Roy Williams… Again

Hello there skeptics, atheists and scientists,

Today I am going to be blogging about Roy Williams again, I haven’t blogged about his arguments for a while now, I’ve been saving this one up. In his book, ‘god actually’ , Roy has a section entitled ‘Tackling arguments against a designing god’, today I am going to be rebutting some of these ‘rebuttals’. Most of his arguments are completely ridiculous in here, as he completely misses the point of particular arguments.

He discusses the idea of naturalistic, evolutionary, reasons for a religion to exist, and he misses the whole point of the idea. This argument is just a rebuttal of an argument used by Christians for religion. They say “If religion isn’t true, why does it exist. Religion must have some truth to it because otherwise why would humans have made up the concept in the first place. Natural explanations for religion like an evolutionary advantage to belief, or a ‘god center’ somewhere in the brain, are not arguments against god, as Williams portrays them as, they are rebuttals of arguments for god. And somehow, in all of it, Williams blames us for non-sequiters by saying that this is not an argument against god.

Another argument which Williams ‘takes on’ is the ‘god of the gaps’ argument, apparently, used by atheists. This is the first time I have heard god of the gaps being used to argue against god, but there you go. For as long as I can remember, the god of the gaps has been a logical fallacy describing religious people, not an argument against god. It has always been just like most, a rebuttal of theist arguments, not arguments of our own. Williams also happens to say that his beliefs are not god of the gap arguments, despite using arguments like irreducible complexity and creation of the universe, and quite often saying, “Science cannot explain this”, which is kind of the definition of the god of the gaps argument.

These are just a few of the arguments ‘taken on’ by Roy Williams, and they demonstrate the way Williams argues. He is completely unaware of the whole idea of most of the atheism VS religion debate. When it comes to science and logic, the burden of proof is on the affirmative (religion), and it is the job of the negative (atheism) to show the logical fallacies and factual incorrectness which may be present in these arguments. It’s quite fine for the religious to counter-rebut these arguments, but it’s not okay for them to claim that these are direct arguments against god, and then to just say that they are using non-sequiters. If he wants to tackle some real arguments against god, not some rebuttals, take a look at some of the apparent logical contradictions in god, the concept of cause-and-effect, or the idea of something from nothing.

That’s all for today, I will leave you with a quote from H. L. Mencken, “We must respect the other fellow’s religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.”, H. L. Mencken, an American journalist, essayist, magazine editor, satirist, critic of American culture and scholar.

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Roy Williams – Chaos Theory – Doesn’t Mix

Hello there skeptics, freethinkers, critical thinkers and atheists,

Today I am going to be blogging about another claim which Roy Williams has made, which contradicts science and reason, and happens to also support his claim.

Roy Williams, in his book god, actually, makes the claim that the universe is not deterministic, and that this allows for things like free will, conscience and god to exist. He tries to show some natural examples of our non-deterministic world, and he chooses the weather. He makes the claim that Chaos theory shows that the world is deterministic, and this applies to other systems, like our brain. This claim is factually false.

Chaos theory is actually a case example of how deterministic our universe is, that it is deterministic to such a detailed scale. Chaos theory is really, and explanation of how a deterministic universe works. Lets take the weather, which Williams uses. Chaos theory, when pertaining to the weather, shows that a small change in conditions, like the classic example, a butterfly flapping its wings in Britain can cause a cyclone to develop in the USA, because the small effect can be multiplied out by larger forces, and a large force, like a huge line of industrial fans on the South American coast-line, can be neutralized by a small force, like a butterfly flapping its wings somewhere in the world.

Chaos theory shows that, even when the universe seems chaotic, uncontrollable and non-deterministic, there is reason behind everything happening. Lets us use the example of the Mandelbrot set. If an uneducated person where to look at something like the Mandelbrot image below, they would make the assumption, as I did when I first saw the image, that this was a completely random, non-deterministic picture. But as most of us know, this image is actually defined by a single, inch long maths equation, zn+1 = zn2 + c, and I found this amazing when I found it out, that this complex structure, with all its intricacies, was just created from a maths equation.

This, my friend, is a Mandelbrot set.

This is what Mandelbrot, and all the other mathematicians of the time, set out to do, find simple mathematical laws which describe the seemingly random branching of trees and fingerprints on hands, and they found that they are deterministic, but very sensitive, and could be influenced by just the tiniest change in conditions. The only reason why we haven’t yet found a mathematical sum to predict the weather, is because it is very, very, very complex.

Chaos theory shows how seemingly random things can be described with mathematical sums, and that they are really deterministic, this can be extrapolated to the brain. Once you know how the weather, Mandelbrot sets, tree branches and fingerprints can be explained, you can start to see how one day, we will be able to find out a mathematical sum to describe our brain function, of course, this equation will not be one inch long, it will be many inches long, but we will have described the brain.

