billboard, and ones like it, that overlooks this part of town…

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37 Responses to man created God

  1. It was a Christian, Fr Georges Lemaître who, from Friedmann’s equations, in 1927 inferred the expansion of the Universe. In 1931 he suggested that, running the film of the Universe backwards in time, all the mass of the Universe would have started at a single point.

    This point reminded me of a comment at Stand Firm in Faith in a post regarding the evangelical/conservative/fundamentalist concept of the young earth. (You lot shall have to find this yourselves. I do not usually link to H8 sites on gentle folk’s blogs!)

    The age of the universe is not scientifically determinable. If we think of the universe as a system, then we must consider the initial state of the system at the first moment of its existence. There is a hidden materialist assumption in age determination that says the universe must have started at a ‘zero’ state. For example, it is assumed that for light to travel from a star to the Earth, the star must first form, and emit light. The light must then traverse the entire path from star to Earth. By this logic, a star that forms several billion light years away would not be visible for several billion light years. If we can see the star, then the age of the universe must be at least as old as the time it takes for light to travel from the star to the Earth.

    Why however should we credit this assumption of a zero initial state? Engineers design systems all the time with non-zero initial states. In fact, the assumption derives not from scientific principles, but from a presupposition which holds that the Universe must unfold only according to immanent processes. It proceeds from a denial of the transcendent, and not the scientific method. If God can speak the universe into existence, He can certainly speak its initial state into whatever shape and form He desires. The star become (sic) visible immediately because the light between the star and the Earth is spoken into existence along with the star and the Earth itself.

    Just as Adam was not created as an infant, but was created as an adult, so also the universe was not created as an infant, but an adult. It must be so, for the universe was created to sustain man, and it can only do so if it is a fully functioning system. Its apparent age must be older than its actual age.


    He speaks of the zero initial state as being an assumption. But then one finds that he bases his own comment on another assumption that you find in his next to last sentence.

  2. I went to the atheist campaign site, and I wondered, why all this trouble just to tell the world that there is no God? Is that a good news? Isn’t it a better news to tell the world that there is a hope that exists beyond all human hope? That in spite of all the injustice we see in this world, there is a justice that is waiting after this one? That man, need not end anymore unto the dust where he came from, but be able to live forever in perfect peace and joy with each other, and with His God? 😉 Thanks for posting, God bless!

  3. “Reminding people that it has all had a beginning doesn’t actually play in atheists’ favour.”

    That the universe had a beginning is a truth that’s equally compatible with an atheistic view and a Christian view. You don’t really have a point there, do you?

    • I’m sorry, Matthew, that you found my point too obscurely expressed in the rest of that paragraph. I see nothing in your comment, beyond your bald assertion, and hope you will also expand how you find the universe having a beginning is “equally compatible with an atheistic view”. Thanks for the dialogue.

  4. In response to Matthew: I think you are saying that the fact that the universe had a beginning is not something that, in itself, helps either side of the debate. But the original point was more that getting people to think about a beginning opens the door to thinking about a cause for that event; not only are Christians found in (not repelled by) science, but the more that people are reminded about the big questions in life (rather than take things for granted) then the better for theists.

    And further to what David said, some of my favourite science fiction stories include the idea of the world-as-we-know-it being set up by an earlier generation (even by telephone sanitisers, in the HHG). It does make for interesting thought experiments (e.g. could we ever tell, if they did a good job of planting evidence of a non-existent history?), but of course it remains Sci-Fi, and Adam being created an adult doesn’t make a lot of difference to age-of-universe calculations… it is more that these ideas challenge what we assume is relevant to ourselves from the various claims about the very beginning.

  5. Your reference to Georges Lemaître is quite misleading – and, unfortunately, typical of the dishonesty and opportunism the theologically inclined exhibit when they “use” science.

    Lemaître himself was scathing of the sort of interpretation you put on his research and theories. For example, when Pope Pius XII claimed the theory was a vindication of Catholic beliefs and repudiation of atheism, Lemaître politely warned him:

    “As far as I can see, such a theory remains entirely outside any metaphysical or religious question. It leaves the materialist free to deny any transcendental Being… For the believer, it removes any attempt at familiarity with God… It is consonant with Isaiah speaking of the hidden God, hidden even in the beginning of the universe.” See Bad science, bad theology

    Implicit in his statement was the idea that such opportunist use of science misrepresents science. It is also bad theology. This view was also articulated by Father George Coyne another Catholic priest and former Vatican astronomer (see “Scientism” in the eyes of the beholder).

    • Thank you for your contribution, Ken. It is interesting how strong your reaction is and, I suggest, you misrepresent what all can see I actually say here. Why not just respond to what is actually written here? It would certainly be helpful for you to give fuller reference to the Pius-Lemaître debate. And let’s also be reminded that Lemaître is not infallible in the philosophical and theological interpretation of his physics 😉 Certainly, as I indicate in my reference to the apophatic tradition, I would be cautious about pressing Lemaître’s use of a transcendental being.

      So what I actually said was:

      Reminding people that it has all had a beginning doesn’t actually play in atheists’ favour. It was a Christian, Fr Georges Lemaître who, from Friedmann’s equations, in 1927 inferred the expansion of the Universe. In 1931 he suggested that, running the film of the Universe backwards in time, all the mass of the Universe would have started at a single point. Fred Hoyle famously mocked this theory, calling it Fr Lemaître’s theory of a “Big Bang”! Atheists really needed a “steady state” cosmological model. The contemporary acceptance by the majority of scientists now that the universe has a beginning has increased the popularity of the Kalam cosmological argument.

