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Basic Worldview:
102 Atheism vs. Theism

Charge 2, Question 1

Prelude: "Atheism/Theism" vs. "Science, the Bible, & Creation"
Atheism: Introduction and Charges
Charge 1, Deduction and Induction
Charge 2, Question 1
Charge 2, Questions 2 and 3
Charge 2, Summary and Question 4
Charges 3 and 4, Definitions
Empirical Evidence
Scientists Acting as Mechanisms, Article 1
Scientists Acting as Mechanisms, Article 2
Scientists Acting as Mechanisms, Article 3
Occam's Razor and Conclusions
Footnote 1
Footnote 2 and 3
Proof of Life
Not Theories, Unsubstantiated Hypotheses 1
Not Theories, Unsubstantiated Hypotheses 2
Not Theories, Unsubstantiated Hypotheses 3
Not Theories, Unsubstantiated Hypotheses 4
Scientists: Life on Earth Imported from Outer Space
Atheisms Circle of Reasons
Is God a White Crow?

Now that we've refuted Atheistic/Agnostic Charge No. 1, we'll turn to Atheistic/Agnostic Charge No. 2.

Atheistic/Agnostic Charge No. 2: Theistic logical constructs for the existence of god always start by assuming that god exists, thus, theistic proofs inherently employ circular reasoning.

As we have stated, those who hold to an atheistic view of the evidence, charge that in order to logically conclude that god exists, one must necessarily start off by assuming that god exists. Thus, Atheists charge that any logical construct for Theism is inherently a process of circular reasoning. According to Atheists, Theists start by assuming there is a god and end up concluding that god exists. But this is not at all the case.

As we will now demonstrate, the fact is that the first 3 steps in the theistic logical construct in no way involve theistic assumptions. All of these first 3 steps are completely atheistic. It is not until step 4 in the construct that we arrive at a question that deals with whether or not god exists. And step 4 is concluded based upon steps 1-3. So, rather than starting out by assuming god exists, a logical construct for theism starts out with 3 simple atheistic assumptions. Thus, since it does not begin by assuming god exists, the logical construct for Theism does not rely on circular reasoning.

The logical construct that leads to Theism is described below, in Questions 1-4.

Question 1: Did the universe have a beginning or has it always existed? (Is the universe eternal?)

On this point the most prominent view in modern science teaches that the universe did, in fact, have a beginning. The most widely held view today regarding the origin of the universe is the Big-Bang Theory. The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition describes the basics of the Big Bang Theory as follows:

"According to big-bang theories, at the beginning of time, all of the matter and energy in the universe was concentrated in a very dense state, from which it "exploded," with the resulting expansion continuing until the present. This "big bang" is dated between 10 and 20 billion years ago."

The American Heritage¨ Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition describes the Big Bang Theory in similar terms:

"Big bang theory - NOUN: A cosmological theory holding that the universe originated approximately 20 billion years ago from the violent explosion of a very small agglomeration of matter of extremely high density and temperature."

And the Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition also has the following to say in its article on the universe.

"The age of the universe depends on which theory of cosmology one accepts. According to the big bang theory, favored by many scientists, the universe is between 8 and 13 billion years old."

Now, there are other competing theories about the age of the universe. In its article on cosmology, The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition lists only 2 theories under the heading "Modern Cosmological Theories." The second theory is the Big Bang Theory, which we have covered above. The first theory listed is the "Steady-State Theory."

In its article on the universe, The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition describes the Steady-State Theory as follows:

"The steady-state theory holds that the universe has been in existence for all time."

However, in its article on cosmology, The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition refers to the Steady-State Theory as "now of historical interest only," indicating that this theory is no longer widely held in scientific circles, but instead has been discarded in favor of the Big Bang Theory.

So, in short, according to the most prominent view in modern science today (The Big Bang Theory), the universe is NOT eternal. It did indeed have a beginning.

It is important to restate at this point that no one was around to observe either the beginning of the universe or the eternal existence of the universe (if it had no beginning.) All theories about whether or not the universe had a beginning or is itself eternal are based upon the process of induction.

Now, as we will shortly see from Question No. 2, if the universe had a beginning and was not eternal, then it is logically inescapable that something apart from the universe, something outside the universe, caused the universe. And, if the thing that caused the universe exists outside the universe, then that thing may not be directly detectable by empirical methods, since, by definition, it exists outside of the universe. This would completely dispel the Atheist's ability to use the notion that "god cannot currently be empirically observed" as a criticism of Theism, since logic would demand that whatever caused the universe (whether god or otherwise) would necessarily be unavailable for direct empirical observation.

For this particular reason, many Atheists attempt to circumvent the problem caused by the universe having a beginning. Instead, such Atheists propose that (either with or without a Big Bang model) matter and energy may have existed eternally in one way or another and so the material universe may, indeed, be eternal. However, while the Big Bang theory may be based upon empirically observable evidence, the theory that matter and energy existed prior to the Big Bang (beginning) is purely a matter of speculation. On what empirical evidence could such speculation possibly be based?

The fact is, any atheistic theory rejecting the Big Bang's theoretical beginning and simultaneously supposing the eternal existence of matter and energy does not stem from empirical evidence but from an atheistic bias to avoid anything that might even slightly facilitate Theism. Or in other words, Atheists who suggest that matter and energy are eternal aren't doing so based upon any evidence but based upon the desire to avoid the fact that if the universe had a beginning, then the cause of the universe is necessarily outside empirical observation. Simply put, since no empirical evidence can be offered to suggest the eternal existence of matter and energy, an Atheist who suggests the universe is eternal reveals that they are not motivated by science or empiricism but by a desire to avoid any implication of the existence of a cause or object outside the material universe.