Roy Williams, by mentioning Chaos theory, has stepped into a spiraling vortex of facts, knowledge and maths. That’s all for today, I will leave you with a quote from Benoit Mandelbrot, “Science would be ruined if (like sports) it were to put competition above everything else, and if it were to clarify the rules of competition by withdrawing entirely into narrowly defined specialties. The rare scholars who are nomads-by-choice are essential to the intellectual welfare of the settled disciplines.” Benoit Mandelbrot, a French/American Mathematician of some note.

Another Roy Williams example of idiocy

Hello there, skeptical friends,

Lets all guess what I’m going to be blogging about today? That’s right, I’m sure you all guessed it, I’m going to be continuing my constant crusade against Roy Williams and his idiotic arguments, which seem alright on the surface, but soon seem not so alright when you actually look at them deeply. Today’s post is about an argument which was used by Williams to demonstrate the ‘deep, designed plan’ of the universe. Williams has made the claim that the fact that the moon lines up nicely with the sun, points towards the fact that there is design in the universe.

But unlike ‘the other creationists’, who say that the moon, with its protecting of the earth from asteroids and things, shows that god is looking out for us, Williams makes the claim that the fact that there is a solar eclipse shows proof of a god. This allows for things like the first proof of relativity, (with the measuring of the lensing of the stars) to occur. This is all part of Williams’ “God designed the universe to allow humans to figure out its inner workings.” Idea. I have some rebuttals for this argument.

The first point is that our moon is not that special. The fact that the moon eclipses the sun perfectly once in human history is not a big deal. There are a couple of factors which make this occurrence not all that rare. The distance from the earth to the moon is changing quite a lot, meaning that the size of the moon in the sky changes a lot. This means that sometimes the moon is a bit big for the sun, and sometimes the moon is not big enough to cover the sun completely, this is why you should never look directly at an eclipse. This means that there is a big variance and this leaves a big window.

The other thing that varies a lot in the sun, moon, earth system is the distance from the sun to the earth. This means that the size of the sun in the sky varies a lot. So this opens the window even more. The last thing that would change this is the fact that the moon is getting further and further away from us all the time. This means that at one time in early history, very early history, the moon appeared very large in the sky, and in a few more years, the moon will be very small in the sky, and it will not cover the sun at any time.

The second point against this argument is this. There are a lot of things that could be a certain way, but aren’t, why doesn’t god make them line up nice and pretty?

The last argument I will use is this. The eclipse of 1919 is not the only proof of relativity, there have been thousands of since proofs of relativity, and the only reason why this eclipse is still remembered is because it was the first one.

I will leave you with a humorous quote from Brian Greene, “No matter how hard you try to teach your cat general relativity, you’re going to fail”, If you don’t get it, get of my blog, or read my Quantum Mechanics posts. Brian Greene, A theoretical physicist of some note.

 

Roy Williams is making yet another straw man

I am reading through god, actually, by Roy Williams and I have decided that I am going to be blogging about all off the big errors he makes in his logic. Today’s post will be about how Roy has yet again oversimplified and misrepresented atheism, agnosticism and skepticism. Roy has made the claim that atheists fall into two categories when it comes to how we perceive ourselves (humans) in the universe. He has summed them up as follows:-
One extreme is the belief that humans are just another animal, they are in no way different from chimps or mice or dogs or frogs or sheep or mosquitoes.
The other end of the spectrum is that humans are superior to all other things in the universe, and are very special. and are gods of the universe, humanism. 

Williams then shoots down the first point by saying that humans are a special sort of animal, with conscience and cognition.
He also then dismantled humanism by saying that we do not have free power over the whole universe, and that we do not have the whole universe to use as a mining site.

I am going to be arguing about these two misconceptions in today’s post.

When Williams states that some atheists believe that humans are just other animals, to some extent I agree with him, but he has taken it beyond the extreme, a classic straw man argument. Any atheist who believes that humans are just another mammal will agree that humans are a very unique type of animal. We do have very good cognition and a conscience to base our decisions on. but atheists do not say that humans are just exactly like chimps and apes and we have no special worth on this planet.

The other end of the spectrum is also just the same straw man. Most humanists believe that humans are a special type of mammal, but that they have arrived out of all other mammals. No humanist that I know believes that humans are gods of this planet.

Williams then asserts that humans are unique and that this must mean that there is a god which designed us. I do not think that this is a logically valid assumption. It is easily explained by nature how a species like us could have come into being, but I will talk about that tomorrow night.

I will leave you with a quote from John Ralston Saul, “Humanism: an exaltation of freedom, but one limited by our need to exercise it as an integral part of nature and society.” John Ralston Saul, a Canadian author of some note.