      I certainly did not infer from this “a vindication of Catholic beliefs”, and can imagine any good scientist, Lemaître included, protesting at such a suggestion. But I must say I cannot see any justification whatsoever to conclude from my paragraph, as you do, that what I write is “unfortunately, typical of the dishonesty and opportunism the theologically inclined exhibit when they “use” science.” In this dialogue it would be far more helpful, I suggest, if as an atheist, Ken, you presented your atheistic interpretation of the universe’s origin.

  6. Bosco, as a scientist my views accord with the scientific attitude, not a specific ideology.

    It certainly doesn’t accord with your wish for me to “need” a steady state theory. It is arrogant to pose beliefs on people like that – especially when you don’t understand viewpoints and label people as a group.

    I accept the current theory based on the evidence and our best attempts to extrapolate. This actually is different to the original theory of LeMatre. We now accept that relativity breaks down at short distances and times. Currently there are attempts to integrate relativity with quantum mechanics – possibly a theory of quantum gravity.

    Personally I think humanity is making progress in understanding this difficult question.

    You should take on board another bit if advice LeMatre gave his pope. Scientific knowledge is evidence based and is always provisional. As we get more data our theories develop – become closer to reality. Consequently we accept that our ideas and theories change over time. That us why we don’t like using the word belief. LeMatre pointed out that by tying his beliefs to big bang theory the pope was laying them wide open to being proved wrong. Which if course they now have.

    Scientists just love to prove existing theories wrong. It’s a powerful way of finding truth.

    Obviously theological beliefs must be kept away from evidence.

    Your reference to the Kalam cosmological “proof” is an example if why I use the words dishonesty and opportunist. Craig uses the concept of singularity in his argument. However, we now know that is not correct. Because relativity theory breaks down we no longer talk about singularities except in very general terms. This has been pointed out to Craig – he ignored it and continues the argument. Quotes are taken from Hawking’s book to support his claim – ignoring the end if the paragraph where the quote used is discredited. That is dishonest.

    We have the same situation with the “fine tuning” argument where incorrect claims are made. Scientists like Krauss are dishonestly used by distorting quotes.

    As a scientist I get annoyed at this sort of dishonesty.

    • Thanks again, Ken, for your contribution. You assert that “it is arrogant to pose beliefs on people like that – especially when you don’t understand viewpoints and label people as a group” and yet your first comment did precisely this in speaking about “the dishonesty and opportunism the theologically inclined exhibit when they “use” science”.

      My post is a blog post, not a doctoral thesis, and the context of the reference to the steady state theory was the prevailing scientific understanding at the time of Lemaître.

      Your comment is full of “we” and “should”. When you say, “we don’t like using the word belief” – who is this “we”? Surely you notice the word “belief” was not used in the post – in fact you were the first to use it 😉 I hold degrees in science, philosophy, and theology and am a qualified science and physics teacher. Rather than your introduction to the scientific method, which does not really move the dialogue forward, I continue to think it would be far more helpful if you presented your atheistic interpretation of the universe’s origin.

  7. Come off it Bosco. Atheism, like theism, is about one thing only – belief or non belief in a god. You yourself are an atheist about a huge number of gods. 

    So there is not an “atheistic interpretation of the universe’s origin” – it’s silly to think their is.

    My understanding accords with the current scientific understanding ( to the extent I comprehend it). Of course when it comes to unknown areas we can all speculate. I am happy to say “I don’t know”. I usually like to add “Let’s find out.” Some scientific speculations in this area appeal to me. This is hardly the place to describe them though (if your are honestly interested I suggest reading sons if Brian Greene’s ideas – I find them interesting – and possibly testable).

    I found your post gave an incorrect depiction of both atheism (which I can understand from your professional bias) and the science.

    It is the later that pissed me off as we see too many examples of religion sticking their neck into these matters to oppose science.

    Cosmology. Evolution. Neuroscience. Climate science. What gives you guys the idea that you can dictate beliefs on such matters?

  8. Ken, so far you have called me “dishonest”, “opportunistic”, and now that my question is “silly”. Whilst you say, “it is arrogant to pose beliefs on people like that – especially when you don’t understand viewpoints and label people as a group” you continue to declare what I must believe (inaccurately). I do not see why my profession should mean I give “an incorrect depiction of atheism”. Nor would I so easily agree with your billboard slogan, “You yourself are an atheist about a huge number of gods”. I am happy for you to correct any errors you perceive – but currently the Akismet filter is landing your comment in the spam box, where, as this site receives thousands of spam comments, it may easily get lost. If you have anything new and positive to add to this dialogue please do so, otherwise, while you are happy to quote Father George Coyne and Fr Lemaître, (so appear not totally unable to accept points from theists), you appear to be categorising me in a different category of “you guys”, and, as you have given your link to your site, if people want to pursue your approach, they know where to continue.

  9. Bosco – my criticisms are not if you personally – just of the way you have used science.

    Your attempt go personalize this I see see as an avoidance tactic. You can’t justify your argument yet are not willing to withdraw it.

