Nothing From Nothing

Is there anything that everyone here can agree on?

There is a saying: ex nihil, nihil fit. Out of nothing, nothing [be]comes.

Is this one of those obvious truths that folks like to deny the existence of, or do folks here believe that from utter nothingness sprang forth the world and all that is in it?

If you reject the idea that something could begin to exist out of utter nothingness, how do you explain that anything at all exists? Or do you just accept existence as a brute fact that requires no explanation.

244 thoughts on “Nothing From Nothing

  1. Allan Miller,

    Well, maybe first you could answer my point about how can biologists have views that are opposed to Darwin, WHEN YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO TEACH views that are opposed to Darwin in any classrooms!!?

    And you still are trying to challenge that assertion. I understand OMagain, but you Allan?

  2. phoodoo: Jerry Bergman.

    .. has also not been “forced to accept a central tenet that says life MUST be an accident, it MUST be unplanned”. At any point in his life.

  3. phoodoo,

    Well, maybe first you could answer my point about how can biologists have views that are opposed to Darwin, WHEN YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO TEACH views that are opposed to Darwin in any classrooms!!?

    When you say “views that are opposed to Darwin” what do you mean specifically? There are many views opposed to Darwin, do you have a particular one in mind?

    There are professors in biology departments all over the country who are forced to accept a central tenet that says life MUST be an accident, it MUST be unplanned, if they want to keep their status and position at those universities.

    You appear to be contradicting yourself now.

    And you still are trying to challenge that assertion.

    You appear to be confused about what point you are trying to make.

  4. phoodoo,

    You have to teach the syllabus. You can’t just make up your own. If evolutionary biology is part of the syllabus, it would be sackably negligent not to teach it, assuming you have taken on the modules.

    Meantime, how do Behe and Sanford manage to avoid this purge?

  5. phoodoo: Well, maybe first you could answer my point about how can biologists have views that are opposed to Darwin, WHEN YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED TO TEACH views that are opposed to Darwin in any classrooms!!?

    And you still are trying to challenge that assertion. I understand OMagain, but you Allan?

    Why are you moving the goalposts? You said they’re ““forced to accept a central tenet that says life MUST be an accident, it MUST be unplanned in order to keep their jobs”.

    This is very different from not being asked to teach their creationist views, or being asked to simply teach about evolutionary theory.

    Noone is being told what to BELIEVE IN THE PRIVACY OF THEIR OWN HEADS.

    Obviously if their jobs are as a TEACHER, then they should TEACH THE CURRICULUM, not their own private religious beliefs.

    But YOU said they’re being “FORCED TO ACCEPT a central tenet that says life MUST be an accident, it MUST be unplanned”. This doesn’t take place ANYWHERE.

  6. So no biologist has views that are opposed to Darwin because you are not allowed to teach views that are opposed to Darwin?

    One wonders how science progresses then.

  7. If we put in a line all the teachers in the US who reject evolution, strictly on scientific grounds, what are the odds that all of them are creationists? Tons of ASC right there is my guess

  8. Phoodoo is basically complaining that schools have a curriculum that teachers must follow.

    Imagine a teacher going “Today’s math class kids, but today we’re going to be taught Alex Jones conspiracy theories instead.”

    If the school wants to fire him/her for not teaching the curriculum in math, but instead his conspiracy theories, is he now being fired for what he believes? Is he being told to accept the central nets of math or lose his job?
    No, he’s being fired for not teaching the fucking curriculum. Whatever the fuck he believes in his own head isn’t what is losing him his job.

  9. Allan Miller,

    Oh come on Allan. Being prevented from teaching one’s scientific beliefs in the classroom is exactly that. Do you think Behe has not been subjected to much academic pressure and criticism in his career because of his views? You are wrong if you think that, and he has stated it himself.

    Being able to name a few Professors who have yet been fired is hardly making your case. In fact Behe and others have said that it is best to wait until one has achieved tenure before ever expressing any doubts about Darwinian evolution publicly.

    I could give you many examples of Professors who have stated they they are pressured not to challenge Darwin, but as we see with Omagain and Rumraket, you can always make up some bullshit justification to claim otherwise.

    I am not silly enough to chase all of you down some rabbit hole of admitting anything-knowing full well this is not how your side operates.

  10. phoodoo,

    Be prevented from teaching ones scientific beliefs in the classroom is exactly that.

    The classroom is not a place to teach one’s ‘scientific beliefs’. It is a place to provide education.

    So … one is fresh from gathering one’s second PhD (one is never enough) and lands a plum job at a respected institution. One is asked to teach the Evolution module to first year undergrads. One starts drawing pictures of Arks and saying ‘it’s just a theory’. Does one deserve to keep one’s job? Why on earth did one take it in the first place?

    Do you think Behe has not been subjected to much academic pressure and criticism in his career because of his views? You are wrong if you think that, and he has stated it himself.

