DOUG KRUEGER writes on 9/1/02:
I'm pleased to have the opportunity to respond to Pat Briney's arguments once again, although it is somewhat puzzling why Briney would have sent his "rebuttal" to many people involved in our previous e-mail exchange and neglect to send a copy to me. I had to get a copy from someone else. In previous exchanges I used the e-mail address I'm using now to correspond with Briney, so he was surely aware of my e-mail address. How odd.
In any case, Briney's attempts to save his First Cause argument from some of the problems inherent in his use of the term "natural" show that his position is probably too muddled to be salvaged, as we will see.
For clarity: In order to avoid the charge that I am lifting some of his comments out of context, I have not omitted any of Briney's e-mail post. Instead, I have embedded my present material in between exact quotations from Briney's e-mail. All the text after "Briney wrote" up to but not including the indicator "DOUG" is what Briney wrote, and everything from "DOUG" to the indicator "Briney wrote" is my new contribution. In addition, I have numbered my responses to specific premises by first giving the number of the Briney argument in Roman numerals, then the Arabic number of the premise, and, where applicable, a letter indicating whether the objection is the first objection to that premise, the second objection to that premise, etc. So, for example, "IV.2.c." would be the third objection ("c.") to the second premise ("2") of the fourth argument ("IV."). General comments on arguments as a whole are indicated by the number of the argument followed by a capital Arabic letter.
The Existence of God and the First Law of Thermodynamics
Patrick R. Briney, Ph.D.
The fall semester has begun and classes are in session once again. For many of you, the debate over God's existence is still fresh on your minds. Prior to the end of spring session, Doug Krueger and I debated the topic of God's existence. A follow up debate ensued via numerous emails, which, thankfully involved others than myself. These communications led down many paths, so I introduce the main point of contention once again.
Just to satisfy Briney's curiosity, I will remind him that I decided not to reply to the gratuitous e-mail insults that he sent me before our debate. I have limited myself to replies regarding his arguments.
Krueger attacked my presentation for the existence of God by attempting to discredit my description of scientific laws and definition of words. The first and main point of contention is over the first law of thermodynamics and the conclusion that the supernatural origin of the universe is the best explanation.
1. THE FIRST LAW OF THERMODYNAMICS
I represent the first law of thermodynamics as claiming that "energy cannot be created by natural means." Krueger claims that this is not what the first law of thermodynamics says (recorded on video during the spring 2002 debate). He objects to the use of "natural means," claims that the statement must conform to a "word for word" definition, and that the first law of thermodynamics does not apply to origin of energy. I offer first the meaning of "natural means" (arguments 1-3), second I deal with the complaint that there is no "word-for-word" quote that states the first law of thermodynamics the way I do (argument 4), third I show how the first law of thermodynamics applies to the origin of energy (arguments 5-7), and fourth I show why the supernatural is the rational conclusion (arguments 8-9).
OK, Briney has explained very clearly what he will try to show. There are several points that are relevant at the outset.
First, I have addressed ALL of these issues in previous e-mails, and it is evident that Briney's present attempt to rehabilitate his First Cause argument fails to respond to almost all of the objections I've raised. I invite Briney to do to my previous e-mail on the First Cause argument what I am doing to his, namely, to go through what I have written and give a point-by-point reply. Instead, Briney has chosen to ignore most of his argument's shortcomings. I feel justified in concluding that he must think that he does not have adequate replies to my material. Where it is relevant, I will refer to previous points, issues, or questions that Briney has ducked.
Second, note that Briney is not presently concerned with defending his First Cause argument per se. That is, he is not trying to show that god is the cause of the universe. Instead, he is trying to show something far more limited in scope, namely, that some "supernatural" explanation-- and there is no reference to god here-- is the only rational explanation for the origin of the universe.
Third, Briney's point with this whole series of arguments is to show that science is limited to a particular domain of explanation and that this domain does not include the best explanation for the (alleged) cause of the universe. However, for Briney's strategy to be successful, he must demonstrate that these five claims are true:
(A) The explanations of science are limited to a certain type of explanation about events (let us call this kind of explanation type "SE"),
(B) There are adequate explanations of events not included in type SE (let us call these non-SE explanations by the term "NE"),
(C) SE type explanations cannot explain the existence of the universe,
(D) NE explanations can explain the existence of the universe, and
(E) The best NE explanation for the existence of the universe contains god as part of the explanation.
Briney is claiming to defend only (A) through (D) presently, but he can't even do that adequately, as we'll see.
Argument for the meaning of "natural means."
Argument one I.
- Science derives conclusions based on physical and chemical properties of the material world.
- Physical and chemical properties of the material world are referred to as natural phenomena.
- Therefore, science derives conclusions based on natural phenomena.
Problems with the first premise of argument 1:
- I.1a. Briney has problems already. "Physical and chemical properties," he says. Does Briney think that chemical properties are not physical? There are no chemical properties that are not physical properties, so to state something about physical properties is to state something about chemical properties too. So why is Briney being redundant? Is this just more of the intellectual sloppiness that characterizes Briney's attempts to formulate arguments? I had hoped that, if Briney were to try to create more arguments for his position, that he would pay far more attention to detail than he has in the past because his previous arguments were found to be so flawed. My hopes were groundless, apparently.