    • Ken, you have contributed six comments to this thread. I do not think your comments are adding any fresh perspectives. I do not think I am taking anything personally beyond your emotive presentations. If you do not intend your emotive content, then don’t put that into your comments. It has not been me that has been “diverting the discussion by personal subjective reaction” – it has been you that has been using phrases such as, “I get annoyed”, “that pissed me off”. You have not been addressing the original post, merely arguing against things that I do not state – arguing with a “straw man”. If you can give me an atheistic scientist who was not following the “steady state” cosmological model at the time of Lemaître, or actually respond to the original post I will consider placing further comments from you on this thread, otherwise please consider your contribution to this thread closed.

  10. Here is my point.
    I am sorry if you take my criticism personally. They are not meant to be. My concern is the way science gets distorted and I have challenged you on that. You may honestly believe the points you made. If so, then you will have learned that perhaps they are not valid and may be offensive to scientists and others.

    Rather than divert the discussion by personal subjective reaction it would be better if you dealt with the specifics. You could withdraw the original comments you made. Eg “Atheists really needed a “steady state” cosmological model” and the claim that there is scientific support for the “Kalam cosmological argument.” And perhaps acknowledge that your presentation of current cosmology may not be exactly right.

    On the other hand if you wish to stand by those claims – why not specifically defend them? With facts, evidence. Not by diversion into imagined personal insults.

  11. OK. Bosco, you are obviously not able to either substantiate your claims, or have the character to modify or withdraw them.

    Banning my comments is just an admission that you have been using scientific claims inappropriately. Never, mind – its what I have come to expect from creationists and their like.

    I of course will, as appropriate, deal with this issue on my own blog – its an ongoing problem. And I will use this post as one of the cases or examples of theological dishonesty with respect to science. You of course will be welcome to participate in discussion and comments.

    My policy is to encourage discussion, including criticisms, not suppress it.

    • You, once again, Ken, attack my character rather than address any particular points in the post or in my responses or questions to you. You continue to be unclear which particular scientific claims I am using inappropriately, and make general assertions that have no particular relevance to the post, including arguing against a straw man – in this case the bazaar contention that I am a creationist! I think, Ken, your decision to present your perspective on your own blog is probably the best way forward.

  12. I have made points about your post, your incorrect reference to LeMaitre, etc. You refuse to discuss. I am happy for the discussion to take place here. But it requires you confront my challenge to your misuse of science.

    • I can only usefully move the discussion forward by responding to specific points you make, Ken, not general ones such as “etc” or “my challenge to your misuse of science”. So to your specific point: my “incorrect reference to LeMaitre”. Here is my reference:

      It was a Christian, Fr Georges Lemaître who, from Friedmann’s equations, in 1927 inferred the expansion of the Universe. In 1931 he suggested that, running the film of the Universe backwards in time, all the mass of the Universe would have started at a single point.

      Please can you be specific – where is this reference “incorrect”?

  13. Thanks Bosco.

    Firstly the description you give is of course dated. We no longer think in such simple terms. As I explained modern cosmology doesn’t see the universe as starting “at a single point.” I will amplify later.

    However, my objections to your presentation are really to the following sentences:

    “Fred Hoyle famously mocked this theory, calling it Fr Lemaître’s theory of a “Big Bang”! Atheists really needed a “steady state” cosmological model. The contemporary acceptance by the majority of scientists now that the universe has a beginning has increased the popularity of the Kalam cosmological argument:”.

    1: Atheists by definition are characterised ONLY by non-belief in a god. Their other beliefs (and “needs”) cannot be inferred from that. Steady state concepts were general in science but as the application of relativity to the expansion of the universe became better understood the “big bang’ concept became prevalent. This had nothing to do with religious or non-religious beliefs.

    Most scientists (in the appropriate fields) today accept an inflationary version of the big bang theory (not the same as LeMaitre’s – science progresses after all). I don’t detect any problem with this acceptance – despite the fact that most scientists are probably atheists, or non-theists. And I am completely unaware of any incorporation of gods into scientific hypotheses of the origin of the universe except in the most speculative and actually not scientific) manner by people like Tippett.

    I myself am an atheist and don’t feel any need at all for a steady state universe or to reject big bang models. My atheism is just not a factor in my scientific understanding or acceptance of facts.

    In fact the only real opposition among scientists to modern cosmological understanding of the universe is among creationists. Many actively oppose teaching of big bang cosmology – alongside their opposition to teaching of evolution, the connection between AIDS and HIV, and climate science.

    A while back I did an analysis of the Dissent from Darwinism list – PhDs who oppose evolution. Most of these are well known for their religious positions. Some were also active in petitions opposing big bang theory and relativity.

    Now, I am just not aware of any atheist scientists opposing modern cosmological theory. If you are aware of any – please identify them. I would love to sort that out.

    Your claim that atheist NEED steady a state universe is just not supported by the facts.

    2: The Kalam cosmological argument has NO popularity amongst scientists – at all! It is purely a theological argument and relies on distortion of the science.

    This distortion relies on the “single point” or singularity argument. In my post Godless cosmology I examined an example of this distortion. The specific culprit was D’Souza who in “What’s So Great about Christianity”, claimed: “there must have been a big bang singularity.” He quoted Hawking’s “A Brief History of Time” to “prove” his claim.

    I think It’s always worth checking out quotes used by religious apologists. The full sentence this was taken from reads:

    “The final result was a joint paper by Penrose and myself in 1970, which at last proved that there must have been a big bang singularity provided only that general relativity is correct and the universe contains as much matter as we observe.”

