In my post “Michael Egnor has questions for atheists”, I detailed Michael Egnor’s 8 questions for atheists. He has responded.. To P.Z. Myers. Which is really what he wanted to do in the first place. There is only one part to his reply that I am interested in.
1) Why is there anything?
Myers: Nothing is unstable.
Me: "Nothing" is not unstable. Nothing is not stable. Nothing is not metastable, nor hypostable, nor quasi-stable. Nothing is nothing. Nothing has no properties. "Nothing is unstable" is gibberish. Hence its central place in New Atheist atheology.
If by "nothing" Myers is referring to the emergence of matter by quantum fluctuations (today's trendy New Atheist evasion of theism), I observe that a quantum field isn't "nothing." A quantum field is very much something, in need of explanation. A quantum field gives rise to particles, not to itself. You have to explain the existence of the quantum field. Nice try.
The question "why is there anything" is fundamental. The classical theist answer is that God's essence is His existence, and He is the ground of existence. Note that God (as understood classically) does not need explanation or cause. The uncaused nature of God is demonstrated, not stipulated, by classical theism (see Aristotle's Prime Mover argument and Aquinas' First, Second, and Third Ways). Furthermore, the Prime Mover argument (Aquinas' First Way) demonstrates that God's existence is necessary even if the universe was eternal and had no beginning; His existence is necessary for existence of the universe at every moment.
New Atheists don't understand the question, don't understand the terminology, and don't understand their own rudimentary logical contradictions. New Atheist ignorance doesn't mean that classical theism is true; it merely means that New Atheism has nothing to say. But I sort of suspected that.
Michael Egnor wants us atheists to explain something that doesn’t exist. If the quantum field is not nothing then there is no place in the universe that contains nothing. In short, “nothing” does not exist.
This response also highlights why responding to dogmatists is a pointless task..
You have to explain the existence of the quantum field. Nice try.
If a theist asks you anything then you will immediately get this kind of reply. Also, note the iron-clad assurance that this answer cannot be found. All theism boils down to this:
- Infinite recursion to an unknown source.
- Cause is magic.
- Substantive details about the magic is the culturally taught/assumed religion for the person making the argument.
All the waffling and ink of the sophisticated theists rest on these foundations, as someone who couldn’t be anything other than an atheist. I cannot relate nor understand this line of thinking. That we do not know everything is not a fear to me. It does not niggle me, and I cannot understand how a theist can rest back on his or her laurels and pretend like they have the answer to these questions. How can they do it?
They ask “why this” and “why that” as if they have the answer. They don’t. However, it is an impossibility for them to admit this and here’s why:
The concept of god is a natural cognitive outcome of the endless “why” line of thinking. The thinking, and by extension, human nature, comes first and the manmade construct of god comes out of it.
It is in the nature of man to believe in Gods, therefore Atheists are the abnormal ones in that they are okay with not knowing. Believers don’t really “know” anything but they have to believe that they do otherwise there is no dissonance relief to the burning desire to substitute an answer for every question.
Posted on: Friday, November 19, 2010 7:12 AM