    You think there is any scientist anywhere whose views have not been subject to pretty sharp scrutiny? You’ve evidently never been to lunchtime lab seminars. Science thrives on scrutiny and challenge. The idea that everyone gets a free ride but them poor ole Creationists is typical paranoia.

    I could give you many examples of Professors who have stated they they are pressured not to challenge Darwin, but as we see with Omagain and Rumraket, you can always make up some bullshit justification to claim otherwise.

    That is certainly a very convenient reason for not actually doing so.

  11. phoodoo,

    It seems that the only honour available is in simply agreeing with you, in the absence of you actually supporting your claims. I’ll pass.

  12. Allan Miller,

    Allan, I just gave you examples of people who THEY THEMSELVES HAVE SAID they were adversely affected in their careers because their views were not in accordance with Darwinian evolution, and you still, maintain, oh, well, that’s not true, they are lying, everyone is criticized..blah blah…

    If you aren’t even going to except the word of the people who have said it has happened to them, whose word is going to be good enough, the ones who actually do the discriminating?

    Yes, I get that you will pass on accepting the truth.

  13. phoodoo,

    Just to remind you phoodoo, here is your original claim:

    There are professors in biology departments all over the country who are forced to accept a central tenet that says life MUST be an accident, it MUST be unplanned, if they want to keep their status and position at those universities.

    Behe is clearly not among their number. Nor is Bergman. Nor are your other attempts (not even biologists).

  14. phoodoo,

    and you still, maintain, oh, well, that’s not true, they are lying, everyone is criticized..blah blah…

    Only one of those statements is connectable to anything I have said. The rest appears to be dishonest misattribution.

  15. OMagain: If you can’t, phoodoo, the honerable thing to do is accept you were wrong and apologise.

    Apologize to you, because you were somehow wronged?

  16. OMagain: But no, some people are so brilliant that they could never possibly be wrong….

    And some people are so stupid that they could never possibly be wrong.

  17. phoodoo: Well, horsehit. As Allan so ironically stated, what made people like Newton and Einstein stand out was that they weren’t swayed by common accepted wisdom of the time. They thought for themselves (something most evolutionists are clearly incapable of).

    Newton was certainly a genius when it came to physics and mathematics, having discovered calculus independently of Leibniz and having realized that ballistics and orbital mechanics were different applications of the same unifying laws. That doesn’t mean that his remarks on religion should be taken uncritically.

    And in the main, his criticisms of Epicurean materialism were perfectly consistent with the dominant ideology of 17th through 19th century Euro-American intellectual culture. His arguments against “chance” and in favor of “providence” are completely mainstream for the kind of Christianized Stoicism that one finds throughout the British, Scottish, and American Enlightenments.

    I just thought I’d point that out for discussion amongst those are interested in factual truth about the history of philosophy and science.

    Einstein is a different case, of course, since (unlike Newton) he did not believe in a transcendent deity, did not believe in miraculous intervention in the causal order, and so forth. Einstein was a Spinozist (as I am):

    The most beautiful emotion we can experience is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead, a snuffed-out candle. To sense that behind anything that can be experienced there is something that our minds cannot grasp, whose beauty and sublimity reaches us only indirectly: this is religiousness. In this sense, and in this sense only, I am a devoutly religious man.

    and

    I believe in Spinoza’s God, who reveals himself in the lawful harmony of all that exists, but not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and the doings of mankind.

  18. Erik: Why would I be interested in a reading list in the metaphysics of contemporary natural science from you when you have made it very clear that there’s no clear line between physics (science) and metaphysics (philosophy), there should be no such line and discussion about the line is a mess of confusion whenever the topic comes up.

    I think that there is no absolute dichotomy between science and metaphysics. That’s not to say that there aren’t distinctions worth making. As a friend of mine likes to put it, science is about “what is” and metaphysics is about “what ‘what is’ is”. It’s not a bad slogan.

    From what I have seen from contemporary (popular) scientists, they have no clue what metaphysics is in the first place and they have no interest in clarifying it for themselves, much less to others. And from what I have seen from philosophers like yourself, you are very happy to concede to scientists their confusion.

    Oh, I’m enough of an elitist about intellectual projects to think that what’s popular is rarely good, and what’s good is rarely popular.

    All this said, feel free to refer to the best source you had in mind. I’ll be interested in discovering if there really is such a thing as metaphysics of contemporary natural science. (You do realize that the way you put it, it must come from a scientist, not from a philosopher, right?)

    Among scientifically informed philosophers, my top choices (in no particular order) would be Dewey’s Experience and Nature, Sellars’s Science and Metaphysics, Deleuze’s Difference and Repetition, Dupre’s The Disorder of Things, Whitehead’s Process and Reality, and Meillossoux’s After Finitude. The first chapter of Ladyman and Ross’s Every Thing Must Go is superb but it quickly goes off the rails from there.