    But – at the end of the same paragraph Hawking adds:

    “It is perhaps ironic that, having changed my mind, I am now trying to convince other physicists that there was in fact no singularity at the beginning of the universe – as we shall see later, it can disappear once quantum effects are taken into account.”

    So, it was rather dishonest of D’Souza to extract 8 words from the book to give exactly the opposite meaning conveyed by the same paragraph!

    I have seen the same dishonest quoting by apologists like Ross and Craig on this matter and also on “fine tuning.” I described a specific and extreme example of this regarding the cosmological constant in my post Fiddling with “fine-tuning”.

    3: It will be (and has been argued) by apologists, that while the Kalam argument uses science it doesn’t rely on science. Well, it bases its argument on scientific claims which are just not true. pretty weak. That is a problem for people who use this argument and they are welcome to it. My concern is the blatant way science is distorted in the interests of “proving” a preconceived conclusion.

    4: Reality is, of course, always a lot more complicated than description in mythical stories or simple presentations of old scientific theories. And more complicated than the way many people want it to be.

    Concepts like “steady state” are not simple and in fact some current “big bang” models actually incorporate an eternal universe or something like a steady state with formation of packet universes like ours from time to time. There is even some speculation (by Roger Penrose recently) that evidence for a universe pre-existing the big bag for our universe can be seen the cosmic microwave background radiation. In the future when (if) we can detect gravity waves we may be able to collect more evidence of other, and/or previous universes.

    So, in conclusion, Bosco, my objection is to:
    (i) your claim that “Atheists really needed a “steady state” cosmological model.” The empirical evidence is clear that they don’t.
    (ii) your claim “The contemporary acceptance by the majority of scientists now that the universe has a beginning has increased the popularity of the Kalam cosmological argument” is wrong. That argument may be popular amongst apologists (I don’t know but if it is I think it’s a sign of desperation). But it has absolutely no standing in the science community – at all.

    • Thanks Ken for your explanation. It reinforces for me that you are specifically disagreeing with nothing that I thought I was expressing other than that there may be some nuances in my writing that you would express differently. But nothing IMO to warrant the stream of your vindictive ad hominem comments that have preceded this more balanced response. I have stretched my comments policy in allowing your comments through moderation particularly as you have not hidden behind anonymity even though your comments have the appearance of trolling.

      You switch tense in my use of “needed” – I clarified in a comment that “My post is a blog post, not a doctoral thesis, and the context of the reference to the steady state theory was the prevailing scientific understanding at the time of Lemaître.” Maybe the verb, “need”, was poorly chosen. Certainly I did not write, as you contend, in the present tense for our current context, “atheist NEED steady a state universe”.

      Nor did I anywhere suggest, nor would I even think to suggest, that the Kalam cosmological argument is popular amongst scientists. I merely stated that there has been an increase in its popularity.

      I have found constantly needing to respond to you tiresome and time-consuming, without any real fruitful dialogue ensuing. As I have repeatedly pointed out, you have constantly argued about things that I have not written. You have been rude, unpleasant, attacked my character, and played the man not the ball. Your comments have evidenced an inability to listen to another’s perspective with an open mind, and instead you constantly bring material from other contexts and have predicated them of me without even having the courtesy to ask if I in any way agree with them. Rather than read a sentence in the best possible light, or seek clarification if a sentence is poorly expressed, your primary mode of engagement has been not clarification, but attack, with immediate demands of retractions and so forth as if there is a grave threat in what I have written. Sadly, rather than a useful, positive discussion about what I have actually written, you have been putting your energy into arguing with your own narrow-minded straw man. The culture on this site is generally not adversarial. Difference is welcomed and encouraged, but it is offered with humility and with a willingness to learn open-mindedly from the insights of others. I once again suggest that the better place for you to pursue your particular approach is on your own site just as you yourself said you would.

  14. Bosco, I will ignore your little lecture as I am well aware that people feign anger to manipulate discussion. Either that or you are just not used to the give and take of normal internet discussion.

    I guess you have conceded that atheists don’t require, or ever did require, a steady state universe. It was a pointless comment to make in your post. And one that both LeMaitre and Coyne would have pulled you up on – as LeMaitre did the pope.

    Re the Kalim argument. I think I have pointed out that it is based on a dishonest use of science. While no scientist accepts it I think theologians should also face up to this fact. It just makes them look silly when they use science in such a dishonest and opportunist way. The same goes for the “fine tuning” argument Craig and others promote.

    I think people should be challenged when they misuse science on this way. It is a pity you are not used to being challenged and take it so personally.

    Anyway, I welcome any input you make into my posts at Open Parachute. As I indicated I am planning a post on the theological misuse and misrepresentation of science in the near future. Mainly because of the stance taken by other theological bloogers, not you.

    • Your ignoring of points I make here, Ken, has, as I indicated, been your typical way of responding. Nothing has been “taken personally” by me – you merely confuse attacking a person with challenging their ideas. You continue to make generalising statements, this time that your style of ad hominem arguing and personal attacks is “normal” for internet discussions and my experience and approach on the internet is not. “Normal” or not, your ad hominem approach is not welcome here

  15. While Bosco and Ken have it out (:-)), I will respond to dear Joyce. I very much appreciate your point, Joyce, and it is the first objection that comes to mind about the Atheist campaign (I believe there’s a smaller one in the States, too). I also know that, based on some people’s experiences with specific brands of Christianity, that the idea that there is no God can be gospel.

