I Haven't Studied Science:
Go Ahead And Prove Me Wrong!
Rob Ferretti

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From: "Positive Atheism Magazine" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Rob Ferretti"
Subject: Re: WebMaster:_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: May 09, 2002 6:30 AM

Perhaps it does and I just never noticed. I don't remember putting anything of that nature on the web site, because that is not really my position. To me, atheism is the default to which you return when the claims of theism simply don't fly.

Why don't you log on to the web site of particle physicist Victor Stenger and find out? He not only explains how positron-electron pairs can and do manifest themselves out of a vacuum and then return to nothingness, but he also explains how particles in other situations can and do "go backwards" in time and how particles in still other situations can be in two places at the same time! Nothing in modern science requires supernatural explanation. Nothing! Physics is much more fascinating than Fatima, that's for sure!

According to the inflationary big bang model (currently the most popular model in the field of particle physics, a model that has dominated for the past 20 years or so), the Universe arose from a single quantum fluctuation containing a total of zero energy. This model predicts some of what is coming out of the search for "dark matter" and "dark energy," in that if this "dark" stuff exists in the quantities being suggested by more than one experiment, the total amount of matter and energy in the Universe remains approximately zero. This makes sense, according to the laws of the conservation of energy.

If the Universe started with zero and now contained more than zero, we could safely say that something (or someone) from outside this system called the Universe has added to it over the course of time, since the big bang! However, that is not what is coming up from the studies that Professor Stenger has described to me: the Universe began with zero and appears to remain at zero.

Thus, to posit that something outside of this Universe has added anything to the Universe (since the moment a quantum fluctuation of zero energy began escaping to fill a true vacuum) would be to dismiss the laws of thermodynamics. But it remains easier for me to gather (from the fact that the Universe arose from zero energy and still contains zero energy) that this entire process has been natural, involving no additional energy from outside this system, than it would be for me to jettison the laws of thermodynamics and start telling people that zero plus something still equals zero! It would take more to topple the laws of the conservation of energy (in my mind) than your attempts to force physics to conform to your presupposition that a deity!

If you wish to use physics in your attempts to show that a deity exists, you do well to familiarize yourself with what is currently being discussed among those physicists who are working at the forefront of attempting to understand the very nature of matter and energy and therefore to find out precisely what happened at the big bang. I urgently warn against trying to get your information about physics from a preacher! Certainly you impair your credibility by dismissing the very core point of your claim, namely, what physics is currently saying about origins, when you attempt to ask, "How this beginning came into existence is irrelevant, ie through the big bang, or some other means."

Finally, if, during the course of your attempts to understand physics, you come across evidence which contradicts the notion that a God has added anything to this system, you do well to follow that evidence. If not, then go ahead and publicly abandon your trust in science, telling all who will listen that you do not trust the science of physics, that you think physicists are abject atheists who would coax even small children and their puppies and kittens away from the Grace of God given half a chance! Either would be much more honest that what you have done in your letter to us!

If you're simply trying to show that a deity exists, why do you go to these great lengths to come up with such a complex argument? Just who are you trying to snow with this ruse? Chances are that anybody who could even understand what you're saying (or not saying) is smart enough or educated enough to see through it!?

Why not, instead, follow the example of Alfred H. Ackley, who was asked by a sincere young Jewish man, "Why should I worship a dead Jew?" After struggling with this question, Brother Ackley came upon the only answer I have ever found to be entirely valid. If I wanted to become a Christian, this is the only reason I would ever give to anybody.

When Christians and other theists try to argue through science, it almost always ends up being a matter of merely comparing what the theist says about science against what the scientists are actually saying. Chances are (almost overwhelming to zip) that the theist's report of what science says in no way resembles what science has actually said about the subject!

But I cannot argue with the answer given by Mr. Ackley, and will not even try:

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I serve a risen Savior,
     He's in the world today;
I know that he is living,
     Whatever men may say;
I see His hand of mercy,
     I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him
     He's always near.

He lives, he lives,
     Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and talks with me
     Along life's narrow way.
He lives, he lives,
     Salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know he lives?
     He lives within my heart.

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I hope that with this you can understand that we are not here to discuss the god-question. We would much rather spend out time productively by trying to find ways to solve the grave problems that atheists face when it comes to the bigotry that is hurled against us from all directions. In this respect, not many of us conform to the popular stereotype that even you appear to have fallen for. There are almost 30 million of us in America: just over 14 percent of the adult population. Most of us -- almost all of us, actually -- just plain don't give a rat about religion. I know I don't!

The only reason I even indulge is because I happen to have once enjoyed it immensely and as a result, became quite skilled at it (and still retain those skills after all these years -- or so I am told). Readers seem to like it, so when I get someone on who is just begging to be held up as an example of the depths of desperation to which religion can lead you if you're not careful, I'll go ahead and spar a few rounds. But I do not care if anybody becomes an atheist or remains a theist. That is not what matters to me; that is not why I am here.

If I was even remotely worried that the claims of the Roman Catholic church had even the slightest chance of being valid, I might take the time to do that. However, it is not my burden to disprove all the magical mumbo-jumbo that crosses my desk. Rather, if you think it is important enough that I believe the claims of Roman Catholicism, you would present those in a clear and concise form. If what you say is unverifiable, then I remain an atheist, that's all. Only if what you tell me is verifiable as true do I have any business believing your claims.