More on quantum theory and the start of the universe(s)

Hello to my google using fellows (the one Bing user out there, get out!),

Yesterday I posted about an argument made in a book I was reading, god actually, which states that a multiverse theory is desperate, has no proof, and is against Occam’s razor. I also showed yesterday how there is indirect proof that multiverses should exist, and that it is logical, not desperate. Today I will be showing you how it is also something which is against Occam’s razor. But first, I will give anybody out there who doesn’t know, the low-down on Occam’s razor.

Occam’s razor is a logical tool to decide on what is the most likely theory to suit observations. It does not mean that what Occam’s razor says is the correct hypothesis, it just says what is the most likely hypothesis, but it is usually correct. Occam’s razor, in a nut-shell, states that the theory which invokes the least amount of new assumptions is most likely the correct theory. This can be applied to our solar system… It is possible to model a solar system which is centered around the earth and holds up to all observations, but this would be highly complex, and it is much simpler to create a solar system which is centered with the sun.

Now I will show how it applies to our god vs multiverse discussion. The stance taken by Roy Williams and Paul Davies is that it is against Occam’s razor to invoke an infinite amount of universes to explain the coincidences of one universe, and it is much simpler to explain these contrivances with a god who designed them to be that way.
This is wrong. In fact, I believe it is quite the opposite. I’m going to list the assumptions made by each side of the argument.

Goddidit: It isn’t really a lot of assumptions, just one MASSIVE assumption, that there is an omniscient, omnipotent, supernatural, existing-outside-of-the-universe deity who, for no apparent reason, decided to create a universe, with intelligent beings in it, just for his amusing.
Multiverses: We know about quantum mechanics and the “all possibilities are achieved” consequences of it, we know how the universe was created, and that if it probably happened for us, then it probably happened for a lot of universes. The only assumption, (if you want to call it that) is the quantum fluctuations occur, and this has been proven.

That means assumptions go as follows, goddidit 1 – 0 multiverse.

Occam’s razor, because it is a scientific tool which requires natural causes, cannot be used to support a supernatural explanation because if there were supernatural forces in the universe, then Occam’s razor is useless.

I will leave you with a quote from Bertrand Russell, “Whenever possible, substitute constructions out of known entities for inferences to unknown entities.” Bertrand Russell, a British philosopher, logican, mathematician, historian and social critic.

Quantum theory and the start of the universe

Hello, skeptics,

The inspiration for today’s post comes from a book I have started reading entitled ‘god actually’ by Roy Williams, an Australian author who claims to be able to show that god probably exists. It provides some interesting points (I said interesting, not valid) on why god should be taken seriously. I will be basing blogs on this book for the next few weeks while I read through it. I will use one quote from this book (this quote was taken from Paul Davies for use in this book.) to start my investigations.

“Invoking an infinite number of other universes just to explain the apparent contrivances  of the one we see is pretty drastic, and in stark conflict with Occam’s razor (according to which science should prefer explanations with the least number of assumptions). I think it’s much more satisfactory from a scientific point of view to try to understand why things are the way they are in this universe and not to invent imaginary universes to do the job.”

There a few things I have to say about this quote, and I may have to spread it over a few posts.
This book also states that there is no proof of a possible multiverse. This is true in the strictest sense, we have no definitive proof that multiverses exist, (we have no definitive proof that atoms are the way we think they are either) but we can make inferences from other observations.
I will also say that we cannot ever know what actually caused our universe to be created, because it is before time was created, and science cannot deal directly with that.
Lets look at this with quantum chance. I have blogged before that there are infinite ways that something can exist, and one way that nothing exists, and this means that something must  occur. scale this up, not only to one universe, but to more than one universe, (if it is certain that one universe must exist, then in this instance, it is also certain that infinite universes must exist) it means that this first spawned universe must also invoke other universes, and an infinite amount of universes must exist.

I will do a little flow chart to show the possible outcomes.

Even if it is very unlikely to happen, when you have infinite universes, they are all going to happen.

Multiverses will always result in some form of intelligent life, and instead of these multiverses being made-up figments of our imagination in a desperate attempt to show that humans can come to be about without a god, they are, theoretically, an essential part of theology and science.

That is all for me today, I will continue this topic tomorrow. I will leave you with a quote from  Douglas Adams, “Yes, I think I use the term “radical” rather loosely, just for emphasis. If you describe yourself as “atheist,” some people will say, “Don’t you mean ‘agnostic’?” I have to reply that I really do mean atheist, I really do not believe that there is a god; in fact, I am convinced that there is not a god (a subtle difference). I see not a shred of evidence to suggest that there is one … etc., etc. It’s easier to say that I am a radical atheist, just to signal that I really mean it, have thought about it a great deal, and that it’s an opinion I hold seriously.” Douglas Adams, English Author and atheist of some note.