    If all you’ve ever heard, for example, is a fundamentalist variety of Christianity, and you are gay/divorced/progressive/woman/feminist/etc the it might be a relief to think there is no God to throw you into the fire.

    Personally I find this unfortunate, which is why it is so important to share the gospel you talked about.

    • Thanks so much, Travis. I wholeheartedly agree with you. As I’ve written elsewhere, atheists can be prophets for us. And I have always appreciated working in partnership with atheists of good will.

      My passion is to work against the image of God you describe, the almighty ogre in the sky who delights in sending people to hell! (the apophatic I’ve been mentioning: “God is not like this”). Sadly many atheists are just the same, merely the flip side of many fundamentalists, both having an inability to live with metaphor. One reads the Bible and finds God scary. The other reads the Bible and finds God silly.

      I apologise to the community that gathers around this site for my part in dragging out the above discussion. I made an error of judgement allowing through moderation comments contrary to this site’s policy, which in the end produced no real new insights. As I stated above, I want to stay with the culture we have developed here of being a safe place in which difference (and agreement!) can be expressed with respect.

    Earlier it was impossible for us to give any satisfactory answer to this question. But modern science, rather we should say that Einstein, has made it an easy task for us. And Stephen Hawking has provided us with the clue necessary for solving this riddle. Actually scientists in their infinite wisdom have already kept the ground well-prepared for us believers so that one day we can give a most plausible and logically sound answer to this age-old question. Let us first see how Hawking has helped us by providing the necessary clue. In his book “A Brief History of Time” (Chapter: The origin and fate of the universe) he informs us that there are 1080 particles in the region of the observable universe. Then he raised the question regarding the origin of these particles, and gave the answer himself. According to quantum theory particles can be created out of energy in the form of particle/antiparticle pairs. But there the question does not stop. Another question pops up regarding the origin of that energy. But when it is said that total energy of the universe is exactly zero, then all is said and done. So this is the clue: if we can somehow arrive at zero, then no further question will be raised, and there will be no infinite regression. What I intend to do here is something similar to that. I want to show that our God is a bunch of several zeroes, and that therefore no further question need be raised about His origin. And here comes Einstein with his special theory of relativity for giving us the necessary empirical support to our project.
    God is a Being. Therefore God will have existence as well as essence. So I will have to show that both from the point of view of existence as well as from the point of view of essence God is zero. It is almost a common saying that God is spaceless, timeless, changeless, immortal, and all-pervading. Here we are getting three zeroes; space is zero, time is zero, change is zero. But how to prove that if there is a God, then that God will be spaceless, timeless, and changeless? From special theory of relativity we come to know that for light both distance and time become unreal. For light even an infinite distance is infinitely contracted to zero. The volume of an infinite universe full of light only will be simply zero due to this property of light. A universe with zero volume is a spaceless universe. Again at the speed of light time totally stops. So a universe full of light only is a spaceless, timeless universe. But these are the properties of light only! How do we come to know that God is also having the same properties of light so that God can also be spaceless, timeless? Scientists have shown that if there is a God, then that God can only be light, and nothing else, and that therefore He will have all the properties of light. Here is the proof.
    Scientists have shown that total energy of the universe is always zero. If total energy is zero, then total mass will also be zero due to energy-mass equivalence. Now if there is a God, then scientists have calculated the total energy and mass of the universe by taking that God into consideration. In other words, if there is a God, then this total energy-mass calculation by the scientists is God-inclusive, not God-exclusive. This is due to two reasons. First of all, even if there is a God, they are not aware of the fact that there is a God. Secondly, they do not believe that there is a God. So, if there is a God, then they have not been able to keep that God aside before making this calculation, because they do not know that there is a God. They cannot say that they have kept Him aside and then made this calculation, because by saying so they will admit that there is a God. They cannot say that the behind-the-picture God has always remained behind the picture, and that He has in no way come into the picture when they have made this calculation, because by saying so they will again admit that there is a God. At most they can say that there is no God. But we are not going to accept that statement as the final verdict on God-issue, because we are disputing that statement. So the matter of the fact is this: if God is really there, then total mass and total energy of the universe including that God are both zero. Therefore mass and energy of God will also be zero. God is without any mass, without any energy. And Einstein has already shown that anything having zero rest-mass will have the speed of light. In other words, it will be some sort of light. So, if God is there, then God will also be light, and therefore He will be spaceless, timeless. So from the point of view of existence God is zero, because he is spaceless, timeless, without any mass, without any energy.
    Now we will have to show that from the point of view of essence also God is zero. If there is only one being in the universe, and if there is no second being other than that being, then that being cannot have any such property as love, hate, cruelty, compassion, benevolence, etc. Let us say that God is cruel. Now to whom can He be cruel if there is no other being other than God Himself? So, if God is cruel, then is He cruel to Himself? Therefore if we say that God is all-loving, merciful, benevolent, etc., then we are also admitting that God is not alone, that there is another being co-eternal with God to whom He can show His love, benevolence, goodness, mercy, compassion, etc. If we say that God is all-loving, then we are also saying that this “all” is co-eternal with God. Thus we are admitting that God has not created the universe at all, and that therefore we need not have to revere Him, for the simple reason that He is not our creator!
    It is usually said that God is good. But Bertrand Russell has shown that God cannot be good for the simple reason that if God is good, then there is a standard of goodness which is independent of God’s will. (Book: A History of Western Philosophy, Ch: Plato’s Utopia). Therefore, if God is the ultimate Being, then that God cannot be good. But neither can He be evil. God is beyond good and evil. Like Hindu’s Brahma, a real God can only be nirguna, nirupadhik; without any name, without any quality. From the point of view of essence also, a real God is a zero. Mystics usually say that their God is a no-thing. This is the real God, not the God of the scriptures.
    So, why should there be any need of creation here, if God is existentially, as well as essentially, zero?
    But if there is someone who is intelligent and clever enough, then he will not stop raising question here. He will point out to another infinite regression. If God is light, then He will no doubt be spaceless, timeless, etc. Therefore one infinite regression is thus stopped. But what about the second regression? How, and from whom, does light get its own peculiar properties by means of which we have successfully stopped the first regression? So, here is another infinite regression. But we need not have to worry much about this regression, because this problem has already been solved. A whole thing, by virtue of its being the whole thing, will have all the properties of spacelessness, timelessness, changelessness, deathlessness. It need not have to depend on any other external source for getting these properties. Thus no further infinite regression will be there.

