Dialog with a Skeptic

A few days ago I engaged with a skeptical friend of a friend in a dialog on Facebook. What ensued was one of the most congenial Internet exchanges I’ve seen. The information content was good (I thought), so I thought I would share it as an example that having civil disagreements on the Internet is actually possible.

There were several threads of thought as I forked them to be able to address the separate topics. I’ve separated them here with a horizontal line. The only edit’s made are to correct a couple of typo’s and to drop some only tangentially related comments, and dropping surnames.

It’s nice to have a good conversation.


[Beth] Can you - as a play enthusiast and thespian - imagine a Tony Award winning production coming into being as a result of an accident at the printing press?

Every bit of meaningful information we enjoy is the product of a creative mind. Can you think of an exception to that premise?

[Jamie] Plays do not have DNA and are incapable of adapting to their surroundings, therefore, this line of thought is illogical. I get that you are trying to liken a play to being a sequence of letters, but again, this all comes more to being the half full/empty scenario as there is no evidence that there is a creator nor are we able to provide evidence that the spark of life happened on its own.

So no evidence leads us nowhere. It’s all speculation.

Human DNA strands did not just appear as they are presently. They have evolved as our organisms of origin bumped into other things and survived.

[Lawrence] Jamie: Before you can posit DNA, mutation, adaptation and natural selection, you must first provide a reasonable explanation for self-replicating, information-rich organisms to begin with. Else there’s nothing to mutate, adapt or for natural selection to act upon. Even the simplest organisms are wildly complex.

This is a legitimate case of arguing abductively; an inference to the best explanation. The best explanation of information is an intelligent source. In fact, absolutely NOTHING in our experience creates information except intelligence. It’s a big claim to insist that in this case it just “happened”, especially when one can’t even posit a remotely reasonable path for abiogenesis. The cumulative case for theism (theism, mind, not Christianity) from nature is compelling.

[Jamie] Beth: I don’t disagree that it’s curious where it all comes from. You can choose to have the answer be God. I choose to have the answer be luck.

But I do ask, where did God come from? Where did that intelligence come from?

[Lawrence] Jamie: Ultimately one has to arrive at a brute reality; an existence of something that is eternal. Logically an infinite regress of causation means that you cannot actually arrive at any given point in the continuum. Consider time extending infinitely past; we can never be at this moment because there are an infinite series of moments preceding us.

Add to that the space-time began with our universe, then the cause of our universe transcends space and time - that is, it’s immaterial and eternal (or timeless). Since change occurs within time, it’s also unchanging. So the question becomes, what is this brute reality, this unchanging eternal substance?

We can know these things from uniform and repeated experience: Intelligence proceeds from intelligent agency. Persons proceed from personal agency. Minds proceed from mindful agency. And from the level of intelligence evident in this universe the intelligent agency is vastly beyond ours. As well, life, again from our uniform and repeated experience, begets life.

Therefore, the best explanation is a living, immaterial, eternal, super-intelligent mind which far exceeds ours.

Atheists choose to call this the “Multiverse”, but the God of Christianity is a much better fit. In the end you can’t know, but reason can lead you to the best, most likely explanation.

[Jamie] Yes, that is something that I periodically try to wrap my mind around.

[Jamie] You two are a bit out of my league with the science, but I still don’t understand where God’s intelligence then comes from.

Also, while humans come/beget from humans presently, before that we came from an evolving chain of species. Somewhere in there the mind developed. Somewhere in there the changes occurred when we no longer were atoms, or molecules, or cells, or fish, or lizards, or primates and a whole bunch of things in between.

I’m with you on the time/space continuum, as much as I can fathom it, but I don’t attribute it all to a Christian God. As much as you think that is the best answer, I think it’s not.

Half empty/ half full, you guys.

[Lawrence] Jamie: You are a pleasure to discourse with.

Notice that I said, according to our repeated and uniform experience, life comes from life. With even the simplest living organism, the level of information present is already massive; with complex multi-cellular, multi-organ life it’s unimaginably massive. So the first thing to be accounted for, sans-God, is the problem of abiogenesis (that is, the first life from basic chemical building blocks).

Now, again from our RAUE, minds come from things which have minds, and by corollary, intelligent effects come from intelligent causation (these two are tightly related). If you see a name written in the sand of a beach, you don’t posit wind, erosion and chance as the cause but, rather, are immediately quite certain that someone wrote it there, and justifiably so. In fact, the only thing for which intelligent effects are ascribed to unintelligent causation is naturalistic evolutionary biology.