- I.1b. What does Briney mean by "based on" in the first premise? This is too vague to stand as it is. "Science" also bases conclusions on human thought processes. This is part of the subject matter of psychology and sociology. Is Briney going to insist that the human mind is physical? If Briney thinks that there is some supernatural element to decision-making, such as an immaterial soul, then the first premise of his argument is at odds with his own beliefs. I would not endorse the idea of an immaterial soul, but if Briney does, he has made his first premise such that he cannot agree with it; if not all of science is concerned with what Briney would consider the physical world (as in psychology), then he would disagree with his own first premise.
- I.1c. If Briney attempts to avoid objection 1b by saying that he is only talking about the "hard" sciences, then he would be begging the question about the subject matter of science by arbitrarily limiting it in such a way as to exclude areas that do not conform to his first premise.
- I.1d. Briney should avoid giving the impression that science derives conclusions based only on "physical and chemical properties." This is not so. Science also bases conclusions on principles of reasoning and criteria of theoretical adequacy such as simplicity, conservatism, fruitfulness, etc. Does Briney assert that those principles are also physical or chemical? Again, this is just more problems for Briney, who is probably not an advocate of the view that mind is identical to brain.
- I.1e. How does Briney define "the material world"? Is this to suggest that there is some other kind of world that has "physical and chemical properties"? If not, why does Briney specify that scientific conclusions are based on the "physical and chemical properties" of the material world? No one has been able to show that there is some other world. And if there was, why should we agree with Briney's tacit assumption that science would not be involved in investigating that world? Briney's lack of understanding of the scientific enterprise is evident, but I'll go into more detail about that later.
Problems with premise 2 of argument #1, which is:
"Physical and chemical properties of the material world are referred to as natural phenomena."
- I.2a. Briney's premise refers to "physical and chemical properties of the material world." Are there "physical and chemical properties" of some nonmaterial world? Why is Briney making these superflous distinctions? What's really happening is that Briney is trying to limit the scope of scientific explanation to the "natural" world, and he's trying to look like he's arguing for it instead of simply defining it that way. But he's really just defining the scope of science as "the natural world," not showing by examining scientific investigation that it has the limits he's talking about. I'll say more about this later.
Problems with Briney's conclusion for argument #1, which is:
"Therefore, science derives conclusions based on natural phenomena."
- I.3a. Briney gives no criteria for distinguishing between "physical and chemical" properties and other properties. In fact, Briney has not shown that there are nonphysical properties such as "supernatural" properties, which is where he's trying to locate his explanation for the origin of the universe. Even if science bases conclusions on "natural" phenomena, if there are no other phenomena, then there is no limit to the domain of science, and Briney won't be able to insist that we look for the explanation for the origin of the universe outside the (alleged) scope of science.
- I.3.b. What Briney fails to understand is that scientific explanations are of a certain type not because science is somehow confined to a certain area but because the kinds of causes to which science appeals are (so far) the only kinds of causes we've found.
Argument two II.
- Natural phenomena are caused by natural processes and properties of the material world.
- Natural processes and properties of the material world are sometimes referred to as natural means.1
- Therefore, natural phenomena are caused by natural means.
Problems with argument 2:
- II.1.a. "Natural phenomena are caused by natural processes AND properties of the material world"? Are there properties of the material world that are not natural processes? If it's the MATERIAL world, it is likely that Briney would say that its processes are "natural" since he would probably claim that all natural processes are material. Briney is being redundant again. This is because, ultimately, he is arguing in a circle to try to get his conclusion later.
- II.1.b. "The material world." Show that there is any other.
- II.1.c. "Natural phenomena are caused by natural processes." This circular use of "natural" is not explanatorily helpful.
Problems with premise #2:
"Natural processes and properties of the material world are sometimes referred to as natural means."
- II.2.a.To try to correct the vacuous use of "natural" in his first premise and in the second premise, Briney appeals to the dictionary:
1: A correct definition of natural according to Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary, (c) 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.: "2. Conformed to the order, laws, or actual facts, of nature; consonant to the methods of nature; according to the stated course of things, or in accordance with the laws which govern events, feelings, etc.; not exceptional or violent; legitimate; normal; regular; as, the natural consequence of crime; a natural death." "3. Having to do with existing system to things; dealing with, or derived from, the creation, or the world of matter and mind, as known by man; within the scope of human reason or experience; not supernatural; as, a natural law; natural science; history, theology."
- II.2.a. cont'd: Briney doesn't even give us the first, primary definition. Why doesn't he give us that one?
- II.2.b. Briney cites the dictionary, and it has several uses of the term "natural," but Briney does not explain which definition he is using. If he's going to appeal to the dictionary, he ought to make his use of it clear. The definitions he cites are not all equivalent.
- II.2.c. Some of the definitions Briney cites hurt his case. For example, one of the uses includes theology, so Briney's attempted distinction between the natural and the "supernatural" is not clear. Briney wants to appeal to the non-natural to explain the origin of the universe, but if his appeal to the dictionary allows theological explanation to fall under the heading of "natural," it is not clear what Briney will call "supernatural." Another definition is "the world of matter and mind." Since Briney was trying to limit the use of science to the "physical and chemical properties," if the mind is included, Briney must either disagree with the dictionary he cites and disagree with his first argument, or else relegate mind to the physical, which I'm sure he doesn't want to do. Briney cites the dictionary, but he doesn't know how to incorporate its information into his argument, and his attempt to limit the scope of science suffers.
"I call that natural religion which men might know . . . by the mere principles of reason, improved by consideration and experience, without the help of revelation. --Bp. Wilkins."