    • So, Himangsu Sekhar Pal, with regard to there being a god is that a yes or a no?

      My answer is: yes, there is a God. I have developed some arguments for proving that there is a God. Here it is:

      How to prove that there is a God

      Scientists have shown that the universe might have originated from nothing due to quantum fluctuation in a vacuum. So no God is required for its creation. We who believe that there is a God cannot buy that theory. Rather we will try to say that it has actually originated from something. But how to prove that at the beginning there was something instead of nothing? Let us first suppose that at the beginning there was something, and then let us try to find out what would be the properties of this hypothetical something (HS). This HS will be the only thing that will be there, and there will be nothing else other than this HS, no space, no time, no matter, nothing. As there will be no space and no time, therefore this HS will be in no space and in no time. Also it will have no space and no time. So in every respect this HS will be spaceless and timeless, and it will be so by default. By default it will also be changeless, because not being in time this HS will have no ‘before’, no ‘after’. So we can never say of it that it was ‘this’ earlier and that it has become ‘that’ later on. For the same reason this HS will be deathless also, because death is also some sort of change. And it will be immobile too, because no space will be there for it to make any movement. And it will have no mass, because not being in any space it will not occupy any space. A thing that does not occupy any space cannot have mass, because science has shown that mass always occupies some space. Therefore we see that by default this HS will have the following six properties: spacelessness, timelessness, changelessness, deathlessness, immobility and masslessness. These six properties will be exclusively the properties of HS, and nothing else in this universe can have these properties by default, because nothing else can have the same status of HS. If we assume that this HS is not hypothetical but real, then it is existing neither in space nor in time. Being neither in space nor in time is its unique characteristic that nothing else in this universe can ever have.
      So far we have said that this something is only hypothetical. Now time has come to find out whether it is real. But how to do that? Very simple indeed. We have seen that this HS will have six properties by default. If we now find that nothing in this universe is having any one property, or some of the properties, or all the six properties, of this HS, then we can conclude from this that the universe has originated from nothing, and not from something. But if we find that at least one thing in this universe is having any one property, or some of the properties, or all the six properties, of this HS, then we will have to think otherwise. How can anything in this universe have the exclusive properties of HS if this HS does not exist at all? Or, how can it have the properties of HS if it is not HS itself? So HS must have to exist as the first thing in order that some other thing in this universe may also have the properties of HS. Now we find in light all the properties of HS. Light is having no mass, so it is massless. For light any distance it has to traverse is always reduced to zero. A room full of light only will have zero volume if seen from the perspective of light. Zero volume means zero space, this is spacelessness. For light time totally stops, and so light is always in a timeless state. A timeless thing cannot change or cease to be, because both change and death require time. A time will come when a thing will change, and a time will come when it will cease to be. For a thing not in time these times will never come, so it will never change and it will never cease to be. Light being always in a timeless state can also be said to have the properties of changelessness and deathlessness. Light is immobile too. We have already said that any distance light has to traverse is always reduced to zero. So we can say light has nowhere to go, it is immobile. Therefore the properties of light compel us to conclude that the universe must have originated from something, and not from nothing, because in the latter case light could not have all those properties that it is actually having. But even if we say that the universe has originated from something, it will not solve all our problems. The something at the beginning will no doubt have all the six properties mentioned above, but in that case also nothing else in this universe can have those properties. This is only because the initial something will have these properties by virtue of its being neither in space nor in time. So no created thing in this universe can have this characteristic of the initial something, because they will be all in space and in time, and therefore no created thing can have the above properties by any means. But in spite of that we find that light is having all the properties of this HS. How to solve this problem? It can be solved in this way: if we assume that the initial something itself has given all its properties to light for some purpose, then this problem can be solved. But in that case the initial something must have to have consciousness, and its purpose for putting all its properties in light may be that it wants to make its presence known to us through light. This conscious initial something is God.

  17. I find the criticism of the atheist billboard quite odd. Where I live in southern California, the Christian faith is so dominant that atheist billboards here are protested against and then removed. Christian billboards don’t encounter this same problem. I’m betting the author wouldn’t question the costs of the billboard if it had a Christian message.

