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How do we have something out of nothing (i.e, if there are no gods)?

I’m an atheist, But I get this question a lot from Christians, and it doesn’t seem that my answer satisfies them.

So let me ask it like a Christian.

If an atheist believes that there is nothing out there (Gods)

Then how do we have something out of nothing. Science has proven that something cannot come out of nothing.

My answer to this is, atheists don’t say that. I say that we simply don’t know the origin of the universe and the Christian doesn’t know either.

We’re both in the same boat with the same question, and if you think you know the origin of the universe the burden of proof is upon you to explain it.

Posted: November 18th 2008

Eric_PK

If you believe that the universe was created by a supreme being, then you have a similar problem.

What created the supreme being?

To assert that the universe cannot arise without a cause but a supreme being can is unjustified.

As for the specifics of the claim about what science says…

Science talks about things that can be observed within our universe, and modelled. The “cause” of the universe is by its very nature outside the universe and therefore not subject to observation.

Second, science is not about truth but about utility. Theories are models that we can use to predict reality, but they do not describe reality. It’s often true that theories are found not to apply in certain circumstances.

Finally, even if all of that weren’t true, there are some things in our universe that are uncaused.

Radioactive decay is predictable only from a statistical viewpoint. We know that for a certain amount of a certain isotope of an element, a given number of atoms can be expected to decay over the next time period (minute/day/year/whatever).

There is, as far as we know, no way to predict when (or why) a specific atom decays. No cause we can observe or detect – it just does.

This rather annoying fact has persistently annoyed physicists for the last century or so.

Posted: November 20th 2008

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SmartLX www

We do not necessarily have something out of nothing. It’s possible that there was never nothing, and there was no origin at all.

Many models of the universe posit an eternal universe, or an eternal system of universes (a multiverse). This means that something caused the Big Bang, and before that time goes backwards into infinity the same way we imagine it going forwards forever.

This is certainly not proven, but it makes a very direct kind of sense. As you say, “science has proven that something cannot come out of nothing.” This refers to the law of conservation, which says matter and energy cannot be created (or destroyed).

Ironically, the theistic/deistic solution to this is that all matter was created in one go. A more logical extrapolation, which requires no wider premise than the Law itself, is that matter was never created and has always been there in some form. This is therefore my opinion.

Posted: November 19th 2008

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logicel

From page 77, The God Delusion:

The Cosmological Argument. There must have been a time when no physical things existed. But, since physical things exist now, there must have been something non-physical to bring them into existence, and that something we call God.

Referring to this argument, along with the The Unmoved Mover and The Uncaused Cause arguments, Dawkins writes:
bq. All three of these arguments rely upon the idea of a regress and invoke God to terminate it. They make the entirely unwarranted assumption that God himself is immune to the regress. Even if we allow the dubious luxury of arbitrarily conjuring up a terminator to an infinite regress and giving it a name, simply because we need one, there is absolutely no reason to endow that terminator with any of the properties normally ascribed to God: omnipotence, omniscience, goodness, creativity of design, to say nothing of such human attributes as listening to prayers, forgiving sins and reading innermost thoughts.

I do agree with your framing the problem, that neither atheists or theists do know how the universe came into being, but yet again, just like how theists do not acknowledge that their having religious faith means that they are agnostic theists (without evidence they can’t possibly know if their religious beliefs are true, thusly they must have blind faith with no validation of their 'knowledge’), they do not acknowledge that they do not know how the universe came into being.

Instead, they wallow in their ignorance, flaunting it at every opportunity. So much for Christian humility! They just can’t accept that we do not yet know how the universe came into being (or if it was always here). Not knowing how the universe came into being does not mean one grasps desperately onto to a silly, totally useless explanation, like the failed God Hypothesis.

Some answers to a similar question can be found here

Posted: November 19th 2008

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