And the point of this is what?
A correct definition of means according to The American Heritage(r) Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition Copyright (c) 2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company: "5. To have as a consequence; bring about: Friction means heat."
The use of "means" is not in doubt. Briney has cited so many different uses of the word "natural" that his distinction between what is natural and what is not is not clear at all.
Comment: What is becoming clear by looking at Briney's strategy is that he just doesn't understand the scientific enterprise in general. He is clearly no scientist, despite his "Scientist Believes the Bible" tract to the contrary. A scientist is someone who does science. College degrees have nothing to do with it. Briney doesn't do science, so he is not a scientist. It's that simple. His lack of understanding of how scientists form explanations will prove to be the downfall of his present set of arguments, but we'll look at his arguments a bit more before I show how he is confused about scientific explanations.
Argument three III.
- Scientific laws are based on recurring natural phenomena.
- Natural phenomena are caused by natural means. (II, 3)
- Therefore, scientific laws are based on recurring natural phenomena caused by natural means.
Problems with argument III.
- III.1. ANY phenomenon that recurs could be used in science as an explanation. Whether it is "natural" or not has no bearing on the matter. Briney doesn't understand this. That is Briney's basic mistake. He is conceiving of science as having some "realm" or "domain" or "world" as if there were marked territories for science or theology and there is no crossover. Briney take note: science is the investigation, and explanation, of events. Wherever or whatever the event, it is fair game for scientific investigation. There is no "domain" or "world" that limits science. If X is an event, science is to investigate X, and, it is hoped, explain why X happens. There is no "supernatural world" where science does not apply (unless it is a "world" where there are no events). This is why the science of parapsychology was possible. People thought that there were phenomena happening that current scientific explanations did not capture in their explanations.
There were people apparently reading minds, talking with ghosts, etc. It has turned out that no one has been able to show that such phenomena exist, so science has not had to be amended to take such phenomena into account and there is no "science" of parapsychology after all, since there are no events for it to apply to. But what if such things as mindreading or mediumship did occur? Would they be "outside" of science because they are not "natural" phenomena? No. Science is the investigation, and explanation, of events. If reading minds is an event, then science should address it and explain it. Even if there are gods, this would fall within the realm of science. If gods cause events, science should investigate this and explain it, if possible. This is why there have been scientific studies of the power of prayer. If science could not investigate phenomena that are not "natural," and prayer is "supernatural," then no such study of the efficacy of prayer would be possible. But it is possible. Such studies were done. It turns out, however, that no reliable studies show that intercessory prayer is helpful. The point is: there are no events that are off-limits to science. Scientific laws are based on recurring phenomena, and whether they are "natural" or not is irrelevant. The term "natural" has no explanatory value in science.
- III.2.a."Natural phenomena are caused by natural means." What are "natural means"? Briney's previous arguments have set it up such that "natural means" are explanations based on "physical and chemical properties." But I have already pointed out that those are not the only bases for scientific explanations. In addition, his use of "natural" has remained far too vague to be of any use, and his appeal to a multiplicity of differing dictionary definitions did not help any.
- III.2.b. Briney's misunderstanding leads him astray again. Science is not limited in its explanation of events to an appeal to the "natural." It has happened that the only kinds of explanations that have been shown to apply to known phenomena are those that do not involve magic beings such as gods. But the limitation is only because of what has been shown to be true, not because science doesn't want to use some kinds of explanations. If a god-based explanation of a phenomenon could be shown to be true, science would have to accept it. If it could be shown to be true that gods throw lightning at people because they are angry, then the hard sciences would try to explain how the gods do this and the social sciences would try to explain why they do it. However, no such phenomena have been shown to occur, so no such explanations are needed.
- III.3. Scientific explanations can be based on ANY recurring phenomena that is causally related to the phenomenon. If it could be shown that there were any gods that cause phenomena, science could use gods in explanations just as easily as a psychologist could use parents in an explanation or a physicist could use atoms in an explanation. The only barrier to this is that it has never been shown that there are gods that do anything. Scientific laws are based on recurring phenomena, regardless of the cause of the phenomena. All that matters is whether the recurring phenomena are causally responsible for the event that is to be explained.
Argument for stating a generalized truth of a scientific law rather than a word-for-word quote.
Argument four IV.
- Scientific laws are generalizations based on recurring facts or events.2
- Generalizations based on recurring facts or events are expressed in a variety ways rather than formulated into official, single, word-for-word quotes.
- Therefore, scientific laws are expressed in a variety ways rather than formulated into official, single, word-for-word quotes.
- IV.1. To support this, Briney again appeals to a dictionary:
2: According to WordNet Dictionary (r) 1.6, (c) 1997 Princeton University: a law of nature is "a generalization based on recurring facts or events (in science or mathematics etc): 'the laws of thermodynamics.'"
IV.1. cont'd: Note how the dictionary does not state, as Briney did, that a law of nature is "a generalization based on recurring natural facts or natural events." What facts or events are recurring is limited to whatever exists or recurs, not whether that fact or event is "natural." So this does not support the first premise of Briney's third argument that "scientific laws are based on recurring natural phenomena," where Briney uses the term "natural" to describe the phenomena. Again, his appeal to a dictionary is not helpful to his case.