As long as you see that “we came from an evolving chain of species” and “somewhere in there changes occurred …” are as much statements of faith as positing God, but that they have far less explanatory power, you are contemplating the right questions.

Less explanatory power, I say, because they don’t remotely adequately explain mind, emotions, free-will (a materialistic view is entirely deterministic), personality (that is, ego or self-awareness), purpose, aesthetics, altruistic behavior (in fact evolution is contraindicated by altruistic behavior), the rise and persistence of religion, nor even the cause of our universe (here again there’s just a lot of hand-waving speculation).

[Beth] This thread is awesome. Sorry to keep posting videos, but these folks say it so much more eloquently than I could. Jamie, in answer to your question “what created God”…I present the Kalam Cosmological Argument. :)

Video The Kalam Cosmological Argument

[Jamie] Hi Team,

We’re not the only creatures with empathy or altruism. Elephants and chimps do, too. (And maybe dolphins? I can’t remember. And most likely others.) But, seeing as you are not the average theists that I have encountered, I have no idea what to expect you to say about animals. Perhaps you don’t consider animals to be lesser creatures. That would be refreshing. Anyhow, some creatures have empathy, some do not. Some have sharp teeth, some do not. Some communicate with each other, some do not. Why bother making all of this diversity and only give special privileges to homo sapiens?

The closest thing to God “existing” that I can embrace is as a collective term for the magic of the entirety of it all: existence, the universe, et al. and not as some omnipotent figure who designed it all and has a plan. I can appreciate a mysticism of inter-connectedness - me with you, me with the mountain, you with the field.

To see your name written in the sand must be scripture as I have heard it here twice now. My apologies for being so literal with this, but if I saw random writing in the sand, I would assume another human put it there, since the only evidence I have of writing is from other humans. If I had never heard of writing before, I probably would recognize it as extraordinary, but would attribute it to the wonder of nature. Or aliens, I suppose. I have no evidence of them either, but I hear some people have seen things written in their cornfields and the popular opinion seems to be aliens over God, when really, it was probably other humans and a hoax.

Anyhow, I think you’re trying to make a greater point that the wind doesn’t just make these shapes in the sand and intelligence doesn’t come from thin air (back to the begetting). DNA coding only has four letters. Binary code has only two (well, they’re not letters, but you understand). Ultimately, these patterns as we recognize them as letters are human means of categorizing, not smoke signals from God. Although, binary code is man-made and DNA- not. It’s the muddling of letters/language. So, enough with writing my name in the sand. It’s a bad metaphor.

But we’re trying to talk about the genesis of intelligence and I’ve been asked where else it would have come from if we don’t see examples of these changes forming every day.

I hope some day to learn more about black holes as I hear some-things go into “nothing” quite often, and anti-matter is a hole other phenomenon I don’t know an ounce about.

I digress.

The Big Bang is something from nothing, no? Couldn’t that have a trickle down effect - or whatever speed “trickle” is at that size of force?

I couldn’t tell you how chemical reactions end up releasing heat or doing all the other strange things they do when two otherwise inert objects are put together, but this is how I think it all goes down. So actually, yeah. We do have “something from nothing” on a daily basis. I do realize that it’s really something from something, but that’s what I’m trying to say all of it is anyhow.

Phew. What a ramble. Thanks for bearing with me.

Ah, wait, this “Does God Exist” video.

This is a biased proof. Those are absurd graphics to try to prove that things don’t just come out of thin air. Of course rabbits and VW buses don’t just fall out of the sky. There’s a bit of history to the origin of those items - which go back to the point of origin. The point of origin is the cause for all of it. If everything has to have an absolute point of origin (as in the second premise), then where does the cause for the universe come from? This question of “where did God come from” has not been answered with this circular proof.

The point of origin, here with the Big Bang, is a spontaneous explosion. But something I also periodically capitulate is: what came before the Big Bang - I’ve read that the universe had folded in on itself into one dense concentration of mass (there is probably some term for a super-blackhole) and the universe then continues to go through this cycle of expansion and contraction on an epically large scale. We’re still expanding, but the rate is slowing. So, depending on when you set your chronometer, the beginning of time is probably the latest Big Bang. Impossible to tell from the new configuration of it all what the last one looked like.

I wish I was better at quoting other people’s ideas. But I also don’t often feel compelled to get into a conversation like this. I am usually content to see what sticks with me, let it all meld together, and let my heart be my compass.

