Saturday, December 10, 2011

A random argument for the Creator

Something can be learnt from past efforts to use science to argue for or against the existence of God.

The book Entropic Creation: Religious Contexts of Thermodynamics and Cosmology by Helge Kragh is an important one. A synopsis of the book is in a 2007 article by Kragh published in the journal Historical Studies in the Physical and Biological Sciences.

There is a helpful review of the book by Mark McCartney in the October 2010 issue of Science and Christian Belief. The entropic creation argument, widely used and debated between about 1850 and 1920 can be summarised as follows.

I. The entropy of the world increases continually. [This is the second law of thermodynamics.]

II. Our present world is not in a state of very high entropy.

III. Hence the world must be of finite age.

IV. If the world had a beginning, it must have been created.

V. If created, there must be a creator, that is, God must exist.

In this form the argument is rarely used today. Although, there are remnants or variations on it. For example in John Lennox's book God's Undertaker (page 71) who references Roger Penroses arguments concerning the entropy of the universe. [The Figure below is taken from The Emperor's New Mind].

One reason that the argument is rarely used today is that observational cosmological has definitively established III with the current estimate being 13.7+-0.1 billion years.

It is interesting that in its heyday some atheists were so resistant to the possibility that IV and V might be true that they attacked I, II, and/or III, to varying degrees.

On the other hand, it is interesting that in the past some theists (including distinguished scientists) seemed to be convinced that IV and/or V followed from the preceding points. I am not sure that is true today.

1 comment:

  1. Hi, Ross.

    I have never really understood the athiest worldview when it comes to origins. Can you explain (in layman's terms!) how an atheist understands the origins of the universe without a pre-existing force or entity? Or in other words, what are the reasons that allow point III to be true without leading to point IV?