- IV.2.a. Briney's second premise is interesting: "Generalizations based on recurring facts or events are expressed in a variety ways rather than formulated into official, single, word-for-word quotes." Briney is saying this because in his debate, he stated the first law of thermodynamics as: "Energy is not created by natural means." I mentioned that this is NOT the First Law of Thermodynamics, and that no scientific formulation of the First Law uses the term "natural," which Briney wants to use. I challenged Briney to find a single instance in a science textbook where the First Law was stated as he has stated it. He could not. So my challenge stands. Briney is distorting the First Law of Thermodynamics to help his own agenda. In a previous post on his First Cause argument a few months ago, I pointed out the following:
Briney says that the first law of thermodynamics states: "Energy is not created by natural means." That is not the first law of thermodynamics.
IV.2.a. cont'd: So now Briney is trying to save face by saying that scientific laws may be stated in different ways. But he has still not found any science textbook that states the First Law of Thermodynamics as he has stated it, especially with the word "natural" in it, which he inserts.
a. Briney recently sent me an e-mail claiming to have found a statement of the first law of thermodynamics which is similar to what he had in his powerpoint presentation. But none of the links he sent state the law as Briney has stated it above, as Darrel Henschel has already shown. Briney's argument supposedly relies on implications of the first law of thermodynamics, but since the first law of thermodynamics is not accurately stated, the argument fails.
b. No scientific law has any phrase such as "by natural means." Such a phrase has no scientific meaning, so no scientific law would include such a phrase. Briney requires this phrase to set up his false dichotomy, but in doing so he misrepresents the very law that supposedly serves as the foundation for the argument.
- IV.2.b. I never denied that scientific laws may be stated in different ways, so that Briney is trying to imply otherwise misrepresents my position. In fact, I wrote:
c. The first law of thermodynamics may be stated in different ways. Briney's alleged formulation is so vague and inaccurate that it is unusable. Some standard versions are:
IV.2.b. cont'd: So I am not being excessively stubborn in demanding an accurate formulation of the First Law of Thermodynamics from Briney. He can't show any similar formulations in any scientific textbooks. If he's going to appeal to the First Law of Thermodynamics, he should be expected to state it correctly.
"the total energy of the system plus the surroundings is constant. That's the First Law of Thermodynamics. The First Law is also stated as energy is conserved."
"The first law of thermodynamics, also called conservation of energy, states that the total amount of energy in the universe is constant."
"The first law of thermodynamics relates changes in internal energy to heat added to a system and the work done by a system. The first law is simply a conservation of energy equation:
DU ... = Q - W
The internal energy has the symbol U. Q is positive if heat is added to the system, and negative if heat is removed; W is positive if work is done by the system, and negative if work is done on the system."
See http://www.phys.lsu.edu/astro/H_Book.current/Context/PGE/1st.law.forms.text.shtml for other formulations.
- IV.3. Briney's second premise and his conclusion state that scientific laws don't have to be formulated as "official, single, word-for-word quotes." I don't know what he means by "official" except that there might be some specific formulation of a law that a scientific association has adopted, but I never demanded that he cite a certain organization's use of the First Law. Briney is attacking a straw man.
- IV.2.d. Nor did I demand that the First Law be formulated as a single sentence.
- IV.2.e. Nor did I demand that the First Law be formulated as a quotation. If a statement is formulated, it is ipso facto not a quotation.
General comment: Briney cannot find any scientific support for his eccentric formulation of the First Law of Thermodynamics, and his fourth argument does not justify his mischaracterization of this principle in science.
Argument for generalized claim of the first law of thermodynamics.
Argument five V.
- The first law of thermodynamics is a scientific law.
- Scientific laws are based on recurring phenomena caused by natural means. (III, 3)
- The first law of thermodynamics is a scientific law based on recurring phenomena caused by natural means.
- V.1. The first law of thermodynamics is a scientific law. Too bad Briney doesn't understand what this law is or when it applies. More about this below.
- V.2. Scientific laws are based on recurring phenomena, regardless of the cause. Can Briney cite a single instance of a known, recurring phenomenon with causal powers that was rejected as an explanation by science because it was not caused by "natural means"? Let's see it. I doubt that he can provide such an instance. Since Briney's fifth argument is based on his previous confusions and failed arguments, his fifth argument is unconvincing.
Argument six VI.
Thus, it is correct to say that according to the first law of thermodynamics, energy cannot be created by natural means.
- The first law of thermodynamics states, among other things, that energy cannot be created.3
- That energy cannot be created is based on recurring phenomena caused by natural means.
- Therefore, the first law of thermodynamics stating that energy cannot be created is based on recurring phenomena caused by natural means.
3:* Dr. Robert H. Gowdy, Associate Professor, Chair of the Physics Department at Virginia Commonwealth University states on his web site at http://www.people.vcu.edu/~rgowdy/mod/022/imp3.htm that, "Although energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can be converted from one form into another." [emphasis mine]
* At http://www.unlv.edu/courses/ENS100/devine/03chap/tsld014.htm, sponsored by the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, Dr. Darren Devine states the 1st Law of Thermodynamics as, "In any physical or chemical reaction, energy cannot be created or destroyed. It can only be changed from one form to another." [emphasis mine]
* From Dr. Richard B. Hallick at The University of Arizona at http://www.blc.arizona.edu/courses/181GH/rick/energy/energy.html, he describes the first Law of Thermodynamics as, "Energy cannot be created or destroyed; different forms of energy are interconvertible." [emphasis mine]
- VI.1: Briney asserts that the First Law says that "energy cannot be created." Not so. This is only so when and where the First Law applies. See the general comment below. Because Briney does not take the application of the law into consideration, his attempt to use it is fatally flawed.