[Lawrence] Jamie: There are a number of points you raise.

Allow me to first summarize them to ensure I have understood them accurately:

  1. What about animals that exhibit indications of social connections and caring and even mourning for their companions? And even limited ability to communicate?
  2. Is seeing a name written in the sand evidence that God wrote it? Or in your words, something akin to scripture? You would attribute some writing in the sand to another human being, not God.
  3. Aren’t “patterns” in DNA simply an artifact of humans characterizing them as such? They are not smoke signals from God. Therefore, are we not committing the fallacy of equivocation (using language in an inconsistent manner), muddling letters and language.
  4. Are not black holes an example of “something” becoming “nothing”? Is not the Big Bang an example of “something” coming from “nothing”? Are chemical reactions examples of “something from nothing” that occur all the time, on a daily basis? And in the end, isn’t everything, including the universe “something from something” else?
  5. The big one, isn’t the premise of the Cosmological Argument flawed with respect to God himself? Therefore, where did God come from?
  6. Is not the universe undergoing an eternal cycle of expansion and contraction, and therefore no “beginning” is indicated, just an eternal changing state?

If I have those right, I’ll answer them, separately, one at a time for you, if you wish.

[Jamie] Well done on sifting through that ramble. Gold star.

Please, if you feel inclined to reply, I am interested. I feel my energies waning on this conversation though. It’s a rabbit hole and while I am intrigued to hear more contrasting views, I’m also content to leave it as potayto-potahto.

So, before you burn your time enlightening me, I wanted to prepare you for diminishing returns.


[Lawrence] Jamie: 1. What about animals that exhibit indications of social connections and caring and even mourning for their companions? And even limited ability to communicate?

This is a really big topic, but I will try to be brief. It’s also an area that’s be often abused and misunderstood over the centuries and used to justify maltreatment of animals, something that all Christians should abhor. However, the status and innate value of a human being is higher than that of an animal, and we are qualitatively distinct from them; I’ll try to explain why from a biblical and philosophical standpoint (science in general has little to say, since it’s approach is fundamentally naturalistic, apart from cognitive science).

Biblically, man is distinct from animals in three important respects. First, we are created in God’s image, and endowed with innate value from that fact. Second, we are a hybrid of spiritual and material being, with an eternal soul (eternal in time-forward sense; that is eternal from our creation). A soul is a difficult thing to grasp. The Hebrew word is “nephesh” and it is the seat of emotion, socialization and intelligence. In animals this is limited, but with humans specifically, God breathed into us his breath (or spirit) of life, Hebrew, “neshamah chayay” and man became a “nephesh chay”, that is living being or soul; it is this which elevates us with rationality, mind, reason and conscience, with the capability for abstract thought which is like God’s. So although both animals (in Gen 1:24) and mankind (in Gen 2:7) are described as “neshamah chay”, it is only humans whose “neshamah chay” came from the very breath of God; that is our quality of being a “living soul” is directly derived from God’s. While there are superficial similarities between us and our supposed closest relative, the chimpanzee, any reasonable person would admit that the differences are far more profound and significant. Third, we were created to be co-regents with God over creation. This means that we rule over creation, not as a tyrant, but in the same manner as God; with love, care and a mindset that all creation should flourish in balance and with right distinction between the relative value of creatures. This means that all creation is important, but that animal life, by it’s nature has less value than human life, because animals are temporal and do not have God’s image, and humans are eternal and do have God’s image. Make sense (from a Christian perspective; you don’t have to concur)?

Philosophically, The intellectual gulf that separates man from animals cannot be overstated. We are the only creature on the planet that can think abstractly, reasoning about entities that have no material instantiation (e.g. numbers, math) or concepts that embody classes of things that only have specific instantiation (e.g. fruit in general, as opposed to specific fruits, the concept of moral values, right and wrong, the idea of beauty for it’s own sake, art). The ability to reason inductively from the specific to the general – that is, since a, b, and c behave so, we can conclude that d might also behave so because d is in some relevant manner like a, b and c. This is hard to explain without a background in philosophy, but you should get the general idea. Human beings are qualitatively different from animals.

It’s not that animals are not valuable; they are. Nor that they don’t exhibit social qualities; they do. It’s that the way they are and do is qualitatively different from humans, not just in degree, but in kind. That said, there is a certain class of animals described in scripture, which seem to be the higher mammals and birds, which the Hebrew describes as “nephesh chay”; typically translated “living creatures”, but with a definite inference of being “soulish” in their ability to bond with each other and with humans. Lastly there’s a whole area of cognitive study that is still largely in it’s infancy which is already suggesting that the brain is not the be-all and end-all of human rationality.

