Sunday, March 16, 2014

Mathematical proof of God - Actually, no - but for different reasons

I've been curious about supposed "mathematical proofs" for the existence of a god. I stumbled across this page, though he has a proof "better" than math. I agree, and disagree... ish.

Let's take a look.
I skipped most of the sob story as not particularly relevant, and hopped down to the end of the article.
Numbers Don’t Lie—Or Do They?
That question ended my nightly visits with the stars. Over time, God helped me accept my father’s death, and I moved on to enjoy life again. However, I still think about that nagging question from time to time. Where did all this come from?
Hey, we have something in common! I wonder that too. I just don't invoke fairies whenever I come across something I don't understand.
Even in high school, I couldn't buy the Big Bang Theory for the creation of the universe. Mathematicians and scientists seemed to ignore a simple equation familiar to all grammar school children: 0 + 0 = 0
For the Big Bang Theory to work, this always-true equation had to be false—at least once—and if this basic equation is unreliable, so is the rest of the math used to prove the Big Bang.
And he comes out swinging with a massive misrepresentation.

What is meant by "for the Big Bang Theory to work"? We don't have any knowledge about how it "works", but only that it happened. Everything after that is speculation, including the God hypothesis.

It's the classic idiotic canard that the Big Bang model insists that "everything came from nothing", which is not scientific consensus (though those like Lawrence Krauss (link to lecture video) will talk about the idea, but his ideas are far from mainstream). If the author has to stoop to this misrepresentation, he's already lost the debate.

Secondly, we don't use math to "prove the Big Bang". What is he talking about? We followed empirical evidence to this conclusion, such as cosmic background radiation (Wiki link) and the red-shifting of galaxies/stars (Wiki link). Math helps us understand the phenomenon, but it's the empirical evidence that's core and central to our confirmation it that was a real event.... not math.
Dr. Adrian Rogers, a pastor and Bible teacher from Memphis, TN, once challenged the Big Bang Theory by putting the 0 + 0 = 0 equation into more specific terms: "How can nobody plus nothing equal everything?"
Easy, because that's not what the Big Bang theory stipulates. You're both daft ignoramuses, fighting vast armies of straw.
Atheists remain unconvinced. In their reviews of these books, they accuse Christians of being too stupid or naïve to understand the higher math of the Big Bang or Chaos Theory. They painstakingly point out mistakes in logic or probability assumptions. They believe that all these calculations in all these books come up short in proving the existence of God.
This article isn't fairing much better, so far.
Oddly, I have to agree, but not for the same reason.
The most brilliant mathematicians using the most powerful supercomputers in the world would fail to settle this question for one simple reason: You can’t use equations to prove the existence of love.
I agree. Here's the thing. You can't use math to prove anything outside of the world of mathematics.

I can't use equations to prove that I just drank some tea.
I can't use equations to prove that my cat exists.
I can't use equations to prove that I had to spend 15 minutes brushing off hair off my cat's cat-bed before putting it into the wash, because he sheds like a jerk.

... yet, these events can be easily empirically demonstrated as actually happening in reality. That's how we know anything. Math helps us understand and describe reality better, and can even guide us to making predictions, but there's two limitations:
  1. It's only as good as the numbers/values we plug into it. If the numbers are flawed, the results are flawed.
  2. It's only as good as the equations we derive, which, for things like Black Holes, are constructed based on our current limited and flawed understanding of how physics works.
What can we do about that? Empirical confirmation. Math and physics predicted the existence of black holes for a long time, but we didn't regard them as "real" phenomena until we had empirical confirmation.

This applies to anything we're asserting as true in reality... including God.

So, I agree with him, just for different reasons.
That’s what God is. That is His essence, and love can’t be dissected, calculated, analyzed or measured.
God is love? I take it God isn't an intelligent being that creates universes, or life... it's just simply an emotion... or is the author grafting on additional claims?

He's wrong about love. We can analyze, measure, observe and demonstrate it.

We can observe love in action, between a couple in the park, or between a dog and his master (otherwise, how is it you can tell that a couple is in love, if it's not giving off evidence?). The situation is not that dire. If this were true, we also couldn't prove that Microsoft Windows exists, despite interacting with it on a computer, through visual and auditory feedback. After all, we can't "dissect" Microsoft Windows (i.e. love)... only the physical computer (i.e. the brain) in which that computer program is running. Thus, we can't prove it exists, right?

That's how much standard epistemology must be thrown out the window for this argument to work.

Further, we do have brain scans to observe the neurological activity in the brain while love is happening, not to mention Nerve Growth Factor (Wiki link), a protein heavily associated with being in love.

They should abandon the "you can't prove love" argument. It's becoming as silly as the "Why are there still monkeys?" argument.

We wouldn't even be having this conversation if God was as easy to demonstrate as love.
A Proof Even Better Than Math
Please, please please... quit with the "proofs". Anyone who talks about proving or "proofs" immediately loses credibility, because it's a red flag that they don't understand how standard scientific epistemology works.

We don't operate on proofs. Science operates on empirical evidence and building theoretical models that best explain the available data with as few assumptions as possible, that can then produce future testable/falsifiable predictions that consistently accurately come true.
Simon Peter, Jesus’ closest friend, denied knowing Jesus three times in the hours before the crucifixion. If any of us had faced possible crucifixion, we probably would have done the same thing. Peter’s so-called cowardice was completely predictable. It was human nature.
Of course, this is assuming these events even occurred... but fine, let's make that assumption. I'll grant this.
But it was what happened later that causes me to believe. Not only did Peter come out of hiding after Jesus’ death, he began preaching the resurrection of Christ so loudly that the authorities threw him in jail and had him severely beaten. But he got out and preached all the more!
And Peter wasn't alone. All the apostles who had been cowering behind locked doors spread out across Jerusalem and the surrounding area and began insisting that the Messiah had been raised from the dead. In the following years, all of Jesus’ apostles (except Judas who hanged himself and John, who died of old age) were so fearless in proclaiming the gospel that they were all murdered as martyrs.
... again, making more assumptions, but let's grant this too. I won't nitpick the doctrine at this time.
That is simply not human nature.
Yes. Yes it is. Congratulations, you just proved Islam correct, and every other person's beliefs who happened to have a martyr complex, through all of human history.

The Atheist Experience did a segment about the "Would't die for a lie" error (to the right - starts at that point of the episode). It's actually very common. (link to a lengthy rebuttal).

It's a logical fallacy - Begging the Question. It'd be like arguing that serial killers prove demons exist because it's not otherwise human nature, because the vast super majority of humans aren't serial killers.

I'm sorry, but the author doesn't simply get to start with this as a given.
One thing and one thing only can explain it: These men had encountered the real, solid, bodily-resurrected Jesus Christ. Not a hallucination. Not mass hypnosis. Not looking in the wrong tomb or any other silly excuse. The flesh and blood risen Christ.
No, there are other things to explain it - psychology and human nature to die and martyr for stupid reasons.

My God... is this the best you can do? It's an astounding combination between begging the question as to whether false martyr complexes are common in humanity, and an Argument from Ignorance - he just plucks some explanation out thin air, and insists that it's the only explanation.

Once again, a clear demonstration of my First Law of Apologetics: All arguments for God contain at least one logical fallacy.

(I've recently added a second one, actually: Any contradiction can be rationalized into oblivion.)
That’s what my father believed and that’s what I believe. I don’t have to do the math to know that my Savior lives, and because He lives, I fully expect to see both Him and my father again some day.
That's right. You've joined your father in believing things for idiotic, irrational and illogical reasons.

Congrats.

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