- VI.A. General comment on argument VI: What Briney neglects to mention are some of the serious oversights I've already brought up in previous posts regarding his use of the First Law of Thermodynamics. It is one thing to state off-the-cuff formulations of a law of science, as he does. It is another thing to understand when the law applies. Briney does not address the fact that the First Law only applies to systems, and when there was no universe, there was no system. So a law that states that energy cannot be created would not apply to a universe that comes into being in the absence of scientific laws. So energy could be created. This is an important point that Briney does not address, but he is aware of it because I have brought it to his attention already.
Now, when do the laws of thermodynamics apply? To systems. What is a system?
"The first concept which must be understood in applying thermodynamics is the necessity to begin with the definition of what is called a "system". In thermodynamics this is any region completely enclosed within a well defined boundary. Everything outside the system is then defined as the surroundings. Although it is possible to speak of the subject matter of thermodynamics in a general sense, the establishment of analytical relationships among heat, work, and thermodynamic properties requires that they be related to a particular system. We must always distinguish clearly between energy changes taking place within a system and energy transferred across the system boundary. We must likewise distinguish between properties of material within a system and properties of its surroundings. In accordance with their definition, thermodynamic properties apply to systems which must contain a very large number of ultimate particles."
So if there is no universe, there is ipso facto no system, and the laws that apply to systems do not apply. The following may also help elucidate.
VI.A. General comment contd: Do you see anything in Briney's present defense of his use of the First Law to indicate that he even read any of my objection regarding the application of the First Law? He seems to have completely ignored this important facet of the use of thermodynamic laws. Briney is not responding to--or even acknowledging-- some of the most damning criticism I presented against his First Cause argument. This sort of evasion helps no one. It doesn't help defend his argument, and it certainly doesn't help his audience for him to misrepresent the problems with his argument.
Given the First Law of Thermodynamics: that you can't get something from nothing. Where did all the stuff in the universe come from and how is it still a law if it was once broken?
The law you cite, applies only to "closed systems", i.e. where nothing can be added or subtracted from the "specimen". Obviously if you apply the law to an empty box, then open the box and dump in a handful of sand, or quarks, or energy, you don't expect the law to apply, because the system is not "closed".
It is not known whether the universe as a whole is a closed system now at present. As far as conditions preceding and at the very moment of the "big bang", we can only speculate whether the universe was closed, or open (to another, larger system), or whether the First Law (or lots of other laws) even applies under those extreme conditions.
Answered by: Grant Hallman, Ph.D., Universtiy of Toronto, 1971/1967
- VI.B. General comment: When Briney talked to Bill Harter, a local physicist from the U. of A., he was told that the laws of thermodynamics also apply only to systems in equilibrium. The energy must be evenly distributed throughout the system. If it is not, the law does not apply. Briney does not address this either, but if Briney cannot show that the universe has always been a closed system in equilibrium, then he cannot show that the First Law has always applied, and thus he cannot show that energy could not have been created.
- VI.C. General comment: When Briney talked to Bill Harter, a local physicist from the U. of A., he was told that the laws of thermodynamics also apply only statistically. The laws are not absolute. Because of quantum uncertainty, there is always a minute possibility that some event contrary to the law could occur. Briney does not address this, but it is a relevant criticism that makes his First Cause argument untenable. So the First Law of Thermodynamics only applies statistically (not absolutely) to systems in a certain state. So, best case scenario for Briney, even if his hitherto unsuccessful defense of "natural" in his formulation of the First Law could hold up, these other criticisms sink his case that energy could not be created.
Argument for applying the first law of thermodynamics to origin of the universe
Argument seven VII.
- The first law of thermodynamics presents a rule describing the creation of energy.
- The creation of energy refers to the origin of new, previously non-existent energy.
- Therefore, the first law of thermodynamics presents a rule describing the origin of new, previously non-existent energy.
- VII.1. The First Law of Thermodynamics presents a rule describing under what conditions energy can or can't be created or destroyed. Since Briney is unable to show that those conditions apply to the beginning of the universe, his argument is doomed to failure.
The first law of thermodynamics describes that energy is conserved, thus detecting new forms of energy is not the result of natural creation but rather a change in form of existing energy. Because we are dealing with a physical phenomenon under physical conditions, the first law of thermodynamics is understood to apply only to natural conditions. The question posed is, "How did energy begin to exist without violating the first law of thermodynamics?"
Briney's defense of the use of "natural" has been a failure. He cannot find any science textbook to back him up on this, and his own arguments haven't worked.
Krueger responds saying that the first law of thermodynamics did not exist at singularity. This is explained by others, who rationalize that under such conditions there were probably no laws or matter as we know them today during the singularity. However, this begs the question of energy origin. At issue in this discussion is not the origin of the singularity, but the origin of the energy from which the singularity came into existence.
Briney should represent his critics more faithfully. I do not simply contend that "the first law of thermodynamics did not exist at singularity." I contend that the beginning of the universe was not governed by scientific laws. Energy as a singularity or not, whatever was at the beginning did not come to exist in the context of a system in equilibrium, so its creation was not governed by the First Law of Thermodynamics. If Briney does not address my arguments, he cannot be expected to rebut them. That's the danger of attacking straw men. Some of the most telling points against him have remained unaddressed in his recent attempt to rehabilitate his First Cause argument.