If you are interested in reading further, I have an in-depth article on the harmonization of creation and science at http://think.dolhub.com/apologetics/Genesis-And-Science

[Jamie] Hi Lawrence, I have a hard time tuning into an explanation that uses the assumption of a god as the way of explaining that God created everything. Your first principle, that man was created in God’s image, nullifies your whole argument for me.

I had assumed that we agreed that evolution has occurred, so it doesn’t make sense to me to talk about God creating man in his image. If man evolved from other species, then God did not create man - or perhaps one could say loosely that God created man by instigating the Big Bang and then all the results from the chain reaction could be attributed to him.

It doesn’t make sense to me to say that man was created in God’s image. Is this literal or figurative? If literal, that doesn’t make sense. Figurative, I can see the argument for the principles of love, etc as you list. I just can’t grasp the literal. It’s circular. If an image of a man existed before the creation of the image of man… you know?

Yes, I agree, there is a difference in the mental capacity of animals and humans. I don’t think that makes us superior. If that is the rubric, then people with greater mental capacities are superior to other humans with lesser mental capacities. That isn’t very loving. And it isn’t very consistent of a rule if the prerequisite for being elite is just being a human. Is it that we’re human (no matter our mental state) or that we have these super powers of abstract though (except there are people who do not)?

And why would God bother to give some creatures some of the same mental capacities that he gave humans - empathy, altruism, etc.? This Us vs. Them mentality is a survival trait that we no longer necessarily need and should reflect about how it affects our relationships with the other.

[Lawrence] Jamie: Hi there. You question embodies, and by inference challenges, the idea of human exceptionalism, as well as questioning whether animals exhibit qualities comparable to humans which would undermine the idea that humans are qualitatively above the animals. My response addresses both of the points, from a biblical view (why Christians believe humans are exceptional) and from a philosophical view (external evidence that humans are exceptional).

The biblical argument is not circular (that would be begging the question); but it does rest on the presupposition that we are created. I do not hold that humans evolved from lower animals. I think you are quite correct in saying that if humans evolved from other species then God did not (directly) create humans. Indeed your summation is spot on.

The “image of man” did not exist before the “creation of the image of man”. Man is not created in his own image, but in God’s. There’s nothing at all circular there.

Exceptionalism is not a degree of mental capacity, it’s a qualitative difference in kind. No other creature reasons, loves, self-identifies, communicates, empathizes, acts altruistically, etc, in the same way that humans do. We are qualitatively different. That is evinced by the fact we are even having this discourse, reasoning and contemplating things which have no material reference.

God imparted his image to mankind because it was his good will to do so. You may consider it merely a “survival trait”, but there’s actually no evidence for that apart from the presupposition of evolution. And there our presuppositions differ… and that’s OK.

[Lawrence] Jamie: PS: You ask good questions.

[Lawrence] Jamie: I do have to add this. The scientific evidence is perfectly consistent with three singularities (unrepeatable events) in creation: The first at the inception of the universe, the second at the inception of life, and the third at the inception of mankind. There could be another at the Cambrian explosion where complex life appears suddenly. This is also perfectly consistent with the biblical creation record and there would be no trouble harmonizing this with that record even if animals, et al, evolved from these singular creative acts. Indeed, the Hebrew words used in Genesis imply time and development.


[Lawrence] Jamie: 2. Is seeing a name written in the sand evidence that God wrote it? Or in your words, something akin to scripture? You would attribute some writing in the sand to another human being, not God.

This one’s a simple response. No one is saying that seeing something written in the sand is scripture or in any way a message from God. The point is only that if you were to see it, you would immediately, and quite correctly, assume an intelligent cause (as you said, that another person had written it), and not a natural one (that it happened by chance through natural forces).

In fact, evolutionary biology is the only discipline where people are explicitly and repeatedly told to ignore the evidence of design and remind themselves it’s just an illusion; Richard Dawkins says this a lot, as do Bertrand Russell and PZ Myers, IIRC.

So the point is that evidence for design is evidence for a designing intelligence.

[Jamie] What I was trying to ask is if that is a common biblical phrase? Why have two people said this same analogy to me?

There is no evidence of design. It’s conjecture.