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Six-and-a-half years of service
    to people with no reason to believe

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From: "Positive Atheism" <editor@positiveatheism.org>
To: "Rob Ferretti"
Subject: Re: WebMaster:_Positive_Atheism_Index
Date: May 09, 2002 9:13 PM

Of course I missed your point. You did not make any point, so how could I but miss it?

If you want to talk science, talk about what scientists are actually saying. Do not make this shit up as you go along. And do not get your science education from a preacher whose agenda cannot be but to uphold a previously accepted creed. Actually, do what you want, but don't bring that stuff here and pretend that you're refuting me with your scientific sounding clap-trap.

As I said, if you want to talk science, talk about what scientists are actually saying. Do not make this shit up as you go along. If you cannot get this and start talking REAL science, I'll set my software so that e-mail from you gets beamed off course and sent to --

I'm just tired of people trying to sound like they're talking all scientific like, but when you examine what they're saying, it turns out that they're not saying anything.

The most effective way to change our policy so as to severely limit e-mail which boils down to theists' attempts to sales-pitch religion onto the readers and myself has been this one ongoing and very popular practice, which dominates e-mail from Christians but occasionally comes from a few other kinds of theists as well. This practice attempts to convince me that theirs is a viewpoint of truthfulness and mine is a viewpoint of falsehood. When they engage in this practice, they tend to be most vehement in denouncing me as false, misleading, a deceiver, or not openminded.

However, when you examine what they are saying, it inevitably turns out that they are not saying anything. It appears to be little more than a bunch of scientific-sounding phrases cut-and-pasted together in a manner resembling what William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin used to call "cut-up poetry." It is scientific-sounding, to be sure, but there's one thing that it is not: science.

Like I've been saying, if you want to talk science, talk about what scientists are actually saying. Do not make this shit up as you go along, do you understand?

I will say three things for the benefit of readers (in case this thing ever gets posted):

First, "dark matter/energy" is not a real phrase, but was made up by somebody who is not versed in modern science -- most likely during the course of responding to my previous letter to this gentleman.

Secondly, neither "dark matter" nor "dark energy" has been described by any scientists (that I've heard of) as "a substance containing zero matter or energy." In fact, your response to my previous letter is the only time I've ever seen it referred to as such! The whole reason behind the search for this puzzling stuff that evades our most sensitive detection equipment is that the amounts of known mass in various parts of our Universe, specifically the dust, gas and other ordinary matter, cannot account for almost 90 percent of the mass of many galaxies. The mass is there, but we simply cannot see or detect the objects of this mass because they are very weakly interacting. This is anything but "a substance containing zero matter or energy." In fact, one might jokingly make a flip remark about a zero non-substance containing matter and energy and thus providing gravitational fields, but this is not what scientists have done. Rather, scientists have embarked on a search for ways in which we might be able to independently verify the existence of "dark matter" and "dark energy" other than by measuring the gravitational effects of known masses and noting that there is more gravitational effect, at times, than can be accounted for by the known masses.

Finally, the Inflationary Big Bang Theory (my caps) posits that our Universe ALL began from nothing, absolutely nothing, that the whole banana started from zero within what's called a true vacuum, and that the whole banana still equals approximately zero (give or take a little that can be accounted for by the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle).

Other theories that have come and gone or that have gained nominal acceptance in much smaller circles have posited that the Universe contains more than zero energy. I have yet to see one that raises fewer objections from the body of what we currently know about physics than the Inflationary Big Bang Theory. Since it contradicts the fewest known laws of physics, I consider it the most likely of the ones that have been floating around. And because it has made some accurate predictions, I hold out hope that we might actually be on to something with this theory.

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I will not, however, stand for somebody writing to our Forum and telling our readers that I'm wrong about this or in error about that, but when you examine his scientific-sounding attempts to show the truthfulness of his accusations against me you discover that he is not actually saying anything. He has done nothing more than simply tell you that I am in error about this and that; he has done nothing to demonstrate or even argue that the what he is saying about me is the truth!

Mostly, though, I will not stand for people telling us that I fail to understand this or that about science, but when you examine his scientific-sounding arguments you discover that he is so off-base with what he says about some of the more basic and available scientific statements that it's difficult not to conclude that he's deliberately making this stuff up! The information is not secret! There is no magical formula that only initiates know or only "the elect" may obtain. You do not need to have been present when Einstein presented his paper on Special Relativity (or whatever) in order to be able to call yourself a first-hand witness of the most astonishing proof of anything! This is what I love about science: anybody but anybody can become involved at least in trying to understand what it is saying!

Furthermore, if this form of sneakiness (cloaking lies in scientific-sounding nothing-talk) is what the Christian religion promotes, I not only want to have as little to do with that religion, but I want them to keep their religious teachings away from our children. Keep it in the safety of the home where only those families who are willing to assume the risks of playing such dangerous head-games with their kids will be exposed to it.

Once last time: any more scientific-sounding meaninglessness from you and we begin ignoring your letters.

Cliff Walker
Positive Atheism Magazine
Six-and-a-half years of service
    to people with no reason to believe

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