    My own religious beliefs can be summarized as follows: I am an atheist as to all organized religions, which rely on dogma and propaganda to spread their message, but agnostic as to the origins of the universe. How can we possibly know how our universe was created or by whom? It is the highest folly to claim knowledge of the creation of the universe or of a creator.

    Of course man created gods, not the other way around. This much is obvious. Of the many gods created by man over time, why believe in the specific God of modern Christianity – because Christian beliefs are popular? History is filled with ideas and beliefs that were popular but untrue. Anyone who has settled on the current iteration of a Christian God as described in The Bible is, after all, an atheist as to the large number of religions and deities that man has discarded over the centuries.

    My experiences in life have taught me that people often believe what they want to believe and what others – especially influential others – tell them to believe. That is what religions depend on, along with the usual threats of eternal damnation for not believing. Many religions also depend on their followers refraining from birth control, a transparent effort to perpetuate the religion. Religion may do some good in the world, but it is best viewed like a political party, with self-perpetuation being the goal above all others.

    How can we be sure that Christianity is not the one true religion while the others are false in those aspects that diverge from The Bible? That is not the real question that must be asked, of course. How troubled we would be if we believed all manner of stories and fables simply because we can’t disprove them. If I claim that the details of Scientology are true, you can’t prove I’m wrong. There would be no end to the assertions that can’t be refuted. We make life or death decisions every day based upon our perception of our world. Is the traffic light green or red, for example. When you look at the world based on evidence, you have no need to rely on fables and religions created by the imaginations of men.

    I marvel at the magnificent scope of the known universe and the exquisite beauty and complexity of Nature. Too bad mankind spends much of its efforts on hatred, fearmongering, war, distrust, and selfishness rather than peace, love, responsibility, sustainability, honesty, and collective action for the common good. Religion is not needed in order to be good, just enlightenment and empathy.

  18. It really amazes me how religious try to use non-religious resources such as science, philosophy and other resources on a crusade to validate their beliefs.

    As for this post… three things and I am out of here….

    1. If the argument that all that occurs has a cause, so that proves the existing of God because something had to cause the Universe to come into being….. Ummmmm, what cause God to come to come into existance? Oh, that’s right, he is excused! Come on, be consistent or don’t bother (the latter is the most prudent).

    2. Yes, I not only remember Aqualung, I still have the original album. You’ve completely misunderstood the verse on the album cover. The Album is about the hypocrisy of religious people, who do not follow the spirit of their religion, but rather formalize a power and control mechanism around it to suit their own selfish and arrogant ends….

    The verses is not about atheism….

    “And Man became the God that he had
    created and with his miracles did
    rule over all the earth.

    But as all these things
    came to pass, the Spirit that did
    cause man to create his God
    lived on within all men: even
    within Aqualung.

    And man saw it not.

    But for Christ’s sake he’d
    better start looking.”

    2. You have failed to understand Jenny Anderson’s lyrics completely. The song is about the shallow, cruel, cold perception of the old man that you quoted, versus the truth, which is in the rest of the lyrics below.

    He is not a “dirty old man” but another human being who is down on his luck, homeless, and dying of lung disease, which makes him breath noisily and earned him the nickname “Aqualung”.

    He deserves support, not rejection and condemnation. That would be the Christian thing wouldn’t it? Funny how so many Christians are quick to judgement and miss the opportunity to practice what Christ preached – they miss the point, just as you have!

    These are the pertinent lyrics that you have left out….

    “Sun streaking cold
    an old man wandering lonely.
    Taking time
    the only way he knows.
    Leg hurting bad,
    as he bends to pick a dog-end
    he goes down to the bog
    and warms his feet.

    Feeling alone
    the army’s up the rode
    salvation à la mode and
    a cup of tea.
    Aqualung my friend
    don’t start away uneasy
    you poor old sod, you see, it’s only me.
    Do you still remember
    December’s foggy freeze
    when the ice that
    clings on to your beard is
    screaming agony.
    And you snatch your rattling last breaths
    with deep-sea-diver sounds,
    and the flowers bloom like
    madness in the spring.”

    So, as I said above, it amuses me when religious people go on a crusade to justify and “defend” their faith.

    The reason that I am amused is that they inevitably miss-quote and misrepresent the material that they are using in their arguments, which actually discredits them and is ultimately self-defeating.

    If you have religious beliefs, that is a personal thing. Fine, good for you! PLEASE do not go on futile crusades trying to “defend” it!

    It is YOUR belief, is it not? You do not NEED to defend it against anything other than your own doubts!

    Is not the value of faith in that is pure and does not require validation… “Blessed is he who has not seen and yet believes” and all that?

    Is not your faith enough? Why on earth should you need to argue and justify it?

    • Thanks, Mark, for your visit and for leaving a comment. I hear that you regard your beliefs as not open to dialogue. Please respect that I do not hold your position. I also do not separate “science, philosophy and other resources” as “non-religious resources” which cannot affect my world view.

      It seems that you haven’t actually read my post. For example, I did not present an “argument that all that occurs has a cause, so that proves the existing of God”, I posited the point that “Whatever begins to exist has a cause.” Hence your “logic” about God’s “existance” doesn’t follow.


      • Thanks for responding, Bosco.

        I have indeed read the post.

        Please respect that I actually presented no “position” as such.

        Other than pointing out some rather large misquotes and misinterpretations that you made (and that atheists have also made, by the way) to which you did not respond, and also stating the folly of “arguing religion”.