[Lawrence] Jamie: If I am understanding you correctly, in saying, “There is not evidence of design [in nature]. It’s conjecture.”, you are manifestly incorrect.

Scientists almost universally accept that many things in nature appear designed. Otherwise, why would people like Richard Dawkins say such things as: “The illusion of design is so successful that to this day most Americans (including, significantly, many influential and rich Americans) stubbornly refuse to believe it is an illusion.” (*)

The argument from writing in the sand (which is not a biblical phrase at all, just a simple, common analogy) is that in encountering evidence of an intelligent effect, it is fair and reasonable to infer an intelligent agency caused the effect. So it is in nature.

(*) Cf: http://www.skeptic.com/eskeptic/05-11-23/

[Jamie] This article that you’re quoting by Dawkins is him explaining why creationists are blinded by the product of evolution into thinking that it’s caused by intelligent design. That quote that you took is not him saying that he gives credence to intelligent design, he’s saying that rich and influential people have been propelling this conception.

Within the article he asks for evidence of creatures as we know them today as fossils from years ago and that those can neither be found, nor do creationists recognize fossils as record of history.

And he also says that many creationists are skeeved by the idea of sharing a high percentage of their DNA with some bacteria, tape worms, and other creatures, so they choose to dismiss that information.

He says, “I personally find the idea of cousinship to all living species positively agreeable, but neither my warmth toward it, nor the cringing of a creationist, has the slightest bearing on its truth.”

Some people see images of Jesus in their burned toast. Some of those people say that is intelligent design. Some other people say you see what you want to see.

It may be obvious by now, but I am in the second camp. :p

[Lawrence] Jamie: I never had any doubt you where “in the other camp”. :-D

I am not misquoting Dawkins or being disingenuous. Dawkins absolutely does not give any credence to any theory of origins except naturalistic evolution.

My point is only that even the most ardent of evolutionists admits that the evidence of design is there; they just insist we ignore it as an illusion. You may or may not find his reasoning compelling; obviously I don’t since I would then be seeking ways to harmonize evolution with scripture (and it’s doable; one of my best friends thinks God created by way of evolution).

And we do not “cringe” at the idea of being related to other species; we just don’t find compelling evidence to think it’s true. However, I would urge you to mark a difference between a “Young Earth” creationist and an “Old Earth” creationist. Those of us of the latter stripe are generally far more open to following the evidence, regardless (not that we don’t have our biases in interpreting the evidence, like anyone else).

With all that said, if one were to a priori rule out any extra-natural explanations, then of course one accepts evolution – it’s the only game in town. That’s the beauty of it; there’s no competing hypothesis if only natural causation is allowed.

[Jamie] Those are new distinctions to me, Young/Old Earth, so thank you for that introduction.


[Lawrence] Jamie: 3. Aren’t “patterns” in DNA simply an artifact of humans characterizing them as such? They are not smoke signals from God. Therefore, are we not committing the fallacy of equivocation (using language in an inconsistent manner), muddling letters and language.

No, they are not. DNA is an elaborate and precise code that not only dictates the construction of proteins and enzymes but also controls the expression of them in response to developmental stages as well as environmental pressures. A tremendous amount of DNA code and transcription is enabled only for certain cells and only for certain stages of construction. The amount of information embodied in our DNA is staggering. Proteins and enzymes are significant not only in their chemical composition, but even in the three-dimension shapes that these compounds fold into. The construction has to be exactly right to cause the right chemical properties and the right three-dimensional shape.

It’s in control and expression that the differences, for example, between human and chimp are realized. When you are told we are 98% similar to chimps (a disputed number, but let’s accept it for arguments sake), you must understand that what is being compared is the 2% of DNA that codes for proteins. So, for 2% of our DNA we are 98% similar to chimps, which is only to say we’re about 1.96% identical to chimps by that measure. Hardly surprising when humans and chimps have such similar body plans. All the major organs are essentially the same except the brain. Interestingly, the 0.04% of differences are primarily concerned with brain development.

Also, letters are not the same as language, but when letters are combined to produce information, then the only known cause we are aware of is intelligence. And DNA is information from beginning to end.

Again, this is not a message from God (nothing in nature is; that’s specifically the place of miracles). Rather they are a signal for intelligence being involved.

[Jamie] Thank you for deciphering what I was trying to ask. I didn’t know how to ask the question that you found and answered. I was trying to point out that it did feel muddled the idea that DNA is information vs. DNA is information from God.