Krueger claims that something can come from nothing, hence the singularity originated from absolutely nothing. He cites his authority as Dr. Bill Harter, physics professor of the University of Arkansas. I talked with Dr. Harter, and he confirmed that he told Krueger essentially that the demonstration of something from nothing occurred in the 1930's. However, he erroneously cited an experiment to support the claim that something can come from nothing, which in fact was a demonstration only of energy transition from radiation to particle energy in a vacuum. I asked for a relevant reference that indeed supported the claim that something can come from nothing, but none has been offered--and for good reason. There has never been a demonstration of something coming from nothing. The transition of radiation energy inside a vacuum into particle energy is something from something.
A. Briney misunderstands. The use of radiation energy is as a catalyst. You get the amount of energy out as you put in by radiation, plus the new energy.
"Pop" explanation from The Cosmic Code by Heinz R. Pagels (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1982), pp. 275-276.
A. cont'd: So Briney's attempt to rebut doesn't work. He misunderstands the physics involved.
B. In addition, since the First Law of Thermodynamics applies only statistically, it is physically possible that energy could be created and yet the First Law would not be violated. The same is true of systems that are not in equilibrium. Briney does not address this. Because of quantum uncertainty, even the First Law of Thermodynamics is not absolute.
The Heisenberg uncertainty relation comes into play if we now apply this law to the world of quantum interactions. The uncertainty relation implies that if we measure the energy of a quantum like the electron over a short but definite time interval then the degree of uncertainty in the measurement of that energy is inversely proportional to that time interval. Thus, for very short time intervals there can be great uncertainty in our knowledge of the energy of the quantum. This means that the energy accountant, for short periods of time, must make errors in the energy income and expense column, although the errors average out to zero over long time periods. The uncertainty relation implied a loophole in the argument that the law of energy conservation meant that quanta could not be created out of nothing. They can be created out of nothing for short time periods. The errors in the energy account are like the waves on the vacuum sea. In some places the waves are higher, in other places lower, but they average out to what we see from on high--a smooth sea. The random errors our energy accountant makes are just another manifestation of the statistical nature of reality and the dice-playing God. The vacuum randomly fluctuates between being and nothingness.
Since energy is uncertain, for short time periods a quantum could, in principle, come into existence in empty space and then quickly disappear. Such a quantum that goes in and then out of reality is called a virtual quantum. It could become a real quantum, an actual particle, only if it had sufficient energy to do so. These virtual quanta are like the errors the energy accountant is making. They have a virtual reality but in the end they have to cancel out. If we could supply the needed energy to the vacuum from an external source, then the virtual particles in the vacuum could become real. It would be like telling the energy accountant that he had a real credit in the account and one of his income errors didn't have to be canceled by an expense error. This process of the creation of real from virtual quanta has actually been observed in the laboratory.
The Cosmic Code, pg. 278.
These colliding beam machines, by supplying energy to the Vacuum, actually probe the structure of the vacuum in terms of virtual particle-antiparticle pairs. Quark-antiquark pairs of particles pulled into existence from the vacuum can be created in this way. That is one way that the new quarks, like the charmed quark, were discovered. The charmed quark and antiquark pair was but a tiny wave on the vacuum ocean which, once physicists supplied just the right amount of energy, could be brought into existence in the form of a new hadron. Physicists anticipate that even more new forms of matter will be discovered using this technique of bringing the virtual vacuum quanta into existence...Once our minds accept the mutability of matter and the new idea of the vacuum, we can speculate on the origin of the biggest thing we know--the universe. Maybe the universe itself sprang into existence out of nothingness--a gigantic vacuum fluctuation which we know today as the big bang. Remarkably the laws of modern physics allow for this possibility...The entire universe could be a representation of nothingness--the vacuum.
Krueger claims that the first law of thermodynamics does not apply to the origin of energy. He erroneously implies that energy originated from the singularity.
No, I would assert that the singularity WAS the energy. Again, Briney misunderstands or misrepresents arguments against him, so he fails to rebut them.
Citing the vauum [sic] experiments of radiation to particle energy, it is argued that if particles can originate from radiation in a vacuum, then a singularity of massive proportion could arise from a quantum fluctuation of energy in the same way. Put into perspective, the appearance of the singularity that resulted in the formation of this present universe (estimated to be about 3 x 1051 kg), is claimed to be no different than the appearance of effervescent particles (estimated to be about 9 x 10-31 kg) in a vacuum (Russell Humphreys, Starlight and Time, 1994). Noteworthy, is that this line of reasoning shows admission on the part of physicists that (i) quantum fluctuation experiments under today's conditions and laws are used to explain the appearance of the singularity, and (ii) that the singularity appeared from pre-singularity energy (something from something). This reasoning of (i) is only justified if the laws of energy today are assumed to be the same as those prior to the appearance of the singularity. Thus, it is consistent and appropriate to apply the same conditions and laws (such as the first law of thermodynamics) to the energy existing prior to the singularity.
A. Briney is now citing material that disagrees with his own view. If the appearance of the Big Bang singularity is no different than the appearance of effervescent particles in a vacuum, which happens, then there is no mystery about the appearance of the Big Bang singularity. So there is no mystery that we need to bring in ghosts to explain. Science has no problem with creating real particles out of virtual particles, so Briney is arguing that the appearance of the Big Bang singularity particle is well understood.