However, since popular modern science itself holds that the universe had a beginning (called the Big Bang), we will not further argue the point. At this portion of the debate, most atheistic scientists and Christians are in agreement that the universe, in fact, did have a beginning.

We must remember that The Columbia Encyclopedia, Sixth Edition defines the universe as the "totality of matter and energy in existence." So, when the Big Bang Theory states that "that the universe originated approximately 20 billion years ago" (The American Heritage¨ Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition), this automatically implies that matter and energy originated at that time and did not exist prior to the Big Bang.

Furthermore, the second law of thermodynamics clearly disproves the notion of an eternal universe or the notion that matter and energy are eternal. The second law of thermodynamics describes the phenomenon of entropy. Entropy is the loss of available energy as disorder increases in a system.

"Food Web, III ENERGY FLOW - The process whereby energy loses its capacity to do work is called entropy." - "Food Web," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 99. © 1993-1998 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

The second law of thermodynamics states that, in a closed (or isolated) system, entropy always increases.

"Hawking, Stephen William - For instance, the second law of thermodynamics states that entropy, or disorder, must increase with time." - "Hawking, Stephen William," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 99. © 1993-1998 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

"Entropy - The idea of entropy is the basis of the second law of thermodynamics. According to this law, the direction of spontaneous change in isolated systems is toward maximum disorder...Taken together, all processes occurring now will result in a universe of greater disorder. Because the entropy of the universe is always increasing, a state of greater entropy must be one that occurs later in time. For this reason, entropy has been called 'time's arrow.'" - Worldbook, Contributor: Melvyn C. Usselman, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry, University of Western Ontario.

"Thermodynamics, IV SECOND LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS - The second law of thermodynamics gives a precise definition of a property called entropy. Entropy can be thought of as a measure of how close a system is to equilibrium; it can also be thought of as a measure of the disorder in the system. The law states that the entropy-that is, the disorder-of an isolated system can never decrease. Thus, when an isolated system achieves a configuration of maximum entropy, it can no longer undergo change: It has reached equilibrium. Nature, then, seems to "prefer" disorder or chaos." - "Thermodynamics," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 99. © 1993-1998 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

When a system reaches this state of maximum entropy, it is said to have reached equilibrium and the temperature becomes uniform. This state is called heat death. And at this time no work or change can occur.

"Heat, Heat/Learning about heat, Thermodynamics - According to the second law, all spontaneous (natural) events act to increase the entropy within a system. Until a system reaches its maximum entropy, it can do useful work. But as a system does work, its entropy increases until the system can no longer perform work." - Worldbook, Contributor: Ared Cezairliyan, Ph.D., Former Research Physicist, National Institute of Standards and Technology.

"Physics, IV NEWTON AND MECHANICS, E Thermodynamics, 3 The Second Law of Thermodynamics - From the second law, it follows that in an isolated system (one that has no interactions with the surroundings) internal portions at different temperatures will always adjust to a single uniform temperature and thus produce equilibrium...The entropy of an isolated system, and of the universe as a whole, can only increase, and when equilibrium is eventually reached, no more internal change of any form is possible. Applied to the universe as a whole, this principle suggests that eventually all temperature in space becomes uniform, resulting in the so-called heat death of the universe." - "Physics," Microsoft® Encarta® Encyclopedia 99. © 1993-1998 Microsoft Corporation. All rights reserved.

"Physics, The scope of physics, The study of heat, thermodynamics, and statistical mechanics, Second law - Another formulation of the second law is that the entropy of an isolated system never decreases with time...Statistical mechanics - From a microscopic point of view the laws of thermodynamics imply that, whereas the total quantity of energy of any isolated system is constant, what might be called the quality of this energy is degraded as the system moves inexorably, through the operation of the laws of chance, to states of increasing disorder until it finally reaches the state of maximum disorder (maximum entropy), in which all parts of the system are at the same temperature, and none of the state's energy may be usefully employed. When applied to the universe as a whole, considered as an isolated system, this ultimate chaotic condition has been called the 'heat death.'" - Encyclopaedia Britannica 2004 Deluxe Edition

In modern scientific terms, the universe is a closed system. All that exists is a closed system. And consequently, given enough time, a state of maximum entropy will occur in which there is no available energy in the universe. If the universe were eternal, this state of maximum entropy, in which there was no available energy, no work being done, and no change occurring, would have been reached a long time ago. Since the universe still has available energy and work and change still take place, it cannot be eternally old. To suggest or believe that the universe, or that matter and energy, are eternally old is to contradict the known scientific laws of thermodynamics. And that is simply not an option for a rational or an empirical atheist.

Once again, we would note at this point, that our first question and our first assumption are in no way theistic. That is the assumption that we make when answering this question in no way requires the presumption that god exists. The question of whether or not the universe is eternal or had a beginning is not a theistic question. Nor is the assumption we make when answering that question based upon theistic assumptions. And, also worthy of note, is that this theory that the universe had a beginning, is based upon the employment of the scientific method to empirical data. It is not a matter of intuition or theistic faith.

So, now we arrive at the first of our initial 3 assumptions in the logical proof of Theism.

Assumption 1: Assume the universe is not eternal, that it had a beginning.