I appreciate most your last statements - that nothing in nature is a message from God, but that the intricacies of it all are why you ascribe it as being created by an intelligent being.


[Lawrence] Jamie: 4. Are not black holes an example of “something” becoming “nothing”? Is not the Big Bang an example of “something” coming from “nothing”? Are chemical reactions examples of “something from nothing” that occur all the time, on a daily basis? And in the end, isn’t everything, including the universe “something from something” else?

Black holes are not nothing; in fact they are so massive, and their gravitational strength so strong that nothing can escape what’s termed its “event horizon”, not even light. Suffice it to say that black holes are the most massive objects in our universe. [Author note: Of course, Hawking Radiation does escape from a black hole, but my comment is essentially correct.]

Neither are chemical reactions nor atomic reactions examples of something from nothing. When a chemical reaction occurs the molecular makeup of the molecules involved is altered and different molecules are produced; but they are produced from pre-existing matter. The same is true of atomic reactions, an atom absorbing or releasing a photon, or splitting or fusing nuclei. What is happening is that pre-existing matter is changing its structural form. Since matter is essentially just “cold” (relatively speaking) energy, some reactions release some of that energy. But the total energy content of the universe is always constant. What is happening is that usable energy is forever decreasing and eventually this universe will not be able to support life of any kind.

Now the universe is something from nothing, where “something” is defined as space-time, matter or energy and “nothing” is defined as not those things. Before the Big Bang, there was literally no space-time, energy or matter. There was not only no material substance at all there was no “space” in which to contain it. At the inception of the universe all of space-time started off infinitesimally small and filled with pure energy; and it has been expanding ever since.

[Jamie] Yes. Thank you. I agree and understand. I was not clear with my use of quotation marks around “nothing” and you do a lovely job of explaining these phenomena.


[Lawrence] Jamie: 6. Is not the universe undergoing an eternal cycle of expansion and contraction, and therefore no “beginning” is indicated, just an eternal changing state?

Quick answer for this one. No, both the steady-state and oscillating-state models of the universe have been ruled out some decades ago. It is now almost certain that this universe has always been expanding and will continue to do so at an accelerating speed. The time will come when the expansion speed exceeds light speed, and at that point in time nothing outside of our solar system will be visible or reachable.

[Jamie] I will have to pay more attention when I come upon this again. I do not know where I picked that up from. I appreciate that there are people who devote their lives to the study of this. It is definitely far beyond my grasp as an average citizen to uncover for myself!

[Ian] Thank you, Jamie, for engaging on this and your willingness to discuss and share your perspectives.

[Beth] I SECOND THIS!

[Jamie] Thanks guys. I appreciate the very civilized discourse. I was curious when I saw the original post if others would respond. It’s intimidating to come into a forum where you know you are not the majority perspective. In neither regard should either side be ganged up on. I just mean that I recognized that I am not the most organized or eloquent in expressing my opinion, so I very much embrace the deciphering Lawrence has been doing!


[Lawrence] Jamie: 5. The big one: Isn’t the premise of the Cosmological Argument flawed with respect to God himself? Therefore, where did God come from?

I actually touched on this one earlier, when I said “Ultimately one has to arrive at a brute reality; an existence of something that is eternal. Logically an infinite regress of causation means that you cannot actually arrive at any given point in the continuum. Consider time extending infinitely past; we can never be at this moment because there are an infinite series of moments preceding us.” You can refer back to that comment, too.

God (or any eternal reality) is excluded from the Cosmological Argument by virtue of being uncreated. That is, premise (1) is “Anything which begins to exist must have an adequate cause.” God did not begin to exist, he exists eternally. For the Christian, God is the brute reality that causes everything which was created, which is everything except himself (or themselves as a Trinity, but let’s not go there quite yet).

For the materialist, the best idea posited is the multiverse, and even that does not exclude God – it’s entirely possible that God created a multiverse. In fact, scripture alludes to it, since we know of an angelic realm and of a new creation which is our eternal abode in the next life.

Further reading:

[Jamie] Ah, I see, this is a point that you made that I didn’t understand. It will take further reading for me to wrap my mind around the concept of uncreated and “brute reality”. I thought you were being poetic. Thanks for the links.

[Ian] It is certainly something to try to wrap your brain around. It’s crazy enough for many people just to even think about time as simply another dimension that we’re passing through (albeit in one way, and seemingly at a constant velocity), but then to box up everything we know about the universe, including space-time, and to step completely outside of it? It is quite literally unfathomable, and yet equally fascinating!

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