        My “beliefs” were not stated. Rather, I asked you a question, which you did not answer.

        OK, let’s try again, shall we? First a response to your response:

        Semantics, semantics… Yes, you posited that “Whatever begins to exist has a cause.” and you also said that is is generally accepted by scientists, quoted the Kalam cosmological argument.

        The purpose of this point in your article was, “Reminding people that it has all had a beginning doesn’t actually play in atheists’ favour.”.

        The position of an atheist is that God does not exist, so the only thing that “doesn’t actually play into their favour” is something that adds some weight or proof to the argument that God does exist.

        Please do not say that you did not present an argument that proves the existence of God! That is precisely what the Kalam cosmological argument is, and you used it to discredit atheism!

        I pointed out that there is a real problem with using the Kalam cosmological argument, as its conclusion requires a special pleading that God is exempt from the premise of this logical deductive progression. That is easily dismissed as invalid and it becomes another “chicken and egg” conundrum. Futility|

        That the contemporary “Big Bang” theory exists in modern science and is widely accepted, to the point where it is elevated to “virtual fact” status, is actually one of the “unscientific” behaviours we see amongst the scientific community from time to time. The need for some form of “certainty” is a human trait that is more of a religious than a scientific nature, and scientists are human too, after all. In the end, it is still only a theory, and therefore cannot prove or add proof to anything!

        So, the Big Bang theory and the logic of Kalam cosmological argument has no real validity as atheists may validly dispute the Kalam cosmological argument and they may quite validly dismiss the Big Bang theory!

        None of that is proving anything.

        So I will restate the obvious:

        Anything of a religious or spiritual nature can neither be proven nor falsified, which is why, through the centuries, all dialogues and arguments have become circular and irresolute.

        Believers cannot prove their side and antagonists (atheists) cannot prove the negative.

        That is where my point comes in!

        Spiritual or religious beliefs are personal.

        When it comes to religion, they are called “faiths” for a reason. In fact, “faith” is held to be of higher value than fact in Christianity – “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.”

        So once again, I pose the questions…

        Is not your faith enough?Is not the value of faith in that is pure and does not require validation?

        Why on earth should you need to argue and justify it?

        • Thanks, Mark, for your comment. I do not have time to discuss things when you are not reading what is written.

          You write: “I pointed out that there is a real problem with using the Kalam cosmological argument, as its conclusion requires a special pleading that God is exempt from the premise of this logical deductive progression. That is easily dismissed as invalid and it becomes another “chicken and egg” conundrum. Futility|”

          This is clearly nonsense. The Kalam premise is “Whatever begins to exist has a cause.” God is “exempt from the premise” because obviously no one understands God as having begun to exist.

          I accept the contemporary understanding that the universe had a beginning. I am willing to alter my understanding when a better theory comes along. I have no need to have you agree with me about this, nor about God. I do not accept your claim that “Anything of a religious or spiritual nature can neither be proven nor falsified” – if, for example, the historicity of Jesus were demonstrated to be a fabrication Christian faith would be in serious trouble.


          • Hmmm…

            I point out some misquotes and … zilch – no reply.

            Completely dodged the Aqualung bit, and that is great source of discussion in itself!

            Ask some basic questions and get no answers, then get accused of failing to read what is written.

            Then I get this….

            After I have stated “as its conclusion requires a special pleading that God is exempt from the premise of this logical deductive progression.”

            You respond with this:

            “This is clearly nonsense. The Kalam premise is “Whatever begins to exist has a cause.” God is “exempt from the premise” because obviously no one understands God as having begun to exist.”

            The exact “special pleading” nonsense to which I referred above. ROFL!!!

            Now who is it that is not reading what is written?

            “Thou art black!” doth decry to the pot, to the kettle’s eternal amusement.

            Now how does the historicity of anything in the Bible place the Christian faith in serious trouble? Many things in the Bible are highly questionable. Obviously it is of little import!

            It is
            Nowadays, of course it all just gets let go through to the keeper, simply dismissed as “metaphor” or the like – a very convenient “out”.
            I do suppose, though, that that’s better than burning anyone who dares to question.

            Another question!

            If you are truly open minded and desirous to engage in dialogue, why do you need to duck and weave and not answer the questions I asked?

            You know, some people get very comfortable preaching to the choir.

          • Mark, it is very difficult for me to work out specifically what you are seeking from me or this website, sorry. You asked me to “Please respect that I actually presented no “position” as such” which leaves little to dialogue about. If you “validly dismiss the Big Bang theory” and have a universe that did not begin to exist, then, you are right, the Kalam argument makes no sense to you. As for your other points – thank you. Blessings.

  19. How is it difficult when my first two posts asked the same questions … TWICE!

    After being twice ignored, I will not bother asking them again.

    • Thanks, Mark. I’ve gone back through your first two posts and the questions you refer to may be, “Is not your faith enough?Is not the value of faith in that is pure and does not require validation? Why on earth should you need to argue and justify it?” As your first post said that you had three points (numbered 1,2, and 2) “and I am out of here”, I did not realise these questions were the pressing ones for you. I also regarded them as essentially rhetorical, and rereading your posts they still appear to me as such. I have already indicated that I do not think faith is as totally self-authenticating and as non-falsifiable as you do. Blessings.

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About This Site Welcome to this ecumenical website of resources and reflections on liturgy, spirituality, and worship for individuals and communities. It is run by Rev. Bosco Peters.

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