B. Briney seems to be arguing that there was energy before the Big Bang. If this is so, then it is seems that his position is consistent with the energy of the universe always existing. If the energy of the universe always existed, then the universe is eternal and it was not created, which is contrary to Briney's own argument.
Argument for natural to supernatural
There are three possible causes for origin of energy:
- from nothing,
- from something natural, and or
- from something supernatural.
A. Briney does not entertain the possibility that the energy of the universe has always existed in some form. The "multiverse" theory that this universe is only a small facet of a set of many universes in different dimensions has gained popularity in recent years among cosmologists. In this case, the origin of the energy in this universe was that it came from another universe, and on infinitely into the past. Briney does not even show that he is aware of this possibility, so his argument suffers.
B. Briney must also justify his assumption that there IS an explanation of the origin of the universe. After all, he would deny that there is an origin of his god. So since he does not thing that causation is universal, on what grounds can he have an exception to causation and yet others cannot? In fact, contemporary physicists have abandoned the ancient belief that causation is universal. Let's see Briney defend his assumption that the universe must have had a cause for its existence. Since he doesn't always look for one, let's see him show that gods don't need them but universes do.
The supernatural choice is the most rational. Why? First, there are no experiences or justifications for concluding that something comes from nothing.
A. Briney thinks that god can make the energy of the universe come from nothing, so he again asserts something with which he disagrees.
B. Science disagrees with Briney on this matter, as explained above.
Second, something from nothing is contrary to the first law of thermodynamics of science. Such a claim contradicts the established law of thermodynamics, which, as shown above, is justifiably applied to the origin of energy. Reasonable explanations must have some rational basis for the interpretation. Credible explanations do not contradict laws of science. Claiming that something can come from nothing is a serious violation of common sense, experience, and scientific law.
A. As already explained at length, Briney not only does not know what the laws of thermodynamics are, he does not address when they apply. And the laws only apply statistically, which definitely destroys his argument.
B. Mythological explanations such as "God did it by magic" are also not credible unless supported by evidence. Briney has shown no such evidence at all. Briney whines falsely that scientists cannot make something from nothing, despite the clear claims of scientists to the contrary, but he expects us to believe without any supporting evidence that ghosts can in fact perform this procedure. Scientists provide evidence that they can do something, and Briney dismisses their claim without understanding it. Then an old anonymous book claims that ghosts do this same thing and he expects us to simply believe this? And he calls himself a scientist...
The second possible cause for the origin of energy is just as incredible as coming from nothing. Observations demonstrate that, without exception, new energy is not naturally created. It can change form but net energy is conserved.
Not so. There is nothing in science about whether energy is "naturally" created. Under certain conditions, and to a certain degree of probability, energy cannot be created. "Naturally" is not applicable.
In the following arguments, I refer to the context of "confined to natural conditions" to clear up misrepresentation and to emphasize that from the field of science we are dealing with natural conditions. The laws that exist today show that energy cannot be created by natural means. Krueger erroneously equates the contradiction of law with lack of understanding. Thus, he wrongly represents me as saying that because the natural origin of energy is not known, the supernatural is a reasonable conclusion. What I actually claim is that because the laws show that a natural origin of energy cannot occur, a supernatural origin of energy is the logical conclusion.
A. Briney has not shown that there is any scientific law stating that energy cannot be "naturally" created.
B. Even if science could not explain the origin of energy, Briney has not shown that a supernatural explanation is either possible, likely, or logical.
Argument eight (ii) VIII. Energy cannot originate from something natural.
- The origin of the universe requires the creation of energy.
- The creation of energy cannot occur by natural means. (VI, 3)
- Therefore, the origin of the universe cannot have occurred by natural means.
- VIII.1 The multiverse theory does not require the creation of energy. Briney has not shown that the universe definitely had an origin from nothing, so we needn't conclude that the energy of the universe necessarily had an origin from nothing.
- VIII.2. The First Law of Thermodynamics is not an absolute law that applies to all known past events, so Briney's use of it here is pointless.
- VIII.3. Scientists are appealing to explanations of the origin of energy ex nihilo that do not violate scientific principles, as explained above. Briney's conclusion is unjustified.
- VIII General comment: Again, Briney does not justify his assumption that the universe must have had a cause of its existence.
Of the possible causes for the origin of energy, the supernatural is the most credible. The explanations that the energy came from nothing or from "something by natural means" are not plausible within the confinement of scientific laws.
Argument nine IX. Energy is created supernaturally.
- The creation of energy is an event that occurs contrary to natural laws.
- Events that occur contrary to natural laws are supernatural.
- Therefore, the creation of energy is supernatural.
- IX.A. Briney has not shown that there is a supernatural origin of the universe because he has not explained in any positive sense what the "supernatural" is. Briney's own use of "natural" has been terribly confused, and it seems that he would call that which is "physical or chemical" in an explanation the "natural" part. But it has already been shown that those are not the only bases for scientific conclusions.
- IX.B. Briney has not shown that there are any causal factors that are not physical or chemical, so he has not shown that there is any such thing as a supernatural explanation. Before he can appeal to a supernatural cause, he must show that such causes exist.
It has been stated that the conclusion that a supernatural event was responsible for the creation of energy is based on lack of knowledge.
However, this explanation wrongly equates lack of knowledge with contradiction of laws. The natural laws as they are known today are violated by natural explanations (contradiction). A supernatural cause for the origin of energy does not suffer this dilemma.