    Among philosophically informed scientists, my top choice would be Prigogine and Stenger’s Order Out of Chaos and Stuart Kauffman’s At Home in the Universe and Reinventing the Sacred.

    None of these scientists or philosophers are popular, but that’s no indication of their quality.

  19. This is a work of metatheory of science from the perspective of a biologist concerned with evolutionary theory. The questions take up are matters of ontology, but I am overwhelmingly mindful that no such matters can be taken up without explicit reference to the epistemological constraints making it possible to approach them in the first place. In particular this work will deal with representations of the things in the world (its “furniture” – Bunge 1977) and their relations, and with how these relations give rise to and guide the processes the things are caught up in. The paradigmatic process serving as an attractor for all the statements in this work is “the evolutionary process.”

    Salthe, Stanley N. Evolving Hierarchical Systems

  20. Kantian Naturalist: Among philosophically informed scientists, my top choice would be Prigogine and Stenger’s Order Out of Chaos and Stuart Kauffman’s At Home in the Universe and Reinventing the Sacred.

    About the first one, the best I could find was this http://www.mountainman.com.au/chaos_02.htm It only tells what scientists have been busy with throughout the ages and how the view of the universe appears to have changed. No hint as to what science is committed to or should be committed to. It appears to be something like “It’s cool how things change.” The same perspective as in Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.

    I expect nothing better from your other sources either. It’s hard to take a look into them when they are not freely available online.

    Kantian Naturalist:
    None of these scientists or philosophers are popular, but that’s no indication of their quality.

    By “popular” I meant “widely known, therefore representative”, not “popular, therefore authoritative”.

  21. phoodoo,

    Being prevented from teaching one’s scientific beliefs in the classroom is exactly that.

    Yeah, better to teach whatever someone like Frankie thinks when they turn up on the day. As long as they believe it right? That trumps everything.

  22. Kantian Naturalist: His arguments against “chance” and in favor of “providence”

    Arguments against chance and in favor of providence are mainstream in EVERY society that has ever existed on the earth and had the mental capacity to ponder things.

  23. phoodoo: Arguments against chance and in favor of providence are mainstream in EVERY society that has ever existed on the earth and had the mental capacity to ponder things.

    If you want to go back to the middle age I can recommend a trip to Afghanistan. One way ticket

  24. phoodoo: Arguments against chance and in favor of providence are mainstream in EVERY society that has ever existed on the earth and had the mental capacity to ponder things.

    That’s false, and you should know that it’s false. You don’t know it because you’re ignorant and you’re proud of your ignorance.

  25. Erik: About the first one, the best I could find was this http://www.mountainman.com.au/chaos_02.htm It only tells what scientists have been busy with throughout the ages and how the view of the universe appears to have changed. No hint as to what science is committed to or should be committed to. It appears to be something like “It’s cool how things change.” The same perspective as in Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.

    Ah, look, another theist who is completely ignorant of what he’s talking about and is proud of his ignorance.

    I’m done trying to teach you anything, because you don’t want to learn anything. You think you already know everything that’s worth knowing.

  26. dazz: If you want to go back to the middle age I can recommend a trip to Afghanistan. One way ticket

    Phoodoo and Eric would fit right in there. They’d love to be in a society where the Enlightenment never happened.

  27. Kantian Naturalist: That’s false, and you should know that it’s false. You don’t know it because you’re ignorant and you’re proud of your ignorance.

    Can you name a lot of societies where the majority of people are atheist KN?

    Are you practicing your meaningless windbag skills?

  28. Kantian Naturalist: I’m done trying to teach you anything, because you don’t want to learn anything. You think you already know everything that’s worth knowing.

    That’s the goal of metaphysics. If not, then we are talking about different things and you have to clarify first what it is you are trying to teach.

    Your sources did NOT lay out the metaphysics of contemporary natural science. If they do, it should be easy for you to prove me wrong. But if I happen to be right, then you really have nothing to teach.

    I’m quite ready to learn, but you are not as ready to teach. To refer to books that I would have to buy is not good for online com-box discussion. Better find an article or a summary. I did that part for you, but you are still not happy.

  29. Phoodoo, speaking of professors who are forced to toe an ideological line, let’s not forget the sad case of William A. Dembski, who was once a professor at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He published a book,  “The End of Christianity”, in which he recommended Christians accept the scientific consensus that the earth was 4.5 billion years old and argued that Noah’s Flood was limited to the Middle East.

    He was denounced by a fellow professor, forced to recant his claims about Noah’s Flood, and was called into young earther president Paige Patterson’s office where he recanted again. A few months later, Dembski “resigned”. Patterson was later quoted in a church publication as saying, “‘Had I had any inkling that Dr. Dembski was actually denying the absolute trustworthiness of the Bible, then that would have, of course, ended his relationship with the school,”

    Have you got any examples from secular academics where professors have been forced to recant and quit their jobs for disagreeing with some part of evolution?

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