Nonsense. Briney is trying to hide the fact that his whole argument appeals to ignorance. Even if it WERE the case that our present scientific laws cannot account for the existence of the universe, we should be open to the possibility that our present laws of science are incorrect or at least incomplete. And no scientist denies that science is incomplete! Three hundred years ago scientists could not explain electricity, yet supernatural explanations would have been unjustified and incorrect. Even IF science cannot explain the origin of the universe, this does not entitle us to appeal to magic powers.
It has also been argued that the supernatural must be proscribed because we have no way of determining its mechanisms. This thought is seriously flawed because (i) it confuses what happened with how it happened as though they are one and the same thing,
No. What happened is an event. "How" something happened is an explanation of an event. What Briney is trying to provide is an explanation. If his alleged "explanation" is just an empty assertion such as "Being X did it by magic," and there is no explanation of the process by which this happened, then this is NOT an explanation of the event. An explanation tells us how something happens, not just who allegedly did it. If I ask one of my kids "How did the window get broken?", it is not an explanation of how the window was broken to say "So-and-so did it." The "who" may be a component of an explanation, if there is some agent responsible, but it is not an explanation of how the window was broken.
Similarly, to say "God created the universe by magic" is a mere assertion that neither shows us that this particular being was responsible nor does it explain how the universe came into existence.
(ii) it requires that in order for something to exist, understanding its mechanism of operation is necessary,
No, it requires that an explanation of an event is an explanation of how it happened. An explanation must explain, not just drop names such as "god." Name-dropping is not a process of explanation even if you get the name right. And Briney hasn't even shown that.
(iii) it forces the conclusion to be a natural explanation by prejudicially excluding the possibility of a supernatural cause from consideration,
Nonsense. Briney is just making things up. If his explanation of the origin of the universe is truly an explanation, then it must have some content.
The question is: what explains the existence of the universe? Briney says that science doesn't have an adequate answer and that it will never have an adequate answer. Such a prediction is clearly too grandiose to stand up to scrutiny, since such predictions about what science can or cannot do have been so wrong in the past, even within the last 150 years.
But the question is: what explains the existence of the universe?
Briney's answer is: "Being X did it by magic." Well, to make this plausible, he must show that:
- The universe came into existence.
- There is a being X.
- There are such things as magic powers that can create universes.
- Being X has magic powers that can create universes.
- THEN show that this Being X actually did create the universe.
Briney has shown NONE of this. All he has tried to show is that science will never have an answer, but that claim is based on his misunderstandings about science. And he has done NOTHING to show that he DOES have an answer.
As I've already explained:
Basically, Briney is trying to argue that since (allegedly) science cannot explain how something happened-- in this case the origin of the energy of the universe-- then we should conclude that it was caused to happen by a nonphysical being with magic powers. However, this is a logical fallacy called Argumentum ad Ignorantium (appeal to ignorance). If we don't know how something happened, then we should content ourselves with the honest answer that we don't know how it happened. We cannot conclude that we do know how something happened simply because science has not completely explained how it happens. Briney is arguing:
Briney must give a positive argument for his particular explanation of the origin of the universe. He cannot simply appeal to ignorance.
This is a fallacy. All "god of the gaps" arguments make this same mistake, and all of Briney's arguments from the debate are merely god of the gaps arguments.
- We don't know how X is caused.
- Therefore, we know how X was caused.
Briney can't show that his supernatural explanation is tenable. For Briney's argument to have any chance of success, even ignoring the other fatal flaws already shown, he must show that supernatural forces can create energy. Since he cannot show this, he cannot use magic powers as an explanation for the origin of the universe.
Briney tries to disguise his appeal to ignorance as a process of elimination. He argues:
The form of the argument is Disjunctive Syllogism, a valid form, but the argument fails because the first premise commits the fallacy of False Dichotomy (also called False Dilemma). Those are not the only two choices that one can use to explain the origin of the universe, so (allegedly) eliminating one of them does not show that the other one is true. As I showed in the debate, one could run the same argument as:
- Either the universe was created by natural means or there is a god who created the universe by magic powers.
- The universe was not created by natural means.
- Therefore, there is a god who created the universe by magic powers.
If Briney's process of elimination works, then so does the leprechaun argument. Obviously, the leprechaun argument does not work. This is a reduction to absurdity and shows that Briney's process of elimination, too, is flawed.
- Either the universe was created by natural means or there is a leprechaun who made the universe fly out of his butt.
- The universe was not created by natural means.
- Therefore, there is a leprechaun who made the universe fly out of his butt.
and (iv) it insists on a natural explanation regardless of its violation to the first law of thermodynamics.
It has been shown that Briney not only does not adequately state the First Law, but he does not address the conditions under which it does not apply.
In summary, the first law of thermodynamics supports the claim for a supernatural creation of energy (and thus, the entire universe), and the following points are true.
- The first law of thermodynamics states that energy cannot be created by natural means.
- The universe exists as energy.
- Therefore the first law of thermodynamics states that the universe cannot be created by natural means.
- If the universe was not created by natural means, then it was created supernaturally.
One should note here that, as I had indicated when I initially refuted Briney's argument, he still can't get "god" out of any of this, but at least this time he didn't even try to.
Briney has ignored too many previous rebuttals, and is too confused about the use of the term "natural," for his arguments to be convincing. There are other points against him, but this is enough to show that he has not saved his argument.
Perhaps Briney would like to go for Round 2 of a debate? Since his previous attempt was an unmitigated disaster, maybe he'd like us to debate biblical v. secular ethics this time?